Chapter 162354107

See chapter in newspaper

Chapter NumberIV
Chapter Url
Full Date1899-01-14
Page Number38
Word Count1968
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleThe Red-Headed Man
article text




Doing is better than dreaming; and a year

of experience is worth a century of tlieo- j rising. All his life Dairel had' sat. in his j Study laboriously weaving romances put of i sucli material as he had collected in his , wandering. Now, by a happy chance of j fortune, lie was about to- step out of his ; ideal world into actual life, and take an j active part in a real story. Already Fate |

had laid the foundations of ail intricate i plot; and it was his business to work out j to a fit conclusion, the criminal problem | presented to him. In his own mind, Darrel } considered the task impossible. I

Conceive the difficulties of the case. A !

man—name unknown—meets with, and is j murdered by, a woman. This woman—also

unknown—goes to keep tryst with an indi- j vidual—either male or female—and is killed j

by him. or her. This was all the material j upon which Dairel had to work, and it may j be guessed that his heart failed him ah the ! meagre detail afforded by the affair. The j sole clues were two clay images coloured i green; the initials "J.G." marked on the ; murdered man's linen; and the possible chance of extracting useful information from a cabman. Yet; starting from these three points, Torry hoped to reach the goal he aimed at, viz.—to capture^and condemn, and hang, the guilty individual. Darrel

could not withhold his admiration at the determination of the little man.

"Detective fiction is easier to follow than " detective fact," said Darrel to himself as he prepared to go out- "With the materials supplied by tliis Mortality-lane case, I could work out a very fair novel. Fate, Fortune, Destiny, or whatsoever is designing this actual romance will develop it in quite u different way, no doubt. Well"—he put on his hat—"1 am one of the actors in the drama, and it is my turn to step 011 to the stage, llere goes for an elucidation of the the Green Image Mystery."

Rather amused by his own ideas, Darrel stepped into a hansom, and drove to his friend's rooms near the British Museum. In his pocket lie carried the grotesque little image from which he lioped to learn so much. Lucidly the Egyptologist—Patron was his name— proved to be at home, a long, lean savant, with grizzled hair and spectacles. He received .Darrel very ami ably, for they were old friends, and had been fellow-students at Oxford. Frank looked young and blooming, as was natural at the age of five-and-twent.v; but Patron, though barely thirty, was already aged by hard study and a misanthropic tempera ment, In the liands of this prematurely old individual Darrel placed the image.

"Look at tliis Egyptian mummy, old fel low," said he, taking a seat, "and tell me what you think of it."

Mr. Patron stroked his cheek and clu'n; examined the emerald idol through his learned spectacles, and contradicted Frank

in a clear, calm voice. "As usual, my dear | Dairel, you speak without thinking," said | he. "The image is not.Egyptian at all."

"It is the representation of a mummy," protested Frank, "and I always understood that the Egyptians were the only people jvho salted and dried their dead,"

"Then you understood wrongly," contra dicted Patron. "The ancient Peruvians also embalmed their dead. This is the image of a Peruvian mummy."

"How do you know?" asked Darrel, rather amazed at this remark.

"Don't you see the representation of the sun on its breast?" snapped' the other. "The ancient Peruvians were sun-worship pers. Judging from the solar symbol, I should say that this mummy comes from the tomb of some Inea. It is—what we call —a tomb image."

"What if? that?" questioned the visitor.

Patron cleared his throat, adjusted his spectacles,and prepared for a long historical lecture. "In common with certain Asiatic nations," said he, "the ancient Peruvians practised the barbarous custom of immolat ing victims at the obsequies of great men. Sometimes—according to Frescott—a. thou sand attendants and favourite concubines

would be slaughtered, so that they might accompany the dead Inca to his bright man sion m the sun. On occasions, however, the actual slaughter was dispensed with, and images of clay in the form of mummies, such as we see here," said the savant, point ing to the figure, "were substituted for hu man beings. For every counsellor, or slave, or wife,' or attendant, a clay image was placed in the sepulchre of the dead; so that, in such instance, there would be many hun dreds of these fictitious mummies ranged round the corpse. The figure we have here is an example of a tomb image. I hope I make myself clear?"

"Perfectly," rejoined Darrel, slipping the image into his pocket. "But your lecture does not help me in the least."

"In what way? Where did you get the mummy? " questioned Patron, disconnec tedly,

"Out of a murdered woman's pocket."

"Bless me! how strange! Why was she murdered? And how did she become possessed of so unique a curiosity as a Peruvian tomb-image?"

"Patron," my friend, those are twb ques tions to which I am trying to obtain an answer."

"If I can help yon, Darrel"

"Thank you, Paitron; but I fear you can. help me no further. Good day."

Good day, good day," replied the Egyptologist nastily; for lias mind was already reverting to his own particular work, rnd he was becoming oblivious to the story told by his visitor. Good day," after which he soared into cloudland.

Darrel went away little Satisfied with his visit. He had obtained certain historical information; but none likely to throw any light on the mystery of the double crime. The strange idol was connected with the murders in some concealed way, indepen dent of its archaeological merits; and it was this hidden coruecUon 'which Darrel de sired to 'discover. At presc: .t, however, he

- - . . ? *1

could nofcsee the ^igfefcestc&aiieeiDf gaining the necessary inloirmataoii^ therefore, this especial clue was absolutely useless—ait all eyente for the time being, later on. its value might be discovered and ojalieedj but in the meantime Frank dismissed it to follow up the due of the initials marked on. the linen off the dead man. To accomplish' this he drove directly to Bond-street.

The mere fact that the red-haired man-y

as in the absence of an actual name it is convenient to call him—was in. the habit of

dealing with Harcot & Harcot, showed that" he must have been if not rich at least fairl^ well off, The shop, as xiarrel knew, was a very expensive one, and the goods it sup plied were sold at much above their market value, from the fact that they were sup;

which had been confided to him by

and this he displayed to the eyes of the senior partner. Mr. Harcot was _ a toll, stately looking man, more like a duke ma a shopkeeper, and after examining the wnrc through his pince-nez he enquired lo&ay What it was that" Mr. Barrel desired in know. Barrel promptly supplied the m

I0"l ivisli'to learn, what those initials stand

for," said he, laying his forefinger on, the

letters "J. G."

"May I ask why? ..

Barrel reflected. "I see no reason why you should not know," be remarked; but

vou must respect my confidence. .

"Certainly, ar, certainly," replied Har cot, whose curiosity was now excited. "Phase come this way, where we shad JW5

be disturbed." _„„u

The tradesman led the way mbo- a ranafl

room partitioned off from the shop by A

nlaes screen, aiui o-n. closing ifiie door of wjiu? Se handed Barrel a chair with great politer

ne"I await your explanation, sir " he said;

smoothing out tiie shirt on the table.

"One moment," said Frank quickly. u I tell you my reason for asking tins ques tion, and yob agree to answer can ! rely on your being able to give me the desired

information?' ,

"Assuredly, sir. ^ou will observe that under these letters 'J-fF there is a number

yi20. Well, sir, we index, so to speak, all shirts of our manufacture in that way; and

—should your reason for seeking inform0;

tion satisfy me—I have only to look up that number in our books to learn for whom this

shirt was made.' ' , r„

"Then vou had better do so at once, Mr,

Harcot; for thereby you. may help the police to capture a criminal. ,

'J'he tradesman looked amazed. v,aptuie a criminal?" he repeated.

"Yes. On Sunday morning last, after 1 o'clock, the man to whom that shirt be longed was murdered."

"Yesf stabbed to the heart in Mortality la"Dear, dear!" cried Mr. Harcot in much'

agitation. "You don t) say so. I "°fu^

an account of the tragedy in one of the

evening papers—.111 early issue, Mr. Barrel, published at 2 o'clock;-hut 1 did not; think that a customer of ours was the

How very dreadful! \\ ho is the unfortu

U&"That^'s ™lra11 wisii you to tell me, Mr, H"Witii pleasure, with pleasure; but, if

vou will excuse my saying so, em, I did not know that you were an officer of the law

"Nor am I," rejoined Barrel anlj- 1 am a novelist; but the detective m charge of tihis case has permitted me to assist

hi"6h, indeed, sir," replied Mr. Harcot,

considerable astonished. "If you wll allow me. sir, I will look up our books.

Washing his hands with invisible soap,

and bowing politely, Mr. Harcot vmmshea, leaving Barrel to his own tlioughte ln about ten minutes be returned, lootang very pale and concerned. Frank was a

tritie surprised at this agitation. •

"Bear, dear," gasped the man, sitting down with an air of consternation 1 am shocked, really. Such a respectable gentle man; so old a customer." . ,

"What is the name: cried Barrel

anxKUi^^ s;r- Jessie Grent, of Wray,

House, Wraybridge." n„,.r„l

"Grent — Grent," muttered Bairel

thoughtfully, "I seem to know the name

"Everybody does, Mr. Barrel. Grent and Leiglibourne, of Fleet-street.

"What? The bankers:

"Yes sir; ves, Mr. Jesse Grent was the bead of the 'firm, and now he is au angel. I hope, so, for be was a good man, sn, who paid his bills most regul .

"Thank vou, Sir. Harcot, .said Franlk cutting short these lanientations ndiich were, a trifle mercenary. lou haic told me all I wish to know. Mr. Jesse Gient, banker. IFm!—so he was the red-hair-d

'"Mr. Harcot was about to protest that

the late All-. Grent had white b0'G M

that Frank with a curt nod walked

smartly out of the shop. Whereupon Har cot senior went to inform Harcot junior of the loss of a good customer, and to sug gest an immediate sending in of the bill

to the executors. t^tWh

It was now too late to call at lorryHj

private office, as it was long 6

o'clock before Frank tenranated his em q 11 ivies; so he went back to bis rooms and pondered over bis discovery. rte had

Leard of Mr. Grent, who was a rich banker

and much respected. That be should be found dead in. a disreputable neighbmira bood, in disguise, added to the mystery of the ease. Frank thought over the matter, all night, until his brain was weary; and he was glad when the morning came that he

could® see Tony: Just as he was cotiside^

ing the advisability of paying & visit, the

detective himself made bis appearance, and

looked considerably disturbed. ,

"I say, Mr. Barrel,"^ he burst out,

"there are two murderers."

"Two?" , „

"Yes—a man and a woman.