Chapter 162356923

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Chapter NumberXVIII
Chapter TitleA STRANGE OCCURRENCE.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article162356923
Full Date1899-03-04
Page Number38
Corrections0
Word Count1829
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleThe Red-Headed Man
article text

CHAPTER XVIIL—A STRANGE OC

CURRENCE. .

Educated by experience and the neces sities of his profession, Torry was not a man who lost his temper easily; but when he left Wray House he was in as great a rage as he well could be. Never had he met with so obstinate a woman as Donna Maria, or one who knew better lww to keep a secret* She steadily refused to ex plain the reason of her visit to Grent, or to reveal the conversation which had taken place between them. Threats she laughed at, persuasion she smiled at; and Torry, who flattered himself on his cunning, was forced to take his departure without gain ing her confidence. He went as wise as he came. On arriving in town, he first had something to eat, after which he visited Barrel. The novelist informed him that Lydia had duly arrived, with a sinaM box, and he had pointed her out to a detective procured from Scotland Yard. The man had followed her at once, and Darrell, hav ingf discharged his mission, had returned

home.

Tn return for this news, Torry, not with out some display of ill-temper, detailed his unsuccessful attempts to make Donna Maria confess. Darrell commiserated the detective, but could mot forbear eulogising the girl, much to Torry's disgust.

"Upon jny soul," said he, grumbling. "I believe' your sympathies are with her, merely because she has a pretty face."

"Pretty!" echoed Frank, indignantly. 'If there is one word in the English ton gue which does not apply to Donna Maria Sandoval, that word is 'pretty.' Why, mail,

slie is one of the most beautiful women In the world!"

"She is certainly the most obstinate," said Ton-y'drily. "I am satisfied she knows something likely to lead to tlie de

tection of the criminal."

"Bah! that.is your fancy."

"It is my belief," insisted Tory, seriously. "Also, I am certain there is some connec tion between her and Vass."

"What do you mean?" cried Darrel, in dignant that the slightest slur should be cast on the character of the woman he wor shipped.

"Oh! you needn't get so angry," said Tony, with a shrug. "I am convinced there is 110 love affair betweep them. I'm not so sure in your case."

"Never mind me," said the novelist, blushing; " go on with exnl-iv.rPm "

"Tt is very simple. Donna Maria and Va.ss have an understanding relative to-this

murder."

"You don't believe t.liey know the assas sin ?" cried Darrel aghast.

"I don't go so far as that; but they know something of that secret Society, for the sight of the tomb-image had the same ef fect—pven a worse one— on tliem as it had ton Blake. And the Society, according to Blake, is responsible for the Grent and

Brawn murders."

"By the hand of Manuel," said Frank, "and you deny his guilt?"

"Yes, T do," reloried the detective ener getically. "But we argued that point be fore. Let it pass. To return to Vass and Donna "Maria; it is strange tlia.t they should have met in the West-Hod on the very day, so to speak, of the murder."

"An accident!" said Darrel. "The meet imr was an accident."

"Bah! I don't hclieve in those sort of ac cidents, Well, I have failed to extort the truth from the lady: perhaps the gentleman may he more amenable to reason. I shall

see Vass to-morrow."

There was a abort silence, during which Dai-rel reflected seriously about the aspect of the ease. Tn a moment or so lie raised his head. "It seems to me," mid lie, "that while suspecting Donna Maria and Vass over much you don't suspect Lydia Hargone sufficiently."

"I don't know so much about that," said Tori-v with a. dry smile. "I am having her watched. She does not know that, and, acting in fancied security, may lietmv her self. I explained this to Donna Maria."

"What do von think of this mantle

affair?"

"Why, I incline to Miss Sandoval's mews. I believe tliat Grent was in love with Lvdia, and that for her own purposes—whatever t.hev may be—she encouraged Ins fo'ly so openly as to incur the suspicions of Donna Hies:. Also. I believe that she promised to elope to Tta.lv with Grent, but instead of going lierself sent .Tuba. Grent, recognis ing the mantle, and not seeing the face, which—if you remember the cabman s evi dence v-o.s veiled, thought the lady was Lydia.. Then- ." Torry stopped.

"Then?" queried Da.ivel, impatiently,

"Faith', as Blake would say. you'll have to supply the rest of the story from your ima gination: mine won't cany me further. ,

"Well," saiid Frank, humouring tins fancv. "sav that .Tuba had a lover, who bil lowed her "by stealth to tads rendezvous, and killed Grent out of jealousy." .

Torrv shook his head. That explains one death, but not the other. _ besides,

he added gravely, "I have questioned all the servants at Wrav House, and I cannot find that Julia had any lover. No, no; this mystery is not to be explained by such single means. Wliat does Blake eav.

"He insists that Manuel is guilty, even in the fare of your argument."

"He's a fool. "What about Manuel.'

"I saw him to-day, and he declares that if the lost money is "not found and restored there will be trouble from the Society.'

"He's a fool also. Does he think tins is Peru, where innocent people can be as sassinated with impunity? We have had enough of mvsterious murders and enig matic Green Mummies. Well, good-niglit. Mr. Darrel. I'll see Vass to-morrow, and find out what he knows."

Torry went off briskly, confident that he would succeed easier with Vass.than he had with Donna Maria,. The Secretary was a weak-willed man, the Spanish lady a strong-nvmded woman'; so if the pair were confederates, as the detective suspected tlieifl to be, W determined to learn the se cret of their partnership by examining the more easily terrified of the two. Tins was Vass, who was an effeminate, hysterieal eteature, hardly worthy to be called a man. He. if any one, could be coerced into re vealing the truth of the conspire^.

Next day. shortly before twelve o clock, Torey called at Die Fleet-street Bank, and requested an interview with Vass. The Secretary appeared unwilling to grant one, but,'as be had no option in the face of the detective's authority, he was reluctantly compelled to accede to the request, and conducted Ids unwelcome, visitor into the private room of Mr. Grant. Torry, who

•bad a retentive memory, recognised this fa

m^Ali,said^ie, playfully, "yonder »» the

private safe. Wliat a pity it cannot speak and tell us the truth! _ \

"The truth? repeated Vass. unsteaddy. "About the stolen notes. pale, Sir; I know you did

Kit I wish I knew who did. lhe numbers liave not been traced by a^y . 0 ^ people?" enquired Tom', suddenly.

Vass slicok his head. "No. We have made all enquiries., hut we can learn n - tiling. ^ Did you come to speak about wie

n°"Not exactly. I came to ask you what

you were doing in Piccadilly on the day Jii .

Grent was murdered." , _ ?

"He was murdered on Sunday. tj i v/as

not in the West-End on that day.

"Oh," said Torry, noting the quibble, "you heed not he so accurate as to time, my dear sir. X know as well as you do that Grent was murdered on Sunday morn ing after midnight, but for the sake ot

convenience I'll say Saturday. j}Y ou were in the West rind on Saturday.

"Who says I was?" "Miss Sandoval."

"Donna Maria?" ,,

"Yes; she met you 111 Picadilly on the afternoon of Saturday."

'And why not, Mr. Torry. It was after office hours, and I have a right to go where I like. But if you wish me to ex plain I am quite willing to do so. 1 was in Picadilly executing some business tor sir. Frederick Leighbourne."

This - explanation was the same as that given bv Donna Maria, so, Torry deemed it to he the true one. He therefore abandoned this point to take up another one, and introduced the latter by glancing

round the room." ,, •

'You have a comfortable apartment here,

Vass''

"It is the late Mr. Grent's private office," replied the Secretary sullenly and I remain in it by the "\visliv of Mr. bieigii bourne, senior, to sort out the papers o liis dead partner." ,

"Did you sit here when Mr. Grent was away."

"TheiqS<m the Saturday wc speak of,

you were sitting here?"

"Alia?"' said Torry with a satisfied nod.

"Now, who came into the room when you were here?"

"Various people."

"Connected with the Bank.

"Mostly connected with the bank.

"Did Donna Maria Sandoval call, asked

Torry suddenly. ... T

"Yes," said Vass quietiv, she did. I see

no reason to deny her visit; it was made openly and for a purpose."

"What purpose?" • • .

Vass wriggled uneasily m his seat. Am I obliged to answer that question, Mr. Tfirrv''1" __

"Not unless you like; not unless Donna Maria came here for a purpose of which she was ashamed." , , •

The detective said this purposely to in sult Donna Maria, so that lie might dis cover if Vass loved her, but the Secretary never changed colour or lost Ins temper, so Torry was convinced that he. had not given lii's heart to the beautiful Spaniard

"Donna Maria never does anything to be ashamed of," he replied in calra tones. lt vou wish to know the reason of liei visit,

l ean tell you. She came at the request^

Mr. Grent, to get his traveHmg bckek,

"Oh, the tickets; the two tickets for

It:"Yes. Mr. Grent left them here by mis

take, and Donna Maria called for them. 1

found them, gave tlicm to her, a^ ]f b^,ed^

she visited her uncle m Duke-htieet to de liver them to mini."

This then, explained Miss Sandoval s

viritVS-stU and the reason was

apparentlv an innocent one; ^

indeed, that Torry wondered why the eiil

had not confessed it. "Unless,' thought he, "this is a lying explanation aii-mgcd for between Donna Maria and \ ass ta

q"lte was abmffi t^^k a few questions with a vfew to discover if his suspicions were

correct, when there was a Knock at the

door, and almost immediately ^t opened to

admit Manuel. The Spaniard Ecemed greaUy

excited, ar.d advanced towards Vass, but stopped short when be eawTorry.

he noliccmavd be said. . ) > vciy

good; so mucir the better. I wish to see

y^"What is the matter?" asked Torry and

Vass together.

"Those notes. , „ •'Yes. The ten thousand pounds.

Contain Manuel placed a package on the

tablcT ' Il ere are the banknotes," he said

in excited {ones, "returned to me iast night."