Chapter 169280573

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Chapter NumberVII
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Full Date1892-08-06
Page Number3
Word Count3009
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdvocate (Melbourne, Vic. : 1868 - 1954)
Trove TitleThe Story of a Jewelled Belt
article text

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By P. E. Qtraxw.

When thereturning policeman found Chester stretched out upon the side-walk he bent over him, and flashed his bull'seye lantern into Ids' face. "Another, drunk, I suppose," he muttered, but as he saw the white, set face, he exclaimed— " No, it's not. I believe he's dead. Anyhow," he ruminated,. ." I'd better take him to the 'orspital." And going to the. hotel, 'he summoned a man, and despatched iiiti,for » cab. In due time Chester was deposited at the hospital, and subjected, to medical examination. ,7 ",., The doctor felt W pulse, and lifted his eyelids. ".,..' " Humph 1 concussion of the brain," he gaicl. " This man has been struck on the back of the head by a vehicle, or lias received an unusually heavy fall. Hasn't been drinking either." An examination of Chester's pockets led to the discovery of his card case, and several letters addressed to him, among others that purporting to have come from Mrs. Thompson. In this way his identity was discovered, and his friends were communicated with. For a long time he lay unconscious, defying all the science of the hospital. He wavered long between life and death, but his constitution was strong, and he had youth on his side, and these together proved the masters of the sandbag. In a few days he was fit to be removed to his residence, a quiet suburban cottage in a street which rarely echoed to the bustle of traffic. There he lay for a week before the power of speech returned to him. The cruel stroke of the sandbag had temporarily paralysed his brain; but with the first clear thoughts thatcame to him with thesongof the birds in the garden without, came the assurance that the assault upon him had some connection with his pursuit of Johnstone. It was evident that robbery could not have been the motive, for his gold watch, a valuable diamond ring, which Lord Dart had once presented him, together with his diamond studs, had been left untouched. And, so far as he ksew, there was no living man who had any interest in slaying him but the murderer of Mr. Leigh, whom he was tracking down. But how had Johnstone learned of his connection with the caseP There was only one avenue through which this information could have come to him, and this was the widow Thompson. Reluctant as Chester was to admit such a contingency, yet everything pointed to the fact that the widow had deliberately betrayed him. • In that case she must have deceived him as to her feelings for the man he was in pursuit of, and must really be in league with Johnstone. There was, however, a chance that this might not be so. He could ascertain the woman's trustworthiness or otherwise by a personal interview with Mrs. Thompson. He determined to send for her. Of course, if she were in league with Johnstone, she might refuse to come to him; and on the other hand, when she did come, she might still further deceive him as to her relations with the man. Still, he had undergone a bitter experience, and had annoured himself in suspiciousness. 'He determined to put Mrs. Thompson through such a crossexamination as Would effectually elicit her share ^f' the responsibility in the murderous attack upon him. The messenger h6 despatched for Mrs. Thompson' returned within a. couple of hours, accompanied by the widow. As she' entered the 1 room and saw Chester "reclining on bis couch so weak and pale, the' tears came into her eyes, and her vympathy was-so evident as-to completely dispel thfe harsh suspicion which.he hadbegun to feel towards her. " Indeed, 'sir,*' she began, " I am sorry to see you so bad. Oh! what man could have been (cruel "enough to Kurt another soP" "Ah!" said Chester, "my good wpman, there' aire in London, I suppose, thousands of ndiein cruel enough to do it, its f«r as I know' there is only , one interested in doing it to mis. You can' gne-s whothat in'an is, I suppose, Mrs.

ath™ PSOnP and he looked " searchingly Severed her face with her hands. What a villain that man must be," she murmured; " and to think that he Wanted to marry me, the brate!" Are you aware how I came to be down near nsKodi la y° ur streetp" he . sir," she replied, looking inquiringly into his eyes. he'said" 11,then ' 1 WaSgoingtoseo y° u >" Mrs. Thompson made no remark, but waited expectantly. "And," he continued, "I was going to see you because of this note; " and he handed her the missive which had lured him into the clutches of his intended assassin. Mrs. Thompson took it and scanned it blankly. "I never wrote this, sir," she said, eagerly, "for I didn't hear a word since you were there the other day." " That is strange, very strange," said Chester, musingly. "Oh, wait, though," cried Mrs. Thompson, clasping her hands, as a sudden thought struck her and turned her pale. ' Chester looked keenly at her. "There was a man called the same night as you did, sir," Mrs. Thompson said, " and inquired if I knew where Johnstone was to be found. I thought, to be sure, that he was a detective, and I told him much what I told you. And I told him, too, the more fool I, that you had been inquiring for him, and he took up your address on the table and looked at it. " That explains things," said Chester, energetically. "That man must have been an accomplice of Johnstone, and by what you told him they discovered that I was on his track and who I was. That fellow Johnstone is a clever scoundrel and a desperate one. The blow he gave me was meant to kill. Curious that it didn't leave any mark. I wonder what he struck me with ?" "I'm sure I couldn't tell yon, sir," said Mrs. Thompson, evidently under the impression that she was expected to explain the nature of the instrument in question. " No, I suppose you cannot," said Chester, with a slight smile; " but, by Jove," he added, " he hit me with the very same thing that he killed poor Leigh with. The blow was in exactly the same place, and was just as much a mystery to the doctor here as in Melbourne. I'm afraid now, after all, that I'll have to call in the police." " That's just what I think you ought to do, sir. A knock on the head to them, more or less," said Mrs. Thompson, " doesn't matter; but it's a shame that a real gentleman should go about and get nearly killed for doing their work. I'm sure I'd give it up if I was you, sir." And she looked so earnest that once again Chester could not avoid a smile. " Well, I'll do it, Mrs. Thompson," he replied. "I'm not fit for this sort of work, I'm afraid. As you say, knocks on the head such as I have received don't suit me. One thing the assault makes clear, however, and that is that Johnstone is in London. Had he struck a little harder he might have got off scot free from a double murder. The Scotland Yard men should be able to run him down now from the information I can give them, unless he has already cleared off, which is not unlikely, for so cautious a scoundrel knows already that his attempt on my life has failed. In such a case he. will have probably taken other measures to assure his escape." After a few more words Mrs. Thompson departed, and for the next week Chester was left free to recover his normal health and strength. Meanwhile he had taken no steps to put the affair of Mr. Leigh's murder in the bands of the police. One evening, just as he had sat down to write to the police authorities, his servant entered and informed him .that "a trampish-looking fellow see him." This visitor had refused to state his business unless to Chester himself. • "Very.well," said the latter, "show shim up." I When the servant left on his errand, ^Chester, rendered apprehensive by his recent experience ' that another attempt upon his life might be contemplated, opened a drawer on his table, and inserting his hand grasped the butt of a revolver lying within. Then he waited. ' Presently a slouching figure entered. A man apparently of sixty years of age, with horrid shoulders, clad in a tittered overcoat, and with his face covered in beard, whiskers, moustache, and Shaggy, dull grey eyebrows. He had a

lurching, slouching, uneasy gait, such as is seen only in the nocturnal ruffian of the slums. Chester felt at once that the man was of bad character. "I s'pose you're Mr. Chester," he said, in a gruff voice, which seemed to come from the region of his boots. " That is my name," said Chester, quietly, but with a keen eye upon the stranger's every movement, _" Well," said this unprepossessing visitor, " I've got something to tell you, boss, as'll be worth some'at to you if so be as you're willing to part up for the hinformation." ' " Yes P" said Chester. " What Witig my man P" T f "It's about that Johnstone cov^'^replied the man. " I know where you Can lay your 'ands on him." \ .'• " Indeed 1" observed Dick; " and how did you know that I wanted to find Johnstone P" "' The fellow shuffled uneasily. " It*8 this way. " he began to explain, when Chester interrupted him. "It's no use, my friend," he said, calmly, " trying to deceive me. You're disguised, and I'll trouble .you to take that disguise off, and let me see your real face." The man started to his feet with the evident intention of making a bolt of it. But he stopped suddenly, for he was looking down the polished barrel of Dick's revolver. "You see," explained Dick, "you'd better do as Itellyou, for otherwise I shall be compelled to keep you here until my servant brings a policeman. I have some suspicion that a constable will know what to do with you." The fellow looked from the revolver to the gong on which Chester's finger rested, and then at Dick's calm, determined face. " What does it matter to you," he said, roughly, " who I am as long as you get the information you require ?" As he asked this question he threw off one of his disguises—that of his voice. "Never mind that," replied Dick; " you do as I desire. For one thing, you may be Mr. Johnstone himself, and that is what I wish to see. So kindly take off those things." A baffled look came into the man's face, but after a moment's reflection he obeyed Chester's command. " I'm not Johnstone," he said, with a short laugh, "as you'll see." And in an instant the hair was pulled off his face and head, and the! dissipated but still handsome face of Colonel Dilke was revealed to Chester's watchful eyes. " Ho, you're, not Johnstone," assented Chester after a moment's scrutiny of his face; " bnt, in any case, who are yonP" " Well, I'm not anybody you know," replied the profligate. " But I've been a companion of Johnstone's, and I've come to know that he's wanted for something queer." " And you want to sell your associate now," said Dick, sarcastically. "Yes, I do," replied Dilke, boldly. " If there's any money in it the man's yours within twenty-four hours. I don't want to be mixed up with a desperado who, for all I know, may be wanted fpr murder." " Don't make a matter of virtue of it," said Chester; " that's disgusting. You want to make some money out of your friend's capture. Well, in the interest of justice, I'm willing to pay you something, but, mark you, only after the capture of Johnstone is effected." Dilke observed, sulkily—"I thought you'd be willing to pay something down, or I wouldn't have come." " Probably not," replied Chester, " but you did come, and, as far as I'm concerned, your money will be as safe then as now if your information proves correct. You see, I was led into one trap by this clever ruffian, and I don't want to fall into another. By the way, I wouldn't wonder now if you were the identical individual who made certain enquiries about me at Mrs. Thompson's. Am I right P" And Chester looked keenly at the colonel. The latter flushed and moved uneasily. " Well, I was," he replied; " but I didn't know that he was going to try to kill you. He's a desperate scoundrel," he said, with an expression of fear, " and would kill me like a hare if he knew that I had informed on him. That's why I came disguised—to deceive him, and not you, for he's got eyes all over him." "Well/' said Chester, "where can your friend be found P" " He's going to the Croydon races tomorrow,"answered Dilke, "and he'll be in his rooms fromseven till ten to-morrow aight.5 After that, he goes to the Casino,

but you d better catch him at his rooms before ten o'clock. Otherwise he may get away, for he thinks of going to the Continent soon, and jfou never know one day what he's going to do the next. He's a close fellow; and trusts nobody." "Not even you," said Chester, sarcastically. "Now, what do you value these services of yours at—eh P" " What do you say to a hundred P' enquired Dilke. " A hundred it shall be," returned Chester. " Provided we apprehend him • to-pe*rgw.^ight, you can have the money thMj^rioinfog. Will that do you?" replied Dilke with ;rity '' butj. jj don't wish my name to ^ccoweotion with the matter." don'tdJMpose anybody but the ... Wonloriave any interest in that," responagd'Dick, "and as far as I am concerned you are safe. Now you can put on your disguise and go, but recollect that this time I am not going out alone. The police will accompany me." And he looked significantly at Dilke. The latter donned his disguises, and retired without another word, assuming the same shambling gait as he had worn when he entered. "That .s a precious scoundrel," thought Chester, "but I think he may be depended upon this time, but only in hope of a reward. What a pretty fellowship the brotherhood of scoundrelism is.' At this moment a quick, firm step sounded in the hall, and, with a cheery laugh, Lord Dart burst into the room. "Well, Dick, my lad," he cried. "What's been the matter with youP You look as if you'd been sick." Then a whole hour of explanation ensued, for Lord Dart had but just landed in England from the antipodes, and had heard nothing further of Dick's detective enterprise since he had left him in Melbourne. As Dick explained the progress of his researches Dart could only sit and stare, with an occasional gasp or " By George !" punctuating his silent amazement. When he had concluded his story Chester drew his pocket-book out, and observed, with a'quizzical smile—" I've won £10,000 already from your lordship, and I have just a week in which to make it £20,000. To-morrow night we will arrest Johnstone. Of course, I'll give you your own time to pay in. That bit of chaff of yours in Melbourne about my detective skill is likely to prove rather dear to you." " By George, you're right I" said Dart, ruefully; " but never mind. I'd rather lose the money to you than to anybody else. How strange that it should have been Marian Leigh's father that was murdered. By Jove! how is Miss Leigh P" At this abrupt question Chester coloured. " She's very well," said Chester. " I'm due to call on her to-morrow." Dart looked at him keenly, and, as if satisfied, smiled softly, at which Dick coloured once more. (To be continued.) The action of several Nationalist Federations in selecting Protestants as candidates for the ooming fight (says the Dublin Freeman) is attracting attention in England. It is pointed to aB bearing upon a problem, in Mr. Gladstone's. speech at Olapham on Saturday. It is noted that, in twenty-one county conventions already held throughout Ireland to select candidates to contest fortyfour seats, ten Protestant Home Rulers have been chosen. They are Mr. E. F. Vesey Enox, M.P., and Mr. S. Young, |in East and West Gavan respectively-; Captain Donellan, East Cork; Dr. Tanner, M.P., Mid-Cork ; Mr. J. G. Swift MacNeill, M.P., South Donegal; MI. J. Jordan, M.P., North Fermanagh; Mr. F. O'Driscoll, South Monaghan; and Mr. A. Webb, M.P., West Waterford. Mr. ' W. L. Pearson in St. Stephen's Green Division,' of Dublin, and Mr. W. Abraham, in West Limerick. The death of the Bev. Daniel Scully, S.J., which took plaoe oh the 19thJune,w£ll (the Dublin Freeman says) be regretted bf many. Few priests, even of the greatSociety of which he was a trusted and honoured, member, have ever had a oareer, so entirely scholastic, completely devoted to educational labour.. At Cbngowes Wood, College, and afterwards at Belvidpre, his selfsacrificing labours were productive of 'much of the great success whioh has been secured by both. Fr. Scully was singularly apt to win the afleotion of his pupils, who loved and respeoted him for his faiirieBS, his honest, impulsive Irish nature, his' tender and almost paternal thoughtfulness for their best interests. . The largeness of his funeral on Tuesday last was the best testimony to his merits.