|Newspaper Title||Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||Brought to Book|
Marcus Gray had taken his ticket to Victoria Station and two more minutes would have seen him in the train on his way to Streatham, where the Lumsdens lived, when his attention was attracted by the placard of an evening newspaper. " Mysterious Murder This Day of a City Merchant" was the startling announcement which stared him in the face. Now, his uncle was a city merchant, one of thousands, and that of itself was enough to cause him to invest a penny in the purchase of a paper. It is enough to say that Gray did not go to Streatham that day, nor for many weeks afterward. Some days passed without any evidence on which the police could act being forthcoming, other than that which their first crude investigation had brought to light. That the safe had been rifled there was no longer any doubt, seeing that neither a note nor a coin of any kind was found in it ; but in view of the fact that Mr Lumsden had been in the habit of keeping all cash matters connected with the business in his own hands, it was difficult to ascertain with any degree of exactitude until certain books should have been gone through, what moneys he had in hand at the time he came by his death. The chances, however, were that the sum was not a large one, the dead man having been in the habit of banking day by day. Mr May, the managing clerk, had no knowledge of any cash having been paid to his employer on the morning of the ninth ; but, on the other hand, Houghton averred that on taking some letters into his master's room about eleven o'clock, he found there a gentleman dressed in deep mourning and an entire stranger to him, who, at the moment of his entering, was in the act of handing a number of bank notes across the table to Mr Lumsden. The notes in question were not now to be found ; no entry of them had been made in the cash book ; neither could Mr May throw any light on the personality of the man who had paid them over. At the inquest, which was more than once adjourned in the hope that further evidence would presently be forthcoming, a verdict of " wilful murder against some person or persons unknown" was eventually returned. The funeral had taken place some days before.
Mr Orde did not fail to impart to Inspector Fountain, who had charge of the affair on the part of the police, the particulars of what he had so strangely heard through the medium of the telephone. The inspector appeared to be much struck thereby and made ample entries in his notebook. There was reason for believlng that during the next few days he devoted a considerable portion of his time to endeavouring to ascertain whether the murdered man had been on intimate terms with any one, either a friend or a relative, whose baptismal name was Harry or Henry, but all such inquiries proved of no avail. To his initiative it was due that an advertisement was inserted in " The Times" and other newspapers requesting that should the same meet the eye of the person who on the morning of the ninth of June paid the late Mr Edward Lamtden, of Saint Augustine's alley, a sum of money in bank notes, he should at once communicate with the police ; but time went on and the advertisement seemed likely to remain a dead letter. That the merchant had come by his death at the hands of someone who was aware that at that hour of the day he and the office boy had, as a rule, the premises to themselves, could scarcely be doubted. In all probability Houghton had been seen to leave the office, and advantage had been taken of his absence. But all such suppositions merely served to deepen the mystery which clung around the affair.
Mr Charles Lumsden, Edward's younger brother, come up from the country to attend the funeral. He, the widow, Mr Rice, the lawyer, and Mr Orde met is the drawing room after all was over, for the reading of the will. James Orde was already aware that he was appointed sole executor. As a matter of course, the bulk of Mr Lumsden's property devolved upon his wife and children. To his brothers was bequeathed a legacy of one thousand guineas, and to his cousin, Eustace Crake, one of five hundred guineas. Then were minor legacies to Mr May and others, while to Mr Orde was devised a diamond breastpin and one or two other mementos.
" And, pray, where is Mr Eustace Crake to be found ?" asked Mr Orde of Mr Charles Lumsden, when the lawyer had brought his reading to an end. It was the first time he had heard of the existence of such a person, or if he had heard of it in years gone by, he had forgotten.
" That is more than I can tell you," was the reply. " All his life Eustace Crake has been one of those rolling stones which are proverbially said to gather no moss. Indeed, if I were to term him the scapegrace of the family, I oould hardly be indicted for libel. I am quite aware that my poor brother had always a sort of sneaking regard for him, but for my part any cousinly feeling I may once have had for him died out long ago." " Then I suppose our only chance of finding him is to advertise for him."
" That is what I should recommend. At the present moment he may be in Timbuctoo or Peking."
As it turned out, however, no advertisement was needed. On going through his friend's private papers a few days later, Mr Orde found among them a letter of recent date from Crake - an application, in point of fact, for what he termed " a further loan" of twenty pounds, attached to which was the tissue piper press copy of Mr Lumsden's reply, in which occurred these words : " I wholly decline to lend you any more money ; why not say give, for that is what it really comes to because I am convinced that the various sums you have already had from me have done you more harm than good. Should I, however, happen to predecease you, you will find that I have not forgotten you in my will."
Crake's letter was dated from some obscure street in Pentonville, to which address Mr Orde at once wrote, asking the legatee to call upon him with as little delay as possible. Crake was shown into Mr Orde's office next morning as the clock was striking eleven. He was a handsome but dissipated looking man, with sunken cheeks, a heavy moustache and red-rimmed eyes, in age somewhere between thirty and forty. His clothes were of a fashionable if somewhat horsy cut, but worn to the verge of shabbiness. His demeanour was a curious compound of jauntiness and servility, but there was a veiled insolence in his eyes which proclaimed him for the bully he doubtless was at heart. A swarthy flush flowed through his sallow cheeks when told for what sum his name was down in his cousin's will.
" Poor Ted," he murmured, half under his breath. " Who couid have dreamed that he would come to so terrible an end."
" It seems somewhat singular, Mr Crake," said the merchant, " that you did not think fit, more especially in view of all he had done for you from time to time, to attend your cousin's funeral. You can scarcely plead ignorance of the fact of his death, or the mode of it, seeing that there was not a newspaper in the kingdom which did not publish ample details of the affair."
" I was in Paris at the time, and while there I never saw an English paper. It has been the source of regret to me ever since that I was unable to pay a last tribute of affection and regard to one to whom I owe so much."
The words themselves showed no lack of good feeling, yet there was something in the way they were spoken that grated on Mr Orde's ears. Before more could be said the door opened and in came Charles Lumsden. It was his last day in London, and he had come to bid Mr Orde goodbye. He started as his eyes fell on Crake."
" Hello, Garry ! you here ! Where on earth have you sprang from ?" he exclaimed. It was Orde's turn to start when the word " Garry" fell from Charles Lumsden's lips. For the next minute or more he was as one in a dream, heeding nothing of what the two were saving to each other.
Again he seemed to hear the last words of his poor murdered friend, "Oh, Harry Harry, this from you !" Next moment, however, he asked himself whether the name which had thus reached his ears might not have been Garry and not Harry, at he had not unnaturally assumed it to be, in which case there could be little doubt that the assassin of Edward Lumsden was at that moment sitting within half a dozen yards of him. It was a possibility which sent a chill shudder through him from crown to toe. He
sat for several seconds, staring dumbly at Crake, aad it was as well perhaps that just then all the latter's attention was given to Charles Lumsden. Presently he rose to take his leave.
" Then I may look to hear from you, Mr. Orde, at the earliest possible moment," he said, as he turned to the merchant.
" As soon as ever the estate has been wound up, Mr Crake, and probate granted, you may rely on my communicating with you." Hardly was the door shut behind him before Orde said to Mr Lumsden :
" Why did you just now address that man by the name of Garry ?" " The explanation is very simple. When he and I and my brother were lads together, each of us was known to the others by a nick name. Mine was Dixie, Crake's was Garry ; what poor Ted's was I have now forgotten." Thereupon the subject dropped, and presently Mr Charles bade the other goodbye and went his way. The following day Orde made it his business to call on Inspector Fountain.
Despite his professional phlegm it was evident that that official was considerably impressed by the further information now brought him, and, as a matter of course, the inevitable notebook waa again brought into requisition.
" I will at once cause certain Inquiries to be made respecting Mr Eustace Crake," he said, "and will let you know the result with as little delay as may be." Five days later it was Fountain's turn to seek Mr Orde. Crake, it appeared, was a member of a low gang of betting men who made a point ol attending every race meeting within a radius of fifty miles around London. As a rule, his evenings were devoted to billiards. Further, Fountain had satisfied himself that during the five days which elapsed between the murder of Mr Lumsden and his funeral Crake was not in Paris, as he had averred, but on each of the days in question had been seen at one or another of his usual haunts. So far, however, no information had been obtainable as to where he was or how he spent his time between the hours of twelve and three on the ninth of June, and in the inspector's opinion, it seemed doubtful whether there ever be. A week later he called on Lumsden again, but without having anything further to communicate. He went so far, however, as to hint in pretty plain terms that there was little doubt in his mind as to the identity of the murderer.
" You may rely on it, sir," he said, significantly, " that 'Garry,' and not 'Harry,' was the name you heard through the telephone ; only I am quite sure that on such a piece ol evidence, unless it was backed up by something much more positive, no magistrate would take upon himself to issue a warrant."
A despondent man was Inspector Fountain when he went his way that afternoon. Some time before this, a reward of five hundred pounds had been offered by the widow for the detection of her husband's murderer ; but days merged into weeks and no one came forward to claim it.
A month passed without bringing the least change in the situation. Lumsden's business affairs had taken a longer time to wind up than his executor had anticipated, and although Crake had written to him, pressing for an early payment of his legacy, Mr Orde was not yet in a position to write him a cheque for the amount. It was while affairs were in this position that one forenoon the merchant was waited upon by a person who sent in his name at "Mr William Parkinson." It was a name he had no knowledge of, and when the bearer cf it was shown into the office, he proved to be an utter stranger. " I have but just landed from New York," he began, " or I should have called on you before. l am here in response to an advertisement requesting that the person who paid a sum in bank notes to the late Mr Edward Lumsden on the 9th of June last would make himself known. Sir, on the morning of the day in question I paid Mr Lumsden, in liquidation of a debt which had nothing to do with the ordinary routine of his business, ten Bank of England notes of five pounds each. An hour later I had started for Liverpool on my way to the States, so that, as it happened, I knew nothing whatever of the sad fate which overtook Mr Lumsden so soon after my interview with him till some days subsequent to my arrival in New York." " May I ask, Mr Parkinson, whether you have any record o( the numbers of the notes paid by you to Mr Lumsden ?" " No record whatever, I am sorry to say." " Is it not possible," suggested Mr Orde, " that, the person out of whose hands they passed into yours may have kept a list of their numbers ?" Mr Parkinson shook his head. " These notes, Mr Orde, came into my possession in rather a singular way. They were found at the bottom of an old tea caddy which had belonged to my late Aunt Deborah and were handed over to me as her heir-at-law. How long they had been in her keeping and whence she had obtained them was known to herself alone."
The information imparted by Mr Parkinson, while elucidatory of one hitherto obscure feature, failed to advance the case a single step beyond the point which it stood already. In all probability the stolen notes had been put into circulation weeks ago. But whether they had or not, there seemed no likelihood of any link being forthcoming by the aid of which it would be possible to trace them. Such was the opinion of Inspector Fountain, and such was Mr Orde's opinion ; but fate willed otherwise. To Be Continued.