|Chapter Title||HORACE BYRD.|
|Newspaper Title||Cairns Post (Qld. : 1884 - 1893)|
|Trove Title||Hand and Ring|
Hand and liing.
Br Axx.v KATII.UUXK GREEX.
CHA PTER V.-(CONTI* CED.)
" But noir, I am cabin'<1, cribbM, confiuM, bound in
Ta nuucy doubts amt feaiy,"-3ÍACB¿TH.
Tiiey liad many things to discuss, lw'rst, their own case now drawing to a
successful close; next, the murder of j ; the; dav. before ; and lastly, tho few i
facts that had been elicited in regard to that murder, in tho enquiry which Lad that day been begun belora thc
Of thu latter Mr. Ferris spoke with
niue)) interest. Ile had attended the inquest himself, and though he had not much to communicate-the time having; been mainly taken up in selecting and 8wc.iring.min jury-a few witnesses had been examined ¡ind certain cuncliixions readied, -winch certainly added greatly to thc impression already mude un thc public mind, that AU affair' of great im portance hud arisen : an affair, too, promising more in the way of mystery than thu simple nature of its earlier manifestations gave them reason to sup-
In the fir*t place, the widow liad evi- dently been assaulted with a deliberate purpose and a serious intent to slay.
Secondly, no . immediate testimony was forthcoming calculated to > point with unerring certainty to the guilty
To be sure, the tramp and thc hunch- back' still offered'possibilities of sus- picion ; but even they were slight, the former having been seen to leave the widow's house without' entering, and ; the latter having proved beyond a ques-
tion to have como into town on the morning train and to have gone at once to court, whore lie remained till ? the time they saw hiiii disappear down
That the last named individual may ' have'had' swine guilty knowledge of the }.. erime.-y^as. possible .enough.. ...The fact
"bf his" having wiped himself out so com- pletely . as1 to elude all search was sus picious iu itself,, but if he was connec ' ted with the assault it must have been
simply: as an accomplice, employed to dirtnict public attention from the real criminal; and in a case like this, tlie interest' naturally centres with the actual perpetrator; and the question
- was' now and must-bc: Who was the
mau who, iu broad daylight, dared to
enter' a house like this in a thickly j populated street, and kill, with a blow '-airinoffensive wönmii? :??!>?< V
"1 cannot. imagine," declared Mr. Ferris, as his communication reached this point, "lt looks as if she had an enemy, but what enemy could such a person ns she possess-a woman who always did her own , work, attended to her own affairs, arid madó it ¡in especial
rule of hov life.novor to meddle with
those of liny body else ? "
: "Was she such a woman ? " enquired Hr. Byrd, to whom iu yet no knowledge had como of the widow's life, habits, or character. * . f... * .->"v ;
á' « Yé8;; In aU the years I have been
in this town I have never heard of her
visiting. auy one or, encouraging any one to visit her. Had it riot been for Mr. Orcutt, she would have lived the r. life, pf a recluse. As ? -it was she was -:" 'tho most methodical person in her ways
that I ever knew. At just such au hour she rose ; at just such an hour put on her kettle, cookod her meal, washed lier dishes, aud sat herself down to her sewing or whatever work it was she had to do. The dinner was thc only meal :that waited, and that, Mr. Orcutt says, was always ready and done to a turn at whatever moment he chose to present himself." ^ _ ' ;
' "Had she nb intimates, no relatives?" asked 31 r. Byrd, remembering . that fragment of. a letter he had read-a letter which certainly contradicted this assertion in ; regard to her even and quiet life. '"': ' *J l5 . '" . f " None that lam aware of," was the
respoiisel " Wait,' I believe I have ? been told she, had a nephew somewhere . rrrà sister's son, for whom she had some
regard, and to w'hom she intended.to leave lier money."
" She had riioney, then ? "
,i.¡,," Some, five thousand,, maybe. ' Rc , ports. differ about such matters.''.
"Andthis nephew, where does he .. live?" ,. i;; - ?= : (
1 ' ' " I cannot tell you. I don't know that -, anyone, .can.-, My,remembrance in re
' gard to! him is: bt< thé' vaguest charac-
ter.^ yi i ¡ ! , i < v
" Five thousand dollars are regarded i-as riö'mcaii aiim iii a ) tówtí like this,"
quoth Mr. Byrd, carelessly.
" I know it, She is called quite rich by many. Jllow she got her money no .i oue- knows; for when-she first came
' bm'i^ WM io tturj bwltu o>t and
. paid her something for his daily dinner,
1 of coursé; but that 'could riot have en-
abled her to put ten dollars in the bank as she has done every, week for the last teri years. Arid to ail appearances she has done nothing 'else for her living. You see, we have paid attention to her ! affairs, if she has paid norie to burs."
' 1 'Slr.' Byrd again ! remembered . that
scrap' of a letter .which had been shown him by, the .coroner, and ( thought te himself that their knowledge was in all : probability less than they supposed.
" Who, was. that horrid crone I saw : shouldering herself through the crowd
that.collected .around the gate.yester "; day ?" was hisrémarlc, however.; " B*c
you remember a wizen, toothless old wretch; whose eye has more of the; Evil One in.it than that of many a young thief you 'see locked -up in the country jails ?"
.1 ? ,,"No ;1;that is, I wonder .if you riiean
Sally Perkins. She is old enough and ugly enough to answer your descrip: tic-n*; and now : I think of it, she has a way of leering; at you as you go by that is slightly , i suggestive of a somewhat ,. . bitter knowledge of the world. What
makes you ask about her ?"
: i ' : " Because abe attracted ny attention
'. I suppose. You must remember that 1
'don't know 'any1 of these people, arid
that an especially vicious-looking jicr ! son like her would be apt to awaken Í my curiosity."
" I see, I see ; but in this case I doubt if it leads to mucli. Old Sally is a hurd one, no doubt. But 1 don't be- lieve sho ever contemplated a murder, much less accomplished it. It would take ton much courage, to say nothing of strength, lt was a man's hand that struck that blow, Mr. Byrd."
" Yes," was tho quick reply-a reply given somewhat too quickly, perhaps, for it made Mr. Ferris look up inquir- ingly at tho young, niau.
" Ton take considerable interest in
the affair," lie remarked, shortly. " Well, I do not wonder. Even my old blood has been somewhat fired by its peculiar features. I foresee that your detective instinct will soon lead rou to run a risk at the game."
" Ah, then, you see no. objection to my trying for tho scent, if tho coroner persists iu demanding it ?" inquired Mr. Byrd, ivs he followed the other to the door..
"On the contrary," was the polite response.
Aim Mr. Byrdfound himself satisfied
on that score.
Mr. Ferris had no sooner left tho room than the coroner came in.
" Well," cried he, with no unneces- sary delay, " I want you." .
Mr. Byrd rose.
" Have yon telegraphed to New York?" he asked.
" Yes, and expect an answer every minute. There will he no difficulty about that. The superintendent is my friend, and will not be likely to cross me in my expressed wish."
" But-' essayed thc detective.
"We have no time for buts," broke in the coroner. " Thc inquest begins in earnest to-morrow, and'the" one' witness we most want is not found. I mean the man or thc woman who can
swear to seeing someone approach or enter the murdered woman's house be- tween thc time the milkman left it at half-past eleven and the hour she was found by Mr. Orcutt, lying upon tho floor of her ' dining ' room in a dring condition.' That such a witness exists I have no doubt. A street in which
there arc six houses, ever}* ono of which has to be passed by the person entering Widow Clemmens' gate, must produce one individual at least who can swear to what I want.' To be sure, all whom I have questioned so far say that they were cither eating dinner at thc time pr were in the kitchen , serving it up ; but, for all that, there were plenty who saw tho tramp, and two women, at least, who are ready to take their oath that they not only saw him, but watched him long enough to observe him go around to tho Widow Clemmens' kitchen door and turn
about nguiu and come away as if for nomo reason ho had changed his mind about-entering." Now. if thorp were two witnesses to «co all that, there must havo boon ono somewhere to notieo that othor porson, known or unknown, who wont through the street but a few minutos boforo th»- trainp.!,-At 'nil events, I believe such a witness can bo found, and 1 mean to have him if I call up every man, woman, or child who
was in the laue at the time. But a little foreknowledge helps a coroner wonderfully, and if you will aid me by making judicious inquiries round about, time will, be gained, and, perhaps a clue
obtained that will lead to a direct
knowledge of the perpetrator of this
crime." " '
"But," enquired the detective, willing at least, to discuss the subject with the coroner, " is it absolutely necessary that the murderer should have advanced from thc street? Is there no way he could have reached the house from the back, and so have eluded the gaze of the neighbours round about ? "
y. " Nb ; that' is, there. is < no regular path there, only a stretch of swampy ground, anything but pleasant to travel through. Of course à man with a de- liberate , purpose before him might pursue that route and subject himself to all its inconveniences ;, but I scarcely expect it of one who-who chose such au hour for--his- assault,"* thecoroner explained, with a slight stammer of em- barrassment, that did not escape the detective's notice, "nor shall I feel ready to: entertain the idea till it has been proved that no person, with the exception of those already named, wa» 'seen at any timé during that fatal half hour to advance by the usual way to the widow's house.
" Have you questioned the tramp, or in any way received from him an inti- mation of the reason why he did not go into the house after he came to it?"
"He said he heard voices quarrel- ling."
, " Of coürw be wu not upon bil oath, but as' the' 1 statement' Was' Volunteered, we have some right to credit it, perhaps."
"Did he say"-it was Mr. Byrd now ; who - lost a trifle of his fluency
" what »ortof voices lie heard? " . r.r
. "No; he is,an ignorant wretch, and moreover thoroughly . frightened. I
don't believe he would know a cultivated from ail uncultivated voice, a gentle- man's from a quarryman's. At all events, we, cannot trust to his discrirai-: nation."'" -:1 ' ;''' "?'""' ' ' """' '?."'"