|Chapter Title||THE UNFINISHED LETTER.|
|Newspaper Title||Cairns Post (Qld. : 1884 - 1893)|
|Trove Title||Hand and Ring|
Hand ¡ind King.
Br A»"A KATIIAUINK (JUKES.
THF. UNFINISHED LETTER.
"Faith, thon hast some crotchet* in thy hrail
niw."-Merry Wive* of Windsor.
" Tlien the diamond ring was really hers ?" Mr. Byrd was about to enquire,
but stopped ; something in hi* memory of tili« beautiful woman made it im- possible for him to disturb the con- fidence of the coroner in her belia», at least while bis own doubts were so vague and shadowy.
The coroner, however, observed the
young detective's hesitation, and smiled.
"Are you thinking of Süss Dare a» having anything to do with this shock- ing affair ?" he asked.
3lr. Byrd shook Iiis head, but could not hide the flush that stoic tip over his
The coroner actually laughed, a low, I soft, decorous laugh, \>ut none the less ? one of decided amusement. " Your
Vino i» not in tno direction of Knotting criminal», T must allow," said be. " VÍTiy, Mim "UiiTo >» ? not only n*
irreproachable a young lady na we have in this town, but she is a perfect stranger to this woman and all her con- cerns. I doubt if she even knew liet name till, to-day."
A laugh is "often moro potent than argument. The face of the detective lighted up, and ho looked very mani} and very handsome as lie returned thc letter to thc coroner, saying, with : sweep of his hand as if lie tossed ai unworthy doubt away for ever:
" Well, I do not want to appeal obstinate. Jf this woman dies, and tin inquest fails to reveal who lier assailau is, I will apply to New York for leavi to work up thc ease; that is, if yoi continue to desire my assistance
" You will keep your eyes open,' intimated the coroner, taking back tlTi letter and putting it carefully away ii his breast-pocket. "And now, mum!
Mr. Byrd buwed, and they wen together down the stairs.
lt was by tin's time made certain tha the dying woman was destined to linge on for some hours. She was Completel; unconscious, and her breath bare!; lifted the clothes that lay over tin slowly labouring breast ; but sud vitality as there was held its own witl - scarcely- perceptible ïhange, and th
doctor thought it might lie,' midnigh before thc solemn struggle would end " In thc meantime, expect nothing," h< exclaimed ; " she has said her last wor.l What remains will be a mere sink'i.j into the eternal sleep."
This being so, Mr. Orcutt and Mi Terri* deeided to leave. Mr. Byrd sa' them safely out, and proceeded to tak one or two private observations of hi own. They considered mostly in notin the pm-ise piiiatiou of the various door
in reference to the hearth where th
stick was picked up, and the cloe where the victim was attacked. Or, c the coroner gathered from the directio which Mr. Byrd's eye took in its travel over the scene of action, and the dit grain which he hastily drew on til back of an envelope. Thc table wa noticed too, and thu inventory of il articles taken, after which he opene the side door and looked carefully ot;
into the lane.
To observe him now with his quic eye Hashing from spot to spot, his bea lifted, ami a visiahleairofdcteriniiiatio infused through his whole hearing, yo would 'scarcely recognise the eas; gracefully indolent youth who but
little while before lounged agaiust Iii tables and chairs, and met thc nio¿ penetrating eye with the sleepy gaze ( a totally uninterested man. Dr. Trei well alert to the change, tapjied tli letter in his pocket complacently. " have roused up a weasel," he mental] decided, :iud- congratulated hunsc accordingly.
lt was two oVrock when Mr. Byt went forth to join Mr. Ferris in tl court-room. . As lie stepped from tl door, he encountered to all appearanc just the same crowd that had eucuml ered its entrance a half hour hefor Even the old crone had not moved fro
her former position, and, seeing hii: fairly pounced upon him with qucstic after question, all of which he parrie with a nonchalant dexterity that dre
shout after shout from those who stoc
bj', and, finally, as he thought, won hi the victory, for, with an angry sha! of the head, she ceased her impor unities, and presently let him pas He hastened to improve thc chance 1 gain for himself thc refuge of tl street ; and, having done this, stood fi sn instant parleying with a tremblin young girl, whose real distress an anxiety seemed to merit some attcntioi Fatal delay. In that instant the o woman had got in front of him, an when he arrived at the head of tl street he found her there.
" Now,,' said she, with full-blow triumph iii her venomous eyes, " perha; you will tell me something ! Vou thii 1 am a uui.ibling old woman who dot know what she is bothering hersc about. But I tell you I've not ke my eyes and ears open for seventy-fi yean hi this wicked world withe knowing a bit of the devil's own wo when 1 see it." Here her face gr« quite hideous, and her eyes gleam with' nil aspect of gloating over the e «he alluded to, that quite sickened t young man, accustomed though he w to the worst phases of moral depravil Leaning forward, she (leered inquiring in his face. " What has the to do wi it?" she suddenly asked, cinphasizii thu proinun with au cxpres>ive leer.
Hlie ?" he repeated, starting back " Yes, she : the pretty young lad the pert and haughty Miss Dare, th had but to speak tu make the whe crowd staiid.back. What luid she to< with it, I say? Something, or s
wouldn't be here !"
.' I don't'know what you are talki about," he replied, conscious of strauge and unaccountable dismay
thus hearing Iiis own passing doubt put , into words hy this vilo and rcpcllant 'being. "Miss Dare is a stranger. She
lias nothing to do cither with this affair or thc poor woman who has suffered by it. lier interest is purely one of sympathy."
"Hi ! and you call yourself a smart one, I daresay." And the old creature ironically di tick lcd. " Well, well, well, ».bat fools men aro ! They seo a pretty face, and blind themselves to what is written on it ns plain as black writing on a whitewall. They call it sympathy, and never stop to ask why she, of all
thc soft-hearted gals in the town, should bc thc only one to burst into that bouse like an avenging spirit! Hut it's all right." she went on, in a bitterly satirical tone. " A crime like tliis can't be covered up, however much you try ; and sooner or later wc will all know whether this young lady has had anything to do with Mrs. Clcmmens'
murder or not."
" Stop ;"' cried Mr. Byrd, struck in spite of himself by the look of meaning
with which sue said these last few words. " Do you know anything agninst Miss Dare wliicb other folk do nut? If you clo, Hpcak, niu\ let mo hoar at once what it is. But -" lit- felt very angry, though be could not for the moment tell why-" if you aro only talking to gratify your spite, and have nothing to tell me except the fact that Miss Dare appeared shocked and
anxious when sho caine from the
widow's house just now, look out what use you make of her name, or you will get yourself into trouble. Mr. Oreutt and Mr. Ferris arc not men to let you go about babbling round town about a young lady of estimable character." And he tightened the grip he had taken upon her arm and looked at her threateningly.
Thc effcet was instantaneous. Slip- ping from his grasp, she jjazed at him with a sinister expression and edged »lowly away.
TO BE CONTINUED.