|Chapter Title||CRAIK MANSELL.|
|Newspaper Title||Cairns Post (Qld. : 1884 - 1893)|
|Trove Title||Hand and Ring|
Háticl and Ring.
BY AXXA KATIIAHIKE GBEES.
1 " Bring me mito tay trial when yon will."
" Andi hôw," asked Le, " can a person pass from Sibley Station to the door of my aunt's boase without going through the streets ? " "Instead -of replying, ; Mr. Ferris in- quired :
"Did;yon get: out at Sibley Station; Mr.
But the other with unmoved self-posses- sion, returned :
"I have not said so."
'. Mr. Mansell," the District Attorney now observed, " we have no motive in deceiving or even in misleading you. You were in town" on ; tíie. morning of your annfa murder, and yon were even in her house. Evidence which you cannot dispute proves this, and the question that now arises, and of whose importance we leave you to judge, is whether you were there prior to the visit of Mr. Hildreth, or after. Any proof you may have to show that it wa3 before will re-
ceive its due consideration."
A change, decided as it was involuntary, took place in the hitherto undisturbed count- enance of Craik Mansell. Leaning forward, he surveyed Mr. Ferris with great earnest-
"I asltedtbattitan," s&idhc, pointing wltli a steady forefinger at the somewhat abashed detective, "if I were not wanted here simply os a witness, and ha did not Bay No. Now, sir," be continued, turning back with a slight gesture of disdain to the District Attorney, " ivas the man right in allowing me to believe such a fact, or was he not ? X would like an answer to my question before I pro- ceed further, if yon please."
" You shall have it, Mr. Mansell. If this man did not answer you, it was probably becanBe he did not feel justified in so doing. He knew I had summoned you here in the hope of receiving such explanations of your late conduct as should satisfy me you had nothing to do with your aunt's murder. The claims upon my consideration, which are held by certain persons allied to you in this matter"-Mr. Ferris' look was eloquent of his real meaning here-"are my sole justi- fication for this somewhat nnusual method of dealing with a suspected man."
A smile, bitter, oh, how bitter in its irony ! traversed the firm-set lips of Craik Mansell for a moment, then he bowed with a show of deference to the District Attorney, and settling into the attitude of a man willing to plead his own cause, responded :
" It would be mere just, perhaps, if I first heard the reasons you have for suspecting me, before 1 attempt to advance arguments to prove the injustice of your suspicions."
" Well," said Mr. Ferris, " you shall have them. If frankness on my part can do aught to avert the terrible scandal which your arrest and its consequent developments would cause, I am willing to sacrifice thus much to my friendship for Mr. Orcntt. But if I do this, I shall expect an equal frank- ness in return. The matter is too serious for subterfuge."
The other merely waved his hand.
"The reasons/' proceeded Slr. Ferris, " for considering you a party ns much open to suspicion as Mr. Hildreth, are several. First, we have evidence to provo your great desire for-a sum of money equal to your aunt's savings, in order to introduce an in- vention which you have just patented.
.'Secondly, we can show that yon.left
your home in Buffalo the day before the I
assault, came to Monteith, the next town to this, slighted at tile remote station assigned muî^Siâûw^.oSr iS?*S3E5r" ,û'jil.' iÜ'i to a small hut back of your aunt's house where you put up for the night.
" Thirdly, evidence is not lacking to prove that while there you visited your aunt's once, if not twice j the last time on the very morning she was killed, entering the house in a surreptitious way by the bact door, and leaving it in the same suspicious manner.
" And fonrthly, we can prove that you escaped from this place as you had come, secretly, and through a difficult and round- about path over the hills.
" Mr. Mansell, these facts, taken with your reticence concerning a visit BO mani- festly of importance to the authorities to know, must strike even you as offering grounds for a suspicion ns grave as that attaching to Mr. Hildreth."
With a restraint marked as it was im- pressive, Mr. Mansell looked at the District Attorney for a moment, and then said :
" You speak of proof. Now, what proof have yon to give that I put up, as you call it, for a night, or even for an hour, in the hut, which stands in the woods back of my
aunt's honse ?"
". This," was Mr. Ferris's reply. "It is known yon were in the woods the afternoon previous to the assault upon your aunt, be- cause you were seen there in company with a yonng lady with whom yon were holding a tryst. Did you speak, sir ?.".'.
'* No !" was the violent, almost disdainful, rejoinder.
.' You did not sleep at your aunt's for her rooms contained not an evidence of having been opened for a guest, while the hut re- vealed more than on»; trace of having been used as a dormitory. I could even tell you where you cut the twigs of hemlock that served you for a pillow, and point to the place where you sat when you scribbled over the margin of the Buffalo Courier with a blue pencil, such as that I now see project- ing from your vest pocket."
'. It is not necessary," replied the young man heavily frowning. Then, with another short glance at Mr. Ferris, he again de-
" What is your reason for sitting I visited my aunt's house on the morning she was murdered ? Did anyone see mc do it ? or does the house, like the hut, exhibit traces of my presence there at that particular 'íí-irtór^íra^
almost amounting to - scorn"In his wide flashing blue eyes ; bot Mr. Ferris, glancing at the hand clutched about - the railing of the desk, remarked quietly :
" Yon do not wear the diamond ring yon carried away with yon from the tryst I mentioned ? Can it be that the one which was picked np after the assault, on the floor of Mrs. Clemmens' dining room, contd have fallen from'your finger, Mr. Mansell ?"'
A start, the first this powerfully repressed man had given, showed that his armour of resistance bad been pierced ut lust.
"How do you know," he quickly asked, " that I carried away a diamond ring from the tryst you speak of ?"
Circumstances," returned thc District Attorney, " prove it beyond a donbt. Miss
Oh, tho indescribable tone of this excla- mation ! Mr. Byrd shuddered as he heard it, and looked at Mr. Mansell with a new feeling, for which he had no name.
" MiB8 Dare," repeated the District At- torney, without, apparently, regarding the interruption, "acknowledges she returned you the ring which you endeavoured at that ?interview to bestow upon^her."
" Ah ! " The word came after a moment's pause. / 'fl see the case has been well worked up, and it only remains for meta give you such explanations as I choose to make. ) Sir,".declared he, stepping forward, and bringing his clenched hand down upon the desk at whicn Mr. Ferris was sitting, "I did not kill my aunt. I admit that I paid her a-visit I admit that I stayed in the woods back of her house, and even slept in the hut, as you have said; but that was on the day previous to her murder, and not after it. I went to iee her for the purpose
of again urging the claims of my invention upon her. I went secretly, and hy the roundabout way you describe, because I had another purpose in visiting Sibley, which ' made it expedient for me to conceal my presence in the town. I failed in my efforts to enlist the sympathies of my aunt in re- gard to my plans, and I failed also in com- passing that other desire of my heart of which the ring you mention was a token. Both failures unnerved me, and I lay in that hut all night. I even lay there most of the next morning; but I did not see my aunt again, and I did not lift my hand against
There was indescribable quiet in the tone, but there was indescribable power abo, and the look he levelled upon the District At- torney was unwaveringly solemn and hard.
" You deny, then, that you entered the widow's house on the morning of the
" It is, then, a question of veracity be- tween you and Miss Dare ?"
" She assert» she gave you back the ring you offered her. If this is BO, and that ring was in your possession after you lett her on Monday evening, how came it to be in the widow's dining-room the next morning, if you did not carry it there ?"
" I can only repeat my words," rejoined
The District Attorney replied impatiently. For. various reasons he did not wish to believe this man guilty.
" You do not seem very anxious to assist mo in iii y endeavours to reach the truth.** he observed. " Cannot you tell me what you did with the ring after you left Miss Dare? Whether yon put it on your finger, or thrust it into your pocket, or tossed it into the marsh ? If yon did not carry it to the house, someone else mnst have done so, and you ought to be able to help us in deter- mining who."
But Mr. Mansell shortly responded :
" I have nothing to say about the ring.
From the moment Miss Dare returned it to
me, as you say, it was, so far as I am con- cerned, » thing forgotten. I do not know I should ever have thought of it again, if you had not mentioned it to mo to-day. How it vanished from my possession only to re- appear upon the scene of murder, some more clever conjurer than myself must explain."
"And this is all you have to say, Mr.
Mansell ? "
" This is all I have to say."
" Byrd," suggested the District Attorney, after a long pause, during which the subject of his snspicions had stood before him ns rigid and inscrutable as a statue in bronze, " Mr. Mansell would probably'like to go to the hotel, unless, indeed, he desires to return immediately to Buffalo."
Craik Mansell at once started forward.
" Do you intend to allow me to return to Buffalo ? " he asked.
" Tes," was the District Attorney's reply. "You are a good man," broke involun- tarily from the other's lips, and he impul- sively reached out his hand, but os quickly drew it back with a flush of pride that greatly became him.
" I do not say," quoth'Mr. Ferris, " that I exempt you from surveillance. As prose- cuting attorney of this district, my duty is to seek out and discover the mon who
murdered Mrs. Clemmens, and your explana- tions have not been as full or as satisfactory as I could wish."
" Tour men will always find me nt my desk in the mill," said Mr. Mansell, coldly. And, with another short bow, he left the at- torney's side and went quickly out.
" That man is innocent," declared Mr. Ferris, as Horace Byrd leaned above him in expectation of instructions to keep watch
j over the departing visitor. " The way in
. -which Ira held out hie hand to me spoke
- -XIM. **Ä.U?C oavi a «nm-jinnee at' <7rairc
Mansell's retreating figure.
" You could not convince Hickory of that
fact," said he.