Chapter 39426807

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Chapter NumberXXIII-(CONTINUED).
Chapter TitleMR. ORCUTT.
Chapter Url
Full Date1888-05-23
Page Number4
Word Count2434
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleCairns Post (Qld. : 1884 - 1893)
Trove TitleHand and Ring
article text

Hand and Bing.




Not that Mr. Ferris meant, or in any wisc considered it good policy, to have Hansel arrested at this time., As the friend of Mr Orcutt, it wasmanifestly advisable for bin to present whatever evidence he possessed against Mansell directly to the, Grand Jury. For in this way he would not only save thc lawyer from the pain and - humiliation ol seeingthe woman he so much loved' called upas a witness against the man who had successfully rivalled him in her affections, but would run the .'chance, at least, of even- tually preserving from open knowledge, the various details, if not the actual facts, which had led to .this, person being suspected of crime.. For the Grand Jury is a body whose business it is to make secret inquisition into criminal offences. Its members are bound by oath to the privacy of their deliberations. If, therefore, they should find the proofs presented to them by the District Attorney insufficient to' authorise an indictment against Mansell, nothingof their proceed- ings would transpire. While, on the con- trary, if they decided that the evidence was such as to . oblige them to indict Mansell instead of Hildreth, neither Mr. Orcutt nor Miss Dare could hold the District Attornej accountable for the exposures that muBt


The course, : therefore, of Mr. Ferris was determined' upon; 'All the evidence in hil possession against both parties, together with the verdict of the coroner's jury, should go at once before the Grand Jury ; Mansell, in the meantime, being so watched that a bench-warrant ; issuing . upon the indictment would have him safely in custody

at any moment.'

But this plan for saving Mr. Orcutfs feelings did not succeed as fully as Mr. Ferris hoped. By some means or other thc rumour got abroad that another man than Hildreth had fallen under the suspicion of the authorities, and one day Mr. Ferris found himself stopped on the street by the very person he had for a week been endea- vouring to avoid.

"Mr.. Orcutt !" he cried, "how do you do ? I did not recognize you at first."

" Nof" was the sharp rejoinder.. '-I am not myself nowadays. I have a bad cold." With which impatient explanation he seized Mr. Ferris by the arm and said : " But what is this I hear? You have your eye on another ; party suspected of being Mrs.


The District Attorney bowed uneasily. He had hoped to escape thc discussion of this subject with Mr. Orcutt. -

The lawyer observed the embarrassment his question had caused, and instantly turned pale, notwithstanding the hardihood which a lone career at the bar had given him.

" Ferris," he pursued, iii a voice he strove hard to keep steady, ?'we have always been good friends, in spite of the many tilts we have had together before the court. Will yon be kind enough to inform me if your suspicions are founded upon evidence col- lected by yourself, or at the instigation of parties professing to ; know more about this murder than they have hitherto revealed ?"

Mr. Ferris could not fail to understand the true nature of this question, and out of pure friendship answered quietly :

. "I have allowed myself to look with sus- picion, upon this Mansell-for it is Mrs. Claaimtns's nephew who is at present occu- pying our attention -because the facts which have come to light in hia regard are aa crininatring in their nature as those which lum transpired in reference ia Mr. Hildreth.

" dntyreq^lres*hàs"bêen«nytrffig-but^eäs

ant to me, Mr. Orcurt. The evidence of such witnesses as will have to be summoned before the Grand Jury, is of a character to bring open humiliation, if not secret grief, upon persons for whom I entertain the high-

est esteem."

The pointed way in which this was said

convinced Mr. Orcutt that his worst fears

had been realised. Turning partly away, bnt not losing hold upon the other's arm, he observed with what quietness he could :

"You say that so strangely, I feel forced to put another question to you.. If what I have to ask strikes you with any surprise, remember that my own astonishment and perplexity. at beim; constrained to inter- rogate'you in this way, are greater than any sensation yon can yourself experience. What I desire to know ia this-Among the witnesses you have collected against this last suspected party, there are some women, are there not?"

The District Attorney gravely bowed.

" Ferris, is Miss Dare amongst them ? " " Orcutt, she is." J

With a look that expressed his secret mistrust, the lawyer gave way to a sudden burst of feeling. .

"Ferris," he wrathfully acknowledged, " I may be a fool, but I don't see what she can have to say on this subject. It is im- possible she should know anything about the murder; and, as for this Mansell-" He made a violent gesture, as if the very idea of her having any acquaintance with. the; nephew of Mrs. Clemmens were simply preposterous.

The District Attorney; who saw from this how utterly ignorant the other was con- cerning Miss Dare's relations to thc person named, felt his embarrassment increase. .'

"Mr. Orcutt," he replied, "strangeas it may appear to you, Miss' Dare has testi- mony to give of value to the prosecution, br she would not he reckoned among its wit- nesses. What that testimony is, I must leave to her discretion to make 'known to you, as she "doubtless will, if you question her with sufficient consideration. Î never forestall matters myself, nor would you wish me to tell you what would ' more becomingly come from her own lips. , But, Mr. Orcutt, this I can say, that if it had been given to

?B|il«i«-ntni- of a judicial investigation a «HOB held im' so much regard by. yourself,! 1 would have : given op ? my office with plea- sure, so keenly do I feel the embarrassment of my position and the unhappiness of yours. But any mere resignation on my part would have-availed nothing to save Miss Dare from appearing before the Grand Jury. The evidence she has to give in this matter makes the case against Mansell as strong as that - against flildreth, and it would bethe duty of any public prosecutor to recognise the fact and act accordingly."

Mr. Orcutt, who had by the greatest effort succeeded in calming himself through this harangue, flashed sarcastically at this last remark, and surveyed Mr. Ferris with a peculiar look.

"Are you sure," he inquired in a slow, ironical tone, " that she has not succeeded in making it stronger ?" ; '

The look, the tone, were unexpected, and greatly, startled Mr. Ferris. Drawing nearer tonis friend, he returned his gaze . with marked earnestness. ,

"What do you mean ?" he asked, with secret anxiety. ' v:*."

But the wary lawyer had already repented . this unwise betrayal of his own doubts.

Meeting his companion's eye with a calm- ness that amazed himself, he remarked, instead of answering :

" It was through Miss Dare, then, that your attention was first drawn to Mrs.' Clemmens's nephew ?"

"Ho," disclaimed Mr. FcrriB, hastily. " The detectives already had their eyes upon

him. Bnt a hint from her went far toward

determining me upon pursuing the matter," he allowed, seeing that hia friend was determined noon bearing tb« troth.

I " So then," observed the other, with a , stern dryness that recalled his manner at

the bar, " she opened a communication with you herself?"

"Yea." . . ,, It was enough. Mr. Orcutt dropped the arm of Mr. Ferris, and, with his usual hasty bow, turned shortly away. The revelation which he believed himself to have received in this otherwise far from satisfactory inter- view, was one that he could not afford to share-that is, not yet ; not while any hope

remained that circumstances would so

arrange themselves as to mate it unnecessary for. him to do so. If Imogene Dare, out of

her insane - desire : to i free Gouverneur Hildreth from the suspicion that oppressed him, had resorted to perjury and invented evidence tending'to 'show the guilt of another party-and remembering her ad- missions at their last interview and the lan- guage she had used in her.letter of farewell, no other conclusion offered itself-what alternative was left him but to wait, till he had seen her before he proceeded to an in- terference that would separate her from himself by ' a gulf still, greater than that which already existed between them ? To be sure, the jealousy which consumed him, the passionate rage that seized hia whole being when he thought of all she dared do for the man she loved, or that he thought she loved, counselled him to nip this attempt of hers in the bud, and by means of a word to Mr. Ferris, throw such a doubt upon her veracity as a witness against this new party as should greatly influence the action of the former in

the critical business he had in hand. Hut

Mr. Orcutt, while a prey to unwonted panions, had not yet lost control ot his' reason, and reason told him that impulse was an unsafe guide for him to follow at thiB time. Thought alone-deep and concentrated thought-would help him out of this crisis with honour and safety. V But thought would not come at call. In all his: quick walk home but one mad sentence formulated itself in his brain, and that was : " She lores him so, she is willing to perjure herself for his sake!" Nor, though he entered his door with his usual bustling air and went through all the customary observances of the hour with an appearance of no greater abstraction and gloom than had characterised him ever since the departure of Miss; Dare, no other idea obtruded itself upon his mind than this : " She loves him so, she is willing to perjure herself for his sake !"

£ven the sight of his books, his papers, and all that various paraphernalia of work and study which gives character to a law- yer's library, was insufficient to restore his mind to its usnal condition of calm thought and accurate judgment. Not till the clock struck eight and he found himself almost without his own volition at Professor Dar- ling's house, did he realize all the difficul- ties of his position and the almost intoler- able nature of the undertaking which had been forced upon him by the exigencies. of

the situation.

Miss Dare, who had refused to sec him at first, came into his presence with an ex- pression that showed him with what re- luctance she had finally responded to his peremptory message. But in the few heavy moments he had been obliged to wait, he had schooled himself to expect coldness if

not absolute rebuff. He therefore took no

heed of the haughty air of inquiry which she turned upon him, but came at once to the point, saying almost before she had closed the door :

" What is this you have been doing, Imogene ?"

A flush, such as glints across the face of a^marble statue, visited for a moment the still whiteness of her set features, then she replied :

"Mr. Orcntt, when I left your house I told you I had a wretched and unhappy duty to perform, that, wtón once accom- plished, would separata us for ever. I have

There was a sad weariness in her tone, a sad weariness in her face, hut he seemed to recognise neither. The demon jealousy that hindrance to all unselfish feeling-had gripped him again, and thc words that came to his lips were at once hitter and master-


"Imogene," he cried, with as much wrath in his tcm¿ as he had ever betrayed in her presence, " you do not answer my question. I ask you what yon have been doing, and you reply, your duty. Now, what do you mean by duty ? Tell me at once and distinctly, for I will no longer be put off by any round- about phrases concerning a matter of such vital importance."

"Tell you?",. Tins repetition of his words had a world of secret anguish in it which he could not help but notice. She did not succumb to it, however, but con- tinued in another moment : You said to me, in the last conversation we held to- gether, that Gouverneur Hildreth could not be released from' his terrible position with- out a distinct proof of innocence or the ad- vancement of such évidence against another as should turn suspicion aside from him into a new and more justifiable quarter. I could not, any more than he, give a distinct proof of his innocence ; but 1 could furnish the authorities with testimony calculated to arouse suspicion in a fresh direction, and I did it. For Gouverneur Hildreth had to be saved at any price-at any price"

The despairing emphasis she laid upon the last phrase went like hot steel to Mr. Orcutt's heart, and made his eyes blaze with almost uncontrollable passion.

"Je ne rois ya« la necestiU," said he, in that low, restrained tone of bitter sarcasm which made his invective so dreaded by opposing counsel. " If Gouverneur Hildreth finds himself in an unfortunate position, he has only his own follies and inordinate desire for this woman's death to thank for it. Be- cause you love him and compassionate him beyond all measure, that is no reason why you should perjure yourself, and throw the burden of his shame upon a man as innocent

as Mr. Mansell."

But the tone, though it had made many a witness quail before it, neither awed nor

intimidated her.

But here she paused. " -You will excuse me from saying more," she. said. " You, as a lawyer, ought to know that I should not be compelled to speak on a subject like this except under oath." .? ,. ;

" Imogene ! " " A change had passed over Mr. Orcutt.; "Imogene, do you mean to affirm that you really have charges to make against Craik Mansell; that this evidence you propose to give is' real, and not manu- factured for the purpose of leading suspicion

aside from Hildreth ? "