Chapter 39428798

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Chapter NumberXXII
Chapter TitleCRAIK MANSELL
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article39428798
Full Date1888-05-16
Page Number4
Corrections0
Word Count1274
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleCairns Post (Qld. : 1884 - 1893)
Trove TitleHand and Ring
article text

CHAPTER XXTT.

CRAIK MANSELL.

" Bring me unto my trial when you will."

. BlJfBT VI. , "He is here." ,.

Hr. Ferris threw, aside his cigar, and looked up at Mr.' 'Byrd; 'who waa standing

before him. .

«* Yon had no: difficulty, then ?" ;

" Ko, wt. He .acted like" a man in hourly expectation of some such snmmons. At the very first intimation of your desire to see him in Sibley, he rose from his desk, with what I thought was a meaning look at Mr.' Goodman, and, after a few preparations for departure, signified he was ready to take

the next train."

" And did he ask no questions ?"

"Only one. He wished to know if I were a detective. And when I responded * Yes, observed, with jw inquiring look, 'I am

wanted as a witness, I suppose.* A sug- gestion to which I was careful to make no reply."

Mr. Ferris pushed aside his writing, and glanced toward the door. " Show him in, Mr. Byrd," said he.

A moment after Mr. Mansell entered the

room.

The District Attorney had never seen this man, and was struck at once by the force and manliness of his appearance. Half rising from his seat to greet the visitor, he

said,

" I havo to beg your pardon, Mr. Mansell. Feeling it quite necessary to see you, I took the liberty of requesting you to take this journey, my own time being fully occupied

at present."

Mr. Mansell bowed-a slow, self-possessed bow,-and advancing to the table before which the District Attorney sat, laid his hand firmly upon it nnd said :

" No apologies are needed." Then shortly '* What is it you want of me ?"

The words were almost the same as those which had been used by Mr. Hildrcth under similar circumstances, but how different was their effect! The one was the utterance of a weak man driven to bay, the other .of a strong one. Mr. Ferris, who was by no means of an impressible organisation, flashed a look of somewhat nneasy doubt at Mr. Byrd, and hesitated slightly before proceed- ing.

"We have sent for you in this friendly way," he remarked at last, " in order to give you that opportunity for explaining certain matters connected with y ur aunt's sudden death which your well-known character and good position seemed to warrant. We think you can do this. At all events I have accorded myself the privilege of so. sup- posing; and any words you may have to say

will meet with all due consideration. As

Mrs. Clemmens's nephew, yon, of course, desire to see her murderer brought to justice."

The slightly rising inflection given to the

last few words made them to all intents and

purposes a question, and Mr. Byrd, who stood near by, waited anxiously for the de- cided " Yes" which seemed the only possible reply under thc circumstances, but it did not

com*. .

Surprised, and possibly anxious, the District Attorney repeated himself.

"As her nephew," said he, "and the in- heritor of the few savings she has left be- hind her, you have but one wish on this sub- ject, Mr. Mansell ? "

But this attempt succeeded no better than the first. Beyond a slight compression of the lips, Mr. Mansell gave no manifestation of having heard this remark, and both Mr.

Ferris and the detective found themselves forced to wonder at the rigid honesty of a man who, whatever death-giving blow he may have dealt, would not allow himself to escape the prejndice of his accusers by as- senting to a supposition he and they knew

to be false.

Mr. Ferris did not press the question.

" Mr. Mansell," he remarked instead, "a person by the name of Gouverneur Hildrcth is, as you must know, under arrest at this time, charged with the crime of having given the blow that led to your aunt's death. The evidence against him is strong, and the public generally have no doubt that his

arrest will lead to trial, if not to conviction. But, unfortunately for U3, however for- tunately for him, another person has lately been found, against whom an equal show of of evidence can be raised, and it is for the I purpose of satisfying ourselves that it is but a show, we have requested your presence here to-day." '

A spasm, vivid as it was instantaneous, distorted for a moment the powerful features of Craik Mansell at the words, "another I person," but it was gone before the sentence was completed ; and when Mr. Ferris ceased he looked up with the steady calmness which made his bearing BO remarkable. .

? I »rn -wttltliifr to IMRT t-lio nnino - of lill*

freshly suspected person," he observed.

"Cannot you imagine?" asked the Dis- trict Attorney, coldly, secretly disconcerted under a gaze that held his own with such steady persistence.

The eyeballs of the other flashed like coals of ¿re.

" I think it is my right to hear it spoken," he returned.

This display of feeling restored Mr. Ferris to himself.

"In a moment, sir," said he. "Mean- while, have you any objections to answering a few questions I would like to put to you?"

" I will hear them," was the steady reply. " You know," said the District Attorney, "you are at perfect liberty to answer or not, as you; see fit. I have no desire to entrap you into any acknowledgments you may hereafter regret."

"Speak," was the sole response he re-

ceived.

" Well, sir," said Mr. Ferris, " are you willing to tell me where you were when you first heard of the assault which had been made upon you aunt?"

" I was in my place at the mill."

" And-pardon me if I go too far-were you also there the morning she was mur-

dered?"

" No, sir."

" Mr. Mansell, if you conld tell us where you were at that time, it would be of great benefit to ns, and possibly to yourself."

"To myself?"

Having shown his surprise, or, possibly, his alarm, by the repetition of the other's words, Craik Mansell paused and looked slowly around the room until he encountered Mr. Byrd's eye. There was a steady com- passion in the look he met there that seemed to strike him with <rreat force, for he at once replied that he was away from home, and stopped-his glance still fixed upon* Mr. Byrd, as if, by the very power of his gaze,

he would force the secrets of that detective's soul to. the surface.

" Mr. Mansell," pursued the District At- torney, " a distinct avowal on your part of the place where you were at that time, would be best for us both, I am sure."

" Do you not already know ?" inquired the other, his eye still upon Horace Byrd.

phaais calculated to recall the attention of his visitor to himself.

.' And may I ask," Craik Mansell quietly said, " what reason you can have for such a supposition ? .No one could have seen me here, for till to-day I have not entered the streets of this place since my visit to my aunt three months ago." .

" It was not necessary to enter the streets of this town to effect a visit to Mrs. Cleni mens's house, Mr. Mansell."

"No?"

There was the faintest hint of emotion in the intonation he gave to that one word, but it vanished before he spoke his next sen-

tence.

TO BE CONTINUED,