|Chapter Title||THE UNFINISHED, LETTER.|
|Newspaper Title||Cairns Post (Qld. : 1884 - 1893)|
|Trove Title||Hand and Ring|
Hand and Bing.
Bï À>XX KATUAKl51ä GbEEJT. '
TBG UNFINISHED, LETTER.
"Faith, thou hast tomo crdjtchets in thy head nosy."-Merry V. ives of Windsor.
"I know any thins?" she repeated. " What should 1 know ? I only saw the young lady's face tells a very strange story. If you are too duli or too obstinate to read it, it's nothing to me." And with another leer.and a quick look np and down the street, as if »he half feared to encounter one or both of the two lawj-ers whose naines lie had men- tioned, she marched quickly away, wagging her head and looking back as she went, as mui-li as to say : "" You have hushed me np for this time, young man, but don't congratulate yourself too much. I have still a tongue in my ligad, and the day may come when I can use it without fear of being stopped by you."
Mr. Byrd, who was not icry well
pleased with himself or the way lie liad
managed this interview, watched her
till »he waa out "of aiglit, m»«l the» turned thoughtfully toward the court- house. The fact waa, he felt agitated and confused. In the first place, he was disconcerted at discovering the extent of the impression that had evid- ently been made upon him by the bcaiitv of Miss Vare, since nothing short of a deep, unconscious admiration for her personal attributes, and a strong secret dread of having his la tel v aeon i red con- fidence in her again disturbed, could
have led him to treat the insinuations
of this babbling old wretch in a cavalier manner. Any other detective'would have seized with avidity upon the opportunity of hearing what she had to say on such a subject, and would not only hare cajoled her into confidence but encouraged her'to talk until she had given utterance to all that was on her mind. But in the stress of a feeling to which he was not anxious to give a name, he had forgotten that he was a detective, and remembered only that he was a man ; and the consequence was that he had frightened the old creature, and cut short words that it was possibly his business to hear. In the second place, he felt himself in a quandary as regarded Miss Dare. If, as was more than possible, she" wasr really the l moceiit woman the coroner considered her, and the insinuations, if not threats, te» which he had been listening were simply the result of a wicked old woman's privately nurtured hatred, how could he reconcile it to his duty as a man, or even a detective, to let the day pasa without warning her, or the eminent lawyer who honoured her with Iii» regard, of the danger in which she
stood from this creature's venomous tongue ?"
As he sat in court that afternoon, with l.is eve upon Mr. Orcutt, beneath iv hose ordinary asneut of quiet, sarcastic attention he thought he could detect the secret workings of a deep, personal perplexity, if not of actual alarm, he asked himself what he could wish done if he were that man, and a scandal of a debasing character threatened the peace of one allied to him by the most endear- ing tie.«. "Would I wish to be in- formed of it?" he queried. "I most certainly should," was the inward reply.
And so it was that, after the adjourn- ment of Gnut, lu- approached Mr. Orcutt, and leading him respectful br- aside, said, with visible reluctance :
" 1 beg your pardon, sir, but a fact has come to my knowledge to-day.- with which I think you ought tobe made ac- quainted. It is in reference to the young lady* who whs with us stMrs. Clciiiuieiis'* house this morning. Did you know, sir, that she had an enemy
in this town ? "
Mr. Orcutt, whose thought» had been very much with that young lady since she left >o unceremoniously ii few hours before, started and looked at Mr. liyrd willi surprise which was not with-
out its element of distrust.
"An enemy;" lie repented. "An
enemr! What do you meanr"
"What I say,"Mr. Orcutt. As 1
came out of Mrs. Clcmmens' bouse this afternoon, an old hag whose name I r*o not know, but whom you will probably have no diiliculty in recognising, seized me by the arm mid made me the reei Slient of insinuations and threats against Hiss Dare, which, hiwever foolish and unfounded, betrayed an animosity and a desire to injure her that is worthy your attention."
"You aro very kind,"returned Mr. Orctt, with increased a»toni»lnueiit and vlaltrtç'conBlTaini;-" but I-do not utiaer
stand yen. What insinuations or threats could thin woman have to make against a young lady of Miss Dare's position
" It is difficult for me to tell you," acknowledged Mr. Byrd ; " but the vicious old creature presumed to say that Miss Dare must have a special and secret interest in this murder, or she would iiot have gone as she did to that house. Of course,".pursued the detec- tive, discreetly dropping his eyes f.om the lawyer's face, " I did what 1 could to show her the folly of her suspicions,
and tried to make her sec the trouble
she would bring on herself if she per- sisted in expressing them ; hut 1 fear 1 only succeeded in quieting her for the moment, and she will soon be attack- ing others with this foolish story."
Mr. Orcutt who whatever his own
doubts or apprehensions, could not fail to be totally unprepared for a commu- nication of this kind, gave utterance to a fierce and bitter exclamation, und fixed upon the detective his keen and piercing eye.
" Tell me just what she said," he de- manded.
" I will try to do so," returned Mr Byrd. And calling to his aid avery excellent memory, he gare a verbatim account of the conversation that
passed between him and the old woman. Mr. Orcutt listened as be always did, without interruption or outward demon
-tration, but vvlicii the retit.il was our and Mt Jhid \entur.d tu look it hu
once more, he noticed lie was veil pile. and grutU changed in t\pussion Being himself in .1 position to under-
stand soincMli.it of the otlitr's (.motion,
lie regained b) an effort the air ot polite
nonchalance that became bun so well, and quickly suggested "Miss Dale will of course be able to ivpluii bei
'Hie Lui)cr flashed upon lum a ijiiuli glance ' ?>
"I hope >ou have no doubts on the subjtit," lie saul, then, is the di tic tivt's cvefcll a trifle betoic his, pmsod and looked at him with self possession gamed in hfteen \ear» praituc in the 11 im iii ii courts, and saul ' I am Miss Dare's best fin ud 1 know hen well, and tau truly ??u tint not onh is her character above reproach, hut th .t 1 am aiquauited with no eueuiiistaiiecs that could i . .1113 wav eonntet her vvitli this crime Netei thtless, the incidents of tlie day hate been stuh as to make it desirable for her to e\plun herself, mid this, as v,ott *av, alie will probably have no dilliiulti 111 doini: If j on will therefore wait till to morion betöre taking .1113011c into vom coull
dence, I promise )ou to see Miss Unie
i»>Bolf, anti from 1i«t own ll|>v, lunrii
tim cause of lier peculiar interest 111 tins affair Meanwhile, let me request von to put a curb 011 your imagination, and not allow it to soar too high into the ictMins of idle spctulation " ~"
And he held out his hand to the de- tect ne with a smile whose vam attempt at unconcern affetted Mr li\ rd more than a violent outbreak would have done It betrayed so unmistakably th it his on 11 secret doubts were not without cilio iii the bl0.1st of this most eminent law v cr