Chapter 63104717

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Chapter NumberI
Chapter TitleThe Wager.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63104717
Full Date1893-12-23
Page Number9
Corrections0
Word Count23387
IllustratedY
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleIllustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 - 1872)
Trove TitleThe Story of a Jewelled Belt
article text

CHAPTER I. The Wager.

Lord Edward Dart was enjoying his breakfast. At his time of life fresh eggs, hot toast, grilled chops, and fragrant coffee, with suggestions of creamy foam about it, are still an enjoyment. His Lordship was not more than 32 or 33 years of age, with the fair hair, sanguine complexion, and pug- nacious blue eyes and big frame character- istic of the Saxon Englishman.

" Dick " Chester, who sat opposite him at the table, was of a darker tj-pe, leaner and more restless. He was not enjoying his breakfast so much, apparently, for he withdrew his attention every now and then from the eat- ables to glance at the columns of the morn- ing paper, which was spread out on the table

beside him.

" By the way," Lord Dart exclaimed, " I saw that girl who came out on the Empress with us, yesterday.

" Which one ?" queried Chester.

"Why, Miss Leigh ; the girl with the

oxide of iron hair."

Chester looked up with an air of interest. " Where did you see her?" he asked.

" I believe you're a bit smitten there, Dick," he said, with a laugh. " Perha,ps I'd better not tell you. . "You might got your wings singed." -

" What rubbish !" returned his friend, with a little pique.

" Well," his Lordship continued, " it was in Collins-street. I was just coining from a visit to II-, at Government House, keeping a general survey of the streets from the front of the cab, you know "-and his Lordship, horrible as it may seem to the worthy people who worship aristocracy, winked slyly-" when I noticed an uncom- monly fine figure in an uncommonly becom- ing dress on the right band side of the road. As I leaned out to see if the face corres pondcd with the figure; she turned. It was Marian Leigh, and, by- Jove, she looked spanking! You know, Chester, 1 like nature to do her work completely. A good fijrure and a plain face strike me as being outrage-

ous-and vice versa.

" Yes," Chester observed, " Miss Leigh in an unusually fine-lóoking girl, and, I believe, as good as she is good-looking. And he pointed this last sentence by a significant look straight into his friend's

eyes.

" Oh, I've no doubt, old fellow-none in the world. If there's anything to test a woman's steadiness it's a long trip on the water, particularly. when, like Miss Leigh, she's travelling alone. You see it conduces to flirtation, being boxed up in Í confined space like a ship, no matter hov big it is, and then there's something in tin sea air which inclines you to make love more, just as it makes you eat more." Anc Lord Dart ' looked down with complacence on the already far from indifferent pauncl which a long line of heavy-feeding anees tors had bequeathed him, with his fair hai and ruddy face.

" What a lot of vitality you have," ob served Chester, surveying his friend criti ! cally.

The two certainly presented a contrast The type of Englishmen Lord Dart represe nte< is getting rarer. The sanguine face an fighting blue eyes and the fair hair ar vanishing. The race is fast becomin, shadowed by thought. Lord Dart was blui and outspoken, with a touch of Gallic move ment and spontaneity.

Chester was spare, though of large frann He was conservative of movement, thoug not languid, and had that self-repressed ai which characterises the more common typ of English gentleman. He had a good dec I more intellect than his. friend, and a pair c I calni grey eyes full of power and discern

ment.

You could imagine Lord Dart as one wh lived largely for the pleasure of the momen -that is, for the joy of the senses. On th other hand, Chester would strike you-pre suming you were a person of observation

as one to whose banquets intellect and spirit were habitually invited.

But they were fast friends.

" I'd like to see that girl again," Chester observed. " She interested me amazingly. Her talk , when she let herself out was quite stimulating, and there was a delightful atmosphere of that mystery about her which is such a sauce to a woman's attractiveness. She was melancholy, too, at times," he went on, reflectively. " I think she was in trouble of some kind-trouble she was forced to bear alone-and that has a spiritualising effect upon a fair woman's fairness: at least I think so..' Your perfectly happy woman is an animal .simply. No human being has

any right to be perfectly happy, you know,

Dart."

" What a beggar you are for philosophis- ing about the commonest things, Dick," broke in.his Lordship. " Now, if a woman is pretty that's all I ask."

" Probably," returned Chester, coolly ; ." but your personal arbitrament does not settle the question. Matter is capable of many beauties, but is perfect only Avhen we see it united to something higher, which we call spirit."

"Pooh! you can't see spirit," said Lord Dart, contemptuously.

" Certainly not ; but you cari see its han- diwork in the face, and you can hear its in

flection in the voice. Suffering is the indis^ pensable thing to make a beautiful face or character, just as sorrow sweetens song; sympathy and insight are among its offspring, and sympathy, you know, is love. And, undoubtedly, a plain face even may be so chastened by sorrow as to appear beamtiful. The humblest laborer out there on the road who has learnt the lessons of Borrow, though he has learnt nothing else, is many steps superior-measured by our conception of

the ideal man-than the aristocratic Oxford

graduate who has got half .through life and still retains the capacity to smack his lips over buttered toast." And with a sly glance at his friend, who winced visibly at the last thrust, Chester began again the perusal of the paper.

After a few minutes he looked up.

" "What a number of suicides and trage- dies of various kinds there are in Mel- bourne, Dart. Have you noticed ?"

" No," replied his friend ; " I dislike read- ing about such things."

" That filthy gutter they call the Yarra seems in a fair way to rival the reputation of the Thames and the Seine for the tragic. Ugh ! the poor wretches must, indeed, find life unhappy who elect to extinguish, it in

such stuff."

The peer evidently shared his friend's dis- gust, for he spat with considerable emphasis, and proceeded to light a cigar, probably to

take . the taste of the Yarra out' of his

mouth.

" Here's a case," Chester went on, " in this morning's paper which is rather out of the ordinary : < On the morning of the day be- fore yesterday," he read, ' a number of boys playing near the brink of the river bank found the dead body of a man lying in a few inches of water. The bank at this place is steep, rising about 15 feet abruptly from the water. The body when found was completely

naked. It bore no marks of violence.

In the afternoon an inquest was held. Dr. Higgles, who conducted a post mortem upon the body, deposed that the organs of the deceased were perfectly sound. The cavities of the lungs were inflated, so that death had not ensued from drowning. There were slight signs which indicated concussion of the brain, and judging from the place in which deceased was found, he was inclined to believe that death had resulted from this cause. A fall from a height upon a sub- stance too soft to injure the head exteriorly might yet be sufficient to induce concussion of the brain . His attention had been called to a blue mark encircling the body of the deceased aboiit the wáist. That had no connection with the death of the subject of the inquest. It arose from the pressure of a band which the deceased wore when alive, probably a stiff leather band. The police were of the opinion that the deceased had stripped with the intention of having a swim, and had dived from the bank, miscal- culating the height of the bank and the depth of the water beneath, and alighting on his head had received the shock which resulted in his death. His clothes had probably been stolen by some wandering thief, and these, if recovered, might lead to identification. The .police have the matter in hand. The jury

returned a verdict of accidental death.'

" Now," went on Chester as he laid the paper aside, " it strikes me that this is not

a case to be dismissed in this way. It is quite possible' that, instead of being a death from accident, this may be a murder. Many such crimes are com- mitted through the year in every great city which never see the light of day."

" But," interposed Lord Edward " there were no marks of violence upon the body in question."

i( Ah, precisely !" said Chester. " Your ordinary policeman or detective is helpless in the face of extraordinary crime. Given a

" Well" said Chester, . . . " although Tm a poor man £10,000 is not sufficient to I

induce me to turn detective, but your wager would be in danger if you doubled it" . I " Very well," promptly replied his Jriend, " it's doubled." ' . " 6

death, which has not apparently been pro- duced by violence or poison, and they imme- diately assume that it is not the result of murder. To slay a man it is not necessary

to crush him with a sledge hammer or to j use an ounce of strychnine to poison him. Even in the centuries gone by there were murderers who knew of methods by which to compass their foul and deadly aims without recourse to

such ostensible means. And recollect that

we live in the last decade of the 19th \ century, an age of science, which, together with the advantages and benefits it confers

upon the race, also furnishes the criminal j of the day with new and deadlier instru-

ments of crime. We have yet seen only the . bright side of the change which science has \ brought to life. Something more remains to be learned. For instance, where the

revolutionary of Old Paris fought with i an old musket behind a barricade of carts j and stones torn from the pavement, his counterpart of to-day manufactures in the

laboratory of the chemist a bomb, the size of a \ walnut, which before to-day has blown a f] Czar to pieces and reduced a soldier's | barrack to splinters. Some day when the j; proletariat takes into its many heads the | idea of having revenge upon the caste of ¡j which you, my Lord, are so distinguished a jj member, and proceeds to put into execution f its schemes for the re-organisation of society J the troops opposed to them will have to fight j a secret force, every man of which may carry j between his finger and thumb material for j

the death of 50 men." j

" Upon my word, Chester, you draw a ; pretty picture of the future. However, the j world will last my time." ¡

"Perhaps; but you aristocrats may pursue j

that laissez faire policy too far."

" Oh, nonsense, Dick ! Are you trying to j frighten me ? You cannot do that, you know, for, setting aside everything else, I have never found that penetrative intelli

-. II gence upon winch you pride yourself borne j j out by the fact." 11

" Indeed," said Chester, a little nettled, j j " and when did you ever know me to pride j j myself upon my ' penetration ?"' i

" Scores of times," replied his Lordship- jj "scores of times, Dick. Why, just now ]

you assumed that you could penetrate the

Yarra mystery." \

" Perhaps I could, too," said Chester, j i

shortly. |

" Now, look here, Dick," went on his^Lord* [(

ship, delighted at having found a weak spot in the ordinarily invulnerable armor of cool- ness and imperturbability in which his friend enveloped himself, " I'll tell you what I'll do ; I'll bet you £5000 to a bottle of cham- pagne that you don't find out that this man

was murdered."

" Thank you," said Chester, curtly.

"Yes," Lord Edward went on, with an irritating air, " and 111 go further than that. I'll make you the same wager that you can't

even discover this dead man's name."

" Well," said Chester, as coolly as he could, " although I'm a poor man, £10,000

is not sufficient to induce me to turn detec-

tive, but your wager would be in danger if you doubled it."

" Very well," promptly replied his friend,

" it's doubled."

" In what time must I unravel this mystery ?" inquired Chester, as he took out his pocket book to enter the bet.

" I'll give you six months from to-day. This is March 16. This day six months I shall do myself the pleasure of drinking a couple of bottles of champagne with you

j_»

" Or of giving me a cheque for £20,000," interrupted Chester.

Lord Edward leant back in his chair, and laughed with evident gusto.

" What a capital joke for our friends," he

said.

" Why should it be. a joke ?" asked Chester, who had now recovered his cool- ness. " Don't you think that I have brains enough to make a detective."

" The fact of it is," said his Lordship, patronisingly, " you've been reading too much of Sherlock Holmes recently, and are bitten with the detective mania. You're not the first I've met taken so. Quite a number of fellows fancy that they could do better detective work than any man Scotland Yard can send out, and do it in an easy amateur way, like that Dupin, of Edgar Allen Poe, the French fellow, who discovered those curious crimes in the Rue Morgue, you know, lt's a harmless delusion, though, and does not cost a nj' of them as much as it will cost you."

" How much, is that ?" asked Chester.

" The price of the champagne," said his Lordship, laughing, " together with a few days of useless inquiry, which will pro- bably lead to your being looked upon aa a

lunatic."

" Is that all you wish to say ?" inquired Chester, rising from his chair.

" That's all, Dick," said his friend, with an

amused look.

" Very well, my friend, I'm going out,"

said Chester.

" May I ask where ?" .

"I'll tell you when I return," replied Chester, as he left the room.

Lord Edward read the paper, yawned, smoked several cigars, then, taking his gloves and hat, strolled down Collins-street.

" Perhaps," he thought to himself-" per- haps I may meet Miss Leigh."

It was evident that he vieAved the

possibility of such a meeting with pleasure. Lord Edward had ¡ been attracted, with other gentlemen- on board the Empress, hy Marian Leigh's beauty and intellect, and, though not in love with her, it was quite possible that his feeling towards her might grow into that with a very little more of the provocation which the contemplation of these things afforded. It was, therefore, with more than ordinary attention that the blue eyes of the peer swept the streets as he strolled leisurely along.

" I'd like to meet her," he thought. " If I go to Tasmania to-morrow I may lose sight of her altogether. I really think Chester's a bit sweet on her. Well, a girl like Miss Leigh would make him a capital wife. The same, by the way, applies to me."

When he had arrived at this stage in his cogitations he reflected with surprise that this was the first time such a thought had

occurred to him.

" That's just like me," he muttered. " I'm always too late. There's a splendid girl fairly handed over to my company for five weeks who would have made just the handsome, sensible wife a fellow like me wants. And I've only just discovered this when the voyage is ended, when she has gone, goodness only knows where. Why

couldn't / have fallen in love with her ?"

A rueful look clouded Lord Edward's ruddy visage for a moment, but his was not a nature to be long distressed, and when he returned to lunch after a fruitless peram- bulation of the city, it was with an appetite

which hore indisputable testimony to his peace of mind.

His friend Chester arrived a few minutes afterwards.

" Well, Dick, where have you been ?" Lord Edward inquired.

His friend looked at him gravely.

" To the morgue," he answered quietlj-.

" Why, what made you go there?" Lord Edward asked, in a startled manner,

" I went to see the poor fellow who was drowned."

" Oh ! " exclaimed Lord Edward.

No more was said until the two friends sat down to lunch. After an interval the

peer broke the silence.

"I say, Dick," he said, " you know I was only joking this morning when I chaffed you about that busi-

ness. You don't mean

to say that you're going through with it ?"

"Aye, but I am, though," returned Chester, coolly.

" That's nonsense, Dick. Why, what

about our tour?"

" That must go to the wall at present as far as I am concerned," said Dick. " I am now con vinced that a cruel murder has been committed on a defenceless old man, and I'll tiy what I can do to solve the circum- stances surrounding his fate."

His Lordship looked perplexed, and made a gesture of dissent.

(ííFm delighted to meet you again, Miss Leigh? he remarked, as they shook hands:1

" It's no use advancing objections, Dart. I am not the man to turn back when once I have put my hand to the plough, as you know," said Dick, firmly.

" I know you've got enough obstinacy for a dozen, if that's what you mean," growled his friend. " I'd like to know what I am to do while you're on this wild-goose hunt." And his Lordship pushed his chair back from

the table in unmistakable irritation.

" Go on one yourself," replied Dick, with

a smile, " You've got a couple of excellent guns, and I believe up in Gippsland there are plenty of wild geese or ducks. Go and have a shot at them, and look round you to see what the colony is like."

" Well, I suppose I'll have to knock out somehow," said his lordship, with an air of resignation ; " but it's a shabby trick to

serve a fellow, to desert

him after bringing him all the way from Eng- land, just when things wore getting lively,

too."

" It was your chal- lenge that made me take the case up first, you know," Dick re- minded him, " and now I'm interested in it for its own sake. What

are we going to do this

afternoon ?"

" Nothing," replied

Lord Edward. . " What

do you say to a ride ?"

" That's as good as anything else, I sup- pose."

" Come along, then,"

said Dick.

CHAPTER IL Marian Leigh.

A week after the in-

quest npon the body

found in the Yarra Mr. Chester was lying in bed thinking. Happy is the man whose antebreakfast thoughts are welcome things. Ile is in a moral condition analgous to the physical state of the individual who can. sit down to an early breakfast with a brisk and vigorous appetite independent of sauces or pick-me-ups, condimental or otherwise. That

was a worldly-wise woman who cautioned her daughter " never to marry a bad break- fast man." In this pithy Frenchy admoni- tion lies a whole world of sad experience.

Chester's thoughts, though not absolutely disagreeable, were evidently highly perplex- ing. Lord Uart had passed over the Straits to Tasmania the previous day. He had pressed Chester, unavailingly to accompany him, but this the latter had obstinately refused to do. He was determined to persist

in his detective enterprise, though as yet he had not the faintest conception of the manner in which he was to perform the task he had so recklessly set himself. Though he held to his conviction that a murder had

been perpetrated, that, so far, was unsup- ported by proof. Truth to tell, in the mornings Chester had always admitted to himself that his chances of making any dis-

coveries were exceedingly remote, unless by (

the aid of accident. I

He had tried all the methods so uniformly [ successful in detective stories. He had j looked for clues, and had found none. He had visited the spot where the body was found, had seen the high bank, and gazed long and steadfastly at the muddy water of the stream beneath, as if like some magic mirror it would give back the solution of the secret which perplexed him.

He had analysed and synthetised from the data in his possession, like Dupin and Sherlock Holmes and Lecocq, but all in vain. The result so infallibly achieved by these gentlemen of the police failed to reward his ratiocination. At the end of his first 24 hours of serious investi- gation he had arrived at the conclusion that the only clue in his possession was the certainty that in life the deceased had worn a belt of some stiff: material about his body. The doctor who had conducted the post mortem had explained to him that the belt could not have been worn for any reasons of

ill-health.

"In fact," he said to Chester, " it must have been decidedly uncomfortable, for it was of hard, stiff material, and left a depressed mark quite round the body. Why he wore such a thing I can't for the life of

me make out."

To this stage Chester's investigations had advanced. Not many men are' in the habit of wearing a cincture of this kind, and our amateur detective deter- mined to use this knowledge in en- deavoring to ascertain the identity of the dead man. This discovered, he would win one of Lord Dart's wagers, and prevent his friend from having the laugh at

him.

The previous eveninghehadhad published an advertisement requesting anjHbody who knew of anybody else who was in the habit of wearing a stiff band of metal or other material around the body to communicate with D.C., General Post Office,, and promising a reward for reliable information.

Till he received au answer to this adver-

tisement he was obliged to remain quies-

cent in the matter.

Naturally being of au active temperament, his thoughts reverted to some other means of employing his time, and, curiously enough, he began to think in this connection of Marian Leigh. Ho had been correct in telling his friend that their fellow -passen ger had interested him. ; And he felt himsell wishing that the voyage

could have been indefinitely extended, and that the Empress . could have gone on for long ploughing through the green' sea. How long he did not stop to consider, as long as Marian Leigh might have been by his side,

and he could have lost himself in the beau-

tiful earnest eyes shining under the foam white brow. Just when things were getting dangerous for him the voyage had ended, and the passengers had scattered as a bundle of leaves flies before a gust of wind.

" It did me good, though, to meet that girl," he reflected. " She is one in whom

the woman God made has never been un-

made by the world. Very different from the majority of Avomen I have known. The creatures who set their caps at Dart, for instance, because he is a peer, and hits £25,000 every six months, what a herd

of artificial, cunning, mercenary, ambitious :

women they were-gills too, some . of them scarcely done, one would think, with their schoolbooks. Being a poor devil, they let me alone, and the looker-on sees most of the game. But, by Jove, Miss Leigh cared no more for poor Dart's title and rent roll, than she did for plain Dick Chester. On the whole, I think

she cared a little m'ore for the commoner

than the peer. Now, when I met her I was nearly becoming a cynic, and that is a dis- agreeable thing. For, after all, what is a cynic unless a philosopher turned bad ? I'd very much like to see her again, perhaps Gently, gently, Dick. What right has a poor man like you even to think of a

wire ?"

And Dick yawned and stretched his long limbs before springing out of bed.

As he glanced at the morning papers to see that his advertisement liad appeared

correctly, he was struck hy an advertise- ment which read as follows :

" Will Richard Leigh, from Salisbury, England, send his address to or call on Marian, -. Hotel, Melbourne? Very

anxious."

" Phew !" whistled Chester. " That's Miss

\ Marian's business here, is it ? In search of

1 a lost or runaway parent. Here now is a I chance for me. Perhaps I can assist her in ¿I her search ; I'll call on her at once."

' On leilection, however, it occurred to

Chester that he could not do this without appearing intrusive. A way out of the difficulty suggested itself after a short re- flection. There was no reason why he should not transfer himself to her hotel.

This he accordingly did, satisfied that residence at the same hotel Avould give him many opportunities of meeting with Marian. And he was right.

That very afternoon, as he was enjoying a cigar in the smoking room, he caught a glimpse of a tall, slight figure hurrying along the passage which passed the door.

It was Marian Leigh. She was dressed for a walk, and almost before she descended the steps Chester was by her side.

The color on her cheeks deepened as she recognised him.

" I'm delighted to mèet you again, Miss Leigh," he remarked, as they shook hands.

Miss Leigh made no reply other than by a look which certainly did not show any dis- pleasure at his presence.

Dick told her that he was lodged at the

same hotel as herself.

" Indeed !" she remarked. " It is strauge that I did not see you before to-day."

" Not at all," said Dick, with a smile, " considering that I came onLy to-day."

"Oh!" said Marian, simply.

For a few minutes they walked on in silence. Dick wished to offer her all the assistance he could in her endeavors to find her friend, but was at a loss how to do'so without presumption. Marian had not summoned him to her aid, nor had she made him a confidant of her secret. How, theuj could he launch into the subject without the appearance of impertinent intrusive-

ness ? .

As they walked on Chester noted ho\ç eagerly Marian scanned the faces of thc men they passed in the streets. There'was an anxious look in her eyes, which told as plainly as words that she was expecting oi hoping to find some face which she knew. Ile at once concluded that she was search- ing for the person she had advertised for. '

, It struck him as curious, however, thai she passed by the well-dressed aiid prosper looking men in the street without.a glance but the unemployed working man and tin loafer she subjected to keen scrutiny.

It pained him to note the evident distress: iu her face, and the shadow which anxiety and grief had thrown over her ordinarily bright face. .

A womanly-sweet face it was, with capa- cities of loving wifehood and tender mother- hood suggested by it, as should be the case with every woman's face. She had large gazelle-eyes of blue, a short, straight nose, a curving, red lipped mouth-rather large, perhaps, foi perfection, but set inside with rows of pearls -and a chin firm and level, with the fore- head in the Greek way. Of her hair all thal

Chester knew was that it was like coils ol sublimated rust from which the sun drew

lights like gleams of burnished copper. Hei height made her proportions appear slender, but the curves of her lissom figure and the roundness of her arm showed that she was not thin. The serious sweetness of her face, with its waiting, anxious look, struck Chestei j when he saw her first, and now looking, ai ; her keenly he saw that her face was begin I ning to wear a wasted look, quite inconsis

t tent with the girl's obvious youth.

Dick determined to tender her his assist-

ance.

" Miss Leigh," he began, " is there an j way in which I can be of service to yor while you are in Melbourne ; if so, I shall be only too pleased to offer you any assist- ance you require ?"

Marian looked at him inquiringly. Dick thought the bold policy the best.

" I may tell you that I saw an advertise- ment in this morning's papers which I con- nected with you. If I am right in thinking that you are looking for anybody in Mel- bourne, perhaps I can help you."

As he said this it suddenly struck him that it might be a lover or husband thal Marian was in search of. What did lu

know of her past history ? The suspicion rendered him very uncomfortable, despite the suggestions of his philosophy that it wat

no business of bis. The next words of Marian's were ominous.

" You are right, Mr. Chester, in thinking that the advertisement was mine. I am in search of someone very dear to me. I have neither brother nor sister." Here Marian's

voice faltered.

" Confound it !" thought Dick. " A nice thing I've brought on myself promising to look up the other fellow, I'm such a bright detective, too." And he smiled a little bit- terly as he thought of his helplessness in the face of the other mystery he had pledged himself to solve. Positively his face looked for a moment as if the philosopher in him was about to become a cynic again.

Marian resumed-" I thank you y er j much for your assistance, Mr, Chester, and will gladly avail myself of it. You know some 10 years ago my darling-'('Cool that,' thought Dick)-was in some dreadfu fight in Africa with the natives, and receivec a wound in his head which affected hi brain. (' A lunatic, by Jupiter,' though Dick.) And sometimes he forgets who h is altogether, and goes away from home an<

"Mr. Peter Newton,, the landlord of the Golden Crown, . . . had a round, head,

clothed, in stubbly hair of a curious hue, made up of a desperate struggle between the original red and the grey of advancing years "

gets into all sorts of trouble.' ('.Ha! ii blackguard as well as a lunatic,' commented Dick to himself. ) He is quite helpless without me," went on Marian. " Once he went right

off to America to San Francisco. There he

spent what money he had, and for a whole month was walking about homeless and al- most foodless till accidentally the British Consul discovered who he was, and had him sent back to England. This time he cashed a cheque for £500, and took a lot of valuable gems with him. (< Worse and worse ; a lunatic, blackguard, and thief all in one. 'Pon my word, Marian, I didn't think it of you,' was Dick's inward note.) So that this lime," Marian went on, " he will have plenty to support him.

" Latterly, before his last attack came on, he had been reading a good deal about Aus- tralia, particularly about Melbourne, and on one occasion he asked me whether I would like the voyage out. These things lead me to believe that he has come to Australia. Per-,

haps he is in Melbourne j but as I have been

advertising every day since I arrived, and have received no answer, it is probable that he has not seen the advertisement. If he has even, and is not in his right mind, he would not recognise its reference to himself. It nearly breaks my heart to think of him in a strange country and so helpless. I am really quite at a loss how to search for him, and all I can think of is to walk the streets all day and look in the face of every unfortunate man that I see. But the faces are all strange and cold, and now I am beginning to despair of ever seeing the face I love best on

earth."

"Humph!" thought Dick, whose natural reserve was shocked by this naked admission of affection, " decidedly indelicate. I'm afraid I was mistaken in you, Marian."

But as he looked at Marian's face and saw how piteous it was, and how the tears stood in the eyes through which her troubled soul looked out like a wounded hare, he

relented.

" Well, Miss Leigh," he said, "the search is, I am afraid, rather a' wild one. Have

you thought of calling in the aid of the police ?"

" Yes," said Marian, " I was about to lay

the case before them this afternoon."

" That is. the best thing you can do," said Dick. " Meanwhile, you may count on me at any time."

This means nothing, or, if anything, was practically a withdrawal of the assistance which Dick had so profusely proffered before he had been made aware of the circum- stances of the case.

Marian saw the change with a woman's quickness.

" Thank you, Mr. Chester," she said coldly ; " but perhaps I will have no occa- sion to trouble. The police, I have no doubt, can do more in these matters than private people. Good afternoon."

And with a grand bow she swept away.

Dick looked after her for a while.

" There goes a woman 1 was nearly mak- ing myself a fool over. But how was I to know she had a husband ? It must be a

husband j for his name is Leigh. Of course ! | what rubbish-she called him her darling, | and loves him best on earth. And here I was js fancying she was partial to me. Dick Chester, | what has come to you ? Your London friends li looked on you as a sensible, worldly-wise 'j sort of person, and you looked on yourself jj as a philosopher, whereas, after all, as it {; turns out, you're only a fool. Dart was ii right. I have no penetration. A pity I .¡¡I didn't go to Tasmania with him. The best jj thing I cati do is to join him, give him the ¡¡j fizz, and own myself an ass. But Marian is jj a sweet woman, and it's a pity she did not jj have better fortune than to marry such a || fellow as this runaway lunatic husband of jj hers. Heigho ! I was nearly having a jj rather disastrous romance. If," concluded ¡

he, "I don't get an answer to my asinine l'\ advertisement to-morrow morning, I'll j

cut away to Tasmania by the first boat." j;

The next morning, however, brought no \\ response to his personal. p

In glanciug over the paper he read the jj following advertisement : j!

" If Richard Jenkins does not return to the j< Golden Crown and settle his account imme- jjj diately his box will be sold to defray ex- jij penses. li

PETER NEWTON, Licensee." jj " Now," said Dick to himself, " here is a j missing man. He may be only one of the i ordinary scamps who run lip a score at an I hotel and then skip. On the other hand, he !

may be, perhaps, the man who was mur- 1 dered, for murdered he was, I'm convinced. jj I'll probably have my trouble for nothing. ii but in any case I'll go' and interview Mr. j Peter Newton." |jj

Accordingly, after breakfast, he proceeded j on his errand. In the vestibule of the hotel H he encountered Marian Leigh. She passed li him with a smileless face and a scarcely | perceptible bow. Her face still wore its jj; anxious look, and Dick felt a longing desire ;

to go and comfort her in some vague way. jj; His reception was, however, so uncertain j that he hesitated, and then the opportunity f massed away, as Marion betook herself to the ii l idies' sitting-room. jj

" She thinks me a cad, I suppose," he |.

thought. " Well, perhaps I am," and with I this consoling admission he went his way." il

The Golden Crown was a fairly large

hotel, situated in Lonsdale-street, but by il no means in a respectable portion of the il

city. ^ j

As Dick entered the bar he noticed a few

rough-looking characters seated before huge | tumblers of colonial beer, while a blowsy- .\ looking man, short and fat, minus a coat, ] and with his shirt sleeves folded to the jj elbows, was dexterously wiping a number j of similar glasses with a dirty towel, a pro- j ceeding which a mongrel dashed with a j bull-dog watched with winking eyes from j his position in a ring of expectoration on

the floor. j

" Well, sir, what's for you ?" said the j blowsy man, briefly. j

" I wish to speak to the landlord," said j Chester. jj

"Well, you're a doin' of it," was the ! answer. ' j

CHAPTER III. ' j

Mr. Richard Jenkins.

The landlord was evidently in a surly ; j humor. That, indeed, was the normal con- ¡ j dition of this-excellent man, induced by a \i bulldog temperament bestowed upon him by jil nature, which a conscientious devotion^ to his i jj

own delectable liquors intensified. ?

" He had a round head clothed in stubby I j hair of a curious hue, made up of a desperate i[ struggle between its original red and the j; grey of advancing years. The flesh beneath j; his eyes was puffy and inflamed, and there ¡¡ and in his little pig eyes the veins ran in jj angry streaks. Ile had no nose to speak of, ii but a surplusage of flesh on cheeks and chin r which made up in quantity, at least, for the f lack of prominence in that useful organ. jji

Mr. Chester saw that he was a man who | would have to be handled tenderly if any il useful information was to be extracted I from him. |

"I've called," he remarked blandly, . j| "with reference to this advertisement. I | believe it's yours, Mr. Newton." j|

<. Yes, it's mine, said the landlord, " and . what of that?"

" Well," said Chester, " I want to find out j

something about him." t

" Oh, you do. do you ? " said the landlord, | in the same dogged way. I

" Yes," continued Chester, quietly. " I j? would like to know, for instance, what kind f of looking man he was." j

" Come, now," said the landlord, abruptly, |

i;

- j

"what's your little game, anyhow? Are you a' D?'" \

" Well, no, Mr. Newton, I can't say that I am," replied Chester.

" Then what's your game ?" persisted the landlord. " Did you come to pay his hill. Í You can do that if you like. I ain't goin' S to object."

And the blowsy individual smiled, as a tickled bull-dog might be supposed to smile, at his own ready wit.

" Yes," said Chester, " perhaps I have come to pay his bill if he happens to be the man I'm looking for. That I do not know yet. If you .can satisfy me that your ab- sentee lodger is the person I'm looking for, it is therefore to your interest to do so."

" Well," answered Peter, " I don't see no harm in that. It don't matter to me who

pays, as long as I get my money, lt's

about five weeks since he came here with

his luggage-one big box, locked very fast.

There wasn't much in it besides clothes."

" Oh, you opened it, then, Mr. Newton ?" put in Chester.

The landlord rested his chin on his hand

j and glared angrily at Chetter.

j " Didn't you say you wasn't a 4 D ?' " he

\ asked furiously.

; " Of course I did, Mr. Newton," replied

Chester in a conciliatory tone.

" Well, then, what does it matter to you whether I opened his box or not ! I didn't ' take anything out, anyhow," growled the

landlord.

" Of course not, Mr. Newton. Nobody i would supect you of such a thing," hur-

riedly returned Chester, for he saw by the red light in the landlord's eyes that further negotiations were endangered.

"Well, he had clothes enough in his box to cover a few weeks' board, and, although he didn't pay me, I let him I run a bill for a few weeks till I thought ; he'd about slept and eaten his security ; out. He didn't drink at all hisself, though

he'd shout for anybody that asked him, S though, you see, as he hadn't the stuff I li didn't give all the drinks he ordered. He I tdd me he could lay his hand on any quan-

tity of money, so I asked him to settle up one day. He looks a bit put out when I ii asks him this, and I begun to smell a rat.'

I " ' Come now,' I says, ' I've been had I mor'n onct before, and I'm not goin' to be I had again ; so pay what you owe, or out I you go.'

I " He put on a bit of side at this, and said !|: he could buy me out, pub and all.

f. " ' You needn't bother about that, mate,'

I I told him. ' A small matter of a tenner I or so is all I want you to find.'

" Then he told me had a valuable se

\ curity which he meant to realise on. I p told him there was plenty of pawnshops ¡j in Melbourne, but 'e turned up his nose

II when I mentioned them.

I " ' I'll have to go to the best and wealthiest fi jew'ller in town,' he says, quite like a swell, I and then I knows he was pitching, for he I didn't wear no jewelle^, and I'll SAvear he

I had none in his box."

I As he said this he looked half suspiciously |i at Chester, whose quiet

ij "Precisely, precisely," reassured him, hoAV

j ever.

; " And Avhat happened then ?" inquired I Chester.

I " Well, he Avent out that morning to \ realise his security and 'e never come back, i just as I thort," replied the landlord, bit

j terly ; " and that's all I knows of him, and

j I don't Avant no more of his sort at the I Golden Crown again."

I " Very strange proceeding on his part, j certainly," said Chester, absently.

"Strange," echoed Newton scornfully. " Not a bit of it. It ud have been strange

if he did come back." And he seized a

glass and polished it venomously Avith his geological toAvel.

Í" By the way," said Chester, af ter a slight

pause, " you did not fell me Avhat he was like in appearance."

" That's easily done," said the landlord. I ,., " He was about my height, but very thin,

I ,with grey side levers, and carried hisself

I like a soldier. He Avas a bit bald on the

I head and had the mark of a knock i on it. Dressed in seedy grey tAveed, I 'lastic side boots, ard brown hard I hitter hat. That's his appearance when j he left, but if e\Ter Peter Newton meets him

§ again that appearance 'll be slightly

I altered," and he delivered a Avigoro us blow at I the air as if to indicate beyond the possi

jf bility of a doubt the means by Avhich the

I proposed alteration Avas to be effected.

I) Chester Avas someAvhat startled by the in § formation supplied by the landlord of the I Golden CioAvn. The description fitted in

I

exactly with that of the drowned man. Ile had hardly expected to lind his identity out so simply, but it was beyond the possibility of

a doubt in his own mind.

Still his work was only half done. Ile had to trace the missing man up to the time of his death or murder, as he was determined it really was. Murder ! Could it be pos- sible that the villainous-looking landlord could have had a hand in his taking off ? He looked at Newton again, at the dingy bar with its listless, but evil-looking loafers, ripe for any crime, and decided that it was not at all impossible. His meditations were interrupted by the coarse tones of the land-

lord's voice.

" Is he the chap jon were looking for ? If so, here's his bill ; and, when you find him, give him my compliments and tell him that he'd better not show his nose at the Golden Crown again."

" I am not sure yet, my friend. If it is, you needn't worry about being angry with him. He won't feel it. I suspect, in fact, that he's been killed, perhaps accidentally, and perhaps murdered," and, as he said this, he looked keenly into Newton's face.

No sign of fear or guilt, however, appeared upon that continental expanse of degraded

" A polite individual in a black suit, with a smooth face and the quick eye and supple hands

of the practised jeweller advanced, to meet him. Chester handed him his card."

flesh. A faint look of surprise passed over it for a moment, and then it resumed its animal immobility.

" If he is the man I'm looking for I'll pay you, never fear. Meanwhile, give those pleasant-looking customers of yours in the bar a drink, and ha ve one yourself if you're not fiightened."

And, throwing a couple of half-crowns upon the counter, Chester strode out, glad to be rid of the den, with its reeking fumes and degraded inmates.

" Phaugh !" he said, as he spat on the pavement, " what a place for a decent man to put up at ! You could hardly find a worse hole in Whitechapel. No doubt Melbourne is going ahead very fast. I wonder how many such breeding places of moral and physical filth there are in the city?"

But his visit to the Golden Crown had

done a good deal for him in the way of solving the mystery he had become in- terested in. He had no doubt that tin* missing lodger from the Golden Crown was identical with the man Avhose body had been viewed by him in the morgue. De- spite the assertion? of Newton, Chester was

I ,

convinced that the story of the lodger was correct with regard to having a valuable security in his possession, and the existence of this security must have been known to the murderer or murderers. He had left the Golden Crown in the morning, and he could not have been murdered in the day- time. Had he in the interval visited any of the Melbourne jewellers to realise upon his security ; and what was the nature of that security ?

These were the next points to be solved. Chester had no means of finding out what he wanted than by personal inquiry among the jewellers of the city. This he resolved to enter upon at once.

As the lodger had informed Newton that lie was going to a leading jeweller to realise his security, Chester determined to try the biggest shops first. These are in Collins

street.

The first was a fine establishment, with a grand display of glittering metals and gems in the window, and into this Chester

sauntered.

A polite individual in a black suit, with a smooth face and the quick eye and supple hands of the practical jeweller, advanced to

meet him.

Chester handed him a card.

"I' may tell you," he began, " that I am seeking a person in whom I am interested, and who has, I fear, met with an untimely end. I hope that you will not think me exacting if I ask you a few questions on the

matter."

" Certainly not," said the jeweller, politely, " but may I ask lirst if you are a member of the Criminal Investigation Branch ? I know most of the officers of the Melbourne detec- tive force.

" No," said Chester, with a smile ; " I fear I can't claim the distinction you mention, though it is the second time to-day that I havo been asked that question. I am pursuing inquiries which are,however, in the interests of justice, and may before loDg lead to the intervention of the Police Department."

" In that case I am at your service," said the jeweller.

" Very well, Mr. --"

" My name is Markham, one of the partners, you know," interrupted the jeweller.

" Thank you," proceeded Chester. " The person fer whom I am looking called him

self Richard Jenkins. He left his lodgings about 10 days ago, in the morning, with the avowed intention of seeking some first-clas3 jeweller's establishment to raise money upon something in his possession. Have you had anybody in during that time with that object?"

The jeweller hesitated.

" Yes," he said, after a pause, " there was a man in here about the time you mention upon just such an errand."

" Very good," said Chester. " What was the security?"

" Excuse .me," said the jeweller, politely, " there are difficulties in the way of reveal- ing that. As you know, it is necessary in our business to preserve secresy with refer- ence to transactions of this kind at times. They are, in fact, confidential as between

ourselves and our clients."

" Is that a case of that description ?"

asked Chester.

" Well, it is in a way," replied Mr. Mark- ham. " The person in question bound me over to secrecy. Of course, if you were a police officer, and required this information, I would only be too happy to. give it. But you have informed me that it is not so.

And unless I understand more about the matter than I do at present, I could not justify myself in breaking confidence in the way you suggest."

" In that case,", said Chester, " was your client a man of this description ?" And he proceeded to describe the personal appear- ance of Richard Jenkins, together with the clothes he had worn, as described by the landlord of the Golden Crown that morning.

" That certainly is an accurate descrip- tion of the person with whom I had deal- ings upon the day in question," said Mr.

Markham.

" Very well," went on Chester, " Would you feel justified in telling me why he de- sired you to keep the nature of his security a

secret?"

Markham remained silent.

" At least, you can tell me whether he was afraid that if his possession of the security in question were known he might be in danger of some kind."

" Perhaps," said Mr. Markham, cautiously. " Was he afraid of being robbed ?" asked

Chester.

" Worse," said Mr. Markham. " How ?" inquired Chester.

" He was afraid of being murdered," said the jeweller.

"And God help him," said Chester, solemnly, " I fear that he has been mur-

dered."

" You don't mean to say so," said the jeweller, agitatedly.

I do, indeed, unfortunately," Chester went on, " A person answering his de- scription was found in the Yarra. Thc inquest resulted in complete ignorance as to the identity of the deceased, who was evidently a stranger in Melbourne, and a

verdict of accidental death was returned

quite unjustifiably, in my own opinion. This body found in the Yarra had a depressed mark about the middle, such as might have been produced by a metal belt worn tightly in life. Do you happen tu know whether Mr. Jenkins wore such a belt ?" inquired Chester.

" He did," replied Markham at once.

" That belt was the security he wished to realise upon ?" inquired Chester.

" Yes," said the jeAveller ; " it was a jewelled belt of great value, consisting of two thin plates of gold, enclosing a quan- tity of precious stones, quite £10,000 worth."

" Indeed," exclaimed Chester, surprised at thc jeweller's statement, "so much ! Then, as he was here before he was murdered and realised upon the belt, it is something at least to know that his assassins Avere foiled

in the object for which they committed tho 1

crime."

"On the contrary," said Markham, "I gave him £100 for one stone only-a diamond-and he then left my establish- ment with the belt of treasure still about him."

" Is that so ?" said Chester. " Then our

next step must be in the direction of tracing

the murderers. I am afraid that AVÍII bo a pretty stiff piece of work."

" If it is any use to you," said tho jeweller, " I can tell' you who made and

rivetted the belt on the unfortunatu man."

" Yres, that might be valuable," said

Chester.

"The work Avas A'ery neatly done, and Avas of so unusual a character that I asked Jenkins Avho did it. He told me it Avas Finks and Company, of London. It was done by one Of their best workmen, and only

. ......... i^.-f , ........ -. ,...us... . .¿rn

.the-manager and this workman knew that Jenkins carried so much wealth about with him." . ? ' .

I « Ah," said Chester, " then it must have 1 been discovered by somebody in Melbourne. ; ;< T think," he added, his thoughts returning ! v/the ruffianly company at the Golden < ' { '»'own-" I think I know who might have

ni ade the discovery and done the deed."

" I hope you will be successful, Mr. Í (.bester, in bringing them to justice," said y ike jeweller. " Of course, you know where

'.. i find me should you want my evidence at

ny time."

! " Yes," said Chester, rising and proffering j his hand to the jeweller. " Allow me to I - thank you for your courtesy. The body was I ' found on the day succeeding his visit to

your shop. He must consequently hilve been destroyed and robbed upon the night of that visit. Your information is most important in establishing the man's identity and his possession of treasure. I think I can show the police sufficient grounds for re-opening

the case. Good-day."

CHAPTER IV.

A Delusion Dispelled.

Chester's next step was clear. He had plenty of evidence that an atrocious murder had been committed. This it was his duty to lay before the police for their investiga-

tion."

Consequently, after leaving the jewel- ler's shop he called a cab and drove to the office of the Inspector-General of

Police.

With this officer he was closeted foran hour, during which he laid before him the information he had gleaned.

At first his theories were received with a polite air of incredulity ; but as he unfolded, link by link, the chain he had forged to- gether, the official took on an air oi interest, and at last, as Chester finished, he

exclaimed

" I see no reason to doubt the conclusion at which you have arrived. It seems to int borne out by the evidence. I may tell yoi that I have not much faith in amateur detec- tives, but you are an exception. It is curi- ous that our men trained to the work ol criminal investigation should have over- looked the suspicious circumstances attach- ing to this case."

" Don't you think," said Chester, " that r good many serious crimes are committed particularly against human life, which ar<

, never discovered?"

" Well," said the Inspector-General, " '. don't mind telling you that the clever crimi nal has a good chance of eluding detectioi at thc hands of the ordinary detective. Bu it wouldn't do to tell that to the public They might lose confidence, you know, ii our abilities to protect them."

" I see," said Chester, with a smile " Now," he went on, rising, " I suppose '. may leave the matter in your hands ?"

" Entirely, Mr, Chester," said the official " I can assure you that I will put our bes man on this case, and if the crime has beei committed by an ordinary desperado w will probably have him before long."

" Ah ! butj" said Chester, « I don't think i was committed by such a character."

" No ?" queried the official.

" No," repeated Chester. u On the con I trary, I have a theory of my own which

am going to investigate in my own waj Perhaps it may be correct ; perhaps no

But we shall see."

" Well, I wish you success," said the off cial. " I wish we had a few men like yo in our force. If ever you need a position can assure you of one with us.

I\ " Thank you," replied Chester, drily

" but I don't think I'll trouble you."

" Good morning ! "

And Chester went out somewhat elate at this admission of his skill made by police expert. As a matter of fact, lum ever, he know that nothing but commo sense and ordinary intelligence, added to large amount of luck, had conduced to th

remarkable results he had obtained.

He had, as he had informed the head c the police, already determined upon a court of action calculated to unearth the murder« of Richard Jenkins. He had intended 1 prepare that day for the first step.

This was nothing less than a trip i England. What he had in view will aj

pear presently.

He went back to his hotel and dined. I

tho reading-room that night, as he was id! glancing over the papers, he caught sigl of Marian Leigh.

She entered, and, taking a seat, began 1 look at some illustrated magazines, o rather, pretended to do so.

Presently she leaned her head on her hand, and Chester could see that she was weeping silently.

They were alone, these two ; and one was unconscious of the other's presence, for Chester was seated in such a way that

Marian had not perceived him when she

entered.

To see a girl alone and friendless in a strange city, overcome in this way, was more than Chester could suffer. The spectacle appealed to his chivalry, and there, was a good deal of it in his nature, as there is in human nature, despite a certain historic lament over its decadence. He approached her quietly, and accosted her.

" I am sorry to see that you are still in trouble, Miss Leigh," he observed.

There was a touch of genuine sympathy in his tones which placed his remark above the level of ordinary commonplace condo- lence. Marian raised her eyes, like two wet pansies, as she replied -

" I am afraid I am likely to be in trouble

all my life."

" I devoutly hope not," said Chester quickly. " If any assistance I can-"

Marian stopped him with her upliftec

hand.

" Hush !" she cried. " He is beyond th< reach or need of human aid. I only knov

that my poor darling is dead, and that I an

left alone."

Here her weeping broke forth anew.

" Are you then alone in the world ? Ha you no relatives besides your husband ?

added Chester.

" My husband!" cried Marian, in astonisl ment. " Why, what is it that you meai

Mr. Chester ?"

" Chester called a cab and drove to the Inspector-General''s oßce."

" Is it not your husband that you were looking for in Melbourne ?" Chester asked, in equal astonishment. . '

" I had no husband," said Marian, vigor- ously.

"I thought yon told me--" began Chester, but Marian interrupted him.

" I am Miss Leigh," she said, crushingly ; and then, in*a softer way, changing with that uncertainty of mood which, let the cynic say his worst, is one of the chiefest charms of womanhood, she half sobbed

" God help me 5 it is my father that I

have lost."

" Mule ! dolt ! brute ! ass !" were some of the epithets that Dick Chester applied to himself in rapid succession, as Marian made this revelation. " And here I was," he thought, " leaving this helpless girl here in a strange city to meet the most terrible

misfortune of her life alone and friend- less."

Now he determined was the time to make reparation.

It was evident that Marian's first strong paroxysm of grief was over, and she was gradually settling into that melancholy which is a habit with many of the world's

men and women.

" May I inquire," said the gentleman, " what you propose doing now, Miss Leigh?"

" Oh, I don't know," said Marian, discon- solately, and with an air as if she, too, like her namesake of the moated grange, were " a-weary of the world."

" Perhaps I shall go to England, I dare say I shall. I have an aunt there, a cross old thing, but I'll haye to live with some

one, I suppose. One can't be alone in the

world," said Marian.

" No," thought Chester, " It would be the greatest slur upon our sex if a splendid girl like you were to be left alone very long."

Aloud, he said

" I am going to England next week, my- self, Miss Leigh. I am to take my berth in the s.s. Orinoco, which leaves Adelaide next Tuesday. May I not have the pleasure of your company on the home trip ?"

" Next week !" said Marian. " That is very sudden ; but what is there to keep me here in this fatal city. Yes, Mr. Chester, I shall go in the Orinoco. It will be something to have someone I know on board, and I feel that you are a friend, Mr. Chester."

And she looked into his eyes searchingLy. " I am your friend," said Chester, as they clasped hands. 4< And it would make me only too happy to spend my time and strength in your services, but the days of champions are over, and there is no chance of a tilt at an iron-clad knight for the sake of a lady's praise. Meanwhile, however, I can render you one service not poetical, but practical. Will you permit me to go and select your berth for you ?"

" Yes, thank you," replied Marian, with the ghost of a smile.

This is how it happened that one fine morning in the spring of a year that is dead they landed at Tilbury Docks, on th( Thames, and took train to London, whérí they parted, Marian Leigh to seek th( quarters of her aunt in Bloomsbury Square and Chester to drive to Tinks and Company the firm of London jewellers at whosi place the jewelled belt had been mad< and rivetted on Richard Jenkins' waist.

What the old novelists call our " fair readers " must not think that Chester and Miss Leigh were to part for ever in this

summary way.

No ! At parting, as they shook hands, Marian gave him her address, and he care- fully noted it down in his pocket-hook. In this there was a tacit invitation on Marian's part for him to call at the address in Bloomsbury Square.

On the voyage home, Miss Leigh had recovered much of her natural serenity of temper, and although the sunniness of her disposition was clouded by the death of her father, yet there had been times when in Chester's company she had manifested symptoms of resilience.

Youth is invincible, and neither toil nor sorrow, though they may deface, can wholly mar its reign. And Marian, who in Mel- bourne had thought life a book closed to her, was already beginning to feel that this was a conclusion too hastily arrived at.

1 " CHAPTER V.

Finks and Company-Strand.

The great London jewellers were known to Chester. He had occasionally been there with wealthy friends like Uart in quest of jewellery for presents for birthday and marriage ceremonies. Finks and Company were obliging enough, too, to take the paper of the young sports who wished it converted into' cash, which was done at a surprisingly low rate of interest. They were because of this, and the general splendor and work- manship pf their ware, the fashionable jewellers.

Chester was, in his turn, well known to

the partners, and when he stated hie errand he was shown into the managing partner's

office, who said :

" I remember this man very well on ac- count of the peculiar belt you mention. He came to us with some splendid stones cut, and uncut to the value of many thousands of pounds, and requested us to make a gold belt for their reception, and to rivet this belt about his bod}'. I thought it a strange fancy, but the man seemed sane-his ex- planations were feasible."

" Indeed," said Chester." What were his explanations of such a strange freak ?"

'" Oh !" replied Mr. Finks," " simply that he was going out of the reach of his banking account, and wanted to have some realisable property on him. lt appears that he was nearly starved once somewhere in America because he had no ready money, and no way of getting it, and yet he had a fortune in an

English bank-but you seem startled, Mr.

Chester."

" I-well, yes j I am a little. To tell you the truth, Mr. Finks, this detective business is rapidly revealing to me what a block- head I really am. Of course, your client

gave you his name."

" Oh. yes ! Certainly. It's in this book, hem ! Let me see," and he ran his fingers rapidly down several pages. " Yes, here we are. ' Golden belt account, Richard Leigh,

£78 paid.' "

Chester drew a hard breath.

." How strange," he thought, " that Marian should be the daughter of this man, the mystery of whose death lam searching out. Well, truth is strange."

.. " I might tell you, Mr. Chester, as it oc- curs.to me, that Mr. Leigh was suspicious that some attempts might be made on his life, and we had one of our best workmen to do the rivetting quietly in this office. In fact nobody but myself and this man knew when Mr. Leigh left the shop that he had this belt of gems upon him."

" And that man," said Chester, carelessly, " is he still with you ?"

" No," said Mr. Finks. " I am sorry to say that he left some time ago. He was a capital workman, and we have not been able to replace him."

" What was the date of his departure from your establishment ? Can you tell me that without any trouble ?" asked

Chester.

" Certainly," answered Mr. Finks, briskly. " We keep a record of the movements of all our men. Johnson left on October 15."

" That was five days after he had riveted

the belt on Mr. Leigh ?" . .

" Yes, precisely," answered Mr. Finks.

" Thank you," said Chester, risiug. " You

have told me all I wish to know."

" By the way," he added, " could you give me Johnson's address-that is, his address when he was employed by you."

" With pleasure," said the jeweller. "It is always wise to keep a record of these things in a business like ours, where there is so much temptation placed before the

workmen."

Chester placed the address carefully in his pocket-book..

" I think," said he-" I think that Dart's £20,000 is in remarkable danger."

As Chester left the establishment of Finks and Company his course seemed clear to him. All he had to do was to hunt up the man named Johnson, the artificer who had welded the jewelled belt about Mr. Leigh.

It was apparent to him that this man must have had some hand in the murder and rob- bery of Marian's father.

The suspicion was justifiable from the fact that this man of all in London, excepting Mr. Finks (who, of course, was out of the question), knew of the valuable booty borne by the murdered man.

But presently some doubts began to assail the amateur detective's mind. Was it not possible that in one of those fits of mental aberration to which he was subject the un- fortunate gentleman had shown, or in some way revealed, his treasure to others both in London and Melbourne ? Chester could not help feeling that this was quite possible, in which case the cocksure policy of inves- tigation which had led him up to the con- clusion that Johnson was the guilty man would be sadly shattered.

And, moreover, how was he to find John- son, .even if he were the murderer? The skilful manner in Avbich the murder had been committed, and the care with which any clue which might lead to the detection of the murderer had been concealed or fore- seen and prevented, proved that Johnson was a man of more than ordinary cun-

ning.

Having secured the booty, and with £eve

ral months of immunity in which to move, he had probably betaken himself to some country where he would be unknown. It was the easiest thing in the world, as Chester knew, for a man of ordinary appearance to bury himself in some centre of population where he would be unrecog- nisable in the midst of the mass of similar

humanity about him.

It is curious that the outlaw of society

now secretes himself in the recesses of the

very organisation he wars against.

Of old when a man did a felonious thing which was discovered he accepted as its first consequence the penalty of banishment from the society he had sinned against. He out- lawed himself, and from fastnesses of wood and wild hill he flung himself upon passing train or insecure hamlet, and slew and rob- bed, and flew back again, like an eagle to his eyrie, to enjoy his booty and plan new predaciousness. This was the way with all outlaws, from Robin Hood to Ned Kelly.

But the outlaw of to-day prefers the dense companies of men in big cities. For one thing, the older way has been rendered un- usually hazardous, if not altogether impos- sible, by the spread of settlement and the

enhancement of methods of communication.

The wilderness no longer wars against the town. The wolf and the bear have gone their way, and the robber who consorted with the wild things of the forest has passed away with them.

The enemy of society is now in its own bosom, nestling side by side with the police- man who exists to arrest him, the judge whose work is to convict, and the gloomy functionary whose hand is to give him the fatal shove into eternity.

In the multiplicity of men he finds his safety. He carries no brand upon his brow

to mark him as robber or assassin. Suchas he is, there are hundreds of thousands, even millions, like him in great cities. If he is clever and has not previously come under the cognisance of the police, there is nothing to point him out as an enemy to society to the keenest detectives, and *he may enjoy immunity for years, until some imprudence of his own, or a visitation of that fatal mad- ness in which the criminal, in nine cases put of ten, drops his mask, overtakes him, and justice at length obtains her own ; or a combination of apparent accidents

weaves a chain of formidable evidence about

him against which it is vain for him to at- tempt to provide or contest.

But, as Chester held, there are many crimes done in great cities whose perpetra- tors are never discovered by human instru-

ments.

Who keeps count and recognition of every face, say in London, with its 4,000,000 and odd of faces ? ,

The family, it is true, is the germ of society and its cities. Each member of a family in London is bound by infallible ties to every other family. He is part of society. If he disappear there are those who know it, to set the police in motion, and to identify

him should his remains be recovered. The

knowledge of his habits-his associates^ his connections-forms a substantial ground- work upon which the officers of justice can

build.

But the Avaif, the single life, whom no . family acknowledges, 'and who is alone

in London-there are thousands such

there, man and woman-may disappear without anybody knowing that to-day there is one less than yesterday. There are none to miss him, none to search for him. He goes down, and the waters close over him,

and that is all.

Whither he ffoes, or how he fares, Nobody knows, and nobody cares.

God knows, in these derelict existences, drifting in the unsunned depths of modern life, there is pathos deeper than ever poet has told or thought, and it lies in the one fact that they may go out like ii farthing rushlight, and no man know. What a store of solitude and separateness that one grim fact tells-of divorce from love and home, of severed channels of kinship, of a loneli- ness amid teeming millions more complete

than it would be in the wastes of Sahara or

the ice deserts of the poles to the man who has living kindred.

The loneliness of the bod}' is nothing. It

is the isolation of the soul which is so ter- rible. And we find that, not in the "wilder- ness, but in the city.

And that crowd in which the identity of

the victim is lost serves as the best veil for the concealment of the criminal.

Chester felt, after reflections of this kind, tfeat- his task was not yet over. Johnson might have gone to America or some other place, In that case, Chester determined to

give up the whole of his data to Scot- land Yard, and surrender all personal investigation. But he might be in

London. Chester felt that the man

would not stop in Melbourne or any of

the Australian colonies. He had come out

to commit the crime and gain his booty, and that done, would probably resort to his favorite haunts to enjoy his evilly-acquired affluence. This would more probably be the case if he were a man advanced in life, when old associations would be more

despotic and new ones harder to form. This, at any rate, was Chester's theory.

His first step was to ascertain Johnson's appearance and mode of life. This he de- termined to do at his late lodging, and by personal inquiries. Now that he had, as he thought, the actual criminal in view, the hunting appetite in him became stronger, and he felt capable of unravelling the rest of the matter with his Jown hands. When he failed it would be time enough, he argued, to call in the assistance of the police.

In a comparatively quiet East End street there was a terrace of houses, old and weatherworn, but presenting no appearance of dilapidation. It was called, according to some cement lettering upon the centre house, " Wellesley Crescent," and, according to the same authority, had been built in 1830.

Why it was called a crescent did not ap- pear, because, though the street itself par- took of the general deviousness of Lon- don thoroughfares, the terrace was undeniably straight. But nomenclature

of this kind is a thing apart. Builder \ and architects-people who are hound by rules and levels - require some imagina- tive freedom and irregularity as a counterpoise to the stvict accuracy of their work, and perhaps the designing of the names the}' confer upon the structures they build

is one of the few

gratifications the indul- gence in which saves

them from some wild end.

The ninth house in

this terrace was kept by Mrs. Thompson, a pleasant but careworn faced widow, who paid her rent out of

the interest on the in-

surance policy taken out by the late Mr Thompson in her favor,

and for the rest main- tained herself and her

two children by talcing in boarders "or letting rooms to lodgers. At

the door of this house Chester knocked the morning after his visit

to J* m ks and Company.

It was opened .by-Mrs. Thompson in per- son. The good woman had been officiating in the kitchen, and when she saw a gentle- man standing before her, made a gallant

but utterly unsuccessful attempt to wipe the . smudges from her face with a hurried sweep of her apron.

This favorably impressed Chester, for when a woman becomes careless of her per- sonal appearance he held that she becomes careless of many other things besides. With- out being itself a fault it is an unpleasant symptom. Of course, this is providing that shebas the little time required for tidying operations, for-and " Oh, the pity o' it "

it is true that some women in the world have not even so little leisure left them.

"Are you Mrs. Thompson?" inquired Chester, raising his hat.

" Yes, sir," said the woman, dropping a responsive courtsey.

" I don't wish to trespass on your time, Mrs. Thompson," said Chester, " but if you could spare me a few minutes you might give me some infomation which would be valuable to me, and -"

Here he paused abruptly. He had been about to mention a monetary'consideration to the woman, but felt diffident. There was a self-respecting air about her which made him feel that there would be something

offensive in such an ofter.

And he was right. There is something brutal in the manner in which affluence seeks to purchase poverty even when only what is right is proposed j and poverty,

- <

though it accepts, does so when honest only with suffering.

" Oh ! don't mind . that, sir," said Mrs. Thompson, cheerfully. " I'm quite willing to tell you whatever I can. Will you come

inside ?"

" Thank you," answered Chester.

Ile followed into a dusky little sitting room, clean hut thick with the odors, or, rather, the memories of odors, of a long shut apartment. Mrs. Thompson gave him a chair, and seated herself on another.

" My excuse for calling upon you is this, madam," Chester began. " Some months ago you had stopping here a lodger named

Johnson."

At the name Mrs. Thompson gave a slight

start.

" Yes," she said, quietly.

" I suppose you have no idea where he can now be found ?" continued Ches-

ter.

" No, sir," answered the woman.

" He left no address with you when he

left ?" Chester went on.

" He did not," said Mrs. Thompson. " The fact is," she added, " he didn't feel very kindly to me before he went away."

" Ah !" said Chester, with an air of sar prise. " May I ask why ?"

Mrs. Thompson colored slightly, and very pleasant that tinge of youth looked on the pale, careworn cheeks.

" AV ell, it ain't a secret, sir, and I may as well tell jon that he wanted me to marry him. He got good wages where he worked, and hadn't many faults that one could see, being always respectful ; but, bless you, my

" Mrs. Thompson, a pleasant but care-,

worn faced woman."

poor James was a good man to me, and I told him when he was dying that I'd put no other in his place till I met him again, which I hope to do.

And her voice trem- bled and the tears stood

in the patient-looking brown eyes.

Chester was touched at this revelation of

fidelity. He said no- thing, however, wait- ing until Mrs. Thomp- son's momentary agita-

tion had subsided.

" Not," she resumed, " that I'd have had him, in any case, for

he were a dark sort of man, and looked as if he had secrets. AV hen

he was leaving he told

me that a few months

would perhaps, make him a rich man, for some of his speculations were turning out well,

and asked if he was rich

would- it make any' difference, and I said no, not if he was as rich as the Qu eon. 'Mrs. Thompson I am going

to .elie,7 he sez, and lie went away without a word of good-bye, and a look in his face that minded me of the water in the dull weather-quiet, but deep and dark. It

made me shiver somehow."

And Mrs. Thompson wipud her forehead, this time without any furtiveness, for agita- tion had exalted her above trivialities. ;

" Could you tell me what kind of man he

was to look at ?" said Chester.

" I can do better than that," said Mrs. Thompson. " There's a likeness of his here which I can give you if it's any use to you.

I don't want it."

"The very thing,'' said Chester, eagerly.

Mrs. Thompson arose and turned over the leaves of an album on the table, and pre- sently took out a photograph, which she

handed to Chester.

Ile looked at it curiously. It was a strong, intelligent face, taken three-quarter wise. The forehead was full, the eyes small, the nose large and thin. The neck was thick and the ears prominent. The mouth and chin were concealed by a beard and moustache, but Chester guessed that the concealed mouth would be large and thin-lipped, and the chin bony and protu-

berant.

" His hair and eyes were brown," Mrs. Thompson remarked.

" Yes," answered Chester," " I supposed so. He seems a man of middle age from this portrait."

"Aye," said Mrs? Thompson, "about 40 years old, br a year or two more, I think."

" Were there any other peculiarities that

.

one would notice about him ?" asked

Chester.

" Not as I know of," auswered Mrs. Thompson. His 'ands (though a Londoner she seldom dropped her aspirates) was long and strong. It made me queer to look at

them." , ,

" What build was he ?" asked Chester. (.', " Oh, he were a sightly-looking mari enough, about middle height, and strongly built, not fleshy, but broad, and with a slighit stoop in his neck from bending over his

work."

" Did you know anything of his habits, Mrs. Thompson ? Did he drink or gamble, or anything like that ?" Chester inquired.

" He didn't drink as I know of, but he used to stop out very late at night, and it puzzled me what he did with his money. Sometimes he used not to have a bit of jewellery about him, and the next week he'd be wearing a watch and chain and two or three diamond rings and a, ruby scarf pin. I often thought he must gamble."

"Very likely," said Chester. "That's a pursuit that brings a good many ups and downs to a man's pocket."

As he spoke he arose to leave, delighted with Mrs. Thompson's ready communica- tiveness and intelligence.

" Has he killed anybody, sir ?"

The question so quietly put startled Chester. He looked at Mrs. Thompson with a question in his face.

" Oh, I know, sir, that no stranger would take such an interest in another, and ask such questions, unless there was something important concerned," she said, with the shade of a smile. " From the 'first I thought you was a detective."

" Ah, well," said Chester, " I can't he much of a detective to show my hand so easily. But with you I don't think it mat- ters, as you would, I am sure, rather assist justice than defeat it."

" That I would, sir," said Mrs. Thompson, promptly.

" Well, you have asked me a question which I myself am trying to answer. A cruel murder has been committed which I suspect this Mr. Johnson has had a hand in. I would ask you to say nothing to other per- sons about my inquiries, and if you hear of Johnson I would be obliged if you would call or send to this address at once." And Chester wrote his address upon a leaf of his notebook, which he tore out and handed to Mrs. Thompson.

" I'll do what you require, sir," the woman replied.

" I may tell you that I'm not a detective by profession," said Chester, as he observed her eyes opening at the name of the swell club he had written down. " I am acting as one in this case for several reasons, which it is not necessary that I should mention."

As Chester was about to move towards ' the door the clatter of light feet was heard on the pavement without, stopping at the door, and at least two small boots were ap- plied vigorously as knockers.

" The children," cried Mrs. Thompson, at once opening the door.

A little boy and girl entered, and Mrs. Thompson, with a mother's pride, presented

them to Chester.

"These are mine," she said-"Johnny

¿ind Susie."

Chester shook hands with them, with a few kind words, and then presented his hand to the mother, saying-.

" I cannot tell you how much I thank you for your information."

" Oh, don't mention it, sir," said the good j woman, who felt this genuine thanks quite

sufficient reward. Nevertheless, Chester had ,

left a £5 note in each of the children's rightg: j

hand. »

" It's worth that," he said to himself asl he walked homeward ; "but what a fool If am as a detective. That woman dipped to [ me like a shot. Supposing she'd a friendly feeling or affection for Johnson, why, tho whole business would have been exploded, and all through my own blundering. How- ever, all's well that ends well. I have an idea that Mr. Johnson will turn up one of these days at the widow's. We'll see.

CHAPTER VI.

A Plot.

As Chester turned the corner of the street in Avhich Mrs. Thompson lived a man came out of the corner publichouse and scowled at his retreating figure. Presently this man was joined by another.

" What d'ye think, Jack ? Is he a D. ?"

"I don't know rightly," said the first man, " but we'll see presently."

Let's go inside," he continued, " and to

up a way of fi niling out wlmt ho wanted of

the widow."

According they retreated to the little back parlor of the hotel, and, ordering a couple ot' glasses of grog, proceeded to discuss

i matters.

s Chester would have given a good deal to

have known one of these men, though, per- haps, he would not have been much the Í wiser had he merely seen him.

\ His name was Johnson, and he had f Jbeen an employee in the jewellery estab 1 ^ishment of Finks and Company, in

j "London,

j His friend was Colonel Dilke, one of the \ most accomplished blackguards and black i legs in the outer " fast " circles of London \ life. Too proxid to be a bookmaker, he \ was yet not too proud to live ou the " ring."

That he had originally come of a good, clean minded stock of honorable ancestry was well known, but any claims this may have given him to respect had been long since negatived by his own life.

Johnson and he had come together in a gambling den, where mutual weaknesses and tastes had brought them.

The jeweller had told him as much of his history as seemed safe, and, for the rest, the money which Johnstone lavishly spent satis- fied the " colonel " that

she was a sufficiently desirable acquaintance.

Johnson was altered a good deal from the portrait Chester had

obtained from Mrs. Thompson. His hair had been dyed, his beard shaved, and several other little de- vices had boen resorted to in order to metamor-

phose his appearance. Chester would certainly not have recognised him, and it would have

puzzled even his fellow workmen at Pinks and Company's to have iden- tified this fashionably attired individual with tlie best jewel-setter in

their establishment.

Chester had been

right in his surmise that Johnson would, soonei or later, find his way tc tho vicinity of the widow Thompson. The ex jeweller really loved this woman with th« deep, fierce passion which belongs to such quiet pantherous natures. NOM that he had come ink that fortune of which

he had spoken to Mrs Thompson, he could nol help feeling that his liançes Avould be greatei of winning her hand . But he was a cool anc

cautious experimental and, secure in his dis guise, he had kept watcl upon the widow's quar ters to see who visitée

her. In his dreams bj day, as well as by night h e li ad a vision of certaii: quietlooking, keen men

? cracicing Him. down. For what ? Well, I never mind, he had reason for his fears. I The ocean was wide and his measure' had I been taken with deadly ingenuity, but

chance was a fickle, unreckonable element,

ready to stalk in and upset his ordered

í '.. schemes.

ft When he saw Chester enter the widow's I residence his heart misgave him. But he J was uncertain whether Chester was what

he feared or merely a gentleman looking for lodging, or upon some other harmless errand. Certainly his appearance gave the lie to the suspicion that he was a police officer. John- stone saw at a glance that he was a gentle- man born and bred. But, then, gentlemen are found in such peculiar employments to- day. He had known one to drive a hansom cab as a common licensed driver-a peer of the realm. Another peer had kept a market garden and sold carrots and cabbages. And !yet another had figured as a poultry farmer

in a small way. Might not this elegant looking gentleman, then, be a minion of tha law-a bloodhound of a special ability Idestined and intended, because of his appear-

ance, to prosecute inquiries for Scotland Yard which could not be successfully prose- cuted by the ordinury detective ?

As Mr. Johnstone revolved Alióse doubts in his mind a spirit of unrest and something like fear seized him-the first beginnings of that fierce flame of torture which devours the criminal who knows that he is being hunted down. Perhaps there is no more pitiable spectacle than this of a man with a crime on his hands which he knows the authorities are pursuing him for.

As for Johnstone, he could not rest till he knew whether his crime, by some almost unexampled feat of accident, had been discovered and connected with him. To go himself to the widow was out of the ques- tion. She would recognise him at once ; and, if what he feared had really come to pass, he would only be thrusting his head into the lion's mouth by making inquiries, in themselves suspicious, if not incriminating, Obviously his only course was to delegate thc

task to another person, and who so fit a*

Colonel Dilke?

He had not, of course, entrusted his vvhoh history to this gentleman ; but a part of i Dilke knew, and had his OAvn suspicion abou the rest. Dilke suspected Johnson o having been a successful robber. That h was a murderer he did not dream, o hardened sharper as he was, he would prc bably have fought shy of so undesirable a

acquaintance. Ile did not mind soiling his exceptionally white hands with other people's gold ; hut he stopped short at the deeper sin of dying them in blood. The two companions held a conversation.

" You'll have to go, colonel, to the widow, and find out who that man was, and what he was after. Mind, I must know. There may be trouble brewing for me in that quar- ter, and 1 must be prepared. You're skilful enough to manage to ascertain whether our swellish friend has any interest in me," said*

Johnson.

" I daresay," said the colonel, carelessly, " but," he inquired with a yawn, " may I inquire what the trouble is-just to know the lines to go on, you know."

Johnstone looked at him darkly.

" None of that sort of thing," he said, with an oath, " you have your secrets and I have mine. Let them rest. I didn't inquire why you were in hiding the other day at old

Lazarus'."

The colonel flushed.

" Oh! it doesn't matter," he said, with an attempt at a laugh. "We're in a swim together, and, as you say, our past history does not concern each other, however much it may interest Scotland Yard."

"No," said Johnson, drily. "But the sooner you find out what I want the better I'll be pleased."

"Very well," replied the colonel, " I'll go at once and pump the widow."

As he said this he drained his glass, arose

and went out.

Johnstone remain ed buried in deep thought

for a time.

Presently he drew out of the breast- pocket of his coat a stout leather purse and opened it. The gleam of precious stones, rubies, emeralds, and diamonds filled his eyes. There was a collection of stones there

worth at least £5000.

" I've a good mind," he thought, " to pitch those baubles into the Thames. They may prove my ruin yet. But, Lord, how lovely they are ! I've risked too much for their possession to part with them that way. But I must realise at once. Old Lazarus can have them at his price. He can place them where I can't; but the old ruffian is bon nd to swindle me in the deal. All he offered for them was £2500-half theil value. I know the worth of every one oi them better than he does. To-morrow, if ] go to him, he'll ofter me £2000. Next weel he'll knock off another £500. The ole villain knows well enough that they hav<

" 'Tve a 9ood mind> he thought, ' to pitch those baubles into the Thames. They may prove my ruin yet. But, Lord, how lovely

they are ! "' .

been got in a queer way, tbougb how I got them neither he nor any other man knows. That old lunatic has gone to the bottom of the river, and long before this is past recognition if there were anyone to recognise him. Well, I've not knocked much enjoy-

ment out of them so far."

In this way he meditated, looked at the glittering baubles which had been obtained at the price of life, when a step sounded in the passage.

Hastily he hid the pouch, and at the same moment Dilke entered with a grave look on

his face.

"Well?" said Johnson, with an attempt

at calmness.

Dilke shook his head. " They're after you, old man," he said. Johnson started and turned pallid.

" How do you know ?" he inquired hoarsely.

" The widow told me so-not in so many words, but I gathered it from what she let drop."

" Did you find out what for ?" asked John- son, anxiously.

" Well, no, I didn't," said the colonel, coolty, " but I reckon it's something bad. The widow spoke of you with horror."

Johnson ground his teeth. 1 " Did you find out that fellow's name and address ?" he inquired, fiercely.

" I did," said the colonel. " By a fortu- nate accident a slip from a notebook was lying on the table, and I copied the name

and address down. Here it is."

Jonnson reached for it eagerly, and glanced at it.

"By the way," the colonel went on, "I found out, too, that he is not a proper de- tective ; only a gentleman amateur just re- turned from Australia, and looking you up

on his .own account."

The perspiration stood out on Johnson's forehead. For a few moments he reflected, and then a look of relief passed over his

face.

" I hope you didn't let on that you knew me," he said to the colonel.

" No," said the latter. " I rather incline to the belief that she thinks me a detective, too," he went on, with a laugh. " Rather a good joke that. And I might as well tell you that you. have no show there. I know you're a bit spoony on Mrs. Thompson, but she's an honest, good, little woman, and I think would hand you over to the police the moment you put your nose inside the door. Oh, and another thine:, She told me that our

gentlemen friend has taken a photograph of you away in his pocket.

Once more the ex-

pression of Johnson's face deepened into a

scowl.

" That fellow had better look out for him- self," he said, and his face looked murderous.

The colonel watched him curiously.

" I wouldn't get any deeper into hot water if I were you, Johnson," he said, quietly.

Look after yourself," ' . returned the other, brief- ly and savagely.

" I have done that for a good while now," said' the colonel, with a smile. " By the way, could you let me have a couple of tenners ? I've got a billiard match on to-night up at the Adelph with Taverner;"

" Here you are," said Johnson, handing him

the amount.

" Thank you," said the colonel, as he arose ; " see you to-morrow." And in the street he muttered, . " What a savage that

fellow is ! He looks fit for murder, and I wouldn't be a bit sur- prised if that's what he is wanted for. Ugh !" he thought, with a shudder, " I wonder why fellows do such beastly things. Only that Johnson is in funds I'd drop him. He's really not fit com- pany for a gentleman."

Johnson, on his part made his way to his lodging's, nad sat down

to write a note. It ran thus : . J

" If Mr. Chester would call at Mrs. Thomp- j son's to-night he will hear something about j

he knows who. About ll o'clock will be I

the best time, as the street is quiet and no- j body is likely to be about. I have heard j something important." S

Johnstone walked out into the sti'eet, and, j hailing a cabman, handed him the note j directed to the address given by Chester to

Mrs. Thompson, and gave him half a j sovereign to carry it there for him. I

Then he went back to his room, and ; made some arrangements. First he took j a piece of stout canvas, and sewed this into a bag about the length and diameter of a rolling pin. Then he went out to a building yard near by, and procured some sand; Going back to his room he filled the canvas tightly with the sand and sewed up the loose end. Having completed hi.-i arrangements, he took up this weapon and looked grimly at it. It was a weapon once much in favor with the secret assassins of Hindostán, and was cunningly devised to kill without even abrading the skin. The place on which the murderer struck was the

base of the skull. Death from this cause

had often baffled medical skill. For, the

Melbourne doctor who had conducted th post-mortem upon the man found in th Yarra had never dreamt of the nature of th weapon which had killed him-indeed, ha< never known that there was such a weapoi in the strange and deadly armshouse of th criminal, ,. .

At 10 o'clock Johnson put on a blao overcoat, and placed the sandbag in hi pocket. Ile then lit a cigar and went ou into the night, which was dark and drizzling At right angles to the street in which Mrs Thompson lived, and intersecting it, was

right-of-way. In this place, at a qurter t> l l, Johnson took his post:. The street wa quiet and completely deserted by wayfarers Every now and then a cab spun quickly bj and from the hotel at the corner camé th sound of hilarity of a distinctly bibulou character. The rain came thickly down wit! a soft rustle like the speech of darkness.

The night was chilly, but the dark figur waiting at the corner did not feel cold There were inward fires in his bosom whicl defied the night and rain to quench. Goinj close to him one would have seen a pal face like a flake of snow and a pair o gleaming eyes, waiting with the patience o hate. Bjr-and-bye a heavy footstep sounde< in the street. Johnson knew the officia walk of the policeman, and cowered close against the side of the right-of-way But the officer passed without a thought o the deadly figure crouching in the gloom Pi ve minutes passed, and his slow footstep had died out when another step, light quick, and active, sounded in the street Johnson knew that they were coming hi way, and gathered himself for his spring.

Chester came lightly along, with a ciga in his mouth, and swinging his cane, think ing of anything but what was about ti happen. As he passed the right-of-way Í fierure stepped out as swiftly as a leopart leaps. Chester thought the sky had fallei on him. He dropped without a groan. Fo a moment Johnson . looked down on hin .with an evil, white face, on which gleamec the ghost of a smile. Then he passée swiftly up the street, slitting the sand-ba¿ with his knife and letting the sand pour out Later he tossed the empty bag over a cori' venient fence, and all traces of the means by which he had removed his enemy were

gone. ;

CHAPTER VII.

Colonel Dilke liaises the Wind.

' When the returning policeman fouw Chester stretched out upon the side walk ht bent over him and flashed his bull's-eye

lantern into his face.

"Another drunk, I suppose," he mut- tered, but as he saw the white, set face, he

'exclaimed

" No, it's not. I believe he's dead . Anyhow»" he ruminated, "I'd better take

him to the 'orspital."

And going to the hotel he summoned Í man and dispatched him for a cab.

In due time Chester was deposited al . the hospital and subj ected to medical exami

.nation.

The doctor felt his pulse, and lifted his eyelids.

" Humph ! concussion of the brain," he . said. " This man has been struck on the back of the head by a vehicle, or has re- ceived an unusually heavy fall. HasnM been drinking either."

An examination of Chester's pockets led to the discovery of his card case, and several . letters addressed to him, among others that . purporting to have come from Mrs. Thomp-

son. In this way his identity was dis . covered, and his friends were communicated

with.

For some time he lay unconscious, def \*ing all the science of the hospital. He wavered long between life and death, but his constitution was strong, and he had youth on his side, and these together provee! the masters of the sandbag.

In. a few days he was fit to be removed te his residence, a quiet suburban cottage in £ street which rarely echoed to the bustle ol traffic. There he lay for a week before the power of speech returned to him. The crue] stroke of the sandbag had temporarily para- lysed his brain ; but with the first cleai thoughts that came to him with the song oi the birds in the garden without came the assurance that the assault upon him hac .some connection with his pursuit of John-

son.

It was evident that robbery could not have been the motiye, for his gold watch, a valu- able diamond ring, which Lord Dart had . once presented him, together with his dia . mond studs, had been left untouched. And,

«o far as he knew, there was no living man

who had any interest in slaying him hut the, murderer of Mr. Leigh, whom he was track- ing down.

But how had Johnson . learned of his connection with the case ? There was

only one avenue through which this in- formation could have come to him, and this was the widow Thompson. Re-

luctant as Chester was to admit such a

contingency, yet everything pointed to the fact that the widow had deliberately betrayed him. In that case she must have deceived him as to her feelings for the man he was in pursuit of, and must really be in league with Johnson.

There was, however, a chance that this might not be so. Ile could ascertain the woman's trustworthiness or otherwise by a personal interview with Mrs. Thompson. Ile determined to send for her. Of course, if she was in league with Johnson, she might refuse to come to him, and on the other hand, when she did come, she might still

further deceive him as to her relations with

the man. But he had undergone a bitter experience, and had armored himself in suspiciousness. He determined to put the woman through such a cross examination as would effectually elicit her

11 As he.passed the right-of-way a figure stepped, out as swiftly as a leopard leaps. Chester

thought the slcy had' fallen on 7¿¿W

.share of the responsibility in the murderous attack upon him.

The messenger he dispatched for Mrs. Thompson returned within a couple of hours, accompanied by the widow,

As she entered the room and saw Chester reclining on his couch so weak and pale, the tears came into her eyes, and her sympathy was so evident as to completely dispel the harsh suspicion which he had begun to feel

towards her.

"Indeed, sir," she began, "I am sorry, to see you so bad. Oh ! what man could have been cruel enough to hurt another

so?" . . .

" Ah !" said Chester, " my. good woman, there are in London, I suppose, thousands of men cruel enough to .do.it. As far as I know there is only one interested in doing . it to me. You can guess who that man is,

I suppose, Mrs. Thompson ?" and he looked searchingly at her.

! She covered her face with her hands.

" What a villain that man must be," she . murmured ; " and to think that he wanted

to marryme, the brute !" -, ,

, " Are you aware how I came to be struck . down near your street ? " he asked.

"No, sir," slie replied, looking inquiringly into his eyes.

" Well, then, I was going to see you," he

said.

Mrs. Thompson made no remark, hut waited expectantly.

" And," he continued, " I was going to see you because of this note ; " and he handed her the missive which had lured him into the clutches of his intended assassin.

Mrs. Thompson took it and scanned it

blankly.

. "I never wrote this, sir," she said eagerly,

for I didn't hear a word since you were there the other da y."

" That is strange, very strange," said Chester, musingly.

" Oh, wait, though," cried Mrs. Thompson, clasping her hands, as a sudden thought struck her and turned her pale.

Chester looked keenly at her.

" There was a man called the same night as you did, sir," Mrs. Thompson said, " and inquired if I knew where Johnson was to be found. I thought, to be sure, that he was a detective, and I told him much what I told you. And I told him, too, the more fool I, that you had been inquiring for him, and he

took up your address on the table and looked

at it..

" That explains things," said Chester, energetically. " That man must have been an accomplice o£ Johnson, and by what you told him they discovered that I was on his track and who I was. That fellow Johnson is a clever scoundrel and a desperate one. The blow he gave me was meant to kill. Curious that it didn't leave any mark. I wonder what he struck me with ?"

" I'm sure I couldn't tell you, sir," said Mrs. Thompson, evidently under the impres- sion that she was expected to explain the nature of the instrument in question.

" No, I suppose you cannot," said Chester, with a slight smile ; " but, by Jove," he added, " he hit me with the very same thing that he killed poor Leigh with. The blow was in exactly the same place, and was just as much a mystery to the doctor here as in Melbourne. I'm afraid, now, after all, that I'll have to call in the police."

" That's just what I think you ought to do, sir.. A knock on the head to them, more or less," said Mrs. Thompson, " doesn't matter ; but it's a shame that a real gentle- man should go about and get neany killed

for doing their work. I'm sure I'd give it

up if I was you, sir." ; " And she looked so earnest that once again

Chester could not avoid a smile.

"Well, I'll do it, Mrs. Thompson," he re- j plied. " I'm not fit for this sort of work. j

I'm afraid. As you say knocks on j head such as I have received don't suit :u:o. \ One thing the assault makes clear, howers, I

and that is that Johnson is in London. B ad

he struck harder he might have got off s so o \ free from a double murder.. The Scotia .! Ya.rd men should be able to run him dov:' now from the information I can give the . :.

unless he has already cleared off, which is { not unlikely, for so cautious a scoundrel

knows already that his attempt on my life j has failed. In such a case he will have | probably taken other measures to assure his ] escape."

After a few more words Mrs. Thompson departed, and for the next week Chester

was left free to recover his normal health

and strength. Meanwhile he had taken no steps to put the affair of Mr. Leigh's murder in the hands of the police. One evening, just as he had sat down to write to the police authorities, his servaut entered

and informed him that " a trampish-looking I fellow wanted to see him." This visitor I

had refused to state his business unless to Chester himself.

. "Very well," said the latter, " show him up."

When the servant left on his errand, Chester, rendered apprehensive by his recent experience that another attempt upon Iiis life might be contemplated, opened a drawer on his table, and inserting his hand grasped the butt of a revolver lying within. Then

he waited.

Presently a slouching figure entered. A man apparently of 60 years of age, with bowed shoulders, clad in a tattered overcoat, and with his face covered in beard, whis- kers, moustache, and shaggy, dull grey eye- brows. He had a lurchin»>, slouching, uneasy gait, such as is seen only in the nocturnal ruffian of.the slums. Chester felt at once that the man was of bad character.

" I s'pose you're Mr. Chester,", he said, in a gruff voice, which seemed to come from the region of his boots.

" That is my name," said Chester, quietly, but with a keen eye upon the stranger's every movement.

"Well," said this unprepossessing visitor, " I've got something to tell you, boss, as'll be worth some'at to you if so be as your'ro willing to part for the hinformation."

"Yes?" said Chester. " What is "that, my

man ?"

" It's about that Johnson cove," replied the man. " I know where you can lay your

'ands on him."

" Indeed !" observed Dick ; " and how

did you know that I wanted to find John- | son?" . j

The fellow shuffled uneasily.

"It's this way-" he began to explain, j when Chester interrupted him.

" It's no use, my friend," he said, calmly, " trying to deceive me. You're disguised, and I'll trouble you to take that disguise off, and let me see your real

' face." . '

The man started to his feet with the

evident intention of making a bolt of it. But he stopped . suddenly, for he was looking down the polished barrel of Dick's

revolver.

? " You see," explained Dick, "you'd better do as I tell you, for otherwise I shall be com- pelled to keep you here until my servant brings a policeman. I have some suspicion that a constable will know what to do with you."

The fellow looked from the revolver to thfjf gong on which Chester's finger rested, andi1: then at Dick's calm, determined face. F

" What does it matter to you," he saidl roughly, " who I am as long as you get the . information you require ?"

As he asked this question he threw off . one of his diguises, that of his voice.

"Never mind that," replied Dick j "you do as I desire. For one thing, you may he Mr. Johnson himself, and that is what I wish to see. So kindly take off those

things."

A baffled look came into the man's face, but after a moment's reflection he obeyed

Chester's command.

" I'm not Johnson," he said, with a short laugh, " as you'll see." And in an instant the hair was pulled off his face and head, and tho dissipated but still handsome fqge of Colonel Dilke was revealed to Chester's watchful eyes.

" No, you're not Johnson," assented Ckes

ter after a moment's scrutiny of his face ; " but, in any case, who are you ?"

" Well, I'm not anybody you know," re- plied the profligate. " But I've been a com- panion of Johnson's, and I've come to know that he's wanted for something queer."

" And you want to sell your associate now," said Dick, sarcastically.

"Yes, I db," replied Dilke, boldly. "If there's any money in it the man's yours within 24 hours. I don't want to be mixed tip with a desperado who,' for all I know, may be wanted for murder."

" Don't make a matter of virtue of it," said Chester ; " that's disgusting. You want to make some money out of your friend's capture. Well, in the interest of justice, I'm willing to pay you something ; but, mark you, only after the capture of John-

son is effected."

Dilke observed, sulkily-" I thought you'd . bc willing to pay something down, or I

wouldn't have come." . ,

" Probably not," .replied Chester, " but you did come, and, as far as I am concerned, your money will be as safe then as now if " your information proves correct. You

seo, I was led into . one trap by this clever ruffian, and I don't want to fall ' into another. By the way, I wouldn't wonder now if you were the identical individual who made certain inquiries about me at Mrs. Thompson's. Air I right ?" And Chester looked keenly at thc

colonel.

The latter flushed and moved uneasily ."Well, I was," he replied ; " but I didii'i know that he was going to try to kill you He's a desperate scoundrel," he said, wit! an expression of fear, fand, would kill mt like a hare if he knew that I had informée on him. That's why I came disguised-tc deceive him and not you, for he's got eyes

all over him."

" Well," said Chester, " when can you;

friend bc found?" «

" Ho's going to the Croydon races to

m o r r o w,' a. n s w o r e cl Dilke, "and he'll be in his rooms from 7 till 10 to-morrow .night. After that he goes to tho Casino but you'd better catch him at his rooms before 10 o'clock. Otherwise ho maj5* get away, for ho thinks of going to the Continent soon, and you never know one day what he's going to do the next. He's a close fellow, and trusts nobody."

"Not even you," said Chester sarcastically. "Now, what do you

. value those services of

of yours at-eh?" ,

" What do you say to a hundred ?" inquired

Dilke.

" A hundred it shall be," returned Chester. " Provided we appre- hend him to morrow night, you can have the money the next morning. Will that do

vou ? "

"Oh, nicely!" replied Dilke with alacrity, " hut I don't wish my name to appear in

connection with the matter.

" I don't suppose anybody but the police would have any interest in that," responded Dick, " and as far as I am concerned you are sate. Now you can put on your disguise and go, but recollect that this time I am not

going out alone. The police will accompany

mo

And he looked significantly at Dilke.

Thc latter donned his disguises, and re- tired without another word, assuming the same shambling gait ¿is he had worn when

he entered.

"That, a precious scoundrel," thought Chester, " but I think he may be depended upon this time,-only in hope ol: a re- ward. What a pretty fellowship the brotherhood of scoundrclism is."

At this moment a (pick, firm step sounded in the hall, and, with a cheery laugh, Lord Bart burst into the room.

" Well, Dick, my lad," he cried, " What's been the matter with you ? You look as if

you'd been sick."

Then a whole hour of explanation ensued, for Lord Dart had but just landed in Eng- land from tho antipodes, and had heard nothing further of Dick's detective enter- prise since he had left him in Melbourne.

«As Dick explained the progress of his re

searches Dart could only sit and stare, with an occasional gasp or " By George !" punc- tuating his silent amazement.

When he had concluded his story Chester drew his pocket-book out, and observed with with a quizzical smile - " I've won £10,000 already from your Lordship, and I have just a week in which to make it £20,000. To-morrow night we will arrest Johnson. Of course, I'll give you your own time to pay in. That bit of chaff of yours in Melbourne about my detective skill is likely to prove rather dear to you."

"By George, you're right!" said Dart, ruefully ; " but never mind. I'd rather lose the money to you than to anybody else. How strange that it should have been Marian Leigh's father that was murdered. By Jove ! how is Miss Leigh ? "

At this abrupt question Chester colored.

" She's very well," said Chester. " I'm

due to' call on her to-morrow."

Dart looked at him keenly, and, as il satisfied, smiled softly, at which Diel colored once more. For aman of the worlc he was quite bashful.

CHAPTER VIII.

Mr. .1 oh II s on Vsc apes.

The next evening Johnson was sitting ii

" When the policeman found Chester stretched out upon the side walk he bent over him and fashed his bull's-eye lantern into his face"

an armchair in his {bedroom smoking. There were deep wrinkles about his piercing eyes, crow's feet at the corners, and singular crescent wrinkles following the arch of the eyebrows, giving a sug- gestion of Mephistophelian cunning and worry to the sharp, troubled face. For, undoubtedly, Johnson was in a state of anxiety, it! not of fear. He knew now that Chester was recovering, and that the mur- derous tour de force by which he had endea-

vored to break the chain that Chester was

weaving about him had failed. Had he acted with his ordinaiy decision he would have long before this been in comparative* safety, with the sea between him and his pur- suer ; but he had lingered on indecisively, as a moth circles around a light which will shrivel it in return for its servility and homage. There are people who seek to ex- plain the fatuousness of the murderer in this wa}', but a rational and compi'ehensive ex- planation to ht all cases has never been evolved. The robber flies with his spoil. The criminal of lesser grade than the murderer seeks safet}*- at the first note of danger. Only the arch-offender who has dipped sacrilegious hands in the fountain of life, who has violated the temple of humanity, lingers about his old haunts, armored in a carlessness which is like

paralysis. Johnson, whose fear and rage had been violent enough a few days back to

have led him to attempt Chester's life, was now awaiting developments-anxious and perturbed enough, but, in yiew of the gravity of the danger which threatened him, strangely indifferent.

He was an intelligent man, and might have done good service to his generation under, other circumstances if he had not become what he was, and if what had happened had never happened, and, in fine, if the Fates had chosen to spin the thrëads Of his life into an altogether different tex- ture, which they didn't and couldn't have done, and so there's an end of it.

Johnson just at present was waiting foi Dilke. He was far from trusting that polished scoundrel, but he relied upon the colonel's ignorance of his crime. HÍE own intelligence would have led him tc have suspected Dilke of crime hac their positions being reversed, but he die not give the colonel credit for the penetra tion which the blackleg had displayed, ant already turned to account by betraying him This was not because he thought Dilki stupid, He knew him as* a consummate sharper, and a man without acute intelli genoe can never succeed'in this profession His fault in Dilke's inability to see througl his guilt was only another instance of tha

fatal security in which he was reposing.

As hé waited steps sounded upon the stairs leading to his flat. There were more than one person ascending-two or three.

Even now he did not take alarm.

" Dilke's brought friends," was his men-

tal comment.

Somebody knocked at the door,

" Come in," said Johnson, without rising

from his chair.

At this invitation the door opened. Chester entered first, then Lord Dart, and at the heels of the latter was a quiet-looking man with that official air accompanying his quiet- ness which the ordinary man never notices, but which tho criminal sees almost with

the instinct by which the startled deer scents the lurking beast of prey whose odor

comes to it down the wind.

Still he made no move. But over his face

flitted an expreseion of despair. Ile knew

that the end had come.

It was Chester that spoke.

" You're name is Johnson ?" Johnson nodded.

" There's your man, officer," said Chester.

The detective advanced with a pair of

handcuffs. Johnson waved him back.

?i< There's no occasion for those things," he sajcl.

. "i've got a cab round the corner," said the detective, in his quiet way, " and we can drive there without any fuss."

Af

_' ' " .... . _ " " ', . .

It was a delicate way of putting it, but for all that Johnson shuddered slightly.

After a short pause he inquired, " What

ara I accused of ?"

" You're chaiged with the murder abd robbery of Richard Leigh, in Melbourne," responded the officer.

" Who charges me with murder?" John

eon asked.

" Well," said the detective, " Mr. Chester here does, but we've taken, the case over now, and we charge you."

" Well," said Johnson, calmly, " I intend to save you a good deal pf trouble. I did murder the old man. You know," he went on, with a brutal coolness that aroused a feeling of disgust in Chester and made Dart's sanguine cheeks pale, " I'd been working for 30 years, boy and man, and at the end was no nearer wealth or even independence than when I started. And then I had expensive tastes. You can't imagine, gentlemen," he said, turning his sharp eyes on Chester and his

friend, " what it meant to be dabbling up to . my elbows every day in gems and gold, and yet to have to let it all go to gay young swells' and scented ladies, and do the best I could for the gratification of my tastes on

the few pounds I drew every Saturday. I , could have taken away in one hand enough wealth to have set me up for life any day, and more than once I was inclined to do so, only that I knew that detection and arrest would overtake me . before I had even tasted the flavor of

champagne. So I waited. Then this old fool came along, and I saw at once that he was mad. When I rivetted the belt on him and he left, I tracked him to the Orient Company's office, and saw him take a berth

for Melbourne. I threw up my billet at Fink's, and went out in the same boat in the steer-

age, and watched him till I got ah opportu- nity to put him "out of the way and get his belt. < What good,' he asked, cynically, { was

wealth to him ?' He had tasted all the

pleasures of life, and his palate for what wealth can give had perished. Mine was tingling with desire. Wine, gambling, caids, horses, dice, glorious things I had never known, beckoned me on, and I followed their invitations. Well, I got the belt, and I've had a good time since -" here he yawned.

" You're a clever fellow," he said,addres- sing Chester, " but you had a narrow escape.

How would it have

been iE I had killed you the other night ?"

" In that . case," re- plied Chester, " I think your chances of es- cape would have been

exceedingly good."

i "Oh, never fear," put in the detective, s " we'd have got you at last for something or , another. The criminal doesn't stop at one

crime."

" Bah !" said Johnson, contemptuously, " you ordinary police would never have been a match for me. Scores of crimes are com ; mitted every day in London under your very

noses that you never hear of."

The detective looked nettled at this s speech, and rattled his handcuffs im-

patiently.

" What did you do it with ?" inquired , Chester, curiously.

" It's an old trick," he replied. " I hit , him with a sandbag, and the same thing ? wonid have finished you if your skull hadn't

been so thick."

"Ah," said Chester, almost pleasantly, " you will "find the rope less likely to err,"

Perhaps." said Johnson, coolly, rising as he spoke, and moving towards a chest of

drawers.

Thé detective was by his side imme- diately. .

: " No tricks, Johnson," he said, sternly.

"Oh! you needn't fear," the prisoner said, ? with a laugh. " About half the stones from

the belt are here." As he spoke he dipped ; his hand into one of the drawers and drew

out a leather pouch. " There they are," he said, as he handed it to the detective.

1 V'-.

. y-"'- .--1 . ? - ? 1 ? * -

The officer took the bulky purse, and put it in. his pocket.

" You'll, admit," Johnson went on, " that I've saved you some trouble by my , confession."

The detective nodded.

" Well," proceeded Johnson, " I'll save you and the hangman some more," and with a swift action he put something that looked like a pill into his mouth. The detective seized his wrist, but a sound as though he had cracked a nut between his teeth was heard, and with a ghastly attempt at a smile, Johnson swayed and fell. Immedia- tely his face became rigid with the lines of death. The detective bent over him, and looked at his lips.

" Prussic acid," he said. " He's escaped us after all. I'll attend to the rest, gentle- men, you needn't stay." The officer was evidently chagrined. .

Next morning Lord Dart and Chester were seated cosily in the club in which it was their custom to spend a good deal of

their time while in London. On the little

marble-topped table standing before them

I.-A sound as though he had cracked a mit between his teeth was heard, ond, with a ghastly

attempt at d smile, Johnson swayed and ./elU . ' \ ; -

!was a box of prime Havannahs (Dart

was on the selection committee of tho club), whose brown, ripe colors suggested endless journeyings in the lotos-land of smokers. Besides this, a slender bottle of golden Gascon wine -Dart's favorite tipple - oscillated through its last disturbance. Chester, whose face was at times hidden in the white wreathing mists, was talking, while Dart took his cigar from his mouth to laugh long and loudly at his friends remarks.

" Yes ! one of the best jokes I have heard for a very long time," said Chester.

"It is so ; but have you the message with you ?" asked Lord Dart.

; " I have it here. Listen," and he read as I follows :

i Criminal Investigation Department,

Melbourne.

i To Richard Chester,

London.

"VVe have this day arrested Peter Newton

for murder of man whose body you in- spected in morgue. Will wire f uller later

on.

"There," said Chester, as he threw the paper on the table, what do you think of

that?"

" It's decidedly jich, and worthy of , the re- putation which the colonial police have made for themselves. I suppose that by this time they are complimenting themselves in the press on their marvellous sagacity."

" Yes," said Chester, with a laugh ; " and, by Jove, how must the sulky Bacchus of Lonsdale-street-the painfully obliging Peter Newton--feel? I'll wager that he holds me responsible for his arrest, and is furious at his own simplicity. . How he must curse

me!"

And Chester roared again till the Gascon wine danced in the slender glasses. He was in a good humor that morning.

" It's all very well for you to laugh," in- terrupted Dart, himself smiling, " but how about poor old sulky Peter?"

" Oh, he's all right, Ned. I'm just going to send a statement of the case down to

Scotland .Yard, and a word from such a quarter as that will soon set the publican at liberty." '." /

"Well, Dicki" remarked his friend, " don't you think j^ou'd better start _ right ahead, for you see, as the suffering frog once observed j- that what's merely, fun to you is ; death to the other party. Hère, waiter, pens,

ink and paper at once." . ? . ;

The necessary materials having been brought, .Chester scratched away for a few minutes, then, enclosing what he had written in an envelope, he handed it over to the waiter with an impressive instruction to lose no time in delivering it at Scotland

Yard.

" And now take these things away," he said, pointing with his cigar to the writing

materials.

" Wait one moment, Dick, there's one thing more in connection with this affair that must be finished straight off," and as

s.v.-, . ^i.*.> ~. '. . ....-«.t..' .rf .T-.V-J;?»- rÜA iv^l4>Vif3vJ

he spoke Lord Dart seized a pen and'busied himself in writing for a few seconds.

" There !" he exclaimed, throwing the pen down, and handing a slip of paper to Dick.

It was .a cheque on the Bank of England calling upon it to pay . one Richard Chester the sum of £20,000. Dick read it, and, folding it neatly, put it away. Then he grasped Lord Dart's hand.

" I wish I'd won it from anyone else but you, Ned," he said.

" I'm very glad nobody else won it but you, Dick; and, needless to say, I learnt one very valuable lesson by my trip to the Antipodes. It is this : Whenever

Lord Dart feels inclined to underrate

anyone's assertions, I'll just say to him, ' Look here, Ned, doubt away if you please, but don't be such a double-barrelled fool as to wager that even the last and most unlikely thing in the world may not happen.' And again, there's another valuable acquisition I have made in connection with this case, and that is that I have a new yarn, yes, a brand new unprecedented yarn, to tell in the drawing rooms. I suppose that by virtue of it I will be a regular lion for the next few weeks. So you see, old boy, the investment of that £20,000 was not an altogether unprofitable. concern-it .wasn't thrown àwày."

"Well, it wasn't so utterly barren, after all," assented Dick ; " but there's no ques- tion about its profitableness to me."

" In more ways than one," added Lord Dart significantly.;

" That just reminds me," he said, rising from the table. "I have an appointment with Miss Leigh." And, with an airy farewell, he departed.

As Chester left Dart remarked to himself, " I often wanted to do Dick a good turn, but he Was so deuced proud he would never let me help himv Now that I have done it I feel considerably better."

Decidedly few men could have lost a for- tune of £20,000 with better grace than the cheery peer. ':

A half an hour afterwards Marian Leigh and Chester were engaged in earnest conversa- tion. On a table before them rippled and sparkled a heap of gems. The bright light streamed through the open window with the fair freshness of spring, and lit up the room, the gems, and the.lady's eyes, which had found light in their own as they rested

on Chester's face.

" So it is true, Mr. Chester," said Marian, sadly. " And I Was rightly informed."

", Yes, I am certain he is dead."

"Oh, my poor father-my poor father! Dying in that far away land, with, perhaps,

no one beside him."

" Dear Miss Leigh," said Chester, sym- pathetically, " let me remind you that even the worst news, providing it is certainty, is better than the suspense which your lin- gering doubt as to your father's fate would have kept; you in."

" But, Mr. Chester, of what did my father die ?' -V.. i

And Marian looked at him inquiringly through a midst of tears.

" That I cannot tell you," said Dick, choking down- his scruples. "He was lodging at a little publichouse in Melbourne. ,Tlie pólice-did not know what the cause of death was, and the doctor who was called in to examine the body was at a similar loss. But enough of this for the present, Miss Leigh," he concluded kindly.

" My poor, harmless father," she cried ; " he was my best and only friend."

Chester took her hand in his. " Will you let one who loves you no less than he did fill his place," he whispered, tenderly.

Marian blushed, and turned her face

away.

" Miss Leigh-Marian !" he went on, " listen to mo. I love you more than I can say, and I think I can make you happy. I am willing to try if you will give me the right. I would willingly die for three words from you. Oh, do not refuse to say

them."

Was this, indeed, the cool, self-repressed Chester ? Marian turned her bright eyes upon him. The tears had all gone.

" Wliat are they ?" she said with candour, though the rosy tint was still in her cheeks.

" I love you !"

" I love you !" she repeated.

Lord Dart would have been delighted at

the manner in which the lovers looked at each, other.

After a time Chester said, " What will you do with these gems, Marian ?"

" Shall I have them set and wear them at my wedding ?"

" No, dear," answered Chester, for to him

--who knew the scenes through which they had passed-the idea was repulsive.

" Would it not he better, seeing what a trouble they have been associated with, to sell them or put them away for over ?"

" Just as you please, Dick," said

Marian.

And so Chester evaded the necessity of telling Marian the true story of her father's death, and rid her and himself ot the glittering things which had been bap-

tised in blood.

# * * * ; J One more scene. As Chester and Marian, now Marian Chester, stepped into the car- riage which was to ' take them to the Dover Mail, Lord Dart came and shook hands with

them.

" Good-bye, Dick, old man," said he, " and a long and happy life to you both."

"Good-bye, my lord," said Marian, sweetly, " and I hope that before long you will have some one to take Dick's place."

Lord Dart smiled ; but when theil* happy faces had disappeared it seemed to him as though the skies had suddenly clouded and the sunlight grown cold.

" Take Dick's place," he repeated. « Y

if Dick hadn't wanted her himself."