|Chapter Title||THE THING HAS A DARK LOOK.|
|Newspaper Title||Euroa Advertiser (Vic. : 1884 - 1920)|
|Trove Title||Written in Red; Or, The Conspiracy in the North Case. A Story of Boston|
WRITTEN IN RED; On, THE; CONSPIRACY IN THE NORTH CASE.* A STORY OF BOSTON. BY Cnas. 3tfon?Uaou ann C. W. DyTa. CHAPTER XV.--TE T>rao HAS A Daxn Loos. " Come in, Kingman. You are prompt. I'm ,bliged to yon." SWednesday morning, and Detective Lamm at the threshold of his office was welcoming his friend the reporter. "Yea," said Thomas, unaware of thepecnlia expression with which his associate regarded bim. "Your note, left at the office, seemed to be urgent." " Youare right. It wasurgent. Sit down." John Lamm locked the door and put.te key in his pocket. And standing with his back against it, said, seriously- - "Thomas, I have always considered you as an excellent detective. I have changed my mind." - " Well, what now?" asked Thomas, uneasily, glancing keenly at his friend, and thereafter avoiding his aaze. "This," sad Lmm, measuring his words: the man who allows himself to be side tracked in an important case by a pretty face and a pair of blue eyes has a cardinal weakness that sooner or later is sure to tell against him in business." Thomasstarted, flushed, but controlled him self. 'Did you go clear to New York to find that " I have not been to New York," said Lami, quietly. "I have been here in Boston rard at wOrk upon the latest and most curious feature of the North case." " Come," said Thomas, desperately, "say Whatyou mean. Don't talk in riddles." " Imean that I know allabout it, Thomas. I know that Kingman F. Thomas, who has done in his day as excellent detective work as any body in the State, has at last fallen into the anare of the siren, and forgotten his duty. In other words, he is in love with one of the principals. Instead of arresting herhe guards her. While the police are searching every where for her, he has her secretly hidden in his own house right under their verynoses, and comes to his best friend with a coolness that might (if hewere a "little less wary) have ained his work on theease." . "John, you presume on your friendship,' said Thomas, hotly. He had been nervously fingering his watch charm, and alternating between white and red, throughout Lamm' qseet speech, but he now started up and faced the detective snarely. " You have no right to assume that there is any sentiment m the matter. Yon go too far whenyou charge me with lettin- my personal feelings run away with my sense of duty. You don'tcnow what my Object was-is." " Ahl but pardon me, Kingman; I asnsume that I do. Iflit had been in the ordinary course of your.professional business, you would have Come tome with it for advice or assistance, just as you have always done when we have asso tated ourselves on a case before. There is only one reason why you didn't come; you were more than afraid thatI would never approve of so rash a proceeding on your part, and you were resolved upon taking the step at all hazards. In other words, Kingman, you were alittle ashamed." - * Thomas had regained control of himself. He drew himself up. "See here, John Lamm, we will leave my motives out of the question, if you please.- I have protected the girl. I propose to continue to do so. She was in a hard place-a harder ine than you know anything about. I should have been less than a man ifI had neglected to do what I did. To have given her up under the circumstances would have been the height of cruelty. You wouldn't have done it your self. Every bit of circumstantial evidence was overwhelmingly against her. I determined to conceal her till I could discover at least proofs of her innocence sufficient to prevent her from theignominy of an arrest. Since you have dis covered the fact, there is no help for it. You must aid me to keep the secret." "Only upon one condition, Kingman. I must know all the facts." 'And if Itell you everything, will ou give me your word of honour not tonuse it against lehe or hers?" asked Thomas, with peculiar emphasis on the second pronoun. - "Rnt isn't that rather broad t" Lamm hesi fated. ' Thomas compressed his lips tightl. - " "This girl has confessed everythg to me, Lamm, and in return 1 have given her myword to do everythig in my power to -protect her familyfrom disgrace. - There's no way out, of it; -You must promise me." l • , - h "What dlo you mean: " demanded Lamim;, -sternly. " Do you mean if I find that the murdererbf Pauilorth is in her family I am to keep itto mysyelf P" "'Decidedy not," said Thomas. "But you -most have proof, not appearances." he a ?Oh, certainly," studa Imem. "I agree to that. ang the appearances in a case. They are seldom right I use appeurances only to enable meto get at the facts. But once I get at the facts, Thomas, understand me, it will -make no differece whose family it is in." "Very well," said Thomas, "we under. steand each other. ive me yourIhand on it." ,he two men shook hands over the compact, end sat down. dose together beside the de. tective's desk. . "In the first place," began Thomas, it was Stella Worth who threw the pistol into the Water at Swampscott on Sunday night and 'Wren fled from her home." "I had guessed as much when I learned that North's shooter had been found." "At that time I hadn't the faintest idea -who the fugitive was, and when I recognised her on the Connecticut roadside I was 'nearly as much astonished as she was frightened. The first thing I thought was that she must be guilty. All her actions the headlong, precipitate flight; her terror !my appearance-all seemed to wear the look of criminality. She had fainted dead away, but she soonbegan to come to herself again. Thereupon Itied my horse to a tree, and drew hierinto the woods, out olsight of passers-by. She was so weak and emotional I believed her ripe fore confession. Lamm. I fully expected at that moment to be rewarded for mv efforts by a tremendous discovery. Bur I tell you, as I looked at the poor thing-hardly a woman yet -lying there on the leaves, pale, speechless, fightened nearly out of her senses, I never felt 1W sorry for anybody in my life.". Se" I know the feeling." said Lamm. " I'vehad tmyeelf. But go on." ' "Well, when she came to I began to talk to -e,. 'Of crurse therewas a scene.- She broke down completely. and at her first words I under -_tood whatI ought to have had same esiough to b-veknown'fromthe fi.t-thatherterrorwas nsbt n" her own account. 'Oh, don't let them edbysap ecil arrng ement'with Mmmi. ekmilL -
arrest her!' she kept saying. ' Don't, I beg of you! She's crazy! She must be! She never could have done it in her senses!' "Oh, ho!" exclaimed the detective. 'Sister Marion, eh ?" - " ' Come,' I said, ' tell me the whole story; it's the quickest way out of it. And I give you my word of honour I'll do what I can to help you.' But itewas a long time before I was able to bring her to the point of trusting me. I don't know how it was exactly, but she gradually-" "Pshlw!-" said Lamm. "Don'tembaras: yourself. Skip it. I know what happened as well us you do. She was" in deep distress. You were in earnest. She trusted you. Good. What u as her story ?" " She didn't tell me-the whole story at that time," said Thomas. "I stopped her wheu I knew the essential facts, for I realised her danger and incidentally my own. I impressed upon her the necessity of obeying meimplicitly. I told her thrre was but one way to save either herself or hersister, or both of them, from the ignomiuy of immediate arrest, and all the attendant scandal. Frightened to death almost, and shaking like a leaf, she acquiesced. I stqwed her as comfortably as I could in ths bhttom of the carriage, and covered her with a rug. Overcome with exhaustion, she,lbelieve, actually slept all the way to Vernon. Outside the town I awoke her, made her get out, and told her to follow me at a distance, and to board the train that I took, but by no means to epeakto me. - She was veiled, and had enough money to purlchase hertieketk.',. - : ,',? : ,"" Capital!-' ou aere sbesewdsonee, Y igsmas These precautions would never have occurred to another man." " Ah! I knew, you see, that the whole police force must be on her track by this time. As soon as she was missed from Swampscott, I knew they would be in full chase, and she, in her innocence, had left a trail as plain as the milky way." " Of course," said Detective Lamm, signi ficantly. "And so," Thomas continued, "I laid my plans accordingly. We rode to 'Boston sepa rately, and she followed me on foot on the other side of the street to my house. She was whiter than death when she came in; but if you know my mother you .can imagine the reception she got. Five minutes'. explanation to my mother was sufficient. She opened her arms tc the fugitive, and Stella North has been under her charge eversince." "Ah! and you, of course, got the whole story from the girl ." '? "That night. There is no question about her frankness or her honesty. If you could talk with her ten minutes you would be assured of that." " Undoubtedly. And now for the facts. What are they?" - "Well, Lamm," said Thomas, "there are two sets of facts-the immediate and the re mote. Whether the remote have any relation to the immediate I cannot tell. Nevertheless, you shall hear them first. To go back to Richard Fetridge-" "Of course," said Lamm. "Everything in the case seems to have a peculiar trick of going back to him." - " Still, I an unable to say that he has any connection with this murder, Lamm. It's a mystery, old man, as you will soon see. Stella merely corrobratee the facts that I have told you already about Fetridge's connection with the family. It was just eas I said; he was ini love with Marion, but how far they went, whether they. were actually engaged or not, nobody knows; not even Stella,-for the fact comes out that Marion is a very peculiar woman." "Peculiar? Do you mean eccentric?" "Well, eccentric, perhaps," said Thomas, doubtfully. " What I mean is that she is ex ceedingly self-willed and self-reliant; that she is naturally secretive, dislikes to make con fdants, repels intercourse on topics near to her, dislikes to be sympathised with, and is extremely sensitive about little things that ordinary people would pass unobserved. ixaggerate all these qualities to an unusual degree and you have the traitsthatmake Marion Stackhouse peculiar. If you call such a character eccentric, she's eccentric. If you mean, however, the eccen tricity that is allied to monomania or insanity, I fail to find that she has ever exhibited any traces. Iquestioned Stella veryparticularlyon this point-as to whether her sister was in the habit of taking queer freaks. She says itmight seemso to anybody who was not familiar with her peculiar temperament, but she never knew her to do anything without the possibility of a reason therefor." "Just my idea of her exactly," said Lamm. "Anybody who has ever looked into the rest less eye of a maniac knows what it is. I have talked with Marion Stackhouse face to face. She is no more insane than I am." "I say this," continued Thomas, "to explain why it was that nobody knew whether Marion wasreallyengaged to Fetridge. On account of the opposition of Mr. North, it would have been a secret, any way, to some extent, but Stella never knew. She only knsws that they were together a great deel, till one night they presumably quarrelled, for his visits ceased abruptly. and the next thing Stella knew, the engagement to Stackhouse was announced." "Wasn't this a marriage from pique,- then, such as we occasionally hear of?" "So I fancy, Lamm. Stella will not express 1 her opinion to that effect, but I can see that she thinks so. Well, now, as to Fetridge coming I back into the family again since his return from Australia, it was just as we surmised, ostensibly to pay Stella some attentions ; but the girl de clares that he never spoke of love to her, thoueh he had dlentyof opportunity." "*hich indicates," said Lamm, quietly, " that Fetridge stillcame to see 'Mrion, de spite her marriage to Stackhouse." .. "So it would seem; and thatshe regretted her hasty step in marrying too soon..- Well, but this is only speculation. -To go on with facts: - Fetridge's attentions to Stella were thoughtlessly received-the girl insists she has no other feeling for him than that of a pleasant acquaintance--but after his departure on his recent business trip, the purpose of which we can't determine, it came to her ears that there was a great deal of gossip about their associa tion. She determined to be more carefulin the future. The day before the murder, Fetridge reappeared at the house. It would seem that the instant he got home he came to the North household. Be began to lay out plans at once to go hither and you with the girl. But the poor thing's suspicions were aroused by her long month of reflection. She determined not to be made a catspaw of for any purpose, and at the first opportunity-having summoned up the necessary courage-she broached the tabooed subject to her, sister." . t - d " What time of the day was this?" t "It seems to have been about the middle of the afternoon. Marion was not feeling very welL She was lying down, and Stella was sitting beside her with a fan. Marion intro duced Fetridge's name herself, making some inquiries abouthis visit of the previous even ing. Then Stella made so bold as to ask her advice, and finally told her what her suspicions wAere." '"-But yon don't mean-" .' - 'Simply.:that Fetridge pretended. to -pay attentions to her (Stella) forthesake of appear ances, and that his real object was to be near MLIarion."' "Whew I Knowing the woman, I can imagine the result." "Easily. But Stella was innocent enough. She merely intended togive her sister a well meant warning. Maion receivedit as an in- I sualt. 'Itisa jealous lie,' she cries into the ars of the astonished Stella. 'Richard Fet ridge never meant to marry me; never cared a feather for me. If you had asked me I could ?anve told yon so. But since you thought it better to lplay the spy on me, why, I'll prove it toyou.' And, with a great emp hasis on the word prore, she dashed out of the room." "'This woman is curious. No doubt about it. But her conscience troubles her, and she's jealous of Fetridge. There's no other explana tion of this line of conduct." - "Ah, well," said Thomas, doubtfully, "if Marion had married Stackhouse purely from pique, and had been carrying on the hollow mockery for a whole year because she was too rud to betray what shabe suffered to any ?n soul, it seems that there might be enough inufammable material to her emotional nature to get up a good blaze at the first spark. Don'tyouthink so?" " Qaite likely. It's loically put, anyhow. But about these proofs that Fetridge didn't care for her. I am anxious to know the nature of them." "So am I; but unfortunately they dis appear from my story with this reference to them. Stella naturally supposed Marion went upstairs to get something. Imagine her suronrise, five minutes later, to see her driving off in a earnige. In a short time the coachman 'came back. Mrs. Sts ckhouse, I he said, had gone to Boston. Stella began tor be-exceedingly alarmed. What in the world could haye occasioned this sudden freak she could not imagine. That her sister was terribly angry she saw, and tho insane ideathat perhaps she intended to tell Richard' Fetridge what had been said drove ther phor girl uite distracted. She followed Marionuto the aetyin.the nexttrain, and searched every where for her.. It .was-after six when she 'rrived, and all the placeas of business Wre closed; This tcircanumstance only increaied the girl's alarm. She began ito have wehat she calls a presentiment of evil. There were threeplaces in town where she thought her
sister might be-the houses of three friends; One ofthem'was away out in Roxbury. She made the rounds, exciting everywhere wonder and concern; but ase abruptly refused all efforts of escort. It was getting later and later all the time. Already it was dark, and the street lights were bunri'ig. Suddenly she remembered that Marion had the keys to the house in Marlboro street. There was a bare possibility that she had gone th-ro in quest of the proofs she had so mysteriously mentioned. Stella set herself in that' direction; It must have been about half-past nine o'clock when she approached the place. and saw-what do you think ? Marion Stackhouse coming down the steps !" . The imperturbable John Lamm for once lost his sat, froid. He sprang to his feet, and brought his hand down with a crash upon the top of his desk. "Good -heavens!" he cried. "And all this time you have been concealing this from me!" CHAPTER XVI.-Co.ssrrancv! "It is signifleant to you, then?" Thomas asked, uneasily, with a faint smile. " Oh, certainly not," returned John Lamm, sarestically.' "It doesn't mean anything. But don't delay. How did Marion acts What did she have to say for herself ?" The detective, instead of resuming his seat, began to walk about the room with his hands behind him. "She hadn't anything to nsay for hersslf,' eturned,Thomas.. "'Thnat's just the trouble. She acted queer--queerer than Stella had ever seen her act in her life." " How queer?" " As the girl expresses ft, she seemed like a person walking in her sleep. She spoke to Stella but in a mechanical way, as if her mind were quite elsewhere all the time. They went hack to the depict and rode out to Swampscott together." Do you mean to say that Marion expressed no surprise when she saw Stella in the street?" S"Momentarily she seemed aroused, but as soon as Stella began to account for herself she relapsed into her 'frozen' condition again." " What a woman she is !" " She was not strongenough to conceal from her si ter that something terrible had hap. pened. She was so dazed and unnatural that the young girl was frantic with apprehension." "Of course, this places it beyond a doubt that Marion had either killed her legal father orhad seen him killed." "But, my dear Lamm, I can't entertain the first idea for a rtinute. What possible motive could there be for her?" "It isto be determined simply by the fact of whether the girl was alone in the house that night." "Alh,precisely. That is what I efi vorking to find out. Well,Lamm,on the'whole journey home; MarionStackhouse had but two sentences to utter which seem to have any bearing upon the case. The first was when Stella made some mention of Stackhoase. 'Never speak to me of that man again,' said Marion, fiercely' "He is not my husband.' And again, just before hey got to the house, seizing her sister's wrist, Stella,' she whispered, 'Do you want to see me in my grave? Then never tell a living soul where I have been."' "Thunder and guns!" ejaculated Lamm. 'That woman is the princess of mysteries. Doesn't it strike you a little peculiar that she should continue to assert that Stackhouse is not her husband? Mind you, she always puts it in that way. I have heard her say it myself. 'He is not my husband.' Now, why shouldn't she say, 'I refuse to live with this man any longer,' not for ever, 'He is not my husband.' Wasn't the marriage public?" "Tobe sure it was. The marriage occurred in St. Paul's Church, in the presence of hundreds of people." Lamm came and placed his hand softly on the reporter's shoulder. " You don't imagine, Thomas," he questioned belowhisbreath, "thatshe had been secretly married to this man Fetridge previous to his departure for Australia ?" "' What an idea !" cried Thomas, amused. " You seeem anxious to give her a monomania on the marriage question. If married already o Fetridge what earthly reason could induce her to marry Stackhouse ? It seems to me you have got a complication there not likely to arise in any well-regulated famnily."' ' Perhaps. But I've gone far enough in lhis case to know that, there is something ifferent behind it to anything I ever met with in all my life before. But to go on. Ot course Stella to frightened to death by Marion's reference to the grave, and refrained from telling anybody where she had seen her, until. you got it out of her." " So you might know by the way things have gone on. She was scared enough that sight, you may be sure, but the next day when the news came of the murder you can imagine the effect. There seems to have been a great scene between the sisters. Stella came out horrified at Marion's calmness. Marion would tell her absolutely nothing ex cept such enigmatical sentences as these: 'I am not responsible. The affair is out of my hands. Justice will overtake the guilty. et me alone. If you betray me I shalt kill myself. You surely do not believe me capable for any cause of killing a man who has taken the ulace of my own father. I loved Father North as well as you did. I could not have harmed him if I had hated him'-all of which was scarcely calculated to appease Stella's agony of apprehension. Is was not, however, till the young girl discovered that her sister was leeping with her father's pistol under her pillow that she quite lost her head, and be. lieved that Marion was really guilty." "What! The weapon that killed Paul North?" asked the detective, almost helpless with amazement. "Presumably, since she must have broughtit with her from the Marlboro street house the sight of the murder, and one of its barrels 'had been recently discharged." . " "What a nerve that woman has!!' mur nured the detective. "And how in the world lid Stella make the discovery?" "I'll tell you. Lamm. It was in the middle of he night on Saturday. The body of the mur. lend man had been brought home, and it lay n the hall below stairs ready for the funeral. nou can imagine the effect on this young irl, who is of an affectionate disposition, sad whose life up to this time .had been one merry smile. Everything goes to show hat she was the petted darling of. her father. )f course, however fond and proud anybody night have been of Marion, she was scarcely he person to be made a pet of. And with this swful cloud of horror and suspicion weighing pon her, Stella could not sleep. The ghost of be poisoned King of Denmark was no more real to Hamlet than was the spirit of her ather, threatening with awful finger the per etrators of his woeful murder, to this young 'irl. Her fears for Marion under the weight sf the night became absolutely appalling. [hough not what is called a rehgious girl, tella could no longer trust to any earthly id. She resolved to go and pray by Marion's bedside." "Naturalenough in this eightceun-year-old irl," commented the detective. " It was the last effort, you understand, to ,btain contrition from the woman who had beenimpervicus to the most piteous appeals, the most solemn entreaties. The poor girl went and found her sister's door unlocked. he approached the bedside. It seems that farnion was asleepl, but her sleep was light; er dreams perhaps troubled, for she sprang op suddenly with an awful cry and grasped tella by the shoulders, demanding ina tone hat nearly frightened her sister out of her uoses, 'What do you want? What do you want ?' She shook her so that Stella made a rantic effort to get away. In the struggle the illow was dragged from the bed and some hing beneath it fell with a crash. Marion by ibis time awoke to a realisation of her sur oundings. She sprang out of bed with a aste that could not escape Stella's observation, sad picked up the something which had fallen. What is it?' demands the startled Stella. N'othing,' replies Marion. 'What is the matter, dear?' 'Go backlto your bed andI will come to you.' But ns. Affairs had reached a climax now where suspicion must ither be allayed or confirmed. Marion was onfused and dismayed by the sudden trans ormation in her sister, and before she could regain control of herself the haud of he younger girl came in contact with the cold steel. 'It is father's pistol,' whispered Stella, in what state of ind you may imagine. 'Don't deny it, Marion; you have been sleeping with it under yon.' 'I won't deny it,' said Marion, ect siderably disturbed. 'But why will you ir sanelv insist upon knowing things which it wculd he better for your peace of mind to remain ignornmt of ?'" "And all this time it was quite dark in the rom?" Lamm asked. " Absolutely. Stella's onclusion thiatM?arioat held her father's pistol was one of those in. luitire leaps at correct conclusions that ares .eculiar to women. And thereupon, almost crazy with terror, Stella cries out, You killed him,Marion! Itwasyourownhsnd.' Of ours.e, the moment the words were out of herlips e.se was peniteptfor haioguttere6d them. '8Soll,' says Mario, trembliniy. g"y or. mad: tr picions are indiscreet.. Do yoawuppoe I could sleep in' this houe wharm the man who hs oivnma all that I e? exceptlifeisl? A, the guilt of his death were at nay door andar e you the 'alas grl ho' assed to
cuddle down in my arms in the old days and tell me that >on loved ue better than any one in the world excpJt 'papa? Tell me, do you re member, whlt I oe to this man who was more than a father to me ? Have you for gotten who it was that nursed him in his last ilhiessbecause she couldn't bear to have a hired nurse profane him with unsympathetic hands ? Can you recall ever in my life a sirgle expression of ingratitude-' " " Bosh !" interruped tihe dteetive.. "That is all very well for-Stella, but for me it is neCessary to be sold how hoe became possessed of that pistol which was sunsposed to be locked in Paul North's desk in Marlboro street." " UnTfortunately,r', returned Thomas un easily, " .he neither explained nor apologised for her conduct. You know what women are. Stella's heart, which is not located far from the surface, was touched. She began to cry and to plead= for forgiveness. And then Marion. forgave her; but justas soon as Stella began to beg for an explanation the woman said to her.very coldly, ' Go to your aunt, dear. What you want is somebody to dry your tears and soothe you. I am no comforter m a time like this, and I certainly shall not tell you .things which would only add to your worry and distress.' And she did go to her aunt; not to make a confidante of her, but to begfor consolation and sympathy." SAnd this scene between the girls ended in nothing, then ?" " It ended just as I have told you. But Stella, though she tried her best, could not repress her anxiety. She was unable to bear the straini before her eyes the spectacle of the officers entering the house and dragging Marion off to prison. ht view of all these facts,.is there anything strange in her eventual action? The funeral was scarcely over, and the family returned to the house, when she hasted to Marion's room, took the revolver, and fled-a headlong, terror-stricken flight. Her first idea was to put the evidence of Marion's guilt out of sight. She threw it into the water, little thinking that I was watching her. She says that she had no clear idea what she was doing, or where she was going; but she had determined never to go back to the house. She felt that she could never face her sister again. In the train to Boston she be thought herself of some friends in Hartford, whereshehadoftenvisited, and had always been welcome. For thatcityshe therefore setout only to find that the house was closed, and her friends gone to the beach for the summer. By this time she was almost crazy from fright, lack of sleep and food, for she had been able neither to eat nor rest since the news of the murder. Heaven knows what would have be come of her if accident had not put ine upon her trail! Such is the story of Stella North; and in view of it, John Lamm, I want to know if you blame me for what I have done ?" "I blame on for only one thing, Thomas," said Lamm, earnestly; "and that was for being afraid to trust me with your secret." "How did I know in what light you would view it ?" returned the reporter, uneasily. " You are always so matter-of-fact and business-like. And, of course, I am perfectly aware that my present position is quite the reverse of business-like." "?Hang the position !" exclaimed John Lamm. "' That's your affair. It's the in. wardness of the North case that I'm looking after, and your story has given me a wonderful pushahead." The detective took out his note-book, dis figured with his peculiar hieroglyphics, and began at once making additions, corrections, and reflections, quite as if the problem before him had been one in mathematics, and could be proved by applying some of the advanced rules of the higher arithmetic. "Well," said Thomas, after he had watched him in silence for some minutes, "what is your theory ?" "None, Thomas," returned the' detective, quickly. "What is yours?" lThat Marion is trying to shield somebody from the results of a capital offence." "And that somebody is ?" " Either Fetridge or Stackhouse." "With a leaning towards -" " Fetridge," said Thomas. "Butn I should like to know which of the men went to the house that night, if either-before expressing any deep conviction." "Ah, quite so. And that I propose to ascer tain. But go on, Kingman.. Your conclusions are always logical; and they interestmefor that reason. Thereis no crime without a?motive. What was the motive Y" " My dear fellow," said Thomas, " that is lust the mistake made by criminal theorists. But you and I know that the majority of murders are done without adequate motives. Few men in these days plot to kill. They kill when they are insane with rum or jealousy, or to defend themselves." "' You emphasise that, I see!" "Because I have thought it right along," said the reporter. "The fact that the bullet must have been fired from a point lower down than an erect mannaturallycarnieshis hand leads me to believe that the murderer of Paul North was on his knees, and it is logical to presume from that that he had been knocked down.' "Clever!" said John Lamm, with genuine admiration. "Clever, and just like you, Thomas. Of course, we can think of hundreds of reasons why North might have knocked down his partner, whose advice had ruined him-for North was steady enough before he came under Stackhouse's influence-or why he should have knocked down an importunate gentleman who might have been trying to deceive his daughter." "Precisely," agreed Thomas. "And then," said Lamm, slowly, "you throw the idea of a most deliberate and cunningly-laid conspiracy of murder for security and revengeout of the question." " Conspiracy?" echoed Thomas. "Conspiracy !" said John Lamm. Thomas looked like a donbtful man who would be very glad to become convinced. "Yes," said John Lamm in a tone of deep conviction, "I am willing to stake my pro. fessional reputation at this stage of the case on the prediction that this murder of North is a conspiracy- either for ruining Stackhouse or for revenoge upon Paul Noith.'" SAnd-the girl i in it?" murmured Thomas, apprehensively. " Certainly. the girl is in it. To be sure the girl is in it. You can't alter that fact to save your life. For good, bad, or indifferent pur poses--MarionSteckhoese planned the gome. Whose hand carried it out Iwon't say at this time; but I am convinced of one thing-it originated in her mind." " Why, John Lamm ? Why?' demanded Thomas, aghast. "Because I always look to the character of the person to correspond to the nature of the crime. There is nobody else in this little coterie capable of originating a crime, so cunningly con ceived, so admirably executed." " What do you mean ?" "What do I mean !" echoed the deoestive. ' Good heavens, Thomas, where are your eyes ? Can't you see that in every step we have taken we have been baffled, misled, made fools of? Do you imagine Paul Northwould have gone to his town house, shut up as it was for the summer, unless he had been enticed there? The writing of Stacklohuse's name on the wall proves con elusively to my mind that Staebhouse did notad' it. Why, how absurd it is! The medical ex amination gives 180 seconds as alimitto North's life after he was shot. Do you suppose if Stackhouse had shot him be would have run away before assuring himself that he was dead ? Would he have let 1horth write his name on the wall ? If North had done it; wouldn't he have smeared it out again? Why, of course he would. And in this name upon the wall is the animus of the whole matter. There we see the fangs and the teeth of the serpent--the bitter, deadly enmity that underlies the whole scheme. That the entire object was revenge upon Stackhouse I do not believe. It is too roundabnoutl and too dangerous a method of revenge: but that the perpetrators of the deed hated that man-why, the fact is as clear as sunlight. Now, who hates Stackhouse? Who on the day of the discovery of the crime drove him from her side, from the house,knowing full well-nay, triumphantly welcoming the fact in somany words--thst such an act would only deepen thesuspicion about him? Who, with Paul North alive, wiss not free tomeet the man she really loved; and who, Paul North dead, and Stackihou e out of the way, might reunite herself with her guilty lover? Who, for no cause but one that under such circumstances we can understand, flies into a passion of anger at the remonstrance of an innocent girl, and is so excited by the impending crime that she cannot keep herself away from the scene I" "Stop! Don't goon!"