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Chapter NumberXVII
Chapter TitleAn Artist in Murder.
Chapter Url
Full Date1898-01-22
Page Number8
Word Count1471
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAustralian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907)
Trove TitleThe Mystery of Phillip Bennion's Death
article text


? - An Artist in Mnrflor. - '?:>.: . ^

"If th© mere, idea oí killing dear old Ben pains you, how much more, at its first inception, must ' it have pained me! As I told you-once moro, truly-I loved old Ben, with the one exception

of Nina, better than anytfalng ip. the world. And, , though you may be incredulous, I have a ca pacity for love which very, few men possess." -

To hear this fellow speak of love. Wasthera - ever such prostitution of good words! _ -

"When I first realised; or, rather, in "myi blind stupidity, thought I realised that the only]

path to Nina lay over Phillp Çennion's gravé. - I almost resolved to give up. I did so resolve, tor a time. But I found that to keep mjr^reso

lution was beyond my strength. . ' fro^o"tiïé-menf . to the majority of men, the thing 'would'nava beeh. easy. " I am differently constituted to th» ordinary run,.of rñen-ij; was impossible to me* i could not ÍIve and. give up Nina. So Ï de termined, as thé lesser of two evils, dearly; though 'I. loved Min, to sacrifice old ¿eh.

"Having arrived Qt thal determination, I çonr sidered how best £o cairV otit the task 'which

was before me.

"You told me, as I -dare say you £ava not . forgotten, of a- conversation walch you had with Philip Bennion on, thé night before j^-djlecl Ton told me tjiat tW Subject ftf inf .jÇûly^r^uôir^às 'Muxd6rt fí¿n¿

sidered as One of the Fine Arts.' I don't know if you are aware of It, but that was a fa vorite subject of his. He often spoke of it, and, unconsciously to himself, inspired me with the ideas which were ultimately to lead to his

own destruction.

"He had alwayB believed, as he himself told yovt on that last night, in what he called the . Artist in Murder. He had maintained over and

over again to me, that it was quite possible for -*-.?, a cool and clever man to commit murder, with

out leaving behind him any traces of a crime. You remember when you spoke of that conversa tion to me, I told you that Philip Bennion's ideas upon the subject were all very well in theory, . but were impossible in practice-medical science was too far advanced. I told you so, as you will yourself perceive, for obvious reasons. In reality, I not only thought that they were plac able, I'had proved-they were. I had perceived their practicability when Philip Bënnion first broached the subject. But I never thought, at -that time, that I should ever put the matter to

the test of actual experiment."^

He'paused again, and while he paused, to use that old hack phrase, I seemed to hear my own heart beating. He stood looking " in front of, him, with an expression on his face as if he were endeavoring to recall to his mind the proper sequence of events. There was nothing in his looks, or about his bearing, which would have led any one for one moment to suppose that this man was confessing a-murder of which he never once had - been suspected-as . black- ? and foul a murder as ever yet was done. -

"He went on speaking as quietly and indiffer ently as'if he were referring to some trivial mat ter with which he himself was not in any way ' connected-while I, as Í listened, scarcely dared

to draw my breath.

"I studied the literature of homicide, in a general sense, as far .as I was able. \I saw at once that the chief point to be considered was to kill, and yet to leave no trace of a crime. That was .the crux. If you did that you did all. And I soon perceived that, if books were to be ' trusted, in Italy, during the sixteenth century,

and thereabouts, the main object of the aspiring homicide was continually attained. The- means used, in such cases, was invariably poison. In literature, at any rate, the Italian poisoners were proverbial.

? "It was not to be .overlooked that, since those days, science had advanced. Detection of crime by scientific methods ' had become the standard topic, for instance, of "the newspaper leader writer, and of the sensational novelist. The Italian poisoners, one might say, were not der tected because, in :their days, science'was ; In ité ; Infancy. In these days of exact, 'unerring,

scientiflc analysis, their deeds would have been made as plain as the sun at noon.

"Was this so?

?.. "I turned my attention'to toxicology. I read the works of the latest authorities on» poisons, ' among others the works of Mr. Lewis Cowan."

. As he mentioned Mr. Cowan's name, Ralph

Hardwicke smiled. .

"The result was, that I came to the conclusion that science, in its impartial onward march, had helped the criminal quite as much as it ' had helped the detective, and that it was just as pos sible to poison a man, without fear, of detection as it had ever^been. ; .

"The Italians -were remarkable, not only foi . the poisons which they used, but also for_ thi . manner in which they conveyed their poisons t(

their victims! The modern, vulgar, poisoner in variably poisons the victim's food, or medicine or drink, or, at any rate, something which hi puts into his stomach. , .

"In a case of illness the first question .alwayi -' asked-is, what ^has the patient ' ate- or drank'

- Post-mortem examination reveals it.1 And so

Jifnine cases out of ten, you have only to loo! . : at the recorded cases. The poisoner simply

. gives himself away.

"The greatest Italian artists never poisoned either food or drink. They never allowed theil poisons to go Into the stomach. They injecte< them either Into the finger by-means of a ring into the arm by means-of a bracelet, or into thi neck by means .of a 'necklace. They resorted ti more ingenious and delicate methods even thai

. those.

"I had gone to study the Italian poisoners up on their native heath, and it chanced one da: that I was passing through the Fiezza Palaci with a Roman Cardinál, when, in-one of thi private apartments, he pulled up short, and call ed my attention to a cabinet. That is the iden " tlcal cabinet standing in the corner there."

..Ralph Hardwicke pointed to what Mr. Vosi had called the Medici cabinet.

"He told me, that Roman Cardinal, that fev people ever came into that apartment, and tha that cabinet was never shown to visitors. H lied. Whether consciously or. unconsciously,

. cannot , say,--but he lied. And it is chiefly be

cause he lied that I am now, my dear Otway treating you as my fathér confessor. I will no say that your discovery of a previous Mrs; Hard ? wicke has had nothing to do with the matter,

.". will-not go as far as that; but certainly I shouli

. never have told you what I am telling you .no\ . if that Roman Cardinal had not lied in sayini

- that that cabinet was-never shown to visitors.

"Nina had been in Rome the year before, am some fool or other had taken it into his head only learnt this too late, that fatal too late, m; dear fellow, which we are all of us destined Bome thne'or other to hear-I say that some foe or other had taken lt into his head to show he over the Fiezza Palace. This fool was a frien of old Ben's, was himself a bric-a-brac hunte] a man well known in Rome, and he introduce Nina to the Ffézza Palace for the sole purpose c Bhowing her this cabinet. . He not only told he in what its peculiarity lay, and so on, but h lectured on it,~so far as I can understand, io about two hours in the middle pf a broiling sum mer's afternoon. Not only so, but he actuall . ;gave her a photograph of the cabinet. I hav ¿,.£--.Been it, she has It still. And what with th c-a-photograph, anti that old fool's prosing, and th

legends which he told her of the dreadful deed which that key had done, she has never foi gotten that cabinet from that day to this. Wha that has to do with the sequel you« will see.

"Directly I saw the cabinet and heard abou "the key, I said to myself that this was th very thing that I was looking for. If I cou! only plant that cabinet upon old Ben, he woul . soon cease to be a factor requiring consideratioi

(To be continued.)