|Newspaper Title||Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907)|
|Trove Title||The Mystery of Phillip Bennion's Death|
The Mystery of Philip
" (By Richard Marsh.)
Author off "The Crime and the Criminal," "Mrs. .
Musgrave'» Husband,'; &c, &c. :?«.-...?
CHAPTER XVIII.-(Continued.) Í
"May. I ask where you got this from?" .
"I found, that pipe lying by the dead body of the man you ""murdered. It ia the last p&pe willoh Phillp Bennion ever smoked." . "
? He aobually glanced mp at me and smiled.
"Ah. - So-so it happened, after all? At times I almost wondered-principally because I cKWild find no traces of the pipe. I thought at first that thief Ryon must have stolen it. But then it did not Tseem to be quite likely, since he went on living. Anbali the time it has been lying on your auàntelehelf. How Mind are the children of men ! Do you know, my dear Otway, that on one occa sion your drunken friend, Mr. Raymond Clinton, .caught me, in the sarfail hours of the morning, looking fer this identical pipe? I could not make lout where it ¡had gone. But he was so very drunk ; that I think he mistook me for a ghost."'
I remembered Mr. Clinton's confused and. in credible story of his having seen Philip Bennion's 'ghost" bending over the open drawer in -the writing-table. I remembered, too, haw I' had -found the drawer still open and its contents- dla : arranged-when I had gone to look at it. Could
be' have been so far gone in intoxication as to have mistaken Ralph Hardwicke living for'Philip Bennion dead? Ii so, tb en great'indeed must be the power of alcohol!
Wh* he had been speaking, Ralph had filled the bowl of the pipe from the contents of my tobacco jar. He pressed the tobacco into lté1 place i with the nice care of the man who appreciates an easy-draiwting pipe.
"I gave this pipe to dear old Ben; hence", my dear Otway, my immediate. récognition of -its familiar form. It waa a mark bf my affection and esteem. Not a bad pipe, ls it?"
He held it wp so -that w<e; might see it to com plete advantage. - ? <.??.
"It is better even than it seems. ' I doubt if there is such another pipe in all this curious world. I did certain things to this pipe in accordance with a prescription which I receved-for a price-from a certain 'dealer in magic and spells.' It is a pipe bewitched; I cast on it a ©pell. .1 gave to it a great possession-the possession of the key 'which unlocks the gate of-ls lt life , or death? The psychologiisite still argue. Otway,' I Epoke to you oif the second poisoin which I lighted on when the poisoned key had failed. Nina, you . have -been under the impression that the key of that chaanm ing cabinet was the weapon with which I worked .my wicked will. You ihave been wrong. This is the plaything with which I-killed old Ben." -
Holding up the pipe in Ms left hand, he pointed at it with his right. I shrank ©till further from ?bim. Nina covered her face with her hand. She cowered. Her. tall form bent. She seemed to crouch on the ground.
?r Our demeanor appeared to' afford Ralph Hard wdoke .nothing but amusement. He went on, in a light, bantering tone:
"Only a pipe-^-only tihiis anid nothing more-and yet so;, great a .thing. My deaf Otway, I have reason to believe that two.'questions ¡have <rn/uich exercised your mind af late. The one: Who killed old .Ben? The other :. How he died ? I .willi re solve for you both problems. It was I who killed .him. -And this ls how Philip Bennion died;"
" Ther e was the so und of a slight soratchlng. I "looked jup. He had struck a match. He was'ad vancing the stem of the pipe to his lips. I rushed forward. I sprang at him.
'?Ralph!" I screamed.
With a qudek: movement he evaded me. I giraaped notohing but the air.
"My dear old fellow, what would you do?~ One .would think .that you don't wish to know how Philip Bennion died. But I know you do. See
like this." ' -* '
The hormr of that moment! . I--live in it again
even as I write. -
I stood, rooted to the ground, as li my limbs were paralysed. I was conscious that Nina had "removed her hands from her face, and, wtiür e new sense of fear, was looklmg towards the man who had professed to love her. Ralph. Hardwick* stood In front cipher, in all his youth,-his beauty and hlis strength.- A smile parted his lips; A light, which I believe from my soul .to hav* been the light of madness, waa' in his eyes. Hi .thrust the pipe into his mouth. He raised th< flaming match. He applied it to the bowl. A faim transparenicy af ©make leaned from his lips. Anc .he fell dead. ' . ???'>. ""
A single whiff of tobacco-Innocent tobacco taken from my own jar-scarcely'one whiff !-draiwir through that devil's pipe had knocked the lif< .right out. of him, had slain Mm' as if .'by a ib>ol'i
from heaven. . .
He 'had shown us-while :Nina; and I looked "on in his awn person, . how, taken unawares, in t second of time, just as'he had been commencing to enjoy what had been to Mm one of the chief es pleasures of existenoe^-a pipe .?of tabacco-Phlli.] Bennion had died. v 1 - ;