Chapter 160740985

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Chapter NumberLXXXVII
Chapter TitleTHE END Of A CLUE.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article160740985
Full Date1885-07-11
Page Number45
Corrections0
Word Count1831
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleDouble Cunning. The Tale of a Transparent Mystery
article text

CHAPTER LXXXVTL

THE END Of A CLUE.

Plain enough to thee, reader, but a time of mysteryand conjecture to all at Helmthorpe, where Uncle Wash, stayed on, feeling sure that he should find there the clue to his nephew's disappearance.

It had been, too, a time of horror to those at the retired old mansion, where legal en quiries followed the events just recorded ; and Sam Burton gave evidence of his sus picions respecting some one being hidden in the Wilderness, consequent upon the be haviour of his dog, and the discovery of the spirit flask and the spade; bat he said no more than was dragged out of him by a not very enquiring legal gentleman ; and Lady

Fanshaw'a secret was safe with him and with her husband.

For as soon as he had well recovered con sciousness she told him all. as she knelt humbly by his side, even wnile, motionless and cold, and beyond the power of working further ill, George Garleigh lay in, his own room, dead, in the pit he had digged for

er. This secret died with him, none another.

divining more than the fact, that he had cer

tain chemicals in a cabinet in his own room.

" Death by misadventure," the Jury called it at the inquest; and it was as good a ver dict as many that these sapient Coroner-in structed councils return.

It was one day when, tempted by th lovely spring weather, lady nanahaw was slowly walking up and down the garden, weak and terribly wasted, but evidently on the high road to recovery, for there was a calm, restful look in her eyes, as she leant heavily upon Sir Harry's arm, Judith was talking to Uncle Range about the enquiries he had afoot in town.

Sir Robert was letter writing, so that con versation was uninterrupted between the old American and Judith, for a warm intimacy bad sprung up, the old man consulting her in every step, and even at times going so far as to let off what he called a joke—a Bort of verbal balloon to, as he expressed it, see which way the wind blew.

" We shall find him at lost," he was saving. "Now we've made that discovery down yonder, my mind feels at rest."

"Oh, Mr. Range 1" cried Judith reproach fully.

" Well, I can't help it, my dear; but it do. I don't feel now that hes come to i

. much harm."

" But thiB suspense is so dreadful, Mr. Range."

" Yes, my dear—to me," said the old man, drily, and with not so much as a twinkle in his eves.

Judith sighed.

"The fact is, my dear, to speak plainly, you upset him so much that he's gone on somewhere to forget you."

" Then it's very cruel of him." cried Judith passionately. " Don't you think it is, Mr. Range?"

" Ah, I'm an old bachelor as don't under stand these sorter thiDgs, my dear ; but I shouldn't hev thought it was.

'' But it was."

1 Ah, very well, then, my . dear,'it was ;

New

and he has gone off to New Zealand, or

Siberia, or the North Pole with an expedi tion, and we shan't hear from him, p'raps, for years."

" But it seems so thoughtlessly cruel for him to fail to write to those who care for him all this time."

" Meaning me, of course, my dear," said Uncle Range. " I'm them as care for him."

" He ought to have written to you, Mr. Range."

" Well, you see, he did begin that letter to me, but it was cut off like before it was finished. Bless your little heart, my dear, he might just as well have written letters to a cinnamon bear as to me. I should never have written back."

"But you would have known what had become of him."

" Well, yes," said the old man coolly; "but do you know, I'm thinking that we need not worry ourselves about him any more."

" Oh, Mr. Range !"

" He's sure to turn up again some time, so don't you fret. It's very kind of you to have

taken so much interest in him ; but let it go i now, for I'm 'bout settled in my own mind |

what's the cause of it alL"

" You feel sure that you know ?" , "Yes, my dear," said the old man, in his

way. " Fact is— there.s no doubt about it— | he's gone off with some gal."

Judithstarted from him with her eyes flashing.

"How dare you?" she cried. "It's not

true. You don't know your nephew, sir, or you would not bring against him such a shameful charge."

"What, about taking a fancy to some young

lady, marrying her, and going for a long j trip?"

" It is not true!" cried Judith again ; and, darting an indignant look at the old. man, she

hurried into the house.

" Poor !" said the dry old fellow, laughing softly, without making a wrinkle in his face —" call herself poor ? Why, the pretty little puss is as rich in all sorts of good things as a queen. My! how she sticks up for him.t He's a lucky chap, my A. L. B.., that he is. Hallo < what's he signalling about?"

He walked slowly across the lawn to where Sam Burton was standing with his gun under his arm, and with a handsome dog which looked furtively at the old American, and

then backed behind bis master.

"One o' my BesB's pups, sir," Baid Sam, apologetically. " Young un I'm training. P'r'nps you would't .mind a walk in the woods this morning."

"Nothing I should like better, keeper," said the old man ; " my legs don't fit well under tables. I like being out among the

trees."

"So do I, sir," said the keeper, as they walked on; and he grew quite chatty after his fashion, a certain amount of intimacy having sprung up between him and his master's guest.

"Well, Sam Burton," said Uncle Wash., turning upon him suddenly, "you haven't ' brought me out here for nothing. What is

it?"

Sam hesitated and gave his head a rub . after tilting his hat on one side ; and then, as

they were well out in the pine wood, he stopped short.

"Weil, sir," he said, suddenly, "it's like this here. I like yon, sir, same as I liked Mr. Arthur; and though you and I didn't get on at first "

" That'll do, my lad," said Uncle Wash." "The finest thing in the world is to be a citizen of the United States ; but if I hadn't been born an AMurrycanlshould have liked to be a Yorkehireman.

" You would, sir ?" said Sam.

"Yes, my lad. Of course, I see it all. You stuck up for your master, and wanted to keep all that quiet because of the dis

grace?"

" Aye, sir, that weer it."

"And, of coarse, yon were not taken with my queer ways. But there, let that go. Now. then, what is it ?"

" Well, it's this, sir. I was always a bit thickheaded about anything as hadn't to do

wi' the birds and porchers and that sort, and since I veer badly from my hurt I've been worse. It's been a sort o'feight inmyyead whether I should hurt the muster and my lady by talking about all I know'd, and so 1 bev been a bit closer than a' might ha' been wi'out. Look here, sir. One day I weer out here wi' my Bess, and I fun her skretching and tewing and taving about just wheer you are standing, and at last she tore out this here from under the fir-pins juBt as you see."

He drew a handkerchief from out of one of the inner pockets of his shooting-jacket, leaned his gun np against a tree, and, going down on one knee, deliberately untied two or three knots, and displayed the little heap of Range's curly hair and beard.

The old man dropped upon his knees, and examined the hair for a few moments, and then drew in a long breatb.

" Tie it up again," he said quietly: and when this was done, he rose and clapped the keeper on the shoulder, adding, " I ought to be a bit mad with you, my lad,"hesaid, "for if you'd give me that at first, it would have saved a lot o' trouble. But there, you've spoke ont at last. I see it all now."

" You do, sir ? Well," said Sam. rubbing his ear, " it's been a'most too much for me. I never could get that hair to fit wi' what weer down yonder, and when it weer all browt to light, I couldn't mak nowt of it then."

" Yew'U get five hundred pound for vew're wedding, Sam Burton, after all, and I desBay my boy will make it another. Here, give me that handkerchief, One of them hairs is the end of the clue I've been thinking out. I shall soon find him now."

He snatched the handkerchief from the

keeper, and went straight back to the house, and into the library where Sir Robert was, in good old-fashioned style, sealing up a large letter with wax and creBt.

" 1 found him," cried Uncle Wash, trium phantly, and in ignorance that Judith, who was ever on the watch for news, had seen him coming and followed him in.

" Found him?" cried Sir Robert, dropping

the wax.

" Yes : it's all as plain as a pikestaff now. Why we ve been blind as bats.

"I don't understand you, Mr. Range," said Sir Robert; " but I daresay you're right."

" Oh, I might have known from the first. Trick, sir, by some of our chaps from over yonder. They've smelt his coin, and followed him up. See here!"

He threw the handkerchief on the table, and undid the knotB.

•'Well—that is some hair," said Uncle Robert.

" Yes, sir; his hair!—my boy's hair! Kid napped, and shut up somewhere till he pays."

"Oh!"

It was poor Judith who uttered a deep sigh as she stood with a horrified look in her

eyes.

" Yew there, my dear? Nevermind. Yon had to know. Good-by, and bless you. Next time we meet I'll bring my boy."

But Judith caught htm by tne arm.

"I'm going, too!" she said quickly. " Uncle Robert, you must."

"Going? With me!" cried Uncle Wash.

"Yes !" cried Judith, excitedly. " I shall go. Now," she added, in a quick whisper, " unsay those wicked words, sir!"

" Wall, miss," said Uncle Wash, blandly, " there is only one gal in the wide world for my boy, and that gal, my dear, iB yew."