Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

4 erthygl ar y dudalen hon



tHE MAN FROM SOME- WHERE. BY KATE EOEINSON. 7' Li 1 Vl&y ELL," said Jack Kb 1 fwujfa Thurston, rising i^Sr from the arm-chair in which for the last If hour he had been y comfortably enscon- Yv Ce<^> likening to the v\ pTf thrilling adventures T Kir and experiences of >7 Detective Briggs, (f Kgrj CM J ^e recounter, who •>.< yg q Ig^] had almost invari- ''vi\ ably brought his v^l)// y/b r\ stories to a success- \( (f) ful conclusion by the Jf yj capture of the" sha- dowed" criminals; ffl but the last tale he £ Jl had told was, as yet, |; uj incomplete, for tnougn tne guilty JersA. was yorteotly well-known, the police aould not obtain sufficient evidence to justify his arrest. Well, old man, good-bye; though, what sort of looking man is this gen- tlemanly villain you have just told me about P I might run across him some day," he added, with a laugh. He s handsome and distinguished looking; wears a heavy black moustache to hide a tear at the corner of his mouth; his blue eyes are just a little too near his nose, and he has a trick of drooping his ljch, and slowly raising them before speakmg. But don't fancy he can't look you in the face, for he can, and the straighter he looks, the bigger the villainy he's contemplating, and the harder be's lving. Ah he's a downy one is I Slipper Ned. "But why on earth," said Jack, you don't pop down on him, and trust to rivet the Dhain of evidence against him after his arrest, licks me Because it might never be riveted. The police are the servants of the public, and a rare bully they serve. If the man should be acquitted, a hue and ory would be raised there would be sneers and laughs at the "oraas stupidity" of the polioe; my reputa- tion would suffer, and my promotion be re- tarded." 11 And for such selfish motives," cried Jack, you leave a blackguard loose upon society, to rob and swindle honest folk at his own tweet will." "The way of the world, Mr. Thurston," laid the detective, with a shrug of his ihouldera, the way of the world," »»•••• The next day Jack journeyed down to Canter- bury on a visit till over Christmas, yet a fort- night ahead, to the Bryants, to whose daugh- ter, Daisy, he was engaged. Handsome Jack, besides being a general favourite, was ieoidedly olever. There were to be theatricals on Christmas Eve, which he was to stage manage; and Daisy had written an urgent appeal to him-to" come down at once." What is troubling you, Daisy r" Jack en- quired, when the first greetings were over. Oh I am very stupid," Daisy answer ed, deprecatingly, but it's Mr. Serroix, the 'man from somewhere,' I oall him; he makes papa do whatever he wa'its, Mamma was taken ill yesterday, so suddenly and strangely; and who wanted a nurse when I am here. But Mr. Serroix did, and then, of course, papa. He recommended one. He telegraphed for her, and she's come very nice, and so lovely, but, Jack, I—I—and mamma, too—didn't tvant her," and Daisy finishes her broken speech with an angry little stamp. Jack made Mr. Serroix acquaintance that night at dinner, and charming as he proved, there was still something as repelling as ha was fascinating. He was tall, with a small head set on broad shoulders; his hair black, as was his heavy moustache; skin white M marble, and his deep set eyes were blue, and just a trifle too near his nose. Jack thought of Mr. Briggs and "Slipper Ned," and laughed to think he might have believed this to be the identioal man had he not found him the guest of his own future father-in- law; but he had the habit of drooping and raising his lids which Mr. Briggs described as peouliar to the thief, and Jack felt uneasy in spite of himself. That Mr. Bryant was enthralled by him was evident; aiso, that he was making love to Daisy—a fact that made Jack's blood boil. Mrs. Bryant, to the doctor's surprise, did not improve, but continued in the same weak state, not getting worse, but not progressing. However, it was not deemed necessary to postpone the theatricals, and as the parts were all allotted to neighbouring people, and there was to be no large house party, the illness of the hostess did not materially interfere. He- hearsals were called, and as the three princi- pal performers—Daisy, Jack, and Serroix— were excellent amateur actors, the perform- ance on Christmas live promised to be a grand luccess. The pieoe was —" Lesson in Love Daisy playing the widow, Mrs. Sutherland; and to her huge delight, she had been promised her mother's magnificent set of sapphires for the evening, a set famous for its beauty and value, and in the possession of which Mrs. Bryant was justly proud. Christmas Eve arrived, and, to the conster- nation of all, Mrs. Bryant was still unable to leave her bed. She would not hear of their oostponing the performance, Only, Daisy tear," she said, pray, pray take care of my lapphires." The last finishing touch bnd been put to the little fit-up and its scenery, the last direction given, so, wearied out, Jack con- sidered he had earned his recreation, a walk through the cold, crisp air, and Daisy, being engaged, a pipe for his companion. He went past lawn and paddock, down to the shrub- bery at the farther end where the hollies, bright with berries, and the arbutum of firs, made a delightfully secluded place for lovers. Perhaps it was the memory of certain happy hourspaseed within its shelter thatdrew hissteps there this afternoon. There had been a slight fall of snow, and his tread fell noiselessly; as he entered the winding path through the evergreens, he heard voices in front: a man's voice, low and indistinguishable; a woman's, loud and excited. "I tell you," she was saying, II I have only bad a thimbleful of brandy; not enough to hurt a cat. I oan't drink the cold, beastly claret, as you know. Don't fear for me. She won't be well enough to come down; that's been managed, and the rest is easy. I won't ipeak lower! there's no one about, and I'm dead sick of crawling and whispering. You have one part to play io-night, I another; and you bet I'm all letter perfect as you are," and a loud, coarse laugh finished the sentence, followed by a sba.p ory, "Don't. don't Noddy, you hurt me; I'll be quiet jif you'll let go my wrist." Seized with a horrible suspicion, Jack stood aside, and watched. Through the boughs he could see the end of the path whence the speakers must issue. He had not long to wait, though his curiosity was but partially satis- fied, for the woman appeared -alone. The woman Nurse Alice in sober garb, but her lovely face flushed eyes wild, her gait not over steady I Her companion was right; she had taken more than a thimbleful of brandy. But that oompanion I where was he P The question was soon answered. The man appeared 1 the man from somewhere "— Serroix. What villainy were they concocting -these two, who were so intimate, and who professed merely to have met whilst Nurse Alice was engaged attending a friend of Serroix ? Mr. Bryant must, of course, be informed of his discovery but Jack reflected. Nothing much could happen through the evening, and to speak before the performance would, at tho least, make things uncom- fortable; and should Mr. Bryant make a row," Daisy's pleasure, with that of many other expeotant people, would be destroyed; but afterwards, before retiring to bed, Jack determined to unburden his mind. The evening came, and the play was a brilliant success. Daisy had looked ravishing in one act; the sapphires had duly per- formed their part. She had worn a white velvet dress, without flower or ribbon; only the priceless glittering stones had broken its simplicity, and how these bad gleamed and shone and sparkled upon her pretty neok and arms, and amidst the masses of her yellow hair. There had been more than one long breath of envy and delight from amongst the fair members of the audienoe. The last word was uttered; the lastcalltaken; the curtain dropped. The guests had repaired to the large hall, where supper was spread, when a startled scream rose above the dim and hubbub of the chatter and the laughter, and all turning, saw Daisy standing at the door of the room she bad used to dress in, white and soared, holding in her bands a jewel casp open-and empty. No need to ask the matter, the sapphires were gone Then ensued a scene of confusion. Mr. Bryant, angry and indignant; Daisy stunned with grief; the guests, for the most part, pleasurably excited. As in a flash Jack understood. "Daisy," he cried eagerly, gently relieving her of the case, "tell me quickly who was with you to-night ? H Only my maid, Nanette." Only her ? Think, think again." "Nurse Alice came in for a few moments to tell me how mamma was." "And you left her alone with the sapphires ? And Nanette." "Nanette, Nanette," cried Jack; "where are you P If lIere, sir," said the maid; for by this time all the servants bad assembled. "Did you leave nurse Alice alone whilst Miss Bryant was out of the room ? "Nurse Alice was taken ill, sir. I had to run for some vinegar, but I was not gone two minutes; and she was too ill to move, I'm surajtSir." 'N 0 I" declared Jack emphatically she, too, was acting. I accuse nurse Alice of stealing the sapphires. Where is she ? I am here," came the answer in soft, musical tones. There was a murmur of admiration and pity amongst the spectators. Fo lovely and, in appearance, innocent. With hands clasped, head thrown well baok, her violet eyes plead- ing, and yet fearless, she formed indeed a pathetically beautiful picture. Jack felt unless he could prove his case without delay, public indignation would be strong against him. "I am here, at your mercy, without one friend to help me. Of what do you accuse me ? Of stealing the i-jwyls." I am innocent." she affirmed gently, yet decisively. Why not accuse Nanette ? Nanette is a trustworthy servant," Daisy cried indignantly." I would stake my life on her honesty." Look here, Jack, exclaimed Mr. Bryant, "isn't this a little bard on nurse. Of course this matter must be thoroughly sifted, but are you not rather premature in making this acousation ? Nurse Alice is a lady." She is a fraud," said Jack bluntly here under false pretences. Only this afternoon I overheard—well," he added, remembering his host might not care to have his careless haste to piok up friends made public, that is for your private ear; but when I tell you that which she won't be able to deny, your faith in that hypocritical Madonna may a trifle waver. I saw her this afternoon tipiy, scarce ab!e to walk." A sudden quick wave of passion and dismay swept over the beautiful face, then it passed as swiftly as it came, and the woman had recovered her serenity, almost before it was perceptible she had lost it. Oh, Mr. Thurston she sighed piteously why are you so cruel to me? What have I done that. you should trump up all these wicked charges against me ? Madam," said Mr. Bryant, for your sake, as well as mine, the police must be instantly communicated with. The jewels are probably still in the house, and I request that no one, either friend or servant, will attempt to leave it until the arrival of the inspector. Williams," turning to the butler, tell Cobb to saddle Nestor, and ride over to the police station at once." "Stay," cried Nurse Alice, "I demand that you clear me in your own mind. If I" -with infinite scorn—"have stolen the sap- phires, they must be either upon my person or amongst my possessions. Search me and thPIYL" Of what good P asked Jack impatiently. II You have put them in a place of safety, or you would not proffer such a request. You have," cried he boldly, pointing his finger straight at Serroix, "handed them over io your accomplice." The suddenness and unexpectedness of the attack came upon Serroix as a thunderbolt. Losing all self-control, with a cry of rage be sprang forward, and would have seized Jack by the throat, but for the interposition of the by-standers. Stop Serroix," Mr. Bryant exclaimed; "no fighting. But, Jack, you are casting accusations about broad-cast, The gentleman is my friend," A man of whom you know nothing, sir, not even whence he comes-the man from some- where.' I know more about him, He has no fixed home; he wanders from house to house, plundering as he goes. lie is the bead of a gang of thieves, and known to them as I Slip- per Ned.' If you want confirmation, raise his moustache, and you will find a scar at the corner of his mouth which will testify to his identity." Serroix stood white and motionless, panting heavily, too full of wrath and consternation to speak or move; then, as a young fellow near lifted his hand as if to verify his accu- ser's last statement, he flung off all those who detained him with the strength of a giant, and stood towering above them splendid—though evil-in his anger and desperation. The fellow is jealous," he cried. His lady-love, the pretty Daisy, has jilted him for me; but the insult is too great to bear. I will not stay to bear it. Think what you like, I leave this house at once. Make room for me to pass, and woe to the man who tries to stop me." Before they realised his meaning he had made his way to the outer door. Then Jack and Mr. Bryant made a dash upon him, but before they reached him, before he could open the door, a short, but strongly built man stepped from the throng of gazcis, followed by another in morning dress, and seized hold of him a brief struggle, the sound of a click, and then Mr. Briggs-for it was be—wheeled his prisoner round securely handcuffed. You here, Briggs P exclaimed Jack. "Myself, Mr, Thurstan. You see the last link in the chain of evidence is rivetted. And now, Mr.Edward Smith, Serroix alia. Slipper Ned,' we'll have back the sapphires," and with the help of his assistant, Mr. Briggs opened Serroix's waistcoat and disclosed a long inside pocket, from whunce he produced the stolen gems. The villain saw his gviie was up and made no resistance. Silently Serroix rose to leave, but Nurso Alice was more troublesome. The innocent looking woman had turned into a virago, loud voiced and vulgar, abusive both to Jack and Mr. Briggs. Oaths and obscene language issued from the beautiful mouth; and there was a sigh of relief from the spectators when the painful scene was over, and the street- door closed upon the delinquents. That nursing business is an old dodge of theirs," said Briggs, sipping his brandy and soda after having safely lodged his prisoners. "You'll find your wife, Mr. Bryant, quite herself by the morning. Madame, "over there," jerking his head in the direction of Canter- bury, has a certain knowledge of drugs, and when there is no other means of getting her into a house or when it is advisable to get a troublesome person out of the way, thoy have resource to this knowledge. Serroix probably contrived in the first place to give Mrs. Bryant something to upset her, and Nurse AlIce continued the treatment. They knew to-night would be the time to gt;t the jewels, and that Mrs. Bryant would noi gi\re them a chance if she were about, so they took good care she should not be. But aflv, well that ends well; and here's a Merry Hr. fo jou all, and a IIaDD\ iNew Year." j