Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

30 erthygl ar y dudalen hon

-------------CHAPTER XIIL…


CHAPTER XIIL A Peep Inside. Woodward and Mnnsfieid wore hardly clear of he house befote Job Luck was at work ques- tioning his sister-in-law as to the accident, and the way in which the two gent!emen came to be mixed up in it. Mrs Crosier gave him as lull an account as she was able, and was profuse in her gratitude towards the doctor and his friend. 'E seems to be a real good sort, declared the little man. 'E is. Job don't you make no error. 'E ion't ask tor no payment Don't 'e now ? And he was gentle with poor Tom." As gentle as an angel, and when he hurt 'im, is o' course he 'ad to when settin' the bone, 'e teemed to feel it more than Tom did." Did 'e now ? I won't forget that. But I jay, Mary, whatever you do. don't let 'im know wbire I am. You understand ? I know "im, but 'e don't know me, and I don't want aim to. And he was a real gentleman with poor old Tom ? I won't forget that, I won't." There was on j very strongly marked feature in tbe character of tbis curious lit tie man. and ihat was the almost brotherly love he felt for oisconrecttor.Tom Crosier. Why it was so it would have been bard to say, for they were Hutie dissimilar, and did not see much of each other, and yet Job worshipoed Tom. and any sindness shown him he rt-garded as shown to aimself. For some time he sat talking to the wife,and when she had to attend to her husband he played with the children, waiting till he fhould be allowed just one glance through the door at h's suffering friend, on the understand, ing that lie wodd not utter a word, for Wood- ward had enjoined, above all things, that his patient should be kept absolutely quiet. It was late when Job made his wav back to Cbestertoa-squaro, but he did not hurry—be knew hi.* master would In late, and it was not iikelv anyone would call. Job Luck was an enigma he was a faithful servant up to a ertail1 point, but when that was reached none couid answer for him. He could ii3t answer for himself. The instinct of self-preservation Wa." developed in him to a very marked degree, and second to it might be said to come his ievotion to Tots Crosier. From thi3 lime onward scarcely an evening passed without Job paying a visit to Grove- :ourt to inquire how the patient was going on. And e's good to yer, Tom 7" he would ask igain and again. 'E doesn't hurt vc-r more'a. e's obliged he doesn't piay no tricks with yer, Just to tind out things—to practise on yer, as fou may say." No, Job. He s one of the right sort, be is. And he know what he is doing, too. I'm jetting stronger every day. I can fee! it." Bless you, old feliow, you don't know how Ilad I am. And I'll make it up to him in one way ur another, but never you let him know where I Ijv, remember that. If ou do, I'm no good at all." What do you mean. Job ?" Never you mind, you just leave it to me, ilnd keep your mouth shut, and he won't be sorry for having looked after you." What Tom Crosier said was & fact, he was mending fast. Woodward was interested in the case, and took a pride in it, for it bad been a nasty fracture, and a good mend would be a feather in his cap. Once or twice he had brought Job's name forward, but as Tom and his wife had not responded, he had been forced to let the matter drop. One day. as he was seated at his patient's bedside, chatting to him. Tom said- I didn't know at first that your shop was in Chesterton-square, sir." Yes, it is. Do you know the place?" Did some wor k there once. Moved a lot of stuff out of a house to the sale rooms. I don't rememlier the number now, but it was bal r way along the top side." 011, it's the house that's still empty, I expect. The tenant left before I took up my quarters a few doors off." Lett, did you say? lie had to leave wp lold him up. He'd come into low water, and made a bolt of it. He went real sudden, or he wouldn't have left the things he did, I know. I fancy it was a bit more than debt. From what I heard the police weren't far behind him Did you ever hear what became of him?" Never a word, got clear out of England, J expect." "Like a good many more- ['m afraid, Chester- ton-square is not the place to live in unless you have money, or are making some. But I must be off now. You do as I tell you, and we'll soon have you out again. Good-day, Tom," and with a shake of the hand Woodward left. He made his way straight back towards his consulting room, and as he turned round the house occupied by Crundali into the Square lie saw the door was open, and at it stood the little butler, in conversation with the police Inspector and two constau. es, Now what's the matter?" he said to him- self, and as he walked on he caught sight of Crundall's car rounding the corner, and pulling ap before the door. The great City man waved him a greeting, and then as be alighted he saw the servant being interviewed. 11 Eli bless me what's the meaning of this. eh ?" he grunted, mounting the steps and glancing from orio to another of the party. Beg pardon. air. But it's rather an un- pleasant matter, but you see we have to do our duty," said the inspector. •« Of course. But what is your duty, man. what is your duty? Out with it. I haven't got all the day to spare." Well, sir, I have a search-warrant here, ahd shall be obliged if you will allow me to go over your house." Search warrant What in the name of goodness for ? I i-iever heard of such a thing." There is reason to believe that some of the jewels which have recently been stolen ate at present concealed in this house," Mr Crundali burst into a hearty fit of laugh- ter. Then I'm regarded as a receiver of stolen goods. I suppose 7" he said. I never heard of such a thing. Where are you going to try nekt ? I should advise Buckingham Palace. But come along, you have to do your duty, of course. You are quite welcome to look where you like, but you may as well save yourself the trouble, for all you'll find and when you've done remember this, you'll be the first people, beyond myself and the servant here, who have ever entered this house since I have been in occupat ion. Bub come along. Where would yon like to start ?" "That has nothing to do with me, sir. I'll leave one of my men in the hall with your servant, and then we'll start at the top and work down." Right you are, come on." And then to the butler, who had been standing -ifent beside his master. Now, Job, mind your p's and q's. we're all under suspicion, it seems, though why heaven on,y knows." Crundall led the way through the splendidlv furnished hall and up the broad staircase, the inspector and his man following The moment they reached the point out of sight of the joor, the whole character of the premises altered. In place of wealth and luxury, poverty and frugality were apparent The rich, soft carpets suddenly ended, leaving bare boards. Not a picture here grnced the walls, and the rooms, with the exception of two, were emptv and unlurnished. *• That's my bed-chamber," said Crucdall, indicating one looking out on to the back. t. And my rervant is on the next floor. You've got -nother tlight to mount yet, and here we are, and vou can set to work as soon as you like." Taking out his gold cigar case,Crundali stood near the window watching the men as they pro- ceeded with their examination, answering any questions they might put to him and filling up the time with chaffing remarks. To these they paid but little heed, going on with their work steadily and systematically. To the Boors they seemed to pay particular attention, but they discovered nothing. The IranI, wall came in lor a severe hammering, and though it sounded hollow the indications that it had been undisturbed lor a great number of years were so evident that it was aUowed to remain in that condition still. On descending to the next tloor. Job s bedroom was thoroughly over- hauled. but without any result, beyond bringing to light a quantity of old clothea, and the same was the case in his master's room. You have a telephone here, I see," said the inspector. t. Yes I have. Is there anything suspicion lii that' For if so I can have it removed, though I would much rather not." The inspector did not deign to reply to this. Some of those drawers are lo(-ked,you,ll find," continued Crundali, but the keys are here. Pray don't be shy; look at everything while you are here, and then I may be spared a second visi. p'raps." It was much in this manner that they went through the house, till they arrived once more at the hi311. „ T i i Y'ou have downstair offices, I bel eve ? •aid the inspector. Of course, but those are my ^ery*nt 3 de partment I'll come with 7°^ same. Get the key of the cellar, Job The little man hurried up the stairs to his room, but the constable kept close at his heels, li. and never lost sight of Iiirii for a mor.iput. The kitchen depart rmi-nt %V?,4 almost as bare as the rest of the house. A few cooking uten- sils, and plates, and dishes, and that was all. Anv labourer's home would have bad as many, Sot Crundali never dined at home, and it was -u_ only Job who bad his food in the house, so the paucity of things was thus accounted for. "Now then for the cellar," said the master. and don't imagine you are going to see endless bins of the choicest vintages, or you'll be mis- taken. my men. There you are," as Job threw open the door, and revealed only rows of empty shelves, and at the far end a huge at eel safe. An examination was made of the place, in- cluding the wails and the floor, and then the inspector said You have the keys of this?" laying his hand on the top of the safe. Oh, certainly. You shall see the inside, but here I ask you one thing: don't make what vou see public. I've a right to ask that, I'm sure I have my business papers there, and as this does not seem to be a question relating to my City business I can't see that I should be called upon to make any of them public property." No,-sir, you can rely on us." Crundall threw open the safe, and the police poked their heads inside, moved the paDers, felt them, and finally declared themselves satisfied. That's all right. Then now you can go, and be hanged to you all. And tell tiioge who sent you that I did all in my power to help you, and that you could find nothing. And for the future I shall hope to be treated with a little more consideration. Good evening" When the officers had left the house, Crundall called his servant to his room. Well, Job, what do you think of that, eb ?" Nothing at all, sir." Have you been talking? If you have, I'll wring your neck for you." You may, sir, and I'll not try to stop you. The police are a pack of tools, as I've always said and now perhaps they'll believe it. I'll be bound someone who has a spite against you sent them on this fool s errand, and they'll see it now, even if they won't own to it." Get out replied his master, shortly. CHAPTER XIV. Concerns Mr Hoggin. Ther was a reception at the tine house cf old John Sugden, the drysalter's in the Cromwell- road. Crowds of people were there, for his entertainment-; were well known as being among the best in London, ani Grace was an ideal hostess. This evening she had been at her best, looking after the comfort and amuse- raent of her father's guests, but at; last she found a moment or two to spare, and was taking a short rest on one of the luxurious Chester- fields in the back drawing-room, while Mans- field stood beside her talking. I haven't yet had time to call on your friend, Mrs Woodward," she wa-, saying at the moment. And do you know, I heard some- thing about them, the other day, which I think I ought to tell you." And what was that, pray?" said Mansfield. I didn't believe it, of course but you know how people talk." Some scanda], I'll be bound. Out with it Well. I was told that the husband treats his wife very badly, in fact, cruelly. Mansfield's answer was to burst into a fit of laughing, and a.s soon as he recovered himself, be said What wiil folk say nest, I wonder? There never was a grosser libel, I can assure you. Why, they worship each other. In fact, I don't know a more devoted couple. Who told you that?" No, Mr Mansfield. I can't give my informant away, for like most of these kind of things it was told me in the strictest confidence." You denied it. I hope?" I did as far as I was able. I said that from what I knew there was not a word of truth in the report." Quite right. And if you get the chance give me as your authority. I tell you, Miss Sugden. it looks to me as if my friends had some secret enemies who are always trying to give them stabs In the dark. This is not the first time I've heard of this kind of thing." "Well, Mr Mansfield, it will have no effect on me. I shall call on Mrs Woodward just the same." I hope you will, and I'm sure you'll bo pleased with her. And you feet no bad effects from your accident now?" turning the con- versation from a theme he did not caro to pursue. None whatever, thank vou. It's wonderful how quickly the ankle got well. I put it down to the attention it received at the moment. By the bye, I don't think I thanked your friend half enough." And there was a curious look in Graco'¡¡ eyes, as she waited Mansfield's reply. Ob, I'm sure Miss Hope did not look for thanks she was only too glad to be able to be of any service to you. She's one of the best of j girls." An oid friend of yours?" she inquired, rather coldly. Well, I haven't know her very lrng, but she comes from my county, Lincolnshire, and her mother and I have many mutual friends." Ob." And then after a pause, which was more expressive than words, Grace rose, saying, I must not sit here any longer there's old Mrs Stanhope looking very bored go and talk to her, please.' Mansfield did as he was told, muttering. Jealous, silly girl But they all seem alike Later that ei'eaing Grace was again able to have a word with Mansfield, and by that time sbe eemed to have quite recovered herself. Mr Mansfield," she said. I have just heard of another patient who is in the hands of your friend, Mr Woodward." Have you, and who mav that be, pray ?" Mrs Trent, and she's very angry about it." Angry about it," repeating the words Why. pray ?" Because she part icularly wished the matter should be kept a secret, and now everyone knows of her visits. I'm afraid your friend talks too much to get on as a fashionable doctor." I can assure you he doesn't, Miss Sugden. He's discretion itself." Then how do all these things get about ?" That's w hat I should like to find out. And I Trill, too, by Jove Things are getting boyond a joke. His consulting room might as well be in Piccadilly-circus, since all that goes on in it seems to bo known." And Mansfield turned away with a scowl on his face. The following morning his first visit was to Chesterton-square, and there lie had a long consultation with his friend, but without arriving at any satisfactory conclusion. "That story you told me never got about. because it would seem there was no truth in it," said the doctor, after they had been talking earnestly top some time. ,I And yet directly there is something that is a fact all the world knows about it. I shall give up these rooms there's no help for it, I must." No, don'tdothat yet. Give me a little more law, and I'll nail the villain. It must be possible to catch him." '• Very well, but you mustn't waste time I can't go on for ever. By the bye, the second floor has been taken at last, but I haven't seen the new tenants yet." Who are they ?" The name is Graves and Co but what they are, or who they are, I don't know, and I haven't troubled to ask. They can have nothing to do with this matter, since it has been going on for so long before they came." That's true. I think we may put them on one side. Keep your eyes open. and let me know of everything that takes ulacc, and we'll have 'em sooner or later." It will have to be sooner if I am to keeo on here. Good-bye, old man. and thank you for what vou have done." And Mansfield departed, It was late on that dav when Woodward had been to pay a visit to Crosier, and found him going on as well as he could possibly expect, that on his return he found a letter lying upcn his table. Simmons had been out. Woodward had sent him uu to Bentinck-terrace with a message to his wife. The letter had been delivered by hand. There was no stamp on it. Woodward glanced at it carelessly he did not know the writing, and then tearing open the envelope he read the contents In a moment the expression on his face changed. He was pale and all attention Twice he read it through, and then throwing it down on the table, he sank into a chair, lost in though*. For some ten minutes he sat thus, and then called loudly—" Simmons But there was no response, and he got up, and went into the back room. It was empty his servant had not returned. Nut content with this, he mounted to the caretaker's rooms, at the top of the house, and knocked. Hoggin came to the door himself. Hoggin, have you been downstairs lately? No, sir, not all the afternoon." Then you don't know what time my servant went out?" No, sir, I don't. I did not know he was out." I Has anyone been in? I mean, to see you?" No, sir, not a soul, all the afternoon It's strange. I've been out myself, and when I got back I found this envelope on my table. And I want to know how it got thcl e" I'm sorry, sir, but I'm afraid I can't help you." And you'Ie sure you let no one in to my rooms?" Most certainly not. sir. I should not dream of taking such a libeity." "Thank you. Dlpss me I Do you go in for eas-fitting, Hoggin ?" (,fts-fitting ? No, sir. Why?" That's one of those pumps gas-filters use, J isn't it?" pointing to a conical shaped appura- tus, with n handle, and pipe attached, which was standing in a corner of the room. Oh, yes. There was some water in some of the pipes, and 1 got that to clear them. I certainly can do a little job like that, but I can't set up for a gas-fitter," replied the man, with a smile. Well," said Woodward, turning away, you must be a handy man. and I shall know where to come, if anything goes wrong with mine." But as he descended the stairs. he could not help thinking it was a curious tool for an ordinary caretaker to possess, and he very much doubted the man was speaking the truth. On reaching the ground floor, he found Simmons had returned, but coulcl give him no explanation as to the letter. Why, sir I left the place before you went out yourself, and I have only this moment got back." Then how, in tha name of all that's won- derful, did this thing get on my table ? Tell me that." I can't, sir. Someone must have put it there-but who—well, I can't say' Now, Simmons I havent the slightest cause to mistrust you quite the contrary, but I must tell you this. Since I have been here many private matters which have taken plice in this room have leaked out, and become public, and I don't understand it. Some one must haTe overheard them. and been talking. Who is it? And now a letter appears suddenly on my table, apparently without anybody having brought it. Who could have been in here? How many keys are there to the room ?" Two. sir. You have one, and the other is here," taking it. out. of his pocket. "Every night I leave it with Hoggin so that he may do the rooms before I get here, and he leaves it in the door for me to make use of during the day, so that unless you left yours when you went out, or left the door open, he could not have got in." I didn't do that, I'm certain. And yet I find that letter on my table. Simmons, it's a poser." You were kind enough to say something just now, sir. about not mistrusting me but still, sir, if you have the slightest doubt I'd rather go, sir, though I've been very comfort- able here. I shouldn't like to feel anything of that kind, sir." Not another word, Simmons; I'm quite content if you are, and [ should be very sorry to lo«e you." Very weH. sir," and the man left the room as hi master sat. down to write a telegram, the effect of which was to brinar Mansfield up to Bentinck Terrace that evening, apparently for a casual call. After a chat with Ella Woodward until she retired, an adjournment was made to the smoking room, and immediately the door was shut Woodward commenced telling his frend of the strange delivery of the letter that after- noon. It is needless to repeat the details of the incident, as you already know them, but Mansfield-was very searching in his questions, and put his friend through a regular cross- examination. finishing up by raying— And now let me see this wonderful letter." There it is," paid Woodward.tossing it over to his friend. And perhaps you may be able to hit on the writer, for I'm harged if I can." •Mansfield examined the envelope carefully, before taking out tL2 contems, but he made no remark until he read what was written insUe. For the future have no fear, everything that takes place in your consulting room shall be private. Society shall know nothing more." And then he said Ah Couldn't be better. When a villain puts his hand to paper, it's odds on his being nailed- We'Jl have him now. laper. my dear fellow. have him—as sure as the sun's in the sky." (To be Continued).





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