Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

16 erthygl ar y dudalen hon



.c — ^=—— ■ ..v Vf--w I3-ywjllia7n c Queux .r < Synods of Previous Chapters, CHAPTERS I. & II.—Gerard Granville Ckxegh,, iamJiliap}y known as "Granny," com- iplams to l^ls friend, Phil Ralston. that he has jbeen, swindled by a man named Garshore. Gough had been on the point of securing a ■ valuable.concession in connection with some oil wells in Roumania. Garshore, taking an unfair Advantage of some inLormatiou jGough had given him, steps in and •secures the. concession over the latter's head. A lady friend of the Minister Soutzo's C—by name Lydia Popescu, had been bribed by i ^Craisbore to help him in the matter. Ralston ijinduces Goagh to accompany him back to jLortdon. Granny tells his friend that he is '^secretly engaged to Miss Myra Stapleton. but i that he is now too poor-to marry her. Ralston and: G()Ugft are at the Hotel Cecil when they J.see Ga^shoro and-Lydia Popescu driving away Ltogether in a hansom. On parting Gough tells JEtalstcjn that he may be leaving town, bat will /Kprire his address. Next morning Ralston sees i; startling headline in'the papers. He rushes ito the Cecil to find that Granny's bed has not *-been slept in. k CHAPTERS III & IV.—Ralston asks the tliotel porter the address which Garshore gave .'to the cabman on the previous night, and is .'told 127a, Redcliffe Gardens, West Brompton also that Gough had' made similar inquiries. The morning newspapers all contain an account of a mysterious tragedy of the height at Redcliffe Gardens. A handsome woman of foreign appearance had been ^murdered, evidently after a desperate Struggle. Ralston learns that Garshore, as well as Gough, has left town that morning. He ■Jit once concludes that the dead woman is iLydia Popescu. Going to see his journalistic friend, George Cunliffe, he finds him engaged <on the case, and accompanies him to Red- jCliffe. Gardens. Ralston learns that no mark %as been found *n the body to indicate the cause of death, nor can the police assign any .motive for the crime. He is told that the maid who-had rented the house on the previous day As missing, and the police are trying to trace /her. An old Italian- poignard which Ralston recognises as his own is found in the room. He attributes its presence to Gough. Lifting up the sheet from the dead woman's face he is amaeed to find that it is not that of Lydia Po- vpeseu. CHAPTERS V. & VL—It transpires that the front door of the house in Redcliffe Gar- Idens had been löúDd: open after the. crime, j«l)ut as there is-some possibility of the woman I having died a natural death,secrecy is enjoined on Cunliffe. That same afternoon Gough turns up at Ralston's chambers- Granny tells his i.triend that a banker wishes him to go over to ^.America on business, but that although he is 'practically pehhiless, he does not feel equal to ■'the task. He goes on to speak of the money he 'has made and: lost, but. tells RAlston that he has provided for his adopted daughter Gertie, whóm he loVefe almh^t as much as' his fiancee, MyraSt-apleton. Ralston asks Gough if the woman they saw leaving the Cecil with Gar- sehore was Lydia Popeseue. Granny asks why •.Ralston should doubt Mm, and asks him never 'to repeat what-h6 has said about her. CHAPTERS VII. A; VIII Ralston believes that Gough is keeping something back from k him,'hut respects the other's evident wish not to discuss the subject further. Next morning ^Ralston hears of the illness of a favourite aunt .and goes down to visit her at Worthing. He )mee £ » a cosmopolitan gentleman in the train, who Introduces himself as Charles Grinfield. The latter is his- companion on the return journey also. and" Ralston taxes the stranger with following him to Worthing. His com- panion suavely admits it, and also that Grin. field is not his real name, but Tom Winch. He goes on to say that he is a friend of Granny Gough's, but -that unless the latter leaves Lonqo[L at once he wilfbe,eompel1ed to betray" him. to the police, who seek to arrest him (Goughj on a charge of murder.. By means of a bogus telegram-Which has arranged for -Granny to meet Ralston at an hotel hear the Crystal Palace. CHAPTER IX. A Few Plain Qutsllons. What the stranger told me served only to tonfirm my suspicion of Granny's guilt he would require nwmey. I would pot miajodgohim. No. He was my friend, *Snro T w»,nlri help him 00 get free. The "Btrsjagei- wis his iriend also, and for some mysterious fftuson had warned us both of the Imminent catastrophe which threatened. To obtain money I must first drive to my fooms, before going down to the Crystal palace. I told the stranger this, and begged him to be more exptMit. But he only smiled, replying, I cannot tell you any more, Mr Ralston. I've mertety tried to repay a kind action which Branny Gough once performed for-me. Only be careful. The police know that-you and he Are friends, and may follow you. Therefore, take every precaution." The train had drawn up at Victoria, and raising his hat with the habit of one long resi- dent abroad he wished me "Adieu," and dis- appeared. I drove in hot hasta to fit. Martin's Lane, obtained all the ready cash I had, and then v suddenly recollecting, 1 went to Dane's Inn, where my friend, George Cunliffe, had his chambers. I wanted to hear momhini what. discoveries had been made during the day. I rang the bell, and in a few moments he opened the heavy door. The journalist's rooms were rather dismal apartments, the front win- dow overlooking a dingy paved courtyard, and the back abutting on to a shun. The Inn was not at all a desirable place for residence, but, being central, most of its denizens were jour- naKstsrwhose duties kept them up till the early houra; actors, solicitors., and also one or two men about town. George's sitting room was a rather large old- fashipned one, with dark oak panelling and an Adams ceiling, for those houses had been in the Georgian days quite fashionable residences. The fireplace was of smoke-stained marble of light design in keeping with the ceiling, but the carpet was threadbare, the bookcase dingy, andundusted, and the furniture shabby, while over the whole place hong a pall of smoke from a particularly strong pipe. Cunliffe was still in his old coat and slip- pers. Sit downy old boy," he cried cheerily, pull. ing forward a big armchair from which the stuffing- poked forth obtrusively. "So glad you've come in. I was up all last night at the office. Got in at seven, and had three hours' snooze. Been busy all day, and I'm going down to the office, again presently." That's just why I called," I said. X dent see much in the papers about it this even- ing." Oficoarae not. You remember Morton's wishes. The least at present the better." Why T", ftecaujSft the'mystify seema to increase-It's greater than we at first believed." How's that T" I asked quickly. Morton and his men have been "very busy night and day upon it, and they've discovered one or two facts which, in themselves, show an extraordinary situation." Tell me about them; George. rm most in- te^Bted," I said. Well, I Was with them all day yesterday, indeed until nearly midnight," Cunliffe said. "I saw the doctors iminediatetythey had made the post-mortem." And what did tbcyfind ?" 'J They established that it was dearly a case of murder. But it was murder under most un- usual, add, indeed, 'almost' unheard of circum- stances." In what way ?** The woman died of some means, the exact nature of whish they have not yet been able to determine. The Home Office analyst is atwork, To-night, or tonteoiTow, he will give his certi- ficated' '*But it might surely have been suicide ?" j "No. The medical men have pronounced against such a theory. There wa» the struggle. Besides, why should the front door have been left opera ? The assassin escaped,a«d was afraid to ctose ttoie door, after him." Perhaps it was some ttfrasctal poison," I hazarded. 'f I hardly think that. Treberne, the police divfeidnal surgeoii, is a frieod- of mine, and assisted at the examination. He pronounced against the poison theory, and says it's one of the-queerest cases in all his experience. The poor woman died swiftly, that is certain. But they could discover no natural cause. In fact, it is a complete mystery." She might have died a. natural death, and someone in the house, alarmed at her collapse, and fearing to be mixed up with an unpleasant affair, may have fled." Such things have, of course, occurred. But in this case there are certain features which entirely negative that idea. The secrecy in which the house was rented, for instance, shows a distinct intention of foul play," my friend declared. Is the poison theory entirely negatived ?** I asked. Few of the most expert analysts in.Lo»don are at this moment at work upon it," he said. Up to the present, however, they've failed to identify any poison known to toxicologists. Their report will, no doubt, be intensely inter- esting." — Then why are the -police so very cock-snro that it is a aase of murder. If it was not poison there must be some wound." They haven't discovered any," he replied, seated at his writing table, with his chair tilted back. That's the most curious point about it. But if there is no wound might it not yet be suicide ?" "The medi^al-^mferni^n^attrp^thr.t theory, as -I've already told you. No poison has been found in the slorn/vih- If it had—to some, suicide-might be the explanation," he said. •• I tell you Philr" he went ,on," the ease is a most amazing one in every respect. The mys- 5 J terious arrival of the lady in London, the tak- ing of the furnished house by the maid, and the sudden disappearance of the latter, are all matters which the police are trying to clear | up." I That maid, whoever she is, knows some- ithing about it," I suggested. My opinion, exactly." Is there any suspicion of a man in the case ?" I inquired, not without trepidation. case ?" I inquired, not without trepidation. At present, none—at least, as far as I've gathered," was his answer. But it seems that two servants were engaged -by the maid through a registry office in theBrompton Road. They turned up at the house yesterday after. noon to commence their duties, and found their new mistress—whom they'd never seen- dead, and the place in the possession of the police." Rather a shock for them—eh ? Did they see the maid ?" No. It was all by correspondence. The maid signed herself Marie Lebas, and gave the address in Redcliffe Gardens." The police are in search of her, I sup- pose T" Yes. And they hope to find her." The engagement of servants does not ap- pear as though death was anticipated," I re- marked. If the maid were guilty she would hardly have sent for them." She might have done seas ablind. One can never tell. Both women were evidently for- eigners, and in all probability a foreigner was the assassin." Well," I said, what is your candid opin- ion upon the whole affair ? You've been with Morton all day yesterday, so you are the most competent to form a theory." Theory," he echoed; I have no theory. The case is a mystery absolutely complete up to the present. The people over at Scotland Yard are puzzled because of certain features that are so unusual." Then they've made some discoveries," I exclaimed breathlessly. Well, yes," my friend replied. You re- collect that old Italian knife they found in the drawing-room. You were there at the time. Well, the house agent has produced the inven- tory of all the things, and that knife isn't in the list. They are waiting for the arrival of the landlady from the North,but as the inven- tory was made only a ago, chere seems no question that the knite—a very service- able weapon, by the vvay-was left behind by the assassin." But who was the assassin T" Aye, that's the question, my dear boy," laughed my friend, sticking his hands deeply Tnto his trousers pockets. At present they haven't the slightest clue. They are seeking among the cabmen for information as to any- one having been driven to the house on the night in question: Such an inquiry takes time, of course, but if anybody did drive there-or if the lady drove there-they will know. Mor- ton isn't asleep over this—you bet." I bit my lip. That police request would sui ely lead to inquiries at the Cecil. Morton would know that a lady called at the hotel for Ralph Garshore, and that the pair drove out to Redcliffe Gardens. Butr that was early in the evening, while the crime was not believed to have been committed prior to midnighl. In this I saw a discrepancy. In that dis- crepancy I realised that the man who hated Garshore and the fair Lydia with equal fierce- ness filled the breach. He could, after leaving me, have easily gone out to Redcliffe Gardens by appointment,have been admitted in silence, r so as not to awaken the fathful maid, Marie f Lebas, and left again without closing the front door. I knew that Granny Gough was revenge- ful. It was his nature. He was a good fellow -one of the very best. But, like all men of great intelligence, he was impetuous and never forgot an injury. He hated that woman, Lvdia Popescue, and had cause for his antagonism, having in view that her double-dealing had meant to him the loss of the sweet-faced girl he loved. I sat there in that silent, shabby room, so near the bustle of the Strand, and yet so far from the London turmoil, speechless in won- derment. My senses were paralysed by that sudden and most mysterious tragedy in which I had become so intimately implicated as to be almost an accessory after the fact. I had formed a theory, it was true and I recollected the warning 9f the stranger who Ila e had followed me; to Wprthing. That theory "v^ould have a sound one" if not fat thV astounding fact thati "the unknown womanwbo hatd died by meatas that puzzled the doctors, was not Lydia Popescu. °'r Who, therefore, was she? CHAPTER X. Shows the Peril of Grarmy Gough. About haif-pastfften o'clock I arrived at the Crystal Palace (High Level) Station, and in- quiring the way to the Queen's Hotel, skirted the front of the Palace as I walked in the direction of Granny's hiding-place. The night was bright and star-lit and few people were about, for in that rather gentle and salubrious suburb of London people retire early. Only in the neighbourhood of the public houses is there any life after ten, the roads, many of which still retain their semi-rural aspect, being quiet and deserted, Upper Sydenham, Lawrie Park, and Weston Hill are districts much frequented oh summer evenings by London"lovers,andonwinternights a favourite hunting-ground for the enter- prising burglar. Most of the houses are de- tached, standing back from the road in their own garden, and hidden from the vulgar gaze by wooden fences. Often, too, big trees grow in the old-fashioned grounds, now-a-days, alas, grimy with the smoke of the fast-encroaching metropolis. metropolis. Sudd,enly,as I walked, it occurred to me that Gough would not have given his right name at the hotel therefore, I could not inquire for him. This thought caused me to hesitate. I had no baggage with me, otherwise I might take a room for the night, and meet him cas- ually in the smoking-room. Almostiat that moment, however, I heard a Ight footstep on the gravel behind me, and, a voice exclaimed— Phil." Turning quickly, I found Granny himself My dear fellow," he exclaimed, stretching out his hand in the darkness, I've been waiting about for you ever since half-past ei^ht. Tell me, what did you mean by your Wire this morning ? What has happened ? Let us walk this way—it's quieter." And he turned on his heel, causing me to retrace my steps. Is the poison theory entirely negatived I" -I asked. I hardly know what's happened, Granny— except that there, seems to be—we!I, there's a warrant out for your arrest." "A—a warrant," he gasped in a, strange voice. Why-how do you know that ?*' rve been told," wa,smy answer. I didn't send you that warning this morning." But it was signed by you. You told me to leave at once, come down here, and wait till you joined me to-night." I toaow. But it was a-stranwr-a stranger who says he is your friend—who sent it." What's his name "He gave a false one—the name of Qrinfield. But he afterwards admitted .that he lied to me." What was he like ? Describe him. TeU me all, Phil," urged the big, burly man in dark tweeds and soft grey hat, as he strode at my side along the facade "of the Cryst al Palace to- wards Sydenham. My experience to-day, my dear fellow, has been a most unusual Otoe," I said. The police are in active search of you." Yes," he groaned. I expected as much, Phil," he said. But you are my friend, aren't you ?" he went on hoarsely. I know you are or you wouldn't bo down here." I am your friend, Granny, and I'll remain so," I said. But I think that you should be open and frank with me. Tell me, why are the police looking for you ?" "No—no, by heaven. Phil," he, cried, "I can't tell you tlv^t- Don't ask me. Ah, old chap, you don't know the torture I'm suffering -you don't know- And he broke off suddenly. I saw by the un- certain light of the street lamp that his clean- shaven face bore a haunted look. Eis eyes were sot and staring, as though he foresaw ruin and disgrace before him. Ah no he went on, .in t&e same hoarse. JL • — hmjw m tone. "For myself what do I care, even though the police find me. But I care for little Gertie -and for Myra, my beloved. She must never know this, Phil. Promise me to keep it from her-if the worst happens." The worst ? .What do you mean ?" Bah you know. I'm not afraid to die. 'm no coward." I know that, Granny," I said, as quietly as I I could. I knew to -what he referred. He in tended to die by his own hand, rather than suffer the indignity of arrest. That guilt was upon him was only too apparent. And yet the dead woman was certainly not Lydia Popescu. Again I urged him to make a clean breast -of the whole affair, saying, You can surely trust me, old fellow. 1 am your friend/' I know, Phil, my future is in your hands entirely. You could deliver me over to this constable coming along if you so wished. I .admit that, but yet I must refuse to tell you anything," he said. Take pity upon me, and refrain from asking any questions. I am suffer- ing enough." I saw the appealing look in my friend's eyes as we left the Parade and crossed the road into that silent and eminently respectable thorough- fare Sydenham Hill, where all the houses are large, and all stand in their own grounds. You have promised to remain my friend, Phil," he added. And T know you will remain so until—until my death.' You are too gloomy," I declared. Cheer up and let's put our wits together to get you safely away somewhere. The police, by this time, have probably received from the post- office a copy of the telegram bearing my name. If they have there are detectives down in this neighbourhood." How can I escape when I've no money ?" he asked. I've two and threepence and an eighteen shilling watch," he laughed, some of his old humour returning to him. I recollected that," I said, I've brought you fifty pounds. Here they are," and I placed five ten pound notes in his hand. For a few moments he said nothing. He was overcome with emotion. Phil," he managed to exclaim at last, "you're a real friend," and he gripped my hand warmly. That's all right," I said. "But the question is how are you going to get away ?' You know this place better than I do. Where had I better go ?" I compartment to inme. I You mustn't attempt to get away abroad or you'll be certainly taken," I said., '4 My ewn opinion is that if you went down to some quiet spot in the country it would be safest. To return to London would be fatal." I've left all my kit at the Cecil, he saidl Abandon iti That's the only course." I owe them a bill," he-declared, for all his liabilities lie was always moat- ea-retui to dis- charge, even though be might be an adven- turer. You can send it to them by post," I sug- gested. Have you seen or heard anything more of Garshbre ?" No," he snapped quickly. IT don't want to see or hear of that thief again. He doesn't in- terest me any more. Or Lydia Popescu 1" He was silent, and I watched furtively the strange expression that overspread his fea- tures. Phil," he said at last in a low whisper, please never mention that cursed woman's name again to me. Promise me, will you ?" he asked earnestly. If jrou wish, my dear fellow, I said, readily. Then as we walked down Sydenham Hill, where there was not a single footfall in the darkness save those of ourserved, he asked me to describe tn dfetail the stranger who h&d fol- lowed me to Worthing, and what had occurred between us. This I did,when after hearing me in silence he asked :— And did not this man give you his real name ?" He told me to tell you that Tom Winch was here, in Jin gland, to betray you." Tom Winch," he cried. Are you sure you've made no mistake ?" Quite. Why ?" Tom Winch would never betray me. He's a friend to me-as you are. There's some mis- take." No, there's not, because Winch was the man who previously, gave me his name as, Grinfield." The nan you met." The same. I am sure it [was he who sent you the wire this morning. He gave you warning although be is supposed to be assist- ing the police to identify you." Then, by Jove he's a real brick cried Granny, and he handed me a cigar and took one himself. You did him a good turn once, and he re- members it." Oh, that was nothing. He was in trouble in Vienna, and I got him out of it by a bit of sharp practice. That's long ago. I thought he'd forgotten it." Then he's a crook—eh ?" Of course," laughed my friend: Used to work the boats between Liverpool and New York till the game grew too warm. After that he took to handling sparklers, and he and his friends handled them to the tune of a good many thousands. They got the Duchess of Montalto's jewels from the villa at Beaulieu about eighteen months ago. You recollect the fuss. Old Jacobsen in the Kerk Straat in Am- sterdam, had them, and their late owner Wouldn't know them now-you bet. Six of them divided up twenty-two thousand pounds over that little affair. They have a flat in the Rue Lafayette in Paris—or at least they had six months ago. I've stayed there when I've been hard up. The men are all Englishmen. One of them is Jalland, who came out of Portland two years ago, after doing a stretch for the Castleton forgery." A nice litile company, I should fancy." Yes. A pretty tough crowd—all of them linguists, and all experts in their particular departments. Then why is Winch over here to identify you 7" I That's the confounded I mystery of it. Looks as though he'd turned nark,' but yet I know him far too well for that. He's still a friend, or he wouldn't have sent that wire. I cleared out at once, of course, not knowing what had happened." And you must clear out still further afield. Granny—and to night." I'm entirely in youf hands," he said, but I beg of you to do me one favour. When we part now we—well, we might not meet again. you know. If not, promise me you will never let little Gertie know the truth, nor Myra either. I'll die game, and I'll die honourably if you will not give me away." I shall never do that, Granny," I said, and again his hand sought mine and gripped it in grateful acknowledgment as a lump arose in his throat. We had arrived near the bottom of Sydenham Hill, where the light of Lordship Lane Station showed below us, and were deep in discussion as to whether he should go into hiding. He wished to be near London, and in touch with myself, but I dissented. I urged him to go into the heart of the country, wear gold-rimmed spectacles, and lead a quiet, studious life, which would put people'off the scent. It would be a rest from the strenuous existence he led. Suddenly, as we were in earnest conversa- tion, my ear caught the sound of a footstep behind us, and I turned sharply, to catch sight of a rather tall man in a thin dark overcoat and bowler hat, passing beneath the street lamp. In an instant I recognised him. He had travelled from Ludgate Hill in the next com- part to mine. My heart fell. That man had been following us ever since?* we met! (To be Continued.)









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