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[ALL BIGHTS RESERVED.] THE flambards MYSTERY J BY StR WILLIAM MAGNAY, BT., Author of "The Heiress of the Season," t he Red' Chancellor," "The Master Spirit," &c. I CHAPTER XXIII (Continued).. I 0 THE TEST. I I f Rather to my surprise my explanation thd toot appear to satisfy her. "But don't you think it was very odd, and ar dawgeroms thing for Wallace to be forced to she insisted. "I can't help 'distrusting t man who 18 so uncomfortably smart as Mr.'5 Rolt, and whose reputation depends on bringing jhonie a criinq to someone." "Indeed, Mis* Arc-her, you are mistaken in Arc- h er, Y- 0' the 'man," I assured her. I W allace's very life may now depend on this finger-print," she maintained, tirith a touch of indignation. "He was tricked into making it, and what guarantee has he got that it will be treated fairly? Oh, I know you can't help us, Mr. Crofton," she con- tinued, rising, and taking a few agitated steps to the entrance of the porch and back to me; "but yon might, as an act of friend- ship* tell me whether we ougiit to be on our guard; what llolt's intentions really are. "011 my honour I know co thing more of them than you do," I declared. "Then Rolt -said nothing——" she de- manded, earnestly then stopped and shrink back into the obscurity of the half open door. Light, quick steps, just heard, told of someone about to pass the porch on the way to the outer gate. As the person -name into the light of the high lamp I saw it was Bolt. & With characteristic alertness- he looked With characteristic alertness he looked Tomjd, and recognised me?. "Been 'work?n? labe t'lii, 'Itc, remarked, stopping as though in anticipation of my joining him. glanced round at the ddOr. :Mis8 Archer had disappeared into the church, and, I judged it better to leave with Rol^ t. So, taking uo* my dr::nvt'ng-ca<>e. I we out, of the poYciij and we walked away together. At the gateway leading into the High Street, we met the old sexton on his way to lock up the church. When he had passed, I said a work of excuse to Holt, and ran back to the official. "There is a lady in th-e church, don't lock her in," I warned him. "yec," RVit observed, as, I rejoined him, "it would be an awkward predicament to be foelscd up all night in a big fhurch this cold weather. And a lady might not be able to get at the bell-ropes and ring for -release, w I owe had "to do." I looked round at him, and laughed. You knew Miss Archer -,vai, He laughed back. "My dear Mr. Croft an, it is my business to know everything, that goes on under my Ito.,W-aT)d everywhere else, for that matter. I'm content if I know half, and even then one feels a terrible busy- body." Miss Archer is rather concerned at the position in which she and her cousin stand with regard to the Flambards affair," I eaid, thinking an explanation of our interview was called for. e', All, yes, naturally," Rolt responded, with drawling indifference. "It is an invidious position for them." "And she may be pardoned an attack of nerves," I continued. Her idea now is that your taking Wallace Rixon's finger- prints was a trick to manufacture evidence against him." "I am very niiieh obliged to thp young ladv for Her good opinion of me asd my methods." he replied, drily. "Alwl I think that; if sh chose, she could give us more information a« to what really took place at Flambards that evening than any finger- ■ He- spoke with casual deliberateness, but his words were so startling that I turned, h-uf slopped, and stared at him n.. astonishment. "Then why don't you get her to make a statement?" I asked. "Because, my dear Mr. Crofton, it would be quite futile," he answered, with an enig- matical smile. "Rhe would refuse?" "t couldn't, ask her," he relied. "Lut why not?" I urged in growing wonder. "For a very sufficient. reason," he replied,, with the same incomprehensible smile, .ais mi girl enjoy" ing my' mvstincati?n. "You easiiv guess it. Was the lady wear- ing gloves when you talked to her 'just cow?" "Gloves? Yes," I answered, in bewilder- ment. ■ We were opposite "iThe George." Itolt stopped. Naturally," he said, in the same puzzling tone. rltA goodA deal lies --in that. Perhaps .by this time lo-morrow you may underotan I why—if not sooner." lie nodded, and went off up the street. CHAPTER XXIV, I THE RESULT. I G:ovc.;? Wha-t; in the world had Rolt mean, by asking me whether Rose Archer had kept her iioves on? And how could that affect the question of her testimony? new myst-ery was this? Why, if he believed she could tell so much, had he not had her under examination? Certainly it ,wJs not his practice to be backward-in ask- ing* questions, straight as well as subtle. Lould it be that he suspected her of having a hand in her uncle's deatlT? • The idea Isceiiie(I too monstrous to entertain;" and yet, I reflected, srfch incredible cases have been known. It was certain, indeed, that she had behaved very strangely on the evening of the „ crime. Yet what possible motive Could there be-oh, no, I decidech the idea was out of the question. It seemed futile to speculate, and as Rolt had declared tha-t twenty-four hours or less would see the solution of the' mystery, all I eould do was to wait. Still the puzzle exercised my mind till dinner-!fine. I put it to G-elston, but he cou'd make no shrewder guess than I. When we had finished dinner it, was time to keep our appointment witii Roit. We found him ready for us in a private office at the police-station. < "I had quite.* an interesting chat with Jurbv, he said in his quiet, humorously cynical tone, "before he set out for Stan- bridge gaol. After the way he treated both you gentlemen one can scarcely call him a sportsman, but at least he acknowledges having met his match, and seems, or at any rate affects, to bear no malice. I knew how to put the screw on, and he gave me some quite valuable information on one or two points about whieli I was curious. But I shall be in a better position later on to tell you all about your recent undesirable ac- quaintance. Now,; if yoy please, we .will have in the superintendent and take down your depositions." This was a lengthy business, but luilt hlfAXi us along, confining the narrative to what, was absolutely essential. Just as the dictation came to an end there was a stir in the outer office; then tHe door opened, and Serreimt Weaver looked in. "Can I speak to you, Mr. B&lt?" His hurried tone and a certain serious look breaking t-lirough the official stolidity öf his face suggested an important communication. Come in/ sergeant," Rolt responded in. his cool way. "What is it? You need not mind speaking before these gentlemen." The serg«tnt closed the. door, and turned „ "With a half salute. "The party we were after has given us the slip .after all, sir," he said, coining at once to the point. I "That's bad," Rolt commented, eyeing the officer curiously. "Bad for him, too, sir, Weaver con- tinued, seaming to thrust down sternly any. tendency to "excitement. "He has lost his life trying to get away. So we have got nothing but a dead man, sir." Rolt gave a soft whistle, and looked up at the ceiling. "How did it happen, sergeant? Suicide?" "No, sir. It was this way," the officer answered, dropping naturally into his wit- ness-box manner. "We had kept the party in question under observation, according to instructions. I had one of my men posted at Morningford .R'{ and another at Wans- thorpe F^a'tio" ""H, our man left his lodg- ings, lift on Mouse, West Street, at about 6.45, 'accompanied by the lady. They crossed: the High Street, and walked by Duke's Lane towards the road to the station. From certain circumstances he noticed, Con- stable Sharpe, who was shadowing them, sent word to me by Constable Hawtin, who met them in his beat. I lost no time in fol- lowing up along "the Morningford Road, and 'soon came in sight of the parties, putting myself into communication with Sharpe. The couple under observation walked on, smart- ening their pace as they got clear of the town, till they arrived at the gate of Flam- bards, where they turned in." I starte d up with an- exclamation as the truth dawned upon me. Rolt glanced round at me with a half smile, and under his look I contrived to restrain my excite- ment. The sergeant proceeded with his story. "The man let himself into the house while the lady waited outside, walking up ar.d down. as though to keep warm. This went on for perhaps ten minutes, and then it struck me as singular that the lady had not gone in, but should wait outside in the cold. Of course, it was possible she did not fancy the house after what had lately happened there; still I WasB't altogether satisfied; and I suggested to Sharpe that it looked like a blind. Just what I was thinking myself,' he replied.. I looked at my watch: it was 8.25, and .1 knew there was an up-train at 8.48. 4 I'll make sure, Sharpe I said. You stay here while I run on to the station. I shouldn't be surprised if that's his game.' "With that I left Sharpe on the watch, and ran as quickly as I could to Morning-, ford Road Station, but without seeing any- thing of the party I wanted. Constable Devitt was there on the look-out; birt he had so far seen nothing of him. I- arranged that we should post ourselves one at* each end of the platform and keep a sharp watch. Just after the up-train was signalled I fan- cied I saw a man cross the line about a •hundred and fifty yards below the station, j but it was impossible to tell in the dryrk whether it was the party we were looking for. I* sent a message down to Devitt to keep a.n eye on both sides dt the lIlle, and, when-tlio train came in, to take the platform side while I would look after The off-side doors. I had an idea, sir, that our man would be likely, if he guessed he was under o bservation, to slip in from the six-foot: And: it turned out that I was right there. As the train drew up I jumped down behind the last ooach, and, stooping by the foot- board, ran along up the train. I knew the down non-stop express was due and sig- j nailed, but the up-line engine -%vac;I)lo wi-iz off, and I couldn't hear the other train, and only knew she was at hand when I saw her head-lights coming round the curve. J "I judged it time to run back to avojd ] beino- caught between the two on the six- foot" I had just got to the end of the up. train when she started, and turning to look round I saw a- man appear out of the darkness, jiamp off the down platform, and make a dash for the last coach but one on the moving train. At that moment the express was ruaning through tlic-station at a high speed. I shouted to the man, who made a" desperate attempt to get on the j footboard of the starting train. He seemed to miss getting a good hold; he swung round a.nd dropped back again on to the 1 six-foot. Before he could get his balance t-he express seemed to catch-, him and fling 'him against the last coach of the up. | "I shouted to Devitt, and ran to the )n?n, who was only a' few feet from me, bvt. it didn't need a doctor to tell me that he was done for, and before they brought a lamp I identified the body as the party we were after." J "Wallace Rixon," I said, as the sergeant ended. Rolt nodded gravely. "Yes. He has found a preferable death to that. which await-ed him." "Do you ijiean tó say," Gejston asked in awo-strllck amazement, "tha.t Wallace RixOR murdered his. uncle?" "He certainly killed him," was Rolt's cool answer; "and would have been ar- rested to-morrow, or to-night on his at- tempt to abscond. Those were your, instruc- tions, sergeant?" "Yes, Mr. Rolt. But," he added apolo- getically, "you see, sir; the position I was in. I only just cleared off to the up-line. The express was running at over fifty miles an hour." Rolt nodded. "You could not have done more, sergeant. And, all things considered, perhaps it is better as it is. Where is the j body?" I "In the up wail ing-room, sir. Dr. Spack- I man had been ti pusKOivgvr by the up train we g-otf him Mck to the station as he was driving awsv, and he pronomiced life to be I extinct. Death must have been instan- taneous. "Well, sergeant, it has 'saved Uf) an ugly job," Rait thoughtfully. There is 1 nothing to be done now but to communicate with the coroner." When the officer had left the room Rolt turned to us.. ] "Ivdafe say ihie hrts been a surprise to you, gentlemen. But thefce Were- reisois why I could not sooner. announce my sus- picions, and my conviction that Wallace Rixbn was 'the man who did his. uncle to death. As to whether .the. crime ought to "come under the head of murder or manslaughter I wiil not take upon myself to decide. That will now probably never be known. AHVIIOW, it seeme to me that this* fatal accident has .happened for the best. And now I have "the unpleasant dntv of going to break the news to his widow." I stared at him in a fresh access of as- tonishment. "His widow? Then "Yes," Rolt explained coolly, "his widow. Ho married Miss Archer secretly by special licence aoollt a week ago. Now you under- stand why it was ao use for mo to ask her any questions." "As his wife she would not be a compe- tent witness." "Exactly. And that was doubtless why he married her in such a hurry. Infatua- tion on her part, with, perhaps, a little coercion, if not terrorising, on his. I was really very sorry for her. and am strongly of opinion tliafc she. is to be Congratulated on I what happened an hour ajfo. It will make my task lighter. Well, I must be off and a.bout it. Good-niu-ht. If you cere to hear the explanation of tli., whole of the mystery as I have .unravelled it, and can give me an hour to-morrow o(>venmg-. it is ())J:, J-jr to enlighten you on many points which pro- bably aro still a puzzle." We accepted the eagerlv, md, ar- ranged that he should dir,> with us next evening and afterwards tell us the Etory. (To be Continued.)


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