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f SHE MYSTERY ' ' Of LOUDON"…

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SHE MYSTERY Of LOUDON" CASTLE. BY JOHN K. LEYS, AUTHOR OF Tragedy" The Lindsays," §c. [ALL SIGHTS BBSZBVED.] CHAPTEE XV, A CHALLENGE. IaE greater part of thatni-ht Archie MacAIlister lay dtwake. He could not forget the strange words be ).ad heard from daft Liza they haunted his mind as well-told tale of the supernatural haunts one when }b8 voiceof the narrator is no longer heard. He had ytnr no doubt whatever in his own mind that the "oarman doctor, or chemist, was keeping some one a "prisoner in the castle. Who was the blue lady And what could Brandt's object be in keeping her shut up there '< hesewere questions to which Archie-could find no nswer. He could not even make a conjecture,as to the German's motive could be. One idea, -"indeed^ did occur to him. The lady in the blue dress \«Bghfe.beiajrelative or dependent ot Brandt's vho was ^insane, and he. might be keeping her in that quiet re- to avoid the expense of sending her to an ylam. But Uris theory did not satisfy the young JJBMUA judgment. "VVas it likely, he asked that a ninn who was not rich —■ "for so Dr. Gardiner said — and who was probably of an e-on 'a! turn of mind, as most Arermans--are, 1IC(;L: zij the expense of taking /London Castle 'i:}";1:: it (or part of it) into a sfNiMPt Impair, of » gamekeeper to keep 0" .toespassers, and of summoning the precincts or the a lofty fence, in ordertokeep aiialf-witted .relative safely? It was not likely. Archie knew frery litfle»af the law of lunacy, butne did not believe •ithattbe lawcould force a man to send a relative who was mentally afflicted to an expensive private ^Asylum.; and be knew that to keep a patient at a county asylum would not cost half or a third what-the German must be spending in order to; the complete^seclnsion of the castle. Thia hypothesis, which had seemed plausible < at first sight,crumbled into dust when it was ^tested. Then what other-theory would explain the <Jfacta? MacAIlister coa'd think.of none. Many young men' in his position would bave ed over the matter for half-an-fcour,. and then, gging their shoulders, would have .set about en- joying their holidays, without troubling themselves pEntftier. about a mystery that did not concern them ibut ArChie MacAIlister had a character of his own, ^fcrich made it impossible !or him to go on his way &and forget what daft Liza had told him. In business jnattershe was eminently practical; but beneath, the Dusiness qualities he^ossessed. there lay a deep n jof romance. There was no enterprise so wild or Utopian that Ardrie..for all his shrewdness, would not "bave-ondertaken, if he-had been urged to undertake it some generous senQvrent. Added to this,. he had ^.natural love of the mysterious, and took a great ^pleasure in puttings his- wits to the proof. Yefcifc waa 1 Inot sosmnch his love of adventure, or of-theunnscal,! ithat stimulated him to solve-this mystery, aahiaj vZiatural feeling of humanity. He believed that the .old woman, crazy as she was, had been only speaking j ■the trnth when she declared thata lady had implored her to aid her to escape from the. castle ami, belie-v- jng thisrhe, being the fellow he was, conld do nothing j leas than spend his time and energy in probing. the ^mysterious affair to the bottom. But how to begin his self-imposecf task was the <TifSculty. All the cogitations of the night brought ftrim no practical suggestion. It-was hopeless toerpect that he could learn anything by prowhng.around the x»stle, for now that the prisoner bad been. discovered I' dn. the act of holding communication with a. stranger. would no-doubt be more jealously guarded than ■*wr. Gardiner cordd do nothing to help him and besides, good fellowas he was, the young doctor was of too sober and commonplace a turn of mind to be of .much use in an emergency like the present. For a -moment he thought of taking his sister Lesli&\i.uto h; s 'confidence; but on secomLthoughts he^decided thatit ?was tocjsoon to thm £ of that yet. It would only be ^excitin^ and distressmgher needlessly. If afterwards j«be could render any assistance, Leslie, he knew, Would be only too happy to do what she could. After breakfast Arete lit his pipe and saantered <once more down tbJe path. And then a new adea came into his bead. Suppose he went to a Justice of the Peace, and laid all tberfacts before him ? "•This course would. reJSwe him personally of some re- sponsibility and possible that the Justice 'rmight put the legal authorities-ill motion, and cause a .search to be instituted a*. the castle. This was. almost -too mnch to hope f or jiutitseemed a pity not tomake attempt. The name-which at once suggested itself to Mac- fillister's mind in connection with this idea was that of Mr. Spence of the High Craig. This gentleman wasa Justice of the Peace. He was well known and much respected in the neighbourhood. Having made a fortune in Glasgow, in days when fortunes were JDOre. easily como by than they are now, he had, like » wise man, declined to spend it in imitating the ex- pensive mode-of living adopted by many rich men, 6nd had elected to settle down to the quiet pleasures of a wintry life. He had been a great friend of the late minister, Archie's father and friendly inter- course still took place occasionally between the High Craig and MillhoJme. Mr. Spence was a sensible, kindly man, not very brilliant, certainly, yet by no means*a fool. His advice, Archie felt, would be 'worth having, even if he did not see-his way to ndering any activesaid in the,matter. Soibat afternoon.Archie presented himself at the "TTigK Craig. Mrs. Spence received him very kindly, land after putting sundry questions to him respecting ^his traspels, she said-that-she would.send a servant to jtaLLher hnsband thatite.had called. chap 15 '"Don't trouble Spence to come in," said I suppose he is lookina .after his roses. If it is all the same to you, I will leo and.look for him:in the garden." t: Archie was gJaŒthat Mrs. Spence did not 'offer to ^accompany him into the garden for had she done so Stt might^have found it very difficult to get a few /mmutqp' conversation with her husband in private. no idea of letting Mrs. Spence, and through ^leritBe-whole paridvJcnow whathe was about. meraway. my'hwt; glad to, see yon," said the ypmsBBidt the Hjgh'Craig^cammg^orward to meet hia >iaaitcjnrith>his s ,tedup" andfa pair cf ^traeegardBn-ehears- in ,his left hand. Mr. Spence ,11,-spare man^with lantern. jaws and sror>( y \epabBWW. lE»oiie«!OTe>iiv. Iileiwas that he might fflg £ ojr,tbe*finestjo8e» -iathe west^of Scotland—n«»t a ^afty+amhition certainly,' yefr one .which -was perhaps iotttthe^dliole better far'himself^ and his fellow-men in. the worM. ) .Aachie-and the Justice paced together dowik cuie OJ ptfev pleasant, box-bordered walks, the latter, stopping jl-gvliOMt-and thenito^chp-off a.dead spray, or prop drooping blossom^ while they talked,of various ^indifferent matters.. At length the younger man £ »pproache&: £ h&sa6jec £ which was pressing on hia ■•^Bw-tocfr-fs, Hr.: Spence-, I came here to-day nefly toask for your advice," he said. yr fherais niching-the matter, I hope ?" ^H(rt»s*>far-3s I am«-concerned; but I fear there j6-s(Haerthii^ti» mattersat Loudon Castle." And-then fr^TT^wi wwnt-on to speak of the strange soimds .which jbofcb he and hi3-sister4iad heard, the strict seclusion fittwhich the-old castle, and everyone who- inhabited the alarming, story he £ fcad heaacd from daft .Liza. t Mr. Spence regarded him, when lie had finished, ftT> «mm5a».d smile; v kj- "'AndcwbaLdo yourpropose to do ? 'rhe asked. M?* bare thought,,of putting the matter into the ds-of the polic said Archie^jrather-warmly, for ^he hardly liked the, expression on his senior's face; "f^aiid I thought yon might teil me how I ought to ^pet^abont it. There would be little, use in applying to Zjohn Thompson." John Thompson was- the repre- law- and-order at Siidenny. And just as little use in going-to the sherifr," re- i&Aed.Mr. Spence. Who do you think would listen such a cock-and-bull story as. that? I thought yorrwere more sensible than keep ahee like that in {jfoai bonnet." Bat Liza "tola me? she saw -fho lady and spoke <^ith her,.and that .the poor creature, ntreated her j^elp 1" cried Archie. chap 15 Liza! a woman • that is known to "be half-witted. She ought never to have been let out of-the asylum. "1 would not shoot a sparrow on her evidence. des, she is notoriously fond of telling crammers/ has been laughing: at yon in iier sleeve all this e, I warrant you." V chap 15 But both Leslie and I heard— --Tuts, man, I've no patience with you. The (Tcream of a parrot, perhaps—they make queer sounds iometimes, I can tell you—or a peacock, or some beast the German keeps about the place. What sheriff or magistrate would grant a-search-warrant on evidence like that, think you ? Besides, you can't even tell who should be sought for. It's ridiculous." "Well, sir, I'm scrry to say I can't agree with you," said Archie, firmly. Liza is as sane as any of us on most points—sometimesr_at least; and cer- tainly she seemed sane enough' when she told this strange story to Dr. Gardiner and me. Besides, I think the pains which the German Jias. taken-to make the castle like a prison—to shut out every stray in- i: truder, and permit 1:0 human eye to look within his gate—is in itself a most s^sprnous^ circumstance. .S- that he? wants uiet, for Ids scientific searches "is a-mere 'blind. TThtit r-.oiaelhaOns- to Soar J at Loudou Castle ? Or what rnn in Kildenny has to complairuof his neighbours into nifl printo affairs ? No reaecmable man d believe that a fence ei^ht feet high was necca to keep people fromiooking on at chemical eiperh.i-mts. But if we imagine that a lady is shut up there, the reason for the fence and the gamekeeper becomes p:a;n." The young man's words seemed tc impress the Justice. I'll tell you what I'll do," said the latter after a pause. I'll go and see this man Brandt-no: III write to him that will be better. I'll ask him to dinner, and I'll teil him over a good glass of wine that there are ugly rumours about, which his secretive ways have given rise to, and ask him in a fnendly Way not to keep his neighbours at a distance so much. You shall dine here and meet him, and hear •what he says." Archie hesitated. The plan seemed to him a very poor one, more likely to put the German on his fuard than to elTect any good purpose, ^.et it was ind of Mr. Spence to propose it; for Archie knew that he hated the trouble of entertaining people who were not really his friends. It is very good of you to offer to do this, sir, but I am certain Mr. Erandt won't come." Why do you say that ?" asked the laird, rather testily. "Because it is prt of his policy not to show him- self at any of the houses in the neighbourhood. If he did, he would have to ask people to the castle; .and I am certain he will never do that. Oh, you are a mountain of prejudice, Archie," said the other. I thought you were a reasonable man. I'll write to Brandt, he added, with some de- termination in his tone. "and tell him that a young gentleman oFmy acquaintance—I'll mention no names —will have it that his is an enchanted castle, and that somebody is imprisoned there." I do t-eg you will not do that, sir," said Archie. Why not ? I say it is only fair that the man should know what is being said about him. Don't i think I blame you. my lad. But you are young, and you let your imagination run away with you." Archie saw that it would be impossible for him to move the magistrate—who was as obstinate as a mule when he once took a thing into his head-from his purpose, so he held his peace. Let me see. This is Tuesday," continued Mr. Spence. We'll say Saturday. We'll be glad to see you to dinner at six on that day; and, if I'm not much mistaken, you'U find your adversary here, ready to laugh at your suspicions—and I confess, Archie, IH be forced to join in the laugh against you myself." There was nothing for it, Archie saw, but to accept the invitation and beat a retjgat; and this he did, heartily wishing, at the same time, that he had never entertained the idea of consulting with the owner of the High Craig. Wednesday and Thursday went by without any incident. On the Friday afternoon Archie MacAIlister received a note from Ir. Spence. The substance of the letter was this He bad just heard from Mr. Brandt. The German wrote civilly enough, apologis- ing, in the first place, for not having answered the laird's letter of invitation sooner, the reason being that he had been from home when the letter was delivered and had only come home that day. And the German hoped that lr. Spence would excuse him for not accepting the invitation to dinner, as he was devoting his time entirely to scientific pursuits, and did not, go-into society. Finally, Mr. Brandt, expressed much indignation at being suspected of keeping any one shut up im- properly in his house. Why should I do such an evil thing ? he asked. Should I not have cause to feaMhe rigour of your Scottish courts ? It is false it is a ridiculous affirmation. That you may have the proof how ridiculous and how false it is," he added, I have to beg that you, who are a high- worthy magistrate, the much-respected minister of this parish, and any other highly respectable persons you may choose, will do me the honour of visiting me as soon as possible, say to-morrow, at any hour in the morning, and see tor yourselves how calumnious these statements are." The German expressions were the only sign that the letter had not been written by a Scotchman. It seemed straightforward enough. The man could not do more. Archie was forced to acknowledge to him- self, than throw hia house open to inspection at the first opportunity. ilimT

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