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THE THIRD VOLUME.

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THE THIRD VOLUME. BY FERSUS HUME, Author of The Mystery of a Hansom Cab," The Lone Inn," The Chinese Jar," lie. [ALL BIGHTS RESERVED. ] CHAPTER XXXVIIL A New Aspect of Things. Tait folded over the last sheet of thitf long «6lteer with a sigh. Although he was pleased for Claude's sake that George Larcher was still in the taod of the living, yet he was distinctly disap- pointed that no communication had been made bkely to elucidate the mystery. Yet the result of this confession was an entire displacement of iihe point whence it was necessary to survey the oase. The motives which had caused the sup- Posed death of Larcher would not suffice to explain the death of Jeringham. The case had assumed a new aspect, but nevertheless it was as oomplex and inexplicable as ever. Tait thought of all this with inconceivable rapidity, but did &ot give utterance to his opinion in the presence of his friend. "The letter is wonderful so far," was his sole femark, but it is a great pity that it ends so abruptly. I suppose your father will personally relate all other details, Claude, when you see him -fain." I The young man assumed a sitting position, and teliberately finished his wine before replying to ibis remark. He looked anxious and disturbed, '.nd, now that he had recovered from the over- whelming surprise at finding his father alive, denied less delighted than he should have been. miracle had been wrought in his behalf—the lead had been restored to life—but he was by no laeans gratified by the occurrence. "I don't know whether I shall see my father, V?aia," he said shortly. But, my dear friend-" a Oh, I know all you would say," interrupted Claude hastily, with a frown, "but I am not Prepared to admit your arguments. My mother ja alive, my father is in existence, yet for twenty- years I have looked on them as dead. Can ton then wonder that I feel awkward towards -hem both—that I am by no means disposed to ;ender them that filial affection which, you must ■*du»it, they but ill deserve?" "The question is so delicate that I can only told my peace," said Tait, after a pause. I Jdunit what you say. Still they are your own aeab and blood." I might answer yon as Hamlet did on a like occasion." replied Claude, with a bitter smile, quotation will not mend matters. What nave to consider is the advisability of seeing my father again." You must certainly see him again," said the promptly. ;;why?,r In the first place he is your father whatever fou may say, and in the second you had better tell him personally that you abandon further Investigation of the case. After all your object ™*one; for though you might want to avenge death of a parent, the murder of a scamp like "eringham can matter nothing to you Ob, that I abandon the case goes without .peaking," said Claude, quickly, "and you-" I act in the same way. The further we go the case the more perplexing does it become. «is beyond me. Only at the Lasb Day will the Inystery be solved. Still," added Tait, medita. **Tely, I must admit a curiosity yet exists on 1ny part to know who struck the blow. Of course, four father's story corroborates Dick Pental's, ,ut¡ the gardener mistook him for Jerningham by reaøon of the fancy drese." Does this letter suggest anything to,you t" "It narrows the field of inquiry, that is all. *our mother, your father, ana Denis Bantry *nust necessarily be innocent, as they were in the "OAjse when the murder took place in the garden." || If they are innocent, who is guilty ?" ?• We have a choice of two who were outside at •he time. You can choose between Hilliston and Mona Bantry." Mona Bantry kfll her lover How do yon bake that out ? You forgot your father's account of the scene ':n the sitting-room," said Tait, significantly, then Mrs Larcher asserted in the presence of Mona that she had come with Jeringbam; furthermore, that he was in the garden. Mona, al^o.jealous, acts, as any other woman would have done in such a position, she goes into the garden Jo demand an explanation there is a quarrel between her and Jeringham, and she kills him. then flies, not to hide her disgrace, but to evade the consequences of her act. That is a feasible theory, I think." Claude shook his head. "I don't agree with you, he said, emphabicaljy. "You forget that e have my mother's account of the matter to Plaoe against that of my father's. If you recol- also admitted finding my fatherand Mona >> the sitting-room she also admits fainting, but tere all resemblance between the accounts cease. j y mother distinctly says that she threatened husband with the dagger, that it fell on the «oor when she lost her senses. When she recovered Jhem the dagger was gone. Now," continued Claude, slowly, if you remember the crime was Committed by means of the dagger, for it was *ound red with blood in the grounds, and then Waa taken possession of by the police. If my mother's account is the true one, Mona Bantry certainly have picked up the dagger and have murdered Jeringham, as you suggest. But if my father's story is to be believed, Mona left the room before my motherfainted, and consequently could not have gained possession of the dagger. it follows as a natural consequence that she oollld not have committed the murder." Tait nodded several times during this explana- tion to show that be agreed with the points raixed but when Claude concluded be rubbed IS chin in some perplexity. "Here we come to a dead stop," said be, Jtapatiently. It was asserted by the police that the murder was committed with the dagger \\Porn by your mother as part of the fancy dress." "Yes If you remember it was on that evi- dence she was arrested." Wei), if she wore that dagger in the sitting- in foom, Jeringham could not have been killed with 't. because the murder must have taken place While your father was trying to pacify your Mother." Claude glanced at the letter again. "My father makes no mention of the dagger in this," he said, with a puzzled look. "No! I should like to hear what he has to lIay on the subject, the more so as I incline to his &tory rather than to your mother's." For what reason ?" "In her conversation with you, Mrs Bezel-or father your mother—said that she threatened Jour father with the dagger in the sitting-room of Tho Laurels. || Yes. Well ?" If you remember the evidence given by her to the police at the time of the arrest was that she "ad lost the dagger at the ball, and knew not into Whose hands it had f.illen." Claude looked nonplussed, and knew not what nnswer to make. That his mother had made two different statements he was compelled to admit. He further remembered that his father had made no statement whatsoever about the (lj,,g(,r. Yet on the possession of that dagger turned the whole of the case. Whoever picked It up, whether at the ball or in the sitting- ro,)nl, must have killed Jeringham. Assuming his father's account to be true, and Claude saw too reason to doubt its accuracy, Mona could not nave committed the murder, nor could Mr or Mrs Larcher be guilty. It therefore followed that his mother had spoken truly to the police, and for some inexplicable reason falsely to him. The dagger must have been lost at the ball, and Picked up by whom. I can make nothing of it," he said, after doe consideration the only way to get at the truth 113 to tell my father that his wife still lives, and bring them together. Out of their meeting good may come." You will then call and see your father," said Tait, encouragingly. Yex I must. I see no way out of it. He must be inform* that my mother lives. and I am the pro pei' person ;<> ten him so. Though it is strange, added Claud?, suddenly, that Hilliston never told him." Humph That gentleman seems to serve both sides," said Tait gruffly. Your mother speaks well of him, your father' thinks no end of him, and both trust him, -yet for what I can see be has deceived both." I How ?" Why, by keeping back the truth from each. He has let your father think your mother dead, I and vice versa. What do you make of that ?" I tell you I can make nothing of the whole confusion," said Clause, crossly. I will see my father and abandon the case, for I am sick of the affair. It is maddening. What a pity your lunatic did not wake up a few minutes earlier so as to see who struck the blow and thus have tettled the matter ? But it is not that which troubles me." No What else disturbs your mind ?" Jenny." Jenny echoed Tait, with feigned simplicity. I nn: afraid I am dull. I don't see." You must he blind then," retorted Claude, in Mi exasperated tore. You know I love Jenny." Well ?" Well, I can't love her. She is my half-sister." "Indeed," said Tait, in nowise astonished at this announcement. How do you make that i ont ?" Why, isn't Jenny the daughter of Paynton, J *nd isn't he, my father ?" I HA ia vour father certainly, but I mm you I Jenny is nob his daughter. She is no relation to him." Tait! What do you mean f Can't you guess 1" No. Out with it man. Don't keep me in suspense." Why," drawled Tait, enjoying the situation, Jenny is the niece of Denis—in other words, she is the child of Mona Bantry and Jeringham." CHAPTER XXXIX. The Garnet Searfpin. That same evening Claude called to see his father. He decided to go alone, but asked Tait to repair to Rose Cottage with- in the hour, so that the meeting with his newly-found parent having taken place, a consultation could be held by the three regarding the proceeding with or withdrawing of the case. Tait especially stipulated that this arrangement should be coixe to, as he was anxious of seeing Mr Larcher, senior, in order to disabuse his mind of the straightforwardness of Hilliston. Privately Tait believed that the lawyer would yet be found gnilty of the crime. On no other grounds could be explain the attitude taken up by Hilliston since the papers had been placed in Claude's hands. The evidence of Miss Pike and Dick Pental failed to alter his idea on this point. Tait himself was beginning to feel weary of the investigation. At every turn it took he was baffled by some fresh obstacle, and he was not ill pleased to find that the matter was at an end so far as Claud was concerned. That young man had sworn to avenge the death of his tather but now that his father proved to be still in existence, the oath was null and void. So that Ciaude married to Jenny, he would be quite willing to leave the solution of the mystery surrounding the death of Jeringham to Tait but Tait himself determined to have nothing further to do with so wearisome a problem. He waited considerably beyond the hour before leaving for the cottage, as he rightly considered the father and son would have much to say to one another. Moreover, it was necessary to give Larcher time to overcome his emotion on learning that his wife was still in existence. Tait was by no means sure that the old gentleman would be pleased with this revelation. According to his own showing his relations with his wife had been none of the best; and to renew those relations after twenty-five years could hardly fail to be most unpleasant. During this time Tait gave no thought to Jenny or Denis. As to the former, he was so satisfied that she was the daughter of Jeringham by Mona Bantry that he did not think it worth while to give the matter the benefit of the doubt. What he was curious to know was how Paynton, or rather Captain Larcher, came to stand in the position of an adopted father. Information on this point was conveyed to him before be reached the cottage by Denis himself. The old servant walked briskly along the road, looking quite rejuvenated. He had heard the good news, and it had transformed his life. In place of a crabbed expression, his face appeared wonder- fully cheerful, and he saluted Tait with a grin of pleasure. The other could not forbear comment- 109 on his changed appearance, so clearly apparent even in the waning light of evening. "Why, Kerry, you look ten years younger," be said, stopping short in his amazement, with an afterthought of Dick Pental's accusation. "Ah, and I do that same, sir," said Denis, saluting in military fashion, "and you know why, sir." Are they reconciled f asked Tait, guessing what was in the mind of the old servant. Begad they are. Chattering together like two love birds, and my old master looking on with pride." Why, Kerry, I spoke of Captain Larcher." Augh, did you now, sir ? I spoke of Master Claude, God bless him, and Miss Jenny, God bless her God bless them both," cried Kerry, taking off his hat with a burst of affection, and his honour along with them. Oh, glory be to the saints for this blessed day. But sure T am for- getting my service, sir. The master is waiting to see you this very minute." I was just on my way," said Tait, signing to Kerry to go on. We will walk there together. By the way, does Miss Jenny know she is not the daughter of your master ?" "She knew it all along, sir. Ah, and why should you look surprised at that, Mr Tait ? Is it because she is the niece ot an aid soldier like me?" "No! No Kerry But, as you are aware, Miss Jenny knows the case from those news- papers she found; and in that report Jering- ham I see what you mean, sir," said Kerry, touch- ing his hat in a deprecating manner; "bnt sure she doesn't know all. She believes herself to be the child of my sister, Mona-who is dead, rest her soul, and of a Mr Kennedy. We've invented a father for her, sir. T'would never do for her to know she was the daughter of the poor man who was killed." It is just as well, Kerry. Do you know who killed him 1" Tait asked this question with a keen glance at the man. No, sir. How should I know ? I ran out with the light when the captain called, but Idon't know who struck him the cruel blow. He was a bad man, sir, deceiving my sister, and disgracing the Bantry family, but he is dead, and she is dead, so we'll let them rest, and the heavens be their bed I" By this time they were at the garden door, and striking his hand over these sad memories Kerry led the visitor into the house, and showed him into the bookroom. Here were assembled Claude, j his father, and Jenny, till looking supremely happy, though the old gentleman appeared to be rather shaken. He rose when Tait entered, and held out his hand. I am glad to see you, Mr Tait," said he, in an unsteady voice, and I thank you for the way in which you have aided my son. I feel that an apology is due to you for my behaviour on your last visit." "Don' II mention it," replied Tait, cordially shak ing the extended hand. under the circumstances you could not act otherwise. Well, Miss Payn. ton, am I to—" Don't call me Miss Paynbon now, Mr Tait," she said, smiling there is no need for further concealment. I can take my own name, that of—" Miss Kennedy," said Tait, quickly, do not look so surprised. Kerry told me all about it as I came along. I am at once astonisned and de- lighted." I don't wonder at it," said Captain Larcher. patting Claude's hand. "You see I have found a son." And soon, sir, you will lose a daughter," observed Tait, significantly. Oh, no," observed Claude, with a laugh when I marry Jenny we will all live together as a happy fam ly." Marriage Has it come to that 2" Yon are astonished I see, Mr Tait," said the old geutleman, shaking his head. I am myself. It is too soon—too sudden. They have only known eaoh other a few weeks, and it is impossible that a union on so short an acquaintance can prove happy." We will have a long engagement," said Claude, in order to prove if we truly love one another. But I am not afraid of the result." Neither am I," remarked Jenny, slipping her arm within that of her lover. I am sure nothing will come between us. But come, Claude, and we will see my uncle, for I notice that Mr Tait is anxious to speak to your father about that horrid case." Captain Larcher nodded his approval of this, so Claude and J nny left the room to seek Kerry, and be wept over by the old servant. Left alone with his host, Tait took a chair by the table, and they looked at one another in silence. The Captain was the first to break it. "There is no need for me to recapitulate the events of the day," he said with a weary sigh, 808 Claude told me you read my letter, and are in possession of all the facts. You may believe, Mr Tait, that I feel considerable shaken. My interview with Claude has been rather trying. He has behaved in the most affectionate manner." Well, now your troubles are all at an end. Captain Larcher, and A.t an end, sir," he interrupted sharply. "No, they will continue. My innocence is not yet proved, and 1 must still remain here under a feigned name, unless you agree to help me." Certainly I agree. Is it your intention and Claude's to go on with the case ? We have come to rtbat decision, but I wanted to consult you before finally making up my mind. Do you think we ought to proceed." I certainly do," said Tait, promptly. It is true that the police think that you are the victim. Bub if you want to assume vour own name inquiries would certainly be made. One is never safe in these criminal matters, even after the lapse of years. If you did declare yourself to be Captain Laicher then it would come out that Jeringham is dead, and you would have to clear yourself. Besides, the evidence of Dicky Pental would implicate you, seeing that he mistook you in that fancy-dress tor Jeringham." True enough," replied Larober. nodding. "And there is another reason. I have just learned that my wife is still alive, and is protected by Hilliston ail Hampstead. I sent Claude out of the room so that I could ask you a plain ques- tion. Give me a plain answer and tell me what are the relations between them." I doriot care to answer that plainly," said Tait. with some hesitatron, '• but I think you can guess." Does Hilliston love my wrfe On the authority of IVtiss Belinda Pike, whom I saw at Horriston, I believe he does." And for her sake he has deceived me all these years ? i It seems so. In fact. Captain Larcher, Hil- liston has been playing a double game. He kept you and your wife apart by assuring each that the other was dead. That conduct alone stamps him as a villian. Then, again, he threw all kinds of obstacles in the way while we were investigafe- | ing this case." What for ? My own opinion is that Hilliston committed the murder." Captain Larcher clenched his hand, and thought for a few moments. It might be so," he muttered more to him- self than to Tait. Hilliston was in the garden. If he loved my wife—a fact which I never sus- pected—he might have killed Jeringham out of ¡jealousy. Bub the dagger 1 How did he obtain that f No doubt at the baIL I assure you, Mr Tait, that my wife had not the dagger when in tbe silltinr-room." She declares that she threatened you with it." Then she either forgets or speaks falsely. She wore it at the ball when I spoke to her there, but when she returned it was missing. Hilliston came with me, knowing Jeringham was with my wife. He might have picked up the dagger with the fullest intention of committing the crime. Now that I know he loved my wife I am not prepared to say how he acted in the garden while I was in the hoose." And the garnet scarf-pin mentioned in the novel ? That belonged to Hilliston," said Larcher, qnickly. "I gave it to him myself. Denis picked it up in the garden, but I thought nothing of that as I was aware Hilliston was in the grounds on that night. But now I believe—ob, I am afraid to say what I believe. I muy be wrong." There is one way of finding out the truth, Captain Larcher. Come up to town this week and see your wife. Then we may learn all." The old gentleman leaned bis head on his hand in deep thought for a few minutes. I will come," he said at length. At what- ever cosh I will force the guilty woman to own the|truth." ( To be continued, i

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