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THE LADY FROM NOWHERE A DETECTIVE…

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[PUBLISHED BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT.] THE LADY FROM NOWHERE A DETECTIVE STORY. BY FERGUS HUME, Author of "The Mystery of a Hansom Cab," "The Third Volume," For the Defence," "The Lone Inn," &c., &c. [COPYRIGHT.] CHAPTER XI.—THE MAD GARDENER. Gebb was not easily surprised, being used by reason of his profession to traffic in mysteries, but the unexpected fainting of Edith at his apparently innocent question perplexed him beyond measure. Of course, the girl had not told him the whole of her history, so no doubt in the portions thus kept back lay the explanation of her violent emotion. Gebb, being ignorant of the cause, was amazed at the result. "Hullo!" said he, throwing open the window to admit fresh air, there is something queer about this, Prain hinted that if I asked about her lover I might hear something strange, and her actions speak quite as loud as words. This fainting has some meaning in it. Well! well! I must revive her first, and question her afterwards." This was easier said than done, as there was no restorative of any sort at hand. Miss Wedderburn lay back on the couch motion- less and white, the image of death; even the breeze from the open window could not restore her senses. Gebb was about to throw wide open the door, and shout for assistance when through the window he caught sight of a man cross- ing the lawn, and immediately hailed him loudly. The man jumped round suddenly as though startled by the call, and after some hesitation moved forward slowly and unwillingly to crane his head into the room. He was a queer old creature with shaggy white hair and untrimmed beard and two glittering eyes set so closely together as to give him an uncanny look. He was dressed in a suit of old clothes discoloured and rusty and with his elbows on the window sill moped and mowed in a smiling vacant way at the detective. At the first near glance, Gebb saw that the new comer was not in his right mind. Here, my man," he said, making the best of this doubtful assistant, "bring some water: the lady has fainted." The man grinned and turned his eyes towards the white face of Edith. Over his own a shade passed, with the result of altering it from gay to grave. He even looked terrified, and with a kind of hoarse cry, pointed one lean finger at the un- conscious girl. Is she dead? Did yot: kill her?" he asked in a harsh whisper. "No! No! replied the detective, soothingly, as he would speak to a child, she has fainted. Bring some water." "Kill her!" whispered the man, nodding; "it's a good room to kill people in we use it for that here. I won't tell. I'd rather see her dead than alive it's better for her. The grave's the bed for a weary head." Hush! Bring the water," cried Gebb, shrink- ing back from the horrible creature. "Be off with you." The madman shrank back in his turn at the peremptory tone of the detective, and vanished with a nod, just as a sigh sounded through the room. The cool draught playing on the forehead of Edith had at length produced its effect, and with a second sigh longer than the first, she opened her eyes, and looked vacantly at Gebb. The detective caught her hand, and slapped it vigorously, whereat the girl sat up with an effort, and her faintness passed away. Still her brain was not quite clear, and she looked languidly at Gebb, as though she were in a dream. "What did you say?" she asked in a low voice, Am I—have I—what is it?" and she passed a slow hand across her forehead. You fainted, Miss Wedderburn," replied Gebb, softly. "Yes! I remember! I fainted! You asked about-Oh, God! I know," and she covered her eyes with one hand. Before she could speak again, a harsh cracked voice was heard singing in the dis- tance: The raven is the fowl for me, (L He sits upon the gallows tree, j$> And bravely, bravely doth he sing, »if, In a voice so low and rich: £ &• While flaunting in a garb of pitch The murderer's corpse does gaily swing. K* Ho Ho Ha Ha He! He! He f The raven and the gallows tree." V -h!" Miss Wedderburn shivered nervously as this gruesome ditty sounded nearer, and put her fingers in her ears to shut out the singing. "It i9 Martin with his fearful songs!" said she softly. "Martin! And who is Martin?" asked Gebb, In amazed at these extraordinary proceedings. "Martin! Martin! Mad Martin!" croaked the harsh voice; cnd there at the window stood the crazy tnan, leering in a fawning manner, and hold- ing a tin basin half full of water. Dipping his hand into this he sprinkled a few drops towards Edith, singing tunelessly the while:- Weep till tears roll as a. flood, I baptise thee now with blood." With an exclamatior annoyance Edith rose and snatching the basin 011t of the man's hand, shut the window hurriedly. Martin gave a frightened whimper and slunk away; while his mistress soaking a handkerchief in the water, bathed her pale face. Gebb, judiciously waiting the development of events, stood quietly by, wondering, but silent. "Is this a lunatic asylum, Miss Wedderburn?" he asked when shp, was more composed and he judged it judicious to recommence the conversation. "No! of course not I" she replied irritably, "the man is mad, but quite harmless. Martin !—Martin J do not know his other name. He is an excellent gardener, and usually quiet enough, although he will sing those gruesome songs all about gallows and murders. To-day-for some reason-he is worse than usual." "He ought to be placed under restraint," said Gebb carelessly, for he was too bent on questioning his companion to be distracted by a lunatic. "But this is not to the point. May I ask what caused you to faint, Miss Wedderburn?" The girl raised her head and directed a steady etare at Gebb. "In my turn may I ask why you come here to question me!" she said defiantly. I thought I explained my errand before!" Replied the detective mildly. I am here to learn If possible—who killed Miss Gilmar." I cannot tell you: I know nothing about it. luntil you gave me the news I was not aware even that she was dead!" -it "Yet you were not so surprised by the informa- tion as I expected "That can be easily explained, Air. Gebb!" said Edith, wringing out her wet handkerchief. "As I told you before, I knew of my cousin's fears. She was perhaps pursued by Mr. Dean when he escaped from prison, with the avowed intention-it was reported-of killing her. She left. her home--as I know-in order to hide from him; but it is possible <—I say she added with emphasis, it is possible that Dean tracked her down and revenged himself for her conduct of twenty years ago. You wish to learn who killed Miss Gilmar, sir? I tell you I do not know! Mr. Dean, in my opinion, is innocent, imt on the face of it I admit that appearances are Against him. Perhaps if you find the man and question him you may arrive at the truth." It is not improbable," replied Gebb coolly, "but we must catch him first. Still, Miss Wedder- burn, your opinion of Dean's guilt or innocence does not explain your recent conduct. To put a plain question, miss, 'What made you faint?' "That is my business I" said Edith, haughtily but frith averted eyes. "And mine too. Why should you faint because [ ilsk if you have another lover besides Mr. Alder?" "I refuse to answer I" "lit that case," observed Gebb, artfully, "there must be something wrong with Arthur." "How dare you call him Arthur?" flashed out Miss Wedde-Ourn- "Call who Arthur? asked Gebb, laying a trap for her hasty tongue. "Mr Per she stopped and bit her lip, hesitating as it would appear, whether to tell the name or not. After a momentary pause she evidently deemed bold speaking the safest policy, for she continued calmly: "After all, there is no reason why I should not tell you his name "None in the world, so far as I can see! answered the detective with a shrug. I know that his Christian name is Arthur, but what is the sur- name of your lover, Miss Wedderburn?" ( How do you know that I have a lover?" re- torted Edith, answering one question by asking otnothp-r How do I know that you have two lovers," corrected Gebb, coolly. "Because you told me about one named Mr. John Alder, and Mr. Pram spoke to me about the other. I came here with a certain amount of knowledge, miss! "Mr. Prain? What has he to do with it? iI don't know. I'm waiting for you to tell me. Edith clasped her hands togetner with a restless movement, and walked up and down the room fhastily. Suddenly, as though making up her mind to the inevitable, she stopped before the detective. "Mr. Gebb," she naid, clearly and distinctly, "I have no reason to conceal anything in my life. J am engaged to a gentleman named Arthur Ferris, whos occupation is that of an artist. He has nothing to do with the murder of Miss Gilmar, ,that I swear." tThere is no need to swear," said Gebb, wonder- •irtfc' at her vehemence, "but why did you faint I asked you about him?" »» T thoughtr—I thought you might suspect him," ■faltered Miss Wedderburn, in a low tone. I know fEasci^0113 y°u detectives are. You seem to think tha* I know ™ore than I tell you, but you ar" WMPec^Deither you nor Mr. Ferris," said r^v.v> rmietlvN" but it was so strange that you should faint at aMmrle question, that I naturally SshSto find outf* reason "Well sir you kne* n(? "I know the reason yo-u choose to give, repl.ed Gebb, significantly, but you will excuse my saying that it is rather a weak one- I oan give no other. () You could if you wished' M "Then I refuse to give any other, rejoined ^SulT^of'ted Gebb, rising- Wen, tnereis nothing for it but for me to take my leave-for the 11 nresent," he added significantly. This sudden cessation of Gebb's questions alarmed Edith more than the questions themselves had done, and she looked uneasy. Once or twice she appeared About to speak, but closed her hps again without a -word conducted Gebb silently out of the house. The detective was rather annoyed by this self- M IQlf TtMOA Jul 8UWCDUTO WM $4 ma&e Miss Wedderburn talk, Nine women out of ten would have done so, and have defended them- selves with many words: but this girl was evidently the tenth, and knew the value of silence. How- ever, Gebb was too experienced to show his a.n- noyance, and, mentally resolving to question this Sphinx on a future occasion when she was not so much on her guard, he took his leave with a last warning. "You ought to have that mad gardener locked up," he said, looking up to Miss Wedderburn as she stood on the terrace, else there will be another murder in the Yellow Boudoir." "Oh, Martin is quite harmless," replied Edith, calmly. "I told you so before." So harmless that had he lived in Grangebury I should have suspected him of killing your cousin," responded Gebb, drily, and forthwith took his de- parture, considerably puzzled, as well he might be, by the attitude of the young lady. So far she had baffled him completely. As he walked down the neglected avenue he heard the harsh cracked voice of mad Martin pip- ing a tuneless ditty, and shortly afterwards met with the man himself face to face. With his lean bent form, picturesque rags, and venerable white beard, the man looked like Lear, insane and wretched. When he saw Gebb, the creature stopped singing, and broke into a cackling laugh, which had little mirth in it. Gebb—usually self-controlled and careless of impressions-shuddered at that merriment of hell. "Are you in love with her too?" he asked the detective. No," replied Gebb, humouring the man. Why do you think so?" "John Alder came here and loved her," said Martin, reflectively. "Arthur Ferris came and loved her. I thought you might be a third. But you won't win her heart—oh, no. Young Arthur has done that. Tall, straight, dark, hand- some Arthur, with the mark of Satan on his cheek." "The mark of Satan!" repeated Gebb, puzzled by this description of Ferris. Hist!" cried Martin, with uplifted finger. He is a wizard and she a witch, and they dance in the Yellow Room when the moon is up. Young Arthur has a red mark on his cheek; Satan baptised him there with blood. Oh, blood! oh, blood!" moaned the wretched creature, "nothing but blood. A knife for you, and a rope for me, And death in the Yellow Room; I am alive, and you are dead, But each hath gotten a tomb.' And with a long, dolorous cry Martin ran up tl:e avenue swinging his arms, leaving Gebb to 11-7710 out his enigmatic verse as best he could. CHAPTER XII.—THE DIAMOND NECKLACE. Gebb, much to his disgust, returned to Nor- minster as wise as he had left it. Beyond meeting a lunatic, and interviewing an obstinate young woman," he had spent his time and money to little purpose and it was with a perplexed brain that he sat down to consider his future movements. In the face of his failure he was at a loss how to act. Wiss Wedder- burn, with what looked like deliberate intention, he only repeated the story he already knew. Miss Gilmar had confessed to a. fear of Dean. She had fled from the Hall on account of that fear; her travels and hidings and extraordinary precautions had been undertaken solely to thwart the revenge of Dean. Gebb was aware of these facts: but there was nothing more in them likely to instruct him. He had, so far, exhausted their capabilities. What am I to do?" he asked himself for, say, the fiftieth time. How am 1 to act? In which direc- tion am I to move? Miss Wedderburn, without any given reason, says that Dean is innocent. Prain is of the same way of thinking, and so am 1. Parge alone seems to believe in Dean's guilt, and I don't agree with him. The man himself may be able to supply evidence to reveal the truth; but where is he to be found?" Gebb could answer this question no more than he could the others he propounded, and vainly racked his usually inventive brain to settle on some course likely to elucidate the mystery. Finally, after mature reflection, he resolved to call upon Prain. and ask him to explain the meaning of Miss Wedderburn's fainting. The lawyer had told him to ask a certain question, and see what answer it would bring. Well, he had done so; and the answer was that the girl, without any apparent cause, had fainted. Perhaps Prain knew the reason and since Edith refused to reveal it, his sole course was to question the solicitor. So to Prain the detective went, full of curlosity, two days after his return from the country. The interval had been filled up in attending to business unconnected with the Grangebury mystery; but now Gebb returned to it again, and sought Mr. Prain in the hope of learning something tangible. But his spirits wore very low. "Well, Mr. Gebb," said brisk Mr. Prain, after greetings had passed, I have not been idle since I eaw you last. I have sent a description of that necklace to the police. I have informed Mr. Alder of Miss Gilmar's death and I have received his instructions about the will." "There is a will, then?" Without doubt. Miss Gilmar made her will before she left the Hall." In favour of Mr. Alder?" said Gebb. Yes. Of course, by the will of Kirkstone's ancestor Mr. Alder becomes possessed of the Hall; but Miss Gilmar has left her personal property- that is the money which she inherited from Laura Kirkstone-to him also. Miss Wedderburn, I am eorry to say, receives nothing." Poor girl. She will have to leave the Hall." Prain shrugged his shoulders. "That is at her own discretion," he said, coolly. "Mr. Alder is in love with her so if she marries him- She won't marry him," interrupted Gebb, she is in love with, and engaged to, Mr. Ferris." "Ah! she told you about that scamp?" "She told me very little, Mr. Prain; but she fainted when I mentioned the man under the very general description of a lover." "She fainted! Hum!" Prain looked so serious and perplexed that Gebb was impelled to question him further touching the matter. "Why did she faint?" asked the detective, bluntly. "I don't know-that is, I can't exaotly say," stammered the other. Gebb looked at the solicitor, who in his turn stared at the carpet, the ceiling, at the papers on his desk anywhere but at his questioner. "Mr. Prain," he said, seriously, "you are not treating me fairly." I beg your pardon," said Prain, nervously-and, as a rule he was not a nervous man, "I don't see how you make that out." "I do! replied Gebb sharply. "You know the reason of that fainting." "Perhaps I do but I am not at liberty to reveal my knowledge. The secret is Miss Wedderburn's." "Has it anything to do with this murder?" "No," replied Prain, decisively. "That it has not." Then why did you tell me to ask her about Ferris? Because I wanted to be sure of something, and that fainting has enlightened me." "Can't you tell me more?" cried Gebb, with some indignation. "No. I cannot," answered Prain, bluntly. "Get Miss Wedderburn's permission and I will. But even if you did know, the knowledge would be of no use to you." "Has Miss Wodderburn any theory about this murder? "Not that I know of. You saw her last, Mr. Gebb." "Does she know who killed Miss Gilmar?" "Why not ask her?" said Prain, evading the question. "I did; and I can't make out what she means. She says that Dean is innocent, but won't give her reason. Now, Parge declares that Dean is guilty." "Well, Mr. Gebb, perhaps he is." "Indeed!" sneered Gebb, who Wa$ growing irritated. "Last time I saw you, Mr. Prain, you denied his guilt." "And I do so now!" cried Prain warmly. "I believe, as you do, Gobb, that Dean is innocent of both crimes. He killed neither Kirkstone nor Miss Gilmar. I don't know what Miss Wedderburn's reasons are, but she is right to defend Dean. Still," added Pain with a shrug, I don't deny that many n^ople look on the man as a murderer." Does Mr. Alder believe in Dean's guilt—in his double guilt? "Yes. He is svre of it. You can ask him for yourself," added Prain, looking at his watch. He'll be here soon." I'll be glad to meet him. But what is your opinion about this crime?" I told you the last time I saw you," replied the solicitor. Miss Gilmar was murdered by one of those forti-ine- tellers for the sake of her diamonds. Recover that necklace and you will soon trace the assassin." "It's not much of an idea," said Gebb scornfully. "It's the best I've got, at all events," retorted Prain with heat. "I have done my best to prove its truth by sending a description of that necklace to the police." "I daresay the description is in the hands of all pawnbrokers by this time," said Gebb thoughtfully. Well, we shall see what will come of it. What about Ferris? Ferris!" repeated Prain, in nowise astonished at this abrupt question. Well, he is an artist. and a bit of a scamp, with whom Edith Wedderburn is in love. I don't know why perhaps because he is a scamp. Women seem to like scamps, for some reason best known to themselves." "Is lie handsome?" "Very. Tall and dark rather military-looking." Has he a mark on one cheek?" "Yes, a birth-mark, but not disfiguring. How did you know about it?" "That lunatic at Kirkstone Hall told me. He called it the mark of Satan. By the way who is that manli" "A gardener who used to live at the Hall in Kirkstone's time. I think the tragedy of the Yellow Room must have sent him off his head. At all events, he ran away after it occurred, and only turned up a year or two ago, quite mad." "Why didn't they lock him up?" "Well, you see, Miss Wedderburn (who is rather a strong-minded young woman) thinks kindness may cure him: so she pave him back his old cost of gardener. If Miss Gilmar had been there, I don't think he would have been nllo"Tr,H to "t, T don't mine, einter, that Miss wve experiment will be a success." He sings the most gruesome «ong«. about mur- der, and blood, and the Yellow Room." "I know!" replied Prain. cheerfully. "I :tm afraid that last muddled his brain and inspired his muse. He didn't sing or compose verse when I knew him; but the man's a complete wreck. He used to be rather handsome and stupid; but his own father wouldn't know him now. I'm sorry for the poor devil, as now that Alder owns the Hall I daresay he'll be kicked out, and have to end his days in an asylum." "The best place for him, in my opinion," said Gebb emphatically. "He is as mad as a March hare, and not half so harmless. Hallo! Who is that knocking? Come in." It jprpisd to ba aptQ f¡:o.m lasggotoc Laeklaad, askmg Gebb to come down to Grangebury. In the first instance it had gone to Scotland Yard, and, as it seemed important, bad been sent on to the detective, who had left word that he would be at Prain's, in case he was wanted. "Seems important," said Gebb, reading it. "I wonder what Lackland wants to see me about-eh, Prain?" But Prain was not attending to him. He was busy shaking bands with a tail, broad-shouldered man fair-haired, blue-eyed, and altogether comely to look upon. This gentleman was introduced to Gebb by the name of Alder whereby the detective was informed that he stood in the presence of Miss Gilmar's heir and Miss Vi edderburn's lover. Alder on hearing Gebb's name looked at him keenly, and saluted him with marked cordiality. I am glad to meet you, Mr. Gebb," he said, in loud and hearty tones; indeed, he was rather like a fox-hunting squire than a barrister. "How are you getting on with the case of my poor cousin's murder? Have you caught Dean?" No," answered Gebb, plainly and to tell you the truth, I a.m not sure that Dean is the culprit." "But if you know what Dean said about "I know all that Dean said," interrupted Gebb, also that he escaped but, for all that, I do not think he killed Miss Gilmar-or Kirkstone either, for the matter of that." "Hum!" said Alder, thoughtfully. "I see you are of Basson's opinion." "Mr. Clement Basson! Do you know him?" asked the detective. "I should think so!" replied Alder, smiling. I have known him for years. Ho was Dean's counsel in the Kirkstone case." I instructed him," said Prain, complacently. He believed in Dean's innocence as I did but un- fortunately our united efforts could not get the poor devil off." "I think I'll call on Mr. Basson," said the de- tective, thoughtfully. "Where is he to be found?" No. 40, Biackstone Lane, Fleet Street," replied Alder, promptly but what do you expect to learn from him?" "His reasons for believing Dean not guilty." They are the same as mine," cried Prain, and I don't know how his stating them over again can help you. He does not know where Dean is." Still Mr. Gebb had better see Basson," sug- gested Alder, with conviction. Something may come of the visit. Will you call on me afterwards, Mr. Gebb, and tell me what you learn from Basson? I am to be found in the Temple, and, as you may guess, I am most anxious that Dean should be traced. I intend to offer a reward of two hundred pounds for his capture. I hope you will earn it." I hope so, too," answered Gebb, much pleased; "but you are certain that Dean is guilty?" If he is not, I don't know who is," replied Alder, emphatically, and for the time being the conversa- tion ended. Gebb left Alder to consult with Prain as to the necessity of exhuming the body of Miss Gilmar for identification, and took his way down to Grangcbury to learn why the bluff Lackland had written so earnest and urgent a note. He found the plethoric inspector in a state of excitement border- ing on apoplexy, and wondered what could have occurred to stimulate the martinet to such unusual excitement. That you, Gebb?" cried Lackland the moment the detective put his nose inside the door. Georgo! I am glad to see you. It's found sir— found. Wrhat do you think of that, hey?" What is found the name of the murderer?" Ko, no; but something as useful. The diamond necklace," said Lackland, slowly. "You don't say so," cried Gebb, excitedly. "Was it sold—pawned ?" "Pawned!" interrupted the Inspector. "Aaron and Nathan's, Llarold Street, City. It came into their possession the day after the murder." "The devil! Our assassinating friend lost no time. Who pawned it?" A young man who called himsnlf James Brown." "James Fiddlestick," said Gebb, contemptuously —" a false name. What was he like?" Tall, dark, handsome, said Lackland, with military brevity. "Aaron said that he put the necklace up the spout as cool as a cucumber. He was "Hold on I" crie- Gebb, eagerly. "Had he a mark on one check-a birth mark?" "By George, he had A purple spot; but not large enough to spoil hi looks." I thought so!" said the detective, joyously. So it was Arthur Ferris did it." "Arthur who?" asked Lackland, gruffly. Arthur Ferris, of Chelsea, artist. He pawned the necklace: he stole the diamonds: he murdered Miss Gilmar. Hurran we've got him." (To be continued.)

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