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{Copyright.) THE MISSING LINK. Bytha Author of "Sscret Chains," "Restored," "Until the Day Breaks," fee., b- Yoar brother's Hf. Falls into forfoil Alas, what poor ability's in ma To do him good ? "Commfnd me to my brother, soon at night rn send him certain word of my success." Measier* for Mtatur*. CHAPTER IX. BROTHER AND SISTER. There was little sleep for the household at Bow-tor Farm that night. The doctor and the policeman had departed, and Anne and Martin had between them carried their sister upstairs and laid her down on her bed. It was long past midnight when Anne went downstairs again to the parlour, where Martin was sitting smoking, deep in thought, by the fire. "My dear Anne, I hoped you were gone to bed," he said, starting a little, as she came in. "It would be no use, I couldn't sleep. I knew you were still up, and I wanted to see you again." She seated herself beside her brother. Martin held out his hand to her, and they clasped hands for a moment in silence; then he went on smoking, and nothing more was said for some minutes. At last Martin began: "I have been sitting here thinking till I am almost dazed. You see, if it had been nothing but an ordinary housebreaker he would have taken what few little valuables we have,- and not have injured the poor girl, beyond, perhaps, tying something over her mouth and locking her up in a cupboard to prevent her giving an alarm, and so forth. There is something beyond ordinary crime here, something we can't fathom at present." "I would give every farthing I have in the world-I would give my life to find out who did it," cried Anne, with sudden passion, and then again she took Martin's hand and clutched it tightly. He looked at her with a sad, steadfast, com- passionate glance, and answered: Anne, what I am afraid of is, the police won't look far enough afield to find the real criminal; it will come much easier and simpler to them to look near home." Anne's lips moved, but she made no audible answer, and he went on: "My dear girl, I know what is in your mind; let us speak out plainly, and say all we have to say about it. That was my revolver, as you know, and it had just been fired off. It is a horrible thing to think that she came to her death through anything of mine. But that's not all. I have been miles away over the moor, and I doubt if I have seen a living soul since 3 o'clock this afternoon. I was late in getting home to-night because of the fog. I lost my way altogether once, and I was forced to keep in the track every inch of the way when I had found it again. So nobody can say where I have been all the evening, and an alibi is out of the question. Our troubles are not all over for you and me, Anne. "Oh, Martin," she said in a choking voice, "how can you take it so quietly ? "Don't you see-I am innocent now. I was not then—at least, I was innocent of all inten- tion, of course—only I did it, that's all the difference. Ah, it is plain I have not suffered enough yet for that night's work. I don't think there has been a day these two years that I have not had the thought of Dick Lawson heavy on my mind; but still, you see, it has not been enough. I was let off before; I shan't be this time. Fate or Providence, or whatever it is, won't let me alone yet awhile." "What have we done that there should be such a curse upon us ? 11 and then Anne struggled to speak more calmly. "Martin, you are talk- ing nonsense. Would anybody in their senses suspect you had a hand in this—you, your own sister! What has that—that dreadful misfortune of ours to do with it ? Everybody knows that that was an accident." And yet, on account of that accident, as you call it, everybody has fought shy of me ever since." "But what would they imagine your motive to be now ?-your own sister," repeated Anne. "A quarrel between us, probably-you know they give me the credit of having the devil's own temper." Anne could not deny that such was Martin's reputation. Yet to hear him state the fact so coolly me her feel a little restless and im- patient. "I think we must be both of us mad to sit here talking like this-and I am sure enough has happened to-night to turn our brains. Oh poor Susan! They remained silent for some minutes after that, then Martin rose abruptly. "You had better try to get some rest now, Anne. What you have gone through to-night! and I away—not here to help you. Here's your candle," and he lighted it and held it out to her. "You may be able to sleep, perhaps, now that we have had it out together, and I have told you I know what is before me, very likely, and I am quite prepared for it." "Martin," she said, feeling as if her heart would break, "why do you talk so ? I can't bear it." "It's well to look the worst in the face. And it's you I am thinking of, if you should be left all alone by-and-bye, my dear. All the same, I can't see that they have any evidence against me, except the revolver, and the fact that I can't get a single witness to prove where I was all the evening. But it's a case of I Givp a dog a bad name,' &c. People won't care to k any further-it will seem most natural to suppose I did it." Life went on much as usual the next two days at Row-tor Farm, even though the shadow of a mysterious <rime hung over it. Martin had hia work on the farm, Anne had her household, her dairy, and her poultry to attend to. The under- taker came from Tavistock to arrange for a funeral in the house where a wedding was to have taken plice in a few days' time; and a messenger came from the coroner to give notice that the inquest: was to be held on the following Monday afternocn. Mr. Prior, in his compassion for Anne, had done every kindly office for her that was possi- ble for him to do. He bad promised to see James Stambridge, and to break to him the dreadful tidings of his betrothed's violent death. All Saturday and Sunday Anne was expecting him at Row-tor Farm, as was only natural. But the hours passed on, and nothing was seen or heard of him. "It is most extraordinary," said Anne to her brother at tea-time on Sunday evening, "that James Stambridge has never been near us. I am getting quite uneasy about him. Could you go and see him this evening, do you think, Martin ? Martin made no reply for a few moments, then: "No, Anne, I don't think I can," he answered, gravely. "Why not ?" she asked, half under her breath. Something in Martin's tone seemed to give form to the vague horror in her own mind. "Because he probably thinks the very worst that can be thought of me." "Are you sure it's not the other way?" she whispered, almost afraid to speak her thoughts aloud. "Well, I have turned everything I can think of over in my own mind. Everything seems unlikley-th,it and everything else. It is just barely possible, and that is all I'll venture to say. At all events, Stambridge knew where to find my revolver. I remember pointing it out to him one day, and saying in a lonely house like this it might possibly come in handy some time or other, though it's not once in a dozen years that we hear of a housebreaker in this part of the country. However, we shall all know a little more, Perhaps, when the inquest is over." 'The inquest — another inquest," muttered Anne, with a shudder; and again came the bitter thought—1"What had they done? this brother and sister, homely, hard-working folk, who had never over-reached thoir neighbours, or driven a hard bargain with the poor, or ill- used a dumb animal—what had they done that the shadow of crime should for ever dog their footsteps and darken their good name ? 11 CHAPTER X. r H E INQUEST. The inquest was being held in the farmhouse parlour. The room was crowded with people, and every chair in the house was brought into requisition. At th,! ln»ad of the table, placed at one end of the room, sat the coroner ranged beside him were the jurors in their rough tweed suits or black Sunday coats, farmers of the neighbourhood and small tradesmen from Tavi- stock. At the opposite end of the room sat Anne and Martin side by side, dressed in as much mourning as was possible to them at such short notice-Martin with a band of crape round his left arm, Anne in a plain black silk gown which had seen some service. Behind them were the old labourer Richards, his wife, and their daughter Eliza. Tha latl' locked very pale, and seemed in a state of terror that was quite uncalled for. Several farmers of the place and their wives were present, and at the door of the room stood Watkins, the policeman, in all the solemnity of his official helmet and uniform. Just as the proceedings were about to begin, Cap'ain Stambridge waiked into the parlour. His shoulders were bowed, his face was white and haggard, he looked like a man stricken down with gri?f. Many were the pitying glances directed towards the bereaved bridegroom-elect. He bowed gravely to Anne as he entered, but he did not speak, or hold out his hand to her, and she observed that he did not even look at Martin, but appeared to keep his eyes carefully turned away from the farmer-to. whom, at any rate, thought his sister, was due soire small civility, as he was the master of the house where they were all assembled. After the jury had viewed the body, and Mr. Prior had stated the exact cause of Susan's death, Anne Derrick was the first witness called upon. Tie questions put to her she answered with the 5Ullleme calmness of one who had her nerves strung up to their highest tension. Per- haps her self-possession was almost too perfect to be natural; at all event', it gave the coroner the idea that there was some hidden danger against which she was guarding herself. The fart that a man was actually concealed in the house when she entered it naturally caused a great sensation in the room. Every eye was fixed upon her as she answered the minute inquiries of the coroner. "Could you discern any person an you entered the house ? he asked. "No, it was too dark," replied Anne. "Don't you keep a light of any sort burning in the entrance-hall ? "Yes, always." "How did it come not to be lighted last Friday evening, then ? "I can't tell. I had been out all day; perhaps it had been forgotten." Here a sobbing and gasping was heard from the Eervant Eiiza, in the background. "It warn't my fault. I lighted it all right enough- Then followed a warning "Sh, sh!" from her mother. "You say, Miss Derrick, you had your hand on this person's arm. Could you tell, from the sense of touch, how he was dressed ? "I felt a man's cloth coat," replied Anne, speaking rather slowly, and knitting her brows a little, as if she weie taxing her memory to the utmost extent to re-all every circumstance of that dreadful night; "a thick cloth, so far as I can tell from just that one moment." "The sort of coat that a man in well-to-do circumstances would wear ? "I should say so." "Was there anything in that momentary touch that reminded you of any person you knew ? Anne became conscious at that moment that Stambridge's eyes were fixed upon her with a sort of stealthy suspicion. A sudden thought made her thrill, and she could hardly retrain from saying: "It was just such a coat as Captain Stambridge is wearing." But she quickly recovered her presence of mind, though her momentary change of colour and hesitation in replying did not escape notice. There must be hundreds of coats made of the same sort of cloth," so she answered the coroner. "Your own coat, sir, if you will excuse my saying so, looks as though it would feel like the one I touched." There was almost a titter in the room, and the coroner, not beat pleased, went on abruptly: "Are you prepared to swear that you did not recognise this man as anyone you know ? "Certainly, I can swear to it." Anne was then called upon to describe the finding of her sister's dead bodj in the parlour, ond she answered still in the same unfaltering manner. "Preciously strong-minded female that, whispered one of the jury to another. "But a rare pretty one, though, all the same," said the other, admiring Anne's bright hair and complexion and her tall, finely developed figure, set off by the simple folds of her black silk gown—admiring her with all the amazement which a true Briton feels at the combination of good looks and good sense in a woman. Here the foreman of the jury asked a question: "Is there anybody who has had a quarrel with your sister, who may have wished to injure her ? "No--except, that is-" Here Anne stam- mered, her pale cheeks flushed, and for a moment she lost her self-possession. "Try to remember, now," said the coroner. Anne looked down and made no reply. "I ask you on your oath," the coroner went on, sharply, do you know whether the deceased, Susan Derrick, had a disagreement of any sort with any person whatever f" "I only know what she told me, sir, the morning before ehe died." Anne raised her head again, and spoke firmly, but she had turned very pale. "She said she had had a quarrel with Cap- tain Stambridge. I don't know any particulars." "That's a lie!" came a hoarse cry from a corner of the room. Everybody started and locked towards Stambridge, who had started from his seat, his face purple, bis small eyes blazing. "Sit down, Mr. Stambridge," said the coroner, authoritatively; we shall call you as a witness presently." "I ain't going to sit here and listen to flat perjury," muttered Stambridge, resuming his seal, however. "We all sympathise with you in your sad loss," the coroner went on, "but you cannot be allowed to interrupt the witness. I do not think we have any further question to ask you, Miss Derrick. Richards, as being the next person who had seen the corpse, was then called upon to give his evidence, which was only a repetition of what had gone'before. One new fact was elicited. Did you see or hear anything of the man that Miss Derrick found in the house ? asked th, coroner. W ell, sir, as you've asked me, I have called to mind," replied the old man, in the slow, deliberate manner of his kind, "that as I was in the stable unharnessing the brown horse as the missus had druv into Tavistock, being market day, I believe as how I did hear summat like a man's footsteps go quick across the yard towards the gate. The master's come home, then,' thinks I to myself; s where's he off to again in such a hurry P No, it hain't the master, then,' thinks I; 'it be Captain Stam- bridge as comes courting Miss Susan,' and I runs indoors, aad the shocking sight I seed there druv everything else out of my bead; and I never thought no more about them foot- steps till yesterday morning, when I was talking the matter over with my missus here." You cannot say for certain whose footsteps they were P "Lord, no, sir; 1 was busy with the horse, as I be a-telling of you, and I didn't take no particular notice one way nor another. I jost says to myself there's the master, then, or else it's Captain Stambridge. But you know now, sir, as well as I can tell you, that it wam't the master, for he was a long ways up on the moor all the time." "And it certainly was not me," growled Stam- bridge, but he dared not say so aloud. Anne sat perfectly motionless while this morsel of evidence, which was quite new to her, was given; but the mention of Martin's name made her writhe inwardly. "Why did Richards say what. his fancies were about the footsteps? Fancies are not evidence," she thought. Watkins, the policeman, was the next person summoned, and after a few questions had been asked and answered he thrilled the greater part of the audience by producing the revolver, and stating that he haa found it on the'table in Mr. Derrick's room, with onerchambtr discharged, and the rest loaded. The coroner and the Jury handled the weapon cautiously. The bullet which Mr. Prior had two days before extracted from the death wound was compared with those still in the revolver; they corresponded precisely, and this part of the chain of evidence was complete. Anne kept her eyes fixed on the coroner; she dared not look at her brother whilst the ordeal proceeded. She felt M though a single glance in his direction might betray that he was in any special way affected by the testimony they were hearing. But she knew by the instinctive sympathy she had with him that Martin was bearing himself with the most perfect com- posure. Nearly every man in the room disliked and disapproved of him; not a man amongst them except old Richards could he rely on as a friend. Everyone else regarded him with aus- picious or coldly hostile glances, everyone else would take it as a matter of course if some damning fact were brought to light against him. But he sat calm, unmoved,through it all. Every moment he expected to be summoned to give evidence, but the Coroner, for reasons of his own, had determined that the master of the house should be the last witness called. Eliza Richards, sobbing, gasping, incoherent, who required pulling and pushing up to the table by her father, and who appeared to regard the coroner and the ceremony of oath-taking with as much anguish as if a dentist and tooth-drawing were in queation-Eliza Richards next declared that Miss Susan had sent her out about four o'clock that Friday afternoon, with a message to Miss Taylor, the village dressmaker. "She waited her brown silk dress trimmed with two tows of lace on the body instead of one, poor Miss Susan did, and I was to be sure to say the lace must be fulled on, or 'twould look so skimpy, if you please, sir," said Eliza, with a fresh burst of grief. Well, go on, my good girl; what time did you get back to the house P "Please, sir, no time in special, because Miss Susan the said so particular I was not to hurry back, she didn't want me. I might stop and have a cup of tea with a friend if I liked." "So the unfortunate young lady was left entirely alone in the house that evening. Was it dark when you returned home ? Yes, sir, dark as a wolf's mouth, and terrible foggy, I'm sure o' that much." "Try your best to remember, now. Did you meet any man when you were coming along the lane towards the farm ? "No, sir, that I didn't; there's ne'er a man to meet," cried Eliza, with a howl of anguish. "Did you hear anything out of the common as you were coming aloag ? persisted the coroner, who felt sure there was some deeper reason for the girl's terror and misery than the mere fact of having to answer a. few simple questions. "I did, sir-yes, I did," she sobbed, "but I'd rather not say anything about it, if you'll please to excuse me, sir." "But I insist on your telling me," was the Coroner's quick reply; and now there was a general increase of interest amongst the audience, a sense that something startling was about to happen. Eliza only sobbed on; her father, who was standing close behind her, gave a secret savage tweak to the girl's arm. But the coroner detected him, aud fancied that he had seen the old man trying to make signs to his daughter before. "Stand back there! he said, sternly. "How dare you attempt to tamper with a witness! Now, my good girl, don't be frightened; nobody wants to do you any harm," he went on in a gentler tone. "But you are on your oath, you know; and you must tell me the whole truth about what you heard last Friday night when you were coming home, or I shall have to send you to prison." Oh, oh! but father told me I wasn't to say a word about it. Wh" shall I do ? "Good Lord! if the ¡., .,ain't enough to drive one mad! groaned Richards, mopping his red face with a yellow cotton handkerchief. "Speak out, then, you darned idiot, you! You have gone and made a precious mess of it! "If you speak another word, sir," said the coroner, in high wrath, "I will have you re- moved by the police." Richards merely gave a defiant and "Come on, then! sort of glance in the direction of Watkins, whom he regarded with some of the good-humoured contempt bred of familiar ac- quaintance. Eliza, after a good deal more choking, pro- ceeded: "I was coming along the lane, and I was just going to step into mother's house to have a bit of a talk, when I thought I heard Miss Susan a-screeching "Where is your mother's house P" interposed the coroner. "Just by, if you please, sir; you can see it from that there window." 11 WeR, go on," and everybody listened, scarcely breathing, with all eyes fixed upon the girl. "I heard Miss Susan give two great screeches. Martin, Martin! she cried-I heard the words quite plain-and then, 'twasn't a minute after, I heard something go off like a gun." There was a dead silence in the room while you might have counted ten. Then a deep breath seemed to go through the crowd. "We are getting near the truth now," was the meaning of the sound. Martin gave a great start as Eliza spoke. He elevated his brows and fixed his eyes on her for a minute; then he looked down again, and he muttered to himself with a heavy sigh: "Poor girl! Everybody observed that he was deeply moved in some way by this fresh piece of evidence. But as for Anne-the report of the firearm which had killed her sister seemed to have sounded in her ears; she felt deafened, stunned; for a minute she almost lost consciousness. "Did you go and see what was the matter ? asked the foreman of the jury. 0 No, sir, because poor Miss Susan had told me so particular she didn't want me. So I went and stopped with mother until I heard Miss Derrick come driving home from Tavistock. Then I ran along here, but the missus wouldn't let me stop in the house that night, but sent me home again to mother's to sleep, because she thought I should be frightened. And that's all I know about it, sir; and if Mr. Watkins was to take me away at once, I couldn't tell you no more, if you please, sir." The girl was dismissed; and again Martin looked up, expecting, an I extremely anxious, to be summoned. But once more he was forced to wait. (To be continued.)

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