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[ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.] A WOMAN AT BA:. I BY [ JlARIE ZIMMERMANN, j Author of The Bane of Both" etc. €tc, I CHAPTER XXIX. A SURPRISE. AT this picture Davis looked with sombre regret. Rough and time-worn as it was, there was no mistaking the noble personality. ''That's the Squire's wife, sure enough." said the detective, and I'm sorry for it. Within the packet was a folded paper, which proved to be a missive from his mother, and ran thus DKAR SON, Wile i was turning over sum Things, i found the picter i Menshunned. Let's hope it's the krect one. This is the like ness of the gal that was along with the squinter That your father drored and showed to ole Rivington. So long. XXX. "Yore luving Mother, "MAGOIB BOND." The next morning the detective waylaid Doctor Kynnesley, and told him of his— Davis's—meeting with his brother's wife. Do you know this woman?" asked he, displaying before Randolph the sketch his mother had sent him. I should think I do," answered the Doctor heartily. That's Roxana to the life. How in the world did you come by it ? Thereby hangs a tale which is not ready for telling," said Davis with reserve I may, however, remark that I deem your sister-in- law's position to be a serious one." Let's have the truth, whatever it is," cried Randolph fiercely. I have not got as far as the truth myself," said Davis, gravely but my opinion is that, at some former time-under extreme pres- sure, I am sure-the Squire's wife made her. self amenable to the law." Randolph gave him an ugly look. For two pins I'd ram my, fist down your throat," said he. Do you think my brother married a shoplifter or a bigamist? Your brother married as true a lady as ever stepped," answered the detective with emphasis; "but that does not alter the fact that his wife was-is, I should say, rather—in the power of the man Fulke." Great Heavens cried Randolph aghast. Is this how my brother got to loggerheads with him ? d J I Ah, there, answered Davis, we come tc a dead stop. Of how far the Squire has knowledge of the business, I've no notion; neither do I regard the Fulke difficulty as the more serious part of the affair. No; the death of the woman Water3 -11 The death of the woman Waters I" said Randolph vaguely. What do you mean by that? "May I remind you of your own evidence at the inquest, Doctor? Was the doubt as to the actual cause of this woman's death ever cleared up ? "I cannot fairly say that it was," answered Randolph. "But it is simply monstrous tc Connect Mrs. Kennesley in thought even with such a business when she did not so much ae know the woman. "Unfortunately," said Davis gravely, "I have good reason to suppose that the Squire's Wife did know her. May I ask if you are acquainted with Mrs. Kennesley's family history ? I am not in the least." Sorry for that. I was wondering whether there might be some black sheep in the family, who had been making things un- pleasant." "We value the sisters for themselves," said Randolph sternly. "Perhaps you'll say next that my brother's wife had a hand in the woman's death." My business is to prove, Doctor." Randolph put his face close to the detectives. Sa.y a word .against her, and I'll "Gently, my friend," murmured Davis warningly we can't afford to quarrel. It is not for me to say-as yet—whether or not this woman was poisoned but such being the case,it would be my business to lay hold of the poisoner as soon as possible. Is the Squire going on satisfactorily ? He varies, being better to-day and worse to-morrow," answered the Doctor. I purpose calling at the Hall between three and four this afternoon, and should be much obliged if you could contrive to be there and give me the opportunity to speak privately with Mrs. Kynnesley." /'What about?" asked Rondolph sus- piciously. "Business that may not be put off," answered Davis gravely. Upon this the Doctor promised to do as he Was asked, and the two men then separated. It chanced that the sisters went with their Work baskets to the garden room directly after luncheon that day. The mother, who Pestered the doctors' lives out of them, had been called to town to a sick friend, to the relief of all parties. The old lady had pro- tested from the first against any such thing a "brain affection." How was it possible, she asked again and again, when her son hadn't a care on his mind? Why, he bad but to wish for a thing, and have it! was her plaintive cry. The sisters admitted their mutual relief at her departure as they sat grave and anxious together. Times were so changed at the old Hall now. With the falling of the leaves, peace and prosperity had dropped from the time-honoured place. Randolph walked presently into the room. After an anxious look at the sick master, who sat huddled in an armchair in the farther apartment, fast asleep, he flung himself upon a lounge. H Any news, Ran ?" asked Daphne. "Fulke's getting on," answered he moodily. I bad a letter from Doctor Moore this morning, and I think a crisis is imminent." He looked at Daphne with a speculative air. I wish," he went on, that you could have seen your way to making Fulke one of the family, Daphne, my dear." It was an unfortunate remark, as coming from him, the god of her maiden altars. The dainty face flamed from chin to brow, and in that moment Roxana understood whv no suitor, let him be never so eligible," had ™>rT? ,un^ favour in her sister's eyes. The Doctor had walked meanwhile, to the window, quite innocent of any wrongdoing. With Davis's horrible suggestions in his mind, it was simply impossible that he could associate in the ordinary way with this woman, who shed her virtues, as suns and flowers shed theirs, broadcast upon her surroundings, and whose perfections had blinded him to the charms of another, every whit as worthy as herself. At this moment a voice hailed the Doctor, ? on the terrace now; and imme- diately after Davis came into view. Together HmJ^W° ^en en(-er'ed the garden room. A r»OUi k foll°wed; then Randolph lnto 'be »ir. and *er fiffurp hp™ /) kective—save for the supine ngure beyond—were alone. and^th fthpip'y wa,lked into the inner room, Mr n ?°xa™ followed him. und^st^Ti'l' i she directly, "am I to ThW^v you wisb fco sPeak to me ? witW^k/uU yes' Si"ce 1 >ast conferred Whicl^which—^ade a C6rtain discoveiX SLbtgT grope about his pockets as he spoke, and at last pulled from his waistcoat a, folded paper, which he slowly straight- ened. "Perhaps, "he said, this will explain liufficieD tly," He handed her the crude sketch he had shown to the doctor, keeping a stern eve on the paper, which was folded at one corner. You identify this lady?" asked he, gently. She said she did, and she gave him a big brave look, though her toosrue ntnck to the roof of her mouth. This drawing," she whispered, is not of recent date. Whence did you get it ? Pardon me," said he, as she attempted to strighten the folded corner; "I will explain first. It was done some years ago under } distressing circumstances." II How fast she breathed now. j "They were the sad circumstances of a beautiful and cruelly-used girl, Mrs. Kynnes- ley," he continued mournfully, whom & hard fate had driven to the prisoner's dock. This sketch was taken of her as she stood |)il6F6 "Who did this?" she whispered, after a leaden silence; and he then turned back the folded corner, and suffered her to read the name inscribed there. Stephen Bond," he explained, was my stepfather, and this sketch has been found among his effects, along with letters written by Paul Rivington, the lawyer." "Thank you," she murmured. "Is there anything further you wish to say to me ? L "Nothing further." Then I will ask you to excuse me," she went on, always with that high and heroic look. I should like to be alone now." At this Davis bowed, and went to join the other two, who had returned to the room where they had previously met. He found the Doctor and his fair companion craning their necks out of the window, in the en- deavour to make sure of the identity of a certain individual who was then crossing the grounds. Oh, its certainly some visitor," Daphne was saying. How provoking." Randolph then caught sight of the de- tective. Here, Davis, you've got eyes like a hawk, I know. Is this our worthy curate or not ? said he. Davis turned red, then white, as he looked at the man now almost in a line with the old -mulberry tree on the front lawn. Great Heaven I its Fulke," he cried. Fulke I said the others, aghast. And he's escaped," added Davis. This is a surprise, if you like." The dectective glanced through the open- ing at the still sleeping master and drew the curtains more closely. "We'll have him in here," said he; "No one has noticed him, perhaps, and we shall want to know first how the land lies. Doctor, be on your guard, please and do you oblige me, Miss Daphne, by retiring at once. He may be armed, and so be dangerous." "Oh, let me stay," entreated Daphne. II I am not at all afraid of him, Mr. Davis." CHAPTER XXX. I THE CRITICAL MOMENT. I "POSSIBLY not; but why run any unneces- sary risk? Well, keep out of sight till we see what sort of a temper our visitor is in. Here he comes. Awst# with you, young lady, cried Davis. The two men-Kynnesley and the detec- tive-warily watched the approach of the man who, sure enough, was none other than the master of Fulke Court. Within a few yards of the garden-room window he halted. It is the unexpected that happens," saiél he, coolly. Warm, isn't it ? He drove his hat to the back of his head as he spoke, and leaned heavily upon the stone rail. The man was covered with dust, and looked ready to drop. You have escaped? asked Kynnesley. It looks like it-" "Then Dr. Moore Dr. Moore," put in Fulke sharply, U i. most likely a patient himself, my friend." What I said Randolph, dismayed, How so ?" Do you usually receive your visitors at the window? asked Fulke, drily. The two men looked at each other, whis- pered together, and then stepped back. Come up, please," said Davis; and Fulke slowly mounted the terrace stairs. As he entered the place, he saw Daphne, who stood trembling aside, and he looked at the girl with emotion. A chair stood near; into this he dropped involuntarily. "Pardon me," he murmured, "I'm dead beat." What about my friend Moore ? n asked the doctor, when Fulke had quenched his thirst. What has happened to him "Well, I was walking in the fields with the worthy man when he suddenly began to stagger about and called for Wade to come and help him. Then his eyes took to rolling, and he just slid down under a tree. As he fell, he put his hands up in a peculiar man- ner, and said, 4 Oh, my head, my head 1' and a sudden light flashed into my brain. I remembered so falling, and thinking that the end of all things had come. When the doctor went down, however, I thought my opportunity was arrived, and-well, here I am." But about Moore ? asked Randolph anxiously. I don't feel quite up to the mark, though." muttered Fulke, moodily. "For the life of me I couldn't remember what my name is; but I found my way here, you see." This he said directly to Davis, whom he regarded with gloomy interest. Who are you ? asked he abruptly. I seem to have met you before, but -11 "And did you leave Dr. Moore where he fell ? "put in Randolph, hastily. "Why, certainly," answered Fulke drily. Every one for himself, you know. Who is that man ? he muttered, uneasily regarding the detective. "Have I seen you before? Do you know me ? "Yes," said Davis. Who are you ? A friend, said the detective genially. v. It was then briefly arranged between Davis and the Doctor that a mounted messenger should at once take a letter, announcing the patient's arrival, to the authorities. The situation was now so complicated that the two men hardly knew what to do for the best; but they decided—hoping that the servants had not seen Fulke's arrival—to keep him close for the present. Davis, it was arranged, was to notify the temporary master of Fulke Court of the missing man's sudden appearance among them, and to bring him to the Hall. Where is-is-u said the Baron. Then he stopped and smote his forehead in dismay. "He means Rox," said Kynnesley. "Why I had forgotten all about her. Call her, Daphne, will you?" "I think not," interposed Davis thought- fully." I want first to settle a bit of business for myself. Baron, oblige me, please." As he spoke, he signalled Fulke forward to the curtained archway that divided the smaller room in which they were from the larger one less frequently used. In a line with this archway, where the light from the octagon window fell prone across him as he sat asleep in his armchair, was the master. "Ha!" said Fulke with kindling looks. He had found the missing link." You fought together ? whispered Davis promptingly. We did, and I fell." It was over the shoe you fought ? Yes. Where is it?" asked Fulke sav- agely. "Whose shoe was it, Baron?" said the detective. The other eyed him with suspicion. "Who are you?" asked he wrathfully. I've seen you lately, but where ? No, don't hold me, man; I won't have it." At this moment Doctor Kynnesley pulled Fulke back, and pointed to the window. Thence Davis saw the groom Sam who walked beside his horse, coming in company with another man towards the house. "That's Wade, the keeper," cried Davis. "Now, Baron, do you get out of the way, please, and leave this business to the Doctor and me." So saying, he drove Fulke behind the cur- tains, and then asked the Doctor to call the two men to the terrace steps, and admit them that way. I was halfway to Doctor Moore's place when I met this man," Sam explained, as he entered. "I didn't know him, but he comes up antr asks me the way to Squire Kynnes- ley's and when he tells me where he's from, and as how lie's got a message for you, Doctor, I thought I d better walk back with him before going any further." Right you are, my man," said Randolph heartily. Give me my letter. Wade can take any message back now. Thank you, Sam that'll do," and the groom went out. The secretary sent this, sir," said Wade, handing a letter to Doctor Kynnesley. "Mr. Mott's gone, sir; but, believe me or not, it's no fault of ours." "How is your master?" asked Randolph with concern. Prooty bad, sir still, he might ha' been worse. But-begging yo ur pardon, seeing you haven't read the letter-how did you known the governor's ill ? Mr. Mott told us," answered the Doctor. "What!" said the man agape. "You don't mean to say as he's come here, sir ? Mr. Mott's all right," said Davis serenely. What happened at your place ?" Well, it was like this, gentlemen. The master was walking out as per usual this morning with Mr. Mott, and he stayed away an uncommon long time. At last I goes after him, and there I finds him laying his after him, and there I finds him laying his full length under a tree with no sense in him whatever, andno signs of Mr. Mottanywhere. We [put it down to him, first go; but Doctor Young, that's attending on him, says no, and that it's all to do with what happened at the beginning o' the week, for one of the patients turned obstreperous, and hit the doctor an awful crack on the spine unawares. Weil, after the governor came to a bit, we told him about Mr. Mott, and the secretary had to write a letter that minute; and that's the letter I've brought, sir. The doctor said I was to ride over post-haste with it." Had Sam, the groom, any idea of your errand here ?" asked Davis thoughtfully. "No, sir; not from me, leastways. It wouldn't do to blab in our business." "Good," said Davis. "Now do you, my friend, get back to the asylum as fast as you can, and deliver a letter to your master, or to the secretary, in case the doctor isn't in a condition to receive it." Davis then briefly conferred with the Squire's brother, after which Randolph went to a side table and sat down to write. Wade was looking about him with per- plexed face. I'm blest if I can make things out," he muttered. Who'd ha' thought o' seeing you here, sir"—this was to the smiling Davis; and that young lady"—indicating the silent Daphne-" is one o' them two what came to the asylum that day you was there, sir. 1'11 swear to her." Rii,n (I ol pli here came forward with a letter, and handed it to Wade. "Begging your pardon, sir, but are you the Squire's brother?" asked the man, adding, as the Doctor nodded assent, "Then the gent's name wasn't Randolph at all ? "This gentleman is Doctor Randolph Kynnesley," said Davis. He merely left out a part of his name." "And who is Mr. Mott?" cried Wade. Hang me! but I shouldn't wonder if he turned out to be the lost 1, "You have a long way to go, and time presses, my friend." said Davis genially. "Mr. Mott is all right, and-that's all, I think. Good day," With that Keeper Wade took a respectful leave. Then Fulke came leisurely forward, and the little party looked at each other in silence. Suddenly the Baron put his hand on Davis's shoulder. I know you now," said he. You came with that man Wade to see me one day, and I saw you in the fields another time. Who are you? Why do you concern yourself with my affairs?" Because I am the man," answered Davis gravely, "whom your worthy cousin ap- pointed to hunt you out, living or dead, Baron." "My worthy cousin! What, Hubert!" muttered Fulke. "So he is at the Court in my place, is he ? Does he know I am here ? Not yet. I'm just off to take him the news, only I want to have a little talk with you first," said Davis. What sort of talk ? asked Fulke sullenly. "Business, you may be sure. That shoe, to begin with.' "Oli, dear," murmured Daphne, "I am sick of hearing of this shoe. Do you mean the old shoe that Sallie Waters lost, Mr. Davis?" I'm afraid," said the detective, that I do." Well, hadn't I better fetch Roxie ? pur- sued Daphne, addresing the Doctor. "Lether bide yet," answered Davis quickly; and the girl refrained, but unwillingly. It was just at this moment that thesluggish figure beyond the talkers stretched out one arm, then the other. Hearing the hum of voices, he leaned with dull wonder that way. "Baron," said Davis formally, you must admit that two men like you and the Squire do not fight over an old shoe unless its possession is of vital consequence. Now, I want to know where that shoe is." In safe keeping, I suppose, of the Squire, or his wife," answered Fulke. The sick man rose when he heard that. He crept a pace nearer, and listened greedily to the talk within. "Why did you get fighting over such a thing?" I decline to say," said Fulke fiercely. Oh, what does it all mean ? cried Daphne with dismay. "Mr. Davis, will you-- One moment," said the detective civilly; all in good time, young lady. You gave evidence, Baron, at the inquest, did you not ?" "A mere nothing," muttered Fulke evas- ively. "I am quite aware of your purpose to reserve a certain knowledge, Baron," pur- sued Davis, but I advise you to do what you can towards clearing up the origin of your quarrel with the Squire. Who struck the first blow?" "It seems to me," said Fulke, after a second's thought, "that we both plunged into each other at the same moment.' You had no suspicion, I suppose, of finding this tragical shoe in your friend's possession?" None whatever. I had dined here, as you will have heard, and having taken leave of the ladies, I went round by the back way to say good-night to the Squire, who was indis- posed, and had gone to his own place. As I approached, I saw him sitting at his writing- table, his face being half turned towards me; and from the prostrate air of the man I fancied he must be more seriously unwell than his people supposed. All at once I saw that old shoe, and I instantly divined the truth, and resolved that, by fair means or foul, I would secure it. Fortunately for my purpose, the Squire's door was ajar—the French window, that is-and pushing it slightly, I crept in. "I was so full of the idea of what the pos- session of that shoe meant for me, that my exultation got the better of me. A sound— il; was but a breath—escaped me as I put out my hand to grasp the coveted thing. The Squire instantly lifted his head. We just looked into each other's eyes. The next instant we were fighting for its possession. Of the issues of that combat you know more, I fancy, than I do. My last recollec- tion is of falling headlong into a fathomless pit, with the horrible consciousness that I had lost the shoe." "But what does all this mean?" cried Daphne wildly. "Why did you fight over this shoe, Baron?" "For the woman I love," answered Fulke fiercely, "as he did." Mi-ss Daphne," said Davis gravely, does it not strike you as strange that your sister's husband should make a secret treasure of a tramp's old shoe ?" You mistake," she cried staunchly. It can all be explained, I am sure. Rox will know. Let me fetch her." "Not yet," said the detective. "Now, may I ask you to bear in mind that, according to Baron Fulke's own statement, the two men fought for the woman they love ? As a rule, men do this only when such a woman is in some way or another in danger, Miss Daphne. Furthermore," Davis went on after a slight pause, you are aware that at the inquest our worthy doctor here men- tioned the possibility of the deceased having been poisoned." Roxana's husband clutched the curtains with quaking hands. Life and knowledge had flashed into the stunned faculties. Now, I have reason tosuppose," continued the detective, "that your sister was the last to see this woman alive. Such being the case, she should have appeared at the inquest; seeing that she did not, it becomes my busi- ness to inquire why not ? Again, for what reason was Squire Kynnesley hiding such a remarkable object as a tramp's old shoe, if not with the hope of shielding some person or another whom its discovery might com- promise ? Now let us suppose-just by way of argument-that this person was his wife, and-" "Liar!" shouted a hoarse voice behind him. The curtains were torn asunder, and the Squire burst in upon them. Simultan- eously Roxana herself appeared on the threshold of the adjoining roon>. Forbear," said she to her husband, who fell back as from an apparition. My time is come." You have heard all ? asked Davis gently. "Yes, in despite of myself," answered she. "I recognised Baron Fulke as he came to- wards the house, and retreated to the end room instead of going out, as you probably thought I had done." A dread silence fell upon the little group for the moment. Every mind was battling, more or less, with the sensations of the last hour. Roxana, vhose husband hung upon her looks, stood still and sombre in the shadow of the doorway and, watching that stricken but exalted face, Davis felt his courage ooze from his very finger-tips. It was a horrible necessity that bound him to put such a question to this woman; but, martyr as she bad been all along to circum- stances, it was more than probable that, in her desperate strait, she had become involved in Waters's death. He turned with solemnity towards Roxana, Xhe moment to put her to the test was come. (To be continued.)






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