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[ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.] THE MURDER AT NUMBER THIRTEEN: A Romance of Modem Life. BY JOHN K. LEYS, Author of The Lindsays," dtc. dsc. CHAPTER V. A NEW SUSPICION. HAD hardly reached my office next morning, when my clerk told me that the Major wished to See me. I was annoyed, but I could nob refuse iinyself to him. Muttering to myself, "Heshau'i get much out of me I told the clerk to show Uim in.. I had supposed that the Major had come to pnm Trie, but I was mistaken. His object in caiim. Was to suggest that I should accompany him il lnaking a more minute examination of the hoim No. 13, Sea View Gardens, and of the garden at f lu back, than it had yet received, except, perhaps, at the hands of the police. I consented at once. I had intended to inspect the premises later in the day, and I thought iI, might be no bad thing to have the Major as my companion, for though in some ways a fool, he was sharp of sight, and could draw an obscure infer- ence better than most men. We went down to the house, past the promenade frith its gay groups of merry, langhing, pleasure Seekers, and reached Sea View Gardens, which were built on a high part of the cliff overlooking the sea. The small crowd which bad gathered in front of the house the day before had not re- assembled. The presence of a policeman keeping guard at the door was the only indication that anything unusual had happened there. We went up the front walk, and I noticed that tny companion pointed to me with his thumb when the policeman glanced at us. This meant that Major Bond had not obtained leave to visit the Premises, as I supposed he had done, and that he had had recourse to me, who, as the prisoner's Solicitor, would naturally obtain such leave if it Were asked for, simply in order that he might have the means of gratifying his insatiable curiosity. ] felt rather annoyed, but the point did not seem Worth making a fuss about; so I said nothing. When we reached the lawn the Major began to enjoy himself. He pointed out to me with great exactness the spot where the body had been 'ying, describing most minutely all the details; dhe then began poking about everywhere, seelc- -Ing for footsteps on the hard-beaten gravel path, JO a fashion which on any other occasion would «ave struck me as highly comical. &c The inquest is to be held here at twelve, you know," he said to me; and it is highly necessary that I should make the examination before those tools come trampling over everything." When he said this he was down on his knees on the path, carefully subjecting that part of the lawn which was within his range oivision to the scrutiny of his small beady, black eyes. While he was at this work I sauntered off irite. the garden proper, which was divided from the lawn by a hedge of privet and sweet-briar. Thc- ,garden could not boast of a fine show of either flowers or vegetables. The space was not large, and it was occupied chiefly l y gooseberry and CUrrant bushes, among which were a few beds of carrots and turnips. I was looking vaguely at these things, at the path which led down to the high brick-wall which closed in the garden at the lower end, at the Wooden door which led into the back lane at the other side of the wall, at the two empty houses- numbers twelve and fourteen, one on either hand without making any effort to search for any. thing which might provide a clue to' the mystery of the murder. I left that to the Major. I had no talent for detective work, of this kind. How Sften I wished afterwards that I had not been so ■apathetic! As I stood in the garden-path—there was but èJdand tran in a. straight line from the house to Tii/r door in the wall the foot of the garden— Major Bond came up to me. I saw at once by the important look on his face that he had something to communicate. "You have discovered somethingV7 I said, .going up to him. "I have," he replied, pursing up his lips, as if he preferred to keep his own secret. Then apparently changing his mind, he came close to me, stood on tiptoe, so as to bring his lips close to my ear, and said in a loud impressive whisper- "There waS a woman here the night of the .murder Nonsense How do you know ? Come here." He led me back to the lawn, and made me kneel down on a spot which he carefully pointed out to me, four or five feet from the place where the body had been lying. Be careful!" cried the Major, or you will obliterate them!" You don't mean to tell me that you can make "Out the print of footsteps on this grass!" I ejaculated. "Not at all. Look closer and you will see," said the Major, glancing up at the house, as if he were afraid that some one would observe him. "Don't you see, he continued, "here—and here—and here I Now do you see it ? lIe was right. Close together on the smooth of the lawn were a number of small round holes, such as are to be seen on the smooth sand of -the seashore sometimes, when the tide has gone out, but smaller. "What made these holes?" asked the Major riumphantly. I should say, the point of a woman's parasol or ^'nbrella." Exactly; and, therefore, I say a woman was ure on the night of the murder." 'But these marks may have been .made days Before," I objected. j. No. They are much too fresh for that. no women ever come here. How should key i Yinet was a bachelor. Besides, Mrs. and her daughter have already declared to ? police that no one except your client, the Prisoner, visited Vinet for at least a week before s18 death. But it is plain from these marks that ,0lUe one has visited him—a woman. She must ^ave come secretly, at night, else Mrs. Collins or daughter v'ou'd have seen her. She must ^aVe come recently, else the marks would have destroyed by the natural pressure of the soil, j., hat more likely than that this secret visitor and ttiurderer are the same ? At is possible, of course and I quite appre- tor importance to Char—to my client, of any th"*0^ ^at a khird person was here that night. But i 18 does not prove it. It only shows that it may ,"e been so." y. Possible? It is certain! See—she stood here. iQet was standing where I am. She was angry— j. ^perated—undecided. Unconsciously, as she ^ked, upbraiding him—beseeching him—or what f will, she was all the time digging the point of Umbrella—it couldn't be a parasol, seeing that Was at night—digging the point of her umbrella the grass, He refused her petition; nriosfe for said something to insult or wound her, is more than probable thas she provoked 5 and then she drew a revolver, fired, and him ariic .^■aJor went through the motions of drawing th n§ a pistol; and I confess I,shuddered at the way in which his imagination recalled Ob:' But why did no one hear the shot ?" I odern revolvers make wonderfully little both' Said tiie Major; "and besides, as you see, khe adjoining houses are empty. Both If a under repair, as I have ascertained, ima °ne did hear shot, he would naturally a £ lne that it was somebody taking a pot-shot at ttoh ^Uding cafc- At any rate the shot was fired, it ? doubts that; and it matters little whether ^ard or not." Us trw j- hardly see how these marks can help ««- ^"Scover the murderer." than T°? Y°U • Then you must be more dense e] J jf took you for. You see, it is stiff clay soil, and would not have retained the marks so long, tlean" her damp. What lady ever thinks of n8 the stick of her umbrella? No one, because no women ever uses her umbrella stick, I and the clay must certainly have soiled it. Find a woman who has an umbrella with the lower part of the stiek soiled with clay and I will show you the murderer of Pierre Vinet." I laughed aloud. "Truly you build up a mighty edifice on the slenderest of foundations!" I cried. You would hang a woman because she has dirtied her umbrella And besides, who is to carry out the inspection of all the ladies' umbrellas in East- cliff? "It is not necessary to inspect them all, or one hundreth part of them," said the Major, quite undisturbed by my raillery. You have only got to discover the women who were intimate with the murdered man." He looked at me, as he said this, and I looked at him. One name was in the mind of each of us, the name of the girl in whose society Vinet had been so constantly during the season. It seemed absurd to suspect her; and yet—and yet the 'criminal records of the country are full of examples to show that the gentlest of women may, when smarting under a real or fancied wrong, become the victims of uncontrollable passion. We paced slowly in Indian file down the garden path, for it was not wide enough to allow of our walking comfortably side by side. The Major went first and I followed. We passed under a wire archway, of the kind so common in the gardens of suburban villas aud at I that spot the sweetbriar which helped to compose the hedge that separated the lawn from the kitchen garden had thrown out shoots that ought to have been pruned away. We passed through the archway, walking carefully to avoid being scratched; and all at once the Major came to a full stop. On the other side of the path from the sweet- briar was a gooseberry bush, and his eye had lighted on what seemed to me a morsel of waste paper that was hanging from one of the branches. He stooped, cut off the twig from which it was hanging, and then proceeded with the utmost cara to disentangle it from the thorns which held it. I It was a piece of lace A fragment, perhaps two inches long at the most, by an inch-and-a-half I broad. "From a woman's dress," said the Major gravely, spreading it out on the palm of his hand, "Rea she saw the aateeibriar had" and&yoidwS t, and in doing so she caught her dress on Lile gooseberry bush opposite, which in the darkness she did not see. And she has left this memorial of her visit behind her. It may be a serious matter for her." I suppose you will give that to the police ? said I after a pause. "If you think that for your client's sake it ought to be produced at once, I will do so, said the Major after a moment's pause; "otherwise, I think I should prefer to wait a little, and probe the matter a little further before speaking of it to anyone." I saw that the Major's instinct for the ferret- ting out of the obscure was urging him on but the absurd, restless, flighty manner that used to distinguish him had vanished. The gravity of the situation had sobered him. I answered him that so far as I could see at present it would do my client no particular good to have the fact that a lady had visited Vinet disclosed now rather than later and upon hearing this the Major stowed the fragment of lace care- fully away in his pocket-book. We went over the garden together, but found nothing of any interest. The garden door which led into the back lane was not looked, indeed it was slightly ajar. We left it as it was, and went back to the house, where preparations for the inquest were already being made. CHAPTER VL YOU WILL NOT BETRAY ME?" I THAT fining as I was taking a turn on the to get an appetite for dinner I met Ida Braithwaite. She was alone and as soon as she caught sight of me she came up to me, and intimated by a gesture that she wished to speak to me. Her face was deathly in its paleness, but her manner was wonderfully composed. "Hâve you been fit the inquest ? she asked in a cold, hard voice, quite unlike her own. U Yes I have been there all day." What—what was the verdict?" A kind of spasm shook her, so that I thought she was about to fall to the ground, and I was at her side in an instant. Please take my arm," I said. "Or, here is a bench. Let us sit down for a minute or two." "Why do you torture me? What was the verdict?" "The jury returned what we call an open verdict—that the deceased came by his death by a pistol shot, but that there was not sufficient evidence to show who fired the pistol." "Thank God! Oh, thank God! And Mr. Protheroe—has he been set at liberty ? Not yet. The police are not satisfied they wish to take time-to see whether they can collect more evidence." What more evidence can they want ? Mr. Protheroe has given them a perfectly rational account of his being in the house." I said nothing but I remembered what Major Bond bad told me about the state of the drawers and other receptacles in the house. They had shown signs of having been ransacked; and the inference was that it was Protheroe that had done this. It was not surprising that they should refuse to set him at liberty. "Suppose we sit down for a minute," I said, leading the way to the seat I had mentioned. She sat down beside me, but as we each turned I towards the other, we were almost facing each I other. Could her agitation, concealed in part, yet evi- dent enough to anyone with an observant eye, be merely due to a friendly interest in Charley's welfare? It seemed hardly, possible, unless she were in love with him, which I did net think was the case, or unless he were running into dange)- to shield her. This thought had been in my mind when I visited Charley in his cell. He was certainly keeping back something. It could not be on his own account. It must be for her sake. What, then, would my duty be, if his own interests and hers should come into collision ? To speak plainly -if I saw my way to clearing my client at the cost of implicating, or of throwing suspicion upou Ida, what was I to do ? My eyes were cast down, as I pondered the question. I felt that her eyes were fixed upon my face. I did not know what was before my eyes; if they had been suddenly bandaged I could not for my life have told what I had last seen, when suddenly I came, as it were, to myself with a start so violent that it attracted my companion's attention. What is it ? What is the matter ? she asked, I dul not answer her, I could not. I was staring at the point of her umbrella,. The stick was of some light-coloured wood, as light as satin- wood, and it was stained, from the ferrule to the silk, with dark, clayey stains., What have you been doing with your umbrella?" I asked, impulsively. "My umbrella?" (looking at it, then at me, with surprise) "nothing. "It is stained with mud, you see. Have you a habit of poking it into the ground. you remember doing so lately ?' "What a strange question! And how solemn you look over it! No—I do not think I bad that habit. I might do it, perhaps, if I were greatly excited. Why do you ask ? Miss Braithwaite, were you at Number ± 1 teen Sea View Gardens, on the night when--No, no What am I saying ? Don't answer me unless you choose. I—I have no right to question you. Pray, please don't look at me like that! I was thinking of my client, of Charley Protheroe. But I had no right to question you. Please forget what I said." It was nearly a minute, I should think, before she was able to utter a word; but all the time she j gazed at me with a terrified expression that I could not bear to see in her face. How do you know ?" The words came in a hollow voice that at any other time would have made me shudder. I could not answer her. I I could only look at the tell-tale umbrella and back to her. She put out her little hand timidly, and laid it on the sleeve of my coat. ■ You won't betray me ? I went to my rooms, and dined; and I had just lit my pipe when Major Bond was announced. I fear that the heartfelt groan with which I received the announcement of his name must have been overheard by the gallant Major, as he stood in the hall; but if it were so, he betrayed nothing by his manner when he entered the room. Waiting until we were quite alone, he came up to me with an air of mystery, and said- "Prepare yourself for a surprise, Clavering." Another wonderful discovery ? I said lightly, but my heart sank within me. "Well, I think that, considering how slender the clue was, it is pretty creditable. I have found the name of the lady who visited poor Vinet on the Eight of his death." No, no, Major. Not so fast. But excuse me; won't you have anything to drink ?" ThaI Major shook his head impatiently, as much as to say that my frivolty was highly displeasing to him. I ought to have beer impressed, awed, overwhelmed with a sense of the Major's penetration and acumen. You were saying ?" he asked almost fiercely. I was saying that you may have discovered the name of a lady who called on Mr. Vinet within the last six weeks,-let us say. Probably he had a dozen visitors during that time, and it is quite likely that more than one of them was a lady. But, of course, all this has occurred to you already." "Nonsense!" cried the Major. "The holes in the turf are fresh, yet they are just visible to-day. They will be gone to-morrow. Six weeks True. I was thinking of-" Of the bit of lace. Well, I daresay you will agroe with me that the same lady who made the punctures in the turf left that scrap of lace on the gooseberry bush ? "That may or may not be," said I, affecting an air of profound caution. Well, it is likely, at all events. I think it is a certainty. And what I came to tell you is that the morsel of lace was torn off a dress belonging to Miss Braithwaite.—You look disappointed Do I ? I suppose, lawyer like, I was consider- ing the matter from the point of view of my client. I thought it possible that you might have brought me the name of a person who might, perhaps, be the gtllilty person, and in this way do Charley Protheroe a service. But Miss Braithwaite!" "More unlikely things have happened," said Major Bond, doggedly. I treated his hint with silent disdain but all the time my heart was beating painfully. Even then I knew, though I would not acknowledge it even to myself, that I was almost as anxious to shield Ida as I was to get Charley out of gaol. Well," said the Major, rising, I suppose it is for the police to say what importance they attach to these discoveries." This startled me with a vengeance. "The police!" I cried. "My dear Major, you surely don't mean to say that you are going to accuse a girl like Ida Braithwaite of—good heavens !-of committing a murder, on the strength of such evidence as that ?" I accuse nobody of anything. I state certain facts which have come under my own observation to the police. That's all. And I consider it to be the part of every good subject of thoiQueen- "Pardon me," I interrupted. He sat down again at once, and assuming the manner of an Italian conspirator with a touch of the French detective, told me that his lips were sealed. "It wa's through the maid, I suppose," said I, ignoring the scruples. A very handsome girl, too, though I don't yearn much after these Italian wenches myself. I would prefer to have an English girl about me if I were a lady. So she let you see the dress from which the lace was torn ? My visitor nodded. So another person knew poor Ida's dreadful secret! How long 'would it remain a secret ? "And she would have told me more, 1 feel sure, had it not been that some one came in just when she was becoming confidential, and she had to scurry out of the way as fast as her nimble feet would carry her. Confound the fellow! What business had he to be calling on the Braithwaites, or anybody else at that hour—half-past nine at night I" 'I Who was it ? I asked; with a languid show of interest. That fellow Dangerfield." Dangerfield I I didn't know that he was acquainted with the Braithwaites at all; and I cannot imagine how he should have the cheek to call after regulation hours." "Nor I. But there he was, and I felt that I had to leave. I should like to know just what he was doing there," continued the Major in an absent tone, caressing his moustache at the same time. I should think it might be well worth while to make some enquiries on the point," said I so gravely that I hoped the Major would not notice that I was speaking ironically—" but in the meantime, if I were you I would say nothing about your discoveries, either to the police or to anyone else. For one thiug, it might bring down an action for libel upon you from the young lady, or her father sueing in her name. That would be very unpleasant." It was odd to see how the Major's round, jolly little face took on an alarmed expression as the ominous words "action for libel" crossed my lips, But he wanted to argue the point, a thing I didn't care to do. "At all events," said I, "We are not used to the amateur detective in England, and I think it is only fair to tell you my impression, that if it gets to be known that you have been working in that way you will incur an amount of popular odium that you would shrink from encountering," "Good heavens Then do you mean to tell me that people do not care to aid the administration of justice, that they are wholly selfish and mean- spirited, that I don't know about that, Major," I said, with affected carelessness. "I think the English have a great idea of a man's attending to his own business." For the life of me, I could not help it; but I sustained the Major's angry and suspicious stare with so much composure that he began to think that I had meant nothing. And what is to be the fate of this discovery mine ?" he asked, angrily, as if his discovery were an infant born to an inheritance of a hundred thousand per annum, whom I was proposing to strangle out of the hand. "Is it to be ignored altogether ?" "By no means," said I; "but the case is a difficult one to advise oit. I must see my client again before I can say what view he would take of the matter, and after all he is the principal person concerned. And very likely I should want to take counsel's opinion. You may depend upon it that if my client's interests seem to demand it. I will not be slow to use the weapon which your keen observation and sagacity have put in my wav." Her voice shook. Her sweet blue eyes were filled with tears. No of course not. That is, not unless my duty to Charley I stopped. He is my client, you know," were the words on my tongue, but I could not utter them. It seemed so cold- blooded to prefer one to another in this way in a matter of life and death. And yet, surely it could not be my duty to shield the girl at the expense of him who was not only my friend and my client, but also (I .was convinced) an innocent man. "Does anyone else know?" she said, almost in a whisper. Yes—that is, no-not yet. But one person at least knows that a lady was at Sea View Gardens probably at night; and it is quite possible that another as well as I, may form an idea as to the identity of the lady." How did you know I was there ? How did you guess ? J It was discovered that a lady had stood talking with Mr. Vinet on the lawn not long since, for the marks of her umbrella as she had poked the point of it into the soft turf were there to-day. Then I noticed that your umbrella was soiled, and I knew that you and Vinet were on intimate terms, so I jumped to the conclusion. But, of course, you will have your umbrella stick cleaned the moment you go home, and-and, perhaps, no one but myself will ever know that you were there I rose hurriedly and left her, for I did not wish to say more, and though I pitied her sincerely, I did not dare to shield her at the expense of Protheroe. The injustice of such a line of action was too patent. This seemed to soothe the old boy's feelings, and 'II he smiled as he held out his hand. "Well, I will hold my tongue for the present. And in the meantime ? There seems to be nothing for me to do." "Don't you think," said I, catching up (so to speak) the stone that lay nearest to my hand- Don't you think that it would be a capital thing if we could find out what that little scamp Dangerfield, that no one knows anything about, was doing at Mr. Braithwaite's house at half-past nine-that was the time, I think you said?—at half-past nine in the evening ? The Major shook his head gravely at the suggestion. Whether he meant that the task was beyond his powers, or that it was beneath his notice, or that he had discovered that I was- chaffing him, I could not quite determine. ( To be continued. ) .0-









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