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The Mystery of a Hansom Cab
by
Fergus Hume




PREFACE



In its original form, "The Mystery of a Hansom Cab" has reached the
sale of 375,000 copies in this country, and some few editions in the
United States of America. Notwithstanding this, the present publishers
have the best of reasons for believing, that there are thousands of
persons whom the book has never reached. The causes of this have
doubtless been many, but chief among them was the form of the
publication itself. It is for this section of the public chiefly that
the present edition is issued. In placing it before my new readers, I
have been asked by the publishers thoroughly to revise the work, and,
at the same time, to set at rest the many conflicting reports
concerning it and myself, which have been current since its initial
issue. The first of these requests I have complied with, and the many
typographic, and other errors, which disfigured the first edition,
have, I think I can safely say, now disappeared. The second request I
am about to fulfil; but, in order to do so, I must ask my readers to go
back with me to the beginning of all things, so far as this special
book is concerned.

The writing of the book was due more to accident than to design.
I was bent on becoming a dramatist, but, being quite unknown, I found
it impossible to induce the managers of the Melbourne Theatres to
accept, or even to read a play. At length it occurred to me I might
further my purpose by writing a novel. I should at all events secure a
certain amount of local attention. Up to that time I had written only
one or two short stories, and the "Cab" was not only the first book I
ever published, but the first book I ever wrote; so to youth and lack
of experience must be ascribed whatever was wanting in the book. I
repeat that the story was written only to attract local attention, and
no one was more astonished than I when it passed beyond the narrow
circle for which it had originally been intended.

My mind made up on this point, I enquired of a leading Melbourne
bookseller what style of book he sold most of He replied that the
detective stories of Gaboriau had a large sale; and as, at this time, I
had never even heard of this author, I bought all his works--eleven or
thereabouts--and read them carefully. The style of these stories
attracted me, and I determined to write a book of the same class;
containing a mystery, a murder, and a description of low life in
Melbourne. This was the origin of the "Cab." The central idea i.e. the
murder in a cab--came to me while driving at a late hour to St. Kilda,
a suburb of Melbourne; but it took some time and much thought to work
it out to a logical conclusion. I was two months sketching out
the skeleton of the novel, but even so, when I had written it, the
result proved unsatisfactory, for I found I had not sufficiently well
concealed the mystery upon which the whole interest of the book
depended. In the first draft I made Frettlby the criminal, but on
reading over the M.S. I found that his guilt was so obvious that I wrote
out the story for a second time, introducing the character of Moreland
as a scape-goat. Mother Guttersnipe I unearthed in the slums off Little
Bourke Street; and I gave what I am afraid was perhaps too vivid a
picture of her language and personality. These I have toned down in the
present edition. Calton and the two lodging-house keepers were actual
personages whom I knew very well, and I do not think I have exaggerated
their idiosyncracies, although many have, I believe, doubted the
existence of such oddities. All the scenes in the book, especially the
slums, are described from personal observation; and I passed a great
many nights in Little Bourke Street, gathering material.

Having completed the book, I tried to get it published, but every one
to whom I offered it refused even to look at the manuscript on the
ground that no Colonial could write anything worth reading. They gave
no reason for this extraordinary opinion, but it was sufficient for
them, and they laughed to scorn the idea that any good could come out
of Nazareth--i.e., the Colonies. The story thus being boycotted on all
hands, I determined to publish it myself, and accordingly an edition
of, I think, some five thousand copies was brought out at my own
cost. Contrary to the expectations of the publishers, and I must add to
my own, the whole edition went off in three weeks, and the public
demanded a second. This also sold rapidly, and after some months,
proposals were made to me that the book should be brought out in
London. Later on I parted with the book to several speculators, who
formed themselves into what they called "The Hansom Cab Publishing
Company." Taking the book to London, they published it there with great
success, and it had a phenomenal sale, which brought in a large sum of
money. The success was, in the first instance, due, in no small degree,
to a very kind and generous criticism written by Mr. Clement Scott. I
may here state that I had nothing to do with the Company, nor did I
receive any money for the English sale of the book beyond what I sold
it for; and, as a matter of fact, I did not arrive in England until a
year after the novel was published I have heard it declared that the
plot is founded on a real criminal case; but such a statement is
utterly without foundation, as the story is pure fiction from beginning
to end. Several people before and since my arrival in England, have
assumed the authorship of the book to themselves; and one gentleman
went so far as to declare that he would shoot me if I claimed to have
written it. I am glad to say that up to the present he has not carried
out his intention. Another individual had his cards printed, "Fergus
Hume. Author of 'The Mystery of a Hansom Cab,'" and also added the
price for which he was prepared to write a similar book. Many of
the papers put this last piece of eccentricity down to my account.

I may state in conclusion, that I belong to New Zealand, and not to
Australia, that I am a barrister, and not a retired policeman, that I
am yet two decades off fifty years of age, that Fergus Hume is my real
name, and not a nom-de-plume; and finally, that far from making a
fortune out of the book, all I received for the English and American
rights, previous to the issue of this Revised Edition by my present
publishers, was the sum of fifty pounds. With this I take my leave, and
I trust that the present edition may prove as successful as did the
first.




CHAPTER I.



WHAT THE ARGUS SAID.


The following report appeared in the Argus newspaper of Saturday, the
28th July, 18--

"Truth is said to be stranger than fiction, and certainly the
extraordinary murder which took place in Melbourne on Thursday night,
or rather Friday morning, goes a long way towards verifying this
saying. A crime has been committed by an unknown assassin, within a
short distance of the principal streets of this great city, and is
surrounded by an inpenetrable mystery. Indeed, from the nature of the
crime itself, the place where it was committed, and the fact that the
assassin has escaped without leaving a trace behind him, it would seem
as though the case itself had been taken bodily from one of Gaboreau's
novels, and that his famous detective Lecoq alone would be able to
unravel it. The facts of the case are simply these:--

"On the twenty-seventh day of July, at the hour of twenty
minutes to two o'clock in the morning, a hansom cab drove up to the
police station in Grey Street, St. Kilda, and the driver made the
startling statement that his cab contained the body of a man who he had
reason to believe had been murdered. "Being taken into the presence of
the inspector, the cabman, who gave his name as Malcolm Royston,
related the following strange story:--

"At the hour of one o'clock in the morning, he was driving down Collins
Street East, when, as he was passing the Burke and Wills' monument, he
was hailed by a gentleman standing at the corner by the Scotch Church.
He immediately drove up, and saw that the gentleman who hailed him was
supporting the deceased, who appeared to be intoxicated. Both were in
evening dress, but the deceased had on no overcoat, while the other
wore a short covert coat of a light fawn colour, which was open. As
Royston drove up, the gentleman in the light coat said, 'Look here,
cabby, here's some fellow awfully tight, you'd better take him home!'

"Royston then asked him if the drunken man was his friend, but this the
other denied, saying that he had just picked him up from the footpath,
and did not know him from Adam. At this moment the deceased turned his
face up to the light of the lamp under which both were standing, and
the other seemed to recognise him, for he recoiled a pace, letting the
drunken man fall in a heap on the pavement, and gasping out 'You?' he
turned on his heel, and walked rapidly away down Russell Street in the
direction of Bourke Street.

"Royston was staring after him, and wondering at his, strange conduct,
when he was recalled to himself by the voice of the deceased, who had
struggled to his feet, and was holding on to the lamp-post, swaying to
and fro. 'I wan' g'ome,' he said in a thick voice, 'St. Kilda.'
He then tried to get into the cab, but was too drunk to do so, and
finally sat down again on the pavement. Seeing this, Royston got down,
and lifting him up, helped him into the cab with some considerable
difficulty. The deceased fell back into the cab, and seemed to drop off
to sleep; so, after closing the door, Royston turned to remount his
driving-seat, when he found the gentleman in the light coat whom he had
seen holding up the deceased, close to his elbow. Royston said, 'Oh,
you've come back,' and the other answered, 'Yes, I've changed my mind,
and will see him home.' As he said this he opened the door of the cab,
stepped in beside the deceased, and told Royston to drive down to St.
Kilda. Royston, who was glad that the friend of the deceased had come
to look after him, drove as he had been directed, but near the Church
of England Grammar School, on the St. Kilda Road, the gentleman in the
light coat called out to him to stop. He did so, and the gentleman got
out of the cab, closing the door after him.

"'He won't let me take him home,' he said, 'so I'll just walk back to
the city, and you can drive him to St. Kilda.'

"'What street, sir?' asked Royston.

"'Grey Street, I fancy,' said the other, 'but my friend will direct you
when you get to the Junction.' "'Ain't he too much on, sir?' said
Royston, dubiously.

"'Oh, no! I think he'll be able to tell you where he lives--it's Grey
Street or Ackland Street, I fancy. I don't know which.'

"He then opened the door of the cab and looked in. 'Good night, old
man,' he said--the other apparently did not answer, for the gentleman
in the light coat, shrugging his shoulders, and muttering 'sulky
brute,' closed the door again. He then gave Royston half-a-sovereign,
lit a cigarette, and after making a few remarks about the beauty
of the night, walked off quickly in the direction of Melbourne. Royston
drove down to the Junction, and having stopped there, according to his
instructions he asked his 'fare' several times where he was to drive
him to. Receiving no response and thinking that the deceased was too
drunk to answer, he got down from his seat, opened the door of the cab,
and found the deceased lying back in the corner with a handkerchief
across his mouth. He put out his hand with the intention of rousing
him, thinking that he had gone to sleep. But on touching him the
deceased fell forward, and on examination, to his horror, he found that
he was quite dead. Alarmed at what had taken place, and suspecting the
gentleman in the light coat, he drove to the police station at St.
Kilda, and there made the above report. The body of the deceased was
taken out of the cab and brought into the station, a doctor being sent
for at once. On his arrival, however, he found that life was quite
extinct, and also discovered that the handkerchief which was tied
lightly over the mouth was saturated with chloroform. He had no
hesitation in stating that from the way in which the handkerchief was
placed, and the presence of chloroform, that a murder had been
committed, and from all appearances the deceased died easily, and
without a struggle. The deceased is a slender man, of medium height,
with a dark complexion, and is dressed in evening dress, which will
render identification difficult, as it is a costume which has no
distinctive mark to render it noticeable. There were no papers or cards
found on the deceased from which his name could be discovered, and the
clothing was not marked in any way. The handkerchief, however, which
was tied across his mouth, was of white silk, and marked in one of the
corners with the letters 'O.W.' in red silk. The assassin, of course,
may have used his own handkerchief to commit the crime, so that
if the initials are those of his name they may ultimately lead to his
detection. There will be an inquest held on the body of the deceased
this morning, when, no doubt, some evidence may be elicited which may
solve the mystery."

In Monday morning's issue of the ARGUS the following article appeared
with reference to the matter:--

"The following additional evidence which has been obtained may throw
some light on the mysterious murder in a hansom cab of which we gave a
full description in Saturday's issue:--'Another hansom cabman called
at the police office, and gave a clue which will, no doubt, prove of
value to the detectives in their search for the murderer. He states
that he was driving up the St. Kilda Road on Friday morning about
halfpast one o'clock, when he was hailed by a gentleman in a light
coat, who stepped into the cab and told him to drive to Powlett Street,
in East Melbourne. He did so, and, after paying him, the gentleman got
out at the corner of Wellington Parade and Powlett Street and walked
slowly up Powlett Street, while the cab drove back to town. Here all
clue ends, but there can be no doubt in the minds of our readers as to
the identity of the man in the light coat who got out of Royston's cab
on the St. Kilda Road, with the one who entered the other cab and
alighted therefrom at Powlett Street. There could have been no
struggle, as had any taken place the cabman, Royston, surely would have
heard the noise. The supposition is, therefore, that the deceased was
too drunk to make any resistance, and that the other, watching his
opportunity, placed the handkerchief saturated with chloroform over the
mouth of his victim. Then after perhaps a few ineffectual struggles the
latter would succumb to the effects of his inhalation. The man in the
light coat, judging from his conduct before getting into the cab,
appears to have known the deceased, though the circumstance of
his walking away on recognition, and returning again, shows that his
attitude towards the deceased was not altogether a friendly one.

"The difficulty is where to start from in the search after the author
of what appears to be a deliberate murder, as the deceased seems to be
unknown, and his presumed murderer has escaped. But it is impossible
that the body can remain long without being identified by someone, as
though Melbourne is a large city, yet it is neither Paris nor London,
where a man can disappear in a crowd and never be heard of again. The
first thing to be done is to establish the identity of the deceased,
and then, no doubt, a clue will be obtained leading to the detection of
the man in the light coat who appears to have been the perpetrator of
the crime. It is of the utmost importance that the mystery in which the
crime is shrouded should be cleared up, not only in the interests of
justice, but also in those of the public--taking place as it did in a
public conveyance, and in the public street. To think that the author
of such a crime is at present at large, walking in our midst, and
perhaps preparing for the committal of another, is enough to shake the
strongest nerves. In one of Du Boisgobey's stories, entitled 'An
Omnibus Mystery,' a murder closely resembling this tragedy takes place
in an omnibus, but we question if even that author would have been
daring enough to write about a crime being committed in such an
unlikely place as a hansom cab. Here is a great chance for some of our
detectives to render themselves famous, and we feel sure that they will
do their utmost to trace the author of this cowardly and dastardly
murder."




CHAPTER II.



THE EVIDENCE AT THE INQUEST.


At the inquest held on the body found in the hansom cab the following
articles taken from the deceased were placed on the table:--

1. Two pounds ten shillings in gold and silver.

2. The white silk handkerchief which was saturated with chloroform, and
was found tied across the mouth of the deceased, marked with the
letters O.W. in red silk.

3. A cigarette case of Russian leather, half filled with "Old Judge"
cigarettes. 4. A left-hand white glove of kid--rather soiled--with
black seams down the back. Samuel Gorby, of the detective office, was
present in order to see if anything might be said by the witnesses
likely to point to the cause or to the author of the crime.

The first witness called was Malcolm Royston, in whose cab the crime
had been committed. He told the same story as had already appeared in
the ARGUS, and the following facts were elicited by the Coroner:--

Q. Can you give a description of the gentleman in the light coat, who
was holding the deceased when you drove up?

A. I did not observe him very closely, as my attention was taken
up by the deceased; and, besides, the gentleman in the light coat was
in the shadow.

Q Describe him from what you saw of him.

A. He was fair, I think, because I could see his moustache, rather
tall, and in evening dress, with a light coat over it. I could not see
his face very plainly, as he wore a soft felt hat, which was pulled
down over his eyes.

Q. What kind of hat was it he wore--a wide-awake?

A. Yes. The brim was turned down, and I could see only his mouth and
moustache.

Q. What did he say when you asked him if he knew the deceased?

A. He said he didn't; that he had just picked him up.

Q. And afterwards he seemed to recognise him?

A. Yes. When the deceased looked up he said "You!" and let him fall on
to the ground; then he walked away towards Bourke Street.

Q. Did he look back?

A. Not that I saw.

Q. How long were you looking after him?

A. About a minute.

Q. And when did you see him again?

A. After I put deceased into the cab I turned round and found him at my
elbow.

Q. And what did he say?

A. I said, "Oh! you've come back," and he said, "Yes, I've changed my
mind, and will see him home," and then he got into the cab, and told me
to drive to St. Kilda.

Q. He spoke then as if he knew the deceased?

A. Yes; I thought that he recognised him only when he looked up, and
perhaps having had a row with him walked away, but thought he'd come
back.

Q. Did you see him coming back?

A. No; the first I saw of him was at my elbow when I turned.

Q. And when did he get out? A. Just as I was turning down by the
Grammar School on the St. Kilda Road.

Q. Did you hear any sounds of fighting or struggling in the cab during
the drive?

A. No; the road was rather rough, and the noise of the wheels going
over the stones would have prevented my hearing anything.

Q. When the gentleman in the light coat got out did he appear
disturbed?

A. No; he was perfectly calm.

Q. How could you tell that?

A. Because the moon had risen, and I could see plainly.

Q. Did you see his face then?

A. No; his hat was pulled down over it. I only saw as much as I did
when he entered the cab in Collins Street.

Q. Were his clothes torn or disarranged in any way?

A. No; the only difference I remarked in him was that his coat was
buttoned.

Q. And was it open when he got in?

A. No; but it was when he was holding up the deceased.

Q. Then he buttoned it before he came back and got into the cab?

A. Yes. I suppose so.

Q. What did he say when he got out of the cab on the St. Kilda Road?

A. He said that the deceased would not let him take him home, and that
he would walk back to Melbourne.

Q. And you asked him where you were to drive the deceased to?

A. Yes; and he said that the deceased lived either in Grey
Street or Ackland Street, St. Kilda, but that the deceased would direct
me at the Junction.

Q. Did you not think that the deceased was too drunk to direct you?

A. Yes, I did; but his friend said that the sleep and the shaking of
the cab would sober him a bit by the time I got to the Junction.

Q. The gentleman in the light coat apparently did not know where the
deceased lived?

A. No; he said it was either in Ackland Street or Grey Street.

Q. Did you not think that curious?

A. No; I thought he might be a club friend of the deceased.

Q. For how long did the man in the light coat talk to you?

A. About five minutes.

Q. And during that time you heard no noise in the cab?

A. No; I thought the deceased had gone to sleep.

Q. And after the man in the light coat said "good-night" to the
deceased, what happened?

A. He lit a cigarette, gave me a half-sovereign, and walked off towards
Melbourne.

Q. Did you observe if the gentleman in the light coat had his
handkerchief with him?

A. Oh, yes; because he dusted his boots with it. The road was very dusty.

Q. Did you notice any striking peculiarity about him?

A. Well, no; except that he wore a diamond ring.

Q. What was there peculiar about that?

A. He wore it on the forefinger of the right hand, and I never saw it
that way before.

Q. When did you notice this?

A. When he was lighting his cigarette.

Q. How often did you call to the deceased when you got to the
Junction?

A. Three or four times. I then got down, and found he was quite dead.

Q. How was he lying?

A. He was doubled up in the far corner of the cab, very much. in the
same position as I left him when I put him in. His head was hanging on
one side, and there was a handkerchief across his mouth. When I touched
him he fell into the other corner of the cab, and then I found out he
was dead. I immediately drove to the St. Kilda police station and told
the police.

At the conclusion of Royston's evidence, during which Gorby had been
continually taking notes, Robert Chinston was called. He deposed:--

I am a duly qualified medical practitioner, residing in Collins Street
East. I made a POST-MORTEM examination of the body of the deceased on
Friday.

Q. That was within a few hours of his death?

A. Yes, judging from the position of the handkerchief and the presence
of chloroform that the deceased had died from the effects of
ANAESTHESIA, and knowing how rapidly the poison evaporates I made the
examination at once.

Coroner: Go on, sir.

Dr. Chinston: Externally, the body was healthy-looking and well
nourished. There were no marks of violence. The staining apparent at
the back of the legs and trunk was due to POST-MORTEM congestion.
Internally, the brain was hyperaemic, and there was a considerable
amount of congestion, especially apparent in the superficial vessels.
There was no brain disease. The lungs were healthy, but slightly
congested. On opening the thorax there was a faint spirituous odour
discernible. The stomach contained about a pint of completely
digested food. The heart was flaccid. The right-heart contained a
considerable quantity of dark, fluid blood. There was a tendency to
fatty degeneration of that organ.

I am of opinion that the deceased died from the inhalation of some such
vapour as chloroform or methylene.

Q. You say there was a tendency to fatty degeneration of the heart?
Would that have anything to do with the death of deceased?

A. Not of itself. But chloroform administered while the heart was in
such a state would have a decided tendency to accelerate the fatal
result. At the same time, I may mention. that the POST-MORTEM signs of
poisoning by chloroform are mostly negative.

Dr. Chinston was then permitted to retire, and Clement Rankin, another
hansom cabman, was called. He deposed: I am a cabman, living in
Collingwood, and usually drive a hansom cab. I remember Thursday last.
I had driven a party down to St. Kilda, and was returning about
half-past one o'clock. A short distance past the Grammar School I was
hailed by a gentleman in a light coat; he was smoking a cigarette, and
told me to drive him to Powlett Street, East Melbourne. I did so, and
he got out at the corner of Wellington Parade and Powlett Street. He
paid me half-a-sovereign for my fare, and then walked up Powlett
Street, while I drove back to town.

Q. What time was it when you stopped at Powlett Street?

A. Two o'clock exactly.

Q. How do you know?

A. Because it was a still night, and I heard the Post Office clock
strike two o'clock.

Q. Did you notice anything peculiar about the man in the light coat?

A. No! He looked just the same as anyone else. I thought he was
some swell of the town out for a lark. His hat was pulled down over his
eyes, and I could not see his face.

Q. Did you notice if he wore a ring?

A. Yes! I did. When he was handing me the half-sovereign, I saw he had
a diamond ring on the forefinger of his right hand.

Q. He did not say why he was on the St. Kilda Road at such an hour?

A. No! He did not.

Clement Rankin was then ordered to stand down, and the Coroner then
summed up in an address of half-an-hour's duration. There was, he
pointed out, no doubt that the death of the deceased had resulted not
from natural causes, but from the effects of poisoning. Only slight
evidence had been obtained up to the present time regarding the
circumstances of the case, but the only person who could be accused of
committing the crime was the unknown man who entered the cab with the
deceased on Friday morning at the corner of the Scotch Church, near the
Burke and Wills' monument. It had been proved that the deceased, when
he entered the cab, was, to all appearances, in good health, though in
a state of intoxication, and the fact that he was found by the cabman,
Royston, after the man in the light coat had left the cab, with a
handkerchief, saturated with chloroform, tied over his mouth, would
seem to show that he had died through the inhalation of chloroform,
which had been deliberately administered. All the obtainable evidence
in the case was circumstantial, but, nevertheless, showed conclusively
that a crime had been committed. Therefore, as the circumstances of the
case pointed to one conclusion, the jury could not do otherwise than
frame a verdict in accordance with that conclusion.

The jury retired at four o'clock, and, after an absence of a quarter of
an hour, returned with the following verdict:--

"That the deceased, whose name there is no evidence to
determine, died on the 27th day of July, from the effects of poison,
namely, chloroform, feloniously administered by some person unknown;
and the jury, on their oaths, say that the said unknown person
feloniously, wilfully, and maliciously did murder the said deceased."




CHAPTER III.



ONE HUNDRED POUNDS REWARD.


V.R.
MURDER.
100 POUNDS REWARD.

"Whereas, on Friday, the 27th day of July, the body of a man, name
unknown, was found in a hansom cab. AND WHEREAS, at an inquest held at
St. Kilda, on the 30th day of July, a verdict of wilful murder, against
some person unknown, was brought in by the jury. The deceased is of
medium height, with a dark complexion, dark hair, clean shaved, has a
mole on the left temple, and was dressed in evening dress. Notice is
hereby given that a reward of 100 pounds will be paid by the Government for
such information as will lead to the conviction of the murderer, who is
presumed to be a man who entered the hansom cab with the deceased at
the corner of Collins and Russell Streets, on the morning of the 27th
day of July."




CHAPTER IV.



MR. GORBY MAKES A START.


"Well," said Mr. Gorby, addressing his reflection in the looking-glass,
"I've been finding out things these last twenty years, but this is a
puzzler, and no mistake."

Mr. Gorby was shaving, and, as was his usual custom, conversed with his
reflection. Being a detective, and of an extremely reticent
disposition, he never talked outside about his business, or made a
confidant of anyone. When he did want to unbosom himself, he retired to
his bedroom and talked to his reflection in the mirror. This method of
procedure he found to work capitally, for it relieved his sometimes
overburdened mind with absolute security to himself. Did not the barber
of Midas when he found out what was under the royal crown of his
master, fret and chafe over his secret, until one morning he stole to
the reeds by the river, and whispered, "Midas, has ass's ears?"
In the like manner Mr. Gorby felt a longing at times to give speech to
his innermost secrets; and having no fancy for chattering to the air,
he made his mirror his confidant. So far it had never betrayed him,
while for the rest it joyed him to see his own jolly red face nodding
gravely at him from out the shining surface, like a mandarin.
This morning the detective was unusually animated in his
confidences to his mirror. At times, too, a puzzled expression would
pass over his face. The hansom cab murder had been placed in his hands
for solution, and he was trying to think how he should make a
beginning.

"Hang it," he said, thoughtfully stropping his razor, "a thing with an
end must have a start, and if I don't get the start how am I to get the
end?"

As the mirror did not answer this question, Mr. Gorby lathered his
face, and started shaving in a somewhat mechanical fashion, for his
thoughts were with the case, and ran on in this manner:--

"Here's a man--well, say a gentleman--who gets drunk, and, therefore,
don't know what he's up to. Another gent who is on the square comes up
and sings out for a cab for him--first he says he don't know him, and
then he shows plainly he does--he walks away in a temper, changes his
mind, comes back and gets into the cab, after telling the cabby to
drive down to St. Kilda. Then he polishes the drunk one off with
chloroform, gets out of the cab, jumps into another, and after getting
out at Powlett Street, vanishes--that's the riddle I've got to find
out, and I don't think the Sphinx ever had a harder one. There are
three things to be discovered--First, who is the dead man? Second,
what was he killed for? And third, who did it?

"Once I get hold of the first the other two won't be very hard to find out,
for one can tell pretty well from a man's life whether it's to anyone's
interest that he should be got off the books. The man that murdered that
chap must have had some strong motive, and I must find out what that
motive was. Love? No, it wasn't that--men in love don't go to such lengths
in real life--they do in novels and plays, but I've never seen it
occurring in my experience. Robbery? No, there was plenty of money in his
pocket. Revenge? Now, really it might be that--it's a kind of thing
that carries most people further than they want to go. There was no
violence used, for his clothes, weren't torn, so he must have been
taken sudden, and before he knew what the other chap was up to. By the
way, I don't think I examined his clothes sufficiently, there might be
something about them to give a clue; at any rate it's worth looking
after, so I'll start with his clothes."

So Mr. Gorby, having dressed and breakfasted, walked quickly to the
police station, where he asked for the clothes of the deceased to be
shown to him. When he received them he retired into a corner, and
commenced an exhaustive examination of them.

There was nothing remarkable about the coat. It was merely a well-cut
and well-made dress coat; so with a grunt of dissatisfaction Mr. Gorby
threw it aside, and picked up the waistcoat. Here he found something to
interest him, in the shape of a pocket made on the left-hand side and
on the inside, of the garment.

"Now, what the deuce is this for?" said Mr. Gorby, scratching his head;
"it ain't usual for a dress waistcoat to have a pocket on its inside as
I'm aware of; and," continued the detective, greatly excited, "this
ain't tailor's work, he did it himself, and jolly badly he did it too.
Now he must have taken the trouble to make this pocket himself, so that
no one else would know anything about it, and it was made to carry
something valuable--so valuable that he had to carry it with him even
when he wore evening clothes. Ah! here's a tear on the side nearest the
outside of the waistcoat; something has been pulled out roughly. I
begin to see now. The dead man possessed something which the other man
wanted, and which he knew the dead one carried about with him. He
sees him drunk, gets into the cab with him, and tries to get
what he wants. The dead man resists, upon which the other kills him by
means of the chloroform which he had with him, and being afraid that
the Gab will stop, and he will be found out, snatches what he wants out
of the pocket so quickly that he tears the waistcoat and then makes
off. That's clear enough, but the question is, What was it he wanted? A
case with jewels? No! It could not have been anything so bulky, or the
dead man would never have carried it about inside his waistcoat. It was
something Hat, which could easily lie in the pocket--a paper--some
valuable paper which the assassin wanted, and for which he killed the
other."

"This is all very well," said Mr. Gorby, throwing down the
waistcoat, and rising. "I have found number two before number one. The
first question is: Who is the murdered man. He's a stranger in
Melbourne, that's pretty clear, or else some one would have been sure
to recognise him before now by the description given in the reward.
Now, I wonder if he has any relations here? No, he can't, or else they
would have made enquiries, before this. Well, there's one thing
certain, he must have had a landlady or landlord, unless he slept in
the open air. He can't have lived in an hotel, as the landlord of any
hotel in Melbourne would have recognised him from the description,
especially when the whole place is ringing with the murder. Private
lodgings more like, and a landlady who doesn't read the papers and
doesn't gossip, or she'd have known all about it by this time. Now, if
he did live, as I think, in private lodgings, and suddenly disappeared,
his landlady wouldn't keep quiet. It's a whole week since the murder,
and as the lodger has not been seen or heard of, the landlady will
naturally make enquiries. If, however, as I surmise, the lodger is a
stranger, she will not know where to enquire; therefore, under these
circumstances, the most natural thing for her to do would be to
advertise for him, so I'll have a look at the newspapers."

Mr. Gorby got a file of the different newspapers, and looked carefully
through those columns in which missing friends and people who will hear
"something to their advantage" are generally advertised for.

"He was murdered," said Mr. Gorby to himself, "on a Friday morning,
between one and two o'clock, so he might stay away till Monday without
exciting any suspicion. On Monday, however, the landlady would begin to
feel uneasy, and on Tuesday she would advertise for him. Therefore,"
said Mr. Gorby, running his fat finger down the column, "Wednesday it
is."

It did not appear in Wednesday's paper, neither did it in Thursday's,
but in Friday's issue, exactly one week after the murder, Mr. Gorby
suddenly came upon the following advertisement:--

"If Mr. Oliver Whyte does not return to Possum Villa, Grey Street, St.
Kilda, before the end of the week, his rooms will be let again.--
Rubina Hableton."

"Oliver Whyte," repeated Mr. Gorby slowly, "and the initials on the
pocket-handkerchief which was proved to have belonged to the deceased
were 'O.W.' So his name is Oliver Whyte, is it? Now, I wonder if Rubina
Hableton knows anything about this matter. At any rate," said Mr.
Gorby, putting on his hat, "as I'm fond of sea breezes, I think I'll go
down, and call at Possum Villa, Grey Street, St. Kilda."




CHAPTER V.



MRS. HAMILTON UNBOSOMS HERSELF.


Mrs. Hableton was a lady with a grievance, as anybody who happened to
become acquainted with her, soon found out. It is Beaconsfield who
says, in one of his novels, that no one is so interesting as when he is
talking about himself; and, judging Mrs. Hableton by this statement,
she was an extremely fascinating individual, as she never by any chance
talked upon any other subject. What was the threat of a Russian
invasion to her so long as she had her special grievance--once let
that be removed, and she would have time to attend to such minor
details as affected the colony.

Mrs. Hableton's particular grievance was want of money. Not by any
means an uncommon one, you might remind her; but she snappishly would
tell you that "she knowd that, but some people weren't like other
people." In time one came to learn what she meant by this. She had come
to the Colonies in the early days--days when the making of money in
appreciable quantity was an easier matter than it is now. Owing to a
bad husband, she had failed to save any. The late Mr. Hableton--for he
had long since departed this life--had been addicted to alcohol, and
at those times when he should have been earning, he was usually to be
found in a drinking shanty spending his wife's earnings in
"shouting" for himself and his friends. The constant drinking, and the
hot Victorian climate, soon carried him off, and when Mrs. Hableton had
seen him safely under the ground in the Melbourne Cemetery, she
returned home to survey her position, and see how it could be bettered.
She gathered together a little money from the wreck of her fortune, and
land being cheap, purchased a small "section" at St. Kilda, and built a
house on it. She supported herself by going out charing, taking in
sewing, and acting as a sick nurse, So, among this multiplicity of
occupations, she managed to exist fairly well.

And in truth it was somewhat hard upon Mrs. Hableton. For at the time
when she should have been resting and reaping the fruit of her early
industry, she was obliged to toil more assiduously than ever. It was
little consolation to her that she was but a type of many women, who,
hardworking and thrifty themselves, are married to men who are nothing
but an incubus to their wives and to their families. Small wonder,
then, that Mrs. Hableton should condense all her knowledge of the male
sex into the one bitter aphorism, "Men is brutes."

Possum Villa was an unpretentious-looking place, with one, bow-window
and a narrow verandah in front. It was surrounded by a small garden in
which were a few sparse flowers--the especial delight of Mrs.
Hableton. It was, her way to tie an old handkerchief round her head and
to go out into the garden and dig and water her beloved flowers until,
from sheer desperation at the overwhelming odds, they gave up all
attempt to grow. She was engaged in this favourite occupation about a
week after her lodger had gone. She wondered where he was.

"Lyin' drunk in a public-'ouse, I'll be bound," she said, viciously
pulling up a weed, "a-spendin' 'is, rent and a-spilin' 'is inside with
beer--ah, men is brutes, drat 'em!"

Just as she said this, a shadow fell across the garden, and on
looking up, she saw a man leaning over the fence, staring at her.

"Git out," she said, sharply, rising from her knees and shaking her
trowel at the intruder. "I don't want no apples to-day, an' I don't
care how cheap you sells 'em."

Mrs. Hableton evidently laboured under the delusion that the man was a
hawker, but seeing no hand-cart with him, she changed her mind.

"You're takin' a plan of the 'ouse to rob it, are you?" she said.
"Well, you needn't, 'cause there ain't nothin' to rob, the silver
spoons as belonged to my father's mother 'avin' gone down my 'usband's,
throat long ago, an' I ain't 'ad money to buy more. I'm a lone pusson
as is put on by brutes like you, an' I'll thank you to leave the fence
I bought with my own 'ard earned money alone, and git out."

Mrs. Hableton stopped short for want of breath, and stood shaking her
trowel, and gasping like a fish out of water.

"My dear lady," said the man at the fence, mildly, "are you--"

"No, I ain't," retorted Mrs. Hableton, fiercely, "I ain't neither a
member of the 'Ouse, nor a school teacher, to answer your questions.
I'm a woman as pays my rates an' taxes, and don't gossip nor read yer
rubbishin' newspapers, nor care for the Russings, no how, so git out."

"Don't read the papers?" repeated the man, in a satisfied tone, "ah!
that accounts for it."

Mrs. Hableton stared suspiciously at the intruder. He was a
burly-looking man, with a jovial red face, clean shaven, and his sharp,
shrewd-looking grey eyes twinkled like two stars. He was, well-dressed
in a suit of light clothes, and wore a stiffly-starched white
waistcoat, with a massive gold chain stretched across it. Altogether he
gave Mrs. Hableton finally the impression of being a well-to-do
tradesman, and she mentally wondered what he wanted.

"What d'y want?" she asked, abruptly.

"Does Mr. Oliver Whyte live here?" asked the stranger.

"He do, an' he don't," answered Mrs. Hableton, epigrammatically. "I
ain't seen 'im for over a week, so I s'pose 'e's gone on the drink,
like the rest of 'em, but I've put sumthin' in the paper as 'ill pull
him up pretty sharp, and let 'im know I ain't a carpet to be trod on,
an' if you're a friend of 'im, you can tell 'im from me 'e's a brute,
an' it's no more but what I expected of 'im, 'e bein' a male."

The stranger waited placidly during the outburst, and Mrs. Hableton,
having stopped for want of breath, he interposed, quietly--

"Can I speak to you for a few moments?"

"An' who's a-stoppin' of you?" said Mrs. Hableton, defiantly. "Go on
with you, not as I expects the truth from a male, but go on."

"Well, really," said the other, looking up at the cloudless blue sky,
and wiping his face with a gaudy red silk pocket-handkerchief, "it is
rather hot, you know, and--"

Mrs. Hableton did not give him time to finish, but walking to the gate,
opened it with a jerk.

"Use your legs and walk in," she said, and the stranger having done so,
she led the way into the house, and into a small neat sitting-room,
which seemed to overflow with antimacassars, wool mats, and wax
flowers. There were also a row of emu eggs on the mantelpiece, a
cutlass on the wall, and a grimy line of hard-looking little books, set
in a stiff row on a shelf, presumably for ornament, for their
appearance in no way tempted one to read them.

The furniture was of horsehair, and everything was hard and shiny, so
when the stranger sat down in the slippery--looking arm-chair
that Mrs. Hableton pushed towards him; he could not help thinking it
had been stuffed with stones, it felt so cold and hard. The lady
herself sat opposite to him in another hard chair, and having taken the
handkerchief off her head, folded it carefully, laid it on her lap, and
then looked straight at her unexpected visitor.

"Now then," she said, letting her mouth fly open so rapidly that it
gave one the impression that it was moved by strings like a marionette,
"Who are you? what are you? and what do you want?"

The stranger put his red silk handkerchief into his hat, placed it on
the table, and answered deliberately--

"My name is Gorby. I am a detective. I want Mr. Oliver Whyte."

"He ain't here," said Mrs. Hableton, thinking that Whyte had got into
trouble, and was in danger of arrest.

"I know that," answered Mr. Gorby.

"Then where is 'e?"

Mr. Gorby answered abruptly, and watched the effect of his words.

"He is dead."

Mrs. Hableton grew pale, and pushed back her chair. "No," she cried,
"he never killed 'im, did 'e?"

"Who never killed him?" queried Mr. Gorby, sharply.

Mrs. Hableton evidently knew more than she intended to say, for,
recovering herself with a violent effort, she answered evasively--

"He never killed himself."

Mr. Gorby looked at her keenly, and she returned his gaze with a
defiant stare.

"Clever," muttered the detective to himself; "knows something more than
she chooses to tell, but I'll get it out of her." He paused a moment,
and then went on smoothly,

"Oh, no! he did not commit suicide; what makes you think so?"
Mrs. Hableton did not answer, but, rising from her seat, went over to a
hard and shiny-looking sideboard, from whence she took a bottle of
brandy and a small wine-glass. Half filling the glass, she drank it
off, and returned to her seat.

"I don't take much of that stuff," she said, seeing the detective's
eyes fixed curiously on her, "but you 'ave given me such a turn that I
must take something to steady my nerves; what do you want me to do?"

"Tell me all you know," said Mr. Gorby, keeping his eyes fixed on her
face.

"Where was Mr. Whyte killed?" she asked.

"He was murdered in a hansom cab on the St. Kilda Road."

"In the open street?" she asked in a startled tone.

"Yes, in the open street."

"Ah!" she drew a long breath, and closed her lips, firmly. Mr. Gorby
said nothing. He saw that she was deliberating whether or not to speak,
and a word from him might seal her lips, so, like a wise man, he kept
silent. He obtained his reward sooner than he expected.

"Mr. Gorby," she said at length, "I 'ave 'ad a 'ard struggle all my
life, which it came along of a bad husband, who was a brute and a
drunkard, so, God knows, I ain't got much inducement to think well of
the lot of you, but--murder," she shivered slightly, though the room
was quite warm, "I didn't think of that."

"In connection with whom?"

"Mr. Whyte, of course," she answered, hurriedly.

"And who else?"

"I don't know."

"Then there is nobody else?"

"Well, I don't know--I'm not sure."

The detective was puzzled.

"What do you mean?" he asked.

"I will tell you all I know," said Mrs. Hableton, "an' if 'e's
innocent, God will 'elp 'im."

"If who is innocent?"

"I'll tell you everythin' from the start," said Mrs. Hableton, "an' you
can judge for yourself."

Mr. Gorby assented, and she began:

"It's only two months ago since I decided to take in lodgers; but
charin's 'ard work, and sewin's tryin' for the eyes, So, bein' a lone
woman, 'avin' bin badly treated by a brute, who is now dead, which I
was allays a good wife to 'im, I thought lodgers 'ud 'elp me a little,
so I put a notice in the paper, an' Mr. Oliver Whyte took the rooms two
months ago."

"What was he like?"

"Not very tall, dark face, no whiskers nor moustache, an' quite the
gentleman."

"Anything peculiar about him?"

Mrs. Hableton thought for a moment.

"Well," she said at length, "he 'ad a mole on his left temple, but it
was covered with 'is 'air, an' few people 'ud 'ave seen it."

"The very man," said Gorby to himself, "I'm on the right path."

"Mr. Whyte said 'e 'ad just come from England," went on the woman.

"Which," thought Mr. Gorby, "accounts for the corpse not being
recognised by friends."

"He took the rooms, an' said 'e'd stay with me for six months, an' paid
a week's rent in advance, an' 'e allays paid up reg'ler like a
respectable man, tho' I don't believe in 'em myself. He said
'e'd lots of friends, an' used to go out every night."

"Who were his friends?"

"That I can't tell you, for 'e were very close, an' when 'e went out of
doors I never knowd where 'e went, which is jest like 'em; for they ses
they're goin' to work, an' you finds 'em in the beershop. Mr. Whyte
told me 'e was a-goin' to marry a heiress, 'e was."

"Ah!" interjected Mr. Gorby, sapiently.

"He 'ad only one friend as I ever saw--a Mr. Moreland--who comed 'ere
with 'm, an' was allays with 'im--brother-like."

"What is this Mr. Moreland like?"

"Good-lookin' enough," said Mrs. Hableton sourly, "but 'is 'abits
weren't as good as 'is face--'andsom is as 'andsom does, is what I
ses."

"I wonder if he knows anything about this affair," thought Gorby to
himself "Where is Mr. Moreland to be found?" he asked.

"Not knowin', can't tell," retorted the landlady, "'e used to be 'ere
reg'lar, but I ain't seen 'im for over a week."

"Strange! very!" said Gorby, shaking his head. "I should like to see
this Mr. Moreland. I suppose it's probable he'll call again?"

"'Abit bein' second nature I s'pose he will," answered the woman, "'e
might call at any time, mostly 'avin' called at night."

"Ah! then I'll come down this evening on chance of seeing him," replied
the detective. "Coincidences happen in real life as well as in novels,
and the gentleman in question may turn up in the nick of time. Now,
what else about Mr. Whyte?"

"About two weeks ago, or three, I'm not cert'in which, a
gentleman called to see Mr. Whyte; 'e was very tall, and wore a light
coat."

"Ah! a morning coat?"

"No! 'e was in evenin' dress, and wore a light coat over it, an' a soft
'at."

"The very man," said the detective below his breath; "go on."

"He went into Mr. Whyte's room, an' shut the door. I don't know how
long they were talkin' together; but I was sittin' in this very room
and heard their voices git angry, and they were a-swearin' at one
another, which is the way with men, the brutes. I got up and went into
the passage in order to ask 'em not to make such a noise, when Mr.
Whyte's door opens, an' the gentleman in the light coat comes out, and
bangs along to the door. Mr. Whyte 'e comes to the door of 'is room,
an' 'e 'ollers out. 'She is mine; you can't do anything; an' the other
turns with 'is 'and on the door an' says, 'I can kill you, an' if you
marry 'er I'll do it, even in the open street.'"

"Ah!" said Mr. Gorby, drawing a long breath, "and then?"

"Then he bangs the door to, which it's never shut easy since, an' I
ain't got no money to get it put right, an' Mr. Whyte walks back to his
room, laughing."

"Did he make any remark to you?"

"No; except he'd been worried by a loonatic."

"And what was the stranger's name?"

"That I can't tell you, as Mr. Whyte never told me. He was very tall,
with a fair moustache, an' dressed as I told you."

Mr. Gorby was satisfied.

"That is the man," he said to himself, "who got into the hansom
cab, and murdered Whyte; there's no doubt of it! Whyte and he were
rivals for the heiress."

"What d'y think of it?" said Mrs. Hableton curiously.

"I think," said Mr. Gorby slowly, with his eyes fixed on her, "I think
that there is a woman at the bottom of this crime."




CHAPTER VI.



MR. GORBY MAKES FURTHER DISCOVERIES.


When Mr. Gorby left Possum Villa no doubt remained in his mind as to
who had committed the murder. The gentleman in the light coat had
threatened to murder Whyte, even in the open street--these last words
being especially significant--and there was no doubt that he had
carried out his threat. The committal of the crime was merely the
fulfilment of the words uttered in anger. What the detective had now to
do was to find who the gentleman in the light coat was, where he lived,
and, that done, to ascertain his doings on the night of the murder.
Mrs. Hableton had described him, but was ignorant of his name, and her
very vague description might apply to dozens of young men in Melbourne.
There was only one person who, in Mr. Gorby's opinion, could tell the
name of the gentleman in the light coat, and that was Moreland, the
intimate friend of the dead man. They appeared, from the landlady's
description, to have been so friendly that it was more than likely
Whyte would have told Moreland all about his angry visitor. Besides,
Moreland's knowledge of his dead friend's life and habits might be able
to supply information on two points, namely, who was most likely to
gain by Whyte's death, and who the heiress was that the deceased
boasted he would marry. But the fact that Moreland should be
ignorant of his friend's tragic death, notwithstanding that the papers
were full of it, and that the reward gave an excellent description of
his personal appearance, greatly puzzled Gorby.

The only way in which to account for Moreland's extraordinary silence
was that he was out of town, and had neither seen the papers nor heard
anyone talking about the murder. If this were the case he might either
stay away for an indefinite time or return after a few days. At all
events it was worth while going down to St. Kilda in the evening on the
chance that Moreland might have returned to town, and world call to see
his friend. So, after his tea, Mr. Gorby put on his hat, and went down
to Possum Villa, on what he could not help acknowledging to himself was
a very slender possibility.

Mrs. Hableton opened the door for him, and in silence led the way, not
into her own sitting-room, but into a much more luxuriously furnished
apartment, which Gorby guessed at once was that of Whyte's. He looked
keenly round the room, and his estimate of the dead man's character was
formed at once.

"Fast," he said to himself, "and a spendthrift. A man who would have
his friends, and possibly his enemies, among a very shady lot of
people."

What led Mr. Gorby to this belief was the evidence which surrounded him
of Whyte's mode of life. The room was well furnished, the furniture
being covered with dark-red velvet, while the curtains on the windows
and the carpet were all of the same somewhat sombre hue.

"I did the thing properly," observed Mrs. Hableton, with a
satisfactory smile on her hard face. "When you wants young men to stop
with you, the rooms must be well furnished, an' Mr. Whyte paid well,
tho' 'e was rather pertickler about 'is food, which I'm only a plain
cook, an' can't make them French things which spile the stomach."

The globes of the gas lamps were of a pale pink colour, and Mrs.
Hableton having lit the gas in expectation of Mr. Gorby's arrival,
there was a soft roseate hue through the room. Mr. Gorby put his hands
in his capacious pockets, and strolled leisurely through the room,
examining everything with a curious eye. The walls were covered with
pictures of celebrated horses and famous jockeys. Alternating with
these were photographs of ladies of the stage, mostly London actresses,
Nellie Farren, Kate Vaughan, and other burlesque stars, evidently being
the objects of the late Mr. Whyte's adoration. Over the mantelpiece
hung a rack of pipes, above which were two crossed foils, and under
these a number of plush frames of all colours, with pretty faces
smiling out of them; a remarkable fact being, that all the photographs
were of ladies, and not a single male face was to be seen, either on
the walls or in the plush frames.

"Fond of the ladies, I see," said Mr. Gorby, nodding his head towards
the mantelpiece.

"A set of hussies," said Mrs. Hableton grimly, closing her lips
tightly. "I feel that ashamed when I dusts 'em as never was--I don't
believe in gals gettin' their picters taken with 'ardly any clothes on,
as if they just got out of bed, but Mr. Whyte seems to like 'em."

"Most young men do," answered Mr. Gorby dryly, going over to the
bookcase.

"Brutes," said the lady of the house. "I'd drown 'em in the Yarrer, I
would, a settin' 'emselves and a callin' 'emselves lords of creation,
as if women were made for nothin' but to earn money 'an see 'em drink
it, as my 'usband did, which 'is inside never seemed to 'ave enough
beer, an' me a poor lone woman with no family, thank God, or they'd
'ave taken arter their father in 'is drinkin' 'abits."

Mr. Gorby took no notice of this tirade against men, but stood
looking at Mr. Whyte's library, which seemed to consist mostly of
French novels and sporting newspapers.

"Zola," said Mr. Gorby, thoughtfully, taking down a flimsy yellow book
rather tattered. "I've heard of him; if his novels are as bad as his
reputation I shouldn't care to read them."

Here a knock came at the front door, loud and decisive. On hearing it
Mrs. Hableton sprang hastily to her feet. "That may be Mr. Moreland,"
she said, as the detective quickly replaced "Zola" in the bookcase. "I
never 'ave visitors in the evenin', bein' a lone widder, and if it is
'im I'll bring 'im in 'ere."

She went out, and presently Gorby, who was listening intently, heard a
man's voice ask if Mr. Whyte was at home.

"No, sir, he ain't," answered the landlady; "but there's a gentleman in
his room askin' after 'im. Won't you come in, sir?"

"For a rest, yes," returned the visitor, and immediately afterwards
Mrs. Hableton appeared, ushering in the late Oliver Whyte's most
intimate friend. He was a tall, slender man, with a pink and white
complexion, curly fair hair, and a drooping straw-coloured
moustache--altogether a strikingly aristocratic individual. He was
well-dressed in a suit of check, and had a cool, nonchalant air about him.

"And where is Mr. Whyte to-night?" he asked, sinking into a chair, and
taking no more notice of the detective than if he had been an article
of furniture.

"Haven't you seen him lately?" asked the detective quickly. Mr.
Moreland stared in an insolent manner at his questioner for a few
moments, as if he were debating the advisability of answering or not.
At last he apparently decided that he would, for slowly pulling off one
glove he leaned back in his chair.

"No, I have not," he said with a yawn. "I have been up the
country for a few days, and arrived back only this evening, so I have
not seen him for over a week. Why do you ask?"

The detective did not answer, but stood looking at the young man before
him in a thoughtful manner.

"I hope," said Mr. Moreland, nonchalantly, "I hope you will know me
again, my friend, but I didn't know Whyte had started a lunatic asylum
during my absence. Who are you?"

Mr. Gorby came forward and stood under the gas light.

"My name is Gorby, sir, and I am a detective," he said quietly.

"Ah! indeed," said Moreland, coolly looking him up and down. "What has
Whyte been doing; running away with someone's wife, eh? I know he has
little weaknesses of that sort."

Gorby shook his head.

"Do you know where Mr. Whyte is to be found?" he asked, cautiously.

Moreland laughed.

"Not I, my friend," said he, lightly. "I presume he is somewhere about
here, as these are his head-quarters. What has he been doing? Nothing
that can surprise me, I assure you--he was always an erratic
individual, and--"

"He paid reg'ler," interrupted Mrs. Hableton, pursing up her lips.

"A most enviable reputation to possess," answered the other with a
sneer, "and one I'm afraid I'll never enjoy. But why all this
questioning about Whyte? What's the matter with him?"

"He's dead!" said Gorby, abruptly.

All Moreland's nonchalance vanished on hearing this, and he started up
from his chair.

"Dead," he repeated mechanically. "What do you mean?"

"I mean that Mr. Oliver Whyte was murdered in a hansom cab." Moreland
stared at the detective in a puzzled sort of way, and passed his hand
across his forehead.

"Excuse me, my head is in a whirl," he said, as he sat down again.
"Whyte murdered! He was all right when I left him nearly two weeks
ago."

"Haven't you seen the papers?" asked Gorby.

"Not for the last two weeks," replied Moreland. "I have been up
country, and it was only on arriving back in town tonight that I heard
about the murder at all, as my landlady gave me a garbled account of
it, but I never for a moment connected it with Whyte, and I came down
here to see him, as I had agreed to do when I left. Poor fellow! poor
fellow! poor fellow!" and much overcome, he buried his face in his
hands.

Mr. Gorby was touched by his evident distress, and even Mrs. Hableton
permitted a small tear to roll down one hard cheek as a tribute of
sorrow and sympathy. Presently Moreland raised his head, and spoke to
Gorby in a husky tone.

"Tell me all about it," he said, leaning his cheek on his hand.
"Everything you know."

He placed his elbows on the table, and buried his face in his hands
again, while the detective sat down and related all that he knew about
Whyte's murder. When it was done he lifted up his head, and looked
sadly at the detective.

"If I had been in town," he said, "this would not have happened, for I
was always beside Whyte."

"You knew him very well, sir?" said the detective, in a sympathetic
tone.

"We were like brothers," replied Moreland, mournfully.

"I came out from England in the same steamer with him, and used
to visit him constantly here."

Mr. Hableton nodded her head to imply that such was the case.

"In fact," said Mr. Moreland, after a moment's thought, "I believe I
was with him on the night he was murdered."

Mrs. Hableton gave a slight scream, and threw her apron over her face,
but the detective sat unmoved, though Moreland's last remark had
startled him considerably.

"What's the matter?" said Moreland, turning to Mrs. Hableton.

"Don't be afraid; I didn't kill him--no--but I met him last Thursday
week, and I left for the country on Friday morning at half-past six."

"And what time did you meet Whyte on Thursday night?" asked Gorby.

"Let me see," said Moreland, crossing his legs and looking thoughtfully
up to the ceiling, "it was about half-past nine o'clock. I was in the
Orient Hotel, in Bourke Street. We had a drink together, and then went
up the street to an hotel in Russell Street, where we had another. In
fact," said Moreland, coolly, "we had several other drinks."

"Brutes!" muttered Mrs. Hableton, below her breath.

"Yes," said Gorby, placidly. "Go on."

"Well of--it's hardly the thing to confess it," said Moreland, looking
from one to the other with a pleasant smile, "but in a case like this,
I feel it my duty to throw all social scruples aside. We both became
very drunk."

"Ah! Whyte was, as we know, drunk when he got into the cab--and you--?"

"I was not quite so bad as Whyte," answered the other. "I had my senses
about me. I fancy he left the hotel some minutes before one o'clock on
Friday morning."

"And what did you do?"

"I remained in the hotel. He left his overcoat behind him, and I
picked it up and followed him shortly afterwards, to return it. I was
too drunk to see in which direction he had gone, and stood leaning
against the hotel door in Bourke Street with the coat in my hand. Then
some one came up, and, snatching the coat from me, made off with it,
and the last thing I remember was shouting out: 'Stop, thief!' Then I
must have fallen down, for next morning I was in bed with all my
clothes on, and they were very muddy. I got up and left town for the
country by the six-thirty train, so I knew nothing about the matter
until I came back to Melbourne tonight. That's all I know."

"And you had no impression that Whyte was watched that night?"

"No, I had not," answered Moreland, frankly. "He was in pretty good
spirits, though he was put out at first."

"What was the cause of his being put out?"

Moreland arose, and going to a side table, brought Whyte's album, which
he laid on the table and opened in silence. The contents were very much
the same as the photographs in the room, burlesque actresses and ladies
of the ballet predominating; but Mr. Moreland turned over the pages
till nearly the end, when he stopped at a large cabinet photograph, and
pushed the album towards Mr. Gorby.

"That was the cause," he said.

It was the portrait of a charmingly pretty girl, dressed in white, with
a sailor hat on her fair hair, and holding a lawn tennis racquet. She
was bending half forward, with a winning smile, and in the background
bloomed a mass of tropical plants. Mrs. Hableton uttered a cry of
surprise at seeing this.

"Why, it's Miss Frettlby," she said. "How did he know her?"

"Knew her father--letter of introduction, and all that sort of
thing," said Mr. Moreland, glibly.

"Ah! indeed," said Mr. Gorby, slowly. "So Mr. Whyte knew Mark Frettlby,
the millionaire; but how did he obtain a photograph of the daughter?"

"She gave it to him," said Moreland. "The, fact is, Whyte was very much
in love with Miss Frettlby."

"And she--"

"Was in love with someone else," finished Moreland. "Exactly! Yes, she
loved a Mr. Brian Fitzgerald, to whom she is now engaged. He was mad on
her; and Whyte and he used to quarrel desperately over the young lady."

"Indeed!" said Mr. Gorby. "And do you know this Mr. Fitzgerald?"

"Oh, dear, no!" answered the other, coolly. "Whyte's friends were not
mine. He was a rich young man who had good introductions. I am only a
poor devil on the outskirts of society, trying to push my way in the
world."

"You are acquainted with his personal appearance, of course?" observed
Mr. Gorby.

"Oh, yes, I can describe that," said Moreland. "In fact, he's not at
all unlike me, which I take to be rather a compliment, as he is said to
be good-looking. He is tall, rather fair, talks in a bored sort of
manner, and is altogether what one would Gall a heavy swell; but you
must have seen him," he went on, turning to Mrs. Hableton, "he was here
three or four weeks ago, Whyte told me."

"Oh, that was Mr. Fitzgerald, was it?" said Mrs. Hableton, in surprise.
"Yes, he is rather like you; the lady they quarrelled over must have
been Miss Frettlby."

"Very likely," said Moreland, rising. "Well, I'm off; here's my
address," putting a card in Gorby's, hand. "I'm glad to be of any use
to you in this matter, as Whyte was my dearest friend, and I'll
do all in my power to help you to find out the murderer."

"I don't think that is a very difficult matter," said Mr. Gorby,
slowly.

"Oh, you have your suspicions?" asked Moreland, looking at him.

"I have."

"Then who do you think murdered Whyte?"

Mr. Gorby paused a moment, and then said deliberately: "I have an
idea--but I am not certain--when I am certain, I'll speak."

"You think Fitzgerald killed my friend," said Moreland. "I see it in
your face."

Mr. Gorby smiled." Perhaps," he said, ambiguously. "Wait till I'm
certain."




CHAPTER VII.



THE WOOL KING.


The old Greek legend of Midas turning everything he touched into gold,
is truer than most people imagine. Mediaeval superstition changed the
human being who possessed such a power into the philosopher's stone--the
stone which so many alchemists sought in the dark ages. But we of
the nineteenth century have given back into human hands this power of
transformation.

But we do not ascribe it either to Greek deity, or to superstition; we
call it luck. And he who possesses luck should be happy notwithstanding
the proverb which hints the contrary. Luck means more than riches--it
means happiness in most of those things, which the fortunate possessor
of it may choose to touch. Should he speculate, he is successful; if he
marry, his wife will surely prove everything to be desired; should he
aspire to a position, social or political, he not only attains it, but
does so with comparative ease. Worldly wealth, domestic happiness, high
position, and complete success--all these things belong to the man who
has luck.

Mark Frettlby was one of these fortunate individuals, and his luck was
proverbial throughout Australia. If there was any speculation for which
Mark Frettlby went in, other men would surely follow, and in
every case the result turned out as well, and in many cases even better
than they expected. He had come out in the early days of the colony
with comparatively little money, but his great perseverance and
never-failing luck had soon changed his hundreds into thousands, and
now at the age of fifty-five he did not himself know the extent of his
income. He had large stations scattered all over the Colony of
Victoria, which brought him in a splendid income; a charming country
house, where at certain seasons of the year he dispensed hospitality to
his friends; and a magnificent town house down in St. Kilda, which
would have been not unworthy of Park Lane.

Nor were his domestic relations less happy--he had a charming wife,
who was one of the best known and most popular ladies of Melbourne, and
an equally charming daughter, who, being both pretty and an heiress,
naturally attracted crowds of suitors. But Madge Frettlby was
capricious, and refused innumerable offers. Being an extremely
independent young person, with a mind of her own, she decided to remain
single, as she had not yet seen anyone she could love, and with her
mother continued to dispense the hospitality of the mansion at St.
Kilda.

But the fairy prince comes at length to every woman, and in this
instance he came at his appointed time, in the person of one Brian
Fitzgerald, a tall, handsome, fair-haired young man hailing from
Ireland.

He had left behind him in the old country a ruined castle and a few
acres of barren land, inhabited by discontented tenants, who refused to
pay the rent, and talked darkly about the Land League and other
agreeable things. Under these circumstances, with no rent coming in,
and no prospect of doing anything in the future, Brian had left the
castle of his forefathers to the rats and the family Banshee, and had
come out to Australia to make his fortune.

He brought letters of introduction to Mark Frettlby, and that
gentleman, taking a fancy to him, assisted him by every means in his
power. Under Frettlby's advice Brian bought a station, and, to his
astonishment, in a few years he found himself growing rich. The
Fitzgeralds had always been more famous for spending than for saving,
and it was an agreeable surprise to their latest representative to find
the money rolling in instead of out. He began to indulge in castles in
the air concerning that other castle in Ireland, with the barren acres
and discontented tenants. In his mind's-eye he saw the old place rise
up in all its pristine splendour from out its ruins; he saw the barren
acres well cultivated, and the tenants happy and content--he was
rather doubtful on this latter point, but, with the rash confidence of
eight and twenty, determined to do his best to perform even the
impossible.

Having built and furnished his castle in the air, Brian naturally
thought of giving it a mistress, and this time actual appearance took
the place of vision. He fell in love with Madge Frettlby, and having
decided in his own mind that she and none other was fitted to grace the
visionary halls of his renovated castle, he watched his opportunity,
and declared himself. She, woman-like, coquetted with him for some
time, but at last, unable to withstand the impetuosity of her Irish
lover, confessed in a low voice, with a pretty smile on her face, that
she could not live without him. Whereupon--well--lovers being of a
conservative turn of mind, and accustomed to observe the traditional
forms of wooing, the result can easily be guessed. Brian hunted all
over the jewellers' shops in Melbourne with lover-like assiduity, and
having obtained a ring wherein were set turquoise stones as blue as his
own eyes, he placed it on her slender finger, and at last felt that his
engagement was an accomplished fact.

He next proceeded to interview the father, and had just screwed
up his courage to the awful ordeal, when something occurred which
postponed the interview indefinitely. Mrs. Frettlby was out driving,
and the horses took fright and bolted. The coachman and groom both
escaped unhurt, but Mrs. Frettlby was thrown out and killed instantly

This was the first really great trouble which had fallen on Mark
Frettlby, and he seemed stunned by it. Shutting himself up in his room
he refused to see anyone, even his daughter, and appeared at the
funeral with a white and haggard face, which shocked everyone. When
everything was over, and the body of the late Mrs. Frettlby was
consigned to the earth, with all the pomp and ceremony which money
could give, the bereaved husband rode home, and resumed his old life.
But he was never the same again. His face, which had always been so
genial and so bright, became stern and sad. He seldom smiled, and when
he did, it was a faint wintry smile, which seemed mechanical. His whole
interest in life was centred in his daughter. She became the sole
mistress of the St. Kilda mansion, and her father idolised her. She was
apparently the one thing left to him which gave him a pleasure in
existence. In truth, had it not been for her bright presence, Mark
Frettlby would fain have been lying beside his dead wife in the quiet
graveyard.

After a time Brian again resolved to ask Mr. Frettlby for the hand of
his daughter. But for the second time fate interposed. A rival suitor
made his appearance, and Brian's hot Irish temper rose in anger at him.

Mr. Oliver Whyte had come out from England a few months previously,
bringing with him a letter of introduction to Mr. Frettlby, who
received him hospitably, as was his custom. Taking advantage of this,
Whyte lost no time in making himself perfectly at home in the St. Kilda
mansion.

From the outset Brian took a dislike to the new-comer. He was a
student of Lavater, and prided himself on his perspicuity in reading
character. His opinion of Whyte was anything but flattering to that
gentleman; while Madge shared his repulsion towards the new-comer.

On his part Mr. Whyte was nothing if not diplomatic. He affected not to
notice the coldness of Madge's reception of him. On the contrary he
began to pay her the most marked attentions, much to Brian's disgust.
At length he asked her to be his wife, and notwithstanding her prompt
refusal, spoke to her father on the subject. Much to the astonishment
of his daughter, Mr. Frettlby not only consented to Whyte paying his
addresses to Madge, but gave that young lady to understand that he
wished her to consider his proposals favourably.

In spite of all Madge could say, he refused to alter his decision, and
Whyte, feeling himself safe, began to treat Brian with an insolence
which was highly galling to Fitzgerald's proud nature. He had called on
Whyte at his lodgings, and after a violent quarrel he had left the
house vowing to kill him, should he marry Madge Frettlby.

The same night Fitzgerald had an interview with Mr. Frettlby. He
confessed that he loved Madge, and that his love was returned. So, when
Madge added her entreaties to Brian's, Mr. Frettlby found himself
unable to withstand the combined forces, and gave his consent to their
engagement.

Whyte was absent in the country for the next few days after his stormy
interview with Brian, and it was only on his return that he learnt that
Madge was engaged to his rival. He saw Mr. Frettlby, and having learnt
from his own lips that such was the case, he left the house at once,
and swore that he would never enter it again. He little knew how
prophetic were his words, for on that same night he met his death in
the hansom cab. He had passed out of the life of both the lovers, and
they, glad that he troubled them no more, never suspected for a moment
that the body of the unknown man found in Royston's cab was that of
Oliver Whyte.

About two weeks after Whyte's disappearance Mr. Frettlby gave a dinner
party in honour of his daughter's birthday. It was a delightful
evening, and the wide French windows which led on to the verandah were
open, letting in a gentle breeze from the ocean. Outside there was a
kind of screen of tropical plants, and through the tangle of the boughs
the guests, seated at the table, could just see the waters of the bay
glittering in the pale moonlight. Brian was seated opposite to Madge,
and every now and then he caught a glimpse of her bright face from
behind the fruit and flowers, which stood in the centre of the table.
Mark Frettlby was at the head of the table, and appeared in very good
spirits. His stern features were somewhat relaxed, and he drank more
wine than usual.

The soup had just been removed when some one, who was late, entered
with apologies and took his seat. Some one in this case was Mr. Felix
Rolleston, one of the best known young men in Melbourne. He had an
income of his own, scribbled a little for the papers, was to be seen at
every house of any pretensions in Melbourne, and was always bright,
happy, and full of news. For details of any scandal you were safe in
applying to Felix Rolleston. He knew all that was going on, both at
home and abroad. And his knowledge, if not very accurate, was at least
extensive, while his conversation was piquant, and at times witty.
Calton, one of the leading lawyers of the city, remarked that
"Rolleston put him in mind of what Beaconsfield said of one of the
personages in Lothair, 'He wasn't an intellectual Croesus, but
his pockets were always full of sixpences.'" Be it said in his favour
that Felix was free with his sixpences.

The conversation, which had shown signs of languishing before his
arrival, now brightened up.

"So awfully sorry, don't you know," said Felix, as he slipped into a
seat by Madge; "but a fellow like me has got to be careful of his
time--so many calls on it."

"So many calls in it, you mean," retorted Madge, with a disbelieving
smile. "Confess, now, you have been paying a round of visits."

"Well, yes," assented Mr. Rolleston; "that's the disadvantage of having
a large circle of acquaintances. They give you weak tea and thin bread
and butter, whereas--"

"You would rather have something else," finished Brian.

There was a laugh at this, but Mr. Rolleston disdained to notice the
interruption.

"The only advantage of five o'clock tea," he went on, "is, that it
brings people together, and one hears what's going on."

"Ah, yes, Rolleston," said Mr. Frettlby, who was looking at him with an
amused smile. "What news have you?"

"Good news, bad news, and such news as you have never heard of," quoted
Rolleston gravely. "Yes, I have a bit of news--haven't you heard it?"

Rolleston felt he held sensation in his hands. There was nothing he
liked better.

"Well, do you know," he said, gravely fixing in his eyeglass, "they
have found out the name of the fellow who was murdered in the hansom
cab."

"Never!" cried every one eagerly.

"Yes," went on Rolleston, "and what's more, you all know him."

"It's never Whyte?" said Brian, in a horrified tone.

"Hang it, how did you know?" said Rolleston, rather annoyed at being
forestalled. "Why, I just heard it at the St. Kilda station."

"Oh, easily enough," said Brian, rather confused. "I used to meet Whyte
constantly, and as I have not seen him for the last two weeks, I
thought he might be the victim."

"How did they find out?" asked Mr. Frettlby, idly toying with his
wine-glass.

"Oh, one of those detective fellows, you know," answered Felix. "They
know everything."

"I'm sorry to hear it," said Frettlby, referring to the fact that Whyte
was murdered. "He had a letter of introduction to me, and seemed a
clever, pushing young fellow."

"A confounded cad," muttered Felix, under his breath; and Brian, who
overheard him, seemed inclined to assent. For the rest of the meal
nothing was talked about but the murder, and the mystery in which it
was shrouded. When the ladies retired they chatted about it in the
drawingroom, but finally dropped it for more agreeable subjects. The
men, however, when the cloth Was removed, filled their glasses, and
continued the discussion with unabated vigour. Brian alone did not take
part in the conversation. He sat moodily staring at his untasted wine,
wrapped in a brown study.

"What I can't make out," observed Rolleston, who was amusing himself
with cracking nuts, "is why they did not find out who he was before."

"That is not hard to answer," said Frettlby, filling his--glass. "He
was comparatively little known here, as he had been out from England
such a short time, and I fancy that this was the only house at which he
visited."

"And look here, Rolleston," said Calton, who was sitting near
him, "if you were to find a man dead in a hansom cab, dressed in
evening clothes--which nine men out of ten are in the habit of wearing
in the evening--no cards in his pockets, and no name on his linen, I
rather think you would find it hard to discover who he was. I consider
it reflects great credit on the police for finding out so quickly."

"Puts one in mind of 'The Leavenworth Case,' and all that sort of
thing," said Felix, whose reading was of the lightest description.
"Awfully exciting, like putting a Chinese puzzle together. Gad, I
wouldn't mind being a detective myself."

"I'm afraid if that were the case," said Mr. Frettlby, with an amused
smile, "criminals would be pretty safe."

"Oh, I don't know so much about that," answered Felix, shrewdly; "some
fellows are like trifle at a party, froth on top, but something better
underneath."

"What a greedy simile," said Calton, sipping his wine; "but I'm afraid
the police will have a more difficult task in discovering the man who
committed the crime. In my opinion he's a deuced clever fellow."

"Then you don't think he will be discovered?" asked Brian, rousing
himself out of his brown study.

"Well, I don't go as far as that," rejoined Calton; "but he has
certainly left no trace behind him, and even the Red Indian, in whom
instinct for tracking is so highly developed, needs some sort of a
trail to enable him to find out his enemies. Depend upon it," went on
Calton, warming to his subject, "the man who murdered Whyte is no
ordinary criminal; the place he chose for the committal of the crime
was such a safe one."

"Do you think so?" said Rolleston. "Why, I should think that a hansom
cab in a public street would be very unsafe."

"It is that very fact that makes it safer," replied Mr. Calton,
epigrammatically. "You read De Quincey's account of the Marr murders in
London, and you will see that the more public the place the less risk
there is of detection. There was nothing about the gentleman in the
light coat who murdered Whyte to excite Royston's suspicions. He
entered the cab with Whyte; no noise or anything likely to attract
attention was heard, and then he alighted. Naturally enough, Royston
drove to St. Kilda, and never suspected Whyte was dead till he looked
inside and touched him. As to the man in the light coat, he doesn't
live in Powlett Street--no--nor in East Melbourne either."

"Why not?" asked Frettlby.

"Because he wouldn't have been such a fool as to leave a trail to his
own door; he did what the fox often does--he doubled. My opinion is
that he went either right through East Melbourne to Fitzroy, or he
walked back through the Fitzroy Gardens into town. There was no one
about at that time of the morning, and he could return to his lodgings,
hotel, or wherever he is staying, with impunity. Of course, this is a
theory that may be wrong; but from what insight into human nature my
profession has given me, I think that my idea is a correct one."

All present agreed with Mr. Calton's idea, as it really did seem the
most natural thing that would be done by a man desirous of escaping
detection.

"Tell you what," said Felix to Brian, as they were on their way to the
drawing-room, "if the fellow that committed the crime, is found out, by
gad, he ought to get Calton to defend him."




CHAPTER VIII.



BRIAN TAKES A WALK AND A DRIVE.


When the gentlemen entered the drawing-room a young lady was engaged in
playing one of those detestable pieces of the MORCEAU DE SALON order,
in which an unoffending air is taken, and variations embroidered on it,
till it becomes a perfect agony to distinguish the tune, amid the
perpetual rattle of quavers and demi-semi-quavers. The melody in this
case was "Over the Garden Wall," with variations by Signor Thumpanini,
and the young lady who played it was a pupil of that celebrated Italian
musician. When the male portion of the guests entered, the air was
being played in the bass with a great deal of power (that is, the loud
pedal was down), and with a perpetual rattle of treble notes, trying
with all their shrill might to drown the tune.

"Gad! it's getting over the garden wall in a hailstorm," said Felix, as
he strolled over to the piano, for he saw that the musician was Dora
Featherweight, an heiress to whom he was then paying attention, in the
hope that she might be induced to take the name of Rolleston. So, when
the fair Dora had paralysed her audience with one final bang and
rattle, as if the gentleman going over the garden wall had tumbled into
the cucumber-frame, Felix was loud in his expressions of delight.

"Such power, you know, Miss Featherweight," he said, sinking
into a chair, and mentally wondering if any of the piano strings had
given way at that last crash. "You put your heart into it--and all
your muscle, too, by gad," he added mentally.

"It's nothing but practice," answered Miss Featherweight, with a modest
blush. "I am at the piano four hours every day."

"Good heavens!" thought Felix, "what a time the family must have of
it." But he kept this remark to himself, and, screwing his eye-glass
into his left organ of vision, merely ejaculated, "Lucky piano."

Miss Featherweight, not being able to think of any answer to this,
looked down and blushed, while the ingenuous Felix looked up and
sighed.

Madge and Brian were in a corner of the room talking over Whyte's
death.

"I never liked him," she said, "but it is horrible to think of him
dying like that."

"I don't know," answered Brian, gloomily; "from all I can hear dying by
chloroform is a very easy death."

"Death can never be easy," replied Madge, "especially to a young man so
full of health and spirits as Mr. Whyte was."

"I believe you are sorry he's dead," said Brian, jealously.

"Aren't you?" she asked in some surprise.

"De mortuis nil nisi bonum," quoted Fitzgerald. "But as I detested him
when alive, you can't expect me to regret his end."

Madge did not answer him, but glanced quickly at his face, and for the
first time it struck her that he looked ill.

"What is the matter with you, dear?" she asked, placing her hand on his
arm. "You are not looking well."

"Nothing--nothing," he answered hurriedly. "I've been a little
worried about business lately--but come," he said, rising, "let us go
outside, for I see your father has got that girl with the steam-whistle
voice to sing."

The girl with the steam-whistle voice was Julia Featherweight, the
sister of Rolleston's inamorata, and Madge stifled a laugh as she went
on to the verandah with Fitzgerald.

"What a shame of you," she said, bursting into a laugh when they were
safely outside; "she's been taught by the best masters."

"How I pity them," retorted Brian, grimly, as Julia wailed out, "Meet
me once again," with an ear-piercing shrillness.

"I'd much rather listen to our ancestral Banshee, and as to meeting her
again, one interview would be more than enough." Madge did not answer,
but leaning lightly over the high rail of the verandah looked out into
the beautiful moonlit night. There were a number of people passing
along the Esplanade, some of whom stopped and listened to Julia's
shrill notes. One man in particular seemed to have a taste for music,
for he persistently stared over the fence at the house. Brian and Madge
talked of divers subjects, but every time Madge looked up she saw the
man watching the house.

"What does that man want, Brian?" she asked.

"What man?" asked Brian, starting. "Oh," he went on indifferently, as
the watcher moved away from the gate and crossed the road on to the
footpath, "he's taken up with the music, I suppose; that's all."

Madge said nothing, but she could not help thinking there was more in
it than the music. Presently Julia ceased, and she proposed to go in.

"Why?" asked Brian, who was lying back in a comfortable seat, smoking a
cigarette. "It's nice enough here."

"I must attend to my guests," she answered, rising. "You stop
here and finish your cigarette," and with a gay laugh she flitted into
the house.

Brian sat and smoked, staring out into the moonlight the while. Yes,
the man was certainly watching the house, for he sat on one of the
seats, and kept his eyes fixed on the brilliantly-lighted windows.
Brian threw away his cigarette and shivered slightly.

"Could anyone have seen me?" he muttered, rising uneasily.

"Pshaw! of course not; and the cabman would never recognise me again.
Curse Whyte, I wish I'd never set eyes upon him."

He gave one glance at the dark figure on the seat, and then, with a
shiver, passed into the warm, well-lighted room. He did not feel easy
in his mind, and he would have felt still less so had he known that the
man on the seat was one of the cleverest of the Melbourne detectives.

Mr. Gorby had been watching the Frettlby mansion the whole evening, and
was getting rather annoyed. Moreland did not know where Fitzgerald
lived, and as that was one of the primary facts the detective wished to
ascertain, he determined to watch Brian's movements, and to trace him
home.

"If he's the lover of that pretty girl, I'll wait till he leaves the
house," argued Mr. Gorby to himself, as he took his seat on the
Esplanade. "He won't long remain away from her, and once he leaves the
house it will be no difficult matter to find out where he lives."

When Brian made his appearance early in the evening, on his way to Mark
Frettlby's mansion, he wore evening dress, a light overcoat, and a soft
hat.

"Well, I'm dashed!" ejaculated Mr. Gorby, when he saw Fitzgerald
disappear; "if he isn't a fool I don't know who is, to go about
in the very clothes he wore when he polished Whyte off, and think he
won't be recognised. Melbourne ain't Paris or London, that he can
afford to be so careless, and when I put the darbies on him he will be
astonished. Ah, well," he went on, lighting his pipe and taking a seat
on the Esplanade, "I suppose I'll have to wait here till he comes out."

Mr. Gorby's patience was pretty severely tried, for hour after hour
passed, and no one appeared. He smoked several pipes, and watched the
people strolling along in the soft silver moonlight. A bevy of girls
passed by with their arms round one another's waists. Then a young man
and woman, evidently lovers, came walking along. They sat down by Mr.
Gorby and looked hard at him, to hint that he need not stay. But the
detective took no heed of them, and kept his eyes steadily upon the
great house opposite. Finally, the lovers took themselves off with a
very bad grace.

Then Mr. Gorby saw Madge and Brian come out on to the verandah, and
heard in the stillness of the night, a sound weird and unearthly. It
was Miss Featherweight singing. He saw Madge go in, shortly followed by
Brian. The latter turned and stared at him for a moment.

"Ah," said Gorby to himself as he re-lit his pipe; "your conscience is
a-smiting you, is it? Wait a bit, my boy, till I have you in gaol."

Then the guests came out of the house, and their black figures
disappeared one by one from the moonlight as they shook hands and said
good-night.

Shortly after Brian came down the path with Frettlby at his side, and
Madge hanging on her father's arm. Frettlby opened the gate and held
out his hand.

"Good-night, Fitzgerald," he said, in a hearty voice; "come soon
again."

"Good-night, Brian, dearest," said Madge, kissing him, "and
don't forget to-morrow."

Then father and daughter closed the gate, leaving Brian outside, and
walked back to the house.

"Ah!" said Mr. Gorby to himself, "if you only knew what I know, you
wouldn't be so precious kind to him."

Brian strolled along the Esplanade, and crossing over, passed by Gorby
and walked on till he was opposite the Esplanade Hotel. Then he leaned
his arms on the fence, and, taking off his hat, enjoyed the calm beauty
of the hour.

"What a good-looking fellow," murmured Mr. Gorby, in a regretful tone.
"I can hardly believe it of him, but the proofs are too clear."

The night was perfectly still. Not a breath of wind stirred, for what
breeze there had been had long since died away. But

Brian could see the white wavelets breaking lightly on the sands. The
long narrow pier ran out like a black thread into the sheet of gleaming
silver, and away in the distance the line of the Williamstown lights
sparkled like some fairy illumination.

Over all this placid scene of land and water was a sky such as Dore
loved--a great heavy mass of rain-clouds heaped one on top of the
other, as the rocks the Titans piled to reach Olympus. Then a break in
the woof, and a bit of dark blue sky could be seen glittering with
stars, in the midst of which sailed the serene moon, shedding down her
light on the cloudland beneath, giving to it all, one silver lining.

Somewhat to the annoyance of Mr. Gorby, who had no eye for the
picturesque, Brian gazed at the sky for several minutes, admiring the
wonderful beauty of its broken masses of light and shade. At length he
lit a cigarette and walked down the steps on to the pier.

"Oh, suicide, is it?" muttered Mr. Gorby. "Not if I can help
it." And he lit his pipe and followed him.

He found Brian leaning over the parapet at the end of the pier, looking
at the glittering waters beneath, which kept rising and falling in a
dreamy rhythm, that soothed and charmed the ear. "Poor girl! poor
girl!" the detective heard him mutter as he came up. "If she only knew
all! If she--"

At this moment he heard the approaching step, and turned round sharply.
The detective saw that his face was ghastly pale in the moonlight, and
his brows wrinkled in anger.

"What the devil do you want?" he burst out, as Gorby paused.

"What do you mean by following me all over the place?"

"Saw me, watching the house," said Gorby to himself. "I'm not following
you, sir," he said aloud. "I suppose the pier ain't private property. I
only came down here for a breath of fresh air."

Fitzgerald did not answer, but turned sharply on his heel, and walked
quickly up the pier, leaving Gorby staring after him.

"He's getting frightened," soliloquised the detective to himself, as he
strolled easily along, keeping the black figure in front well in view.
"I'll have to keep a sharp eye on him or he'll be clearing out of
Victoria."

Brian walked rapidly up to the St. Kilda station, for on looking at his
watch he found that he would just have time to catch the last train. He
arrived a few minutes before it started, so, getting into the smoking
carriage at the near end of the platform, he lit a cigarette, and,
leaning back in his seat, watched the late comers hurrying into the
station. Just as the last bell rang he saw a man rush along, to catch
the train. It was the same man who had been watching him the whole
evening, and Brian felt confident that he was being followed. He
comforted himself, however, with the thought that this pertinacious
follower might lose the train, and, being in the last carriage himself,
he kept a look out along the platform, expecting to see his friend of
the Esplanade standing disappointed on it. There was no appearance of
him, so Brian, sinking back into his seat, lamented his ill-luck in not
shaking off this man who kept him under such strict surveillance.

"Confound him!" he muttered softly. "I expect he will follow me to East
Melbourne, and find out where I live, but he shan't if I can help it."

There was no one but himself in the carriage, and he felt relieved at
this because he was in no humour to hear chatter.

"Murdered in a cab," he said, lighting a fresh cigarette, and blowing a
cloud of smoke. "A romance in real life, which beats Miss Braddon
hollow. There is one thing certain, he won't come between Madge and me
again. Poor Madge!" with an impatient sigh. "If she only knew all,
there would not be much chance of our marriage; but she can never find
out, and I don't suppose anyone else will."

Here a thought suddenly struck him, and rising out of his seat, he
walked to the other end of the carriage, and threw himself on the
cushions, as if desirous to escape from himself.

"What grounds can that man have for suspecting me?" he said aloud. "No
one knows I was with Whyte on that night, and the police can't possibly
bring forward any evidence to show that I was. Pshaw!" he went on,
impatiently buttoning up his coat. "I am like a child, afraid of my
shadow--the fellow on the pier is only some one out for a breath of
fresh air, as he said himself--I am quite safe."

At the same time, he felt by no means easy in his mind, and as he
stepped out on to the platform at the Melbourne station he
looked round apprehensively, as if he half expected to feel the
detective's hand upon his shoulder. But he saw no one at all like the
man he had met on the St. Kilda pier, and with a sigh of relief he left
the station. Mr. Gorby, however, was not far away. He was following at
a safe distance. Brian walked slowly along Flinders Street apparently
deep in thought. He turned up Russell Street and did not stop until he
found himself close to the Burke and Wills' monument--the exact spot
where the cab had stopped on the night of Whyte's murder.

"Ah!" said the detective to himself, as he stood in the shadow on the
opposite side of the street. "You're going to have a look at it, are
you?--I wouldn't, if I were you--it's dangerous."

Fitzgerald stood for a few minutes at the corner, and then walked up
Collins Street. When he got to the cab-stand, opposite the Melbourne
Club, still suspecting he was followed, he hailed a hansom, and drove
away in the direction of Spring Street. Gorby was rather perplexed at
this sudden move, but without delay, he hailed another cab, and told
the driver to follow the first till it stopped.

"Two can play at that game," he said, settling himself back in the cab,
"and I'll get the better of you, clever as you are--and you are
clever," he went on in a tone of admiration, as he looked round the
luxurious hansom, "to choose such a convenient place for a murder; no
disturbance and plenty of time for escape after you had finished; it's
a pleasure going after a chap like you, instead of after men who tumble
down like ripe fruit, and ain't got any brains to keep their crime
quiet."

While the detective thus soliloquised, his cab, following on the trail
of the other, had turned down Spring Street, and was being driven
rapidly along the Wellington Parade, in the direction of East
Melbourne. It then turned up Powlett Street, at which Mr. Gorby was
glad.

"Ain't so clever as I thought," he said to himself. "Shows his nest
right off, without any attempt to hide it."

The detective, however, had reckoned without his host, for the cab in
front kept driving on, through an interminable maze of streets, until
it seemed as though Brian were determined to drive the whole night.

"Look 'ere, sir!" cried Gorby's cabman, looking through his trap-door
in the roof of the hansom, "'ow long's this 'ere game agoin' to larst?
My 'oss is knocked up, 'e is, and 'is blessed old legs is agivin' way
under 'im!"

"Go on! go on!" answered the detective, impatiently; "I'll pay you
well."

The cabman's spirits were raised by this, and by dint of coaxing and a
liberal use of the whip, he managed to get his jaded horse up to a
pretty good pace. They were in Fitzroy by this time, and both cabs
turned out of Gertrude Street into Nicholson Street; thence passed on
to Evelyn Street and along Spring Street, until Brian's cab stopped at
the corner of Collins Street, and Gorby saw him alight and dismiss his
cab-man. He then walked down the street and disappeared into the
Treasury Gardens.

"Confound it," said the detective, as he got out and paid his fare,
which was by no means a light one, but over which he had no time to
argue, "we've come in a circle, and I do believe he lives in Powlett
Street after all."

He went into the gardens, and saw Brian some distance ahead of him,
walking rapidly. It was bright moonlight, and he could easily
distinguish Fitzgerald by his light coat.

As he went along that noble avenue with its elms in their winter dress,
the moon shining through their branches wrought a fantastic tracery, on
the smooth asphalte. And on either side Gorby could see the dim
white forms of the old Greek gods and goddesses--Venus Victrix, with
the apple in her hand (which Mr. Gorby, in his happy ignorance of
heathen mythology, took for Eve offering Adam the forbidden fruit);
Diana, with the hound at her feet, and Bacchus and Ariadne (which the
detective imagined were the Babes in the Wood). He knew that each of
the statues had queer names, but thought they were merely allegorical.
Passing over the bridge, with the water rippling quietly underneath,
Brian went up the smooth yellow path to where the statue of Hebe,
holding the cup, seems instinct with life; and turning down the path to
the right, he left the gardens by the end gate, near which stands the
statue of the Dancing Faun, with the great bush of scarlet geranium
burning like an altar before it. Then he went along the Wellington
Parade, and turned up Powlett Street, where he stopped at a house near
Cairns' Memorial Church, much to Mr. Gorby's relief, who, being like
Hamlet, "fat and scant of breath," found himself rather exhausted. He
kept well in the shadow, however, and saw Fitzgerald give one final
look round before he disappeared into the house. Then Mr. Gorby, like
the Robber Captain in Ali Baba, took careful stock of the house, and
fixed its locality and appearance well in his mind, as he intended to
call at it on the morrow.

"What I'm going to do," he said, as he walked slowly back to Melbourne,
"is to see his landlady when he's out, and find out what time he came
in on the night of the murder. If it fits into the time he got out of
Rankin's cab, I'll get out a warrant, and arrest him straight off."




CHAPTER IX.



MR. GORBY IS SATISFIED AT LAST.


In spite of his long walk, and still longer drive, Brian did not sleep
well that night. He kept tossing and turning, or lying on his back,
wide awake, looking into the darkness and thinking of Whyte. Towards
dawn, when the first faint glimmer of morning came through the venetian
blinds, he fell into a sort of uneasy doze, haunted by horrible dreams.
He thought he was driving in a hansom, when suddenly he found Whyte by
his side, clad in white cerements, grinning and gibbering at him with
ghastly merriment. Then the cab went over a precipice, and he fell from
a great height, down, down, with the mocking laughter still sounding in
his ears, until he woke with a loud cry, and found it was broad
daylight, and that drops of perspiration were standing on his brow. It
was no use trying to sleep any longer, so, with a weary sigh, he arose
and went to his tub, feeling jaded and worn out by worry and want of
sleep. His bath did him some good. The cold water brightened him up and
pulled him together. Still he could not help giving a start of surprise
when he saw his face reflected in the mirror, old and haggard-looking,
with dark circles round the eyes.

"A pleasant life I'll have of it if this sort of thing goes on," he
said, bitterly, "I wish I had never seen, or heard of Whyte."

He dressed himself carefully. He was not a man to neglect his
toilet, however worried and out of sorts he might happen to feel. Yet,
notwithstanding all his efforts the change in his appearance did not.
escape the eye of his landlady. She was a small, dried-up little woman,
with a wrinkled yellowish face. She seemed parched up and brittle.
Whenever she moved she crackled, and one went in constant dread of
seeing a wizen-looking limb break off short like the branch of some
dead tree. When she spoke it was in a voice hard and shrill, not unlike
the chirp of a cricket. When--as was frequently the case--she clothed
her attenuated form in a faded brown silk gown, her resemblance to that
lively insect was remarkable.

And, as on this morning she crackled into Brian's sitting-room with the
ARGUS and his coffee, a look of dismay at his altered appearance, came
over her stony little countenance.

"Dear me, sir," she chirped out in her shrill voice, as she placed her
burden on the table, "are you took bad?"

Brian shook his head.

"Want of sleep, that's all, Mrs. Sampson," he answered, unfolding the
ARGUS.

"Ah! that's because ye ain't got enough blood in yer 'ead," said Mrs.
Sampson, wisely, for she had her own ideas on the subject of health.
"If you ain't got blood you ain't got sleep."

Brian looked at her as she said this, for there seemed such an obvious
want of blood in her veins that he wondered if she had ever slept in
all her life.

"There was my father's brother, which, of course, makes 'im my uncle,"
went on the landlady, pouring out a cup of coffee for Brian, "an' the
blood 'e 'ad was somethin' astoundin', which it made 'im sleep that
long as they 'ad to draw pints from 'im afore 'e'd wake in the
mornin'."

Brian had the ARGUS before his face, and under its friendly cover he
laughed quietly to himself.

"His blood poured out like a river," went on the landlady, still
drawing from the rich stores of her imagination, "and the doctor was
struck dumb with astonishment at seein' the Nigagerer which burst from
'im--but I'm not so full-blooded myself."

Fitzgerald again stifled a laugh, and wondered that Mrs. Sampson was
not afraid of being treated as were Ananias and Sapphira. However, he
said nothing, but merely intimated that if she would leave the room he
would take his breakfast.

"An' if you wants anythin' else, Mr. Fitzgerald," she said, going to
the door, "you knows your way to the bell as easily as I do to the
kitching," and, with a final chirrup, she crackled out of the room.

As soon as the door was closed, Brian put down his paper and roared, in
spite of his worries. He had that extraordinary vivacious Irish
temperament, which enables a man to put all trouble behind his back,
and thoroughly enjoy the present. His landlady, with her Arabian
Nightlike romances, was a source of great amusement to him, and he felt
considerably cheered by the odd turn her humour had taken this morning.
After a time, however, his laughter ceased, and his troubles came
crowding on him again. He drank his coffee, but pushed away the food
which was before him; and looked through the ARGUS, for the latest
report about the murder case. What he read made his cheek turn a shade
paler than before. He could feel his heart thumping wildly.

"They've found a clue, have they?" he muttered, rising and pacing
restlessly up and down. "I wonder what it can be? I threw that man off
the scent last night, but if he suspects me, there will be no
difficulty in his finding out where I live. Bah! What nonsense I am
talking. I am the victim of my own morbid imagination. There is nothing
to connect me with the crime, so I need not be afraid of my shadow.
I've a good mind to leave town for a time, but if I am suspected
that would excite suspicion. Oh, Madge! my darling," he cried
passionately, "if you only knew what I suffer, I know that you would
pity me--but you must never know the truth--Never! Never!" and
sinking into a chair by the window, he covered his face with his hands.
After remaining in this position for some minutes, occupied with his
own gloomy thoughts, he arose and rang the bell. A faint crackle in the
distance announced that Mrs. Sampson had heard it, and she soon came
into the room, looking more like a cricket than ever. Brian had gone
into his bedroom, and called out to her from there--

"I am going down to St. Kilda, Mrs. Sampson," he said, "and probably I
shall not be back all day."

"Which I 'opes it 'ull do you good," she answered, "for you've eaten
nothin', an' the sea breezes is miraculous for makin' you take to your
victuals. My mother's brother, bein' a sailor, an' wonderful for 'is
stomach, which, when 'e 'ad done a meal, the table looked as if a
low-cuss had gone over it."

"A what?" asked Fitzgerald, buttoning his gloves.

"A low-cuss!" replied the landlady, in surprise at his ignorance, "as
I've read in 'Oly Writ, as 'ow John the Baptist was partial to 'em, not
that I think they'd be very fillin', tho', to be sure, 'e 'ad a sweet
tooth, and ate 'oney with 'em."

"Oh! you mean locusts," said Brian now enlightened.

"An' what else?" asked Mrs. Sampson, indignantly; "which, tho' not
bein' a scholar'd, I speaks English, I 'opes, my mother's second cousin
'avin' 'ad first prize at a spellin' bee, tho' 'e died early through
brain fever, 'avin' crowded 'is 'ead over much with the dictionary."

"Dear me!" answered Brian, mechanically. "How unfortunate!" He was not
listening to Mrs. Sampson's remarks. He suddenly remembered an
arrangement which Madge had made, and which up till now had slipped his
memory.

"Mrs. Sampson," he said, turning round at the door, "I am going to
bring Mr. Frettlby and his daughter to have a cup of afternoon tea
here, so you might have some ready."

"You 'ave only to ask and to 'ave," answered Mrs. Sampson, hospitably,
with a gratified crackle of all her joints. "I'll make the tea, sir,
an' also some of my own perticler cakes, bein' a special kind I 'ave,
which my mother showed me. 'ow to make, 'avin' been taught by a lady as
she nussed thro' the scarlet fever, tho' bein' of a weak constitootion,
she died soon arter, bein' in the 'abit of contractin' any disease she
might chance on."

Brian hurried off lest in her Poe-like appreciation of them, Mrs.
Sampson should give vent to more charnel-house horrors.

At one period of her life, the little woman had been a nurse, and it
was told of her that she had frightened one of her patients into
convulsions during the night by narrating to her the history of all the
corpses she had laid out. This ghoul-like tendency in the end proved
fatal to her professional advancement.

As soon as Fitzgerald had gone, she went over to the window and watched
him as he walked slowly down the street--a tall, handsome man, of whom
any woman would be proud.

"What an awful thing it are to think 'e'll be a corpse some day," she
chirped cheerily to herself, "tho' of course bein' a great swell in 'is
own place, 'e'll 'ave a nice airy vault, which 'ud be far more
comfortable than a close, stuffy grave, even tho' it 'as a tombstone
an' vi'lets over it. Ah, now! Who are you, impertinence?" she broke
off, as a stout man in a light suit of clothes crossed the road and
rang the bell, "a-pullin' at the bell as if it were a pump 'andle."

As the gentleman at the door, who was none other than Mr. Gorby,
did not hear her, he of course did not reply, so she hurried down the
stairs, crackling with anger at the rough usage her bell had received.

Mr. Gorby had Been Brian go out, and deeming it a good opportunity for
enquiry had lost no time in making a start.

"You nearly tored the bell down," said Mrs. Sampson, as she presented
her thin body and wrinkled face to the view of the detective.

"I'm very sorry," answered Gorby, meekly. "I'll knock next time."

"Oh, no you won't," said the landlady, tossing her head, "me not 'avin'
a knocker, an' your 'and a-scratchin' the paint off the door, which it
ain't been done over six months by my sister-in-law's cousin, which 'e
is a painter, with a shop in Fitzroy, an' a wonderful heye to colour."

"Does Mr. Fitzgerald live here?" asked Mr. Gorby, quietly.

"He do," replied Mrs. Sampson, "but 'e's gone out, an' won't be back
till the arternoon, which any messige 'ull be delivered to 'im punctual
on 'is arrival."

"I'm glad he's not in," said Mr. Gorby. "Would you allow me to have a
few moments' conversation?"

"What is it?" asked the landlady, her curiosity being roused.

"I'll tell you when we get inside," answered Mr. Gorby.

She looked at him with her sharp little eyes, and seeing nothing
disreputable about him, led the way upstairs, crackling loudly the
whole time. This so astonished Mr. Gorby that he cast about in his own
mind for an explanation of the phenomenon.

"Wants oiling about the jints," was his conclusion, "but I never
heard anything like it, and she looks as if she'd snap in two, she's
that brittle."

Mrs. Sampson took Gorby into Brian's sitting-room, and having closed
the door, sat down and prepared to hear what he had to say for himself.

"I 'ope it ain't bills," she said. "Mr. Fitzgerald 'avin' money in the
bank, and everythin' respectable like a gentleman as 'e is, tho', to be
sure, your bill might come down on him unbeknown, 'e not 'avin' kept it
in mind, which it ain't everybody as 'ave sich a good memory as my aunt
on my mother's side, she 'avin' been famous for 'er dates like a
'istory, not to speak of 'er multiplication tables, and the numbers of
people's 'ouses."

"It's not bills," answered Mr. Gorby, who, having vainly attempted to
stem the shrill torrent of words, had given in, and waited mildly until
she had finished; "I only want to know a few things about Mr.
Fitzgerald's habits."

"And what for?" asked Mrs. Sampson, indignantly. "Are you a noospaper
a-putin' in articles about people who don't want to see 'emselves in
print, which I knows your 'abits, my late 'usband 'avin' bin a printer
on a paper which bust up, not 'avin' the money to pay wages, thro'
which, there was doo to him the sum of one pound seven and sixpence
halfpenny, which I, bein' 'is widder, ought to 'ave, not that I expects
to see it on this side of the grave--oh, dear, no!" and she gave a
shrill, elfish laugh.

Mr. Gorby, seeing that unless he took the bull by the horns, he would
never be able to get what he wanted, grew desperate, and plunged in
MEDIAS RES.

"I am an insurance agent," he said, rapidly, so as to prevent any
interruption, "and Mr. Fitzgerald desires to insure his life in our
company. I, therefore, want to find out if he is a good life to insure;
does he live temperately? keep early hours? and, in fact, all about
him?"

"I shall be 'appy to answer any enquiries which may be of use to
you, sir," replied Mrs. Sampson; "knowin' as I do, 'ow good a insurance
is to a family, should the 'ead of it be taken off unexpected, leavin'
a widder, which, as I know, Mr. Fitzgerald is a-goin' to be married
soon, an' I 'opes 'e'll be 'appy, tho' thro' it I loses a lodger as 'as
allays paid regler, an' be'aved like a gentleman."

"So he is a temperate man?" said Mr. Gorby, feeling his way cautiously.

"Not bein' a blue ribbing all the same," answered Mrs. Sampson; "and I
never saw him the wuss for drink, 'e being allays able to use his
latch-key, and take 'is boots off afore going to bed, which is no more
than a woman ought to expect from a lodger, she 'avin' to do 'er own
washin'."

"And he keeps good hours?"

"Allays in afore the clock strikes twelve," answered the landlady;
"tho', to be sure, I uses it as a figger of speech, none of the clocks
in the 'ouse strikin' but one, which is bein' mended, 'avin' broke
through overwindin'."

"Is he always in before twelve?" asked Mr. Gorby, keenly disappointed
at this answer.

Mrs. Sampson eyed him waggishly, and a smile crept over her wrinkled
little face.

"Young men, not bein' old men," she replied, cautiously, "and sinners
not bein' saints, it's not nattral as latch-keys should be made for
ornament instead of use, and Mr. Fitzgerald bein' one of the 'andsomest
men in Melbourne, it ain't to be expected as 'e should let 'is
latch-key git rusty, tho' 'avin' a good moral character, 'e uses it
with moderation."

"But I suppose you are seldom awake when he comes in really late," said
the detective.

"Not as a rule," assented Mrs. Sampson; "bein' a 'eavy sleeper, and
much disposed for bed, but I 'ave 'eard 'im come in arter twelve, the
last time bein' Thursday week."

"Ah!" Mr. Gorby drew a long breath, for Thursday week was the
night upon which the murder was committed.

"Bein' troubled with my 'ead," said Mrs. Sampson, "thro' 'avin' been
out in the sun all day a-washin', I did not feel so partial to my bed
that night as in general, so went down to the kitching with the intent
of getting a linseed poultice to put at the back of my 'ead, it being
calculated to remove pain, as was told to me, when a nuss, by a doctor
in the horspital, 'e now bein' in business for hisself, at Geelong,
with a large family, 'avin' married early. Just as I was leavin' the
kitching I 'eard Mr. Fitzgerald a-comin' in, and, turnin' round, looked
at the clock, that 'avin' been my custom when my late 'usband came in,
in the early mornin', I bein' a-preparin' 'is meal."

"And the time was?" asked Mr. Gorby, breathlessly.

"Five minutes to two o'clock," replied Mrs. Sampson. Mr. Gorby thought
for a moment.

"Cab was hailed at one o'clock--started for St. Kilda at about ten
minutes past--reached Grammar School, say, at twenty-five minutes
past--Fitzgerald talks five minutes to cabman, making it half-past--say,
he waited ten minutes for other cab to turn up, makes it twenty minutes
to two--it would take another twenty minutes to get to East Melbourne--and
five minutes to walk up here--that makes it five minutes past
two instead of before--confound it. 'Was your clock in the kitchen
right?'" he asked, aloud.

"Well, I think so," answered Mrs. Sampson. "It does get a little slow
sometimes, not 'avin' been cleaned for some time, which my nevy bein' a
watchmaker I allays 'ands it over to 'im."

"Of course it was slow on that night," said Gorby, triumphantly.

"He must have come in at five minutes past two--which makes it right."

"Makes what right?" asked the landlady, sharply. "And 'ow do you
know my clock was ten minutes wrong?"

"Oh, it was, was it?" asked Gorby, eagerly.

"I'm not denyin' of it," replied Mrs. Sampson; "clocks ain't allays to
be relied on more than men an' women--but it won't be anythin' agin
'is insurance, will it, as in general 'e's in afore twelve?"

"Oh, all that will be quite safe," answered the detective, delighted
with the information he had obtained. "Is this Mr. Fitzgerald's room?"

"Yes, it is," replied the landlady; "but 'e furnished it 'imself, bein'
of a luxurus turn of mind, not but what 'is taste is good, tho' far be
it from me to deny I 'elped 'im to select; but 'avin' another room of
the same to let, any friends as you might 'ave in search of a 'ome 'ud
be well looked arter, my references bein' very 'igh, an' my cookin'
tasty--an' if--"

Here a ring at the front door bell called Mrs. Sampson away, so with a
hurried word to Gorby she crackled downstairs. Left to himself, Mr.
Gorby arose and looked round the room. It was excellently furnished,
and the pictures were good. At one end of the room, by the window,
there was a writing-table covered with papers.

"It's no good looking for the papers he took out of Whyte's pocket, I
suppose," said the detective to himself, as he turned over some
letters, "as I don't know what they are, and I couldn't tell them if I
saw them; but I'd like to find that missing glove and the bottle that
held the chloroform--unless he's done away with them. There doesn't
seem any sign of them here, so I'll have a look in his bedroom."

There was no time to lose, as Mrs. Sampson might return at any moment,
so Mr. Gorby walked quickly into the bedroom, which opened off the
sitting-room. The first thing that caught the detective's eye was a
large photograph, in a plush frame, of Madge Frettlby. It stood
on the dressing-table, and was similar to that one which he had already
seen in Whyte's album. He took it up with a laugh.

"You're a pretty girl," he said, apostrophising the picture, "but you
give your photograph to two young men, both in love with you, and both
hot-tempered. The result is that one is dead, and the other won't
survive him long. That's what you've done."

He put it down again, and looking round the room, caught sight of a
light covert coat hanging behind the door and also a soft hat.

"Ah," said the detective, going up to the door, "here is the very coat
you wore when you killed that poor fellow wonder what you have in the
pockets," and he plunged his hand into them in turn. There were an old
theatre programme and a pair of brown gloves in one, but in the second
pocket Mr. Gorby made a discovery--none other than that of the missing
glove. There it was--a soiled white glove for the right hand, with
black bands down the back; and the detective smiled in a gratified
manner as he put it carefully in his pocket.

"My morning has not been wasted," he said to himself. "I've found out
that he came in at a time which corresponds to all his movements after
one o'clock on Thursday night, and this is the missing glove, which
clearly belonged to Whyte. If I could only get hold of the chloroform
bottle I'd be satisfied."

But the chloroform bottle was not to be found, though he searched most
carefully for it. At last, hearing Mrs. Sampson coming upstairs again,
he gave up the search, and came back to the sitting-room.

"Threw it away, I suspect," he said, as he sat down in his, old place;
"but it doesn't matter. I think I can form a chain of evidence,
from what I have discovered, which will be sufficient to convict him.
Besides, I expect when he is arrested he will confess everything; he
seems to feel remorse for what he has done."

The door opened, and Mrs. Sampson entered the room in a state of
indignation.

"One of them Chinese 'awkers," she explained, "'e's bin a-tryin' to git
the better of me over carrots--as if I didn't know what carrots was--and
'im a-talkin' about a shillin' in his gibberish, as if 'e 'adn't
been brought up in a place where they don't know what a shillin' is.
But I never could abide furreigners ever since a Frenchman, as taught
me 'is language, made orf with my mother's silver tea-pot, unbeknown to
'er, it bein' set out on the sideboard for company."

Mr. Gorby interrupted these domestic reminiscences of Mrs. Sampson's by
stating that, now she had given him all necessary information, he would
take his departure.

"An' I 'opes," said Mrs. Sampson, as she opened the door for him, "as
I'll 'ave the pleasure of seein' you again should any business on
be'alf of Mr. Fitzgerald require it."

"Oh, I'll see you again," said Mr. Gorby, with heavy jocularity, "and
in a way you won't like, as you'll be called as a witness," he added,
mentally. "Did I understand you to say, Mrs. Sampson," he went on,
"that Mr. Fitzgerald would be at home this afternoon?"

"Oh, yes, sir, 'e will," answered Mrs. Sampson, "a-drinkin' tea with
his young lady, who is Miss Frettlby, and 'as got no end of money, not
but what I mightn't 'ave 'ad the same 'ad I been born in a 'igher
spear."

"You need not tell Mr. Fitzgerald I have been here," said Gorby,
closing the gate; "I'll probably call and see him myself this
afternoon."

"What a stout person 'e are," said Mrs. Sampson to herself, as
the detective walked away, "just like my late father, who was allays
fleshy, bein' a great eater, and fond of 'is glass, but I took arter my
mother's family, they bein' thin-like, and proud of keeping 'emselves
so, as the vinegar they drank could testify, not that I indulge in it
myself."

She shut the door, and went upstairs to take away the breakfast things,
while Gorby was being driven along at a good pace to the police office,
to obtain a warrant for Brian's arrest, on a charge of wilful murder.




CHAPTER X.



IN THE QUEEN'S NAME.


It was a broiling hot day--one of those cloudless days, with the
blazing sun beating down on the arid streets, and casting deep, black
shadows--a real Australian December day dropped by mistake of the
clerk of the weather into the middle of August. The previous week
having been really chilly, it was all the more welcome.

It was Saturday morning, and fashionable Melbourne was "doing the
Block." Collins Street is to the Southern city what Bond Street and the
Row are to London, and the Boulevards to Paris.

It is on the Block that people show off their new dresses, bow to their
friends, cut their enemies, and chatter small talk. The same thing no
doubt occurred in the Appian Way, the fashionable street of Imperial
Rome, when Catullus talked gay nonsense to Lesbia, and Horace received
the congratulations of his friends over his new volume of society
verses. History repeats itself, and every city is bound by all the laws
of civilisation to have one special street, wherein the votaries of
fashion can congregate.

Collins Street is not, of course, such a grand thoroughfare as those
above mentioned, but the people who stroll up and down the broad
pavement are quite as charmingly dressed, and as pleasant as any
of the peripatetics of those famous cities. As the sun brings out
bright flowers, so the seductive influence of the hot weather had
brought out all the ladies in gay dresses of innumerable colours, which
made the long street look like a restless rainbow.

Carriages were bowling smoothly along, their occupants smiling and
bowing as they recognised their friends on the side walk. Lawyers,
their legal quibbles finished for the week, were strolling leisurely
with their black bags in their hands; portly merchants, forgetting
Flinder's Lane and incoming ships, walked beside their pretty
daughters; and the representatives of swelldom were stalking along in
their customary apparel of curly brimmed hats, high collars, and
immaculate suits. Altogether, it was a pleasant and animated scene,
which would have delighted the heart of anyone who was not dyspeptic,
or in love--dyspeptic people and lovers (disappointed ones, of course)
being wont to survey the world in a cynical vein.

Madge Frettlby was engaged in that occupation so dear to every female
heart--shopping. She was in Moubray, Rowan, and Hicks', turning over
ribbons and laces, while the faithful Brian waited for her outside, and
amused himself by looking at the human stream which flowed along the
pavement.

He disliked shopping quite as much as the majority of his sex, and
though as a lover he felt a certain amount of self-abnegation to be
becoming in him, it was difficult to drive away the thoughts of his
pleasant club, where he could be reading and smoking, with, perchance,
something cooling in a glass beside him.

However, after she had purchased a dozen or more articles she did not
want, Madge remembered that Brian was waiting for her, and hurried to
the door.

"I haven't been many minutes, have I, dear?" she said, touching him
lightly on the arm.

"Oh, dear no," answered Brian, looking at his watch, "only
thirty--a mere nothing, considering a new dress was being discussed."

"I thought I had been longer," said Madge, her brow clearing; "but
still I am sure you feel a martyr."

"Not at all," replied Fitzgerald, handing her into the carriage; "I
enjoyed myself very much."

"Nonsense," she laughed, opening her sunshade, while Brian took his
seat beside her; "that's one of those social stories--which every one
considers themselves bound to tell from a sense of duty. I'm afraid I
did keep you waiting--though, after all," she went on, with a true
feminine idea as to the flight of time, "I was only a few minutes."

"And the rest," said Brian, quizzically looking at her pretty face, so
charmingly flushed under her great white hat.

Madge disdained to notice this interruption.

"James," she cried to the coachman, "drive to the Melbourne Club. Papa
will be there, you know," she said to Brian, "and we'll take him off to
have tea with us."

"But it's only one o'clock," said Brian, as the Town Hall clock came in
sight. "Mrs. Sampson won't be ready."

"Oh, anything will do," replied Madge, "a cup of tea and some thin
bread and butter isn't hard to prepare. I don't feel like lunch, and
papa eats so little in the middle of the day, and you--"

"Eat a great deal at all times," finished Brian with a laugh.

Madge went on chattering in her usual lively manner, and Brian listened
to her with delight. Her pleasant talk drove away the evil spirit which
had been with him for the last three weeks. Suddenly Madge made an
observation as they were passing the Burke and Wills' monument, which
startled him.

"Isn't that the place where Mr Whyte got into the cab?" she
asked, looking at the corner near the Scotch Church, where a vagrant of
musical tendencies was playing "Just before the Battle, Mother," on a
battered old concertina.

"So the papers say," answered Brian, listlessly, without turning his
head.

"I wonder who the gentleman in the light coat could have been," said
Madge, as she settled herself again.

"No one seems to know," he replied evasively.

"Ah, but they have a clue," she said. "Do you know, Brian," she went
on, "that he was dressed just like you in a light overcoat and soft
hat?"

"How remarkable," said Fitzgerald, speaking in a slightly sarcastic
tone, and as calmly as he was able. "He was dressed in the same manner
as nine out of every ten young fellows in Melbourne."

Madge looked at him in surprise at the tone in which he spoke, so
different from his usual nonchalant way of speaking. She was about to
answer when the carriage stopped at the door of the Melbourne Club.
Brian, anxious to escape any more remarks about the murder, sprang
quickly out, and ran up the steps into the building. He found Mr.
Frettlby smoking complacently, and reading the AGE. As Fitzgerald
entered he looked up, and putting down the paper, held out his hand,
which the other took.

"Ah! Fitzgerald," he said, "have you left the attractions of Collins
Street for the still greater ones of Clubland?"

"Not I," answered Brian. "I've come to carry you off to afternoon tea
with Madge and myself."

"I don't mind," answered Mr. Frettlby rising; "but, isn't afternoon tea
at half-past one rather an anomaly?"

"What's in a name?" said Fitzgerald, absently, as they left the room.
"What have you been doing all morning?"

"I've been in here for the last half-hour reading," answered the
other, carelessly.

"Wool market, I suppose?"

"No, the hansom cab murder."

"Oh, d--that thing!" said Brian, hastily; then, seeing his companion
looking at him in surprise, he apologised. "But, indeed," he went on,
"I'm nearly worried to death by people asking about Whyte, as if I knew
all about him, whereas I know nothing."

"Just as well you don't," answered Mr. Frettlby, as they descended the
steps together; "he was not a very desirable companion."

It was on the tip of Brian's tongue to say, "And yet you wanted him to
marry your daughter," but he wisely refrained, and they reached the
carriage in silence.

"Now then, papa," said Madge, when they were all settled in the
carriage, and it was rolling along smoothly in the direction of East
Melbourne, "what have you been doing?"

"Enjoying myself," answered her father, "until you and Brian came, and
dragged me out into this blazing sunshine."

"Well, Brian has been so good of late," said Madge, "that I had to
reward him, so I knew that nothing would please him better than to play
host."

"Certainly," said Brian, rousing himself out of a fit of abstraction,
"especially when one has such charming visitors."

Madge laughed at this, and made a little grimace.

"If your tea is only equal to your compliments," she said lightly, "I'm
sure papa will forgive us for dragging him away from his club."

"Papa will forgive anything," murmured Mr. Frettlby, tilting his hat
over his eyes, "so long as he gets somewhere out of the sun. I
can't say I care about playing the parts of Shadrach, Meshach, and
Abednego in the fiery furnace of a Melbourne hot day."

"There now, papa is quite a host in himself," said Madge mischievously,
as, the carriage drew up at Mrs. Sampson's door.

"No, you are wrong," said Brian, as he alighted and helped her out; "I
am the host in myself this time."

"If there is one thing I hate above another," observed Miss Frettlby,
calmly, "it's a pun, and especially a bad one."

Mrs. Sampson was very much astonished at the early arrival of her
lodger's guests, and did not hesitate to express her astonishment.

"Bein' taken by surprise," she said, with an apologetic cackle, "it
ain't to be suppose as miraculs can be performed with regard to
cookin', the fire havin' gone out, not bein' kept alight on account of
the 'eat of the day, which was that 'ot as never was, tho', to be sure,
bein' a child in the early days, I remember it were that 'ot as my
sister's aunt was in the 'abit of roastin' her jints in the sun."

After telling this last romance, and leaving her visitors in doubt
whether the joints referred to belonged to an animal or to her sister's
aunt or to herself, Mrs. Sampson crackled away downstairs to get things
ready.

"What a curious thing that landlady of yours is, Brian," said Madge,
from the depths of a huge arm-chair. "I believe she's a grasshopper
from the Fitzroy Gardens."

"Oh, no, she's a woman," said Mr. Frettlby, cynically. "You can tell
that by the length of her tongue."

"A popular error, papa," retorted Madge, sharply. "I know plenty of men
who talk far more than any woman."

"I hope I'll never meet them, then," said Mr. Frettlby, "for if
I did I should be inclined to agree with De Quincey on murder as a fine
art."

Brian winced at this, and looked apprehensively at Madge, and saw with
relief that she was not paying attention to her father, but was
listening intently.

"There she is," as a faint rustle at the door announced the arrival of
Mrs. Sampson and the tea-tray. "I wonder, Brian, you don't think the
house is on fire with that queer noise always going on--she wants
oil!"

"Yes, St. Jacob's oil," laughed Brian, as Mrs. Sampson entered, and
placed her burden on the table.

"Not 'avin' any cake," said that lady, "thro' not being forewarned as
to the time of arrival--tho' it's not ofting I'm taken by surprise--except
as to a 'eadache, which, of course, is accidental to every
pusson--I ain't got nothin' but bread and butter, the baker and grocer
both bein' all that could be desired, except in the way of worryin' for
their money, which they thinks as 'ow I keeps the bank in the 'ouse,
like Allading's cave, as I've 'eard tell in the Arabian Nights, me
'avin' gained it as a prize for English in my early girl'ood, bein'
then considered a scholard an' industrus."

Mrs. Sampson's shrill apologies for the absence of cake having been
received, she hopped out of the room, and Madge made the tea. The
service was a quaint Chinese one, which Brian had picked up in his
wanderings. He used it only on special occasions. As he watched Madge
he could not help thinking how pretty she looked, with her hands moving
deftly among the cups and saucers, so bizarre-looking with their
sprawling dragons of yellow and green. He half smiled to himself as he
thought, "If they knew all, I wonder if they would sit with me so
unconcernedly."

Mr. Frettlby, too, as he looked at his daughter, thought of his dead
wife and sighed.

"Well," said Madge, as she handed them their tea, and helped
herself to some thin bread and butter, "you two gentlemen are most
delightful company--papa is sighing like 3 furnace, and Brian is
staring at me with his eyes like blue china saucers. You ought both to
be turned forth to funerals like melancholy."

"Why like melancholy?" queried Brian, lazily.

"I'm afraid, Mr. Fitzgerald," said the young lady with 3 smile in her
pretty black eyes, "that you are not a student of 'A Midsummer Night's
Dream.'"

"Very likely not," answered Brian; "midsummer out here is so hot that
one gets no sleep, and, consequently no dreams. Depend upon it, if the
four lovers whom Puck treated so badly had lived in Australia they
wouldn't have been able to sleep for the mosquitoes."

"What nonsense you two young people do talk," said Mr. Frettlby, with
an amused smile, as he stirred his tea.

"Dulce est desipere in loco," observed Brian, gravely, "a man who can't
carry out that observation is sure not to be up to much."

"I don't like Latin," said Miss Frettlby, shaking her pretty head. "I
agree with Heine's remark, that if the Romans had been forced to learn
it they would not have found time to conquer the world."

"Which was a much more agreeable task," said Brian.

"And more profitable," finished Mr. Frettlby.

They chattered in this desultory fashion for a considerable time, till
at last Madge rose and said they must go.

Brian proposed to dine with them at St. Kilda, and then they would all
go to Brock's Fireworks. Madge consented to this, and she was just
pulling on her gloves when suddenly they heard a ring at the front
door, and presently Mrs. Sampson talking in an excited manner at
the pitch of her voice.

"You shan't come in, I tell you," they heard her say shrilly, "so it's
no good trying, which I've allays 'eard as an Englishman's 'ouse is 'is
castle, an' you're a-breakin' the law, as well as a-spilin' the
carpets, which 'as bin newly put down."

Some one made a reply; then the door of Brian's room was thrown open,
and Gorby walked in, followed by another man. Fitzgerald turned as
white as a sheet, for he felt instinctively that they had come for him.
However, pulling himself together, he demanded, in a haughty tone, the
reason of the intrusion.

Mr. Gorby walked straight over to where Brian was standing, and placed
his hand on the young man's shoulder.

"Brian Fitzgerald," he said, in a clear voice, "I arrest you in the
Queen's name."

"For what?" asked Brian, steadily.

"The murder of Oliver Whyte."

At this Madge gave a cry.

"It is not true!" she said, wildly. "My God, it's not true."

Brian did not answer, but, ghastly pale, held out his hands. Gorby
slipped the handcuffs on to his wrists with a feeling of compunction,
despite his joy in running his Man down. This done, Fitzgerald turned
round to where Madge was standing, pale and still, as though turned
into stone.

"Madge," he said, in a clear, low voice, "I am going to prison--perhaps
to death; but I swear to you, by all that I hold most sacred,
that I am innocent of this murder."

"My darling!" She made a step forward, but her father stepped before
her.

"Keep back," he said, in a hard voice; "there is nothing between you
and that man now."

She turned round with an ashen face, but with a proud look in
her clear eyes.

"You are wrong," she answered, with a touch of scorn in her voice. "I
love him more now than ever." Then, before her father could stop her,
she placed her arms round her lover's neck, and kissed him wildly.

"My darling," she said, with the tears streaming down her white cheeks,
"whatever the world may say, you are always dearest of all to me."

Brian kissed her passionately, and moved away. Madge fell down at her
father's feet in a dead faint.




CHAPTER XI.



COUNSEL FOR THE PRISONER.


Brian Fitzgerald was arrested at a few minutes past three o'clock, and
by five all Melbourne was ringing with the news that the perpetrator of
the now famous hansom cab murder had been caught. The evening papers
were full of the affair, and the HERALD went through several editions,
the demand being far in the excess of the supply. Such a crime had not
been committed in Melbourne since the Greer shooting case in the Opera
House, and the mystery by which it was surrounded, made it even more
sensational. The committal of the crime in such an extraordinary place
as a hansom cab had been startling enough, but the discovery that the
assassin was one of the most fashionable young men in Melbourne was
still more so. Brian Fitzgerald being well known in society as a
wealthy squatter, and the future husband of one of the richest and
prettiest girls in Victoria, it was no wonder that his arrest caused
some sensation. The HERALD, which was fortunate enough to obtain the
earliest information about the arrest, made the best use of it, and
published a flaming article in its most sensational type, somewhat
after this fashion:--


HANSOM CAB TRAGEDY. ARREST OF THE SUPPOSED MURDERER. STARTLING
REVELATIONS IN HIGH LIFE.


It is needless to say that some of the reporters had painted the lily
pretty freely, but the public were ready to believe everything that
came out in the papers.

Mr. Frettlby, the day after Brian's arrest, had a long conversation
with his daughter, and wanted her to go up to Yabba Yallook Station
until the public excitement had somewhat subsided. But this Madge
flatly refused to do.

"I'm not going to desert him when he most needs me," she said,
resolutely; "everybody has turned against him, even before they have
heard the facts of the case. He says he is not guilty, and I believe
him."

"Then let him prove his innocence," said her father, who was pacing
slowly up and down the room; "if he did not get into the cab with Whyte
he must have been somewhere else; so he ought to set up the defence of
an ALIBI."

"He can easily do that," said Madge, with a ray of hope lighting up her
sad face, "he was here till eleven o'clock on Thursday night."

"Very probably," returned her father, dryly; "but where was he at one
o'clock on Friday morning?"

"Besides, Mr. Whyte left the house long before Brian did," she went on
rapidly. "You must remember--it was when you quarrelled with Mr.
Whyte."

"My dear Madge," said Frettlby, stopping in front of her with a
displeased look, "you are incorrect--Whyte and myself did not quarrel.
He asked me if it were true that Fitzgerald was engaged to you, and I
answered 'Yes.' That was all, and then he left the house."

"Yes, and Brian didn't go until two hours after," said Madge,
triumphantly. "He never saw Mr. Whyte the whole night."

"So he says," replied Mr. Frettlby, significantly. "I believe Brian
before any one else in the world," said his daughter, hotly, with
flushed cheeks and flashing eyes.

"Ah! but will a jury?" queried her father.

"You have turned against him, too," answered Madge, her eyes filling
with tears. "You believe him guilty."

"I am not prepared either to deny or confirm his guilt," said Mr.
Frettlby, coldly. "I have done what I could to help him--I have
engaged Calton to defend him, and, if eloquence and skill can save him,
you may set your mind at rest."

"My dear father," said Madge, throwing her arms round his neck, "I knew
you would not desert him altogether, for my sake."

"My darling," replied her father, in a faltering voice, as he kissed
her, "there is nothing in the world I would not do for your sake."

Meanwhile Brian was sitting in his cell in the Melbourne Jail, thinking
sadly enough about his position. He saw no hope of escape except one,
and that he did not intend to take advantage of.

"It would kill her; it would kill her," he said, feverishly, as he
paced to and fro over the echoing stones. "Better that the last of the
Fitzgeralds should perish like a common thief than that she should know
the bitter truth. If I engage a lawyer to defend me," he went on, "the
first question he will ask me will be where was I on that night, and if
I tell him all will be discovered, and then--no--no--I cannot do it;
it would kill her, my darling," and throwing himself down on the bed,
he covered his face with his hands.

He was roused by the opening of the door of his cell, and on looking up
saw that it was Calton who entered. He was a great friend of
Fitzgerald's, and Brian was deeply touched by his kindness in coming to
see him.

Duncan Calton had a kindly heart, and was anxious to help Brian, but
there was also a touch of self interest in the matter. He had received
a note from Mr. Frettlby, asking him to defend Fitzgerald, which he
agreed to do with avidity, as he foresaw in this case an opportunity
for his name becoming known throughout the Australian colonies. It is
true that he was already a. celebrated lawyer, but his reputation was
purely a local one, and as he foresaw that Fitzgerald's trial for
murder would cause a great sensation throughout Australia and New
Zealand, he determined to take advantage of it as another step in the
ladder which led to fame, wealth, and position. So this tall, keen-eyed
man, with the clean shaven face and expressive mouth, advanced into the
cell, and took Brian by the hand.

"It is very kind of you to come and see me," said Fitzgerald; "it is at
a time like this that one appreciates friendship."

"Yes, of course," answered the lawyer, fixing his keen eyes on the
other's haggard face, as if he would read his innermost thoughts. "I
came partly on my own account, and partly because Frettlby asked me to
see you as to your defence."

"Mr. Frettlby?" said Brian, in a mechanical way. "He is very kind; I
thought he believed me guilty."

"No man is considered guilty until he has been proved so," answered
Calton, evasively.

Brian noticed how guarded the answer was, for he heaved an impatient
sigh.

"And Miss Frettlby?" he asked, in a hesitating manner. This time he got
a decided answer.

"She declines to believe you guilty, and will not hear a word said
against you."

"God bless her," said Brian, fervently; "she is a true woman. I
suppose I am pretty well canvassed?" he added, bitterly.

"Nothing else talked about," answered Calton, calmly. "Your arrest has
for the present suspended all interest in theatres, cricket matches,
and balls, and you are at the present moment being discussed threadbare
in Clubs and drawing-rooms."

Fitzgerald writhed. He was a singularly proud man, and there was
something inexpressibly galling in this unpleasant publicity.

"But this is all idle chatter," said Calton, taking a seat.

"We must get to business. Of course, you will accept me as your
counsel."

"It's no good my doing so," replied Brian, gloomily. "The rope is
already round my neck."

"Nonsense," replied the lawyer, cheerfully, "the rope is round no man's
neck until he is on the scaffold. Now, you need not say a word," he
went on, holding up his hand as Brian was about to speak; "I intend to
defend you, whether you like it or not. I do not know all the facts,
except what the papers have stated, and they exaggerate so much that
one can place no reliance on them. At all events, I believe from my
heart that you are innocent, and you must walk out of the prisoner's
dock a free man, if only for the sake of that noble girl who loves
you."

Brian did not answer, but put out his hand, which the other grasped
warmly.

"I will not deny," went on Calton, "that there is a little bit of
professional curiosity about me. This case is such an extraordinary
one, that I feel as if I were unable to let slip an opportunity of
doing something with it. I don't care for your humdrum murders with the
poker, and all that sort of thing, but this is something
clever, and therefore interesting. When you are safe we will look
together for the real criminal, and the pleasure of the search will be
proportionate to the excitement when we find him out."

"I agree with everything you say," said Fitzgerald, calmly, "but I have
no defence to make."

"No defence? You are not going to confess you killed him?"

"No," with an angry flush, "but there are certain circumstances which
prevent me from defending myself."

"What nonsense," retorted Calton, sharply, "as if any circumstances
should prevent a man from saving his own life. But never mind, I like
these objections; they make the nut harder to crack--but the kernel
must be worth getting at. Now, I want you to answer certain questions."

"I won't promise."

"Well, we shall see," said the lawyer, cheerfully, taking out his
note-book, and resting it on his knee. "First, where were you on the
Thursday night preceding the murder?"

"I can't tell you."

"Oh, yes, you can, my friend. You left St. Kilda, and came up to town
by the eleven o'clock train."

"Eleven-twenty," corrected Brian.

Calton smiled in a gratified manner as he noted this down. "A little
diplomacy is all that's required," he said mentally.

"And where did you go then?" he added, aloud.

"I met Rolleston in the train, and we took a cab from the Flinders
Street station up to the Club."

"What Club?"

"The Melbourne Club."

"Yes?" interrogatively.

"Rolleston went home, and I went into the Club and played cards for a
time."

"When did you leave the Club?"

"A few minutes to one o'clock in the morning."

"And then, I suppose, you went home?"

"No; I did not."

"Then where did you go?"

"Down the street."

"Rather vague. I presume you mean Collins Street?"

"Yes."

"You were going to meet some one, I suppose?"

"I never said so."

"Probably not; but young men don't wander about the streets at night
without some object."

"I was restless and wanted a walk."

"Indeed! How curious you should prefer going into the heart of the
dusty town for a walk to strolling through the Fitzroy Gardens, which
were on your way home! It won't do; you had an appointment to meet some
one."

"Well--er--yes."

"I thought as much. Man or woman?"

"I cannot tell you."

"Then I must find out for myself."

"You can't."

"Indeed! Why not?"

"You don't know where to look for her."

"Her," cried Calton, delighted at the success of his craftily-put
question. "I knew it was a woman."

Brian did not answer, but sat biting his lips with vexation.

"Now, who is this woman?"

No answer.

"Come now, Fitzgerald, I know that young men will be young men, and, of
course, you don't like these things talked about; but in this case your
character must be sacrificed to save your neck. What is her name?"

"I can't tell you."

"Oh! you know it, then?"

"Well, yes."

"And you won't tell me?"

"No!"

Calton, however, had found out two things that pleased him; first, that
Fitzgerald had an appointment, and, second that it had been with a
woman. He pursued another line.

"When did you last see Whyte!"

Brian answered with great reluctance, "I saw him drunk by the Scotch
Church."

"What! you were the man who hailed the hansom?"

"Yes," assented the other, hesitating slightly, "I was!"

The thought flashed through Calton's brain as to whether the young man
before him was guilty or not, and he was obliged to confess that things
looked very black against him.

"Then what the newspapers said was correct?"

"Partly."

"Ah!" Calton drew a long breath--here was a ray of hope.

"You did not know it was Whyte when you found him lying drunk near the
Scotch Church?"

"No, I did not. Had I known it was he I would not have picked him up."

"Of course, you recognised him afterwards?"

"Yes I did. And, as the paper stated, I dropped him and walked away."

"Why did you leave him so abruptly?"

Brian looked at his questioner in some surprise.

"Because I detested him," he said, shortly.

"Why did you detest him?"

No answer. "Was it because he admired Miss Frettlby, and from all
appearances, was going to marry her?"

"Well, yes," sullenly.

"And now," said Calton, impressively, "this is the whole point upon
which the case turns. Why did you get into the cab with him?"

"I did not get into the cab."

"The cabman declares that you did."

"He is wrong. I never came back after I recognised Whyte."

"Then who was the man who got into the cab with Whyte?"

"I don't know."

"You have no idea?"

"Not the least."

"You are certain?"

"Yes, perfectly certain."

"He seems to have been dressed exactly like you."

"Very probably. I could name at least a dozen of my acquaintances who
wear light coats over their evening dress, and soft hats."

"Do you know if Whyte had any enemies?"

"No, I don't; I know nothing about him, beyond that he came from
England a short time ago with a letter of introduction to Mr. Frettlby,
and had the impertinence to ask Madge to marry him."

"Where did Whyte live?"

"Down in St. Kilda, at the end of Grey Street."

"How do you know?"

"It was in the papers, and--and--" hesitatingly, "I called on him."

"Why?"

"To see if he would cease his attentions to Madge, and to tell him that
she was engaged to me."

"And what did he say?"

"Laughed at me. Curse him."

"You had high words, evidently?"

Brian laughed bitterly.

"Yes, we had."

"Did anyone hear you?"

"The landlady did, I think. I saw her in the passage as I left the
house."

"The prosecution will bring her forward as a witness."

"Very likely," indifferently.

"Did you say anything likely to incriminate yourself?" Fitzgerald
turned away his head.

"Yes," he answered in a low voice, "I spoke very wildly--indeed, I did
not know at the time what I said."

"Did you threaten him?"

"Yes, I did. I told him I would kill him if he persisted in his plan of
marrying Madge."

"Ah! if the landlady can swear that she heard you say so, it will form
a strong piece of evidence against you. So far as I can see, there is
only one defence, and that is an easy one--you must prove an ALIBI."

No answer.

"You say you did not come back and get into the cab?" said Calton,
watching the face of the other closely.

"No, it was some one else dressed like me."

"And you have no idea who it was?"

"No, I have not."

"Then, after you left Whyte, and walked along Russel! Street, where did
you go?"

"I can't tell you."

"Were you intoxicated?"

"No!" indignantly

"Then you remember?"

"Yes."

"And where were you?"

"I can't tell you."

"You refuse."

"Yes, I do."

"Take time to consider. You may have to pay a heavy price for your
refusal."

"If necessary, I will pay it."

"And you won't tell me where you were?"

"No, I won't."

Calton was beginning to feel annoyed.

"You're very foolish," he said, "sacrificing your life to some feeling
of false modesty. You must prove an ALIBI."

No answer.

"At what hour did you get home?"

"About two o'clock in the morning."

"Did you walk home?"

"Yes--through the Fitzroy Gardens."

"Did you see anyone on your way home?"

"I don't know. I wasn't paying attention."

"Did anyone see you?"

"Not that I know of."

"Then you refuse to tell me where you were between one and two o'clock
on Friday morning?"

"Absolutely!"

Calton thought for a moment, to consider his next move.

"Did you know that Whyte carried valuable papers about with him?"

Fitzgerald hesitated, and turned pale.

"No! I did not know," he said, reluctantly.

The lawyer made a master stroke.

"Then why did you take them from him?"

"What! Had he it with him?"

Calton saw his advantage, and seized it at once.

"Yes, he had it with him. Why did you take it?"

"I did not take it. I didn't even know he had it with him."

"Indeed! Will you kindly tell me what 'it' is Brian saw the trap into
which he had fallen."

"No! I will not," he answered steadily.

"Was it a jewel?"

"No!"

"Was it an important paper?"

"I don't know."

"Ah! It was a paper. I can see it in your face. And was that paper of
importance to you?"

"Why do you ask?"

Calton fixed his keen grey eyes steadily on Brian's face.

"Because," he answered slowly, "the man to whom that paper was of such
value murdered Whyte."

Brian started up, ghastly pale.

"My God!" he almost shrieked, stretching out his hands, "it is true
after all," and he fell down on the stone pavement in a dead faint.

Calton, alarmed, summoned the gaoler, and between them they placed him
on the bed, and dashed some cold water over his face. He recovered, and
moaned feebly, while Calton, seeing that he was unfit to be spoken to,
left the prison. When he got outside he stopped for a moment and looked
back on the grim, grey walls.

"Brian Fitzgerald," he said to himself "you did not commit the murder
yourself, but you know who did."




CHAPTER XII.



SHE WAS A TRUE WOMAN.


Melbourne society was greatly agitated over the hansom cab murder.
Before the assassin had been discovered it had been looked upon merely
as a common murder, and one of which society need take no cognisance
beyond the bare fact of its committal. But now that one of the most
fashionable young men in Melbourne had been arrested as the assassin,
it bade fair to assume gigantic proportions. Mrs. Grundy was shocked,
and openly talked about having nourished in her bosom a viper which had
unexpectedly turned and stung her.

Morn, noon, and night, in Toorak drawing-rooms and Melbourne Clubs, the
case formed the principal subject of conversation. And Mrs. Grundy was
horrified. Here was a young man, well born--"the Fitzgeralds, my dear,
an Irish family, with royal blood in their veins"--well-bred--"most
charming manners, I assure you, and so very good-looking" and engaged
to one of the richest girls in Melbourne--"pretty enough, madam, no
doubt, but he wanted her money, sly dog;" and this young man, who had
been petted by the ladies, voted a good fellow by the men, and was
universally popular, both in drawing-room and club, had committed a
vulgar murder--it was truly shocking. What was the world
coming to, and what were gaols and lunatic asylums built for if men of
young Fitzgerald's calibre were not put in them, and kept from killing
people? And then, of course, everybody asked everybody else who Whyte
was, and why he had never been heard of before. All people who had met
Mr. Whyte were worried to death with questions about him, and underwent
a species of social martyrdom as to who he was, what he was like, why
he was killed, and all the rest of the insane questions which some
people will ask. It was talked about everywhere--in fashionable
drawing-rooms at five o'clock tea, over thin bread and butter and
souchong; at clubs, over brandies and sodas and cigarettes; by working
men over their mid-day pint, and by their wives in the congenial
atmosphere of the back yard over the wash-tub. The papers were full of
paragraphs about the famous murder, and the society papers gave an
interview with the prisoner by their special reporters, which had been
composed by those gentlemen out of the floating rumours which they
heard around, and their own fertile imaginations.

As to the prisoner's guilt, everyone was certain of it. The cabman
Royston had sworn that Fitzgerald had got into the cab with Whyte, and
when he got out Whyte was dead. There could be no stronger proof than
that, and the general opinion was that the prisoner would put in no
defence, but would throw himself on the mercy of the court. Even the
church caught the contagion, and ministers--Anglican, Roman Catholic,
and Presbyterian, together with the lesser lights of minor
denominations--took the hansom cab murder as a text whereon to preach
sermons on the profligacy of the age, and to point out that the only
ark which could save men from the rising flood of infidelity and
immorality was their own particular church. "Gad," as Calton remarked,
after hearing five or six ministers each claim their own church
as the one special vessel of safety, "there seems to be a whole fleet
of arks!"

For Mr. Felix Rolleston, acquainted as he was with all concerned, the
time was one of great and exceeding joy. He was ever to the fore in
retailing to his friends, plus certain garnishments of his own, any
fresh evidence that chanced to come to light. His endeavour was to
render it the more piquant, if not dramatic. If you asked him for his
definite opinion as to the innocence or guilt of the accused, Mr. Felix
shook his head sagaciously, and gave you to understand that neither he,
nor his dear friend Calton--he knew Calton to nod to--had yet been
able to make up their minds about the matter.

"Fact is, don't you know," observed Mr. Rolleston, wisely, "there's
more in this than meets the eye, and all that sort of thing--think
'tective fellers wrong myself--don't think Fitz killed Whyte; jolly
well sure he didn't."

This would be followed invariably by a query in chorus of "who killed
him then?"

"Aha," Felix would retort, putting his head on one side, like a
meditative sparrow; "'tective fellers can't find out; that's the
difficulty. Good mind to go on the prowl myself, by Jove."

"But do you know anything of the detective business?" some one would
ask.

"Oh, dear yes," with an airy wave of his hand; "I've read Gaboreau, you
know; awfully jolly life, 'tectives."

Despite this evasion, Rolleston, in his heart of hearts, believed
Fitzgerald guilty. But he was one of those persons, who having either
tender hearts or obstinate natures--the latter is perhaps the more
general--deem it incumbent upon them to come forward in championship
of those in trouble. There are, doubtless, those who think that
Nero was a pleasant young man, whose cruelties were but the resultant
of an overflow of high spirits; and who regard Henry VIII. in the light
of a henpecked husband unfortunate in the possession of six wives.
These people delight in expressing their sympathy with great scoundrels
of the Ned Kelly order. They view them as the embodiment of heroism,
unsympathetically and disgracefully treated by the narrow understanding
of the law. If one half the world does kick a man when he is down, the
other half invariably consoles the prostrate individual with halfpence.

And therefore, even while the weight of public opinion was dead against
Fitzgerald he had his share of avowed sympathy. There was a comfort in
this for Madge. Not that if the whole countryside had unanimously
condemned her lover she would have believed him guilty. The element of
logic does not enter into the championship of woman Her love for a man
is sufficient to exalt him to the rank of a demi-god. She absolutely
refuses to see the clay feet of her idol. When all others forsake she
clings to him, when all others frown she smiles on him, and when he
dies she reveres his memory as that of a saint and a martyr. Young men
of the present day are prone to disparage their womenkind; but a poor
thing is the man, who in time of trouble has no woman to stand by him
with cheering words and loving comfort. And so Madge Frettlby, true
woman that she was, had nailed her colours to the mast. She refused
surrender to anyone, or before any argument. He was innocent, and his
innocence would be proved, for she had an intuitive feeling that he
would be saved at the eleventh hour. How, she knew not; but she was
certain that it would be so. She would have gone to see Brian in
prison, but that her father absolutely forbade her doing so. Therefore
she was dependent upon Calton for all the news respecting him,
and any message which she wished conveyed.

Brian's persistent refusal to set up the defence of an ALIBI, annoyed
Calton, the more so as he could conceive no reason sufficiently worthy
of the risk to which it subjected his client.

"If it's for the sake of a woman," he said to Brian, "I don't care who
she is, it's absurdly Quixotic. Self-preservation is the first law of
nature, and if my neck was in danger I'd spare neither man, woman, nor
child to save it."

"I dare say," answered Brian; "but if you had my reasons you might
think differently."

Yet in his own mind the lawyer had a suspicion which he thought might
perhaps account for Brian's obstinate concealment of his movements on
the fatal night. He had admitted an appointment with a woman. He was a
handsome young fellow, and probably his morals were no better than
those of his fellows. There was perhaps some intrigue with a married
woman. He had perchance been with her on that night, and it was to
shield her that he refused to speak.

"Even so," argued Calton, "let him lose his character rather than his
life; indeed the woman herself should speak. It would be hard upon her
I admit; yet when a man's life is in danger, surely nothing should stop
her."

Full of these perplexing thoughts, Calton went down to St. Kilda to
have a talk with Madge. He intended to ask her to assist him towards
obtaining the information he needed. He had a great respect for Madge,
and thought her a really clever woman. It was just possible, he argued,
that Brian's great love might cause him to confess everything to her,
at her urgent request. He found Madge awaiting his arrival with
anxiety.

"Where have you been all this time?" she said as they sat down;
"I have been counting every moment since I saw you last. How is he?"

"Just the same," answered Calton, taking off his gloves, "still
obstinately refusing to save his own life. Where's your father?" he
asked, suddenly.

"Out of town," she answered, impatiently. "He will not be back for a
week--but what do you mean that he won't save his own life?"

Calton leaned forward, and took her hand.

"Do you want to save his life?" he asked.

"Save his life," she reiterated, starting up out of her chair with a
cry. "God knows, I would die to save him."

"Pish," murmured Calton to himself, as he looked at her glowing face
and outstretched hands, "these women are always in extremes. The fact
is," he said aloud, "Fitzgerald is able to prove an ALIBI, and he
refuses to do so."

"But why?"

Calton shrugged his shoulders.

"That is best known to himself--some Quixotic idea of honour, I fancy.
Now, he refuses to tell me where he was on that night; perhaps he won't
refuse to tell you--so you must come up and see him with me, and
perhaps he will recover his senses, and confess."

"But my father," she faltered.

"Did you not say he was out of town?" asked Calton.

"Yes," hesitated Madge. "But he told me not to go."

"In that case," said Calton, rising and taking up his hat and gloves,
"I won't ask you."

She laid her hand on his arm.

"Stop! will it do any good?"

Calton hesitated a moment, for he thought that if the reason of Brian's
silence was, as he surmised, an intrigue with a married woman,
he might not tell the girl he was engaged to about it--but, on the
other hand, there might be some other reason, and Calton trusted to
Madge to find it out. With these thoughts in his mind he turned round.

"Yes," he answered, boldly, "it may save his life."

"Then I shall go," she answered, recklessly "He is more to me than my
father, and if I can save him, I will. Wait," and she ran out of the
room.

"An uncommonly plucky girl," murmured the lawyer, as he looked out of
the window. "If Fitzgerald is not a fool he will certainly tell her
all--that is, of course, if he is able to--queer things these women are--I
quite agree with Balzac's saying that no wonder man couldn't
understand woman, seeing that God who created her failed to do so."

Madge came back dressed to go out, with a heavy veil over her face.

"Shall I order the carriage?" she asked, pulling on her gloves with
trembling fingers.

"Hardly," answered Calton, dryly, "unless you want to see a paragraph
in the society papers to the effect that Miss Madge Frettlby visited
Mr. Fitzgerald in gaol--no--no--we'll get a cab. Come, my dear," and
taking her arm he led her away.

They reached the station, and caught a train just as it started, yet
notwithstanding this Madge was in a fever of impatience.

"How slowly it goes," she said, fretfully.

"Hush, my dear," said Calton, laying his hand on her arm. "You will
betray yourself--we'll arrive soon--and save him."

"Oh, God grant we may," she said with a low cry, clasping her hands
tightly together, while Calton could see the tears falling from under
her thick veil.

"This is not the way to do so," he said, almost roughly,
"you'll be in hysterics soon--control yourself for his sake."

"For his sake," she muttered, and with a powerful effort of will,
calmed herself They soon arrived in Melbourne, and, getting a hansom,
drove up quickly to the gaol. After going through the usual formula,
they entered the cell where Brian was, and, when the warder who
accompanied them opened the door, they found the young man seated on
his bed. He looked up, and, on seeing Madge, rose and held out his
hands with a cry of delight. She ran forward, and threw herself on his
breast with a stifled sob. For a short time no one spoke--Calton being
at the other end of the cell, busy with some notes which he had taken
from his pocket, and the warder having retired.

"My poor darling," said Madge, stroking back the soft, fair hair from
his flushed forehead, "how ill you look."

"Yes!" answered Fitzgerald, with a hard laugh. "Prison does not improve
a man--does it?"

"Don't speak in that tone, Brian," she said; "it is not like you--let
us sit down and talk calmly over the matter."

"I don't see what good that will do," he answered, wearily, as they sat
down hand-in-hand. "I have talked about it to Calton till my head
aches, and it is no good."

"Of course not," retorted the lawyer, sharply, as he also sat down.
"Nor will it be any good until you come to your senses, and tell us
where you were on that night."

"I tell you I cannot."

"Brian, dear," said Madge, softly, taking his hand, "you must tell
all--for my sake."

Fitzgerald sighed--this was the hardest temptation he had yet been
subjected to he felt half inclined to yield, and chance the result--but
one look at Madge's pure face steeled him against doing so.
What could his confession bring but sorrow and regret to one whom he
loved better than his life.

"Madge!" he answered, gravely, taking her hand again, "you do not know
what you ask."

"Yes, I do!" she replied, quickly. "I ask you to save yourself--to
prove that you are not guilty of this terrible crime, and not to
sacrifice your life for the sake of--of--"

Here she stopped, and looked helplessly at Calton, for she had no idea
of the reason of Fitzgerald's refusal to speak.

"For the sake of a woman," finished Calton, bluntly.

"A woman!" she faltered, still holding her lover's hand.

"Is--is--is that the reason?"

Brian averted his face.

"Yes!" he said, in a low, rough voice.

A sharp expression of anguish crossed her pale face, and, sinking her
head on her hands, she wept bitterly. Brian looked at her in a dogged
kind of way, and Calton stared grimly at them both.

"Look here," he said, at length, to Brian, in an angry voice; "if you
want my opinion of your conduct I think it's infamous--begging your
pardon, Miss Frettlby, for the expression. Here is this noble gill, who
loves you with her whole heart, and is ready to sacrifice everything
for your sake, comes to implore you to save your life, and you coolly
turn round and acknowledge another woman."

Brian lifted his head haughtily, and his face flushed.

"You are wrong," he said, turning round sharply; "there is the woman
for whose sake I keep silence;" and, rising up from the bed, he pointed
to Madge, as she sobbed bitterly on it She lifted up her haggard face
with an air of surprise.

"For my sake!" she cried in a startled voice.

"Oh, he's mad," said Calton, shrugging his shoulders; "I shall
put in a defence of insanity."

"No, I am not mad," cried Fitzgerald, wildly, as he caught Madge in his
arms. "My darling! My darling! It is for your sake that I keep silence,
and I shall do so though my life pays the penalty. I could tell you
where I was on that night and save myself: but if I did, you would
learn a secret which would curse your life, and I dare not speak--I
dare not."

Madge looked up into his face with a pitiful smile as her--tears fell
fast.

"Dearest!" she said, softly. "Do not think of me, but only of yourself;
better that I should endure misery than that you should die. I do not
know what the secret can be, but if the telling of it will save your
life, do not hesitate. See," she cried, falling on her knees, "I am at
your feet--I implore you by all the love you ever had for me, to save
yourself, whatever the consequences may be to me."

"Madge," said Fitzgerald, as he raised her in his arms, "at one time I
might have done so, but now it is too late. There is another and
stronger reason for my silence, which I have only found out since my
arrest. I know that I am closing up the one way of escape from this
charge of murder, of which I am innocent; but as there is a God in
heaven, I swear that I will not speak."

There was a silence in the cell, broken only by Madge's convulsive
sobs, and even Calton, cynical man of the world as he was, felt his
eyes grow wet. Brian led Madge over to him, and placed her in his arms.

"Take her away," he said, in a broken voice, "or I shall forget that I
am a man;" and turning away he threw himself on his bed, and covered
his face with his hands. Calton did not answer him, but summoned the
warder, and tried to lead Madge away. But just as they reached the door
she broke away from him, and, running back, flung herself on
her lover's breast.

"My darling! My darling!" she sobbed, kissing him, "you shall not die.
I shall save you in spite of yourself;" and, as if afraid to trust
herself longer, she ran out of the cell, followed by the barrister.




CHAPTER XIII.



MADGE MAKES A DISCOVERY.


Madge stepped into the cab, and Calton paused a moment to tell the
cabman to drive to the railway station Suddenly she stopped him.

"Tell him to drive to Brian's lodgings in Powlett Street," she said,
laying her hand on Calton's arm.

"What for?" asked the lawyer, in astonishment.

"And also to go past the Melbourne Club, as I want to stop there."

"What the deuce does she mean?" muttered Calton, as he gave the
necessary orders, and stepped into the cab.

"And now," he asked, looking at his companion, who had let down her
veil, while the cab rattled quickly down the street, "what do you
intend to do?"

She threw back her veil, and he was astonished to see the sudden change
which had come over her. There were no tears now, and her eyes were
hard and glittering, while her mouth was firmly closed. She looked like
a woman who had determined to do a certain thing, and would carry out
her intention at whatever cost.

"I intend to save Brian in spite of himself," she said, very
distinctly.

"But how?"

"Ah, you think that, being a woman, I can do nothing," she
said, bitterly. "Well, you shall see."

"I beg your pardon," retorted Calton, with a grim smile, "my opinion of
your sex has always been an excellent one--every lawyer's is; stands
to reason that it should be so, seeing that a woman is at the bottom of
nine cases out of ten."

"The old cry."

"Nevertheless a true one," answered Calton. "Ever since the time of
Father Adam it has been acknowledged that women influence the world
either for good or evil more than men. But this is not to the point,"
he went on, rather impatiently.

"What do you propose to do?"

"Simply this," she answered. "In the first place, I may tell you that I
do not understand Brian's statement that he keeps silence for my sake,
as there are no secrets in my life that can justify his saying so. The
facts of the case are simply these: Brian, on the night in question,
left our house at St. Kilda, at eleven o'clock. He told me that he
would call at the Club to see if there were any letters for him, and
then go straight home."

"But he might have said that merely as a blind."

Madge shook her head.

"No, I don't think so. I did not ask him where he was going. He told me
quite spontaneously. I know Brian's character, and he would not tell a
deliberate lie, especially when there was no necessity for it. I am
quite certain that he intended to do as he said, and go straight home.
When he got to the Club, he found a letter there, which caused him to
alter his mind."

"From whom was the letter?"

"Can't you guess," she said impatiently. "From the person, man or
woman, who wanted to see him and reveal this secret about me,
whatever it is. He got the letter at his Club, and went down Collins
Street to meet the writer. At the corner of the Scotch Church he found
Mr. Whyte, and on recognising him, left in disgust, and walked down
Russell Street to keep his appointment."

"Then you don't think he came back."

"I am certain he did not, for, as Brian told you, there are plenty of
young men who wear the same kind of coat and hat as he does. Who the
second man who got into the cab was I do not know, but I will swear
that it was not Brian."

"And you are going to look for that letter?"

"Yes, in Brian's lodgings."

"He might have burnt it."

"He might have done a thousand things, but he did not," she answered.
"Brian is the most careless man in the world; he would put the letter
into his pocket, or throw it into the waste-paper basket, and never
think of it again."

"In this case he did, however."

"Yes, he thought of the conversation he had with the writer, but not of
the letter itself. Depend upon it, we shall find it in his desk, or in
one of the pockets of the clothes he wore that night."

"Then there's another thing," said Calton, thoughtfully. "The letter
might, have been delivered to him between the Elizabeth Street Railway
Station and the Club."

"We can soon find out about that," answered Madge; "for Mr. Rolleston
was with him at the time."

"So he was," answered Calton; "and here is Rolleston coming down the
street. We'll ask him now."

The cab was just passing the Burke and Wills' monument, and Calton's
quick eye had caught a glimpse of Rolleston walking down the left-hand
side. What first attracted Calton's attention was the glittering
appearance of Felix. His well-brushed top hat glittered, his
varnished boots glittered, and his rings and scarf-pin glittered; in
fact, so resplendent was his appearance that he looked like an animated
diamond coming along in the blazing sunshine.

The cab drove up to the kerb, and Rolleston stopped short, as Calton
sprang out directly in front of him. Madge lay back in the cab and
pulled down her veil, not wishing to be recognised by Felix, as she
knew that if he did it would soon be all over the town.

"Hallo! old chap," said Rolleston, in considerable astonishment. "Where
did you spring from?"

"From the cab, of course," answered Calton, with a laugh.

"A kind of DEUS EX MACHINA," replied Rolleston, attempting a bad pun.

"Exactly," said Calton. "Look here, Rolleston, do you remember the
night of Whyte's murder--you met Fitzgerald at the Railway Station."

"In the train," corrected Felix.

"Well, well, no matter, you came up with him to the Club."

"Yes, and left him there."

"Did you notice if he received any message while he was with you?"

"Any message?" repeated Felix. "No, he did not; we were talking
together the whole time, and he spoke to no one but me."

"Was he in good spirits?"

"Excellent, made me laugh awfully--but why all this thusness?"

"Oh, nothing," answered Calton, getting back into the cab. "I wanted a
little information from you; I'll explain next time I see you--
Good-bye!"

"But I say," began Felix, but the cab had already rattled away,
so Mr. Rolleston turned angrily away.

"I never saw anything like these lawyers," he said to himself.

"Calton's a perfect whirlwind, by Jove."

Meanwhile Calton was talking to Madge.

"You were right," he said, "there must have been a message for him at
the Club, for he got none from the time he left your place."

"And what shall we do now?" asked Madge, who, having heard all the
conversation, did not trouble to question the lawyer about it.

"Find out at the Club if any letter was waiting for him on that night,"
said Calton, as the cab stopped at the door of the Melbourne Club.
"Here we are," and with a hasty word to Madge, he ran up the steps.

He went to the office of the Club to find out if any letters had been
waiting for Fitzgerald, and found there a waiter with whom he was
pretty well acquainted.

"Look here, Brown," said the lawyer, "do you remember on that Thursday
night when the hansom cab murder took place if any letters were waiting
here for Mr. Fitzgerald?"

"Well, really, sir," hesitated Brown, "it's so long ago that I almost
forget."

Calton gave him a sovereign.

"Oh! it's not that, Mr. Calton," said the waiter, pocketing the coin,
nevertheless. "But I really do forget."

"Try and remember," said Calton, shortly.

Brown made a tremendous effort of memory, and at last gave a
satisfactory answer.

"No, sir, there were none!"

"Are you sure?" said Calton, feeling a thrill of disappointment.

"Quite sure, sir," replied the other, confidently, "I went to
the letter rack several times that night, and I am sure there were none
for Mr. Fitzgerald."

"Ah! I thought as much," said Calton, heaving a sigh.

"Stop!" said Brown, as though struck with a sudden idea. "Though there
was no letter came by post, sir, there was one brought to him on that
night."

"Ah!" said Calton, turning sharply. "At what time?"

"Just before twelve o'clock, sir."

"Who brought it?"

"A young woman, sir," said Brown, in a tone of disgust. "A bold thing,
beggin' your pardon, sir; and no better than she should be. She bounced
in at the door as bold as brass, and sings out, 'Is he in?' 'Get out,'
I says, 'or I'll call the perlice.' 'Oh no, you won't,' says she.
'You'll give him that,' and she shoves a letter into my hands. 'Who's
him?' I asks. 'I dunno,' she answers. 'It's written there, and I can't
read; give it him at once.' And then she clears out before I could stop
her."

"And the letter was for Mr. Fitzgerald?"

"Yes, sir; and a precious dirty letter it was, too."

"You gave it to him, of course?"

"I did, sir. He was playing cards, and he put it in his pocket, after
having looked at the outside of it, and went on with his game."

"Didn't he open it?"

"Not then, sir; but he did later on, about a quarter to one o'clock. I
was in the room, and he opens it and reads it. Then he says to himself,
'What d--d impertinence,' and puts it into his pocket."

"Was he disturbed!"

"Well, sir, he looked angry like, and put his coat and hat on, and
walked out about five minutes to one."

"Ah! and he met Whyte at one," muttered Calton. "There's no
doubt about it. The letter was an appointment, and he was going to keep
it. What kind of a letter was it?" he asked.

"Very dirty, sir, in a square envelope; but the paper was good, and so
was the writing."

"That will do," said Calton; "I am much obliged to you," and he hurried
down to where Madge awaited him in the cab.

"You were right," he said to her, when the cab was once more in motion
"He got a letter on that night, and went to keep his appointment at the
time he met Whyte."

"I knew it," cried Madge with delight. "You see, we will find it in his
lodgings."

"I hope so," answered Calton; "but we must not be too sanguine; he may
have destroyed it."

"No, he has not," she replied. "I am convinced it is there."

"Well," answered Calton, looking at her, "I don't contradict you, for
your feminine instincts have done more to discover the truth than my
reasonings; but that is often the case with women--they jump in the
dark where a man would hesitate, and in nine cases out of ten land
safely."

"Alas for the tenth!" said Miss Frettlby. "She has to be the one
exception to prove the rule."

She had in a great measure recovered her spirits, and seemed confident
that she would save her lover. But Mr. Calton saw that her nerves were
strung up to the highest pitch, and that it; was only her strong will
that kept her from breaking down altogether.

"By Jove," he muttered, in an admiring tone, as he watched her.
"She's a plucky girl, and Fitzgerald is a lucky man to have the love of
such a woman."

They soon arrived at Brian's lodgings, and the door was opened by Mrs.
Sampson, who looked very disconsolate indeed. The poor cricket had been
blaming herself severely for the information she had given to the false
insurance agent, and the floods of tears which she had wept had
apparently had an effect on her physical condition, for she crackled
less loudly than usual, though her voice was as shrill as ever.

"That sich a thing should 'ave 'appened to 'im," she wailed, in her
thin, high voice. "An' me that proud of 'im, not 'avin' any family of
my own, except one as died and went up to 'eaving arter 'is father,
which I 'opes as they both are now angels, an' friendly, as 'is nature
'ad not developed in this valley of the shadder to determine 'is
feelin's towards is father when 'e died, bein' carried off by a chill,
caused by the change from 'ot to cold, the weather bein' that
contrary."

They had arrived in Brian's sitting-room by this time, and Madge sank
into a chair, while Calton, anxious to begin the search, hinted to Mrs.
Sampson that she could go.

"I'm departin', sir," piped the cricket, with a sad shake of her head,
as she opened the door; "knowin', as I do, as 'e's as innocent as an
unborn babe, an' to think of me 'avin' told that 'orrid pusson who 'ad
no regard for the truth all about 'im as is now in a cold cell, not as
what the weather ain't warm, an' 'e won't want a fire as long as they
allows 'im blankets."

"What did you tell him?" asked Calton, sharply.

"Ah! you may well say that," lamented Mrs. Sampson, rolling her dingy
handkerchief into a ball, and dabbing at her red-rimmed eyes,
which presented quite a bacchanalian appearance, due, be it said in
justice, to grief, not to liquor. "'Avin' bin beguiled by that serping
in light clothes as wanted to know if 'e allays come 'ome afore twelve,
which I said 'e was in the 'abit of doin', tho', to be sure, 'e did
sometimes use 'is latch-key."

"The night of the murder, for instance."

"Oh! don't say that, sir," said Mrs. Sampson, with a terrified crackle.
"Me bein' weak an' ailin', tho' comin' of a strong family, as allays
lived to a good age, thro' bein' in the 'abit of wearin' flannels,
which my mother's father thought better nor a-spilin' the inside with
chemistry."

"Clever man, that detective," murmured Calton to himself. "He got out
of her by strategy what he never would have done by force. It's a
strong piece of evidence against Fitzgerald, but it does not matter
much if he can prove an ALIBI. You'll likely be called as a witness for
the prosecution," he said aloud.

"Me, sir!" squeaked Mrs. Sampson, trembling violently, and thereby
producing a subdued rustle, as of wind in the trees. "As I've never bin
in the court, 'cept the time as father tooked me for a treat, to 'ear a
murder, which there's no denyin' is as good as a play, 'e bein' 'ung,
'avin' 'it 'is wife over the 'ead with the poker when she weren't
lookin', and a-berryin' 'er corpse in a back garding, without even a
stone to mark the place, let alone a line from the Psalms and a
remuneration of 'er virtues."

"Well, well," said Calton, rather impatiently, as he opened the door
for her, "leave us for a short time, there's a good soul. Miss Frettlby
and I want to rest, and we will ring for you when we are going."

"Thank you, sir," said the lachrymose landlady, "an' I 'opes
they won't 'ang 'im, which is sich a choky way of dyin'; but in life we
are in death," she went on, rather incoherently, "as is well known to
them as 'as diseases, an' may be corpsed at any minute, and as--"

Here Calton, unable to restrain his impatience any longer, shut the
door, and they heard Mrs. Sampson's shrill voice and subdued cracklings
die away in the distance.

"Now then," he said, "now that we have got rid of that woman and her
tongue, where are we to begin?"

"The desk," replied Madge, going over to it. "it's the most likely
place."

"Don't think so," said Calton, shaking his head. "If, as you say,
Fitzgerald is a careless man, he would not have troubled to put it
there. However; perhaps we'd better look."

The desk was very untidy ("Just like Brian," as Madge remarked)--full
of paid and unpaid bills, old letters, play-bills, ball-programmes, and
withered flowers.

"Reminiscences of former flirtations," said Calton, with a laugh,
pointing to these.

"I should not wonder," retorted Miss Frettlby, coolly. "Brian always
was in love with some one or other; but you know what Lytton says,
'There are many counterfeits, but only one Eros,' so I can afford to
forget these things."

The letter, however, was not to be found in the desk, nor was it in the
sitting-room. They tried the bedroom, but with no better result. Madge
was about to give up the search in despair, when suddenly Calton's eye
fell on the waste-paper basket, which, by some unaccountable reason,
they had over-looked. The basket was half-full, in fact; more than
half, and, on looking at it, a sudden thought struck the
lawyer. He rang the bell, and presently Mrs. Sampson made her
appearance.

"How long has that waste-paper basket been standing like that?" he
asked, pointing to it.

"It bein' the only fault I 'ad to find with 'im," said Mrs. Sampson,
"'e bein' that untidy that 'e a never let me clean it out until 'e told
me pussonly. 'E said as 'ow 'e throwed things into it as 'e might 'ave
to look up again; an' I 'aven't touched it for more nor six weeks,
'opin' you won't think me a bad 'ousekeeper, it bein' 'is own wish--bein'
fond of litter an' sich like."

"Six weeks," repeated Calton, with a look at Madge. "Ah, and he got the
letter four weeks ago. Depend upon it, we shall find it there."

Madge gave a cry, and falling on her knees, emptied the basket out on
the floor, and both she and Calton were soon as busy among the
fragments of paper as though they were rag-pickers.

"'Opin they ain't orf their 'eads," murmured Mrs. Sampson, as she went
to the door, "but it looks like it, they bein'--"

Suddenly a cry broke from Madge, as she drew out of the mass of paper a
half-burnt letter, written on thick and creamy-looking paper.

"At last," she cried, rising off her knees, and smoothing it out; "I
knew he had not destroyed it."

"Pretty nearly, however," said Calton, as his eye glanced rapidly over
it; "it's almost useless as it is. There's no name to it."

He took it over to the window, and spread it out upon the table. It was
dirty, and half burnt, but still it was a clue. Here is a FAC-SIMILE of
the letter:--

"There is not much to be gained from that, I'm afraid," said Madge,
sadly. "It shows that he had an appointment--but where?"

Calton did not answer, but, leaning his head on his hands, stared hard
at the paper. At last he jumped up with a cry--

"I have it," he said, in an excited tone. "Look at that paper; see how
creamy and white it is, and above all, look at the printing in the
corner--'OT VILLA, TOORAK.'"

"Then he went down to Toorak?"

"In an hour, and back again--hardly!"

"Then it was not written from Toorak?"

"No, it was written in one of the Melbourne back slums."

"How do you know?"

"Look at the girl who brought it," said Calton, quickly. "A
disreputable woman, one far more likely to come from the back slums
than from Toorak. As to the paper, three months ago there was a
robbery at Toorak, and this is some of the paper that was stolen by the
thieves."

Madge said nothing, but her sparkling eyes and the nervous trembling of
her hands showed her excitement.

"I will see a detective this evening," said Calton, exultingly, "find
out where this letter came from, and who wrote it. We'll save him yet,"
he said, placing the precious letter carefully in his pocket-book.

"You think that you will be able to find the woman who wrote that?"

"Hum," said the lawyer, looking thoughtful, "she may be dead, as the
letter says she is in a dying condition. However, if I can find the
woman who delivered the letter at the Club, and who waited for
Fitzgerald at the corner of Bourke and Russell Streets, that will be
sufficient. All I want to prove is that he was not in the hansom cab
with Whyte."

"And do you think you can do that?"

"Depends upon this letter," said Calton, tapping his pocket-book with
his finger. "I'll tell you to-morrow."

Shortly afterwards they left the house, and when Calton put Madge
safely into the St. Kilda train, her heart felt lighter than it had
done since Fitzgerald's arrest.




CHAPTER XIV.



ANOTHER RICHMOND IN THE FIELD.


There is an old adage that says "Like draws to like." The antithesis of
this is probably that "Unlike repels unlike." But there are times when
individualism does not enter into the matter, and Fate alone, by
throwing two persons together, sets up a state, congenial or
uncongenial, as the case may be. Fate chose to throw together Mr. Gorby
and Mr. Kilsip, and each was something more than uncongenial to the
other. Each was equally clever in their common profession; each was a
universal favourite, yet each hated the other. They were as fire and
water to one another, and when they came together, invariably there was
trouble.

Kilsip was tall and slender; Gorby was short and stout. Kilsip looked
clever; Gorby wore a smile of self-satisfaction; which alone was
sufficient to prevent his doing so. Yet, singularly enough, it was this
very smile that proved most useful to Gorby in the pursuit of his
calling. It enabled him to come at information where his sharp-looking
colleague might try in vain. The hearts of all went forth to Gorby's
sweet smile and insinuating manner. But when Kilsip appeared people
were wont to shut up, and to retire promptly, like alarmed snails,
within their shells. Gorby gave the lie direct to those who
hold that the face is ever the index to the mind. Kilsip, on the other
hand, with his hawk-like countenance, his brilliant black eyes, hooked
nose, and small thin-lipped mouth, endorsed the theory. His complexion
was quite colourless, and his hair was jet black. Altogether, he could
not be called fair to look upon. His craft and cunning were of the
snake-like order. So long as he conducted his enquiries in secret he
was generally successful; but once let him appear personally on the
scene, and failure was assured to him. Thus, while Kilsip passed as the
cleverer, Gorby was invariably the more successful--at all events,
ostensibly.

When, therefore, this hansom cab murder case was put into Gorby's
hands, the soul of Kilsip was smitten with envy, and when Fitzgerald
was arrested, and all the evidence collected by Gorby seemed to point
so conclusively to his guilt, Kilsip writhed in secret over the triumph
of his enemy. Though he would only have been too glad to say that Gorby
had got hold of the wrong man, yet the evidence was so conclusive that
such a thought never entered his head until he received a note from Mr.
Calton, asking him to call at his office that evening at eight o'clock,
with reference to the murder.

Kilsip knew that Calton was counsel for the prisoner. He guessed that
he was wanted to follow up a clue. And he determined to devote himself
to whatever Calton might require of him, if only to prove Gorby to be
wrong. So pleased was he at the mere possibility of triumphing over his
rival, that on casually meeting him, he stopped and invited him to
drink.

The primary effect of his sudden and unusual hospitality was to arouse
all Gorby's suspicions; but on second thoughts, deeming himself quite a
match for Kilsip, both mentally and physically, Gorby accepted the
invitation.

"Ah!" said Kilsip, in his soft, low voice, rubbing his lean
white hands together, as they sat over their drinks, "you're a lucky
man to have laid your hands on that hansom cab murderer so quickly."

"Yes; I flatter myself I did manage it pretty well," said Gorby,
lighting his pipe. "I had no idea that it would be so simple--though,
mind you, it required a lot of thought before I got a proper start."

"I suppose you're pretty sure he's the man you want?" pursued Kilsip,
softly, with a brilliant flash of his black eyes.

"Pretty sure, indeed!" retorted Mr. Gorby, scornfully, "there ain't no
pretty sure about it. I'd take my Bible oath he's the man. He and Whyte
hated one another. He says to Whyte, 'I'll kill you, if I've got to do
it in the open street.' He meets Whyte drunk, a fact which he
acknowledges himself; he clears out, and the cabman swears he comes
back; then he gets into the cab with a living man, and when he comes
out leaves a dead one; he drives to East Melbourne and gets into the
house at a time which his landlady can prove--just the time that a cab
would take to drive from the Grammar School on the St. Kilda Road. If
you ain't a fool, Kilsip, you'll see as there's no doubt about it."

"It looks all square enough," said Kilsip, who wondered what evidence
Calton could have found to contradict such a plain statement of fact.
"And what's his defence?"

"Mr. Calton's the only man as knows that," answered Gorby, finishing
his drink; "but, clever and all as he is, he can't put anything in,
that can go against my evidence."

"Don't you be too sure of that," sneered Kilsip, whose soul was
devoured with envy.

"Oh! but I am," retorted Gorby, getting as red as a turkey-cock at the
sneer. "You're jealous, you are, because you haven't got a finger in
the pie."

"Ah! but I may have yet."

"Going a-hunting yourself, are you?" said Gorby, with an indignant
snort. "A-hunting for what--for a man as is already caught?"

"I don't believe you've got the right man," remarked Kilsip,
deliberately.

Mr. Gorby looked upon him with a smile of pity.

"No! of course you don't, just because I've caught him; perhaps, when
you see him hanged, you'll believe it then?"

"You're a smart man, you are," retorted Kilsip; "but you ain't the Pope
to be infallible."

"And what grounds have you for saying he's not the right man?" demanded
Gorby.

Kilsip smiled, and stole softly across the room like a cat.

"You don't think I'm such a fool as to tell you? But you ain't so safe
nor clever as you think," and, with another irritating smile, he went
out.

"He's a regular snake," said Gorby to himself, as the door closed on
his brother detective; "but he's bragging now. There isn't a link
missing in the chain of evidence against Fitzgerald, so I defy him. He
can do his worst."

At eight o'clock on that night the soft-footed and soft-voiced
detective presented himself at Calton's office. He found the lawyer
impatiently waiting for him. Kilsip closed the door softly, and then
taking a seat opposite to Calton, waited for him to speak. The lawyer,
however, first handed him a cigar, and then producing a bottle of
whisky and two glasses from some mysterious recess, he filled one and
pushed it towards the detective. Kilsip accepted these little
attentions with the utmost gravity, yet they were not without their
effect on him, as the keen-eyed lawyer saw. Calton was a great believer
in diplomacy, and never lost an opportunity of inculcating it into
young men starting in life. "Diplomacy," said Calton, to one
young aspirant for legal honours, "is the oil we cast on the troubled
waters of social, professional, and political life; and if you can, by
a little tact, manage mankind, you are pretty certain to get on in this
world."

Calton was a man who practised what he preached. He believed Kilsip to
have that feline nature, which likes to be stroked, to be made much of,
and he paid him these little attentions, knowing full well they would
bear their fruit. He also knew that Kilsip entertained no friendly
feeling for Gorby, that, in fact, he bore him hatred, and he determined
that this feeling which existed between the two men, should serve him
to the end he had in view.

"I suppose," he said, leaning back in his chair, and watching the
wreaths of blue smoke curling from his cigar, "I suppose you know all
the ins and the outs of the hansom cab murder?"

"I should rather think so," said Kilsip, with a curious light in his
queer eyes. "Why, Gorby does nothing but brag about it, and his
smartness in catching the supposed murderer!"

"Aha!" said Calton, leaning forward, and putting his arms on the table.
"Supposed murderer. Eh! Does that mean that he hasn't been convicted by
a jury, or that you think that Fitzgerald is innocent?"

Kilsip stared hard at the lawyer, in a vague kind of way, slowly
rubbing his hands together.

"Well," he said at length, in a deliberate manner, "before I got your
note, I was convinced Gorby had got hold of the right man, but when I
heard that you wanted to see me, and knowing you are defending the
prisoner, I guessed that you must have found something in his favour
which you wanted me to look after."

"Right!" said Calton, laconically.

"As Mr. Fitzgerald said he met Whyte at the corner and hailed
the cab--" went on the detective.

"How do you know that?" interrupted Calton, sharply.

"Gorby told me."

"How the devil did he find out?" cried the lawyer, with genuine
surprise.

"Because he is always poking and prying about," said Kilsip,
forgetting, in his indignation, that such poking and prying formed part
of detective business. "But, at any rate," he went on quickly, "if Mr.
Fitzgerald did leave Mr. Whyte, the only chance he's got of proving his
innocence is that he did not come back, as the cabman alleged."

"Then, I suppose, you think that Fitzgerald will prove an ALIBI," said
Calton.

"Well, sir," answered Kilsip, modestly, "of course you know more about
the case than I do, but that is the only defence I can see he can
make."

"Well, he's not going to put in such a defence."

"Then he must be guilty," said Kilsip, promptly.

"Not necessarily," returned the barrister, drily.

"But if he wants to save his neck, he'll have to prove an ALIBI,"
persisted the other.

"That's just where the point is," answered Calton. "He doesn't want to
save his neck."

Kilsip, looking rather bewildered, took a sip of whisky, and waited to
hear what Mr. Calton had to say.

"The fact is," said Calton, lighting a fresh cigar, "he has some
extraordinary idea in his head. He refuses absolutely to say where he
was on that night."

"I understand," said Kilsip, nodding his head. "Woman?"

"No, nothing of the kind," retorted Calton, hastily. "I thought so at
first, but I was wrong. He went to see a dying woman, who wished to
tell him something."

"What about?"

"That's just what I can't tell you," answered Calton quickly. "It must
have been something important, for she sent for him in great haste--and
he was by her bedside between the hours of one and two on Friday
morning."

"Then he did not return to the cab?"

"No, he did not, he went to keep his appointment, but, for some reason
or other, he won't tell where this appointment was. I went to his rooms
to-day and found this half-burnt letter, asking him to come."

Calton handed the letter to Kilsip, who placed it on the table and
examined it carefully.

"This was written on Thursday," said the detective.

"Of course--you can see that from the date; and Whyte was murdered on
Friday, the 27th."

"It was written at something Villa, Toorak," pursued Kilsip, still
examining the paper. "Oh! I understand; he went down there."

"Hardly," retorted Calton, in a sarcastic tone. "He couldn't very well
go down there, have an interview, and be back in East Melbourne in one
hour--the cabman Royston can prove that he was at Russell Street at
one o'clock, and his landlady that he entered his lodging in East
Melbourne at two--no, he wasn't at Toorak."

"When was this letter delivered?"

"Shortly before twelve o'clock, at the Melbourne Club, by a girl, who,
from what the waiter saw of her, appears to be a disreputable
individual--you will see it says bearer will wait him at Bourke
Street, and as another street is mentioned, and as Fitzgerald, after
leaving Whyte, went down Russell Street to keep his appointment, the
most logical conclusion is that the bearer of the letter waited for him
at the corner of Bourke and Russell Streets. Now," went on the lawyer,
"I want to find out who the girl that brought the letter is!"

"But how?"

"God bless my soul, Kilsip! How stupid you are," cried Calton, his
irritation getting the better of him. "Can't you understand--that
paper came from one of the back slums--therefore it must have been
stolen."

A sudden light flashed into Kilsip's eyes.

"Talbot Villa, Toorak," he cried quickly, snatching up the letter
again, and examining it with great attention, "where that burglary took
place."

"Exactly," said Calton, smiling complacently. "Now do you understand
what I want--you must take me to the crib in the back slums where the
articles stolen from the house in Toorak were hidden. This
paper"--pointing to the letter--"is part of the swag left behind, and must
have been used by someone there. Brian Fitzgerald obeyed the directions
given in the letter, and he was there, at the time of the murder."

"I understand," said Kilsip, with a gratified purr. "There were four
men engaged in that burglary, and they hid the swag at Mother
Guttersnipe's crib, in a lane off Little Bourke Street--but hang it, a
swell like Mr. Fitzgerald, in evening dress, couldn't very well have
gone down there unless--"

"He had some one with him well-known in the locality," finished Calton,
rapidly. "Exactly, that woman who delivered the letter at the Club
guided him. Judging from the waiter's description of her appearance, I
should think she was pretty well known about the slums."

"Well," said Kilsip, rising and looking at his watch, "it is now nine
o'clock, so if you like we will go to the old hag's place at once--dying
woman," he said, as if struck by a sudden thought, "there was a
woman who died there about four weeks ago."

"Who was she?" asked Calton, who was putting on his overcoat.

"Some relation of Mother Guttersnipe's, I fancy," answered Kilsip, as
they left the office. "I don't know exactly what she was--she was
called the 'Queen,' and a precious handsome woman she must have been--came
from Sydney about three months ago, and from what I can make out,
was not long from England, died of consumption on the Thursday night
before the murder."




CHAPTER XV.



A WOMAN OF THE PEOPLE.


Bourke Street is a more crowded thoroughfare than Collins Street,
especially at night. The theatres that it contains are in themselves
sufficient for the gathering of a considerable crowd. It is a grimy
crowd for the most part. Round the doors of the hotels a number of
ragged and shabby-looking individuals collect, waiting till some kind
friend shall invite them to step inside. Further on a knot of
horsey-looking men are to be seen standing under the Opera House
verandah giving and taking odds about the Melbourne Cup, or some other
meeting. Here and there are ragged street Arabs, selling matches and
newspapers; and against the verandah post, in the full blaze of the
electric light, leans a weary, draggled-looking woman, one arm clasping
a baby to her breast, and the other holding a pile of newspapers, while
she drones out in a hoarse voice, "'ERALD, third 'dition, one penny!"
until the ear wearies of the constant repetition. Cabs rattle
incessantly along the street; here, a fast-looking hansom, with a
rakish horse, bearing some gilded youth to his Club--there, a
dingy-looking vehicle, drawn by a lank quadruped, which staggers
blindly down the street. Alternating with these, carriages dash along
with their well-groomed horses, and within, the vision of bright eyes,
white dresses, and the sparkle of diamonds. Then, further up,
just on the verge of the pavement, three violins and a harp are playing
a German waltz to an admiring crowd of attentive spectators. If there
is one thing which the Melbourne folk love more than another, it is
music. Their fondness for it is only equalled by their admiration for
horse-racing. Any street band which plays at all decently, may be sure
of a good audience, and a substantial remuneration for their
performance. Some writer has described Melbourne, as Glasgow with the
sky of Alexandria; and certainly the beautiful climate of Australia, so
Italian in its brightness, must have a great effect on the nature of
such an adaptable race as the Anglo-Saxon. In spite of the dismal
prognostications of Marcus Clarke regarding the future Australian, whom
he describes as being "a tall, coarse, strong-jawed, greedy, pushing,
talented man, excelling in swimming and horsemanship," it is more
likely that he will be a cultured, indolent individual, with an intense
appreciation of the arts and sciences, and a dislike to hard work and
utilitarian principles. Climatic influence should be taken into account
with regard to the future Australian, and our posterity will no more
resemble us than the luxurious Venetians resembled their hardy
forefathers, who first started to build on those lonely sandy islands
of the Adriatic.

This was the conclusion at which Mr. Calton arrived as, he followed his
guide through the crowded streets, and saw with what deep interest the
crowd listened to the rhythmic strains of Strauss and the sparkling
melodies of Offenbach. The brilliantly-lit street, with the
never-ceasing stream of people pouring along; the shrill cries of the
street Arabs, the rattle of vehicles, and the fitful strains of music,
all made up a scene which fascinated him, and he could have gone on
wandering all night, watching the myriad phases of human character
constantly passing before his eyes. But his guide, with whom
familiarity with the proletarians had, in a great measure, bred
indifference, hurried him away to Little Bourke Street, where the
narrowness of the thoroughfare, with the high buildings on each side,
the dim light of the sparsely scattered gas-lamps, and the few
ragged-looking figures slouching along, formed a strong contrast to the
brilliant and crowded scene they had just left. Turning off Little
Bourke Street, the detective led the way down a dark lane. It was as
hot as a furnace from the accumulated heat of the day. To look up at
the clear starlit sky was to experience a sensation of delicious
coolness.

"Keep close to me," whispered Kilsip, touching the barrister on the
arm; "we may meet some nasty customers about here."

It was not quite dark, for the atmosphere had that luminous kind of
haze so observable in Australian twilights, and this weird light was
just sufficient to make the darkness visible. Kilsip and the barrister
kept for safety in the middle of the alley, so that no one could spring
upon them unaware, and they could see sometimes on the one side, a man
cowering back into the black shadow, or on the other, a woman with
disordered hair and bare bosom, leaning out of a window trying to get a
breath of fresh air. There were also some children playing in the
dried-up gutter, and their shrill young voices came echoing strangely
through the gloom, mingling with a bacchanalian sort of song, sung by a
man, as he slouched along unsteadily over the rough stones. Now and
then a mild-looking string of Chinamen stole along, clad in their
dull-hued blue blouses, either chattering shrilly, like a lot of
parrots, or moving silently down the alley with a stolid Oriental
apathy on their yellow faces. Here and there came a stream of warm
light through an open door, and within, the Mongolians were
gathered round the gambling-tables, playing fan-tan, or leaving the
seductions of their favourite pastime, to glide soft-footed to the many
cook-shops, where enticing-looking fowls and turkeys already cooked
were awaiting purchasers. Kilsip turning to the left, led the barrister
down another and still narrower lane, the darkness and gloom of which
made the lawyer shudder, as he wondered how human beings could live in
such murky places.

At last, to Calton's relief, for he felt somewhat bewildered by the
darkness and narrowness of the lanes through which he had been taken,
the detective stopped before a door, which he opened, and stepping
inside, beckoned to the barrister to follow. Calton did so, and found
himself in a low, dark, ill-smelling passage. At the end a faint light
glimmered. Kilsip caught his companion by the arm and guided him
carefully along the passage. There was much need of this caution, for
Calton could feel that the rotten boards were full of holes, into which
one or the other of his feet kept slipping from time to time, while he
could hear the rats squeaking and scampering away on all sides. Just as
they got to the end of this tunnel, for it could be called nothing
else, the light suddenly went out, and they were left in complete
darkness.

"Light that," cried the detective in a peremptory tone of voice. "What
do you mean by dowsing the glim?"

Thieves' argot was, evidently, well understood here, for there was a
shuffle in the dark, a muttered voice, and someone lit a candle. Calton
saw that the light was held by an elfish-looking child. Tangled masses
of black hair hung over her scowling white face. As she crouched down
on the floor against the damp wall she looked up defiantly yet
fearfully at the detective.

"Where's Mother Guttersnipe?" asked Kilsip, touching her with his foot.

She seemed to resent the indignity, and rose quickly to her
feet.

"Upstairs," she replied, jerking her head in the direction of the right
wall.

Following her direction, Calton--his eyes now somewhat accustomed to
the gloom--could discern a gaping black chasm, which he presumed was
the stair alluded to.

"Yer won't get much out of 'er to-night; she's a-going to start 'er
booze, she is."

"Never mind what she's doing or about to do," said Kilsip, sharply,
"take me to her at once."

The girl looked him sullenly up and down, then she led the way into the
black chasm and up the stairs. They were so shaky as to make Calton
fear they might give way. As they toiled slowly up the broken steps he
held tightly to his companion's arm. At last they stopped at a door
through the cracks of which a faint glimmer of light was to be seen.
Here the girl gave a shrill whistle, and the door opened. Still
preceded by their elfish guide, Calton and the detective stepped
through the doorway. A curious scene was before them. A small square
room, with a low roof, from which the paper mildewed and torn hung in
shreds; on the left hand, at the far end, was a kind of low stretcher,
upon which a woman, almost naked, lay, amid a heap of greasy clothes.
She appeared to be ill, for she kept tossing her head from side to side
restlessly, and every now and then sang snatches of song in a cracked
voice. In the centre of the room was a rough deal table, upon which
stood a guttering tallow candle, which but faintly illuminated the
scene, and a half empty rectangular bottle of Schnapps, with a broken
cup beside it. In front of these signs of festivity sat an old woman
with a pack of cards spread out before her, and from which she had
evidently been telling the fortune of a villainous-looking young
man who had opened the door, and who stood looking at the
detective with no very friendly expression of countenance. He wore a
greasy brown velvet coat, much patched, and a black wide-awake hat,
pulled down over his eyes. From his expression--so scowling and
vindictive was it--the barrister judged his ultimate destiny to lie
between Pentridge and the gallows.

As they entered, the fortune-teller raised her head, and, shading her
eyes with one skinny hand, looked curiously at the new comers. Calton
thought he had never seen such a repulsive-looking old crone; and, in
truth, her ugliness was, in its very grotesqueness well worthy the
pencil of a Dore. Her face was seamed and lined with innumerable
wrinkles, clearly defined by the dirt which was in them; bushy grey
eyebrows, drawn frowningly over two piercing black eyes, whose light
was undimmed by age; a hook nose, like the beak of a bird of prey, and
a thin-lipped mouth devoid of teeth. Her hair was very luxurious and
almost white, and was tied up in a great bunch by a greasy bit of black
ribbon. As to her chin, Calton, when he saw it wagging to and fro,
involuntarily quoted Macbeth's lines--


"Ye should be women,
And yet your beards forbid me to interpret
That ye are so."


She was no bad representative of the weird sisters.

As they entered she eyed them viciously, demanding,

"What the blazes they wanted."

"Want your booze," cried the child, with an elfish laugh, as she shook
back her tangled hair.

"Get out, you whelp," croaked the old hag, shaking one skinny fist at
her, "or I'll tear yer 'eart out."

"Yes, she can go." said Kilsip, nodding to the girl, "and you
can clear, too," he added, sharply, turning to the young man, who stood
still holding the door open.

At first he seemed inclined to dispute the detective's order, but
ultimately obeyed him, muttering, as he went out, something about "the
blooming cheek of showin' swells cove's cribs." The child followed him
out, her exit being accelerated by Mother Guttersnipe, who, with a
rapidity only attained by long practice, seized the shoe from one of
her feet, and flung it at the head of the rapidly retreating girl.

"Wait till I ketches yer, Lizer," she shrieked, with a volley of oaths,
"I'll break yer 'ead for ye!"

Lizer responded with a shrill laugh of disdain, and vanished through
the shaky door, which she closed after her.

When she had disappeared Mother Guttersnipe took a drink from the
broken cup, and, gathering all her greasy cards together in a
business-like way, looked insinuatingly at Calton, with a suggestive
leer.

"It's the future ye want unveiled, dearie?" she croaked, rapidly
shuffling the cards; "an' old mother 'ull tell--"

"No she won't," interrupted the detective, sharply. "I've come on
business."

The old woman started at this, and looked keenly at him from under her
bushy eyebrows.

"What 'av the boys been up to now?" she asked, harshly. "There ain't no
swag 'ere this time."

Just then the sick woman, who had been restlessly tossing on the bed,
commenced singing a snatch of the quaint old ballad of "Barbara Allen"--


"Oh, mither, mither, mak' my bed,
An' mak' it saft an' narrow;
Since my true love died for me to-day
I'll die for him to-morrow."


"Shut up, cuss you!" yelled Mother Guttersnipe, viciously, "or
I'll knock yer bloomin' 'ead orf," and she seized the square bottle as
if to carry out her threat; but, altering her mind, she poured some of
its contents into the cup, and drank it off with avidity.

"The woman seems ill," said Calton, casting a shuddering glance at the
stretcher.

"So she are," growled Mother Guttersnipe, angrily. "She ought to be in
Yarrer Bend, she ought, instead of stoppin' 'ere an' singin' them
beastly things, which makes my blood run cold. Just 'ear 'er," she
said, viciously, as the sick woman broke out once more--


"Oh, little did my mither think,
When first she cradled me,
I'd die sa far away fra home,
Upon the gallows tree."


"Yah!" said the old woman, hastily, drinking some more gin out of the
cup. "She's allays a-talkin' of dyin' an' gallers, as if they were nice
things to jawr about."

"Who was that woman who died here three or four weeks ago?" asked
Kilsip, sharply.

"'Ow should I know?" retorted Mother Guttersnipe, sullenly. "I didn't
kill 'er, did I? It were the brandy she drank; she was allays drinkin',
cuss her."

"Do you remember the night she died?"

"No, I don't," answered the beldame, frankly. "I were drunk--blind,
bloomin', blazin' drunk--s'elp me."

"You're always drunk," said Kilsip.

"What if I am?" snarled the woman, seizing her bottle. "You don't pay
fur it. Yes, I'm drunk. I'm allays drunk. I was drunk last night, an'
the night before, an' I'm a-goin' to git drunk to-night"--with an
impressive look at the bottle--"an' to-morrow night, an' I'll
keep it up till I'm rottin' in the grave."

Calton shuddered, so full of hatred and suppressed malignity was her
voice, but the detective merely shrugged his shoulders.

"More fool you," he said, briefly. "Come now, on the night the 'Queen,'
as you call her, died, there was a gentleman came to see her?"

"So she said," retorted Mother Guttersnipe; "but, lor, I dunno
anythin', I were drunk."

"Who said--the 'Queen?'"

"No, my gran'darter, Sal. The 'Queen,' sent 'er to fetch the toff to
see 'er cut 'er lucky. Wanted 'im to look at 'is work, I s'pose, cuss
'im; and Sal prigged some paper from my box," she shrieked,
indignantly; "prigged it w'en I were too drunk to stop 'er?"

The detective glanced at Calton, who nodded to him with a gratified
expression on his face. They were right as to the paper having been
stolen from the Villa at Toorak.

"You did not see the gentleman who came?" said Kilsip, turning again to
the old hag.

"Not I, cuss you," she retorted, politely. "'E came about 'arf-past one
in the morning, an' you don't expects we can stop up all night, do ye?"

"Half-past one o'clock," repeated Calton, quickly. "The very time. Is
this true?"

"Wish I may die if it ain't," said Mother Guttersnipe, graciously. "My
gran'darter Sal kin tell ye."

"Where is she?" asked Kilsip, sharply.

At this the old woman threw back her head, and howled dismay.

"She's 'ooked it," she wailed, drumming on the ground with her feet.
"Gon' an' left 'er pore old gran' an' joined the Army, cuss 'em,
a-comin' round an' a-spilin' business."

Here the woman on the bed broke out again--


"Since the flowers o' the forest are a' wed awa."


"'Old yer jawr," yelled Mother Guttersnipe, rising, and making a dart
at the bed. "I'll choke the life out ye, s'elp me. D'y want me to
murder ye, singin' 'em funeral things?"

Meanwhile the detective was talking rapidly to Mr. Calton.

"The only person who can prove Mr. Fitzgerald was here between one and
two o'clock," he said, quickly, "is Sal Rawlins, as everyone else seems
to have been drunk or asleep. As she has joined the Salvation Army,
I'll go to the barracks the first thing in the morning and look for
her."

"I hope you'll find her," answered Calton, drawing a long breath. "A
man's life hangs on her evidence."

They turned to go, Calton having first given Mother Guttersnipe some
loose silver, which she seized on with an avaricious clutch.

"You'll drink it, I suppose?" said the barrister, shrinking back from
her.

"Werry likely," retorted the hag, with a repulsive grin, tying the
money up in a piece of her dress, which she tore off for the purpose.
"I'm a forting to the public-'ouse, I am, an' it's the on'y pleasure I
'ave in my life, cuss it."

The sight of money had a genial effect on her nature, for she held the
candle at the head of the stairs, as they went down, so that they
should not break their heads. As they arrived safely, they saw the
light vanish, and heard the sick woman singing, "The Last Rose of
Summer."

The street door was open, and, after groping their way along the dark
passage, with its pitfalls, they found themselves in the open street.

"Thank heaven," said Calton, taking off his hat, and drawing a
long breath. "Thank heaven we are safely out of that den!"

"At all events, our journey has not been wasted," said the detective,
as they walked along. "We've found out where Mr. Fitzgerald was on the
night of the murder, so he will be safe."

"That depends upon Sal Rawlins," answered Calton, gravely; "but come,
let us have a glass of brandy, for I feel quite ill after my experience
of low life."




CHAPTER XVI.



MISSING.


The next day Kilsip called at Calton's office late in the afternoon,
and found the lawyer eagerly expecting him. The detective's face,
however, looked rather dismal, and Calton was not reassured.

"Well!" he said, impatiently, when Kilsip had closed the door and taken
his seat. "Where is she?"

"That's just what I want to know," answered the detective, coolly; "I
went to the Salvation Army headquarters and made enquiries about her.
It appears that she had been in the Army as a hallelujah lass, but got
tired of it in a week, and went off with a friend of hers to Sydney.
She carried on her old life of dissipation, but, ultimately, her friend
got sick of her, and the last thing they heard about her was that she
had taken up with a Chinaman in one of the Sydney slums. I telegraphed
at once to Sydney, and got a reply that there was no person of the name
of Sal Rawlins known to the Sydney police, but they said they would
make enquiries, and let me know the result."

"Ah! she has, no doubt, changed her name," said Calton, thoughtfully,
stroking his chin. "I wonder why?"

"Wanted to get rid of the Army, I expect," answered Kilsip, drily. "The
straying lamb did not care about being hunted back to the fold."

"And when did she join the Army?"

"The very day after the murder."

"Rather sudden conversion?"

"Yes, but she said the death of the woman on Thursday night had so
startled her, that she went straight off to the Army to get her
religion properly fixed up."

"The effects of fright, no doubt," said Calton, dryly. "I've met a good
many examples of these sudden conversions, but they never last long as
a rule--it's a case of 'the devil was sick, the devil a monk would
be,' more than anything else. Good-looking?"

"So-so, I believe," replied Kilsip, shrugging his shoulders.

"Very ignorant--could neither read nor write."

"That accounts for her not asking for Fitzgerald when she called at the
Club--she probably did not know whom she had been sent for. It will
resolve itself into a question of identification, I expect. However, if
the police can't find her, we will put an advertisement in the papers
offering a reward, and send out handbills to the same effect. She must
be found. Brian Fitzgerald's life hangs on a thread, and that thread is
Sal Rawlins."

"Yes!" assented Kilsip, rubbing his hands together. "Even if Mr.
Fitzgerald acknowledges that he was at Mother Guttersnipe's on the
night in question, she will have to prove that he was there, as no one
else saw him."

"Are you sure of that?"

"As sure as anyone can be in such a case. It was a late hour when he
came, and everyone seems to have been asleep except the dying woman and
Sal; and as one is dead, the other is the only person that can prove
that he was there at the time when the murder was being committed in
the hansom."

"And Mother Guttersnipe?"

"Was drunk, as she acknowledged last night. She thought that if
a gentleman did call it must have been the other one."

"The other one?" repeated Calton, in 8 puzzled voice. "What other one?"

"Oliver Whyte."

Calton arose from his seat with a blank air of astonishment.

"Oliver Whyte!" he said, as soon as he could find his voice. "Was he in
the habit of going there?"

Kilsip curled himself up in his seat like a sleek cat, and pushing
forward his head till his nose looked like the beak of a bird of prey,
looked keenly at Calton.

"Look here, sir," he said, in his low, purring voice, "there's a good
deal in this case which don't seem plain--in fact, the further we go
into it,--the more mixed up it seems to get. I went to see Mother
Guttersnipe this morning, and she told me that Whyte had visited the
'Queen' several times while she lay ill, and that he seemed to be
pretty well acquainted with her."

"But who the deuce is this woman they call the 'Queen'?" said Calton,
irritably. "She seems to be at the bottom of the whole affair--every
path we take leads to her."

"I know hardly anything about her," replied Kilsip, "except that she
was a good-looking woman, of about forty-nine--she come out from
England to Sydney a few months ago, then on here--how she got to
Mother Guttersnipe's I can't find out, though I've tried to pump that
old woman, but she's as close as wax, and it's my belief she knows more
about this dead woman than she chooses to tell."

"But what could she have told Fitzgerald to make him act in this silly
manner? A stranger who comes from England, and dies in a Melbourne
slum, can't possibly know anything about Miss Frettlby."

"Not unless Miss Frettlby was secretly married to Whyte,"
suggested Kilsip, "and the 'Queen' knew it."

"Nonsense," retorted Calton, sharply. "Why, she hated him and loves
Fitzgerald; besides, why on earth should she marry secretly, and make a
confidant of a woman in one of the lowest parts of Melbourne? At one
time her father wanted her to marry Whyte, but she made such strong
opposition, that he eventually gave his consent to her engagement with
Fitzgerald."

"And Whyte?"

"Oh, he had a row with Mr. Frettlby, and left the house in a rage. He
was murdered the same night, for the sake of some papers he carried."

"Oh, that's Gorby's idea," said Kilsip, scornfully, with a vicious
snarl.

"And it's mine too," answered Calton, firmly. "Whyte had some valuable
papers, which he always carried about with him. The woman who died
evidently told Fitzgerald that he did so; I gathered as much from an
accidental admission he made."

Kilsip looked puzzled.

"I must confess that it is a riddle," he said at length; "but if Mr.
Fitzgerald would only speak, it would clear everything up."

"Speak about what--the man who murdered Whyte?"

"Well, if he did not go quite so far as that he might at least supply
the motive for the crime."

"Perhaps so," answered Calton, as the detective rose to go; "but it's
no use. Fitzgerald for some reason or another, has evidently made up
his mind not to speak, so our only hope in saving him lies in finding
this girl."

"If she's anywhere in Australia you may be sure she'll be found,"
answered Kilsip, confidently, as he took his departure. "Australia
isn't so over-crowded as all that."

But if Sal Rawlins was in Australia at all she certainly must
have been in some very remote part. All efforts to find her proved
futile. It was an open question if she was alive or dead; she seemed to
have vanished completely. She was last seen in a Sydney den with a
Chinaman whom afterwards she appears to have left. Since then, nothing
whatever was known of her. Notices offering large rewards for her
discovery were inserted in all the newspapers, Australian and New
Zealand; but nothing came of them. As she herself was unable to read
there seemed little chance of her knowing of them; and, if, as Calton
surmised she had changed her name, no one would be likely to tell her
of them. There was only the bare chance that she might hear of them
casually, or that she might turn up of her own accord. If she returned
to Melbourne she would certainly go to her grandmother's. She had no
motive for not doing so. So Kilsip kept a sharp watch on the house,
much to Mrs. Rawlins' disgust, for, with true English pride, she
objected to this system of espionage.

"Cuss 'im," she croaked over her evening drink, to an old crone, as
withered and evil-looking as herself, "why can't 'e stop in 'is own
bloomin' 'ouse, an' leave mine alone--a-comin' round 'ere a-pokin' and
pryin' and a-perwenting people from earnin' their livin' an' a-gittin'
drunk when they ain't well."

"What do 'e want?" asked her friend, rubbing her weak old knees.

"Wants?--'e wants 'is throat cut," said Mother Guttersnipe, viciously.
"An' s'elp me I'll do for 'im some night w'en 'e's a watchin' round
'ere as if it were Pentridge--'e can git what he can out of that whelp
as ran away, but I knows suthin' 'e don't know, cuss 'im."

She ended with a senile laugh, and her companion having taken advantage
of the long speech to drink some gin out of the broken cup, Mother
Guttersnipe seized the unfortunate old creature by the hair,
and in spite of her feeble cries, banged her head against the wall.

"I'll have the perlice in at yer," whimpered the assaulted one, as she
tottered as quickly away as her rheumatics would allow her. "See if I
don't."

"Get out," retorted Mother Guttersnipe, indifferently, as she filled
herself a fresh cup. "You come a-falutin' round 'ere agin priggin' my
drinks, cuss you, an' I'll cut yer throat an' wring yer wicked old 'ead
orf."

The other gave a howl of dismay at hearing this pleasant proposal, and
tottered out as quickly as possible, leaving Mother Guttersnipe in
undisputed possession of the field.

Meanwhile Calton had seen Brian several times, and used every argument
in his power to get him to tell everything, but he either maintained an
obstinate silence, or merely answered,

"It would only break her heart."

He admitted to Calton, after a good deal of questioning, that he had
been at Mother Guttersnipe's on the night of the murder. After he had
left Whyte by the corner of the Scotch Church, as the cabman--Royston--had
stated, he had gone along Russell Street, and met Sal Rawlins
near the Unicorn Hotel. She had taken him to Mother Guttersnipe's,
where he had seen the dying woman, who had told him something he could
not reveal.

"Well," said Mr. Calton, after hearing the admission, "you might have
saved us all this trouble by admitting this before, and yet kept your
secret, whatever it may be. Had you done so, we might have got hold of
Sal Rawlins before she left Melbourne; but now it's a mere chance
whether she turns up or not."

Brian did not answer to this; in fact, he seemed hardly to be thinking
of what the lawyer was saying; but just as Calton was leaving, he asked--

"How is Madge?"

"How can you expect her to be?" said Calton, turning angrily on him.
"She is very ill, owing to the worry she has had over this affair."

"My darling! My darling!" cried Brian, in agony, clasping his hands
above his head. "I did it only to save you."

Calton approached him, and laid his hand lightly on his shoulder.

"My dear fellow," he said, gravely, "the confidences between lawyer and
client are as sacred as those between priest and penitent. You must
tell me this secret which concerns Miss Frettlby so deeply."

"No," said Brian, firmly, "I will never repeat what that wretched woman
told me. When I would not tell you before, in order to save my life, it
is not likely I am going to do so now, when I have nothing to gain and
everything to lose by telling it."

"I will never ask you again," said Calton, rather annoyed, as he walked
to the door. "And as to this accusation of murder, if I can find this
girl, you are safe."

When the lawyer left the gaol, he went to the Detective Office to see
Kilsip, and ascertain if there was any news of Sal Rawlins; but, as
usual, there was none.

"It is fighting against Fate," he said, sadly, as he went away; "his
life hangs on a mere chance."

The trial was fixed to come off in September, and, of course, there was
great excitement in Melbourne as the time drew near. Great, therefore,
was the disappointment when it was discovered that the prisoner's
counsel had applied for an adjournment of the trial till October, on
the ground that an important witness for the defence could not be
found.




CHAPTER XVII.



THE TRIAL.


In spite of the utmost vigilance on the part of the police, and the
offer of a large reward, both by Calton, on behalf of the accused, and
by Mr. Frettlby, the much-desired Sal Rawlins still remained hidden.
The millionaire had maintained a most friendly attitude towards Brian
throughout the whole affair. He refused to believe him guilty, and when
Calton told him of the defence of proving an ALIBI by means of Sal
Rawlins, he immediately offered a large reward, which was in itself
enough to set every person with any time on their hands hunting for the
missing witness.

All Australia and New Zealand rang with the extremely plebeian name of
Sal Rawlins, the papers being full of notices offering rewards; and
handbills of staring red letters were posted up in all railway
stations, in conjunction with "Liquid Sunshine" Rum and "D.W.D."
Whisky. She had become famous without knowing it, unless, indeed, she
had kept herself concealed purposely, but this was hardly probable, as
there was no apparent motive for her doing so. If she was above ground
she must certainly have seen the handbills, if not the papers; and
though not able to read, she could hardly help hearing something about
the one topic of conversation throughout Australia. Notwithstanding all
this, Sal Rawlins was still undiscovered, and Calton, in
despair, began to think that she must be dead. But Madge, though at
times her courage gave way, was still hopeful.

"God will not permit such a judicial crime as the murder of an innocent
man to be committed," she declared.

Mr. Calton, to whom she said this, shook his head doubtfully.

"God has permitted it to take place before," he answered softly; "and
we can only judge the future by the past."

At last, the day of the long-expected trial came, and as Calton sat; in
his office looking over his brief, a clerk entered and told him Mr.
Frettlby and his daughter wished to see him. When they came in, the
barrister saw that the millionaire looked haggard and ill, and there
was a worried expression on his face.

"There is my daughter, Calton," he said, after hurried greetings had
been exchanged. "She wants to be present in Court during Fitzgerald's
trial, and nothing I can say will dissuade her."

Calton turned, and looked at the girl in some surprise.

"Yes," she answered, meeting his look steadily, though her face was
very pale; "I must be there. I shall go mad with anxiety unless I know
how the trial goes on."

"But think of the disagreeable amount of attention you will attract,"
urged the lawyer.

"No one will recognise me," she said calmly, "I am very plainly
dressed, and I will wear this veil;" and, drawing one from her pocket,
she went to a small looking-glass which was hanging on the wall, and
tied it over her face.

Calton looked in perplexity at Mr. Frettlby.

"I'm afraid you must consent," he said.

"Very well," replied the other, almost sternly, while a look of
annoyance passed over his face. "I shall leave her in your charge."

"And you?"

"I'm not coming," answered Frettlby, quickly, putting on his hat. "I
don't care about seeing a man whom I have had at my dinner-table, in
the prisoner's dock, much as I sympathise with him. Good-day;" and with
a curt nod he took his leave. When the door closed on her father, Madge
placed her hand on Calton's arm.

"Any hope?" she whispered, looking at him through the black veil.

"The merest chance," answered Calton, putting his brief into his bag.
"We have done everything in our power to discover this girl, but
without result. If she does not come at the eleventh hour I'm afraid
Brian Fitzgerald is a doomed man."

Madge fell on her knees, with a stifled cry.

"Oh, God of Mercy," she cried, raising her hands as if in prayer, "save
him. Save my darling, and let him not die for the crime of another. God--"

She dropped her face in her hands and wept convulsively, as the lawyer
touched her lightly on the shoulder.

"Come!" he said kindly. "Be the brave girl you were, and we may save
him yet. The hour is darkest before the dawn, you know."

Madge dried her tears, and followed the lawyer to the cab, which was
waiting for them at the door. They drove quickly up to the Court, and
Calton put her in a quiet place, where she could see the dock, and yet
be unobserved by the people in the body of the Court. Just as he was
leaving her she touched his arm.

"Tell him," she whispered, in a trembling voice, "tell him I am here."

Calton nodded, and hurried away to put on his wig and gown,
while Madge looked hurriedly round the Court from her point of vantage.

It was crowded with fashionable Melbourne of both sexes, and they were
all talking together in subdued whispers, The popular character of the
prisoner, his good looks, and engagement to Madge Frettlby, together
with the extraordinary circumstances of the case, had raised public
curiosity to the highest pitch, and, consequently, everybody who could
possibly manage to gain admission was there.

Felix Rolleston had secured an excellent seat beside the pretty Miss
Featherweight, whom he admired so much, and he was chattering to her
with the utmost volubility.

"Puts me in mind of the Coliseum and all that sort of thing, you know,"
he said, putting up his eye-glass and starting round. "Butchered to
make a Roman holiday by jove."

"Don't say such horrid things, you frivolous creature," simpered Miss
Featherweight, using her smelling-bottle. "We are all here out of
sympathy for that poor dear Mr. Fitzgerald."

The mercurial Felix, who had more cleverness in him than people gave
him credit for, smiled outright at this eminently feminine way of
covering an overpowering curiosity.

"Ah, yes," he said lightly; "exactly. I daresay Eve only ate the apple
because she didn't like to see such a lot of good fruit go to waste."

Miss Featherweight eyed him doubtfully. She was not quite certain
whether he was in jest or earnest. Just as she was about to reply to
the effect that she thought it wicked to make the Bible a subject for
joking, the Judge entered and the Court rose.

When the prisoner was brought in, there was a great flutter among the
ladies, and some of them even had the bad taste to produce
opera-glasses. Brian noticed this, and he flushed up to the roots of
his fair hair, for he felt his degradation acutely. He was an intensely
proud man, and to be placed in the criminal dock, with a lot of
frivolous people, who had called themselves his friends, looking at him
as though he were a new actor or a wild animal, was galling in the
extreme. He was dressed in black, and looked pale and worn, but all the
ladies declared that he was as good-looking as ever, and they were sure
he was innocent.

The jury were sworn in, and the Crown Prosecutor rose to deliver his
opening address.

Most of those present knew the facts only through the medium of the
newspapers, and such floating rumours as they had been able to gather.
They were therefore unaware of the true history of events which had led
to Fitzgerald's arrest, and they prepared to listen to the speech with
profound attention.

The ladies ceased to talk, the men to stare round, and nothing could be
seen but row after row of eager and attentive faces, hanging on the
words that issued from the lips of the Crown Prosecutor. He was not a
great orator, but he spoke clearly and distinctly, and every word could
be heard in the dead silence.

He gave a rapid sketch of the crime--merely a repetition of what had
been published in the newspapers--and then proceeded to enumerate the
witnesses for the prosecution.

He would call the landlady of the deceased to show that ill-feeling
existed between the prisoner and the murdered man, and that the accused
had called on the deceased a week prior to the committal of the crime,
and threatened his life. (There was great excitement at this, and
several ladies decided, on the spur of the moment, that the horrid mall
was guilty, but the majority of them still refused to believe
in the guilt of such a good-looking young fellow.) He would call a
witness who could prove that Whyte was drunk on the night of the
murder, and went along Russell Street, in the direction of Collins
Street; the cabman Royston could swear to the fact that the prisoner
had hailed the cab, and after going away for a short time, returned and
entered the cab with the deceased. He would also prove that the
prisoner left the cab at the Grammar School, in the St. Kilda Road, and
on the arrival of the cab at the junction, he discovered the deceased
had been murdered. The cabman Rankin would prove that he drove the
prisoner from the St. Kilda Road to Powlett Street in East Melbourne,
where he got out; and he would call the prisoner's landlady to prove
that the prisoner resided in Powlett Street, and that on the night of
the murder he had not reached home till shortly after two o'clock. He
would also call the detective who had charge of the case, to prove the
finding of a glove belonging to the deceased in the pocket of the coat
which the prisoner wore on the night of the murder; and the doctor who
had examined the body of the deceased would give evidence that the
death was caused by inhalation of chloroform. As he had now fully shown
the chain of evidence which he proposed to prove, he would call the
first witness, MALCOLM ROYSTON.

ROYSTON, on being sworn, gave the same evidence as he had given at the
inquest, from the time that the cab was hailed up to his arrival at the
St. Kilda Police Station with the dead body of Whyte. In the
cross-examination, Calton asked him if he was prepared to swear that
the man who hailed the cab, and the man who got in with the deceased,
were one and the same person.

WITNESS: I am.

CALTON: You are quite certain?

WITNESS: Yes; quite certain.

CALTON: Do you then recognise the prisoner as the man who
hailed the cab?

WITNESS (hesitatingly): I cannot swear to that. The gentleman who
hailed the cab had his hat pulled down over his eyes, so that I could
not see his face; but the height and general appearance of the prisoner
are the same.

CALTON: Then it is only because the man who got into the cab was
dressed like the prisoner on that night that you thought they were both
the same?

WITNESS: It never struck me for a minute that they were not the same.
Besides, he spoke as if he had been there before. I said, "Oh, you've
come back," and he said, "Yes; I'm going to take him home," and got
into my cab.

CALTON: Did you notice any difference in his voice?

WITNESS: No; except that the first time I saw him he spoke in a loud
voice, and the second time he came back, very low.

CALTON: You were sober, I suppose?

WITNESS (indignantly): Yes; quite sober.

CALTON: Ah! You did not have a drink, say at the Oriental Hotel, which,
I believe, is near the rank where your cab stands?

WITNESS (hesitating): Well, I might have had a glass.

CALTON: So you might; you might have had several.

WITNESS (sulkily): Well, there's no law against a cove feeling thirsty.

CALTON: Certainly not; and I suppose you took advantage of the absence
of such a law.

WITNESS (defiantly): Yes, I did.

CALTON: And you were elevated?

WITNESS: Yes; on my cab.--(Laughter.)

CALTON (severely): You are here to give evidence, sir, not to make
jokes, however clever they may be. Were you, or were you not, slightly
the worse for drink?

WITNESS: I might have been.

CALTON: So you were in such a condition that you did not observe very
closely the man who hailed you?

WITNESS: No, I didn't--there was no reason why I should--I didn't
know a murder was going to be committed.

CALTON: And it never struck you it might be a different man?

WITNESS: No; I thought it was the same man the whole time.

This closed Royston's evidence, and Calton sat down very dissatisfied
at not being able to elicit anything more definite from him. One thing
appeared clear, that someone must have dressed himself to resemble
Brian, and have spoken in a low voice for fear of betraying himself.

Clement Rankin, the next witness, deposed to having picked up the
prisoner on the St. Kilda Road between one and two on Friday morning,
and driven him to Powlett Street, East Melbourne. In the
cross-examination, Calton elicited one point in the prisoner's favour.

CALTON: Is the prisoner the same gentleman you drove to Powlett Street?

WITNESS (confidently): Oh, yes.

CALTON: How do you know? Did you see his face?

WITNESS: No, his hat was pulled down over his eyes, and I could only
see the ends of his moustache and his chin, but he carried himself the
same as the prisoner, and his moustache is the same light colour.

CALTON: When you drove up to him on the St. Kilda Road, where was he,
and what was he doing?

WITNESS: He was near the Grammar School, walking quickly in the
direction of Melbourne, and was smoking a cigarette.

CALTON: Did he wear gloves?

WITNESS: Yes, one on the left hand, the other was bare.

CALTON: Did he wear any rings on the right hand?

WITNESS: Yes, a large diamond one on the forefinger.

CALTON: Are you sure?

WITNESS: Yes, because I thought it a curious place for a gentleman to
wear a ring, and when he was paying me my fare, I saw the diamond
glitter on his finger in the moonlight.

CALTON: That will do.

The counsel for the defence was pleased with this bit of evidence, as
Fitzgerald detested rings, and never wore any; so he made a note of the
matter on his brief.

Mrs. Hableton, the landlady of the deceased, was then called, and
deposed that Oliver Whyte had lodged with her for nearly two months. He
seemed a quiet enough young man, but often came home drunk. The only
friend she knew he had was a Mr. Moreland, who was often with him. On
the 14th July, the prisoner called to see Mr. Whyte, and they had a
quarrel. She heard Whyte say, "She is mine, you can't do anything with
her," and the prisoner answered, "I can kill you, and if you marry her
I shall do so in the open street." She had no idea at the time of the
name of the lady they were talking about. There was a great sensation
in the court at these words, and half the people present looked upon
such evidence as being sufficient in itself to prove the guilt of the
prisoner.

In cross-examination, Calton was unable to shake the evidence of the
witness, as she merely reiterated the same statements over and over
again.

The next witness was Mrs. Sampson, who crackled into the witness-box
dissolved in tears, and gave her answers in a piercingly shrill tone of
anguish. She stated that the prisoner was in the habit of
coming home early, but on the night of the murder, had come in shortly
before two o'clock.

CROWN PROSECUTOR (referring to his brief): You mean after two.

WITNESS: 'Avin made a mistake once, by saying five minutes after two to
the policeman as called hisself a insurance agent, which 'e put the
words into my mouth, I ain't a goin' to do so again, it bein' five
minutes afore two, as I can swear to.

CROWN PROSECUTOR: You are sure your clock was right?

WITNESS: It 'adn't bin, but my nevy bein' a watchmaker, called
unbeknown to me, an' made it right on Thursday night, which it was
Friday mornin' when Mr. Fitzgerald came 'ome.

Mrs. Sampson bravely stuck to this statement, and ultimately left the
witness-box in triumph, the rest of her evidence being comparatively
unimportant as compared with this point of time. The witness Rankin,
who drove the prisoner to Powlett Street (as sworn to by him) was
recalled, and gave evidence that it was two o'clock when the prisoner
got down from his cab in Powlett Street.

CROWN PROSECUTOR: How do you know that?

WITNESS: Because I heard the Post Office clock strike.

CROWN PROSECUTOR: Could you hear it at East Melbourne?

WITNESS: It was a very still night, and I heard the chimes and then the
hour strike quite plainly.

This conflicting evidence as to time was a strong point in Brian's
favour. If, as the landlady stated, on the authority of the kitchen
clock, which had been put right on the day previous to the murder,
Fitzgerald had come into the house at five minutes to two, he could not
possibly be the man who had alighted from Rankin's cab at two o'clock
at Powlett Street.

The next witness was Dr. Chinston, who swore to the death of
the deceased by means of chloroform administered in a large quantity,
and he was followed by Mr. Gorby, who deposed as to the finding of the
glove belonging to the deceased in the pocket of the prisoner's coat.

Roger Moreland, an intimate friend of the deceased, was next called. He
stated that he had known the deceased in London, and had met him in
Melbourne. He was with him a great deal. On the night of the murder he
was in the Orient Hotel in Bourke Street. Whyte came in, and was
greatly excited. He was in evening dress, and wore a light coat. They
had several drinks together, and then went up to an hotel in Russell
Street, and had some more drinks there. Both witness and deceased were
intoxicated. Whyte took off his light coat, saying he felt warm, and
went out shortly afterwards, leaving witness asleep in the bar. He was
awakened by the barman, who wanted him to leave the hotel. He saw that
Whyte had left his coat behind him, and took it up with the intention
of giving it to him. As he stood in the street some one snatched the
coat from him and made off with it. He tried to follow the thief, but
he could not do so, being too intoxicated. He then went home, and to
bed, as he had to leave early for the country in the morning. In
cross-examination:--

CALTON: When you went into the street, after leaving the hotel, did you
see the deceased?

WITNESS: NO, I did not; but I was very drunk, and unless deceased had
spoken to me, I would not have noticed him.

CALTON: What was deceased excited about when you met him?

WITNESS: I don't know. He did not say.

CALTON: What were you talking about?

WITNESS: All sorts of things. London principally.

CALTON: Did the deceased mention anything about papers?

WITNESS (surprised): No, he did not.

CALTON: Are you sure?

WITNESS: Quite sure.

CALTON: What time did you get home?

WITNESS: I don't know; I was too drunk to remember.

This closed the case for the Crown, and as it was now late the case was
adjourned till the next day.

The Court was soon emptied of the busy, chattering crowd, and Calton,
on looking over his notes, found that the result of the first day's
trial was two points in favour of Fitzgerald. First: the discrepancy of
time in the evidence of Rankin and the landlady, Mrs. Sampson. Second:
the evidence of the cabman Royston, as to the wearing of a ring on the
forefinger of the right hand by the mall who murdered Whyte, whereas
the prisoner never wore rings.

These were slender proofs of innocence to put against the overwhelming
mass of evidence in favour of the prisoner's guilt. The opinions of all
were pretty well divided, some being in favour and others against, when
suddenly an event happened which surprised everyone. All over Melbourne
extras were posted, and the news passed from lip to lip like
wildfire--"Return of the Missing Witness, Sal Rawlins!"




CHAPTER XVIII.



SAL RAWLINS TELLS ALL SHE KNOWS.


And, indeed, such was the case. Sal Rawlins had made her appearance at
the eleventh hour, to the heartfelt thankfulness of Calton, who saw in
her an angel from heaven, sent to save the life of an innocent man.

It was at the conclusion of the trial; and, together with Madge, he had
gone down to his office, when his clerk entered with a telegram. The
lawyer opened it hastily, and, with a silent look of pleasure on his
face, handed the telegram to Madge.

She, womanlike, being more impulsive, gave a cry when she read it, and,
falling on her knees, thanked God for having heard her prayers, and
saved her lover's life.

"Take me to her at once," she implored the lawyer.

She was anxious to hear from Sal Rawlins' own lips the joyful words
which would save Brian from a felon's death.

"No, my dear," answered Calton, firmly, but kindly. "I can hardly take
a lady to the place where Sal Rawlins lives. You will know all
to-morrow, but, meanwhile, you must go home and get some sleep."

"And you will tell him?" she whispered, clasping her hands on Calton's
arm.

"At once," he answered promptly. "And I will see Sal Rawlins
to-night, and hear what she has to say. Rest content, my dear," he
added, as he placed her in the carriage, "he is perfectly safe now."

Brian heard the good news with a deep feeling of gratitude, knowing
that his life was safe, and that he could still keep his secret. It was
the natural revulsion of feeling after the unnatural life he had been
leading since his arrest. When one is young and healthy, and has all
the world before one, it is a terrible thing to contemplate a sudden
death. And yet, in spite of his joy at being delivered from the
hangman's rope, there mingled with his delight the horror of that
secret which the dying woman had told him with such malignant joy.

"I had rather she had died in silence than she should have bequeathed
me this legacy of sorrow."

And the gaoler, seeing his haggard face the next morning, muttered to
himself, "He war blest if the swell warn't sorry he war safe."

So, while Brian was pacing up and down his cell during the weary
watches of the night, Madge, in her own room, was kneeling beside her
bed and thanking God for His great mercy; and Calton, the good fairy of
the two lovers, was hurrying towards the humble abode of Mrs. Rawlins,
familiarly known as Mother Guttersnipe. Kilsip was beside him, and they
were talking eagerly about the providential appearance of the
invaluable witness.

"What I like," observed Kilsip, in his soft, purring tone, "is the sell
it will be for that Gorby. He was so certain that Mr. Fitzgerald was
the man, and when he gets off to-morrow Gorby will be in a rage."

"Where was Sal the whole time?" asked Calton, absently, not thinking of
what the detective was saying.

"Ill," answered Kilsip. "After she left the Chinaman she went
into the country, caught cold by falling into some river, and ended up
by getting brain fever. Some people found her, took her in, and nursed
her. When she got well she came back to her grandmother's."

"But why didn't the people who nursed her tell her she was wanted? They
must have seen the papers."

"Not they," retorted the detective. "They knew nothing."

"Vegetables!" muttered Calton, contemptuously. "How can people be so
ignorant! Why, all Australia has been ringing with the case. At any
rate, it's money out of their pocket. Well?"

"There's nothing more to tell," said Kilsip, "except that she turned up
to-night at five o'clock, looking more like a corpse than anything
else."

When they entered the squalid, dingy passage that led to Mother
Guttersnipe's abode, they saw a faint light streaming down the stair.
As they climbed up they could hear the rancorous voice of the old hag
pouring forth alternate blessings and curses on her prodigal offspring,
and the low tones of a girl's voice in reply. On entering the room
Calton saw that the sick woman, who had been lying in the corner on the
occasion of his last visit, was gone. Mother Guttersnipe was seated in
front of the deal table, with a broken cup and her favourite bottle of
spirits before her. She evidently intended to have a night of it, in
order to celebrate Sal's return, and had commenced early, so as to lose
no time. Sal herself was seated on a broken chair, and leaned wearily
against the wall. She stood up as Calton and the detective entered, and
they saw that she was a tall, slender woman of about twenty-five, not
bad-looking, but with a pallid and haggard appearance from recent
illness. She was clothed in a kind of tawdry blue dress, much soiled
and torn, and had over her shoulders an old tartan shawl, which
she drew tightly across her breast as the strangers entered. Her
grandmother, who looked more weird and grotesquely horrible than ever,
saluted Calton and the detective on their entrance with a shrill yell,
and a volley of choice language.

"Oh, ye've come again, 'ave ye," she screeched, raising her skinny
arms, "to take my gal away from 'er pore old gran'mother, as nussed
'er, cuss her, when 'er own mother had gone a-gallivantin' with swells.
I'll 'ave the lawr of ye both, s'elp me, I will."

Kilsip paid no attention to this outbreak of the old fury, but turned
to the girl.

"This is the gentleman who wants to speak to you," he said, gently,
making the girl sit on the chair again, for indeed she looked too ill
to stand. "Just tell him what you told me."

"'Bout the 'Queen,' sir?" said Sal, in a low, hoarse voice, fixing her
wild eyes on Calton. "If I'd only known as you was a-wantin' me I'd
'ave come afore."

"Where were you?" asked Calton, in a pitying tone.

"Noo South Wales," answered the girl with a shiver. "The cove as I went
with t' Sydney left me--yes, left me to die like a dog in the gutter."

"Cuss 'im!" croaked the old woman in a sympathetic manner, as she took
a drink from the broken cup.

"I tooked up with a Chinerman," went on her granddaughter, wearily,
"an' lived with 'im for a bit--it's orful, ain't it?" she said with a
dreary laugh, as she saw the disgust on the lawyer's face. "But
Chinermen ain't bad; they treat a pore girl a dashed sight better nor a
white cove does. They don't beat the life out of 'em with their fists,
nor drag 'em about the floor by the 'air."

"Cuss 'em!" croaked Mother Guttersnipe, drowsily, "I'll tear
their 'earts out."

"I think I must have gone mad, I must," said Sal, pushing her tangled
hair off her forehead, "for arter I left the Chiner cove, I went on
walkin' and walkin' right into the bush, a-tryin' to cool my 'ead, for
it felt on fire like. I went into a river an' got wet, an' then I took
my 'at an' boots orf an' lay down on the grass, an' then the rain comed
on, an' I walked to a 'ouse as was near, where they tooked me in. Oh,
sich kind people," she sobbed, stretching out her hands, "that didn't
badger me 'bout my soul, but gave me good food to eat. I gave 'em a
wrong name. I was so 'fraid of that Army a-findin' me. Then I got ill,
an' knowd nothin' for weeks They said I was orf my chump. An' then I
came back 'ere to see gran'."

"Cuss ye," said the old woman, but in such a tender tons that it
sounded like a blessing.

"And did the people who took you in never tell you anything about the
murder?" asked Calton.

Sal shook her head.

"No, it were a long way in the country, and they never knowd anythin',
they didn't."

"Ah! that explains it," muttered Calton to himself.

"Come, now," he said cheerfully, "tell me all that happened on the
night you brought Mr. Fitzgerald to see the 'Queen.'"

"Who's 'e?" asked Sal, puzzled.

"Mr. Fitzgerald, the gentleman you brought the letter for to the
Melbourne Club."

"Oh, 'im?" said Sal, a sudden light breaking over her wan face. "I
never knowd his name afore."

Calton nodded complacently.

"I knew you didn't," he said, "that's why you didn't ask for him at the
Club."

"She never told me 'is name," said Sal, jerking her head in the
direction of the bed.

"Then whom did she ask you to bring to her?" asked Calton, eagerly.

"No one," replied the girl. "This was the way of it. On that night she
was orfil ill, an' I sat beside 'er while gran' was asleep."

"I was drunk," broke in gran', fiercely, "none of yer lies; I was
blazin' drunk."

"An' ses she to me, she ses," went on the girl, indifferent to her
grandmother's interruption, "'Get me some paper an' a pencil, an' I'll
write a note to 'im, I will.' So I goes an' gits 'er what she arsks fur
out of gran's box."

"Stole it, cuss ye," shrieked the old hag, shaking her fist.

"Hold your tongue," said Kilsip, in a peremptory tone.

Mother Guttersnipe burst into a volley of oaths, and having run rapidly
through all she knew, subsided into a sulky silence.

"She wrote on it," went on Sal, "an' then arsked me to take it to the
Melbourne Club an' give it to 'im. Ses I, 'Who's 'im?' Ses she, 'It's
on the letter; don't you arsk no questions an' you won't 'ear no lies,
but give it to 'im at the Club, an' wait for 'im at the corner of
Bourke Street and Russell Street.' So out I goes, and gives it to a
cove at the Club, an' then 'e comes along, an' ses 'e, 'Take me to
'er,' and I tooked 'im."

"And what like was the gentleman?"

"Oh, werry good lookin'," said Sal. "Werry tall, with yeller 'air an'
moustache. He 'ad party clothes on, an' a masher coat, an' a soft 'at."

"That's Fitzgerald right enough," muttered Calton. "And what did he do
when he came?"

"He goes right up to 'er, and she ses, 'Are you 'e?' and 'e
ses, 'I am.' Then ses she, 'Do you know what I'm a-goin' to tell you?'
an' 'e says, 'No.' Then she ses, 'It's about 'er;' and ses 'e, lookin'
very white, ''Ow dare you 'ave 'er name on your vile lips?' an' she
gits up an' screeches, 'Turn that gal out, an' I'll tell you;' an' 'e
takes me by the arm, an' ses 'e, ''Ere git out,' an' I gits out, an'
that's all I knows."

"And how long was he with her?" asked Calton, who had been listening
attentively.

"'Bout arf-a-hour," answered Sal. "I takes 'im back to Russell Street
'bout twenty-five minutes to two, 'cause I looked at the clock on the
Post Office, an' 'e gives me a sov., an' then he goes a-tearin' up the
street like anything."

"Take him about twenty minutes to walk to East Melbourne," said Calton
to himself "So he must just have got in at the time Mrs. Sampson said.
He was in with the 'Queen' the whole time, I suppose?" he asked,
looking keenly at Sal.

"I was at that door," said Sal, pointing to it, "an' 'e couldn't 'ave
got out unless I'd seen 'im."

"Oh, it's all right," said Calton, nodding to Kilsip, "there won't be
any difficulty in proving an ALIBI. But I say," he added, turning to
Sal, "what were they talking about?"

"I dunno," answered Sal. "I was at the door, an' they talks that quiet
I couldn't 'ear 'em. Then he sings out, 'My G--, it's too horrible!'
an' I 'ear 'er a larfin' like to bust, an' then 'e comes to me, and
ses, quite wild like, 'Take me out of this 'ell!' an' I tooked 'im."

"And when you came back?"

"She was dead."

"Dead?" "As a blessed door-nail," said Sal, cheerfully.

"An' I never knowd I was in the room with a corpse," wailed
Mother Guttersnipe, waking up. "Cuss 'er, she was allays a-doin'
contrary things."

"How do you know?" said Calton, sharply, as he rose to go.

"I knowd 'er longer nor you," croaked the old woman, fixing one evil
eye on the lawyer; "an' I know what you'd like to know; but ye shan't,
ye shan't."

Calton turned from her with a shrug of his shoulders.

"You will come to the Court to-morrow with Mr. Kilsip," he said to Sal,
"and tell what you have just now told me."

"It's all true, s'elp me," said Sal, eagerly; "'e was 'ere all the
time."

Calton stepped towards the door, followed by the detective, when Mother
Guttersnipe rose.

"Where's the money for finin' her?" she screeched, pointing one skinny
finger at Sal.

"Well, considering the girl found herself," said Calton, dryly, "the
money is in the bank, and will remain there."

"An' I'm to be done out of my 'ard earned tin, s'elp me?" howled the
old fury. "Cuss ye, I'll 'ave the lawr of ye, and get ye put in quod."

"You'll go there yourself if you don't take care," said Kilsip, in his
soft, purring tones.

"Yah!" shrieked Mother Guttersnipe, snapping her fingers at him. "What
do I care about yer quod? Ain't I bin in Pentrig', an' it ain't 'urt
me, it ain't? I'm as lively as a gal, I am."

And the old fury, to prove the truth of her words, danced a kind of war
dance in front of Mr. Calton, snapping her fingers and yelling out
curses, as an accompaniment to her ballet. Her luxurious white hair
streamed out during her gyrations, and with her grotesque appearance
and the faint light of the candle, she presented a gruesome spectacle.

Calton remembered the tales he had heard of the women of Paris,
at the revolution, and the way they danced "La Carmagnole." Mother
Guttersnipe would have been in her element in that sea of blood and
turbulence he thought. But he merely shrugged his shoulders, and walked
out of the room, as with a final curse, delivered in a hoarse voice,
Mother Guttersnipe sank exhausted on the floor, and yelled for gin.




CHAPTER XIX.



THE VERDICT OF THE JURY.


Next morning the Court was crowded, and numbers were unable to gain
admission. The news that Sal Rawlins, who alone could prove the
innocence of the prisoner, had been found, and would appear in Court
that morning, had spread like wildfire, and the acquittal of the
prisoner was confidently expected by a large number of sympathising
friends, who seemed to have sprung up on all sides, like mushrooms, in
a single night. There were, of course, plenty of cautious people left
who waited to hear the verdict of the jury before committing
themselves, and who still believed him to be guilty. But the unexpected
appearance of Sal Rawlins had turned the great tide of public feeling
in favour of the prisoner, and many who had been loudest in their
denunciations of Fitzgerald, were now more than half convinced of his
innocence. Pious clergymen talked in an incoherent way about the finger
of God and the innocent not suffering unjustly, which was a case of
counting unhatched chickens, as the verdict had yet to be given.

Felix Rolleston awoke, and found himself famous in a small way. Out of
good-natured sympathy, and a spice of contrariness, he had declared his
belief in Brian's innocence, and now, to his astonishment, he found
that his view of the matter was likely to prove correct. He
received so much praise on all sides for his presumed perspicuity, that
he soon began to think that he had believed in Fitzgerald's innocence
by a calm course of reasoning, and not because of a desire to differ
from every one else in their opinion of the case. After all, Felix
Rolleston is not the only mall who has been astonished to find
greatness thrust upon him, and come to believe himself worthy of it. He
was a wise man, however, and while in the full tide of prosperity he
seized the flying moment, and proposed to Miss Featherweight, who,
after some hesitation, agreed to endow him with herself and her
thousands. She decided that her future husband was a man of no common
intellect, seeing that he had long ago arrived at a conclusion which
the rest of Melbourne were only beginning to discover now, so she
determined that, as soon as she assumed marital authority, Felix, like
Strephon in "Iolanthe," should go into Parliament, and with her money
and his brains she might some day be the wife of a premier. Mr.
Rolleston had no idea of the political honours which his future spouse
intended for him, and was seated in his old place in the court, talking
about the case.

"Knew he was innocent, don't you know," he said, with a complacent
smile "Fitzgerald's too jolly good-looking a fellow, and all that sort
of thing, to commit murder."

Whereupon a clergyman, happening to overhear the lively Felix make this
flippant remark, disagreed with it entirely, and preached a sermon to
prove that good looks and crime were closely connected, and that both
Judas Iscariot and Nero were beauty-men.

"Ah," said Calton, when he heard the sermon, "if this unique theory is
a true one, what a truly pious man that clergyman must be!" This
allusion to the looks of the reverend gentleman was rather unkind, for
he was by no means bad-looking. But then Calton was one of
those witty men who would rather lose a friend than suppress an
epigram.

When the prisoner was brought in, a murmur of sympathy ran through the
crowded Court, so ill and worn-out he looked; but Calton was puzzled to
account for the expression of his face, so different from that of a man
whose life had been saved, or, rather, was about to be saved, for in
truth it was a foregone conclusion.

"You know who stole those papers," he thought, as he looked at
Fitzgerald, keenly, "and the man who did so is the murderer of Whyte."

The judge having entered, and the Court being opened, Calton rose to
make his speech, and stated in a few words the line of defence he
intended to take.

He would first call Albert Dendy, a watchmaker, to prove that on
Thursday night, at eight o'clock in the evening, he had called at the
prisoner's, lodgings while the landlady was out, and while there had
put the kitchen clock right, and had regulated the same. He would also
call Felix Rolleston, a friend of the prisoners, to prove that the
prisoner was not in the habit of wearing rings, and frequently
expressed his detestation of such a custom. Sebastian Brown, a waiter
at the Melbourne Club, would be called to prove that on Thursday night
a letter was delivered to the prisoner at the Club by one Sarah
Rawlins, and that the prisoner left the Club shortly before one o'clock
on Friday morning. He would also call Sarah Rawlins, to prove that she
had delivered a note to Sebastian Brown for the prisoner, at the
Melbourne Club, at a quarter to twelve on Thursday Night, and that at a
few minutes past one o'clock on Friday morning she had conducted the
prisoner to a slum off Little Bourke Street, and that he was there
between one and two on Friday morning, the hour at which the murder was
alleged to have taken place. This being his defence to the
charge brought against the prisoner, he would call Albert Dendy.

Albert Dendy, duly sworn, stated--

I am a watchmaker, and carry on business in Fitzroy. I remember
Thursday, the 26th of July last. On the evening of that day I called at
Powlett Streel East Melbourne, to see my aunt, who is the landlady of
the prisoner. She was out at the time I called, and I waited in the
kitchen till her return. I looked at the kitchen clock to see if it was
too late to wait, and then at my watch I found that the clock was ten
minutes fast, upon which I put it right, and regulated it properly.

CALTON: At what time did you put it right?

WITNESS: About eight o'clock.

CALTON: Between that time and two in the morning, was it possible for
the clock to gain ten minutes?

WITNESS: No, it was not possible.

CALTON: Would it gain at all?

WITNESS: Not between eight and two o'clock--the time was not long
enough.

CALTON: Did you see your aunt that night?

WITNESS: Yes, I waited till she came in.

CALTON: And did you tell her you had put the clock right?

WITNESS: No, I did not; I forgot all about it.

CALTON: Then she was still under the impression that it was ten minutes
fast?

WITNESS: Yes, I suppose so

After Dendy had been cross-examined, Felix Rolleston was called, and
deposed as follows:--

I am an intimate friend of the prisoner. I have known him for five or
six years, and I never saw him wearing a ring during that time. He has
frequently told me he did not care for rings, and would never wear
them.

In cross-examination:--

CROWN PROSECUTOR: You have never seen the prisoner wearing a diamond
ring?

WITNESS: No, never.

CROWN PROSECUTOR: Have you ever seen any such ring in his possession?

WITNESS: No, I have seen him buying rings for ladies, but I never saw
him with any ring such as a gentleman would wear.

CROWN PROSECUTOR: Not even a seal ring.

WITNESS: No, not even a seal ring.

Sarah Rawlins was then placed in the witness-box, and, after having
been sworn, deposed--

I know the prisoner. I delivered a letter, addressed to him at the
Melbourne Club, at a quarter to twelve o'clock on Thursday, 26th July.
I did not know what his name was. He met me shortly after one, at the
corner of Russell and Bourke Streets, where I had been told to wait for
him. I took him to my grandmother's place, in a lane off Little Bourke
Street. There was a dying woman there, who had sent for him. He went in
and saw her for about twenty minutes, and then I took him back to the
corner of Bourke and Russell Streets. I heard the three-quarters strike
shortly after I left him.

CROWN PROSECUTOR: You are quite certain that the prisoner was the man
you met on that night?

WITNESS: Quite certin', s'elp me G--.

CROWN PROSECUTOR: And he met you a few minutes past one o'clock?

WITNESS: Yes, 'bout five minutes--I 'eard the clock a-strikin' one
just afore he came down the street, and when I leaves 'im agin, it were
about twenty-five to two, 'cause it took me ten minits to git 'ome, and
I 'eard the clock go three-quarters, jest as I gits to the door.

CROWN PROSECUTOR: How do you know it was exactly twenty-five to
two when you left him?

WITNESS: 'Cause I sawr the clocks--I left 'im at the, corner of
Russell Street, and comes down Bourke Street, so I could see the Post
Orffice clock as plain as day, an' when I gets into Swanston Street, I
looks at the Town 'All premiscus like, and sees the same time there.

CROWN PROSECUTOR: And you never lost sight of the prisoner the whole
time?

WITNESS: No, there was only one door by the room, an' I was a-sittin'
outside it, an' when he comes out he falls over me.

CROWN PROSECUTOR: Were you asleep?

WITNESS: Not a blessed wink.

Calton then directed Sebastian Brown to be called. He deposed--

I know the prisoner. He is a member of the Melbourne Club, at which I
am a waiter. I remember Thursday, 26th July. On that night the last
witness came with a letter to the prisoner. It was about a quarter to
twelve. She just gave it to me, and went away. I delivered it to Mr.
Fitzgerald. He left the Club at about ten minutes to one.

This closed the evidence for the defence, and after the Crown
Prosecutor had made his speech, in which he pointed out the strong
evidence against the prisoner, Calton arose to address the jury. He was
a fine speaker, and made a splendid defence. Not a single point escaped
him, and that brilliant piece of oratory is still remembered and spoken
of admiringly in the purlieus of Temple Court and Chancery Lane.

He began by giving a vivid description of the circumstances, of the
murder--of the meeting of the murderer and his victim in Collins
Street East--the cab driving down to St. Kilda--the getting out of
the cab of the murderer after committing the crime--and the
way in which he had secured himself against pursuit.

Having thus enchained the attention of the jury by the graphic manner
in which he described the crime, he pointed out that the evidence
brought forward by the prosecution was purely circumstantial, and that
they had utterly failed to identify the prisoner in the dock with the
man who entered the cab. The supposition that the prisoner and the man
in the light coat were one and the same person, rested solely upon the
evidence of the cabman, Royston, who, although not intoxicated,
was--judging from his own statements, not in a fit state to distinguish
between the man who hailed the cab, and the man who got in. The crime
was committed by means of chloroform; therefore, if the prisoner was
guilty, he must have purchased the chloroform in some shop, or obtained
it from some friends. At all events, the prosecution had not brought
forward a single piece of evidence to show how, and where the
chloroform had been obtained. With regard to the glove belonging to the
murdered man found in the prisoner's pocket, he picked it up off the
ground at the time when he first met Whyte, when the deceased was lying
drunk near the Scotch Church. Certainly there was no evidence to show
that the prisoner had picked it up before the deceased entered the cab;
but, on the other hand, there was no evidence to show that it had been
picked up in the cab. It was far more likely that the glove, and
especially a white glove, would be picked up under the light of the
lamp near the Scotch Church, where it was easily noticeable, than in
the darkness of a cab, where there was very little room, and where it
would be quite dark, as the blinds were drawn down. The cabman,
Royston, swore positively that the man who got out of his cab on the
St. Kilda Road wore a diamond ring on the forefinger of his right hand,
and the cabman, Rankin, swore to the same thing about the man
who got out at Powlett Street. Against this could be placed the
evidence of one of the prisoner's most intimate friends--one who had
seen him almost daily for the last five years, and he had sworn
positively that the prisoner was not in the habit of wearing rings.

The cabman Rankin had also sworn that the man who entered his cab on
the St. Kilda Road alighted at Powlett Street, East Melbourne, at two
o'clock on Friday morning, as he heard that hour strike from the Post
Office clock, whereas the evidence of the prisoner's landlady showed
plainly that he entered the house five minutes previously, and her
evidence was further supported by that of the watchmaker, Dendy. Mrs.
Sampson saw the hand of her kitchen clock point to five minutes to two,
and, thinking it was ten minutes slow, told the detective that the
prisoner did not enter the house till five minutes past two, which
would just give the man who alighted from the cab (presuming him to
have been the prisoner) sufficient time to walk up to his lodgings. The
evidence of the watchmaker, Dendy, however, showed clearly that he had
put the clock right at the hour of eight on Thursday night; that it was
impossible for it to gain ten minutes before two on Friday morning, and
therefore, the time, five minutes to two, seen by the landlady was the
correct one, and the prisoner was in the house five minutes before the
other man alighted from the cab in Powlett Street.

These points in themselves were sufficient to show that the prisoner
was innocent, but the evidence of the woman Pawlins must prove
conclusively to the jury that the prisoner was not the man who
committed the crime. The witness Brown had proved that the woman
Rawlins had delivered a letter to him, which he gave to the prisoner
and that the prisoner left the Club, to keep the appointment spoken of
in the letter, which letter, or, rather, the remains of it had been put
in evidence. The woman Rawlins swore that the prisoner met her
at the corner of Russell and Bourke Streets, and had gone with her to
one of the back slums, there to see the writer of the letter. She also
proved that at the time of the committal of the crime the prisoner was
still in the back slum, by the bed of the dying woman, and, there being
only one door to the room, he could not possibly have left without the
witness seeing him. The woman Rawlins further proved that she left the
prisoner at the corner of Bourke and Russell Streets at twenty-five
minutes to two o'clock, which was five minutes before Royston drove his
cab up to the St. Kilda Police Station, with the dead body inside.
Finally, the woman Rawlins proved her words by stating that she saw
both the Post Office and Town Hall clocks; and supposing the prisoner
started from the corner of Bourke and Russell Streets, as she says he
did, he would reach East Melbourne in twenty minutes, which made it
five minutes to two on Friday morning, the time at which, according to
the landlady's statement, he entered the house.

All the evidence given by the different witnesses agreed completely,
and formed a chain which showed the whole of the prisoner's movements
at the time of the committal of the murder. Therefore, it was
absolutely impossible that the murder could have been committed by the
man in the dock. The strongest piece of evidence brought forward by the
prosecution was that of the witness Hableton, who swore that the
prisoner used threats against the life of the deceased. But the
language used was merely the outcome of a passionate Irish nature, and
was not sufficient to prove the crime to have been committed by the
prisoner. The defence which the prisoner set up was that of an ALIBI,
and the evidence of the witnesses for the defence proved conclusively
that the prisoner could not, and did not, commit the murder. Finally,
Calton wound up his, elaborate and exhaustive speech, which lasted
for over two hours, by a brilliant peroration, calling upon the
jury to base their verdict upon the plain facts of the case, and if
they did so they could hardly fail in bringing in a verdict of "Not
Guilty."

When Calton sat down a subdued murmur of applause was heard, which was
instantly suppressed, and the judge began to sum up, strongly in favour
of Fitzgerald. The jury then retired, and immediately there was a dead
silence in the crowded Court--an unnatural silence, such as must have
fallen on the blood-loving Roman populace when they saw the Christian
martyrs kneeling on the hot yellow sands of the arena, and watched the
long, lithe forms of lion and panther creeping steadily towards their
prey. The hour being late the gas had been lighted, and there was a
sickly glare through the wide hall.

Fitzgerald had been taken out of court on the retiring of the jury, but
the spectators stared steadily at the empty dock, which seemed to
enchain them by some indescribable fascination. They conversed among
themselves only in whispers, until even the whispering ceased, and
nothing could be heard but the steady ticking of the clock, and now and
then the quick-drawn breath of some timid on-looker. Suddenly, a woman,
whose nerves were over-strung, shrieked, and the cry rang weirdly
through the crowded hall. She was taken out, and again there was
silence, every eye being now fixed on the door through which the jury
would re-issue with their verdict of life or death. The hands of the
clock moved slowly round--a quarter--a half--three quarters--and
then the hour sounded with a silvery ring which startled everyone.
Madge, sitting with her hands tightly clasped together, began to fear
that her highly-strung nerves would give way.

"My God," she muttered softly to herself; "will this suspense never
end?"

Just then the door opened, and the jury re-entered. The
prisoner was again placed in the dock, and the judge resumed his seat,
this time with the black cap in his pocket, as everyone guessed.

The usual formalities were gone through, and when the foreman of the
jury stood up every neck was craned forward, and every ear was on the
alert to catch the words that fell from his lips. The prisoner flushed
a little and then grew pale as death, giving a quick, nervous glance at
the quiet figure in black, of which he could just catch a glimpse. Then
came the verdict, sharp and decisive, "NOT GUILTY."

On hearing this a cheer went up from everyone in the court, so strong
was the sympathy with Brian.

In vain the crier of the Court yelled, "Order!" until he was red in the
face. In vain the judge threatened to commit all present for contempt
of court--his voice being inaudible, it did not matter much--the
enthusiasm could not be restrained, and it was five minutes before
order was obtained. The judge, having recovered his composure,
delivered his judgment, and discharged the prisoner, in accordance with
the verdict.

Calton had won many cases, but it is questionable if he had ever heard
a verdict which gave him so much satisfaction as that which proclaimed
Fitzgerald innocent.

And Brian, stepping down from the dock a free man, passed through a
crowd of congratulating friends to a small room off the Court, where a
woman was waiting for him--a woman who clung round his neck, and
sobbed out--

"My darling! My darling! I knew that God would save you."




CHAPTER XX.



THE "ARGUS" GIVES ITS OPINION.


The morning after the trial was concluded the following article in
reference to the matter appeared in the ARGUS:--

"During the past three months we have frequently in our columns
commented on the extraordinary case which is now so widely known as
'The Hansom Cab Tragedy.' We can safely say that it is the most
remarkable case which has ever come under the notice of our Criminal
Court, and the verdict given by the jury yesterday has enveloped the
matter in a still deeper mystery. By a train of strange coincidences,
Mr. Brian Fitzgerald, a young squatter, was suspected of having
murdered Whyte, and had it not been for the timely appearance of the
woman Rawlins who turned up at the eleventh hour, we feel sure that a
verdict of guilty would have been given, and an innocent man would have
suffered punishment for the crime of another. Fortunately for the
prisoner, and for the interests of justice, his counsel, Mr. Calton, by
unwearied diligence, was able to discover the last witness, and prove
an ALIBI, Had it not been for this, in spite of the remarks made by the
learned counsel in his brilliant speech yesterday, which resulted in
the acquittal of the prisoner, we question very much if the rest of the
evidence in favour of the accused would have been sufficient to
persuade the jury that he was an innocent man. The only points
in favour of Mr. Fitzgerald were the inability of the cabman Royston to
swear to him as the man who had got into the cab with Whyte, the
wearing of a diamond ring on the forefinger of the right hand (whereas
Mr. Fitzgerald wears no rings), and the difference in time sworn to by
the cabman Rankin and the landlady. Against these points, however, the
prosecution placed a mass of evidence, which seemed conclusively to
prove the guilt of the prisoner; but the appearance of Sal Rawlins in
the witness-box put an end to all doubt. In language which could not be
mistaken for anything else than the truth, she positively swore that
Mr. Fitzgerald was in one of the slums off Bourke Street, between the
hours of one and two on Friday morning, at which time the murder was
committed. Under these circumstances, the jury unanimously agreed, and
returned a verdict of 'Not guilty,' and the prisoner was forthwith
acquitted. We have to congratulate his counsel, Mr. Calton, for the
able speech he made for the defence, and also Mr. Fitzgerald, for his
providential escape from a dishonourable and undeserved punishment. He
leaves the court without a stain on his character, and with the respect
and sympathy of all Australians, for the courage and dignity with which
he comported himself throughout, while resting under the shadow of such
a serious charge.

"But now that it has been conclusively proved that he is innocent, the
question arises in every one's mind, 'Who is the murderer of Oliver
Whyte?' The man who committed this dastardly crime is still at large,
and, for all we know, may be in our midst. Emboldened by the impunity
with which he has escaped the hands of justice, he may be walking
securely down our streets, and talking of the very crime of which he is
the perpetrator. Secure in the thought that all traces of him have been
lost for ever, from the time he alighted from Rankin's cab, at
Powlett Street, he has ventured probably to remain in Melbourne, and,
for all that anyone knows, he may have been in the court during the
late trial. Nay, this very article, may meet his eye, and he may
rejoice at the futile efforts which have been made to find him. But let
him beware, Justice is not blind, but blind-folded, and when he least
expects it, she will tear the bandage from her keen eyes, and drag him
forth to the light of day to receive the reward of his deed. Owing to
the strong evidence against Fitzgerald, that is the only direction in
which the detectives have hitherto looked, but baffled on one side,
they will look on the other, and this time may be successful.

"That such a man as the murderer of Oliver Whyte should be at large is
a matter of danger, not only to individual citizens, but to the
community at large; for it is a well-known fact that a tiger who once
tastes human blood never overcomes his craving for it; and, without
doubt the man who so daringly and coolly murdered a drunken, and
therefore defenceless man, will not hesitate to commit a second crime.
The present feeling of all classes in Melbourne must be one of terror,
that such a man should be at large, and must, in a great measure,
resemble the fear which filled everyone's heart in London when the Marr
murders were committed, and it was known that the murderer had escaped.
Anyone who has read De Quincy's graphic description of the crime
perpetrated by Williams must tremble to think that such another devil
incarnate is in our midst. It is an imperative necessity that such a
feeling should be done away with. But how is this to be managed? It is
one thing to speak, and another to act. There seems to be no possible
clue discoverable at present which can lead to the discovery of the
real murderer. The man in the light coat who got out of Rankin's cab at
Powlett Street, East Melbourne (designedly, as it now appears, in order
to throw suspicion on Fitzgerald), has vanished as completely
as the witches in Macbeth, and left no trace behind. It was two o'clock
in the morning when he left the cab, and, in a quiet suburb like East
Melbourne, no one would be about, so that he could easily escape
unseen. There seems to be only one chance of ever tracing him, and that
is to be found in the papers which were stolen from the pocket of the
dead man. What they were, only two persons knew, and one knows now. The
first, two were Whyte and the woman who was called 'The Queen,' and
both of them are now dead. The other who knows now is the man who
committed the crime. There can be no doubt that these papers were the
motive for the crime, as no money was taken from the pockets of the
deceased. The fact, also, that the papers were carried in a pocket made
inside the waistcoat of the deceased shows that they were of value.

"Now, the reason we think that the dead woman knew of the existence of
these papers is simply this. It appears that she came out from England
with Whyte as his mistress, and after staying some time in Sydney came
on to Melbourne. How she came into such a foul and squalid den as that
she died in, we are unable to say, unless, seeing that she was given to
drink, she was picked up drunk by some Samaritan of the slums, and
carried to Mrs. Rawlins' humble abode. Whyte visited her there
frequently, but appears to have made no attempt to remove her to a
better place, alleging as his reason that the doctor said she would die
if taken into the air. Our reporter learned from one of the detectives
that the dead woman was in the habit of talking to Whyte about certain
papers, and on one occasion was overheard to say to him, 'They'll make
your fortune if you play your cards well.' This was told to the
detective by the woman Rawlins, to whose providential appearance Mr.
Fitzgerald owes his escape. From this it can be gathered that the
papers--whatever they might be--were of value, and sufficient
to tempt another to commit a murder in order to obtain them. Whyte,
therefore, being dead, and his murderer having escaped, the only way of
discovering the secret which lies at the root of this tree of crime, is
to find out the history of the woman who died in the slum. Traced back
for some years, circumstances may be discovered which will reveal what
these papers contained, and once that is found, we can confidently say
that the murderer will soon be discovered. This is the only chance of
finding out the cause, and the author of this mysterious murder; and if
it fails, we fear the hansom cab tragedy will have to be relegated to
the list of undiscovered crimes, and the assassin of Whyte will have no
other punishment than that of the remorse of his own conscience."




CHAPTER XXI.



THREE MONTHS AFTERWARDS.


A hot December day, with a cloudless blue sky, and a sun blazing down
on the earth, clothed in all the beauty of summer garments. Such a
description of snowy December sounds perchance a trifle strange to
English ears. It may strike them as being somewhat fantastic, as was
the play in "A Midsummer Night's Dream," to Demetrius when he remarked,
"This is hot ice and wondrous cold fire."

But here in Australia we are in the realm of contrariety, and many
things other than dreams go by contrary. Here black swans are an
established fact, and the proverb concerning them, made when they were
considered as mythical a bird as the Phoenix, has been rendered null
and void by the discoveries of Captain Cook. Here ironwood sinks and
pumice stone floats, which must strike the curious spectator as a queer
freak on the part of Dame Nature. At home the Edinburgh mail bears the
hardy traveller to a cold climate, with snowy mountains and wintry
blasts; but here the further north one goes the hotter it gets, till
one arrives in Queensland, where the heat is so great that a profane
traveller of an epigrammatic turn of mind once fittingly called it, "An
amateur hell."

But however contrary, as Mrs. Gamp would say, Nature may be in
her dealings, the English race out in this great continent are much the
same as in the old country--John Bull, Paddy, and Sandy, all being of
a conservative turn of mind, and with strong opinions as to the keeping
up of old customs. Therefore, on a hot Christmas day, with the sun one
hundred odd in the shade, Australian revellers sit down to the roast
beef and plum-pudding of Old England, which they eat contentedly as the
orthodox thing, and on New Year's Eve the festive Celt repairs to the
doors of his "freends" with a bottle of whisky and a cheering verse of
Auld Lang Syne.

Still it is these peculiar customs that give an individuality to a
nation, and John Bull abroad loses none of his insular obstinacy; but
keeps his Christmas in the old fashion, and wears his clothes in the
new fashion, without regard to heat or cold. A nation that never
surrenders to the fire of an enemy cannot be expected to give in to the
fire of the sun, but if some ingenious mortal would only invent some
light and airy costume, after the fashion of the Greek dress, and
Australians would consent to adopt the same, life in Melbourne and her
sister cities would be much cooler than it is at present.

Madge was thinking somewhat after this fashion as she sat on the wide
verandah, in a state of exhaustion from the heat, and stared out at the
wide plains lying parched and arid under the blazing sun. There was a
dim kind of haze rising from the excessive heat, hanging midway between
heaven and earth, and through its tremulous veil the distant hills
looked aerial and unreal.

Stretched out before her was the garden with its intensely vivid
flowers. To look at them merely was to increase one's caloric
condition. Great bushes of oleanders, with their bright pink
blossoms, luxurious rose trees, with their yellow, red, and white
blooms, and all along the border a rainbow of many-coloured flowers,
with such brilliant tints that the eye ached to see them in the hot
sunshine, and turned restfully to the cool green of the trees which
encircled the lawn. In the centre was a round pool, surrounded by a
ring of white marble, and containing a still sheet of water, which
flashed like a mirror in the blinding light.

The homestead of Yabba Yallook station was a long low house, with no
upper-storey, and with a wide verandah running nearly round it. Cool
green blinds were hung between the pillars to keep out the sun, and all
along were scattered lounging chairs of basket-work, with rugs, novels,
empty soda-water bottles, and all the other evidences that Mr.
Frettlby's guests had been wise, and stayed inside during the noonday
heat.

Madge was seated in one of these comfortable chairs, and she divided
her attention between the glowing beauty of the world outside, which
she could see through a narrow slit in the blinds. But she did not seem
greatly interested in her book, and it was not long before she let it
fall unheeded to the ground and took refuge in her own thoughts. The
trial through which she had so recently passed had been a great one,
and it had not been without its outward result. It had left its impress
on her beautiful face, and there was a troubled look in her eyes. After
Brian's acquittal of the murder of Oliver Whyte, she had been taken by
her father up to the station, in the hope that it would restore her to
health. The mental strain which had been on her during the trial had
nearly brought on an attack of brain fever; but here, far from the
excitement of town life, in the quiet seclusion of the country, she had
recovered her health, but not her spirits. Women are more
impressionable than men, and it is, perhaps, for this reason
that they age quicker. A trouble which would pass lightly over a man,
leaves an indelible mark on a woman, both physically and mentally, and
the terrible episode of Whyte's murder had changed Madge from a bright
and merry girl into a grave and beautiful woman. Sorrow is a potent
enchantress. Once she touches the heart, life can never be quite the
same again. We never more surrender ourselves entirely to pleasure; and
often we find so many of the things we have longed for are after all
but dead sea fruit. Sorrow is the veiled Isis of the world, and once we
penetrate her mystery and see her deeply-furrowed face and mournful
eyes, the magic light of romance dies all away, and we realise the hard
bitter fact of life in all its nakedness.

Madge felt something of all this. She saw the world now, not as the
fantastic fairyland of her girlish dreams, but as the sorrowful vale of
tears through which we must all walk till we reach the "Promised Land."

And Brian, he also had undergone a change, for there were a few white
hairs now amid his curly, chestnut locks, and his character, from being
gay and bright, had become moody and irritable. After the trial he had
left town immediately, in order to avoid meeting with his friends, and
had gone up to his station, which was next to that of the Frettlbys'.
There he worked hard all day, and smoked hard all night, thinking ever
the secret which the dead woman had told him, and which threatened to
overshadow his life. Every now and then he rode over and saw Madge. But
this was generally when he knew her father to be away from Melbourne,
for of late he had disliked the millionaire. Madge could not but
condemn his attitude, remembering how her father had stood beside him
in his recent trouble. Yet there was another reason why Brian kept
aloof from Yabba Yallook station. He did not wish to meet any of the
gay society which was there, knowing that since his trial he
was an object of curiosity and sympathy to everyone--a position
galling enough to his proud nature.

At Christmas time Mr. Frettlby had asked several people up from
Melbourne, and though Madge would rather have been left alone, yet she
could not refuse her father, and had to play hostess with a smiling
brow and aching heart.

Felix Rolleston, who a month since had joined the noble army of
benedicts, was there with Mrs. Rolleston, NEE Miss Featherweight, who
ruled him with a rod of iron. Having bought Felix with her money, she
had determined to make good use of him, and, being ambitious to shine
in Melbourne society, had insisted upon Felix studying politics, so
that when the next general election came round he could enter
Parliament. Felix had rebelled at first, but ultimately gave way, as he
found that when he had a good novel concealed among his parliamentary
papers time passed quite pleasantly, and he got the reputation of a
hard worker at little cost. They had brought up Julia with them, and
this young person had made up her mind to become the second Mrs.
Frettlby. She had not received much encouragement, but, like the
English at Waterloo, did not know when she was beaten, and carried on
the siege of Mr. Frettlby's heart in an undaunted manner.

Dr. Chinston had come up for a little relaxation, and gave never a
thought to his anxious patients or the many sick-rooms he was in the
habit of visiting. A young English fellow, called Peterson, who amused
himself by travelling; an old colonist, full of reminiscences of the
old days, when, "by gad, sir, we hadn't a gas lamp in the whole of
Melbourne," and several other people, completed the party. They had all
gone off to the billiard-room, and left Madge in her comfortable chair,
half-asleep.

Suddenly she started, as she heard a step behind her, and
turning, saw Sal Rawlins, in the neatest of black gowns, with a
coquettish white cap and apron, and an open book. Madge had been so
delighted with Sal for saving Brian's life that she had taken her into
her service as maid. Mr. Frettlby had offered strong opposition at
first that a fallen woman like Sal should be near his daughter; but
Madge was determined to rescue the unhappy girl from the life of sin
she was leading, and so at last he reluctantly consented. Brian, too,
had objected, but ultimately yielded, as he saw that Madge had set her
heart on it. Mother Guttersnipe objected at first, characterising the
whole affair as "cussed 'umbug," but she, likewise, gave in, and Sal
became maid to Miss Frettlby, who immediately set to work to remedy
Sal's defective education by teaching her to read. The book she held in
her hand was a spelling-book, and this she handed to Madge.

"I think I knows it now, miss," she said, respectfully, as Madge looked
up with a smile.

"Do you, indeed?" said Madge, gaily. "You will be able to read in no
time, Sal."

"Read this?" said Sal, touching "Tristan: A Romance, by Zoe."

"Hardly!" said Madge, picking it up, with a look of contempt.

"I want you to learn English, and not a confusion of tongues like this
thing. But it's too hot for lessons, Sal," she went on, leaning back in
her seat, "so get a chair and talk to me."

Sal complied, and Madge looked out at the brilliant flower-beds, and at
the black shadow of the tall witch elm which grew on one side of the
lawn. She wanted to ask a certain question of Sal, and did not know how
to do it. The moodiness and irritability of Brian had troubled her very
much of late, and, with the quick instinct of her sex, she
ascribed it indirectly to the woman who had died in the back slum.
Anxious to share his troubles and lighten his burden, she determined to
ask Sal about this mysterious woman, and find out, if possible, what
secret had been told to Brian which affected him so deeply.

"Sal," she said, after a short pause, turning her clear grey eyes on
the woman, "I want to ask you something."

The other shivered and turned pale.

"About--about that?"

Madge nodded.

Sal hesitated for a moment, and then flung herself at the feet of her
mistress.

"I will tell you," she cried. "You have been kind to me, an' have a
right to know. I will tell you all I know."

"Then," asked Madge, firmly, as she clasped her. hands tightly
together, "who was this woman whom Mr. Fitzgerald went to see, and
where did she come from?"

"Gran' an' me found her one evenin' in Little Bourke Street," answered
Sal, "just near the theatre. She was quite drunk, an' we took her home
with us."

"How kind of you," said Madge.

"Oh, it wasn't that," replied the other, dryly. "Gran' wanted her
clothes; she was awful swell dressed."

"And she took the clothes--how wicked!"

"Anyone would have done it down our way," answered Sal, indifferently;
"but Gran' changed her mind when she got her home. I went out to get
some gin for Gran', and when I came back she was huggin' and kissin'
the woman."

"She recognised her."

"Yes, I s'pose so," replied Sal, "an' next mornin', when the lady got
square, she made a grab at Gran', an' hollered out, 'I was comin' to
see you.'"

"And then?"

"Gran' chucked me out of the room, an' they had a long jaw; and then,
when I come back, Gran' tells me the lady is a-goin' to stay with us
'cause she was ill, and sent me for Mr. Whyte."

"And he came?"

"Oh, yes--often," said Sal. "He kicked up a row when he first turned
up, but when he found she was ill, he sent a doctor; but it warn't no
good. She was two weeks with us, and then died the mornin' she saw Mr.
Fitzgerald."

"I suppose Mr. Whyte was in the habit of talking to this woman?"

"Lots," returned Sal; "but he always turned Gran' an' me out of the
room afore he started."

"And"--hesitating--"did you ever overhear one of these
conversations?"

"Yes--one," answered the other, with a nod. "I got riled at the way he
cleared us out of our own room; and once, when he shut the door and
Gran' went off to get some gin, I sat down at the door and listened. He
wanted her to give up some papers, an' she wouldn't. She said she'd die
first; but at last he got 'em, and took 'em away with him."

"Did you see them?" asked Madge, as the assertion of Gorby that Whyte
had been murdered for certain papers flashed across her mind.

"Rather," said Sal, "I was looking through a hole in the door, an' she
takes 'em from under her piller, an' 'e takes 'em to the table, where
the candle was, an' looks at 'em--they were in a large blue envelop,
with writing on it in red ink--then he put 'em in his pocket, and she
sings out: 'You'll lose 'em,' an' 'e says: 'No, I'll always 'ave 'em
with me, an' if 'e wants 'em 'e'll have to kill me fust afore 'e gits
'em.'"

"And you did not know who the man was to whom the papers were
of such importance?"

"No, I didn't; they never said no names."

"And when was it Whyte got the papers?"

"About a week before he was murdered," said Sal, after a moment's
thought. "An' after that he never turned up again. She kept watchin'
for him night an' day, an' 'cause he didn't come, got mad at him. I
hear her sayin', 'You think you've done with me, my gentleman, an'
leaves me here to die, but I'll spoil your little game,' an' then she
wrote that letter to Mr. Fitzgerald, an' I brought him to her, as you
know."

"Yes, yes," said Madge, rather impatiently. "I heard all that at the
trial, but what conversation passed between Mr. Fitzgerald and this
woman? Did you hear it?"

"Bits of it," replied the other. "I didn't split in Court, 'cause I
thought the lawyer would be down on me for listening. The first thing I
heard Mr. Fitzgerald sayin' was, 'You're mad--it ain't true,' an' she
ses, 'S'elp me it is, Whyte's got the proof,' an' then he sings out,
'My poor girl,' and she ses, 'Will you marry her now?' and ses he, 'I
will, I love her more than ever;' and then she makes a grab at him, and
says, 'Spile his game if you can,' and says he, 'What's yer name?' and
she says--"

"What?" asked Madge, breathlessly.

"Rosanna Moore!"

There was a sharp exclamation as Sal said the name, and, turning round
quickly, Madge found Brian standing beside her, pale as death, with his
eyes fixed on the woman, who had risen to her feet.

"Go on!" he said sharply.

"That's all I know," she replied, in a sullen tone. Brian gave a sigh
of relief.

"You can go," he said slowly; "I wish to speak with Miss
Frettlby alone."

Sal looked at him for a moment, and then glanced at her mistress, who
nodded to her as a sign that she might withdraw. She picked up her
book, and with another sharp enquiring look at Brian, turned and walked
slowly into the house.




CHAPTER XXII.



A DAUGHTER OF EVE.


After Sal had gone, Brian sank into a chair beside Madge with a weary
sigh. He was in riding dress, which became his stalwart figure well,
and he looked remarkably handsome but ill and worried.

"What on earth were you questioning that girl about?" he said abruptly,
taking his hat off, and tossing it and his gloves on to the floor.

Madge flushed crimson for a moment, and then taking Brian's two strong
hands in her own, looked steadily into his frowning face.

"Why don't you trust me?" she asked, in a quiet tone.

"It is not necessary that I should," he answered moodily. "The secret
that Rosanna Moore told me on her death-bed is nothing that would
benefit you to know."

"Is it about me?" she persisted.

"It is, and it is not," he answered, epigrammatically.

"I suppose that means that it is about a third person, and concerns
me," she said calmly, releasing his hands.

"Well, yes," impatiently striking his boot with his riding whip. "But
it is nothing that can harm you so long as you do not know it; but God
help you should anyone tell it to you, for it would embitter your
life."

"My life being so very sweet now," answered Madge, with a
slight sneer. "You are trying to put out a fire by pouring oil on it,
and what you say only makes me more determined to learn what it is."

"Madge, I implore you not to persist in this foolish curiosity," he
said, almost fiercely, "it will bring you only misery."

"If it concerns me I have a right to know it," she answered curtly.
"When I marry you how can we be happy together, with the shadow of a
secret between us?"

Brian rose, and leaned against the verandah post with a dark frown on
his face.

"Do you remember that verse of Browning's," he said, coolly--


'Where the apple reddens
Never pry,
Lest we lose our Edens,
Eve and I.'


"Singularly applicable to our present conversation, I think."

"Ah," she said, her pale face flushing with anger, "you want me to live
in a fool's paradise, which may end at any moment."

"That depends upon yourself," he answered coldly. "I never roused your
curiosity by telling you that there was a secret, but betrayed it
inadvertently to Calton's cross-questioning. I tell you candidly that I
did learn something from Rosanna Moore, and it concerns you, though
only indirectly through a third person. But it would do no good to
reveal it, and would ruin both our lives."

She did not answer, but looked straight before her into the glowing
sunshine.

Brian fell on his knees beside her, and stretched out his hands with an
entreating gesture.

"Oh, my darling," he cried sadly, "cannot you trust me? The
love which has stood such a test as yours cannot fail like this. Let me
bear the misery of knowing it alone, without blighting your young life
with the knowledge of it. I would tell you if I could, but, God help
me, I cannot--I cannot," and he buried his face in his hands.

Madge closed her mouth firmly, and touched his comely head with her
cool, white fingers. There was a struggle going on in her breast
between her feminine curiosity and her love for the man at her feet--the
latter conquered, and she bowed her head over his.

"Brian," she whispered softly, "let it be as you wish. I will never
again try to learn this secret, since you do not desire it."

He arose to his feet, and caught her in his strong arms, with a glad
smile.

"My dearest," he said, kissing her passionately, and then for a few
moments neither of them spoke. "We will begin a new life," he said, at
length. "We will put the sad past away from us, and think of it only as
a dream."

"But this secret will still fret you," she murmured.

"It will wear away with time and with change of scene," he answered
sadly.

"Change of scene!" she repeated in a startled tone. "Are you going
away?"

"Yes; I have sold my station, and intend leaving Australia for ever
during the next three months."

"And where are you going?" asked the girl, rather bewildered.

"Anywhere," he said a little bitterly. "I am going to follow the
example of Cain, and be a wanderer on the face of the earth!"

"Alone!"

"That is what I have come to see you about," said Brian,
looking steadily at her. "I have come to ask you if you will marry me
at once, and we will leave Australia together."

She hesitated.

"I know it is asking a great deal," he said, hurriedly, "to leave your
friends, your position, and"--with hesitation--"your father; but
think of my life without you--think how lonely I shall be, wandering
round the world by myself; but you will not desert me now I have so
much need of you--you will come with me and be my good angel in the
future as you have been in the past?"

She put her hand on his arm, and looking at him with her clear, grey
eyes, said--"Yes!"

"Thank God for that," said Brian, reverently, and there was again a
silence.

Then they sat down and talked about their plans, and built castles in
the air, after the fashion of lovers.

"I wonder what papa will say?" observed Madge, idly twisting her
engagement ring round and round.

Brian frowned, and a dark look passed over his face.

"I suppose I must speak to him about it?" he said at length,
reluctantly.

"Yes, of course!" she replied, lightly. "It is merely a formality;
still, one that must be observed."

"And where is Mr. Frettlby?" asked Fitzgerald, rising.

"In the billiard-room," she answered, as she followed his example.
"No!" she continued, as she saw her father step on to the verandah.
"Here he is."

Brian had not seen Mark Frettlby for some time, and was astonished at
the change which had taken place in his appearance. Formerly, he had
been as straight as an arrow, with a stern, fresh-coloured face; but
now he had a slight stoop, and his face looked old and withered. His
thick, black hair was streaked here and there with white. His
eyes alone were unchanged. They were as keen and bright as ever. Brian
knew full well how he himself had altered. He knew, too, that Madge was
not the same, and now he could not but wonder whether the great change
that was apparent in her father was attributable to the same source--to
the murder of Oliver Whyte.

Sad and thoughtful as Mr. Frettlby looked, as he came along, a smile
broke over his face as he caught sight of his, daughter.

"My dear Fitzgerald," he said, holding out his hand, "this is indeed a
surprise! When did you come over?"

"About half-an-hour ago," replied Brian, reluctantly, taking the
extended hand of the millionaire. "I came to see Madge, and have a talk
with you."

"Ah! that's right," said the other, putting his arm round his
daughter's waist. "So that's what has brought the roses to your face,
young lady?" he went on, pinching her cheek playfully. "You will stay
to dinner, of course, Fitzgerald?"

"Thank you, no!" answered Brian, hastily, "my dress--"

"Nonsense," interrupted Frettlby, hospitably; "we are not in Melbourne,
and I am sure Madge will excuse your dress. You must stay."

"Yes, do," said Madge, in a beseeching tone, touching his hand lightly.
"I don't see so much of you that I can let you off with half-an-hour's
conversation."

Brian seemed to be making a violent effort.

"Very well," he said in a low voice; "I shall stay."

"And now," said Frettlby, in a brisk tone, as he sat down; "the
important question of dinner being settled, what is it you want to see
me about?--Your station?"

"No," answered Brian, leaning against the verandah post, while Madge
slipped her hand through his arm. "I have sold it."

"Sold it!" echoed Frettlby, aghast. "What for?"

"I felt restless, and wanted a change."

"Ah! a rolling stone," said the millionaire, shaking his head, "gathers
no moss, you know."

"Stones don't roll of their own accord," replied Brian, in a gloomy
tone. "They are impelled by a force over which they have no control."

"Oh, indeed!" said the millionaire, in a joking tone. "And may I ask
what is your propelling force?"

Brian looked at the man's face with such a steady gaze that the
latter's eyes dropped after an uneasy attempt to return it.

"Well," he said impatiently, looking at the two tall young people
standing before him, "what do you want to see me about?"

"Madge has agreed to marry me at once, and I want your consent."

"Impossible!" said Frettlby, curtly.

"There is no such a word as impossible," retorted Brian, coolly,
thinking of the famous remark in RICHELIEU, "Why should you refuse? I
am rich now."

"Pshaw!" said Frettlby, rising impatiently. "It's not money I'm
thinking about--I've got enough for both of you; but I cannot live
without Madge."

"Then come with us," said his daughter, kissing him.

Her lover, however, did not second the invitation, but stood moodily
twisting his tawny moustache, and staring out into the garden in an
absent sort of manner.

"What do you say, Fitzgerald?" said Frettlby, who was eyeing him
keenly.

"Oh, delighted, of course," answered Brian, confusedly.

"In that case," returned the other, coolly, "I will tell you what we
will do. I have bought a steam yacht, and she will be ready for sea
about the end of January. You will marry my daughter at once,
and go round New Zealand for your honeymoon. When you return, if I feel
inclined, and you two turtle-doves don't object, I will join you, and
we will make a tour of the world."

"Oh, how delightful," cried Madge, clasping her hands. "I am so fond of
the ocean with a companion, of course," she added, with a saucy glance
at her lover.

Brian's face had brightened considerably, for he was a born sailor, and
a pleasant yachting voyage in the blue waters of the Pacific, with
Madge as his companion, was, to his mind, as near Paradise as any
mortal could get.

"And what is, the name of the yacht?" he asked, with deep interest.

"Her name?" repeated Mr. Frettlby, hastily. "Oh, a very ugly name, and
one which I intend to change. At present she is called the 'Rosanna.'"

"Rosanna!"

Brian and his betrothed both started at this, and the former stared
curiously at the old man, wondering at the coincidence between the name
of the yacht and that of the woman who died in the Melbourne slum.

Mr Frettlby flushed a little when he saw Brian's eye fixed on him with
such an enquiring gaze, and rose with an embarrassed laugh.

"You are a pair of moon-struck lovers," he said, gaily, taking an arm
of each, and leading them into the house "but you forget dinner will
soon be ready."




CHAPTER XXIII.



ACROSS THE WALNUTS AND THE WINE.


Moore, sweetest of bards, sings--


"Oh, there's nothing half so sweet in life
As love's young dream."


But he made this assertion in his callow days, before he had learned
the value of a good digestion. To a young and fervid youth, love's
young dream is, no doubt, very charming, lovers, as a rule, having a
small appetite; but to a man who has seen the world, and drunk deeply
of the wine of life, there is nothing half so sweet in the whole of his
existence as a good dinner. "A hard heart and a good digestion will
make any man happy." So said Talleyrand, a cynic if you like, but a man
who knew the temper of his day and generation. Ovid wrote about the art
of love--Brillat Savarin, of the art of dining; yet, I warrant you,
the gastronomical treatise of the brilliant Frenchman is more widely
read than the passionate songs of the Roman poet. Who does not value as
the sweetest in the whole twenty-four the hour when, seated at an
artistically-laid table, with delicately-cooked viands, good wines, and
pleasant company, all the cares and worries of the day give place to a
delightful sense of absolute enjoyment? Dinner with the English
people is generally a very dreary affair, and there is a heaviness
about the whole thing which communicates itself to the guests, who eat
and drink with a solemn persistence, as though they were occupied in
fulfilling some sacred rite. But there are men--alas! few and far
between--who possess the rare art of giving good dinners--good in the
sense of sociality as well as in that of cookery.

Mark Frettlby was one of these rare individuals--he had an innate
genius for getting pleasant people together--people, who, so to speak,
dovetailed into one another. He had an excellent cook, and his wines
were irreproachable, so that Brian, in spite of his worries, was glad
that he had accepted the invitation. The bright gleam of the silver,
the glitter of glass, and the perfume of flowers, all collected under
the subdued crimson glow of a pink-shaded lamp, which hung from the
ceiling, could not but give him a pleasurable sensation.

On one side of the dining-room were the French windows opening on to
the verandah, and beyond appeared the vivid green of the trees, and the
dazzling colours of the flowers, somewhat tempered by the soft hazy
glow of the twilight.

Brian had made himself as respectable as possible under the odd
circumstances of dining in his riding-dress, and sat next to Madge,
contentedly sipping his wine, and listening to the pleasant chatter
which was going on around him.

Felix Rolleston was in great spirits, the more so as Mrs Rolleston was
at the further end of the table, hidden from his view.

Julia Featherweight sat near Mr. Frettlby, and chatted to him so
persistently that he wished she would become possessed of a dumb devil.

Dr. Chinston and Peterson were seated on the other side of the
table, and the old colonist, whose name was Valpy, had the post of
honour, on Mr. Frettlby's right hand.

The conversation had turned on to the subject, ever green and
fascinating, of politics, and Mr. Rolleston thought it a good
opportunity to air his views as to the Government of the Colony, and to
show his wife that he really meant to obey her wish, and become a power
in the political world.

"By Jove, you know," he said, with a wave of his hand, as though he
were addressing the House; "the country is going to the dogs, and all
that sort of thing. What we want is a man like Beaconsfield."

"Ah! but you can't pick up a man like that every day," said Frettlby,
who was listening with an amused smile to Rolleston's disquisitions.

"Rather a good thing, too," observed Dr. Chinston, dryly.

"Genius would become too common."

"Well, when I am elected," said Felix, who had his own views, which
modesty forbade him to publish, on the subject of the coming colonial
Disraeli, "I probably shall form a party."

"To advocate what?" asked Peterson, curiously.

"Oh, well, you see," hesitated Felix, "I haven't drawn up a programme
yet, so can't say at present."

"Yes, you can hardly give a performance without a programme," said the
doctor, taking a sip of wine, and then everybody laughed.

"And on what are your political opinions founded?" asked Mr. Frettlby,
absently, without looking at Felix.

"Oh, you see, I've read the Parliamentary reports and Constitutional
history, and--and Vivian Grey," said Felix, who began to feel himself
somewhat at sea.

"The last of which is what the author called it, a LUSUS NATURAE,"
observed Chinston. "Don't erect your political schemes on such
bubble foundations as are in that novel, for you won't find a Marquis
Carabas out here."

"Unfortunately, no!" observed Felix, mournfully; "but we may find a
Vivian Grey."

Every one smothered a smile, the allusion was so patent.

"Well, he didn't succeed in the end," cried Peterson.

"Of course he didn't," retorted Felix, disdainfully; "he made an enemy
of a woman, and a man who is such a fool as to do that deserves to
fall."

"You have an excellent opinion of our sex, Mr. Rolleston," said Madge,
with a wicked glance at the wife of that gentleman, who was listening
complacently to her husband's aimless chatter.

"No better than they deserve," replied Rolleston, gallantly.

"But you have never gone in for politics, Mr. Frettlby?"

"Who?--I--no," said the host, rousing himself out of the brown study
into which he had fallen. "I'm afraid I'm not sufficiently patriotic,
and my business did not permit me."

"And now?"

"Now," echoed Mr. Frettlby, glancing at his daughter, "I intend to
travel."

"The jolliest thing out," said Peterson, eagerly. "One never gets tired
of seeing the queer things that are in the world."

"I've seen queer enough things in Melbourne in the early days," said
the old colonist, with a wicked twinkle in his eyes.

"Oh!" cried Julia, putting her hands up to her ears, "don't tell me
them, for I'm sure they're naughty."

"We weren't saints then," said old Valpy, with a senile chuckle.

"Ah, then, we haven't changed much in that respect," retorted Frettlby,
drily.

"You talk of your theatres now," went on Valpy, with the
garrulousness of old age; "why, you haven't got a dancer like Rosanna."

Brian started on hearing this name again, and he felt Madge's cold hand
touch his.

"And who was Rosanna?" asked Felix, curiously, looking up.

"A dancer and burlesque actress," replied Valpy, vivaciously, nodding
his old head. "Such a beauty; we were all mad about her--such hair and
eyes. You remember her, Frettlby?"

"Yes," answered the host, in a curiously dry voice.

But before Mr. Valpy had the opportunity to wax more eloquent, Madge
rose from the table, and the other ladies followed. The ever polite
Felix held the door open for them, and received a bright smile from his
wife for, what she considered, his brilliant talk at the dinner table.

Brian sat still, and wondered why Frettlby changed colour on hearing
the name--he supposed that the millionaire had been mixed up with the
actress, and did not care about being reminded of his early
indiscretions--and, after all, who does?

"She was as light as a fairy," continued Valpy, with wicked chuckle.

"What became of her?" asked Brian, abruptly.

Mark Frettlby looked up suddenly, as Fitzgerald asked this question.

"She went to England in 1858," said the aged one. "I'm not quite sure
if it was July or August, but it was in 1858."

"You will excuse me, Valpy, but I hardly think that these reminiscences
of a ballet-dancer are amusing," said Frettlby, curtly, pouring himself
out a glass of wine. "Let us change the subject."

Notwithstanding the plainly-expressed wish of his host Brian
felt strongly inclined to pursue the conversation. Politeness, however,
forbade such a thing, and he consoled himself with the reflection that,
after dinner, he would ask old Valpy about the ballet-dancer whose name
caused Mark Frettlby to exhibit such strong emotion. But, to his
annoyance, when the gentlemen went into the drawing-room, Frettlby took
the old colonist off to his study, where he sat with him the whole
evening talking over old times.

Fitzgerald found Madge seated at the piano in the drawing-room playing
one of Mendelssohn's Songs without Words.

"What a dismal thing that is you are playing, Madge," he said lightly,
as he sank into a seat beside her. "It is more like a funeral march
than anything else."

"Gad, so it is," said Felix, who came up at this moment. "I don't care
myself about 'Op. 84' and all that classical humbug. Give me something
light--'Belle Helene,' with Emelie Melville, and all that sort of
thing."

"Felix!" said his wife, in a stern tone.

"My dear," he answered recklessly, rendered bold by the champagne he
had taken, "you observed--"

"Nothing particular," answered Mrs. Rolleston, glancing at him with a
stony eye, "except that I consider Offenbach low."

"I don't," said Felix, sitting down to the piano, from which Madge had
just risen, "and to prove he ain't, here goes."

He ran his fingers lightly over the keys, and dashed into a brilliant
Offenbach galop, which had the effect of waking up the people in the
drawing-room, who felt sleepy after dinner, and sent the blood tingling
through their veins. When they were thoroughly roused, Felix, now that
he had an appreciative audience, for he was by no means an individual
who believed in wasting his sweetness on the desert air, prepared to
amuse them.

"You haven't heard the last new song by Frosti, have you?" he
asked, after he had brought his galop to a conclusion.

"Is that the composer of 'Inasmuch' and 'How so?'" asked Julia,
clasping her hands. "I do love his music, and the words are so sweetly
pretty."

"Infernally stupid, she means," whispered Peterson to Brian. "They've
no more meaning in them than the titles."

"Sing us the new song, Felix," commanded his wife, and her obedient
husband obeyed her.

It was entitled, "Somewhere," words by Vashti, music by Paola Frosti,
and was one of those extraordinary compositions which may mean
anything--that is, if the meaning can be discovered. Felix had a pleasant
voice, though it was not very strong, and the music was pretty, while
the words were mystical. The first verse was as follows:--


"A flying cloud, a breaking wave,
A faint light in a moonless sky:
A voice that from the silent grave
Sounds sad in one long bitter cry.
I know not, sweet, where you may stand,
With shining eyes and golden hair,
Yet I know, I will touch your hand
And kiss your lips somewhere--
Somewhere! Somewhere!--
When the summer sun is fair,
Waiting me, on land or sea,
Somewhere, love, somewhere!"


The second verse was very similar to the first, and when Felix finished
a murmur of applause broke from every one of the ladies.

"How sweetly pretty," sighed Julia. "Such a lot in it."

"But what is its meaning?" asked Brian, rather bewildered.

"It hasn't got one," replied Felix, complacently. "Surely you
don't want every song to have a moral, like a book of Aesop's Fables?"

Brian shrugged his shoulders, and turned away with Madge.

"I must say I agree with Fitzgerald," said the doctor, quickly. "I like
as song with some meaning in it. The poetry of the one you sang is as
mystical as Browning, without any of his genius to redeem it."

"Philistine," murmured Felix, under his breath, and then vacated his
seat at the piano in favour of Julia, who was about to sing a ballad
called, "Going Down the Hill," which had been the rage in Melbourne
musical circles during the last two months.

Meanwhile Madge and Brian were walking up and down in the moonlight. It
was an exquisite night, with a cloudless blue sky glittering with the
stars, and a great yellow moon in the west. Madge seated herself on the
side of the marble ledge which girdled the still pool of water in front
of the house, and dipped her hand into the cool water. Brian leaned
against the trunk of a great magnolia tree, whose glossy green leaves
and great creamy blossoms looked fantastic in the moonlight. In front
of them was the house, with the ruddy lamplight streaming through the
wide windows, and they could see the guests within, excited by the
music, waltzing to Rolleston's playing, and their dark figures kept
passing and re-passing the windows while the charming music of the
waltz mingled with their merry laughter.

"Looks like a haunted house," said Brian, thinking of Poe's weird
poem; "but such a thing is impossible out here."

"I don't know so much about that," said Madge, gravely, lifting up some
water in the palm of her hand, and letting it stream back like diamonds
in the moonlight. "I knew a house in St. Kilda which was haunted."

"By what?" asked Brian, sceptically.

"Noises!" she answered, solemnly.

Brian burst out laughing and startled a bat, which fleur round and
round in the silver moonlight, and whirred away into the shelter of a
witch elm.

"Rats and mice are more common here than ghosts," he said, lightly.
"I'm afraid the inhabitants of your haunted house were fanciful."

"So you don't believe in ghosts?"

"There's a Banshee in our family," said Brian, with a gay smile, "who
is supposed to cheer our death beds with her howlings; but as I've
never seen the lady myself, I'm afraid she's a Mrs. Harris."

"It's aristocratic to have a ghost in a family, I believe," said Madge;
"that is the reason we colonials have none."

"Ah, but you will have," he answered with a careless laugh. "There are,
no doubt, democratic as well as aristocratic ghosts; but, pshaw!" he
went on, impatiently, "what nonsense I talk. There are no ghosts,
except of a man's own raising. The ghosts of a dead youth--the ghosts
of past follies--the ghosts of what might have been--these are the
spectres which are more to be feared than those of the churchyard."

Madge looked at him in silence, for she understood the meaning of that
passionate outburst--the secret which the dead woman had told him, and
which hung like a shadow over his life. She arose quietly and took his
arm. The light touch roused him, and a faint wind sent an eerie rustle
through the still leaves of the magnolia, as they walked back in
silence to the house.




CHAPTER



XXIV. BRIAN RECEIVES A LETTER.


Notwithstanding the hospitable invitation of Mr. Frettlby, Brian
refused to stay at Yabba Yallook that night, but after saying good-bye
to Madge, mounted his horse and rode slowly away in the moonlight. He
felt very happy, and letting the reins lie on his horse's neck, he gave
himself up unreservedly to his thoughts. ATRA CURA certainly did not
sit behind the horseman on this night; and Brian, to his surprise,
found himself singing "Kitty of Coleraine," as he rode along in the
silver moonlight. And was he not right to sing when the future seemed
so bright and pleasant? Oh, yes! they would live on the ocean, and she
would find how much pleasanter it was on the restless waters, with
their solemn sense of mystery, than on the crowded land.


"Was not the sea
Made for the free--
Land for courts and slaves alone?"


Moore was perfectly right. She would learn that when with a fair wind,
and all sail set, they were flying over the blue Pacific waters.

And then they would go home to Ireland to the ancestral home of the
Fitzgeralds, where he would lead her in under the arch, with
"CEAD MILLE FAILTHE" on it, and everyone would bless the fair young
bride. Why should he trouble himself about the crime of another? No! He
had made a resolve. and intended to keep it; he would put this secret
with which he had been entrusted behind his back, and would wander
about the world with Madge and--her father. He felt a sudden chill
come over him as he murmured the last words to himself "her father."

"I'm a fool," he said, impatiently, as he gathered up the reins, and
spurred his horse into a canter. "It can make no difference to me so
long as Madge remains ignorant; but to sit beside him, to eat with him,
to have him always present like a skeleton at a feast--God help me!"

He urged his horse into a gallop, and as he rushed over the turf, with
the fresh, cool night wind blowing keenly against his face, he felt a
sense of relief, as though he were leaving some dark spectre behind. On
he galloped, with the blood throbbing in his young veins, over miles of
plain, with the dark-blue, star-studded sky above, and the pale moon
shining down on him--past a silent shepherd's hut, which stood near a
wide creek; splashing through the cool water, which wound through the
dark plain like a thread of silver in the moonlight--then, again, the
wide, grassy plain, dotted here and there with tall clumps of shadowy
trees, and on either side he could see the sheep skurrying away like
fantastic spectres--on--on--ever on, until his own homestead
appears, and he sees the star-like light shining brightly in the
distance--a long avenue of tall trees, over whose wavering shadows his
horse thundered, and then the wide grassy space in front of the house,
with the clamorous barking of dogs. A groom, roused by the clatter of
hoofs up the avenue, comes round the side of the house, and Brian leaps
off his horse, and flinging the reins to the man, walks into his own
room. There he finds a lighted lamp, brandy and soda on the
table, and a packet of letters and newspapers. He flung his hat on the
sofa, and opened the window and door, so as to let in the cool breeze;
then mixing for himself a glass of brandy and soda, he turned up the
lamp, and prepared to read his letters. The first he took up was from a
lady. "Always a she correspondent for me," says Isaac Disraeli,
"provided she does not cross." Brian's correspondence did not cross,
but notwithstanding this, after reading half a page of small talk and
scandal, he flung the letter on the table with an impatient
ejaculation. The other letters were principally business ones, but the
last one proved to be from Calton, and Fitzgerald opened it with a
sensation of pleasure. Calton was a capital letter-writer, and his
epistles had done much to cheer Fitzgerald in the dismal period which
succeeded his acquittal of Whyte's murder, when he was in danger of
getting into a morbid state of mind. Brian, therefore, sipped his
brandy and soda, and, lying back in his chair, prepared to enjoy
himself.

"My dear Fitzgerald," wrote Calton his peculiarly clear handwriting,
which was such an exception to the usual crabbed hieroglyphics of his
brethren of the bar, "while you are enjoying the cool breezes and
delightful freshness of the country, here am I, with numerous other
poor devils, cooped up in this hot and dusty city. How I wish I were
with you in the land of Goschen, by the rolling waters of the Murray,
where everything is bright and green, and unsophisticated--the two
latter terms are almost identical--instead of which my view is bounded
by bricks and mortar, and the muddy waters of the Yarra have to do duty
for your noble river. Ah! I too have lived in Arcadia, but I don't now:
and even if some power gave me the choice to go back again, I am not
sure that I would accept. Arcadia, after all, is a lotus-eating
Paradise of blissful ignorance, and I love the world with its pomps,
vanities, and wickedness. While you, therefore, oh Corydon--don't
be afraid, I'm not going to quote Virgil--are studying Nature's
book, I am deep in the musty leaves of Themis' volume, but I dare say
that the great mother teaches you much better things than her
artificial daughter does me. However, you remember that pithy proverb,
'When one is in Rome, one must not speak ill of the Pope,' so being in
the legal profession, I must respect its muse. I suppose when you saw
that this letter came from a law office, you wondered what the deuce a
lawyer was writing to you for, and my handwriting, no doubt suggested a
writ--pshaw! I am wrong there, you are past the age of writs--not
that I hint that you are old; by no means--you are just at that
appreciative age when a man enjoys life most, when the fire of youth is
tempered by the experience of age, and one knows how to enjoy to the
utmost the good things of this world, videlicet--love, wine, and
friendship. I am afraid I am growing poetical, which is a bad thing for
a lawyer, for the flower of poetry cannot flourish in the arid wastes
of the law. On reading what I have written, I find I have been as
discursive as Praed's Vicar, and as this letter is supposed to be a
business one, I must deny myself the luxury of following out a train of
idle ideas, and write sense. I suppose you still hold the secret which
Rosanna Moore entrusted you with--ah! you see I know her name, and
why?--simply because, with the natural curiosity of the human race, I
have been trying to find out who murdered Oliver Whyte, and as the
ARGUS very cleverly pointed out Rosanna Moore as likely to be at the
bottom of the whole affair, I have been learning her past history. The
secret of Whyte's murder, and the reason for it, is known to you, but
you refuse, even in the interests of justice, to reveal it--why, I
don't know; but we all have our little faults, and from an amiable
though mistaken sense of--shall I say--duty?--you refuse to
deliver up the man whose cowardly crime so nearly cost you your life.
"After your departure from Melbourne every one said, 'The hansom cab
tragedy is at an end, and the murderer will never be discovered.' I
ventured to disagree with the wiseacres who made such a remark, and
asked myself, 'Who was this woman who died at Mother Guttersnipe's?'
Receiving no satisfactory answer from myself, I determined to find out,
and took steps accordingly. In the first place, I learned from Roger
Moreland, who, if you remember, was a witness against you at the trial,
that Whyte and Rosanna Moore had come out to Sydney in the JOHN ELDER
about a year ago as Mr. and Mrs. Whyte. I need hardly say that they did
not think it needful to go through the formality of marriage, as such a
tie might have been found inconvenient on some future occasion.
Moreland knew nothing about Rosanna Moore, and advised me to give up
the search, as, coming from a city like London, it would be difficult
to find anyone that knew her there. Notwithstanding this, I telegraphed
home to a friend of mine, who is a bit of an amateur detective, 'Find
out the name and all about the woman who left England in the JOHN ELDER
on the 21st day of August, 18--, as wife of Oliver Whyte.' MIRABILE
DICTU, he found out all about her, and knowing, as you do, what a
maelstrom of humanity London is, you must admit my friend was clever.
It appears, however, that the task I set him was easier than he
expected, for the so-called Mrs. Whyte was rather a notorious
individual in her own way. She was a burlesque actress at the Frivolity
Theatre in London, and, being a very handsome woman, had been
photographed innumerable times. Consequently, when she very foolishly
went with Whyte to choose a berth on board the boat, she was recognised
by the clerks in the office as Rosanna Moore, better known as Musette
of the Frivolity. Why she ran away with Whyte I cannot tell
you. With reference to men understanding women, I refer you to Balzac's
remark anent the same. Perhaps Musette got weary of St. John's Wood and
champagne suppers, and longed for the purer air of her native land. Ah!
you open your eyes at this latter statement--you are surprised--no,
on second thoughts you are not, because she told you herself that she
was a native of Sydney, and had gone home in 1858, after a triumphant
career of acting in Melbourne. And why did she leave the applauding
Melbourne public and the flesh-pots of Egypt? You know this also. She
ran away with a rich young squatter, with more money than morals, who
happened to be in Melbourne at the time. She seems to have had a
weakness for running away. But why she chose Whyte to go with this time
puzzles me. He was not rich, not particularly good-looking, had no
position, and a bad temper. How do I know all these traits of Mr.
Whyte's character, morally and socially? Easily enough; my omniscient
friend found them all out. Mr. Oliver Whyte was the son of a London
tailor, and his father being well off, retired into a private life, and
ultimately went the way of all flesh. His son, finding himself with a
capital income, and a pretty taste for amusement, cut the shop of his
late lamented parent, found out that his family had come over with the
Conqueror--Glanville de Whyte helped to sew the Bayeux tapestry, I
suppose--and graduated at the Frivolity Theatre as a masher. In common
with the other gilded youth of the day, he worshipped at the gas-lit
shrine of Musette, and the goddess, pleased with his incense, left her
other admirers in the lurch, and ran off with fortunate Mr. Whyte. So
far as this goes there is nothing to show why the murder was committed.
Men do not perpetrate crimes for the sake of light o' loves like
Musette, unless, indeed, some wretched youth embezzles money to
buy jewellery for his divinity. The career of Musette, in London, was
simply that of a clever member of the DEMI-MONDE, and, as far as I can
learn, no one was so much in love with her as to commit a crime for her
sake. So far so good; the motive of the crime must be found in
Australia. Whyte had spent nearly all his money in England, and,
consequently, Musette and her lover arrived in Sydney with
comparatively very little cash. However, with an Epicurean-like
philosophy, they enjoyed themselves on what little they had, and then
came to Melbourne, where they stayed at a second-rate hotel. Musette, I
may tell you, had one special vice, a common one--drink. She loved
champagne, and drank a good deal of it. Consequently, on arriving at
Melbourne, and finding that a new generation had arisen, which knew not
Joseph--I mean Musette--she drowned her sorrows in the flowing bowl,
and went out after a quarrel with Mr. Whyte, to view Melbourne by
night--a familiar scene to her, no doubt. What took her to Little Bourke
Street I don't know. Perhaps she got lost--perhaps it had been a
favourite walk of hers in the old days; at all events she was found
dead drunk in that unsavoury locality, by Sal Rawlins. I know this is
so, because Sal told me so herself. Sal acted the part of the good
Samaritan--took her to the squalid den she called home, and there
Rosanna Moore fell dangerously ill. Whyte, who had missed her, found
out where she was, and that she
was too ill to be removed. I presume he was rather glad to get rid of
such an encumbrance, so he went back to his lodgings at St. Kilda,
which, judging from the landlady's story, he must have occupied for
some time, while Rosanna Moore was drinking herself to death in a quiet
hotel Still he does not break off his connection with the dying woman;
but one night is murdered in a hansom cab, and that same night Rosanna
Moore dies. So, from all appearance, everything is ended; not
so, for before dying Rosanna sends for Brian Fitzgerald at his club,
and reveals to him a secret which he locks up in his own heart. The
writer of this letter has a theory--a fanciful one, if you will--that
the secret told to Brian Fitzgerald contains the mystery of Oliver
Whyte's death. Now then, have I not found out a good deal without you,
and do you still decline to reveal the rest? I do not say you know who
killed Whyte, but I do say you know sufficient to lead to the detection
of the murderer. If you tell me, so much the better, both for your own
sense of justice and for your peace of mind; if you do not--well, I
shall find out without you. I have taken, and still take, a great
interest in this strange case, and I have sworn to bring the murderer
to justice; so I make this last appeal to you to tell me what you know.
If you refuse, I will set to work to find out all about Rosanna Moore
prior to her departure from Australia in 1858, and I am certain sooner
or later to discover the secret which led to Whyte's murder. If there
is any strong reason why it should be kept silent, I perhaps, will come
round to your view, and let the matter drop; but if I have to find it
out myself, the murderer of Oliver Whyte need expect no mercy at my
hands So think over what I have said; if I do not hear from you within
the next week, I shall regard your decision as final, and pursue the
search myself. "I am sure, my dear Fitzgerald, you will find this
letter too long, in spite of the interesting story it contains, so I
will have pity on you, and draw to a close. Remember me to Miss
Frettlby and to her father. With kind regards to yourself, I remain,
yours very truly,

"DUNCAN CALTON."

When Fitzgerald had finished the last of the closely-written
sheets, he let the letter fall from his hands, and, leaning back in his
chair, stared blankly into the dawning light outside. He arose after a
few moments, and, pouring himself out a glass of brandy, drank it
quickly. Then mechanically lighting a cigar, he stepped out of the door
into the fresh beauty of the dawn. There was a soft crimson glow in the
east, which announced the approach of the sun, and he could hear the
chirping of the awakening birds in the trees. But Brian did not see the
marvellous breaking of the dawn. He stood staring at the red light
flaring in the east, and thinking of Calton's letter.

"I can do no more," he said bitterly, leaning his head against the wall
of the house. "There is only one way of stopping Calton, and that is by
telling him all. My poor Madge! My poor Madge!"

A soft wind arose, and rustled among the trees, and there appeared
great shafts of crimson light in the east; then, with a sudden blaze,
the sun peered over the brim of the wide plain. The warm yellow rays
touched lightly the comely head of the weary man, and, turning round,
he held up his arms to the great luminary, as though he were a
fire-worshipper.

"I accept the omen of the dawn," he cried, "for her life and for mine."




CHAPTER XXV.



WHAT DR. CHINSTON SAID.


His resolution taken, Brian did not let the grass grow under his feet,
but rode over in the afternoon to tell Madge of his intended departure.

The servant told him she was in the garden, so he went there, and,
guided by the sound of merry voices, and the laughter of pretty women,
soon found his way to the lawn--tennis ground. Madge and her guests
were there, seated under the shade of a great witch elm, and watching,
with great interest, a single-handed match being played between
Rolleston and Peterson, both of whom were capital players. Mr. Frettlby
was not present. He was inside writing letters, and talking with old
Mr. Valpy, and Brian gave a sigh of relief as he noted his absence.
Madge caught sight of him as he came down the garden path, and flew
quickly towards him with outstretched hands, as he took his hat off.

"How good of you to come," she said, in a delighted tone, as she took
his arm, "and on such a hot day."

"Yes, it's something fearful in the shade," said pretty Mrs. Rolleston,
with a laugh, putting up her sunshade.

"Pardon me if I think the contrary," replied Fitzgerald,
bowing, with an expressive look at the charming group of ladies under
the great tree.

Mrs. Rolleston blushed and shook her head.

"Ah! it's easy seen you come from Ireland, Mr. Fitzgerald," she
observed, as she resumed her seat. "You are making Madge jealous."

"So he is," answered Madge, with a gay laugh. "I shall certainly inform
Mr. Rolleston about you, Brian, if you make these gallant remarks."

"Here he comes, then," said her lover, as Rolleston and Peterson,
having finished their game, walked off the tennis ground, and joined
the group under the tree. Though in tennis flannels, they both looked
remarkably warm, and, throwing aside his racket, Mr. Rolleston sat down
with a sigh of relief.

"Thank goodness it's over, and that I have won," he said, wiping his
heated brow; "galley slaves couldn't have worked harder than we have
done, while all you idle folks sat SUB TEGMINE FAGI."

"Which means?" asked his wife, lazily.

"That onlookers see most of the game," answered her husband,
impudently.

"I suppose that's what you call a free and easy translation," said
Peterson, laughing. "Mrs. Rolleston ought to give you something for
your new and original adaptation of Virgil."

"Let it be iced then," retorted Rolleston, lying full length on the
ground, and staring up at the blue of the sky as seen through the
network of leaves. "I always like my 'something' iced."

"It's a way you've got," said Madge, with a laugh, as she gave him a
glass filled with some sparkling, golden-coloured liquor, with a lump
of ice clinking musically against the side of it.

"He's not the only one who's got that way," said Peterson,
gaily, when he had been similarly supplied.


"It's a way we've got in the army,
It's a way we've got in the navy,
It's a way we've got in the 'Varsity."


"And so say all of us," finished Rolleston, and holding out his glass
to be replenished; "I'll have another, please. Whew, it is hot."

"What, the drink?" asked Julia, with a giggle.

"No--the day," answered Felix, making a face at her. "It's the kind of
day one feels inclined to adopt Sydney Smith's advice, by getting out
of one's skin, and letting the wind whistle through one's bones."

"With such a hot wind blowing," said Peterson, gravely, "I'm afraid
they'd soon be broiled bones."

"Go, giddy one," retorted Felix, throwing his hat at him, "or I'll drag
you into the blazing sun, and make you play another game."

"Not I," replied Peterson, coolly. "Not being a salamander, I'm hardly
used to your climate yet, and there is a limit even to lawn tennis;"
and turning his back on Rolleston, he began to talk to Julia
Featherweight.

Meanwhile, Madge and her lover, leaving all this frivolous chatter
behind them, were walking slowly towards the house, and Brian was
telling her of his approaching departure, though not of his reasons for
it.

"I received a letter last night," he said, turning his face away from
her; "and, as it's about some important business, I must start at
once."

"I don't think it will be long before we follow," answered Madge,
thoughtfully. "Papa leaves here at the end of the week."

"Why?"

"I'm sure I don't know," said Madge, petulantly; "he is so restless,
and never seems to settle down to anything. He says for the rest of his
life he is going to do nothing; but wander all over the world."

There suddenly flashed across Fitzgerald's mind a line from Genesis,
which seemed singularly applicable to Mr. Frettlby--"A fugitive and a
vagabond thou shalt be in the earth."

"Everyone gets these restless fits sooner or later," he said, idly. "In
fact," with an uneasy laugh, "I believe I'm in one myself."

"That puts me in mind of what I heard Dr. Chinston say yesterday," she
said. "This is the age of unrest, as electricity and steam have turned
us all into Bohemians."

"Ah! Bohemia is a pleasant place," said Brian, absently, unconsciously
quoting Thackeray, "but we all lose our way to it late in life."

"At that rate we won't lose our way to it for some time," she said
laughing, as they stepped into the drawing-room, so cool and shady,
after the heat and glare outside.

As they entered Mr. Frettlby rose from a chair near the window. He
appeared to have been reading, for he held a book in his hand.

"What! Fitzgerald," he exclaimed, in a hearty tone, as he held out his
hand; "I am glad to see you."

"I let you know I am living, don't I?" replied Brian, his face flushing
as he reluctantly took the proffered hand. "But the fact is I have come
to say good-bye for a few days."

"Ah! going back to town, I suppose," said Mr. Frettlby, lying back in
his chair, and playing with his watch chain. "I don't know that you are
wise, exchanging the clear air of the country for the dusty atmosphere
of Melbourne."

"Yet Madge tells me you are going back," said Brian, idly
toying with a vase of flowers on the table.

"Depends upon circumstances," replied the other carelessly. "I may and
I may not. You go on business, I presume?"

"Well, the fact is Calton--" Here Brian stopped suddenly, and bit his
lip with vexation, for he had not intended to mention the lawyer's
name.

"Yes?" said Mr. Frettlby, interrogatively, sitting up quickly, and
looking keenly at Brian.

"Wants to see me on business," he finished, awkwardly.

"Connected with the sale of your station, I suppose," said Frettlby,
still keeping his eyes on the young man's face.

"Can't have a better man. Calton's an excellent man of business."

"A little too excellent," replied Fitzgerald, ruefully, "he's a man who
can't leave well alone."

"A PROPOS of what?"

"Oh, nothing," answered Fitzgerald, hastily, and just then his eyes met
those of Frettlby. The two men looked at one another steadily for a
moment, but in that short space of time a single name flashed through
their brains--the name of Rosanna Moore. Mr. Frettlby was the first to
lower his eyes, and break the spell.

"Ah, well," he said, lightly, as he rose from his chair and held out
his hand, "if you are two weeks in town, call at St. Kilda, and it's
more than likely you will find us there."

Brian shook hands in silence, and watched him pick up his hat, and move
on to the verandah, and then out into the hot sunshine.

"He knows," he muttered involuntarily.

"Knows what, sir?" said Madge, who came silently behind him, and
slipped her arm through his. "That you are hungry, and want something
to eat before you leave us?"

"I don't feel hungry," said Brian, as they walked towards the
door.

"Nonsense," answered Madge, merrily, who, like Eve, was on hospitable
thoughts intent. "I'm not going to have you appear in Melbourne a pale,
fond lover, as though I were treating you badly. Come, sir--no," she
continued, putting up her hand as he tried to kiss her, "business
first, pleasure afterwards," and they went into the dining-room
laughing.

Mark Frettlby wandered down to the lawn-tennis ground, thinking of the
look he had seen in Brian's eyes. He shivered for a moment in the hot
sunshine, as though it had grown suddenly chill.

"Someone stepping across my grave," he murmured to himself, with a
cynical smile. "Bah! how superstitious I am, and yet--he knows, he
knows!"

"Come on, sir," cried Felix, who had just caught sight of him, "a
racket awaits you."

Frettlby awoke with a start, and found himself near the lawn-tennis
ground, and Felix at his elbow, smoking a cigarette.

He roused himself with a great effort, and tapped the young man lightly
on the shoulder.

"What?" he said with a forced laugh, "do you really expect me to play
lawn tennis on such a day? You are mad."

"I am hot, you mean," retorted the imperturbable Rolleston, blowing a
wreath of smoke.

"That's a foregone conclusion," said Dr. Chinston, who came up at that
moment.

"Such a charming novel," cried Julia, who had just caught the last
remark.

"What is?" asked Peterson, rather puzzled.

"Howell's book, 'A Foregone Conclusion,'" said Julia, also looking
puzzled. "Weren't you talking about it?"

"I'm afraid this talk is getting slightly incoherent," said
Felix, with a sigh. "We all seem madder than usual to-day."

"Speak for yourself," said Chinston, indignantly, "I'm as sane as any
man in the world."

"Exactly," retorted the other coolly, "that's what I say, and you,
being a doctor, ought to know that every man and woman in the world is
more or less mad."

"Where are your facts?" asked Chinston, smiling.

"My facts are all visible ones," said Felix, gravely pointing to the
company. "They're all crooked on some point or another."

There was a chorus of indignant denial at this, and then every one
burst out laughing at the extraordinary way in which Mr. Rolleston was
arguing.

"If you go on like that in the House," said Frettlby, amused, "you
will, at all events, have an entertaining Parliament."

"Ah! they'll never have an entertaining Parliament till they admit
ladies," observed Peterson, with a quizzical glance at Julia.

"It will be a Parliament of love then," retorted the doctor, dryly,
"and not mediaeval either."

Frettlby took the doctor's arm, and walked away with him. "I want you
to come up to my study, doctor," he said, as they strolled towards the
house, "and examine me."

"Why, don't you feel well?" said Chinston, as they entered the house.

"Not lately," replied Frettlby. "I'm afraid I've got heart disease."

The doctor looked sharply at him, and then shook his head.

"Nonsense," he said, cheerfully, "it's a common delusion with people
that they have heart disease, and in nine cases, out of ten
it's all imagination; unless, indeed," he added waggishly, "the patient
happens to be a young man."

"Ah! I suppose you think I'm safe as far as that goes," said Frettlby,
as they entered the study; "and what did you think of Rolleston's
argument about people being mad?"

"It was amusing," replied Chinston, taking a seat, Frettlby doing the
same. "That's all I can say about it, though, mind you, I think there
are more mad people at large than the world is aware of."

"Indeed!"

"Yes; do you remember that horrible story of Dickens', in the 'Pickwick
Papers,' about the man who was mad, and knew it, yet successfully
concealed it for years? Well, I believe there are many people like that
in the world, people whose lives are one long struggle against
insanity, and yet who eat, drink, talk, and walk with the rest of their
fellow-men, apparently as gay and light-hearted as they are."

"How extraordinary."

"Half the murders and suicides are done in temporary fits of insanity,"
went on Chinston, "and if a person broods over anything, his incipient
madness is sure to break out sooner or later; but, of course, there are
cases where a perfectly sane person may commit a murder on the impulse
of the moment, but I regard such persons as mad for the time being;
but, again, a murder may be planned and executed in the most
cold-blooded manner."

"And in the latter case," said Frettlby, without looking at the doctor,
and playing with a paper knife, "do you regard the murderer as mad?"

"Yes, I do," answered the doctor, bluntly. "He is as mad as a person
who kills another because he supposes he has been told by God to do
so--only there is method in his madness. For instance, I believe
that hansom cab murder, in which you were mixed up--"

"I wasn't mixed up in it," interrupted Frettlby, pale with anger.

"Beg pardon," said Chinston, coolly, "a slip of the tongue; I was
thinking of Fitzgerald. Well, I believe that crime to have been
premeditated, and that the man who committed it was mad. He is, no
doubt, at large now, walking about and conducting himself as sanely as
you or I, yet the germ of insanity is there, and sooner or later he
will commit another crime."

"How do you know it was premeditated?" asked Frettlby, abruptly.

"Any one can see that," answered the other. "Whyte was watched on that
night, and when Fitzgerald went away the other was ready to take his
place, dressed the same."

"That's nothing," retorted Frettlby, looking at his companion sharply.
"There are dozens of men in Melbourne who wear evening dress, light
coats, and soft hats--in fact, I generally wear them myself."

"Well, that might have been a coincidence," said the doctor, rather
disconcerted; "but the use of chloroform puts the question beyond a
doubt; people don't usually carry chloroform about with them."

"I suppose not," answered the other, and then the matter dropped.
Chinston made an examination of Mark Frettlby, and when he had
finished, his face was very grave, though he laughed at the
millionaire's fears.

"You are all right," he said, gaily. "Action of the heart a little
weak, that's all--only," impressively, "avoid excitement--avoid
excitement."

Just as Frettlby was putting on his coat, a knock came to the door, and
Madge entered.

"Brian is gone," she began. "Oh, I beg your pardon, doctor--but
is papa ill?" she asked with sudden fear.

"No, child, no," said Frettlby, hastily, "I'm all right; I thought my
heart was affected, but it isn't."

"Not a bit of it," answered Chinston, reassuringly. "All right--only
avoid excitement."

But when Frettlby turned to go to the door, Madge, who had her eyes
fixed on the doctor's face, saw how grave it was.

"There is danger?" she said, touching his arm as they paused for a
moment at the door.

"No! No!" he answered, hastily.

"Yes, there is," she persisted. "Tell me the worst, it is best for me
to know."

The doctor looked at her in some doubt for a few moments, and then
placed his hand on her shoulder.

"My dear young lady," he said gravely, "I will tell you what I have not
dared to tell your father."

"What?" she asked in a low voice, her face growing pale.

"His heart is affected."

"And there is great danger?"

"Yes, great danger. In the event of any sudden shock--" he hesitated.

"Yes--"

"He would probably drop down dead."

"My God!"




CHAPTER XXVI.



KILSIP HAS A THEORY OF HIS OWN.


Mr. Calton sat in his office reading a letter he had just received from
Fitzgerald, and judging from the complacent smile upon his face it
seemed to give him the greatest satisfaction.

"I know," wrote Brian, "that now you have taken up the affair, you will
not stop until you find out everything, so, as I want the matter to
rest as at present, I will anticipate you, and reveal all. You were
right in your conjecture that I knew something likely to lead to the
detection of Whyte's murderer; but when I tell you my reasons for
keeping such a thing secret, I am sure you will not blame me. Mind you,
I do not say that I know who committed the murder; but I have
suspicions--very strong suspicions--and I wish to God Rosanna Moore
had died before she told me what she did. However, I will tell you all,
and leave you to judge as to whether I was justified in concealing what
I was told. I will call at your office some time next week, and then
you will learn everything that Rosanna Moore told me; but once that you
are possessed of the knowledge you will pity me."

"Most extraordinary," mused Calton, leaning back in his chair, as he
laid down the letter. "I wonder if he's about to tell me that he killed
Whyte after all, and that Sal Rawlins perjured herself to save
him! No, that's nonsense, or she'd have turned up in better time, and
wouldn't have risked his neck up to the last moment. Though I make it a
rule never to be surprised at anything, I expect what Brian Fitzgerald
has to tell me will startle me considerably. I've never met with such
an extraordinary case, and from all appearances the end isn't reached
yet. After all," said Mr. Calton, thoughtfully, "truth is stranger than
fiction."

Here a knock came to the door, and in answer to an invitation to enter,
it opened, and Kilsip glided into the room.

"You're not engaged, sir?" he said, in his soft, low voice.

"Oh, dear, no," answered Calton, carelessly; "come in--come in!"

Kilsip closed the door softly, and gliding along in his usual
velvet-footed manner, sat down in a chair near Calton's, and placing
his hat on the ground, looked keenly at the barrister.

"Well, Kilsip," said Calton, with a yawn, playing with his, watch
chain, "any good news to tell me?"

"Well, nothing particularly new," purred the detective, rubbing his
hands together.

"Nothing new, and nothing true, and no matter," said Calton, quoting
Emerson. "And what have you come to see me about?"

"The Hansom Cab Murder," replied the other quietly.

"The deuce!" cried Calton, startled out of his professional dignity.
"And have you found out who did it?"

"No!" answered Kilsip, rather dismally; "but I have, an idea."

"So had Gorby," retorted Calton, dryly, "an idea that ended in smoke.
Have you any practical proofs?"

"Not yet."

"That means you are going to get some?"

"If possible."

"Much virtue in 'if,'" quoted Calton, picking up a pencil, and
scribbling idly on his blotting paper. "And to whom does your suspicion
point?"

"Aha!" said Mr. Kilsip, cautiously.

"Don't know him," answered the other, coolly; "family name Humbug, I
presume. Bosh! Whom do you suspect?"

Kilsip looked round cautiously, as if to make sure they were alone, and
then said, in a stage whisper--

"Roger Moreland!"

"That was the young man that gave evidence as to how Whyte got drunk?"

Kilsip nodded.

"Well, and how do you connect him with the murder?"

"Do you remember in the evidence given by the cabmen, Royston and
Rankin, they both swore that the man who was with Whyte on that night
wore a diamond ring on the forefinger of the right hand?"

"What of that? Nearly every second man in Melbourne wears a diamond
ring?"

"But not on the forefinger of the right hand."

"Oh! And Moreland wears a ring in that way?"

"Yes!"

"Merely a coincidence. Is that all your proof?"

"All I can obtain at present."

"It's very weak," said Calton, scornfully.

"The weakest proofs may form a chain to hang a man," observed Kilsip,
sententiously.

"Moreland gave his evidence clearly enough," said Calton, rising, and
pacing the room. "He met Whyte; they got drunk together. Whyte went out
of the hotel, and shortly afterwards Moreland followed with the coat,
which was left behind by Whyte, and then someone snatched it from him."

"Ah, did they?" interrupted Kilsip, quickly.

"So Moreland says," said Calton, stopping short. "I understand; you
think Moreland was not so drunk as he would make out, and that after
following Whyte outside, he put on his coat, and got into the cab with
him."

"That is my theory."

"It's ingenious enough," said the barrister; "but why should Moreland
murder Whyte? What motive had he?"

"Those papers--"

"Pshaw! another idea of Gorby's," said Calton, angrily. "How do you
know there were any papers?"

The fact is, Calton did not intend Kilsip to know that Whyte really had
papers until he heard what Fitzgerald had to tell him.

"And another thing," said Calton, resuming his walk, "if your theory is
correct, which I don't think it is, what became of Whyte's coat? Has
Moreland got it?"

"No, he has not," answered the detective, decisively.

"You seem very positive about it," said the lawyer, after a moment's
pause. "Did you ask Moreland about it?"

A reproachful look came into Kilsip's white face.

"Not quite so green," he said, forcing a smile. "I thought you'd a
better opinion of me than that, Mr. Calton. Ask him?--no."

"Then how did you find out?"

"The fact is, Moreland is employed as a barman in the Kangaroo Hotel."

"A barman!" echoed Calton; "and he came out here as a gentleman of
independent fortune. Why, hang it, man, that in itself is sufficient to
prove that he had no motive to murder Whyte. Moreland pretty well lived
on Whyte, so what could have induced him to kill his golden goose, and
become a barman--pshaw! the idea is absurd."

"Well, you may be right about the matter," said Kilsip, rather
angrily; "and if Gorby makes mistakes I don't pretend to be infallible.
But, at all events, when I saw Moreland in the bar he wore a silver
ring on the forefinger of his right hand."

"Silver isn't a diamond."

"No; but it shows that was the finger he was accustomed to wear his
ring on. When I saw that, I determined to search his room. I managed to
do so while he was out, and found--"

"A mare's nest?"

Kilsip nodded.

"And so your castle of cards falls to the ground," said Calton,
jestingly. "Your idea is absurd. Moreland no more committed the murder
than I did. Why, he was too drunk on that night to do anything."

"Humph--so he says."

"Well, men don't calumniate themselves for nothing."

"It was a lesser danger to avert a greater one," replied Kilsip,
coolly. "I am sure that Moreland was not drunk on that night. He only
said so to escape awkward questions as to his movements. Depend upon it
he knows more than he lets out."

"Well, and how do you intend to set about the matter?"

"I shall start looking for the coat first."

"Ah I you think he has hidden it?"

"I am sure of it. My theory is this. When Moreland got out of the cab
at Powlett Street--"

"But he didn't," interrupted Calton, angrily.

"Let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that he did," said Kilsip,
quietly. "I say when he left the cab he walked up Powlett Street,
turned to the left down George Street, and walked back to town through
the Fitzroy Gardens, then, knowing that the coat was
noticeable, he threw it away, or rather, hid it, and walked out of the
Gardens through the town--"

"In evening dress--more noticeable than the coat."

"He wasn't in evening dress," said Kilsip, quietly.

"No, neither was he," observed Calton, eagerly, recalling the evidence
at the trial. "Another blow to your theory. The murderer was in evening
dress--the cabman said so."

"Yes; because he had seen Mr. Fitzgerald in evening dress a few minutes
before, and thought that he was the same man who got into the cab with
Whyte."

"Well, what of that?"

"If you remember, the second man had his coat buttoned up. Moreland
wore dark trousers--at least, I suppose so--and, with the coat
buttoned up, it was easy for the cabman to make the mistake, believing,
as he did, that it was Mr. Fitzgerald."

"That sounds better," said Calton, thoughtfully. "And what are you
going to do?"

"Look for the coat in the Fitzroy Gardens."

"Pshaw! a wild goose chase."

"Possibly," said Kilsip, as he arose to go.

"And when shall I see you again?" said Calton.

"Oh, to-night," said Kilsip, pausing at, the door. "I had nearly
forgotten, Mother Guttersnipe wants to see you."

"Why? What's up?"

"She's dying, and wants to tell you some secret."

"Rosanna Moore, by Jove!" said Calton. "She'll tell me something about
her. I'll get to the bottom of this yet. All right, I'll be here at
eight o'clock."

"Very well, sir!" and the detective glided out.

"I wonder if that old woman knows anything?" said Calton to
himself, as he, resumed his seat. "She may have overheard some
conversation between Whyte and his mistress, and intends to divulge it.
Well, I'm afraid when Fitzgerald does confess, I shall know all about
it beforehand."




CHAPTER XXVII.



MOTHER GUTTERSNIPE JOINS THE MAJORITY.


Punctual to his appointment, Kilsip called at Calton's office at eight
o'clock, in order to guide him through the squalid labyrinths of the
slums. He found the barrister waiting impatiently for him. The fact is,
Calton had got it into his head that Rosanna Moore was at the bottom of
the whole mystery, and every new piece of evidence he discovered went
to confirm this belief. When Rosanna Moore was dying, she might have
confessed something to Mother Guttersnipe, which would hint at the name
of the murderer, and he had a strong suspicion that the old hag had
received hush-money in order to keep quiet. Several times before Calton
had been on the point of going to her and trying to get the secret out
of her--that is, if she knew it; but now fate appeared to be playing
into his hands, and a voluntary confession was much more likely to be
true than one dragged piecemeal from unwilling lips.

By the time Kilsip made his appearance Calton was in a high state of
excitement.

"I suppose we'd better go at once," he said to Kilsip, as he lit a
cigar. "That old hag may go off at any moment."

"She might," assented Kilsip, doubtfully; "but I wouldn't be a bit
surprised if she pulled through. Some of these old women have nine
lives like a cat."

"Not improbable," retorted Calton, as they passed into the
brilliantly-lighted street; "her nature seemed to me to be essentially
feline. But tell me," he went on, "what's the matter with her--old
age?"

"Partly; drink also, I think," answered Kilsip. "Besides, her
surroundings are not very healthy, and her dissipated habits have
pretty well settled her."

"It isn't anything catching, I hope," cried the barrister, with a
shudder, as they passed into the crowd of Bourke Street.

"Don't know, sir, not being a doctor," answered the detective,
stolidly.

"Oh!" ejaculated Calton, in dismay.

"It will be all right, sir," said Kilsip, reassuringly; "I've been
there dozens of times, and I'm all right."

"I dare say," retorted the barrister; "but I may go there once and
catch it, whatever it is."

"Take my word, sir, it's nothing worse than old age and drink."

"Has she a doctor?"

"Won't let one come near her--prescribes for herself."

"Gin, I suppose? Humph! Much more unpleasant than the usual run of
medicines."

In a short time they found themselves in Little Bourke Street, and
after traversing a few dark and narrow lanes--by this time they were
more or less familiar to Calton--they found themselves before Mother
Guttersnipe's den.

They climbed the rickety stairs, which groaned and creaked beneath
their weight, and found Mother Guttersnipe lying on the bed in the
corner. The elfish black-haired child was playing cards with a
slatternly-looking girl at a deal table by the faint light of a tallow
candle.

They both sprang to their feet as the strangers entered, and
the elfish child pushed a broken chair in a sullen manner towards Mr.
Calton, while the other girl shuffled into a far corner of the room,
and crouched down there like a dog. The noise of their entry awoke the
hag from an uneasy slumber into which she had fallen. Sitting up in
bed, she huddled the clothes round her. She presented such a gruesome
spectacle that involuntarily Calton recoiled. Her white hair was
unbound, and hung in tangled masses over her shoulders in snowy
profusion. Her face, parched and wrinkled, with the hooked nose, and
beady black eyes, like those of a mouse, was poked forward, and her
skinny arms, bare to the shoulder, were waving wildly about as she
grasped at the bedclothes with her claw-like hands. The square bottle
and the broken cup lay beside her, and filling herself a dram, she
lapped it up greedily.

The irritant brought on a paroxysm of coughing which lasted until the
elfish child shook her well, and took the cup from her.

"Greedy old beast," muttered this amiable infant, peering into the cup,
"ye'd drink the Yarrer dry, I b'lieve."

"Yah!" muttered the old woman feebly. "Who's they, Lizer?" she said,
shading her eyes with one trembling hand, while she looked at Calton
and the detective.

"The perlice cove an' the swell," said Lizer, suddenly. "Come to see
yer turn up your toes."

"I ain't dead yet, ye whelp," snarled the hag with sudden energy; "an'
if I gits up I'll turn up yer toes, cuss ye."

Lizer gave a shrill laugh of disdain, and Kilsip stepped forward.

"None of this," he said, sharply, taking Lizer by one thin shoulder,
and pushing her over to where the other girl was crouching; "stop there
till I tell you to move."

Lizer tossed back her tangled black hair, and was about to make
some impudent reply, when the other girl, who was older and wiser, put
out her hand, and pulled her down beside her.

Meanwhile, Calton was addressing himself to the old woman in the
corner.

"You wanted to see me?" he said gently, for, notwithstanding his
repugnance to her, she was, after all, a woman, and dying.

"Yes, cuss ye," croaked Mother Guttersnipe, lying down, and pulling the
greasy bedclothes up to her neck. "You ain't a parson?" with sudden
suspicion.

"No, I am a lawyer."

"I ain't a-goin' to have the cussed parsons a-prowlin' round 'ere,"
growled the old woman, viciously. "I ain't a-goin' to die yet, cuss ye;
I'm goin' to get well an' strong, an' 'ave a good time of it."

"I'm afraid you won't recover," said Calton, gently. "You had better let
me send for a doctor."

"No, I shan't," retorted the hag, aiming a blow at him with all her
feeble strength. "I ain't a-goin' to have my inside spil'd with salts
and senner. I don't want neither parsons nor doctors, I don't. I
wouldn't 'ave a lawyer, only I'm a-thinkin' of makin' my will, I am."

"Mind I gits the watch," yelled Lizer, from the corner. "If you gives
it to Sal I'll tear her eyes out."

"Silence!" said Kilsip, sharply, and, with a muttered curse, Lizer sat
back in her corner.

"Sharper than a serpent's tooth, she are," whined the old woman, when
quiet was once more restored. "That young devil 'ave fed at my 'ome,
an' now she turns, cuss her."

"Well--well," said Calton, rather impatiently, "what is it you wanted
to see me about?"

"Don't be in such a 'urry," said the hag, with a scowl, "or I'm
blamed if I tell you anything, s'elp me."

She was evidently growing very weak, so Calton turned to Kilsip and
told him in a whisper to get a doctor. The detective scribbled a note
on some paper, and, giving it to Lizer, ordered her to take it. At
this, the other girl arose, and, putting her arm in that of the
child's, they left together.

"Them two young 'usseys gone?" said Mother Guttersnipe. "Right you are,
for I don't want what I've got to tell to git into the noospaper, I
don't."

"And what is it?" asked Calton, bending forward.

The old woman took another drink of gin, and it seemed to put life into
her, for she sat up in the bed, and commenced to talk rapidly, as
though she were afraid of dying before her secret was told.

"You've been 'ere afore?" she said, pointing one skinny finger at
Calton, "and you wanted to find out all about 'er; but you didn't. She
wouldn't let me tell, for she was always a proud jade, a-flouncin'
round while 'er pore mother was a-starvin'."

"Her mother! Are you Rosanna Moore's mother?" cried Calton,
considerably astonished.

"May I die if I ain't," croaked the hag. "'Er pore father died of
drink, cuss 'im, an' I'm a-follerin' 'im to the same place in the same
way. You weren't about town in the old days, or you'd a-bin after her,
cuss ye."

"After Rosanna?"

"The werry girl," answered Mother Guttersnipe. "She were on the stage,
she were, an' my eye, what a swell she were, with all the coves a-dyin'
for 'er, an' she dancin' over their black 'earts, cuss 'em; but she was
allays good to me till 'e came."

"Who came?"

"'E!" yelled the old woman, raising herself on her arm, her eyes
sparkling with vindictive fury. "'E, a-comin' round with di'monds and
gold, and a-ruinin' my pore girl; an' how 'e's 'eld 'is bloomin' 'ead
up all these years as if he were a saint, cuss 'im--cuss 'im."

"Whom does she mean?" whispered Calton to Kilsip.

"Mean!" screamed Mother Guttersnipe, whose sharp ears had caught the
muttered question. "Why, Mark Frettlby!"

"Good God!" Calton rose up in his astonishment, and even Kilsip's
inscrutable countenance displayed some surprise.

"Aye, 'e were a swell in them days," pursued Mother Guttersnipe, "and
'e comes a-philanderin' round my gal, cuss 'im, an' ruins 'er, and
leaves 'er an' the child to starve, like a black-'earted villain as 'e
were."

"The child! Her name?"

"Bah," retorted the hag, with scorn, "as if you didn't know my
gran'daughter Sal."

"Sal, Mark Frettlby's child?"

"Yes, an' as pretty a girl as the other, tho' she 'appened to be born
on the wrong side of the 'edge. Oh, I've seen 'er a-sweepin' along in
'er silks an' satins as tho' we were dirt--an' Sal 'er 'alf
sister--cuss 'er."

Exhausted by the efforts she had made, the old woman sank back in her
bed, while Calton sat dazed, thinking over the astounding revelation
that had just been made. That Rosanna Moore should turn out to be Mark
Frettlby's mistress he hardly wondered at; after all, the millionaire
was but a man, and in his young days had been no better and no worse
than the rest of his friends. Rosanna Moore was pretty, and was
evidently one of those women who--rakes at heart--prefer the
untrammelled freedom of being a mistress, to the sedate bondage of a
wife. In questions of morality, so many people live in glass houses,
that there are few nowadays who can afford to throw stones. Calton did
not think any the worse of Frettlby for his youthful follies. But what
did surprise him was that Frettlby should be so heartless, as to leave
his child to the tender mercies of an old hag like Mother Guttersnipe.
It was so entirely different from what he knew of the man, that he was
inclined to think that the old woman was playing him a trick.

"Did Mr. Frettlby know Sal was his child?" he asked.

"Not 'e," snarled Mother Guttersnipe, in an exultant tone. "'E thought
she was dead, 'e did, arter Rosanner gave him the go-by."

"And why did you not tell him?"

"'Cause I wanted to break 'is 'eart, if 'e 'ad any," said the old
beldame, vindictively. "Sal was a-goin' wrong as fast as she could till
she was tuk from me. If she had gone and got into quod I'd 'ave gone to
'im, and said, 'Look at yer darter! 'Ow I've ruined her as you did
mine.'"

"You wicked woman," said Calton, revolted at the malignity of the
scheme. "You sacrificed an innocent girl for this."

"None of yer preachin'," retorted the hag sullenly; "I ain't bin
brought up for a saint, I ain't--an' I wanted to pay 'im out--'e paid
me well to 'old my tongue about my darter, an' I've got it 'ere,"
laying her hand on the pillow, "all gold, good gold--an' mine, cuss
me."

Calton rose, he felt quite sick at this exhibition of human depravity,
and longed to be away. As he was putting on his hat, however, the two
girls entered with the doctor, who nodded to Kilsip, cast a sharp
scrutinising glance at Calton, and then walked over to the bed. The two
girls went back to their corner, and waited in silence for the
end. Mother Guttersnipe had fallen back in the bed, with one claw-like
hand clutching the pillow, as if to protect her beloved gold, and over
her face a deadly paleness was spreading, which told the practised eye
of the doctor that the end was near. He knelt down beside the bed for a
moment, holding the candle to the dying woman's face. She opened her
eyes, and muttered drowsily--

"Who's you? get out," but then she seemed to grasp the situation again,
and she started up with a shrill yell, which made the hearers shudder,
it was so weird and eerie.

"My money!" she yelled, clasping the pillow in her skinny arms. "It's
all mine, ye shan't have it--cuss ye."

The doctor arose from his knees, and shrugged his shoulders.

"Not worth while doing anything," he said coolly, "she'll be dead
soon."

The old woman, mumbling over her pillow, caught the word, and burst
into tears.

"Dead! dead! my poor Rosanna, with 'er golden 'air, always lovin' 'er
pore mother till 'e took 'er away, an' she came back to die--die--ooh!"

Her voice died away in a long melancholy wail, that made the two girls
in the corner shiver, and put their fingers in their ears.

"My good woman," said the doctor, bending over the bed, "would you not
like to see a minister?"

She looked at him with her bright, beady eyes, already somewhat dimmed
with the mists of death, and said, in a harsh, low whisper--" Why?"

"Because you have only a short time to live," said the doctor, gently.
"You are dying."

Mother Guttersnipe sprang up, and seized his arm with a scream
of terror.

"Dyin', dyin'--no! no!" she wailed, clawing his sleeve. "I ain't fit
to die--cuss me; save me--save me; I don't know where I'd go to,
s'elp me--save me."

The doctor tried to remove her hands, but she held on with wonderful
tenacity.

"It is impossible," he said briefly.

The hag fell back in her bed.

"I'll give you money to save me," she shrieked; "good money--all mine--all
mine. See--see--'ere--suverains," and tearing her pillow open,
she took out a canvas bag, and from it poured a gleaming stream of
gold. Gold--gold--it rolled all over the bed, over the floor, away
into the dark corners, yet no one touched it, so enchained were they by
the horrible spectacle of the dying woman clinging to life. She
clutched some of the shining pieces, and held them up to the three men
as they stood silently beside the bed, but her hands trembled so that
sovereigns kept falling from them on the floor with metallic clinks.

"All mine--all mine," she shrieked, loudly. "Give me my
life--gold--money--cuss ye--I sold my soul for it--save me--give me my
life," and, with trembling hands, she tried to force the gold on them.
They said no word, but stood silently looking at her, while the two girls
in the corner clung together, and trembled with fear.

"Don't look at me--don't," cried the hag, falling down again amid the
shining gold. "Ye want me to die,--I shan't--I shan't--give me my
gold," clawing at the scattered sovereigns. "I'll take it with me--I
shan't die--G--G--" whimpering. "I ain't done nothin'--let me live--give
me a Bible--save me, G--cuss it--G--, G--." She fell back
on the bed, a corpse.

The faint light of the candle flickered on the shining gold,
and on the dead face, framed in tangled white hair; while the three
men, sick at heart, turned away in silence to seek assistance, with
that wild cry still ringing in their ears--"G--save me, G--!"




CHAPTER XXVIII.



MARK FRETTLBY HAS A VISITOR.


According to the copy books of our youth, "Procrastination is the thief
of time." Now, Brian found the truth of this. He had been in town
almost a week, but he had not yet been to see Calton. Each morning--or
something very near it--he set out, determined to go direct to
Chancery Lane, but he never arrived there. He had returned to his
lodgings in East Melbourne, and had passed his time either in the house
or in the garden. When perhaps business connected with the sale of his
station compelled his presence in town, he drove straight there and
back. Curiously enough he shrank from meeting any of his friends. He
felt keenly his recent position in the prisoner's dock. And even when
walking by the Yarra, as he frequently did, he was conscious of an
uneasy feeling--a feeling that he was an object of curiosity, and that
people turned to look at him out of a morbid desire to see one who had
been so nearly hanged for murder.

As soon as his station should be sold and he married to Madge he
determined to leave Australia, and never set foot on it again. But
until he could leave the place he would see no one, nor would he mix
with his former friends, so great was his dread of being stared at.
Mrs. Sampson, who had welcomed him back with shrill exclamations of
delight, was loud in her expressions of disapproval as to the
way he was shutting himself up.

"Your eyes bein' 'ollow," said the sympathising cricket, "it is nat'ral
as it's want of air, which my 'usband's uncle, being a druggist, an'
well-to-do, in Collingwood, ses as 'ow a want of ox-eye-gent, being a
French name, as 'e called the atmispeare, were fearful for pullin'
people down, an' makin' 'em go off their food, which you hardly eats
anythin', an' not bein' a butterfly it's expected as your appetite
would be larger."

"Oh, I'm all right," said Brian, absently, lighting a cigarette, and
only half listening to his landlady's garrulous chatter, "but if anyone
calls tell them I'm not in. I don't want to be bothered by visitors."

"Bein' as wise a thing as Solomon ever said," answered Mrs. Sampson,
energetically, "which, no doubt, 'e was in good 'ealth when seein' the
Queen of Sheber, as is necessary when anyone calls, and not feelin'
disposed to speak, which I'm often that way myself on occasions, my
sperits bein' low, as I've 'eard tell soder water 'ave that effect on
'em, which you takes it with a dash of brandy, tho' to be sure that
might be the cause of your want of life, and--drat that bell," she
finished, hurrying out of the room as the front-door bell sounded,
"which my legs is a-givin' way under me thro' bein' overworked."

Meanwhile, Brian sat and smoked contentedly, much relieved by the
departure of Mrs. Sampson, with her constant chatter, but he soon heard
her mount the stairs again, and she entered the room with a telegram,
which she handed to her lodger.

"'Opin' it don't contain bad noose," she said as she retreated to the
door again, "which I don't like 'em 'avin' had a shock in early life
thro' one 'avin' come unexpected, as my uncle's grandfather were dead,
'avin' perished of consumption, our family all being disposed to the
disease--and now, if you'll excuse me, sir, I'll get to my
dinner, bein' in the 'abit of takin' my meals reg'lar, and I studies my
inside carefully, bein' easily upset, thro' which I never could be a
sailor."

Mrs. Sampson, having at last exhausted herself, went out of the room,
and crackled loudly down the stairs, leaving Brian to read his
telegram. He tore open the envelope and found the message was from
Madge, to say that they had returned, and to ask him to dine with them
that evening. Fitzgerald folded up the telegram, then rising from his
seat, he walked moodily up and down the room with his hands in his
pockets.

"So he is there," said the young man aloud; "and I shall have to meet
him and shake hands with him, knowing all the time what he is. If it
were not for Madge I'd leave this place at once, but after the way she
stood by me in my trouble, I should be a coward if I did so."

It was as Madge had predicted--her father was unable to stay long in
one place, and had come back to Melbourne a week after Brian had
arrived. The pleasant party at the station was broken up, and, like the
graves of a household, the guests were scattered far and wide. Peterson
had left for New Zealand EN ROUTE for the wonders of the Hot Lakes, and
the old colonist was about to start for England in order to refresh his
boyish memories. Mr. and Mrs. Rolleston had come back to Melbourne,
where the wretched Felix was compelled once more to plunge into
politics; and Dr. Chinston had resumed his usual routine of fees and
patients.

Madge was glad to be back in Melbourne again, as now that her health
was restored she craved for the excitement of town life It was now more
than three months since the murder, and the nine days' wonder was a
thing of the past. The possibility of a war with Russia was the one
absorbing topic of the hour, and the colonists were busy preparing for
the attack of a possible enemy. As the Spanish Kings had drawn
their treasures from Mexico and Peru, so might the White Czar lay
violent hands on the golden stores of Australia; but here there were no
uncultured savages to face, but the sons and grandsons of men who had
dimmed the glories of the Russian arms at Alma and Balaclava. So in the
midst of stormy rumours of wars the tragic fate of Oliver Whyte was
quite forgotten. After the trial, everyone, including the detective
office, had given up the matter, and mentally relegated it to the list
of undiscovered crimes. In spite of the utmost vigilance, nothing new
had been discovered, and it seemed likely that the assassin of Oliver
Whyte would remain a free man. There were only two people in Melbourne
who still held the contrary opinion, and they were Calton and Kilsip.
Both these men had sworn to discover this unknown murderer, who struck
his cowardly blow in the dark, and though there seemed no possible
chance of success, yet they worked on. Kilsip suspected Roger Moreland,
the boon companion of the dead man, but his suspicions were vague and
uncertain, and there seemed little hope of verifying them. The
barrister did not as yet suspect any particular person, though the
death-bed confession of Mother Guttersnipe had thrown a new light on
the subject, but he thought that when Fitzgerald told him the secret
which Rosanna Moore had confided to his keeping, the real murderer
would soon be discovered, or, at least, some clue would be found that
would lead to his detection. So, as the matter stood at the time of
Mark Frettlby's return to Melbourne, Mr. Calton was waiting for
Fitzgerald's confession before making a move, while Kilsip worked
stealthily in the dark, searching for evidence against Moreland.

On receiving Madge's telegram, Brian determined to go down in the
evening, but not to dinner, so he sent a reply to Madge to that effect.
He did not want to meet Mark Frettlby, but did not of course,
tell this to Madge, so she had her dinner by herself, as her father had
gone to his club, and the time of his return was uncertain. After
dinner, she wrapped a light cloak round her, and repaired to the,
verandah to wait for her lover. The garden looked charming in the
moonlight, with the black, dense cypress trees standing up against the
sky, and the great fountain splashing cool and silvery. There was a
heavily-foliaged oak by the gate, and she strolled down the path, and
stood under it in the shadow, listening to the whisper and rustle of
its multitudinous leaves. It is curious the unearthly glamour which
moonlight seems to throw over everything, and though Madge knew every
flower, tree, and shrub in the garden, yet they all looked weird and
fantastical in the cold, white light. She went up to the fountain, and
seating herself on the edge, amused herself by dipping her hand into
the chilly water, and letting it fall, like silver rain, back into the
basin. Then she heard the iron gate open and shut with a clash, and
springing to her feet, saw someone coming up the path in a light coat
and soft wide-awake hat.

"Oh, it's you at last, Brian?" she cried, as she ran down the path to
meet him. "Why did you not come before?"

"Not being Brian, I can't say," answered her father's voice. Madge
burst out laughing.

"What an absurd mistake," she cried. "Why, I thought you were Brian."

"Indeed!"

"Yes; in that hat and coat I couldn't tell the difference in the
moonlight."

"Oh," said her father, with a laugh, pushing his hat back, "moonlight
is necessary to complete the spell, I suppose?"

"Of course," answered his daughter. "If there were no moonlight, alas,
for lovers!"

"Alas, indeed!" echoed her father. "They would become as
extinct as the moa; but where are your eyes, Puss, when you take an old
man like me for your gay young Lochinvar?"

"Well, really, papa," answered Madge, deprecatingly, "you do look so
like him in that Goat and hat that I could not tell the difference,
till you spoke."

"Nonsense, child," said Frettlby, roughly, "you are fanciful;" and
turning on his heel, he walked rapidly towards the house, leaving Madge
staring after him in astonishment, as well she might, for her father
had never spoken to her so roughly before. Wondering at the cause of
his sudden anger, she stood spell-bound, until there came a step behind
her, and a soft, low whistle. She turned with a scream, and saw Brian
smiling at her.

"Oh, it's you," she said, with a pout, as he caught her in his arms and
kissed her.

"Only me," said Brian, ungrammatically; "disappointing, isn't it?"

"Oh, fearfully," answered the girl, with a gay laugh, as arm-in-arm
they walked towards the house. "But do you know I made such a curious
mistake just now; I thought papa was you."

"How strange," said Brian, absently, for indeed he was admiring her
charming face, which looked so pure and sweet in the moonlight.

"Yes, wasn't it?" she replied. "He had on a light coat and a soft hat,
just like you wear sometimes, and as you are both the same height, I
took you for one another."

Brian did not answer, but there was a cold feeling at his heart as he
saw a possibility of his worst suspicions being confirmed, for just at
that moment there came into his mind the curious coincidence of the man
who got into the hansom cab being dressed similarly to himself. What
if--"Nonsense," he said, aloud, rousing himself out of the train
of thought the resemblance had suggested.

"I'm sure it isn't," said Madge, who had been talking about something
else for the last five minutes. "You are a very rude young man."

"I beg your pardon," said Brian, waking up. "You were saying--"

"That the horse is the most noble of all animals--Exactly."

"I don't understand--" began Brian, rather puzzled.

"Of course you don't," interrupted Madge, petulantly; "considering I've
been wasting my eloquence on a deaf man for the last ten minutes; and
very likely lame as well as deaf."

And to prove the truth of the remark, she ran up the path with Brian
after her. He had a long chase of it, for Madge was nimble and better
acquainted with the garden than he was but at last he caught her just
as she was running up the steps into the house, and then--history
repeats itself.

They went into the drawing-room and found that Mr. Frettlby had gone up
to his study, and did not want to be disturbed. Madge sat down to the
piano, but before she struck a note, Brian took both her hands
prisoners.

"Madge," he said, gravely, as she turned round, "what did your father
say when you made that mistake?"

"He was very angry," she answered. "Quite cross; I'm sure I don't know
why."

Brian sighed as he released her hands, and was about to reply when the
visitor's bell sounded, they heard the servant answer it, and then
someone was taken upstairs to Mr. Frettlby's study.

When the footman came in to light the gas, Madge asked who it was that
had come to the door.

"I don't know, miss," he answered; "he said he wanted to see
Mr. Frettlby particularly, so I took him up to the study."

"But I thought that papa said he was not to be disturbed?"

"Yes, miss, but the gentleman had an appointment with him."

"Poor papa," sighed Madge, turning again to the piano. "He has always
got such a lot to do."

Left to themselves, Madge began playing Waldteufel's last new valse, a
dreamy, haunting melody, with a touch of sadness in it, and Brian,
lying lazily on the sofa, listened. Then she sang a gay little French
song about Love and a Butterfly, with a mocking refrain, which made
Brian laugh.

"A memory of Offenbach," he said, rising and coming over to the piano.
"We certainly can't approach the French in writing these airy trifles."

"They're unsatisfactory, I think," said Madge, running her fingers over
the keys; "they mean nothing."

"Of course not," he replied, "but don't you remember that De Quincy
says there is no moral either big or little in the Iliad."

"Well, I think there's more music in Barbara Allan than all those
frothy things," said Madge, with fine scorn. "Come and sing it."

"A five-act funeral, it is," groaned Brian, as he rose to obey; "let's
have Garry Owen instead."

Nothing else however would suit the capricious young person at the
piano, so Brian, who had a pleasant voice, sang the quaint old ditty of
cruel Barbara Allan, who treated her dying love with such disdain.

"Sir John Graham was an ass," said Brian, when he had finished; "or,
instead of dying in such a silly manner, he'd have married her right
off, without asking her permission."

"I don't think she was worth marrying," replied Madge, opening
a book of Mendelssohn's duets; "or she wouldn't have made such a fuss
over her health not being drunk."

"Depend upon it, she was a plain woman," remarked Brian, gravely, "and
was angry because she wasn't toasted among the rest of the country
belles. I think the young man had a narrow escape--she'd always have
reminded him about that unfortunate oversight."

"You seem to have analysed her nature pretty well," said Madge, a
little dryly; "however, we'll leave the failings of Barbara Allan
alone, and sing this."

This was Mendelssohn's charming duet, "Would that my Love," which was a
great favourite of Brian's. They were in the middle of it when suddenly
Madge stopped, as she heard a loud cry, evidently proceeding from her
father's study. Recollecting Dr. Chinston's warning, she ran out of the
room, and upstairs, leaving Brian rather puzzled by her unceremonious
departure, for though he had heard the cry, yet he did not attach much
importance to it.

Madge knocked at the study door, and then she tried to open it, but it
was locked.

"Who's there?" asked her father, sharply, from inside.

"Only me, papa," she answered. "I thought you were--"

"No! No--I'm all right," replied her father, quickly. "Go down stairs,
I'll join you shortly."

Madge went back to the drawing-room only half satisfied with the
explanation. She found Brian waiting at the door, with rather an
anxious face.

"What's the matter?" he asked, as she paused a moment at the foot of
the stairs.

"Papa says nothing," she replied, "but I am sure he must have been
startled, or he would not have cried out like that."

She told him what Dr. Chinston had said about the state of her
father's heart, a recital which shocked Brian greatly. They did not
return to the drawing-room, but went out on the verandah, where, after
wrapping a cloak around Madge, Fitzgerald lit a cigarette. They sat
down at the far end of the verandah somewhat in the shadow, and could
see the hall door wide open, and a warm flood of mellow light pouring
therefrom, and beyond the cold, white moonshine. After about a quarter
of an hour, Madge's alarm about her father having somewhat subsided,
they were chatting on indifferent subjects, when a man came out of the
hall door, and paused for a moment on the steps of the verandah. He was
dressed in rather a fashionable suit of clothes, but, in spite of the
heat of the night, he had a thick white silk scarf round his throat.

"That's rather a cool individual," said Brian, removing his cigarette
from between his lips. "I wonder what--Good God!" he cried, rising to
his feet as the stranger turned round to look at the house, and took
off his hat for a moment--"Roger Moreland."

The man started, and looked quickly round into the dark shadow of the
verandah where they were seated, then, putting on his hat, he ran
quickly down the path, and they heard the gate clang after him.

Madge felt a sudden fear at the expression on Brian's face, as revealed
by a ray of moonlight streaming full on it.

"Who is Roger Moreland?" she asked, touching his arm--"Ah! I
remember," with sudden horror, "Oliver Whyte's friend."

"Yes," in a hoarse whisper, "and one of the witnesses at the trial."




CHAPTER XXIX.



MR. CALTON'S CURIOSITY IS SATISFIED.


There was not much sleep for Brian that night. He left Madge almost
immediately, and went home, but he Aid not go to bed. He felt too
anxious and ill at ease to sleep, and passed the greater part of the
night walking up and down his room, occupied with his own sad thoughts.
He was wondering in his own mind what could be the meaning of Roger
Moreland's visit to Mark Frettlby. All the evidence that he had given
at the trial was that he had met Whyte, and had been drinking with him
during the evening. Whyte then went out, and that was the last Moreland
had seen of him. Now, the question was, "What did he go to see Mark
Frettlby for?" He had no acquaintance with him, and yet he called by
appointment. It is true he might have been in poverty, and the
millionaire being well-known as an extremely generous man, Moreland
might have called on him for money. But then the cry which Frettlby had
given after the interview had lasted a short time proved that he had
been startled. Madge had gone upstairs and found the door locked, her
father refusing her admission. Now, why was he so anxious Moreland
should not be seen by any one? That he had made some startling
revelation was certain, and Fitzgerald felt sure that it was in
connection with the hansom cab murder case. He wearied himself
with conjectures about the matter, and towards daybreak threw himself,
dressed as he was, on the bed, and slept heavily till twelve o'clock
the next day. When he arose and looked at himself in the glass, he was
startled at the haggard and worn appearance of his face. The moment he
was awake his mind went back to Mark Frettlby and the visit of Roger
Moreland.

"The net is closing round him," he murmured to himself. "I don't see
how he can escape. Oh! Madge! Madge! if only I could spare you the
bitterness of knowing what you must know, sooner or later, and that
other unhappy girl--the sins of the fathers will be visited on the
children--God help them."

He took his bath, and, after dressing himself, went into his
sitting-room, where he had a cup of tea, which refreshed him
considerably. Mrs. Sampson came crackling merrily upstairs with a
letter, and gave vent to an exclamation of surprise, on seeing his
altered appearance.

"Lor, sir!" she exclaimed, "what 'ave you bin a-doin'--me knowin' your
'abits know'd as you'd gone to bed, not to say as it's very temptin' in
this 'ot weather, but with excuses, sir, you looks as if you 'adn't
slept a blessed wink."

"No, more I have," said Brian, listlessly holding out his. hand for the
letter. "I was walking up and down my room all last night--I must have
walked miles."

"Ah! 'ow that puts me in mind of my pore 'usband," chirped the cricket;
"bein' a printer, and accustomed like a howl to the darkness, when 'e
was 'ome for the night 'e walked up and down till 'e wore out the
carpet, bein' an expensive one, as I 'ad on my marriage, an' the only
way I could stop 'im was by givin' 'im something soothin', which you,
sir, ought to try--whisky 'ot, with lemon and sugar--but I've 'eard
tell as chloroform--"

"No, d--it," said Brian, hastily, startled out of his
politeness, "I've had enough of that."

"Achin' teeth, no doubt," said the landlady, going to the door, "which
I'm often taken that way myself, decayed teeth runnin' in the family,
tho', to be sure, mine are stronger than former, a lodger of mine
'avin' bin a dentist, an' doin' them beautiful, instead of payin' rent,
not avin' ready cash, his boxes bein' filled with bricks on 'is
departure from the 'ouse."

As Brian did not appear particularly interested in these domestic
reminiscences, and seemed as if he wanted to be left alone, Mrs.
Sampson, with a final crackle, went down stairs and talked with a
neighbour in the kitchen, as to the desirability of drawing her money
out of the Savings Bank, in case the Russians should surprise and
capture Melbourne. Brian, left alone, stared out of the window at the
dusty road and the black shadows cast by the tall poplars in front of
the house.

"I must leave this place," he said to himself; "every chance remark
seems to bear on the murder, and I'm not anxious to have it constantly
by my Bide like the skeleton at the feast."

Suddenly he recollected the letter which he held in his hand, and which
he now looked at for the first time. It proved to be from Madge, and
tearing it open hastily, he read it.

"I cannot understand what is the matter with papa," she wrote.

"Ever since that man Moreland left last night, he hae shut himself up
in his study, and is writing there hour after hour. I went up this
morning, but he would not let me in. He did not come down to breakfast,
and I am getting seriously alarmed Come down to-morrow and see me, for
I am anxious about his state of health, and I am sure that Moreland
told him something which has upset him."

"Writing," said Brian, as he put the letter in his pocket,
"what about, I wonder? Perhaps he is thinking of committing suicide! if
so, I for one will not stop him. It is a horrible thing to do, but it
would be acting for the best under the circumstances."

In spite of his determination to see Calton and tell all, Fitzgerald
did not go near him that day. He felt ill and weary, the want of sleep,
and mental worry, telling on him terribly, and he looked ten years
older than he did before the murder of Whyte. It is trouble which draws
lines on the smooth forehead and furrows round the mouth. If a man has
any mental worry, his life becomes a positive agony to him. Mental
tortures are quite as bad as physical ones, if not worse. The last
thing before dropping off to sleep is the thought of trouble, and with
the first faint light of dawn, it returns and hammers all day at the
weary brain. But while a man can sleep, life is rendered at least
endurable; and of all the blessings which Providence has bestowed,
there is none so precious as that same sleep, which, as wise Sancho
Panza says, "Wraps every man like a cloak." Brian felt the need of
rest, so sending a telegram to Calton to call on him in the morning,
and another to Madge, that he would be down to luncheon next day, he
stayed indoors all day, and amused himself with smoking and reading. He
went to bed early, and succeeded in having a sound sleep, so when he
awoke next morning, he felt considerably refreshed and invigorated.

He was having his breakfast at half-past eight, when he heard the sound
of wheels, and immediately afterwards a ring at the bell. He went to
the window, and saw Calton's trap was at the door. The owner was
shortly afterwards shown into the room.

"Well, you are a nice fellow," cried Calton, after greetings were over.
"Here I've been waiting for you with all the patience of Job, thinking
you were still up country."

"Will you have some breakfast?" asked Brian, laughing at his
indignation.

"What have you got?" said Calton, looking over the table. "Ham and
eggs. Humph! Your landlady's culinary ideas are very limited."

"Most landladies' ideas are," retorted Fitzgerald, resuming his
breakfast. "Unless Heaven invents some new animal, lodgers will go on
getting beef and mutton, alternated with hash, until the end of the
world."

"When one is in Rome, one musn't speak ill of the Pope," answered
Calton, with a grimace. "Do you think your landlady could supply me
with brandy and soda?"

"I think so," answered Fitzgerald, rising, and ringing the bell; "but
isn't it rather early for that sort of thing?"

"There's a proverb about glass houses," said Calton, severely, "which
applies to you in this particular instance."

Whereupon Fitzgerald laughed, and Calton having been supplied with what
he required, prepared to talk business.

"I need hardly tell you how anxious I am to hear what you've got to
say," he said, leaning back in his chair, "but I may as well tell you
that I am satisfied that I know half your secret already."

"Indeed!" Fitzgerald looked astonished. "In that case, I heed not--"

"Yes, you need," retorted Calton. "I told you I only know half."

"Which half?"

"Hum--rather difficult to answer--however, I'll tell you what I know,
and you can supply all deficiencies. I am quite ready--go on--stop--"
he arose and closed the door carefully.

"Well," resuming his seat, "Mother Guttersnipe died the other night."

"Is she dead?"

"As a door nail," answered Calton calmly. "And a horrible
death-bed it was--her screams ring in my ears yet--but before she
died she sent for me, and said--"

"What?"

"That she was the mother of Rosanna Moore."

"Yes!"

"And that Sal Rawlins was Rosanna's child."

"And the father?" said Brian, in a low voice.

"Was Mark Frettlby."

"Ah!"

"And now what have you to tell me?"

"Nothing!"

"Nothing," echoed Calton, surprised, "then this is what Rosanna Moore
told you when she died?"

"Yes!"

"Then why have you made such a mystery about it?"

"You ask that?" said Fitzgerald, looking up, in surprise. "If I had
told it, don't you see what difference it would have made to Madge?"

"I'm sure I don't," retorted the barrister, completely mystified. "I
suppose you mean Frettlby's connection with Rosanna Moore; well, of
course, it was not a very creditable thing for her to have been
Frettlby's mistress, but still--"

"His mistress?" said Fitzgerald, looking up sharply "then you don't
know all."

"What do you mean--was she not his mistress?"

"No--his wife!" Calton sprang to his feet, and gave a cry of surprise.

"His wife!"

Fitzgerald nodded.

"Why, Mother Guttersnipe did not know this--she thought Rosanna was
his mistress."

"He kept his marriage secret," answered Brian, "and as his wife
ran away with someone else shortly afterwards, he never revealed it."

"I understand now," said the barrister, slowly. "For if Mark Frettlby
was lawfully married to Rosanna Moore--Madge is illegitimate."

"Yes, and she now occupies the place which Sal Rawlins--or rather Sal
Frettlby ought to."

"Poor girl," said Calton, a little sadly. "But all this does not
explain the mystery of Whyte's murder."

"I will tell you that," said Fitzgerald, quickly. "When Rosanna left
her husband, she ran away to England with some young fellow, and when
he got tired of her she returned to the stage, and became famous as a
burlesque actress, under the name of Musette. There she met Whyte, as
your friend found out, and they came out here for the purpose of
extorting money from Frettlby. When they arrived in Melbourne, Rosanna
let Whyte do all the business, and kept herself quiet. She gave her
marriage certificate to Whyte, and he had it on him the night he was
murdered."

"Then Gorby was right," interposed Calton, eagerly. "The man to whom
those papers were valuable did murder Whyte!"

"Can you doubt it? And that man was--"

"Not Mark Frettlby?" burst out Calton. "Surely not Mark Frettlby?"

Brian nodded, "Yes, Mark Frettlby."

There was a silence for a few moments, Calton being too much startled
by the revelation to say anything.

"When did you discover this?" he asked, after a pause.

"At the time you first came to see me in prison," said Brian. "I had no
suspicion till then; but when you said that Whyte was murdered for the
sake of certain papers, I, knowing full well what they were and to whom
they were of value--guessed immediately that Mark Frettlby had killed
Whyte in order to obtain them and to keep his secret."

"There can be no doubt of it," said the barrister, with a sigh.
"So this is the reason Frettlby wanted Madge to marry Whyte--her hand
was to be the price of his silence. When he withdrew his consent, Whyte
threatened him with exposure. I remember he left the house in a very
excited state on the night he was murdered. Frettlby must have followed
him up to town, got into the cab with him, and after killing him with
chloroform, must have taken the marriage certificate from his secret
pocket, and escaped."

Brian rose to his feet, and walked rapidly up and down the room.

"Now you can understand what a hell my life has been for the last few
months," he said, "knowing that he had committed the crime; and yet I
had to sit with him, eat with him, and drink with him, with the
knowledge that he was a murderer, and Madge--Madge, his daughter!"

Just then a knock came to his door, and Mrs. Sampson entered with a
telegram, which she handed to Brian. He tore it open as she withdrew,
and glancing over it, gave a cry of horror, and let it flutter to his
feet.

Calton turned rapidly on hearing his cry, and seeing him fall into a
chair with a white face, snatched up the telegram and read it. When he
did so, his face grew as pale and startled as Fitzgerald's, and lifting
his hand, he said solemnly--

"It is the judgment of God!"




CHAPTER XXX.



NEMESIS.


Men, according to the old Greek, "are the sport of the gods," who,
enthroned on high Olympus, put evil desires into the hearts of mortals;
and when evil actions were the outcome of evil thoughts, amused
themselves by watching the ineffectual efforts made by their victims to
escape a relentless deity called Nemesis, who exacted a penalty for
their evil deeds. It was no doubt very amusing--to the gods--but it
is questionable if the men found it so. They had their revenge,
however, for weary of plaguing puny mortals, who whimpered and cried
when they saw they could not escape, the inevitable Nemesis turned her
attention from actors to spectators, and made a clean sweep of the
whole Olympian hierarchy. She smashed their altars, pulled down their
statues, and after she had completed her malicious work, found that she
had, vulgarly speaking, been cutting off her nose to spite her face,
for she, too, became an object of derision and of disbelief, and was
forced to retire to the same obscurity to which she had relegated the
other deities. But men found out that she had not been altogether
useless as a scapegoat upon which to lay the blame of their own
shortcomings, so they created a new deity called Fate, and laid any
misfortune which happened to them to her charge. Her worship is still
very popular, especially among lazy and unlucky people, who
never bestir themselves: on the ground that whether they do so or not
their lives are already settled by Fate. After all, the true religion
of Fate has been preached by George Eliot, when she says that our lives
are the outcome of our actions. Set up any idol you please upon which
to lay the blame of unhappy lives and baffled ambitions, but the true
cause is to be found in men themselves. Every action, good or bad,
which we do has its corresponding reward, and Mark Frettlby found it
so, for the sins of his youth were now being punished in his old age.
No doubt he had sinned gaily enough in that far-off time when life's
cup was still brimming with wine, and no asp hid among the roses; but
Nemesis had been an unseen spectator of all his thoughtless actions,
and now she came to demand her just dues. He felt somewhat as Faust
must have felt when Mephistopheles suggested a visit to Hades, in
repayment of those years of magic youth and magic power. So long ago it
seemed since he had married Rosanna Moore, that he almost persuaded
himself that it had been only a dream--a pleasant dream, with a
disagreeable awakening. When she had left him he had tried to forget
her, recognising how unworthy she was of a good man's love. He heard
that she had died in a London hospital, and with a passionate sigh for
a perished love, he had dismissed her from his thoughts for ever. His
second marriage had turned out a happy one, and he regretted the death
of his wife deeply. Afterwards, all his love centred in his daughter,
and he thought he would be able to spend his declining years in peace.
This, however, was not to be, and he was thunderstruck when Whyte
arrived from England with the information that his first wife still
lived, and that the daughter of his second was illegitimate. Sooner
than risk exposure, Frettlby agreed to anything; but Whyte's demands
became too exorbitant, and he refused to comply with them. On
Whyte's death he again breathed freely, when suddenly a second
possessor of his fatal secret started up in the person of Roger
Moreland. As the murder of Duncan had to be followed by that of Banquo,
in order to render Macbeth safe, so he foresaw that while Roger
Moreland lived his life would be one long misery. He knew that the
friend of the murdered man would be his master, and would never leave
him during his life, while after his death he would probably publish
the whole ghastly story, and defame the memory of the widely-respected
Mark Frettlby. What is it that Shakespeare says?--


"Good name in man or woman
Is the immediate jewel of their souls."


And after all these years of spotless living and generous use of his
wealth, was he to be dragged down to the depths of infamy and
degradation by a man like Moreland? Already, in fancy, he heard the
jeering cries of his fellow-men, and saw the finger of scorn point at
him--he, the great Mark Frettlby, famous throughout Australia for his
honesty, integrity, and generosity. No, it could not be, and yet this
would surely happen unless he took means to prevent it.

The day after he had seen Moreland, and knew that his secret was no
longer safe, since it was in the power of a man who might reveal it at
any moment in a drunken fit, or out of sheer maliciousness, he sat at
his desk writing. After a time he laid down his pen, and taking up a
portrait of hic dead wife which stood just in front of him, he stared
at it long and earnestly As he did so, his mind went back to the time
when he had first met and loved her. Even as Faust had entered into the
purity and serenity of Gretchen's chamber, out of the coarseness and
profligacy of Auerbach's cellar, so he, leaving behind him the
wild life of his youth, had entered into the peace and quiet of a
domestic home. The old feverish life with Rosanna Moore, seemed to be
as unsubstantial and chimerical, as, no doubt, his union with Lillith
after he met Eve, seemed to Adam in the old Rabbinical legend. There
seemed to be only one way open to him, by which he could escape the
relentless fate which dogged his steps. He would write a confession of
everything from the time he had first met Rosanna, and then--death. He
would cut the Gordian knot of all his difficulties, and then his secret
would be safe; safe? no, it could not be while Moreland lived. When he
was dead Moreland would see Madge and embitter her life with the story
of her father's sins--yes--he must live to protect her, and drag his
weary chain of bitter remembrance through life, always with that
terrible sword of Damocles hanging over him. But still, he would write
out his confession, and after his death, whenever it may happen, it
might help if not altogether to exculpate, at least to secure some pity
for a man who had been hardly dealt with by Fate. His resolution taken,
he put it into force at once, and sat all day at his desk filling page
after page with the history of his past life, which was so bitter to
him. He started at first languidly, and as in the performance of an
unpleasant but necessary duty. Soon, however, he became interested in
it, and took a peculiar pleasure in putting down every minute
circumstance which made the case stronger against, himself. He dealt
with it, not as a criminal, but as a prosecutor, and painted his
conduct as much blacker than it really had been. Towards the end of the
day, however, after reading over the earlier sheets, he experienced a
revulsion of feeling, seeing how severe he had been on himself, so he
wrote a defence of his conduct, showing that fate had been too strong
for him. It was a weak argument to bring forward, but still he felt it
was the only one that he could make. It was quite dark when he
had finished, and while sitting in the twilight, looking dreamily at
the sheets scattered all over his desk, he heard a knock at the door,
and his daughter's voice asking if he was coming to dinner. All day
long he had closed his door against everyone, but now his task being
ended, he collected all the closely-written sheets together, placed
them in a drawer of his escritoire, which he locked, and then opened
the door.

"Dear papa," cried Madge, as she entered rapidly, and threw her arms
around his neck, "what have you been doing here all day by yourself?"

"Writing," returned her father laconically, as he gently removed her
arms.

"Why, I thought you were ill," she answered, looking at him
apprehensively.

"No, dear," he replied, quietly. "Not ill, but worried."

"I knew that dreadful man who came last night had told you something to
worry you. Who is he?"

"Oh! a friend of mine," answered Frettlby, with hesitation.

"What--Roger Moreland?"

Her father started.

"How do you know it was Roger Moreland?"

"Oh! Brian recognised him as he went out."

Mark Frettlby hesitated for a few moments, and then busied himself with
the papers on his desk, as he replied in a low voice--

"You are right--it was Roger Moreland--he is very hard up, and as he
was a friend of poor Whyte's, he asked me to assist him, which I did."

He hated to hear himself telling such a deliberate falsehood, but there
was no help for it--Madge must never know the truth so long as he
could conceal it.

"Just like you," said Madge, kissing him lightly with filial pride.
"The best and kindest of men."

He shivered slightly as he felt her caress, and thought how she
would recoil from him did she know all. "After all," says some cynical
writer, "the illusions of youth are mostly due to the want of
experience." Madge, ignorant in a great measure of the world, cherished
her pleasant illusions, though many of them had been destroyed by the
trials of the past year, and her father longed to keep her in this
frame of mind.

"Now go down to dinner, my dear," he said, leading her to the door. "I
will follow soon."

"Don't be long," replied his daughter, "or I shall come up again," and
she ran down the stairs, her heart feeling strangely light.

Her father looked after her until she vanished, then heaving a
regretful sigh returned to his study, and taking out the scattered
papers fastened them together, and endorsed them,

"My Confession." He then placed them in an envelope, sealed it, and put
it back in the desk. "If all that is in that packet were known," he
said aloud, as he left the room, "what would the world say?"

That night he was singularly brilliant at the dinner table. Generally a
very reticent and grave man, on this night he laughed and talked so
gaily that the very servants noticed the change. The fact was he felt a
sense of relief at having unburdened his mind, and felt as though by
writing out that confession he had laid the spectre which had haunted
him for so long. His daughter was delighted at the change in his
spirits, but the old Scotch nurse, who had been in the house since
Madge was a baby, shook her head--

"He's fey," she said gravely. "He's no lang for the warld."

Of course she was laughed at--people who believe in presentiments
generally are--but, nevertheless, she held firmly to her opinion.

Mr. Frettlby went to bed early that night, the excitement of
the last few days and the feverish gaiety in which he had lately
indulged proving too strong for him. No sooner had he laid his head on
his pillow than he dropped off to sleep at once, and forgot in placid
slumber the troubles and worries of his waking hours.

It was only nine o'clock, so Madge stayed by herself in the great
drawing-room, and read a new novel, which was then creating a
sensation, called "Sweet Violet Eyes." It belied its reputation,
however, for it was very soon thrown on the table with a look of
disgust, and rising from her seat Madge walked up and down the room,
and wished some good fairy would hint to Brian that he was wanted. If
man is a gregarious animal, how much more, then, is a woman? This is
not a conundrum, but a simple truth. "A female Robinson Crusoe," says a
writer who prided himself upon being a keen observer of human
nature--"a female Robinson Crusoe would have gone mad for want of
something to talk to." This remark, though severe, nevertheless contains
several grains of truth, for women, as a rule, talk more than men. They
are more sociable, and a Miss Misanthrope, in spite of Justin McCarthy's,
is unknown--at least in civilised communities. Miss Frettlby, being
neither misanthropic nor dumb, began to long for some one to talk to,
and, ringing the bell, ordered Sal to be sent in. The two girls had
become great friends, and Madge, though by two years the younger,
assumed the ROLE of mentor, and under her guidance Sal was rapidly
improving. It was a strange irony of fate which brought together these
two children of the same father, each with such different histories--the
one reared in luxury and affluence, never having known want; the
other dragged up in the gutter, all unsexed and besmirched by the life
she had led. "The whirligig of time brings in its revenges," and it was
the last thing in the world Mark Frettlby would have thought of
seeing: Rosanna Moore's child, whom he fancied dead, under the same
roof as his daughter Madge.

On receiving Madge's message Sal came to the drawing room, and the two
were soon chatting amicably together. The room was almost in darkness,
only one lamp being lighted, Mr. Frettlby very sensibly detested gas,
with its glaring light, and had nothing but lamps in his drawing-room.
At the end of the apartment, where Sal and Madge were seated, there was
a small table. On it stood a large lamp, with an opaque globe, which,
having a shade over it, threw a soft and subdued circle of light round
the table, leaving the rest of the room in a kind of semi-darkness.
Near this sat Madge and Sal, talking gaily, and away on the left-hand
side they could see the door open, and a warm flood of light pouring in
from the hall.

They had been talking together for some time, when Sal's quick ear
caught a footfall on the soft carpet, and, turning rapidly, she saw a
tall figure advancing down the room. Madge saw it too, and started up
in surprise on recognising her father. He was clothed in his
dressing-gown, and carried some papers in his hand.

"Why, papa," said Madge, in surprise. "I--"

"Hush!" whispered Sal, grasping her arms. "He's asleep."

And so he was. In accordance with the dictates of the excited brain,
the weary body had risen from the bed and wandered about the house. The
two girls, drawing back into the shadow, watched him with bated breath
as he came slowly down the room. In a few moments he was within the
circle of light, and, moving noiselessly along, he laid the papers he
carried on the table. They were in a large blue envelope much worn,
with writing in red ink on it. Sal recognised it, at once as
the one she had seen in the possession of the dead woman, and with an
instinctive feeling that there was something wrong, she tried to draw
Madge back, as she watched her father's action with an intensity of
feeling which held her spell-bound. Frettlby opened the envelope, and
took therefrom a yellow, frayed piece of paper, which he spread out on
the table. Madge bent forward to see it, but Sal, with a sudden terror
drew her back.

"For God's sake no," she cried.

But it was too late; Madge had caught sight of the names on the
paper--"Marriage--Rosanna Moore--Mark Frettlby"--and the whole awful truth
flashed upon her. These were the papers Rosanna Moore had handed to
Whyte. Whyte had been murdered by the man to whom the papers were of
value--

"Oh! My father!"

She staggered blindly forward, and then, with one piercing shriek, fell
to the ground. In doing so, she struck against her father, who was
still standing beside the table. Awakened suddenly, with that wild cry
in his ears, he opened his eyes wide, put out feeble hands, as if to
keep something back, and with a strangled cry fell dead on the 'door
beside his daughter. Sal, horror-struck, did not lose her presence of
mind, but, snatching the papers off the table, she thrust them into her
pocket, and then called aloud for the servants. But they, already
attracted by Madge's wild cry, came hurrying in, to find Mark Frettlby,
the millionaire, lying dead, and his daughter in a faint beside her
father's corpse.




CHAPTER XXXI.



HUSH-MONEY.


As soon as Brian received the telegram which announced the death of
Mark Frettlby, he put on his hat, stepped into Calton's trap, and drove
along to the St. Kilda station in Flinders Street with that gentleman.
There Calton dismissed his trap, sending a note to his clerk with the
groom, and went down to St. Kilda with Fitzgerald. On arrival they
found the whole house perfectly quiet and orderly, owing to the
excellent management of Sal Rawlins. She had taken the command in
everything, and although the servants, knowing her antecedents, were
disposed to resent her doing so, yet such were her administrative
powers and strong will, that they obeyed her implicitly. Mark
Frettlby's body had been taken up to his bedroom, Madge had been put to
bed, and Dr. Chinston and Brian sent for. When they arrived they could
not help expressing their admiration at the capital way in which Sal
Rawlins had managed things.

"She's a clever girl that," whispered Calton to Fitzgerald. "Curious
thing she should have taken up her proper position in her father's
house. Fate is a deal cleverer than we mortals think her."

Brian was about to reply when Dr. Chinston entered the room. His face
was very grave, and Fitzgerald looked at him in alarm.

"Madge--Miss Frettlby," he faltered.

"Is very ill," replied the doctor; "has an attack of brain fever. I
can't answer for the consequences yet."

Brian sat down on the sofa, and stared at the doctor in a dazed sort of
way. Madge dangerously ill--perhaps dying. What if she were to die,
and he to lose the true-hearted woman who stood so nobly by him in his
trouble?

"Cheer up," said Chinston, patting him on the shoulder; "while there's
life there's hope, and whatever human aid can do to save her will be
done."

Brian grasped the doctor's hand in silence, his heart being too full to
speak.

"How did Frettlby die?" asked Calton.

"Heart disease," said Chinston. "His heart was very much affected, as I
discovered a week or so ago. It appears he was walking in his sleep,
and entering the drawing-room, he alarmed Miss Frettlby, who screamed,
and must have touched him. He awoke suddenly, and the natural
consequences followed--he dropped down dead."

"What alarmed Miss Frettlby?" asked Brian, in a low voice, covering his
face with his hand.

"The sight of her father walking in his sleep, I suppose," said
Chinston, buttoning his glove; "and the shock of his death which took
place indirectly through her, accounts for the brain fever."

"Madge Frettlby is not the woman to scream and waken a somnambulist,"
said Calton, decidedly, "knowing as she did the danger. There must be
some other reason."

"This young woman will tell you all about it," said Chinston, nodding
towards Sal, who entered the room at this moment. "She was present, and
since then has managed things admirably; and now I must go," he said,
shaking hands with Calton and Fitzgerald. "Keep up your heart, my boy;
I'll pull her through yet."

After the doctor had gone, Calton turned sharply to Sal
Rawlins, who stood waiting to be addressed.

"Well," he said briskly, "can you tell us what startled Miss Frettlby?"

"I can, sir," she answered quietly. "I was in the drawing-room when Mr.
Frettlby died--but--we had better go up to the study."

"Why?" asked Calton, in surprise, as he and Fitzgerald followed her up
stairs.

"Because, sir," she said, when they had entered the study and she had
locked the door, "I don't want any one but yourselves to know what I
tell you."

"More mystery," muttered Calton, as he glanced at Brian, and took his
seat at the escritoire.

"Mr. Frettlby went to bed early last night," said Sal, calmly, "and
Miss Madge and I were talking together in the drawing-room, when he
entered, walking in his sleep, and carrying some papers--"

Both Calton and Fitzgerald started, and the latter grew pale.

"He came down the room, and spread out a paper on the table where the
lamp was. Miss Madge bent forward to see what it was. I tried to stop
her, but it was too late. She gave a scream, and fell on the floor. In
doing so she happened to touch her father. He awoke, and fell down
dead."

"And the papers?" asked Calton, uneasily.

Sal did not answer, but producing them from her pocket, laid them in
his hands.

Brian bent forward, as Calton opened the envelope in silence, but both
gave vent to an exclamation of horror at seeing the certificate of
marriage which they knew Rosanna Moore had given to Whyte. Their worst
suspicions were confirmed, and Brian turned away his head, afraid to
meet the barrister's eye. The latter folded up the papers
thoughtfully, and put them in his pocket.

"You know what these are?" he asked Sal, eyeing her keenly.

"I could hardly help knowing," she answered; "it proves that Rosanna
Moore was Mr. Frettlby's wife, and--" she hesitated.

"Go on," said Brian, in a harsh tone, looking up.

"And they were the papers she gave Mr. Whyte."

"Well!"

Sal was silent for a moment, and then looked up with a flush.

"You needn't think I'm going to split," she said, indignantly,
recurring to her Bourke Street slang in the excitement of the moment.
"I know what you know, but I'll be as silent as the grave."

"Thank you," said Brian, fervently, taking her hand; "I know you love
her too well to betray this terrible secret."

"I would be a nice 'un, I would," said Sal, with a scorn, "after her
lifting me out of the gutter, to round on her--a poor girl like me,
without a friend or a relative, now Gran's dead."

Calton looked up quickly. It was plain Sal was quite ignorant that
Rosanna Moore was her mother. So much the better; they would keep her
in ignorance, perhaps not altogether, but it would be folly to
undeceive her at present.

"I'm goin' to Miss Madge now," she said, going to the door, "and I
won't see you again; she's getting light-headed, and might let it out;
but I'll not let any one in but myself," and so saying, she left the
room.

"Cast thy bread upon the waters," said Calton, oracularly. "The
kindness of Miss Frettlby to that poor waif is already bearing
fruit--gratitude is the rarest of qualities, rarer even than modesty."

Fitzgerald made no answer, but stared out of the window, and thought of
his darling lying sick unto death, and he able to do nothing to save
her.

"Well," said Calton, sharply.

"Oh, I beg your pardon," said Fitzgerald, turning in confusion. "I
suppose the will must be read, and all that sort of thing."

"Yes," answered the barrister, "I am one of the executors."

"And the others?"

"Yourself and Chinston," answered Calton; "so I suppose," turning to
the desk, "we can look at his papers, and see that all is straight."

"Yes, I suppose so," replied Brian, mechanically, his thoughts far
away, and then he turned again to the window. Suddenly Calton gave vent
to an exclamation of surprise, and, turning hastily, Brian saw him
holding a thick roll of papers in his hand, which he had taken out of
the drawer.

"Look here, Fitzgerald," he said, greatly excited, "here is Frettlby's
confession--look!" and he held it up.

Brian sprang forward in astonishment. So at last the hansom cab mystery
was to be cleared up. These sheets, no doubt, contained the whole
narration of the crime, and how it was committed.

"We will read it, of course," he said, hesitating, half hoping that
Calton would propose to destroy it at once.

"Yes," answered Calton; "the three executors must read it, and then--we
will burn it."

"That will be the better way," answered Brian, gloomily. "Frettlby is
dead, and the law can do nothing in the matter, so it would be best to
avoid the scandal of publicity. But why tell Chinston?"

"We must," said Calton, decidedly. "He will be sure to gather
the truth from Madge's ravings, and he may as well know all. He is
quite safe, and will be silent as the grave. But I am more sorry to
tell Kilsip."

"The detective? Good God, Calton, surely you will not do so!"

"I must," replied the barrister, quietly. "Kilsip is firmly persuaded
that Moreland committed the crime, and I have the same dread of his
pertinacity as you had of mine. He may find out all."

"What must be, must be," said Fitzgerald, clenching his hands. "But I
hope no one else will find out this miserable story. There's Moreland,
for instance."

"Ah, true!" said Calton, thoughtfully. "He called and saw Frettlby the
other night, you say?"

"Yes. I wonder what for?"

"There is only one answer," said the barrister, slowly. "He must have
seen Frettlby following Whyte when he left the hotel, and wanted
hush-money."

"I wonder if he got it?" observed Fitzgerald.

"Oh, I'll soon find that out," answered Calton, opening the drawer
again, and taking out the dead man's cheque-book. "Let me see what
cheques have been drawn lately."

Most of the blocks were filled up for small amounts, and one or two for
a hundred or so. Calton could find no large sum such as Moreland would
have demanded, when, at the very end of the book, he found a cheque
torn off, leaving the block-slip quite blank.

"There you are," he said, triumphantly holding out the book to
Fitzgerald. "He wasn't such a fool as to write in the amount on the
block, but tore the cheque out, and wrote in the sum required."

"And what's to be done about it?"

"Let him keep it, of course," answered Calton, shrugging his
shoulders. "It's the only way to secure his silence."

"I expect he cashed it yesterday, and is off by this time," said Brian,
after a moment's pause.

"So much the better for us," said Calton, grimly. "But I don't think
he's off, or Kilsip would have let me know. We must tell him, or he'll
get everything out of Moreland, and the consequences will be that all
Melbourne will know the story; whereas, by showing him the confession,
we get him to leave Moreland alone, and thus secure silence in both
cases."

"I suppose we must see Chinston?"

"Yes, of course. I will telegraph to him and Kilsip to come up to my
office this afternoon at three o'clock, and then we will settle the
whole matter."

"And Sal Rawlins?"

"Oh! I quite forgot about her," said Calton, in a perplexed voice. "She
knows nothing about her parents, and, of course, Mark Frettlby died in
the belief that she was dead."

"We must tell Madge," said Brian, gloomily. "There is no help for it.
Sal is by rights the heiress to the money of her dead father."

"That depends upon the will," replied Calton, dryly. "If it specifies
that the money is left to 'my daughter, Margaret Frettlby,' Sal Rawlins
can have no claim; and if such is the case, it will be no good telling
her who she is."

"And what's to be done?"

"Sal Rawlins," went on the barrister, without noticing the
interruption, "has evidently never given a thought to her father or
mother, as the old hag, no doubt, swore they were dead. So I think it
will be best to keep silent--that is, if no money is left to her, and,
as her father thought her dead, I don't think there will be any. In
that case, it would be best to settle an income on her. You can
easily find a pretext, and let the matter rest."

"But suppose, in accordance with the wording of the will, she is
entitled to all the money?"

"In that case," said Calton, gravely, "there is only one course open--she
must be told everything, and the dividing of the money left to her
generosity. But I don't think you need be alarmed, I'm pretty sure
Madge is the heiress."

"It's not the money I think about," said Brian, hastily. "I'd take
Madge without a penny."

"My boy," said the barrister, placing his hand kindly on Brian's
shoulder, "when you marry Madge Frettlby, you will get what is better
than money--a heart of gold."




CHAPTER XXXII.



DE MORTUIS NIL NISI BONUM.


"Nothing is certain but the unforeseen;" so says a French proverb, and
judging from the unexpected things which daily happen to us, it is
without doubt a very true one. If anyone had told Madge Frettlby one
day that she would be stretched on a bed of sickness the next, and
would be quite oblivious of the world and its doings, she would have
laughed the prophet to scorn. Yet it was so, and she was tossing and
turning on a bed of pain to which the couch of Procustes was one of
roses. Sal sat beside her, ever watchful of her wants, and listened
through the bright hours of the day, or the still ones of the night, to
the wild and incoherent words which issued from her lips. She
incessantly called on her father to save himself, and then would talk
about Brian, and sing snatches of song, or would sob broken sentences
about her dead mother, until the heart of the listener ached to hear
her. No one was allowed into the room except Sal, and when Dr. Chinston
heard the things she was saying, although used to such cases, he
recoiled.

"There is blood on your hands," cried Madge, sitting up in bed, with
her hair all tangled and falling over her shoulders; "red blood, and
you cannot wash it off. Oh, Cain! God save him! Brian, you are not
guilty; my father killed him. God! God!" and she fell back on
her disordered pillows weeping bitterly.

Dr. Chinston did not say anything, but shortly afterwards took his
leave, after telling Sal on no account to let anyone see the patient.

"'Tain't likely," said Sal, in a disgusted tone, as she closed the door
after him. "I'm not a viper to sting the bosom as fed me," from which
it may be gathered she was advancing rapidly in her education.

Meanwhile Dr. Chinston had received Calton's telegram, and was
considerably astonished thereat. He was still more so when, on arriving
at the office at the time appointed, he found Calton and Fitzgerald
were not alone, but a third man whom he had never seen was with them.
The latter Calton introduced to him as Mr. Kilsip, of the detective
office, a fact which made the worthy doctor uneasy, as he could in no
wise divine the meaning of it. However, he made no remark, but took the
seat handed to him by Mr. Calton and prepared to listen. Calton locked
the door of the office, and then went back to his desk, having the
other three seated before him in a kind of semi-circle.

"In the first place," said Calton to the doctor, "I have to inform you
that you are one of the executors under the will of the late Mr.
Frettlby, and that is why I asked you to come here to-day. The other
executors are Mr. Fitzgerald and myself."

"Oh, indeed," murmured the doctor, politely.

"And now," said Calton, looking at him, "do you remember the hansom cab
murder, which caused such a sensation some months ago?"

"Yes, I do," replied the doctor, rather astonished; "but what has that
to do with the will?"

"Nothing to do with the will," answered Calton, gravely; "but
the fact is, Mr. Frettlby was implicated in the affair."

Dr. Chinston glanced enquiringly at Brian, but that gentleman shook his
head.

"It has nothing to do with my arrest," he said, sadly.

Madge's words, uttered in her delirium, flashed across the doctor's
memory.

"What do you mean?" he gasped, pushing back his chair. "How was he
implicated?"

"That I cannot tell you," answered Calton, "until I read his
confession."

"Ah!" said Kilsip, becoming very attentive.

"Yes," said Calton, turning to Kilsip, "your hunt after Moreland is a
wild-goose chase, for the murderer of Oliver Whyte is discovered."

"Discovered!" cried Kilsip and the doctor in one breath.

"Yes, and his name is Mark Frettlby."

Kilsip shot a glance of disdain out of his bright black eyes, and gave
a low laugh of disbelief, but the doctor pushed back his chair
furiously, and arose to his feet.

"This is monstrous," he cried, in a rage. "I won't sit still and hear
this accusation against my dead friend."

"Unfortunately, it is too true," said Brian, sadly.

"How dare you say so?" said Chinston, turning angrily on him. "And you
going to marry his daughter!"

"There is only one way to settle the question," said Calton, coldly.
"We must read his confession."

"But why the detective?" asked the doctor, ungraciously, as he took his
seat.

"Because I want him to hear for himself that Mr. Frettlby committed the
crime, that he may keep silence."

"Not till I've arrested him," said Kilsip, determinedly.

"But he's dead," said Brian.

"I'm speaking of Roger Moreland," retorted Kilsip. "For he and
no other murdered Oliver Whyte."

"That's a much more likely story," Chinston said.

"I tell you no," said Calton, vehemently. "God knows I would like to
preserve Mark Frettlby's good name, and it is with this object I have
brought you all together. I will read the confession, and when you know
the truth, I want you all to keep silent about it, as Mark Frettlby is
dead, and the publication of his crime can do no good to anyone."

"I know," resumed Calton, addressing the detective, "that you are fully
convinced in your own mind that you are right and I am wrong, but what
if I tell you that Mark Frettlby died holding those very papers for the
sake of which the crime was committed?"

Kilsip's face lengthened considerably.

"What were the papers?"

"The marriage certificate of Mark Frettlby and Rosanna Moore, the woman
who died in the back slum."

Kilsip was not often astonished; but he was so now. And Dr. Chinston
fell back in his chair, staring at the barrister in blank amazement.

"And what's more," went on Calton, triumphantly, "do you know that
Moreland went to Frettlby two nights ago and obtained a certain sum for
hush-money?"

"What!" cried Kilsip.

"Yes, Moreland, in coming out of the hotel, evidently saw Frettlby, and
threatened to expose him unless he paid for his silence."

"Very strange," murmured Kilsip, to himself, with a disappointed look
on his face. "But why did Moreland keep still so long?"

"I cannot tell you," replied Calton, "but, no doubt, the confession
will explain all."

"Then for Heaven's sake read it," broke in Dr. Chinston,
impatiently. "I'm quite in the dark, and all your talk is Greek to me."

"One moment," said Kilsip, dragging a bundle from under his chair, and
untying it. "If you are right, what about this?" and he held up a light
coat, very much soiled and weather-worn.

"Whose is that?" asked Calton, startled. "Not Whyte's?"

"Yes, Whyte's," repeated Kilsip, with great satisfaction. "I found it
in the Fitzroy Gardens, near the gate that opens to George Street, East
Melbourne. It was up in a fir-tree."

"Then Mr. Frettlby must have got out at Powlett Street, and walked down
George Street, and then through the Fitzroy Gardens into town," said
Calton.

Kilsip took no heed of the remark, but took a small bottle out of the
pocket of the coat and held it up.

"I also found this," he said.

"Chloroform," cried everyone, guessing at once that it was the missing
bottle.

"Exactly," said Kilsip, replacing it. "This was the bottle which
contained the poison used by--by--well, call him the murderer. The
name of the chemist being on the label, I went to him and found out who
bought it. Now, who do you think?" with a look of triumph.

"Frettlby," said Calton, decidedly.

"No, Moreland," burst out Chinston, greatly excited.

"Neither," retorted the detective, calmly. "The man who purchased this
was Oliver Whyte himself."

"Himself?" echoed Brian, now thoroughly surprised, as, indeed were all
the others.

"Yes. I had no trouble in finding out that, thanks to the 'Poisons
Act.' As I knew no one would be so foolish as to carry chloroform about
in his pocket for any length of time, I mentioned the day of
the murder as the probable date it was bought. The chemist turned up in
his book, and found that Whyte was the purchaser."

"And what did he buy it for?" asked Chinston.

"That's more than I can tell you," said Kilsip, with a shrug of his
shoulders. "It's down in the book as being bought for medicinal uses,
which may mean anything."

"The law requires a witness," observed Calton, cautiously. "Who was the
witness?"

Again Kilsip smiled triumphantly.

"I think I can guess," said Fitzgerald. "Moreland?"

Kilsip nodded.

"And I suppose," remarked Calton, in a slightly sarcastic tone, "that
is another of your proofs against Moreland. He knew that Whyte had
chloroform on him, therefore he followed him that night and murdered
him?"

"Well, I--"

"It's a lot of nonsense," said the barrister, impatiently. "There's
nothing against Moreland to implicate him. If he killed Whyte, what
made him go and see Frettlby?"

"But," said Kilsip, sagely nodding his head, "if, as Moreland Bays, he
had Whyte's coat in his possession before the murder how is it that I
should discover it afterwards up a fir-tree in the Fitzroy Gardens,
with an empty chloroform bottle in the pocket."

"He may have been an accomplice," suggested Calton.

"What's the good of all this conjecturing?" said Chinston, impatiently,
now thoroughly tired of the discussion. "Read the confession, and we
will soon know the truth, without all this talk."

Calton assented, and all having settled themselves to listen, he began
to read what the dead man had written.




CHAPTER XXXIII.



THE CONFESSION.


"What I am now about to write is set forth by me so that the true
circumstances connected with the 'Hansom Cab Tragedy,' which took place
in Melbourne in 18--, may be known. I owe a confession, particularly
to Brian Fitzgerald, seeing that he was accused of the crime. Although
I know he was rightfully acquitted of the charge, yet I wish him to
know all about the case, though I am convinced, from his altered
demeanour towards me, that he is better acquainted with it than he
chooses to confess. In order to account for the murder of Oliver Whyte,
I must go back to the beginning of my life in this colony, and show how
the series of events began which culminated in the committal of the
crime.

"Should it be necessary to make this confession public, in the
interests of justice, I can say nothing against such a course being
taken; but I would be grateful if it could be suppressed, both on
account of my good name and of my dear daughter Margaret, whose love
and affection has so soothed and brightened my life.

"If, however, she should be informed of the contents of these pages, I
ask her to deal leniently with the memory of one who was sorely tried
and tempted.

"I came to the colony of Victoria, or, rather, as it was called
then, New South Wales, in the year 18--. I had been in a merchant's
office in London, but not finding much opportunity for advancement, I
looked about to see if I could better myself I heard of this new land
across the, ocean, and though it was not then the El Dorado which it
afterwards turned out, and, truth to tell, had rather a shady name,
owing to the transportation of convicts, yet I longed to go there and
start a new life. Unhappily, however, I had not the means, and saw
nothing better before me than the dreary life of a London clerk, as it
was impossible that I could save out of the small salary I got. Just at
this time, an old maiden aunt of my mother's died and left a few
hundred pounds to me. With this, I came out to Australia, determined to
become a rich man. I stayed some time in Sydney, and then came over to
Port Phillip, now so widely known as Marvellous Melbourne, where I
intended to pitch my tent. I saw that it was a young and rising colony,
though, of course, coming as I did, before the days of the, gold
diggings, I never dreamt it would spring up, as it has done since, into
a nation. I was careful and saving in those days, and, indeed, I think
it was the happiest time of my life.

"I bought land whenever I could scrape the money together, and, at the
time of the gold rush, was considered well-to-do. When, however, the
cry that gold had been discovered was raised, and the eyes of all the
nations were turned to Australia, with her glittering treasures, men
poured in from all parts of the world, and the 'Golden Age' commenced.
I began to grow rich rapidly, and was soon pointed out as the
wealthiest man in the Colonies. I bought a station, and, leaving the
riotous, feverish Melbourne life, went to live on it. I enjoyed myself
there, for the wild, open-air life had great charms for me, and
there was a sense of freedom to which I had hitherto been a stranger.
But man is a gregarious animal, and I, growing weary of solitude and
communings with Mother Nature, came down on a visit to Melbourne,
where, with companions as gay as myself, I spent my money freely, and,
as the phrase goes, saw life. After confessing that I loved the pure
life of the country, it sounds strange to say I enjoyed the wild life
of the town, but I did. I was neither a Joseph nor a St. Anthony, and I
was delighted with Bohemia, with its good fellowship and charming
suppers, which took place in the small hours of the morning, when wit
and humour reigned supreme. It was at one of these suppers that I first
met Rosanna Moore, the woman who was destined to curse my existence.
She was a burlesque actress, and all the young fellows in those days
were madly in love with her. She was not exactly what was called
beautiful, but there was a brilliancy and fascination about her which
few could resist. On first seeing her I did not admire her much, but
laughed at my companions as they raved about her. On becoming
personally acquainted with her, however, I found that her powers of
fascination had not been over-rated, and I ended by falling desperately
in love with her. I made enquiries about her private life, and found
that it was irreproachable, as she was guarded by a veritable dragon of
a mother, who would let no one approach her daughter. I need not tell
about my courtship, as these phases of a man's life are generally the
same, but it will be sufficient to prove the depth of my passion for
her when I say that I determined to make her my wife. It was on
condition, however, that the marriage should be kept secret until such
time as I should choose to reveal it. My reason for such a course was
this, my father was still alive, and he, being a rigid Presbyterian,
would never has forgiven me for having married a woman of the stage;
so, as he was old and feeble, I did not wish him to learn that
I had done so, fearing that the shock would be too much for him in his
then state of health. I told Rosanna I would marry her, but wanted her
to leave her mother, who was a perfect fury, and not an agreeable
person to live with. As I was rich, young, and not bad looking, Rosanna
consented, and, during an engagement she had in Sydney, I went over
there and married her. She never told her mother she had married me,
why, I do not know, as I laid no restriction on her doing so. The
mother made a great noise over the matter, but I gave Rosanna a large
sum of money for her, and this the old harridan accepted, and left for
New Zealand. Rosanna went with me to my station, where we lived as man
and wife, though, in Melbourne, she was supposed to be my mistress. At
last, feeling degraded in my own eyes at the way in which I was
supposed to be living, I wanted to reveal our secret, but this Rosanna
would not consent to. I was astonished at this, and could never
discover the reason, but in many ways Rosanna was an enigma to me. She
then grew weary of the quiet country life, and longed to return to the
glitter and glare of the footlights. This I refused to let her do, and
from that moment she took a dislike to me. A child was born, and for a
time she was engrossed with it, but soon wearied of the new plaything,
and again pressed me to allow her to return to the stage. I again
refused, and we became estranged from one another. I grew gloomy and
irritable,
and was accustomed to take long rides by myself, frequently being away
for days. There was a great friend of mine who owned the next station,
a fine, handsome young fellow, called Frank Kelly, with a gay, sunny
disposition, and a wonderful flow of humour. When he found I was so
much away, thinking Rosanna was only my mistress, he began to console
her, and succeeded so well that one day, on my return from a
ride, I found she had fled with him, and had taken the child with her.
She left a letter saying that she had never really cared for me, but
had married me for my money--she would keep our marriage secret, and
was going to return to the stage. I followed my false friend and false
wife down to Melbourne, but arrived too late, as they had just left for
England. Disgusted with the manner in which I had been treated, I
plunged into a whirl of dissipation, trying to drown the memory of my
married life. My friends, of course, thought that my loss amounted to
no more than that of a mistress, and I soon began myself to doubt that
I had ever been married, so far away and visionary did my life of the
previous year seem. I continued my fast life for about six months, when
suddenly I was arrested upon the brink of destruction by--an angel. I
say this advisedly, for if ever there was an angel upon earth, it was
she who afterwards became my wife. She was the daughter of a doctor,
and it was her influence which drew me back from the dreary path of
profligacy and dissipation which I was then leading. I paid her great
attention, and we were, in fact, looked upon as good as engaged; but I
knew that I was still linked to that accursed woman, and could not ask
her to be my wife. At this second crisis of my life Fate again
intervened, for I received a letter from England, which informed me
that Rosanna Moore had been run over in the streets of London, and had
died in an hospital. The writer was a young doctor who had attended
her, and I wrote home to him, begging him to send out a certificate of
her death, so that I might be sure she was no more. He did so, and also
enclosed an account of the accident, which had appeared in a newspaper.
Then, indeed, I felt that I was free, and closing, as I thought, for
ever the darkest page of my life's history, I began to look forward to
the future. I married again, and my domestic life was a
singularly happy one. As the colony grew greater, with every year I
became even more wealthy than I had been, and was looked up to and
respected by my fellow-citizens. When my dear daughter Margaret was
born, I felt that my cup of happiness was full, but suddenly I received
a disagreeable reminder of the past. Rosanna's mother made her
appearance one day--a disreputable-looking creature, smelling of gin,
in whom I could not recognise the respectably-dressed woman who used to
accompany Rosanna to the theatre. She had spent long ago all the money
I had given her, and had sank lower and lower, until she now lived in a
slum off Little Bourke Street. I made enquiries after the child, and
she told me it was dead. Rosanna had not taken it to England with her,
but had left it in her mother's charge, and, no doubt, neglect and want
of proper nourishment was the cause of its death. There now seemed to
be no link to bind me to the past with the exception of the old hag,
who knew nothing about the marriage. I did not attempt to undeceive
her, but agreed to allow her enough to live on if she promised never to
trouble me again, and to keep quiet about everything which had
reference to my connection with her daughter. She promised readily
enough, and went back to her squalid dwelling in the slums, where, for
all I know, she still lives, as money has been paid to her regularly
every month by my solicitors. I heard nothing more about the matter,
and now felt quite satisfied that I had heard the last of Rosanna. As
years rolled on, things prospered with me, and so fortunate was I in
all speculations that my luck became proverbial. Then, alas! when all
things seemed to smile upon me, my wife died, and the world
has never seemed the same to me since. But I had my dear daughter to
console me, and in her love and affection I became reconciled to the
loss of my wife. A young Irish gentleman, called Brian Fitzgerald, came
out to Australia, and I soon saw that my daughter was in love
with him, and that he reciprocated that affection, whereat I was glad,
as I have always esteemed him highly. I looked forward to their
marriage, when suddenly a series of events occurred, which must be
fresh in the memory of those who read these pages. Mr. Oliver Whyte, a
gentleman from London, called on me and startled me with the news that
my first wife, Rosanna Moore, was still living, and that the story of
her death had been an ingenious fabrication in order to deceive me. She
had met with an accident, as stated in the newspaper, and had been
taken to an hospital, where she recovered. The young doctor, who had
sent me the certificate of her death, had fallen in love with her, and
wanted to marry her, and had told me that she was dead in order that
her past life might be obliterated. The doctor, however, died before
the marriage, and Rosanna did not trouble herself about undeceiving me.
She was then acting on the burlesque stage under the name of 'Musette,'
and seemed to have gained an unenviable notoriety by her extravagance
and infamy. Whyte met her in London, and she became his mistress. He
seemed to have had a wonderful influence over her, for she told him all
her past life, and about her marriage with me. Her popularity being on
the wane in London, as she was now growing old-, and had to make way
for younger actresses, Whyte proposed that they should proceed to the
colonies and extort money from me, and he had come to me for that
purpose. The villain told me all this in the coolest manner, and I,
knowing he held the secret of my life, was unable to resent it. I
refused to see Rosanna, but told Whyte I would agree to his terms,
which were, first, a large sum of money was to be paid to Rosanna, and,
secondly, that he should marry my daughter. I, at first, absolutely
declined to sanction the latter proposal, but as he threatened to
publish the story, and that meant the proclamation to the world
of my daughter's illegitimacy, I at last--agreed, and he began to pay
his addresses to Madge. She, however, refused to marry him, and told me
she was engaged to Fitzgerald, so, after a severe struggle with myself,
I told Whyte that I would not allow him to marry Madge, but would give
him whatever sum he liked to name. On the night he was murdered he came
to see me, and showed me the certificate of marriage between myself and
Rosanna Moore. He refused to take a sum of money, and said that unless
I consented to his marriage with Madge he would publish the whole
affair. I implored him to give me time to think, so he said he would
give me two days, but no more, and left the house, taking the marriage
certificate with him. I was in despair, and saw that the only way to
save myself was to obtain possession of the marriage certificate and
deny everything. With this idea in my mind I followed him up to town
and saw him meet Moreland, and drink with him. They went into the hotel
in Russell Street, and when Whyte came out, at half-past twelve, he was
quite intoxicated. I saw him go along to the Scotch Church, near the
Bourke and Wills' monument, and cling to the lamp-post at the corner. I
thought I would then be able to get the certificate from him, as he was
so drunk, when I saw a gentleman in a light coat--I did not know it
was Fitzgerald--come up to him and hail a cab for him. I saw there was
nothing more to be done at that time, so, in despair, went home and
waited for the next day, in fear lest he should carry out his
determination. Nothing, however, turned up, and I was beginning to
think that Whyte had abandoned his purpose, when I heard that he had
been murdered in the hansom cab. I was in great fear lest the marriage
certificate should be found on him, but nothing was said about it. This
I could not understand at all. I knew he had
it on him, and I could only conclude that the murderer, whoever he was,
had taken it from the body, and would sooner or later come to me to
extort money, knowing that I dare not denounce him. Fitzgerald was
arrested, and afterwards acquitted, so I began to think that the
certificate had been lost, and my troubles were at an end. However, I
was always haunted by a dread that the sword was hanging over my head,
and would fall sooner or later. I was right, for two nights ago Roger
Moreland, who was an intimate friend of Whyte's, called on me, and
produced the marriage certificate, which he offered to sell to me for
five thousand pounds. In horror, I accused him of murdering Whyte,
which he denied at first, but afterwards acknowledged, stating that I
dare not betray him for my own sake. I was nearly mad with the horror I
was placed in, either to denounce my daughter as illegitimate or let a
murderer escape the penalty of his crime. At last I agreed to keep
silent, and handed him a cheque for five thousand pounds, receiving in
return the marriage certificate. I then made Moreland swear to leave
the colony, which he readily agreed to do, saying Melbourne was
dangerous. When he left I reflected upon the awfulness of my position,
and I had almost determined to commit suicide, but, thank God, I was
saved from that crime. I write this confession in order that after my
death the true story of the murder of Whyte may be known, and that any
one who may hereafter be accused of the murder may not be wrongfully
punished. I have no hopes of Moreland ever receiving the penalty of his
crime, as when this is opened all trace of him will, no doubt, be lost.
I will not destroy the marriage certificate, but place it with these
papers, so that the truth of my story can be seen. In conclusion, I
would ask forgiveness of my daughter Margaret for my sins, which have
been visited on her, but she can see for herself that
circumstances were too strong for me. May she forgive me, as I hope God
in His infinite mercy will, and may she come sometimes and pray over my
grave, nor think too hardly upon her dead father."




CHAPTER XXXIV.



THE HANDS OF JUSTICE.


Calton's voice faltered a little when he read those last sad words, and
he laid the manuscript down on the table, amid a dead silence, which
was first broken by Brian.

"Thank God," he said, reverently, "thank God that he was innocent of
the crime!"

"No," said Calton, a little cynically, "the riddle which has perplexed
us so long is read, and the Sphinx is silent for evermore."

"I knew he was incapable of such a thing," cried Chinston, whom emotion
had hitherto kept silent.

Meanwhile Kilsip listened to these eulogistic remarks on the dead man,
and purred to himself, in a satisfied sort of way, like a cat who has
caught a mouse.

"You see, sir," he said, addressing the barrister, "I was right after
all."

"Yes," answered Calton, frankly, "I acknowledge my defeat, but now--"

"I'm going to arrest Moreland right off," said Kilsip.

There was a silence for a few moments, and then Calton spoke again.

"I suppose it must be so--poor girl--poor girl."

"I'm very sorry for the young lady myself," said the detective
in his soft, low voice; "but you see I cannot let a dangerous criminal
escape for a mere matter of sentiment."

"Of course not," said Fitzgerald, sharply. "Moreland must be arrested
right off."

"But he will confess everything," said Calton, angrily, "and then
everyone will know about this first marriage."

"Let them," retorted Brian, bitterly. "As soon as she is well enough we
will marry at once, and leave Australia for ever."

"But--"

"I know her better than you do," said the young man, doggedly; "and I
know she would like an end made of this whole miserable business at
once. Arrest the murderer, and let him suffer for his crime."

"Well, I suppose it must be so," said Chinston, with a sigh, "but it
seems very hard that this slur should be cast upon Miss Frettlby."

Brian turned a little pale.

"The sins of the father are generally visited upon the children by the
world," he said bitterly. "But after the first pain is over, in new
lands among new faces, she will forget the bitter past."

"Now that it is settled Moreland is to be arrested," said Calton, "how
is it to be done? Is he still in Melbourne?"

"Rather," said Kilsip in a satisfied tone; "I've had my eye on him for
the last two months, and someone is watching him for me now--trust me,
he can't move two steps without my knowing it."

"Ah, indeed!" said Calton, quickly. "Then do you know if he has been to
the bank and cashed that cheque for five thousand, which Frettlby gave
him?"

"Well, now," observed Kilsip, after a pause, "do you know you rather
startled me when you told me he had received a cheque for that amount."

"Why?"

"It's such a large one," replied the detective, "and had I known what
sum he had paid into his account I should have been suspicious."

"Then he has been to the bank?"

"To his own bank, yes. He went there yesterday afternoon at two
o'clock--that is the day after he got it--so it would be sent round to
Mr. Frettlby's bank, and would not be returned till next day, and as he
died in the meanwhile I expect it hasn't been honoured, so Mr. Moreland
won't have his money yet."

"I wonder what he'll do," said Chinston.

"Go to the manager and kick up a row," said Kilsip, coolly, "and the
manager will no doubt tell him he'd better see the executors."

"But, my good friend, the manager doesn't know who the executors are,"
broke in Calton, impatiently. "You forget the will has yet to be read."

"Then he'll tell him to go to the late Mr. Frettlby's solicitors. I
suppose he knows who they are," retorted Kilsip.

"Thinton and Tarbit," said Calton, musingly; "but it's questionable if
Moreland would go to them."

"Why shouldn't he, sir?" said Kilsip, quickly. "He does not know
anything about this," laying his hand on the confession, "and as the
cheque is genuine enough he won't let five thousand pounds go without a
struggle."

"I'll tell you what," observed Calton, after a few moments of
reflection, "I'll go across the way and telephone to Thinton and
Tarbit, and when he calls on them they can send him up to me."

"A very good idea," said Kilsip, rubbing his hands, "and then I can
arrest him."

"But the warrant?" interposed Brian, as Calton rose and put on
his hat.

"Is here," said the detective, producing it.

"By Jove, you must have been pretty certain of his guilt," remarked
Chinston, dryly.

"Of course I was," retorted Kilsip, in a satisfied tone of voice. "When
I told the magistrate where I found the coat, and reminded him of
Moreland's acknowledgment at the trial, that he had it in his
possession before the murder, I soon got him to see the necessity of
having Moreland arrested."

"Half-past four," said Calton, pausing for a moment at the door and
looking at his watch. "I'm afraid it's rather late to catch Moreland
to-day; however, I'll see what Thinton and Tarbit know," and he went
out.

The rest sat waiting his return, and chatted about the curious end of
the hansom cab mystery, when, in about ten minutes, Calton rushed in
hurriedly and closed the door after him quickly.

"Fate is playing into our hands," he said, as soon as he recovered his
breath. "Moreland called on Thinton and Tarbit, as Kilsip surmised, and
as neither of them was in, he said he would call again before five
o'clock. I told the clerk to bring him up to me at once, so he may be
here at any moment."

"That is, if he's fool enough to come," observed Chinston.

"Oh, he'll come," said the detective, confidently, rattling a pair of
handcuffs together. "He is so satisfied that he has made things safe
that he'll walk right into the trap."

It was getting a little dusk, and the four men were greatly excited,
though they concealed it under an assumed nonchalance.

"What a situation for a drama," said Brian.

"Only," said Chinston, quietly, "it is as realistic as in the
old days of the Coliseum, where the actor who played Orpheus was torn
to pieces by bears at the end of the play."

"His last appearance on any stage, I suppose," said Calton, a little
cruelly, it must be confessed.

Meanwhile, Kilsip remained seated in his chair, humming an operatic air
and chinking the handcuffs together, by way of accompaniment. He felt
intensely pleased with himself, the more so, as he saw that by this
capture he would be ranked far above Gorby. "And what would Gorby
say?--Gorby, who had laughed at all his ideas as foolish, and who had been
quite wrong from the first. If only--"

"Hush!" said Calton, holding up his finger, as steps were heard echoing
on the flags outside. "Here he is, I believe."

Kilsip arose from his chair, and, stealing softly to the window, looked
cautiously out. Then he turned round to those inside and, nodding his
head, slipped the handcuffs into his pocket. Just as he did so, there
was a knock at the door, and, in response to Calton's invitation to
enter, Thinton and Tarbit's clerk came in with Roger Moreland. The
latter faltered a little on the threshold, when he saw Calton was not
alone, and seemed half inclined to retreat. But, evidently, thinking
there was no danger of his secret being discovered, he pulled himself
together, and advanced into the room in an easy and confident manner.

"This is the gentleman who wants to know about the cheque, sir," said
Thinton and Tarbit's clerk to Calton.

"Oh, indeed," answered Calton, quietly. "I am glad to see him; you can
go."

The clerk bowed and went out, closing the door after him. Moreland took
his seat directly in front of Calton, and with his back to the door.
Kilsip, seeing this, strolled across the room in a nonchalant manner,
while Calton engaged Moreland in conversation, and quietly turned the
key.

"You want to see me, sir?" said Calton, resuming his seat.

"Yes; that is alone," replied Moreland, uneasily.

"Oh, these gentlemen are my friends," said Calton, quietly; "anything
you may say is quite safe."

"That they are your friends, and are quite safe, is nothing to me,"
said Moreland, insolently, "I wish to speak to you in private."

"Don't you think you would like to know my friends?" said Calton,
coolly taking no notice of his remark.

"D--your friends, sir!" cried Moreland, furiously, rising from his
seat.

Calton laughed, and introduced Mr. Moreland to the others.

"Dr. Chinston, Mr. Kilsip, and--Mr. Fitzgerald."

"Fitzgerald," gasped Moreland, growing pale. "I--I--what's that?" he
shrieked, as he saw Whyte's coat, all weather-stained, lying on a chair
near him, and which he immediately recognised.

"That is the rope that's going to hang you," said Kilsip, quietly,
coming behind him, "for the murder of Oliver Whyte."

"Trapped by G--!" shouted the wretched man, wheeling round, so as to
face Kilsip. He sprang at the detective's throat, and they both rolled
together on the floor, but the latter was too strong for him, and,
after a sharp struggle, he succeeded in getting the handcuffs on
Moreland's wrists. The others stood around perfectly quiet, knowing
that Kilsip required no assistance. Now that there was no possibility
of escape, Moreland seemed to become resigned, and rose sullenly off
the floor.

"I'll make you pay for this," he hissed between hie teeth, with a white
despairing face. "You can't prove anything."

"Can't we?" said Calton, touching the confession. "You are
wrong. This is the confession of Mark Frettlby made before he died."

"It's a lie."

"A jury will decide that," said the barrister, dryly. "Meanwhile you
will pass the night in the Melbourne Gaol."

"Ah! perhaps they'll give me the same cell as you occupied," said
Moreland, with a hard laugh, turning to Fitzgerald. "I should like it
for its old associations."

Brian did not answer him, but picking up his hat and gloves, prepared
to go.

"Stop!" cried Moreland, fiercely. "I see that it's all up with me, so
I'm not going to lie like a coward. I've played for a big stake and
lost, but if I hadn't been such a fool I'd have cashed that cheque the
next morning, and been far away by this time."

"It certainly would have been wiser," said Calton.

"After all," said Moreland, nonchalantly, taking no notice of his
remark, "I don't know that I'm sorry about it. I've had a hell upon
earth since I killed Whyte."

"Then you acknowledge your guilt?" said Brian, quietly.

Moreland shrugged his shoulders.

"I told you I wasn't a coward," he answered, coolly. "Yes, I did it; it
was Whyte's own fault. When I met him that night he told me how
Frettlby wouldn't let him marry his daughter, but said he'd make him,
and showed me the marriage certificate. I thought if I could only get
it I'd make a nice little pile out of Frettlby over it; so when Whyte
went on drinking I did not. After he had gone out of the hotel, I put
on his coat, which he left behind. I saw him standing near the
lamp-post, and Fitzgerald come up and then leave him. When you came
down the street," he went on, turning to Fitzgerald, "I shrank
back into the shadow, and when you passed I ran up to Whyte as the
cabman was putting him into the hansom. He took me for you, so I didn't
undeceive him, but I swear I had no idea of murdering Whyte when I got
into the cab. I tried to get the papers, but he wouldn't let me, and
commenced to sing out. Then I thought of the chloroform in the pocket
of his coat, which I was wearing. I pulled it out, and found that the
cork was loose. Then I took out Whyte's handkerchief, which was also in
the coat, and emptied the bottle on it, and put it back in my pocket. I
again tried to get the papers, without using the chloroform, but
couldn't, so I clapped the handkerchief over his mouth, and he went off
after a few minutes, and I got the papers. I thought he was only
insensible, and it was only when I saw the newspapers that I knew he
was dead. I stopped the cab in St. Kilda Road, got out and caught
another cab, which was going to town. Then I got out at Powlett Street,
took off the coat, and carried it over my arm. I went down George
Street, towards the Fitzroy Gardens, and having hid the coat up a tree,
where I suppose you found it," to Kilsip, "I walked home--so I've done
you all nicely, but--"

"You're caught at last," finished Kilsip, quietly.

Moreland fell down in a chair, with an air of utter weariness. and
lassitude.

"No man can be stronger than Destiny," he said, dreamily. "I have lost
and you have won; so life is a chess board, after all, and we are the
puppets of Fate."

He refused to utter another word; so leaving Calton and Kilsip with
him, Brian and the doctor went out and hailed a cab. It drove up to the
entrance of the court, where Calton's office was, and then Moreland,
walking as if in a dream, left the room, and got into the cab, followed
by Kilsip.

"Do you know," said Chinston, thoughtfully, as they stood and
watched the cab drive off, "do you know what the end of that man will
be?"

"It requires no prophet to foretell that," said Calton, dryly. "He will
be hanged."

"No, he won't," retorted the doctor. "He will commit suicide."




CHAPTER XXXV.



"THE LOVE THAT LIVES."


There are certain periods in the life of man when Fate seems to have
done her worst, and any further misfortunes which may befall are
accepted with a philosophical resignation, begotten by the very
severity of previous trials. Fitzgerald was in this state of mind--he
was calm, but it was the calmness of despair--the misfortunes of the
past year seemed to have come to a climax, and he looked forward to the
publication of the whole bitter story with an indifference that
surprised himself His own name, and that of Madge and her dead father,
would be on every tongue, yet he felt perfectly callous to whatever
might be said on the subject. So long as Madge recovered, and they
could go away to another part of the world, leaving Australia, with its
bitter memories behind--he did not care. Moreland would suffer the
bitter penalty of his crime, and then nothing more would ever be heard
of the matter. It would be better for the whole story to be told, and
transitory pain endured, than to go on striving to hide the infamy and
shame which might be discovered at any moment. Already the news was all
over Melbourne that the murderer of Oliver Whyte had been captured, and
that his confession would bring to light certain startling facts
concerning the late Mark Frettlby. Brian well knew that the
world winked at secret vices so long as there was an attempt at
concealment, though it was cruelly severe on those which were brought
to light, and that many whose lives might be secretly far more culpable
than poor Mark Frettlby's, would be the first to slander the dead man.
The public curiosity, however, was destined never to be gratified, for
the next day it was known that Roger Moreland had hanged himself in his
cell during the night, and had left no confession behind him.

When Brian heard this, he breathed a heartfelt prayer of thanks for his
deliverance, and went to see Calton, whom he found at his chambers, in
deep conversation with Chinston and Kilsip. They all came to the
conclusion that as Moreland was now dead, nothing could be gained by
publishing the confession of Mark Frettlby, so agreed to burn it, and
when Fitzgerald saw in the heap of blackened paper in the fireplace all
that remained of the bitter story, he felt a weight lifted off his
heart. The barrister, Chinston, and Kilsip, all promised to keep
silent, and they kept the promise nobly, for nothing was ever known of
the circumstances which led to the death of Oliver Whyte, and it was
generally supposed that it must have been caused by some quarrel
between the dead man and his friend Roger Moreland.

Fitzgerald, however, did not forget the good service that Kilsip had
done him, and gave him a sum of money which made him independent for
life, though he still followed his old profession of a detective from
sheer love of excitement, and was always looked upon with admiration as
the man who had solved the mystery of the famous hansom cab murder.
Brian, after several consultations with Calton, at last came to the
conclusion that it would be useless to reveal to Sal Rawlins the fact
that she was Mark Frettlby's daughter, as by the will the money was
clearly left to Madge, and such a revelation could bring her no
pecuniary benefit, while her bringing up unfitted her for the position;
so a yearly income, more than sufficient for her wants, was settled
upon her, and she was allowed to remain in ignorance of her parentage.
The influence of Sal Rawlins' old life, however, was very strong on
her, and she devoted herself to the task of saving her fallen sisters.
Knowing as she did, all the intricacies of the slums, she was enabled
to do an immense amount of good, and many an unhappy woman was saved
from the squalor and hardship of a gutter life by the kind hand of Sal
Rawlins.

Felix Rolleston became a member of Parliament, where his speeches, if
not very deep, were at least amusing; and while in the House he always
behaved like a gentleman, which could not be said of all his
Parliamentary colleagues.

Madge slowly recovered from her illness, and as she had been explicitly
named in the will as heiress to Mark Frettlby's great wealth, she
placed the management of her estates in the hands of Mr. Calton, who,
with Thinton and Tarbit, acted as her agents in Australia. On her
recovery she learned the story of her father's early marriage, but both
Calton and Fitzgerald were silent about the fact of Sal Rawlins being
her half-sister, as such a relation could do no good, and would only
create a scandal, as no explanation could be given except the true one.
Shortly afterwards Madge married Fitzgerald, and both of them only too
gladly left Australia, with all its sorrows and bitter memories.

Standing with her husband on the deck of one of the P. and O. steamers,
as it ploughed the blue waters of Hobson's Bay into foam, they both
watched Melbourne gradually fade from their view, under the glow of the
sunset. They could see the two great domes of the Exhibition, and the
Law Courts, and also Government House, with its tall tower rising
from the midst of the green trees. In the background was a
bright crimson sky, barred with masses of black clouds, and over all
the great city hung a cloud of smoke like a pall. The flaring red light
of the sinking sun glared angrily on the heavy waters, and the steamer
seemed to be making its way through a sea of blood. Madge, clinging to
her husband's arm, felt her eyes fill with tears, as she saw the land
of her birth receding slowly.

"Good-bye," she murmured, softly. "Good-bye for ever."

"You do not regret?" he said, bending his head.

"Regret, no," she answered, looking at him with loving eyes.

"With you by my side, I fear nothing. Surely our hearts have been tried
in the furnace of affliction, and our love has been chastened and
purified."

"We are sure of nothing in this world," replied Brian, with a sigh.
"But after all the sorrow and grief of the past, let us hope that the
future will be peace."

"Peace!"

A white-winged sea-gull rose suddenly from the crimson waters, and
circled rapidly in the air above them.

"A happy omen," she said, looking up fondly to the grave face of her
husband, "for your life and for mine."

He bent down and kissed her.

The great steamer moved slowly out to sea, and as they stood on the
deck, hand clasped in hand, with the fresh salt breeze blowing keenly
in their faces, it bore them away into the placid beauty of the coming
night, towards the old world and the new life.



THE END





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