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Title: The Secret of the Garden
Author: Arthur Gask
* A Project Gutenberg Australia eBook *
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Language: English
Date first posted: June 2012
Date most recently updated: June 2012

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------------------------------------------------------------------------

Title: The Secret of the Garden
Author: Arthur Gask

* * *


First published by Herbert Jenkins Limited, London, 1924.


*



CHAPTER I


It was the old fool of a judge himself who turned all my thoughts to
bitterness. I know quite well I lost my temper, but he ought to have
made allowances for that. I was under the terrible disappointment of
being found guilty when I fully expected I should have got off. I was
worn out with anxiety, and furious, because I didn't consider I had had
a fair trial. Everything and everybody had been against me, and I don't
wonder I hit out. I know I threatened, and said personal things about
the judge that made the court laugh, but the judge ought to have been
above petty spite and have taken no notice of my outburst at all.

Instead everyone could see he was annoyed, and he just snapped out,
'Five years!'

Five years! What a monstrous sentence! The whole court seemed to gasp,
and even the beast, Drivel Jones, I saw, lifted his eyebrows in
surprise.

No wonder I shouted and raved, but I only got handcuffed and dragged
away roughly for my pains.

Everything had gone badly for me that morning. It was the second day of
my trial, and the judge was over an hour late. I was fretting and fuming
in the prisoners' room. I knew the trial was bound to be finished that
day, and every minute I was kept back deepened and made more unbearable
my suspense.

A good quarter of an hour before ten I had been brought there ready, and
I sat with dry mouth and shaking knees, waiting for the summons that
would take me into the court.

Ten o'clock struck, and I expected every second that the door would open
and I would be called out. But the minutes passed and nothing happened.
The quarter hour chimed, then the half hour, and then the threequarter.
It was a terribly hot day, and the prisoners' room, tucked away at the
back of the building, was ill-ventilated and stifling. I felt sick with
the heat and the suspense.

There was one warder in charge in the room with me, and he appeared to
be feeling the heat quite as much as I was. He was a surly, ill-tempered
brute and, knowing his disposition, I had not attempted to exchange a
word with him since we had come in. He had brought a newspaper with him,
but it was apparently to be only of service as a fan.

Soon the door opened and one of the court policemen came in. He glanced
at me and then entered into conversation with my guard. For some reason
he was as annoyed as I was at the unpunctuality of the judge. From his
remarks I gathered he was afraid the dinner hour would be curtailed. He
said no one knew why the judge was late, but they had found out he was
motoring up that morning from Victor Harbor and it was thought his car
must have broken down.

They had learnt he was away from home from the telephone people. They
had tried to ring the judge's private residence in North Adelaide but
had been told it was no good to try there because the house was shut up
and everyone was away. No one had any idea how long the judge would be.

As soon as I heard this, my suspense, rather to my surprise, took on a
fierce and unreasonable anger.

'A nice muddle now!' I said truculently to my astonished hearers.
'Everybody to be kept waiting and the whole business of the court held
up, just because Mr. Justice Cartright takes it into his head to go and
sleep fifty miles away from his work. Gross mismanagement, I say, and if
he had his billet with a private firm he'd lose his job.'

The policeman grinned delightedly.

'You tell him so, sir,' he said, and I saw him wink at the warder.
'He'll be interested, I'm sure, and it might make him more favourable to
you when he comes to make his last little speech to the jury.'

'Well,' I went on, and ignoring his sarcasm, 'I'll take care it gets in
the papers. I'll write to them this evening myself. There are several
other things I want to complain about, too, since I've been on remand.'

The warder looked at me contemptuously, but the policeman, cast in a
different mould, was disposed to derive any little enjoyment he could
from my ill temper.

'You're quite right, sir,' he laughed encouragingly, and with his mouth
stretching almost from ear to ear. 'There are a lot of things want
ventilating here, and this room is one.''

The door opened sharply and another policeman put in his head.

'He's come,' he said laconically, and the first policeman, springing
briskly to his feet, left the room.

After that, in less almost than two minutes, it seemed, I was walking up
the short flight of stairs that led into the dock, and even before I was
in view of anybody in the court, the cold, unctuous voice of the judge
was falling on my ears. He was apologising for being late.

I stood up close to the rail and looked defiantly round the court.

The judge was telling them his car had broken down, and he was lucky to
have got to the city at all. The misfortune was hardly likely to occur
again, however, and, in any case, the possibility of it could be put
away in a few days, for in a week exactly he was returning from the
seaside and would be resuming the occupation of his city house. He
smiled and bowed and all the lawyers smiled and bowed in return.

'Damned lot of hypocrites!' I swore to myself. 'All pulling together the
same way. Pretending to be shocked when nobody goes astray and rejoicing
when some poor devil falls into their clutches - for the law must get
its criminals, or it won't be fed.'

Then my trial went on, and the vile Drivel Jones opened his final speech
for the prosecution.

I have often gone back in memory over those last hours in the court and
marvelled over the surprises that grim old Father Time had in store for
some of the actors there.

First, there was me, John Archibald Cups, aged thirty-two, ledger clerk
of ten years' standing in the Consolidated Bank of South Australia, and
prosecuted for systematic embezzlement by my employers.

It was a lie. I had been honest as a clock all my life, and it was just
the sudden accident of chancing to pick up a ten-pound note in the
corridor of the bank that had given the brutes their opportunity.

I didn't deny that I had picked it up, and I admitted that I had
hesitated for a moment to consider whom I should take it to. But it was
only for a moment, and in another minute it would have got round to the
cashier. But they had given me no time. They had planted it there
deliberately and had pounced on me the very instant I had swallowed the
bait. That was why I was in the dock.

The judge, Marcus Cartright, was a consequential, bombastic old fool. He
was curled and scented and had beautiful white hands. He was a
well-known fop in private life and a customer at our bank. I had often
seen and smelt him when he came in. He was a great friend of our
chairman of directors, old Carnworthy, Sir Joseph, and I had seen the
two exchange smiles and nods across the court. The judge had a cold,
even voice, and was a pillar of the church in his spare time. He was
great on Sunday observance, and any sunlight and fresh air on that day
were to be opposed vigorously with the rigour of the law.

Drivel Jones was the bully of the Bar, undoubtedly the most unscrupulous
advocate in South Australia and a Goliath in the practice of the law.
Everyone was afraid of him, and with his bitter, sneering tongue he
could any time make black white, and white black. He bullied and
hectored all adverse witnesses in a shameful way, and woe betide the
poor wretch who testified to the truth when it didn't suit Drivel
Jones's book. In his private life, racing was his great hobby, and he
juggled and cheated with his horses as he juggled and cheated in the
law. He was a crook of the turf, but there again everyone was afraid of
him, and run his horses as he might he always seemed to manage it that
he was never pulled up. He was a big coarse man with a ruddy face and
large brown eyes. I hated him years before he ever heard of me.

My counsel, Pierce Moon, was a gentleman, but a fool. He had been put up
to defend me because I didn't have the money for anyone else. He was no
good and terribly afraid of Drivel Jones. I saw afterwards that I could
have done much better if I'd defended myself.

The jury - oh Heaven! how was it possible that such a lot had ever been
got together in one batch all at once - was a pack of gapefaced Methody
swabs. They hung on everything Drivel Jones said, and when the
blackguard flattered them, and with his tongue in his leering cheek told
them he was certain they would see through my rascality as easily as he
did, they looked like the set of fools they were, and seemed to purr
like kittens over a drop of milk. Three of them I knew well by sight.
The foreman, Pepple, was the ass who kept the vegetarian shop in Pipe
Street. He was a little, sallow, wizened chap with a face like one of
the dried-up raisins in his shop. He used to jaw about everything, every
Sunday in the park, and his great idea was to purge your life of all
pleasure, so that your mind would be clean and clear to think aright.
Think aright, the poor fool! - and Drivel Jones, who was the entire
opposite of everything he prayed for, just turned him round his little
finger. Shucksy worked at the sewage farm and was always writing to the
papers about the indecency of the one-piece bathing dress. I don't think
he'd ever had a swim in the sea in his entire life. He had ginger
whiskers and wore glasses, so thick they made him look like an owl. I
saw him scowling at me, as if he knew I were guilty, even before the
trial began. Byron James was the other juryman I knew. Another crank. He
was mixed up with the anti-gambling crowd and used to play the part of
an amateur detective and sneak round the parks to try and catch little
boys playing cards.

A nice mob I had to face that day. It was a farce my fate should have
been given into their hands, and the result was a foregone conclusion.

I have said I had no friends, but it was a mistake. I had Dick Rainton
the trainer. He came up for me and gave his evidence like a man, and I
could see for the moment that even the asinine jury members were
wavering. He told them he was with me at Victoria Park, every moment of
that afternoon when I was supposed to have been betting in ten pound
notes, and he was positive I had never had more than a pound on any race
any time.

I think for a minute the jury fully believed it was the truth he was
giving them, but Drivel Jones wiped out the impression two minutes after
by sneering at Rainton as 'another betting man of the same kidney'.

Of course, Drivel Jones, in his closing speech, came down like a
sledge-hammer on my life. First he handed out a lot of flap-doodle to
the jury. He held up the bank directors as extraordinary benefactors to
South Australia and pictured them almost as angels of light. The
commercial reputation of the whole state, he bellowed, lay in their
hands. They were guardians of the public money, and in the security of
their funds rested the confidence and credit of the community. The
offence I was guilty of was not only an offence against private morality
and the bank, but also a crime against the well-being of the people
generally.

Then he pretended to describe my life. He said there was no denying from
the evidence tendered that I was a racecourse gambler of a heavy type
and wagered in large sums of money. Where, then, did I get the money
from? he thundered. Where?

I could stand silent no longer under his vile lies and, in a burst of
furious temper, shouted as loudly as he was doing, 'You're a liar -
you're a damned liar!' I gesticulated wildly, and made as if to throw
myself at him over the dock-rail, but the warder beside me pulled me
roughly back and the judge sternly bade me keep silent or he would send
me below.

I subsided, muttering, to a cold fury, and had the mortification of
seeing Drivel Jones further ingratiate himself with the jury. He
pretended, the hypocrite, to be only pained with my interruption, and
insisted that, however unpleasant, it was his duty to speak the truth
and conceal nothing.

Then he went on to make out what he said had been clearly proved. He
would recapitulate the evidence, he said. I had been robbing the bank
for years. On and off for a long while bank-notes had been missing but,
until a few weeks ago, so clever had been my methods of theft, suspicion
had not been focused on me. Then I had been watched and my movements
noted, and what had happened. A note for fifty pounds had gone astray on
Thursday, but its loss had not, unfortunately, been discovered until
after I had left the bank premises. On the following Saturday, however,
it had been paid into the racecourse totalisator at Victoria Park. I had
been seen purchasing tickets on several races. The following Monday week
a twenty pound note was found missing. It had been taken, undoubtedly,
the previous Saturday. Later it was found it had been paid into the
totalisator at Morphettville, on the afternoon of that day. I had been
at the races again. Lastly, he came to the matter of the bank-note I had
picked up, and he pictured everything at its blackest here. I was a
rogue. I was a scoundrel. I was a systematic thief!

In conclusion, he implored the jury, as men of sense and intelligence,
to allow no feeling of pity to obsess their minds, but to make sure that
for a term of years, at any rate, I should not be loosed upon the
community to make financial security a mockery and debauch the
well-esteemed credit of the state.

Pierce Moon made a rotten sort of reply. He was not a patch on Drivel
Jones, and I could see made no impression on the jury at all. He bored
them, and me as well, and I was glad when he sat down.

Then came the judge, and his summing up was as vicious and as one-sided
a bit of special pleading as you could wish. He never gave me a dog's
chance. I could see plainly he was damning me all through, because I had
been given to racing. Every time he referred to the racing evidence, he
looked significantly at the jury, and he dismissed them finally with the
undoubted suggestion that they should bring in a verdict of guilty.

They were only absent about five minutes, and I could see from their
faces the moment they came back what their verdict was going to be.

'Guilty!'

'John Archibald Cups,' began the old judge in even, unctuous tones, 'you
have been found guilty after a fair trial, and all I can say----'

He got no further. I was mad with anger and disgust. 'Fair trial!' I
shouted. 'It's been all a damned farce. I've never had a chance.'

The judge held up his hand sternly, but my temper over-leapt prudence
and, in the few seconds I was left free, I got in a lot of telling
truths. I told him he was a scented, old fool, a narrow-minded bigot and
a weakling, afraid of Drivel Jones. I said Drivel Jones had been allowed
to bully my witnesses shamefully, and that the man was the most
notorious crook on the racecourse side. I shouted that the jury were all
imbeciles, and that vices of varying kinds were apparent on their faces.
I would pay out everyone who had been my enemy that day - yes, if I had
to wait twenty years, I would get my revenge. I would punish them all in
my own way; I would----

But here the filthy hand of the warder descended on my mouth and,
choking and struggling, I was forced to the floor. I fought savagely,
but the warder snipped a pair of handcuffs on me and, exhausted at last,
I was forced up to hear my sentence.

'Five years, with hard labour,' said the judge curtly, and with the
assistance of two policemen I was brutally half pushed and half carried
down the stairs from the dock.

A minute later and I was alone again, as I had been once before that
day, with my solitary warder in the prisoners' room.

I leaned back giddily on the bench upon which I had been thrown, and
strove manfully to gather in my senses.

'Fiver years' hard labour! My God - it was a life-time! I should be
thirty-seven then, and a broken-down, middle-aged man. Five years - and
I was innocent!'

My eyes roved desperately round the prisoners' room and came upon the
warder. They fell vacantly at first, and then I realised that something
was very wrong.

The man was leaning back in a strange way in the chair, his face
putty-coloured and pricked out in sweat. His eyes were shut and his
tongue half lolled from one side of his mouth. He was in a fit and
perilously near to falling to the ground.

For a second I sneered callously at him, with no intention of going to
his help. 'Let him fall, and break his neck - the swine; it will be one
the less for me to punish one day. Let him hurt himself and----'

A fearful thought raced through me. The key! he had the handcuffs key in
his pocket - the door of the room had not been locked - and he and I
were there alone. Quickly, much quicker than I can tell it, I was
kneeling by his side. With my handcuffed hands I fumbled in his pocket.
Yes, there was the key. I grabbed it out and with lightning speed I
thrust it hard between my teeth. With desperate force I pressed the
handcuffs up against my face. Click, the handcuffs opened, and my wrists
were free. I slipped the handcuffs into my pocket, put back the key into
the warder's pocket, took out a sixpence, a box of matches and a packet
of cigarettes that I found there, snatched up my hat from the table,
paused for a second to button up my coat, pulled down the hat low over
my eyes and, opening the door quietly, walked quickly out into the hall.

Everything had happened in less than a minute, and five seconds later I
was walking unconcernedly through the crowd. There were lots of people
there, but they all seemed to be hurrying off to lunch. Fortunately my
clothes were of an ordinary dark grey colour, and there was nothing
conspicuous about me at all. Two policemen were talking just in front of
me and one moved out of the way to give me room. I passed Drivel Jones
within two feet and could easily have knocked the cigar out of his
grinning face had I wished. Pepple, the vegetarian ass, was on the
pavement buying a paper, and he actually glanced up at me as I went by.

A tram pulled out opposite, just as I got into the street, and without
the faintest idea of its destination I boarded it and sat down.

The conductor immediately came round for the fares.

'All the way,' I said laconically, and I passed over the warder's
sixpence. My ticket cost twopence halfpenny, and I saw I had booked to
North Adelaide.

The conductor jerked at the bell, the car glided smoothly away, and my
association with the Criminal Court of South Australia was left behind
me for ever.

Really, as I sat there by myself in the corner of that tram, I would
have given anything to have been able to have a long, good hearty laugh.
Everything seemed to me so irresistibly funny. Here I was riding off
free, untrammeled and all alone, and yet not five minutes ago I had been
sentenced to five years' imprisonment with hard labour.

Surely it was a mighty joke. As we passed the post office clock I
noticed it was twelve minutes to one; well, at seventeen minutes to one
I had been hard in the meshes of the law. I had been surrounded by
policemen, warders, and all sorts of court officials, and yet, here,
now, a bare five minutes after, I was absolutely alone and for the
moment absolutely free.

Yes, it was a joke; but, at the same time, the weight of the handcuffs
in my pocket reminded me that the joke might still have its very
unpleasant side.

Where on earth was I to go? I hadn't the remotest idea.

The situation was a desperate one, and I was quickly sobered down. I had
threepence halfpenny, a pair of handcuffs, a box of matches, and a
packet of cigarettes, and none of my possessions seemed to offer any
satisfactory way out of the difficulty I was in.

In a few minutes there would be hue and cry for me everywhere, and
unless I could run to earth at once my capture was certain and would not
be even a matter of hours.

I had no means of disguising myself, I had no money to get away with and
I knew of no place where I could hide.

It looked hopeless and I began to think I was a fool to have escaped at
all.

The tram pulled up at the terminus, and I jumped off quickly while the
conductor was re-adjusting the pole.

With no idea at all in my mind, I walked quickly up a side road at right
angles to the main one. Anything to get away from where people were, and
the road here seemed a lonely one. The houses were all big and all stood
alone in their own grounds.

It was a fearfully hot day, well over a hundred in the shade and there
were not many people about. No one in Australia comes out more in the
heat than they are obliged to.

For about five minutes I walked on in a rising fever of desperation and
then, all of a sudden, came the inspiration that was eventually to be my
salvation.

I was passing two big high iron gates, securely fastened with a big
padlock and chain, when, happening to glance through, I saw three huge
dogs prowling on the drive that led up to the house. They were enormous,
fierce-looking fellows, and their great eyes, I thought, glared
balefully as they met mine.

Like a flash it came to me to whom they belonged. They were the guardian
watch-dogs of the eccentric recluse, Dr. Robert Carmichael.

The doctor was a well-known personality in Adelaide, well-known,
however, only by repute, for very few had ever seen him in the flesh. He
never left his own grounds and, living in a big house among the trees,
the gates were always chained and barred to all comers.

His place was called 'The Tower', because of a strange sort of
observatory that rose high up from the middle of the rambling
one-storeyed building that was his home.

But it was not because I suddenly remembered all this that my heart
began to throb in fierce quick beats. A far more thrilling chord of
memory was quavering in my mind. I was remembering also that Judge
Cartright's house was the one next to his.

I had heard the judge one day telling our chief cashier in the bank that
sometimes he could not sleep on moonlight nights, because of the
growling of Dr. Carmichael's dogs, as they prowled around. I was
remembering this, and it came back to me also what I had heard in the
prisoners' room that very morning, that the judge's house was at present
empty and untenanted, on account of all the family being away.

'What a place to hide in,' I gasped. 'What a refuge and what a
sanctuary, if only I could get in. Of all the places in the world, no
one would dream of looking for me there.'

It was about a hundred yards further on to the judge's home and I was
breathing hard when I reached the gates. Inverary! ah yes, that was the
name. I remembered it now in the ledger books. As I had expected,
however, the gates were closed and, to my dismay, I saw they were spiked
and very high. The walls, too, on either side were quite ten feet from
the ground and generously cemented over at their tops with lumps of
evil-looking broken glass.

What an ass I was, I snarled to myself. Of course, the judge wouldn't
have been such a soft as to leave his grounds open for anyone to get in.
They would be locked up as securely as the prison stockade.

With an oath of disappointment I went to shake one of the big gates and,
to my astonishment, it yielded instantly to my touch. It was unlocked.

I looked up and down the road. The quivering heat hung like a pall on
everything around. There was not a soul in sight. I slipped quickly into
the grounds and very gently pushed the gate behind me. Was it to be
sanctuary after all?

My guardian angel must surely have been watching over me that afternoon.

I didn't walk straight up the gravel drive but, for some reason, I don't
know why, tiptoed very softly over a narrow stretch of turf that ran
along the flower-bed by the side.

It was well I did so, for I should have walked to certain detection
else. As it was it was only by a hair's breadth that I escaped coming to
my Sedan.

I was just turning round the bend in the drive that hid the house from
the entrance gates when suddenly I heard the clink-clink sound of metal
striking against stone.

I pulled myself up with a jerk so sharp that it hurt me almost like a
spasm of pain.

A man was bending down behind a bush just in front of me; he was hoeing
among the carnations. Another step and I should have been right on him.

Very softly, and almost holding my breath, I tiptoed back along part of
the way I had come. Then I turned off among the bushes and, making a
long detour, worked my way gradually all round the house until I had the
gardener right in front of me, about fifty yards away. I knew it was
vital to me that I should keep him in view, so as to know exactly where
he was. He was still hoeing among the carnations.

I lay down under a thick bush and thought carefully exactly what I
should do.

My spirits had risen considerably since I had entered the judge's
grounds, and I quite thought now that, with any luck, I had found at
least a temporary refuge from my enemies.

I had cocked my eye over the house, as I had crept round, and had
imagined two or three places where I could easily break in. I had picked
up a small length of iron on my travels through the garden and was
thinking, Woe betide the gardener if he should happen to catch sight of
me now. Indeed, so quickly had I fitted myself to the role of an escaped
convict, I was half inclined, as it was, to creep round and bash him on
the head for the sake of his clothes. But he was a much stouter man than
I, and saner thoughts soon convinced me that nothing he was wearing
would be any good to me. So I just lay and watched him, hoping for the
time when he would go.

But he was a very long while on those carnations, much longer than in my
impatience I imagined they were worth. Then he went round to the back,
to the vegetable part of the garden, and I spent a very tedious hour
watching him tie up and water the tomatoes. Then the melon plants
engrossed his attention and the cucumbers wanted seeing to.

It was nearly five o'clock, I guessed, before he began to gather up his
tools and get ready to go.

All the time I was just dying for a drink of water. The heat was
terrific and my throat seemed almost to be closing up, it was so dry,
but I dared not leave the gardener out of my sight for a moment, not
knowing where he might go.

At last he locked up his belongings in the tool-shed in a corner under
the high wall and, hiding the key under a big plant-pot close by,
proceeded very slowing down the drive towards the gates.

I followed him stealthily to make sure and see the last of him. He
produced a big key from his pocket and, once outside, was very careful,
I noticed, to make sure the gates were properly shut behind him. He
shook them vigorously two or three times before going away.

Alone, at last, by myself, I ran back quickly and had a good long drink
from the first tap I came upon. The water tasted like nectar, and I felt
refreshed at once for the further prosecution of my adventures.

But if I had thought it was gong to turn out an easy job to get into the
house, I soon found I was very much mistaken.

The place was a perfect castle and, behind the fly-proof wire windows,
there were bars and shutters everywhere.

It didn't suit my book to break in forcibly anywhere. I had no
particular plans in my mind, but I was determining at any rate to accept
the judge's hospitality for a few days, and it would never do, I told
myself rightly, to leave any outward and visible sign of having gained
an entrance.

It would be quite possible, I thought, that in the course of the next
few days the police might search round all untenanted houses for my
humble self.

I tried to get in where it wouldn't be noticed, but I was balked every
time. Round and round the house I walked, but nowhere were things
favourable to my design.

At last a sort of inspiration seized me and I thought I would try the
roof. Standing a little way away from the house, I noticed that one part
of the roof in the middle seemed to be to be flat, and I imagined I
could just see over the summit of the sloping eaves, the top of a
wicker-work garden chair.

Abstracting the key from under the plant-pot where I had seen the
gardener place it, I opened the tool-shed door and found, as I had half
expected, a garden ladder.

Quickly placing it against the side of the house, just by the back
kitchen door, I scrambled up on to the roof. It was an easy matter then
to crawl up the sloping corrugated-iron and, gaining the highest point
in a few seconds, I was delighted with what I saw.

There was quite a spacious flat platform on the top of the roof, and it
was evidently used for sleeping out. There were two wicker camp-beds
there, a small wicker table and a couple of chairs. In one corner there
was a trap-door that obviously led down into the interior of the house.
With my heart beating wildly, I stepped over and pulled on the iron ring
that I saw there.

It yielded at once to my touch and disclosed a flight of narrow stairs.
In ten seconds at most I had tiptoed down and was standing breathlessly
in the kitchen of the judge's house. I glowed with delight at my good
fortune, but I didn't for one moment lose my head.

I at once opened the kitchen door and, going again into the garden,
removed the tell-tale ladder from the side of the house and locked it in
the shed. The shed key I also returned to its hiding place under the
pot. Then I shut myself quietly in the house and made a rapid survey of
my future home.

It was very dark inside, but I had no difficulty in finding my way
about. My word, but wasn't it a gorgeous home! Beautiful and costly
furniture everywhere, carpets into which you seemed to sink ankle-deep
with your feet, pictures and statuary just as if one was in an art salon
and everything suggesting of the utmost money could buy.

As I opened door after door and the richness of everything was revealed,
I wondered what indeed could be the judge's condition of mind when he
was committing some poor devils like me to long terms of imprisonment in
the awful prison stockade.

But interesting as were the art treasures of the house, the possible
kitchen resources pressed forcibly on my mind. I had had nothing to eat
practically all day, and a horrid feeling of faintness began to remind
me unpleasantly of it.

I proceeded, therefore, to forage anxiously for something to satisfy the
inner man. Of course, I found nothing lying about, the judge's domestic
arrangements were much too methodical for that, but I soon discovered
where the storeroom was. It was, of course, locked, but with the
assistance of a handy fire-iron, I soon forced the door and at once saw
I was going to be amply rewarded for my pains.

There was plenty of tinned stuff there - milk, sardines, salmon and
corned beef - and, to my relief, some large tins of dry biscuits. Better
still, on the floor there was a good assortment of bottles of wine.

I had quite a pleasant little meal in the kitchen that evening, and
after a bottle of excellent claret, life took on quite a hopeful and
roseate hue. I would shake off my enemies after all.

From what the judge had said in court that morning, he would not be
returning home with his family until the following Monday. Well and
good, I had exactly five days. I could rest and recuperate, think out
carefully all my future plans and finally leave the house on the Sunday
in some good sort of disguise. There would be plenty of clothes in the
house, I was sure, and I should have no difficulty at all in making
myself look very different from the man who had been so recently
sentenced to five years.

My hunger and thirst satisfied, I felt very tired. I smoked a couple of
the warder's cigarettes, had a very delightful bath in the elaborately
tiled bathroom of the house and, finally, attired in a beautiful pair of
the judge's silk sky-blue pyjamas, threw myself restfully, in the best
bedroom, upon what I thought was most probably the judge's own feather
bed.

I fell asleep almost at once and so satisfied must I have been with all
my surroundings, that I slept unbrokenly all night long. I don't
remember even dreaming at all.


The sun had been up some hours when I woke up next morning. It was my
friend, the gardener, who awoke me. He was raking over the gravel, just
under my bedroom window. For a few seconds I couldn't take in where I
was, and then, I remember, I grinned delightedly to myself. Judge
Cartright had sentenced me to five years' imprisonment and the first
night of those years I had slept in his own bed, in his sky-blue
coloured silk pyjamas.

It was really too funny for words, and my great regret was that I had no
one with me to share the joke.

I got leisurely out of bed and, after a light breakfast of tea, biscuits
and sardines, helped myself to what proved to be a most excellent cigar
from a box on the judge's desk.

Then, for about half an hour, I stood watching the gardener through a
chink in the bedroom blind. It somehow amused me a lot to think I was so
near to him and he didn't know it.

Presently, I heard a loud whistle in the direction of the gates. It was
followed immediately by a shout.

The gardener stopped his working on the gravel path. 'All right,' he
shouted back hoarsely. 'You can get in, they're open; but push them
behind you.'

A minute later, a man came up the drive leading a horse in a small cart.
The newcomer was delivering a load of manure.

He greeted the gardener affably and they went round the side of the
house. They halted just in front of the kitchen window and I at once got
into a position so that I could hear what they were saying.

After a minute or so's cursing at the heat we were having, as I half
expected it would, the talk came round to me.

They sat down together on the wheelbarrow, but, unfortunately, with
their backs to me. Scraps of their conversation, however, came up
plainly to my ears.

The manure-man was evidently of an opinion that things were worth a good
laugh. 'Called him a scented old fool,' I heard between a lot of huge
guffaws. 'Threatened to break his damned neck the first day he got out -
cursed at the jury like hell too ... all awfully frightened ... the
vegetarian chap's not going to open his shop till the bloke's caught
anyhow ... got clean away, clean as a whistle ... the damned police
poking round everywhere ... beating the hills even ... sure to be caught
soon, however ... recognised anywhere by his nose ... big as a donkey's,
with a konk in it like a damned Jew's.'

They moved off after a minute or two, and I must confess a certain
misgiving had risen unpleasantly in my mind. I knew I had a peculiar
nose, but was my appearance really so unusual, I asked myself, that I
should be recognised anywhere?

I went back into the bedroom and examined myself critically in the
cheval glass. Not at all a bad face, I told myself, but certainly
looking older than thirty-two. Just ordinary eyes and complexion, brown
curly hair and a sharply closed firm mouth. But the nose - ah, the nose!
There was no doubt about it, it was dangerously conspicuous. A
well-developed Roman nose of a most pronounced type! The great bridge in
it was a conspicuous feature. I had been called Julius Caesar in my
schooldays, and at the Bank had been known as 'The Duke' to my
intimates, because of my supposed resemblance to the large-nosed Duke of
Wellington.

I sighed deeply as I regarded myself in the glass, but there, it
couldn't be helped, and I comforted myself a few minutes later. So great
hitherto had been my good fortune that I was hopeful it would go on
again.


I spent four days altogether in the judge's house and, on the whole,
except for the monotony of continual tinned food, it was quite a happy
time.

I followed almost exactly the same routine every day. Each morning, it
was the gardener who woke me up. I always heard him come in, and his
first care was always the carnations just under my bedroom window. He
used to turn the hose on them before the sun came round.

About an hour later, I used to get up, have a nice cold bath and then
spend the day either in reading, playing chess with myself or going
through the judge's private papers.

At five o'clock, the moment the gardener had taken himself off, I used
to go into the garden and have a good fill of the judge's fruit. His
apricots, especially, I found most delicious, and I have never tasted
better, before or since.

The rest of the evening, until I took myself off to bed, I used to spend
in a delightful little summer-house at the extreme end of the garden. It
was so beautifully peaceful and quiet there and I would sometimes lie
for hours on the comfortably padded seat, listening drowsily to the
faint and humming sounds of the city, so near and yet so far away.

Sometimes I varied part of the day slightly by going up on to the flat
part of the roof for an hour or so. There was an awning attached to each
of the wicker couches and I used to roll them out and lie there until
the sun made it too hot and I had to come in.

The outdoor parts of my stay were most enjoyable but, even still, there
was a little fly in the ointment there.

I could never get rid of the idea that I was being watched by someone
from the tower of the house next door.

The tower dominated every yard of the judge's garden. It commanded such
a clear view of everything, and when I was lying on the judge's roof it
seemed to my imagination to be peopled and haunted with hundreds of
pairs of eyes. Mind you, the whole time I never caught sight of a soul
and never once saw any movement behind the rail of the tower but, still,
as I say, there was always the uncanny feeling that I was being watched,
and it got on my nerves.

The judge had quite an extensive library and was evidently a man of
taste and education. I read a lot of Shelley while I was there and went
twice very carefully through Prometheus Unbound. My games of chess with
myself were rather slow, but I worked out a fine variation in the King's
Gambit that on several occasions I found most effective in later years.

About the judge's private papers. It was vital for me that I should find
some money somewhere and in pursuit of this object I broke into his big
roll-top desk. I found he had many interests besides those of the law.
He was, for instance, treasurer for some local church funds. There was
one drawer, with a neat little gummed label on it. 'New Wing for St.
Snook's Church' it read. There was seven pounds ten in the drawer. Most
appropriate, I thought. Instead of one new wing for St. Snook's, it
would provide two new wings for me. It would greatly assist me in my
flight.

In the desk there was a cheque-book also, with plenty of unused cheques,
and from his pass-book in another pigeon-hole I noticed he had quite a
tidy balance lying at one bank.

On Saturday morning, the fourth day of my stay, the gardener pushed
half-a-dozen letters into the letterbox of the front door. Significant
of the shortly impending return of the family, I thought, with a bit of
a gasp; but having nothing better to do, I went through them.

One was from a man, Henry Tuppins by name, evidently a tenant of the
judge. He wrote from somewhere in North Unley, asking if he might cut
down the large gum tree in his front garden as it was obstructing the
light in the house. He wished to know if the judge could possibly see
his way to rebuilding the wall at the back, as it was in a state of
great dilapidation and cows and horses were continually breaking
through.

There was an excellent little typewriter in the study, and I thought it
would be only nice to reply to the letter at once.

So I wrote back to Mr Tuppins; yes, certainly, he could cut down the
tree, it had become a regular nuisance and it would be doing me a favour
if he would. As for the wall, well, I couldn't decide for certain,
off-hand, but the best thing would be for him to come up one evening to
dinner and we could talk it over afterwards at our ease. I suggested the
evening of Monday week and hoped he would be able to come because I had
an excellent brand of cigars that I would like his opinion on. I begged
he would make no reply if the arrangement suited him, and I signed the
letter with a good flourish in the judge's best style.

I had no difficulty at all in forging the judge's signature. There were
heaps of examples to copy from in his private letter-book, and for the
last ten years and more, as ledger clerk, my chief work at the bank had
been to do with people's signatures and the varying ways in which they
signed their names.

My imagination excited by this little correspondence adventure with Mr.
Tuppins, I thought I could well spend a profitable half hour in
composing a letter, also in the judge's name, for publication in the
press, upon the evil of narrow-minded views on Sunday Observance. So I
wrote a chatty letter to two leading daily papers in Adelaide, the
Advertiser and the Register, giving effect to these views.

I wrote, it was open to every man to change his opinions, and I had
changed mine. I pleaded for a real day of rest, a day of sunshine and
fresh air, a day away from the vitiated atmosphere of stuffy churches
and chapels and halls. A day out in the open, whereby the refreshed and
purified body would give home and shelter to a clean and purified soul.
I said the arduous toil and worry of the working week had in many cases
really physically unfitted young growing people for the sectarian
discipline of the seventh day. They wanted some recreation on Sundays, I
insisted, not a further piling up of the worries, doubts and
perplexities of their working-day lives.

I concluded by remarking that in the course of many years' experience on
the bench, I had always invariably noticed that the worst offenders
brought before me were recruited from among those who had been most
strictly brought up in their early lives, and I pointed out that among
civilised people it had long since passed into a proverb that
clergymen's children invariably showed themselves in later life to be
the worst of all.

I felt quite pleased with myself after writing these two letters. It was
very small-minded, I know, but they seemed to put quite an artistic
crown on my efforts to spite the judge. Anything to make him look
ridiculous, for there, I knew, I could punish him most. I put the
letters in the house 'post-box' in the hall, trusting to chance that
their presence would not be detected and that in due time they would be
posted along with the other letters that the family would certainly put
there.

By the Saturday afternoon, I had thought out all my plans, and was all
prepared to leave on Sunday. I had selected certain articles of clothing
from the judge's wardrobe and, with these, I thought I could present a
sufficiently altered appearance to pass muster in the dark.

I determined to leave the house about eight on Sunday evening and go
down boldly to the railway station on North Terrace. I would mingle with
the usual crowd of holiday-makers and book to some station in the hills;
once there, I should be able to lie low indefinitely, I thought, and
later on, pick up the Melbourne express at night from some township far
away from the city.

I guessed, so short are people's memories, that in a week or two at
most, all description of my personal appearance would have been
forgotten by everyone except the police.

In the evening, about five o'clock, I went out into the garden and after
a good fill of fruit retired as usual to the summer-house to smoke and
read and while away the hours until I was ready to go to bed.

I settled myself comfortably in a corner and for about ten minutes, I
think, lay back and went carefully over all the plans in my mind.

Then suddenly, with a terror so great that it is vivid to me even now, I
heard footfalls on the gravel path outside, and before I could move hand
or foot in my paralysed surprise, a shadow fell across the entrance to
the summer-house, and a second later a man stepped quietly inside.

'Good evening to you, Mr. Cups,' he said very quietly. 'No, don't be
frightened. I'm a friend. I'm Doctor Carmichael from next door, and I've
come to warn you that the judge's servants are coming home tonight.'




CHAPTER 2


I stared at him in horrified and amazed surprise. The shock of his
appearance, and of his addressing me by name, had completely taken away
all my powers of speech, and all I could do for the moment was gape, and
wonder what was going to happen next. My tongue seemed to be cleaving to
the roof of my mouth and there was a horrid feeling of sickness about me
that made me feel limp.

He was a good-looking man, about forty-five, with a fine intellectual
face, and dark, thoughtful eyes. There were hard stern lines about his
mouth, but his expression was softened just now by an amused, if rather
grim, smile.

'Surprised, are you, Mr Cups?' he went on quite genially. 'Oh, no, you
needn't shake your head. I know all about you. We've been close
neighbours for four days, and I must tell you that to me, at all events,
your little excursion here has been quite an incident in an otherwise
monotonous life.'

'What do you mean?' I asked savagely, finding my speech at last. 'I'm
sure I don't know what you're talking about.'

The smile left his face instantly, and he closed his teeth with a snap.

'Don't be foolish, Mr. Cups,' he said sternly, 'and don't be frightened
either. I tell you, man, I'm your friend. I saw you come in here on
Tuesday dinner-time, and when the evening paper arrived I knew at once
who you were. I saw you get in through the roof and, had I wanted to,
could have given you away any time.' He advanced into the summer-house
and sat himself down carelessly upon the seat opposite to me. Taking a
silver case from his pocket, he offered me a cigarette, and upon my
refusing complacently helped himself to one.

'Well, don't if you don't want to,' he remarked, and then he went on
slyly, 'but perhaps your stay here has given you a partiality to
cigars.' He laughed in great amusement and nodded towards his own house.
'Yes, I've got a pair of excellent binoculars over there, and I've seen
a lot that's been going on.' He sat silent for a long moment, but the
whole time he was watching me intently. 'Look here, Cups,' he said at
last, 'I'll put all the cards upon the table and explain exactly what
I'm prepared to do.' He puffed thoughtfully at his cigarette. 'I expect
you've heard something about me, and know that, like you, I've got a
grievance against the world too.' His voice became very hard and bitter.
'I hate what they call society, and there's no justice in any court of
law. I read what you told them all the other day, and it's quite true. I
agree the dice were loaded against you, and that the evidence on which
you were convicted was weak in the extreme. I admired the way in which
you spoke out, and I admired the damned impudence with which you got
away. I tell you, the newspapers have been most entertaining reading
since Tuesday, and several times I've almost been inclined to throw you
one over. But we'll talk of that later on. The thing is now, what were
you proposing to do. Mind you' - and he smiled very gravely at me -'you
can trust me. I'm quite prepared to help you and be your friend.'

All the time he had been speaking my eyes had been fixed intently on
his. There was no deceit or trickery about him, I felt sure, and a
contemptuous mocking at convention was quite in accordance with the
strength and courage of his face. I realised that he was being, as he
said, quite open with me, and that it was in every way to my advantage
to make of him a friend. Commonsense, too, told me that already, as he
said, I was in his power, and had everything to gain and nothing to
lose.

'Well,' I said slowly, and I smiled for the first time, 'I had thought
of getting away tomorrow night. I've found some money in the house and
with some of the judge's clothes I thought of going to North Road
Station and booking to somewhere in the hills.'

He shook his head ominously in a disapproving frown. 'Ah, the very thing
they were expecting,' he said. 'They're reckoning you've been hiding
somewhere close to the city for four days without food, and will be
bound to come out some time today or tomorrow. Through the newspapers,
the police have especially warned everyone to be on the look-out now,
and your description is posted up in leaded type everywhere.'

I felt myself go cold in fright again and the awful sickly feeling came
back to the pit of my stomach. The man in front of me stood up and
looked at his watch.

'Well, I don't think we'd better stop talking here, at any rate. Come
over to my place and we'll talk over what had best be done. At any rate,
I'll give shelter for tonight.' He walked out of the summer-house but,
when outside, turned back suddenly. 'Look here, my friend,' he said
eyeing me very sternly, 'no tricks, mind. I'm trusting you and, besides,
I tell you straight I'm a dangerous man to mishandle at any time. I'm
just helping you because everyone's against you and because I liked the
look of your face.'

For the moment he glared at me dark and menacing, but almost instantly
he broke again into a smile.

I felt myself grow hot in annoyance at his distrust, but I answered him
meekly enough. 'I'm not quite a fool, sir,' I said quickly, 'and you've
told me enough to make me understand how hopeless things are. My only
chance now is to take what you give me, and I swear to you I'll be
grateful, whatever you do.'

He nodded and led the way towards a corner of his own wall.

'One second, Doctor,' I exclaimed, 'Mayn't I go into the house and fetch
some things? I came out into the garden tonight, you see, quite
unprepared.'

He thought for a moment and then nodded again. 'Yes, but be quick,' he
said curtly, 'we may have wasted valuable time already. Close the door
after you, when you come out.' He smiled grimly. 'It will make them more
puzzled than ever to know how you got in.'

In less than a minute I was out in the garden again. I had brought a hat
and light overcoat of the judge's, and some small odds and ends that I
thought would prove useful.

Dr Carmichael was waiting for me at the foot of a light ladder propped
up against the wall. He smiled when he saw the look of surprise in my
eyes. 'How did you think I got over?' he asked. 'The wall's much too
high to climb, and the judge is too devilish fond of broken glass.'

He mounted first and I followed. On the top of the wall there were some
thick sacks over the glass. I pulled the ladder up after me and, as he
had done, dropped to the ground on the other side. Taking the sacks with
us, we crossed through the garden and went up to the house.

'You go inside there and wait for me,' he said pointing to the back
door. 'I'm just going to unloose my dogs again. They're fierce with
strangers, although they wouldn't hurt you if I were with you.'

He rejoined me in a minute or so and led the way into a very large room
that at one time had evidently been used as some sort of servants' hall.

'This is where I live,' he said. 'I spend most of my time in this room.'
He put his hand on my arm and led me up to the window. 'Now let me have
a good look at you, in front of the light, if you please, Mr. Cups.'

For quite a minute, and a very long minute it seemed to me, he took me
all in. His eyes were deep and thoughtful, and his face was the face of
a man with whom other people's opinion would count very little and who
would always determine all things for himself.

'Hum,' he said presently, but very softly and more to himself. 'Plenty
of courage, almost reckless in fact. Rather self-indulgent but not
vicious. A good hater, but perhaps a good lover too. Trustworthy, I
should think.' He raised his voice and smiled pleasantly. 'Yes, I'll
trust you, Mr. Cups, and I don't think I shall be going far wrong,
although, of course' - and he made a pretension of some fear - 'by so
doing I'm bringing myself under the displeasure of the law. Yes, I'll
help you to get away.'

A wave of some deep feeling touched me, and I felt an embarrassing mist
before my eyes.

'Tut, tut, man,' he went on quickly, 'we are both outcasts, you and I,
and it will be most amusing to see those who would catch you, at their
wits' ends. But come, you're the only visitor I've had for a very long
time now, and you're in luck's way. I'm cooking a leg of lamb tonight,
and it'll be better than the tucker you've had at the judge's, I'm sure.
Sit over there and I'll have things ready for you in five minutes.'

In silence, I watched his preparation for the meal and meditatively
called to my memory all that I had heard about this strange man.

Half a dozen years ago Robert Carmichael had been perhaps the best known
surgeon in the Commonwealth. He had been the doyen of his profession in
Sydney and the most brilliant and daring operator in the state. His
income had run well into five figures. Just when he was in the zenith of
his fame, a woman, a patient and the wife of a patient, had crossed his
path. The woman's husband had been well known as a brute and a
blackguard. Openly defying convention, the woman had left her husband
and gone to live under Dr. Carmichael's protection. The whole business
had caused a dreadful scandal, and the husband had sought for and
obtained a divorce. The suit had been undefended and the judge, hearing
only one side, had referred in scathing terms to the conduct of Dr.
Carmichael. He had strongly urged the matter upon the consideration of
the General Medical Council and the doctor having many enemies, the
council had taken it up. They found that Robert Carmichael in the
pursuit of his professional duties had led astray one of his patients,
and had been guilty of infamous conduct in a professional way. They
accordingly at once erased his name from the medical register.

It meant the end of everything for Carmichael and sounded the
death-knell to all his hopes, ambitions and fame. Professionally
speaking, he was to be henceforth a dead man and the fruits of his
mighty talents were to be no longer gathered for the world.

In an hour, so to speak, his professional life was closed. But a worse
tragedy was in store for him. The woman for whom he had sacrificed so
much committed suicide. She dared not live to share the sorrow she had
brought upon her lover.

The shock of it all had almost broken Carmichael but, shaking off the
dust of Sydney from his feet, he had come to Adelaide and for five
years, surrounded by these high, enclosing walls, he had lived alone.

Report had it that, a rich man, he was devoting his life to literature
and chemical research. But no one knew much about his present life, and
there were hardly half a dozen people in the whole city who had even
seen his face.

Such, then, was the life story of the man who was now preparing my meal
for me.

Soon, seeing that I was watching him, his handsome face broke into a
bitter smile.

'You know all about me, as I say, Cups? No, don't pretend you don't.
It's a good thing, and at all events, will save me from referring to the
matter myself.'

In a few minutes we sat down to our dinner. My host produced a bottle of
good white wine and under its genial influence our sorrows receded to
the background for a while.

He chatted humorously of the details of my escape from the court and I
was naturally exceedingly interested in all that had taken place
afterwards in the city during the last few days. It appeared that the
authorities had been thunderstruck at my disappearance, and for a long
while would not believe it was possible I could have left the court
building. Finding the key of the handcuffs still in the warder's pocket,
and no handcuffs in the room, they had jumped to the conclusion at once,
as I had intended they should, that the handcuffs were still on me.
Therefore, for the first hours after my escape, they had concentrated on
searching every crack and cranny of the buildings of the court, holding
it impossible that a handcuffed man could go out for half a dozen yards
in the public street without being noticed and pounced upon. When it had
begun to dawn on them that I must have got rid of the handcuffs somehow,
and they began to look farther afield for my humble self, evidence began
to pour in that I had at least got as far as the street. Pepple, the
vegetarian, had come forward and said he had seen me when he was buying
a paper in the street. Pressed to explain why he hadn't given the alarm,
he'd said he hadn't remembered who I was, until he was having his tea.
The police had been furious with the man, and the following day Pepple
had written indignantly to the Advertiser, giving in detail the abuse he
said he had received.

Then, Drivel Jones had rather incautiously admitted that a man,
uncommonly like me, had passed him in the hall and a considerable amount
of ridicule had in consequence descended upon his head. To get a poor
devil five years and then to unprotestingly allow him to escape before
he had served five minutes, seemed to the public incomprehensible, and
the blustering advocate had come in for a good deal of chaff.

On the whole, Dr. Carmichael said, the people were treating my escape as
a sort of joke and the general hope seemed to be that I should get away.
That was why the police had been sent on so many fool's errands and put
on so many false scents.

My nose, as I had heard from the conversation in the garden, had figured
largely in all my descriptions, and it appeared that considerable
annoyance had been passed on to certain respectable members of the
community because of their nasal appendages. One of the city aldermen
had been twice stopped and asked to give an account of himself in the
street, and an over-zealous policemen had actually arrested the Reverend
Pumpkin Tosh just as he was setting out to preside at a leg-of-mutton
supper in aid of the chapel funds.

The good people of Adelaide were making quite a game of anyone with a
big nose, and with small boys it was now the custom to follow excitedly
after anyone so endowed.

But if the public were laughing, the police were in deadly earnest. I
had made them the laughing-stock of the city, and from the youngest to
the oldest they were working their hardest to get hold of me again.

After our meal, Dr. Carmichael took me round the house. Only four rooms
were furnished at all.

'Nothing like Judge Cartright's,' he remarked smiling, 'and you won't
sleep in a feather bed tonight. But you can sleep soundly all the same,
for the dogs wouldn't allow a rat to cross the garden when they're
about.'

We went into the library and from floor to ceiling, the walls were lined
with books.

'The great souls of the world to commune with,' commented the doctor
solemnly. 'One can never be quite alone, with all the mighty spirits
here.'

He asked me whether I played chess and when I told him my analysis of
the King's Gambit in the judge's house, he seemed very pleased.

'We'll have a game tonight then,' he said enthusiastically, 'but I warn
you beforehand that I'm pretty strong.'

We climbed up into the tower and he whispered to be very quiet.

'Sound carries wonderfully in these gardens,' he muttered, 'the walls
are so high. I nearly always heard you when you opened the kitchen door
and always knew when you turned on your bath at night.'

There was a splendid view from the top of the tower and, when I looked
over, I could quite understand the uneasy feeling I had so often
experienced in the judge's place.

Every yard of the judge's garden was plainly visible, and I almost
seemed to be looking into the windows of the house.

Dusk had just fallen as we went up the tower and, for a long while, we
both stood silent watching the lights of the far-flung city beneath us.

'Look,' he whispered presently. 'See those two policemen up the road
there under the lamp. They've always been in couples at night since you
escaped. The impression seems to be that you're a desperate man.'

Before I could make any reply, we heard the clang of a gate and the
sound of high laughing voices from the direction of the judge's garden.

'Look out,' whispered the doctor, and he pulled me sharply down on to
the floor of the tower. 'Don't show up above the rail whatever you do,
there's the afterlight of the sunset behind us.' Then he began to laugh
very softly. 'Now for some fun. They're the judge's servants who've just
come back. The first act of the play begins.'

Breathlessly, we lay and watched through the rails. There were four of
them - three girls and a man - and they all came very slowly up the
drive towards the house. In the half light of the new moon, we could see
they were all well laden with parcels. They bundled them down
unceremoniously outside the kitchen door, and the three girls with
shrieks of merriment raced for the apricot trees in the back garden. We
heard them pulling down the branches and the sounds of breaking twigs as
they greedily plucked at the fruit.

'Pigs,' called out the man. 'I'll tell the judge tomorrow, and won't old
Cartright give it to you. You'll all get six months.' Then he moved very
leisurely to unlock the door and, a few seconds later, up went the
lights.

For a long while, it seemed nothing happened, only loud giggles from the
vicinity of the apricot trees. Then the man pushed open the door and
called out sharply. 'Hi, come here, you girls. Stop your fooling, I want
you at once. Come along now, quick.'

By way of reply one of the girls threw an apricot and we heard it ping
against the wire of the fly-proof door.

'Damn,' shouted the man. 'Come at once. Someone's been and broken in.'

A minute later, one of the girls gave a shriek and the telephone bell
began to whirr violently inside the house. We heard a lot of shouting in
the receiver and several times we caught the word 'police'.

'Now for it,' whispered the doctor, rubbing his hands. 'In ten minutes,
your friends will be up here.'

But the police were up in five, it seemed to me. First came two, running
breathlessly up the drive, then another one, who was evidently a
superior, and finally, a big motor-car discharged half a dozen more
through the gates.

'It's him right enough,' called out one of the first policemen to the
newcomers as they reached the house. 'He's been here. We've found the
handcuffs. He's not been gone long either, for the soap in the
bathroom's still wet.'

The doctor gripped hard on my arm to attract attention and turning round
I saw his face looked rather anxious.

'Hush,' he whispered with his finger to his lips. 'We must go down at
once. They'll want to search this place. I never thought of that.'

Very softly we crept down the stairs and then Dr. Carmichael pulled me
into the darkness of the hall.

'Look here, Cups,' he said quickly. 'Of course, the police will want to
come over here. They're bound to search my place. It's quiet and lonely
and if you've only just got away from next door it's just where they
would think you'd try and hide. I can refuse them for the moment and
make them get a search warrant, it is true, but that will only mean
greater trouble in the end. They'll be suspicious then and the search
will be hotter than either you or I will like. So I am bound to let them
come if they ask, you understand.'

'Yes,' I replied numbly and with a great sinking in my heart. 'Then do
you want me to cut and run?'

He scowled angrily at me. 'Thank you, Cups,' he said icily, 'but I'm not
that sort. I promised I'd help you, and I was never a liar in all my
life. I'll hide you somewhere, man.' He eyed me hard for a few seconds
and then rapped out harshly, 'You're not a coward, are you? I take you
to be a brave man.'

I could feel my face draw up almost into a sneer. 'Try me,' I replied
curtly. 'Nothing frightens me over much.'

He seemed to hesitate for a moment, and then, opening the door leading
into the garden, he whistled very softly into the night. 'You shall hide
in the kennels then,' he said grimly. 'No one will dream of looking for
you there.'

Hide in the kennels. I gasped in horror to myself. What does he mean? My
blood might well run cold. I thought of those dreadful beasts I had seen
through the gates, with their horrid jowls and fierce bloodshot eyes.
Hide in the kennels - surely not when they were there?

My uneasy contemplations were cut short by swift rustling sounds
outside. The noise of padded footfalls on the gravel and the deep
breathing of big beasts scurrying along.

'Stand close to me,' muttered Dr Carmichael, 'and don't let them for a
moment think you are afraid.'

We had drawn back into a corner of the hall and he had switched on one
of the lights. A moment later and three huge creatures padded in
stealthily and came noiselessly towards their master. I say,
noiselessly, but once they saw me they emitted low deep growls and, with
paws uplifted, halted menacingly in their approach. If they had been
unpleasant to look at when I had gazed on them at a distance the other
day, they looked terrible when seen now close at hand. They were large
as young calves but with beautiful long sinuous bodies that had all the
grace and elegance of deer. They had huge heads and terrible-looking
jaws, and their eyes were wild and fierce like beasts of prey.

'Livonian wolf-hounds,' whispered the doctor, 'the fiercest and most
dangerous dogs in the world, but loyal and obedient to those they love.
Come here, Pilate, here Herod, here Diana.'

Very slowly and very reluctantly, it seemed, the huge beasts approached
their master, with their eyes, however, the whole time fixed on me.

'Now, Cups,' said the doctor quickly, 'stand still and let them get your
smell. They'll never touch you when I'm here and when I'm not here
either, once they understand. They're very intelligent.'

I stood quite still as he directed and gradually they stopped their
growling. Then they let me stroke them and although they certainly
evinced no signs of friendship, they at least stopped glaring at me with
their awful eyes.

Suddenly the telephone bell whirred and with a grim nod to me the doctor
made to pick up the receiver.

'Just in time,' he whispered. 'I was sure it would come.'

I held my breath almost, lest I should make a sound.

'Hello,' called out the doctor. 'Yes, I'm Dr. Carmichael. What do you
want? ... what? ... who? ... No possibility at all. I've three big dogs
always loose in the garden. They wouldn't let a rat cross over ... He
couldn't have possibly, I tell you ... Do you think it really necessary
... Who are you, do you say? Inspector Benton ... Well, I suppose I
must, but I tell you I think it great nonsense ... All right, wait till
I've called in the dogs, and when I've shut them up, I'll come and open
the gate ... But it's most annoying.' He hung up the receiver and turned
back to me.

'They believe you were actually in the house when the servants came in
and they're dead sure you got over here. We must be quick as lightning.
Oh, one moment, wait. Lie down, Diana. Down, Pilate, down.'

He ran out of the room, but was back again in less than half a minute.
He was carrying a small bottle and a dagger-shaped open knife.

'Here, take these,' he said quickly, 'although I'm sure you'll not need
them. They'll give you confidence. The bottle contains strong ammonia.
If the dogs threaten you, just pull out the stopper. Diana's the only
one I'm afraid of. She's the least certain of them all. Look out if she
makes for you, crouching very low. Now, come on quick, and whatever you
do, don't speak. Keep close to me in the dark. Come on, Diana, come on,
Pilate, come on, Herod.'

He switched off the lights and, followed ghost-like by the three huge
hounds, we passed from the utter darkness of the house into the faint
moonlight of the night.

My feelings were not pleasant to consider. It was no good pretending I
wasn't afraid. My teeth were chattering in fear. Half an hour in the
darkness with three ferocious dogs. Anything might happen. Still, I
tried to console myself, all things were preferable to five years in the
Stockade.

We had not far to go. The kennels were only a few yards away and just
round the side of the house. Dr. Carmichael flashed a little electric
torch, and I saw for the first time that he was carrying a short whip.

'Tread very softly,' he whispered, 'and follow me close as I go inside.'

We passed by a small narrow door into a high-railed sort of caged
enclosure, about twelve feet square. It was cement-floored. At the back,
there was another portion roofed over and partly protected from the wind
and rain by a length of abutting wall. There was no door between the two
parts.

'In you go,' whispered the doctor, 'right inside. Lie close up to the
wall, for they may flash their torches round. I'll try and make the dogs
keep close to the rails, here outside, but as you value your life, don't
move and don't make a sound.' He raised his voice sharply to a menacing
tone. 'Lie down, Diana, lie down,' and he cracked angrily with his whip.
'Down, Pilate, damn you,' and there was a startled yelp.

The three huge beasts crouched sullenly by the rails and for quite a
long minute it seemed their master stood threateningly over them with
the whip uplifted. Then he stepped back through the door and, closing it
with a bang, strode quickly down the carriage drive towards the entrance
gates.

A tense deep silence followed and by the faint moonlight I could see the
three dogs crouching motionless, and staring like graven images into the
shadow in which their master had just gone.

Presently, in the distance, there was the rattling of a chain, the clang
of opening gates and the murmur of gruff voices. Then came quick
footsteps over the gravel, and the murmur and voices grew louder. The
dogs pricked up their ears and, all getting simultaneously to their
feet, they emitted low, deep growls.

Dr. Carmichael came up the drive with a tall fine-looking man in an
inspector's uniform. Behind, followed four ordinary policemen. Almost at
once they came within earshot of where I lay.

'I'm, of course, sorry, sir,' I heard the inspector say, 'but everything
points to the man getting over here.'

'Everything but my dogs,' said Dr. Carmichael. 'I tell you they've got a
keener scent than bloodhounds on a short trail, and a cat couldn't have
come here without their knowing it and giving tongue.'

'Well, sir,' replied the inspector, 'we'll soon see. We'll run through
this place in five minutes and be satisfied one way or another.'

Arriving opposite the kennels, the party at once stopped, as I expected
it would. At the sight of so many strangers the dogs bristled with rage,
and their angry growls fell most unpleasantly on my ears. One of the
policemen started to flash his torch on their faces, but the doctor
seized his hand quickly and turned it down.

'Don't do that, please,' he said sternly. 'If you anger the beasts,
there'll be no peace for any of us here tonight. They'll be growling and
disturbing everyone the whole night through.'

'Yes, drop that, Simpson,' the Inspector said sharply. 'He's not likely
to be hiding in there although, on second thoughts, from his impudence,
it'd be the very place he'd go to,' and the inspector, who was himself
nearer than any of them to the rails in his turn flashed a torch right
on to the angry dogs.

The effect was startling. With a fierce snarl Diana sprang forward and
hurled herself savagely against the bars. The whole railing seemed to
quiver under the shock, and the badly frightened Inspector jumped back
so hurriedly that he fell over and dropped his torch.

'By James,' he swore disgustedly, as he picked himself up, 'if the
beggar's in there he deserves to escape. What dreadful brutes to have on
the premises. Aren't you sometimes in danger yourself, Doctor?'

But Carmichael gave him no answer. He was far too busy with Diana. He
had wrenched open the kennel gate and, long before the inspector had
picked himself up, he was in among the dogs and driving them savagely
back into the corner with his whip. He lashed at them without mercy and
in a few seconds they were crouching down cowed, and only the bitch now
making any sound at all. She was still growling faintly. For quite a
long while their master stood over them with the whip, and then slowly,
very slowly, he retreated backwards out of the cage.

'Look here, Inspector,' he said sharply, and noticed his face was very
white. 'Take your men away from these kennels quick. So many strangers
enrage the dogs, and candidly I'm not at all confident about the
railings here. They want re-cementing. Did you see how they moved when
the bitch sprang just now? I quite thought they were coming down.'

'All right, sir,' said the inspector in an uneasy tone. 'Move off, you
fellows. Spread out and go over every yard of the garden, although from
what I've seen just now,' and he looked significantly at the big beasts
in the cage, 'I think, after all, it's a waste of time.'

The four policemen with evident relief disappeared into the garden, and
I saw their torches immediately flashing all over the place.

The inspector and Dr. Carmichael, however, remained close to the kennels
and stood thoughtfully regarding the dogs. The latter were quite silent
again, at last.

'Gave me quite a shock, sir, that,' remarked the inspector mopping his
face. 'I had not idea the brutes could look so awful.'

'They're very dangerous animals,' replied the doctor seriously, 'and I'm
afraid their bout of rage is not over yet.' He raised his voice. 'One
wants a bottle of strong ammonia when they're like this. It would keep
them well at a distance. Just open a bottle and let some of it dribble
on the ground.'

'Oh?' asked the inspector, 'would that keep them away?'

'Just for a while it would; at any rate, until help was forthcoming.'

'Yours is a very lonely life here, Doctor, isn't it?'

'Yes,' Carmichael said drily, 'but I like it so. I have my books and my
studies.'

The inspector shrugged his shoulders. 'Well, give me the city, Doctor,
for preference; the lights, the pictures and the bars. These brutes
would soon get on my nerves, and I'd expect to be torn to pieces one
day.'

They moved off a little way and their voices sank so that I could no
longer catch their words, but Carmichael, I noticed, still kept looking
my way. He never, as far as possible, for one moment took his eyes off
the kennels.

And all this time I was bathed in a sweat of horrible anticipation. I
could not exactly say I was afraid, but I was without hope and numb in
my despair. I was sure that evil was coming to me in one way or another.
Either I would be discovered by the police, or I would be torn to pieces
by the bitch, Diana. But I don't think I worried about it particularly.
I was cool and collected in a way and quite prepared to defend myself to
the end. I held my dagger softly, loosened the stopper in the ammonia
bottle. As far as possible I was prepared.

For the moment, however, it seemed the danger had passed. As Carmichael
and the inspector moved away, a deathly silence fell over the place. The
great dogs crouched in the corner by the rails, and I, only a few feet
away, crouched in the shadows cast by the abutting wall.

About fifty yards down the drive I could see a solitary policemen
keeping watch, and I could just notice that he was smoking. A sudden and
familiar aroma came up to me through the night. He had taken one of the
judge's cigars.

It must have been quite five minutes before anything stirred. Then I saw
the four policemen return and with Dr. Carmichael and the inspector a
consultation was held in front of the house door. The lights had been
switched on in the hall and they were all in full view.

'Well, sir,' I heard the inspector say, 'what about inside the house?'

'Just as you please,' Carmichael said. 'You can go where you like.'

'Well,' said the inspector after a pause, 'I'm quite satisfied, but I'm
thinking of what headquarters will say. We'll just run through the place
and, as you tell me only a few rooms are furnished, it won't take us
long. At any rate, it will satisfy everyone, and you won't be bothered
again.'

They all immediately went inside the house but, as the lights in the
rooms only went up slowly, one by one, I guessed the search, in spite of
the casual tone of Inspector Benton, was the thorough one he doubtless
intended it should be.

At last, however, they all appeared again, and the inspector and
Carmichael chatting pleasantly together, they set off leisurely to leave
the place.

Unfortunately, however, the direction of their steps brought them near
to the kennels again, and one of the wretched policemen, the one behind
all the rest, had to flash his torch, in pure bravado, as he passed.

In a second the fat was in the fire again. Diana was hurling herself in
fury against the bars, and this time Pilate and Herod joined in the
uproar.

Dr. Carmichael turned like a madman and, racing back, lashed furiously
at them with his whip. Herod crouched back obediently at once, but it
was a minute before Pilate and Diana could be driven from the rails and
it was safe for the doctor to get inside the cage.

'Don't move,' he shouted to the policemen. 'If they see you moving it
will only make things worse.'

I guessed what was in his mind: he wanted to be quite sure when all of
them had left the place. He was taking no chances that one of them might
hide somewhere and remain behind to play the spy.

Diana gave a lot of trouble again. Not content with growling this time,
she snarled and showed her teeth and once I was almost sure she was on
the point of throwing herself on her master. She subsided at last,
however, and the three of them crouched sullenly in the corner to where
they had been driven by the whip.

'Only two minutes now, Cups,' whispered the doctor as he pulled the gate
behind him. 'I shall be back before that, I hope, and then it'll be all
over.'

'All right,' I whispered back, 'I'll hold on until then.' A moment after
and I cursed that I had answered at all. It was damnably foolish of me
to have spoken, and I realised it before Carmichael had gone even five
yards.

My voice had attracted the attention of Diana. It was like a change of
scene in a theatre and the sudden shifting of interest from one set of
actors to another. A moment back and the huge bitch had been all eyes
and ears and fangs only for the men outside her cage. Nothing had been
of interest to her except the strange intruders she could see beyond the
bars that held her back. They were the cause of her anger and it was
upon them she desired to vent her wrath. Now all was changed. In a
second they were forgotten and another set of obsessions gripped her
mind. Inside the cage was now the focus of the storm.

She raised herself up stealthily upon her feet and like a statue carved
in stone stood peering in my direction. A low deep growl - another - and
her right paw was uplifted ominously from the ground. Then followed a
long tense silence and softly, very softly, I tipped up my bottle of
ammonia and allowed a thin small stream to trickle to the ground.

Not a sound was breaking on the silence of the night and not a movement
anywhere, not even the rustling of a leaf or the quivering of a tree.
Scarce daring to breath, I watched the bitch.

Suddenly, after a long while it seemed, I heard the clanging of a gate,
but it brought no meaning to my mind. I was numb and hypnotised and had
my being in another world. All my thoughts were centred on Diana.
Nothing else mattered.

The bitch was puzzled. She put down her paw and growled again. Then she
walked round to get nearer to me in another way and finally she stood
still with her great head thrust sharply forward, her tail behind her
stretched out stiffly like a rod of steel. And all the time, neither of
us took our eyes off each other for one second. There was no movement
near me, only the trickle, trickle, of the ammonia on to the floor of
the cage.

Suddenly Diana crouched, and I knew the extreme moment had arrived. I
held my knife up ready and prepared myself for the struggle that I
thought was about to come.

But nothing came in the way I expected. As I drew the one long deep
breath that in tense expectant moments one always takes, there came up
to me a choking blast of the strong ammonia I had been pouring away.

For eyes, nose, and throat it was horrible, and heedless of all
consequences, I gasped out loudly with the pain. I was dimly conscious
of what was evidently the beginning of a roar from Diana, but its tone
was changed abruptly to one in which surprise and, as with me, pain, had
the greater part. The huge beast choked and spluttered and jumped back
precipitately to the corner of the cage furthest from where I lay. Her
two companions started to snarl angrily, but they could evidently now
smell the ammonia too, and they made no attempt at all for a nearer
acquaintanceship with me.

Just as I was beginning to realise that, at any rate, I was now safe for
the moment, I heard the voice of Dr. Carmichael and the cracking of his
whip. 'All right, Cups? Thank goodness the police have gone at last.'

Two minutes later and I was lying faint and sick upon a bed in the
house. The doctor had carried me in.




CHAPTER 3


I felt very ill and it was not until I had had two injections of morphia
that I dropped to sleep. The reaction following upon my release from the
kennels had been too much for me, and my harassed nerves were almost on
the point of breaking down.

The next day the doctor would not allow me to get out of bed and refused
resolutely to discuss any details of what had happened the previous
evening. He kept dosing me with some filthy tasting concoction and once
used the hypodermic syringe again.

'Make your mind a blank, Cups,' he kept on saying, 'and forget
everything of the past week. Your nerves are worn out. That's all it is,
and you'll be right as rain tomorrow when you've had some rest.'

But it was three days before I could trust myself to think of the dogs
without shaking and nearly a week before I felt well and calm again.

The doctor was kindness itself to me the whole time. 'You see you've had
a rotten spell, man,' he remarked to me one day when I was getting
better. 'That business at the Court was quite sufficient of itself to
shake anyone to his foundations, and what happened after nearly put the
finishing touch. I quite thought you were in for brain fever.'

Then he went on very seriously. 'But do you know, friend Cups, we had a
much nearer escape that evening than either of us thought. That nosy
inspector pretended to be only going over the house in a casual sort of
way, just, as he put it, to satisfy them up at headquarters. But, in
reality, he was more than suspicious about me. You know how sound
carries when rooms are empty. Well, I heard him distinctly tell his men,
when I was standing outside, after they had all gone in to make the
search, to make jolly sure and not leave a spot unturned anywhere. He
said I was just the very kind of man to help a beggar like you to get
off. Now what do you think of that?'

I remember I laughed, in spite of the uncomfortable feeling I had.

'Now, doctor,' I replied, 'he wasn't altogether a bad judge of
character, was he?'

'Well,' said the doctor grimly, 'he came a cropper afterwards at any
rate, for he went on to suggest to his men that the mad-dog affair, as
he called it, was only perhaps, after all, a put-up stunt on my part to
blind them. He was a fool there at any rate.'

At last I was allowed to see the newspapers and most interesting reading
they were.

For many, many days my affair was the chief topic of interest and
discussion. To judge from the general tone of the various articles that
appeared, I had become in the public eye almost doubly a hero of
romance.

If they had smiled at the way I had escaped from the court in the first
instance, they had just rocked with laughter when they learnt of my
sojourn in the judge's house.

Not knowing what a great part pure chance had played in the matter, they
imagined that I had come purposely up to Judge Cartright's residence to
make it my temporary home, and the sheer impudence of the idea tickled
them immensely.

The 'Cups of Mirth', as one of the papers referred to me and, broadly
speaking, that was the general impression in the public mind.

When in due course the judge's supposed letter on 'Sunday Observance'
appeared in the public press, and in spite of all attempts at secrecy,
through the indiscretion of one of the judge's own servants, the true
source of the letter leaked out, the hilarity was redoubled.

Writers in the newspapers opined that one day it would come to be
regarded as a classic joke, the music halls took it up and on all sides
people were asking each other, 'What the devil is that Cups going to do
next?'

Dr. Carmichael smiled grimly as he read out these references to me and
several times remarked cynically that he was sure it would be always the
lasting sorrow of my life that I was not out among my friends to enjoy
the applause.

But people's memories are very short, and interest in anything soon dies
down. In a few weeks the inevitable happened, everything about me was
forgotten, and my name was mentioned in the papers no more.


Then started a long period of quiet and happy association with Dr.
Carmichael.

After the events of the first night of my coming over to his house, the
doctor had always insisted that at least it would have to be a matter of
weeks before I could stand any chance of slipping safely away. So I was
to make my home, he said, with him, and together we should get some
mutual pleasure out of each other's society.

I soon fell into the routine of the house and very quickly took on my
part in the everyday life we lived. In the mornings I did the house-work
and worked in the garden, leaving the doctor free for his literary
studies and chemical research. In the afternoons, I did more gardening,
and in the evenings only were we together for any length of time.

So high were the walls and so well wooded was the garden, that
practically nowhere were we overlooked. But to make things doubly sure,
in case of any chance observer, I wore a suit of the doctor's and one of
his old hats. We were not unlike in size and build and with my hat low
down over my eyes, I could be mistaken any time for the doctor himself.

The dogs had soon got accustomed to me. For the first few days they had
been kept shut up, but as it was I who now always took them their food,
we had soon become good friends. Funnily enough, Diana took a particular
fancy to me and when I was in the garden, she was nearly always by my
side. I rather think she remembered the thrashing the doctor had given
her.

Everything in the house was always carried out with regularity and
precision. At ten every morning the one and only tradesman called. He
brought everything wanted for the house and rang a bell down by the
drive-gates to announce his arrival. There was a small wooden window in
the wall, of which he had the key. It was his custom to unlock it and
put, on the shelf inside, all that had been ordered the previous day.
There he found, always ready, the order for the next day. The doctor
very rarely saw him and sometimes, he told me, months passed without
their exchanging a word.

Every morning and evening the newspapers were thrown over the wall.

The postman was the only other person to have dealings with the house,
but even then, he rarely had a letter to deliver.

Occasionally, contrary to the general belief, the doctor went out, but
it was nearly always a Friday evening that he chose for these
excursions, when the shops were open until late. A short walk and a
ten-minute tram ride would then bring him into the city, where no one
knew who he was.

He banked at the Bank of All Australia and most of his business was done
through the post. When he wanted money, he would draw an open cheque to
'bearer', and present it himself, but here again, the cashiers were
never aware that it was Dr. Carmichael himself who was confronting them.

All these things I learnt very quickly, and I marvelled how the doctor
could have borne his silent lonely life for so long.

'I was just getting tired of it, Cups,' he said to me one day, 'and if
you hadn't come, I might any time have gone outside for a few days to a
hotel, just to see what it would be like again. I expect, however, I
would have come back soon.'

As I have said, it was the evenings only that we spent together, and our
games of chess were what we enjoyed most. Dr. Carmichael had told me he
was a strong player and he found that I was one too. There was not the
tenth part of a pawn to choose between us, and many were the Homeric
struggles that we had over the board. Sometimes I won, sometimes he did,
but there was never any certainty about the matter, and in that lay the
great charm.

The doctor was also a man of very wide and varied knowledge, and many
were the discussions and arguments we had together. I was not by any
means an ill-educated man myself and had thought over many of the
problems of life with the same interest that he had.

'I can't understand you, Cups,' he said meditatively one evening.
'You've read a lot and you've thought a lot and yet at thirty-two you
were just content to be a poor ambitionless bank clerk, with nothing to
look forward to at all.'

'Oh, I don't know,' I replied evasively. 'I used to have my dreams like
everyone else, I suppose. I was always hoping for some great explosion
to come into my life, but I was too lazy to lay the train myself. I
thought one day I'd write a book and put all the people in that I hated,
under thinly veiled names.'

'Well, but why did you hate people, Cups?' asked the doctor curiously.

I shrugged my shoulders. 'Chiefly, I suppose, because they had more
money than I had,' I said candidly. I went on bitterly. 'But, no, I
didn't really hate them for that. I hated them for the arrogance their
money gave them. Anyone with money is a god, anywhere. Here, you may be
the biggest, vilest, ugliest, most diseased blackguard in the state, but
if there's cash behind you, you're respected. Respected, mind you.
People will bow and scrape and try to catch your eye. They'll have a
toadying smile always ready in case you should look their way. They'll
be so pleased if you take any notice of them and if you're rich enough
you can spit on them and they won't mind. I tell you, I've seen it every
day in our bank. Look at the racing world. It's the same there. If
you're rich, you're respected and you can do any damned thing you like.
You can run your horses to suit yourself. They can be 'on the ice' one
day and the next day you can win as brazenly as you like. You can have
the brute's head pulled off early one week with the jockey lugging him
back, and the next week he can go out and win by half a street. But no
one will say anything to you if you're rich and respected. The
committees of the racing clubs will invite you to lunch (probably you'll
be on the committees yourself), you can nod rudely to the paid officials
and they'll be only too pleased that you're taking any notice of them at
all. In fact, you can do anything and you'll still be respected. They
only drop on the little people and the poor.'

'Well, Cups,' laughed the doctor when I had finished my outburst, 'don't
you think you rather give yourself away? It's envy that's galling you
now, because they're rich and you're poor. You make yourself out rather
a fool too.'

'What do you mean?' I asked irritably.

'Why,' he said grimly, 'from what I've seen of life, it's only the fools
that are poor.'

I looked at him without replying.

'Yes,' he went on frowning, 'if a man's got any grit in him, he never
remains poor. He gets money somehow.'

'Then what do you advise?' I asked sarcastically. 'Should I take up a
life of crime?'

'Not with that nose, Cups. Your remarkable nasal appendage must bind you
to a life of respectability. There can be no dual personalities with
you. But seriously what can you do for a living in another state, if you
get away?'

'I'd go on the land,' I said sullenly, 'or get a job with horses. I
understand something about them.'

'What does a bank clerk know about horses?'

'My father was a breeder and till he died I worked with him. All my
life, until I was twenty, I spent out in the bush and then, like an ass,
I came into the city to live.'

'Very foolish, Cups. If I had my time over again, I'd live my life in
lonely places. There's peace and happiness there and not the fevered
rush for pleasure that kills you in the end.' He was silent for quite a
long while.

'Well, well,' he said at last. 'We must think later on what we'll do
with you, but just now, we'll have a game of chess.'


I had been with Dr. Carmichael about six weeks, when, one day, in the
middle of the morning, he called to me to come into the house.

Rather to my surprise, he took me into the library and, moving a chair
forward, bade me sit down in front of the window.

'Look here, Cups,' he said, I thought rather hesitatingly, 'I've been
thinking a lot about you lately, and how I can manage to get you away.
You see, you can't remain here for ever, man. I like your company very
much but, to be quite frank with you, your coming here has upset my
ideas. You've brought back to me the longing to go into the world again.
I rather think now I've been a fool to shut myself up here at all. I've
been like a sulking child. I'm only middle-aged, I've plenty of money
saved and I'm beginning to realise that one day, I shall be a long while
dead.' He laughed happily. 'So, you see, Cups, I'm like a boy who wants
a spree and I've got a proposition to make to you to show you where you
come in. Now let's have a look at you very carefully.'

I wondered what on earth he was driving at, but my easily apparent
perplexity seemed only to amuse him. He pulled another chair close up
and sat down right in front of me.

'You see, Cups,' he said in a cold professional manner, 'whenever I
think of you - getting you away - I am always faced with the same one
difficulty - your nose. No, you needn't laugh, man.' He shook his head
warningly. 'You won't do so in a minute.'

'I only laughed, Doctor,' I said apologetically, 'because you look so
serious.'

'And I am serious, Cups.' He looked at me gravely. 'What's your life
going to be, if wherever you are you're always to be haunted by the idea
that someone may recognise you suddenly and give you away to the police.
The world's a very small place, you know and, even if I get you away
safely from here, there can be no security or lasting peace for you like
this.'

I shrugged my shoulders. 'Well, it can't be helped. I must put up with
it.'

'I'm not so sure,' he replied quickly, 'and that's what I've called you
in for. Now let's make a good examination of your precious nose and I'll
tell you what I can do.'

For quite five minutes he pinched and pulled me about. His next words
startled me.

'Yes, Cups,' he said decisively, 'if you're willing to risk it, I can
cut all that bridge away and give you a nose no different from anyone
else's.'

'Risk it?' I said enthusiastically, when I had got over my surprise,
'I'd be delighted if you'd do it. At any rate, you can't make it look
more conspicuous than it does now.'

'That's not the risk I mean,' he said gravely. 'The operation's safe
enough, but it's the danger of my having to operate and give you the
anaesthetic as well. You see, it's a very delicate operation at any
time, cutting away bone and cartilage so as to leave only the slightest
trace of scar. I shall have to take away a good flap of flesh too, and
the whole time I shall have to have you deeply under the chloroform so
that you don't make a movement any way. It won't be a short operation
either, and single-handed it will take me a very long time.'

'Well, I'm willing anyhow,' I said, still delighted with the idea, 'and
if I do peg out, well, I shan't know anything about it, anyhow.'

'That'd be all very nice for you, no doubt,' the doctor said grimly,
'but what about me, saddled with a nice fresh corpse in the house in
this hot weather?'

'I never thought of that,' I replied laughing, 'but at any rate we could
have a good deep grave ready so as to be prepared for anything. I'll dig
it myself under the big fig tree. It'd never be discovered there.'

'Well,' said Dr Carmichael, 'I'll think it over, but now you can go back
to your work.'

For three days the doctor made no further reference to the matter at all
and, although I was bursting with expectation, a certain delicacy of
feeling forbade me to mention it.

As I thought over it seriously, I realised it was by no means a small
matter for him to take on gratuitously to take on so great a risk. Of
course, it would be a splendid thing for me, and the very idea of it
opened up wonderful vistas of a new life, free from all worry and
distrust. I should be able to move freely everywhere again, I thought,
and face my enemies with all the security of a man in a mask.

On the fourth day, a Thursday, I remember it was, Dr. Carmichael
announced at breakfast that he was going out for the day, but he
vouchsafed no reason for his excursion and in accordance with my usual
custom I made no enquiry about the why or wherefore of anything.

The whole day I worked diligently in the garden, but, many times, my
eyes turned to the big fig tree and I wondered interestedly if I was
destined to lie under there. I felt exactly like a gambler who wanted to
stake everything on a single throw.

About five o'clock, the doctor returned, and I could see at once by his
face that he had some unusual news to impart.

'Here you are, Mr. Archibald Cups,' he said grimly, 'I've got a little
present for you.' He took a small packet out of his pocket and handed it
to me. 'Have a good look at it, man, but don't drop it whatever you do.
There are six ounces of chloroform there, and it's your passport to the
open road. You can start digging your grave tomorrow.'

I know I beamed with delight, and I started thanking him in a rather
confused way.

'Tut, Tut, man,' he exclaimed, brushing me away. 'Wait till it's over
until you thank me. I'm looking forward to it, quite as much as you.
It's an adventure, Cups, and we're getting even with the humbugs who
would hound us both down.'

That evening at supper he seemed brighter and happier than I had ever
known.

'Yes,' he said gaily. 'I've quite made up my mind now to give up this
place here. When your little affair's over, we'll both go out again into
the world and have a good time. We'll travel together, but at first
we'll play round Adelaide and see some of your old pals. It will be a
tremendous pleasure to me to take you about where you're likely to meet
those you know and see how they'll all fail to recognise you. I shall
make an excellent job of your nose, and really I think the first person
we ought to go and see must be the judge.'

I smiled rather uneasily and shook my head.

'Nonsense, man,' he went on, 'we can easily think of some excuse. You
can make out you travel in cigars or else have a new line of sky-blue
silk pyjamas to propose.'

He laughed in great enjoyment, but I must confess I felt no little
shaking in my shoes. I had certainly no hankering to run unnecessary
risks, and the judge was the last person I wanted to see. I was
remembering unpleasantly that Judge Cartright was supposed to have a
most remarkable memory for faces and it was his boast that he never once
forgot a man he had sentenced to punishment, no matter how long the
interval of years might be. But there was no chilling the gaiety of Dr.
Carmichael and for the moment I let it go.

'Oh, by the by,' he said presently. 'I met your friend Drivel Jones at
lunch today, or rather I sat near him in the Australasian Hotel. I
learnt it was he from a friend accosting him by name. He talked a lot
about racing and certainly does think he's a big pot. He's brought a
chaser called Babylon over from New Zealand, and when the winter comes,
over the fences, he says he's going to scoop the pool. He's a big coarse
bully, just as you described, and we must try to take him down somehow.
I went round afterwards to have a look at the vegetarian chap. I may, of
course, have been mistaken, but I quite thought he gave everyone a very
searching look as they came into his shop. He's got a most beefy-looking
assistant there too, who was never, I'll swear, brought up on nuts. An
observant chap, that vegetarian, and when he sees you, it'll be a fine
test whether I have been successful or not in altering your appearance.'

I said nothing, but I squirmed at the very idea of this last suggestion
and privately made up my mind that whenever I went out, I'd give
Pepple's shop a very wide berth.

It was that arranged the operation should take place on Sunday, and the
next day, in preparation, I started digging the grave. I have never
quite made up my mind whether the doctor was really serious about that
grave or whether he only regarded it as a joke. I really think now that
he intentionally made me get it ready to bring home to me the
seriousness of the whole affair.

I had ample time for meditation while I was digging it. The ground was
terribly hard. We had had no rain for over two months, and every square
inch of earth had to be broken with a pick. Two hard days' work it gave
me and when, on the Friday evening, it was finished to the doctor's
satisfaction, my hands were horribly sore and blistered.

'Quite a nice little resting place, Cups,' said Dr. Carmichael looking
down, 'and what better could anyone want?' He stood musingly by the
graveside. 'Yes, after all it's peace and rest. If we only think and
reason, everything tells us that death is rest. Do we die, like Diana,
like a dog? Why not? Man is such a vain creature, Cups. He thinks he's
really so important that death can't possibly be the end of all for him.
All his life he's an animal here. He eats, drinks, sleeps and makes
love, just as all animals do, and yet, when death comes and he's had his
fill, he's quite certain he's going to start off on some new forms of
excitement, all over again, somewhere else. His obsession is that he's
not an animal, and yet every moment of his life should tell him that
nature regards him simply as an animal. Same laws, Cups, for men and
dogs. Nature makes no distinction here - then why after death!'

'Really, Doctor,' I replied laughing, 'just now, a long glass of cool
beer would be far more to my liking than any discussion about death. If
I snuff it on Sunday, I shall know all about it then, and I'm quite
content to wait now.'

'You're a gross materialist, Cups,' the doctor said, turning to go in,
'and such men as you are the despair of pious individuals like myself.'


On the Sunday morning early, I lay down on a narrow table in one of the
empty rooms. Dr. Carmichael had made me thoroughly spring-clean it the
previous day, and the strong odour of disinfectants hung heavy all over
the place.

'Delightful, Cups,' said the doctor, imbibing deep sniffs, 'Reminds me
of old times. But it's a pity there's not a bigger audience here, for I
feel in good form today. I'm going to do you justice, man. Now settle
yourself comfortably, breathe naturally and let yourself go. Think of
the new life before you, in this world - or the next. Fold your hands
and close your eyes. Yes, that's it, you're doing it very nicely.'

Softly, it seemed, the sickly vapour crept into my lungs, slowly the
silence gripped me and then dim, dimmer waned the lights before my eyes.
Swiftly the shadows met me - the long dark valley opened - and oblivion
came.

It might have been many hours before I awoke, but the doctor told me
later it was barely two. I felt terribly knocked about and bruised and
with difficulty could breathe through the bandages about my face. I
could see nothing and the slightest twitch hurt horribly. My head felt
full of lead.

I groaned and immediately the doctor glided up.

'All right, old man,' he said very quietly, 'everything's over and it's
all gone off A1. I think I've made a thoroughly good job of it, but you
mustn't move or open your eyes. I've done more than I intended and put
in half a dozen little fancy stitches that will quite alter your face.
The skin will feel very tight and drawn at first, but I'll give you a
touch of morphia if the pain's too bad.'

Oh, how I cursed everybody in the next few days. Dr. Carmichael, Judge
Cartright, Drivel Jones, Pepple the vegetarian, everyone I had known
came under my ban. Myself, perhaps, I anathematised more than anyone
else. Why had I been such a fool to allow myself to be cut about like
this? Why had I been such an ass to let this mad enthusiast mess about
with me? Anything, the Stockade even, would have been preferable to
misery like this. I was in the depths of depression. But things were not
bad for very long, and in a very few days my spirits and hopes began to
revive. At the end of a week I felt almost well, and, when at last the
plaster and bandages were removed, I realised most gratefully that the
change in my appearance was fully worth the suffering I had undergone.

I remember so well my astonishment when I looked in the mirror. It
seemed quite a different person that looked at me back. The great nose
was entirely gone and instead there was one, small, that promised to be
almost graceful in outline. The shape of my eyes was altered and my
eyebrows were straighter and had lost the outward curve.

'You see, Cups,' said the doctor proudly, 'I've made quite a nice job of
you as I promised. It's a little bit early to tell what the final result
will be, but everything looks very promising. You will be different not
only in profile, but also full-face. Taking part of the muscle, as I
have done, at the corner of both eyes will make you look quite different
when anybody stares you straight in the face. Mind you, when you meet
people you've known before, you may often find them staring curiously at
you, but it will be only the subconscious part of them that will be
finding a vague likeness in you, and I am sure that feeling will pass
immediately away.'

I thanked him most gratefully, but he only laughed and said I really
deserved something for the risks I'd run. Then he went on in a graver
tone.

'There are two things you must always be careful of, Cups. You needn't
worry about the scars, for they will hardly show at all, unless you get
very hot, and then they will only appear as little white lines. It is
not they that will ever give you away. It's your walk and your voice.
You must set at once about decisively altering both. The walk will be
easily done. You must cut the heels of your shoes right off or else
reduce them to a minimum. That will throw the style of your walking back
and alter your gait. The voice, however, will be a different matter, and
you'll have to train yourself a lot there. I should have liked to have
had a snip at your vocal chords when you were under the chloroform, but
that's more than I could manage here. What you must do is to habitually
alter the poise of your head. Keep you chin low down and nearer to your
chest - that will change the pitch of your voice and give it a deeper
tone. Now start on it right away.'

Dr. Carmichael was nothing if not thorough, and from that time forward
he continually drilled into me the urgency of disguising my voice. He
would no longer allow me to speak in the ordinary way and every evening
made me read out loud in the new voice I had assumed.

Just a fortnight and a day after the operation, on a Monday morning it
was, he announced his intention of going, the following Saturday, to the
Port Adelaide races at Cheltenham.

'Drivel Jones,' he said looking up from his paper, 'is running his great
chaser Babylon in the hurdles there, and I'm interested to see what the
animal is like. He spoke so cocksure about him the other day when he sat
near me at lunch, and the sporting correspondent of the paper here seems
inclined to share his confidence. This man says that just now probably
only one horse in the Commonwealth could lower his colours at level
weights, and that's Death Arrow from Perth.'

'Death Arrow's a five-year-old mare,' I commented, 'by Long Bow out of
Poisoned Berry. She's only a hurdler, not a chaser.'

'Well, a good hurdler makes a good chaser, doesn't he?' asked the
doctor.

'Not always,' I said, 'and conversely many a good steeplechase horse is
often no good over the sticks.'

'Well,' he said, smiling, 'I'll go and see for myself next Saturday if
this great Babylon bears out what you say. At any rate he's the champion
chaser of New Zealand. But come out into the garden now. I've got a
little job for you.'

He led the way to the big fig tree where I had dug the grave.

'Now, my boy,' he said laughing, 'If you don't mind, I'll just get you
to fill this in at once. I'm perhaps one of the last men in the world to
be superstitious, but twice lately I've dreamt of this darned grave, and
this morning I woke up just as you were about to tumble in the earth
over me. You were crying, too, and the tears looked so funny running
down your new face.'

'Rightoh, Doctor,' I said cheerfully, 'but I guess I would shed a tear
or two if I was burying you. I'm quite a grateful sort. Oddly enough I
was going to suggest myself filling in this hole today, before the rains
came. As an old bushman, I'm sure there's a change about and the
weather's going to break. I smell it in the air.'

'I don't think so myself,' said the doctor, shaking his head, 'but as
you mention it I'll go up and see what the glass says,' and he turned
off to go up into the tower where the barometer was hanging.

I got the spade out of the tool-shed and tucking my trousers into the
tops of my socks was prepared for an unpleasant morning of dusty work.

Suddenly, and just as I was preparing to shovel in the first spadeful of
earth, I heard a faint cry from the direction of the tower followed by
several loud crashes and the sound of one final heavy fall.

I stood stock-still with the spade uplifted in my hand and my heart
seemed to stop beating in my chest. There was something so ominous about
the silence that ensued.

For a moment I waited and then a dreadful apprehension of terror seized
me. Throwing down the spade, I ran swiftly into the house. In the hall,
at the foot of the stairs leading up into the tower, I found Dr.
Carmichael lying huddled on the floor. His neck was twisted at a
horrible angle, his face was ghastly pale, and his eyes were staring
with a dreadful, frightened look. He was conscious, but he couldn't
breathe properly. He turned his eyes towards me as soon as I came up. I
threw myself down on my knees beside him.

'Don't touch me,' he gasped faintly, 'leave me alone.'

'Oh, I'll go and get a doctor at once,' I wailed.

'No good,' he panted. 'Cervical vertebrae - neck broken. I'm finished,'
and he closed his eyes.

'Oh, doctor,' I exclaimed, 'I must get you help.'

He opened his eyes again and smiled very faintly at me.

'Good chap, Cups,' he whispered. 'I give everything to you ... don't be
afraid ... have courage, man.'

His voice trailed away to silence, and in a sweat of terror I thought
the end had come. Suddenly, however, some new strength seemed to touch
him and, staring hard, his eyes caught mine in warning.

'Look out, man' he whispered. 'Look out ... tell Angas Forbes.'

A dreadful spasm crossed his face. He tried to breathe. His head fell
sideways, and his eyes closed very slowly. Then he was quite still.

Dr. Robert Carmichael was dead.




CHAPTER 4.


The hours following upon the death of Dr. Carmichael were the most
dreadful ones I can ever remember. I was literally bowed with woe.

I sat on the stairs there, stunned and paralysed with grief. Only a few
feet away the body lay stretched out quiet and still and so close to me
I could have touched the dead white face by the simple stretching of my
hand.

I thought of the awful tragedy of it all. The great strong man struck
down without warning in the prime and pride of life; the giant dwarfed
to nothing in a few seconds by the harsh touch of death. The fine keen
intellect bereft of power; the mind, a ghost to wander in the shades;
and all the knowledge he had garnered, dry and withered and of no
further service to his kind.

Then I thought of my own position and my tears dried instantly in the
very fever of my fears. I had lost my protector. I had lost the only man
who could save me, and I was alone again against the world. I sat with
my head in my hands and stared vacantly and with despairing eyes across
the hall.

The house was dark and still. The blinds were all down on account of the
heat, and only the slits here and there told of the burning sun outside.

I roused myself with an effort. I must do something. I must get away. No
one in an Australian summer could remain in a house with a dead man
longer than a day. But I must get some money.

I tiptoed into the study and tried the dead man's desk. It was unlocked.
Lifting it up, I went swiftly through the drawers, but there was no
money there, only receipted bills and stacks of memoranda about chemical
affairs. There was a big safe let into the wall, and I looked around for
the key.

Then it struck me horribly that I should have to search to body for it.
I believed the doctor carried the safe-key in his belt.

For quite a long while I hesitated, and then at last overcoming my
repugnance I returned into the hall.

I knelt by the dead man. How white and waxen the face was, and yet it
seemed now he was sleeping, and I fancied almost that I could trace a
smile.

I unloosened his belt and pulled it away and, from his breast pocket, I
took out his case. I tiptoed back into the study. I could feel a bunch
of keys in the belt, but the pocket-case I examined first.

The first thing I came across was a cheque he had made out only that
same morning. It was an open bearer cheque for fifty pounds.
Breathlessly I held it in my hand. My heart began to beat wildly and I
started to think hard. I could cash it over the counter myself. After
all, it was mine! Often Dr. Carmichael had told me he had no relations,
and his last words to me had been, 'I give everything to you.' What a
godsend it would be. I could get anywhere with fifty pounds. But dare I?
Dare I go out and cash it myself! I stepped hurriedly to the mirror over
the mantelpiece.

No, it was madness; my face was not yet properly healed. Anywhere I
should attract attention with my face like that.

Suddenly a wild idea seized me. Dr. Carmichael had said the next
fortnight would make all the difference to my wounds, and by then it
would be quite safe for me to go out. Why should I not wait? What was
there to prevent me? Then my knees began to rock and tremble under me.
My mind was in a whirl and my thoughts came up like sparks of fire.
There was only the dead body between me and safety, I told myself, only
that cold white figure in the hall. I could hide it - ah! I could bury
it. There was the grave out yonder ready there. It was fate - it was
ordained.

I sat down on the couch to get my breath and feverishly asked myself
what the dead man would have me do.

'Courage!' he had whispered to me in his dying breath; and courage
undeniably had only one course to urge.

I would be an arrant coward to bolt - it would be relinquishing all in a
panic of fear. Everything in the place was morally mine. He had made me
his heir. I must wait, then, and collect my heritage. A little courage
and a little patience and I should return into the world as he had
wished me to return. I musn't be an ingrate and a fool. I must be worthy
of the friendship he had extended to me and the risks he had undoubtedly
run on my behalf.

In a few minutes I had become quite cool, and once my mind was made up I
quickly and methodically set about the carrying out of my plans.

First, I went out and shut up the dogs. It gave me quite an eerie
feeling to find them, all three, sniffing curiously just outside the
hall door. I had never known them there before, and I wondered uneasily
what mysterious forces of intuition I should be up against next.

The dogs locked away, I went back into the house and, taking a sheet
from the dead man's room, I rolled it round the body and tied it up at
both ends.

I made my mind a complete blank as I was doing this, and also when I was
lowering the body into the grave. With the first shovelling in of the
earth, however, my numbed brain took on some feeling again, and suddenly
I remembered the dead man's dream. A dreadful fit of sobbing seized me
and, even as he had seen, the tears streamed down my face as I stood by
the grave-side.

What a friend I had lost, and what a good man he had been. Not good,
perhaps, as the world held it, but good in his kindness and in the
disdainful courage with which, in the hour of need, he had helped a
fugitive-stricken wretch like myself.

What a broken life his was! Once, courted and flattered; once, popular
and with a host of friends. Now lowered furtively and with hurry into a
nameless grave, almost within an hour of his last breath, no pomp of
ritual, no pride of ceremony, and no mourners, save one man, and he a
convict under sentence of five years. My sobs were all his requiem as I
filled in the grave.


I was nervous and frightened that night and, with the doors all closed,
sat huddled in a corner of the room. The house was full of shadows, and
many times I heard the noise of ghostly footfalls in the hall. I had
pulled in a mattress to sleep where I had had my meals and had brought
Diana in to be with me for company. The great bitch was uneasy too, and
with mournful eyes stared restlessly round the room. Every now and then
she kept standing up to listen, and to my terror it was always at the
door leading into the hall that she went. She cocked her ears in
warning, and several times she growled as if something told her someone
were hiding there. Towards midnight, however, she came and lay down at
my side, and together, at last, we dropped into fitful slumber until
dawn.

With the sunrise I felt much better, and with my courage back I set
about getting the situation well in hand. There were lots of things for
me to do.

First I had to make out the daily list for the man who would call at the
window by the gates. There were several old lists of the doctor's lying
about, and I had no difficulty at all, first go off, in making a very
fair imitation of his handwriting. Indeed, so easily was it to imitate
that the possibilities I saw before me raised my heat beats again to
dreadful excitement.

I knew all about signatures, and for ten years it had been my life work
to examine and verify the signatures on the cheques at the bank. I knew
exactly what points were always looked for, and how one judged - almost
automatically as it were - as to whether signatures were genuine or not.

I say my heart began to beat in excitement; but it was not the thought
of successfully forging any paltry grocery lists that stirred me. I was
thinking of the doctor's banking account and of the large number of
securities he had told me he held. What if I could come to handle those?

The very idea for the moment took my breath away, and then the sweat
stood on my forehead in big black beads. Hurriedly I possessed myself of
the key from the dead man's belt and, opening the big safe in the wall,
breathlessly went through the contents.

The doctor's pass book was the first thing I came upon, and I saw there
was eight hundred and fourteen pounds lying to his credit. Nearly all his
withdrawals, I noticed, had been made as he had told me, by open bearer
cheques. There was a deposit account book, and he had six thousand
pounds lying at short notice at four per cent. Then there was a huge
stack of government bonds, bonds to bearer for the most part I saw, with
my eyes almost starting from my head. I started to total them up until a
small memorandum book on a shelf attracted my attention. It was labelled
'Investments', and in a few seconds it told me all I wanted to know.

In securities and investments the estate of the dead man was worth
nearly sixty thousand pounds and a good proportion of it was in a liquid
and easily negotiable form.

I lay back in the armchair and for a long while gave myself up to my
reflections.

What was I going to do - what had I the courage and the nerve to do? It
was the parting of the ways.

I became cold and collected and reviewed everything from every angle I
could conceive.

To begin with all that the dead man had left was mine, morally. He had
given it me as he died, and in justice it was all mine. But in law? In
law - I sneered bitterly to myself - not one penny piece was mine. He
had died apparently intestate. I laughed mockingly. What did I care
about law? I asked myself. I snapped my fingers contemptuously and let
my thoughts run on.

Well, if it were all mine, how could I lay hands on it? The bonds to
bearer would be easy enough; but for the other monies, Dr. Carmichael's
signature would be continually required. Could I manage it? Could I have
the nerve to remain here in this house, week after week, month after
month, take on the role of the dead man, forge his signature repeatedly,
and gradually, bit by bit, realise the securities and draw in the
deposits, until eventually all and everything were secure in my hands.
Could I do it? Why not?

I knew all about the dead man's mode of life. I knew his habits, his
inclinations, and his tastes. I knew exactly what he was accustomed to
do, to whom he was accustomed to speak, and the few people - the very
few people - he was known to by sight. The manager of the bank knew him;
but he had not seen him for two years. The postman knew him; but he was
old and stupid. The daily tradesman knew him; but for a year he had only
seen him very occasionally, and then through the little window by the
gate.

For a full hour by the clock I lay back and considered everything
carefully, and the more I considered it the easier I thought the whole
business would be.

I only had to sit tight, I told myself, be careful, and no one would
find me out.

But the signature! I was forgetting that, and yet that was decidedly the
most important point of all. Could I forge it successfully? Dr.
Carmichael had always used his typewriter for correspondence, and so,
fortunately, only a signature would ever be required.

I took out the already filled-in cheque from the pocket-book and very
carefully, as a bank official, analysed the signing of the name.

Yes, it would be easy, I told myself. With a little practice I should
have no difficulty at all.


Dr. Carmichael had not been dead many days before I realised to the full
what strength of character must have been his.

To have lived for five long years alone in that house, nursing the
sorrow of his broken life, with not a soul to speak to and thrown back
on his own resources, I knew must have been a searching trial for any
cowardly weakness that was in him.

The loneliness must have been terrible. I found it so before even a week
had passed.

To wander about the gloomy house, to lie watching the distant city from
the tower, to sit in silence in the garden all, in turn, brought home to
me the utter dreariness of such a life.

And yet I, unlike Dr. Carmichael, had so many things to look forward to.

I had mapped out my future actions in a calm deliberate way, and
resolutely had put out of my mind all fear of any untoward happenings.

Three weeks exactly after the doctor's death, and five weeks after the
operation, I was to make my first excursion into the city to cash the
fifty pound cheques he had drawn. I was dreading it, and yet, at the
same time, I was looking forward to it. I had never been a coward or one
to be afraid of taking risks, and yet I knew it would entail every scrap
of my resolution to walk calmly along the city and pass unruffled
through the doors of the All Australian Bank. But I meant to go through
with it boldly, and in the few moments of misgiving that I had I was not
a little cheered and buoyed up by thinking how amused and pleased Dr.
Carmichael would have been with the course of action I was pursuing. The
whole idea of the impersonation would have appealed to his cynical sense
of humour, and I could picture the grim smile he would have worn had he
been there to see me marching into the bank.

The fateful morning arrived at last and, just before ten, with a quickly
beating heart, I let myself out of the gate. I was wearing an almost new
lounge suit of the doctor's and it fitted me very well. If anything, I
was a trifle broader in the chest than he had been, and perhaps half an
inch longer in the legs. I had got on a light Trilby hat, and was
comforted not a little by a pair of the slightly smoked glasses that the
doctor had generally made use of when reading in the garden.

Making sure to secure the gates behind me, I walked briskly down the
road towards the trams. I met several people but was relieved - they
either didn't notice me at all, or else they gave me only a very passing
and uninterested glance.

In less than a quarter of an hour I was in the heart of the city and
walking nonchalantly through the crowded streets. With every minute my
confidence was increasing and, long before I had reached the bank, I was
delighted. I had passed several people I knew without turning a hair.

Pausing before a long mirror in an outfitter's shop window, it struck me
how well dressed I looked. The doctor's suit was certainly beautifully
cut and, as I say, it fitted me very nicely. My hat, however, didn't
quite please me. It looked rather too big, so I went in at once and
bought another, paying for it - remembered with a smile - with two of
the notes originally intended for the new wing of St. Snook's Church.

Funnily enough, my conscience pricked me here, and I determined in due
course to forward a donation so that St. Snook's should not in any case
be a sufferer.

At last I passed into the bank and with, I flattered myself, a very calm
face tendered my bearer cheque for endorsement to the ledger clerk in
the window under the letters A to D. At the same time I handed in Dr.
Carmichael's pass book to be made up to date; I wanted to know exactly
how the account stood.

The clerk took the cheque casually and then, glancing at the name on the
pass book, at once gave me a beaming smile.

'Should we send it on to you, sir?' he asked pleasantly, 'or will you
take it next time you come in?'

I felt a sudden pang of uneasiness. Of course, I ought to have posted
the pass book. Handing it in, without cover as I had done, the clerk had
jumped at once to the conclusion that I was Dr. Carmichael himself. I
had to let it go at that.

'Oh, post it on, please,' I said casually, 'but let me have it in a few
days, please.'

'All right, sir,' he replied. 'You shall have it tomorrow,' and he
proceeded to initial the cheque.

Crossing to one of the cashiers I handed over the cheque, and at my
request he returned me ten five pound notes.

I was just putting them in my pocket-book, preparatory to leaving the
bank, when a rather elderly looking man came up and, not a little to my
trepidation, addressed me.

'Dr. Carmichael?' he asked deferentially with a grave bow.

I bowed haughtily in return. There was a nasty catch in my breath for
the moment, I couldn't have answered him if I had tried.

'I'm the assistant manager,' he said. 'I'm sorry, Mr. Bultitude is very
ill and will be away for some weeks. He mentioned to me about your
deposit account; and I understand you telephoned you would be
withdrawing half of it - three thousand pounds - at the end of the
month. The ledger clerk told me you were here, and I just wanted to
verify the matter. It's your wish it should be transferred to the
current account?'

My mind jumped with a great bound of relief. What a stroke of good
fortune that old Bultitude was away ill! Not that he would probably have
remembered Dr. Carmichael very well after two years; but still, it took
away the uncertainty of everything, and for the present, at any rate, I
felt I was safe.

I pretended to hesitate before replying. 'Oh, well,' I said after a
moment. 'Yes, let the arrangement hold good. Transfer it to my current
account, please. I shall be using it, I expect, within the next few
weeks.'

I left the bank with my head very high in the air. Really, how easy
everything was going to be. Chance was certainly coming my way now. All
in a moment, and quite by accident, I was established as the dead man at
the bank now, and with prudence and without too much haste I should
surely be able to carry my plans through.

I was so pleased with myself that I thought I would have lunch at the
Grand Australasian Hotel. I regretted my decision, however, ten minutes
afterwards for, to my horror, Judge Cartright walked in. For the moment
I thought he was actually going to seat himself at my table, but the
obsequious head waiter bowed him on, and I heard him sit down just
behind me.

I didn't dare to look around, but all through lunch I could hear the
calm, polished voice, as he talked with a companion, and several times
the smell of the scent he used came up offensively to my nose.

The lunch was not by any means, however, an unhappy one for me. I was
moving in a new world and, added to the novelty of my surroundings,
there was the thrill that peril and risk always give to the man who
ventures and is not afraid.

That night before I got into bed I took stock of everything and
carefully reviewed my prospects of success. I reckoned that in six
months at the latest I could realise all Dr. Carmichael's estate and get
quit of the Commonwealth for once and all. Only one thing troubled me,
and that only a little. What had the dead man meant when he told me to
look out for Angas Forbes?

Who was this Forbes? And when was he likely to appear?




CHAPTER 5


In a very few days after my first visit to the bank, my confidence in
myself was firmly established; and one morning when I took careful stock
of my appearance in the looking- glass, I was quite sure no one would
ever recognise me again.

It was not only that my wounds had healed beautifully, and that they
were now only really discernible when you were actually looking for
them; but also that my wild expression seemed to have altered. Whether
it was the mental torture I had undergone, or whether it was the lonely
silent life I was leading, there was undoubtedly a great change in me.
My face was far firmer and far harder than that of the old Archibald
Cups, the ledger clerk of the All Australian Bank. My eyes were sterner,
and in repose there was a cold, bitter expression about my mouth. There
was also something of the quiet confidence of power about me, I thought
- the arrogance perhaps of knowing I was a rich man.

I was not in any way superstitious, but many times it came over me that
in assuming, as I had done, the role of Dr. Carmichael, something of the
mental characteristics of the dead man had descended upon me at the same
time.

I had no fear of anyone or anything now. Good opinions or bad opinions
would be henceforward of no moment to me. I was absolutely cynical in my
views of life and in the main I regarded the outside world as being
entirely made up of people who either always bullied or always cringed.

I had only to go into the bank now and there was concrete evidence of
the respect in which I was held. Be my past bad and reprobate as it was
supposed to be, I was bowed in and bowed out with deference that could
not have been greater had I been a haloed saint.

I had money - that was all.

There was no doubt a great deal of good luck was coming my way - for two
out of the three people I most feared were suddenly removed from my
path.

Bultitude, the manager of the All Australian Bank, died; and Usher, the
assistant manager, reigned in his stead. Trotter, the postman, was put
on superannuation pay.


One fine Saturday morning I let myself out of the gates in a very
pleasurable frame of mind. I was going to the race meeting at Victoria
Park, the first meeting I had attended since my arrest for embezzlement
at the Bank.

It was a glorious autumn morning and there was a crisp champagne feeling
in the air. I was looking forward with great interest to the racing and
to seeing many old acquaintances there.

Almost the very first person I saw on the racecourse was my one real
friend of former days, Dick Rainton, the trainer. Greatly to my dismay
he looked worried, seedy, and anything but prosperous. He was pale and
thin, much thinner I imagined than he used to be. And although I only
saw him for a few seconds it struck me he looked shabby. It came quite
as grief to me, for I remembered how loyally he had spoken up for me at
the trial, although in so doing he would certainly not have been
applauded by the big-wigs in the city who controlled the racing world.

I went up and sat in the grandstand and for a while watched the racing
without mingling among the crowds. Two men came and sat down just behind
me and began discussing the people who moved thickly before us. I was
amused with the racy way in which they discussed the notabilities of the
gathering.

'There's Blogger, the stipendiary,' said one. 'Conceited ass, thinks he
owns the racecourse, he does, although he's only a paid servant of the
club, just like the gatekeeper there, but he doesn't do his work half so
well. Boorish, uneducated chap, real bully, too; drops on the little
jockeys like a load of bricks but takes jolly good care to leave the
important ones alone.'

'Damned sight too pally with some of the trainers for me,' said the
other. 'How the blazes is he going to pull up his own friends? Look at
the last meeting here. Bullock runs those two horses of his in the
welter. Everybody's on Moorish Bride. Carries more than half of the
tote. Well, as you saw, Antidollar wins, pays seventeen pounds. Splendid
scoop for the stable, but the blinking public let down thud. What
happens - nothing! No fuss, no enquiry, just considered the natural
thing; and next night, what do you think? Blogger and Bullock dining
together at the Australian Hotel. Gee-whiz - aren't we all mugs?'

I heard the other man laugh. 'It's all in the game, old man,' he said.
'They're all in the same clique. But, hello, there's Rainton, there by
the rails. A lot of tabs going about him now. They say he's in queer
street and has got a bill of sale on the furniture in his house. I'm
sorry if it's true, because he's a straight sort, that chap, and that's
why I expect he's not got on.'

They went on talking of other people, but I didn't hear any more of what
they said. My thoughts were far away, and there was a choking lump in my
throat. Poor old Rainton, and his nice little wife, too! I had had many
a happy time with him and had often dropped in for a chat at their home.
Well, I could help him now, and I could do it quickly, too. I must think
of the best way.

The racing was quite good that afternoon, but the hurdles and the
steeplechase interested me most, no doubt because in my youthful days I
had often schooled horses over the jumps.

In the hurdles a very pretty light chestnut mare, Moonlight Maid, took
my eye. She had rather short legs, but was beautifully symmetrical in
form and just the very animal I thought to give a good account of
herself over fences. I didn't like the stable she was in, however. The
redoubtable Bullock was training her, and he was the gentleman so
uncomplimentarily referred to by my neighbours on the grandstand a few
minutes back. One could never be at all certain what he was really up
to, and whether he was out to win or not.

I chanced it anyhow and had a tenner on her in the tote. She got off
beautifully; but she hadn't jumped two hurdles before I knew my money
was lost. The lad riding her, Macarthy, was supposed to be pretty good;
but this time, at any rate, he was riding a bad race. He had the mare
too much on the bridle all the time and steadied her far too much, I
thought, as she approached the jumps. At the hurdle in the front of the
stands, just what I was expecting happened. She jumped short and came a
jarring purler, giving her rider a nasty fall. Another animal seemed to
jump right on top of her, and yet a third horse was involved in the
mishap and brought down. There was a dreadful gasp from the crowds, but
to the great relief of everyone it was soon seen no one was much hurt.
Moonlight Maid herself got quickly to her feet and bolted half round the
course before she was caught.

'Wretched brute,' said a man in front of me. 'Animals like that ought
not to be allowed in hurdle races. She's never been properly schooled as
yet, or she can't jump for nuts.'

I went round into the paddock and had a look at her when she went back
in her stall. She had got a nasty gash in one of her forelegs, and
Bullock was cursing loudly. He had got the stable veterinary surgeon
with him and from their remarks as they were examining the mare I
guessed they had both backed her this time. Apparently they were putting
all the blame on the poor horse, and none, as in my opinion they should
have done, on the jockey. Had she won, she would, I noticed, have paid
just over eleven pounds in the tote.

I didn't catch sight of Rainton again that afternoon, but I saw Drivel
Jones marching about the place like the great 'I Am' he evidently
thought he was. One of his horses, The Rooster, was made a hot favourite
in the welter and started at less than two to one. It came in a bad
fourth, however, and the public looked rather glum. The general opinion
seemed to be that it was one of The Rooster's 'stiff' days.

All the next day I was thinking a good bit about Rainton and in what way
I could put him on his feet again. At first I had been for sending him a
good sum, anonymously, in bank notes, but after a little cogitation I
soon dismissed that idea. To be of any service to him, I told myself, I
must find out exactly what his present position was, so that any help I
gave him would be adequate and of permanent good.

Besides, my visit to the racecourse, I found, had fanned an old flame,
and it was now starting my mind upon a very interesting chain of
suggestions and ideas.

One thing, I determined to go and see Rainton himself without delay.

On the Monday evening, just as it was getting dark, I called at
Rainton's house. His wife, the pretty Nellie Rainton of old days,
answered the door. If Rainton had looked bad the other day, his wife
looked positively ill, I thought, and her eyes were swollen as if she
had been crying. I asked in a deep voice if I could speak to Mr.
Rainton.

She looked frightened. 'No-o,' she replied hesitatingly. 'I'm sorry, but
he's not in.'

An instinct told me she thought I had come about money and I hastened
instantly to remove the idea.

'I'm a stranger to him,' I said quickly. 'My name is Wells. I've come
about putting some horses under his care,' and I handed her a card.

Her face cleared at once and the frightened look, I was glad to see,
dropped away, but she still hesitated again.

'He's not in just now. He's' - she broke off short and then stood silent
as if she were thinking - 'well, will you come in and wait. I don't
suppose he'll be very long.'

I was shown into the drawing-room that in old times I had known so well.
There was a girl in there, sewing. She was about twenty-two or
twenty-three, I noticed, and she was pretty, with big dark eyes. I had
not seen her before, but from her likeness to Mrs. Rainton I knew at
once who she was. She was Nellie's sister from Victoria. I had heard
about her.

She left the room at once, and for about a quarter of an hour I was left
in there alone, to ponder over the many changes that had taken place
since my last visit to the house.

Presently I heard the front door open, the quick pattering of light
footsteps into the hall, the sound of a lot of whispering, and finally a
heavy tread towards the room that I was in.

In a few brief seconds Dick Rainton stood before me.

Dear old Rainton, how I longed to take his hand! How I longed to seize
hold of him and tell him who I was. His face, I knew, would have broken
instantly to beaming smiles, and his old honest eyes would have looked
into mine with all the trust and pleasure that only true friendship
feels.

But I didn't dare to do it. Mine was too big a secret to give to any
man, and the very possession of it would only have thrown another worry
on Dick Rainton's mind. It were best that I should be a stranger - if,
indeed, it were only for a while.

So I stood up and faced him coldly. He was holding the card I had given
Mrs. Rainton in his hand.

'Mr. Rainton?' I asked.

He bowed, without replying.

He looked, I thought, very white and ill. 'I've come to see you about
some horses I want to put under your care.'

His face seemed to brighten a little. 'Will you sit down, sir?' he said.
'You have some horses you want me to take?'

'Yes,' I said, 'or, rather,' I went on with a smile, 'I want you to buy
these horses for me, and then take on their training.'

'Are they Adelaide horses?' he asked curiously.

'Yes. One's Moonlight Maid, now in Bullock's stable, and the other, I
see, comes up for sale at Fentum's yard on Wednesday. It's the gelding
Pirate King.'

He pursed his lips dubiously. 'They'll want a lot for Moonlight Maid,
sir, even if they will sell her at all.'

'I don't think so,' I replied confidently. 'It's Bullock's opinion she
ran a bad race on Saturday, and he's just the very man to fire her
without giving her another chance if someone offers him a good price
now.'

Dick Rainton smiled a quiet smile. 'You may be right there, sir, but
what do you expect to have to give?'

'Oh, anything up to three-fifty or four hundred,' I said, 'but I think
you'll get her for much less than that. Two hundred guineas is what I
figure they ought to take. I want you to do the deal.'

He looked down to the carpet without replying then looked up quickly as
if about to speak but instead was silent for quite a long time. Then he
blurted out, 'Look here, sir, I'm sure it's very good of you to want me
to take your horses, but to be frank with you I'm thinking of giving up
training.'

'Giving up training!' I said, and I am sure the surprise I felt was
readily apparent in my voice. 'Why - what do you mean?'

He seemed rather confused. 'I've not made a success of it,' he said
rather falteringly. 'I've not done well lately; I've----'

I interrupted him roughly. 'Nonsense! You trained Alice Beauty, who won
the Adelaide Cup; you had Monsoon, who won the Great Eastern Steeple at
Oakbank; you won the Derby with Hard Lines, and the Ledger with Blue
Spot, and you've had lots of other winners too. Why - what do you
expect? You can't always be winning. Everyone has bad and good times.'

He just opened his mouth in astonishment. I had reeled off his best
successes as pat and readily as if they had been my own. He didn't know
what to make of me.

'Come, Mr. Rainton,' I went on. 'You'll train for me. I'm only starting
with two; but I may be racing extensively later and perhaps I'll give
you a string.'

He found his voice at last, but he spoke reluctantly, as if his words
hurt him and he was ashamed.

'I'm sorry, sir,' he said, slowly, 'but I can't train for you. To be
quite honest, I'm in financial difficulties and can't carry on.'

'You've a bill of sale on your furniture?' I asked bluntly.

He started and his face got very red. 'Everyone, I suppose, knows it
now,' he said bitterly. 'The bad news always gets around.'

'And so will the good news,' I interrupted heartily. 'It'll be all over
the place in two days that you're buying horses and quite free from
debt.'

'What do you mean, sir?' he asked, quickly.

'I mean,' I replied, now slowly and emphatically in my turn, 'that I'm
here to make you promise to take my horses, and I'm going to set you on
your feet for that reason. Now - how much is this precious bill of
sale?'

'Two hundred pounds,' he said, slowly, but with no expression in his
voice.

'It's nothing,' I said briskly. 'You'll soon work that off.' I took out
my pocket-book and extracted a number of notes.

'Look here - to begin with, I'll lend you five hundred pounds. You can
pay me back when you're prosperous again. Then there's another five
hundred for buying these horses; but they won't cost you that. Go up to
two-fifty for Pirate King. There's a thousand pounds here,' and I pushed
the notes across the table to him.

He made no attempt to pick them up. Instead, he leaned towards me and
stared hard into my eyes. For the moment I felt uneasy, but the light
was bad and I had my back to the lamp.

'Who are you?' he asked, hoarsely. 'And what do you know about me?'

'You've got my name there,' I replied coolly, and nodding towards my
card, 'and I know you for an honest man.' I stood up and picked up my
hat, as if to go.

Poor old Rainton looked dreadfully perplexed. He took out his
handkerchief and mopped his face. Suddenly he seemed to make up his
mind. He opened the door and, to my embarrassment, called out to his
wife. 'Nellie - Nellie! I want you a moment.'

Mrs. Rainton had evidently not been far away, for she appeared from
round the corner almost before he had finished speaking. She looked
white and scared. He held out the notes for her to see. They were all
fifties.

'This gentleman here, dear,' began Rainton with a catch in his voice,
'wants me to train for him, and he's lending me five hundred to set me
on my feet. Do you think I ought to take it from him?

'Oh, sir,' said Nellie, turning to me and looking as if she were going
to cry. 'It's a perfect god-send to us, and I know he'll pay you back.
He's a good man, my husband, but everything's gone against us lately.
Our old hurdler, Antioch - the breadwinner, we used to call him - was
killed at Victoria Park. Then Mr. Doughty died, and all his string was
taken from us and sold up. Then my husband got into trouble with some
important racing people here, because he spoke up for a friend of ours
who was falsely accused. They got some other horses taken away from us -
and then I fell ill. We've had awful expenses, and----'

'Hush, hush, dear!' broke in her husband. 'This won't interest Mr. Wells
here.'

'But it does,' I said, with rather a catch in my own voice now, and I
turned sympathetically to Mrs. Rainton.

'You were referring to that man Cups, weren't you? I remember reading
that Mr. Rainton gave evidence at the trial.'

'He was a falsely accused man, sir,' said the trainer, solemnly, 'and
never robbed the bank. I knew him intimately - and he was not that
kind.'

'Where do you think he escaped to?' I asked.

'I could never hazard a guess, sir, but I'm afraid, now, my poor friend
is dead!'

We chatted for a few minutes about the happenings of my trial, and it
warmed my heart to know in what esteem they still held me. Then Mrs.
Rainton asked me, rather nervously, if I would like a cup of tea.

'Or a glass of beer?' suggested Rainton. 'I've got a nice cool bottle in
the cellar now.'

I sniffed up appreciatively. Someone was frying bacon in the house. Mrs.
Rainton saw me.

'I suppose - I suppose,' she asked rather timidly, 'you wouldn't care to
stop to our meal? We haven't much to offer you,' she went on lamely,
'but I make my own butter, and my sister fries bacon like no one else.'

Greatly to Rainton's astonishment, I thought, I accepted at once. I was
quite reckless now about the chance of being recognised, and fully
believed I was quite safe. But, still, I wanted to put it to the test.
If the Raintons didn't discover me, I argued to myself, no one ever
would.

In a few minutes we were all sitting down to tea, and I had Nellie's
pretty dark-eyed sister just opposite to me. Now I always flatter myself
I made that meal a great success. There was a natural feeling of
restraint among us at first, but I resolutely laid myself out to put
them at their ease. I pitched them a good yarn about my life. I told
them I was rich man and fond of the turf, but that all my relations were
against racing, and that was why I was lying low. I could never do
things openly, I said, in my own name.

We spent quite a happy hour at the meal, and it was pure delight to me
to see the relief in Nellie Rainton's eyes. She looked like a reprieved
prisoner.

Going home that night I thought a lot about the Raintons; but strangely,
it was only the face of Nellie Rainton's sister, Margaret Price, that
came to me in my dreams.


Rainton bought Moonlight Maid for two hundred and twenty guineas, and
the next day Pirate King was knocked down to him for a hundred and
eighty-five.

According to my instructions he had bought them both absolutely in his
own name, and in the case of the gelding it was most amusing to hear the
buzz of surprise that went round the saleyard when he started to bid. It
was supposed all over the city that he was in great financial straits,
and when he started confidently to go up tenners and fivers there was a
tremendous lot of whispering and much nodding of heads.

I was standing just behind Bullock, who trained usually for Drivel
Jones, and the stout trainer's muttered comments to a friend gave me
great pleasure to overhear.

'What the devil's up with Rainton now,' he whispered, 'and from where in
heaven's name is he getting the cash?'

'Don't know at all,' replied his friend, 'but I hear he paid off Lazarus
yesterday!'

'The devil!' said Bullock. 'And he downed me yesterday, too, with a most
dirty trick. He sent an old hay-seed looking fellow over to my place to
buy Moonlight Maid, and like a fool I let her go for two-thirty-one
quid. If I'd known it was for him - he shouldn't have had her at any
price!'

'Why don't you make out, then, that there was a mistake?' said the
other. 'Say you meant three-thirty-one.'

'But it's too late. He paid cash and took her away. It was only this
morning I heard she'd gone into Rainton's yard.'

'Well, there's something up, it's sure, and we'll know later what it
is.'

Bullock and his friend were not, however, the only curious ones. Rainton
told me lots of people tried to pump him, but I knew he was a close man,
and I had no fear.

I went down to his place the next day and had a leg up on both Moonlight
Maid and Pirate King. The mare was a beautiful mover, and I put her at a
couple of hurdles at the end of the paddock. As I expected, leaving her
to herself, she cleared them like a bird, but she jumped both of them
very high, I thought.

I pulled up where Rainton was standing. He was watching me with a rather
puzzled look.

'Not the first jump you've taken, Mr. Wells,' he said quietly, 'and your
riding reminds me of someone I used to know.'

I brushed his remark aside. 'The mare jumps like a cat,' I said, 'but
it's fences she ought to be over not sticks. I want you to get her ready
for the big steeple, and I'll ride her myself, that is, if I can get
down to the weight.'

He stared at me in a sort of amazed surprise, but my next words made him
stare harder still.

'Now, look here, Rainton,' I said, 'I'm going to get some fun out of
this. For the next three or four months at any rate I shall be at a
loose end, and I'll do a bit of riding for a living. You must get me a
licence to ride.'

At first he thought I was joking, but I soon convinced him I was in
deadly earnest. I explained my plans to him. 'Now for the future,' I
insisted. 'I'm going to be one of your lads. No one must know me here as
Mr. Wells. I'll be Huggins from New Zealand, or anybody you like. For
the future I'll come down here in quite different clothes, and you must
put me wise in just the ordinary way. I've done a lot of hunting, and
can ride, as you can see, but I've never ridden in a race as yet, and I
expect I've got a bit to learn.'

Rainton didn't say much, but I am sure he thought a great deal.

A week later I got my licence and then started as extraordinary a life
as it will ever be my lot to experience.

I had no less than four distinct personalities. I was John Archibald
Cups to myself, a convict, who ought to have been doing five years'
penal servitude in the stockade. I was Robert Carmichael to the postman
at North Adelaide and to the people of the All Australian Bank. I was
Arnold Wells to Rainton and his family and, to the racing public, I was
Harry Huggins, a most capable jockey over the jumps.

Rainton believed I was living at the Australasian Hotel. At any rate, he
never questioned me and, if he wanted ever to write to me, I had told
him to address my letters there. I came down to his place on a motor
bicycle that I housed in a private garage at North Adelaide. I leased
the place from the owner, and because I paid six months' rent in advance
the latter probably never gave me another thought.

I used to slip out very early from my lonely home, the motor bicycle was
not a quarter of a mile away, and dawn was often only just rising when I
was on the training grounds and beginning my work.

I had always been a very capable horseman, and I soon found there was
not much anyone could teach me. I seemed to have a natural aptitude for
handling horses, and the most nervous of them would become quiet and
tractable when under my hands.

Rainton, after a couple of weeks, said I was a born steeplechase jockey
and, without boasting, I don't think he was far from wrong.

I had a limpet-like seat in the saddle, and I was absolutely without
fear. Even after some really bad falls, I continued to approach every
obstacle with the calm, unruffled confidence of a man who had never had
a spill.

I remember well my first race in the metropolitan area. It was at
Victoria Park. But it was not my first appearance in public. I had had a
losing mount at Balaclava and also one at Gawler, but I had so far not
appeared in the Adelaide district.

Rainton came up to me that morning as soon as he saw me and asked me
with a grim smile if I would take a mount that afternoon.

'It's Vixen Lady they've got no jockey for,' he said, 'and Benson's just
phoned up to ask if I can give him any help.'

I smiled back at Rainton. I knew quite well what he meant by his smile.
Vixen Lady was a dreadful beast to handle and was certainly one of the
most risky mounts in the state. As far as the jockeys were concerned,
she already had one fatal accident to her credit and had been
responsible for a good many minor injuries as well. She was a well-bred
animal and when it pleased her could go like the wind, but she was very
uncertain in her jumping, and in some of her moods would rush every
obstacle she was put to, whether it was a hurdle or stone-wall.

It was a wonder to everyone she had not been killed half a dozen times
already but, so far, as far as she was concerned, she had borne quite a
charmed life. With my own eyes I had seen her once laid out at
Morphettville - stunned, for the best part of an hour; and then, when
they were just thinking of putting the friendly bullet into her, she had
got up and allowed herself to be led meekly away.

She was only kept in training because in her good moods she was really
brilliant, and so little was she generally supported in the totalisator
that whenever she was successful her owner invariably got a very good
win.

No one was ever very anxious to ride her, and even some of the most
hardened jockeys would refuse to take the mount.

Rainton regarded me curiously, waiting for my reply.

'Of course I'll ride her,' I told him. 'It will be interesting to see
what I can do.'

Benson, the owner-trainer, had a good stare at me when I was brought up
to him just before the race that afternoon.

'Ride her boldly,' he said gruffly, 'and don't for a moment let her
think you're afraid. If you're in any doubt keep her back till after the
stone wall, because it's there she's twice come to grief.'

I touched my cap respectfully and muttered, 'All right, sir.' She was
carrying eleven stone two, and as I could weigh in at ten stone eight I
was well able to do the weight. I stroked and patted her for a moment or
two before I got into the saddle. She was certainly not an animal for a
nervous man to ride. She kept looking round and showing the whites of
her eyes. She was quiet as a sheep, however, in the preliminary canter,
and went down to the starting post as if she were one of the best
mannered beasts in the world.

I heard afterwards that everyone was most interested in us. People asked
Benson from where I'd been dug out, and there was mild speculation about
the odds of my being killed.

The starter gave us all a beautiful send off and, making up my mind
quickly what I would do, I bustled the mare forward to get her well out
in front. I was full of courage, but my experience of racing had been so
very meagre that I knew I would feel more confident if I were free from
the other horses for the first jump.

Vixen Lady responded like the high-bred dame she was, and we were soon
leading by some three or four lengths. Approaching the first obstacle I
let her take it at her pace, and she skimmed over it like a bird. The
second she also took beautifully, and then came the stone wall bang in
front of the stands. Here, I thought, she seemed about to falter, but
giving her a hard sharp cut with the whip I wouldn't let her slacken,
and almost before I knew it we were over and danger was passed.

I heard a great cheer as I went by, and I remember even now the
intoxicating feeling that it gave me. It was like some strong heady wine
that made me absolutely reckless of danger, and determined me, at any
risk, to try and get the mare home first.

But after the stone wall all else seemed to come easy, and at every
further obstacle I drove the mare forward with a confidence so absolute
that I really astonished myself. I never gave her a chance to scamp, and
like a beautiful and precise machine she cleared everything in her way.
Coming down the straight I eased her ever so little, and almost
effortlessly she ran home a winner by five lengths.

The crowd gave me a rousing cheer for my success, and Benson was most
enthusiastic about the way I had ridden his mare.

'That's the way to handle her, my boy,' he cried. 'No one's ever ridden
her before like that. All she wants is a bit of courage with the lad on
top, and she'll jump sweet and clean as a deer.'

Rainton met me a beaming smile, too. 'You certainly have brought me
luck, Mr. Wells,' he whispered. 'I simply had to have a fiver on her as
you were riding, and she's paid seventeen pounds ten at the tote.
Eighty-seven pounds ten's a glorious win for me just now, and won't they
be pleased at home.'

My success on Vixen Lady brought my name at once before the public, and
by pure good luck at the very next race-meeting on the following
Saturday I received another unexpected win.

In a way, perhaps, this second success was as pleasant a one as I can
ever remember, mainly, I think, because it helped a little unimportant
one-horse man as against some of the most fashionable racing stables in
the state.

I had just run a very respectable third on a rotten beast in the hurdles
(it would have paid eighty-one pounds in the tote had it won), when the
trainer of Vixen Lady came up and asked me if I would like a mount in
the steeple.

'It's not much of an animal, and it's got no chance at all, but it
belongs to a pal of mine from up-country, and I'd like him to have a run
for his money. It's Farmer's Boy I want you to ride.'

I had just heard of the animal and that was all, but Benson told me all
about him. His owner, it appeared, was a little shop-keeper somewhere in
the country up Balaclava way, and he had brought him down to the city
more, it was believed, for the sake of swank than anything else. Years
ago, however, the horse had been a pretty good third-rater and had won a
few little races up somewhere in the bush, but it was fourteen years old
now and not up to much. He had no chance at all among metropolitan
horses, and yet for some reason the handicapper had given him ten stone.
I should have to declare about eight pounds over-weight.

Agreeing at once to take the mount, I was duly introduced to the owner,
Mr. Tommy Pucker. He was a common, vulgar little chap, but very affable
and friendly. He was as impressive in his riding instructions as if the
race were the Melbourne Cup.

'Keep him going the whole time,' he implored. 'He's safe as a house at
the jumps, and he'll warm up like anything as he goes along and will be
fresh as a daisy when he's done about a couple of miles. Give him plenty
of stick.'

He offered me a vile-looking cigar and introduced me to his wife and
daughter. The two ladies both shook hands. Mrs. Pucker was very red and
stout and the daughter fat and big like her ma, but with a good-natured
smiling face. Not at all bad-looking in her way.

'I'm sure you'll win, Mr. Huggins,' the mother said. 'Trainer Benson
thinks we've got quite a chance, and my husband's putting twenty on in
the tote. All our friends are on it, too.'

I cursed Benson for a liar, and really felt genuinely sorry for the
simple folk. Celerity, the top weight with twelve stone seven, would
just walk round Farmer's Boy, I knew.

I cantered slowly before the stands on my way up to the starting post,
and some of the remarks I couldn't help hearing were quite the reverse
of complimentary.

'This is not a ploughing competition,' called out one. 'Take him home.'

'Hurry up, old Noah,' called out another, 'or you'll be too late for the
ark.'

But Farmer's Boy wasn't at all a bad mover, I found, and as soon as the
starter sent us off I was agreeably surprised with my mount. He wasn't a
slug by any means, and he certainly took the jumps as if he were an old
hand at the game. He jumped desperately slowly, it was true, and always
almost stopped after landing but, as his owner had told me, he wasn't
given to falling.

It was a very small field and there were only six runners. A couple of
hundred yards from the start and I was, as I expected, a good many
lengths behind but, after the first obstacle, with a nice cut from the
whip, the old boy put on pace and seemed, I thought, to be quite
respectably holding his own.

At the fence opposite the grandstand two of the horses in front of me
fell and, bustling up Farmer's Boy, I was greeted with ironical cheers
as I went by. We cleared the obstacle, however, in great style, but at
that point I calculated we were a good fifty yards behind.

Then suddenly I began to think there might be something in the old beast
after all. I thumped him heartily with the butt-end of the whip, and
responding gamely he began actually to gain on the leaders. It was very
gradual, but when we were on the other side of the course opposite the
stands there was not a foot more than ten lengths between us and The
Seagull, who was then leading.

Farmer's Boy battled on bravely, but when The Seagull at length
approached the last obstacle - and the distance between us was about the
same - I naturally thought the whole thing was up.

Still, I determined at any rate to give the Pucker family a good run for
their money, and with hands and whip I continued to urge my solid
conveyance on. It was well I did so, for suddenly and unexpectedly my
opportunity came.

At the last obstacle, a simple brush-fence, The Seagull fell and so
close were the three horses together that he brought down Celerity and
Bonjour as well.

Now was my chance, I realised, and well wide of the floundering animals
I drove my mount over the bush-fence into the straight.

But the straight was a long way from home and, even as we passed the
fallen leaders I got a flashing glance of Bennett, the jockey of
Celerity, up on his feet and stretching for his whip.

I gave one fierce cut at Farmer's Boy and was delighted that he bucked
up at once to quite a respectable pace. But we had gone very few yards
before a great rousing cheer boomed up from the stands, and I knew
instantly what had happened. Celerity had been remounted, and he was now
no doubt following hot foot in pursuit.

Now I always flatter myself I didn't then for a moment lose my head. My
riding experience in races up to then had been, as I have told, very
little, and I might quite reasonably have been excused if I had just
thoughtlessly flogged on my mount until he had died away to nothing.

But I did nothing of the kind. Instead I just thought and reasoned the
whole matter out. I looked up towards the winning post and calculated
how far we had yet to go. Then I cocked my eye back and saw how far
Celerity was behind and exactly what his jockey was doing. Bennett was
working his whip like a flail, and from the resounding noise of the
whacks I could hear, his blows were evidently in deadly and desperate
earnest.

But punishment like that, I argued, couldn't be of much good for long,
and on top of the shaking Celerity had probably just received, the
effect might soon peter out.

So I took things quite calmly on Farmer's Boy, and finding he was
rattling along now in first-rate style I held back my whip and rode him
only with my hands.

Nearer and nearer came the winning post, and louder and louder sounded
the whacks on poor Celerity behind, but I just held my breath and waited
for the supreme moment to come.

The crowd were wildly excited, and roared strenuously for the favourite
to cut us down.

Suddenly, when only about ten yards from home, the fine head of Celerity
loomed up upon my side. Now or never, I called to myself, and in a
lightning flash my whip was up. One fierce hard cut and Farmer's Boy
sprang forward. The favourite was shaken off as if he were standing
still, and with a good two lengths to spare we passed the post in front.

Instantly, and as if by magic, all the shouting ceased. Being only a
six-horse race, only one dividend would be declared, and Farmer's Boy,
the wretched and despised outsider, would scoop the pool. The crowd were
badly hit. Then their better feelings got possession of them. A thin
clapping of hands, a few isolated 'Bravos', and then a long big rousing
cheer as I came up to weigh in. 'Well ridden, sir; a fine judged race,'
called out some man by the rails, and the cheers grew and grew in volume
until I finally disappeared into the weighing-room.

It certainly panned out a good thing for those who had had the courage
to back Farmer's Boy.

Just over two-thousand-five-hundred pounds had been invested in the
tote, but only fifty-four pounds ten had gone on my mount, and it paid
forty pounds five for each one pound invested.

My employer in the race might have been a vulgar little chap, but he was
undoubtedly a good sport. He searched me out in the paddock later, and
was most grateful to me in his thanks. In fact, he almost had tears in
his eyes. He insisted upon my taking another of his vile cigars, and
then, in saying goodbye, he unobtrusively pressed a many times folded
banknote into my hand. As soon as he had gone, I unfolded it. It was a
fifty.

Rather to my discomfiture I met the whole party again about half an hour
later, just by the bandstand. They all looked in the seventh heaven of
pride and happiness, and when they caught sight of me I had to endure
all the thanks over again. Mama Pucker held my hand for an uncomfortably
long time, and the girl took a flower out of her dress and insisted it
should be mine. With everyone looking on, I was glad to get away.

From that day a most successful riding career began for me, and almost
at once I sprang to the very forefront of cross-country jockeys. Without
boasting, there was no one could better me at the game, and over the
jumps my services were soon continually in demand.

In a few weeks very rarely was I without a mount, both over the fences
and over the sticks.

I soon became a great favourite with the public, and with 'Huggins up'
people at once rushed to support any horse I was riding in the tote.

I was proud, too, when they looked upon me as a 'straight' jockey, and
in their minds there was never any question whether the horse was out to
win or not when I was riding.

To my great amusement Drivel Jones came up one day and asked me to ride
his chaser, Babylon, at Morphettville. The regular jockey of the stable
was ill.

I was on the point of refusing, when Drivel Jones suddenly winked his
eye.

'Don't knock him about,' he said, looking me hard in the face. 'It's not
one of his good days, and if we win there'll be a seven pound penalty at
Oakbank to put up. Take it easy, you understand. Myself, I think Robin
Adair will win,' and with a measuring nod he walked away.

But if he thought Robin Adair would win, the public certainly thought
otherwise, and with me in the saddle Babylon was at once backed down to
a very short price in the machine.

The race needs no description because I made the great black gelding
win, right from beginning to end. He got badly balked, it is true, at
the last fence, by a horse falling just in front of him, but I brought
him around smartly and won a good race by a length.

He paid only two pounds eleven.

Drivel Jones's face was a study when I came into the enclosure after the
race. He gave me a vile black look, and I could see he was cursing me
under his breath. He never said a word to me, but Rainton told me
afterwards he went about telling everyone I had knocked his horse about.
People, however, had a shrewd idea why he was angry, and there was a lot
of quiet amusement about the seven pounds penalty Babylon would now have
to put up.

One racing paper quite openly 'guessed' Harry Huggins would not be asked
to ride for Drivel Jones, esquire, again; but it left it to its readers
to wonder why. It made the significant comment, however, that it would
be a good thing for racing in Australia if there were more jockeys like
me.

The great majority of the people in the Commonwealth are interested in
racing, and it may be wondered why I was never afraid some or other of
the officials of the All Australian Bank would not one day recognise, in
the capable jockey Harry Huggins, their eccentric customer, Dr. Robert
Carmichael.

But I really never had any fear on that score. At the bank no one had
ever seen me without my smoked glasses, and these I knew made a vital
difference to how I looked. Besides, I argued, if it ever did dawn on
anyone for a second that there was some likeness between the two, they
would contemptuously dismiss the idea in the next second. On the bare
face of it, the whole thing would seem too absurd.

So, as I say, I never worried about that matter at all.




CHAPTER 6.


The weeks rolled quickly on, and with the middle of June the brief sharp
winter of South Australia set in. By then, however, many things had
happened to me and in many ways I had completely altered my mode of
life.

I had got rid of the hounds. I had sold them to a dog fancier up in the
bush. It had gone to my heart to part with them, and over Diana
especially had I almost shed tears.

But I had to get rid of them. I was away now so much and they were being
neglected. Besides, to me now their use was gone, and the hour was
getting nearer and nearer when, as Dr. Carmichael, I should be known no
more. Any time now I must be prepared to slip suddenly away. My
arrangements were nearly all compete, and I tarried only because my
confidence and assurance were so great that I was determining to realise
to the last item every penny of the doctor's estate.

With the departure of the dogs I took on a daily servant, a sort of
gardener handy-man, and never perhaps was an employer more particular
about the habits and character of his prospective servant than was I.

My servant would be seeing me at home, just as I was, and I had no
desire there should be any chance of his recognising me on the
racecourse. Unlike the people at the bank he would know me without my
smoked glasses and, conversant with all my goings out and comings in, he
would very quickly put two and two together if only his suspicions were
once aroused.

So I advertised for a teetotaller and strict Baptist, thinking that that
would about fit the bill. I guessed a gentleman of that description
would never be found within many miles of a racecourse.

It was certainly dreary work interviewing the candidates and I was a
long while coming to my decision. Finally I settled on a very
white-faced little man who for forty years and more had slunk through
life under the name of Hooker. He had brought with him a long
recommendation from his minister, to the effect that he, Hooker, had
never missed one of the reverend gentleman's weekly exhortations for
more than seven years, and I must say that from Hooker's general
appearance, I was inclined to believe the statement might be true.

So Mr. Hooker was duly engaged, and in a contemplative, peaceful
fashion, he set about putting the much neglected garden in some form of
order.

I must say that on the whole he was rather a good servant, but all the
time he was with me, I am quite sure, he never over-exerted himself
once. Also, before he had been with me a week, I had grave doubts about
his teetotal principles. He slept too long on the wheelbarrow after his
midday meal to satisfy me, and I got to notice smells other than those
of peppermints on his breath sometimes when I came near. But I thought
he was as satisfactory as anyone I should be able to get and I
consequently let him alone.


And all this while I had been gradually realising the securities of the
dead man, and one by one I had been disposing of his interests in
various undertakings. I had never, as I had foreseen, had any difficulty
at all at the bank. They were courtesy itself to me the whole time.

By the beginning of July I had got together in various places just over
forty-thousand pounds, a very good proportion of which was in
medium-sized Commonwealth notes, and I was reckoning that in about
another six weeks or two months I would safely have cleared up all there
was for me to handle.

Looking back in the after years, I am sure I very much enjoyed my life
at that time. There was just the very spice of risk and danger in it
that made strong appeal to my restless and unsatisfied nature, and it
was moreover a life that called for initiative and courage at every turn
of the wheel.

I never knew exactly what was going to happen to me, and every day I
rose to the call of new enterprise and new adventure. Although
everything on the surface seemed to be going so easily for me, I was
never sure there was not some danger threatening me from below, and that
all in a flash I might not have to cut and run.

Dr. Carmichael had been such a well-known man once in New South Wales it
seemed impossible that, sooner or later, someone would not come
enquiring after him in Adelaide.

My transactions now often took me to the bank, and there were always
plenty of people about when I went in. I knew I was a person of great
interest there and I wondered how long it would be before I was one day
pointed out by one of the clerks as Dr. Carmichael to someone who had
once known the real doctor. Then the fat would be in the fire, and I
would have to vanish instantly in the best manner possible.

But I had made all preparation for flight at any moment, and I flattered
myself I was prepared for all eventualities.

Australia is a very wide place and an easy country to bury yourself in
when once away from the big centres of civilisation. But it is a
difficult country to hide in in the towns and cities, and a more
difficult country still to get out of and proceed to other countries if
you should happen to be wanted by the authorities.

The passport system, for example, is a very strict one, and among other
things any passenger on an overseas-going steamer has always, before
being allowed to set foot on the boat, to get his passport first vised
by the income tax authorities. This, of course, means double
identification, and it is not an easy thing, I can tell you, at any time
to steal away unnoticed from the Commonwealth.

But I had no intention of leaving suddenly for overseas. When I should
see fit to drop the mantle and role of life of Dr. Robert Carmichael, I
intended to slip away from Adelaide, and under a different name, of
course, make my home in a distant part of the Commonwealth until it
would be perfectly safe for me to take passage to Europe.

Were any suspicion at any time raised against me I was not going to try
and foolishly bolt away on some steamer homeward bound. It would be the
very place in which they would first look for me, and with wireless
installations everywhere I should be then a certain and an easy capture.

So it will be realised I had carefully thought everything out, and as a
result I was reasonably confident that in any suddenly threatening
emergency I could run safely to earth. I was ready to escape in any
direction and had provided several good hiding places with elaborate
preparation for a long stay in them if necessary.

I had a small bungalow at Port Noarlunga and another one on the marshes
near St. Kilda. I had a car hidden in the hills; I had a bathing hut on
the beach at Henley; and last, but not least, I had a powerful little
motor-boat lying in a secluded reach off Port Adelaide. And everywhere I
had provisioned for either a long hide or a lengthy journey. I believe I
had arranged for everything.

I say I was happy in those days, and I repeat I am quite sure I was. The
greatest reason was perhaps, however, because I had at last fallen in
love.

Pretty dark-eyed Margaret Price, Nellie Rainton's sister, was giving me
my real first love affair in life. I had never much cared for girls and
certainly none of them had ever interested me as Margaret did. I had
spoken very few words to her and was uncertain even if she knew that I
admired her. But she was often in my thoughts and I was always finding
excuses for going up to the Rainton's house.

I think Nellie Rainton knew from the first that I admired her sister but
could never determine whether she was pleased or not.

I couldn't fathom Nellie Rainton, and always had an idea that she was
suspicious about me. Once when I broke into a good laugh about
something, she turned round and stared at me so intently and with such
startled eyes that for a long time afterwards I was uneasy.

But she was always very nice to me, was Nellie, and most grateful to me
for the help I had given her husband.

There was no doubt that I had helped her husband just in the nick of
time. I learnt afterwards that when I had appeared on the scene it had
been only a matter of days before he would have been sold up.

Now, in a few short months, everything was different and his future
seemed assured. My association had apparently brought him amazing good
fortune all along. Several of the horses he was training came into form
and even the very moderate Pirate King turned out to be almost a little
goldmine. Three times in succession the gelding paid a dividend, two
firsts and one second, and as the two first dividends were both over ten
to one, Rainton had certainly no cause for complaint.

My popularity was also an excellent advertisement for him, and several
owners, to be in a better position to secure my services, transferred
their horses to him, so that he soon had almost as many animals as he
could manage to train.

So far we had not raced Moonlight Maid in public since we had bought
her, but we had been putting her to good work over the fences with a
view to the Grand South Australian Steeplechase in August. She was under
my special care and I had great hopes of her success. Properly handled,
she would jump like a cat, and of her speed and staying powers I never
had the slightest doubt.

I had long ago lost all fear of being recognised anywhere as the once
John Archibald Cups, and I moved about freely in the city just where my
fancy took me.

One day, being quite by chance in the neighbourhood of Pepple's grass
and nut shop in Pipe Street, I walked boldly in and asked for a
shilling's worth of almonds. The assistant served me. He was a brawny
chap and looked, I thought, very much like a prizefighter. Pepple
himself came in when the almonds were being wrapped up. He gave me one
quick hard stare and then passed back into the inner part of the shop. I
hadn't seen him for over six months and he looked more skinny and dried
up than ever. A few days later just for amusement I went in again.
Pepple and the assistant were both there, but this time Pepple served me
and the whole time he never once took his eyes of my face. He stared so
hard that with all my assurance I was glad to get away.

Damn the little fool, I thought, but I expect it's only his way.

Two days later, however, a letter from him appeared in the Advertiser.
It was headed 'Occult Waves', and just typical of Pepple's state of
mind.

One day last week, he wrote, he had been quietly reading in the back
part of his store, when suddenly and without any warning he had sensed
the presence of occult waves and his own astral being had at once moved
in harmony to them. He had felt all in a twitter and he couldn't make it
out. He had gone quickly into his shop and had there found his assistant
serving almonds to a strange man. He had noticed nothing particular
about the stranger then and the latter, completing his purchase, he had
gone straight away.

Immediately the occult waves had died off. The incident had certainly
seemed strange to him, but in the course of a few days he had quite
forgotten it. Then suddenly two days ago, the day before yesterday, to
be exact, the same thing had occurred again. Suddenly he had felt the
same waves stirring and suddenly he had experienced the same twitter
down his back. Then the shop door had pushed quickly open and a customer
had walked in. It was the same man who had caused the vibrations a week
ago.

Then Pepple went on with a long rigmarole that only his fellow lunatics
would understand, but the whole gist of it was, that in his shop that
day Pepple's astral spook had met another astral spook that had once
been his enemy in a former life. The two spooks had apparently
recognised one another and at once started to give each other cheek.

Instead of making me laugh, the letter only had the effect of making me
intensely angry for, as I recalled bitterly, as foreman of the jury,
this ass at the trial had once practically held my fate in his hands.

I was very angry, too, with newspapers about that time, for they began
to give me a very anxious and annoying time. They wanted to start the
interview business with me and to know all about my parentage and where
I was born.

It all began because one Saturday afternoon at Morphettville I won the
double on the hurdles and the steeple. They were both hard-won races,
and in the hurdles I had soundly trounced a crack Victorian horse from
over the border. The Adelaidians were delighted and cheered me
vociferously as I weighed in. Coming out of the weighing-room, I found a
little knot of reporters waiting for me. A press-photographer snapped me
at short range, and I was invited to disclose all my family history for
the edification of the readers of the various Sunday papers.

I refused point-blank with a black scowl and elbowed my way angrily
through the throng. I saw at once the danger I was running and suddenly
cursed myself for a fool. Publicity like this was the last thing I
wanted. But the reporters were not easily to be shaken off, and it was
not until I had been absolutely rude to them that I could get away.

Next day, however, they had their revenge and over my scowling
photograph in one of the Sunday papers I read:

HUGGINS, THE MYSTERY JOCKEY

WHO IS HE?

Then followed nearly a column and a half of curious speculations about
me. There was nothing much they could say with certainty, but it seemed
as if it had only just dawned on them that they knew really nothing
about me. Where did I come from, they asked, and what country was the
land of my birth? What had I been doing before I became a jockey and was
I doing it now only just as a hobby? Was I a rich man? Where did I live?
What was the other part of my life? I used to ride backwards and
forwards on a motor-bicycle, they said, and no one had ever met me away
from the training ground or the racecourse. I never mixed with the other
jockeys. I was taciturn and short of speech. I must be an educated man,
for one day a pocket edition of Shelley had dropped from my coat. And so
on, and so on. A nice tale they made of it, and I was furious.

Rainton said nothing about it when he met me on the Monday, but Nellie
Rainton, who happened to be with him, stared at me, I thought, harder
than ever.

Passing down Pipe Street that evening just before six, I happened to
catch sight of Pepple's pugilistic assistant slipping through the side
door of a public house. He was evidently getting 'a spot' before the
places closed.

All of a sudden it struck me that I might catch Pepple alone, and in a
spirit of devilry I made for the vegetarian shop.

Yes, Pepple was there all by himself and he was bending down behind the
counter, doing something to some shelves. He didn't see me until I was
right upon him. The newspapers had put me in a furious rage all day and
I was delighted to have someone to vent it on.

I leant over the counter, and as Pepple turned round to gape at me I
gave him a good box on the ears.

His eyes stared and for the second he was too astonished to cry out.
Then before he could recover himself I picked up a large bag of flour
off the counter and jammed it over his head. He spluttered like a
vicious cat to get the flour out of his mouth and nose, but I knocked
him sideways with a handy sack of nuts and, calling out something, I
don't quite remember what, pulled open the door and expeditiously left
the shop.

It had all happened in a few seconds and all down the street I was
laughing to myself. I had not hurt Pepple, but I had no doubt given him
a good fright and provided more material for further flap-doodle about
his precious astral self.

During all that week I fondly anticipated reading in the newspapers a
highly coloured account of my visit to the vegetarian shop, but to my
disappointment nothing appeared; and then something happened of a far
more interesting nature that for the moment drove all thoughts of the
grass-feeding Pepple entirely out of my mind.

A man was arrested on the Cheltenham racecourse for stealing a lady's
hand-bag. It appeared she dropped it without noticing its loss, and a
man behind her was seen to snatch it up and endeavour to get away
unseen.

But he was pounced upon by another man who had watched the whole
episode, and promptly given over to the police. At first he had refused
resolutely to give his name or any account of himself whatever but,
yielding at length, he had turned out to be David Fielders, one of the
assistant cashiers at the Consolidated Bank.

Appearing next day before the city magistrate, the evidence had been so
conclusive that Fielders had had no course but to admit his theft, but
he had asked through the lawyer he had engaged that he should be dealt
with summarily and not sent up for trial.

But the magistrate had hesitated and was very curious about two
twenty-pound notes that had been found upon the prisoner, and pressed
him about where he had obtained them.

At first Fielders had sworn he had won them at the races that same
afternoon but, it being pointed out that he had been taken into custody
before any monies had been distributed by the totalizator, he had
started prevaricating and giving different stories to account for their
possession.

Sternly pulled up by the magistrate, he had finally broken down and
burst into tears, admitting at last that the notes belonged to the bank.

According to the newspapers there had been silence after this for a long
moment in the court, and then Pierce Moon, who by a strange coincidence
had been watching the case in the interest of the lady from whom the bag
had been stolen, had realised the significance of the admission.

He had remembered, it appeared, as it were all in a flash, that this man
David Fielders had been the principal witness against me, when he,
Pierce Moon, had been the defending counsel in what was now known as the
notorious 'J.A. Cups case'. Upon this man's evidence principally had my
conviction been secured.

Up had got Pierce Moon then at once and urged strongly that the case
should be sent for trial. He had briefly explained to the magistrate his
reasons and had insisted that the whole matter must be probed to the
bottom.

The magistrate had thereupon committed Fielders and had refused bail. A
fine hubbub there was then in the city and the management of the
Consolidated Bank was very adversely criticised. A desperate attempt was
made by the bank authorities to prevent anything further from leaking
out, but they were quite unsuccessful in their efforts, and a nice tale
was soon unfolded.

A smart reporter from the Register got hold of one of their clerks, and
from him, on the quiet, gathered in a lot of information that the public
were most interested to obtain.

It appeared that for many months now all the employees of the
Consolidated Bank had been under a cloud. Continual thefts were
occurring in the bank, but so artfully were they perpetrated, and in so
many different ways had they taken place, that nothing ever pointed
conclusively to any one single man.

So far from my conviction having stopped the thefts, they had been worse
than ever since I had gone away, and no one in the bank now believed
that I had been a guilty party. A lot more evidence had also been
unearthed, to prove conclusively that all along David Fielders must have
been the man.

The facts disclosed by the Register caused a sensation, and in a few
hours almost, let loose a flood of correspondence in the newspapers.

Interest in the Cups case was revived at once, and the evidence brought
forward at my trial was reviewed and discussed by scores of different
writers during the next few days.

Finally the Times of Adelaide itself took up the cudgels on my behalf,
and in a leading article under the heading of 'Grave Miscarriage of
Justice', referred scathingly to the evidence brought forward at my
trial.

It condemned Judge Cartright, himself, unsparingly, and, quoting
extracts from his final speech asked bitterly, 'How, then, would it have
been possible for any jury not to have recorded a conviction after so
pointed a summing-up?'

It went on to recall my vehement and heated protests at the conclusion
of the trial, and expressed the impassioned hope that at whatsoever
cost, justice and retribution should now as far as possible be done.

But finally it suggested to its readers that perhaps as far as human
recompense was concerned it might be too late now.

'Where is this wretched man?' it asked in conclusion. 'Where is this
John Archibald Cups, who in the supreme moment of his agony was lifted
like a spirit out of the hands of the law? Does some lonely unnamed
grave hide him, or must we wait to find him until the sea gives up its
dead? Dead or alive, we grieve it was his misfortune to be so misjudged.
Happily we take comfort to ourselves that such cases as his are rare,
but to his friends and his relations we tender now our most heartfelt
sympathy and regret.'

The next day came an angry, vicious letter from Pepple. 'Have no
mistaken grief,' he wrote, 'J.A. Cups is not dead. He came into my shop
last week and threw a bag full of flour over my head. He hit me with a
sack of nuts and slapped my face. I did not recognise him until he
shouted out that I was an herbivorous ass, and then, although he looked
quite different to the Cups of the trial last year, I knew him at once.
He had certainly altered strangely in appearance, but there was no
mistaking the man. He swore at me just like he did at everyone in the
court. He was quite mad with rage.'

My tardy vindication was a sort of bitter pleasure to me, but I did not
enjoy the correspondence half so much as I ought to have done, because
in the middle of it I was laid up for a few days with a painful spill
from a fall in the hurdles. I was not much hurt, it is true, but I was
quite unconscious for a few minutes, and the annoying part of it was
that the Jockey Club doctor was most interested in me when I came to.

'How did you get those scars, man?' he asked gently touching my nose.

'I fell down and hurt myself some years ago,' I grunted.

'No, no,' he said sternly. 'That's not true.' He shrugged his shoulders
indifferently. 'It's your own secret, of course, and if you don't want
to tell me, well, hold your tongue. But you can't deceive me, all the
same. Those scars are of quite recent date. Mind you, I'm not curious;
but I take of my hat, anyhow, to the man who patched you up. He was an
artist, if ever there was one.'

I felt uneasy when he turned away.




CHAPTER 7


Towards the end of July everything still appeared to be running smoothly
for me. The day of the Great Steeplechase was near at hand and we had
got Moonlight Maid well up to racing pitch. With some good experience
now of cross-country races, I thought that I had never had a more
promising animal under my charge.

She was an almost perfect jumper, was game as a pebble, and had plenty
of pace. She would stay every inch of the three miles easily; my only
fear was that she had a very nervous temperament and was liable to get
easily upset, especially in the early part of the journey. She disliked
crowds immensely, and she invariably pricked her beautiful little ears
whenever there were many strangers about.

We had given her one run in public and she had come through the trial
with complete success. In a field of eight horses at the Port and
carrying eleven stone two she had won easily. The public had been quick
to recognise her as the good thing she undoubtedly was, and with me up
she had paid less than two to one in the tote.

Her success had incurred a seven pound penalty for the Great
Steeplechase, but that was really what we had arranged for. Her weight
there was ten stone two, and with the penalty bringing it up to ten
stone nine I should be able to ride with the declaration of only a few
pounds overweight.

After her win at the Port the best price on offer against her for the
big race was ten to one, but that did not matter in the least to us.
Rainton had got forties about her as soon as the weights were out and
was content with the good wager of two thousand to fifty for an outright
win.

The public interest in me had by no means died down, and there were
whisperings everywhere whenever I appeared, but the newspapers had
stopped asking about my private life, and except referring to me
occasionally as 'Mystery Huggins' they left me alone.

I often used to wonder what Rainton thought of me. He never said a word,
however, and the only member of the family who referred to anything in
any way was pretty Margaret Price.

She and I had got very friendly together, and when we were alone, which
sometimes happened in the mornings when she was giving me a cup of tea
after I had come back to the stable with Moonlight Maid, she would refer
archly to the mystery that was supposed to be surrounding me.

She had a very pretty smile and was never chary of showing her beautiful
teeth.

'Good morning, Mr. Wells!' she said one day. 'No, there's no letter for
you!' She laughed lightly. 'Perhaps your wife doesn't know your address
yet.'

I laughed in return. 'And she's not likely to either, Miss Margaret,' I
said, 'for, as I've told you a good many times already, I'm not
married.'

She shrugged her shoulders prettily. 'Of course you'd say that - you men
always do.'

I looked at her very solemnly. 'Look here, Miss Margaret,' I said, 'do
you really think I'm telling you a story when I say I'm not married?'

She hesitated for a moment and became quite grave in her turn. 'I don't
believe for a moment your real name is Arnold Wells, anyhow; you're
hiding something from everyone, I'm sure.'

'Dear me, Miss Clever!' I said sarcastically. 'And how, pray, did you
learn that?'

'You told me yourself!' she replied, pertly. 'You've told it to me many
times, too. I can tell it in your manner and the way you look about you.
You feel safer now, but when you first came you watched everyone as if
you were not certain they wouldn't be giving you away. I've noticed it
often in you.'

I looked at her steadily for quite a long time before attempting any
reply. She was certainly being decidedly frank with me, but there was
not a spice of resentment in her tone. She seemed rather amused, that
was all.

In spite of myself I had to smile. 'And I suppose, then, Miss Clever,' I
asked, rather reproachfully however, 'you've been impressing these ideas
of yours on your sister and Mr. Rainton?'

A quick sparkle of anger flashed to her eyes. 'Thank you, Mr. Wells,'
she replied with a little bow. 'I haven't discussed you with anyone yet,
I'd like you to know. I'm not quite that sort.'

She looked so pretty in her annoyance that I just longed to pick her up
there and then and kiss her, but I shrugged my shoulders and said very
quietly, 'Well, it's very sweet of you if you haven't, that's all I
say.' I reached out and laid my hand lightly on her arm. 'Look here,
Miss Margaret,' I went on, 'one day I'll tell you everything; just now
I'm obliged to keep silent. I'm not married, anyhow. I can tell you that
straight away' - I squeezed her arm ever so slightly - 'and lately it's
begun to be a great joy to me that I'm not.'

Whether she understood my meaning or not I wasn't sure; but I believe
she did, for she gave me a arch smile as she walked back into the house.

I went home that evening woefully pondering how on earth I was going to
fit pretty Margaret in with my intentions for flight.


I thought a good deal about Margaret in the days that followed, and to
the exclusion of all else it was she who was now continually in my mind.

I was genuinely in love with her. Of that I was certain, and it was this
certainty that made me so apprehensive about linking up her life with
mine. After all, I was a fugitive from the law, and however little that
fact troubled me, it might be a different matter as far as she was
concerned.

I must tell her everything, of course, and, even if she cared for me,
was her temperament, I asked myself, one that could be content and happy
under the shadow always hanging over, however distant and remote it
might be, of discovery and possible arrest.

It worried me, I can tell you, to think of it all; and another thing
happened that week that went to pile up my worries and fill me at the
same time with intense anger.

I saw my man Hooker at the races, and the devil of it was he saw me
there, too. It was immediately after the hurdle race. I had come in
second and was returning to the enclosure to weigh in. For half a minute
we were held up until they opened the gates. There was the usual dense
crowd by the railings, and I let my glance wander carelessly round on
those standing there.

Suddenly I saw someone staring at me, staring at me incredulously with
bulged and startled eyes. It was Hooker, I saw at once, and with his
white face and widely opened mouth he was the very picture of stupefied
amazement. He was close up by the rails, not five feet away from me, and
for a good half minute at least he was taking me in. I made no attempt
at all to turn my head away, and tried to act as if I had never seen him
before. I looked at him idly and without recognition, just as I looked
at any of the others there. Then I yawned behind my whip as if I were
bored and looked among the crowd again; my glance went through Hooker as
if he were no more to me than any of the others there.

I saw the man pucker up his face in doubt. He screwed his eyes together
and squeezed half over the rails to get as near a view of me as
possible. I could feel his eyes wander over every part of me. My face,
my hands, my clothes, even my very boots interested him, and I wondered
angrily if he were even calculating the latter's size.

At last, however, the gate was opened, and with more relief than I would
recognize even to myself, I rode in.

The incident certainly annoyed me intensely, and alone by myself that
night I pondered exactly what harm might now accrue. Whichever way I
regarded it, the business for the moment certainly looked ugly enough.
Hooker was an inveterate gossip, I knew, and I'd had always to be very
stern to keep him at his distance any time.

If he were really certain he had seen me, then he would 'yap' about it
on the spot to everyone he knew, and it would be only a question of the
gossip reaching the reporters before they would be up at the Tower House
in a few minutes, to climb over the gates to get copy for their wretched
papers.

But would he be certain that he had seen me? That was the thing. No, I
told myself. Even if he were a hardened race-goer, and well in with all
the news of the turf, it would surely seem too impossible for him to
believe Dr. Carmichael, the one-time great surgeon (and I was certain
Hooker would know all about me), now a steeplechase jockey on the turf!
Why, the very idea would seem preposterous to him. Whatever he might
have thought when he was actually watching me, as soon as I had passed
out of his sight he would be thinking for sure he had been mistaken.

I finally reasoned myself into a more or less comfortable frame of mind;
but still, the happenings of the day brought home forcibly to me the
possibilities of peril that were always surrounding me.

Again, as I had done so many times, I took stock of my position, and I
reckoned that in about a month from then all things would be clear for
me to go away.

I had settled practically everything, except a few small unimportant
items and the sale of the house. Touching the latter, I was already in
negotiations with a likely party, and with any luck I thought the deal
should be carried through in the course of the next three weeks.

It came to me with a great pang that my racing career was nearly over.
The Great South Australian Steeplechase was now only a week away, and
with it passed there would be only a few very minor races in which I
should be engaged.

Ah, well! I sighed to myself, whatever happens now I have had a great
time. Fortune has been a good mistress to me and I would be a churl to
mistrust her now.


Hooker arrived as usual at seven o'clock next morning and, meeting me in
the hall, gave me a most furtive and embarrassed look. I nodded to him
in my usual way, however, and proceeded casually to furnish directions
for what work he was to do.

He worked well that morning, but there was something quite different
about him from other days. He was much quieter and, oddly for him,
offered no conversation at all. Whenever I happened to be near him, and
he thought I wasn't looking, I noticed him taking me in, in a most
careful and methodical way.

Just as on the racecourse, he was not satisfied with looking at my face.
He took in everything about me, and my hands particularly seemed to
interest him.

I could see he was very puzzled, and I quite enjoyed rubbing in the
doubts he felt. If I were really the jockey Huggins, then, of course, he
knew I must have noticed him by the rails, for I had looked straight at
him as he had been standing there.

That being so, it was probably a torment to him to have to speculate if
I could possibly be so casual, knowing that he held my secret in his
hands.

Certainly, Mr. Hooker, strict Baptist and teetotaller, was a very
puzzled man that morning; and he was undoubtedly thinking more of me
than of his prayers.

But if Hooker had worried me, and his recognition of me on the
racecourse had inclined me to believe that the curtain on Dr. Carmichael
must soon be ringing down, the arrival of a letter two days later
certainly strengthened my belief in that eventuality a thousandfold.

A new actor was about to appear upon the scene. On the Wednesday
afternoon a letter for Dr. Carmichael arrived from Sydney. I noticed the
postmark at once, and my heart jumped almost into my mouth. It was so
obviously not a business letter, and on the back there was the
inscription of the Sydney Central Hotel.

With trembling hands I tore the envelope open and at once all my worst
fears were confirmed. Dated two days previous, it was signed 'Angas
Forbes'. It was quite short, and very quickly I had taken it in.

'Dear Robert,' it ran, 'I only got back yesterday and hoped to have been
with you this weekend. But now I find I must go up to Brisbane first.
Anyhow, expect me in about three weeks' time. Hoping you are fit and
well and not too much in the blues, Your old friend, Angas Forbes.'

'Three weeks,' I exclaimed. 'Only three weeks and I must be hundreds of
miles away. I must vanish before any suspicion touches me, and long
before there will be any hue and cry.'

'Now let me see,' I went on to myself. 'If I get away before this Angas
Forbes arrives, there may be never any suspicion attached to me at all.
No one may ever learn I was not the real Dr. Carmichael and my sudden
flitting may be considered quite in accord with the eccentric
temperament of the recluse. But I must go quickly. In a week at most I
must leave Adelaide. All of the estate that I have not realised I must
give up. I shall have to tell something to the Raintons and what about
Margaret now?'

All day I thought and thought about the matter and was so worried and
preoccupied that even Rainton himself noticed something was up.

'Not feeling well, Mr. Wells?' he asked sympathetically. Then he smiled
quietly, 'I do hope, though, you'll be all right for Saturday.'

I put him off with an excuse that I had a headache, but to Margaret,
whom I was only able to get alone for half a minute, I was different.

'Look here, Margaret,' I said quickly, using her Christian name for the
first time, 'I must see you alone this week for something very
important. Will you meet me somewhere on Sunday? The others mustn't
know. You understand?'

Dear pretty Margaret! She understood. The sweet face blushed a little,
but the sunny smile faded ghost-like from her eyes.

She looked down for a moment. 'I'll think about it,' she whispered, 'and
I'll tell you between now and then.'

With my heart beating fast I moved nearer to take her hand, but at that
moment Mr. Rainton appeared in the garden, and, with a quick, sweet
glance at me, Margaret moved back into the house.

That week I made all preparations for leaving Adelaide on the following
Wednesday. The matter of Margaret was still unsettled, but all else was
clear in my mind.

I was not going to be greedy and everything I could not take with me I
would now cheerfully let go. After all, I was leaving, comparatively
speaking, very little, but I thought with regret of my two bungalows by
the sea, my car in the hills, my bathing hut on the sands and my boat at
the Port. They would all be wasted now.

At first I thought of a quick sale of them, but then I remembered I
wasn't quite safe even yet, and I sensibly told myself that with their
disposal went all chances of escape if I should have to take a sudden
flight in these last hours.

So I left them alone just as they were, and under the name of Thomas
Hardy booked a sleeper for the Wednesday night in the Melbourne express.


On the morning of the following Saturday, the day of the great race at
Morphettville, strangely enough, I overslept. It was a very unusual
thing for me to do. I was always such an early riser. Whether it was
because I had sat up late the previous night or that I had been a longer
time than usual in going to sleep I do not know, but I was pretty
startled at suddenly waking up in the morning and finding by my watch
that it was actually half-past nine.

At first I couldn't believe it. I hopped briskly out of bed and went to
look at the clock in the hall. Yes, it was nine-thirty right enough, but
where the devil was Hooker?

Even if I hadn't waked by myself, Hooker was due sharp at seven o'clock,
and he couldn't get in the house until I had let him.

I opened the front door and went round the garden in my pyjamas, but
there was no sign anywhere of the man, and the drive gates I saw were
still unlocked.

I was puzzled and annoyed. What had happened? I asked myself, and was
the fraudulent Hooker ill? He had been right enough the previous evening
when I had paid him his wages. He had come in for his money with the
usual oily and respectful smirk and had seemed then just as he always
was.

It was true I had noticed he had been rather strange in his manner all
the week, but I had put that down to his uncertainty about whether he
had recognised me at the races the previous Saturday. He had been uneasy
and nervous I had thought, but apparently most anxious to keep in my
good books. Several times he had tried to interest me unusually in the
affairs of the garden. Once, for instance, he had asked me to come out
quickly to look at a snake he was positive he had seen near the wall by
the drive gates, but, of course, as I had expected, there was no snake
to be found there. He had been most apologetic afterwards for making me
come.

All these things I remembered suddenly, but they afforded no clue to his
non-appearance now.

Grumbling to myself I went indoors to prepare my breakfast, a breakfast
that was, however, never destined to be eaten. I had just sat down when
I remembered the morning newspaper that was always thrown over the wall
on to the lawn. I got up irritably to get it.

Walking back slowly to the house I unfolded it as I came along and then
the bottom seemed to drop out of my world.

What did I see, and could I indeed believe the evidence of my eyes?

A dreadful shiver ran down my back. My tongue clove to the roof of my
mouth, and I could feel my heart pump as if it would burst through my
chest.

There were two large-sized photographs side by side at the top of the
middle page, and they were both photographs of me.

The first was headed 'The Jockey Huggins' and the second 'Dr. Robert
Carmichael, the eccentric recluse'.

The paper dropped from my nerveless hands, a horrible sick feeling came
over me, and for the moment I was stifled and couldn't breathe.

What did it mean? I asked myself. Oh, it couldn't be that I was found
out?

Feverishly I seized on the paper again, and the bold big headlines
struck at me like a cruel blow.

'Romance of the Turf', they ran. 'The crack jockey Huggins and the
famous Sydney surgeon, Carmichael, prove to be one and the same man. The
hermit forsakes his cave for the racecourse and commands astonishing
success'.

It was many minutes before I could coherently take it all in. The shock
was too great for me, and my brain was numbed with the sheer amazement
of it all. I had grown so confident with the passing of the months and
had fancied myself so secure. It had seemed impossible I could be found
out and not even Hooker's recognition the previous Saturday had flurried
me over-much.

Ah, Hooker! A sudden thought surged through me. It was Hooker who had
given me away. I saw it all instantly. That was why he had been so
nervous all the week, and why he was now staying away.

Another thought flashed to my mind. I grabbed the paper again and looked
at the photograph headed 'Dr. Carmichael'. Where had it been taken? It
was a dreadful effort for me to hold back my rage for everything was
plain as day as I looked at it again.

The photograph of Dr. Carmichael had been taken in the garden of Dr.
Carmichael. I had been snapped from the bushes when Hooker had called me
to look at the snake.

I had to laugh then if only because I realised how softly I had been
done. The dull-witted snail-brained Hooker versus the sharp intriguing
John Archibald Cups, I thought, and the victory all along the line with
the former.

But my laugh, however bitter, did me good, and I turned now quite calmly
to consider the whole article in detail.

It was certainly well put together, and on the face of it they had
carefully verified all facts before committing them to print. There were
two other photographs lower down on the page that I now noticed for the
first time.

One was a snap of 'Dr. Carmichael leaving the All Australian Bank in his
smoked glasses', and the other was quite a large photo of the garden
taking in the front and part of the side of the house.

The article itself was most sensational, and the files of some old
Sydney newspapers had evidently been drawn upon for details of Dr.
Carmichael's early life.

It told what a great surgeon he had been once and it mentioned briefly
the happenings that had led to his retirement now over five years ago.
Then, it said, he had come to the City of Adelaide and for four years
and more had lived like a hermit in its northern suburb. Sick of the
world, he had made his home in a lonely house surrounded by a dark and
high-walled garden, and there night and day he had been kept from
interference by the prowling of great huge beasts of the Livonian
wolf-hound strain.

Then, less than six months ago, it went on, he had altered his whole
mode of life. He had come out among his fellow men again, and of all
strange occupations for a highly cultured professional man he had taken
up that of riding as a steeplechase jockey in public.

Then it reminded its readers how successful I had been, and how, as
Huggins the jockey, I had time after time ridden the most unlikely and
unpromising horses to victory.

It described how all along I had resolutely refused to give any account
of myself, and how everyone had been completely baffled in their
attempts to find out who I was. For a time the secret of my dual life
had been a secret all my own, and no one for one moment had imagined
that Dr. Carmichael and Jockey Huggins were one and the same man.

Then the writer of the article himself became mysterious and denied to
his readers exactly how my secret had been found out. But it was quite
clear to me that he had come in contact with Hooker, for details of my
home-life were disclosed with as great an accuracy as if I had written
them myself.

Then, too, only with Hooker's connivance could anyone have been placed
in the garden to take those photographs, and the one headed 'Dr.
Carmichael', as I say, actually showed me standing exactly where Hooker
had posed me to get a good look at his imaginary snake.

I finished reading the article and was just on the point of putting the
paper down when the photograph of the house and garden again caught my
eye. With an uneasy feeling I saw that it took in the big fig tree and
the ground underneath. Was it fancy, I asked myself with my heart
beating a good bit faster than I cared, or could it really be that in
one corner the photo showed up a patch of earth of darker colour than
the rest? An oblong patch shaped like a grave, and just under the big
fig tree itself?

Again my blood ran cold.




CHAPTER 8


I sank to depths of great despondency that morning before the reaction
at last set in, and I became my old confident self again.

As once before in that same house, I gave way to despair, and it was
only the sharp remembrance of Margaret Price that pulled me up abruptly
and dragged me finally to my feet.

The moment, however, I definitely began the mapping out of my new plan
of campaign the very danger of my position thrilled me, and I boldly
shook off my fears and faced all my difficulties with the old spirit of
courage and resource.

Cups against the world again, I grinned to myself. 'And they shall have
a good run anyhow.'

At first, but for a brief second, I was inclined to give up any idea of
riding in the race that afternoon, and clear off straight away by the
Melbourne express, but then, I thought, how mean it would be to leave
Rainton in the lurch, remembering how much he stood to gain if we won
the race.

No one understood Moonlight Maid as I did, and without me I knew there
would be small hope of success.

I shut my teeth with a snap. No, I would ride as arranged, and whatever
happened afterwards, no one would sneer that I was a coward. After all,
I told myself, tomorrow I was fairly safe, for whatever had been
discovered, the significance of it would not be realised at least for a
few days.

I could see at once where the danger lay. I should be unmasked the first
moment the Adelaide papers reached Sydney.

As soon as my photograph as 'Dr. Carmichael' was seen there, denial
would follow as a matter of course, suspicion would be aroused and
within a few hours at most something of the nature of the truth would be
grasped.

I thought it out carefully. The Adelaide papers could not reach Sydney
until Tuesday morning. Well and good. I had until then to get away
unquestioned. No one would be thinking I would try to leave Adelaide
and, with no suspicions aroused and no one on the look-out, a very
simple disguise would enable me to escape unnoticed.

I would take the Sunday morning train to Melbourne, and once in Victoria
would make my way out towards the New South Wales border. News would
travel slowly in the bush, and whatever hue and cry were raised, it
would soon die down everywhere, I reckoned, except in the state of South
Australia itself. Besides, I thought amusedly to myself, I really didn't
see how, once out of sight and away, anyone could be certain of anything
about me at all.

All ideas would be in a great muddle, of course, but even the bank
people would have nothing certain to go on. They would have to be
careful how they acted, for with me no longer in view they would have no
proof that the man they had had dealings with wasn't after all the real
Dr. Carmichael.

The photo of Jockey Huggins and that of the man taken in Dr.
Carmichael's garden might be one and the same man, but who was there to
prove that the latter man had ever called himself Dr. Carmichael? There
was only the newspaper evidence to go on, and that all rested on the
bare word of Hooker.

The snap of me taken as I was leaving the bank, with my hat and smoked
glasses, would, I could see again, be in no way conclusive. It wasn't
good enough.

By noon, therefore, I had reasoned myself into quite a comfortable frame
of mind, and after some bread and cheese and a small bottle of
champagne, I felt game enough for anything. Only one thing troubled me
and that was Margaret. What was I going to do there?

The Grand Steeple was to be run at three o'clock, and I purposely
arrived at Morphettville as late as possible.

I knew, as the hour drew near, poor old Rainton would be getting
desperately anxious, but I couldn't help it. It was my cue now to say as
little as possible, and the more I kept myself out of the way the fewer
questions I would have to answer, and the more difficult it would be for
anyone to get at the truth when I was no longer there.

I had hoped to slip unnoticed into the dressing-room, but I soon found
that even my worst forebodings had not sufficiently realised the
interest that everyone would be taking in me.

The very instant the gatekeeper saw me, he beamed all over and wanted to
shake hands.

'Good luck to you, Doctor,' he shouted after me as I slipped quickly by.
'You're the pluckiest man I know.'

Everybody within ear-shot looked round, and at once a quickly increasing
crowd was following me to the dressing- room.

I appeared to be recognised instantly by everyone and a buzz of excited
interest hummed round.

'Dr. Carmichael, the great jockey,' they said. 'Look, he was the great
Sydney surgeon once.'

I almost had to force my way into the dressing-room set apart for the
jockeys, and there again, I had to go through another ordeal. A silence
fell over the room when I went in.

None of the lads said anything, however. They just stared and stared, as
if their very eyes would drop out of their heads. I thought Astley, the
jockey who was going to ride Babylon, rather curled his lips into a
contemptuous sneer, but no remark was made to me, and getting quickly
into my colours I left the room and went to find Rainton in the paddock.

The paddock was crowded, and my progress there was just as uncomfortable
and difficult as when I had first arrived on the course, but I hardened
my face like a stone and, looking neither to the right nor the left, at
length arrived at Moonlight Maid's stall.

As I had expected, Dick Rainton was there; and as I had expected also,
he was looking as anxious as he could possibly be.

There was a crowd of people in front of the stall, and I literally had
to push my way through to get to Rainton and the mare.

Oh, the relief in Rainton's face when he caught sight of me, and when I
got near he seemed too overcome to speak! But I didn't want him to
speak. We had a few seconds only before us, and I wanted to all the
talking.

'Look down, man,' I whispered sharply. 'Pretend to be examining the
mare's feet. I'm going to tell you something and you must keep a
straight face.'

We were in the stall standing close together then, and I began to pat
and stroke the mare. A few feet away the crowd was watching us intently.
Fortunately, they were all talking themselves, and speaking quietly I
knew they would not be able to hear what I was going to say.

Rainton, I saw, was looking puzzled, but he did as I directed and turned
down his head.

'Dick,' I said quickly, but deliberately. 'I'll have to tell you now.
I'm not the doctor from Sydney, I'm Cups.'

I could see him start and he drew in a deep breath.

'There's a lot to explain and you'll hear it all one day,' I went on.
'I've done nothing wrong, but I shall have to cut and hide again as soon
as the race is over. Now, I want a favour from you. Give this note to
Margaret when I'm in the saddle. Give it to her before the race, you
understand. She must have it at once.'

He nodded his head, but still without looking up.

'If I see you when it's over, Dick, don't try and stop me whatever you
do. I've risked something in coming here and everything will depend upon
my getting away quickly. Listen, there goes the saddling bell.'

Poor old Rainton! I knew I had given him a great shock, and like a man
in a trance he led out Moonlight Maid through the interested and gaping
crowd. He made no attempt at all to speak to me and, even when he
finally gave me a leg up on the mare and passed a last look over us to
see that everything was right, he still made no remark, but parted from
me with a sad and rather wistful smile.

To whatever age I live I shall never forget the very smallest happenings
of the next quarter of an hour.

It was a glorious winter afternoon, and the sun shone brightly out of a
perfect high blue sky. As we went out on to the course, I thought I had
never seen a greater crowd at a meeting before. Everywhere was packed,
and on all sides there was a seething mass of humanity. But the Great
Steeplechase, I remembered, was always a good draw, the value of the
stake, two-thousand pounds, bringing the best cross-country performers
together.

There were seventeen horses running. Moonlight Maid was number seven on
the card, and in that order we were to parade before the Grand Stand.

For the first time in all my races I was distinctly nervous. It was
impossible that the happenings of that morning should not have been
without effect on even the most hardened temperament, and I could feel
my face drawn hard and pale.

There was so much at stake for all of us that afternoon and my anxieties
were so varied and so many.

My own security was so uncertain that I was like a man almost hemmed in
by the onrush of some fierce forest fire. Margaret, too, was an anxiety,
for how could I deal with her when the next few hours, I knew, would
find me, once again, a fugitive before the law?

Then there was Rainton, too, to be thought of. He was hoping so much to
win this race, for, if successful, he would be set up for life.

I drew in a deep breath of anxiety. My burden seemed almost too great
for me to bear.

I remembered, however, that this was to be my last race, and the very
sorrow of it quickened me at once into quite a new train of thought. I
must ride a good race, I told myself, I must ride the best race I had
ever ridden. There must be no weakening now. I must not give way to
fear. I had faced difficulty before with courage and I had come out well
in the end. It must be so again.

All these thoughts had flashed through me in the first few seconds after
leaving the saddling enclosure, and it was well for me that I had so
soon got myself in hand.

The moment Moonlight Maid and I came before the stands, if there had
been any doubt before, it was patent then the interest in which I was
held.

There was an instant murmur of many voices, then someone clapped his
hands and finally there came up a warm and sympathetic cheer. There was
no doubt for whom the cheering was intended. It followed me all down
along the stands and died away when I had passed.

I pulled myself together, and now, as cold as ice, faced the barrier
from where we were to be sent off. I calmed Moonlight Maid to absolute
quietude and then cast my eyes thoughtfully over the other horses
waiting there.

I thought, with rather a pang of doubt, what a fine-looking lot of
animals they were. The very cream of the jumpers of South Australia, and
three high-class performers from Victoria as well. It would be a great
race, I knew, and it would not be easily won by any one.

There were only really three horses, however, that I greatly feared.
Babylon, The Beauty from Quorn, and The Rake. The Rake was a top-notcher
from Melbourne, and as slick as a greyhound over the jumps, but I was
hoping the twelve stone four he was carrying would sober him down a lot.
His jockey was Porteous, a Victorian crack, a good-looking fellow about
twenty-six, as smart as paint in his profession and one who knew all
there was to know about cross-country work.

The Beauty from Quorn was a lovely cream-coloured mare. She was on the
small side, but she was beautifully proportioned and could leap like a
cat. I doubted, however, if she would be alongside us at three miles,
although at two, with her light weight of nine stone seven, she would
have been a most dangerous proposition.

It was Babylon I feared most of all. Top-weight and carrying twelve
stone seven, he had earned well every ounce of his big weight. Beaten
only once in South Australia, and that by a bare half length when under
the same weight at Onkaparinga, he was a magnificent specimen of a
steeple-chaser. Of a coal-black colour, well over sixteen hands, he was a
quick mover and almost faultless in his jumping. The only thing, and I
had studied him well, he didn't like a fast run race, and moreover was
never quite at home when making his own running. I knew he would be
feeling his weight at the end of the journey, and I reckoned that if we
were alongside of him at the last fence, Moonlight Maid, who was a
wonderful finisher, would just about chop him for speed in the run home
down the straight.

The starting bell rang, and with no delay we were sent off on our
momentous journey.

Instantly I dashed my mount forward. I had many times rehearsed the race
in my own mind and realised that the greatest danger lay in the
largeness of the field. I had no intention of being at anytime entangled
in the crowd.

Fifty yards from the barrier we were well in front, and I took the first
jump a good three lengths ahead. I made the pace a cracker, and crossing
over to the rails, led past the stands all out on my own.

But I had no intention of making all the running, and when Wild Aster
and The Beggarman loomed up I let them gradually forge ahead until, with
the first mile covered, I was running only third. Here I took a swift
glance back and could see that the field was already pretty extended.
The Rake I could see nowhere, but The Beauty from Quorn was almost
alongside me and a very little way behind the great black head of
Babylon caught my eye.

We continued much in this order until nearing the stands for the second
time when Wild Aster came a cropper just in front of me, and in avoiding
him I had almost to pull up and in consequence lost my place.

I was passed by both The Beauty and the great Babylon himself. The Rake
I now caught sight of emerging from the ruck of those behind; there was
no mistaking that long head with the big white star.

I was not at all sorry that The Beauty and Babylon were in front, for it
was by their actions now that I should have to regulate mine.

With a keen appreciation of the varying merits of all the performers, as
I have already mentioned, I had sorted out three horses that I expected
would emerge with me into the front line at the finish, and it was upon
them principally that I intended to keep my eye.

The pace was still very fast, and with a pang of misgiving I noticed
that Babylon, just in front of me, was shouldering his great burden as
if after all it were only a featherweight for him. One after another he
took his fences with the grace and precision of a bird, and there was no
loss of even the fraction of a second as he landed each time on the
other side. The Beauty, too, seemed quite at ease, and her jockey was
riding confidently as if he had a lot in hand.

With more than two-thirds of the journey over, and on the other side of
the course, and opposite the stands, Beggarman, who hitherto had
gallantly retained the lead, at last showed signs of compounding and
held out signals of distress.

His jockey got busy at once with his whip, but it was of no service, and
the wearied son of Lazarus faded quickly out of the picture.

Six furlongs from home and with two more fences to jump, the race seemed
about to work out exactly as I had anticipated.

The Rake suddenly shot up from no where, and passing me in a flash drew
up almost level with Babylon on the outside. The Beauty from Quorn was
still leading, however, by half a length. She was just in front of me,
but a few feet further towards the centre of the course.

Approaching the last obstacle the positions were almost exactly the
same. The Beauty was still leading and I was still last, but as when two
hundred yards before, the proverbial blanket could easily have covered
us all.

I bustled my mount up ever so little and all four we took the last fence
almost in line. Now for it, I thought. We shall find the weak spots now.

Instantly his jockey shot Babylon forward, and with him avalanched The
Rake, side by side and stride for stride. The Beauty made a gallant
attempt to retain her position, and for fifty yards or so she still kept
the lead, but the long journey had finished her and all at once she
slipped back and I saw her no more.

A furlong from the winning post and I was a good length to the bad.
Babylon and The Rake, both hard ridden under the whip, were locked
together by themselves, and with the tenacity of bulldogs were
endeavouring to determine which was the better horse. I was close upon
the rails, Moonlight Maid was going like the wind, and I had got her so
beautifully balanced that I was afraid to lift my whip. I could feel she
was all out, and the pace was so terrific for the end of a three mile
journey that I was sure some of us would crack soon. So I left the Maid
alone, and with my hands clenched hard upon her withers crouched like a
thing of death against the rushing air.

A hundred yards from home and the great Babylon began to falter. The
weight was telling on him at last. His head slipped back to the neck of
The Rake, then to the latter's girths and finally the gelding from
Victoria was leading by a length.

A dreadful howl of disappointment came up from the stands. Their
champions were beaten and the great prize would now be carried over the
border. It seemed almost that a groan was wrung from the assembled
crowds, a groan that died to silence and ended in a gasp. Then suddenly
the silence broke, a murmur rose like the sighing of a wind, and in a
second a fierce exultant roar burst over stands and crowds like some
great hurricane let loose.

Moonlight Maid was gaining on The Rake. There was no doubt about it, I
had got the gelding cold.

Twenty yards from home, I was level with his girth - ten yards, and we
were neck and neck.

The Rake struggled gamely, but with each yard the mare's deadly pace was
telling, and in the end I knew she would last out best. Suddenly the end
came.

In a desperate spurt The Rake headed us once more, just headed us, and
then fell back so abruptly that I almost thought he'd broken down.

A great mist came before my eyes, the din of myriad voices stunned me,
and we'd won by half a length.

The memory of the next few minutes is very hazy. I remember cantering
back past the judge's box before being led into the enclosure. I saw a
perfect sea of excited people and I heard a fearful sound of cheering in
which the cry of 'Carmichael' seemed to often intrude itself. I saw
everywhere smiling faces in the weighing-room, and everyone almost
crowded up to congratulate me.

But I either replied nothing, or answered them curtly, I know. My
thoughts were quickly turned to far away, and with the race once over,
all its happenings seemed insignificant and small compared to the
exciting probabilities to come.

I must get away and quickly too. In a few seconds therefore I had
slipped out of my colours, and almost before the race was five minutes
old was hurrying out through the dressing- room door.

As I had expected and feared, however, there was a crowd assembled, and
the moment they caught sight of me they began to clap their hands and
cheer.

'Bravo, Doctor! Hurrah! Bravo, Carmichael!'

Frowning in annoyance I tried to push through them, but a big burly man
in particular blocked my way. He had a heavy full face, with a sandy
beard and very blue eyes. It struck me instinctively that he was not
waiting from motives of idle curiosity but had come there for some
purpose of his own.

He stared at me for a second and then clutched hold of my arm.

'You're not the doctor!' he shouted. 'You're not Robert Carmichael.' He
turned round excitedly to the crowd. 'This is not the doctor here. This
man's nothing like him at all.' Someone in the crowd laughed and a young
man shouted. 'Get out, you old fool.' The big man got angry at once. 'I
tell you, I know the doctor well,' he bawled. 'We've been friends for
thirty years.' He turned back and gripped me by the arm. 'This man's an
imposter here. Who are you, sir, and what do you mean?'

The crowd hushed to silence. Uneasily, I realised they had sensed a ring
of truth in the fellow's voice. All at once, the interest of a mystery
gripped them.

'Who are you?' the man reiterated, still gripping fiercely on my arm.
'You can't humbug me. I'm a friend of Dr Carmichael's. My name is
Forbes.'

Ah, I said to myself. I might have guessed it. This is that Angas
Forbes. I looked him coolly in the face.

'Take you hand off my arm, please,' I said quietly. 'Take it off at
once, sir.' My temper was rising. But he only gripped me the harder.
'There's something fishy here,' he shouted, 'and I'm going to get to the
bottom of it.' He turned again to the crowd. 'Get a policeman, someone,
quick.'

'You fool,' I exclaimed. 'You're drunk.'

I shook violently to free my arm, but he wouldn't let go, and
exasperated to a burst of temper, I stuck him a fierce blow between the
eyes and he dropped like an ox.

'Make way, please,' I called out sharply, and instantly the crowd opened
to let me pass. 'This fellow here's been drinking,' I said as a parting
shot. 'I've never seen him before.'

I hurried quickly to where I had left my motor-bicycle in the car
enclosure, and a couple of minutes later was speeding down the road to
where the Raintons lived.

Whew! what an escape! I thought. But what a rotten piece of luck that
the man's turned up so soon. The game's all up now. I must clear out in
an hour.

But where to, I asked myself? I must rearrange all my plans.

I had no time, however, to consider this. Rainton's place was only just
beyond the other side of the course and very quickly I arrived there.

I was expecting to meet Margaret. The note I had asked Rainton to give
her earlier in the afternoon was to tell her to leave the course
immediately the race was over and meet me at their home as quickly as
possible. She would be able to make a short cut over the racecourse and
be at the house sooner than would be I myself.

As I had hoped, she was in the garden when I rode up. Hearing my
footsteps on the path she looked up quickly with a pretty assumption of
surprise. Then she crimsoned up all over. Without a word or smile even,
I took her hand and led her unresisting into a small arbour at the end
of the lawn. I lifted up her face and kissed her.

'Margaret, darling,' I said, breaking silence at last. 'You know I love
you and I've come to say goodbye.' She gave me a quick look out of very
startled eyes.

'Who are you, then?' she asked sharply. 'And what does all this mean in
the papers this morning? I don't understand.'

I had made up my mind what to tell her and very quickly and very briefly
I outlined all that had taken place since I had been committed for
trial.

'Now, Margaret,' I said, when I had finished my tale, 'I have honestly
told you all, and you must let Dick and your sister know how I stand.
I've done nothing much wrong, but I must hide away again all the same
for I've broken the law.' I waited for her to speak, but she said
nothing. Instead she just looked at me with heightened colour and with
more than the suspicion of moisture in her eyes.

'I musn't wait now, dear,' I said quickly. 'Every moment to me now is
precious, but I couldn't go without saying goodbye.'

She found her speech at last. 'A nice goodbye,' she burst out bitterly.
'You come to tell me you love me and in the same breath you say you are
going away for ever.' A choke came into her voice. 'Am I never to see
you again?'

In a moment she was in my arms, and it was ecstacy to me that her tears
fell both on her face and mine. I comforted her in the only way I could
in the few minutes left to us before I had at last to say goodbye.

I told her she should hear from me soon, and I left it to her to
consider if, knowing all she did, she would ever care enough to link her
life with mine.

I had meant to stay only five minutes, but it was nearly an hour before
I finally tore myself away.


I parted from Margaret in a hopeful frame of mind, but it seemed almost
that that afternoon the goddess of mischance was bent on shadowing me
from the very moment I left the Raintons' house.

The motor-bicycle began to go wrong at once. I could get no speed out of
it, and after a couple of miles or so I had reluctantly to dismount and
try and put things right. It was a choked jet, I thought at first, but I
soon found it was more than that, and nothing I could do would make the
vile thing go. Mounting a second time, after a few yards it refused
absolutely to move at all. I was plunged into another dreadful turmoil
of anxiety.

It was five miles good from where I was to the Tower House in North
Adelaide, and it was vital for my successful escape to get home at once.

After the struggle with Angas Forbes at Morphettville that afternoon, it
was impossible to determine what would happen next. One thing was
certain. All my carefully arranged plans were now upset, and I should
have to think out everything anew. I must go back, however, to the
house. All the money I had collected and all my securities were there,
and I must get possession of them at whatever cost.

For the moment I comforted myself with the thought that no one could get
near the house, and then I remembered with a horrible foreboding that
the wretched Hooker had the duplicate key of the gates at the bottom of
the drive.

I burst into a cold sweat at the bare idea of the possibility of the new
misfortunes that might lie in front of me.

Realising now that my motor-bicycle was hopeless, I wheeled it into a
field and plumped it down among the bushes. Then I set off quickly at a
half walk and half run towards the city, keeping a look out, however,
all the time for the chance of a lift in some passing car.

But my good fortune seemed to have quite deserted me, and I was well on
to the outlying parklands before I was eventually able to pick up a
taxi.

Then as quickly as possible I was driven to North Adelaide, but not
knowing how things would be at the house, I dismissed the taxi at the
corner of my road.

It was well that I did so, for the moment I came in sight of The Tower,
I saw to my horror there was a car standing just outside the gates.
There was one man in it.

For a second I was inclined to turn back, but it came to me with a
thrill of fear that everything now stood poised on the razor edge, and
that it might be all or nothing for me in the next five minutes. At all
costs I must get my bundle of notes and securities.

I walked up coolly and turned into the gates. Quite casually I took
stock of the car. It was a hired one and the driver was nonchalantly
enjoying a cigarette.

I walked up the drive and, as long as I was in sight of the occupant of
the car, my slow pace indicated I was in no hurry at all. The moment,
however, the trees hid me from his view, I darted like a panther into
the bushes and went breathlessly to reconnoitre round the house.

I heard voices almost at once and, peeping from my cover, saw four men
standing on the verandah just by the front door.

Three of them I recognised on the instant. They were Hooker, Angas
Forbes and Levicka, one of the cashiers from the bank. The fourth man I
didn't know, but he was, I saw, a police-sergeant by his uniform. They
were all trying to peer through the coloured glass of the hall door.

If I had shown any hesitation then I should have been lost. If I had
waited for even ten seconds, the game would have been all up, and this
history never have been written.

But I didn't hesitate and I didn't wait. Their backs were towards me
and, in an instant, I sprang out of the bushes and was running like
lightning along the strip of grass by the side of the path.

Far quicker than it takes to write it, I had gained the friendly cover
of the side of the house, and was racing for the back door. I pulled out
the key as I ran and, in a few seconds, with no sound louder than the
faint clicking of the lock, I was inside the house and, with door closed
behind me, was tiptoeing to the room that contained the safe.

Although never expecting it I had prepared everything ready for an
emergency, and in two minutes at most I had all the bonds and notes
secured safely around my waist.

Making no sound, I took down a dark overcoat and a soft felt hat. Then I
got an automatic pistol out of a drawer, and also a small pair of opera
glasses that happened to catch my eye. A pocket flask full of brandy I
thrust in my pocket, and then I stood up ready for the next act in the
play.

The whole day had been so bewildering, full of change and incident, that
all along it seemed I had had to act just as the moments drove me and,
standing there then as I was, I realised grimly that I had no coherent
plans ahead about what I should do or to where I should go. The forces
of mischance, one after another, had so avalanched themselves upon me in
the last few hours that I was like a sleeper tossing fearfully in the
nightmare of some dark and dreadful dream.

All I could think of for the moment was to get away from the house, I
was trapped, I knew, if I remained there.

Dusk was falling rapidly outside, and as I crept stealthily again across
the hall all inside the house was so dark that I had no fear at all of
being seen by the watchers outside.

The need of prompt and resolute action had quite robbed me of all fears,
and with a sort of bitter humour I paused by the hall door to hear what
they were talking about outside.

Only a few feet away, I could hear every word they were saying, and my
blood alternately boiled with fury and froze with apprehension at what I
heard.

They were insistent with Hooker to know if he were sure I hadn't got
back and were already in the house, and Hooker was telling them it was
impossible I could have returned. To my amazement, I found the brute
knew all about my motor-bicycle, and where I garaged it. He told them he
had been on the watch ever since three o'clock, and it had not come back
a quarter of an hour ago. He had been twice to the garage to look, and
he was positive I should turn up in a minute or two.

Then it appeared Angas Forbes was urging the police-sergeant to get a
search warrant at once, and he swore several times he would himself
picket the house with his friends until it had been obtained. It should
not be left unwatched now for one single second. He was sure there had
been foul play, he kept on saying, and he shouldn't wonder if his friend
Carmichael hadn't been murdered. The doctor would never have given up
his dogs if he had been alive. Then the deep voice of the
police-sergeant chimed in and, although it sounded as if he was
considerably impressed with the views of Angas Forbes, he didn't appear
as yet to be sure of his ground. Anyhow, he approved of the necessity of
getting in touch with me, and promised that a couple of his men should
help keep an eye on the place until I returned. He said these men were
on their way up and wouldn't be long now.

I didn't wait to hear any more. I could take in the position without any
doubt. It was plain to me that with each moment the danger would get
worse, and if I was to get away at all I must do so at once.

Very softly I let myself out of the back door and, creeping through the
trees worked my way, without a sound, round to the front of the house.
Crouching behind a bush, I was within about ten yards of the four of
them on the verandah. They were all sitting down now and Angas Forbes
was handing round cigars. Unfortunately there was a bright moon, and a
silvered patch of lawn lay between me and the path that led to the
gates.

I saw Hooker's bicycle propped up against a tree and I thought
interestedly how useful it might come in, if I could only get a chance.

For some minutes I lay still as death behind the bush, hoping against
hope that some new idea would take the four of them to the back of the
house; for as long as they remained on the verandah, it was impossible
for me to cross the lawn without being seen.

But fortune was still against me and none of them showed any signs of
moving.

Getting desperate at last, I returned stealthily to the back of the
house. Much as I was against it, I must try now and escape over the wall
and through the judge's garden. There was no help for it, but it
necessitated getting the ladder out of the shed and the very slightest
sound would, I was sure, be fatal.

Very gently I opened the shed door, and then suddenly a new thought
struck me. My eyes fell on a large bundle of straw. Hooker had asked for
it recently to protect the young plants from the night frosts.

What if I set light to it? It would blaze in a few seconds, and the
flare of it would assuredly bring Forbes and his companions round the
corner in a rush, to see what had happened.

I lifted the bundle of straw out on to the path and, with no delay, set
light to it with a match. Then I ran back quickly to my position under
the bush and waited developments.

I had not long to wait. Almost before I had regained my post of
observation, the glare of the burning straw began to cast lights round
the side of the house and ominous sounds of crackling came up upon the
air.

The sergeant was the first to notice them. 'Hello,' he exclaimed,
'what's happening now?'

They were all on their feet in an instant and, as I had expected, in
another moment they were tearing round to the back of the house.

I didn't wait even the fraction of a second. I was over the lawn and had
seized Hooker's bicycle in a trice.

Tucking the tails of my coat beneath me, I had mounted and was gliding
down the drive, even before they could have reached the burning straw.

I went quite slowly through the gates and, with just a casual glance
over the chauffeur and the waiting car, turned into the road and
pedalled quickly away.

My second and last flight had begun.




CHAPTER 9


I shall never be quite satisfied in my own mind whether I did right or
wrong in going off on Hooker's bicycle. At any rate, it got me safely
away, but on the debit side its acquisition undoubtedly delivered me
over to another set of troubles; and by riding off on it as I did, it
was destined that for many days, I would never be certain that each hour
of freedom was not to be my last.

For one thing it certainly led to the almost instant discovery of my
flight and, from all I learnt afterwards, if I had not taken it, it
might have been hours before anyone would have known with certainty that
I had gone away.

The burning of the straw undoubtedly had made Angas Forbes and his
companions most suspicious but, on returning to the verandah, the
discovery by Hooker that his precious bicycle had been pinched, at once
made everything as clear as day.

They all then rushed pell-mell down to the gates and the chauffeur
pointed out the way I had gone. He reckoned I had got about ten minutes'
start.

Off they all went in pursuit, trusting apparently to chance to discover
the direction I had taken. And chance served them very well.

The road in which the Tower House was situated abutted directly on to
the open space of the parklands. There was the choice to anyone of three
directions from there. Either they could proceed along the Great North
Road towards Gawler, they could turn back right to the city, or they
could go straight on over the parklands and then along the Torrens road,
in the direction of Port Adelaide. The latter road was by far the most
unfrequented and started, moreover, by a good run downhill. It was
unlighted, after the first half mile.

The car pulled up sharply at the end of the Tower Road, for my pursuers
were uncertain then which direction I had taken.

As ill luck would have it, however, and it shows yet again how black was
my misfortune on that eventful day, a man and a girl were standing at a
garden gate, right at the very end of the road. They had been standing
there when I had passed, and exactly under the lamp-post I had noticed
with uneasiness that they had a good stare at me as I went by.

'Seen a man on a bicycle?' shouted Angas Forbes.

The couple nodded their heads and pointed towards the Torrens Road, the
man adding as the car moved off, 'He'd got no lights on him, but he was
going very fast.'

This, then, was how it came about, that when at least three miles up the
Torrens Road and pedalling at a good rate in the dark, I became aware of
the hum of some distant car behind me.

The Torrens Road runs straight as an arrow for a good five miles, and
after the first dip it is all the way slightly uphill.

I jumped off the bicycle and looked round. Yes, there it was right at
the bottom of the rise, and for a moment I stood wondering if it had
anything to do with me. I was just dismissing the idea as improbable,
for with each minute I had been congratulating myself that I was safer
and safer from pursuit, when something in the movements of the car's
lights caught my eye.

Like nearly all Australian cars, it carried a spot-light at one corner
of the top of the wind-screen. These spot-lights are little searchlights
in a way, and most useful where the roads are bad, for they cast a beam,
high up and a long way ahead.

Well, whoever were in the car, they were using that light now quite
unnecessarily on a good road, and moreover someone was moving it, I
could see, from side to side, as if to search the hedges as the car went
by.

I was instantly suspicious and looked round for somewhere to hide. The
moon had gone behind a cloud and it was pitch dark, except for the light
of the stars. The road stretched away straight before me and the hedges
on either side I could see were everywhere too thick to get through.

I threw myself desperately upon the machine and rode fiercely along,
looking for some opening to escape. But none presented itself to me, and
I was almost at my wits' ends, when I noticed that the ditch at one side
of the road, just where I was, had deepened down to a shallow sort of
pit, and was shadowed over by some high grass overhanging its banks.

In a second I was off the machine, and dumping it roughly down into the
ditch, I dropped in myself and crouched low to the ground.

It was a poor shelter at best, but with the car coming nearer and nearer
to hide in it was the only thing for me to do.

It will tell of the state of mind I was in at that moment when I relate
that I deliberately took out my automatic and slipped off the safety
catch. So wrought up was I by all my misfortunes that I know fully I
should have shot down anyone rather than be taken.

On came the car and I took a deep breath as it drew level. Yes, they
were all there, and it was Angas Forbes who was standing up next to the
driver and flashing round the light. I could see the tense expression on
his face, but it would, I thought, have been tenser still, had he known
how near he was then to death.

Had the light come just a little lower down, and had it just flashed to
where I lay, it might have set in motion a terrible train of events that
would have led to sudden death perhaps for more than one.

But the light never touched me and the car passed on quickly. I waited
until it had gone about a couple of hundred yards and then sprang
briskly out of the ditch and drew the bicycle up after me.

Boldness would now be the best plan I thought and, with no hesitation at
all, I started to follow up the road after the car. A very little way
ahead and I knew there were several small by-roads leading off right and
left, any of which would in a few moments swallow me up and make
capture, for the present at any rate, highly improbable.

But my evil genius was with me still. I had not gone even a quarter of a
mile, when I rode full into an open gully at the side of the road and
was pitched violently off on to my side.

I made a great effort to save myself and partly succeeded in protecting
my head, but my face came sharply in contact with the ground and my left
foot was twisted under me in a dreadful way.

I was covered all over in dust, and the blood began to trickle
unpleasantly from a cut on the cheek, but the dust and blood were as
nothing compared to the horrible wrench to my foot.

For a minute or two the agony was so intense that I almost believed that
I had broken my ankle.

I sat down by the roadside, faint and sick, and had no care nor thought
for all the pursuers in the world.

But the acute anguish soon began to pass away, and I quickly began to
get anxious again. The car might be returning or someone else might come
along. With no lights on my bicycle and with my face all cut and bloody,
I was a conspicuous person, and it would never do to be caught sitting
there.

I must move on at once, but it was easier said than done, for the moment
I stood up, I realised the bicycle would be of no further use. I was so
shaken that it was impossible for me to mount and, apart from that, the
handle-bars were all bent and twisted by the fall. I must hide somewhere
at once and, leaving the bicycle where it was, in the gully, I started
to limp painfully along the road.

Suddenly the moon came out and, to my relief, I recognised exactly where
I was. I was just near the racecourse at Cheltenham, and close by me was
the gate that opened on to the enclosure.

The gate was, of course, locked, but with feverish haste and in spite of
the pain to my foot, I climbed up over the rails and in half a minute or
so was resting safe, at any rate for the moment, in the shadow of the
trees.

No one I was sure had seen me get over, but I was after all only just in
time. The faint sounds of a car struck on my ears and slowly, quite
slowly, headlights came into view.

From a gap in the palings I had a good view of the road and as the car
drew level, one glance only was sufficient to tell me that it was my
pursuers returning.

They appeared to be all talking together and they were evidently
disagreeing about something. A little way past the racecourse gates the
car pulled up and I could catch almost every word they said.

Angas Forbes wanted to search down the Torrens Road again, he was sure
they must have passed me somewhere. But the sergeant was all for getting
straight to headquarters without any further delay.

'He's gone, Mr. Forbes,' he insisted bluntly. 'If he ever came down this
road, which I doubt very much. At any rate, he'll have taken fright of
our lights now, and won't be waiting for us about here. The best thing
is for me to get back once to the Square, and telephone he's wanted all
round. We haven't much to go on yet, it's true, but it certainly looks
most suspicious his running away, and we can pull him up, at any rate,
for his assault on you. That's the only charge I can see we can lay as
yet. He can't get away, if we're quick about it, and long before
tomorrow night I'll have him by the heels.'

The sergeant spoke most confidently, but the big Scotchman made a lot of
demur, and it was quite another five minutes before, to my joy, the car
was turned round again and driven away.

I started at once then to think what I must do, but the matter, as it
happened, was quickly decided for itself. Attempting to regain my feet,
I found I was now quite unable to stand. My foot was like a lump of
lead. I could no longer put it to the ground, and at best could only
crawl.

I think I really shed tears then. The utter helplessness of my position
was torture to me. And the humiliation of it all too! To remember all
the perils I had gone through, the difficulties I had surmounted and the
awkward situations from which I had extricated myself with such coolness
and finesse and now to be overwhelmed by a petty mishap, to fail just at
the last moment through no fault of my own was all gall and wormwood to
me. But what could I do? Everything seemed quite hopeless.

I must have lain where I was for quite an hour and then it came home to
me that whatever happened I could not lie out all night on the ground. A
heavy dew was beginning to fall and, miserable as my position already
was, it would not be benefited by getting wet through. I looked round
for some sort of shelter and the bulky shadow of the grandstand caught
my eye. It would be better than nothing.

I literally crawled up those steps of the grandstand, but the first row
of seats was as far as I could drag myself. Then, leaning back in a
corner with my feet up on the seat, I tucked the ends of my coat round
my legs and prepared myself as philosophically as I could for the night.

And what a night it was too! Starry, beautiful and still as I had ever
seen it. Everything gently silvered in the moonlight and the opiate of
peace and rest everywhere but in my heart. There was no sleep for me at
all.

Although I was tired out to the very point of collapse, my thoughts
would allow me no rest. Try as I would to prevent it, my tired eyes
wandered unceasingly over the racecourse, and the memory of my triumphs
there rose up in bitter wrath to chide me for my failure in the end.

Every yard of the great wide course was familiar to me, and every turn
of it and post I knew. I was mocked by every happiness I had known
there.

Like ghosts, the horses I had ridden glided up out of the shadows and
stared at me with big reproachful eyes. They seemed to mock that I who
was their master had fallen now so low.

I remembered how The Whirlwind had jumped for me there, how Rose-bud had
come away with me at the bend, how Babylon had carried me once in
triumph over those fences, and how Seamada had won in the last stride
before the judges' box.

That night seemed to me as if it would never end and, when morning did
come at last, so dark and hopeless appeared everything, that I welcomed
the day only as a change of setting to my outlook of despair.

The dawn, however, soon gave promise that it was going to be another
perfect winter day and, in spite of myself, when I stretched my cramped
and aching limbs to the comforting warmth of the sun, something of a
very faint tinge of hope began to come back. After all, I remembered,
and I had seen it too so often myself, the race is never lost until it
is won.

Sitting up I carefully examined my foot. No bones were broken that I
could make out, but I realised despairingly that it would be several
days before I would be able to walk or even put on my boot again. My
ankle was very swollen and to hang it down over the seat was perfect
agony. It jumped and throbbed as if my very heart had slipped down into
my foot.

I leant back again, and to quieten my nerves started a cigarette.
Suddenly, to my alarm, I heard near at hand a sound of whistling, and a
moment later a man appeared up on the lawn, just in front of the
grandstand.

He walked leisurely to a small shed in the enclosure near the
weighing-room and, unlocking the door, disappeared within.

He had passed close to me and I knew who he was at once. He was Sam
Piper, the head groundsman of the racing club at Cheltenham, and his
duties were generally to look after the course. He had to see that the
ground was kept well watered, and on racing days he had charge of the
men who saw to the placing of the hurdles and the flagging of the course
at the jumps.

I had never actually spoken to him, but I thought with a pang how often
he must have seen me in my triumphs and how he would know me far better
than I knew him.

In a couple of minutes or so he came out of the shed, carrying a coil of
hose, and prepared for the watering of the course just in front of the
judges' box.

My heart began to thump most unpleasantly. Here was a happening I had
never thought of, and yet was it possible, I asked myself, suddenly,
that I could make use of it in any way? But I was so weak and exhausted
that I really couldn't think clearly and, for a long time, in a sort of
haze, I just watched the man at his work.

Could I bribe him? I wondered, but then I thought of the terrible risk
if I no longer worked alone. I would be completely at this man's mercy
if I asked him for help, and was he the type of man it would be safe for
me to trust?

With shaking hands I took out my opera glasses and focused them on him
as he leant by the rails. I had an excellent view of his face.

He had set the sprinkler going and was now meditatively smoking and
engrossed in his pipe.

Yes, his face was certainly a nice one. He had a good square jaw that
spoke of determination and courage and there was a look of kindly humour
about his eyes. A man about thirty, I thought, and old enough at any
rate to know his own mind. I hesitated no longer.

I put down my glasses, and raising myself upright called out faintly,
'Hi! Hi!' I was shocked how weak my voice sounded.

The man took his pipe out of his mouth at once, and looked round in a
most surprised sort of way. For a moment he couldn't locate the voice.

'Hi!' I called out again. 'I want you. Quick!'

He saw me this time all right, and with a second's hesitation he crossed
over the lawn and stepped up to the grandstand.

'Hello,' he said, halting below the balcony and looking up inquiringly
to where I sat. 'What are you doing there?'

For the moment I was too overcome to reply and he went on, 'What's up -
been fighting?' Then his face broke into a grin. 'Been on the drink,
have you?'

I shook my head, but I didn't wonder at his question, for I must have
looked a queer sight with my face all covered with dried blood and dirt.

He came round up the steps to make a nearer inspection and I saw he was
looking at me in a very puzzled way.

'Do you want to earn fifty pounds?' I said weakly.

'Depends,' he replied laconically. 'Who are you, first?'

Now from the moment I had called out to him, I had realised I should
have to disclose my identity and trust the man. Indeed, I counted it
almost as my best card that he should know who I was. He would be
unusually interested at once.

'I'm Huggins,' I said faintly. 'I had an accident on the Torrens Road
last night and had to crawl in here.'

'Huggins,' he said, coming forward. 'So you are. I thought I recognised
you. Bless my soul. You do look bad. Now are you seriously hurt
anywhere?'

'No, not badly,' I replied, 'but I'm crocked for a time. I fell off a
bicycle and it's my foot that hurts me most. I twisted my ankle.'

In a most business-like way he proceeded to examine me.

'I'm a first-aid man, you know, and I don't think there's anything
broken,' he said after a moment. And then he added shyly, 'But as a
doctor yourself, of course, you would know.'

'Look here,' I said emphatically, 'I'm not a doctor at all. It's all rot
and don't you believe it. That was only a newspaper stunt in the Times.'

He seemed rather surprised. 'Well, you want attention anyhow,' he
remarked, 'and I'll get help at once.'

'No, that's just it,' I said. 'No one must know where I am. The police
are after me. I knocked a man down.'

He whistled and then looked at me very straight.

'Did you kill him?' he asked quietly.

'Kill him? No,' I replied. 'A good thing if I had. The brute was after
me last night and I got all this trouble in getting away. Look here,' I
went on, and I could feel my voice getting stronger as hope and courage
now began to come back. 'I want you to hide me. It'll be only for a few
days until this damned foot is well and then I know where to go myself.
I'll give you fifty pounds and more than that. Couldn't you hide me in
your house now until the trouble blows over? As I say, it'll only be for
a few days.'

He gave me a grim smile. 'I board with my aunt just over by the station
there,' he said. 'Her son lives with her too.' He chuckled with great
amusement. 'He's a policeman.'

I felt my hopes fall suddenly to zero and for a second I was sure I had
betrayed myself, but with his next words I began to breathe again.

'Not that I love the police,' he said. 'I hate 'em and they're no
friends of mine. Two meetings back here, they nabbed me for having a
half-crown bet with a bookie on the course and got fined five quid. I'm
not over-friendly with my cousin either. He's a bit of a swine.'

I took heart again at once. 'But couldn't you hide me anywhere?' I
urged. 'It'll only be such a few days and, except for the risk, the
money will be easily earned.'

He thought earnestly for a moment. 'It isn't the money,' he said slowly.
'I'd like to help you in any case, although with fifty quid I could do a
good deal. I've got a girl over in Queensland, waiting for me.'

'I'll make it a hundred,' I said eagerly, 'and more than that. Is there
no place you can think of for me to hide? I can rough it anywhere, you
understand.'

He looked me curiously up and down. 'What about my little shed then? No
one will be coming in there today, and there are plenty of sacks inside
for me to make up some sort of bed for you.'

My heart jumped with joy at the idea. To have any hiding place for the
next few days might mean eventual salvation for me after all, for, once
again upon my feet, I had the several other resources of which the
reader already knows.

I took hope again and in a few minutes was delighted with my ally. Mr
Sam Piper showed himself a most resourceful and capable individual. He
carried me down off the grandstand and, procuring some dressings from
the racecourse first-aid box, he washed and bound up my wounds. My ankle
he put under the hydrant tap and then swathed it well round with a
compress of wet rags.

Half an hour after I had first called to him, I was lying comfortably in
the hose-shed and he was off away back to his home, to get me something
to eat.

'It's quite all right as it happens,' he had explained. 'I can get you
plenty to eat today without anybody knowing. There's no one at home at
present. The old girl's off for the day to Henley Beach and the
policeman chap's on duty until dinner time.'

He was soon back and he had brought with him quite a store of
provisions. He was most insistent I should make a good meal and then,
when I had finished, that I should have a good sleep.

'Now I'm going to lock you in,' he said, 'and I shan't come near you
again until late this afternoon. Have a good sleep and don't worry about
anything. No one else has got a key to the shed and you're quite safe
all the time,' and he went off seemingly very pleased with himself.

Oh, the delicious memory of that going to sleep! It was only a poor
rough bed of sacks that I lay upon, but no bed of roses could have been
more fragrant and no couch more generous with its promise of sweet
gentle dreams.

Precarious as was still my position, once again, as before in my need, I
had found a protector and, once again, I was safe at any rate for a
time. I was like a man who had come out of hell and, as I sank gently
and thankfully into slumber, through the dim mists of my consciousness
shone a bright and radiant star of hope.

It was well towards dusk when I awoke and my new friend was standing
over me. So sound had been my sleep that I had not even heard him unlock
the door and he had had to shake me to wake me up.

'Sorry to disturb you,' he said with a pleasant smile, 'but I must be
off again in a few minutes. Feel better, don't you? Well, I must put
another wet compress on anyhow. I'll get that ankle down in a couple of
days,' and with professional pride he began to undo the bandage on my
foot.

'But you're quite right,' he went on, 'about the police. The beggars are
after you right enough. All the stations have had notice and you're
wanted on two charges. Assaulting that Mr. Forbes and stealing someone
else's bicycle. I got it out of my cousin at dinner today. There's a lot
of mystery about it, he says, but everyone's on the look-out.'

An uneasy feeling ran down my spine and I answered with an assurance I
did not feel.

'Pooh, it will be all over in a few days, if only I can keep out of
their clutches until the thing dies down. Shall I be all right here do
you think for the next few days?'

'You'll be all right every night,' he said, 'but during the daytime
you'll have to go up on the grandstand again. You see, my mate will be
using this shed tomorrow as well as me. He works with me during the day,
but fortunately, he never comes until well after eight o'clock. What I
thought I'd do is this. I'll hop round here early and carry you right up
on to the top. Whoever comes you'll be safe up there.'

I thanked him as gratefully as I could for his kindness, but he would
have none of it. I had not been mistaken in my estimate of the man. He
was a good sport and was evidently prepared to obtain a lot of enjoyment
from the difficulty and risks he now saw he ran in hiding me.

I had quite a good night's rest that night, and when morning came I felt
oceans better. My leg, too, was undoubtedly slightly easier.

Piper turned up almost as soon as it was light. He had brought me some
beef sandwiches and a bottle of hot tea. To my joy, he had also got the
morning's newspaper.

'I've not had time to read it myself yet,' he said, 'but you can give it
back tonight. That darned cousin of mine reckons they'll get you for
sure today. They've found where you left the bicycle and they reckon
you're hurt and can't get away far.'

'The devil they do,' I muttered, 'and if they only knew how nearly right
they are too.'

Piper laughed. 'Never mind, sir, they won't look for you here. I can see
this is going to mean some fun for me.'

He carried me up on to the very top of the grandstand and was most
solicitous to see that I had everything as far as possible for my
comfort. He had made me a nice thick bed of sacks and, lying close
behind the rails, while still hidden myself, I had a glorious view of
all the country around and could see all that was going on.

'Now,' were his parting words, 'I shan't come near you again until my
mate Scut's gone tonight. He's a very nosy chap, is Scut, and will smell
something if I give him the slightest chance. To make sure too, I shan't
come for you until it's quite dark.'

For a long while I gave myself up to my own thoughts. Things really were
beginning to look quite hopeful again and, if I could only lie low now
for a few days until my foot was quite well again, the odds were
decidedly in my favour that I should escape after all.

A dark night, and I could flit away to the bathing hut on Henley Beach.
There I could remain indefinitely and ultimately escape to somewhere
further afield, when the interest in me had died down. I didn't somehow
reckon that after the first few days the police would be much interested
in me. The two definite charges that they had against me were at their
worst only trumpery ones and, on their account, they certainly wouldn't
be able to work up much enthusiasm in apprehending me.

Angas Forbes would of course try and make out the blackest case he could
against me but, although he'd undoubtedly got the truth of everything,
he would have not a little difficulty, I thought, in bringing the
authorities to his opinion.

I opened the newspaper a little nervously, wondering what more they
would be having to say that morning in their continuation of the
Carmichael-Huggins affair. Nothing, however, at first caught my eye, and
I was congratulating myself that they had dropped the matter for good,
when all at once I came across a paragraph in the column of 'General
News'.

It was quite a short one, but it was ominously significant, and its very
terseness made me uneasy. It was headed 'Dr. Carmichael', and it just
remarked that though for the present they had nothing further to add to
their disclosures of Saturday, it was possible that some startling and
interesting developments might unfurl themselves shortly.

I guessed what had happened at once. Angas Forbes had been round to them
and pitched his tale and they were now waiting for corroboration from
Sydney.

It was not by any means a dull one for me, that morning on the
grandstand. After I had gone through the newspaper from beginning to
end, and particularly had been interested in the sporting columns
(wherein I was eulogised as much as I possibly could have wished) I
amused myself by looking round through my glasses.

They were very small ones, but they were excellent as far as they went,
and I could see quite a long way with them beyond the racecourse. My
friend Piper and the nosey-minded Scut were, however, only about a
couple of hundred yards away beneath me. They were giving the course
rails a new coat of paint.

Scut was certainly a most disreputable man in appearance, and I
remembered now I had often noticed him on the course on race-days. He
had always looked dirty and unshaven, and was always remarkable for an
intensely ragged looking coat over a jersey that, in its palmy days, had
been of a most flaming red colour.

Towards midday I began to feel a bit drowsy, and I was just on the very
point of dropping off to sleep, when suddenly I saw a car pull up at the
racecourse gates on the other side of the course and four men get
briskly out.

I was all alert again in a second, for there was no mistaking what they
were. They were policemen.

Breathlessly I watched them through my glasses, and to my relief they
did not turn at once in the direction of the grandstand. Instead, they
walked round along the course until they came to the far corner and then
I realised what they intended doing. They had come to search the bushes
and the thickets on the other side. Spreading themselves out, in a most
business-like manner, they went over the ground, but I wondered with a
growing uneasiness what on earth they expected to find.

In a few minutes, however, they were all together again. Evidently they
were discussing what they would do next. Then they all got over the
rails and came straight in the direction of the enclosure and the
stands.

I could feel my mouth get dry with fear. Was there never to be an end, I
asked myself, of all these dreadful alarms? Was I never to escape from
one peril but to fall directly into another? I wiped the sweat from my
forehead with my sleeve.

The policemen came quickly nearer, and I noticed with a little gleam of
hope that Piper had moved nearer too. He had left the man Scut and was
now busy on the railings just in front of the grandstand.

'Hello, you there,' called out one of the policemen, directly he came
within speaking distance.

'Hello,' replied Piper, 'what's up?'

'Have you seen any strangers about here,' asked the policeman, 'either
today or yesterday?'

Piper put on such a fine air of stupidity that even in my dreadful
anxiety I had to smile.

He scratched his head thoughtfully. 'There were two boys here
yesterday,' he said slowly, 'and they'd got a white dog with them. A fox
terrier, I believe.'

The policeman snorted contemptuously. 'It's a man we're after,' he said,
'not boys or white dogs.' He came close up to Piper. 'Now have you seen
Huggins,' he asked sternly, 'the jockey, I mean?'

'Huggins,' replied Piper as if excited at once. 'No, do you want him?
What's he done?'

'Never you mind,' said the policeman rudely, 'we want him, that's all.
Now, were you at work here yesterday?'

'Yes, all the morning up to one o'clock.'

'What time did you come?'

'I had the hydrants going by eight o'clock.'

The policeman thought for a moment. 'Could anyone get in any of the
buildings here?'

'No,' sneered Piper, contemptuous in his turn. 'They're all locked.'

'You've got a set of keys, haven't you?'

'Yes - I've got a set in my shed.'

'All right, then. We'll have a look round.'

They were all standing just below me and I could plainly see and hear
everything that was taking place.

Piper went and fetched the keys and the policeman in charge rapped out
his orders to the other men.

'Jackson, you come with me. Tweedy, you go and search round the back,
and you, Pickle, go and look over the stands. Now look slippery, we're
not going to be here all day.'

The separated at once and the one called Pickle was left alone with
Piper.

'Come on, mate,' said the latter cheerfully, 'I'll go up with you,
although it's damn rot all the same, for I was up on them less than half
an hour ago, and I haven't been out of sight since. Have a fag?'

The policeman looked cautiously round and, finding his superior officer
out of sight, graciously accepted the proffered cigarette. He was a
short fat man, with a big round innocent looking face, and I thought,
thankfully, he was certainly the least formidable of the lot. There
might be even now just a chance after all.

'Damn lot of steps, aren't there,' he asked, 'right up to the top?'

'Hell of a lot,' replied Piper, 'before you get out on to the roof, but
there's a fine view when you get up there. You can see all round.'

The policeman grunted in disgust and accompanied by Piper began slowly
to mount the steps. He looked searchingly along each row of seats as he
got level.

I was in a perfect fever of dread, but could think of absolutely nothing
I could do. I just lay numb and hypnotised, waiting for the end.

The policeman came up higher.

'Hold hard a minute, old chap,' exclaimed Piper suddenly, 'I want to
light my fag.' The fat policeman stopped readily enough, he seemed a bit
out of breath.

'What do they want this bloke, Huggins, for?' asked Piper, pausing
before he struck a match.

'Dunno,' grunted the policeman, 'he's pinched something, so I believe.'

'Damn fine jockey, anyhow,' went on Piper. 'Did you back Moonlight
Maid?'

'No,' came the answer with a growl. 'I've not 'ad a winner for weeks.'

'Haven't you?' asked Piper abruptly, and with a load of sympathy in his
voice, 'then I'll give you one for Saturday. It's an absolute certainty,
and there are only four people in the know as yet.' He looked round
cautiously and came very near to the policeman. 'Now can you keep a
secret - for sure? Not tell a soul, mind.'

The fat policeman began to breathe heavily. 'Yuss,' he replied
emphatically. 'I knows when to hold my tongue.'

Piper looked round in every direction, like the villain in the play -
then he put his hand lightly on the fat one's shoulder.

'There was a secret trial here yesterday,' he hissed. 'A trial between
The Bodger and Cask of Rum.'

'Wot,' exclaimed the policeman with his eyes doing their best to bulge
from his head, 'a trial on this course, 'ere?'

'Yes,' replied Piper, 'a trial, almost before it was light.'

'Wot 'appened? come on, tell us. There's a sport.'

It was a lurid tale then that the imaginative Piper unfolded. A tale
told slowly and with due dramatic emphasis. It appeared that Piper had
happened to have come out extra early on the Sunday morning. He had
wanted to get his work over early, he said, because a relative was
coming later to spend the day with him. He had been in his shed, sorting
out his tools. Suddenly he had heard voices. He had looked through the
crack of the shed door. He had seen three men on three horses. He had
recognised them all, at once. One was Potsworthy the trainer and the
other two were the jockeys Heffel and Bert May. They were lined up just
in front of the judges' box. 'Now, boys,' had said Potsworthy, 'ride
just as you would in a race and see if The Bodger is good enough to beat
Cask of Rum. Once round the course, a mile and a half, that's the
journey, and a box of cigars whoever wins.' Then followed a wonderful
account of a seemingly titanic struggle between the two horses, and of
every yard almost of the race there was some happening to tell. The
Bodger had taken up the running to the ten furlong post, then Cask of
Rum had put in some fine work, and nine furlongs from home he was a good
two lengths ahead. Then The Bodger had come again and Cask of Rum had
been pegged back, then something else happened and so on and so on.

And all this while the fat policeman stood open-mouthed. He was most
impressed. He never for one second took his eyes from Piper's face, and
I saw with thankfulness that, for the time at any rate, he had no
further interest in me.

How it would have ended goodness only knows, but suddenly the harsh
voice of the sergeant was heard from below.

'Now then, Pickle,' was shouted. 'Where are you - have you gone to
sleep?'

'Coming, Sergeant, coming,' called back the abruptly awakened Pickle.
Then he gripped Piper's arm sharply.

'But tell me, who won?' he whispered hoarsely.

'The Bodger, by half a street,' replied Piper.

A beautiful smile beamed on the fat policeman's face. 'I'll 'ave a
dollar on 'im on Saturday, and many thanks, old man,' and down the steps
he trampled heavily, apparently quite oblivious that he had not been
over the whole building.

I saw him say something to the sergeant, and in a few minutes they all
trooped back over the course and disappeared.

Piper grinned triumphantly to me from down below and then at once
rejoined his friend Scut.

At last I could breathe again, but I found I was shaking like a man in
an ague. It had been a dreadfully narrow escape, but I was most grateful
and I petulantly asked myself when it was all going to end. 'I am only
safe for an hour or two,' I grumbled, 'something else will turn up soon
and I shall be in the same old danger again.'

I felt so sick of everything that I really think I dropped asleep in
sheer disgust. I must have been very tired for it was nearly dark when I
awoke. Piper came up to help me to the shed. He seemed very pleased with
himself as usual but as before made light of any thanks. He locked me up
again for the night and went off whistling in the most happy manner
possible.

Next morning my foot was undoubtedly ever so much better and to my
delight I could put it to the ground. I was standing up waiting for
Piper when he opened the door.

'My foot's getting on fine,' I exclaimed cheerfully. 'Nearly all the
pain's gone and I can almost use it again. Now, what adventures are we
going to have today?'

But for a moment the man said nothing. He had got a newspaper in his
hand and I noticed suddenly that he was looking at me in a very strange,
old-fashioned way.

'Look here, Mr. Huggins,' he burst out at length. 'You're not playing
the game with me. You're not acting on the square.'

I could feel my face get flaming hot. 'What do you mean?' I asked
nervously. 'What's up?'

'That's what I want to know, exactly - what's up. Look at this now,' and
he thrust the newspaper he was holding into my hand.

I looked down and instantly I saw what he meant. In great big letters,
right across the middle of the page I read:

THE JOCKEY HUGGINS! 500 REWARD!

And in smaller letters underneath, 'The above sum will be paid to any
person or persons furnishing such information as will lead to the
discovery of the whereabouts of the same. Apply Mr. Angas Forbes, The
Great Australasian Hotel.'

I glanced quickly over the page, but that was apparently all there was
about me.

A dreadful sinking feeling came over me, and I leant against the wall
for support. Once again it seemed, the bottom was falling out of all my
hopes. Piper was watching me intently.

'Look here again,' he said earnestly. 'As I told you before, I don't
love the police and I'm not afraid of risks. But I want to know where I
stand, and no man's going to put it across me for a mug if I can help
it. Now you told me,' he went on sharply, 'that they were after you just
because you'd knocked a man down. You said the man wasn't hurt.' He
sneered contemptuously. 'They wouldn't be offering five hundred pounds
for that and I believe you killed him after all.'

I had to think rapidly. Five hundred pounds reward and the whole state
would be like a pack of wolves upon my track. Whether they knew or not
what I was wanted for, imaginations would everywhere be stirred and
every man and woman would be hot upon the scent. I could grasp exactly
how things stood. Angas Forbes was sure of everything, but he had proof
of nothing until I was actually produced. He must get hold of me to show
I was not the real Carmichael. Hence his masterstroke of offering a
reward of five hundred pounds.

What could I do? I must tell Piper everything. What alternative had I?
He had me in the hollow of his hand. I couldn't humbug him with any
safety.

I pulled myself together and looked him straight in the face.

'I told you only the truth,' I said quite quietly. 'I didn't hurt the
man. He's the one offering the reward.'

Piper sniffed. 'Five hundred pounds because you knocked him down. Do you
want me to believe that?'

I didn't raise my voice at all. I held his eyes intently with my own.

'Do you always read the newspapers, Piper?' I asked.

He gave me a hard and calculating frown.

'Yes, always. What of that?'

'I'm going to startle you then,' I said.

'I'm startled already,' he remarked drily.

I was silent for a moment. Knowing I had no choice, I still hesitated to
take the plunge. I spoke at last.

'Do you remember then last year reading about a prisoner who escaped
from the courts after he'd been sentenced - a man called Cups?'

'Yes,' he replied sullenly, 'I remember, but what of him?'

'I'm Cups,' I said simply.

For quite a long minute there was silence between us. He looked at me
very thoughtfully.

'You're a liar,' he said, very quietly. 'Cups had a big nose.'

I pulled him roughly by the arm. 'Look here, man,' I said angrily. 'Come
into the light. See those scars there. Pass your finger over them. Feel
them. I had all the bone and cartilage taken out of my nose. Dr.
Carmichael did it. I'm not lying. It's dead truth. When I escaped, Dr.
Carmichael hid me. He operated upon me and altered my face. I have to
tell you everything because there's no help for it now. I've lived in
his house over nine months. He died six months ago but, before he died,
he gave me everything. Now his friend, this man Forbes, has come here
and I can't explain anything, because if I do, they'll all know I'm
Cups. I swear to you it's all solemn truth.'

It was a very quiet and thoughtful Piper that a quarter of an hour later
helped me again up into the grandstand. He had been most incredulous at
first, but I had convinced him at last, and in quite an enthusiastic way
he had sworn to see me through. Myself I had no misgivings at all about
his loyalty. I had made him understand that five hundred pounds would be
a very small reward for me to give him, but quite apart from that I
fully believed he would have helped me in any case. He was really
delighted with the risks he was taking. It was adventure to him. He was
the type of man whose energies should rightly have been expended in any
direction other than the monotonous one he was then engaged upon. My
coming was the scarlet patch upon an otherwise drab and uneventful life.




CHAPTER 10


It was well for me that I had been perfectly open and frank with Piper.
Had I not been so, the disclosures made by the Times of Adelaide the
following Friday would have completely destroyed all his faith in me,
and in sheer disgust probably, and in spite of all risks, he would have
turned his back upon me and given me up without pity to my enemies.

My foot was practically well and I was arranging to slip off that very
evening, when Friday morning's issue of the Times exploded like a
dreadful bomb among all my plans, and shattered every hope I had of
getting successfully away.

Everything was found out and I was accused now openly of murder. It was
no wonder the Times had had nothing to say about me for the four
preceding days. They had been working feverishly first to prepare their
case, and figuratively and literally they had been burrowing through
every foot of the ground.

They had dug up the grave in the garden.

It was a long article to which they treated the public and with its
leaded headlines and its spaced paragraphs it occupied the whole of one
middle page. It was a perfect orgy of sensation and never before, I
suppose, had the public so had their fill of horror.

I could see the hand of Angas Forbes in it in every line. As I suspected
then and learnt afterwards, he had practically taken charge of and
conducted the whole affair.

When he realised on the Sunday evening that I was nowhere to be found,
and that moreover the police were quite lukewarm in the matter and
disposed, after a little display of energy, to treat the whole affair as
one of very small importance, he went round to the Times of Adelaide
office and there laid the whole matter before the editor-in-chief.

The Times people proved much more sympathetic and, as Angas Forbes
stoutly and obstinately reiterated his suspicions, they were won over
to his cause.

Angas Forbes was a rich man, and he could afford to take risks that a
poor man would not have dared, so he had forcibly broken into and taken
possession of the Tower House, and with a small army of private
detective and newspaper men had pursued every avenue of investigation
that suggested itself to their minds. There could be no denying that
their investigation had been far-reaching and thorough, and as I read
down the columns of the Times that morning, I gasped at the
determination and shrewdness they had shown.

'It is a strange story,' began the Times, 'that we have this morning to
unfold for our readers. A story that may seem almost incredible at
first, for it is one as weird and fanciful as any in all the dark annals
of baffling and mysterious crime.

'Dr. Robert Carmichael, the one time celebrated surgeon of new South
Wales, and later the eccentric recluse of North Adelaide, has been for
dead for many months. The body was found yesterday, buried in the garden
of his house.

'Exactly as to how he died has yet to be determined, but so far
everything points to the absolute certainty of foul play.

'We say, Dr. Carmichael died many months ago. The condition of his body
proves that. But since his death, strange as it may seem to write it,
his place has not been vacant either in his own house or in his many
business transactions with the All Australian Bank. Incredible to
relate, he has been successfully impersonated the whole time by an
individual who, by forgery and fraud, has unhappily succeeded in laying
hands upon the major portion of the estate.

'As we have said, it is a weird story, for the amazing part of it is,
this impersonator of the dead Dr. Carmichael has, in another capacity,
been well and glaringly before the public eye the whole time he has been
perpetrating his frauds.

'He has been known to us as the Jockey Huggins.'

Then the Times related everything that had happened at the Tower House
and explained how it had come about that Angas Forbes had appeared so
inopportunely, at least for me, upon the scene.

Angas Forbes, also himself a medical man, it told its readers, had been
a friend of Dr. Carmichael, a lifelong friend, and during the last five
years, every six months or so, he had spent at least a few days with him
in his exile. This last time, his visit had been greatly overdue, but he
had been away on business in America, and his return was nearly six
months later than it should have been. A few days back he had written to
Carmichael from Sydney, informing the doctor that he had returned at
last to Australia but should not be coming Adelaide way for at least
three weeks. A sudden change of plans, however, had enabled him
unexpectedly to come right on, and last Saturday morning he had been
nearing Adelaide on the Melbourne express, due in the city at half-past
ten. Imagine his surprise then, on purchasing, at a hill station about
twenty miles from Adelaide, a copy of that morning's Times, to see in it
a photograph of a strange unknown man purporting to be that of his
friend. But if he had been surprised at that, he had been surprised
still more to read that his friend had become a noted jockey on the
turf.

He knew at once it was impossible, for Dr. Carmichael had never had
anything to do with horses in all his life. Mr. Forbes was quite sure of
it.

Arriving at Adelaide and suspecting instinctively that something was
wrong, he had jumped into a taxi and had been driven straight to the
doctor's house.

There, it appeared, he had missed me, almost only by seconds. The man
Hooker had been keeping watch and had just seen me go out. Hooker wanted
to get into the sheds to fetch a coat he had left behind and, knowing he
had offended me by talking to the reporters, he had been waiting until
the coast was clear to go in. He had been just unlocking the entrance
gates when Angas Forbes had driven up. Explanations had followed and
Forbes had then driven instantly to the All Australian Bank. The bank
had been shut, but the manager had been unearthed at his private address
and, after much persuasion, had given Forbes the address of one of the
clerks, who had been accustomed to wait upon me at the bank. Then Forbes
had set off to catch me on the racecourse, and the Times went on to
describe all that had happened there.

Next was set out in detail the suspicious nature of my sudden flight
from the house and how that alone had at once convinced everyone that
there was something very wrong.

It was patent to them all, however, directly an entrance had been
effected into the house, that I had been preparing to leave, at latest,
within a few days. Undoubtedly, the letter Angas Forbes had written to
Dr. Carmichael from Sydney had frightened me, for it was seen I had got
things together as if for a long journey. But I had been packing
carefully and methodically as if there had been plenty of time, and the
trunk I had got ready contained nothing that had been thrown in in a
hurry. There were books in it on poetry and travel, there was a
silver-mounted riding whip. There was a box of carved ivory chessmen,
and an oil painting of a horse's head. Evidently when these things had
been collected, there had been no thought of immediate flight, but the
very instant I had known Angas Forbes was about, I had apparently
dropped everything precipitately, and no doubt had considered myself
very fortunate to escape, even empty handed, by a trick. Or rather, they
had thought I had escaped empty handed. They had thought so at first,
but when the books and papers in the desk had come to be examined, they
had unhappily seen it was very far from being the case.

The bank pass-book had been almost the first thing to catch their eye,
and only a few seconds' investigation had shown I had secured a very
rich haul.

During the last six months, or to be precise, from 18 February last, no
less than forty-seven thousand pounds had been disposed of wholesale and
bonds and stocks of all descriptions had been converted into cash.

What had become of the proceeds could only be guessed. At first the bank
authorities had been most reticent and, not knowing how they stood, had
refused point-blank to discuss any of Dr. Carmichael's affairs. But
presented with almost overwhelming evidence that the man they had lately
had dealings with could not by any possibility have been the real Dr.
Carmichael who had first opened an account with them, they had at last
changed their attitude and subsequently helped in the investigations in
every possible way.

That all the cheques since 28 January were forgeries was now clear. The
counterfoils of every one of them as shown in the heels of the used-up
cheque books left behind in the desk at Tower House, were undisguisedly
in a strange handwriting. Apparently thinking himself quite secure, the
forger had made no attempt there to imitate Dr. Carmichael's
handwriting. But apart from that, other and even more conclusive
evidence had been obtained.

Dr. Carmichael's signature in the signature book of the bank had been
photographed and enlarged. Some of the supposed later signatures had
also undergone a similar process. Side by side they had been thrown on a
screen. A startling difference in their characteristics had at once been
observed and the bank officials could determine exactly when the
forgeries had begun.

The first forged cheque had been drawn on 19 February, and it had been
for the comparatively small amount of one hundred pounds. Then the Times
of Adelaide seemed as if it paused to draw in a deep breath. It went on
in a more solemn note.

'But has nothing yet struck our readers? Does imagination stop short
when we have numerated these dates? Is there no blank that they want to
fill in?'

Then came one line in leaded type all by itself:

WHAT HAPPENED BETWEEN 28 JANUARY

AND 19 FEBRUARY?

It went on again:

'We will tell our readers. Somewhere between those dates, somewhere
between 28 January and 19 February last, Dr. Robert Carmichael met with
death in a violent and a sudden form. Somewhere, in some way, perhaps we
shall never know quite exactly how, he passed suddenly from the strength
and joy of life into the silence of everlasting sleep. How do we know
it? it may be asked, and we answer, we know it because he was buried in
his clothes.'

Then it went on to relate the circumstances that had led up to the
finding of the body and I saw there again how unkindly chance and fate
had treated me. It was, as I had expected, that wretched photograph of
the house that had given me away.

Angas Forbes, who apparently had had eyes for everything, had remarked,
just as I had done, upon the different shading in the photograph in the
ground under the tree, and, the moment they had started to dig, they had
noticed a lightness in the density of the soil.

I felt the tears come into my eyes as I read on.

Six feet of digging and they had reached the body of a fully clothed
man. It was known at once whose body it was. In a state of unusual
preservation, due no doubt to the limestone nature of the soil in which
it had been buried, Angas Forbes had been able to recognise the features
of his friend.

The body had evidently been buried in great haste, for not only was it
fully clothed but nothing apparently had been removed either from the
pockets or the person of the dead man. His gold watch was there, the
glass of it had been broken, there was money in his pockets, there were
his eye-glasses in their case, and there was his signet ring upon his
finger. The only preparation that had been made for burial had been to
roll the body in a sheet, and another sheet rolled round the trunk had
been employed to lower the body into the grave.

'Now,' said the Times in conclusion, 'let us face facts. Let us piece
them all together as far as they go.

'Dr. Robert Carmichael, a rich man living, so everyone believed,
entirely by himself, has died and been buried secretly in his own
garden. The man who buried him has disappeared, after having for six
months lived on in the same house and usurped all his functions.

'But we know who that man is and we want him. He must be found, and
there should surely be no difficulty at all about finding him.

'He is no unknown and obscure individual. For months he has been well in
the public eye, and his features are familiar to thousands of our
readers. Many photographs of him have appeared in the press and they can
be broadcasted now with the greatest of ease.

'No man it would seem should be easier to lay hands upon, for it is
almost certain that he is at present in hiding, somewhere within reach
of the city. He was traced last on Saturday evening to the Torrens Road,
just near to the Cheltenham Racecourse. He had had a spill from a
bicycle there, and from the condition of the machine that he abandoned,
it is not improbable that he received some injuries himself.

'It is true that a week has elapsed since then, but we confidently
believe, in spite of that, he still has had no opportunity as yet to
leave the State. Fortunately, thanks mainly to the initiative of Mr.
Angas Forbes, energetic precautions were taken from the very first.

'Long before the gravity of the matter was generally recognised, at the
insistence of this gentleman, a complete cordon was drawn round the city
and its environs.

'Ever since last Saturday, the railways have been quietly and
unostentatiously kept under surveillance and all long-distance trains
have been boarded by detectives, before being allowed to proceed.

'No overseas steamer has sailed since Saturday last, and all inter-state
vessels have been carefully searched, before their departure, since that
day.

'It is no secret either that all cars leaving South Australia by the
great roads have been held up and examined at vital points.

'With all these precautions taken, surely it is not unreasonable to
suppose that the ex-jockey is still in hiding close near, and in the
interest of the community generally, it is incumbent on every one of us
to assist in the best way we possibly can.

'It must not go forth that South Australia, and in the City of Adelaide
particularly, malefactors can do all they will, and when discovered and
brought to bay, just mock triumphantly at all authority and vanish like
the proverbial thieves in the night.

'One thing, however, we must remember, the man Huggins may perhaps be no
longer working alone. Unhappily he must be well supplied with funds, and
it is more than possible that even now he is bribing a path to sanctuary
by the disgorging of a potion of his ill-gotten wealth. He is almost
certainly now encompassing a guilty silence by the money he has stolen
from the dead.'

I read the article through three times, and each time I read it, it
seemed worse. There was no ambiguity about it. It took it for granted
straight away that I was a murderer.

I wondered what Dick Rainton would think of it, and with a dreadful pang
I thought of the anxiety Margaret would be in too.

The whole affair looked so damning, and my sudden disappearance would
seem to everyone to put the seal upon my guilt.

However popular I had been as a jockey, the supposed callous murder of
Dr. Carmichael would turn everyone against me and, in horror and
exasperation at the cold-blooded nature of the crime, all sympathy would
be alienated. To track me down would be the hope and aim of every
decent-minded man.

No wonder Piper had looked uncomfortably at me when he had given me the
paper. Of course he had read it all. I looked down through the railings
of the grandstand. Piper was working just below me. He was rolling the
lawn in front of the judges' box. I noticed he was alone. Scut was
nowhere to be seen.

Seized with a sudden impulse, I leaned over the rails and whistled.
Piper immediately stopped his work and looked up.

'Come up a moment, can't you? I want you,' I called out. Piper looked
round and hesitated. Then slowly and reluctantly it seemed, he mounted
on to the stand.

'Look here,' I said briskly, the moment he came within earshot, 'I'm not
going to stand this.'

I held out the paper to him. 'You've read it, I suppose?'

He nodded without replying. His face looked very white and solemn.
'Well,' I went on, 'I'll tell you what I'm going to do. I'm going to
write a letter to this beastly paper, telling them everything I've told
you. It can't do any harm.'

'What do you mean?' he asked, very sharply. 'Are you going to give
yourself up?'

'Not for all the world,' I said quickly. 'Unless you split on me, and
then I'll shoot myself before they take me alive.'

'I'm not going to split on you,' he interrupted irritably. 'I'm in the
soup now, as badly as you. I wish to blazes though I'd never seen you. I
tell you that straight.'

Piper looked plainly frightened. There was no doubt about it, but
strange to say, with his nervousness my own disappeared.

'Look here, Piper,' I said boldly, 'there's nothing in it. It's just
like that other time when they were so cocksure I was Dr. Carmichael.
One word from me, and the whole thing will topple down like a stack of
cards. I'm just going to write the Times a letter, and as I say, tell
them all I told you. The explanation is so simple, that once they've got
it the bottom will fall out of all their robbery and murder business,
first shot. I'm sure they'll print the letter too, because of the
sensation it'll make, whether they believe it or not. Now I want some
notepaper and an envelope.'

In a few minutes I had talked Piper into quite a happy state of mind,
and he was off home to get what I required. Scut, he told me, was ill.
He had been on the drink again the previous evening, and was in bed as
sick as a dog.

In half an hour Piper was back, and alone by myself again, I quickly
made out my letter for the Times.

'To the Editor of the Times of Adelaide.

'Sir - this is a perfectly authentic letter, and when you have seen who
writes it, you will understand why there is no exactness about the
address.

'So much is disclosed in your columns this morning about my relations
with the late Dr. Robert Carmichael that it seems to me a pity that the
whole truth should not be known, and so far as your investigations are
concerned, the whole matter, once and for all, set at rest.

'Personally, I am in no way interested in the opinions you or your
readers may hold of me, but I may perhaps still have a few friends left
and for their sakes, at least, I am unwilling to remain under the
undoubted stigma that your article in today's issue suggests.

'So I intend now to lay before you the real facts. I did not murder Dr.
Carmichael. He died as the result of an accident on the morning of
Monday, 29 January. He fell from the top to the bottom of the turret
stairs in his house, and broke his neck. He died in my arms a few
minutes afterwards and I buried him, as you have described, in the grave
in his own garden.

'I had been living with him since the first week of December. He gave me
shelter and protection when I had to leave my first hiding-place, the
house of Judge Cartright, next door.

'Dr. Carmichael knew all of my past history, and to alter my appearance
and enable me to escape ultimately from South Australia, he performed a
surgical operation upon my face. He removed part of the bone and
cartilage of my nose. To anaesthetise me he purchased six ounces of
chloroform in the city from Mildred's on Thursday, 18 January, and he
operated upon me the following Sunday.

'He had entire sympathy with my efforts to evade falling again into the
hands of the law, and it was his many times expressed intention to
arrange that I should make a new start in life under happier
circumstances in some distant part of the world.

'When he died, by realising his estate as I did, I acted only within my
rights, for with his last breath he gave everything to me. I cheated no
one, and I robbed no one. I was only taking what was morally my own.

'If I am unwilling to again place myself within reach of the law, you,
of all people, should easiest understand why. To what injustice I was
treated last year, you yourself bore public testimony less even than a
month ago. As you made clear, a perfectly innocent man, I was yet found
guilty of a crime I had never committed, and placed under the brutal
sentence of penal servitude for five years.

'Is it any wonder then that I fight shy of the authorities and prefer at
all risks to keep out of their hands?

'One thing, I shall never be taken alive. I have no intention, if I can
help it, of being taken at all, but if the worst comes to the worst, it
will be a barren victory only that the authorities will obtain.

'I shall destroy myself rather than fall again into their hands.

'Certain facts that I have mentioned can be verified at once, and the
autopsy will show that Dr. Carmichael died as the result of a broken
neck. That this is my handwriting too, can be made sure from an
inspection of the ledgers of the Consolidated Bank.

'One thing more, I may add, until Saturday afternoon last, Mr. Rainton,
the trainer, was never at any time aware that I was his old friend.

'Yours faithfully

'JOHN ARCHIBALD CUPS'

It was just before noon when I had finished, and Piper was ready to go
home for his dinner.

I read the letter over to him and it did me good to see the relief on
his face.

'That'll do them fine, Mr. Cups,' he said. 'It takes all the juice, as
you say, out of their murder business. Now, I tell you what I'll do. I
won't post it, I'll deliver it at once by hand. Mark it 'urgent' and
I'll go up and drop it straight away in the Times office box.'

Piper was back again about two and, finding the coast clear, came up at
once into the grandstand. He had delivered the letter and was very
excited.

'Everybody's talking about you in the city,' he said, 'and they're all
looking out for the reward. I went into the Oriental bar, and they were
all positive there that somehow you'd get here to the races tomorrow.
One man even said that he shouldn't wonder if you didn't try and keep to
your engagement to ride Eaton Boy in the Steeple. They say you would
have nerve enough for anything.'

We discussed what I must do and, reluctantly, we agreed it would be
impossible for me now to go away that night, as I had intended. Piper's
cousin had told him every policeman in the city was out and that all
leave had been cancelled for the weekend. It would be risky for me to
move a yard even from my hiding-place, for the Cheltenham neighbourhood
was of all places the most suspected. The police were positive somehow
that I had been injured in the bicycle spill and could not be far away
from where I had been hurt.

But what could I do? we argued. On the morrow there was a race-meeting
on the course and a dozen or more people would be coming all the time,
backwards and forwards, to the shed.

'As far as I can see,' said Piper at last, 'the only thing for you to do
is to sit up in the corner here the whole afternoon. You must keep your
head turned away and be using your glasses most of the time. After all,
people only come out on to the roof here actually when the race is going
on, so you won't be in danger the whole time, and if you are leaning
over the rails, no one will be able to notice your face.'

It was the best thing we could think of and so we left it at that.

I slept very badly that night, and had an evil dream that Diana, the
bitch, had got me cornered again in the kennels, only this time the face
of Diana was the face of Angas Forbes. I woke up covered in a heavy
sweat, and for hours and hours it seemed could not get off to sleep
again.

Just as dawn was breaking, I was awakened by the hurried entrance of
Piper. By the half light I saw he had a biggish parcel in his hands.

'Here, take these,' he said breathlessly, 'and put them on quick.
They're Scut's clothes. He's still ill and can't get up, and it's lucky
for us too. You'll have to be Scut today. My cousin says the police will
be all over the place soon. They're certain, somehow, you'll turn up on
the course this afternoon. They think you must be half mad because you
risked being discovered by coming out as a jockey all these months. Your
letter's in the paper, and it reads fine. I've got it here too.'

His startling proposal for the minute quite took my breath away. I was
dazed and heavy with the sudden awakening from my broken sleep, and the
bare idea of his suggestion made me sick with fear.

'I couldn't do it,' I muttered, 'I should be found out at once.'

'Nonsense,' he insisted stoutly, 'it's simply a wonderful chance of
escape for you. From what my cousin told me, you wouldn't have an
earthly if you were up in the stands. They'll be searching everywhere
today, but who'd dream of looking for you right under their very eyes?'

A little thought and I saw the master-stroke of Piper's idea. Scut's red
jersey and unkempt figure were known to everyone who went racing, and no
one would give him a second glance. The very humour of it too, swept
avalanche-like through my mind.

With a grin, almost of elation, I donned the filthy garments and pulled
the greasy hat well down upon my head.

'That's right,' said Piper enthusiastically, 'now take the blighter's
pipe and slouch your shoulders as if you'd got gripes in your back.
Don't ever move quickly and do everything as if you knew you were being
paid by the hour. There's only one thing,' he went on thoughtfully,
'you'll have to keep close to me all day, and I've got charge of the
hurdles right bang in front of the grandstand. It can't be helped
though.' He burst into a laugh. 'One thing, you needn't speak a word to
anybody. Scut's always been a sullen brute. Now come on out, there'll be
plenty of jobs to do this morning, there always are on racing days. I'll
put you first to dust the judges' box and you'll be able to have a
squint at the paper there.'

Two minutes later and safe in the security of the judges' box I unfolded
the Times. I saw my letter at once. It was printed prominently on the
middle page, and eagerly I looked down to see what comments they were
making on it. They didn't say much, but what they did say was very much
to the point.

'On this page we publish today,' ran their remarks, 'a letter that adds
yet another chapter to the extraordinary story of the Dr. Carmichael
affair. Never perhaps in the whole history of journalism in our state
has sensation so followed upon sensation, as it now is in this case. The
letter is authentic and written, as it purports to be, by the convict
John Archibald Cups. On its receipt, we immediately submitted it to the
officials of the Consolidated Bank and, with our own eyes, we have been
convinced it is a genuine communication. It is too early yet to comment
upon it at length, but in bare fairness to the man who writes it, we
will, in passing, mention two facts. For the first, although as our
readers are aware, the inquest upon the body of the late Dr. Carmichael
has been adjourned until next week, it is an open secret in the city
that the only cause of death so far discovered has been that of
dislocation and fracture of the third vertebra of the neck; and the
second fact, the turret staircase and walls in the Tower House were
carefully examined last evening by an expert, and there are undoubted
indications that a heavy fall has at some time occurred there. The wood
of the top step is quite rotten and has been entirely broken away.'

I put down the paper with a great sigh of relief. At any rate now, I
thought, the sting was taken out of the assumption that I had murdered
Dr. Carmichael. Everyone would see now there was another side to the
matter, and that it was not to be taken for granted I was guilty of
everything that was being so freely laid to my charge.

I was interrupted suddenly by the harsh voice of Piper.

'Now then, Scut,' he bawled loudly, 'Look alive, will you, I want you
out here.'

I shuffled out slowly to find him talking to Sidney Oldway, the smart
good-looking secretary of the Racing Club.

'Cut along now and look to those hurdles,' he went on. 'There's one
there with a cracked rail. Take it away and change it with a spare.'

'All right,' I growled, and I moved off to do as I was bid. The
immaculately dressed secretary eyed me openly with disgust. 'Does that
man ever wash?' I heard him ask Piper, 'he always looks beastly to me.'

I don't know what reply Piper gave. I was too anxious to move away. I
had no doubt too I did look beastly. I had a week's growth of beard on
me and I had muddied over my face. My coat too was filthy to look at and
had an abominable reek. My trousers were all bagged and greasy, and my
flaming jersey was horrible enough to offend even the least fastidious
eye. I had no wonder the secretary didn't admire me.

It was a thrilling day for me, that Saturday. I stood on the very brink
of disaster the whole day long. I was right on the precipice side, and
at any moment the slightest mischance would have precipitated me and all
my hopes to an abyss, from where there would have been no recovery.

But mischance never touched me. Through dangers that simply swarmed I
passed unscathed, and had I only known it I need not really have worried
at all. Haloed in the personality of the beast-like Scut, I was immune
both to trouble and suspicion.

Not that there was not plenty of suspicion too. When the time for racing
began, the course was alive with police and plain-clothes men. I learnt
afterwards that, as Piper had said, everyone had somehow got the idea
that I would try and come to the racecourse in disguise. The Chief
Commissioner himself had been sure of it. He imagined he was an expert
on the psychology of crime and he considered that mine was just such a
case where the obsession of my master passion, which he considered to be
racing, would drive out fear of everything else. He believed I would
jump to take the risk and rejoice in the thrills of danger it would give
me.

So, as I say, the police were everywhere. Big, burly, fine-looking
fellows with the unmistakable policeman gait moved everywhere among the
crowd. They eyed everyone inquisitively. They peered into people's faces
and they stared hard at anyone whom they thought bore the very slightest
resemblance to me.

But I was never among the crowd at all. Piper saw to that. I was always
kept doing something on the racing track, and my flaming jersey and my
baggy trousers were conspicuous features the whole afternoon long.

The hurdle race was the first item on the card, and along with Piper my
station was right bang in front of the grandstand. We saw to it that the
hurdles were properly staked and, with Scut's disreputable-looking pipe
always between my teeth, I held on gloomily to the battens, while Piper
drove them lustily into the ground. Then as soon as the horses had
jumped over them the first time round, up we had to pull them and stack
them out of the way.

Between the races we had to stamp down the turf where it had been turned
up by the flying hoofs, and when the preliminary canters were going on
we had to swing out the angle posts to prevent the jockeys bringing
their horses over to the side of the course near the rails.

When I had got over my first nervousness, the interest of the racing
gripped at me like it always had done, and I had to remind myself many
times to keep my head down.

Rainton had a sweet little filly running in the youngsters' race, and
with a pang I saw her just beaten, about two yards before she reached
the judges' box.

Then the steeplechase was full of thrills, and Mulvaney came a dreadful
cropper on the horse I was to have ridden, Eaton Boy. It didn't seem to
be his fault either, at all. He was out in front by himself and free
from all interference, but Eaton Boy took off badly at the fence
opposite the stands and crashed heavily as he came over. For a few
minutes the animal lay stunned where he fell, and the jockey was removed
unconscious in the ambulance. I heard a man on the rails call out
something about it being a lucky escape for Huggins, but I wasn't quite
so sure about the luck. I had seen the press photographer snap the
accident, and it came home to me with dismay that, standing just where I
had been, I must have been directly in the line of his camera. I hoped
to goodness I wouldn't come out in the picture.

I had one other distinct thrill of apprehension that afternoon. Of all
the people in the world, I caught sight of Pepple, the vegetarian, among
the crowd over by the rails. He had got his bruiser-looking assistant
with him, and he was moving restlessly to and fro and peering about as
inquisitively as any policeman or plain-clothes man. Three times during
the afternoon I found him in my neighbourhood, although on each occasion
I was in a different place on the course. The last time he was not ten
yards from me, and I thanked my stars he was obviously near-sighted. He
had got his eyes all screwed up in a puzzled sort of way, and he poked
his nose in everyone's face as he came near. Looking for me, of course,
the little beast! I thought, and keeping as close to the prize-fighting
man as a baby to its nurse.

Just before the fifth race, I was in charge of the angle-post almost in
front of the judges' box, and I suddenly caught sight of Angas Forbes
and Dick Rainton talking together in the enclosure. I was a little too
far away to exactly catch the expression on their faces, but from the
way they stood their attitudes didn't seem very friendly. The Scotchman
seemed to be doing most of the talking, and several times I saw Dick
Rainton coldly shake his head. Presently I saw a third party join them,
and it added greatly to my interest when I recognised him as Benson, the
trainer, who had given me my first winning mount in Adelaide on Vixen
Lady.

Apparently Benson asked Rainton to introduce him, and then began a
pantomime that filled me with intense curiosity. Angas Forbes seemed
more antagonistic than ever, but in Benson I knew he would more than
meet his match. Whatever they were saying, the trainer was every bit as
emphatic as was he, and I could see the rough decisive way in which he
was pushing his points.

Much to my disappointment, however, the 'off' was suddenly shouted, and
in the rush to the rails the trio were immediately blotted out.

The afternoon went very quickly, and almost before I could take it in,
it was all over and the people were streaming from the course. Half an
hour after the last race the whole place was quite deserted, and Piper
came up to me gleefully rubbing his hands.

'Great, wasn't it?' he exclaimed, with a triumphant grin. 'See the
police? They were everywhere, and the plain-clothes men too. You'd have
been caught, sure as a gun, if you'd been up on the stands. They went
through them time after time, and everyone left the course tonight
through files and files of suspects. I told you they thought you were
mad and that they were certain they'd have you today. I believe now that
the worst is over, and you're sure to get away. The doctor says that
beast Scut will have to be in bed at least a week, and at any rate,
you're safe until then.'

The next day passed very quietly, and the Monday dawned with my hopes
very high indeed.

Another week, I argued, and the whole thing would die down. I had
thought of what I would do. Piper should buy a second-hand motor-bicycle
and side car, and we would get away on it, to begin with, to the
bungalow at Noarlunga. I had given Piper his five hundred pounds in
twenty-pound notes, and he was going to throw up his present job at
once, and, after getting me away, he was going to clear off to
Queensland. He was now as anxious to get away as was I, and we both saw
the great desirability of moving before the alcoholic Scut reappeared
and awkward explanations might ensue.

Piper turned up very early that Monday. He brought with him some
interesting, if rather disquieting news.

'The police are furious,' he said, 'now that they know you are Cups.
They've never forgiven you for the way you put it across them last year,
and your letter in the paper on Saturday has made them simply wild. The
Chief Commissioner has put them all on their mettle and there's
promotion for anyone who spots you. They think they're bound to get you,
although they say they know now you've got hiding places prepared all
over the place. My cousin says one of the Henley Beach men told him on
the quiet that they've found a bathing hut crammed with tinned food and
no one knows who the hut belongs to. They're certain you've got it
ready, and they expect to catch you there, but he also says the Port
Adelaide people have got a card up their sleeve too. He doesn't know
quite what it is, but it's something to do with a motor-boat with a lot
of food hidden in the same way. I tell you the police are awfully
excited and as keen as mustard to catch you.'

His information made me feel pretty uncomfortable, but I thought with
thankfulness that the bicycle accident had been, after all, a very lucky
accident for me.

I opened the newspaper he had brought with him, and the first thing I
saw was a letter from Pepple again. As I read through it, I confess it
almost made my blood run cold. The man might be a consummate ass, but
wrapped up in all his rot about psychic warnings and astral waves there
were some clever guesses, which pretty well hit the truth. His letter
was dated Sunday, and he wrote he was positive I had been on the
racecourse the previous day. He had been there all the afternoon
himself, he wrote, and many times he had felt his own subconscious waves
vibrating in harmony to those of mine. He was sure I had been somewhere
on the racecourse. He would stake his life upon it. Why I had not been
found, however, although obscure to him at first, was at last clear to
him. It had come to him as he lay awake in the night. A great mistake
had been made. Everyone had been looking for me in the wrong place. I
had not been among the crowd. I had been among the officials somewhere,
and if only a moment's thought were given to the matter everyone would
at once see why. The whole thing was quite plain. It was undeniable I
was acting with confederates now, otherwise how could be explained my
possession of the daily newspapers and the delivery to the Times office
of my letter by hand. Well, given I had confederates, who were they most
likely to be? Why, racing people, of course. I had been mixed up with
the racing crowd, and no doubt to many I was still a hero in their eyes.
Of course, it was they who were helping me. The morality of race-goers
was notoriously lax and most of them wouldn't think twice of helping me
to hide away. I had been last traced, a week ago, to just near the
Cheltenham Racecourse, and probably I had been lying low all the time at
the buildings on the course. He wouldn't be at all surprised if on the
race-day I had been disguised as one of the ticket collectors, or had
been taken on in the totalizator building as one of the clerks. Clearly,
he concluded, it was the racing officials who were shielding me and they
ought to be shown up.

I cursed the little wretch for his meddling. Although his rigmarole was
sheer guess-work and spiteful at that, it might set some people
thinking, and with the big reward offered, his ideas might be taken up
and night prowlers might come around.

Piper laughed when I showed him the letter. He was in high spirits. He
had hidden his five hundred pounds safely away, and was in no fear now
as to anything that might happen.

'Don't you worry, Mr. Cups, we shall get off all right now,' he said
confidently, 'and if the worse comes to the worst, I'll borrow my
cousin's helmet and cape. No one would think of stopping anyone with a
policeman in the side-car. I reckon our troubles are almost over, and
you'll soon be able to live a comfortable life again.'

But Piper was wrong, woefully wrong, and of all my escapes, the most
perilous one was yet to come.

I was dozing off in the shed that evening, it could not have been much
more than half-past six, when suddenly the sound of hurried footsteps
came to me from outside. There was a sharp click of the key in the lock,
the pant of laboured breathing, and Piper was bending over me and
hissing breathlessly in my ear.

'Quick, quick, get up. Run for your life. The police are here, they're
following me. They've found out all about Scut. Run! Run! Don't go on
the Torrens Road, they're watching there. Get over the railway. Quick -
be quick!'

Fortunately for me I was not undressed, and more fortunate still I had
got my boots on. I was off the bed in a flash and, grabbing up my hat,
was out into the night almost before Piper had finished his last words.
I disappeared round one side of the shed and Piper the other. Only just
in time. A big, tall figure loomed out of the blackness and struck
fiercely at me as I rushed by. I felt a stinging blow on the side of the
face, and someone grabbed hold of my arm. But I shook myself free and
escaped by a hair's breadth from another outstretched hand. There was a
quick sharp run with at least two people hot after me in pursuit. But I
knew the ground better than they did and, dodging round the grandstand,
I doubled back and gave them the slip. I heard a lot of shouting and
there was a great flashing of electric torches near the stands, but two
minutes later, the blackness of the night had swallowed me up, and I was
plugging briskly along, right over on the other side of the racecourse.

For the moment, once again, I was safe.




CHAPTER 11.


All that happened on that eventful Monday, so suddenly and unexpectedly
to set the police upon my trail, was at the time a complete mystery to
me, and I could hazard no guess then how it had come about that at a
second's notice, almost, I was again flying hot-foot from my enemies.

But everything was in due course made clear to me, and weeks after, in
Brisbane, in a copy of the Queensland Picture Magazine I came across a
representation of the actual photograph that had so nearly led to my
undoing. Reprinted from an Adelaide paper, it was a picture showing the
fall of Eaton Boy in the Steeple at Cheltenham.

It was in every way an excellent production, but in a spirit surely of
malignant chance, nothing in it had come out clearer than had I.

There was I standing hunched up in Scut's miserable attire, the battered
hat, the flaming jersey and the awful baggy trousers, as I had feared I
had been, right bang in the line of fire. My face was turned up straight
towards the camera and every line and feature of it stood out as clear
as day.

No wonder I had been spotted the moment the photograph had been printed.
The miracle would have been if I had not!

It appeared, however, that the operator had been very busy that day and
the photograph had not been developed until well on into the afternoon.
Then a single print had been taken, and in a moment the fat was in the
fire.

The photographer had rushed off like a scalded cat to the police
station, the telephone bells had been set clanging in all directions,
and shortly after six o'clock, much to the astonishment of the
neighbours, a long black police car had avalanched up to the residence
of the alcoholic Ebenezer Scut.

Scut had been still in bed when his peace had been so rudely disturbed,
and, never at any time very bright in his intelligence, it had, happily
for me, taken much longer than it should have done to obtain coherent
replies to the police queries.

But he at last made it plain that he had been nowhere near the
racecourse for four days, that he had not even left his bed since the
previous Thursday, and that his mate Piper on the Saturday had borrowed
his clothes, including the famous and filthy red jersey.

Asked to explain why he had lent Piper his garments, he had reluctantly
admitted that he had thought the latter was doing him a good turn. He,
Scut, had so often failed to report for work on the racecourse because
of his drunken habits that the secretary had at last sworn he would sack
him if it should happen again. So when Piper had burst in excitedly on
the Saturday morning to announce he had found a temporary substitute,
Scut had been ready to fall on his neck and hail him as a true friend.

This was the tale that Scut had told the detectives, and immediately
suspicion was focused upon Piper and a move made towards the latter's
house. But Piper had been actually coming round to see how Scut was at
the very time the police were there, and the police car and the
policemen lounging in front of the house had instantly enlightened him,
and he had torn off to warn me of the danger I was in.

But he had been spotted taking a short cut over the fence and the
police, reinforced by a contingent from Woodville, had as nearly as
anything caught him before he had had time to reach me.

All this I learnt afterwards but, as I have said, at the time everything
was a puzzle to me. All I knew was that I was fleeing once again into
the darkness with a cordon of danger drawn round me on every side.

It was well for me I knew every yard of the course, for the pain in my
ankle came back almost at once and in a straight out run I should have
had no chance at all. But I picked my way stealthily along by the thick
box hedge surrounding the course and, coming at length to a hole that I
knew was there, crawled through it on to the railway and from thence got
quickly on to the great Port Road.

I really don't think I had been at all frightened any part of the time.
My chief feeling as far as I remember was one of anger, intense anger,
that I was being so harassed again. I had everyone against me, I told
myself, and it wasn't fair. The whole organisation of the state was out
to crush me, and it was like a big giant fighting a little boy.

But I wouldn't give in, I swore. I would see them all in hell before
they caught me. I would dodge them again. I turned up my coat collar and
walked warily down the Port Road thinking desperately what I must do.

I knew I must act quickly. The Port Road wouldn't be safe for long. In a
few minutes it would be alive with policemen, and already I guessed the
telephones were buzzing energetically all over the city.

But I could think of nothing I could do. Every plan that suggested
itself to me I had to turn down. There was nowhere that I knew of where
I could hide, and every moment my foot began to warn me the more and
more insistently that any prolonged exertion was entirely out of the
question.

With my mind in dreadful turmoil, about three minutes' walking brought
me to the railway crossing on the Port Road and then - without any
premeditation on my part - my fate was decided for itself.

A train was about to go over the level crossing and the traffic was
being held up. A big motor lorry there had been brought to a standstill,
and I noticed that it was loaded well up with petrol tins. Suddenly I
caught sight of a policeman in the distance and, panic-stricken and
looking for anywhere to hide, I jumped on to the lorry and lay down
among the tins. At the same instant the train thundered by. There were
two sacks among the tins and frantically I pulled them over me. With a
rough jerk the lorry started, quickly gathered pace, and in a few
seconds it was rushing noisily towards the city.

For a minute or two I could hardly take in my good fortune. I lay under
the dirty sacks scarce daring to breathe lest I should be seen as we
passed by. Then gradually my confidence returned, and I laughed shakily
that it had been so easy to get away. What a sell for the police again!
I thought. Whatever was going to happen now, I was at least out of the
immediate dangerous area, and my prospects were brighter with each yard
the lorry drew away.

I wondered where the lorry was going to. It must have come straight from
the Port, I knew, and loaded up as it was, its destination might be
anywhere miles away from the city. In an hour or two even, I might find
myself near some country town, and I should be able to slip away. I must
be very careful, however, for once in the bush, if they had any idea
where I was, they would put the black trackers on to me at once.

I waited anxiously to see which way the lorry would go.

In a few minutes we came to the confines of the city, and the lorry went
straight on, as if it were going to pass right through. I was just
rejoicing that, at any rate, somewhere in the country was evidently
going to be its destination, when suddenly, just as we were right
opposite The Grand Australasian Hotel, the lorry began to slow down.

I put my head out anxiously between the tins and, oh, horror! saw we
were turning up the little lane into the garage of the hotel.

I had only an instant to make up my mind, but happily that instant was
time enough. The entrance to the garage was narrow and ill-lighted, and
the lorry had to slow down to a snail's pace. I slipped off the back
without a sound, and then, as an afterthought, pulled one of the sacks
off after me. When lying on the lorry I had felt a spot of rain.

For a minute or two I stood exactly where I had got off. I was in the
shadows and I wanted time to think.

If ever I had been in a predicament, I was in one now. I was right in
the very heart of the city and, whichever way I went, I should have to
pass along well lighted and well-frequented streets. All the
police-stations, I knew, would have been warned by now, and still in the
disreputable attire of Scut, I should be an easy mark to pick out, even
among a crowd.

For the first time that night I began to be afraid.

I heard a noise behind me. Someone was coming out of the garage. There
was no help for it. I must take my fate into my hands and go out into
the street.

I have often thought since, on going over matters again, that if in my
wanderings, when feverishly pursued by the police, I had met with both
bad and good fortune, the good fortune had certainly always
preponderated over the bad, and it undoubtedly was so in the events of
that night.

It had been rotten bad luck, of course, that the lorry should have
plumped me down where it did for, on the face of it, the position could
not possibly have been worse. But once that misfortune had been got
over, nothing could really have been kinder than the way in which chance
treated me.

As I walked boldly out into the street it began to drizzle, and I
wrapped the sack over my head. The pavement was thronged with people and
I saw several policemen about. Two, in fact, were not twenty yards from
me, and another one was on point duty at the corner. Although I must
have cut a queer figure, no one took the slightest notice of me. They
all appeared to be interested in their own affairs or hurrying to get
out of the rain.

On the other side of the street, and directly opposite The Grand
Australasian Hotel, there was a small piece of enclosed ornamental
garden, and I crossed over to it at once, almost automatically, so it
seemed, but really probably because I must have noticed there were fewer
people passing on that side of the road, and also because it was not
nearly so well lighted. I leaned back against the low railings and
contemplatively considered which way I should go. It certainly did want
a bit of considering, for whichever way I looked I could see policemen,
and with my wretched foot I knew I couldn't walk far. Whimsically I
tried to imagine I was engaged in a game of chess, but for the life of
me I couldn't determine my next move.

I must have stood there quite an hour watching the traffic, and at the
end of it I was just as undecided as ever.

Everything seemed again quite hopeless, and the desperation of it
suddenly got on my nerves. I went over all the worries I had been
through lately, and asked myself irritably if they were really worth
fighting against any longer. I felt sick of the whole business and
dazed, like a man in a dream. All at once, it came to me I didn't mind
what happened any longer.

I was tired of these continual excitements and just wanted to lie down
and have a good rest.

I cocked my eye over the little bit of garden behind me. There was a
high bed of flowers in the middle, with a low wall of rockery all round
its sides. With half a chance, I told myself, I'd get over and have a
sleep there.

And the chance came almost at the same moment as the idea entered my
mind. There was a sudden noise of shouting at the street corner, a
shriek from a woman somewhere, and I saw a car charging straight over
the pavement in the direction of a big shop window. The steering gear
had evidently gone wrong.

There was a fearful crash of breaking glass, a lot more shouting, and
everyone rushed excitedly to see what was taking place.

Now was my chance, I thought. Whatever was happening was nothing to do
with me. Every shop window in Adelaide might be broken for all I cared.

I scrambled desperately over the low railings and, stumbling across the
strip of intervening lawn, in a few seconds was right in the middle of
the bed of flowers.

To my surprise, there was a length of corrugated-iron there. It was
being used to protect some seedlings from the night frosts and the
ground was quite dry underneath. I tilted it up and, crawling under with
my sack, quicker than it takes to tell it, was lying prone and once more
at rest.

For the moment, I certainly couldn't have been in a better place. I was
entirely surrounded by a wall of chrysanthemums about two feet high, and
although actually within a few yards of the traffic of one of the
busiest streets, I was nevertheless as secure and secluded as if I were
miles and miles away from the city itself.

I made a sort of pillow of the sack and, in only a few minutes, I
believe, I went to sleep. I was tired out.

It was just midnight when I awoke. I think it must have been the
striking of the Town Hall clock that woke me, and for the moment I
couldn't remember where I was. I was feeling rather cold and the
pressure of the sheet of iron had made my shoulder ache.

There was a bright moon shining, and the city was wrapped in the silence
of a grave. I leaned out from my hiding-place and peered cautiously
between the stalks of the chrysanthemums. The streets were deserted and
there was not a soul in sight. No, I was mistaken. There were two
policemen standing by an electric standard at the intersection of the
road. I watched them curiously. A car came purring up from the direction
of the Port Road and immediately one of them stepped forward and held up
his hand. The car pulled up, and I saw the policeman peer under the
hood. Then there was some laughing, and a moment afterwards the car was
driven away, and the policemen resumed their vigil by the electric
standard.

Looking for me, I thought, and taking no chances I should be spirited
away.

I don't remember that I went to sleep again at all. I started worrying
what the next day would hold in store, and everything seemed black and
hopeless to the deepest depths of despair. I realised that I was at the
end of my tether at last, and I fingered my automatic thankfully and
many times saw to it that the safety catch came easily to the release.


I shall never know perhaps why I lived through the next day. Long before
dawn I had resolved to shoot myself and get it over. Deliberately I had
condemned myself to death, and so miserable and weary was I that I
waited gladly for the end to come. I had no fear at all of death. It
would be peace and rest at last and, although I had been beaten in the
fight, I should never yet hear the mocking of my enemies. I really
wanted to die, but still, wretched as I was and with all hope gone, I
clung unreasonably to life. Hour after hour I gave myself reprieve. The
dawn rose high, and I still lived. The morning passed, and I had done
nothing. Noon came, and I was still fingering the trigger. A dreadful
thirst seized me, and I was faint with hunger. My body ached in every
joint from my cramped position, and I was stiff and sore from lying on
the cold hard ground. I was in acute pain from my injured foot, and
every evil that I could think of seemed to possess me, and yet I dallied
on the chance that some miracle might happen.

I really don't know what I expected, and how in any possible way it
could happen now that I could get away. It was certain I could never
pass again unchallenged along the streets. There was never anytime when
there were not policemen in sight and, apart from that, it seemed to me
as I lay watching that there was an air of actual inquisitiveness about
each other apparent among the crowds that passed along the pavement near
where I lay hidden. At the moment I thought it was only fancy, but if I
had known the truth I need not have wondered about it at all.

It was actually expected by the police that I should be hiding somewhere
in the vicinity of the place where I now was. I had been traced almost
to the entrance of the garage of The Grand Australasian Hotel.

Although I flattered myself I had cleverly escaped unseen from the
neighbourhood of the Cheltenham Racecourse, it appeared a signalman had
seen me jump on to the lorry at the level crossing. He had thought
nothing of it at the time, but later on when the cry was raised, he had
communicated with the police and the destination of the load of petrol
tins had been easily obtained. So when I thought I had puzzled everyone
by my mysterious flitting away, the police were concentrating round the
very place where I was hiding. They had actually gone so far as to
search thoroughly through ever corner of The Grand Australasian Hotel
itself, although to the little strip of garden opposite they had never
given a thought.

All day long, between my troubled broodings, I was interested in the
hotel too. From where I lay I could see so plainly everything that was
going on at the front entrance, and from time to time I recognised many
of the people going in and out. Many notabilities of the city went up
the steps, and many of the great lights of the racing world appeared
there too. I saw Judge Cartright go in to his lunch, and Drivel Jones
too with one of his inevitable long cigars. I saw Sir Joseph Carnworthy
of the Consolidated Bank, and, later, my heart beat wildly as I caught
sight of Angas Forbes.

For at least ten minutes the big Scotchman stood on the entrance steps
talking to some friends, and for the first time in all my adventures I
was enabled to have a good look at the man who had brought about my
downfall.

The first sight of him filled me with the bitterest feelings of hate and
revenge, and I cursed him deeply for the agonies he had brought me.

If only he had been a little bit nearer, I would have chanced it and
tried to shoot him where he stood. But I measured the distance with my
eye and saw it was hopeless. I would only be giving greater pleasure to
them when they would stand round me when I was lying dead.

Angas Forbes disappeared in a while, but long after he had gone in I was
thinking of him, and towards the latter part of the day he had become
quite an obsession in my thoughts.

Strange to my own mind, when my first fierce burst of anger was over, I
could not for the life of me think very badly of the man. He might be
stern and uncompromising in his actions but, for all that, he had rather
a kind face, and to me he had seemed to be looking very sad. Every line
of him told of force and energy but, hasty and quick though he might be
in his decisions, it struck me he would be always just in the end.

A very devil he had been to me I knew, but, after all, I remembered Dr.
Carmichael was his friend, and with everything he had done he had been
acting always under the idea that I was a murderer and he was only
avenging the dead man.

The long day waned and darkened, and with the fall of dusk there was all
hell under the sheet of corrugated-iron, in the middle of the bed of
chrysanthemums.

Every mental and physical suffering that could come to a man I thought
then was mine, but my thirst, of all things, tormented me most.

I knew I was going to die, and the little automatic pistol, like a
saviour, lay just beneath my head. I pressed my forehead on to its cool
blue barrel, for my face was burning though my legs were icy cold. I was
ready for death any moment, and yet I wanted a drink first.

I must get a drink somehow. The idea of water filled my thoughts, and I
believed that, priest-like, it would give me physical absolution before
I died. I must do something.

I raised myself on my elbow and then crawled out from under the sheet of
iron.

The town hall clock struck seven.

Careless of who might see me, I sat upright among my bed of flowers, and
then suddenly I happened to look up across to The Grand Australasian
Hotel.

Angas Forbes was standing on the balcony of the first floor. For the
moment he stood still, watching the stream of life that was flowing just
below him in the street. Then he turned abruptly and went in. I saw the
light go up in a room.

Mechanically I numbered off the room that he was occupying. It was the
seventh from the direction of the entrance hall.

I was drunk with pain and suffering. Good, I would go and give him a
call. The very least he could do was to give a drink of water.

I stood up and began weakly to rub my legs. Then I staggered across the
strip of lawn, and at the second attempt succeeded in getting over the
low railings. I crossed the road quite oblivious to how the traffic
might deal with me, and the sudden grind of brakes and a hoarsely
shouted curse from someone on the driving seat of a car were of no
interest to me at all. I walked up the garage entrance of the hotel,
turned up a little flight of stairs that I knew were there, passed
through a small door and was in the luggage room of The Grand
Australasian.

I knew the hotel well, and with no hesitation passed along a narrow
corridor and reached the back service stairs used by the staff. In half
a minute at most I had reached the first floor without having seen or
been seen by a soul.

I sat down at the top of the stairs to have a rest. My hurried journey,
short as it was, in my weak condition had taken away all my breath. It
had also sobered me down a little, and with my mind much clearer I saw
the perilous position I was in. Not that the danger worried me though;
my only thought for the moment was that of getting something to drink.

I pulled myself to my legs and staggering shakily along, turned the
handle of the first door I came to. It yielded at once and I walked in.
There was a bright fire burning in the grate, but I looked for the light
and switched it on.

I found myself in quite a fair-sized bedroom, and the first thing that
caught my eyes was a bottle of whisky on the chest of drawers.

I believe I almost ran across the room to get that whisky and in a few
seconds I had drawn an arm-chair up before the fire and was gloriously
sipping a good stiff glass of the spirit.

Oh, the happy memory of those next ten minutes! The alcohol gave life
and courage to me, and I no longer meant to die. It cheered all the
senses in me and restored me at once to a sane, clear state of mind.

There should be still chances for me yet, I thought, and as evidencing
the grip I had on myself again, although I would have dearly loved
another drink of whisky, I resolutely put the idea away from me and to
quench my thirst drank glass upon glass of water instead.

Then I remembered why I had come into the hotel, and a brain-wave surged
through me that my salvation might lie there after all. I would get to
speak to Angas Forbes, and drive into him that he was acting as an
utterly wrong and mistaken man. In his persecution of me, he was doing
everything his dead friend would have fought against and, by urging on
the authorities as he was, he was nullifying all the efforts the latter
would have surely made to save me from the law.

I got on to my feet at once but, as I stood up, I happened to look in
the glass.

It was a dreadful face that looked back into mine. Ten days' growth of
stubbly beard; grime, mud and the stains of blood; cheeks sunken and
drawn in, eyes hollow, and hair all matted and fouled with earth. I
looked like a man who had risen from the tomb.

There was a big wash basin in the bedroom with hot and cold water laid
on, and in a twinkling I had taken off my coat and was rolling up my
sleeves. There was a razor on the dressing table, and after a moment's
hesitation I commandeered that too. Time after time I luxuriously bathed
my face with the hot water and, when I had finally completed my
ablutions, it was a very different person who was now reflected in the
glass.

Scut's awful clothes I could not remedy, and I was in no mood now with
so much at stake to run further risks by remaining any longer in the
room. Already I told myself, I had stayed too long already, and any
moment, I realised, the occupant of the room might come in. So hastily I
obliterated as far as possible all traces of my visit and, switching off
the light, I tiptoed softly out into the corridor.

There were ten rooms facing me and, with a quickly beating heart, I
located the one, seventh from the entrance hall. It was occupied, I saw,
for the lights were up. I knocked quietly on the door and a voice bade
me to come in.

I turned the handle quickly and, stepping into the room, closed the door
gently behind me.

Angas Forbes was writing at a small table, and he immediately looked up.




CHAPTER 12


For quite a long moment we looked silently at each other. I was taking
in intently every line and feature of the big Scotchman's face, and he
was regarding me with a cold and puzzled stare.

'Well,' he snapped sharply, at length, 'who are you and what do you
want?'

'I'm Cups,' I replied drily, 'and you've been looking for me?'

'Ah!'

He said nothing more, but his blue eyes I saw grew bright and steely,
and the big hand that rested on the table clenched itself up tightly as
if it were about to strike a blow. He must have thought himself in
danger, I knew, but to do the man justice he never flickered an eyelid
or showed the slightest trace of fear.

'Yes,' I repeated slowly, 'I'm Cups, and I've come to have a word with
you.'

He looked at me with contempt, as if I were some sort of animal.

'Ye dinna frighten me,' he said slowly, breaking into broad Scotch, 'I'm
no afraid.'

'You've no need to be,' I replied quietly. 'I'm not here to do you any
harm.'

'You've come to give yourself up then?' he asked sternly.

'Not at all. I've just come to speak to you, that's all.'

His eyes moved from my face and I could see he was taking in my clothes.

'Have the police tracked you here?' he asked abruptly.

'By no means,' I said. 'As usual, I've given them the slip.'

'Were you hiding in the hotel then when they searched for you?'

'Oh, no,' I said lightly, 'I was in the bed of chrysanthemums in the
garden just across the street. There's no reason why you shouldn't
know.'

He glanced down at my hands. 'But I've tidied myself up since then,' I
went on carelessly. 'I've just had a shave and brush-up in one of the
rooms opposite. And a drink of whisky. I badly wanted something to
drink.'

He looked at me very thoughtfully, but just the ghost of a smile, I
thought, for a moment played around the corners of his mouth. There was
a quite a long silence, then he asked very quietly, 'What do you expect
of me by coming here?'

I stifled a dreadful yawn. 'A couple of those biscuits, please, to begin
with,' I replied, pointing to a biscuit box open on the table. 'I've had
nothing at all to eat since yesterday, and for many days too, thanks to
you, I've had only cheese and sandwiches. So there's no wonder I feel
rather weak. May I have one?'

He made a rough gesture of denial. 'I don't care to offer hospitality,'
he remarked grimly, 'to a man I am about to hand over to the police. But
still' - and he shrugged his shoulders with indifference - 'I shan't
stop you if you choose to take them, and from all I have learnt of your
characteristics, over-squeamishness is not your weak point.'

I pulled a chair up to the table and, sitting down just opposite to him,
helped myself to a biscuit and began to munch hungrily.

He watched me with a puzzled frown.

'Were you hiding on the racecourse all last week?' he asked suddenly.

'I haven't told you I was there at all yet, have I?' I said.

He ignored my query. 'How much did you pay Sam Piper?' he went on.

'Piper,' I said, innocently, 'who's he?'

'Oh, don't play the fool,' he snarled roughly. 'We know all about your
relations with Piper, and he's been in the cells since last night.'

In spite of myself, I felt my face fall. I had given little thought to
Piper in the last twenty-four hours but, still, at the back of my mind,
I had hoped devoutly he was safe and, remembering what he had done for
me, the news now that he was in prison made me wince.

Angas Forbes was watching me narrowly and something of what was in my
mind must have come to him.

'Yes, you've got him into trouble right enough,' he said bitterly. 'The
poor devil has lived to curse the day you ever came into his life,
although all things considered,' he bent over the table and leant
towards me, 'perhaps he's lucky to have his life at all.'

I looked him squarely in the face and thought the moment had now come to
lay my cards on the table.

'Look here, Mr. Forbes,' I said, curtly, 'I see it plainly enough now. I
made a mistake in not telling you everything at the first, but you gave
me no chance. You're a hasty self-opinionated man. You came here in
absolute ignorance of everything, and you instantly formed your own
opinion, knowing nothing whatever of anything that had taken place.' I
felt my temper rising. 'You blundered into the whole business like a mad
bull, and I tell you straight, you have just wrecked all that your
friend Dr. Carmichael built up. That's what you've done here.'

'Leave Carmichael's name alone please,' he burst out hotly. 'You
murdered him, you black scoundrel!'

'Murdered him?' I exclaimed in a passion of temper. 'Murdered him, do
you say?' I dropped my voice almost to a whisper. 'You big lumbering
Scotch fool!' I hissed. 'Have you no more imagination than a Highland
cow? What should I murder him for? Murder my only friend! Murder the one
man that stood between me and five years in the stockade! Murder him
just when I needed him most, with the stitches hardly out of my wounds,
and with my face all swollen and cut about like a butchered sheep!
Murdered him! I tell you, man, when Dr. Carmichael died, and you have
proved almost to a day when he did die, I was a sight for any man to
see, and I was boxed in, in that house, like a rat in a trap. It was the
most dreadful moment of my life, I tell you.'

I paused for a moment to get breath. Angas Forbes had taken his arms off
the table and was leaning back in his chair. The expression of blind
fury had left his face and he was regarding me, I saw, in a puzzled and
rather surprised sort of way.

'Look here again,' I went on, but now more calmly. 'They say you were a
doctor yourself once, and if so, you'll understand what was done to me.
Look closely at my face. You can feel it, if you like.'

He hesitated just a moment and then he stood up. He came round the table
and for a full two minutes, standing over me, he examined my face. I
shut my eyes. I felt the great hands wandering over me, but his touch
was very gentle, and I kept perfectly still. In a little while, to my
astonishment, he heaved a great sigh, and then he returned slowly round
the table and resumed his seat. I opened my eyes again.

'Now, sir,' I said quietly. 'You can tell what was done and you can
estimate in exactly what condition my face would have been a fortnight
after the operation.' I sniffed sarcastically. 'A nice state I should
have been in to commit a murder, and my face would have looked pretty
afterwards too if I had been obliged to show myself to anyone who had
chanced to come to the house.'

Angas Forbes looked at me very thoughtfully and, with an idea in my
mind, I suddenly stopped speaking. I would force him to some reply and,
seriatim, he should answer to each point I made.

For quite a long moment the silence went on, and then the big Scotchman
opened his lips.

'I'll hear what you've got to say,' he said, very slowly and with a sort
of effort. 'Your version, I mean, of how my friend met his death.' His
words became almost broken. 'Tell - me - exactly - how - he - died.' He
stopped to draw a deep breath and then all suddenly his voice grew harsh
and menacing. 'But look ye here, man, don't ye think ye'll deceive me.'
He thumped the table heavily with his fist and glared at me with furious
eyes. 'I'm a medical man, as you say, but I'm a barrister as well. I'm
accustomed to weigh evidence, I tell you, and I'll trip ye, I'll trip
ye, the first lie ye tell.'

The man's emotion was perfectly apparent. There was quite a sob in his
voice, and the partial dropping into his mother tongue exposed the
reality of the grief he was in.

I realised at once what had happened and a sudden feeling of great hope
flashed through my mind. For the moment, at any rate, I knew I had
broken down the absolute certainty he had had hitherto that I was a
murderer. He was doubting for the first time. I had not misjudged the
man. He would be just in the end.

I began to speak slowly and evenly, almost as if I were reciting a
monologue.

'On Monday morning, 29 January, Dr. Carmichael and I were in the garden.
The question came up whether it was going to rain, and Dr. Carmichael
said he would go up into the tower and look at the barometer. He went
into the house and about two minutes later, I heard him suddenly call
out, and then the noise of him falling down the stairs. I ran into the
house and found him lying all huddled in a heap in the hall. He was
lying on his back. His right arm was twisted under him, and his head was
at an angle to his body. He was dying. He couldn't get his breath and he
could hardly speak. He whispered to me not to touch him. I wanted to
fetch a doctor, but he said it was no good for his neck was broken. He
said, "I'm finished." He spoke just a few words, he smiled at me, and
then he was dead.'

I had not looked at Angas Forbes while I was speaking. I had kept my
eyes down. When I had finished, however, glancing up at him, I found
that he in turn was looking away. He was obviously controlling his
emotions with an effort. He was staring fixedly into the fire, but by
the firelight I could see his face was wet with tears.

He turned round and spoke at last, very quietly and with his voice
unemotionless and well in hand.

'What time in the morning did this all happen?' he asked.

'I can't say for certain,' I replied, 'but I should think about
half-past seven. We had just come out in the garden after breakfast.'

'How long elapsed, should you say, from the moment when you first found
him, to when he was absolutely dead?'

'Two minutes, or less even than that.'

'Was he in pain, do you think?'

I hesitated. 'I don't think so - only he couldn't get his breath.'

'Did he struggle at all?'

'No, he never moved until his head fell sideways as he died.'

'Didn't he struggle much to get his breath?'

'No, he didn't struggle, he only gasped - his body never moved.'

'Where did the blood come from?'

'There was no blood at all.'

'Not from his nostrils?'

'No, not that I remember. I remember no blood at all.'

'Was he quite conscious?'

'Yes, perfectly so, for the moments that he lived.'

'Could he speak plainly?'

'Yes, quite plainly but very faintly. He could only whisper.'

'It was the right arm, you said, that was twisted under him - that was
the one that was broken, wasn't it?'

I shook my head. 'I don't know. I never really touched him until I came
to wrap him in the sheet, and then I was too agitated to notice anything
at all. I had never touched a dead body before.'

'Now tell me exactly the words he said.'

'When I ran up I was going to move his head, but he said, "Don't touch
me." Then when I wanted to get a doctor he just gasped, "No good -
cervical vertebrae - neck broken." Then he said, "Good man, Cups - I
give everything to you - don't be afraid - have courage, man - look out
Angas Forbes - tell him." That was everything he said, and he died
saying the last words.'

There was a long silence again in the room, and for several minutes the
gentle crackling of the wood fire was the only sound that came up to our
ears. If Angas Forbes was sorrowing over what I had told him of his dead
friend, I too, was moved by the memories that my recital had called up.
I saw in fancy again the dark and silent house, I saw the body lying by
the stairs, I heard the great hounds whining in the garden, and I felt
again something of that indescribable feeling of awe that even the most
hardened feel in the presence of the dead.

My reverie was broken into by Angas Forbes. He had recovered first from
the spell cast over us by the spirit of our thoughts.

'You say,' he asked very quietly, 'that Dr. Carmichael died about
half-past seven in the morning. When did you bury him then?'

'The same day,' I replied. 'About two hours after he died.'

He looked me very straight in the face.

'You're sure - quite sure of that?' he asked.

'Perfectly so,' I replied. 'The grave was filled in and smoothed over
before the tradesman's bell rang, and he was always there by eleven
o'clock.'

He spoke sharply and very sternly.

'And do you tell me - do you want me to believe that you dug a six foot
grave in a couple of hours?' He bent over and put his face close to
mine. 'Are you lying at last? Remember there had been no rain for nine
weeks previous to 28 January, and the ground must have been hard as a
rock.'

I didn't move a hair's breadth and his eyes, I know, were not one whit
more hard and stony than were mine.

'The grave had been dug more than a week,' I said coldly. 'It was dug in
the event of my not coming-to under the anaesthetic.'

He frowned puzzledly to me.

'Explain, please,' he said curtly.

'When Dr. Carmichael first suggested that he could operate on my face
and so alter me that no one would recognise me again, I jumped at the
idea at once. He warned me, however, that under the circumstances we
were in, the operation was likely to be a very dangerous one, because of
his having to operate on me and give me the chloroform at the same time.

'I told him I didn't mind what happened either way, for if I did die, I
shouldn't know anything about it, and in any case I should be out of all
my trouble. He laughed, and said that would be all very well for me, but
where would he come in? He would be saddled with a dead body in the
height of an Australian summer, and it wouldn't be a pleasant thing.
Then I suggested, half in joke and half in earnest, that I would prepare
a grave in case anything should happen, and when he finally agreed to do
the operation he kept me up to the idea. I think he really only wanted
to make me realise the risk I was running. I dug the grave in the two
days after he had bought the chloroform, and that is how it happens it
was already there.'

Angas Forbes made no comment for a moment, then he jerked out rather
brusquely, 'And if Dr. Carmichael did not come to his end in the way you
have told me, how are we to know that you didn't push him down those
stairs and so cause the broken neck?'

I put as much contempt in my voice as I could. 'You can only assume my
guilt by evidence that is wholly circumstantial.' I shrugged my
shoulders. 'And, in the same way, you can only assume my innocence. As I
have shown you, I had everything to lose by his death and nothing to
gain.'

'Well, you've gained a good lot anyhow, haven't you?' he remarked drily.
'Forty-seven thousand pounds is surely a fair sum to have in any part of
the world.'

'But how in common sense did I know I was going to get a penny?' I
protested. 'It was all chance that I was able to realise his estate.'

'Explain again, please,' he said sarcastically. 'I don't follow you. I'm
afraid I'm rather dense.'

'Look here, Mr. Forbes,' I exclaimed hotly. 'You're not acting as a just
man. You've been too prejudiced from first to last. Now just look at my
position in that last week of January. With Dr. Carmichael alive,
everything was hopeful for me. I had got a strong friend and I had got a
rich friend. I had got a protector who was interested in me, and who was
so far interested in me that on my behalf he had brought himself within
reach of the law by harbouring me, knowing me at the time to be an
escaped convict, under sentence of five years. Also, we were bound
together by a deeper tie. He had held my life in his hands and alone and
unaided in that lonely house he had taken me down into the valley of the
shadow and run risks that might easily, as none better than yourself can
estimate, have landed him very much in the position I am now, with a
secretly buried body and a hidden grave to account for. There was
another thing, too. Dr. Carmichael, in the last weeks of his life, had
made up his mind to return into the world again, and I was to have gone
with him. I tell you, with him living, prospects could not have been
brighter for me.'

I paused for a moment. I began to feel rather faint and shaky. The duel
between us was being so long drawn out that in my weak condition it was
becoming too much for me.

'Go on, pray, Mr. Cups,' said Angas Forbes drily. 'I will go so far as
to admit that you are quite a plausible advocate.'

I swallowed down a lump in my throat and went on.

'But where was I with Dr. Carmichael dead, ask yourself? A fortnight out
of a disfiguring operation and with a face I could show to no one,
without arousing instant curiosity how I had come by it, and who I was.
Practically with only a few shillings to go on with, and with no certain
prospects of getting a farthing more, what chance had I of escaping
anywhere without money? What chance at all? I tell you I was hemmed in
in that house like a rat in a trap, and the very remembrance of the
horror of it makes me feel sick even now. Think of it yourself. It was a
grilling summer day. There were the rooms all darkened with the blinds
down. There was the body lying on the floor. There were the great hounds
whining round the house outside, and there was I, weak from my
operation, hesitating and irresolute, cowering in a corner, in a perfect
frenzy of fear that at any moment the gate bell might ring, and someone
want to come in. And I had to do something too; that was the hell of it.
I had to make up my mind at once.'

I paused from sheer exhaustion here, but Angas Forbes was eyeing me, I
thought stonily and without pity.

'You had a signed cheque of Dr. Carmichael's in the house,' he said,
'one for fifty pounds, and you cashed it on 18 February. Was that having
no prospects at all of getting more money?'

'No certain prospects, I told you. How did I know I was going to live on
undisturbed in that house until my face got well? How did I know chance
was going to favour me as it did? It was chance favoured me all along.
When I went to the bank to cash that fifty pound cheque they took it for
granted I was Dr. Carmichael himself. Chance helped me there. Then I
heard the manager was away ill. Chance again! He was the only one who
knew Dr. Carmichael. Then the manager died. More chance! How could I
have known he was going to die? If he had lived it would have been a
hundred times more difficult for me to do any business at the bank at
all. It would have been a dreadful risk at every turn, and certainly
impossible for me to have got my signature verified when I was disposing
of any shares. I tell you the manager's death made the difference of
everything to me - and it was a thing I could not possibly have
foreseen.'

'When did you first make up your mind to forge Dr. Carmichael's
signature?' broke in Angas Forbes abruptly.

I hesitated for a moment. 'I think I first made up my mind,' I replied
slowly, 'to try and adopt his signature' - I laid significant stress on
the word 'adopt' - 'the day after he died. The possibilities of it came
to me suddenly as I was going through his papers. I saw he was a very
rich man, and you may believe it or not' - here in spite of myself I
could not prevent my voice taking on a covert sneer - 'the chief
pleasure I have all along derived from my successful "forgeries" has
lain in the belief that in so acting I have been only doing exactly what
he would have wished.' I shrugged my shoulders. 'He bade me have courage
and I have just interpreted it that way, that's all.'

'Then you say,' said Angas Forbes, 'that within twenty-four hours of his
death you were devising a plan of campaign to obtain the whole of his
estate?'

'No, I don't say that at all,' I replied sharply. 'You are trying to
trap me. My first idea of using his signature was only to obtain the
money lying to his current account and, with any good luck, the money he
had on deposit there. My intentions to begin with were quite modest, but
they expanded, as I have explained to you, when I realised how easy
things were being made for me at the bank.'

He looked at me very thoughtfully.

'And you have obtained altogether about forty-seven thousand pounds,
haven't you?'

'Somewhere about that,' I said. 'Rather more than less, I should think.'

He smiled rather drily. 'And you have come to me,' he went on, speaking
very slowly and as if carefully weighing his words, 'with the idea, you
say, that I could help you to escape and carry all this money out of the
state?'

Again a horrible feeing of faintness had come over me, but with a great
effort I pulled myself together. 'Look here, Mr. Forbes,' I said
wearily, 'I'm so tired of the whole business that I don't seem to care
what happens to me now. Many times today I was going to shoot myself in
the bed of chrysanthemums over there, but tonight I was so thirsty, I
wanted a drink of water first. I caught sight of you standing on the
verandah and an impulse made me come to you here.'

My voice all at once seemed to gather strength, and I went on. 'You say
you were a friend of Dr. Carmichael. So was I. I come to you now for
that very reason. He found me once, as you find me now, haunted,
friendless, and flying from the law. A criminal, though I had done no
wrong. He helped me and he gave me shelter. He gave me back to decent
life again. Now, if you have any loyalty to his memory, if you have any
affection for the man that died, for his sake you will help me now as he
helped me then.' I leant forward and thrust my face up close to his.
'You know I didn't kill him, and if you won't admit it, it's only
because your damned pride holds you back. You're as obstinate as a mule,
I tell you, you're a big, blundering' - I shook my fist in his face -
'you're a - you're a - ' A dreadful buzzing came into my ears, my voice
went very far away. My eyes grew dim and misty, and with a crash that I
just heard, I fell across the table and everything was blotted out.


I knew very little of what went on in the next ten days. I realised
somehow that I was being nursed, for I was conscious of often being fed
and of cold bandages being laid upon my head. I remember, too, the prick
of needles in my arm and of someone continually saying 'Hush!' and
stroking my face. I know I talked a lot, too, for the sound of my own
voice kept coming up to me and breaking through my dreams.

I thought Margaret Price was often near me and that Angas Forbes kept
looking at me with his great big eyes.

I remember funnily that I was afraid of Angas Forbes no longer. He
seemed to be guarding me, and I thought Dr. Carmichael used to come in,
too, and bring Diana to keep watch over me while I slept.

I had long talks with Dr. Carmichael, and I told him everything that had
happened since he died. He used to laugh a lot and ask me how I liked
being in the stockade. Then he said he was tired of being in his grave
and thought it was about time someone came and gave him a leg out.

One night I woke up and found the room very quiet. I felt quite
different, and my mind was quite clear. I couldn't hear the clock
ticking and was able to notice that the electric light had a dark shade
over it. I tried to lift my head but found I was too weak. I think I
must have moaned, for immediately I heard the noise of a chair being
moved and a second later a woman glided up to the bed.

I could feel my heart stop beating for I saw she was Margaret Price.

She knelt by the bed and stroked my face. 'Hush, dear,' she whispered,
'don't worry, you're quite safe.'

Then the dreadful memory of everything came back to me and I could feel
my eyes fill suddenly with tears.

In an instant Margaret had put her arms about me and was holding me
close to her. 'It's all over, sweetheart,' she said, 'and you've nothing
to worry about now. You're quite safe, and Mr. Forbes is our friend.'

I was too weak to understand it, but her voice reassured me, and I sank
again restfully to sleep.

A little over a week later, and one bright afternoon I was reclining on
a long wicker chair, well wrapped up and with a hat low down over my
eyes, basking in the gentle glow of the warm winter sunshine.

Angas Forbes was sitting just beside me, but he was quite a different
Angas Forbes from the one the reader has so far been introduced to. It
was a kind, good-hearted and almost an affectionate friend that was near
me now. A doctor who was in every way anxious and solicitous about his
patient, and a man who was employing all that strength and shrewdness
that had at one time been used against me, to protect and save me from
my enemies.

'Keep your hat down, Cups,' he was saying in a half smile and a half
frown. 'Remember, you're not out in the bush yet, and I don't want to do
six months either, before we're clear of Adelaide, for hiding you from
the police. You're much too reckless, man, and someone may recognise you
yet from the street even in that beard.' He heaved a big sigh and shook
his head at me. 'A nice thing I've been let in for at my time of life,
haven't I?'

We were on the first-floor verandah of The Grand Australasian Hotel, and
nearly three weeks had elapsed since that eventful night I had passed in
the bed of chrysanthemums in the garden opposite. A lot had happened
since then, and yet, in a way, a very little.

I had been in the hotel the whole time, and yet no one had come near me
except Angas Forbes, and Margaret Price.

A complete change to all my fortunes had come, and it had taken me many
days, even after I was comparatively all right again, to take it all in.

It appeared that when that evening I had collapsed so suddenly in front
of Angas Forbes, the big Scotchman had been for a time in a dreadful
quandary. He hadn't known what to do.

At first he had believed it to be his duty to hand me over at once to
the police, but still he had hesitated to do it, for, in spite of his
prejudice against me, I had half convinced him that all I had told him
was true.

Unknown to myself, too, I had played a much stronger card than I had
thought when I had pleaded for his protection because his dead friend
would have had it so. He had almost a superstitious reverence for the
man who had died.

A few years older than Dr. Carmichael, he had been passionately devoted
to him. They had been friends from early boyhood, and in the early
struggles of their profession they had shared alike fortune and
misfortune together. Their affection had been that of very loving
brothers.

But of late years there had been a deeper reason still for his devotion
to the dead man and, when he had told me of it, his voice had broken and
shaken with all the intensity of tears that could never be completely
shed.

The woman whom Dr. Carmichael had protected, and who had been the cause
of the great surgeon's disgrace, had been Angas Forbes's own sister and
a sister he had dearly loved.

Angas Forbes had been abroad when it had all happened, but upon his
immediate return his sister had confided everything to him. Stung one
night to desperation by her husband's brutality, she had suddenly left
her home at a minute's notice, and, believing that Dr. Carmichael loved
her, she had thrown herself on his protection. But Dr. Carmichael,
knowing at any rate the social ruin it would mean to her, had fought
down his love and urged her resolutely to return.

She had refused, however, and in the end he had proudly become her lover
and protector before all the world. When all the public scandal and
disgrace had later eventuated, never by one word of explanation had he
allowed the world to imagine that the fault was not wholly his.

But Angas Forbes had known it and, with the consequent ruin of his
friend, his affection for him had become almost an obsession.

He had thought of all these things when that evening I had been lying
unconscious on the sofa where he had placed me and, in the end, fearful
that he would be wronging his dead friend if he acted otherwise, he had
decided to give me the benefit of the doubt and save me.

Money can do most things in this world, and once he had made up his mind
it was easy enough for Angas Forbes to make all the arrangements.

He himself had undressed me and put me to bed. Then he had informed the
hotel people that a friend who had been visiting him had suddenly been
taken ill, and it would be necessary the latter should remain in the
hotel and also that a nurse should be got in to look after him.

Next - and he told me he had smiled grimly to himself as he did it - he
had rung up the Raintons and had asked for Margaret Price to be sent to
him at once.

Margaret Price was not unknown to him. The previous week he had been
down to Dick Rainton to upbraid him for shielding me, and in the
latter's absence it was the girl who had received him. They had had a
fierce argument and, as Angas Forbes frankly admitted, the first real
misgiving about my guilt had come to him then. Margaret had disclosed to
him everything I had told her, and she had held up to scorn the very
idea that I was by nature capable of such a murder.

He had not agreed with her, but he had seen enough of her to realise she
was a woman he could trust, and so when he needed her he had
unhesitatingly placed his secret in her hands.

She had agreed readily to nurse me, and so with no bond of sympathy
between them, the two had started to try and lead me back to health, and
at the same time prevent my identity from being discovered.

But the reserve between them had been suddenly broken down, and in a few
hours there was no difference in the beliefs that they held about me.

I had become delirious, and in my delirium I had gone again over
everything that had happened at the Tower House.

'Man,' said Angas Forbes to me afterwards, 'I saw your soul then, and I
could never doubt you any more. It's not in nature for anyone in the
delirium of a fever to be upon his guard.'

For a few days I had been very ill, and they had been terribly afraid my
ravings would be heard, but Angas Forbes had drugged me heavily to
quieten me, and in the end I had sunk to peace.

'I'll see you through, Cups,' had said the big Scotchman, the first day
I was able coherently to take things in. 'We'll get you right away in a
couple of weeks or so, if you only lie quiet.' He smiled kindly at me.
'And you shall marry Margaret here,' he went on, 'as a recompense for
all the sufferings you have had.'


The short South Australian winter was over, and spring was everywhere in
the the air, when one fine morning Angas Forbes and party were being
almost devotionally bowed out of The Grand Australasian Hotel.

In no country in the world is there a greater adoration of hard cash
than in Australia, and the fortunate possessor of money there can be
assured always of a deeper reverence than was certainly ever accorded to
any of the twelve Apostles.

The big Scotchman was at last going away and, true to his promise, he
was seeing me clear from the perils of South Australia.

There were only three of us in the car and the owner was driving it
himself. I was at the back, well muffled up, and beside me was Margaret
Price.

The manager of the hotel bowed his head reverentially, Angas Forbes let
in the clutch, and away the big car purred on its journey.

No word was spoken by anyone. I just drew in deep breaths and clutched
hard to Margaret's hand.

About a mile from The Grand Australasian Hotel, the car pulled up
suddenly at the corner of a side street. A man was waiting there. He was
very quietly dressed and was carrying a small bag. He wore a big cap and
the collar of his overcoat was turned up.

He made a sort of motion with his arm to Angas Forbes and, then,
mounting quickly upon the car, he took his seat beside him. Immediately
the car moved off and, gathering pace, went rapidly in the direction of
the hills.

Sill none of us had said a word.

About a quarter of an hour later, the car was again stopped and Angas
Forbes, turning round towards us, said solemnly, 'Now everyone, please,
take your last look in this life upon the wonderful city of Adelaide.'

We were high up in the hills and close beside us reared the summit of
Mount Lofty. A glorious panorama lay before our eyes. Far away below us
stretched the city of the plains, and in the bright sunlight, every
street and square and monument stood out sharply.

A great lump came into my throat, and I could feel the beatings of my
heart. I thought of all that had happened there and the sorrow and the
sweetness of life struck at me with twin hands.

'Now, friend Piper,' said Angas Forbes with a big laugh, 'what price a
couple of years in the stockade? Rather be going to Brisbane, would you?
Well, so would I.'

Sam Piper, for he was the stranger sitting on the front seat, grinned
sheepishly, but made no reply, and a moment later the car went on.

Margaret leant over and kissed me, and a tear from her cheek I could
feel was wetting mine.


It may be wondered how it had come about that Piper was a passenger with
us in the car, but the explanation is very simple. It was Angas Forbes
again.

As I was getting better, directly he had heard of all Piper had done for
me, he made up his mind on the quiet to try and get him released at once
and immediately he set about it in his own characteristic determined
way.

Piper, as he had told me, was in the cells under remand and was
obstinately refusing, as the police put it, 'to make a clean breast of
the whole matter'. He had pleaded ignorance of the identity of the man
to whom he had given Scut's job, and stubbornly asked them to produce
proof, when they insisted it was me he had been hiding all the week.

The police were in a dilemma. They were perfectly sure I was the man he
had hidden but, as I had escaped, they couldn't prove it. So, hoping
desperately I should be captured and then perhaps confess, they had got
the magistrate to remand Piper twice.

That was how the case stood when Angas Forbes began to take a hand in
the game, and then very quickly things began to hum.

Through a third party he arranged that the best legal aid in the city
should be obtained, and finally it was, in consequence, Drivel Jones
whom they picked upon to defend the prisoner.

Imagine then the interest when on Piper's third appearance before the
magistrate, up got the mighty Drivel Jones and began to shout and bully
and bluster in his usual way. The magistrate, the police, and the whole
court were fairly taken aback, and a forty-eight hours' further remand
was as much as the great man would assent to.

But two days later the police had been as unprepared as ever to complete
their case, and Drivel Jones had thundered and hectored in his best
high-court manner.

The magistrate had been undoubtedly inclined to side with the police,
and a long acrimonious wrangle had ensued, but in the end the great
counsel had been too many guns for them all and, reluctantly, Piper had
been discharged.

The same night Angas Forbes had interviewed him in his home, and
chiefly, I believe, to give me pleasure, it had been arranged that Piper
should accompany us in the car.

Three weeks after leaving Adelaide, Margaret and I were married in
Brisbane, and my quondam enemy bade us goodbye, with the tears welling
from his eyes.


It is a long while since the happening of the events I have recorded
took place, and I have only put pen to paper now, after all this time,
to wipe from the memory of Angas Forbes the slur some evil-minded people
would place there.

My friend and protector died suddenly last year in Singapore, and I have
heard lately that scandal has been busy with his name.

Something of what took place in those last days of mine in Adelaide,
seven years ago, has somehow leaked out, and it has been suggested that
Angas Forbes was bribed by me to hide me and get me out of Adelaide. It
is said that for reward I gave him one-half the money I had obtained
from the estate of Dr. Carmichael.

It is a base lie, and on the face of it absurd. Angas Forbes was worth
more than a hundred thousand pounds when he died, and for twenty years
and more he had been a very rich man.

Apart from that he was a man of stern integrity and incapable all his
life long of any mean or dishonourable action. All who knew him will
bear witness to that.

I have not disclosed, for obvious reasons, the place of origin of this
narrative, but it may interest our Adelaide friends to know that both my
wife and I are very well and very happy. We have three children and, in
a part of the world where no one is likely ever to find us, there is no
stigma upon them because of their father's supposed misdeeds. They will
grow up, we hope, without ever knowing that their father is still an
escaped convict under sentence of five years.



THE END


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