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Chapter 9 TANGLED THREADS

  • Upon resuming the examination, the first witness called for was Mary Catron, the second cook, a woman about thirty-five years of age, with an honest face, but one indicative of a fiery temper. Her testimony was brief, but given wit_ directness that was amusing. When questioned of the occurrences of the da_receding the murder, she replied,—
  • "I know nothing of what went on except from the gossip of the rest. My plac_as in the kitchen, and I had too much to do that day to be loitering round i_he halls, leaning on a broom-handle, and listening at keyholes," and she cas_ glance of scathing contempt in the direction of the chambermaid.
  • "Did this 'gossip' that you speak of have any bearing on what has sinc_ccurred?" the coroner inquired.
  • "Well, sir, it might and it mightn't. 'Twas mostly about the will that Mr.
  • Mainwaring was making; and as how them that got little was angry that the_idn't get more, and them as got much was growling at not getting the whole."
  • "How did the servants gain any knowledge of this will?"
  • "That's more than I can say, sir, except as I knows the nature of some folks."
  • Upon further questioning, the witness stated that on the night of the murder, between the hours of two and three, she was aroused by a sound like th_losing of an outside door, but on going to one of the basement windows t_isten, she heard nothing further and concluded she had been mistaken.
  • "Did you see the coachman at that time?" she was asked.
  • "A few minutes later I looked out again and I see him gaping and grinning a_he house and jabbering to himself like an idiot, and I was minded to send hi_bout his business if he hadn't a-took himself off when he did."
  • "He was perfectly sober, was he not?"
  • "Sober for aught that I know; but, to my thinking, he's that daft that he'_oways responsible for aught that he says."
  • "Were you up-stairs soon after the alarm was given?" asked the coroner, whe_he had told of hearing from the butler the news of the murder.
  • "Yes, sir; I went up as soon as ever I heard what had happened."
  • "Who was in the library at that time?"
  • "Nobody but some of the servants, sir. I met Mr. Whitney just as I came out."
  • "Did you meet any one else?"
  • "I met no one, but I saw the housekeeper coming out of her son's room. Sh_idn't see me; but she was telling him to get ready quick to go somewheres, and I heard her say to hurry, for every minute was precious."
  • Louis Picot, the head cook, could give no information whatever. When the alar_as given, he had rushed, with the other servants, to the scene of the murder, and in his imperfect English, accompanied by expressive French gestures, h_ried to convey his horror and grief at the situation, but that was all.
  • The two maids who attended the English ladies were next called upon; but thei_estimony was mainly corroborative of that given by the chambermaid, excep_hat Sarah Whitely, Miss Carleton's maid, stated, in addition, that she ha_een Mr. Walter LaGrange leave his mother's room in great haste and go down- stairs, and a little later, from one of the upper windows, saw him riding awa_rom the stables in the direction of the south gate.
  • But one servant remained, "Uncle Mose," as he was familiarly called, the ol_olored man having charge of the grounds at Fair Oaks. His snow-white hair an_ent form gave him a venerable appearance; but he was still active, and th_hrewd old face showed both humor and pathos as he proceeded with his story.
  • He had been a slave in his younger days, and still designated his lat_mployer by the old term "mars'r." He was a well-known character to man_resent, including Dr. Westlake, who knew that in this instance question_ould have to be abandoned and the witness allowed to tell his story in hi_wn way.
  • "Well, Uncle Mose, you have been employed at Fair Oaks for a long time, haven't you?"
  • "Moah dan twenty yeahs, sah, I'se had charge ob dese y'er grounds; an' mars'_ainwaring, he t'ought nobody but ole Mose cud take cyah ob 'em, sah."
  • "You were about the grounds as usual Wednesday, were you not?"
  • "I was 'bout de grounds all day, sah, 'case dere was a pow'ful lot to d_-gittin' ready for de big doins dere was goin' to be on mars'r's birfday."
  • "Did you see either of the strangers who called that day?"
  • "I'se a-comm' to dat d'rectly, sah. You see, sah, I wants to say right heah, befo' I goes any furder, dat I don' know noffin 'cept what tuk place under m_wn obserbation. I don' feel called upon to 'spress no 'pinions 'bout nobody.
  • I jes' wants to state a few recurrences dat I noted at de time, speshally
  • 'bout dem strangers as was heah in pertickeler. Well, sah, de fust man, h_ome heah in de mawnin'. De Inglish gentlemens, dey had been a-walkin' in d_rounds and jes' done gone roun' de corner oh de house to go to mars'_ainwaring's liberry, when dis man he comes up de av'nue in a kerridge, an' d_ust ting I heah 'im a-cussin' de driver. Den he gets out and looks roun' kin_' quick, jes' like de possum in de kohn, as ef he was 'fraid somebody don_ee 'im. I was fixin' de roses on de front poach, an' I looked at 'im pow'fu_harp, an' when de dooh opened he jumped in quick, as ef he was glad to ge_ut o' sight. Well, sah, I didn't like de 'pearance ob dat man, an' I jes'
  • t'ought I'd get anoder look at 'im, but he stayed a mighty long time, sah, an'
  • bime'by I had to go to de tool-house, an' when I gets back the kerridge wa_one."
  • "Could you describe the man, Uncle Mose?" the coroner asked.
  • "No, sah, I don' know as I could 'scribe 'im perzacly; but I'd know 'im, n_atter where I sot eyes on 'im, and I know'd 'im the nex' time I see 'im.
  • Well, sah, dat aft'noon, mars'r Mainwaring an' de folks had gone out ridin', an' I was roun' kind o' permiscuous like, an' I see anoder kerridge way dow_e av'nue by de front gate, an' I waited, 'spectin' maybe I'd see dat ma_gain. While I was waitin' by de front dooh, all oh a sudden a man come roun'
  • from de side, as ef he come from mars'r Mainwaring's liberry, but he wa_noder man."
  • "Didn't he look at all like the first man?" inquired the coroner.
  • "No, sah; he looked altogedder diff'rent; but I don' know as I could stat_har'in de differensiashun consisted, sah. Dis man was berry good lookin'
  • 'ceptin' his eyes, an' dem yoh cudn' see, 'case he had on cull'ed glasses.
  • Mebbe his eyes was pow'ful weak, er mebbe he didn't want nobody to see 'em; but I 'spicioned dem glasses d'rectly, sah, an' I watched 'im. He goes down t_e kerridge an' takes out a coat an' says sump' in to de driver, an' d_erridge goes away tow'ds de town, an' he walks off de oder way. Bime'by I see
  • 'im gwine back again on de oder side ob de street-"
  • "Was he alone?" interrupted the coroner.
  • "Yes, sah; an' I done kep' my eye on 'im, an' he didn' go on to de town, bu_uhned down de fust side street. Well, sah, I didn' see no moah ob 'im den; but dat ebenin' I'd ben a-workin' roun' de house, sprinklin' de grass an_ettin' ready foh de nex' day, when I happens to pass by de side dooh, an' _ees dem two men comm' out togedder."
  • "What time was this, Uncle Mose?" the coroner asked, quickly.
  • "Well, sah," said the old man, reflectively, "my mem'ry is a littl_erelictious on dat p'int, but I knows 'twas gettin' putty late."
  • "Are you sure these were the same two men you had seen earlier in the day?"
  • "Yes, sah; 'case I stepped in de bushes to watch 'em. Dey talked togedde_erry low, an' den one man goes back into de house, an' I seen 'im plain in d_all light, an' he was de fust man; an' while I was a-watchin' 'im, de ode_an he disappeahed an' I cudn' see 'im nowhar, but I know'd he was de man da_ame in de aft'noon, 'case he look jes' like 'im, an' toted a coat on his arm.
  • Well, sah, I t'inks it a berry cur'is sarcumstance, an' I was jes' comm' to d_reclushun dat I'd mention it to some ob de fambly, when de fust man, he com_o de dooh wid de housekeeper. I was in de shadder and dey didn' see me, but _eah 'im say, kind o' soft like, 'Remember, my deah lady, dis is a biz'nes_ontract; I does my part, an' I 'spects my pay.' An' she says, 'Oh, yes, yo_hall hab yohr money widout fail.' An' I says to myse'f, 'Mose, yoh ole fool, what you stan'in' heah foh? Dat ain't nuffin dat consarns yoh nohow,' an' _oes home, an' dat's all I know, sah. But I'se ben pow'ful sorry eber senc_at I didn' let mars'r Mainwaring know 'bout it, 'case I has my 'spicions,"
  • and the old darkey shook his head, while the tears coursed down his furrowe_heeks.
  • "How did you hear of Mr. Mainwaring's death?" asked the coroner.
  • "De coachman, he done tole me, sah."
  • "Why, the coachman stated that you told him what had occurred."
  • "No, sah; he done tole me; I'd come up to de place pow'ful ahly dat mawnin'
  • 'case dere was to be such big doings dat day, an' I was gwine to de tool-hous_oh sump'in, an' I see mars'r Walter ridin' away from de stables pow' ful fas'
  • on his hoss-"
  • "Do you mean Walter LaGrange?"
  • "Yes, sah; an' de coachman he came out an' I ax 'im whar de young man wa_wine dat ahly, an' he say mars'r Mainwaring ben killed, an' mars'r Walter ha_o go to town as fas' as his hoss cud take 'im."
  • "Do you know when he returned?"
  • "He came back, sah, befo' berry long, an' den he went away agin and didn'_ome back till mos' noon."
  • When the old darkey had been dismissed the coachman was recalled.
  • "What did you mean by stating that you first heard of Mr. Mainwaring's deat_rom the gardener, when the reverse was the truth?"
  • "I don't know," he replied, carelessly; "I s'pose I got mixed. I remembe_alking with him about it, and I thought he told me."
  • "You had forgotten the interview with Walter LaGrange, I presume."
  • Brown made no answer.
  • "Why did you not mention that?"
  • "I wasn't asked to," he replied in insolent tones; "you said nothing to m_bout Mr. LaGrange."
  • "You are expected to state in full every occurrence having any bearing on th_ituation. You may give the particulars of that interview now."
  • "There's nothing to tell more than Uncle Mose told. I was working in th_tables as usual, and Mr. LaGrange came in in a big hurry and ordered me t_addle his horse as quick as I could, that Mr. Mainwaring had been murdered, and he'd got to go to town."
  • "At what time was this?"
  • "About half-past seven, I should say."
  • "Did he state his errand?"
  • "No, sir."
  • "When did he return?"
  • "I saw his horse standing in the yard outside the stables about half an hou_fter, and then 'twas gone, and I didn't see it again till noon."
  • Walter LaGrange was next called. He stated that he had spent the greater par_f the day preceding the murder away from Fair Oaks; he had not been at hom_o luncheon or dinner, and consequently knew nothing of the strangers seen o_he place that day. He had returned about half-past ten that evening, an_emembered seeing Mr. Mainwaring and his guests seated on the veranda, but h_ad gone directly to his room without meeting any one. The first intimatio_hich he had received of any unusual occurrence the next morning was when hi_other entered his room and told him that Mr. Mainwaring had either bee_urdered or had committed suicide, no one knew which.
  • "Was that her only object in coming to your room?"
  • "No, sir; she wanted me to do an errand for her."
  • "Will you state the nature of this errand?"
  • "It was only to deliver a note."
  • "To whom?"
  • "To Mr. Hobson," the young man answered weakly, while his mother frowned, th_irst sign of emotion of any kind which she had betrayed that day.
  • "Did you deliver the note?"
  • "Yes, sir."
  • "Then, under your mother's orders, you went to the city on your second trip, did you not?"
  • "Y-yes, sir."
  • "Were you successful in finding Mr. Hobson there?"
  • "Yes, sir," the witness answered sullenly.
  • "You had other business in the city aside from meeting him, had you not?"
  • Between the coroner's persistence and his mother's visible signs o_ispleasure, Walter LaGrange was fast losing his temper.
  • "If you know so much about this business, I don't see the use of you_uestioning me," he retorted angrily. "It's no affair of mine anyway; I ha_othing to do with it, nor I won't be mixed up in it; and if you want an_nformation you'd better ask mother for it; it's her business and none o_ine."
  • After a few more questions, which the witness answered sullenly and i_onosyllables, he was dismissed.
  • "Mr. Higgenbotham," announced the coroner. The greatest surprise wa_anifested on every side as the senior member of a well-known firm o_ewellers stepped forward; the same gentleman who had accompanied Mr. Whitne_n his return from the city on the preceding day.
  • "Mr. Higgenbotham," said the coroner, "I believe you are able to furnish som_estimony which will be pertinent at this time."
  • "Yes, Dr. Westlake," responded the other, in deep, musical tones, "I thin_ossibly I can render you a little assistance in your investigations."
  • "Mr. Higgenbotham, do you recognize the young gentleman who has just given hi_estimony?"
  • "I do, sir," said the witness, adjusting a pair of eyeglasses and gazin_teadily at Walter LaGrange. "I recall his features perfectly."
  • "You were personally acquainted with the late Hugh Mainwaring, I believe?"
  • "Yes, sir, intimately acquainted with him."
  • "You are, I believe, familiar with the Mainwaring jewels which are no_issing?" continued the coroner.
  • Walter LaGrange looked uncomfortable and his mother's cheek paled.
  • "I am, sir; having had them repeatedly left in my possession for safe keepin_uring their owner's absence from home; and I have also a complete list o_hem, with a detailed description of every piece."
  • "Very well, Mr. Higgenbotham, will you now please state when, and under wha_ircumstances, you saw this young gentleman?"
  • "I was seated in my private office yesterday morning, when my head clerk cam_n and asked me to step out into the salesrooms for a moment, as he said _oung man was there trying to sell some very fine jewels, and, from his yout_nd his ignorance of their value, he feared something was wrong. I went ou_mmediately and saw this young gentleman, who handed me for inspection _uperb diamond brooch and an elegant necklace of diamonds and pearls. _nstantly recognized the gems as pieces from the old Mainwaring collection o_ewels. Simultaneously there occurred to my mind the report of the murder o_ugh Mainwaring, which I had heard but a short time before, although then _new nothing of the robbery. Naturally, my suspicions were awakened. _uestioned the young man closely, however, and he stated that his home was a_air Oaks, and that his mother was a distant relative of Mr. Mainwaring's; that the jewels were hers, and she wished to dispose of them for ready cash t_eet an emergency. His story was so plausible that I thought possibly m_uspicions had been somewhat hasty and premature. Still, I declined t_urchase the jewels; and when he left the store I ordered one of our privat_etectives to follow him and report to me. In the course of an hour th_etective returned and reported that the young man had sold the jewels to _awnbroker for less than one-fourth their actual value. About half an hou_ater I heard the news of the robbery at Fair Oaks, and that the family jewel_ere missing; and knowing that Mr. Whitney was here, I immediately telephone_o him the facts which I have just stated. He came in to the city at once, an_e proceeded to the pawnshop, where he also identified the jewels."
  • Mr. Higgenbotham paused for a moment, producing a package from an inne_ocket, which he proceeded to open.
  • "We secured a loan of the jewels for a few days," he continued, advancin_owards the coroner. "Here they are, and here is a copy of the list of which _poke. By comparing these gems with the description of those which I hav_hecked on the list, you will see that they are identical."
  • He placed the open casket on the table. There was a moment's silence, broke_y subdued exclamations of admiration as Dr. Westlake lifted the gems fro_heir resting-place.
  • "You are correct," he said; "the description is complete. There is no doub_hat these are a part of the collection. I see you have marked the value o_hese two items as seven thousand dollars."
  • "Yes; that is a moderate valuation. And were the prices of the other article_arried out, you would see that, with the exception of a few very smal_ieces, these have the least value of the entire lot. I believe I can be of n_urther service."
  • Mrs. LaGrange was next recalled.
  • "Have you anything to say in reference to the testimony just given?" th_oroner inquired.
  • "I have this much to say," she replied, haughtily, "that I could have give_ou the history of those jewels, including, perhaps, some facts of which eve_r. Higgenbotham and Mr. Whitney are in ignorance, and thus have spared yo_he infinite pains you have taken to make public the straits to which I wa_educed, because of my position here, when in need of a little ready money. _ould have informed you that they were originally a part of the old Mainwarin_ollection of gems, until they were given me by my husband."
  • "It hardly seems consistent that a man who treated his wife in the manner i_hich you claim to have been treated would bestow upon her gifts of such valu_s these," the coroner remarked with emphasis.
  • "They were of little value to him," she answered, with scorn; "as you hav_een informed, they were the poorest which he possessed. Besides, there wer_imes when I could persuade him to almost anything,—anything but t_cknowledge his lawful wife and his legitimate son."
  • "Was the money which you were forced to raise by the sale of these jewels t_e paid to Hobson?"
  • "It was."
  • "In accordance with the terms of your contract with him, made a few hour_receding the death of Mr. Mainwaring?"
  • "Yes," she replied, defiantly. "And as you probably would ask the nature o_hat contract, I will save you the trouble. Knowing that my son and I wer_ikely to be defrauded of our rights in the same manner in which Hug_ainwaring had defrauded others, I engaged Mr. Hobson as my attorney, as he, better than any one else, knew the facts in the case. When I learned yesterda_orning of my husband's death, I realized that I would have immediate need o_is services, and accordingly sent him word to that effect. He demanded _arge cash payment at once. The result of this demand Mr. Higgenbotham ha_lready told you."
  • "How was Hobson to secure for you your rights from Hugh Mainwaring?"
  • "That was left entirely to his own discretion."
  • "Will you describe the appearance of Mr. Hobson's clerk?"
  • "Unfortunately, I am unable to do so. He was merely brought as a witness t_ur contract. I knew that he was present, but he remained in the shadow, and _ook no notice of him whatever."
  • "Your contract, then, was a verbal one?"
  • "It was."
  • Upon being closely questioned, Mrs. LaGrange reiterated her assertions of th_receding day, laying particular stress upon the alleged interview betwee_ugh Mainwaring and his secretary, after which she was dismissed, and Harr_cott was recalled.
  • "Mr. Scott," said the coroner, "what were the relations existing between Mr.
  • Mainwaring and yourself up to the time of his death?"
  • Scott flushed slightly as he replied, "Those ordinarily existing betwee_mployer and employed, except that I believe Mr. Mainwaring accorded me mor_han usual consideration, and I, while duly appreciative of his kindness, ye_ook especial pains never to exceed the bounds of an employee."
  • "Were there ever any unpleasant words passed between you?"
  • "None whatever."
  • "Was your last interview with Mr. Mainwaring of a friendly nature?"
  • "Entirely so."
  • "What have you to say in reference to the testimony given to the effect tha_our voice was heard and recognized in angry conversation with Mr. Mainwarin_t nearly one o'clock?"
  • "I have to say that it is false, and without foundation."
  • "Do you mean to say that the statement of the witness was wholly withou_ruth?"
  • "I do not deny that such an interview, as alleged by the witness, may hav_aken place, for that is something concerning which I have no knowledg_hatever; but I do deny that she heard my voice, or that I was in the librar_t that time, or at any time after about twenty minutes past twelve."
  • "Was that the time at which you went to your room?"
  • "Very near that time, as my interview with Mr. Mainwaring could not hav_xceeded ten minutes."
  • "At what time did you retire?"
  • "I sat up very late that night, for my mind was so occupied with some persona_atters that I felt no inclination for sleep. I lighted a cigar and became s_bsorbed in my own thoughts that I was totally unaware of the lapse of time, until I was aroused by what I thought was a stealthy step outside. I the_ecame conscious, for the first time, that I was very weary, both physicall_nd mentally, and I also discovered that it was nearly three o'clock.
  • Astonished to find it so late, and exhausted by hours of protracted thought, _hrew myself as I was upon a low couch, where I slept soundly until awakene_n the morning."
  • Further questions failed to reveal any discrepancy in his statement, and h_as dismissed.
  • The testimony of Ralph Mainwaring and of his son added nothing of interest o_mportance. Mr. Thornton testified to his incidental meeting with Hobson an_o the reputation which the man had borne in London. When he had resumed hi_eat the coroner remarked,—
  • "As a matter of form, I will have to call upon the ladies, though it is no_xpected they will be able to furnish any information throwing light on thi_ysterious case."
  • It was, as he had said, little more than a ceremony and occupied but a fe_oments. Miss Carleton was the last one called upon. She stated that it wa_early eleven o'clock when she reached her room, but added that she did no_etire immediately, as her cousin, Miss Thornton, had come in, and they ha_hatted together for more than an hour; that while so engaged, she heard Mr.
  • Scott come up-stairs and enter his room, which adjoined hers, and lock th_oor for the night.
  • "At what hour was this?" inquired the coroner.
  • "It could not have been more than twenty minutes after twelve, as it wa_wenty-five minutes after twelve when my cousin went to her room, and this wa_bout five minutes earlier."
  • "Can you state whether or not he left his room within the next half-hour?"
  • "I know that he did not," she replied. "I can testify that he remained in hi_oom until after one o'clock. After my cousin left I discovered that the moo_as just rising, and the view across the Hudson being extremely beautiful, a_ell as novel to me, I extinguished the light in my room and sat down by th_pen window to enjoy it. I heard Mr. Scott stepping quietly about his room fo_ few moments; then all was still. I sat for some time admiring the scenery, until I was aroused by hearing him pacing back and forth like a person in dee_hought. I then found it was much later than I supposed,—nearly one o'
  • clock,—and I immediately retired; but so long as I was awake I could hear hi_alking in his room."
  • As Miss Carleton finished her testimony it was evident that the tide o_eneral opinion had turned somewhat in favor of the young secretary, but th_atter quietly ignored the friendly glances cast in his direction.
  • It was generally supposed that all testimony in the case had now been heard.
  • Considerable surprise was, therefore, manifested when the coroner nodded t_r. Whitney, who, in turn, beckoned to some one in the hall. In response th_utler appeared, ushering in a tall man, with cadaverous features and small, dark eyes, which peered restlessly about him.
  • "Richard Hobson," announced the coroner.
  • "At your service, sir," said the man, advancing with a cringing gait an_awning, apologetic smile.
  • "Mr. Hobson," said the coroner, after a few preliminaries, "I understand yo_ere somewhat acquainted with the late Hugh Mainwaring."
  • "Well, yes, sir, somewhat," the other replied in soft, insinuating tones, bu_ith peculiar emphasis on the word used by Dr. Westlake. "Indeed, I might say, without exaggeration, that I was probably better acquainted with tha_stimable gentleman than was any one in this country."
  • "When did you last see Mr. Mainwaring?"
  • "I have not seen him to speak with him for fully twenty-three years."
  • "You have corresponded with, him, however, in that time?"
  • The witness showed no surprise.
  • "We exchanged a few letters while I was in England. I have neither heard fro_im nor written to him since coming to this country."
  • "When did you last see him, regardless of whether you spoke to him or not?"
  • "Probably within the last two or three weeks. I have occasionally met him o_he street."
  • "Did Mr. Mainwaring see you at any of these times?"
  • "If he did, he did not recognize me."
  • "Did you see him when you called at Fair Oaks, Wednesday,—either morning o_vening?"
  • "I did not."
  • "Mr. Hobson, will you describe the man who accompanied you when you called i_he evening, Wednesday?"
  • "I could give you a general description. He was a large man, about my ow_eight, but heavier, and rather good looking, on the whole. But I am not goo_n details, such as complexion, color of hair, and so on; and then, you know, those little things are very easily changed."
  • "What was his name?"
  • Mr. Hobson smiled blandly. "The name by which I know him is John Carroll, bu_ have no idea as to his real name. He is a very eccentric character, many- sided as it were, and I never know which side will come uppermost."
  • "He is your clerk and in your employ, is he not?"
  • "Agent, I think, would be a preferable term. He is in my employ, he transact_ertain business for me, but he does it in his own way, and comes and goes a_is own discretion."
  • "Where is he at present?"
  • "I have no idea, sir."
  • "Did he leave for the city that night, or did he remain with you at th_iverside Hotel?"
  • "He was not with me at the hotel except for a few hours. I have not th_lightest idea from whence he came to see me, when he went away, or in wha_irection he went. He was in haste to be excused as soon as our joint busines_as done, and I have not seen him since."
  • "Did he have on dark glasses that day?"
  • "Not when I saw him, but that was only in my room at the hotel, and for a fe_oments in this house; he would have no need for them at either place."
  • "Did he not accompany you from the hotel to Fair Oaks?"
  • "No, sir; we met here by prearrangement."
  • "When do you expect to see your agent again?"
  • "Whenever he has any business reports to make," Hobson replied, with a_xasperating smile; "but I have no idea when that will be. He has othe_ommissions to execute; he is in the employ of others besides myself, an_ransacts some business on his own account also."
  • "I understand, Mr. Hobson, that you have repeatedly extorted money from Mr.
  • Mainwaring by threatening to disclose facts in your possession regarding som_uestionable transaction."
  • "No, sir; my action could not be termed extortion or blackmail within th_eaning of the law, though to any one conversant with Mr. Mainwaring's privat_orrespondence it may have had that appearance. I was, however, merely makin_n effort to collect what was legally due me. Mr. Mainwaring, before leavin_ngland, had voluntarily bound himself to pay me a certain sum upon th_ondition that I would not reveal certain transactions of considerably mor_han questionable character. I kept my part of the contract, but he failed i_is. I wrote him, therefore, threatening, unless he fulfilled his share of th_greement, to institute proceedings against him, which would naturally involv_ disclosure of his secret. He never paid me in full and the secret is stil_ine," he paused, then added slowly, "to keep or to sell, as will pay m_est."
  • "Was Hugh Mainwaring ever married?" the coroner asked, abruptly.
  • "I believe he was not generally considered a married man, sir."
  • "Was there ever any private marriage?"
  • Hobson smiled enigmatically. "You already have the word of the lady herself, sir; that should be sufficient. I cannot reveal any of Hugh Mainwaring'_ecrets,—unless I am well paid for it!"
  • Hobson was dismissed without further questions, and the examination being no_t an end, the coroner's jury retired to the room in the rear of the library.
  • Very few left the house, for all felt that little time would be required fo_he finding of a verdict, and comment and opinion were freely exchanged.
  • "Well," said Mr. Sutherland, turning towards the secretary with a smile, "the_id not learn one fact from that last witness, for I doubt whether one of th_ew statements he did make had an iota of truth in it. By the way, Mr. Scott, it's a very fortunate thing that you've got the proofs you have. It would be _isky piece of work to depend on that man's word for proof; he is as slipper_s an eel. With those proofs, however, there is no doubt but that you've got _trong case."
  • "It will be hard to convince Ralph Mainwaring of that fact."
  • "Yes, he looks as though he would hold on to his opinions pretty tenaciously."
  • "Not so tenaciously as he would grasp any money coming within his reach!"
  • At a little distance, Mr. Whitney was engaged in conversation with th_nglishmen.
  • "I never thought he could be in any way connected with it," he was saying. "I_he first place, there was no motive, there could be none; then, again, _elieve he is altogether above suspicion. I know that Mr. Mainwaring had th_ost implicit confidence in him."
  • "Well," said Mr. Thornton, "for my part, I'm heartily glad if there is nothin_n it. I always liked the young fellow."
  • "That's just where I don't agree with you; I don't like him," Ralph Mainwarin_eplied in a surly tone. "He may be all right so far as this matter i_oncerned; I don't say yet that he is or isn't; but I do say that to defame _an's character after he's dead, in the manner he has, is simply outrageous, and, you may depend upon it, there's some personal spite back of it."
  • "Oh, well, as to Hugh's character, I don't think you or I are going to fre_urselves about that," laughed Mr. Thornton. "He probably sowed his wild oat_ith the rest of us, and there may have been some reason for his leavin_ngland as he did."
  • "I don't believe it," Ralph Mainwaring retorted, angrily; but before he coul_ay more, the doors opened and the coroner's jury filed into the room. Ther_as instant silence, and a moment later the verdict had been announced. It wa_hat every one had expected, and yet there was not one but experienced _eeling of disappointment and dissatisfaction.
  • "We find that the deceased, Hugh Mainwaring, came to his death by th_ischarge of a revolver in the hands of some person or persons to us unknown."