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Chapter 2 THE MURDER AT TROYTE'S HILL.

  • "GRIFFITHS, of the Newcastle Constabulary, has the case in hand," said Mr.
  • Dyer; "those Newcastle men are keen-witted, shrewd fellows, and very jealou_f outside interference. They only sent to me under protest, as it were, because they wanted your sharp wits at work inside the house."
  • "I suppose throughout I am to work with Griffiths, not with you?" said Mis_rooke.
  • "Yes; when I have given you in outline the facts of the case, I simply hav_othing more to do with it, and you must depend on Griffiths for an_ssistance of any sort that you may require."
  • Here, with a swing, Mr. Dyer opened his big ledger and turned rapidly over it_eaves till he came to the heading "Troyte's Hill" and the date "Septembe_th."
  • "I'm all attention," said Loveday, leaning back in her chair in the attitud_f a listener.
  • "The murdered man," resumed Mr. Dyer, "is a certain Alexande_enderson–usually known as old Sandy–lodge-keeper to Mr. Craven, of Troyte'_ill, Cumberland. The lodge consists merely of two rooms on the ground floor, a bedroom and a sitting-room; these Sandy occupied alone, having neither kit_or kin of any degree. On the morning of September 6th, some children going u_o the house with milk from the farm, noticed that Sandy's bed-room windo_tood wide open. Curiosity prompted them to peep in; and then, to thei_orror, they saw old Sandy, in his night-shirt, lying dead on the floor, as i_e had fallen backwards from the window. They raised an alarm; and o_xamination, it was found that death had ensued from a heavy blow on th_emple, given either by a strong fist or some blunt instrument. The room, o_eing entered, presented a curious appearance. It was as if a herd of monkey_ad been turned into it and allowed to work their impish will. Not an articl_f furniture remained in its place: the bed-clothes had been rolled into _undle and stuffed into the chimney; the bedstead–a small iron one–lay on it_ide; the one chair in the room stood on the top of the table; fender an_ire-irons lay across the washstand, whose basin was to be found in a farthe_orner, holding bolster and pillow. The clock stood on its head in the middl_f the mantelpiece; and the small vases and ornaments, which flanked it o_ither side, were walking, as it were, in a straight line towards the door.
  • The old man's clothes had been rolled into a ball and thrown on the top of _igh cupboard in which he kept his savings and whatever valuables he had. Thi_upboard, however, had not been meddled with, and its contents remaine_ntact, so it was evident that robbery was not the motive for the crime. A_he inquest, subsequently held, a verdict of 'willful murder' against som_erson or persons unknown was returned. The local police are diligentl_nvestigating the affair, but, as yet, no arrests have been made. The opinio_hat at present prevails in the neighbourhood is that the crime has bee_erpetrated by some lunatic, escaped or otherwise and enquiries are being mad_t the local asylums as to missing or lately released inmates. Griffiths, however, tells me that his suspicions set in another direction."
  • "Did anything of importance transpire at the inquest?"
  • "Nothing specially important. Mr. Craven broke down in giving his evidenc_hen he alluded to the confidential relations that had always subsiste_etween Sandy and himself, and spoke of the last time that he had seen hi_live. The evidence of the butler, and one or two of the female servants, seems clear enough, and they let fall something of a hint that Sandy was no_ltogether a favourite among them, on account of the overbearing manner i_hich he used his influence with his master. Young Mr. Craven, a youth o_bout nineteen, home from Oxford for the long vacation, was not present at th_nquest; a doctor's certificate was put in stating that he was suffering fro_yphoid fever, and could not leave his bed without risk to his life. Now thi_oung man is a thoroughly bad sort, and as much a gentleman-blackleg as it i_ossible for such a young fellow to be. It seems to Griffiths that there i_omething suspicious about this illness of his. He came back from Oxford o_he verge of delirium tremens, pulled round from that, and then suddenly, o_he day after the murder, Mrs. Craven rings the bell, announces that he ha_eveloped typhoid fever and orders a doctor to be sent for."
  • "What sort of man is Mr. Craven senior?"
  • "He seems to be a quiet old fellow, a scholar and learned philologist. Neithe_is neighbours nor his family see much of him; he almost lives in his study, writing a treatise, in seven or eight volumes, on comparative philology. He i_ot a rich man. Troyte's Hill, though it carries position in the county, i_ot a paying property, and Mr. Craven is unable to keep it up properly. I a_old he has had to cut down expenses in all directions in order to send hi_on to college, and his daughter from first to last has been entirely educate_y her mother. Mr. Craven was originally intended for the church, but for som_eason or other, when his college career came to an end, he did not presen_imself for ordination–went out to Natal instead, where he obtained some civi_ppointment and where he remained for about fifteen years. Henderson was hi_ervant during the latter portion of his Oxford career, and must have bee_reatly respected by him, for although the remuneration derived from hi_ppointment at Natal was small, he paid Sandy a regular yearly allowance ou_f it. When, about ten years ago, he succeeded to Troyte's Hill, on the deat_f his elder brother, and returned home with his family, Sandy was immediatel_nstalled as lodge-keeper, and at so high a rate of pay that the butler'_ages were cut down to meet it."
  • "Ah, that wouldn't improve the butler's feelings towards him," ejaculate_oveday.
  • Mr. Dyer went on: "But, in spite of his high wages, he doesn't appear to hav_roubled much about his duties as lodge-keeper, for they were performed, as _ule, by the gardener's boy, while he took his meals and passed his time a_he house, and, speaking generally, put his finger into every pie. You kno_he old adage respecting the servant of twenty-one years' standing: 'Seve_ears my servant, seven years my equal, seven years my master.' Well, i_ppears to have held good in the case of Mr. Craven and Sandy. The ol_entleman, absorbed in his philological studies, evidently let the reins sli_hrough his fingers, and Sandy seems to have taken easy possession of them.
  • The servants frequently had to go to him for orders, and he carried things, a_ rule, with a high hand."
  • "Did Mrs. Craven never have a word to say on the matter?"
  • "I've not heard much about her. She seems to be a quiet sort of person. She i_ Scotch missionary's daughter; perhaps she spends her time working for th_ape mission and that sort of thing."
  • "And young Mr. Craven: did he knock under to Sandy's rule?"
  • "Ah, now you're hitting the bull's eye and we come to Griffiths' theory. Th_oung man and Sandy appear to have been at loggerheads ever since the Craven_ook possession of Troyte's Hill. As a schoolboy Master Harry defied Sandy an_hreatened him with his hunting-crop; and subsequently, as a young man, ha_sed strenuous endeavours to put the old servant in his place. On the da_efore the murder, Griffiths says, there was a terrible scene between the two, in which the young gentleman, in the presence of several witnesses, made us_f strong language and threatened the old man's life. Now, Miss Brooke, I hav_old you all the circumstances of the case so far as I know them. For fulle_articulars I must refer you to Griffiths. He, no doubt, will meet you a_renfell–the nearest station to Troyte's Hill, and tell you in what capacit_e has procured for you an entrance into the house. By-the-way, he has wire_o me this morning that he hopes you will be able to save the Scotch expres_o-night."
  • Loveday expressed her readiness to comply with Mr. Griffiths' wishes.
  • "I shall be glad," said Mr. Dyer, as he shook hands with her at the offic_oor, "to see you immediately on your return–that, however, I suppose, wil_ot be yet awhile. This promises, I fancy, to be a longish affair?" This wa_aid interrogatively.
  • "I haven't the least idea on the matter," answered Loveday. "I start on m_ork without theory of any sort–in fact, I may say, with my mind a perfec_lank."
  • And anyone who had caught a glimpse of her blank, expressionless features, a_he said this, would have taken her at her word.
  • Grenfell, the nearest post-town to Troyte's Hill, is a fairly busy, populou_ittle town–looking south towards the black country, and northwards to low, barren hills. Pre-eminent among these stands Troyte's Hill, famed in the ol_ays as a border keep, and possibly at a still earlier date as a Drui_tronghold.
  • At a small inn at Grenfell, dignified by the title of "The Station Hotel," Mr.
  • Griffiths, of the Newcastle constabulary, met Loveday and still furthe_nitiated her into the mysteries of the Troyte's Hill murder.
  • "A little of the first excitement has subsided," he said, after preliminar_reetings had been exchanged; "but still the wildest rumours are flying abou_nd repeated as solemnly as if they were Gospel truths. My chief here and m_olleagues generally adhere to their first conviction, that the criminal i_ome suddenly crazed tramp or else an escaped lunatic, and they are confiden_hat sooner or later we shall come upon his traces. Their theory is tha_andy, hearing some strange noise at the Park Gates, put his head out of th_indow to ascertain the cause and immediately had his death blow dealt him; then they suppose that the lunatic scrambled into the room through the windo_nd exhausted his frenzy by turning things generally upside down. They refus_ltogether to share my suspicions respecting young Mr. Craven."
  • Mr. Griffiths was a tall, thin-featured man, with iron-grey hair, but so clos_o his head that it refused to do anything but stand on end. This gave _omewhat comic expression to the upper portion of his face and clashed oddl_ith the melancholy look that his mouth habitually wore.
  • "I have made all smooth for you at Troyte's Hill," he presently went on. "Mr.
  • Craven is not wealthy enough to allow himself the luxury of a family lawyer, so he occasionally employs the services of Messrs. Wells and Sugden, lawyer_n this place, and who, as it happens, have, off and on, done a good deal o_usiness for me. It was through them I heard that Mr. Craven was anxious t_ecure the assistance of an amanuensis. I immediately offered your services, stating that you were a friend of mine, a lady of impoverished means, wh_ould gladly undertake the duties for the munificent sum of a guinea a month, with board and lodging. The old gentleman at once jumped at the offer, and i_nxious for you to be at Troyte's Hill at once."
  • Loveday expressed her satisfaction with the programme that Mr. Griffiths ha_ketched for her, then she had a few questions to ask.
  • "Tell me," she said, "what led you, in the first instance, to suspect youn_r. Craven of the crime?"
  • "The footing on which he and Sandy stood towards each other, and the terribl_cene that occurred between them only the day before the murder," answere_riffiths, promptly. "Nothing of this, however, was elicited at the inquest, where a very fair face was put on Sandy's relations with the whole of th_raven family. I have subsequently unearthed a good deal respecting th_rivate life of Mr. Harry Craven, and, among other things, I have found ou_hat on the night of the murder he left the house shortly after ten o'clock, and no one, so far as I have been able to ascertain, knows at what hour h_eturned. Now I must draw your attention, Miss Brooke, to the fact that at th_nquest the medical evidence went to prove that the murder had been committe_etween ten and eleven at night."
  • "Do you surmise, then, that the murder was a planned thing on the part of thi_oung man?"
  • "I do. I believe that he wandered about the grounds until Sandy shut himsel_n for the night, then aroused him by some outside noise, and, when the ol_an looked out to ascertain the cause, dealt him a blow with a bludgeon o_oaded stick, that caused his death."
  • "A cold-blooded crime that, for a boy of nineteen?"
  • "Yes. He's a good-looking, gentlemanly youngster, too, with manners as mild a_ilk, but from all accounts is as full of wickedness as an egg is full o_eat. Now, to come to another point–if, in connection with these ugly facts, you take into consideration the suddenness of his illness, I think you'l_dmit that it bears a suspicious appearance and might reasonably give rise t_he surmise that it was a plant on his part, in order to get out of th_nquest."
  • "Who is the doctor attending him?"
  • "A man called Waters; not much of a practitioner, from all accounts, and n_oubt he feels himself highly honoured in being summoned to Troyte's Hill. Th_ravens, it seems, have no family doctor. Mrs. Craven, with her missionar_xperience, is half a doctor herself, and never calls in one except in _erious emergency."
  • "The certificate was in order, I suppose?"
  • "Undoubtedly. And, as if to give colour to the gravity of the case, Mrs.
  • Craven sent a message down to the servants, that if any of them were afraid o_he infection they could at once go to their homes. Several of the maids, _elieve, took advantage of her permission, and packed their boxes. Mis_raven, who is a delicate girl, was sent away with her maid to stay wit_riends at Newcastle, and Mrs. Craven isolated herself with her patient in on_f the disused wings of the house."
  • "Has anyone ascertained whether Miss Craven arrived at her destination a_ewcastle?"
  • Griffiths drew his brows together in thought.
  • "I did not see any necessity for such a thing," he answered. "I don't quit_ollow you. What do you mean to imply?"
  • "Oh, nothing. I don't suppose it matters much: it might have been interestin_s a side-issue." She broke off for a moment, then added:
  • "Now tell me a little about the butler, the man whose wages were cut down t_ncrease Sandy's pay."
  • "Old John Hales? He's a thoroughly worthy, respectable man; he was butler fo_ive or six years to Mr. Craven's brother, when he was master of Troyte'_ill, and then took duty under this Mr. Craven. There's no ground fo_uspicion in that quarter. Hales's exclamation when he heard of the murder i_uite enough to stamp him as an innocent man: 'Serve the old idiot right,' h_ried: 'I couldn't pump up a tear for him if I tried for a month of Sundays!'
  • Now I take it, Miss Brooke, a guilty man wouldn't dare make such a speech a_hat!"
  • "You think not?"
  • Griffiths stared at her. "I'm a little disappointed in her," he thought. "I'_fraid her powers have been slightly exaggerated if she can't see such _traight-forward thing as that."
  • Aloud he said, a little sharply, "Well, I don't stand alone in my thinking. N_ne yet has breathed a word against Hales, and if they did, I've no doubt h_ould prove an  _alibi_  without any trouble, for he lives in the house, an_veryone has a good word for him."
  • "I suppose Sandy's lodge has been put into order by this time?"
  • "Yes; after the inquest, and when all possible evidence had been taken, everything was put straight."
  • "At the inquest it was stated that no marks of footsteps could be traced i_ny direction?"
  • "The long drought we've had would render such a thing impossible, let alon_he fact that Sandy's lodge stands right on the graveled drive, withou_lower-beds or grass borders of any sort around it. But look here, Mis_rooke, don't you be wasting your time over the lodge and its surroundings.
  • Every iota of fact on that matter has been gone through over and over again b_e and my chief. What we want you to do is to go straight into the house an_oncentrate attention on Master Harry's sick-room, and find out what's goin_n there. What he did outside the house on the night of the 6th, I've no doub_ shall be able to find out for myself. Now, Miss Brooke, you've asked me n_nd of questions, to which I have replied as fully as it was in my power t_o; will you be good enough to answer one question that I wish to put, a_traightforwardly as I have answered yours? You have had fullest particular_iven you of the condition of Sandy's room when the police entered it on th_orning after the murder. No doubt, at the present moment, you can see it al_n your mind's eye–the bedstead on its side, the clock on its head, the bed- clothes half-way up the chimney, the little vases and ornaments walking in _traight line towards the door?"
  • Loveday bowed her head.
  • "Very well, Now will you be good enough to tell me what this scene o_onfusion recalls to your mind before anything else?"
  • "The room of an unpopular Oxford freshman after a raid upon it by undergrads,"
  • answered Loveday promptly.
  • Mr. Griffiths rubbed his hands.
  • "Quite so!" he ejaculated. "I see, after all, we are one at heart in thi_atter, in spite of a little surface disagreement of ideas. Depend upon it, by-and-bye, like the engineers tunneling from different quarters under th_lps, we shall meet at the same point and shake hands. By-the-way, I hav_rranged for daily communication between us through the postboy who takes th_etters to Troyte's Hill. He is trustworthy, and any letter you give him fo_e will find its way into my hands within the hour."
  • It was about three o'clock in the afternoon when Loveday drove in through th_ark gates of Troyte's Hill, past the lodge where old Sandy had met with hi_eath. It was a pretty little cottage, covered with Virginia creeper and wil_oneysuckle, and showing no outward sign of the tragedy that had been enacte_ithin.
  • The park and pleasure-grounds of Troyte's Hill were extensive, and the hous_tself was a somewhat imposing red brick structure, built, possibly, at th_ime when Dutch William's taste had grown popular in the country. Its frontag_resented a somewhat forlorn appearance, its centre windows–a square o_ight–alone seeming to show signs of occupation. With the exception of tw_indows at the extreme end of the bedroom floor of the north wing, where, possibly, the invalid and his mother were located, and two windows at th_xtreme end of the ground floor of the south wing, which Loveday ascertaine_ubsequently were those of Mr. Craven's study, not a single window in eithe_ing owned blind or curtain. The wings were extensive, and it was easy t_nderstand that at the extreme end of the one the fever patient would b_solated from the rest of the household, and that at the extreme end of th_ther Mr. Craven could secure the quiet and freedom from interruption which, no doubt, were essential to the due prosecution of his philological studies.
  • Alike on the house and ill-kept grounds were present the stamp of th_mallness of the income of the master and owner of the place. The terrace, which ran the length of the house in front, and on to which every window o_he ground floor opened, was miserably out of repair: not a lintel or door- post, window-ledge or balcony but what seemed to cry aloud for the touch o_he painter. "Pity me! I have seen better days," Loveday could fancy writte_s a legend across the red-brick porch that gave entrance to the old house.
  • The butler, John Hales, admitted Loveday, shouldered her portmanteau and tol_er he would show her to her room. He was a tall, powerfully-built man, with _uddy face and dogged expression of countenance. It was easy to understan_hat, off and on, there must have been many a sharp encounter between him an_ld Sandy. He treated Loveday in an easy, familiar fashion, evidentl_onsidering that an amanuensis took much the same rank as a nurser_overness–that is to say, a little below a lady's maid and a little above _ouse-maid.
  • "We're short of hands, just now," he said, in broad Cumberland dialect, as h_ed the way up the wide stair case. "Some of the lasses downstairs took frigh_t the fever and went home. Cook and I are single-handed, for Moggie, the onl_aid left, has been told off to wait on Madam and Master Harry. I hope you'r_ot afeared of fever?"
  • Loveday explained that she was not, and asked if the room at the extreme en_f the north wing was the one assigned to "Madam and Master Harry."
  • "Yes," said the man; "it's convenient for sick nursing; there's a flight o_tairs runs straight down from it to the kitchen quarters. We put all Mada_ants at the foot of those stairs and Moggie herself never enters the sick- room. I take it you'll not be seeing Madam for many a day, yet awhile."
  • "When shall I see Mr. Craven? At dinner to-night?"
  • "That's what naebody could say," answered Hales. "He may not come out of hi_tudy till past midnight; sometimes he sits there till two or three in th_orning. Shouldn't advise you to wait till he wants his dinner–better have _up of tea and a chop sent up to you. Madam never waits for him at any meal."
  • As he finished speaking he deposited the portmanteau outside one of the man_oors opening into the gallery.
  • "This is Miss Craven's room," he went on; "cook and me thought you'd bette_ave it, as it would want less getting ready than the other rooms, and work i_ork when there are so few hands to do it. Oh, my stars! I do declare there i_ook putting it straight for you now." The last sentence was added as th_pened door laid bare to view, the cook, with a duster in her hand, polishin_ mirror; the bed had been made, it is true, but otherwise the room must hav_een much as Miss Craven left it, after a hurried packing up.
  • To the surprise of the two servants Loveday took the matter very lightly.
  • "I have a special talent for arranging rooms and would prefer getting this on_traight for myself," she said. "Now, if you will go and get ready that cho_nd cup of tea we were talking about just now, I shall think it much kinde_han if you stayed here doing what I can so easily do for myself."
  • When, however, the cook and butler had departed in company, Loveday showed n_isposition to exercise the "special talent" of which she had boasted.
  • She first carefully turned the key in the lock and then proceeded to make _horough and minute investigation of every corner of the room. Not an articl_f furniture, not an ornament or toilet accessory, but what was lifted fro_ts place and carefully scrutinized. Even the ashes in the grate, the debri_f the last fire made there, were raked over and well looked through.
  • This careful investigation of Miss Craven's late surroundings occupied in al_bout three quarters of an hour, and Loveday, with her hat in her hand, descended the stairs to see Hales crossing the hall to the dining-room wit_he promised cup of tea and chop.
  • In silence and solitude she partook of the simple repast in a dining-hall tha_ould with ease have banqueted a hundred and fifty guests.
  • "Now for the grounds before it gets dark," she said to herself, as she note_hat already the outside shadows were beginning to slant.
  • The dining-hall was at the back of the house; and here, as in the front, th_indows, reaching to the ground, presented easy means of egress. The flower- garden was on this side of the house and sloped downhill to a pretty stretc_f well-wooded country.
  • Loveday did not linger here even to admire, but passed at once round the sout_orner of the house to the windows which she had ascertained, by a careles_uestion to the butler, were those of Mr. Craven's study.
  • Very cautiously she drew near them, for the blinds were up, the curtains draw_ack. A side glance, however, relieved her apprehensions, for it showed he_he occupant of the room, seated in an easy-chair, with his back to th_indows. From the length of his outstretched limbs he was evidently a tal_an. His hair was silvery and curly, the lower part of his face was hidde_rom her view by the chair, but she could see one hand was pressed tightl_cross his eyes and brows. The whole attitude was that of a man absorbed i_eep thought. The room was comfortably furnished, but presented an appearanc_f disorder from the books and manuscripts scattered in all directions. _hole pile of torn fragments of foolscap sheets, overflowing from a waste- paper basket beside the writing-table, seemed to proclaim the fact that th_cholar had of late grown weary of, or else dissatisfied with his work, an_ad condemned it freely.
  • Although Loveday stood looking in at this window for over five minutes, no_he faintest sign of life did that tall, reclining figure give, and it woul_ave been as easy to believe him locked in sleep as in thought.
  • From here she turned her steps in the direction of Sandy's lodge. As Griffith_ad said, it was graveled up to its doorstep. The blinds were closely drawn, and it presented the ordinary appearance of a disused cottage.
  • A narrow path beneath over-arching boughs of cherry-laurel and arbutus, immediately facing the lodge, caught her eye, and down this she at once turne_er footsteps.
  • This path led, with many a wind and turn, through a belt of shrubbery tha_kirted the frontage of Mr. Craven's grounds, and eventually, after much zig- zagging, ended in close proximity to the stables. As Loveday entered it, sh_eemed literally to leave daylight behind her.
  • "I feel as if I were following the course of a circuitous mind," she said t_erself as the shadows closed around her. "I could not fancy Sir Isaac Newto_r Bacon planning or delighting in such a wind-about-alley as this!"
  • The path showed greyly in front of her out of the dimness. On and on sh_ollowed it; here and there the roots of the old laurels, struggling out o_he ground, threatened to trip her up. Her eyes, however, had now grow_ccustomed to the half-gloom, and not a detail of her surroundings escaped he_s she went along.
  • A bird flew from out the thicket on her right hand with a startled cry. _ainty little frog leaped out of her way into the shriveled leaves lying belo_he laurels. Following the movements of this frog, her eye was caught b_omething black and solid among those leaves. What was it? A bundle–a shin_lack coat? Loveday knelt down, and using her hands to assist her eyes, foun_hat they came into contact with the dead, stiffened body of a beautiful blac_etriever. She parted, as well as she was able, the lower boughs of th_vergreens, and minutely examined the poor animal. Its eyes were still open, though glazed and bleared, and its death had, undoubtedly, been caused by th_low of some blunt, heavy instrument, for on one side its skull was almos_attered in.
  • "Exactly the death that was dealt to Sandy," she thought, as she groped hithe_nd thither beneath the trees in hopes of lighting upon the weapon o_estruction.
  • She searched until increasing darkness warned her that search was useless.
  • Then, still following the zig-zagging path, she made her way out by th_tables and thence back to the house.
  • She went to bed that night without having spoken to a soul beyond the cook an_utler. The next morning, however, Mr. Craven introduced himself to her acros_he breakfast-table. He was a man of really handsome personal appearance, wit_ fine carriage of the head and shoulders, and eyes that had a forlorn, appealing look in them. He entered the room with an air of great energy, apologized to Loveday for the absence of his wife, and for his own remissnes_n not being in the way to receive her on the previous day. Then he bade he_ake herself at home at the breakfast-table, and expressed his delight i_aving found a coadjutor in his work.
  • "I hope you understand what a great–a stupendous work it is?" he added, as h_ank into a chair. "It is a work that will leave its impress upon thought i_ll the ages to come. Only a man who has studied comparative philology as _ave for the past thirty years, could gauge the magnitude of the task I hav_et myself."
  • With the last remark, his energy seemed spent, and he sank back in his chair, covering his eyes with his hand in precisely the same attitude as that i_hich Loveday had seen him over-night, and utterly oblivious of the fact tha_reakfast was before him and a stranger-guest seated at table. The butle_ntered with another dish. "Better go on with your breakfast," he whispered t_oveday, "he may sit like that for another hour."
  • He placed his dish in front of his master.
  • "Captain hasn't come back yet, sir," he said, making an effort to arouse hi_rom his reverie.
  • "Eh, what?" said Mr. Craven, for a moment lifting his hand from his eyes.
  • "Captain, sir–the black retriever," repeated the man.
  • The pathetic look in Mr. Craven's eyes deepened.
  • "Ah, poor Captain!" he murmured; "the best dog I ever had."
  • Then he again sank back in his chair, putting his hand to his forehead.
  • The butler made one more effort to arouse him.
  • "Madam sent you down a newspaper, sir, that she thought you would like t_ee," he shouted almost into his master's ear, and at the same time laid th_orning's paper on the table beside his plate.
  • "Confound you! leave it there," said Mr. Craven irritably. "Fools! dolts tha_ou all are! With your trivialities and interruptions you are sending me ou_f the world with my work undone!"
  • And again he sank back in his chair, closed his eyes and became lost to hi_urroundings.
  • Loveday went on with her breakfast. She changed her place at table to one o_r. Craven's right hand, so that the newspaper sent down for his perusal la_etween his plate and hers. It was folded into an oblong shape, as if it wer_ished to direct attention to a certain portion of a certain column.
  • A clock in a corner of the room struck the hour with a loud, resonant stroke.
  • Mr. Craven gave a start and rubbed his eyes.
  • "Eh, what's this?" he said. "What meal are we at?" He looked around with _ewildered air. "Eh!–who are you?" he went on, staring hard at Loveday. "Wha_re you doing here? Where's Nina?–Where's Harry?"
  • Loveday began to explain, and gradually recollection seemed to come back t_im.
  • "Ah, yes, yes," he said. "I remember; you've come to assist me with my grea_ork. You promised, you know, to help me out of the hole I've got into. Ver_nthusiastic, I remember they said you were, on certain abstruse points i_omparative philology. Now, Miss–Miss–I've forgotten your name–tell me _ittle of what you know about the elemental sounds of speech that are commo_o all languages. Now, to how many would you reduce those elemental sounds–t_ix, eight, nine? No, we won't discuss the matter here, the cups and saucer_istract me. Come into my den at the other end of the house; we'll hav_erfect quiet there."
  • And utterly ignoring the fact that he had not as yet broken his fast, he ros_rom the table, seized Loveday by the wrist, and led her out of the room an_own the long corridor that led through the south wing to his study.
  • But seated in that study his energy once more speedily exhausted itself.
  • He placed Loveday in a comfortable chair at his writing-table, consulted he_aste as to pens, and spread a sheet of foolscap before her. Then he settle_imself in his easy-chair, with his back to the light, as if he were about t_ictate folios to her.
  • In a loud, distinct voice he repeated the title of his learned work, then it_ub-division, then the number and heading of the chapter that was at presen_ngaging his attention. Then he put his hand to his head. "It's the elementa_ounds that are my stumbling-block," he said. "Now, how on earth is i_ossible to get a notion of a sound of agony that is not in part a sound o_error? or a sound of surprise that is not in part a sound of either joy o_orrow?"
  • With this his energies were spent, and although Loveday remained seated i_hat study from early morning till daylight began to fade, she had not te_entences to show for her day's work as amanuensis.
  • Loveday in all spent only two clear days at Troyte's Hill.
  • On the evening of the first of those days Detective Griffiths received, through the trustworthy post-boy, the following brief note from her:
  • "I have found out that Hales owed Sandy close upon a hundred pounds, which h_ad borrowed at various times. I don't know whether you will think this fac_f any importance.–L. B."
  • Mr. Griffiths repeated the last sentence blankly. "If Harry Craven were pu_pon his defence, his counsel, I take it, would consider the fact of firs_mportance," he muttered. And for the remainder of that day Mr. Griffiths wen_bout his work in a perturbed state of mind, doubtful whether to hold or t_et go his theory concerning Harry Craven's guilt.
  • The next morning there came another brief note from Loveday which ran thus:
  • "As a matter of collateral interest, find out if a person, calling himsel_arold Cousins, sailed two days ago from London Docks for Natal in th_Bonnie Dundee?_ "
  • To this missive Loveday received, in reply, the following somewhat length_ispatch:
  • "I do not quite see the drift of your last note, but have wired to our agent_n London to carry out its suggestion. On my part, I have important news t_ommunicate. I have found out what Harry Craven's business out of doors was o_he night of the murder, and at my instance a warrant has been issued for hi_rrest. This warrant it will be my duty to serve on him in the course of to- day. Things are beginning to look very black against him, and I am convince_is illness is all a sham. I have seen Waters, the man who is supposed to b_ttending him, and have driven him into a corner and made him admit that h_as only seen young Craven once–on the first day of his illness–and that h_ave his certificate entirely on the strength of what Mrs. Craven told him o_er son's condition. On the occasion of this, his first and only visit, th_ady, it seems, also told him that it would not be necessary for him t_ontinue his attendance, as she quite felt herself competent to treat th_ase, having had so much experience in fever cases among the blacks at Natal.
  • "As I left Waters's house, after eliciting this important information, I wa_ccosted by a man who keeps a low-class inn in the place, McQueen by name. H_aid that he wished to speak to me on a matter of importance. To make a lon_tory short, this McQueen stated that on the night of the sixth, shortly afte_leven o'clock, Harry Craven came to his house, bringing with him a valuabl_iece of plate–a handsome epergne–and requested him to lend him a hundre_ounds on it, as he hadn't a penny in his pocket. McQueen complied with hi_equest to the extent of ten sovereigns, and now, in a fit of nervous terror, comes to me to confess himself a receiver of stolen goods and play the hones_an! He says he noticed that the young gentleman was very much agitated as h_ade the request, and he also begged him to mention his visit to no one. Now, I am curious to learn how Master Harry will get over the fact that he passe_he lodge at the hour at which the murder was most probably committed; or ho_e will get out of the dilemma of having repassed the lodge on his way back t_he house, and not noticed the wide-open window with the full moon shinin_own on it?
  • "Another word! Keep out of the way when I arrive at the house, somewher_etween two and three in the afternoon, to serve the warrant. I do not wis_our professional capacity to get wind, for you will most likely yet be o_ome use to us in the house.
  • Loveday read this note, seated at Mr. Craven's writing-table, with the ol_entleman himself reclining motionless beside her in his easy-chair. A littl_mile played about the corners of her mouth as she read over again th_ords–"for you will most likely yet be of some use to us in the house."
  • Loveday's second day in Mr. Craven's study promised to be as unfruitful as th_irst. For fully an hour after she had received Griffiths' note, she sat a_he writing-table with her pen in her hand, ready to transcribe Mr. Craven'_nspirations. Beyond, however, the phrase, muttered with closed eyes–"It's al_ere, in my brain, but I can't put it into words"–not a half-syllable escape_is lips.
  • At the end of that hour the sound of footsteps on the outside gravel made he_urn her head towards the window. It was Griffiths approaching with tw_onstables. She heard the hall door opened to admit them, but, beyond that, not a sound reached her ear, and she realized how fully she was cut off fro_ommunication with the rest of the household at the farther end of thi_noccupied wing.
  • Mr. Craven, still reclining in his semi-trance, evidently had not the faintes_uspicion that so important an event as the arrest of his only son on a charg_f murder was about to be enacted in the house.
  • Meantime, Griffiths and his constables had mounted the stairs leading to th_orth wing, and were being guided through the corridors to the sick-room b_he flying figure of Moggie, the maid.
  • "Hoot, mistress!" cried the girl, "here are three men coming up th_tairs–policemen, every one of them–will ye come and ask them what they b_anting?"
  • Outside the door of the sick-room stood Mrs. Craven–a tall, sharp-feature_oman with sandy hair going rapidly grey.
  • "What is the meaning of this? What is your business here?" she said haughtily, addressing Griffiths, who headed the party.
  • Griffiths respectfully explained what his business was, and requested her t_tand on one side that he might enter her son's room.
  • "This is my daughter's room; satisfy yourself of the fact," said the lady, throwing back the door as she spoke.
  • And Griffiths and his confrères entered, to find pretty Miss Craven, lookin_ery white and scared, seated beside a fire in a long flowing robe de chambre.
  • Griffiths departed in haste and confusion, without the chance of _rofessional talk with Loveday. That afternoon saw him telegraphing wildly i_ll directions, and dispatching messengers in all quarters. Finally he spen_ver an hour drawing up an elaborate report to his chief at Newcastle, assuring him of the identity of one, Harold Cousins, who had sailed in th_Bonnie Dundee_  for Natal, with Harry Craven, of Troyte's Hill, and advisin_hat the police authorities in that far-away district should be immediatel_ommunicated with.
  • The ink had not dried on the pen with which this report was written before _ote, in Loveday's writing, was put into his hand.
  • Loveday evidently had had some difficulty in finding a messenger for thi_ote, for it was brought by a gardener's boy, who informed Griffiths that th_ady had said he would receive a gold sovereign if he delivered the letter al_ight.
  • Griffiths paid the boy and dismissed him, and then proceeded to read Loveday'_ommunication.
  • It was written hurriedly in pencil, and ran as follows:
  • "Things are getting critical here. Directly you receive this, come up to th_ouse with two of your men, and post yourselves anywhere in the grounds wher_ou can see and not be seen. There will be no difficulty in this, for it wil_e dark by the time you are able to get there. I am not sure whether I shal_ant your aid to-night, but you had better keep in the grounds until morning, in case of need; and above all, never once lose sight of the study windows."
  • (This was underscored.) "If I put a lamp with a green shade in one of thos_indows, do not lose a moment in entering by that window, which I wil_ontrive to keep unlocked."
  • Detective Griffiths rubbed his forehead–rubbed his eyes, as he finishe_eading this.
  • "Well, I daresay it's all right," he said, "but I'm bothered, that's all, an_or the life of me I can't see one step of the way she is going."
  • He looked at his watch: the hands pointed to a quarter past six. The shor_eptember day was drawing rapidly to a close. A good five miles lay betwee_im and Troyte's Hill–there was evidently not a moment to lose.
  • At the very moment that Griffiths, with his two constables, were once mor_tarting along the Grenfell High Road behind the best horse they coul_rocure, Mr. Craven was rousing himself from his long slumber, and beginnin_o look around him. That slumber, however, though long, had not been _eaceful one, and it was sundry of the old gentleman's muttered exclamations, as he had started uneasily in his sleep, that had caused Loveday to open, an_hen to creep out of the room to dispatch, her hurried note.
  • What effect the occurrence of the morning had had upon the househol_enerally, Loveday, in her isolated corner of the house, had no means o_scertaining. She only noted that when Hales brought in her tea, as he di_recisely at five o'clock, he wore a particularly ill-tempered expression o_ountenance, and she heard him mutter, as he set down the tea-tray with _latter, something about being a respectable man, and not used to such "going_n."
  • It was not until nearly an hour and a half after this that Mr. Craven ha_wakened with a sudden start, and, looking wildly around him, had questione_oveday who had entered the room.
  • Loveday explained that the butler had brought in lunch at one, and tea a_ive, but that since then no one had come in.
  • "Now that's false," said Mr. Craven, in a sharp, unnatural sort of voice; "_aw him sneaking round the room, the whining, canting hypocrite, and you mus_ave seen him, too! Didn't you hear him say, in his squeaky old voice:
  • 'Master, I knows your secret–'" He broke off abruptly, looking wildly round.
  • "Eh, what's this?" he cried. "No, no, I'm all wrong–Sandy is dead an_uried–they held an inquest on him, and we all praised him up as if he were _aint."
  • "He must have been a bad man, that old Sandy," said Loveday sympathetically.
  • "You're right! you're right!" cried Mr. Craven, springing up excitedly fro_is chair and seizing her by the hand. "If ever a man deserved his death, h_id. For thirty years he held that rod over my head, and then–ah where was I?"
  • He put his hand to his head and again sank, as if exhausted, into his chair.
  • "I suppose it was some early indiscretion of yours at college that he kne_f?" said Loveday, eager to get at as much of the truth as possible while th_ood for confidence held sway in the feeble brain.
  • "That was it! I was fool enough to marry a disreputable girl–a barmaid in th_own–and Sandy was present at the wedding, and then—" Here his eyes close_gain and his mutterings became incoherent.
  • For ten minutes he lay back in his chair, muttering thus; "A yelp–a groan,"
  • were the only words Loveday could distinguish among those mutterings, the_uddenly, slowly and distinctly, he said, as if answering some plainly-pu_uestion: "A good blow with the hammer and the thing was done."
  • "I should like amazingly to see that hammer," said Loveday; "do you keep i_nywhere at hand?"
  • His eyes opened with a wild, cunning look in them.
  • "Who's talking about a hammer? I did not say I had one. If anyone says I di_t with a hammer, they're telling a lie."
  • "Oh, you've spoken to me about the hammer two or three times," said Loveda_almly; "the one that killed your dog, Captain, and I should like to see it, that's all."
  • The look of cunning died out of the old man's eye–"Ah, poor Captain! splendi_og that! Well, now, where were we? Where did we leave off? Ah, I remember, i_as the elemental sounds of speech that bothered me so that night. Were yo_ere then? Ah, no! I remember. I had been trying all day to assimilate a dog'_elp of pain to a human groan, and I couldn't do it. The idea haunte_e–followed me about wherever I went. If they were both elemental sounds, the_ust have something in common, but the link between them I could not find; then it occurred to me, would a well-bred, well-trained dog like my Captain i_he stables, there, at the moment of death give an unmitigated currish yelp; would there not be something of a human note in his death-cry? The thing wa_orth putting to the test. If I could hand down in my treatise a fragment o_act on the matter, it would be worth a dozen dogs' lives. so I went out int_he moonlight–ah, but you know all about it–now, don't you?"
  • "Yes. Poor Captain! did he yelp or groan?"
  • "Why, he gave one loud, long, hideous yelp, just as if he had been a commo_ur. I might just as well have let him alone; it only set that other brut_pening his window and spying out on me, and saying in his cracked old voice:
  • 'Master, what are you doing out here at this time of night?'"
  • Again he sank back in his chair, muttering incoherently with half-closed eyes.
  • Loveday let him alone for a minute or so; then she had another question t_sk.
  • "And that other brute–did he yelp or groan when you dealt him his blow?"
  • "What, old Sandy–the brute? he fell back–Ah, I remember, you said you woul_ike to see the hammer that stopped his babbling old tongue–now didn't you?"
  • He rose a little unsteadily from his chair, and seemed to drag his long limb_ith an effort across the room to a cabinet at the farther end. Opening _rawer in this cabinet, he produced, from amidst some specimens of strata an_ossils, a large-sized geological hammer.
  • He brandished it for a moment over his head, then paused with his finger o_is lip.
  • "Hush!" he said, "we shall have the fools creeping in to peep at us if w_on't take care." And to Loveday's horror he suddenly made for the door, turned the key in the lock, withdrew it and put it into his pocket.
  • She looked at the clock; the hands pointed to half-past seven. Had Griffith_eceived her note at the proper time, and were the men now in the grounds? Sh_ould only pray that they were.
  • "The light is too strong for my eyes," she said, and rising from her chair, she lifted the green-shaded lamp and placed it on a table that stood at th_indow.
  • "No, no, that won't do," said Mr. Craven; "that would show everyone outsid_hat we're doing in here." He crossed to the window as he spoke and remove_he lamp thence to the mantelpiece.
  • Loveday could only hope that in the few seconds it had remained in the windo_t had caught the eye of the outside watchers.
  • The old man beckoned to Loveday to come near and examine his deadly weapon.
  • "Give it a good swing round," he said, suiting the action to the word, "an_own it comes with a splendid crash." He brought the hammer round within a_nch of Loveday's forehead.
  • She started back.
  • "Ha, ha," he laughed harshly and unnaturally, with the light of madnes_ancing in his eyes now; "did I frighten you? I wonder what sort of sound yo_ould make if I were to give you a little tap just there." Here he lightl_ouched her forehead with the hammer. "Elemental, of course, it would be, and—"
  • Loveday steadied her nerves with difficulty. Locked in with this lunatic, he_nly chance lay in gaining time for the detectives to reach the house an_nter through the window.
  • "Wait a minute," she said, striving to divert his attention; "you have not ye_old me what sort of an elemental sound old Sandy made when he fell. If you'l_ive me pen and ink, I'll write down a full account of it all, and you ca_ncorporate it afterwards in your treatise."
  • For a moment a look of real pleasure flitted across the old man's face, the_t faded. "The brute fell back dead without a sound," he answered; "it was al_or nothing, that night's work; yet not altogether for nothing. No, I don'_ind owning I would do it all over again to get the wild thrill of joy at m_eart that I had when I looked down into that old man's dead face and fel_yself free at last! Free at last!" his voice rang out excitedly–once more h_rought his hammer round with an ugly swing.
  • "For a moment I was a young man again; I leaped into his room–the moon wa_hining full in through the window–I thought of my old college days, and th_un we used to have at Pembroke–topsy turvey I turned everything—" He brok_ff abruptly, and drew a step nearer to Loveday. "The pity of it all was," h_aid, suddenly dropping from his high, excited tone to a low, pathetic one,
  • "that he fell without a sound of any sort." Here he drew another step nearer.
  • "I wonder–" he said, then broke off again, and came close to Loveday's side.
  • "It has only this moment occurred to me," he said, now with his lips close t_oveday's ear, "that a woman, in her death agony, would be much more likely t_ive utterance to an elemental sound than a man."
  • He raised his hammer, and Loveday fled to the window, and was lifted from th_utside by three pairs of strong arms.
  • "I thought I was conducting my very last case–I never had such a narrow escap_efore!" said Loveday, as she stood talking with Mr. Griffiths on the Grenfel_latform, awaiting the train to carry her back to London. "It seems strang_hat no one before suspected the old gentleman's sanity–I suppose, however, people were so used to his eccentricities that they did not notice how the_ad deepened into positive lunacy. His cunning evidently stood him in goo_tead at the inquest."
  • "It is possible" said Griffiths thoughtfully, "that he did not absolutel_ross the very slender line that divided eccentricity from madness until afte_he murder. The excitement consequent upon the discovery of the crime may jus_ave pushed him over the border. Now, Miss Brooke, we have exactly ten minute_efore your train comes in. I should feel greatly obliged to you if you woul_xplain one or two things that have a professional interest for me."
  • "With pleasure," said Loveday. "Put your questions in categorical order and _ill answer them."
  • "Well, then, in the first place, what suggested to your mind the old man'_uilt?"
  • "The relations that subsisted between him and Sandy seemed to me to savour to_uch of fear on the one side and power on the other. Also the income paid t_andy during Mr. Craven's absence in Natal bore, to my mind, an unpleasan_esemblance to hush-money."
  • "Poor wretched being! And I hear that, after all, the woman he married in hi_ild young days died soon afterwards of drink. I have no doubt, however, tha_andy sedulously kept up the fiction of her existence, even after his master'_econd marriage. Now for another question: how was it you knew that Mis_raven had taken her brother's place in the sick-room?"
  • "On the evening of my arrival I discovered a rather long lock of fair hair i_he unswept fireplace of my room, which, as it happened, was usually occupie_y Miss Craven. It at once occurred to me that the young lady had been cuttin_ff her hair and that there must be some powerful motive to induce such _acrifice. The suspicious circumstances attending her brother's illness soo_upplied me with such a motive."
  • "Ah! that typhoid fever business was very cleverly done. Not a servant in th_ouse, I verily believe, but who thought Master Harry was upstairs, ill i_ed, and Miss Craven away at her friends' in Newcastle. The young fellow mus_ave got a clear start off within an hour of the murder. His sister, sent awa_he next day to Newcastle, dismissed her maid there, I hear, on the plea of n_ccommodation at her friends' house–sent the girl to her own home for _oliday and herself returned to Troyte's Hill in the middle of the night, having walked the five miles from Grenfell. No doubt her mother admitted he_hrough one of those easily-opened front windows, cut her hair and put her t_ed to personate her brother without delay. With Miss Craven's strong likenes_o Master Harry, and in a darkened room, it is easy to understand that th_yes of a doctor, personally unacquainted with the family, might easily b_eceived. Now, Miss Brooke, you must admit that with all this elaborat_hicanery and double dealing going on, it was only natural that my suspicion_hould set in strongly in that quarter."
  • "I read it all in another light, you see," said Loveday. "It seemed to me tha_he mother, knowing her son's evil proclivities, believed in his guilt, i_pite, possibly, of his assertions of innocence. The son, most likely, on hi_ay back to the house after pledging the family plate, had met old Mr. Crave_ith the hammer in his hand. Seeing, no doubt, how impossible it would be fo_im to clear himself without incriminating his father, he preferred flight t_atal to giving evidence at the inquest."
  • "Now about his alias?" said Mr. Griffiths briskly, for the train was at tha_oment steaming into the station. "How did you know that Harold Cousins wa_dentical with Harry Craven, and had sailed in the  _Bonnie Dundee_?"
  • "Oh, that was easy enough," said Loveday, as she stepped into the train; "_ewspaper sent down to Mr. Craven by his wife, was folded so as to direct hi_ttention to the shipping list. In it I saw that the  _Bonnie Dundee_  ha_ailed two days previously for Natal. Now it was only natural to connect Nata_ith Mrs. Craven, who had passed the greater part of her life there; and i_as easy to understand her wish to get her scapegrace son among her earl_riends. The alias under which he sailed came readily enough to light. I foun_t scribbled all over one of Mr. Craven's writing pads in his study; evidentl_t had been drummed into his ears by his wife as his son's alias, and the ol_entleman had taken this method of fixing it in his memory. We'll hope tha_he young fellow, under his new name, will make a new reputation fo_imself–at any rate, he'll have a better chance of doing so with the ocea_etween him and his evil companions. Now it's good-bye, I think."
  • "No," said Mr. Griffiths; "it's _au revoir_ , for you'll have to come bac_gain for the assizes, and give the evidence that will shut old Mr. Craven i_n asylum for the rest of his life."