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Chapter 21 WHEN TWO AND TWO MAKE FOUR

  • It would not be overstating the case if one were to say that Cleek's mind wa_bsolutely in a whirl when he closed the door of the dining-room behind hi_nd stood alone in the brilliantly lighted hall; for, added to the loathin_ontempt he felt for the young reprobate he had just left, there was th_nowledge that this new and unexpected development threatened to destroy th_hole fabric of his theories in almost every particular.
  • Not for one moment, heretofore, had he looked upon young Raynor as other tha_ shallow, empty-headed wastrel; a mere cuckoo hatched in an eagle's nest; _hing to be scorned, not dreaded; a mere mischievous atom that hadn't th_ourage to be a bird of prey, nor blood enough in its veins to be dangerous.
  • Now, however—— God! what a riddle life is! You never know!
  • The door that led out into the grounds of the Grange was but a rope's cas_istant. He felt that he couldn't trust himself to go in and face the ladie_ust yet a while; that he must think over this new and staggering turn whic_vents had taken: think over it for a time in the hush and darkness of th_uter world; and, turning on his heel, went swiftly to the door and le_imself out.
  • By this time the night had closed in, the moon had risen, and the gardens wer_imply a shadowy place of dark and fragrant mystery, with here and there _ilver arabesque on the earth where the moonlight shafted through the bough_f trees, and here and there a streak of yellower radiance where the window_f the house threw man-made light across the lawn and against the massed gree_f crowded leaves. Cleek took to the grass that his footsteps might not b_eard, and there, in the darkest shadow of all the darkened land, walked u_nd down, up and down, with his lower lip pinched up between his thumb an_orefinger, his brows knotted, and the elbow of one arm in the hand of th_ther: a quiet, slow-moving figure, as silent as the other soundless shade_hat were about it.
  • So that was how the cat jumped, was it? Directing suspicion—not openly, no_ith any positive hint of _what_ , but with deadly seriousness, considerin_hat last night a man had been mysteriously murdered and the police were ou_or the assassin—directing suspicion against his own father, and at such a_ppallingly significant time.
  • What a cur the fellow was! Even if his father could in any way have bee_mplicated in the crime, by any means, upon any pretext, what a devil's act i_as to lead the law into the right channel. But when there was not on_olitary circumstance that pointed, when it was merely to save his own skin,
  • merely to divert suspicion away from himself, what an act of unspeakabl_trocity! Couldn't the fellow reason? Couldn't he see that the very thing h_as doing to mislead justice was the one circumstance which directed its swor_gainst himself? That the simple fact of his endeavouring to direct suspicio_gainst one who was in no way implicated was absolute proof that he had _urpose in wishing it to be misdirected. And if he _had_ a purpose in doin_hat, the inference was so obvious that a child might read between the lines.
  • Heigho! It was just another exemplification of the truth of the old adage that
  • "when the wine's in the wit's out." If he'd let that brandy decanter alone, i_e hadn't fuddled his reason and clogged his wretched brain with alcohol, h_ust have seen what an ass thing he was doing, and what a fool his loosene_ongue was making of him.
  • True, as yet there did not seem any just cause for connecting him with th_urder of De Louvisan, any reason why he should have killed the man; an_ingle purpose he might serve, any solitary thing he might gain by slayin_im; but still—— Oh, well, you never know how deep a well is until you hav_eached the bottom of it. The thing had every appearance of being an Apach_rime, and he was "in" with Margot—Margot, who played for money and mone_lone; so if—— Good God! the little reptile hadn't let her lead him int_that_ folly, had he? Hadn't let her lure him into taking the oath an_nrolling himself a member of the Apache?
  • If he had been mad enough to do that, if that were the explanation, why, then,
  • all the rest was possible. The law of the Apache is the law of th_ommonwealth; and he would find that out, as Lovetski had found it out—to_ate. If St. Ulmer was in any way implicated, St. Ulmer's fortune would b_one_ stake. And if this brainless weakling should fall heir to his father'_oney, ho! there was the other "stake"; there the possible motive, there th_irst connecting link!
  • Was that Margot's little game? Was that the way the idiot had been tricke_nto becoming an accomplice? Just so! let's put the jumbled bits together an_ee if they fit; let's sum up two and two and learn if they really do mak_our.
  • First bit: De Louvisan with such a hold upon St. Ulmer that he can compel hi_ordship to cancel his daughter's engagement and force her to accept him as _iancé. Quite so! Second bit: De Louvisan, without any rupture occurrin_etween himself and St. Ulmer, suddenly murdered in cold blood. And not onl_urdered, but spiked up to the wall after the manner of Lanisterre and othe_raitors to the Apache. A clear proof that this De Louvisan himself was a_pache; and being a traitor to the cause—— Quite so! quite so! Prevented fro_arrying Lady Katharine, because that was not part of the agreement; becaus_e was making an effort to obtain for himself and his own personal use _ortune which it was intended should come into the commonwealth. Hum-m-m!
  • Those two pieces seem to fit together. Now for the next:
  • If St. Ulmer, over whom this De Louvisan undoubtedly had a hold of some sort,
  • bought that fellow's silence by promising him his daughter for a wife, then i_s quite certain that he was acquiescing in his traitorship to the Apache an_uite willing that the man should have Lady Katharine's dower for himself.
  • That bit fits also. Now for another: if in doing that thing this De Louvisa_erited the name of traitor, it must have been that he came between the Apach_nd the possession of the St. Ulmer fortune, and if the owner of that fortun_ad to make terms such as he did with the man, the inference is as plain a_he nose on your face. In other words, St. Ulmer, too, had reason to dread th_pache, and there must, therefore, be some connection between him and Margot.
  • Two and two—and it makes four exactly! St. Ulmer, then, is the game, St. Ulme_he pivot upon which the whole case revolves.
  • Where, then, does young Raynor come in? Hum-m-m! Ah! Of course, of course.
  • Very crafty, very crafty indeed. A beautiful woman could do anything in th_orld with such a worm as he. The stage-door Johnnie will be best caught by _horus girl. Yes, yes, just so. Get one who is out of an engagement or i_ebt—anything that will make her willing and eager to accept a bribe. She wil_o the introducing; the rest you can do yourself. Easy enough with such an as_s that fellow. Lovely women and jolly chaps for companionship; a lonel_ouse, music, dancing, champagne; a famous French variety star heels over hea_n love with him, letters, photographs, nights of revelry, and quarts of wine;
  • and then— _voilà_ , the fish is hooked!
  • Sworn in, by heaven! sworn in in a drunken fit, to wake and find himself no_nly an Apache, but to have his vanity tickled, his empty head turned, and hi_ove of being thought a regular ladies' man pampered to the full by being tol_hat he is in reality the _king_ of the Apaches, and that hundreds an_undreds of just such jolly fellows and girls as he sees about him are willin_nd eager to do the little worm homage and to be ruled by him as though h_ere actually royal.
  • It is an old, old game of yours, that, isn't it, Margot? So you have caugh_any a fool in your day, wiser fools than this one, and sillier, too, in thei_ay, but none of them ever held his kingship beyond the space of a month; non_t all but that bolder rascal, the Vanishing Cracksman.
  • And this little maggot of a Harry Raynor is the latest dupe, eh? Hooked in _runken moment, the silly gudgeon, hooked that you may get at St. Ulme_nd—get even—with the chap called De Louvisan. It must have been a shock whe_ou found what a cowardly cur the fellow is at heart. Still there must be a_ccomplice, and there must be a strong incentive to command the services o_his one.
  • How did you work it, then? How get him to assist in that thing, if he di_ssist? How lead him up to this abominable act regarding his own father? Yes!
  • To be sure, to be sure. Help you and your crew to St. Ulmer's money and you'_elp him to _his_ : to be rid of a father who kept him upon a short allowance,
  • who disapproved of all the things and all the people he cared for, and wh_reated him as though he were a little foolish boy instead of a great, noble,
  • splendid man, who ought to be free to live like the king he was.
  • Oh, it would be easy: just the mere turning of suspicion after the other thin_as done. A letter would do that—a forged letter—and that would be prepare_or him nicely. Oh, no, no! of course he wouldn't be hanged. Means would b_rovided to prevent that. He would be so deeply compromised, however, tha_here would be no possibility of his escaping but by death, and the means o_ringing that about would be conveniently supplied him. A swift but painles_oison; or, perhaps, a bottle of ether—something of the sort. No pain, n_uffering, all over in a minute or two; then "darling Harry" would come int_verything, and the clever little forged letter would explain everything away.
  • Would it? Cleek's jaws clamped together as the thought came, Would it, indeed?
  • Well, _he'd_ see that it wouldn't, then! If any one was to suffer it should b_he guilty, not the innocent; they should never pull that game off to the en_f time.
  • The forged letter, eh? Ah, be sure that Harry Raynor would take means t_reserve it and to have it handy against the time of need. And be sure, too,
  • that Margot would instruct him with the utmost carefulness just how to ac_ith regard to it, and just where to keep it in order to make everythin_ppear natural and in accordance with what he was to tell to his friend, Mr.
  • Barch, in order to set the ball rolling. Claimed to have received it thi_fternoon, didn't he? So, of course, it would be in the pocket of the coat h_ad worn at the time. Had to change into evening clothes for dinner, and wa_n evening clothes still. So, of course——
  • The thought had no more than shaped itself in Cleek's mind before he put i_nto action. As swiftly and as soundlessly as he had left the house he no_eturned to it. But whereas he had gone out unsuspected and unseen, it no_ecame manifest that he was not to be permitted to enjoy the same privilege i_eturning, for as he stepped into the hall he came face to face with Hawkin_dvancing from the direction of the servants' staircase.
  • "Out for another ramble in quest of a new plot you see, Hawkins," he sai_ayly as he entered. "The woes of the novelist are many when plots com_lowly. Where's Mr. Harry—upstairs or in the drawing-room with the ladies?"
  • "Neither, Mr. Barch, sir. Still sitting in the dining-room. Just on my wa_here with a message. Shall I say that you will rejoin him there, sir?"
  • "No, not at present, thanks. Just going upstairs to change my shoes—the gras_s very damp. By the way, Hawkins, do you happen to know what time Mr. Harr_ot home last night? Your mistress was asking Miss Lorne earlier in th_vening, and as he was with me until ten I shouldn't like to contradic_nything he may have said, _you_ know, should she conclude to ask _me_. Kno_hen he got back?"
  • "No, sir, that I don't. All I can tell you is that he wasn't home at half-pas_welve when I went to bed."
  • Cleek made a mental tally. Wasn't home at half-past twelve; and it was a_alf-past eleven, according to Mr. Narkom, that the limousine arrived at th_ead of Mulberry Lane and the first cry of murder was heard.
  • "Oh, all right," he said. "Don't worry him by mentioning that I asked. See hi_yself when I come down." Cleek then passed by and went up the stairs tw_teps at a time.
  • He did not stop at the second floor, however, but went up still anothe_light, and then, stopping a moment to look about to see if anybody wa_atching and to lean over the bannisters and listen if anybody was following,
  • went fleetly to Harry Raynor's den, passed in, and shut the door behind him.
  • The place was quite black, but a touch of the electric button flooded it wit_ight, and showed him at once what he had come to seek. On a chair close t_he open bedroom door lay the clothes which young Raynor had worn thi_fternoon, neatly folded, just as Hamer had placed them after brushing an_ressing, in case the young man should, by any chance, elect to wear the sam_uit to-morrow.
  • Cleek moved rapidly to the chair, partly unfolded the coat and slipped hi_and into the inside breast pocket. A letter was there— _the_ letter, as h_earned when he drew it out and opened it—typewritten by what was clearly th_and of a novice, and setting forth just such a message as young Raynor ha_tated.
  • "A bad move, Margot, and a little less carefully done than I should hav_hought _you_ would have countenanced, knowing how clever and cunning yo_re," was his mental comment as he read the thing. Then carefully refoldin_t, he slipped it into his own pocket, snicked off the light, and left th_oom.
  • In the lower passage he encountered Hamer.
  • "Begging pardon, Mr. Barch," the footman said, "but I was just going up to se_ou, sir. Hawkins tells me that you were anxious to know at what hour Mr.
  • Harry returned home last night, and it happens that I know."
  • "Do you?" said Cleek. "That's jolly. At what hour did he return last night,
  • then?"
  • "He didn't return last night at all, sir. It was four this morning and da_ust beginning to break, sir, when I heard a noise, and getting up, looked ou_f my window, and there he was, a-coming up the drive very cautious-like an_cting as though he didn't want to be seen, as no doubt he didn't, sir,
  • considering that master and mistress didn't know he was out at all."
  • "Didn't know he was out? How do you know that?"
  • "Because, sir, he said he was going to sit up and write letters when th_aster gave the order for Johnston to lock up after Lady Katharine and Mis_orne returned from Clavering Close; and Mr. Harry he gave me a half a crow_o see that the door wasn't bolted before I went to bed, as he intended t_lip out and visit a friend. Of course I wouldn't have said anything about i_o anybody, sir, if Hawkins hadn't told me that you said he was with you,
  • which, of course, means that you were the friend he was going to see, and not,
  • as I'd supposed, the Lady in Pink."