Part 2 out of 3
some five minutes Mr. Taynton did not appear to notice it, though evening
papers, on the money-market page, might contain news so frightfully
momentous to him. But something, this strangeness in Morris, no doubt,
and his general anxiety and suspense as to how this dreadful knot could
unravel itself, preoccupied him now, and even when he did take up the
paper and turn to the reports of Stock Exchange dealings, he was
conscious of no more than a sort of subaqueous thrill of satisfaction.
For Boston Copper had gone up nearly a point since the closing price of
It was not many minutes, however before Morris returned with matted and
streaming hair and drenched clothes.
"He has not come back," he said. "I went to his rooms and satisfied
myself of that, though I think they thought I was mad. I searched them
you understand; I insisted. I shall go round there again first thing
to-morrow morning, and if he is not there, I shall go up to find him in
town. I can't wait; I simply can't wait."
Mr. Taynton looked at him gravely, then nodded.
"No, I guess how you are feeling," he said, "I cannot understand what
has happened to Mills; I hope nothing is wrong. And now, my dear boy, let
me implore you to go straight home, get off your wet things and go to
bed. You will pay heavily for your excitement, if you are not careful."
"I'll get it out of him." said Morris.
Morris, as Mr. Taynton had advised, though not because he advised it, had
gone straight home to the house in Sussex Square. He had stripped off his
dripping clothes, and then, since this was the line of least resistance
he had gone to bed. He did not feel tired, and he longed with that aching
longing of the son for the mother, that Mrs. Assheton had been here, so
that he could just be in her presence and if he found himself unable to
speak and tell her all the hideous happenings of those last days, let her
presence bring a sort of healing to his tortured mind. But though he was
conscious of no tiredness, he was tired to the point of exhaustion, and
he had hardly got into bed, when he fell fast asleep. Outside, hushing
him to rest, there sounded the sibilant rain, and from the sea below
ripples broke gently and rhythmically on the pebbly beach. Nature, too,
it seemed, was exhausted by that convulsion of the elements that had
turned the evening into a clamorous hell of fire and riot, and now from
very weariness she was weeping herself asleep.
It was not yet eleven when Morris had got home, and he slept dreamlessly
with that recuperative sleep of youth for some six hours. Then, as within
the secret economy of the brain the refreshment of slumber repaired the
exhaustion of the day before, he began to dream with strange lurid
distinctness, a sort of resurrection dream of which the events of the two
days before supplied the bones and skeleton outline. As in all very vivid
and dreadful dreams the whole vision was connected and coherent, there
were no ludicrous and inconsequent interludes, none of those breakings
of one thread and hurried seizures of another, which though one is
dreaming very distinctly, supply some vague mental comfort, since even to
the sleeper they are reminders that his experiences are not solid but
mere phantasies woven by imperfect consciousness and incomplete control
of thought. It was not thus that Morris dreamed; his dream was of the
solid and sober texture of life.
He was driving in his motor, he thought, down the road from the house at
Falmer Park, which through the gate of a disused lodge joins the main
road, that leads from Falmer Station to Brighton. He had just heard from
Sir Richard's own lips who it was who had slandered and blackened him,
but, in his dream, he was conscious of no anger. The case had been
referred to some higher power, some august court of supreme authority,
which would certainly use its own instruments for its own vengeance. He
felt he was concerned in the affair no longer; he was but a spectator of
what would be. And, in obedience to some inward dictation, he drove his
motor on to the grass behind the lodge, so that it was concealed from the
road outside, and walked along the inside of the park-palings, which ran
parallel with it.
The afternoon, it seemed, was very dark, though the atmosphere was
extraordinarily clear, and after walking along the springy grass inside
the railings for some three hundred yards, where was the southeastern
corner of the park enclosure, he stopped at the angle and standing on
tip-toe peered over them, for they were nearly six feet high, and looked
into the road below. It ran straight as a billiard-cue just here, and was
visible for a long distance, but at the corner, just outside the
palings, the footpath over the downs to Brighton left the road, and
struck upward. On the other side of the road ran the railway, and in this
clear dark air, Morris could see with great distinctness Falmer Station
some four hundred yards away, along a stretch of the line on the other
side of it.
As he looked he saw a puff of steam rise against the woods beyond the
station, and before long a train, going Brightonward, clashed into the
station. Only one passenger got out, and he came out of the station into
the road. He was quite recognisable even at this distance. In his dream
Morris felt that he expected to see him get out of the train, and walk
along the road; the whole thing seemed pre-ordained. But he ceased
tiptoeing to look over the paling; he could hear the passenger's steps
when he came nearer.
He thought he waited quietly, squatting down on the mossy grass behind
the paling. Something in his hands seemed angry, for his fingers kept
tearing up the short turf, and the juice of the severed stems was red
like blood. Then in the gathering darkness he heard the tip-tap of
footsteps on the highway. But it never occurred to him that this
passenger would continue on the highroad; he was certainly going over the
downs to Brighton.
The air was quite windless, but at this moment Morris heard the boughs of
the oak-tree immediately above him stir and shake, and looking up he saw
Mr. Taynton sitting in a fork of the tree. That, too, was perfectly
natural; Mr. Taynton was Mills's partner; he was there as a sort of
umpire. He held a glass of port wine in one hand, and was sipping it in a
leisurely manner, and when Morris looked up at him, he smiled at him,
but put his finger to his lips, as if recommending silence. And as the
steps on the road outside sounded close he turned a meaning glance in the
direction of the road. From where he sat high in the tree, it was plain
to Morris that he must command the sight of the road, and was, in his
friendly manner, directing operations.
Suddenly the sound of the steps ceased, and Morris wondered for the
moment whether Mills had stopped. But looking up again, he saw Mr.
Taynton's head twisted round to the right, still looking over the
palings. But Morris found at once that the footsteps were noiseless, not
because the walker had paused, but because they were inaudible on the
grass. He had left the road, as the dreamer felt certain he would, and
was going over the downs to Brighton. At that Morris got up, and still
inside the park railings, followed in the direction he had gone. Then
for the first time in his dream, he felt angry, and the anger grew to
rage, and the rage to quivering madness. Next moment he had vaulted the
fence, and sprang upon the walker from behind. He dealt him blows with
some hard instrument, belabouring his head, while with his left hand he
throttled his throat so that he could not scream. Only a few were
necessary, for he knew that each blow went home, since all the savage
youthful strength of shoulder and loose elbow directed them. Then he
withdrew his left hand from the throttled throat of the victim who had
ceased to struggle, and like a log he fell back on to the grass, and
Morris for the first time looked on his face. It was not Mills at all; it
was Mr. Taynton.
* * * * *
The terror plucked him from his sleep; for a moment he wrestled and
struggled to raise his head from the pillow and loosen the clutch of the
night-hag who had suddenly seized him, and with choking throat and
streaming brow he sat up in bed. Even then his dream was more real to him
than the sight of his own familiar room, more real than the touch of
sheet and blanket or the dew of anguish which his own hand wiped from his
forehead and throat. Yet, what was his dream? Was it merely some
subconscious stringing together of suggestions and desires and events
vivified in sleep to a coherent story (all but that recognition of Mr.
Taynton, which was nightmare pure and simple), or _had it happened?_
With waking, anyhow, the public life, the life that concerned other
living folk as well as himself, became predominant again. He had
certainly seen Sir Richard the day before, and Sir Richard had given him
the name of the man who had slandered him. He had gone to meet that man,
but he had not kept his appointment, nor had he come back to his flat in
Brighton. So to-day he, Morris, was going to call there once more, and if
he did not find him, was going to drive up to London, and seek him there.
But he had been effectually plucked from further sleep, sleep had been
strangled, and he got out of bed and went to the window. Nature, in any
case, had swept her trouble away, and the pure sweet morning was
beginning to dawn in lines of yellow and fleeces of rosy cloud on the
All that riot and hurly-burly of thunder, the bull's eye flashing of
lightning, the perpendicular rain were things of the past, and this
morning a sky of pale limpid blue, flecked only by the thinnest clouds,
stretched from horizon to horizon. Below the mirror of the sea seemed as
deep and as placid as the sky above it, and the inimitable freshness of
the dawn spoke of a world rejuvenated and renewed.
It was, by his watch, scarcely five; in an hour it would be reasonable to
call at Mills's flat, and see if he had come by the midnight train. If
not his motor could be round by soon after six, and he would be in town
by eight, before Mills, if he had slept there, would be thinking of
starting for Brighton. He was sure to catch him.
Morris had drawn up the blind, and through the open window came the cool
breath of the morning ruffling his hair, and blowing his nightshirt close
to his skin, and just for that moment, so exquisite was this feeling of
renewal and cleanness in the hour of dawn, he thought with a sort of
incredulous wonder of the red murderous hate which had possessed him the
evening before. He seemed to have been literally beside himself with
anger and his words, his thoughts, his actions had been controlled by a
force and a possession which was outside himself. Also the dreadful
reality of his dream still a little unnerved him, and though he was
himself now and awake, he felt that he had been no less himself when he
throttled the throat of that abhorred figure that walked up the noiseless
path over the downs to Brighton, and with vehement and savage blows
clubbed it down. And then the shock of finding it was his old friend whom
he had done to death! That, it is true, was nightmare pure and simple,
but all the rest was clad in sober, convincing garb of events that had
really taken place. He could not at once separate his dream from reality,
for indeed what had he done yesterday after he had learned who his
traducer had been? He scarcely knew; all events and facts seemed
colourless compared to the rage and mad lust for vengeance which had
occupied his entire consciousness.
Thus, as he dressed, the thoughts and the rage of yesterday began to stir
and move in his mind again. His hate and his desire that justice should
be done, that satisfaction should be granted him, was still in his heart.
But now they were not wild and flashing flames; they burned with a hard,
cold, even light. They were already part of himself, integral pieces and
features of his soul. And the calm beauty and peace of the morning ceased
to touch him, he had a stern piece of business to put through before he
could think of anything else.
* * * * *
It was not yet six when he arrived at the house in which was Mills's
flat. A few housemaids were about, but the lift was not yet working,
and he ran upstairs and rang at the bell. It was answered almost
immediately, for Mills's servant supposed it must be his master
arriving at this early hour, since no one else would come then, and he
opened the door, half dressed, with coat and trousers only put over his
"Is Mr. Mills back yet?" asked Morris.
Morris turned to go, but then stopped, his mind still half-suspicious
that he had been warned by his partner, and was lying _perdu_.
"I'll give you another ten shillings," he said, "if you'll let me come in
and satisfy myself."
The man hesitated.
"A sovereign," said Morris.
* * * * *
He went back to Sussex Square after this, roused Martin, ordering him to
bring the motor round at once, and drank a cup of tea, for he would
breakfast in town. His mother he expected would be back during the
morning, and at the thought of her he remembered that this was June 24th,
her birthday, and that his present to her would be arriving by the early
post. He gave orders, therefore, that a packet for him from Asprey's was
not to be unpacked, but given to her on her arrival with her letters. A
quarter of an hour later he was off, leaving Martin behind, since there
were various businesses in the town which he wanted him to attend to.
Mr. Taynton, though an earlier riser than his partner, considered that
half past nine was soon enough to begin the day, and punctually at that
time he came downstairs to read, as his custom was, a few collects and
some short piece of the Bible to his servants, before having his
breakfast. That little ceremony over he walked for a few minutes in his
garden while Williams brought in his toast and tea-urn, and observed that
though the flowers would no doubt be all the better for the liberal
watering of the day before, it was idle to deny that the rain had not
considerably damaged them. But his attention was turned from these things
to Williams who told him that breakfast was ready, and also brought him a
telegram. It was from Morris, and had been sent off from the Sloane
Square office an hour before.
"Mills is not in town; they say he left yesterday afternoon. Please
inform me if you know whether this is so, or if you are keeping him from
me. Am delayed by break-down. Shall be back about five.--Morris,
Mr. Taynton read this through twice, as is the habit of most people with
telegrams, and sent, of course, the reply that all he knew was that his
partner intended to come back last night, since he had made an
appointment with him. Should he arrive during the day he would telegraph.
He himself was keeping nothing from Morris, and had not had any
correspondence or communication with his partner since he had left
Brighton for town three days before.
The telegram was a long one, but Mr. Taynton still sat with poised
pen. Then he added, "Pray do nothing violent, I implore you." And he
* * * * *
He sat rather unusually long over his breakfast this morning, though he
ate but little, and from the cheerful smiling aspect of his face it would
seem that his thoughts were pleasant to him. He was certainly glad that
Morris had not yet come across Mills, for he trusted that the lapse of a
day or two would speedily calm down the lad's perfectly justifiable
indignation. Besides, he was in love, and his suit had prospered; surely
there were pleasanter things than revenge to occupy him. Then his face
grew grave a moment as he thought of Morris's mad, murderous outburst of
the evening before, but that gravity was shortlived, and he turned with a
sense of pleasant expectation to see recorded again the activity and
strength of Boston Coppers. But the reality was far beyond his
expectations; copper had been strong all day, and in the street afterward
there had been renewed buying from quarters which were usually well
informed. Bostons had been much in request, and after hours they had had
a further spurt, closing at L7 10S. Already in these three days he had
cleared his option, and at present prices the shares showed a profit of a
point. Mills would have to acknowledge that his perspicacity had been at
fault, when he distrusted this last purchase.
He left his house at about half-past ten, and again immured himself in
the birdcage lift that carried him up to his partner's flat, where he
inquired if he had yet returned. Learning he had not, he asked to be
given pen and paper, to write a note for him, which was to be given to
him on his arrival.
"Mr. Morris Assheton has learned that you have made grave accusations
about him to Sir Richard Templeton, Bart. That you have done so appears
to be beyond doubt, and it of course rests with you to substantiate them.
I cannot of course at present believe that you could have done so without
conclusive evidence; on the other hand I cannot believe that Mr. Assheton
is of the character which you have given him.
"I therefore refrain, as far as I am able, from drawing any conclusion
till the matter is cleared up.
"I may add that he deeply resents your conduct; his anger and indignation
were terrible to see.
"Edward Taynton. Godfrey Mills, Esq."
Mr. Taynton read this through, and glanced round, as if to see whether
the servants had left the room. Then he sat with closed eyes for a
moment, and took an envelope, and swiftly addressed it. He smudged it,
however, in blotting it, and so crumpled it up, threw it into the
waste-paper basket. He then addressed a second one, and into this he
inserted his letter, and got up.
The servant was waiting in the little hall outside.
"Please give this to Mr. Mills when he arrives," he said. "You expected
him last night, did you not?"
Mr. Taynton found on arrival at his office that, in his partner's
absence, there was a somewhat heavy day of work before him, and foresaw
that he would be occupied all afternoon and indeed probably up to dinner
time. But he was able to get out for an hour at half-past twelve, at
which time, if the weather was hot, he generally indulged in a swim. But
today there was a certain chill in the air after yesterday's storm, and
instead of taking his dip, he walked along the sea front toward Sussex
Square. For in his warm-hearted way, seeing that Morris was, as he had
said, to tell his mother today about his happy and thoroughly suitable
love affair, Mr. Taynton proposed to give a little _partie carree_ on the
earliest possible evening, at which the two young lovers, Mrs. Assheton,
and himself would form the table. He would learn from her what was the
earliest night on which she and Morris were disengaged, and then write
to that delightful girl whose affections dear Morris had captured.
But at the corner of the square, just as he was turning into it, there
bowled swiftly out a victoria drawn by two horses; he recognised the
equipage, he recognised also Mrs. Assheton who was sitting in it. Her
head, however, was turned the other way, and Mr. Taynton's hand, already
half-way up to his hat was spared the trouble of journeying farther.
But he went on to the house, since his invitation could be easily
conveyed by a note which he would scribble there, and was admitted by
Martin. Mrs. Assheton, however, was out, a fact which he learned with
regret, but, if he might write a note to her, his walk would not be
wasted. Accordingly he was shown up into the drawing-room, where on the
writing-table was laid an open blotting-book. Even in so small a detail
as a blotting-book the careful appointment of the house was evident, for
the blotting-paper was absolutely clean and white, a virgin field.
Mr. Taynton took up a quill pen, thought over for a moment the wording of
his note and then wrote rapidly. A single side of notepaper was
sufficient; he blotted it on the pad, and read it through. But something
in it, it must be supposed, did not satisfy him, for he crumpled it up.
Ah, at last and for the first time there was a flaw in the appointment of
the house, for there was no wastepaper basket by the table. At any rate
one must suppose that Mr. Taynton did not see it, for he put his rejected
sheet into his pocket.
He took another sheet of paper, selecting from the various stationery
that stood in the case a plain piece, rejecting that which was marked
with the address of the house, wrote his own address at the head, and
proceeded for the second time to write his note of invitation.
But first he changed the quill for his own stylograph, and wrote with
that. This was soon written, and by the time he had read it through it
was dry, and did not require to be blotted. He placed it in a plain
envelope, directed it, and with it in his hand left the room, and went
Martin was standing in the hall.
"I want this given to Mrs. Assheton when she comes in, Martin," he said.
He looked round, as he had done once before when speaking to the boy.
"I left it at the door," he said with quiet emphasis. "Can you remember
that? I left it. And I hope, Martin, that you have made a fresh start,
and that I need never be obliged to tell anybody what I know about you.
You will remember my instructions? I left this at the door. Thank you.
My hat? Yes, and my stick."
Mr. Taynton went straight back to his office, and though this morning
there had seemed to him to be a good deal of work to be got through, he
found that much of it could be delegated to his clerks. So before leaving
to go to his lunch, he called in Mr. Timmins.
"Mr. Mills not been here all morning?" he asked. "No? Well, Timmins,
there is this packet which I want him to look at, if he comes in before
I am back. I shall be here again by five, as there is an hour's work for
me to do before evening. Yes, that is all, thanks. Please tell Mr. Mills
I shall come back, as I said. How pleasant this freshness is after the
rain. The 'clear shining after rain.' Wonderful words! Yes, Mr. Timmins,
you will find the verse in the second book of Samuel and the
Mr. Taynton made but a short meal of lunch, and ate but sparingly, for
he meant to take a good walk this afternoon, and it was not yet two
o'clock when he came out of his house again, stick in hand. It was a
large heavy stick that he carried, a veritable club, one that it would
be easy to recognise amid a host of others, even as he had recognised it
that morning in the rather populous umbrella stand in the hall of Mrs.
Assheton's house. He had, it may be remembered, more office work to get
through before evening, so he prepared to walk out as far as the limits
of the time at his disposal would admit and take the train back. And
since there could be nothing more pleasurable in the way of walking
than locomotion over the springy grass of the downs, he took, as he had
done a hundred times before, the road that led to Falmer. A hundred
yards out of Brighton there was a stile by the roadside; from there a
footpath, if it could be dignified by the name of path at all, led over
the hills to a corner of Falmer Park. From there three or four hundred
yards of highway would bring him to the station. He would be in good
time to catch the 4.30 train back, and would thus be at his office again
for an hour's work at five.
His walk was solitary and uneventful, but, to one of so delicate and
sensitive a mind, full of tiny but memorable sights and sounds. Up on
these high lands there was a considerable breeze, and Mr. Taynton paused
for a minute or two beside a windmill that stood alone, in the expanse
of down, watching, with a sort of boyish wonder, the huge flails swing
down and aspire again in the circles of their tireless toil. A little
farther on was a grass-grown tumulus of Saxon times, and his mind was
distracted from the present to those early days when the unknown dead was
committed to this wind-swept tomb. Forests of pine no doubt then grew
around his resting place, it was beneath the gloom and murmur of their
sable foliage that this dead chief was entrusted to the keeping of the
kindly earth. He passed, too, over the lines of a Roman camp; once this
sunny empty down re-echoed to the clang of arms, the voices of the living
were mingled with the cries and groans of the dying, for without doubt
this stronghold of Roman arms was not won, standing, as it did, on the
top-most commanding slope of the hills, without slaughter. Yet to-day the
peaceful clumps of cistus and the trembling harebell blossomed on the
From this point the ground declined swiftly to the main road. Straight in
front of him were the palings of Falmer Park, and the tenantless down
with its long smooth curves, was broken up into sudden hillocks and
depressions. Dells and dingles, some green with bracken, others half full
of water lay to right and left of the path, which, as it approached the
corner of the park, was more strongly marked than when it lay over the
big open spaces. It was somewhat slippery, too, after the torrent of
yesterday, and Mr. Taynton's stick saved him more than once from
slipping. But before he got down to the point where the corner of the
park abutted on the main road, he had leaned on it too heavily, and for
all its seeming strength, it had broken in the middle. The two pieces
were but luggage to him and just as he came to the road, he threw them
away into a wooded hollow that adjoined the path. The stick had broken
straight across; it was no use to think of having it mended.
* * * * *
He was out of the wind here, and since there was still some ten minutes
to spare, he sat down on the grassy edge of the road to smoke a
cigarette. The woods of the park basked in the fresh sunshine; three
hundred yards away was Falmer Station, and beyond that the line was
visible for a mile as it ran up the straight valley. Indeed he need
hardly move till he saw the steam of his train on the limit of the
horizon. That would be ample warning that it was time to go.
Then from far away, he heard the throbbing of a motor, which grew
suddenly louder as it turned the corner of the road by the station. It
seemed to him to be going very fast, and the huge cloud of dust behind
it endorsed his impression. But almost immediately after passing this
corner it began to slow down, and the cloud of dust behind it died away.
At the edge of the road where Mr. Taynton sat, there were standing
several thick bushes. He moved a little away from the road, and took up
his seat again behind one of them. The car came very slowly on, and
stopped just opposite him. On his right lay the hollow where he had
thrown the useless halves of his stick, on his left was the corner of
the Falmer Park railings. He had recognised the driver of the car, who
Morris got out when he had stopped the car, and then spoke aloud, though
"Yes, there's the corner," he said, "there's the path over the
Mr. Taynton got up and came toward him.
"My dear fellow," he said, "I have walked out from Brighton on this
divine afternoon, and was going to take the train back. But will you give
me the pleasure of driving back with you instead?"
Morris looked at him a moment as if he hardly thought he was real.
"Why, of course," he said.
Mr. Taynton was all beams and smiles.
"And you have seen Mills?" he asked. "You have been convinced that he
was innocent of the terrible suspicion? Morris, my dear boy, what is
Morris had looked at him for a moment with incredulous eyes. Then he had
sat down and covered his face with his hands.
"It's nothing," he said at length. "I felt rather faint. I shall be
better in a minute. Of course I'll drive you back."
He sat huddled up with hidden face for a moment or two. Mr. Taynton said
nothing, but only looked at him. Then the boy sat up.
"I'm all right," he said, "it was just a dream I had last night. No, I
have not seen Mills; they tell me he left yesterday afternoon for
Brighton. Shall we go?"
For some little distance they went in silence; then it seemed that Morris
made an effort and spoke.
"Really, I got what they call 'quite a turn' just now," he said. "I had a
curiously vivid dream last night about that corner, and you suddenly
appeared in my dream quite unexpectedly, as you did just now."
"And what was this dream?" asked Mr. Taynton, turning up his coat collar,
for the wind of their movement blew rather shrilly on to his neck.
"Oh, nothing particular," said Morris carelessly, "the vividness was
concerned with your appearance; that was what startled me."
Then he fell back into the train of thought that had occupied him all the
way down from London.
"I believe I was half-mad with rage last night," he said at length, "but
this afternoon, I think I am beginning to be sane again. It's true Mills
tried to injure me, but he didn't succeed. And as you said last night I
have too deep and intense a cause of happiness to give my thoughts and
energies to anything so futile as hatred or the desire for revenge. He is
punished already. The fact of his having tried to injure me like that was
his punishment. Anyhow, I am sick and tired of my anger."
The lawyer did not speak for a moment, and when he did his voice was
"God bless you, my dear boy," he said gently.
Morris devoted himself for some little time to the guiding of the car.
"And I want you also to leave it all alone," he said after a while. "I
don't want you to dissolve your partnership with him, or whatever you
call it. I suppose he will guess that you know all about it, so perhaps
it would be best if you told him straight out that you do. And then you
can, well, make a few well-chosen remarks you know, and drop the whole
damned subject forever."
Mr. Taynton seemed much moved.
"I will try," he said, "since you ask it. But Morris, you are more
generous than I am."
Morris laughed, his usual boyish high spirits and simplicity were
reasserting themselves again.
"Oh, that's all rot," he said. "It's only because it's so fearfully
tiring to go on being angry. But I can't help wondering what has
happened to the fellow. They told me at his flat in town that he went off
with his luggage yesterday afternoon, and gave orders that all letters
were to be sent to his Brighton address. You don't think there's anything
wrong, do you?"
"My dear fellow, what could be wrong?" asked Mr. Taynton. "He had some
business to do at Lewes on his way down, and I make no doubt he slept
there, probably forgetting all about his appointment with me. I would
wager you that we shall find he is in Brighton when we get in."
"I'll take that," said Morris. "Half a crown."
"No, no, my usual shilling, my usual shilling," laughed the other.
* * * * *
Morris set Mr. Taynton down at his office, and by way of settling their
wager at once, waited at the door, while the other went upstairs to see
if his partner was there. He had not, however, appeared there that day,
and Mr. Taynton sent a clerk down to Morris, to ask him to come up, and
they would ring up Mr. Mills's flat on the telephone.
This was done, and before many seconds had elapsed they were in
communication. His valet was there, still waiting for his master's
return, for he had not yet come back. It appeared that he was getting
rather anxious, for Mr. Taynton reassured him.
"There is not the slightest cause for any anxiety," were his concluding
words. "I feel convinced he has merely been detained. Thanks, that's all.
Please let me know as soon as he returns."
He drew a shilling from his pocket, and, handed it to Morris. But his
face, in spite of his reassuring words, was a little troubled. You would
have said that though he might not yet be anxious, he saw that there
was some possibility of his being so, before very long. Yet he spoke
"And I made so sure I should win," he said. "I shall put it down to
unexpected losses, not connected with business; eh, Mr. Timmins? Or shall
it be charity? It would never do to put down 'Betting losses.'"
But this was plainly a little forced, and Morris waited till Mr. Timmins
had gone out.
"And you really meant that?" he asked. "You are really not anxious?"
"No, I am not anxious," he said, "but--but I shall be glad when he comes
back. Is that inconsistent? I think perhaps it is. Well, let us say then
that I am just a shade anxious. But I may add that I feel sure my anxiety
is quite unnecessary. That defines it for you."
Morris went straight home from here, and found that his mother had just
returned from her afternoon drive. She had found the blotting book
waiting for her when she came back that morning, and was delighted with
the gift and the loving remembering thought that inspired it.
"But you shouldn't spend your money on me, my darling," she said to
Morris, "though I just love the impulse that made you."
"Oh, very well," said Morris, kissing her, "let's have the initials
changed about then, and let it be M.A. from H.A."
Then his voice grew grave.
"Mother dear, I've got another birthday present for you. I think--I think
you will like it."
She saw at once that he was speaking of no tangible material gift.
"Yes, dear?" she said.
"Madge and me," said Morris. "Just that."
And Mrs. Assheton did like this second present, and though it made her
cry a little, her tears were the sweetest that can be shed.
* * * * *
Mother and son dined alone together, and since Morris had determined to
forget, to put out of his mind the hideous injury that Mills had
attempted to do him, he judged it to be more consistent with this resolve
to tell his mother nothing about it, since to mention it to another, even
to her, implied that he was not doing his best to bury what he determined
should be dead to him. As usual, they played backgammon together, and it
was not till Mrs. Assheton rose to go to bed that she remembered Mr.
Taynton's note, asking her and Morris to dine with him on their earliest
unoccupied day. This, as is the way in the country, happened to be the
next evening, and since the last post had already gone out, she asked
Morris if Martin might take the note round for her tonight, since it
ought to have been answered before.
That, of course, was easily done, and Morris told his servant to call
also at the house where Mr. Mills's flat was situated, and ask the porter
if he had come home. The note dispatched his mother went to bed, and
Morris went down to the billiard room to practise spot-strokes, a form of
hazard at which he was singularly inefficient, and wait for news. Little
as he knew Mills, and little cause as he had for liking him, he too, like
Mr. Taynton, felt vaguely anxious and perturbed, since "disappearances"
are necessarily hedged about with mystery and wondering. His own anger
and hatred, too, like mists drawn up and dispersed by the sun of love
that had dawned on him, had altogether vanished; the attempt against him
had, as it turned out, been so futile, and he genuinely wished to have
some assurance of the safety of the man, the thought of whom had so
blackened his soul only twenty-four hours ago.
His errands took Martin the best part of an hour, and he returned with
two notes, one for Mrs. Assheton, the other for Morris. He had been also
to the flat and inquired, but there was no news of the missing man.
Morris opened his note, which was from Mr. Taynton.
"I am delighted that your mother and you can dine to-morrow, and I am
telegraphing first thing in the morning to see if Miss Madge will make
our fourth. I feel sure that when she knows what my little party is, she
"I have been twice round to see if my partner has returned, and find no
news of him. It is idle to deny that I am getting anxious, as I cannot
conceive what has happened. Should he not be back by tomorrow morning, I
shall put the matter into the hands of the police. I trust that my
anxieties are unfounded, but the matter is beginning to look strange.
There is nothing so infectious as anxiety, and it can be conveyed by look
or word or letter, and requires no period of incubation. And Morris began
to be really anxious also, with a vague disquietude at the sense of there
being something wrong.
Mr. Taynton, according to the intention he had expressed, sent round
early next morning (the day of the week being Saturday) to his partner's
flat, and finding that he was not there, and that no word of any kind had
been received from him, went, as he felt himself now bound to do, to the
police office, stated what had brought him there, and gave them all
information which it was in his power to give.
It was brief enough; his partner had gone up to town on Tuesday last,
and, had he followed his plans should have returned to Brighton by
Thursday evening, since he had made an appointment to come to Mr.
Taynton's house at nine thirty that night. It had been ascertained
too, by--Mr. Taynton hesitated a moment--by Mr. Morris Assheton in
London, that he had left his flat in St. James's Court on Thursday
afternoon, to go, presumably, to catch the train back to Brighton. He
had also left orders that all letters should be forwarded to him at his
Superintendent Figgis, to whom Mr. Taynton made his statement, was in
manner slow, stout, and bored, and looked in every way utterly unfitted
to find clues to the least mysterious occurences, unearth crime or run
down the criminal. He seemed quite incapable of running down anything,
and Mr. Taynton had to repeat everything he said in order to be sure that
Mr. Figgis got his notes, which he made in a large round hand, with
laborious distinctness, correctly written. Having finished them the
Superintendent stared at them mournfully for a little while, and asked
Mr. Taynton if he had anything more to add.
"I think that is all," said the lawyer. "Ah, one moment. Mr. Mills
expressed to me the intention of perhaps getting out at Falmer and
walking over the downs to Brighton. But Thursday was the evening on which
we had that terrible thunderstorm. I should think it very unlikely that
he would have left the train."
Superintendent Figgis appeared to be trying to recollect something.
"Was there a thunderstorm on Thursday?" he asked.
"The most severe I ever remember," said Mr. Taynton.
"It had slipped my memory," said this incompetent agent of justice.
But a little thought enable him to ask a question that bore on the case.
"He travelled then by Lewes and not by the direct route?"
"Presumably. He had a season ticket via Lewes, since our business often
took him there. Had he intended to travel by Hayward's Heath," said Mr.
Taynton rather laboriously, as if explaining something to a child, "he
could not have intended to get out at Falmer."
Mr. Figgis had to think over this, which he did with his mouth open.
"Seeing that the Hayward's Heath line does not pass Falmer," he
Mr. Taynton drew a sheet of paper toward him and kindly made a rough
sketch-map of railway lines.
"And his season ticket went by the Lewes line," he explained.
Superintendent Figgis appeared to understand this after a while. Then he
sighed heavily, and changed the subject with rather disconcerting
"From my notes I understand that Mr. Morris Assheton ascertained that
the missing individual had left his flat in London on Thursday
afternoon," he said.
"Yes, Mr. Assheton is a client of ours, and he wished to see my partner
on a business matter. In fact, when Mr. Mills was found not to have
returned on Thursday evening, he went up to London next day to see him,
since we both supposed he had been detained there."
Mr. Figgis looked once more mournfully at his notes, altered a palpably
mistaken "Wednesday" into Thursday, and got up.
"The matter shall be gone into," he said.
* * * * *
Mr. Taynton went straight from here to his office, and for a couple of
hours devoted himself to the business of his firm, giving it his whole
attention and working perhaps with more speed than it was usually his to
command. Saturday of course was a half-holiday, and it was naturally his
desire to get cleared off everything that would otherwise interrupt the
well-earned repose and security from business affairs which was to him
the proper atmosphere of the seventh, or as he called it, the first day.
This interview with the accredited representative of the law also had
removed a certain weight from his mind. He had placed the matter of his
partner's disappearance in official hands, he had done all he could do to
clear up his absence, and, in case--but here he pulled himself up; it was
at present most premature even to look at the possibility of crime having
Mr. Taynton was in no way a vain man, nor was it his habit ever to review
his own conduct, with the object of contrasting it favourably with what
others might have done under the circumstances. Yet he could not help
being aware that others less kindly than he would have shrugged sarcastic
shoulders and said, "probably another blackmailing errand has detained
him." For, indeed, Mills had painted himself in very ugly colours in his
last interview with him; that horrid hint of blackmail, which still, so
to speak, held good, had cast a new light on him. But now Taynton was
conscious of no grudge against him; he did not say, "he can look after
himself." He was anxious about his continued absence, and had taken the
extreme step of calling in the aid of the police, the national guardian
of personal safety.
He got away from his office about half-past twelve and in preparation for
the little dinner festival of this evening, for Miss Templeton had sent
her joyful telegraphic acceptance, went to several shops to order some
few little delicacies to grace his plain bachelor table. An ice-pudding,
for instance, was outside the orbit, so he feared of his plain though
excellent cook, and two little dishes of chocolates and sweets, since he
was at the confectioner's, would be appropriate to the taste of his lady
guests. Again a floral decoration of the table was indicated, and since
the storm of Thursday, there was nothing in his garden worthy of the
occasion; thus a visit to the florist's resulted in an order for smilax
* * * * *
He got home, however, at his usual luncheon hour to find a telegram
waiting for him on the Heppelwhite table in the hall. There had been a
continued buying of copper shares, and the feature was a sensational rise
in Bostons, which during the morning had gone up a clear point.
Mr. Taynton had no need to make calculations; he knew, as a man knows the
multiplication table of two, what every fraction of a rise in Bostons
meant to him, and this, provided only he had time to sell at once, meant
the complete recovery of the losses he had suffered. With those active
markets it was still easily possible though it was Saturday, to effect
his sale, since there was sure to be long continued business in the
Street and he had but to be able to exercise his option at that price, to
be quit of that dreadful incubus of anxiety which for the last two years
had been a millstone round his neck that had grown mushroom like. The
telephone to town, of course, was far the quickest mode of communication,
and having given his order he waited ten minutes till the tube babbled
and croaked to him again.
There is a saying that things are "too good to be true," but when Mr.
Taynton sat down to his lunch that day, he felt that the converse of the
proverb was the correcter epigram. Things could be so good that they
must be true, and here, still ringing in his ears was one of
them--Morris--it was thus he phrased it to himself--was "paid off," or,
in more business-like language, the fortune of which Mr. Taynton was
trustee was intact again, and, like a tit-bit for a good child, there was
an additional five or six hundred pounds for him who had managed the
trust so well. Mr. Taynton could not help feeling somehow that he
deserved it; he had increased Morris's fortune since he had charge of it
by L10,000. And what a lesson, too, he had had, so gently and painlessly
taught him! No one knew better than he how grievously wrong he had got,
in gambling with trust money. Yet now it had come right: he had repaired
the original wrong; on Monday he would reinvest this capital in those
holdings which he had sold, and Morris's L40,000 (so largely the result
of careful and judicious investment) would certainly stand the scrutiny
of any who could possibly have any cause to examine his ledgers. Indeed
there would be nothing to see. Two years ago Mr. Morris Assheton's
fortune was invested in certain railway debentures and Government stock.
It would in a few days' time be invested there again, precisely as it had
been. Mr. Taynton had not been dealing in gilt-edged securities lately,
and could not absolutely trust his memory, but he rather thought that the
repurchase could be made at a somewhat smaller sum than had been realised
by their various sales dating from two years ago. In that case there was
a little more _sub rosa_ reward for this well-inspired justice, weighed
but featherwise against the overwhelming relief of the knowledge he could
make wrong things right again, repair his, yes, his scoundrelism.
How futile, too, now, was Mills's threatened blackmail! Mills might, if
he chose, proclaim on any convenient housetop, that his partner had
gambled with Morris's L40,000 that according to the ledgers was invested
in certain railway debentures and other gilt-edged securities. In a few
days, any scrutiny might be made of the securities lodged at the County
Bank, and assuredly among them would be found those debentures, those
gilt-edged securities exactly as they appeared in the ledgers. Yet Mr.
Taynton, so kindly is the nature of happiness, contemplated no revengeful
step on his partner; he searched his heart and found that no trace of
rancour against poor Mills was hoarded there.
Whether happiness makes us good, is a question not yet decided, but it is
quite certain that happiness makes us forget that we have been bad, and
it seemed to Mr. Taynton, as he sat in his cool dining-room, and ate his
lunch with a more vivid appetite than had been his for many months, it
seemed that the man who had gambled with his client's money was no longer
himself; it was a perfectly different person who had done that. It was a
different man, too, who, so few days ago had connived at and applauded
the sorry trick which Mills had tried to play on Morris, when (so
futilely, it is true) he had slandered him to Sir Richard. Now he felt
that he--this man that to-day sat here--was incapable of such meannesses.
And, thank God, it was never too late; from to-day he would lead the
honourable, upright existence which the world (apart from his partner)
had always credited him with leading.
He basked in the full sunshine of these happy and comfortable thoughts,
and even as the sun of midsummer lingered long on the sea and hills, so
for hours this inward sunshine warmed and cheered him. Nor was it till
he saw by his watch that he must return from the long pleasant ramble on
which he had started as soon as lunch was over, that a cloud filmy and
thin at first began to come across the face of the sun. Once and again
those genial beams dispersed it, but soon it seemed as if the vapours
were getting the upper hand. A thought, in fact, had crossed Mr.
Taynton's mind that quite distinctly dimmed his happiness. But a little
reflection told him that a very simple step on his part would put that
right again, and he walked home rather more quickly than he had set out,
since he had this little bit of business to do before dinner.
He went--this was only natural--to the house where Mr. Mills's flat was
situated, and inquired of the porter whether his partner had yet
returned. But the same answer as before was given him, and saying that
he had need of a document that Mills had taken home with him three days
before he went up in the lift, and rang the bell of the flat. But it was
not his servant who opened it, but sad Superintendent Figgis.
For some reason this was rather a shock to Mr. Taynton; to expect one
face and see another is always (though ever so slightly) upsetting, but
he instantly recovered himself and explained his errand.
"My partner took home with him on Tuesday a paper, which is concerned
with my business," he said. "Would you kindly let me look round
Mr. Figgis weighed this request.
"Nothing must be removed from the rooms," he said, "till we have finished
"Search for what?" asked Mr. Taynton.
"Any possible clue as to the reason of Mr. Mills's disappearance. But in
ten minutes we shall have done, if you care to wait."
"I don't want to remove anything." said the lawyer. "I merely want to
At the moment another man in plain clothes came out of the sitting-room.
He carried in his hand two or three letters, and a few scraps of crumpled
paper. There was an envelope or two among them.
"We have finished, sir," he said to the Superintendent.
Mr. Figgis turned to the lawyer, who was looking rather fixedly at what
the other man had in his hand.
"My document may be among those," he said.
Mr. Figgis handed them to him. There were two envelopes, both addressed
to the missing man, one bearing his name only, some small torn-up scrap
of paper, and three or four private letters.
"Is it among these?" he asked.
Mr. Taynton turned them over.
"No," he said, "it was--it was a large, yes, a large blue paper,
"No such thing in the flat, sir," said the second man.
"Very annoying," said the lawyer.
An idea seemed slowly to strike Mr. Figgis.
"He may have taken it to London with him," he said. "But will you not
Mr. Taynton did so. He also looked in the waste-paper basket, but it
So he went back to make ready to receive his guests, for the little
party. But it had got dark; this "document" whatever it was, appeared to
trouble him. The simple step he had contemplated had not led him in quite
the right direction.
The Superintendent with his colleague went back into the sitting-room
on the lawyer's departure, and Mr. Figgis took from his pocket most of
"I went to the station, Wilkinson," he said, "and in the lost luggage
office I found Mr. Mills's bag. It had arrived on Thursday evening. But
it seems pretty certain that its owner did not arrive with it."
"Looks as if he did get out at Falmer," said Wilkinson.
Figgis took a long time to consider this.
"It is possible," he said. "It is also possible that he put his luggage
into the train in London, and subsequently missed the train himself."
Then together they went through the papers that might conceivably help
them. There was a torn-up letter found in his bedroom fireplace, and the
crumpled up envelope that belonged to it. They patiently pieced this
together, but found nothing of value. The other letters referred only to
his engagements in London, none of which were later than Thursday
morning. There remained one crumpled up envelope (also from the
paperbasket) but no letter that in any way corresponded with it. It was
addressed in a rather sprawling, eager, boyish hand.
"No letter of any sort to correspond?" asked Figgis for the second time.
"I think for the present we will keep it," said he.
* * * * *
The little party at Mr. Taynton's was gay to the point of foolishness,
and of them all none was more light-hearted than the host. Morris had
asked him in an undertone, on arrival, whether any more had been heard,
and learning there was still no news, had dismissed the subject
altogether. The sunshine of the day, too, had come back to the lawyer;
his usual cheerful serenity was touched with a sort of sympathetic
boisterousness, at the huge spirits of the young couple and it was to be
recorded that after dinner they played musical chairs and blind-man's
buff, with infinite laughter. Never was an elderly solicitor so
spontaneously gay; indeed before long it was he who reinfected the others
with merriment. But as always, after abandonment to laughter a little
reaction followed, and when they went upstairs from his sitting-room
where they had been so uproarious, so that it might be made tidy again
before Sunday, and sat in the drawing-room overlooking the street, there
did come this little reaction. But it was already eleven, and soon Mrs.
Assheton rose to go.
The night was hot, and Morris was sitting to cool himself by the open
window, leaning his head out to catch the breeze. The street was very
empty and quiet, and his motor, in which as a great concession, his
mother had consented to be carried, on the promise of his going slow,
had already come for them. Then down at the seaward end of the street
he heard street-cries, as if some sudden news had come in that sent
the vendors of the evening papers out to reap a second harvest that
night. He could not, however, catch what it was, and they all went
Madge was going home with them, for she was stopping over the Sunday with
Mrs. Assheton, and the two ladies had already got into the car, while
Morris was still standing on the pavement with his host.
Then suddenly a newsboy, with a sheaf of papers still hot from the press,
came running from the corner of the street just above them, and as he
ran he shouted out the news which was already making little groups of
people collect and gather in the streets.
Mr. Taynton turned quickly as the words became audible, seized a paper
from the boy, giving him the first coin that he found, and ran back into
the hall of his house, Morris with him, to beneath the electric light
that burned there. The shrill voice of the boy still shouting the news of
murder got gradually less loud as he went further down the street.
They read the short paragraph together, and then looked at each other
with mute horror in their eyes.
The inquest was held at Falmer on the Monday following, when the body was
formally identified by Mr. Taynton and Mills's servant, and they both had
to give evidence as regards what they knew of the movements of the
deceased. This, as a matter of fact, Mr. Taynton had already given to
Figgis, and in his examination now he repeated with absolute exactitude
what he had said before including again the fact that Morris had gone up
to town on Friday morning to try to find him there. On this occasion,
however, a few further questions were put to him, eliciting the fact that
the business on which Morris wanted to see him was known to Mr. Taynton
but could not be by him repeated since it dealt with confidential
transactions between the firm of solicitors and their client. The
business was, yes, of the nature of a dispute, but Mr. Taynton regarded
it as certain that some amicable arrangement would have been come to, had
the interview taken place. As it had not, however, since Morris had not
found him at his flat in town, he could not speak for certain on this
subject. The dispute concerned an action of his partner's, made
independently of him. Had he been consulted he would have strongly
disapproved of it.
The body, as was made public now, had been discovered by accident,
though, as has been seen, the probability of Mills having got out at
Falmer had been arrived at by the police, and Figgis immediately after
his interview with Mr. Taynton on the Saturday evening had started for
Falmer to make inquiries there, and had arrived there within a few
minutes of the discovery of the body. A carpenter of that village had
strolled out about eight o'clock that night with his two children while
supper was being got ready, and had gone a piece of the way up the path
over the downs, which left the road at the corner of Falmer Park. The
children were running and playing about, hiding and seeking each other
in the bracken-filled hollows, and among the trees, when one of them
screamed suddenly, and a moment afterward they both came running to
their father, saying that they had come upon a man in one of these
copses, lying on his face and they were frightened. He had gone to see
what this terrifying person was, and had found the body. He went
straight back to the village without touching anything, for it was clear
both from what he saw and from the crowd of buzzing flies that the man
was dead, and gave information to the police. Then within a few minutes
from that, Mr. Figgis had arrived from Brighton, to find that it was
superfluous to look any further or inquire any more concerning the
whereabouts of the missing man. All that was mortal of him was here, the
head covered with a cloth, and bits of the fresh summer growth of fern
and frond sticking to his clothing.
After the identification of the body came evidence medical and otherwise
that seemed to show beyond doubt the time and manner of his death and the
possible motive of the murderer. The base of the skull was smashed in,
evidently by some violent blow dealt from behind with a blunt heavy
instrument of some sort, and death had probably been instantaneous. In
one of the pockets was a first edition of an evening paper published in
London on Thursday last, which fixed the earliest possible time at which
the murder had been committed, while in the opinion of the doctor who
examined the body late on Saturday night, the man had been dead not less
than forty-eight hours. In spite of the very heavy rain which had fallen
on Thursday night, there were traces of a pool of blood about midway
between the clump of bracken where the body was found, and the path over
the downs leading from Falmer to Brighton. This, taken in conjunction
with the information already given by Mr. Taynton, made it practically
certain that the deceased had left London on the Thursday as he had
intended to do, and had got out of the train at Falmer, also according to
his expressed intention, to walk to Brighton. It would again have been
most improbable that he would have started on his walk had the storm
already begun. But the train by which his bag was conveyed to Brighton
arrived at Falmer at half-past six, the storm did not burst till an hour
afterward. Finally, with regard to possible motive, the murdered man's
watch was missing; his pockets also were empty of coin.
This concluded the evidence, and the verdict was brought in without the
jury leaving the court, and "wilful murder by person or persons unknown"
* * * * *
Mr. Taynton, as was indeed to be expected, had been much affected during
the giving of his evidence, and when the inquest was over, he returned to
Brighton feeling terribly upset by this sudden tragedy, which had crashed
without warning into his life. It had been so swift and terrible; without
sign or preparation this man, whom he had known so long, had been hurled
from life and all its vigour into death. And how utterly now Mr. Taynton
forgave him for that base attack that he had made on him, so few days
ago; how utterly, too, he felt sure Morris had forgiven him for what was
perhaps even harder to forgive. And if they could forgive trespasses like
these, they who were of human passion and resentments, surely the reader
of all hearts would forgive. That moment of agony short though it might
have been in actual duration, when the murderous weapon split through the
bone and scattered the brain, surely brought punishment and therefore
atonement for the frailties of a life-time.
Mr. Taynton, on his arrival back at Brighton that afternoon, devoted a
couple of solitary hours to such thoughts as these, and others to which
this tragedy naturally gave rise and then with a supreme effort of will
he determined to think no more on the subject. It was inevitable that
his mind should again and again perhaps for weeks and months to come
fall back on these dreadful events, but his will was set on not
permitting himself to dwell on them. So, though it was already late in
the afternoon, he set forth again from his house about tea-time, to
spend a couple of hours at the office. He had sent word to Mr. Timmins
that he would probably come in, and begin to get through the arrears
caused by his unavoidable absence that morning, and he found his head
clerk waiting for him. A few words were of course appropriate, and they
were admirably chosen.
"You have seen the result of the inquest, no doubt, Mr. Timmins," he
said, "and yet one hardly knows whether one wishes the murderer to be
brought to justice. What good does that do, now our friend is dead? So
mean and petty a motive too; just for a watch and a few sovereigns. It
was money bought at a terrible price, was it not? Poor soul, poor soul;
yes, I say that of the murderer. Well, well, we must turn our faces
forward, Mr. Timmins; it is no use dwelling on the dreadful irremediable
past. The morning's post? Is that it?"
Mr. Timmins ventured sympathy.
"You look terribly worn out, sir," he said. "Wouldn't it be wiser to
leave it till to-morrow? A good night's rest, you know, sir, if you'll
excuse my mentioning it."
"No, no, Mr. Timmins, we must get to work again, we must get to work."
Nature, inspired by the spirit and instinct of life, is wonderfully
recuperative. Whether earthquake or famine, fire or pestilence has
blotted out a thousand lives, those who are left, like ants when their
house is disturbed, waste but little time after the damage has been done
in vain lamentations, but, slaves to the force of life, begin almost
instantly to rebuild and reconstruct. And what is true of the community
is true also of the individual, and thus in three days from this dreadful
morning of the inquest, Mr. Taynton, after attending the funeral of the
murdered man, was very actively employed, since the branch of the firm in
London, deprived of its head, required supervision from him. Others also,
who had been brought near to the tragedy, were occupied again, and of
these Morris in particular was a fair example of the spirit of the
Life-force. His effort, no doubt, was in a way easier than that made by
Mr. Taynton, for to be twenty-two years old and in love should be
occupation sufficient. But he, too, had his bad hours, when the past rose
phantom-like about him, and he recalled that evening when his rage had
driven him nearly mad with passion against his traducer. And by an awful
coincidence, his madness had been contemporaneous with the slanderer's
death. He must, in fact, have been within a few hundred yards of the
place at the time the murder was committed, for he had gone back to
Falmer Park that day, with the message that Mr. Taynton would call on the
morrow, and had left the place not half an hour before the breaking of
the storm. He had driven by the corner of the Park, where the path over
the downs left the main road and within a few hundred yards of him at
that moment, had been, dead or alive, the man who had so vilely slandered
him. Supposing--it might so easily have happened--they had met on the
road. What would he have done? Would he have been able to pass him and
not wreaked his rage on him? He hardly dared to think of that. But, life
and love were his, and that which might have been was soon dreamlike in
comparison of these. Indeed, that dreadful dream which he had had the
night after the murder had been committed was no less real than it. The
past was all of this texture, and mistlike, it was evaporated in the
beams of the day that was his.
Now Brighton is a populous place, and a sunny one, and many people lounge
there in the sun all day. But for the next three or four days a few of
these loungers lounged somewhat systematically. One lounged in Sussex
Square, another lounged in Montpellier Road, one or two others who
apparently enjoyed this fresh air but did not care about the town itself,
usually went to the station after breakfast, and spent the day in
rambling agreeably about the downs. They also frequented the pleasant
little village of Falmer, gossiping freely with its rural inhabitants.
Often footmen or gardeners from the Park came down to the village, and
acquaintances were easily ripened in the ale-house. Otherwise there was
not much incident in the village; sometimes a motor drove by, and one,
after an illegally fast progress along the road, very often turned in at
the park gates. But no prosecution followed; it was clear they were not
agents of the police. Mr. Figgis, also, frequently came out from
Brighton, and went strolling about too, very slowly and sadly. He often
wandered in the little copses that bordered the path over the downs to
Brighton, especially near the place where it joined the main road a few
hundred yards below Falmer station. Then came a morning when neither he
nor any of the other chance visitors to Falmer were seen there any more.
But the evening before Mr. Figgis carried back with him to the train a
long thin package wrapped in brown paper. But on the morning when these
strangers were seen no more at Falmer, it appeared that they had not
entirely left the neighbourhood, for instead of one only being in the
neighbourhood of Sussex Square, there were three of them there.
Morris had ordered the motor to be round that morning at eleven, and it
had been at the door some few minutes before he appeared. Martin had
driven it round from the stables, but he was in a suit of tweed; it
seemed that he was not going with it. Then the front door opened, and
Morris appeared as usual in a violent hurry. One of the strangers was on
the pavement close to the house door, looking with interest at the car.
But his interest in the car ceased when the boy appeared. And from the
railings of the square garden opposite another stranger crossed the road,
and from the left behind the car came a third.
"Mr. Morris Assheton?" said the first.
"Well, what then?" asked Morris.
The two others moved a little nearer.
"I arrest you in the King's name," said the first.
Morris was putting on a light coat as he came across the pavement. One
arm was in, the other out. He stopped dead; and the bright colour of his
face slowly faded, leaving a sort of ashen gray behind. His mouth
suddenly went dry, and it was only at the third attempt to speak that
"What for?" he said.
"For the murder of Godfrey Mills," said the man. "Here is the warrant. I
warn you that all you say--"
Morris, whose lithe athletic frame had gone slack for the moment,
stiffened himself up again.
"I am not going to say anything," he said. "Martin, drive to Mr.
Taynton's at once, and tell him that I am arrested."
The other two now had closed round him.
"Oh, I'm not going to bolt," he said. "Please tell me where you are going
to take me."
"Police Court in Branksome Street," said the first.
"Tell Mr. Taynton I am there," said Morris to his man.
There was a cab at the corner of the square, and in answer to an
almost imperceptible nod from one of the men, it moved up to the
house. The square was otherwise nearly empty, and Morris looked round
as the cab drew nearer. Upstairs in the house he had just left, was
his mother who was coming out to Falmer this evening to dine; above
illimitable blue stretched from horizon to horizon, behind was the
free fresh sea. Birds chirped in the bushes and lilac was in flower.
Everything had its liberty.
Then a new instinct seized him, and though a moment before he had given
his word that he was not meditating escape, liberty called to him.
Everything else was free. He rushed forward, striking right and left
with his arms, then tripped on the edge of the paving stones and fell.
He was instantly seized, and next moment was in the cab, and fetters of
steel, though he could not remember their having been placed there, were
on his wrists.
It was a fortnight later, a hot July morning, and an unusual animation
reigned in the staid and leisurely streets of Lewes. For the Assizes
opened that day, and it was known that the first case to be tried was the
murder of which all Brighton and a large part of England had been talking
so much since Morris Assheton had been committed for trial. At the
hearing in the police-court there was not very much evidence brought
forward, but there had been sufficient to make it necessary that he
should stand his trial. It was known, for instance, that he had some very
serious reason for anger and resentment against his victim; those who had
seen him that day remembered him as being utterly unlike himself; he was
known to have been at Falmer Park that afternoon about six, and to have
driven home along the Falmer Road in his car an hour or so later. And in
a copse close by to where the body of the murdered man was found had been
discovered a thick bludgeon of a stick, broken it would seem by some
violent act, into two halves. On the top half was rudely cut with a
pen-knife M. ASSHE ... What was puzzling, however, was the apparent
motive of robbery about the crime; it will be remembered that the
victim's watch was missing, and that no money was found on him.
But since Morris had been brought up for committal at the police-court it
was believed that a quantity more evidence of a peculiarly incriminating
kind had turned up. Yet in spite of this, so it was rumoured, the
prisoner apparently did more than bear up; it was said that he was quite
cheerful, quite confident that his innocence would be established. Others
said that he was merely callous and utterly without any moral sense. Much
sympathy of course was felt for his mother, and even more for the family
of the Templetons and the daughter to whom it was said that Morris was
actually engaged. And, as much as anyone it was Mr. Taynton who was the
recipient of the respectful pity of the British public. Though no
relation he had all his life been a father to Morris, and while Miss
Madge Templeton was young and had the spring and elasticity of youth, so
that, though all this was indeed terrible enough, she might be expected
to get over it, Mr. Taynton was advanced in years and it seemed that he
was utterly broken by the shock. He had not been in Brighton on the day
on which Morris was brought before the police-court magistrates, and the
news had reached him in London after his young friend had been committed.
It was said he had fainted straight off, and there had been much
difficulty in bringing him round. But since then he had worked day and
night on behalf of the accused. But certain fresh evidence which had
turned up a day or two before the Assizes seemed to have taken the heart
out of him. He had felt confident that the watch would have been found,
and the thief traced. But something new that had turned up had utterly
staggered him. He could only cling to one hope, and that was that he knew
the evidence about the stick must break down, for it was he who had
thrown the fragments into the bushes, a fact which would come to light in
his own evidence. But at the most, all he could hope for was, that though
it seemed as if the poor lad must be condemned, the jury, on account of
his youth, and the provocation he had received, of which Mr. Taynton
would certainly make the most when called upon to bear witness on this
point, or owing to some weakness in the terrible chain of evidence that
had been woven, would recommend him to mercy.
The awful formalities at the opening of the case were gone through. The
judge took his seat, and laid on the bench in front of him a small parcel
wrapped up in tissue paper; the jury was sworn in, and the prisoner asked
if he objected to the inclusion of any of those among the men who were
going to decide whether he was worthy of life or guilty of death, and the
packed court, composed about equally of men and women, most of whom would
have shuddered to see a dog beaten, or a tired hare made to go an extra
mile, settled themselves in their places with a rustle of satisfaction at
the thought of seeing a man brought before them in the shame of
suspected murder, and promised themselves an interesting and thrilling
couple of days in observing the gallows march nearer him, and in watching
his mental agony. They who would, and perhaps did, subscribe to
benevolent institutions for the relief of suffering among the lower
animals, would willingly have paid a far higher rate to observe the
suffering of a man. He was so interesting; he was so young and
good-looking; what a depraved monster he must be. And that little package
in tissue paper which the judge brought in and laid on the bench! The
black cap, was it not? That showed what the judge thought about it all.
Counsel for the Crown, opened the case, and in a speech grimly devoid of
all emotional appeal, laid before the court the facts he was prepared to
prove, on which they would base their verdict.
The prisoner, a young man of birth and breeding, had, strong grounds for
revenge on the murdered man. The prosecution, however, was not concerned
in defending what the murdered man had done, but in establishing the
guilt of the man who had murdered him. Godfrey Mills, had, as could be
proved by witnesses, slandered the prisoner in an abominable manner, and
the prosecution were not intending for a moment to attempt to establish
the truth of his slander. But this slander they put forward as a motive
that gave rise to a murderous impulse on the part of the prisoner. The
jury would hear from one of the witnesses, an old friend of the
prisoner's, and a man who had been a sort of father to him, that a few
hours only before the murder was committed the prisoner had uttered
certain words which admitted only of one interpretation, namely that
murder was in his mind. That the provocation was great was not denied;
it was certain however, that the provocation was sufficient.
Counsel then sketched the actual circumstances of the crime, as far as
they could be constructed from what evidence there was. This evidence was
purely circumstantial, but of a sort which left no reasonable doubt that
the murder had been committed by the prisoner in the manner suggested.
Mr. Godfrey Mills had gone to London on the Tuesday of the fatal week,
intending to return on the Thursday. On the Wednesday the prisoner became
cognisant of the fact that Mr. Godfrey Mills had--he would not argue over
it--wantonly slandered him to Sir Richard Templeton, a marriage with the
daughter of whom was projected in the prisoner's mind, which there was
reason to suppose, might have taken place. Should the jury not be
satisfied on that point, witnesses would be called, including the young
lady herself, but unless the counsel for the defence challenged their
statement, namely that this slander had been spoken which contributed, so
it was argued, a motive for the crime it would be unnecessary to intrude
on the poignant and private grief of persons so situated, and to insist
on a scene which must prove to be so heart-rendingly painful.
(There was a slight movement of demur in the humane and crowded court at
this; it was just these heart-rendingly painful things which were so
It was most important, continued counsel for the prosecution that the
jury should fix these dates accurately in their minds. Tuesday was June
21st; it was on that day the murdered man had gone to London, designing
to return on June 23d, Thursday. The prisoner had learned on Wednesday
(June 22d) that aspersions had been made, false aspersions, on his
character, and it was on Thursday that he learned for certain from the
lips of the man to whom they had been made, who was the author of them.
The author was Mr. Godfrey Mills. He had thereupon motored back from
Falmer Park, and informed Mr. Taynton of this, and had left again for
Falmer an hour later to make an appointment for Mr. Taynton to see Sir
Richard. He knew, too, this would be proved, that Mr. Godfrey Mills
proposed to return from London that afternoon, to get out at Falmer
station and walk back to Brighton. It was certain from the finding of the
body that Mr. Mills had travelled from London, as he intended, and that
he had got out at this station. It was certain also that at that hour the
prisoner, burning for vengeance, and knowing the movements of Mr. Mills,
was in the vicinity of Falmer.
To proceed, it was certain also that the prisoner in a very strange wild
state had arrived at Mr. Taynton's house about nine that evening, knowing
that Mr. Mills was expected there at about 9.30. Granted that he had
committed the murder, this proceeding was dictated by the most elementary
instinct of self-preservation. It was also in accordance with that that
he had gone round in the pelting rain late that night to see if the
missing man had returned to his flat, and that he had gone to London next
morning to seek him there. He had not, of course, found him, and he
returned to Brighton that afternoon. In connection with this return,
another painful passage lay before them, for it would be shown by one of
the witnesses that again on the Friday afternoon the prisoner had visited
the scene of the crime. Mr. Taynton, in fact, still unsuspicious of
anything being wrong had walked over the Downs that afternoon from
Brighton to Falmer, and had sat down in view of the station where he
proposed to catch a train back to Brighton, and had seen the prisoner
stop his motor-car close to the corner where the body had been found, and
behave in a manner inexplicable except on the theory that he knew where
the body lay. Subsequently to the finding of the body, which had occurred
on Saturday evening, there had been discovered in a coppice adjoining a
heavy bludgeon-like stick broken in two. The top of it, which would be
produced, bore the inscription M. ASSHE...
Mr. Taynton was present in court, and was sitting on the bench to the
right of the judge who had long been a personal friend of his. Hitherto
his face had been hidden in his hands, as this terribly logical tale
went on. But here he raised it, and smiled, a wan smile enough, at
Morris. The latter did not seem to notice the action. Counsel for the
All this, he said, had been brought forward at the trial before the
police-court magistrates, and he thought the jury would agree that it was
more than sufficient to commit the prisoner to trial. At that trial, too,
they had heard, the whole world had heard, of the mystery of the missing
watch, and the missing money. No money, at least, had been found on the
body; it was reasonable to refer to it as "missing." But here again, the
motive of self-preservation came in; the whole thing had been carefully
planned; the prisoner, counsel suggested, had, just as he had gone up to
town to find Mr. Mills the day after the murder was committed, striven to
put justice off the scent in making it appear that the motive for the
crime, had been robbery. With well-calculated cunning he had taken the
watch and what coins there were, from the pockets of his victim. That at
any rate was the theory suggested by the prosecution.
The speech was admirably delivered, and its virtue was its extreme
impassiveness; it seemed quite impersonal, the mere automatic action of
justice, not revengeful, not seeking for death, but merely stating the
case as it might be stated by some planet or remote fixed star. Then
there was a short pause, while the prosecutor for the Crown laid down his
notes. And the same slow, clear, impassive voice went on.
"But since the committal of the prisoner to stand his trial at these
assizes," he said, "more evidence of an utterly unexpected, but to us
convincing kind has been discovered. Here it is." And he held up a sheet
of blotting paper, and a crumpled envelope.
"A letter has been blotted on this sheet," he said, "and by holding it up
to the light and looking through it, one can, of course, read what was
written. But before I read it, I will tell you from where this sheet was
taken. It was taken from a blotting book in the drawing-room of Mrs.
Assheton's house in Sussex Square. An expert in handwriting will soon
tell the gentlemen of the jury in whose hand he without doubt considers
it to be written. After the committal of the prisoner to trial, search
was of course made in this house, for further evidence. This evidence was
almost immediately discovered. After that no further search was made."
The judge looked up from his notes.
"By whom was this discovery made?" he asked.
"By Superintendent Figgis and Sergeant Wilkinson, my lord. They will
give their evidence."
He waited till the judge had entered this.
"I will read the letter," he said, "from the negative, so to speak, of
the blotting paper."
"TO GODFREY MILLS, ESQ.
"You damned brute, I will settle you. I hear you are coming back to
Brighton to-morrow, and are getting out at Falmer. All right; I shall be
there, and we shall have a talk.
A sort of purr went round the court; the kind humane ladies and gentlemen
who had fought for seats found this to their taste. The noose tightened.
"I have here also an envelope," said the prosecutor, "which was found by
Mr. Figgis and Mr. Wilkinson in the waste-paper basket in the
sitting-room of the deceased. According to the expert in handwriting,
whose evidence you will hear, it is undoubtedly addressed by the same
hand that wrote the letter I have just read you. And, in his opinion,
the handwriting is that of the prisoner. No letter was found in the
deceased man's room corresponding to this envelope, but the jury will
observe that what I have called the negative of the letter on the
blotting-paper was dated June 21st, the day that the prisoner suspected
the slander that had been levelled at him. The suggestion is that the
deceased opened this before leaving for London, and took the letter with
him. And the hand, that for the purposes of misleading justice, robbed
him of his watch and his money, also destroyed the letter which was then
on his person, and which was an incriminating document. But this sheet
of blotting paper is as valuable as the letter itself. It proves the
letter to have been written."
* * * * *
Morris had been given a seat in the dock, and on each side of him there
stood a prison-warder. But in the awed hush that followed, for the
vultures and carrion crows who crowded the court were finding
themselves quite beautifully thrilled, he wrote a few words on a slip
of paper and handed it to a warder to give to his counsel. And his
counsel nodded to him.
The opening speech for the Crown had lasted something over two hours, and
a couple of witnesses only were called before the interval for lunch. But
most of the human ghouls had brought sandwiches with them, and the court
was packed with the same people when Morris was brought up again after
the interval, and the judge, breathing sherry, took his seat. The court
had become terribly hot, but the public were too humane to mind that. A
criminal was being chased toward the gallows, and they followed his
progress there with breathless interest. Step by step all that was laid
down in the opening speech for the prosecution was inexorably proved,
all, that is to say, except the affair of the stick. But from what a
certain witness (Mr. Taynton) swore to, it was clear that this piece of
circumstantial evidence, which indeed was of the greatest importance
since the Crown's case was that the murder had been committed with that
bludgeon of a stick, completely broke down. Whoever had done the murder,
he had not done it with that stick, since Mr. Taynton deposed to having
been at Mrs. Assheton's house on the Friday, the day after the murder had
been committed, and to having taken the stick away by mistake, believing
it to be his. And the counsel for the defence only asked one question on
this point, which question closed the proceedings for the day. It was:
"You have a similar stick then?"
And Mr. Taynton replied in the affirmative.
The court then rose.
* * * * *
On the whole the day had been most satisfactory to the ghouls and
vultures and it seemed probable that they would have equally exciting and
plentiful fare next day. But in the opinion of many Morris's counsel was
disappointing. He did not cross-examine witnesses at all sensationally,
and drag out dreadful secrets (which had nothing to do with the case)
about their private lives, in order to show that they seldom if ever
spoke the truth. Indeed, witness after witness was allowed to escape
without any cross-examination at all; there was no attempt made to prove
that the carpenter who had found the body had been himself tried for
murder, or that his children were illegitimate. Yet gradually, as the
afternoon went on, a sort of impression began to make its way, that there
was something coming which no one suspected.
The next morning those impressions were realised when the adjourned
cross-examination of Mr. Taynton was resumed. The counsel for the defence
made an immediate attack on the theories of the prosecution, and it told.
For the prosecution had suggested that Morris's presence at the scene of
the murder the day after was suspicious, as if he had come back uneasily
and of an unquiet conscience. If that was so, Mr. Taynton's presence
there, who had been the witness who proved the presence of the other, was
suspicious also. What had he come there for? In order to throw the broken
pieces of Morris's stick into the bushes? These inferences were of
course but suggested in the questions counsel asked Mr. Taynton in the
further cross-examination of this morning, and perhaps no one in court
saw what the suggestion was for a moment or two, so subtly and covertly
was it conveyed. Then it appeared to strike all minds together, and a
subdued rustle went round the court, followed the moment after by an even
Then followed a series of interrogations, which at first seemed wholly
irrelevant, for they appeared to bear only on the business relations
between the prisoner and the witness. Then suddenly like the dim light at
the end of a tunnel, where shines the pervading illuminating sunlight, a
little ray dawned.
"You have had control of the prisoner's private fortune since 1886?"
"In the year 1896 he had L8,000 or thereabouts in London and
North-Western Debentures, L6,000 in Consols, L7,000 in Government bonds
of South Australia?"
"I have no doubt those figures are correct."
"A fortnight ago you bought L8,000 of London and North-Western
Debentures, L6,000 in Consols, L7,000 in Government bonds of South
Mr. Taynton opened his lips to speak, but no sound came from them.
"Please answer the question."
If there had been a dead hush before, succeeding the rustle that had
followed the suggestions about the stick, a silence far more palpable now
descended. There was no doubt as to what the suggestion was now.
The counsel for the prosecution broke in.
"I submit that these questions are irrelevant, my lord," he said.
"I shall subsequently show, my lord, that they are not."
"The witness must answer the question," said the judge. "I see that there
is a possible relevancy."
The question was answered.
"Thank you, that is all," said the counsel for the defence, and Mr.
Taynton left the witness box.
It was then, for the first time since the trial began, that Morris
looked at this witness. All through he had been perfectly calm and
collected, a circumstance which the spectators put down to the
callousness with which they kindly credited him, and now for the first
time, as Mr. Taynton's eyes and his met, an emotion crossed the
prisoner's face. He looked sorry.
For the rest of the morning the examination of witnesses for the
prosecution went on, for there were a very large number of them, but when
the court rose for lunch, the counsel for the prosecution intimated that
this was his last. But again, hardly any but those engaged officially,
the judge, the counsel, the prisoner, the warder, left the court. Mr.
Taynton, however, went home, for he had his seat on the bench, and he
could escape for an hour from this very hot and oppressive atmosphere.
But he did not go to his Lewes office, or to any hotel to get his lunch.
He went to the station, where after waiting some quarter of an hour, he
took the train to Brighton. The train ran through Falmer and from his
window he could see where the Park palings made an angle close to the
road; it was from there that the path over the Downs, where he had so
often walked, passed to Brighton.
Again the judge took his seat, still carrying the little parcel wrapped
up in tissue paper.
There was no need for the usher to call silence, for the silence was
granted without being asked for.
The counsel for the defence called the first witness; he also unwrapped a
flat parcel which he had brought into court with him, and handed it to
"That was supplied by your firm?"
"Who ordered it?"
"Mr. Morris Assheton, that is. Did he order it from you, you yourself?"
"Did he give any specific instructions about it?"
"What were they?"
"That the blotting book which Mrs. Assheton had already ordered was to be
countermanded, and that this was to be sent in its stead on June 24th."
"You mean not after June 24th?"
"No, sir; the instructions were that it was not to be sent before
"Why was that?"
"I could not say, sir. Those were the instructions."
"And it was sent on June 24th."
"Yes, sir. It was entered in our book."
The book in question was produced and handed to the jury and the judge.
"That is all, Mrs. Assheton."
She stepped into the box, and smiled at Morris. There was no murmur of
sympathy, no rustling; the whole thing was too tense.
"You returned home on June 24th last, from a visit to town?"
"At what time?"
"I could not say to the minute. But about eleven in the morning."
"You found letters waiting for you?"
"What did it contain?"
"A blotting-book. It was a present from my son on my birthday."
"Is this the blotting-book?"
"What did you do with it?"
"I opened it and placed it on my writing table in the drawing-room."
"Thank you; that is all."
There was no cross-examination of this witness, and after the pause, the
counsel for the defence spoke again.
"You searched the house of Mrs. Assheton in Sussex Square?"
"What did you take from it?"
"A leaf from a blotting-book, sir."
"Was it that leaf which has been already produced in court, bearing the
impress of a letter dated June 21st?"
"Where was the blotting-book?"
"On the writing-table in the drawing-room, sir."
"You did not examine the blotting-book in any way?"
Counsel opened the book and fitted the torn out leaf into its place.
"We have here the impress of a letter dated June 21st, written in a new
blotting-book that did not arrive at Mrs. Assheton's house from the shop
till June 24th. It threatens--threatens a man who was murdered,
supposedly by the prisoner, on June 23d. Yet this threatening letter was
not written till June 24th, after he had killed him."
Quiet and unemotional as had been the address for the Crown, these few
remarks were even quieter. Then the examination continued.
"You searched also the flat occupied by the deceased, and you found there
this envelope, supposedly in the handwriting of the prisoner, which has
been produced by the prosecution?"
"This is it?"
"Thank you. That is all."
Again there was no cross-examination, and the superintendent left the
Then the counsel for the defence took up two blank envelopes in addition
to the one already produced and supposedly addressed in the handwriting
of the prisoner.
"This blue envelope," he said, "is from the stationery in Mrs.
Assheton's house. This other envelope, white, is from the flat of the
deceased. It corresponds in every way with the envelope which was
supposed to be addressed in the prisoner's hand, found at the flat in
question. The inference is that the prisoner blotted the letter dated
June 2lst on a blotting pad which did not arrive in Mrs. Assheton's house
till June 24th, went to the deceased's flat and put it an envelope
These were handed to the jury for examination.
"Ernest Smedley," said counsel.
Mills's servant stepped into the box, and was sworn.
"Between, let us say June 21st and June 24th, did the prisoner call at
Mr. Mills's flat?"
"Yes, sir, twice."
"Once on the evening of June 23d, and once very early next morning."
"Did he go in?"
"Yes, sir, he came in on both occasions."
"To satisfy himself that Mr. Mills had not come back."
"Did he write anything?"
"How do you know that?"
"I went with him from room to room, and should have seen if he had done
"Did anybody else enter the flat during those days?"
The whole court seemed to give a great sigh; then it was quiet again. The
judge put down the pen with which he had been taking notes, and like the
rest of the persons present he only listened.
"When did Mr. Taynton come into the flat?"
"About mid-day or a little later on Friday."
"Please tell the jury what he did?"
The counsel for the prosecution stood up.
"I object to that question," he said.
The judge nodded at him; then looked at the witness again. The
examination went on.
"You need not answer that question. I put it to save time, merely. Did
Mr. Taynton go into the deceased's sitting-room?"
"Did he write anything there?"
"Was he alone there?"
Again the examining counsel paused, and again no question was asked by
"Charles Martin," said the counsel for defence.
"You are a servant of the prisoner's?"
"You were in his service during this week of June, of which Friday was
"Describe the events--No. Did the prisoner go up to town, or elsewhere on
that day, driving his motorcar, but leaving you in Brighton?"
"Mrs. Assheton came back that morning?"
"Did anyone call that morning? If so, who."
"Mr. Taynton called."
"Did he go to the drawing-room?"
"Did he write anything there?"
"Yes, sir; he wrote a note to Mrs. Assheton, which he gave me when he
"You were not in the drawing-room, when he wrote it?"
"Did he say anything to you when he left the house?"
"What did he say?"
The question was not challenged now.
"He told me to say that he had left the note at the door."
"But he had not done so?"
"No, sir; he wrote it in the drawing-room."
"Thank you. That is all."
But this witness was not allowed to pass as the others had done. The
counsel for the prosecution got up.
"You told Mrs. Assheton that it had been left at the door?"
"You knew that was untrue?"
"For what reason did you say it, then?"
Martin hesitated; he looked down, then he looked up again, and was
"Answer the question."
His eyes met those of the prisoner. Morris smiled at him, and nodded.
"Mr. Taynton told me to say that," he said, "I had once been in Mr.
Taynton's service. He dismissed me. I--"
The judge interposed looking at the cross-examining counsel.
"Do you press your question?" he asked. "I do not forbid you to ask it,
but I ask you whether the case for the prosecution of the--the prisoner
is furthered by your insisting on this question. We have all heard, the
jury and I alike, what the last three or four witnesses have said, and
you have allowed that--quite properly, in my opinion--to go
unchallenged. I do not myself see that there is anything to be gained by
the prosecution by pressing the question. I ask you to consider this
point. If you think conscientiously, that the evidence, the trend of
which we all know now, is to be shaken, you are right to do your best to
try to shake it. If not, I wish you to consider whether you should press
the question. What the result of your pressing it will be, I have no