Part 6 out of 6
known that a piece of a lady's handkerchief was found clenched in your
father's right hand after he was dead. The police very kindly kept that
information from me. Had they told me about it I might have been inclined
to suspect Mrs. Holymead and to believe that her husband was trying to
shield her. His conduct would bear that interpretation if she had
happened to be guilty. The police unconsciously saved me from taking up
that false scent.
"I have detained you a long time in dealing with these points, Miss
Fewbanks, but I wanted to make everything clear. I have all but reached
the end. Let us take in chronological order what happened on the night of
the tragedy. We have your father's sudden return from Scotland. Hill was
at Riversbrook when he arrived, and having the secret letters in his
possession, was greatly perturbed by the unexpected return of Sir Horace.
He went to Doris Fanning's flat in Westminster to see Birchill. In his
absence Holymead arrived. It is probable that he took the Tube from Hyde
Park Corner to Hampstead and walked to Riversbrook. He rang the bell; was
admitted by your father, and, leaving his hat and stick in the hall-stand
as he had often done before, the two went upstairs to the library. There
was an angry interview, Holymead accusing your father of having wronged
him and demanding satisfaction. My own opinion is that there was an
irregular sort of duel. Each of them fired one shot. It is quite
conceivable that Holymead, in spite of his mission, being that of
revenge, gave your father a fair chance for his life. A man in Holymead's
position would probably feel indifferent whether he killed the man who
had ruined his home or was killed by him. But whereas your father's shot
missed by a few inches, Holymead's inflicted a fatal wound. When he saw
your father fall and realised what he had done, the instinct of
self-preservation asserted itself. He grabbed at the gloves he had taken
off, but in his hurry dropped one on the floor. He ran downstairs, took
his hat from the hall-stand, but left his stick. Then he rushed out of
the house, leaving the front door open. He made his way back to Hampstead
Tube station, got out at Hyde Park and took a cab to his hotel.
"Within a few minutes of Holymead's departure from Riversbrook the
Frenchwoman arrived. She may have passed Holymead in Tanton Gardens, or
Holymead, when he saw her approaching, may have hidden inside the
gateway of a neighbouring house. She had come up from the country on
learning that Holymead had come to London. She caught the next train, but
unfortunately it was late on arriving at Victoria owing to a slight
accident to the engine. I take it that she was sent by Mrs. Holymead to
follow her husband if possible and see if he had any designs on Sir
Horace. She took a cab as far as the Spaniards Inn and then got out, and
walked to Riversbrook. When she arrived at the house she found the front
door open and the lights burning. There was no answer to her ring and she
entered the house and crept upstairs. Opening the library door, she saw
your father lying on the floor. She endeavoured to raise him to a sitting
posture, but it was too late to do anything for him. With a convulsive
movement he grasped at the handkerchief she was holding in one hand, and
a corner of it was torn off and remained in his hand. When she saw he had
breathed his last she laid him down on the floor. Since she had been too
late to prevent the crime, the next best thing in the interests of Mrs.
Holymead was to remove traces of Holymead's guilt. She picked up the
revolver, which she thought belonged to Holymead, turned off the light in
the room, went downstairs, turned off the light in the hall, and closed
the hall door as she went out.
"She behaved with remarkable courage and coolness, but she overlooked the
glove in the room of the tragedy, and Holymead's stick in the hall-stand.
Later in the night we have Birchill's entry into the house, his alarm at
finding your father had been killed, and his return to the flat where
Hill was waiting for him."
When Crewe had finished he looked at the girl. She had followed his
statement with breathless interest.
"You have been wonderfully clever," she said. "It is perfectly
Crewe's eyes had wandered to the inlaid chess-table and the Japanese
chessmen set in prim rows on either side. Mechanically he began to
arrange a problem on the board. His interest in the famous murder mystery
seemed to have evaporated.
"I was very fortunate," he said absently, in reply to Miss Fewbanks.
"Everything seemed to come right for me."
"You made everything come right," she replied. "I do not know how to
thank you for giving so much of your time to unravelling the mystery."
"It was fascinating while it lasted," he replied, his fingers still busy
with the chessmen. "Of course, I am pleased with my success, but in a way
I am sorry the work has come to an end. I thought that the knowledge that
Holymead was the guilty man would come as a great shock to you. But I am
glad you are able to take it so well."
"A few minutes before you arrived I learned that it was Mr. Holymead. But
what has been more of a shock to me, Mr. Crewe, is the discovery that my
father had ruined his home. Oh, Mr. Crewe, it is terrible for me to have
to hold my dead father up to judgment, but it is more terrible still to
know that he was not faithful even to his lifelong friendship with Mr.
"Your nerves are unstrung," he said. "You want rest and quiet--you want a
long sea voyage."
"Yes, I want to forget," she said. "But there are others who want to
forget, too. Cannot we bury the whole thing in forgetfulness?"
Crewe's growing interest in the chessboard and his problem suddenly
vanished. His eyes became instantly riveted on her face in a keen,
"What is it to me or you that Mr. Holymead should be publicly proved
guilty of this terrible thing?" she went on, passionately. "Why drag into
the light my father's conduct in order to make a day's sensation for the
newspapers? For his sake, what better thing could I do than let his
"Do you mean that Holymead should be allowed to go free?" he asked, in
"I'm extremely sorry," he said slowly.
"Won't you let it all drop?" she pleaded.
"I could not take upon myself the responsibility of condoning such a
crime--the responsibility of judging between your father and his
murderer," he said solemnly. "But even if I could it is too late to think
of doing so. There is already a warrant out for Holymead's arrest"
The newspapers made a sensation out of the announcement of Holymead's
arrest on a charge of having murdered Sir Horace Fewbanks. They declared
that the arrest of the eminent K.C. on a capital charge would come as a
surprising development of the Riversbrook case. It would cause a shock to
his many friends, and especially to those who knew what a close
friendship had existed between the arrested man and the dead judge. The
papers expatiated on the fact that Holymead had appeared for the defence
when Frederick Birchill had been tried for the murder. As the public
would remember, Birchill had been acquitted owing to the great ability
with which his defence was conducted.
It was somewhat remarkable, said the _Daily Record_, that in his speech
for the defence Holymead had attempted to throw suspicion on one of the
witnesses for the prosecution. The journal hinted that it was the result
of something which Counsel for the defence had let drop at this trial
that Inspector Chippenfield had picked up the clue which had led to
Holymead's arrest. The papers had very little information to give the
public about this new development of the Fewbanks mystery, but they
boldly declared that some startling revelations were expected when the
case came before the court.
In the absence of interesting facts apropos of the arrest of the
distinguished K.C., some of the papers published summaries of his legal
career, and the more famous cases with which he had been connected. These
summaries would have been equally suitable to an announcement that Mr.
Holymead had been promoted to the peerage or that he had been run over by
a London bus.
There were people who declared without knowing anything about the
evidence the police had in their possession that in arresting the famous
barrister the police had made a far worse blunder than in arresting
Birchill. It was even hinted that the arrest of the man who had got
Birchill off was an expression of the police desire for revenge. To these
people the acquittal of Holymead was a foregone conclusion. The man who
had saved Birchill's life by his brilliant forensic abilities was not
likely to fail when his own life was at stake.
But when the case came before the police court and the police produced
their evidence, it was seen that there was a strong case against the
prisoner. The whispers as to the circumstances under which the prisoner
had taken the life of a friend of many years appealed to a sentimental
public. These whispers concerned the discovery by the prisoner that his
friend had seduced his beautiful wife. In the police court proceedings
there were no disclosures under this head, but the thing was hinted at.
In view of the legal eminence of the prisoner and the fear of the police
that he would prove too much for any police officer who might take charge
of the prosecution, the Direction of Public Prosecutions sent Mr.
Walters, K.C., to appear at the police court. The prisoner was
represented by Mr. Lethbridge, K.C., an eminent barrister to whom the
prisoner had been opposed in many civil cases.
Inspector Chippenfield, who realised that the important position the
prisoner occupied at the bar added to the importance of the officer who
had arrested him, gave evidence as to the arrest of the prisoner at his
chambers in the Middle Temple. With a generous feeling, which was
possibly due to the fact that he was entitled to none of the credit of
collecting the evidence against the prisoner, Inspector Chippenfield
allowed Detective Rolfe a subordinate share in the glory that hung round
the arrest by volunteering the information in the witness-box that when
making the arrest he was accompanied by that officer. He declared that
the prisoner made no remark when arrested and did not seem surprised. Mr.
Walters produced a left-hand glove and witness duly identified it as the
glove which he found in the room in which the murder took place.
Inspector Seldon gave formal evidence of the discovery of the body of Sir
Horace Fewbanks on the 19th of August. Dr. Slingsby repeated the evidence
that he had given at the trial of Birchill as to the cause of death, and
was again professionally indefinite as to the length of time the victim
had been dead when he saw the body. Thomas Taylor, taxi-cab driver, gave
evidence as to driving the prisoner from Hyde Park Corner on the night of
the 18th of August and the finding of the glove.
Crewe went into the witness-box and swore that on the second day after
the discovery of the murder he was present at Riversbrook when the
prisoner visited the house and saw Miss Fewbanks. When the prisoner
arrived he was not carrying a walking-stick, but he had one in his hand
when he took his departure from the house. Witness followed the prisoner,
and a boy who collided with the prisoner knocked the stick out of his
hands. Witness picked up the stick and inspected it. He identified the
stick produced in court as the one which the prisoner had been carrying
on that day.
The most difficult, and most important witness, as far as new evidence
was concerned was Alexander Saunders, a big, broad red-faced Scotchman,
whose firm grasp on the tam-o'-shanter he held in his hand seemed to
indicate a fear that all the pickpockets in London had designs on it.
With great difficulty he was made to understand his part in the
witness-box, and some of the questions had to be repeated several times
before he could grasp their meaning. Mr. Lethbridge humorously suggested
that his learned friend should have provided an interpreter so that his
pure English might be translated into Lowland Scotch.
By slow degrees Saunders was able to explain how he had found the
pocket-book which Sir Horace Few-banks had lost while shooting at
Craigleith Hall. Witness identified a letter produced as having been in
the pocket-book when he found it. The letter, which had been written by
the prisoner to Sir Horace Fewbanks, urged Sir Horace to return to London
at once, as if he did so there was a good possibility of his obtaining
promotion to the Court of Appeal. The writer promised to do all he could
in the matter, and to call on Sir Horace at Riversbrook as soon as he
returned from Scotland.
Percival Chambers, an elderly well-dressed man with a grey beard, and
wearing glasses, who was secretary of the Master of Rolls, swore that he
knew of no prospective vacancies on the Court of Appeal Bench. Were any
vacancies of the kind in view he believed he would be aware of them.
This closed the case for the police, and Mr. Lethbridge immediately asked
for the discharge of the prisoner on the ground that there was no case to
go before a jury. The magistrate shook his head, and merely asked Mr.
Lethbridge if he intended to reserve his defence. Mr. Lethbridge replied
with a nod, and the accused was formally committed for trial at the next
sittings at the Old Bailey.
The newspapers reported at great length the evidence given in the police
court, and their reports were eagerly read by a sensation-loving public.
Even those people who, when Holymead's arrest was announced, had
ridiculed the idea of a man like Holymead murdering a lifelong friend,
had to admit that the police had collected some damaging evidence. Those
people who at the time of the arrest had prided themselves on possessing
an open mind as to the guilt of the famous barrister, confessed after
reading the police court evidence that there could be little doubt of his
guilt. The only thing that was missing from the police court proceedings
was the production of a motive for the crime, but it was whispered that
there would be some interesting revelations on this point when the
prisoner was tried at the Old Bailey.
Fortunately he had not long to wait for his trial, as the next sittings
of the Central Criminal Court had previously been fixed a week ahead of
the date of his commitment. That week was full of anxiety for Mr.
Lethbridge, for he realised that he had a poor case. What increased his
anxiety was the fact that Holymead insisted on the defence being
conducted on the lines he laid down. It was a new thing in Lethbridge's
experience to accept such instructions from a prisoner, but Holymead had
threatened to dispense with all assistance unless his instructions were
carried out. He was particularly anxious that his wife's name should be
kept out of court as much as possible. Lethbridge had pointed out to him
that the prosecution would be sure to drag it in at the trial in
suggesting a motive for the murder, and that for the purposes of the
defence it was best to have a full and frank disclosure of everything so
that an appeal could be made to the jury's feelings. Holymead's beautiful
wife, who was almost distracted by her husband's position, implored his
Counsel to allow her to go into the box and make a confession. But that
course did not commend itself to Lethbridge, who realised that she would
make an extremely bad witness and would but help to put the rope round
her husband's neck. He put her off by declaring that there was a good
prospect of her husband being acquitted, but that if the verdict
unfortunately went against him her confession would have more weight in
saving him, when the appeal against the verdict was heard.
It amazed Lethbridge to find that the prisoner expressed the view that
Birchill had committed the murder. This view was based on his contention
that Sir Horace Fewbanks was alive when he (Holymead) left him about ten
o'clock. The interview between them had been an angry one, but Holymead
persisted in asserting that he had not shot his former friend. He
declared that he had not taken a revolver with him when he went to
Lethbridge was one of those barristers who believe that a knowledge of
the guilt of a client handicapped Counsel in defending him. He had his
private opinion as to the result of the angry interview between Holymead
and Sir Horace Fewbanks, but he preferred that Holymead should protest
his innocence even to him. That made it easier for him to make a stirring
appeal to the jury than it would have been if his client had fully
confessed to him. His private opinion as to the author of the crime was
strengthened by Holymead's admission that Birchill had not confessed to
him or to his solicitor at the time of his trial that he had shot Sir
Horace Fewbanks. He was astonished that Holymead had taken up Birchill's
defence, but Holymead's explanation was the somewhat extraordinary one
that the man who had killed the seducer of his wife had done him a
service by solving a problem that had seemed insoluble without a public
scandal. There was no doubt that although Sir Horace Fewbanks was in his
grave, Holymead's hatred of him for his betrayal of his wife burned as
strongly as when he had made the discovery that wrecked his home life.
Neither death nor time could dim the impression, nor lessen his hatred
for the dead man who had once been his closest friend.
Lethbridge, feeling that it was his duty as Counsel for the prisoner to
try every avenue which might help to an acquittal, asked Mr. Tomlinson,
the solicitor who was instructing him in the case, to find Birchill and
bring him to his chambers. Birchill was found and kept an appointment.
Lethbridge explained to him that he had nothing further to fear from the
police with regard to the murder of Sir Horace Fewbanks. Having been
acquitted on this charge he could not be tried on it again, no matter
what discoveries were made. He could not even be tried for perjury, as he
had not gone into the witness-box. Having allowed these facts to sink
home, he delicately suggested to Birchill that he ought to come forward
as a witness for the defence of Holymead--he ought to do his best to try
and save the life of the man who had saved his life.
"What do you want me to swear?" asked Birchill, in a tone which indicated
that although he did not object to committing perjury, he wanted to know
how far he was to go.
"Well, that Sir Horace Fewbanks was alive when you went to Riversbrook,"
"But I tell you he was dead," protested Birchill. He seemed to think that
reviving a dead man was beyond even the power of perjury.
"That was your original story, I know," agreed Lethbridge suavely. "But
as you were not put into the witness-box to swear it you can alter it
without fear of any consequences."
"You want me to swear that he was alive?" said Birchill, meditatively.
"If you can conscientiously do so," replied Lethbridge.
"That he was alive when I left Riversbrook?" asked Birchill.
"Well, not necessarily that," said Lethbridge.
Birchill sprang up in alarm.
"Good God, do you want me to swear that I killed him?" he demanded.
Lethbridge endeavoured to explain that he would have nothing to fear from
such a confession in the witness-box, but Birchill would listen to no
further explanations. He felt that he was in dangerous company, and that
his safety depended on getting out of the room.
"You've made a mistake," he said, as he reached the door. "If you want a
witness of that kind you ought to look for him in Colney Hatch."
The impending trial of Holymead produced almost as much excitement in
staid legal circles as it did among the general public. It was rumoured
that there was a difficulty in obtaining a judge to preside at the trial,
as they all objected to being placed in the position of trying a man who
was well-known to them and with whom most of them had been on friendly
terms. There was a great deal of sympathy for the prisoner among the
judges. Of course, they could not admit that any man had the right to
take the law into his own hands, but they realised that if any wrong done
to an individual could justify this course it was the wrong Sir Horace
Fewbanks had done to an old friend.
When it became known that Mr. Justice Hodson was to preside at the Old
Bailey during the trial of Holymead, legal rumour concerned itself with
statements to the effect that there was now a difficulty in obtaining a
K.C. to undertake the prosecution. When it was discovered that Mr.
Walters, K.C., was to conduct the prosecution, it was whispered that he
had asked to be relieved of the work and had even waited on the
Attorney-General in the matter, but that the latter had told him that he
must put his personal feelings aside and act in accordance with that high
sense of duty he had always shown in his professional career.
In Newgate Street a long queue of people waited for admission to Old
Bailey on the day the trial was to begin. They were inspected by two fat
policemen to decide whether they appeared respectable enough to be
entitled to a free seat at the entertainment in Number One Court. When
the doors opened at 10.15 a.m. the first batch of them were admitted, but
on reaching the top of the stairs, where they were inspected by a
sergeant, they were informed that all the seats in the gallery of Number
One Court had been filled, but that he would graciously permit them to go
to Numbers Two, Three, Four, or Five Courts. Those who were not satisfied
with this generosity could get out the way they had come in and be quick
about it. What the sergeant did not explain was that so many people with
social influence had applied to the presiding judge for permission to be
present at the trial that it had been found necessary to reserve the
gallery for them as well as most of the seats in the body of the court.
Fashionably-dressed ladies and well-groomed men drove up to the main
entrance of the Old Bailey in motors and taxi-cabs. The scene was as busy
as the scene outside a West End theatre on a first night. The services of
several policemen were necessary to regulate the arrival and departure of
taxi-cabs and motor-cars and to keep back the staring mob of disappointed
people who had been refused admission to the court by the fat sergeant,
but were determined to see as much as they could before they went away.
Elderly ladies and young ladies were assisted from smart motor-cars by
their escorts, and greeted their friends with feminine fervour. Some of
the younger ones exchanged whispered regrets, as they swept into the
court, that such a fine-looking man as Holymead should have got himself
into such a terrible predicament.
The legal profession was numerously represented among the spectators in
the body of the court. So many distinguished members of the profession
had applied for tickets of admission that there was little room for
members of the junior bar. It was many years since a trial had created
so much interest in legal circles. When Mr. Justice Hodson entered the
court, followed by no fewer than eight of the Sheriffs of London, those
present in the court rose. The members of the profession bowed slowly in
the direction of His Honour. The prisoner was brought into the dock from
below, and took the seat that was given to him beside one of the two
warders who remained in the dock with him. He looked a little careworn,
as though with sleepless nights, but his strong, clean-shaven face was
as resolute as ever, and betrayed nothing of the mental agony which he
endured. His keen dark eyes glanced quietly through the court, and
though many members of the bar smiled at him when they thought they had
caught his eye, he gave no smile in return. As he looked at Mr. Justice
Hodson, the distinguished judge inclined his head to what was almost a
nod of recognition, but the prisoner looked calmly at the judge as
though he had never seen him before and had never been inside a court in
his life till then.
Among those persons standing in the body of the court were Crewe and
Inspector Chippenfield and Detective Rolfe. Inspector Chippenfield
displayed so much friendliness to Crewe as he drew his attention to the
number of celebrities in court that it was evident he had buried for the
time being his professional enmity. This was because Crewe had allowed
him to appropriate some of the credit of unravelling Holymead's
connection with the crime. As the jury were being sworn in Crewe and
Chippenfield made their way out of court into the corridor. As they were
to be called as witnesses they would not be allowed in court until after
they had given their evidence.
Mr. Walters in his opening address paid tribute to the exceptional
circumstances of the case by some slight show of nervousness. Several
times he insisted that the case was what he termed unique. The prisoner
in the dock was a man who by his distinguished abilities had won for
himself a leading position at the bar, and had been honoured and
respected by all who knew him. It was not the first occasion that a
member of the legal profession had been placed on trial on a capital
charge, though he was glad to say, for the honour of the profession, that
cases of the kind were extremely rare. But what made the case unique was
that it was not the first trial in connection with the murder of Sir
Horace Fewbanks, and that at the first trial when a man named Frederick
Birchill had been placed in the dock, the prisoner now before the court
had appeared as defending Counsel, and by his brilliant conduct of the
defence had materially contributed to the verdict of acquittal which had
been brought in by the jury. Some evidence would be placed before the
jury about the first trial and the conduct of the defence. He ventured to
assert that the jury would find in this evidence some damaging facts
against the prisoner--that they would find a clear indication that the
prisoner had defended Birchill because he knew himself to be guilty of
this murder, and felt an obligation on him to place his legal knowledge
and forensic powers at the disposal of a man whom he knew to be innocent.
At the former trial the prisoner, as Counsel for the defence, had
attempted to throw suspicion on a man named Hill, who had been butler to
the late Sir Horace Fewbanks, but evidence would be placed before the
jury to show that in doing so the prisoner had been smitten by some pangs
of conscience at casting suspicion on a man who he knew was not guilty.
It was not incumbent on the prosecution to prove a motive for the murder,
continued Mr. Walters, though where the motive was plainly proved the
case against the prisoner was naturally strengthened. In this case there
was no doubt about the motive, but the extent of the evidence to be
placed before the jury under that head would depend upon the defence. The
prosecution would submit some evidence on the point, but the full story
could only be told if the defence placed the wife of the prisoner in the
witness-box. It was impossible for the prosecution to call her as a
witness, as English law prevented a wife giving evidence against her
husband. She could, however, give evidence in favour of her husband, and
doubtless the defence would take full advantage of the privilege of
The evidence which he intended to call would show that for years past
very friendly relations had existed between the prisoner and the murdered
man. They had been at Cambridge together and had studied law together in
chambers. Their friendship continued after their marriages. The prisoner
had married a second time, and at that time Sir Horace Fewbanks was a
widower. Sir Horace Fewbanks was what was known as a ladies' man, and at
the previous trial prisoner, as defending Counsel, had tried to bring out
that Sir Horace was a man of immoral reputation among women. There was no
doubt that the prisoner, during Sir Horace's absence in Scotland, became
convinced that Sir Horace had been paying attention to his wife. There
was no doubt that, being a man of a jealous disposition, his suspicions
went beyond that. At any rate he wrote a letter to Sir Horace at
Craigleith Hall, where the latter was shooting, asking him to come to
London at once. In order to induce Sir Horace to return, and in order not
to arouse suspicion as to his real object, he concocted a story about a
vacancy in the Court of Appeal Bench to which, it appeared, Sir Horace
Fewbanks desired to be appointed. In this letter, which would be produced
in evidence, the prisoner pretended to be working in Sir Horace's
interests, and offered to meet him on the night of his return at
Riversbrook and let him know fully how matters stood. Sir Horace
apparently wrote to the prisoner making an appointment with him for the
night of the 18th of August. The prisoner kept that appointment, charged
Sir Horace with carrying on an intrigue with his wife, and then shot him.
"That is the case for the prosecution which I will endeavour to establish
to the satisfaction of the jury," said Mr. Walters, in concluding his
speech, "Of course it is impossible to produce direct evidence of the
actual shooting. But I will produce a silent but indisputable witness in
the form of a glove which belonged to the prisoner, that he was present
in the room in which the murder took place. I will produce evidence to
show that the prisoner left his stick behind in the hat-stand in the
hall on the night of the murder. These things prove conclusively that he
left Riversbrook in a state of considerable excitement. The fact that
after the murder was discovered he kept hidden in his own breast the
knowledge that he had been there on that night, instead of going to the
police and, in the endeavour to assist them to detect the murderer of his
lifelong friend, informing them that he had called on Sir Horace, shows
conclusively that he went there on a mission on which he dared not throw
the light of day."
Those witnesses who had given evidence at the police court were called
and repeated their statements. Inspector Seldon was closely
cross-examined by Mr. Lethbridge as to the way in which the dead body was
dressed when he discovered it. He declared that Sir Horace had been
wearing a light lounge suit of grey colour, a silk shirt, wing collar and
black bow tie. Dr. Slingsby's cross-examination was directed to
ascertaining as near as possible the time when the murder was committed,
but this was a point on which the witness allowed himself to be
irritatingly indefinite. The murder might have taken place three or four
hours before midnight on the 18th of August, and on the other hand it
might have taken place any time up to three or four hours after midnight.
Hill, who had not been available as a witness at the police
court--being then on the way back from America in response to a
cablegram from Crewe--reappeared as a witness. He looked much more at
ease in the witness-box than on the occasion when he gave evidence
against Birchill. He had fully recovered from his terror of being
arrested for the murder, and obviously had much satisfaction in giving
evidence against the man who, according to his impression, had tried to
bring the crime home to him.
He gave evidence as to the unexpected return of his master from Scotland
on the 18th of August, and also in regard to the relations between his
master and Mrs. Holymead. On several occasions he had seen his master
kiss Mrs. Holymead, and once he had heard the door of the room in which
they were together being locked.
Two new witnesses were called to testify to the suggestion of the
prosecution that illicit relations had existed between Sir Horace
Fewbanks and Mrs. Holymead. These were Philip Williams, who had been the
dead man's chauffeur, and Dorothy Mason, who had been housemaid at
Riversbrook. The chauffeur gave evidence as to meeting Mrs. Holymead's
car at various places in the country. He formed the opinion from the
first that these meetings between Sir Horace and the lady were not
The last of the prosecution's witnesses was the legal shorthand writer
who had taken the official report of the trial of Birchill. In response
to the request of Mr. Walters, he read from his notebook the final
passage in the opening address delivered by the prisoner at that trial as
defending Counsel: "'It is my duty to convince you that my client is not
guilty, or, in other words, to convince you that the murder was committed
before he reached the house. It is only with the greatest reluctance that
I take upon myself the responsibility of pointing an accusing finger at
another man. In crimes of this kind you cannot expect to get anything but
circumstantial evidence. But there are degrees of circumstantial
evidence, and my duty to my client lays upon me the obligation of
pointing out to you that there is one person against whom the existing
circumstantial evidence is stronger than it is against my client.'"
Mr. Lethbridge was unexpectedly brief in his opening address. He
ridiculed the idea that a man like the prisoner, trained in the
atmosphere of the law, would take the law into his own hands in seeking
revenge for a wrong that had been done to him. According to the
prosecution the prisoner had calmly and deliberately carried out this
murder. He had sent a letter to Sir Horace Fewbanks with the object of
inducing him to return to London, and had subsequently gone to
Riversbrook and shot the man who had been his lifelong friend. Could
anything be more improbable than to suppose that a man of the accused's
training, intellect, and force of character, would be swayed by a gust of
passion into committing such a dreadful crime like an immature ignorant
youth of unbalanced temperament? The discovery that his wife and his
friend were carrying on an intrigue would be more likely to fill him with
disgust than inspire him with murderous rage. He would not deny that
accused had gone up to Riversbrook a few hours after Sir Horace Fewbanks
returned from Scotland; he would admit that when the accused sought this
interview he knew that his quondam friend had done him the greatest wrong
one man could do another; but he emphatically denied that the prisoner
killed Sir Horace Fewbanks or threatened to take his life.
His learned friend had asked why had not the prisoner gone to the police
after the murder was discovered and told them that he had seen Sir Horace
at Riversbrook that night. The answer to that was clear and emphatic. He
did not want to take the police into his confidence with regard to the
relations that had existed between his wife and the dead man. He wanted
to save his wife's name from scandal. Was not that a natural impulse for
a high-minded man? The prisoner had believed that in due course the
police would discover the actual murderer, and that in the meantime the
scandal which threatened his wife's name would be buried with the man who
had wronged her. If the prisoner could have prevented it his wife's name
would not have been dragged into this case even for the purpose of saving
himself from injustice. But the prosecution, in order to establish a
motive for the crime, had dragged this scandal into light. He did not
blame the prosecution in the least for that. In fact he was grateful to
his learned friend for doing so, for it had released him from a promise
extracted from him by the prisoner not to make any use of the matter in
his conduct of the case. The defence was that, although the accused man
had gone to Riversbrook on the night of the 18th of August to accuse Sir
Horace Fewbanks of base treachery, he went there unarmed, and with no
intention of committing violence. No threats were used and no shot was
fired during the interview. And in proof of the latter contention he
intended to call witnesses to prove that Sir Horace Fewbanks was alive
after the prisoner had left the house.
The name of Daniel Kemp was loudly called by the ushers, and when Kemp
crossed the court on the way to the witness-box, Chippenfield and
Crewe, who had returned to the court after giving their evidence,
looked at one another.
"He's a dead man," whispered Chippenfield, nodding his head towards the
prisoner, "if this is a sample of their witnesses."
Kemp had brushed himself up for his appearance in the witness-box. He
wore a new ready-made tweed suit; his thick neck was encased in a white
linen collar which he kept fingering with one hand as though trying to
loosen it for his greater comfort; and his hair had been plastered flat
on his head with plenty of cold water. His red and scratched chin further
indicated that he had taken considerable pains with a razor to improve
his personal appearance in keeping with his unwonted part of a
respectable witness in a place which knew a more sinister side of him. As
he stood in the witness-box, awkwardly avoiding the significant glances
that the Scotland Yard men and the police cast at him, he appeared to be
more nervous and anxious than he usually was when in the dock. But Crewe,
who was watching him closely, was struck by the look of dog-like devotion
he hurriedly cast at the weary face of the man in the dock before he
commenced to give his evidence.
He told the court a remarkable story. He declared that Birchill had told
him on the 16th of August that he had a job on at Riversbrook, and had
asked him to join him in it. When Birchill explained the details witness
declined to have a hand in it. He did not like these put-up jobs.
Mr. Lethbridge interposed to explain to any particularly unsophisticated
jurymen that "a put-up job" meant a burglary that had been arranged with
the connivance of a servant in the house to be broken into.
Kemp declared that the reason he had declined to have anything to do with
the project to burgle Riversbrook was that he felt sure Hill would squeak
if the police threatened him when they came to investigate the burglary.
He happened to be at Hampstead on the evening of the 18th of August and
he took a walk along Tanton Gardens to have another look at the place
which Birchill was to break into. It had occurred to him that things
might not be square, and that Hill might have laid a trap for Birchill.
That was about 9.30 p.m. He was just able to catch a glimpse of the house
through the plantation in front of it. The mansion appeared all in
darkness, but while he looked he was surprised to see a light appear in
the upper portion of the house which was visible from the road. He went
through the carriage gates with the intention of getting a closer view of
the house. As he walked along he heard a quick footstep on the gravel
walk behind him, and he slipped into the plantation. Looking out from
behind a tree he could discern the figure of a man walking quickly
towards the house. As he drew near him the man paused, struck a match and
looked at his watch, and he saw that it was Mr. Holymead. Witness's
suspicions in regard to a trap having been laid for Birchill were
strengthened, and he decided to ascertain what was in the wind. He crept
through the plantation to the edge of the garden in front of the house.
From there he could hear voices in a room upstairs. He tried to make out
what was being said, but he was too far away for that. In about half an
hour the voices stopped, and a minute later a man came out of the house
and walked down the path through the garden, and entered the carriage
drive close to where witness was concealed in the plantation. As he
passed him witness saw that it was Mr. Holymead.
About five minutes afterwards the window upstairs in the room where the
voices had come from was opened, and Sir Horace Fewbanks leaned out and
looked at the sky as if to ascertain what sort of a night it was. He was
quite certain that it was Sir Horace Fewbanks. He was well acquainted
with that gentleman's features, having been sentenced by him three years
ago. Sir Horace seemed quite calm and collected. Witness was so surprised
to see him, after having been told by Birchill that he was in Scotland,
that he did not take his eyes off him during the two or three minutes
that he remained at the window, breathing the night air. Sir Horace was
fully dressed. He had on a light tweed suit, and he was wearing a soft
shirt of a light colour, with a stiff collar, and a small black bow tie.
When Sir Horace closed the window witness jumped over the fence back into
the wood and made his way to the Hampstead Tube station with the
intention of warning Birchill that Sir Horace Fewbanks was at home. He
waited at the station over an hour, and as he did not see Birchill he
then made his way home. During the time he was in the garden at
Riversbrook listening to the voices, he heard no sound of a shot. He was
certain that no shot had been fired inside the house from the time the
prisoner entered the house until he left. Had a shot been fired witness
could not have failed to hear it.
There could be no doubt that the effect produced in court by the evidence
of the witness was extremely favourable to the prisoner. Kemp had told a
plain, straightforward story. The fact that he had shown no reluctance in
disclosing in his evidence that he was a criminal and the associate of
criminals seemed to add to the credibility of his evidence. It was felt
that he would not have come to court to swear falsely on behalf of a man
who was so far removed from the class to which he belonged.
While Kemp was giving his evidence, Crewe had despatched a messenger to
his chambers in Holborn for Joe. When the boy returned with the messenger
Kemp was still in the witness-box, undergoing an examination at the hands
of the judge. Sir Henry Hodson seemed to have been impressed by the
witness's story, for he asked Kemp a number of questions, and entered his
answers in his notebook.
"Joe," whispered Crewe, as the boy stole noiselessly behind him, "look at
that man in the witness-box. Have you ever seen him before?"
"Rayther, guv'nor!" whispered the boy in reply. "Why, it's 'im who tried
to frighten me in the loft if I didn't promise to give up watching Mr.
"You are quite certain, Joe?"
"Certain sure, guv'nor. There ain't no charnst of me mistaking a man
Crewe listened intently to Kemp's evidence, and he watched the man's face
as he swore that he had seen Sir Horace Fewbanks leaning out of the
window after Holymead had left the house. He hastily took out a notebook,
scribbled a few lines on one of the leaves, tore it out, and beckoned to
a court usher.
"Take that to Mr. Walters," he whispered.
The man did so. Mr. Walters opened the note, adjusted his glasses and
read it. He started with surprise, read the note through again, then
turned round as though in search of the writer. When he saw Crewe he
raised his eyebrows interrogatively, and the detective nodded
Mr. Lethbridge sat down, having finished his examination of Kemp. Mr.
Walters, with another glance at Crewe's note, rose slowly in his place.
"I ask Your Honour that I may be allowed to defer until the morning my
cross-examination of this witness," he said. "I am, of course, in Your
Honour's hands in this matter, but I can assure Your Honour that it is
desirable--highly desirable--in the interests of justice that the
cross-examination of the witness should be postponed."
"I protest, Your Honour, against the cross-examination of the witness
being deferred," said Mr. Lethbridge. "There is no justification of it."
"I would urge Your Honour to accede to my request," said Mr. Walters. "It
is a matter of the utmost importance."
"Is your next witness available, Mr. Lethbridge?" asked the judge.
"Surely, Your Honour, you're not going to allow the cross-examination of
this witness to be postponed?" protested Mr. Lethbridge. "My learned
friend has given no reason for such a course."
Sir Henry Hodson looked at the court clock.
"It is now within a quarter of an hour of the ordinary time for
adjournment," he began. "I think the fairest way out of the difficulty
will be to adjourn the court now until to-morrow morning."
There was a loud buzz of conversation when the court adjourned. After
asking Chippenfield and Rolfe to wait for him, Crewe made his way to Mr.
Walters, and, after a few whispered words with that gentleman, Mr.
Mathers, his junior, and Mr. Salter, the instructing solicitor, he
returned to Chippenfield and Rolfe and asked them to accompany him in a
taxi-cab to Riversbrook.
"What do you want to go out there for?" asked Inspector
Chippenfield. "You don't expect to discover anything there this late
in the day, do you?"
"I want to find out whether this man Kemp is lying or telling the truth."
"Of course he is lying," replied the positive police official. "When
you've had as much experience with criminals as I have had, Mr. Crewe,
you won't expect a word of truth from any of them."
"Well, let us go to Riversbrook and prove that he is lying," said Crewe.
"We'll go with you," said Inspector Chippenfield, speaking for Rolfe and
himself. He did not understand how Crewe expected to obtain any evidence
at Riversbrook about the truth or falsity of Kemp's story, but he did not
intend to admit that. "But you can set your mind at rest. No jury will
believe Kemp after we've given them his record in cross-examination."
Rolfe, whose association with Crewe in the case had awakened in him a
keen admiration for the private detective's methods and abilities,
permitted himself to defy his superior officer to the extent of
saying that "the best way to prove Kemp a liar is to prove that his
story is false."
During the drive to Hampstead from the Old Bailey the three men discussed
Kemp and his past record. It was recalled that less than twelve months
ago, while he was serving three years for burglary, his daughter had
provided the newspapers with a sensation by dying in the dock while
sentence was being passed on her. According to Inspector Chippenfield,
who had been in charge of the case against her, she was a stylish,
good-looking girl, and when dressed up might easily have been mistaken
for a lady.
"She got in touch with a flash gang of railway thieves from America,"
said Inspector Chippenfield, helping himself to a cigar from Crewe's
proffered case. "They used to work the express trains, robbing the
passengers in the sleeping berths. She was neatly caught at Victoria
Station in calling for a dressing-case that had been left at the cloak
room by one of the gang. Inside the dressing-case was Lady Sinclair's
jewel case, which had been stolen on the journey up from Brighton. The
thief, being afraid that he might be stopped at Victoria Station when the
loss of the jewel case was discovered, had placed it inside his
dressing-case, and had left the dressing-case at the cloak room. He sent
Dora Kemp for it a few days later, as he believed he had outwitted the
police. But I'd got on to the track of the jewels, and after removing
them from the dressing-case in the cloak room I had the cloak room
watched. When Dora Kemp called for the dressing-case and handed in the
cloakroom ticket, the attendant gave my men the signal and she was
"She died of heart disease while on trial, didn't she?" asked Crewe.
"Yes," replied Inspector Chippenfield. "Sir Horace Fewbanks was the
judge. He gave her five years. And no sooner were the words out of his
mouth than she threw up her hands and fell forward in the dock. She was
dead when they picked her up."
"She was as game as they make them," put in Rolfe. "We tried to get her
to give the others away, but she wouldn't, though she would have got off
with a few months if she had. The gang got frightened and cleared out.
They left her in the lurch, but she wouldn't give one of them away."
"It was Holymead who defended her," said Chippenfield. "It was a strange
thing for him to do--leading barristers don't like touching criminal
cases, because, as a rule, there is little money and less credit to be
got out of them. But Holymead did some queer things at times, as you
know. He must have taken up the case out of interest in the girl herself,
for I'm certain she hadn't the money to brief him. And I did hear
afterwards that Holymead undertook to see that she was decently buried."
"Why, that explains it!" exclaims Crewe, in the voice of a man who had
solved a difficulty.
"Explains what?" asked Inspector Chippenfield.
"Explains why her father has taken the risk of coming forward in this
case to give evidence for Holymead. Gratitude for what Holymead had done
for his girl while he was in prison. My experience of criminals is that
they frequently show more real gratitude to those who do them a good turn
than people in a respectable walk of life. Besides, you know what a
sentimental value people of his class attach to seeing their kin buried
decently. If Holymead hadn't come forward the girl would have been buried
as a pauper, in all probability."
"But I don't see that old Kemp is taking much risk," said Inspector
Chippenfield. "He is only perjuring himself, and he is too used to that
to regard it as a risk."
"Don't you think he will be in an awkward position if the jury were to
acquit Holymead?" asked Crewe. "One jury has already said that Sir Horace
Fewbanks was dead when Birchill broke into the house, and if this jury
believes Kemp's story and says Sir Horace was alive when Holymead left
it, don't you think Kemp will conclude that it will be best for him to
disappear? Some one must have killed Sir Horace after Holymead left, and
before Birchill arrived."
"Whew! I never thought of that," said Rolfe candidly.
"Kemp is a liar from first to last," said Inspector Chippenfield
When they reached Riversbrook they entered the carriage drive and
traversed the plantation until they stood on the edge of the Italian
garden facing the house. The gaunt, irregular mansion stood empty and
deserted, for Miss Fewbanks had left the place after her father's
funeral, with the determination not to return to it. The wind whistled
drearily through the nooks and crannies of the unfinished brickwork of
the upper story, and a faint evening mist rose from the soddened garden
and floated in a thin cloud past the library window, as though the ghost
of the dead judge were revisiting the house in search of his murderer.
The garden had lost its summer beauty and was littered with dead leaves
from the trees. The gathering greyness of an autumn twilight added to the
dreariness of the scene.
"Kemp didn't say how far he stood from the house," said Crewe, "but we'll
assume he stood at the edge of the plantation--about where we are
standing now--to begin with. How far are we from that library window,
"About fifty yards, I should say," said the inspector, measuring it
with his eye.
"I should say seventy," said Rolfe.
"And I say somewhere midway between the two," said Crewe, with a smile.
"But we will soon see. Just hold down the end of this measuring tape, one
of you." He produced a measuring tape as he spoke, and started to unwind
it, walking rapidly towards the house as he did so. "Sixty-two yards!" he
said, as he returned. He made a note of the distance in his pocket-book.
"So much for that," he said, "but that's not enough. I want you to stand
under the library window, Rolfe, by that chestnut-tree in front of it,
and act as pivot for the measuring tape while I look at that window from
various angles. My idea is to go in a semicircle right round the garden,
starting at the garage by the edge of the wood, so as to see the library
window and measure the distance at every possible point at which Kemp
could have stood."
"You're going to a lot of trouble for nothing, if your object is to try
and prove that he couldn't have seen into the window," grunted Inspector
Chippenfield, in a mystified voice. "Why, I can see plainly into the
window from here."
Crewe smiled, but did not reply. Followed by Rolfe, he went back to the
tree by the library window, where he posted Rolfe with the end of the
tape in his hand. Then he walked slowly back across the garden in the
direction of the garage, keeping his eye on the library window on the
first floor from which Kemp, according to his evidence, had seen Sir
Horace leaning out after Holymead had left the house. He returned to the
tree, noting the measurement in his book as he did so, and then repeated
the process, walking backwards with his eye fixed on the window, but this
time taking a line more to the left. Again and again he repeated the
process, until finally he had walked backwards from the tree in narrow
segments of a big semicircle, finishing up on the boundary of the Italian
garden on the other side of the grounds, and almost directly opposite to
the garage from which he had started.
"There's no use going further back than that," he said, turning to
Inspector Chippenfield, who had followed him round, smoking one of
Crewe's cigars, and very much mystified by the whole proceedings, though
he would not have admitted it on any account. "At this point we
practically lose sight of the window altogether, except for an oblique
glimpse. Certainly Kemp would not come as far back as this--he would have
no object in doing so."
"I quite agree with you," said Inspector Chippenfield. "He would stand
more in the front of the house. The tree in front of the house doesn't
obstruct the view of the window to any extent."
The tree to which Inspector Chippenfield referred was a solitary
chestnut-tree, which grew close to the house a little distance from the
main entrance, and reached to a height of about forty feet. Its branches
were entirely bare of leaves, for the autumn frosts and winds had swept
the foliage away.
Rolfe, who had been watching Crewe's manoeuvres curiously, walked up to
them with the tape in his hand. He glanced at the library window on the
first floor as he reached them.
"Kemp could have seen the library window if he had stood here," he said.
"I should say that if the blind were up it would be possible to see right
into the room."
"What do you say, Chippenfield?" asked Crewe, turning to that officer.
Inspector Chippenfield had taken his stand stolidly on the centre path of
the Italian garden, directly in front of the window of the library.
"I say Kemp is a liar," he replied, knocking the ash off his cigar. "A
d----d liar," he added emphatically. "I don't believe he was here at all
"But if he was here, do you think he saw Sir Horace leaning out of
"I don't see what was to prevent him," was the reply. "But my point is
that he was a liar and that he wasn't here at all."
"And you, Rolfe--do you think Kemp could have seen Sir Horace leaning out
of the window if he had been here?"
"I should say so," remarked Rolfe, in a somewhat puzzled tone.
"I am sorry I cannot agree with either of you," said Crewe. "I think Kemp
was here, but I am sure he couldn't have seen Sir Horace from the window.
Kemp has been up here during the past few days in order to prepare his
evidence, and he's been led astray by a very simple mistake. If a man
were to lean outside the library window now there would not be much
difficulty in identifying him, but when the murder took place it would
have been impossible to see him from any part of the garden or grounds."
"Why?" demanded Inspector Chippenfield.
"Because it was the middle of summer when Sir Horace Fewbanks was
murdered. At that time that chestnut-tree would be in full leaf, and the
foliage would hide the window completely. Look at the number of branches
the tree has! They stretch all over the window and even round the corners
of that unfinished brickwork on the first floor by the side of the
library window. A man could no more see through that tree in summer time
than he could see through a stone wall."
"What did I tell you?" exclaimed Inspector Chippenfield in the voice of a
man whose case had been fully proved. "Didn't I say Kemp was a liar?
We'll call evidence in rebuttal to prove that he is a liar--that he
couldn't have seen the window. And after Holymead is convicted I'll see
if I cannot get a warrant out for Kemp for perjury."
"And yet Kemp did see Sir Horace that night," said Crewe quietly.
"How do you know? What makes you say that?" The inspector was
unpleasantly startled by Crewe's contention.
"He was able to describe accurately how Sir Horace was dressed--for one
thing," responded Crewe.
"He might have got that from Seldon's evidence," said Inspector
Chippenfield thoughtfully. "He may have had some one in court to tell him
what Seldon said."
"You do not think Lethbridge would be a party to such tactics?" said
Crewe. "No, no. One could tell from the way he examined Seldon and Kemp
on the point that it was in his brief."
"But the fact that Kemp knew how Sir Horace was dressed doesn't prove
that he saw Sir Horace after Holymead left the house," said Rolfe. "Kemp
may have seen Sir Horace before Holymead arrived."
"Quite true, Rolfe," said Crewe. "I haven't lost sight of that point. I
think you will agree with me that there is a bit of a mystery here which
wants clearing up."
They drove back to town, and, in accordance with the arrangement Crewe
had made with Mr. Walters before leaving the court, they waited on that
gentleman at his chambers in Lincoln's Inn. There Crewe told him of the
result of their investigations at Riversbrook. Mr. Walters was
professionally pleased at the prospect of destroying the evidence of
Kemp. He was not a hard-hearted man, and personally he would have
preferred to see Holymead acquitted, if that were possible, but as the
prosecuting Counsel he felt a professional satisfaction in being placed
in the position to expose perjured evidence.
"Excellent! excellent!" he exclaimed, rubbing his hands with
gratification as he spoke. "Knowing what we know now, it will be a
comparatively easy task to expose the witness Kemp under
cross-examination, and show his evidence to be false." Mr. Walters looked
as though he relished the prospect.
It was arranged that Inspector Chippenfield should be called to give
evidence in rebuttal as to the impossibility of seeing the library
window through the tree, and that an arboriculturist should also be
called. Mr. Walters agreed to have the expert in attendance at the court
in the morning.
But Crewe had something more on his mind, and he waited until
Chippenfield and Rolfe had taken their departure in order to put his
views before the prosecuting counsel. Then he pointed out to him that to
prove that Kemp's evidence was false was merely to obtain a negative
result. What he wanted was a positive result. In other words, he wanted
Kemp's true story.
"You do not think, then, that Kemp is merely committing perjury in order
to get Holymead off?" asked Walters meditatively. "You think he is hiding
Crewe replied, with his faint, inscrutable smile, that he had no doubt
whatever that such was the case. He thought Kemp's true story might be
obtained if Walters directed his cross-examination to obtaining the truth
instead of merely to exposing falsehood. It was evident to him that Kemp
had come forward in order to save the prisoner. How far was he prepared
to go in carrying out that object? When he was made to realise that his
perjury, instead of helping Holymead, had helped to convince the jury of
the prisoner's guilt, would he tell the true story of how much he knew?
"My own opinion is that he will," continued Crewe. "I studied his face
very closely while he was in the box to-day, and I am convinced he would
go far--even to telling the truth--in order to save the only man who was
ever kind to him."
Walters was slow in coming round to Crewe's point of view. He had a high
opinion of Crewe, for in his association with the case he had realised
how skilfully Crewe had worked out the solution of the Riversbrook
mystery. But he took the view that now the case was before the court it
was entirely a matter for the legal profession to deal with. He pointed
out to Crewe the professional view that his own duty did not extend
beyond the exposure of Kemp's perjury. It was not his duty to give Kemp a
second chance--an opportunity to qualify his evidence. He believed the
defence had called Kemp in the belief that his evidence was true, but the
defence must take the consequences if they built up their case on
perjured evidence which they had not taken the trouble to sift.
Crewe entered into the professional view sympathetically, but he was not
to be turned from his purpose. He felt that too much was at stake, and he
lifted the discussion out of the atmosphere of professional procedure
into that of their common manhood.
"Walters, I know you are not a vain man," he said, earnestly. "A personal
triumph in this case means even less to you than it does to me. I have
built up what I regard as an overwhelming case against Holymead. But it
is based on circumstantial evidence, and I would willingly see the whole
thing toppled over if by that means we could get the final truth. This
man Kemp knows the truth, and you are in a position in which you can get
the truth from him. It may be the last chance anyone will have of getting
it. Apart from all questions of professional procedure, isn't there an
obligation upon you to get at the truth?"
"If you put it that way, I believe there is," replied Walters slowly and
meditatively. There was a pause, and then he spoke with a sudden impulse.
"Yes, Crewe; you can depend on me. I'll do my best."
The public interest in the Holymead trial on the second day was even
greater than on the first. It was realised that Kemp's evidence had
given an unexpected turn to the proceedings, and that if it could be
substantiated the jury's verdict would be "not guilty." There were
confident persons who insisted that Kemp's evidence was sufficient to
acquit the prisoner. But every one grasped the fact that the Counsel
for the prosecution, by his action in applying for an adjournment of
the cross-examination of Kemp, clearly realised that his case was in
danger if the evidence of the first witness for the defence could not
be broken down.
The public appetite for sensation having been whetted by sensational
newspaper reports of the latest phase of the Riversbrook mystery, there
was a great rush of people to the Old Bailey early on the morning of the
second day to witness the final stages of the trial. The queue in Newgate
Street commenced to assemble at daybreak, and grew longer and longer as
the day wore on, but it was composed of persons who did not know that
there was not the slightest possibility of their gaming admittance to
Number One Court. The policeman who was invested with the duty of keeping
the queue close to the wall of the building forbore to break this sad
news to them. Being faithful to the limitations of the official mind, he
believed that the right thing to do was to let the people in the queue
receive this important information from the sergeant inside. How was he
to know without authority from his superior officer that any of these
people wanted to be admitted to Number One Court? So the policeman pared
his nails, gallantly "minding" the places of pretty girls in the queue
who, worn out by hours of waiting in the cold, desired to slip away to a
neighbouring tea-shop to get a cup of tea before the court opened, and
sternly rebuking enterprising youths who endeavoured to wedge themselves
in ahead of their proper place.
The body of the court was packed before the proceedings commenced. The
number of ladies present was even greater than on the first day, and the
resources of the ushers were severely taxed to find accommodation for
them all. In the back row Crewe noticed Mrs. Holymead, accompanied by
Mademoiselle Chiron. They had not been in court on the previous day. Mrs.
Holymead seemed anxious to escape notice, but Crewe could see that
although she looked anxious and distressed, she was buoyed up by a new
hope, which doubtless had come to her since Kemp had given his evidence.
There was an expectant silence in the court when Mr. Justice Hodson took
his seat and the names of the jurymen were called over. Kemp entered the
witness-box with a more confident air than he had worn the previous day.
Mr. Walters rose to begin his cross-examination, and the witness faced
the barrister with the air of an old hand who knew the game, and was not
to be caught by any legal tricks or traps.
"You said yesterday, witness," commenced Mr. Walters, adjusting his
glasses and glancing from his brief to the witness and from the witness
back to the brief again, "that you saw the prisoner enter the gate at
Riversbrook about 9.30 on the night of the 18th of August?"
"Yes." The monosyllable was flung out as insolently as possible. The
speaker watched his interrogator with the lowering eyes of a man at
war with society, and who realised that he was facing one of his
"Did he see you?"
"You are quite sure of that?"
"Haven't I just said so?"
"Do not be insolent, witness"--it was the judge's warning voice that
broke into the cross-examination--"answer the questions."
"How long was it after the prisoner entered the carriage drive that you
went to the edge of the plantation and heard voices upstairs?" continued
"I went as soon as Mr. Holymead passed me."
"How far were you from the house?"
"About sixty yards."
"And from that distance you could hear the voices?"
"Not very. I could hear the voices, but I couldn't hear what they
"Were they angry voices?"
"They seemed to me to be talking loudly."
"Yet you couldn't hear what they were saying?"
"No; I was sixty yards away."
"You said in your evidence in chief that the talking continued half an
hour. Did you time it?"
"Then what made you swear that?"
"I said about half an hour. I smoked out a pipeful of tobacco while I was
standing there, and that would be about half an hour." Kemp disclosed his
broken teeth in a faint grin.
"What happened next?"
"I heard the front door slam, and I saw somebody walking across the
garden, and go into the carriage drive towards the gate."
"Did you recognise who it was?"
"Yes; Mr. Holymead." Kemp looked at the prisoner as he gave the answer.
"You swear it was the prisoner?"
"Let me recall your evidence in chief, witness. You swore that you
identified Mr. Holymead as he went in because he struck a match to look
at the time as he passed you, and you saw his face. Did he strike
matches as he went out?"
"Then how are you able to swear so positively as to his identity in
Kemp considered a moment before replying.
"Because I know him well and I was close to him," he said at length. "I
was close enough to him almost to touch him. I knew him by his walk, and
by the look of him. It was him right enough, I'll swear to that."
"I put it to you, witness," persisted Counsel, "that you could not
positively identify a man in a plantation at that time of night. Do you
still swear it was Mr. Holymead?"
"I do," replied Kemp doggedly.
"What did you do then?"
"I stayed where I was."
"I don't know. I didn't have any particular reason. I just stayed there
"Did you think the prisoner might return?"
"No," replied the witness quickly. "Why should I think that?"
"How long did you stay watching the house?"
"It might be a matter of ten minutes more."
"And the prisoner didn't return during that time?"
"No," replied the witness emphatically.
"What did you do after that?"
"I went to the Tube station."
"Prisoner might have returned after you left?"
"I suppose he might," replied the witness reluctantly.
"Well, now, witness, you say you stayed ten minutes after Holymead left,
and during that time Sir Horace opened the window and leaned out of it?"
"You saw him distinctly?"
"You are sure it was Sir Horace Fewbanks?"
"Now, witness," said Mr. Walters, suddenly changing his tone to one of
more severity than he had previously used, "you have told us that you
heard Sir Horace Fewbanks and the prisoner in the library while you stood
in the wood by the garage, and that subsequently you saw Sir Horace
leaning out of the window after the prisoner had gone. You are quite sure
you were able to see and hear all this from where you stood?"
"Are you aware, witness, that there is a large chestnut-tree at the side
of the library, in front of the window?"
Kemp considered for a moment.
"Yes," he said.
"And did not that tree obstruct your view of the library window?"
"Witness," said Mr. Walters solemnly, "listen to me. This tree did not
obstruct your view when you went to Riversbrook a week or so ago to
decide on the nature of the evidence you would give in this court. It is
bare of leaves now, and you could see the library window and even see
into the library from where you stood. But I put it to you that on the
18th of August, when this tree was covered with its summer foliage, you
could no more have seen the library window behind its branches than you
could have seen the inhabitants of Mars. What answer have you got to
There was a slight stir in court--an expression of the feeling of tension
among the spectators. Kemp drew the back of his hand across his lips,
then moistened his lips with his tongue.
"Come, witness, give me an answer," thundered prosecuting Counsel.
"I tell you I saw him after Mr. Holymead had left," declared Kemp
defiantly. His voice had suddenly become hoarse.
To the surprise of the members of the legal profession who were in
court, Mr. Walters, instead of pressing home his advantage, switched off
to something else.
"I believe you have a feeling of gratitude towards the prisoner?" he
asked, in a milder tone.
"I have," said Kemp. His defiant, insolent attitude had suddenly
vanished, and he gave the impression of a man who feared that every
question contained a trap.
"He did something for a relative of yours which at that time greatly
relieved your mind?"
"He did, and I'll never forget it."
"Well, we won't go further into that at present. But it is a fact that
you would like to do him a good turn?"
"You came here with the intention of doing him a good turn?"
Kemp considered for a moment before answering:
"You came here with the intention of giving evidence that would
get him off?"
"You came here with the intention of committing perjury in order to get
him off?" Mr. Walters waited, but there was no reply to the question, and
he added, "You see what your perjured evidence has done for him?"
"What has it done?" asked Kemp sullenly.
"It has established the prisoner's guilt beyond all reasonable doubt in
the minds of men of common sense. You did not see Sir Horace Fewbanks
that night after the prisoner left him. You could not have seen him even
if he had leaned out of the window. But your whole story is a lie,
because Sir Horace was dead when the prisoner left him."
"He was not," shouted Kemp. "I saw him alive. I saw him as plain as I
see you now."
The man in court who was most fascinated by the witness was Crewe. He
had watched every movement of Kemp's face, every change in the tone of
"I wonder what the fool will say next," whispered Inspector
Chippenfield to Crewe.
"He will tell us how Sir Horace Fewbanks was shot," was Crewe's reply.
Mr. Walters approached a step nearer to the witness-box. "You saw him as
plainly as you see me now?" he repeated.
"Yes," declared Kemp, who, it was evident, was labouring under great
excitement. "You say I came here to commit perjury if it would get him
off." He pointed with a dramatic finger to the man in the dock. "I did.
And I came here to get him off by telling the truth if perjury didn't do
it. You say I've helped to put the rope round his neck. But I'm man
enough to tell the truth. I'll get him off even if I have to swing for
This outburst from the witness-box created a sensation in court. Many of
the spectators stood up in order to get a better view of the witness, and
some of the ladies even jumped on their seats. Mr. Justice Hodson was
momentarily taken aback. His first instinct was to check the witness and
to ask him to be calm, but the witness took no notice of him. He
displayed his judicial authority by an impressive descent of an uplifted
hand which compelled the unruly spectators to resume their seats.
It was on Mr. Walters that Kemp concentrated his attention. It was Mr.
Walters whom he set himself to convince as if he were the man who could
set the prisoner free. Of the rest of the people in court Kemp in his
excitement had become oblivious.
"Listen to me," said Kemp, "and I'll tell you who shot this scoundrel. He
was a scoundrel, I say, and he ought to have been in gaol himself instead
of sending other people there. I went up to the house that night to see
if everything was clear, or whether that cur Hill had laid a trap--that
part of my evidence is true. And from behind a tree in the plantation I
saw Mr. Holymead pass me--he struck a match to look at the time, and I
saw his face distinctly. A few minutes afterwards I heard loud, angry
voices coming from somewhere upstairs in the house. I thought the best
thing I could do was to find out what it was about. I said to myself that
Mr. Holymead might want help. I walked across the garden and found that
the hall door was wide open. I went inside and crept upstairs to the
library. The light in the hall was turned on, as well as a little lamp on
the turn of the staircase behind a marble figure holding some curtains,
which led the way to the library. The library door was open an inch or
two, and I listened.
"I could hear them quite plainly. Mr. Holymead was telling him what he
thought of him. And no wonder. It made my blood boil to think of such a
scoundrel sitting on the bench and sentencing better men than himself. I
thought of the way in which he had killed my girl by giving her five
years. It was the shock that killed her. Five years for stealing
nothing, for she didn't handle the jewels. And here he had been stealing
a man's wife and nothing said except what Mr. Holymead called him. I
stood there listening in case they started to fight, and I might be
wanted. But they didn't.
"I heard Mr. Holymead step towards the door, and I slipped away from
where I had been standing. I saw the door of another room near me, and I
opened it and went in quickly. I closed the door behind me, but I did not
shut it. I looked through the crack and saw Mr. Holymead making his way
downstairs. He walked as if he didn't see anything, and I watched him
till he went through the curtains on the stairs at the bend of the
staircase and I could see him no more.
"Then I heard a step, and looking through the crack I saw the judge
coming out of the library. He walked to the head of the stairs and began
to walk slowly down them. But when he reached the bend where the curtains
and the marble figure were, he turned round and walked up the stairs
again. He walked along as though he was thinking, with his hands behind
his back, and nodding his head a little, and a little cruel, crafty smile
on his face. He passed so close to me that I could have touched him by
putting out my hand, and he went into the library again, leaving the door
open behind him.
"Then suddenly, as I stood there, the thought came over me to go in to
him and tell him what I thought about him. I opened the door softly so as
not to frighten him, and walked out into the passage and into the
library, and as I did so I took my revolver out of my pocket and carried
it in my hand. I wasn't going to shoot him, but I meant to hold him up
while I told him the truth.
"He was standing at the opposite side of the room with his back towards
me and a book in his hand, but a board creaked as I stepped on it, and he
swung round quickly. He was surprised to see me, and no mistake. 'What do
you want here?' he said, in a sharp voice, and I could see by the way he
eyed the revolver that he was frightened. Then I opened out on him and
told him off for the damned scoundrel he was. And he didn't like that
either. He edged away to a corner, but I kept following him round the
room telling him what I thought of him. And seeing him so frightened, I
put the revolver back in my pocket and walked close to him while I told
him all the things I could think of.
"As I thought of my poor girl that he'd killed I grew savage, and I told
him that I had a good mind to break every bone in his body. He threatened
to have me arrested for breaking into the place, but I only laughed and
hit him across the face. He backed away from me with a wicked look in his
eyes, and I followed him. He backed quickly towards the door, and before
I knew what game he was up to be made a dart out of the room. But I was
too quick for him. I got him at the head of the stairs and dragged him
back into the room and shut the door and stood with my back against it.
I told him I hadn't finished with him. I had mastered him so quickly, and
was able to handle him so easily, that I didn't watch him as closely as I
ought to have done. He had backed away to his desk with his hand behind
him, and suddenly he brought it up with a revolver in his hand.
"'Now it's my turn,' he said to me with his cunning smile. Throw up
"I saw then it was man for man. If I let him take me I was in for a
good seven years. I'd sooner be dead than do seven years for him.
'Shoot and be damned,' I said. I ducked as I spoke, and as I ducked I
made a dive with my hand for my hip pocket where I had put my revolver.
He fired and missed. He fired again, but his toy revolver missed fire,
for I heard the hammer click. But that was his last chance. I fired at
his heart and he dropped beside the desk, I didn't wait for anything
more--I bolted. I got tangled in the staircase curtains and fell down
the stairs. As I was falling I thought what a nice trap I would be in
if I broke my leg and had to lie there until the police came. But I
wasn't much hurt and I got up and dashed out of the house and over the
fence into the wood, the way I came."
He stopped, and his gaze wandered round the hushed court till it rested
on the prisoner, who with his hands grasping the rail of the dock had
leaned forward in order to catch every word. Kemp turned his gaze from
the man in the dock to the man in the scarlet robe on the bench, and it
was to the judge that he addressed his concluding words.
"You can call it murder, you can call it manslaughter, you can call it
justifiable homicide, you can call it what you like, but what I say is
that the man you have in the dock had nothing to do with it. It was me
that killed him. Let him go, and put me in his place."
He held his hands outstretched with the wrists together as though waiting
for the handcuffs to be placed on them.
An hour after the trial Crewe entered the chambers of Mr. Walters, K.C.
"I congratulate you on the way you handled him in the witness-box," said
Crewe, who was warmly welcomed by the barrister. "You did splendidly to
get it all out of him--and so dramatically too."
"I think it is you who deserves all the congratulations," replied
Walters. "If it had not been for you there would not have been such a
sensational development at the trial and in all probability Kemp's
evidence would have got Holymead off."
"Yes, I'm glad to think that Holymead would have got off even if I hadn't
seen through Kemp," replied Crewe thoughtfully. "I made a bad mistake in
being so confident that he was the guilty man."
"The completeness of the circumstantial evidence against him was
extraordinary," said Walters, to whom the legal aspects of the case
appealed. "Personally I am inclined to blame Holymead himself for the
predicament in which he was placed. If he had gone to the police after
the murder was discovered, told them the story of his visit to Sir Horace
that night, and invited investigation into the truth of it, all would
have been well."
"No," said Crewe in a voice which indicated a determination not to have
himself absolved at the expense of another. "The fact that he did not do
what he ought to have done does not mitigate my sin of having had the
wrong man arrested. The mistake I made was in not going to see him before
the warrant was taken out. If I had had a quiet talk with him I think I
would have been able to discover a flaw in my case against him. What
made me confident it was flawless was the fact that both his wife and her
French cousin believed him to be guilty. Mademoiselle Chiron followed
Holymead from the country on the 18th of August with the intention of
averting a tragedy. She arrived at Riversbrook too late for that, but in
time to see Sir Horace expire, and naturally she thought that Holymead
had shot him. When Mrs. Holymead realised that I also suspected her
husband and had accumulated some evidence against him, she sent
Mademoiselle Chiron to me with a concocted story of how the murder had
been committed by a more or less mythical husband belonging to
Mademoiselle's past. Ostensibly the reason for the visit of this
extremely clever French girl was to induce me to deal with Rolfe, who had
begun to suspect Mrs. Holymead of some complicity in the crime; but the
real reason was to convince me that I was on the wrong track in
suspecting Holymead. Of course she said nothing to me on that point. She
produced evidence which convinced me that she was in the room when Sir
Horace died, and, as I was quite sure that she believed Holymead to be
guilty, I felt that there could be no doubt whatever of his guilt."
"It is one of the most extraordinary cases on record--one of the most
extraordinary trials," said Walters. "You blame yourself for having had
Holymead arrested but you have more than redeemed yourself by the final
discovery when Kemp was in the witness-box that he was the guilty man.
That was an inspiration."
"Hardly that," said Crewe with a smile. "I knew when he swore that he had
seen Sir Horace leaning out of the library window that he was lying.
After the murder was discovered I inspected the house and grounds
carefully, and one of the first things of which I took a mental note was
the fact that the foliage of the chestnut-tree completely hid the only
window of the library."
"Ah, but there is a difference between knowing Kemp was committing
perjury and knowing that he was the guilty man."
"There is at least a distinct connection between the two facts," said
Crewe, who after his mistake in regard to Holymead was reluctant to
accept any praise. "Kemp's description of the way in which Sir Horace was
dressed showed that he had seen him. The inference that Kemp had been
inside the house was irresistible. Sir Horace had arrived home at 7
o'clock and it was not likely that Kemp would hang about Riversbrook--the
scene of a prospective burglary--until after dark, which at that time of
the year would be about 8.30. He must have seen Sir Horace after dark,
and in order to be able to say how the judge was dressed he must have
seen him at close quarters. The rest was a matter of simple deduction.
Kemp inside the house listening to the angry interview between Holymead
and Fewbanks--Kemp with his hatred of the judge who had killed his
daughter in the dock and with his desire to do Holymead a good turn--I
had previously had proof of that from my boy Joe, whom you have seen.
Besides Kemp fitted into my reconstruction of the tragedy on the vital
question of time. How long did Sir Horace live after being shot? The
medical opinions I was able to obtain on the point varied, but after
sifting them I came to the conclusion that though he might have lived for
half an hour, it was more probable that he had died within ten minutes of
"How is that vital?" asked Walters, who was keenly interested in
understanding how Crewe had arrived at his conviction of Kemp's guilt.
"Holymead's appointment with Sir Horace at Rivers-brook was for 9.30 p.m.
The letter found in Sir Horace's pocket-book fixed that time. It was
exactly 11 p.m. when he got into a taxi at Hyde Park Corner after his
visit to Riversbrook. On that point the driver of the taxi was absolutely
certain. I was so anxious for him to make it 11.30 that I went to see him
twice about it. Assuming that Holymead arrived at Riversbrook at 9.30, I
allowed half an hour for his angry interview with Sir Horace, half an
hour for the walk from Riversbrook to Hampstead Tube station, and half an
hour for the journey from Hampstead to Hyde Park Corner, which would have
involved a change at Leicester Square. As I could not induce the driver
of the taxi to make Holymead's appearance at Hyde Park Corner 11.30
instead of 11, I had to admit that Holymead must have left Riversbrook at
10. But it was 10.30 according to Mademoiselle Chiron when she found Sir
Horace dying on the floor of the library. Therefore if Holymead did the
shooting, the victim's death agonies must have lasted half an hour or
more. Medically that was not impossible, but somewhat improbable. But a
meeting between Kemp and Sir Horace after Holymead had gone filled in the
blank in time. That came home to me yesterday when Kemp was in the
witness-box committing perjury in his determination to get Holymead off.
I take it that the interview between Kemp and his victim lasted about 20
minutes. Therefore Sir Horace was shot about 10.20; certainly before
10.30, for Mademoiselle heard no shots while nearing the house."
"You have worked it out very ingeniously," said Walters. "You must find
the work of crime detection very fascinating. I am afraid that if I had
been in your place--that is if I had known as much about the tragedy as
you do--when Kemp was in the witness-box yesterday, I would not have seen
anything more in his evidence than the fact that he was committing
perjury in order to help Holymead."
"I think you would," said Crewe. "These discoveries come to one naturally
as the result of training one's mind in a particular direction."
"They come to you, but they wouldn't come to me," said Walters with a
smile. "But do you think Kemp's story of how Sir Horace was shot is
literally true? Do you think Sir Horace got in the first shot and then
tried to fire again? If that is so, I don't see how they can hope to
convict Kemp of murder--a jury would not go beyond a verdict of
manslaughter in such a case."
"You handled Kemp so well that he was too excited to tell anything but
the truth," said Crewe. "Sir Horace fired first and missed--the bullet
which Chippenfield removed from the wall of the library shows that--and
he pulled the trigger again but the cartridge which had been in the
revolver for a considerable time, probably for years, missed fire. Here
is a silent witness to the truth of that part of Kemp's story."
Crewe produced from a waistcoat pocket one of the four cartridges he had
removed from the revolver Mademoiselle Chiron had handed to him and he
placed it on the table. On the cap of the cartridge was a mark where the
hammer had struck without exploding the powder.