Part 6 out of 6
Paris, Petersburg, and Vienna. To this careful concealment of our plans,
or of the fact that we are ever in touch with one another, is due the
huge successes we have made from time to time--successes which have
staggered the Bourses of the Continent and caused amazement in Wall
Street. But being unfortunately afflicted as I am, I naturally cannot
travel to meet the others, and, besides, we are compelled always to take
fresh and most elaborate precautions in order to conceal the fact that
we are in connection with each other. If that one fact ever leaked out
it would at once stultify our endeavours and weaken our position. Hence,
at intervals, two or even three of my partners travel here, and I meet
them at night in the little chamber which you, Walter, discovered
to-day, and which until the present has never been found, owing to the
weird fables I have invented regarding the Whispers. To Hetzendorf, too,
once or twice a year, perhaps, the members pay a secret visit in order
to consult the Baron, who, as you perhaps may know, unfortunately enjoys
very precarious health."
"Then meetings of Frohnmeyer, Volkonski, and the rest were held here in
secret sometimes?" echoed Hamilton in surprise.
"On certain occasions, when it is absolutely necessary that I should
meet them," answered Sir Henry. "They stay at the Station Hotel in
Perth, coming over to Auchterarder by the last train at night and
leaving by the first train in the morning from Crieff Junction. They
never approach the house, for fear that servants or one or other of the
guests may recognise them, but go separately along the glen and up the
path to the ruins. When we thus meet, our voices can be heard through
the crack in the roof of the chamber in the courtyard above. On such
occasions I take good care that Stewart and his men are sent on a false
alarm of poachers to another part of the estate, while I can find my way
there myself with my stick," he laughed. "The Baron, I believe, acts on
the same principle at his chateau in Hungary."
"Well," declared Hamilton, "so well has the Baron kept the secret that I
have never had any suspicion until this moment. By Jove! the invention
of the Whispers was certainly a clever mode of preserving the secret,
for nobody cares deliberately to court disaster and death, especially
among a superstitious populace like the villagers here and the Hungarian
Both Gabrielle and her lover expressed their astonishment, the latter
remarking how cleverly the weird legend of the Whispers invented by Sir
Henry had been made to fit historical fact.
* * * * *
When the eight o'clock train from Stirling stopped at Auchterarder
Station that evening, a tall, well-dressed man alighted, and inquired
his way to the police-station. The porter knew by his accent that he was
a Londoner, but did not dream that he was "a gentleman from Scotland
Half an hour later, after a chat with the rural inspector, the pair went
along to the cell behind the small village police-station in order that
the stranger should read over to the prisoner the warrant he had brought
with him from London--the application of the French police for the
arrest and extradition of Felix Gerlach, _alias_ Krail, _alias_ Benoist,
for the wilful murder of Edna Mary Bryant in the Forest of Pontarme,
The inspector had related to the London detective the dramatic scene up
at Glencardine that day, and the officer of the Criminal Investigation
Department walked along to the cell much interested to see what manner
of man was this, who was even more bold and ingenious in his criminal
methods than many with whom his profession brought him daily into
contact. He had hoped that he himself would have the credit of making
the arrest, but found that the man wanted had already been apprehended
on the charge of burglary at Glencardine.
The inspector unlocked the door and threw it open, but next instant the
startling truth became plain.
Felix Krail lay dead upon the flagstones. He had taken his life by
poison--probably the same poison he had placed in the wine at the fatal
picnic--rather than face his accuser and bear his just punishment.
* * * * *
Many months have now passed. A good deal has occurred since that
never-to-be-forgotten day, but it is all quickly related.
James Flockart, unmasked as he has been, never dared to return. The last
heard of him was six months ago, in Honduras, where for the first time
in his life he had been compelled to work for his living, and had, three
weeks after landing, succumbed to fever.
At Sir Henry's urgent request, his wife came back to Glencardine a week
after the tragic end of Gerlach, and was compelled to make full
confession how, under the man's sinister influence, both she and
Flockart had been forced to act. To her husband she proved beyond all
doubt that she had been in complete ignorance of the truth concerning
the affair in the Pontarme Forest until long afterwards. She had at
first believed Gabrielle guilty of the deed, but when she learned the
truth and saw how deeply she had been implicated it was impossible for
her then to withdraw.
With a whole-hearted generosity seldom found in men, Sir Henry, after
long reflection and a desperate struggle with himself, forgave her, and
now has the satisfaction of knowing that she prefers quiet, healthful
Glencardine to the social gaieties of Park Street, Paris, or San Remo,
while she and Gabrielle have lately become devoted to each other.
The secret syndicate, with Sir Henry Heyburn at its head, still
operates, for no word of its existence has leaked out to either
financial circles or to the public, while the Whispers of Glencardine
are still believed in and dreaded by the whole countryside across the
Edgar Hamilton, though compelled to return to the Baron, whose right
hand he is, often travels to Glencardine with confidential messages, and
documents for signature, and is, of course, an ever-welcome guest.
The unpretentious house of Lenard et Morellet of Paris now and then
effects deals so enormous that financial circles are staggered, and the
world stands amazed. The true facts of who is actually behind that
apparently unimportant firm are, however, still rigorously and
Who would ever dream that that quiet, grey-faced man with the sightless
eyes, living far away up in Scotland, passing his hours of darkness with
his old bronze seals or his knitting, was the brain which directed their
marvellously successful operations!
The Laird of Connachan died quite suddenly about seven months ago, and
Walter Murie succeeded to the noble estate. Gabrielle--sweet, almost
child-like in her simple tastes and delightful charm, and more devoted
to Walter than ever--is now little Lady Murie, having been married in
Edinburgh a month ago.
At the moment that I pen these final lines the pair are spending a
blissful honeymoon at the great old chateau of Hetzendorf, high up above
the broad-flowing Danube, the Baron having kindly vacated the place and
put it at their disposal for the summer. Happy in each other's love and
mutual trust, they spend the long blissful days in company, wandering
often hand in hand, for when Walter looks into those wonderful eyes of
hers he sees mirrored there a perfect and abiding affection such as is
indeed given few men to possess.
Together they have in secret explored the ruins of the ancient
stronghold, and, by directions given them by the Baron, have found there
a stone chamber by no means dissimilar to that at Glencardine.
Meanwhile, Sir Henry Heyburn, impatient for his beloved daughter to be
again near him and to assist him, passes his weary hours with his
favourite hobby; his wife, full of sympathy, bearing him company. From
her, however, he still withholds one secret, and one only--the Secret of
the House of Whispers.