Part 5 out of 7
town, and immediately upon coming downstairs went straight to the rack
and pulled on the first things that offered."
It appeared to be a perfect give-a-way. And it was, but it was a
give-a-way which, I feared, threatened Carmel rather than her brother.
Mr. Moffat, still nervous, still avoiding the prisoner's eye,
relentlessly pursued his course, unmindful--wilfully so, it appeared--of
the harm he was doing himself, as well as the witness.
"Mr. Cumberland, were a coat and hat all that you took from that hall?"
"No, I took a key--a key from the bunch which I saw lying on the table."
"Did you recognise this key?"
"What key was it?"
"It belonged to Mr. Ranelagh, and was the key to the club-house
"Where did you put it after taking it up?"
"In my trousers' pocket."
"What did you do then?"
"Went out, of course."
"Without seeing anybody?"
"Of course. Whom should I see?"
It was angrily said, and the flush, which had begun to die away, slowly
made its way back into his cheeks.
"Are you willing to repeat that you saw no one?"
"There was no one."
A lie! All knew it, all felt it. The man was perjuring himself, under his
own counsel's persistent questioning on a point which that counsel had
evidently been warned by him to avoid. I was assured of this by the way
Moffat failed to meet Arthur's eye, as he pressed on hastily, and in a
way to forestall all opposition.
"There are two ways of leaving your house for the city. Which way did
"The shortest. I went through my neighbour's grounds to Huested Street."
"As soon as I could. I don't know what you mean by immediately."
"Didn't you stop at the stable?"
A pause, during which more than one person present sat breathless. These
questions were what might be expected from Mr. Fox in cross-examination.
They seemed totally unsuited to a direct examination at the hands of his
own counsel. What did such an innovation mean?
"Yes, I stopped at the stable."
"What to do?"
"To look at the horses."
"One of them had gone lame. I wanted to see his condition."
"Was it the grey mare?"
Had the defence changed places with the prosecution? It looked like it;
and Arthur looked as if he considered Mr. Moffat guilty of the unheard
of, inexplainable act, of cross-examining his own witness. The situation
was too tempting for Mr. Fox to resist calling additional attention to
it. With an assumption of extreme consideration, he leaned forward and
muttered under his breath to his nearest colleague, but still loud enough
for those about him to hear:
"The prisoner must know that he is not bound to answer questions when
such answers tend to criminate him.".
A lightning glance, shot in his direction, was the eloquent advocate's
But Arthur, nettled into speaking, answered the question put him, in a
loud, quick tone: "It was not the grey mare; but I went up to the grey
mare before going out; I patted her and bade her be a good girl."
"Where was she then?"
"Where she belonged--in her stall."
The tones had sunk; so had the previously lifted head; he no longer
commanded universal sympathy or credence. The effect of his former
avowals was almost gone.
Yet Mr. Moffat could smile. As I noticed this, and recognised the
satisfaction it evinced, my heart went down, in great trouble. This
esteemed advocate, the hero of a hundred cases, was not afraid to have it
known that Arthur had harnessed that mare; he even wanted it known. Why?
There could be but one answer to that--or, so I thought, at the moment.
The next, I did not know what to think; for he failed to pursue this
subject, and simply asked Arthur if, upon leaving, he had locked the
"Yes--no,--I don't remember," was the bungling, and greatly
Mr. Moffat glanced at the jury, the smile still on his lips. Did he wish
to impress that body with the embarrassment of his client?
"Relate what followed. I am sure the jury will be glad to hear your story
from your own lips."
"It's a beastly one, but if I've got to tell it, here it is: I went
straight down to Cuthbert Road and across the fields to the club-house. I
had not taken the key to the front door, because I knew of a window I
could shake loose. I did this and went immediately down to the
wine-vault. I used an electric torch of my own for light. I pulled out
several bottles, and carried them up into the kitchen, meaning to light
the gas, kindle a fire, and have a good time generally. But I soon found
that I must do without light if I stayed there. The meter had been taken
out; and to drink by the flash of an electric torch was anything but a
pleasing prospect. Besides--" here he flashed at his counsel a glance,
which for a moment took that gentleman aback--"I had heard certain vague
sounds in the house which alarmed me, as well as roused my curiosity.
Choosing the bottle I liked best, I went to investigate these sounds."
Mr. Moffat started. His witness was having his revenge. Kept in
ignorance of his counsel's plan of defence, he was evidently advancing
testimony new to that counsel. I had not thought the lad so subtle, and
quaked in secret contemplation of the consequences. So did some others;
but the interest was intense. He had heard sounds--he acknowledged it.
But what sounds?
Observing the excitement he had caused, and gratified, perhaps, that he
had succeeded in driving that faint but unwelcome smile from Mr. Moffat's
lips, Arthur hastened to add:
"But I did not complete my investigations. Arrived at the top of the
stairs, I heard what drove me from the house at once. It was my sister's
voice--Adelaide's. She was in the building, and I stood almost on a
level with her, with a bottle in my pocket. It did not take me a minute
to clamber through the window. I did not stop to wonder, or ask why she
was there, or to whom she was speaking. I just fled and made my way as
well as I could across the golf-links to a little hotel on Cuthbert Road,
where I had been once before. There I emptied my bottle, and was so
overcome by it that I did not return home till noon the next day. It was
on the way to the Hill that I was told of the awful occurrence which had
taken place in the club-house after I had left it. That sobered me. I
have been sober ever since."
Mr. Moffat's smile came back. One might have said that he had been rather
pleased than otherwise by the introduction of this unexpected testimony.
But I doubt if any one but myself witnessed this evidence of
good-humour on his part. Arthur's attitude and Arthur's manner had
drawn all eyes to himself. As the last words I have recorded left his
lips, he had raised his head and confronted the jury with a
straightforward gaze. The sturdiness and immobility of his aspect were
impressive, in spite of his plain features and the still unmistakable
signs of long cherished discontent and habitual dissipation. He had
struck bottom with his feet, and there he would stand,--or so I
thought as I levelled my own glances at him.
But I had not fully sounded all of Alonzo Moffat's resources. That
inscrutable lawyer and not-easily-to-be-understood man seemed determined
to mar every good impression his unfortunate client managed to make.
Ignoring the new facts just given, undoubtedly thinking that they would
be amply sifted in the coming cross-examination, he drew the attention of
the prisoner to himself by the following question:
"Will you tell us again how many bottles of wine you took from the
"One. No--I'm not sure about that--I'm not sure of anything. I had only
one when at the inn in Cuthbert Road."
"You remember but one?"
"I had but one. One was enough. I had trouble in carrying that."
"Was the ground slippery?"
"It was snowy and it was uneven. I stumbled more than once in crossing
"Mr. Cumberland, is there anything you would like to say in your own
defence before I close this examination?"
The prisoner thus appealed to, let his eye rest for a moment on the
judge, then on the jury, and finally on one little white face lifted from
the crowd before him as if to meet and absorb his look. Then he
straightened himself, and in a quiet and perfectly natural voice, uttered
these simple words:
"Nothing but this: I am innocent."
THE SYLLABLE OF DOOM
On a great ship lightning-split,
And speeded hither on the sigh
Of one who gave an enemy
His plank, then plunged aside to die.
Recess followed. Clifton and I had the opportunity of exchanging a few
words. He was voluble; I was reticent. I felt obliged to hide from him
the true cause of the deep agitation under which I was labouring.
Attached as he was to me, keenly as he must have felt my anomalous
position, he was too full of Moffat's unwarrantable introduction of
testimony damaging to his client, to think or talk of anything else.
"He has laid him open to attack on every side. Fox has but to follow his
lead, and the thing is done. Poor Arthur may be guilty, but he certainly
should have every chance a careful lawyer could give him. You can see--he
makes it very evident--that he has no further use for Moffat. I wonder
under whose advice he chose him for his counsel. I have never thought
much of Moffat, myself. He wins his cases but--"
"He will win this," I muttered.
Clifton started; looked at me very closely for a minute, paled a
little--I fear that I was very pale myself--but did not ask the question
rising to his lips.
"There is method in the madness of a man like that," I pursued with a
gloom I could not entirely conceal. "He has come upon some evidence which
he has not even communicated to his client. At least, I fear so. We must
be prepared for any untoward event." Then, noticing Clifton's alarm and
wishing to confine it within safe bounds, I added: "I feel that I am
almost as much on trial as Arthur himself. Naturally I am anxious at the
appearance of anything I do not understand."
Clifton frowned. We were quite alone. Leaning forward, he touched my arm.
"Elwood," said he, "you've not been quite open with me."
I smiled. If half the bitterness and sorrow in my heart went into that
smile, it must have been a sad and bitter one indeed.
"You have a right to reproach me," said I, "but not wholly. I did not
deceive you in essentials. You may still believe me as guiltless of
Adelaide's violent death as a man can be who drove her and hers into
misery which death alone could end."
"I will believe it," he muttered, "I must." And he dropped the subject,
as he made me see, forever.
I drew a deep breath of relief. I had come very near to revealing
When we returned to the court-room, we found it already packed with a
very subdued and breathless crowd. It differed somewhat from the one
which had faced us in the morning; but Ella and her parents were
there and many others of the acknowledged friends of the accused and
of his family.
He, himself, wore the heavy and dogged air which became him least.
Physically refreshed, he carried himself boldly, but it was a boldness
which convinced me that any talk he may have had with his lawyer, had
been no more productive of comfort than the one I had held with mine.
As he took the witness chair, and prepared to meet the cross-examination
of the district attorney, a solemn hush settled upon the room. Would the
coming ordeal rob his brow of its present effrontery, or would he
continue to bear himself with the same surly dignity, which,
misunderstood as it was, produced its own effect, and at certain moments
seemed to shake even the confidence of Mr. Fox, settled as he seemed to
be in his belief in the integrity of his cause and the rights of the
Shaken or not, his attack was stern, swift, and to the point.
"Was the visit you made to the wine-vault on the evening of the second of
December, the first one you had ever paid there?"
"No; I had been there once before. But I always paid for my
depredations," he added, proudly.
"The categorical answer, Mr. Cumberland. Anything else is superfluous."
Arthur's lip curled, but only for an instant; and nothing could have
exceeded the impassiveness of his manner as Mr. Fox went on.
"Then you knew the way?"
"And the lock?"
"Sufficiently well to open it without difficulty."
"How long do you think you were in entering the house and procuring
"I cannot say. I have no means of knowing; I never thought of looking at
"Not when you started? Not when you left Cuthbert Road?"
"But you know when you left the club-house to go back?"
"Only by this--it had not yet begun to snow. I'm told that the first
flakes fell that night at ten minutes to eleven. I was on the golf-links
when this happened. You can fix the time yourself. Pardon me," he added,
with decided ill-grace as he met Mr. Fox's frown. "I forgot your
Mr. Fox smiled an acrid smile, as he asked: "Whereabouts on the
golf-links? They extend for some distance, you remember."
"They are six hundred yards across from first tee to the third hole,
which is the nearest one to Cuthbert Road," Arthur particularised. "I
was--no, I can't tell you just where I was at that moment. It was a good
ways from the house. The snow came on very fiercely. For a little while I
could not see my way."
"How, not see your way?"
"The snow flew into my eyes."
"Crossing the links?"
"Yes, sir, crossing the links."
"But the storm came from the west. It should have beaten against
"Back or front, it bothered me. I could not get on as fast as I wished."
Mr. Fox cast a look at the jury. Did they remember the testimony of the
landlord that Mr. Cumberland's coat was as thickly plastered with snow on
the front as it had been on the back. He seemed to gather that they did,
for he went on at once to say:
"You are accustomed to the links? You have crossed them often?"
"Yes, I play golf there all summer."
"I'm not alluding to the times when you play. I mean to ask whether or
not you had ever before crossed them directly to Cuthbert Road?"
"Yes, I had."
"In a storm?"
"No, not in a storm."
"How long did it take you that time to reach Cuthbert Road from The
Mr. Moffat bounded to his feet, but the prisoner had answered before he
"Just fifteen minutes."
"How came you to know the time so exactly?"
"Because that day I did look at my watch. I had an engagement in
the lower town, and had only twenty minutes in which to keep it. I
was on time."
Honest at the core. This boy was growing rapidly in my favour. But this
frank but unwise answer was not pleasing to his counsel, who would have
advised, no doubt, a more general and less precise reply. However, it
had been made and Moffat was not a man to cry over spilled milk. He did
not even wince when the district attorney proceeded to elicit from the
prisoner that he was a good walker, not afraid in the least of
snow-storms and had often walked, in the teeth of the gale twice that
distance in less than half an hour. Now, as the storm that night had
been at his back, and he was in a hurry to reach his destination, it
was evidently incumbent upon him to explain how he had managed to use
up the intervening time of forty minutes before entering the hotel at
"Did you stop in the midst of the storm to take a drink?" asked the
As the testimony of the landlord in Cuthbert Road had been explicit as
to the fact of his having himself uncorked the bottle which the prisoner
had brought into the hotel, Arthur could not plead yes. He must say no,
and he did.
"I drank nothing; I was too busy thinking. I was so busy thinking I
wandered all over those links."
"In the blinding snow?"
"Yes, in the snow. What did I care for the snow? I did not understand my
sister being in the club-house. I did not like it; I was tempted at times
to go back."
"And why didn't you?"
"Because I was more of a brute than a brother--because Cuthbert Road drew
me in spite of myself--because--" He stopped with the first hint of
emotion we had seen in him since the morning. "I did not know what was
going on there or I should have gone back," he flashed out, with a
defiant look at his counsel.
Again sympathy was with him. Mr. Fox had won but little in this first
attempt. He seemed to realise this, and shifted his attack to a point
"When you heard your sister's voice in the club-house, how did you think
she had got into the building?"
"By means of the keys Ranelagh had left at the house."
"When, instead of taking the whole bunch, you took the one key you wanted
from the ring, did you do so with any idea she might want to make use of
"No, I never thought of it. I never thought of her at all."
"You took your one key, and let the rest lie?"
"You've said it."
"Was this before or after you put on your overcoat?"
"I'm not sure; after, I think. Yes, it was after; for I remember that I
had a deuce of a time unbuttoning my coat to get at my trousers' pocket."
"You dropped this key into your trousers' pocket?"
"Mr. Cumberland, let me ask you to fix your memory on the moments you
spent in the hall. Did you put on your hat before you pocketed the key,
"My hat? How can I tell? My mind wasn't on my hat. I don't know when I
put it on."
"You absolutely do not remember?"
"Nor where you took it from?"
"Whether you saw the keys first, and then went for your hat; or having
pocketed the key, waited--"
"I did not wait."
"Did not stand by the table thinking?"
"No, I was in too much of a hurry."
"So that you went straight out?"
"Yes, as quickly as I could."
The district attorney paused, to be sure of the attention of the jury.
When he saw that every eye of that now thoroughly aroused body was on
him, he proceeded to ask: "Does that mean immediately, or as soon as you
could after you had made certain preparations, or held certain talk with
some one you called, or who called to you?"
"I called to nobody. I--I went out immediately."
It was evident that he lied; evident, too, that he had little hope from
his lie. Uneasiness was taking the place of confidence in his youthful,
untried, undisciplined mind. Carmel had spoken to him in the hall--I
guessed it then, I knew it afterward--and he thought to deceive this
court and blindfold a jury, whose attention had been drawn to this point
by his own counsel.
District Attorney Fox smiled. "How then did you get into the stable?"
"The stable! Oh, I had no trouble in getting into the stable."
"Was it unlocked?"
A slow flush broke over the prisoner's whole face. He saw where he had
been landed and took a minute to pull himself together before he replied:
"I had the key to that door, too. I got it out of the kitchen."
"You have not spoken of going into the kitchen."
"I have not spoken of coming downstairs."
"You went into the kitchen?"
"When I first came down."
"That is not in accordance with your direct testimony. On the contrary,
you said that on coming downstairs you went straight to the rack for your
overcoat. Stenographer read what the prisoner said on this topic."
A rustling of leaves, distinctly to be heard in the deathlike silence of
the room, was followed by the reading of this reply and answer:
"_Yet you cannot say which of these two overcoats you put on when you
left your home an hour or so after finishing your dinner?_"
"_I cannot. I was in no condition to notice. I was bent on going into
town and, on coming downstairs, I went straight to the rack and pulled on
the first things that offered._"
The prisoner stood immobile but with a deepening line gathering on
his brow until the last word fell. Then he said: "I forgot. I went
for the key before I put on my overcoat. I wanted to see how the sick
"Did you drop this key into your pocket, too?"
"No, I carried it into the hall."
"What did you do with it there?"
"I don't know. Put it on the table, I suppose."
"Don't you remember? There were other keys lying on this table. Don't you
remember what you did with the one in your hand while you took the
club-house key from the midst of Mr. Ranelagh's bunch?"
"I laid it on the table. I must have--there was no other place to put
"Laid it down by itself?"
"And took it up when you went out?"
"Carrying it straight to the stable?"
"What did you do with it when you came out?"
"I left it in the stable-door."
"You did? What excuse have you to give for that?"
"None. I was reckless, and didn't care for anything--that's all."
"Yet you took several minutes, for all your hurry and your indifference,
to get the stable key and look in at a horse that wasn't sick enough to
keep your coachman home from a dance."
The prisoner was silent.
"You have no further explanation to give on this subject?"
"No. All fellows who love horses will understand."
The district attorney shrugged this answer away before he went on to say:
"You have listened to Zadok Brown's testimony. When he returned at three,
he found the stable-door locked, and the key hanging up on its usual nail
in the kitchen. How do you account for this?"
"There are two ways."
"Mention them, if you please."
"Zadok had been to a dance, and may not have been quite clear as to what
he saw. Or, finding the stable door open, may have blamed himself for the
fact and sought to cover up his fault with a lie."
"Have you ever caught him in a lie?"
"No; but there's always a first time."
"You would impeach his testimony then?"
"No. You asked me how this discrepancy could be explained, and I have
tried to show you."
"Mr. Cumberland, the grey mare was out that night; this has been
"If you believe Zadok, yes."
"You have heard other testimony corroborative of this fact. She was seen
on the club-house road that night, by a person amply qualified to
"So I've been told."
"The person driving this horse wore a hat, identified as an old one of
yours, which hat was afterwards found at your house on a remote peg in a
seldom-used closet. If you were not this person, how can you explain the
use of your horse, the use of your clothes, the locking of the
stable-door--which you declare yourself to have left open--and the
hanging up of the key on its own nail?"
It was a crucial question--how crucial no one knew but our two selves. If
he answered at all, he must compromise Carmel. I had no fear of his doing
this, but I had great fear of what Ella might do if he let this
implication stand and made no effort to exonerate himself by denying his
presence in the cutter, and consequent return to the Cumberland home. The
quick side glances I here observed cast in her direction by both father
and mother, showed that she had made some impulsive demonstration visible
to them, if not to others and fearful of the consequences if I did not
make some effort to hold her in check, I kept my eyes in her direction,
and so lost Arthur's look and the look of his counsel as he answered,
with just the word I had expected--a short and dogged:
"I cannot explain."
It was my death warrant. I realised this even while I held Ella's eye
with mine and smoothed my countenance to meet the anguish in hers, in the
effort to hold her back for a few minutes longer till I could quite
satisfy myself that Arthur's case was really lost and that I must speak
or feel myself his murderer.
The gloom which followed this recognition of his inability, real or
fancied, to explain away the most damning feature of the case against
him, taken with his own contradictions and growing despondency, could not
escape my eye, accustomed as I was to the habitual expression of most
every person there. But it was not yet the impenetrable gloom presaging
conviction; and directing Ella's gaze towards Mr. Moffat, who seemed but
little disturbed either by Mr. Fox's satisfaction or the prisoner's open
despair, I took heart of grace and waited for the district attorney's
next move. It was a fatal one. I began to recognise this very soon,
simple as was the subject he now introduced.
"When you went into the kitchen, Mr. Cumberland, to get the stable-door
key, was the gas lit, or did you have to light it?"
"It--it was lit, I think."
"Don't you know?"
"It was lit, but turned low. I could see well enough."
"Why, then, didn't you take both keys?"
"You have said you went down town by the short cut through your
neighbour's yard. That cut is guarded by a door, which was locked that
night. You needed the key to that door more than the one to the stable.
Why didn't you take it?"
"You haven't said so."
"I--I took it when I took the other."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes; they both hung on one nail. I grabbed them both at the same time."
"It does not appear so in your testimony. You mentioned a key, not keys,
in all your answers to my questions."
"There were two; I didn't weigh my words. I needed both and I took both."
"Which of the two hung foremost?"
"I didn't notice."
"You took both?"
"Yes, I took both."
"And went straight out with them?"
"Yes, to the stable."
"And then where?"
"Through the adjoining grounds downtown."
"You are sure you went through Mr. Fulton's grounds at this early hour in
"I am positive."
"Was it not at a later hour, much later, a little before eleven instead
of a little before nine?"
"No, sir. I was on the golf-links then."
"But some one drove into the stable."
"So you say."
"Unharnessed the horse, drew up the cutter, locked the stable-door, and,
entering the house, hung up the key where it belonged."
No answer this time.
"Mr. Cumberland, you admitted in your direct examination that you took
with you out of the clubhouse only one bottle of the especial brand you
favoured, although you carried up two into the kitchen?"
"No, I said that I only had one when I got to Cuthbert Road. I don't
remember anything about the other."
"But you know where the other--or rather remnants of the other,
"In my own stable, taken there by my man Zadok Brown, who says he picked
it out of one of our waste barrels."
"This is the part of bottle referred to. Do you recognise the label still
adhering to it as similar to the one to be found on the bottle you
emptied in Cuthbert Road?"
"It is like that one."
"Had you carried that other bottle off, and had it been broken as this
has been broken would it not have presented an exactly similar
appearance to this?"
"It would have looked the same. I cannot deny it. What's the use
"Mr. Cumberland, the only two bottles known to contain this especial
brand of wine were in the clubhouse at ten o'clock that night. How came
one of them to get into the barrel outside your stable before your return
the next day?"
"I cannot say."
"This barrel stood where?"
"In the passage behind the stable."
"The passage you pass through on your way to the door leading into your
The dreaded moment had come. This "Yes" had no sooner left Arthur's lips
than I saw Ella throw out her innocent arms, and leap impetuously to her
feet, with a loud "No, no, I can tell--"
She did not say what, for at the hubbub roused by this outbreak in open
court, she fainted dead away and was carried out in her dismayed
This necessarily caused a break in the proceedings. Mr. Fox suspended his
cross-examination and in a few minutes more, the judge adjourned the
court. As the prisoner rose and turned to pass out, I cast him a hurried
glance to see what effect had been made upon him by this ingenuous
outburst from one he had possibly just a little depreciated. A great one,
evidently. His features were transformed, and he seemed almost as
oblivious of the countless eyes upon him as she had been when she rose to
testify for him in her self-forgetful enthusiasm. As I observed this and
the satisfaction with which Mr. Moffat scented this new witness,--a
satisfaction which promised little consideration for her if she ever came
upon the stand--I surrendered to fate.
Inwardly committing Carmel's future to the God who made her and who knew
better than we the story of her life and what her fiery temper had cost
her, I drew a piece of paper from my pocket, and, while the courtroom was
slowly emptying, hastily addressed the following lines to Mr. Moffat who
had lingered to have a few words with his colleague:
"There is a witness in this building who can testify more clearly and
definitely than Miss Fulton, that Arthur Cumberland, for all we have
heard in seeming contradiction to the same, might have been on the
golf-links at the time he swears to. That witness is myself.
The time which elapsed between my passing over this note and his
receiving and reading it, was to me like the last few moments of a
condemned criminal. How gladly would I have changed places with Arthur,
and with what sensations of despair I saw flitting before me in my mind's
eye, the various visions of Carmel's loveliness which had charmed me out
of myself. But the die had been cast, and I was ready to meet the
surprised lawyer's look when his eve rose from the words I had written
and settled steadily on my face. Next minute he was writing busily and in
a second later I was reading these words:
"Do you absolutely wish to be recalled as a witness, and by the
My answer was brief:
"I do. Not to make a confession of crime. I have no such confession to
make. But I know who drove that horse. R."
I had sacrificed Carmel to my sense of right. Never had I loved her as I
did at that moment.
I see your end,
'T is my undoing.
_King Henry VIII_.
A turning-point had been reached in the defence. That every one knew
after the first glance at Mr. Moffat, on the opening of the next
morning's session. As I noted the excitement which this occasioned even
in quarters where self-control is usually most marked and such emotions
suppressed, I marvelled at the subtle influence of one man's expectancy,
and the powerful effect which can be produced on a feverish crowd by a
well-ordered silence suggestive of coming action.
I, who knew the basis of this expectancy and the nature of the action
with which Mr. Moffat anticipated startling the court, was the quietest
person present. Since it was my hand and none other which must give this
fresh turn to the wheel of justice, it were well for me to do it calmly
and without any of the old maddening throb of heart. But the time seemed
long before Arthur was released from further cross-examination, and the
opportunity given Mr. Moffat to call his next witness.
Something in the attitude he now took, something in the way he bent over
his client and whispered a few admonitory words, and still more the
emotion with which these words were received and answered by some
extraordinary protest, aroused expectation to a still greater pitch, and
made my course seem even more painful to myself than I had foreseen when
dreaming over and weighing the possibilities of this hour. With something
like terror, I awaited the calling of my name; and, when it was delayed,
it was with emotions inexplicable to myself that I looked up and saw Mr.
Moffat holding open a door at the left of the judge, with that attitude
of respect, which a man only assumes in the presence and under the
dominating influence of woman.
"Ella!" thought I. "Instead of saving her by my contemplated sacrifice of
Carmel, I have only added one sacrifice to another."
But when the timid faltering step we could faintly hear crossing the room
beyond, had brought its possessor within sight, and I perceived the tall,
black-robed, heavily veiled woman who reached for Mr. Moffat's sustaining
arm, I did not need the startling picture of the prisoner, standing
upright, with outheld and repellant hands, to realise that the impossible
had happened, and that all which he, as well as I, had done and left
undone, suffered and suppressed, had been in vain.
Mr. Moffat, with no eye for him or for me, conducted his witness to a
chair; then, as she loosened her veil and let it drop in her lap, he
cried in tones which rang from end to end of the court-room: "I summon
Carmel Cumberland to the stand, to witness in her brother's defence."
The surprise was complete. It was a great moment for Mr. Moffat; but for
me all was confusion, dread, a veil of misty darkness, through which
shone her face, marred by its ineffaceable scar, but calm as I had never
expected to see it again in this life, and beautiful with a smile under
which her deeply shaken and hardly conscious brother sank slowly back
into his seat, amid a silence as profound as the hold she had immediately
taken upon all hearts.
"WHERE IS MY BROTHER?"
Let me see the writing.
My lord, 't is nothing.
No matter, then, who sees it;
I will be satisfied, let me see the writing.
What is the explanation of Carmel's reappearance in town and of this
sensational introduction of her into the court-room, in a restored
state of health of which no one, so far as known, had had any
intimation save the man who was responsible for her appearance? The
particulars are due you.
She had passed some weeks at Lakewood, under the eye of the nurse who was
detailed to watch, as well as tend her. During these weeks she gave no
sign of improvement mentally, though she constantly gained strength
otherwise, and impressed everybody with the clear light in her eye and
the absence of everything suggestive of gloom in her expression and
language. There was the same complete loss of memory up to the time of
the tragic occurrence which had desolated her home; the same harping at
odd moments on Adelaide's happiness and her own prospect of seeing this
dear sister very soon which had marked the opening days of her
convalescence. But beyond and back of all this was some secret joy,
unintelligible to the nurse, which helped rather than retarded the sick
girl's recovery, and made Carmel appear at times as if she walked on air
and breathed the very breath of Paradise--an anomaly which not only
roused Miss Unwin's curiosity, but led her to regard with something like
apprehension, any change in her patient's state of mind which would rob
her of the strange and unseen delights which fed her secret soul and made
her oblivious of the awful facts awaiting a restored memory.
Meanwhile Carmel was allowed such liberty as her condition required; but
was never left alone for a moment after a certain day when her eye
suddenly took on a strange look of confused inquiry, totally dissociated
with anything she saw or heard. A stir had taken place in her brain, and
her nurse wanted to take her back home. But this awakening--if such it
could be called, was so short in its duration and was followed so
immediately by a string of innocent questions about Adelaide, that Nurse
Unwin concluded to remain a few days longer before risking this
delicately balanced mind amid old scenes and the curious glances of her
Alas! the awakening was to take place in Lakewood and under
circumstances of the most ordinary nature. Carmel had been out and was
just crossing the hall of her hotel to the elevator, when she stopped
with a violent start and clutching the air, was caught by her nurse who
had hurried up at the first intimation of anything unusual in the
condition of her patient.
The cause of this agitation was immediately apparent. Near them sat two
ladies, each with a small wine-glass in her hand. One was drinking, the
other waiting and watching, but with every apparent intention of drinking
when the other had ceased. A common sight enough, but it worked a
revolution in Carmel's darkened mind. The light of youthful joyousness
fled from her face; and the cheek, just pulsing softly with new life,
blanched to the death-like hue of mortal suffering. Dropping her eyes
from the women, who saw nothing and continued to sip their wine in happy
ignorance of the soul-tragedy going on within ten feet of them, she
looked down at her dress, then up at the walls about her; and then
slowly, anxiously, and with unmistakable terror, at the woman in whose
arms she felt herself supported.
"Explain," she murmured. "Where am I?"
"At Lakewood, in a hotel. You have been ill, and are only just
Her hand went up to her cheek, the one that had been burned, and still
showed the deep traces of that accident.
"I remember," said she. Then with another glance at her dress, which had
studiously been kept cheerful, she remarked, with deep reproach: "My
sister is dead; why am I not in black?"
The nurse, realising her responsibility (she said afterwards that it was
the most serious moment of her life), subdued her own astonishment at
this proof of her young patient's knowledge of a crime of which she was
universally supposed to be entirely ignorant, and, bestowing a reassuring
smile on the agitated girl, observed softly:
"You wore too ill to be burdened with black. You are better now and may
assume it if you will. I will help you buy your mourning."
"Yes, you look like a kind woman. What is your name, please, and are we
here alone in this great hotel?"
Now, as a matter of expediency--to save Carmel from the unendurable
curiosity of the crowd, and herself from the importunities of the New
York reporters, Miss Unwin had registered herself and her charge under
assumed names. She was, therefore, forced to reply:
"My name is Huckins, and we are here alone. But that need not worry you.
I have watched over you night and day for many weeks."
"You have? Because of this slight burn?" Again Carmel's hand went to
"Not on account of that only. You have had a serious illness quite apart
from that injury. But you are better; you are almost well--well enough to
go home, if you will."
"I cannot go home--not just yet. I'm--I'm not strong enough. But we
shouldn't be here alone without some man to look after us. Miss Huckins,
_where is my brother_?"
At this question, uttered with emphasis, with anxiety--with indignation
even--Miss Unwin felt the emotion she had so successfully subdued up to
this moment, betray itself in her voice as she answered, with a quiet
motion towards the elevator: "Let us go up to our room. There I will
answer all your questions."
But Carmel, with the waywardness of her years--or perhaps, with deeper
reasoning powers than the other would be apt to attribute to her--broke
softly away from Miss Unwin's detaining hand, and walking directly into
the office, looked about for the newspaper stand. Miss Unwin,
over-anxious not to make a scene, followed, but did not seek to deter
her, until they were once again by themselves in the centre of the room.
Then she ventured to speak again:
"We have all the papers in our room. Come up, and let me read them to
But Fate was making ready its great stroke. Just as Carmel seemed about
to yield to this persuasion, some lingering doubt drew her eyes again to
the stand, just at the very moment a boy stepped into view with the
evening bulletin, on which had just been written these words:
The Last Juror Obtained in the Trial of Arthur Cumberland for the Murder
of His Sister, Adelaide.
Carmel saw, and stood--a breathless image of horror. A couple of
gentlemen came running; but the nurse waved them back, and herself caught
Carmel and upheld her, in momentary dread of another mental, if not
But Carmel had come back into the world of consciousness to stay.
Accepting her nurse's support, but giving no sign of waning faculties or
imperfect understanding of what she had seen, she spoke quite clearly and
with her eyes fixed upon Miss Unwin:
"So that is why I am here, away from all my friends. Was I too ill to be
told? Couldn't you make me know what was happening? You or the doctors
"You were much too ill," protested the nurse, leading her towards the
elevator and so by degrees to her room. "I tried to arouse you after the
crisis of your illness had passed; but you seemed to have forgotten
everything which took place that night and the doctors warned me not to
"And Arthur--poor Arthur, has been the sufferer! Tell me the whole story.
I can bear it," she pleaded. "I can bear anything but not knowing. Why
should he have fallen under suspicion? He was not even there. I must go
to him! Pack up our clothing, Miss Huckins. I must go to him at once."
They were in their own room now, and Carmel was standing quite by herself
in the full light of the setting sun. With the utterance of this
determination, she had turned upon her companion; and that astute and
experienced woman had every opportunity for observing her face. There was
a woman's resolution in it. With the sudden rending of the clouds which
had obscured her intellect, strange powers had awakened in this young
girl, giving her a force of expression which, in connection with her
inextinguishable beauty, formed a spectacle before which this older
woman, in spite of her long experience, hesitated in doubt.
"You shall go--" began the nurse, and stopped.
Carmel was not listening. Another change of thought had come, and her
features, as keenly alive now to every passing emotion as they had
formerly been set in a dull placidity, mirrored doubts of her own, which
had a deeper source than any which had disturbed the nurse, even in
these moments of serious perplexity.
"How can I?" fell in unconscious betrayal from her lips. "How can I!"
Then she stood silent, ghastly with lack of colour one minute, and rosy
red with its excess the next, until it was hard to tell in which extreme
her feeling spoke most truly.
What was the feeling? Nurse Unwin felt it imperative to know. Relying on
the confidence shown her by this unfortunate girl, in her lonely position
and unbearable distress, she approached Carmel, with renewed offers of
help and such expressions of sympathy as she thought might lure her into
But discretion had come with fear, and Carmel, while not disdaining the
other's kindness, instantly made it apparent that, whatever her burden,
and however unsuited it was to her present weak condition, it was not one
she felt willing to share.
"I must think," she murmured, as she finally followed the nurse's lead
and seated herself on a lounge. "Arthur on trial for his life! _Arthur on
trial for his life!_ And Adelaide was not even murdered!"
"No?" gasped the nurse, intent on every word this long-silenced
witness let fall.
"Had he no friend? Was there not some one to understand? Adelaide--" here
her head fell till her face was lost to sight--"had--a--lover--"
"Yes. Mr. Elwood Ranelagh. He was the first to be arrested for the
The soul in Carmel seemed to vanish at this word. The eyes, which had
been so far-seeing the moment before, grew blank, and the lithe young
body stiff with that death in life which is almost worse to look upon
than death itself. She did not speak; but presently she arose, as an
automaton might arise at the touch of some invisible spring, and so
stood, staring, until the nurse, frightened at the result of her words
and the complete overthrow which might follow them, sprang for a
newspaper and thrust it into her patient's unwilling hand.
Was it too late? For a minute it seemed to be so; then the stony eyes
softened and fell, the rigidity of her frame relaxed, and Carmel sank
back again on the sofa and tried to read the headlines on the open sheet
before her. But her eyes were unequal to the task. With a sob she dropped
the paper and entreated the nurse to relate to her from her own
knowledge, all that had passed, sparing her nothing that would make the
situation perfectly clear to one who had been asleep during the worst
crisis of her life.
Miss Unwin complied, but with reservations. She told of Adelaide having
been found dead at The Whispering Pines by the police, whom she had
evidently summoned during a moment of struggle or fear; of Ranelagh's
presence there, and of the suspicions to which it gave rise; of his
denial of the crime; of his strange reticence on certain points, which
served to keep him incarcerated till a New York detective got to work and
found so much evidence against her brother that Mr. Ranelagh was
subsequently released and Arthur Cumberland indicted. But she said
nothing about the marks on Adelaide's throat, or of the special reason
which the police had for arresting Mr. Ranelagh. She did not dare.
Strangulation was a horrible death to contemplate; and if this factor in
the crime--she was not deceived by Carmel's exclamation that there had
been no murder--was unknown as yet to her patient, as it must be from
what she had said, and the absolute impossibility, as she thought, of her
having known what went on in The Whispering Pines, then it had better
remain unknown to her until circumstances forced it on her knowledge, or
she had gotten sufficient strength to bear it.
Carmel received the account well. She started when she heard of the
discovery of Ranelagh in the club-house on the entrance of the police,
and seemed disposed to ask some questions. But though the nurse gave her
an opportunity to do so, she appeared to hunt in vain for the necessary
words, and the narrative proceeded without further interruption. When all
was done, she sat quite still; then carefully, and with a show of more
judgment than might be expected from one of her years, she propounded
certain inquiries which brought out the main causes for her brother's
arraignment. When she had these fully in mind, she looked up into the
nurse's face again and repeated, quite calmly, but with immovable
decision, the order of an hour before:
"We must return at once. You will pack up immediately."
Miss Unwin nodded, and began to open the trunks.
This, however, was a ruse. She did not intend to take her patient back
that night. She was afraid to risk it. The next day would be soon enough.
But she would calm her by making ready, and when the proper moment came,
would find some complication of trains which would interfere with their
Meanwhile, she would communicate at the earliest moment with Mr. Fox. She
had been in the habit of sending him frequent telegrams as to her
patient's condition. They had been invariable so far: "No difference;
mind still a blank," or some code word significant of the same. But a new
word was necessary now. She must look it up, and formulate her telegram
before she did anything else.
The code-book was in her top tray. She hunted and hunted for it, without
being able to lay her hands on it. She grew very nervous. She was only
human; she was in a very trying position, and she realised it. Where
could that book be? Suddenly she espied it and, falling on her knees
before the trunk, with her back still to Carmel, studied out the words
she wanted. She was leaning over the tray to write these words in her
note-book, when--no one ever knew how it happened--the lid of the heavy
trunk fell forward and its iron edge struck her on the nape of the neck,
with a keen blow which laid her senseless. When Carmel reached her side,
she found herself the strong one and her stalwart nurse the patient.
When help had been summoned, the accident explained, and everything done
for the unconscious woman which medical skill could suggest, Carmel,
finding a moment to herself, stole to the trunk, and, lifting up the lid,
looked in. She had been watchful of her nurse from the first, and was
suspicious of the actions which had led to this untoward accident. Seeing
the two little books, she took them out. The note-book lay open and on
the page thus disclosed, she beheld written:
Ap Lox Fidestum Truhum
Ridiculous nonsense--until she consulted the code. Then these detached
and meaningless words took on a significance which she could not afford
Ap A change.
Lox Makes remarkable statements.
Fidestum Shall we return?
Trubum Not tractable.
Carmel endeavoured to find out for whom this telegram was intended. There
was nothing to inform her. A moment of indecision was followed by quick
action. She had noticed that she had been invariably addressed as Miss
Campbell by every one who had come into the room. Whether this was a
proof of the care with which she had been guarded from the curiosity of
strangers, or whether it was part of a system of deception springing from
quite different causes, she felt that in the present emergency it was a
fact to be thankful for and to be utilised.
Regaining her own room, which was on the other side of their common
sitting-room, she collected a few necessary articles, and placed them in
a bag which she thrust under her bed. Hunting for money, she found quite
an adequate amount in her own purse, which was attached to her person.
Satisfied thus far, she chose her most inconspicuous hat and coat, and
putting them on, went out by her own door into the corridor.
The time--it was the dinner-hour--favoured her attempt. She found her
way to the office unobserved, and, going frankly up to the clerk,
informed him that she had some telegrams to send and that she would be
out for some little time. Would he see that Miss Huckins was not
neglected in her absence?
The clerk, startled at these evidences of sense and self-reliance in one
he had been accustomed to see under the special protection of the very
woman she was now confiding to his care, surveyed her eloquent features
beaming with quiet resolve, and for a moment seemed at a loss how to take
this change and control the strange situation. Perhaps she understood
him, perhaps she only followed the impulses natural to her sex. She never
knew; she only remembers that she smiled, and that his hesitation
vanished at that smile.
"I will see to it," said he. Then, as she turned to go, he ventured to
add, "It is quite dark now. If you would like one of the boys to go with
you--". But he received no encouragement, and allowed his suggestion to
She looked grateful for this, and was pulling down her veil when she
perceived two or three men on the other side of the room, watching her in
evident wonder. Stepping back to the desk, she addressed the clerk again,
this time with a marked distinctness:
"I have been very ill, I know, and not always quite myself. But the
shock of this accident to my nurse has cleared my brain and made me
capable again of attending to my own affairs. You can trust me; I can
do my errands all right; but perhaps I had better have one of the boys
go with me."
The clerk, greatly relieved, rang his bell, and the gentlemen at the
other end of the room sauntered elsewhere to exchange their impressions
of an incident which was remarkable enough in itself, without the
accentuation put upon it by the extreme beauty of the girl and the one
conspicuous blemish to that beauty--her unfortunate scar. With what
additional wonder would they have regarded the occurrence, had they known
that the object of their interest was not an unknown Miss Campbell, but
the much pitied, much talked-of Carmel Cumberland, sister of the man then
on trial for his life in a New York town.
With her first step into the street, Carmel's freshly freed mind began
its work. She knew she was in a place called Lakewood, but she knew
little of its location, save that it was somewhere in New Jersey. Another
strange thing! she did not recognise the streets. They were new to her.
She did not remember ever having been in them before.
"Where is the railroad station?" she inquired of the boy who was trotting
along at her side.
"Over there," he answered, vaguely.
"Take me to it."
He obeyed, and they threaded several streets whose lighted shops pleased
her, notwithstanding her cares; such a joy it was to be alive to things
once more, and capable of remembrance, even though remembrance brought
visions at which she shuddered, and turned away, appalled.
The sight of the station, from which a train was just leaving,
frightened her for a moment with its bustle and many lights; but she
rallied under the stress of her purpose, and, entering, found the
telegraph office, from which she sent this message, directed to her
physician, at home, Dr. Carpenter:
"Look for me on early train. All is clear to me now, and I must return.
Preserve silence till we meet."
This she signed with a pet name, known only to themselves, and dating
back to her childish days.
Then she bought a ticket, and studied the time-table. When quite
satisfied, she returned to the hotel. She was met in the doorway by the
physician who was attending the so-called Miss Huckins. He paused when
he saw her, and asked a few questions which she was penetrating enough
to perceive were more for the purpose of testing her own condition than
to express interest in his patient. She answered quietly, and was met
by a surprise and curiosity which evinced that he was greatly drawn
towards her case. This alarmed her. She did not wish to be the object
of any one's notice. On the contrary, she desired to obliterate
herself; to be counted out so far as all these people were concerned.
But above all, she was anxious not to rouse suspicion. So she stopped
and talked as naturally as she could about Miss Huckins's accident and
what the prospects were for the night. These were favourable, or so the
doctor declared, but the injured woman's condition called for great
care and he would send over a capable nurse at-once. Meanwhile, the
maid who was with her would do very well. She, herself, need have no
worry. He would advise against worry, and suggested that she should
have a good and nourishing dinner sent to her room, after which she
should immediately retire and get what sleep she could by means of an
anodyne he would send her.
Carmel exerted herself.
"You are very good," said she, "I need no anodyne. I _am_ tired and when
I once get to bed shall certainly sleep. I shall give orders not to be
disturbed. Isn't that right?"
"Quite right. I will myself tell the nurse."
He was going, but turned to look at her again.
"Shall I accompany you to the door of your room?" he asked.
She shook her head, with a smile. This delay was a torment to her, but it
must be endured.
"I am quite capable of finding my room. I hope Miss Huckins will be as
well in a week from now as I am at this moment. But, doctor--" she had
been struck by a strange possibility--"I should like to settle one little
matter before we part. The money I have may not be quite safe in my
hands. My memory might leave me again, and then Miss Huckins might
suffer. If you will take charge of some of it on her account, I shall
"It would be a wise precaution," he admitted. "But you could just as well
leave it at the desk."
"So I can," she smiled. Then, as his eye remained fixed on her: "You are
wondering if I have friends. We both have and I have just come from
telegraphing to one of them. You can leave us, with an easy mind. All
that I dread is that Miss Huckins will worry about me if her
consciousness should return during the night."
"It will not return so soon. Next week we may look for it. Then you can
be by to reassure her if she asks for you."
Carmers eyes fell.
"I would not be a cause of distress to her for the world. She has been
very good to me." Bowing, she turned in the direction of the office.
The doctor, lifting his hat, took his departure. The interview might have
lasted five minutes. She felt as though it had lasted an hour.
She followed the doctor's advice and left half the money she had, in
charge of the clerk. Then she went upstairs. She was not seen to come
down again; but when the eight-forty-five train started out of the
station that night, it had for a passenger, a young, heavily veiled girl,
who went straight to her section. A balcony running by her window had
favoured her escape. It led to a hall window at the head of a side
staircase. She met no one on the staircase, and, once out of the door at
its foot, her difficulties were over, and her escape effected.
She was missed the next morning, and an account of her erratic flight
reached the papers, and was published far and wide. But the name of Miss
Caroline Campbell conveyed nothing to the public, and the great trial
went on without a soul suspecting the significance of this midnight
flitting of an unknown and partially demented girl.
At the house of Dr. Carpenter she met Mr. Moffat. What she told him
heartened him greatly for the struggle he saw before him. Indeed, it
altered the whole tone of the defence. Perceiving from her story, and
from what the doctor could tell him of their meeting at the station that
her return to town was as yet a secret to every one but themselves, he
begged that the secret should continue to be kept, in order that the
_coup d'etat_ which he meditated might lose none of its force by
anticipation. Carmel, whose mind was full of her coming ordeal, was
willing enough to hide her head until it came; while Dr. Carpenter,
alarmed at all this excitement, would have insisted on it in any event.
Carmel wished her brother informed of her return, but the wily lawyer
persuaded her to excuse him from taking Arthur into his confidence until
the last moment. He knew that he would receive only opposition from his
young and stubborn client; that Carmel's presence and Carmel's
determination would have to be sprung upon Arthur even more than upon the
prosecution; that the prisoner at the bar would struggle to the very last
against Carmel's appearance in court, and make an infinite lot of
trouble, if he did not actually endanger his own cause. One of the
stipulations which he had made in securing Mr. Moffat for his counsel was
that Carmel's name was to be kept as much as possible out of the
proceedings; and to this Mr. Moffat had subscribed, notwithstanding his
conviction that the crime laid to the defendant's charge was a result of
Ranelagh's passion for Carmel, and, consequently, distinctly the work of
Ranelagh's own hand.
He had thought that he could win his case by the powers of oratory and a
somewhat free use of innuendo; but his view changed under the fresh
enlightenment which he received in his conversation with Carmel. He saw
unfolding before him a defence of unparalleled interest. True, it
involved this interesting witness in a way that would be unpleasant to
the brother; but he was not the man to sacrifice a client to any
sentimental scruple--certainly not this client, whose worth he was just
beginning to realise. Professional pride, as well as an inherent love of
justice, led him to this conclusion. Nothing in God's world appealed to
him, or ever had appealed to him, like a prisoner in the dock facing a
fate from which only legal address, added to an orator's eloquence, could
save him. His sympathies went out to a man so placed, even when he was a
brute and his guilt far from doubtful. How much more, then, must he feel
the claims of this surly but chivalrous-hearted boy, son of a good father
and pious mother, who had been made the butt of circumstances, and of
whose innocence he was hourly becoming more and more convinced.
Could he have probed the whole matter, examined and re-examined this new
witness until every detail was his and the whole story of that night
stood bare before him, he might have hesitated a little longer and asked
himself some very serious questions. But Carmel was not strong enough for
much talk. Dr. Carpenter would not allow it, and the continued clearness
of her mind was too invaluable to his case for this far-seeing advocate
to take any risk. She had told him enough to assure him that
circumstances and not guilt had put Arthur where he was, and had added to
the assurance, details of an unexpected nature--so unexpected, indeed,
that the lawyer was led away by the prospect they offered of confounding
the prosecution by a line of defence to which no clew had been given by
anything that had appeared.
He planned then and there a dramatic climax which should take the breath
away from his opponent, and change the whole feeling of the court towards
the prisoner. It was a glorious prospect, and if the girl remained
well--the bare possibility of her not doing so, drove him prematurely
from her presence; and so it happened that, for the second time, the
subject of Adelaide's death was discussed in her hearing without any
mention being made of strangulation as its immediate cause. Would her
action have been different had she known that this was a conceded fact?
Mr. Moffat did not repeat this visit. He was not willing to risk his
secret by being seen too often at the doctor's house; but telephonic
communication was kept up between him and her present guardian, and he
was able to bear himself quietly and with confidence until the time drew
near for the introduction of her testimony. Then he grew nervous, fearing
that Nurse Unwin would come to herself and telegraph Carmel's escape, and
so prepare the prosecution for his great stroke. But nothing of the kind
happened; and, when the great day came, he had only to consider how he
should prepare Arthur for the surprise awaiting him, and finally decided
not to prepare him at all, but simply to state at the proper moment, and
in the face of the whole court-room, that his sister had recovered and
would soon take her place upon the stand. The restraint of the place
would thus act as a guard between them, and Carmel's immediate entrance
put an end to the reproaches of whose bitterness he could well judge from
his former experience of them.
With all these anxieties and his deeply planned _coup d'etat_ awaiting
the moment of action, Ella's simple outburst and even Ranelagh's
unexpected and somewhat startling suggestion lost much of their
significance. All his mind and heart were on his next move. It was to be
made with the queen, and must threaten checkmate. Yet he did not forget
the two pawns, silent in their places--but guarding certain squares which
the queen, for all her royal prerogatives, might not be able to reach.
WHAT THE PINES WHISPERED
"I REMEMBERED THE ROOM"
MERCURY.--If thou mightst dwell among the Gods the while
Lapped in voluptuous joy?
PROMETHEUS.--I would not quit
This bleak ravine, these unrepentant pains.
Great moments, whether of pain, surprise, or terror, awaken in the
startled breast very different emotions from those we are led to
anticipate from the agitation caused by lesser experiences. As Carmel
disclosed her features to the court, my one absorbing thought was: Would
she look at me? Could I hope for a glance of her eye? Did I wish it? My
question was answered before Mr. Moffat had regained his place and turned
to address the court.
As her gaze passed from her brother's face, it travelled slowly and with
growing hesitation over the countenances of those near her, on and on
past the judge, past the jury, until they reached the spot where I sat.
There they seemed to falter, and the beating of my heart became so loud
that I instinctively shrank away from my neighbour. By so doing, I drew
her eye, which fell full upon mine for one overwhelming minute; then she
shrank and looked away, but not before the colour had risen in a flood to
The hope which had sprung to life under her first beautiful aspect,
vanished in despair at sight of this flush. For it was not one of joy, or
surprise, or even of unconscious sympathy. It was the banner of a deep,
unendurable shame. Versed in her every expression, I could not mistake
the language of her dismayed soul, at this, the most critical instant of
her life. She had hoped to find me absent; she was overwhelmed to find me
there. Could she, with a look, have transported me a thousand miles from
this scene of personal humiliation and unknown, unimaginable outcome, she
would have bestowed that look and ignored the consequences.
Nor was I behind her in the reckless passion of the moment. Could I, by
means of a wish, have been transported those thousand miles, I should
even now have been far from a spot where, in the face of a curious crowd,
busy in associating us together, I must submit to the terror of hearing
her speak and betray herself to these watchful lawyers, and to the just
and impartial mind of the presiding judge.
But the days of magic had passed. I could not escape the spot; I could
not escape her eye. The ordeal to which she was thus committed, I must
share. As she advanced step by step upon her uncertain road, it would be
my unhappy fate to advance with her, in terror of the same pitfalls, with
our faces set towards the same precipice--slipping, fainting,
experiencing agonies together. She knew my secret, and I, alas! knew
hers. So I interpreted this intolerable, overwhelming blush.
Recoiling from the prospect, I buried my face in my hands, and so missed
the surprising sight of this young girl, still in her teens, conquering a
dismay which might well unnerve one of established years and untold
experiences. In a few minutes, as I was afterward told by my friends, her
features had settled into a strange placidity, undisturbed by the
levelled gaze of a hundred eyes. Her whole attention was concentrated on
her brother, and wavered only, when the duties of the occasion demanded a
recognition of the various gentlemen concerned in the trial.
Mr. Moffat prefaced his examination by the following words:
"May it please your Honour, I wish to ask the indulgence of the court in
my examination of this witness. She is just recovering from a long and
dangerous illness; and while I shall endeavour to keep within the rules
of examination, I shall be grateful for any consideration which may be
shown her by your Honour and by the counsel on the other side."
Mr. Fox at once rose. He had by this time recovered from his astonishment
at seeing before him, and in a fair state of health, the young girl whom
he had every reason to believe to be still in a condition of partial
forgetfulness at Lakewood, and under the care of a woman entirely in his
confidence and under his express orders. He had also mastered his chagrin
at the triumph which her presence here, and under these dramatic
circumstances, had given his adversary. Moved, perhaps, by Miss
Cumberland's beauty, which he saw for the first time--or, perhaps, by the
spectacle of this beauty devoting its first hours of health to an attempt
to save a brother, of whose precarious position before the law she had
been ignorant up to this time--or more possibly yet, by a fear that it
might be bad tactics to show harshness to so interesting a personality
before she had uttered a word of testimony, he expressed in warmer tones
than usual, his deep desire to extend every possible indulgence.
Mr. Moffat bowed his acknowledgments, and waited for his witness to take
the oath, which she did with a simple grace which touched all hearts,
even that of her constrained and unreconciled brother. Compelled by the
silence and my own bounding pulses to look at her in my own despite, I
caught the sweet and elevated look with which she laid her hand on the
Book, and asked myself if her presence here was not a self-accusation,
which would bring satisfaction to nobody--which would sink her and hers
into an ignominy worse than the conviction of the brother whom she was
supposedly there to save.
Tortured by this fear, I awaited events in indescribable agitation.
The cool voice of Mr. Moffat broke in upon my gloom. Carmel had
reseated herself, after taking the oath, and the customary question
could be heard:
"Your name, if you please."
"Do you recognise the prisoner, Miss Cumberland?"
"Yes; he is my brother."
A thrill ran through the room. The lingering tone, the tender accent,
told. Some of the feeling she thus expressed seemed to pass into every
heart which contemplated the two. From this moment on, he was looked upon
with less harshness; people showed a disposition to discern innocence,
where, perhaps, they had secretly desired, until now, to discover guilt.
"Miss Cumberland, will you be good enough to tell us where you were, at
or near the hour of ten, on the evening of your sister's death?"
"I was in the club-house--in the house you call The Whispering Pines."
At this astounding reply, unexpected by every one present save myself and
the unhappy prisoner, incredulity, seasoned with amazement, marked every
countenance. Carmel Cumberland in the club-house that night--she who had
been found at a late hour, in her own home, injured and unconscious! It
was not to be believed--or it would not have been, if Arthur with less
self-control than he had hitherto maintained, had not shown by his morose
air and the silent drooping of his head that he accepted this statement,
wild and improbable as it seemed. Mr. Fox, whose mind without doubt had
been engaged in a debate from the first, as to the desirability of
challenging the testimony of this young girl, whose faculties had so
lately recovered from a condition of great shock and avowed forgetfulness
that no word as yet had come to him of her restored health, started to
arise at her words; but noting the prisoner's attitude, he hastily
reseated himself, realising, perhaps, that evidence of which he had never
dreamed lay at the bottom of the client's manner and the counsel's
complacency. If so, then his own air of mingled disbelief and
compassionate forbearance might strike the jury unfavourably; while, on
the contrary, if his doubts were sound, and the witness were confounding
the fancies of her late delirium with the actual incidents of this fatal
night, then would he gain rather than lose by allowing her to proceed
until her testimony fell of its own weight, or succumbed before the fire
of his cross-examination.
Modifying his manner, he steadied himself for either exigency, and, in
steadying himself, steadied his colleagues also.
Mr. Moffat, who saw everything, smiled slightly as he spoke encouragingly
to his witness, and propounded his next question:
"Miss Cumberland, was your sister with you when you went to the
"No; we went separately"
"How? Will you explain?"
"I drove there. I don't know how Adelaide went."
"You drove there?"
"Yes. I had Arthur harness up his horse for me and I drove there."
A moment of silence; then a slow awakening--on the part of judge, jury,
and prosecution--to the fact that the case was taking a turn for which
they were ill-prepared. To Mr. Moffat, it was a moment of intense
self-congratulation, and something of the gratification he felt crept
into his voice as he said:
"Miss Cumberland, will you describe this horse?"
"It was a grey horse. It has a large black spot on its left shoulder."
"To what vehicle was it attached?"
"To a cutter--my brother's cutter."
"Was that brother with you? Did he accompany you in your ride to The
"No, I went quite alone."
Entrancement had now seized upon every mind. Even if her testimony were
not true, but merely the wanderings of a mind not fully restored, the
interest of it was intense. Mr. Fox, glancing at the jury, saw there
would be small use in questioning at this time the mental capacity of the
witness. This was a story which all wished to hear. Perhaps he wished to
hear it, too.
Mr. Moffat rose to more than his accustomed height. The light which
sometimes visited his face when feeling, or a sense of power, was
strongest in him, shone from his eye and irradiated his whole aspect as
he inquired tellingly:
"And how did you return? With whom, and by what means, did you regain
your own house?"
The answer came, with simple directness:
"In the same way I went. I drove back in my brother's cutter and being
all alone just as before, I put the horse away myself, and went into my
empty home and up to Adelaide's room, where I lost consciousness."
The excitement, which had been seething, broke out as she ceased; but
the judge did not need to use his gavel, or the officers of the court
exert their authority. At Mr. Moffat's lifted hand, the turmoil ceased
as if by magic.
"Miss Cumberland, do you often ride out alone on nights like that?"
"I never did before. I would not have dared to do it then, if I had not
taken a certain precaution."
"And what was this precaution?"
"I wore an old coat of my brother's over my dress, and one of his hats
on my head."
It was out--the fact for the suppression of which I had suffered arrest
without a word; because of which Arthur had gone even further, and
submitted to trial with the same constancy. Instinctively, his eyes and
mine met, and, at that moment, there was established between us an
understanding that was in strong contrast to the surrounding turmoil,
which now exceeded all limits, as the highly wrought up spectators
realised that these statements, if corroborated, destroyed one of the
strongest points which had been made by the prosecution. This caused a
stay in the proceedings until order was partially restored, and the
judge's voice could be heard in a warning that the court-room would be
cleared of all spectators if this break of decorum was repeated.
Meanwhile, my own mind had been busy. I had watched Arthur; I had watched
Mr. Moffat. The discouragement of the former, the ill-concealed elation
of the latter, proved the folly of any hope, on my part, that Carmel
would be spared a full explanation of what I would have given worlds to
leave in the darkness and ignorance of the present moment. To save
Arthur, unwilling as he was, she was to be allowed to consummate the
sacrifice which the real generosity of her heart drove her into making.
Before these doors opened again and sent forth the crowd now pulsating
under a preamble of whose terrible sequel none as yet dreamed, I should
have to hear those sweet lips give utterance to the revelation which
would consign her to opprobrium, and break, not only my heart, but her
Was there no way to stop it? The district attorney gave no evidence of
suspecting any issue of this sort, nor did the friendly and humane judge.
Only the scheming Moffat knew to what all this was tending, and Moffat
could not be trusted. The case was his and he would gain it if he could.
Tender and obliging as he was in his treatment of the witness, there was
iron under the velvet of his glove. This was his reputation; and this I
must now see exemplified before me, without the power to stop it. The
consideration with which he approached his subject did not deceive me.
"Miss Cumberland, will you now give the jury the full particulars of that
evening's occurrences, as witnessed by yourself. Begin your relation, if
you please, with an account of the last meal you had together."
Carmel hesitated. Her youth--her conscience, perhaps--shrank in manifest
distress from this inquisition.
"Ask me a question," she prayed. "I do not know how to begin."
"Very well. Who were seated at the dinner-table that night?"
"My sister, my brother, Mr. Ranelagh, and myself."
"Did anything uncommon happen during the meal?"
"Yes, my sister ordered wine, and had our glasses all filled. She never
drank wine herself, but she had her glass filled also. Then she dismissed
Helen, the waitress; and when the girl was gone, she rose and held up
her glass, and invited us to do the same. 'We will drink to my coming
marriage,' said she; but when we had done this, she turned upon Arthur,
with bitter words about his habits, and, declaring that another bottle of
wine should never be opened again in the house, unclosed her fingers and
let her glass drop on the table where it broke. Arthur then let his fall,
and I mine. We all three let our glasses fall and break."
"And Mr. Ranelagh?"
"He did not let his fall. He set it down on the cloth. He had not
drank from it."
Clear, perfectly clear--tallying with what we had heard from other
sources. As this fact forced itself in upon the minds of the jury,
new light shone in every eye and each and all waited eagerly for the
It came with a quiet, if not insinuating, intonation.
"Miss Cumberland, where were you looking when you let your glass fall?"
My heart gave a bound. I remembered that moment well. So did she, as
could be seen from the tremulous flush and the determination with which
she forced herself to speak.
"At Mr. Ranelagh," she answered, finally.
"Not at your brother?"
"And at whom was Mr. Ranelagh looking?"
"Not at your sister?"
"Was anything said?"
"Not then. With the dropping of the glasses, we all drew back from the
table, and walked towards a little room where we sometimes sat before
going into the library. Arthur went first, and Mr. Ranelagh and I
followed, Adelaide coming last. We--we went this way into the little room
and--what other question do you wish to ask?" she finished, with a
Mr. Moffat was equal to the appeal.
"Did anything happen? Did Mr. Ranelagh speak to you or you to him, or did
your sister Adelaide speak?"
"No one spoke; but Mr. Ranelagh put a little slip of paper into my
hand--a--a note. As he did this, my brother looked round. I don't know
whether he saw the note or not; but his eye caught mine, and I may have
blushed. Next moment he was looking past me; and presently he had flung
himself out of the room, and I heard him going upstairs. Adelaide had
joined me by this time, and Mr. Ranelagh turned to speak to her, and--and
I went over to the book-shelves to read my note."
"And did you read it then?"
"No, I was afraid. I waited till Mr. Ranelagh was gone; then I went up to
my room and read it. It was not a--a note to be glad of. I mean, proud
of. I'm afraid I was a little glad of it at first. I was a wicked girl."
Mr. Moffat glanced at Mr. Fox; but that gentleman, passing over this
artless expression of feeling, as unworthy an objection, he went
"Miss Cumberland, before you tell us about this note, will you be good
enough to inform us whether any words passed between you and your sister
before you went upstairs?"
"Oh, yes; we talked. We all three talked, but it was about indifferent
matters. The servants were going to a ball, and we spoke of that. Mr.
Ranelagh did not stay long. Very soon he remarked that he had a busy
evening before him, and took his leave. I was not in the room with them
when he did this. I was in the adjoining one, but I heard his remark and
saw him go. I did not wait to talk to Adelaide."
"Now, about the note?"
"I read it as soon as I reached my room. Then I sat still for a
"Miss Cumberland, pardon my request, but will you tell us what was in
She lifted her patient eyes, and looked straight at her brother. He did
not meet her gaze; but the dull flush which lit up the dead-white of his
cheek showed how he suffered under this ordeal. At me she never glanced;
this was the only mercy shown me that dreadful morning. I grew to be
thankful for it as she went on.
"I do not remember the words," she said, finally, as her eyes fell again
to her lap. "But I remember its meaning. It was an invitation for me to
leave town with him that very evening and be married at some place he
mentioned. He said it would be the best way to--to end--matters."
This brought Mr. Fox to his feet. For all his self-command, he had
been perceptibly growing more and more nervous as the examination
proceeded; and he found himself still in the dark as to his opponent's
purpose and the character of the revelations he had to fear. Turning
to the judge, he cried:
"This testimony is irrelevant and incompetent, and I ask to have it
Mr. Moffat's voice, as he arose to answer this, was like honey poured
"It is neither irrelevant nor incompetent, and, if it were, the objection
comes too late. My friend should have objected to the question."
"The whole course of counsel has been very unusual," began Mr. Fox.
"Yes, but so is the case. I beg your Honour to believe that, in some of
its features, this case is not only unusual, but almost without a
precedent. That it may be lightly understood, and justice shown my
client, a full knowledge of the whole family's experiences during those
fatal hours is not only desirable, but absolutely essential. I beg,
therefore, that my witness may be allowed to proceed and tell her story
in all its details. Nothing will be introduced which will not ultimately
be seen to have a direct bearing upon the attitude of my client towards
the crime for which he stands here arraigned."
"The motion is denied," declared the judge.
Mr. Fox sat down, to the universal relief of all but the two persons most
interested--Arthur and myself.
Mr. Moffat, generous enough or discreet enough to take no note of his
opponent's discomfiture, lifted a paper from the table and held it
towards the witness.
"Do you recognise these lines?" he asked, placing the remnants of my
half-burned communication in her hands.
She started at sight of them. Evidently she had never expected to see
"Yes," she answered, after a moment. "This is a portion of the note I
"You recognise it as such?"
Her eyes lingered on the scrap, and followed it as it was passed back and
marked as an exhibit.
Mr. Moffat recalled her to the matter in hand.
"What did you do next, Miss Cumberland?"
"I answered the note."
"May I ask to what effect?"
"I refused Mr. Ranelagh's request. I said that I could not do what he
asked, and told him to wait till the next day, and he would see how I
felt towards him and towards Adelaide. That was all. I could not write
much. I was suffering greatly."
"Suffering in mind, or suffering in body?"
"Suffering in my mind. I was terrified, but that feeling did not last
very long. Soon I grew happy, happier than I had been in weeks, happier
than I had ever been in all my life before. I found that I loved Adelaide
better than I did myself. This made everything easy, even the sending of
the answer I have told you about to Mr. Ranelagh."
"Miss Cumberland, how did you get this answer to Mr. Ranelagh?"
"By means of a gentleman who was going away on the very train I had
been asked to leave on. He was a guest next door, and I carried the
note in to him."
"Did you do this openly?"
"No. I'm afraid not; I slipped out by the side door, in as careful a way
as I could."
"Did this attempt at secrecy succeed? Were you able to go and come
without meeting any one?"
"No. Adelaide was at the head of the stairs when I came back, standing
there, very stiff and quiet."
"Did she speak to you?"
"No. She just looked at me; but it wasn't a common look. I shall never
"And what did you do then?"
"I went to my room."
"Miss Cumberland, did you sec anybody else when you came in at
"Yes, our maid Helen. She was just laying down a bunch of keys on the
table in the lower hall. I stopped and looked at the keys. I had
recognised them as the ones I had seen in Mr. Ranelagh's hands many
times. He had gone, yet there were his keys. One of them unlocked the
club-house. I noticed it among the others, but I didn't touch it then.
Helen was still in the hall, and I ran straight upstairs, where I met my
sister, as I have just told you."
"Miss Cumberland, continue the story. What did you do after re-entering
"I don't know what I did first. I was very excited--elated one minute,
deeply wretched and very frightened the next. I must have sat down; for I
was shaking very much, and felt a little sick. The sight of that key had
brought up pictures of the club-house; and I thought and thought how
quiet it was, and how far away and--how cold it was too, and how secret.
I would go there for what I had to do; _there_! And then I saw in my
fancy one of its rooms, with the moon in it, and--but I soon shut my eyes
to that. I heard Arthur moving about his room, and this made me start up
and go out into the hall again."
During all this Mr. Fox had sat by, understanding his right to object to
the witness's mixed statements of fact and of feelings, and quite
confident that his objections would be sustained. But he had determined
long since that he would not interrupt the witness in her relation. The
air of patience he assumed was sufficiently indicative of his
displeasure, and he confined himself to this. Mr. Moffat understood, and
testified his appreciation by a slight bow.
Carmel, who saw nothing, resumed her story.
"Arthur's room is near, and Adelaide's far off; but I went to Adelaide's
first. Her door was shut and when I went to open it I found it locked.
Calling her name, I said that I was tired and would be glad to say good
night. She did not answer at once. When she did, her voice was strange,
though what she said was very simple. I was to please myself; she was
going to retire, too. And then she tried to say good night, but she only
half said it, like one who is choked with tears or some other dreadful
emotion. I cannot tell you how this made me feel--but you don't care for
that. You want to know what I did--what Adelaide did. I will tell you,
but I cannot hurry. Every act of the evening was so crowded with purpose;
all meant so much. I can see the end, but the steps leading to it are not
"Take your time, Miss Cumberland; we have no wish to hurry you."
"I can go on now. The next thing I did was to knock at Arthur's door. I
heard him getting ready to go out, and I wanted to speak to him before
he went. When he heard me, he opened the door and let me in. He began at
once on his grievances, but I could not listen to them. I wanted him to
harness the grey mare for me and leave it standing in the stable. I
explained the request by saying that it was necessary for me to see a
certain friend of mine immediately, and that no one would notice me in
the cutter under the bear-skins. He didn't approve, but I persuaded him.
I even persuaded him to wait till Zadok was gone, so that Adelaide would
know nothing about it. He looked glum, but he promised.
"He was going away when I heard Adelaide's steps in the adjoining room.
This frightened me. The partition is very thin between these two rooms,
and I was afraid she had heard me ask Arthur for the grey mare and
cutter. I could hear her rattling the bottles in the medicine cabinet
hanging on this very wall. Looking back at Arthur, I asked him how long
Adelaide had been there. He said, 'For some time.' This sent me flying
from the room. I would join her, and find out if she had heard. But I
was too late. As I stepped into the hall I saw her disappearing round
the corner leading to her own room. This convinced me that she had heard
nothing, and, light of heart once more, I went back to my own room,
where I collected such little articles as I needed for the expedition
"I had hardly done this when I heard the servants on the walk outside,
then Arthur going down. The impulse to see and speak to him again was
irresistible. I flew after him and caught him in the lower hall.
'Arthur,' I cried, 'look at me, look at me well, and then--kiss me!' And
he did kiss me--I'm glad when I think of it, though he did say, next
minute: 'What is the matter with you? What are you going to do? To meet