Part 5 out of 8
long white hand.
He stood looking at it, unable to stir, unable to call
out--feeling nothing, knowing nothing--every faculty he possessed
gathered up and lost in the one seeing faculty. How long that
first panic held him he never could tell afterward. It might have
been only for a moment--it might have been for many minutes
together. How he got to the bed--whether he ran to it headlong,
or whether he approached it slowly; how he wrought himself up to
unclose the curtains and look in, he never has remembered, and
never will remember to his dying day. It is enough that he did go
to the bed, and that he did look inside the curtains.
The man had moved. One of his arms was outside the clothes; his
face was turned a little on the pillow; his eyelids were wide
open. Changed as to position and as to one of the features, the
face was otherwise fearfully and wonderfully unaltered. The dead
paleness and the dead quiet were on it still.
One glance showed Arthur this--one glance before he flew
breathlessly to the door and alarmed the house.
The man whom the landlord called "Ben" was the first to appear on
the stairs. In three words Arthur told him what had happened, and
sent him for the nearest doctor.
I, who tell you this story, was then staying with a medical
friend of mine, in practice at Doncaster, taking care of his
patients for him during his absence in London; and I, for the
time being, was the nearest doctor. They had sent for me from the
inn when the stranger was taken ill in the afternoon, but I was
not at home, and medical assistance was sought for elsewhere.
When the man from The Two Robins rang the night-bell, I was just
thinking of going to bed. Naturally enough, I did not believe a
word of his story about "a dead man who had come to life again."
However, I put on my hat, armed myself with one or two bottles of
restorative medicine, and ran to the inn, expecting to find
nothing more remarkable, when I got there, than a patient in a
My surprise at finding that the man had spoken the literal truth
was almost, if not quite, equaled by my astonishment at finding
myself face to face with Arthur Holliday as soon as I entered the
bedroom. It was no time then for giving or seeking explanations.
We just shook hands amazedly, and then I ordered everybody but
Arthur out of the room, and hurried to the man on the bed.
The kitchen fire had not been long out. There was plenty of hot
water in the boiler, and plenty of flannel to be had. With these,
with my medicines, and with such help as Arthur could render
under my direction, I dragged the man literally out of the jaws
of death. In less than an hour from the time when I had been
called in, he was alive and talking in the bed on which he had
been laid out to wait for the coroner's inquest.
You will naturally ask me what had been the matter with him, and
I might treat you, in reply, to a long theory, plentifully
sprinkled with what the children call hard words. I prefer
telling you that, in this case, cause and effect could not be
satisfactorily joined together by any theory whatever. There are
mysteries in life and the conditions of it which human science
has not fathomed yet; and I candidly confess to you that, in
bringing that man back to existence, I was, morally speaking,
groping haphazard in the dark. I know (from the testimony of the
doctor who attended him in the afternoon) that the vital
machinery, so far as its action is appreciable by our senses,
had, in this case, unquestionably stopped, and I am equally
certain (seeing that I recovered him) that the vital principle
was not extinct. When I add that he had suffered from a long and
complicated illness, and that his whole nervous system was
utterly deranged, I have told you all I really know of the
physical condition of my dead-alive patient at the Two Robins
When he "came to," as the phrase goes, he was a startling object
to look at, with his colorless face, his sunken cheeks, his wild
black eyes, and his long black hair. The first question he asked
me about himself when he could speak made me suspect that I had
been called in to a man in my own profession. I mentioned to him
my surmise, and he told me that I was right.
He said he had come last from Paris, where he had been attached
to a hospital; that he had lately returned to England, on his way
to Edinburgh, to continue his studies; that he had been taken ill
on the journey; and that he had stopped to rest and recover
himself at Doncaster. He did not add a word about his name, or
who he was, and of course I did not question him on the subject.
All I inquired when he ceased speaking was what branch of the
profession he intended to follow.
"Any branch," he said, bitterly, "which will put bread into the
mouth of a poor man."
At this, Arthur, who had been hitherto watching him in silent
curiosity, burst out impetuously in his usual good-humored way:
"My dear fellow" (everybody was "my dear fellow" with Arthur),
"now you have come to life again, don't begin by being
down-hearted about your prospects. I'll answer for it I can help
you to some capital thing in the medical line, or, if I can't, I
know my father can."
The medical student looked at him steadily.
"Thank you," he said, coldly; then added, "May I ask who your
"He's well enough known all about this part of the country,"
replied Arthur. "He is a great manufacturer, and his name is
My hand was on the man's wrist during this brief conversation.
The instant the name of Holliday was pronounced I felt the pulse
under my fingers flutter, stop, go on suddenly with a bound, and
beat afterward for a minute or two at the fever rate.
"How did you come here?" asked the stranger, quickly, excitably,
Arthur related briefly what had happened from the time of his
first taking the bed at the inn.
"I am indebted to Mr. Holliday's son, then, for the help that has
saved my life," said the medical student, speaking to himself,
with a singular sarcasm in his voice. "Come here!"
He held out, as he spoke, his long, white, bony right hand.
"With all my heart," said Arthur, taking his hand cordially. "I
may confess it now," he continued, laughing, "upon my honor, you
almost frightened me out of my wits."
The stranger did not seem to listen. His wild black eyes were
fixed with a look of eager interest on Arthur's face, and his
long bony fingers kept tight hold of Arthur's hand. Young
Holliday, on his side, returned the gaze, amazed and puzzled by
the medical student's odd language and manners. The two faces
were close together; I looked at them, and, to my amazement, I
was suddenly impressed by the sense of a likeness between
them--not in features or complexion, but solely in expression. It
must have been a strong likeness, or I should certainly not have
found it out, for I am naturally slow at detecting resemblances
"You have saved my life," said the strange man, still looking
hard in Arthur's face, still holding tightly by his hand. "If you
had been my own brother, you could not have done more for me than
He laid a singularly strong emphasis on those three words "my own
brother," and a change passed over his face as he pronounced
them--a change that no language of mine is competent to describe.
"I hope I have not done being of service to you yet," said
Arthur. "I'll speak to my father as soon as I get home."
"You seem to be fond and proud of your father," said the medical
student. "I suppose, in return, he is fond and proud of you?"
"Of course he is," answered Arthur, laughing. "Is there anything
wonderful in that? Isn't _your_ father fond--"
The stranger suddenly dropped young Holliday's hand and turned
his face away.
"I beg your pardon," said Arthur. "I hope I have not
unintentionally pained you. I hope you have not lost your
"I can't well lose what I have never had," retorted the medical
student, with a harsh mocking laugh.
"What you have never had!"
The strange man suddenly caught Arthur's hand again, suddenly
looked once more hard in his face.
"Yes," he said, with a repetition of the bitter laugh. "You have
brought a poor devil back into the world who has no business
there. Do I astonish you? Well, I have a fancy of my own for
telling you what men in my situation generally keep a secret. I
have no name and no father. The merciful law of society tells me
I am nobody's son! Ask your father if he will be my father too,
and help me on in life with the family name."
Arthur looked at me more puzzled than ever.
I signed to him to say nothing, and then laid my fingers again on
the man's wrist. No. In spite of the extraordinary speech that he
had just made, he was not, as I had been disposed to suspect,
beginning to get light-headed. His pulse, by this time, had
fallen back to a quiet, slow beat, and his skin was moist and
cool. Not a symptom of fever or agitation about him.
Finding that neither of us answered him, he turned to me, and
began talking of the extraordinary nature of his case, and asking
my advice about the future course of medical treatment to which
he ought to subject himself. I said the matter required careful
thinking over, and suggested that I should send him a
prescription a little later. He told me to write it at once, as
he would most likely be leaving Doncaster in the morning before I
was up. It was quite useless to represent to him the folly and
danger of such a proceeding as this. He heard me politely and
patiently, but held to his resolution, without offering any
reasons or explanations, and repeated to me that, if I wished to
give him a chance of seeing my prescription, I must write it at
Hearing this, Arthur volunteered the loan of a traveling
writing-case, which he said he had with him, and, bringing it to
the bed, shook the note-paper out of the pocket of the case
forthwith in his usual careless way. With the paper there fell
out on the counterpane of the bed a small packet of
sticking-plaster, and a little water-color drawing of a
The medical student took up the drawing and looked at it. His eye
fell on some initials neatly written in cipher in one corner. He
started and trembled; his pale face grew whiter than over; his
wild black eyes turned on Arthur, and looked through and through
"A pretty drawing," he said, in a remarkably quiet tone of voice.
"Ah! and done by such a pretty girl," said Arthur. "Oh, such a
pretty girl! I wish it was not a landscape--I wish it was a
portrait of her!"
"You admire her very much?"
Arthur, half in jest, half in earnest, kissed his hand for
"Love at first sight," said young Holliday, putting the drawing
away again. "But the course of it doesn't run smooth. It's the
old story. She's monopolized, as usual; trammeled by a rash
engagement to some poor man who is never likely to get money
enough to marry her. It was lucky I heard of it in time, or I
should certainly have risked a declaration when she gave me that
drawing. Here, doctor, here is pen, ink, and paper all ready for
"When she gave you that drawing? Gave it? gave it?"
He repeated the words slowly to himself, and suddenly closed his
eyes. A momentary distortion passed across his face, and I saw
one of his hands clutch up the bedclothes and squeeze them hard.
I thought he was going to be ill again, and begged that there
might be no more talking. He opened his eyes when I spoke, fixed
them once more searchingly on Arthur, and said, slowly and
"You like her, and she likes you. The poor man may die out of
your way. Who can tell that she may not give you herself as well
as her drawing, after all?"
Before young Holliday could answer he turned to me, and said in a
whisper: "Now for the prescription." From that time, though he
spoke to Arthur again, he never looked at him more.
When I had written the prescription, he examined it, approved of
it, and then astonished us both by abruptly wishing us
good-night. I offered to sit up with him, and he shook his head.
Arthur offered to sit up with him, and he said, shortly, with his
face turned away, "No." I insisted on having somebody left to
watch him. He gave way when he found I was determined, and said
he would accept the services of the waiter at the inn.
"Thank you both," he said, as we rose to go. "I have one last
favor to ask--not of you, doctor, for I leave you to exercise
your professional discretion, but of Mr. Holliday." His eyes,
while he spoke, still rested steadily on me, and never once
turned toward Arthur. "I beg that Mr. Holliday will not mention
to any one, least of all to his father, the events that have
occurred and the words that have passed in this room. I entreat
him to bury me in his memory as, but for him, I might have been
buried in my grave. I cannot give my reason for making this
strange request. I can only implore him to grant it."
His voice faltered for the first time, and he hid his face on the
pillow. Arthur, completely bewildered, gave the required pledge.
I took young Holliday away with me immediately afterward to the
house of my friend, determining to go back to the inn and to see
the medical student again before he had left in the morning.
I returned to the inn at eight o'clock, purposely abstaining from
waking Arthur, who was sleeping off the past night's excitement
on one of my friend's sofas. A suspicion had occurred to me, as
soon as I was alone in my bedroom, which made me resolve that
Holliday and the stranger whose life he had saved should not meet
again, if I could prevent it.
I have already alluded to certain reports or scandals which I
knew of relating to the early life of Arthur's father. While I
was thinking, in my bed, of what had passed at the inn; of the
change in the student's pulse when he heard the name of Holliday;
of the resemblance of expression that I had discovered between
his face and Arthur's; of the emphasis he had laid on those three
words, "my own brother," and of his incomprehensible
acknowledgment of his own illegitimacy--while I was thinking of
these things, the reports I have me ntioned suddenly flew into my
mind, and linked themselves fast to the chain of my previous
reflections. Something within me whispered, "It is best that
those two young men should not meet again." I felt it before I
slept; I felt it when I woke; and I went as I told you, alone to
the inn the next morning.
I had missed my only opportunity of seeing my nameless patient
again. He had been gone nearly an hour when I inquired for him.
I have now told you everything that I know for certain in
relation to the man whom I brought back to life in the
double-bedded room of the inn at Doncaster. What I have next to
add is matter for inference and surmise, and is not, strictly
speaking, matter of fact.
I have to tell you, first, that the medical student turned out to
be strangely and unaccountably right in assuming it as more than
probable that Arthur Holliday would marry the young lady who had
given him the water-color drawing of the landscape. That marriage
took place a little more than a year after the events occurred
which I have just been relating.
The young couple came to live in the neighborhood in which I was
then established in practice. I was present at the wedding, and
was rather surprised to find that Arthur was singularly reserved
with me, both before and after his marriage, on the subject of
the young lady's prior engagement. He only referred to it once
when we were alone, merely telling me, on that occasion, that his
wife had done all that honor and duty required of her in the
matter, and that the engagement had been broken off with the full
approval of her parents. I never heard more from him than this.
For three years he and his wife lived together happily. At the
expiration of that time the symptoms of a serious illness first
declared themselves in Mrs. Arthur Holliday. It turned out to be
a long, lingering, hopeless malady. I attended her throughout. We
had been great friends when she was well, and we became more
attached to each other than ever when she was ill. I had many
long and interesting conversations with her in the intervals when
she suffered least. The result of one of those conversations I
may briefly relate, leaving you to draw any inferences from it
that you please.
The interview to which I refer occurred shortly before her death.
I called one evening as usual, and found her alone, with a look
in her eyes which told me she had been crying. She only informed
me at first that she had been depressed in spirits, but by little
and little she became more communicative, and confessed to me
that she had been looking over some old letters which had been
addressed to her, before she had seen Arthur, by a man to whom
she had been engaged to be married. I asked her how the
engagement came to be broken off. She replied that it had not
been broken off, but that it had died out in a very mysterious
way. The person to whom she was engaged--her first love, she
called him--was very poor, and there was no immediate prospect of
their being married. He followed my profession, and went abroad
to study. They had corresponded regularly until the time when, as
she believed, he had returned to England. From that period she
heard no more of him. He was of a fretful, sensitive temperament,
and she feared that she might have inadvertently done or said
something to offend him. However that might be, he had never
written to her again, and after waiting a year she had married
Arthur. I asked when the first estrangement had begun, and found
that the time at which she ceased to hear anything of her first
lover exactly corresponded with the time at which I had been
called in to my mysterious patient at The Two Robins Inn.
A fortnight after that conversation she died. In course of time
Arthur married again. Of late years he has lived principally in
London, and I have seen little or nothing of him.
I have some years to pass over before I can approach to anything
like a conclusion of this fragmentary narrative. And even when
that later period is reached, the little that I have to say will
not occupy your attention for more than a few minutes.
One rainy autumn evening, while I was still practicing as a
country doctor, I was sitting alone, thinking over a case then
under my charge, which sorely perplexed me, when I heard a low
knock at the door of my room.
"Come in," I cried, looking up curiously to see who wanted me.
After a momentary delay, the lock moved, and a long, white, bony
hand stole round the door as it opened, gently pushing it over a
fold in the carpet which hindered it from working freely on the
hinges. The hand was followed by a man whose face instantly
struck me with a very strange sensation. There was something
familiar to me in the look of him, and yet it was also something
that suggested the idea of change.
He quietly introduced himself as "Mr. Lorn," presented to me some
excellent professional recommendations, and proposed to fill the
place, then vacant, of my assistant. While he was speaking I
noticed it as singular that we did not appear to be meeting each
other like strangers, and that, while I was certainly startled at
seeing him, he did not appear to be at all startled at seeing me.
It was on the tip of my tongue to say that I thought I had met
with him before. But there was something in his face, and
something in my own recollections--I can hardly say what--which
unaccountably restrained me from speaking and which as
unaccountably attracted me to him at once, and made me feel ready
and glad to accept his proposal.
He took his assistant's place on that very day. We got on
together as if we had been old friends from the first; but,
throughout the whole time of his residence in my house, he never
volunteered any confidences on the subject of his past life, and
I never approached the forbidden topic except by hints, which he
resolutely refused to understand.
I had long had a notion that my patient at the inn might have
been a natural son of the elder Mr. Holliday's, and that he might
also have been the man who was engaged to Arthur's first wife.
And now another idea occurred to me, that Mr. Lorn was the only
person in existence who could, if he chose, enlighten me on both
those doubtful points. But he never did choose, and I was never
enlightened. He remained with me till I removed to London to try
my fortune there as a physician for the second time, and then he
went his way and I went mine, and we have never seen one another
I can add no more. I may have been right in my suspicion, or I
may have been wrong. All I know is that, in those days of my
country practice, when I came home late, and found my assistant
asleep, and woke him, he used to look, in coming to, wonderfully
like the stranger at Doncaster as he raised himself in the bed on
that memorable night.
THE SIXTH DAY
AN oppressively mild temperature, and steady, soft, settled
rain--dismal weather for idle people in the country. Miss Jessie,
after looking longingly out of the window, resigned herself to
circumstances, and gave up all hope of a ride. The gardener, the
conservatory, the rabbits, the raven, the housekeeper, and, as a
last resource, even the neglected piano, were all laid under
contribution to help her through the time. It was a long day, but
thanks to her own talent for trifling, she contrived to occupy it
Still no news of my son. The time was getting on now, and it was
surely not unreasonable to look for some tidings of him.
To-day Morgan and I both finished our third and last stories. I
corrected my brother's contribution with no very great difficulty
on this occasion, and numbered it Nine. My own story came next,
and was thus accidentally distinguished as the last of the
series--Number Ten. When I dropped the two corresponding cards
into the bowl, the thought that there would be now no more to add
seemed to quicken my prevailing sense of anxiety on the subject
of George's return. A heavy depression hung upon my spirits, and
I went out desperately in the rain to shake my mind free of
oppressing influences by dint of hard bodily exercise.
The number drawn this evening was Three. On the production of the
corresponding man uscript it proved to be my turn to read again.
"I can promise you a little variety to-night," I said, addressing
our fair guest, "if I can promise nothing else. This time it is
not a story of my own writing that I am about to read, but a copy
of a very curious correspondence which I found among my
Jessie's countenance fell. "Is there no story in it?" she asked,
"Certainly there is a story in it," I replied--"a story of a much
lighter kind than any we have yet read, and which may, on that
account, prove acceptable, by way of contrast and relief, even if
it fails to attract you by other means. I obtained the original
correspondence, I must tell you, from the office of the Detective
Police of London."
Jessie's face brightened. "That promises something to begin
with," she said.
"Some years since," I continued, "there was a desire at
headquarters to increase the numbers and efficiency of the
Detective Police, and I had the honor of being one of the persons
privately consulted on that occasion. The chief obstacle to the
plan proposed lay in the difficulty of finding new recruits. The
ordinary rank and file of the police of London are sober,
trustworthy, and courageous men, but as a body they are sadly
wanting in intelligence. Knowing this, the authorities took into
consideration a scheme, which looked plausible enough on paper,
for availing themselves of the services of that proverbially
sharp class of men, the experienced clerks in attorney's offices.
Among the persons whose advice was sought on this point, I was
the only one who dissented from the arrangement proposed. I felt
certain that the really experienced clerks intrusted with
conducting private investigations and hunting up lost evidence,
were too well paid and too independently situated in their
various offices to care about entering the ranks of the Detective
Police, and submitting themselves to the rigid discipline of
Scotland Yard, and I ventured to predict that the inferior clerks
only, whose discretion was not to be trusted, would prove to be
the men who volunteered for detective employment. My advice was
not taken and the experiment of enlisting the clerks was tried in
two or three cases. I was naturally interested in the result, and
in due course of time I applied for information in the right
quarter. In reply, the originals of the letters of which I am now
about to read the copies were sent to me, with an intimation that
the correspondence in this particular instance offered a fair
specimen of the results of the experiment in the other cases. The
letters amused me, and I obtained permission to copy them before
I sent them back. You will now hear, therefore, by his own
statement, how a certain attorney's clerk succeeded in conducting
a very delicate investigation, and how the regular members of the
Detective Police contrived to help him through his first
BROTHER GRIFFITH'S STORY
THE BITER BIT.
_Extracted from the Correspondence of the London Police_.
FROM CHIEF INSPECTOR THEAKSTONE, OF THE DETECTIVE POLICE, TO
SERGEANT BULMER, OF THE SAME FORCE.
London, 4th July, 18--.
SERGEANT BULMER--This is to inform you that you are wanted to
assist in looking up a case of importance, which will require all
the attention of an experienced member of the force. The matter
of the robbery on which you are now engaged you will please to
shift over to the young man who brings you this letter. You will
tell him all the circumstances of the case, just as they stand;
you will put him up to the progress you have made (if any) toward
detecting the person or persons by whom the money has been
stolen; and you will leave him to make the best he can of the
matter now in your hands. He is to have the whole responsibility
of the case, and the whole credit of his success if he brings it
to a proper issue.
So much for the orders that I am desired to communicate to you.
A word in your ear, next, about this new man who is to take your
place. His name is Matthew Sharpin, and he is to have the chance
given him of dashing into our office at one jump--supposing he
turns out strong enough to take it. You will naturally ask me how
he comes by this privilege. I can only tell you that he has some
uncommonly strong interest to back him in certain high quarters,
which you and I had better not mention except under our breaths.
He has been a lawyer's clerk, and he is wonderfully conceited in
his opinion of himself, as well as mean and underhand, to look
at. According to his own account, he leaves his old trade and
joins ours of his own free will and preference. You will no more
believe that than I do. My notion is, that he has managed to
ferret out some private information in connection with the
affairs of one of his master's clients, which makes him rather an
awkward customer to keep in the office for the future, and which,
at the same time, gives him hold enough over his employer to make
it dangerous to drive him into a corner by turning him away. I
think the giving him this unheard-of chance among us is, in plain
words, pretty much like giving him hush money to keep him quiet.
However that may be, Mr. Matthew Sharpin is to have the case now
in your hands, and if he succeeds with it he pokes his ugly nose
into our office as sure as fate. I put you up to this, sergeant,
so that you may not stand in your own light by giving the new man
any cause to complain of you at headquarters, and remain yours,
FROM MR. MATTHEW SHARPIN TO CHIEF INSPECTOR THEAKSTONE.
London, 5th July, 18--.
DEAR SIR--Having now been favored with the necessary instructions
from Sergeant Bulmer, I beg to remind you of certain directions
which I have received relating to the report of my future
proceedings which I am to prepare for examination at
The object of my writing, and of your examining what I have
written before you send it to the higher authorities, is, I am
informed, to give me, as an untried hand, the benefit of your
advice in case I want it (which I venture to think I shall not)
at any stage of my proceedings. As the extraordinary
circumstances of the case on which I am now engaged make it
impossible for me to absent myself from the place where the
robbery was committed until I have made some progress toward
discovering the thief, I am necessarily precluded from consulting
you personally. Hence the necessity of my writing down the
various details, which might perhaps be better communicated by
word of mouth. This, if I am not mistaken, is the position in
which we are now placed. I state my own impressions on the
subject in writing, in order that we may clearly understand each
other at the outset; and have the honor to remain your obedient
FROM CHIEF INSPECTOR THEAKSTONE TO MR. MATTHEW SHARPIN.
London, 5th July, 18--.
SIR--You have begun by wasting time, ink, and paper. We both of
us perfectly well knew the position we stood in toward each other
when I sent you with my letter to Sergeant Bulmer. There was not
the least need to repeat it in writing. Be so good as to employ
your pen in future on the business actually in hand.
You have now three separate matters on which to write me. First,
you have to draw up a statement of your instructions received
from Sergeant Bulmer, in order to show us that nothing has
escaped your memory, and that you are thoroughly acquainted with
all the circumstances of the case which has been intrusted to
you. Secondly, you are to inform me what it is you propose to do.
Thirdly, you are to report every inch of your progress (if you
make any) from day to day, and, if need be, from hour to hour as
well. This is _your_ duty. As to what _my_ duty may be, when I
want you to remind me of it, I will write and tell you so. In the
meantime, I remain yours,
FROM MR. MATTHEW SHARPIN TO CHIEF INSPECTOR THEAKSTONE.
London, 6th July, 18--.
SIR--You are rather an elderly person, and as such, naturally
inclined to be a little jealous of men like me, who are in the
prime of their lives and their faculties. Under these
circumstances, it is my duty to be considerate
toward you, and not to bear too hardly on your small failings. I
decline, therefore, altogether to take offense at the tone of
your letter; I give you the full benefit of the natural
generosity of my nature; I sponge the very existence of your
surly communication out of my memory--in short, Chief Inspector
Theakstone, I forgive you, and proceed to business.
My first duty is to draw up a full statement of the instructions
I have received from Sergeant Bulmer. Here they are at your
service, according to my version of them.
At Number Thirteen Rutherford Street, Soho, there is a
stationer's shop. It is kept by one Mr. Yatman. He is a married
man, but has no family. Besides Mr. and Mrs. Yatman, the other
inmates in the house are a lodger, a young single man named Jay,
who occupies the front room on the second floor--a shopman, who
sleeps in one of the attics, and a servant-of-all-work, whose bed
is in the back kitchen. Once a week a charwoman comes to help
this servant. These are all the persons who, on ordinary
occasions, have means of access to the interior of the house,
placed, as a matter of course, at their disposal. Mr. Yatman has
been in business for many years, carrying on his affairs
prosperously enough to realize a handsome independence for a
person in his position. Unfortunately for himself, he endeavored
to increase the amount of his property by speculating. He
ventured boldly in his investments; luck went against him; and
rather less than two years ago he found himself a poor man again.
All that was saved out of the wreck of his property was the sum
of two hundred pounds.
Although Mr. Yatman did his best to meet his altered
circumstances, by giving up many of the luxuries and comforts to
which he and his wife had been accustomed, he found it impossible
to retrench so far as to allow of putting by any money from the
income produced by his shop. The business has been declining of
late years, the cheap advertising stationers having done it
injury with the public. Consequently, up to the last week, the
only surplus property possessed by Mr. Yatman consisted of the
two hundred pounds which had been recovered from the wreck of his
fortune. This sum was placed as a deposit in a joint-stock bank
of the highest possible character.
Eight days ago Mr. Yatman and his lodger, Mr. Jay, held a
conversation on the subject of the commercial difficulties which
are hampering trade in all directions at the present time. Mr.
Jay (who lives by supplying the newspapers with short paragraphs
relating to accidents, offenses, and brief records of remarkable
occurrences in general--who is, in short, what they call a
penny-a-liner) told his landlord that he had been in the city
that day and heard unfavorable rumors on the subject of the
joint-stock banks. The rumors to which he alluded had already
reached the ears of Mr. Yatman from other quarters, and the
confirmation of them by his lodger had such an effect on his
mind--predisposed as it was to alarm by the experience of his
former losses--that he resolved to go at once to the bank and
withdraw his deposit. It was then getting on toward the end of
the afternoon, and he arrived just in time to receive his money
before the bank closed.
He received the deposit in bank-notes of the following amounts:
one fifty-pound note, three twenty-pound notes, six ten-pound
notes, and six five-pound notes. His object in drawing the money
in this form was to have it ready to lay out immediately in
trifling loans, on good security, among the small tradespeople of
his district, some of whom are sorely pressed for the very means
of existence at the present time. Investments of this kind seemed
to Mr. Yatman to be the most safe and the most profitable on
which he could now venture.
He brought the money back in an envelope placed in his breast
pocket, and asked his shopman, on getting home, to look for a
small, flat, tin cash-box, which had not been used for years, and
which, as Mr. Yatman remembered it, was exactly of the right size
to hold the bank-notes. For some time the cash-box was searched
for in vain. Mr. Yatman called to his wife to know if she had any
idea where it was. The question was overheard by the
servant-of-all-work, who was taking up the tea-tray at the time,
and by Mr. Jay, who was coming downstairs on his way out to the
theater. Ultimately the cash-box was found by the shopman. Mr.
Yatman placed the bank-notes in it, secured them by a padlock,
and put the box in his coat pocket. It stuck out of the coat
pocket a very little, but enough to be seen. Mr. Yatman remained
at home, upstairs, all that evening. No visitors called. At
eleven o'clock he went to bed, and put the cash-box under his
When he and his wife woke the next morning the box was gone.
Payment of the notes was immediately stopped at the Bank of
England, but no news of the money has been heard of since that
So far the circumstances of the case are perfectly clear. They
point unmistakably to the conclusion that the robbery must have
been committed by some person living in the house. Suspicion
falls, therefore, upon the servant-of-all-work, upon the shopman,
and upon Mr. Jay. The two first knew that the cash-box was being
inquired for by their master, but did not know what it was he
wanted to put into it. They would assume, of course, that it was
money. They both had opportunities (the servant when she took
away the tea, and the shopman when he came, after shutting up, to
give the keys of the till to his master) of seeing the cash-box
in Mr. Yatman's pocket, and of inferring naturally, from its
position there, that he intended to take it into his bedroom with
him at night.
Mr. Jay, on the other hand, had been told, during the afternoon's
conversation on the subject of joint-stock banks, that his
landlord had a deposit of two hundred pounds in one of them. He
also knew that Mr. Yatman left him with the intention of drawing
that money out; and he heard the inquiry for the cash-box
afterward, when he was coming downstairs. He must, therefore,
have inferred that the money was in the house, and that the
cash-box was the receptacle intended to contain it. That he could
have had any idea, however, of the place in which Mr. Yatman
intended to keep it for the night is impossible, seeing that he
went out before the box was found, and did not return till his
landlord was in bed. Consequently, if he committed the robbery,
he must have gone into the bedroom purely on speculation.
Speaking of the bedroom reminds me of the necessity of noticing
the situation of it in the house, and the means that exist of
gaining easy access to it at any hour of the night.
The room in question is the back room on the first floor. In
consequence of Mrs. Yatman's constitutional nervousness on the
subject of fire, which makes her apprehend being burned alive in
her room, in case of accident, by the hampering of the lock if
the key is turned in it, her husband has never been accustomed to
lock the bedroom door. Both he and his wife are, by their own
admission, heavy sleepers; consequently, the risk to be run by
any evil-disposed persons wishing to plunder the bedroom was of
the most trifling kind. They could enter the room by merely
turning the handle of the door; and, if they moved with ordinary
caution, there was no fear of their waking the sleepers inside.
This fact is of importance. It strengthens our conviction that
the money must have been taken by one of the inmates of the
house, because it tends to show that the robbery, in this case,
might have been committed by persons not possessed of the
superior vigilance and cunning of the experienced thief.
Such are the circumstances, as they were related to Sergeant
Bulmer, when he was first called in to discover the guilty
parties, and, if possible, to recover the lost bank-notes. The
strictest inquiry which he could institute failed of producing
the smallest fragment of evidence against any of the persons on
whom suspicion naturally fell. Their language and behavior on
being informed of the robbery was perfectly consistent with the
language and behavior of innocent people. Sergeant Bulmer felt
from the firs t that this was a case for private inquiry and
secret observation. He began by recommending Mr. and Mrs. Yatman
to affect a feeling of perfect confidence in the innocence of the
persons living under their roof, and he then opened the campaign
by employing himself in following the goings and comings, and in
discovering the friends, the habits, and the secrets of the
Three days and nights of exertion on his own part, and on that of
others who were competent to assist his investigations, were
enough to satisfy him that there was no sound cause for suspicion
against the girl.
He next practiced the same precaution in relation to the shopman.
There was more difficulty and uncertainty in privately clearing
up this person's character without his knowledge, but the
obstacles were at last smoothed away with tolerable success; and,
though there is not the same amount of certainty in this case
which there was in the case of the girl, there is still fair
reason for supposing that the shopman has had nothing to do with
the robbery of the cash-box.
As a necessary consequence of these proceedings, the range of
suspicion now becomes limited to the lodger, Mr. Jay.
When I presented your letter of introduction to Sergeant Bulmer,
he had already made some inquiries on the subject of this young
man. The result, so far, has not been at all favorable. Mr. Jay's
habits are irregular; he frequents public houses, and seems to be
familiarly acquainted with a great many dissolute characters; he
is in debt to most of the tradespeople whom he employs; he has
not paid his rent to Mr. Yatman for the last month; yesterday
evening he came home excited by liquor, and last week he was seen
talking to a prize-fighter; in short, though Mr. Jay does call
himself a journalist, in virtue of his penny-a-line contributions
to the newspapers, he is a young man of low tastes, vulgar
manners, and bad habits. Nothing has yet been discovered in
relation to him which redounds to his credit in the smallest
I have now reported, down to the very last details, all the
particulars communicated to me by Sergeant Bulmer. I believe you
will not find an omission anywhere; and I think you will admit,
though you are prejudiced against me, that a clearer statement of
facts was never laid before you than the statement I have now
made. My next duty is to tell you what I propose to do now that
the case is confided to my hands.
In the first place, it is clearly my business to take up the case
at the point where Sergeant Bulmer has left it. On his authority,
I am justified in assuming that I have no need to trouble myself
about the maid-of-all-work and the shopman. Their characters are
now to be considered as cleared up. What remains to be privately
investigated is the question of the guilt or innocence of Mr.
Jay. Before we give up the notes for lost, we must make sure, if
we can, that he knows nothing about them.
This is the plan that I have adopted, with the full approval of
Mr. and Mrs. Yatman, for discovering whether Mr. Jay is or is not
the person who has stolen the cash-box:
I propose to-day to present myself at the house in the character
of a young man who is looking for lodgings. The back room on the
second floor will be shown to me as the room to let, and I shall
establish myself there to-night as a person from the country who
has come to London to look for a situation in a respectable shop
By this means I shall be living next to the room occupied by Mr.
Jay. The partition between us is mere lath and plaster. I shall
make a small hole in it, near the cornice, through which I can
see what Mr. Jay does in his room, and hear every word that is
said when any friend happens to call on him. Whenever he is at
home, I shall be at my post of observation; whenever he goes out,
I shall be after him. By employing these means of watching him, I
believe I may look forward to the discovery of his secret--if he
knows anything about the lost bank-notes--as to a dead certainty.
What you may think of my plan of observation I cannot undertake
to say. It appears to me to unite the invaluable merits of
boldness and simplicity. Fortified by this conviction, I close
the present communication with feelings of the most sanguine
description in regard to the future, and remain your obedient
FROM THE SAME TO THE SAME.
SIR--As you have not honored me with any answer to my last
communication, I assume that, in spite of your prejudices against
me, it has produced the favorable impression on your mind which I
ventured to anticipate. Gratified and encouraged beyond measure
by the token of approval which your eloquent silence conveys to
me, I proceed to report the progress that has been made in the
course of the last twenty-four hours.
I am now comfortably established next door to Mr. Jay, and I am
delighted to say that I have two holes in the partition instead
of one. My natural sense of humor has led me into the pardonable
extravagance of giving them both appropriate names. One I call my
peep-hole, and the other my pipe-hole. The name of the first
explains itself; the name of the second refers to a small tin
pipe or tube inserted in the hole, and twisted so that the mouth
of it comes close to my ear while I am standing at my post of
observation. Thus, while I am looking at Mr. Jay through my
peep-hole, I can hear every word that may be spoken in his room
through my pipe-hole.
Perfect candor--a virtue which I have possessed from my
childhood--compels me to acknowledge, before I go any further,
that the ingenious notion of adding a pipe-hole to my proposed
peep-hole originated with Mrs. Yatman. This lady--a most
intelligent and accomplished person, simple, and yet
distinguished in her manners, has entered into all my little
plans with an enthusiasm and intelligence which I cannot too
highly praise. Mr. Yatman is so cast down by his loss that he is
quite incapable of affording me any assistance. Mrs. Yatman, who
is evidently most tenderly attached to him, feels her husband's
sad condition of mind even more acutely than she feels the loss
of the money, and is mainly stimulated to exertion by her desire
to assist in raising him from the miserable state of prostration
into which he has now fallen.
"The money, Mr. Sharpin," she said to me yesterday evening, with
tears in her eyes, "the money may be regained by rigid economy
and strict attention to business. It is my husband's wretched
state of mind that makes me so anxious for the discovery of the
thief. I may be wrong, but I felt hopeful of success as soon as
you entered the house; and I believe that, if the wretch who
robbed us is to be found, you are the man to discover him." I
accepted this gratifying compliment in the spirit in which it was
offered, firmly believing that I shall be found, sooner or later,
to have thoroughly deserved it.
Let me now return to business--that is to say, to my peep-hole
and my pipe-hole.
I have enjoyed some hours of calm observation of Mr. Jay. Though
rarely at home, as I understand from Mrs. Yatman, on ordinary
occasions, he has been indoors the whole of this day. That is
suspicious, to begin with. I have to report, further, that he
rose at a late hour this morning (always a bad sign in a young
man), and that he lost a great deal of time, after he was up, in
yawning and complaining to himself of headache. Like other
debauched characters, he ate little or nothing for breakfast. His
next proceeding was to smoke a pipe--a dirty clay pipe, which a
gentleman would have been ashamed to put between his lips. When
he had done smoking he took out pen, ink and paper, and sat down
to write with a groan--whether of remorse for having taken the
bank-notes, or of disgust at the task before him, I am unable to
say. After writing a few lines (too far away from my peep-hole to
give me a chance of reading over his shoulder), he leaned back in
his chair, and amused himself by humming the tunes of popular
songs. I recognized "My Mary Anne," "Bobbin' Around," and "Old
Dog Tray," among other melodies. Whether these do or do not
represent secret signals by which he communicates
with his accomplices remains to be seen. After he had amused
himself for some time by humming, he got up and began to walk
about the room, occasionally stopping to add a sentence to the
paper on his desk. Before long he went to a locked cupboard and
opened it. I strained my eyes eagerly, in expectation of making a
discovery. I saw him take something carefully out of the
cupboard--he turned round--and it was only a pint bottle of
brandy! Having drunk some of the liquor, this extremely indolent
reprobate lay down on his bed again, and in five minutes was fast
After hearing him snoring for at least two hours, I was recalled
to my peep-hole by a knock at his door. He jumped up and opened
it with suspicious activity.
A very small boy, with a very dirty face, walked in, said:
"Please, sir, they're waiting for you," sat down on a chair with
his legs a long way from the ground, and instantly fell asleep!
Mr. Jay swore an oath, tied a wet towel round his head, and,
going back to his paper, began to cover it with writing as fast
as his fingers could move the pen. Occasionally getting up to dip
the towel in water and tie it on again, he continued at this
employment for nearly three hours; then folded up the leaves of
writing, woke the boy, and gave them to him, with this remarkable
expression: "Now, then, young sleepy-head, quick march! If you
see the governor, tell him to have the money ready for me when I
call for it." The boy grinned and disappeared. I was sorely
tempted to follow "sleepy-head," but, on reflection, considered
it safest still to keep my eye on the proceedings of Mr. Jay.
In half an hour's time he put on his hat and walked out. Of
course I put on my hat and walked out also. As I went downstairs
I passed Mrs. Yatman going up. The lady has been kind enough to
undertake, by previous arrangement between us, to search Mr.
Jay's room while he is out of the way, and while I am necessarily
engaged in the pleasing duty of following him wherever he goes.
On the occasion to which I now refer, he walked straight to the
nearest tavern and ordered a couple of mutton-chops for his
dinner. I placed myself in the next box to him, and ordered a
couple of mutton-chops for my dinner. Before I had been in the
room a minute, a young man of highly suspicious manners and
appearance, sitting at a table opposite, took his glass of porter
in his hand and joined Mr. Jay. I pretended to be reading the
newspaper, and listened, as in duty bound, with all my might.
"Jack has been here inquiring after you," says the young man.
"Did he leave any message?" asks Mr. Jay.
"Yes," says the other. "He told me, if I met with you, to say
that he wished very particularly to see you to-night, and that he
would give you a look in at Rutherford Street at seven o'clock."
"All right," says Mr. Jay. "I'll get back in time to see him."
Upon this, the suspicious-looking young man finished his porter,
and saying that he was rather in a hurry, took leave of his
friend (perhaps I should not be wrong if I said his accomplice?),
and left the room.
At twenty-five minutes and a half past six--in these serious
cases it is important to be particular about time--Mr. Jay
finished his chops and paid his bill. At twenty-six minutes and
three-quarters I finished my chops and paid mine. In ten minutes
more I was inside the house in Rutherford Street, and was
received by Mrs. Yatman in the passage. That charming woman's
face exhibited an expression of melancholy and disappointment
which it quite grieved me to see.
"I am afraid, ma'am," says I, "that you have not hit on any
little criminating discovery in the lodger's room?"
She shook her head and sighed. It was a soft, languid, fluttering
sigh--and, upon my life, it quite upset me. For the moment I
forgot business, and burned with envy of Mr. Yatman.
"Don't despair, ma'am," I said, with an insinuating mildness
which seemed to touch her. "I have heard a mysterious
conversation--I know of a guilty appointment--and I expect great
things from my peep-hole and my pipe-hole to-night. Pray don't be
alarmed, but I think we are on the brink of a discovery."
Here my enthusiastic devotion to business got the better part of
my tender feelings. I looked--winked--nodded--left her.
When I got back to my observatory, I found Mr. Jay digesting his
mutton-chops in an armchair, with his pipe in his mouth. On his
table were two tumblers, a jug of water, and the pint bottle of
brandy. It was then close upon seven o'clock. As the hour struck
the person described as "Jack" walked in.
He looked agitated--I am happy to say he looked violently
agitated. The cheerful glow of anticipated success diffused
itself (to use a strong expression) all over me, from head to
foot. With breathless interest I looked through my peep-hole, and
saw the visitor--the "Jack" of this delightful case--sit down,
facing me, at the opposite side of the table to Mr. Jay. Making
allowance for the difference in expression which their
countenances just now happened to exhibit, these two abandoned
villains were so much alike in other respects as to lead at once
to the conclusion that they were brothers. Jack was the cleaner
man and the better dressed of the two. I admit that, at the
outset. It is, perhaps, one of my failings to push justice and
impartiality to their utmost limits. I am no Pharisee; and where
Vice has its redeeming point, I say, let Vice have its due--yes,
yes, by all manner of means, let Vice have its due.
"What's the matter now, Jack?" says Mr. Jay.
"Can't you see it in my face?" says Jack. "My dear fellow, delays
are dangerous. Let us have done with suspense, and risk it, the
day after to-morrow."
"So soon as that?" cries Mr. Jay, looking very much astonished.
"Well, I'm ready, if you are. But, I say, Jack, is somebody else
ready, too? Are you quite sure of that?"
He smiled as he spoke--a frightful smile--and laid a very strong
emphasis on those two words, "Somebody else." There is evidently
a third ruffian, a nameless desperado, concerned in the business.
"Meet us to-morrow," says Jack, "and judge for yourself. Be in
the Regent's Park at eleven in the morning, and look out for us
at the turning that leads to the Avenue Road."
"I'll be there," says Mr. Jay. "Have a drop of brandy-and-water?
What are you getting up for? You're not going already?"
"Yes, I am," says Jack. "The fact is, I'm so excited and agitated
that I can't sit still anywhere for five minutes together.
Ridiculous as it may appear to you, I'm in a perpetual state of
nervous flutter. I can't, for the life of me, help fearing that
we shall be found out. I fancy that every man who looks twice at
me in the street is a spy--"
At these words I thought my legs would have given way under me.
Nothing but strength of mind kept me at my peep-hole--nothing
else, I give you my word of honor.
"Stuff and nonsense!" cries Mr. Jay, with all the effrontery of a
veteran in crime. "We have kept the secret up to this time, and
we will manage cleverly to the end. Have a drop of
brandy-and-water, and you will feel as certain about it as I do."
Jack steadily refused the brandy-and-water, and steadily
persisted in taking his leave.
"I must try if I can't walk it off," he said. "Remember to-morrow
morning--eleven o'clock, Avenue Road, side of the Regent's Park."
With those words he went out. His hardened relative laughed
desperately and resumed the dirty clay pipe.
I sat down on the side of my bed, actually quivering with
It is clear to me that no attempt has yet been made to change the
stolen bank-notes, and I may add that Sergeant Bulmer was of that
opinion also when he left the case in my hands. What is the
natural conclusion to draw from the conversation which I have
just set down? Evidently that the confederates meet to-morrow to
take their respective shares in the stolen money, and to decide
on the safest means of getting the notes changed the day after.
Mr. Jay is, beyond a doubt, the leading criminal in this
business, and he will probably run the chief risk--that of
changing the fifty-pound note. I shall, therefore, still make it
my business to follow him--attending at the Regent's Par k
to-morrow, and doing my best to hear what is said there. If
another appointment is made for the day after, I shall, of
course, go to it. In the meantime, I shall want the immediate
assistance of two competent persons (supposing the rascals
separate after their meeting) to follow the two minor criminals.
It is only fair to add that, if the rogues all retire together, I
shall probably keep my subordinates in reserve. Being naturally
ambitious, I desire, if possible, to have the whole credit of
discovering this robbery to myself.
I have to acknowledge, with thanks, the speedy arrival of my two
subordinates--men of very average abilities, I am afraid; but,
fortunately, I shall always be on the spot to direct them.
My first business this morning was necessarily to prevent
possible mistakes by accounting to Mr. and Mrs. Yatman for the
presence of two strangers on the scene. Mr. Yatman (between
ourselves, a poor, feeble man) only shook his head and groaned.
Mrs. Yatman (that superior woman) favored me with a charming look
"Oh, Mr. Sharpin!" she said, "I am so sorry to see those two men!
Your sending for their assistance looks as if you were beginning
to be doubtful of success."
I privately winked at her (she is very good in allowing me to do
so without taking offense), and told her, in my facetious way,
that she labored under a slight mistake.
"It is because I am sure of success, ma'am, that I send for them.
I am determined to recover the money, not for my own sake only,
but for Mr. Yatman's sake--and for yours."
I laid a considerable amount of stress on those last three words.
She said: "Oh, Mr. Sharpin!" again, and blushed of a heavenly
red, and looked down at her work. I could go to the world's end
with that woman if Mr. Yatman would only die.
I sent off the two subordinates to wait until I wanted them at
the Avenue Road gate of the Regent's Park. Half-an-hour afterward
I was following the same direction myself at the heels of Mr.
The two confederates were punctual to the appointed time. I blush
to record it, but it is nevertheless necessary to state that the
third rogue--the nameless desperado of my report, or, if you
prefer it, the mysterious "somebody else" of the conversation
between the two brothers--is--a woman! and, what is worse, a
young woman! and, what is more lamentable still, a nice-looking
woman! I have long resisted a growing conviction that, wherever
there is mischief in this world, an individual of the fair sex is
inevitably certain to be mixed up in it. After the experience of
this morning, I can struggle against that sad conclusion no
longer. I give up the sex--excepting Mrs. Yatman, I give up the
The man named "Jack" offered the woman his arm. Mr. Jay placed
himself on the other side of her. The three then walked away
slowly among the trees. I followed them at a respectful distance.
My two subordinates, at a respectful distance, also, followed me.
It was, I deeply regret to say, impossible to get near enough to
them to overhear their conversation without running too great a
risk of being discovered. I could only infer from their gestures
and actions that they were all three talking with extraordinary
earnestness on some subject which deeply interested them. After
having been engaged in this way a full quarter of an hour, they
suddenly turned round to retrace their steps. My presence of mind
did not forsake me in this emergency. I signed to the two
subordinates to walk on carelessly and pass them, while I myself
slipped dexterously behind a tree. As they came by me, I heard
"Jack" address these words to Mr. Jay:
"Let us say half-past ten to-morrow morning. And mind you come in
a cab. We had better not risk taking one in this neighborhood."
Mr. Jay made some brief reply which I could not overhear. They
walked back to the place at which they had met, shaking hands
there with an audacious cordiality which it quite sickened me to
see. They then separated. I followed Mr. Jay. My subordinates
paid the same delicate attention to the other two.
Instead of taking me back to Rutherford Street, Mr. Jay led me to
the Strand. He stopped at a dingy, disreputable-looking house,
which, according to the inscription over the door, was a
newspaper office, but which, in my judgment, had all the external
appearance of a place devoted to the reception of stolen goods.
After remaining inside for a few minutes, he came out whistling,
with his finger and thumb in his waistcoat pocket. Some men would
now have arrested him on the spot. I remembered the necessity of
catching the two confederates, and the importance of not
interfering with the appointment that had been made for the next
morning. Such coolness as this, under trying circumstances, is
rarely to be found, I should imagine, in a young beginner, whose
reputation as a detective policeman is still to make.
From the house of suspicious appearance Mr. Jay betook himself to
a cigar-divan, and read the magazines over a cheroot. From the
divan he strolled to the tavern and had his chops. I strolled to
the tavern and had my chops. When he had done he went back to his
lodging. When I had done I went back to mine. He was overcome
with drowsiness early in the evening, and went to bed. As soon as
I heard him snoring, I was overcome with drowsiness and went to
Early in the morning my two subordinates came to make their
They had seen the man named "Jack" leave the woman at the gate of
an apparently respectable villa residence not far from the
Regent's Park. Left to himself, he took a turning to the right,
which led to a sort of suburban street, principally inhabited by
shopkeepers. He stopped at the private door of one of the houses,
and let himself in with his own key--looking about him as he
opened the door, and staring suspiciously at my men as they
lounged along on the opposite side of the way. These were all the
particulars which the subordinates had to communicate. I kept
them in my room to attend on me, if needful, and mounted to my
peep-hole to have a look at Mr. Jay.
He was occupied in dressing himself, and was taking extraordinary
pains to destroy all traces of the natural slovenliness of his
appearance. This was precisely what I expected. A vagabond like
Mr. Jay knows the importance of giving himself a respectable look
when he is going to run the risk of changing a stolen bank-note.
At five minutes past ten o'clock he had given the last brush to
his shabby hat and the last scouring with bread-crumb to his
dirty gloves. At ten minutes past ten he was in the street, on
his way to the nearest cab-stand, and I and my subordinates were
close on his heels.
He took a cab and we took a cab. I had not overheard them appoint
a place of meeting when following them in the Park on the
previous day, but I soon found that we were proceeding in the old
direction of the Avenue Road gate. The cab in which Mr. Jay was
riding turned into the Park slowly. We stopped outside, to avoid
exciting suspicion. I got out to follow the cab on foot. Just as
I did so, I saw it stop, and detected the two confederates
approaching it from among the trees. They got in, and the cab was
turned about directly. I ran back to my own cab and told the
driver to let them pass him, and then to follow as before.
The man obeyed my directions, but so clumsily as to excite their
suspicions. We had been driving after them about three minutes
(returning along the road by which we had advanced) when I looked
out of the window to see how far they might be ahead of us. As I
did this, I saw two hats popped out of the windows of their cab,
and two faces looking back at me. I sank into my place in a cold
sweat; the expression is coarse, but no other form of words can
describe my condition at that trying moment.
"We are found out!" I said, faintly, to my two subordinates. They
stared at me in astonishment. My feelings changed instantly from
the depth of despair to the height of indignation.
"It is the cabman's fault. Get out, one of you," I said, with
dignity--"get out, and punch his head."
Instead of following my directions (I should wish this act of
disobedience to be reported at headquarters) they both looked out
of the window. Before I could pull them back they both sat down
again. Before I could express my just indignation, they both
grinned, and said to me: "Please to look out, sir!"
I did look out. Their cab had stopped.
At a church door!
What effect this discovery might have had upon the ordinary run
of men I don't know. Being of a strong religious turn myself, it
filled me with horror. I have often read of the unprincipled
cunning of criminal persons, but I never before heard of three
thieves attempting to double on their pursuers by entering a
church! The sacrilegious audacity of that proceeding is, I should
think, unparalleled in the annals of crime.
I checked my grinning subordinates by a frown. It was easy to see
what was passing in their superficial minds. If I had not been
able to look below the surface, I might, on observing two nicely
dressed men and one nicely dressed woman enter a church before
eleven in the morning on a week day, have come to the same hasty
conclusion at which my inferiors had evidently arrived. As it
was, appearances had no power to impose on _me_. I got out, and,
followed by one of my men, entered the church. The other man I
sent round to watch the vestry door. You may catch a weasel
asleep, but not your humble servant, Matthew Sharpin!
We stole up the gallery stairs, diverged to the organ-loft, and
peered through the curtains in front. There they were, all three,
sitting in a pew below--yes, incredible as it may appear, sitting
in a pew below!
Before I could determine what to do, a clergyman made his
appearance in full canonicals from the vestry door, followed by a
clerk. My brain whirled and my eyesight grew dim. Dark
remembrances of robberies committed in vestries floated through
my mind. I trembled for the excellent man in full canonicals--I
even trembled for the clerk.
The clergyman placed himself inside the altar rails. The three
desperadoes approached him. He opened his book and began to read.
What? you will ask.
I answer, without the slightest hesitation, the first lines of
the Marriage Service.
My subordinate had the audacity to look at me, and then to stuff
his pocket-handkerchief into his mouth. I scorned to pay any
attention to him. After I had discovered that the man "Jack" was
the bridegroom, and that the man Jay acted the part of father,
and gave away the bride, I left the church, followed by my men,
and joined the other subordinate outside the vestry door. Some
people in my position would now have felt rather crestfallen, and
would have begun to think that they had made a very foolish
mistake. Not the faintest misgiving of any kind troubled me. I
did not feel in the slightest degree depreciated in my own
estimation. And even now, after a lapse of three hours, my mind
remains, I am happy to say, in the same calm and hopeful
As soon as I and my subordinates were assembled together outside
the church, I intimated my intention of still following the other
cab in spite of what had occurred. My reason for deciding on this
course will appear presently. The two subordinates appeared to be
astonished at my resolution. One of them had the impertinence to
say to me:
"If you please, sir, who is it that we are after? A man who has
stolen money, or a man who has stolen a wife?"
The other low person encouraged him by laughing. Both have
deserved an official reprimand, and both, I sincerely trust, will
be sure to get it.
When the marriage ceremony was over, the three got into their cab
and once more our vehicle (neatly hidden round the corner of the
church, so that they could not suspect it to be near them)
started to follow theirs.
We traced them to the terminus of the Southwestern Railway. The
newly-married couple took tickets for Richmond, paying their fare
with a half sovereign, and so depriving me of the pleasure of
arresting them, which I should certainly have done if they had
offered a bank-note. They parted from Mr. Jay, saying: "Remember
the address--14 Babylon Terrace. You dine with us to-morrow
week." Mr. Jay accepted the invitation, and added, jocosely, that
he was going home at once to get off his clean clothes, and to be
comfortable and dirty again for the rest of the day. I have to
report that I saw him home safely, and that he is comfortable and
dirty again (to use his own disgraceful language) at the present
Here the affair rests, having by this time reached what I may
call its first stage.
I know very well what persons of hasty judgment will be inclined
to say of my proceedings thus far. They will assert that I have
been deceiving myself all through in the most absurd way; they
will declare that the suspicious conversations which I have
reported referred solely to the difficulties and dangers of
successfully carrying out a runaway match; and they will appeal
to the scene in the church as offering undeniable proof of the
correctness of their assertions. So let it be. I dispute nothing
up to this point. But I ask a question, out of the depths of my
own sagacity as a man of the world, which the bitterest of my
enemies will not, I think, find it particularly easy to answer.
Granted the fact of the marriage, what proof does it afford me of
the innocence of the three persons concerned in that clandestine
transaction? It gives me none. On the contrary, it strengthens my
suspicions against Mr. Jay and his confederates, because it
suggests a distinct motive for their stealing the money. A
gentleman who is going to spend his honeymoon at Richmond wants
money; and a gentleman who is in debt to all his tradespeople
wants money. Is this an unjustifiable imputation of bad motives?
In the name of outraged Morality, I deny it. These men have
combined together, and have stolen a woman. Why should they not
combine together and steal a cash-box? I take my stand on the
logic of rigid Virtue, and I defy all the sophistry of Vice to
move me an inch out of my position.
Speaking of virtue, I may add that I have put this view of the
case to Mr. and Mrs. Yatman. That accomplished and charming woman
found it difficult at first to follow the close chain of my
reasoning. I am free to confess that she shook her head, and shed
tears, and joined her husband in premature lamentation over the
loss of the two hundred pounds. But a little careful explanation
on my part, and a little attentive listening on hers, ultimately
changed her opinion. She now agrees with me that there is nothing
in this unexpected circumstance of the clandestine marriage which
absolutely tends to divert suspicion from Mr. Jay, or Mr. "Jack,"
or the runaway lady. "Audacious hussy" was the term my fair
friend used in speaking of her; but let that pass. It is more to
the purpose to record that Mrs. Yatman has not lost confidence in
me, and that Mr. Yatman promises to follow her example, and do
his best to look hopefully for future results.
I have now, in the new turn that circumstances have taken, to
await advice from your office. I pause for fresh orders with all
the composure of a man who has got two strings to his bow. When I
traced the three confederates from the church door to the railway
terminus, I had two motives for doing so. First, I followed them
as a matter of official business, believing them still to have
been guilty of the robbery. Secondly, I followed them as a matter
of private speculation, with a view of discovering the place of
refuge to which the runaway couple intended to retreat, and of
making my information a marketable commodity to offer to the
young lady's family and friends. Thus, whatever happens, I may
congratulate myself beforehand on not having wasted my time. If
the office approves of my conduct, I have my plan ready for
further proceedings. If the office blames me, I shall take myself
off, with my marketable information, to the genteel villa
residence in the neighborhood of the Regent's Park. Anyway, the
affair puts money into my pocket, and does credit to my
penetration as an uncommonly sharp man.
I have only one word more to add, and it is this: If any
individual ventures to assert that Mr. Jay and his confederates
are innocent o f all share in the stealing of the cash-box, I, in
return, defy that individual--though he may even be Chief
Inspector Theakstone himself--to tell me who has committed the
robbery at Rutherford Street, Soho.
Strong in that conviction, I have the honor to be your very
FROM CHIEF INSPECTOR THEAKSTONE TO SERGEANT BULMER.
Birmingham, July 9th.
SERGEANT BULMER--That empty-headed puppy, Mr. Matthew Sharpin,
has made a mess of the case at Rutherford Street, exactly as I
expected he would. Business keeps me in this town, so I write to
you to set the matter straight. I inclose with this the pages of
feeble scribble-scrabble which the creature Sharpin calls a
report. Look them over; and when you have made your way through
all the gabble, I think you will agree with me that the conceited
booby has looked for the thief in every direction but the right
one. You can lay your hand on the guilty person in five minutes,
now. Settle the case at once; forward your report to me at this
place, and tell Mr. Sharpin that he is suspended till further
Yours, FRANCIS THEAKSTONE.
FROM SERGEANT BULMER TO CHIEF INSPECTOR THEAKSTONE.
London, July 10th.
INSPECTOR THEAKSTONE--Your letter and inclosure came safe to
hand. Wise men, they say, may always learn something even from a
fool. By the time I had got through Sharpin's maundering report
of his own folly, I saw my way clear enough to the end of the
Rutherford Street case, just as you thought I should. In half an
hour's time I was at the house. The first person I saw there was
Mr. Sharpin himself.
"Have you come to help me?" says he.
"Not exactly," says I. "I've come to tell you that you are
suspended till further notice."
"Very good," says he, not taken down by so much as a single peg
in his own estimation. "I thought you would be jealous of me.
It's very natural and I don't blame you. Walk in, pray, and make
yourself at home. I'm off to do a little detective business on my
own account, in the neighborhood of the Regent's Park. Ta--ta,
With those words he took himself out of the way, which was
exactly what I wanted him to do.
As soon as the maid-servant had shut the door, I told her to
inform her master that I wanted to say a word to him in private.
She showed me into the parlor behind the shop, and there was Mr.
Yatman all alone, reading the newspaper.
"About this matter of the robbery, sir," says I.
He cut me short, peevishly enough, being naturally a poor, weak,
womanish sort of man.
"Yes, yes, I know," says he. "You have come to tell me that your
wonderfully clever man, who has bored holes in my second floor
partition, has made a mistake, and is off the scent of the
scoundrel who has stolen my money."
"Yes, sir," says I. "That _is_ one of the things I came to tell
you. But I have got something else to say besides that."
"Can you tell me who the thief is?" says he, more pettish than
"Yes, sir," says I, "I think I can."
He put down the newspaper, and began to look rather anxious and
"Not my shopman?" says he. "I hope, for the man's own sake, it's
not my shopman."
"Guess again, sir," says I.
"That idle slut, the maid?" says he.
"She is idle, sir," says I, "and she is also a slut; my first
inquiries about her proved as much as that. But she's not the
"Then, in the name of Heaven, who is?" says he.
"Will you please to prepare yourself for a very disagreeable
surprise, sir?" says I. "And, in case you lose your temper, will
you excuse my remarking that I am the stronger man of the two,
and that if you allow yourself to lay hands on me, I may
unintentionally hurt you, in pure self-defense."
He turned as pale as ashes, and pushed his chair two or three
feet away from me.
"You have asked me to tell you, sir, who has taken your money," I
went on. "If you insist on my giving you an answer--"
"I do insist," he said, faintly. "Who has taken it?"
"Your wife has taken it," I said, very quietly, and very
positively at the same time.
He jumped out of the chair as if I had put a knife into him, and
struck his fist on the table so heavily that the wood cracked
"Steady, sir," says I. "Flying into a passion won't help you to
"It's a lie!" says he, with another smack of his fist on the
table--"a base, vile, infamous lie! How dare you--"
He stopped, and fell back into the chair again, looked about him
in a bewildered way, and ended by bursting out crying.
"When your better sense comes back to you, sir," says I, "I am
sure you will be gentleman enough to make an apology for the
language you have just used. In the meantime, please to listen,
if you can, to a word of explanation. Mr. Sharpin has sent in a
report to our inspector of the most irregular and ridiculous
kind, setting down not only all his own foolish doings and
sayings, but the doings and sayings of Mrs. Yatman as well. In
most cases, such a document would have been fit only for the
waste paper basket; but in this particular case it so happens
that Mr. Sharpin's budget of nonsense leads to a certain
conclusion, which the simpleton of a writer has been quite
innocent of suspecting from the beginning to the end. Of that
conclusion I am so sure that I will forfeit my place if it does
not turn out that Mrs. Yatman has been practicing upon the folly
and conceit of this young man, and that she has tried to shield
herself from discovery by purposely encouraging him to suspect
the wrong persons. I tell you that confidently; and I will even
go further. I will undertake to give a decided opinion as to why
Mrs. Yatman took the money, and what she has done with it, or
with a part of it. Nobody can look at that lady, sir, without
being struck by the great taste and beauty of her dress--"
As I said those last words, the poor man seemed to find his
powers of speech again. He cut me short directly as haughtily as
if he had been a duke instead of a stationer.
"Try some other means of justifying your vile calumny against my
wife," says he. "Her milliner's bill for the past year is on my
file of receipted accounts at this moment."
"Excuse me, sir," says I, "but that proves nothing. Milliners, I
must tell you, have a certain rascally custom which comes within
the daily experience of our office. A married lady who wishes it
can keep two accounts at her dressmaker's; one is the account
which her husband sees and pays; the other is the private
account, which contains all the extravagant items, and which the
wife pays secretly, by installments, whenever she can. According
to our usual experience, these installments are mostly squeezed
out of the housekeeping money. In your case, I suspect, no
installments have been paid; proceedings have been threatened;
Mrs. Yatman, knowing your altered circumstances, has felt herself
driven into a corner, and she has paid her private account out of
"I won't believe it," says he. "Every word you speak is an
abominable insult to me and to my wife."
"Are you man enough, sir," says I, taking him up short, in order
to save time and words, "to get that receipted bill you spoke of
just now off the file, and come with me at once to the milliner's
shop where Mrs. Yatman deals?"
He turned red in the face at that, got the bill directly, and put
on his hat. I took out of my pocket-book the list containing the
numbers of the lost notes, and we left the house together
Arrived at the milliner's (one of the expensive West-End houses,
as I expected), I asked for a private interview, on important
business, with the mistress of the concern. It was not the first
time that she and I had met over the same delicate investigation.
The moment she set eyes on me she sent for her husband. I
mentioned who Mr. Yatman was, and what we wanted.
"This is strictly private?" inquires the husband. I nodded my
"And confidential?" says the wife. I nodded again.
"Do you see any objection, dear, to obliging the sergeant with a
sight of the books?" says the husband.
"None in the world, love, if you approve of it," says the wife.
All this while poor Mr. Yatman sat looking the picture of
astonishment and distress, q uite out of place at our polite
conference. The books were brought, and one minute's look at the
pages in which Mrs. Yatman's name figured was enough, and more
than enough, to prove the truth of every word that I had spoken.
There, in one book, was the husband's account which Mr. Yatman
had settled; and there, in the other, was the private account,
crossed off also, the date of settlement being the very day after
the loss of the cash-box. This said private account amounted to
the sum of a hundred and seventy-five pounds, odd shillings, and
it extended over a period of three years. Not a single
installment had been paid on it. Under the last line was an entry
to this effect: "Written to for the third time, June 23d." I
pointed to it, and asked the milliner if that meant "last June."
Yes, it did mean last June; and she now deeply regretted to say
that it had been accompanied by a threat of legal proceedings.
"I thought you gave good customers more than three years'
credit?" says I.
The milliner looks at Mr. Yatman, and whispers to me, "Not when a
lady's husband gets into difficulties."
She pointed to the account as she spoke. The entries after the
time when Mr. Yatman's circumstances became involved were just as
extravagant, for a person in his wife's situation, as the entries
for the year before that period. If the lady had economized in
other things, she had certainly not economized in the matter of
There was nothing left now but to examine the cash-book, for
form's sake. The money had been paid in notes, the amounts and
numbers of which exactly tallied with the figures set down in my
After that, I thought it best to get Mr. Yatman out of the house
immediately. He was in such a pitiable condition that I called a
cab and accompanied him home in it. At first he cried and raved
like a child; but I soon quieted him; and I must add, to his
credit, that he made me a most handsome apology for his language
as the cab drew up at his house door. In return, I tried to give
him some advice about how to set matters right for the future
with his wife. He paid very little attention to me, and went
upstairs muttering to himself about a separation. Whether Mrs.
Yatman will come cleverly out of the scrape or not seems
doubtful. I should say myself that she would go into screeching
hysterics, and so frighten the poor man into forgiving her. But
this is no business of ours. So far as we are concerned, the case
is now at an end, and the present report may come to a conclusion
along with it.
I remain, accordingly, yours to command,
_P.S_.--I have to add that, on leaving Rutherford Street, I met
Mr. Matthew Sharpin coming to pack up his things.
"Only think!" says he, rubbing his hands in great spirits, "I've
been to the genteel villa residence, and the moment I mentioned
my business they kicked me out directly. There were two witnesses
of the assault, and it's worth a hundred pounds to me if it's
worth a farthing."
"I wish you joy of your luck," says I.
"Thank you," says he. "When may I pay you the same compliment on
finding the thief?"
"Whenever you like," says I, "for the thief is found."
"Just what I expected," says he. "I've done all the work, and now
you cut in and claim all the credit--Mr. Jay, of course."
"No," says I.
"Who is it then?" says he.
"Ask Mrs. Yatman," says I. "She's waiting to tell you."
"All right! I'd much rather hear it from that charming woman than
from you," says he, and goes into the house in a mighty hurry.
What do you think of that, Inspector Theakstone? Would you like
to stand in Mr. Sharpin's shoes? I shouldn't, I can promise you.
FROM CHIEF INSPECTOR THEAKSTONE TO MR. MATTHEW SHARPIN.
SIR--Sergeant Bulmer has already told you to consider yourself
suspended until further notice. I have now authority to add that
your services as a member of the Detective police are positively
declined. You will please to take this letter as notifying
officially your dismissal from the force.
I may inform you, privately, that your rejection is not intended
to cast any reflections on your character. It merely implies that
you are not quite sharp enough for our purposes. If we _are_ to
have a new recruit among us, we should infinitely prefer Mrs.
Your obedient servant,
NOTE ON THE PRECEDING CORRESPONDENCE, ADDED BY MR. THEAKSTONE.
The inspector is not in a position to append any explanations of
importance to the last of the letters. It has been discovered
that Mr. Matthew Sharpin left the house in Rutherford Street five
minutes after his interview outside of it with Sergeant Bulmer,
his manner expressing the liveliest emotions of terror and
astonishment, and his left cheek displaying a bright patch of
red, which looked as if it might have been the result of what is
popularly termed a smart box on the ear. He was also heard by the
shopman at Rutherford Street to use a very shocking expression in
reference to Mrs. Yatman, and was seen to clinch his fist
vindictively as he ran round the corner of the street. Nothing
more has been heard of him; and it is conjectured that he has
left London with the intention of offering his valuable services
to the provincial police.
On the interesting domestic subject of Mr. and Mrs. Yatman still
less is known. It has, however, been positively ascertained that
the medical attendant of the family was sent for in a great hurry
on the day when Mr. Yatman returned from the milliner's shop. The
neighboring chemist received, soon afterward, a prescription of a
soothing nature to make up for Mrs. Yatman. The day after, Mr.
Yatman purchased some smelling-salts at the shop, and afterward
appeared at the circulating library to ask for a novel
descriptive of high life that would amuse an invalid lady. It has
been inferred from these circumstances that he has not thought it
desirable to carry out his threat of separating from his wife, at
least in the present (presumed) condition of that lady's
sensitive nervous system.
THE SEVENTH DAY.
FINE enough for our guest to go out again. Long, feathery lines
of white cloud are waving upward in the sky, a sign of coming
There was a steamer telegraphed yesterday from the West Indies.
When the next vessel is announced from abroad, will it be
I don't know how my brothers feel to-day, but the sudden
cessation of my own literary labors has left me still in bad
spirits. I tried to occupy my mind by reading, but my attention
wandered. I went out into the garden, but it looked dreary; the
autumn flowers were few and far between--the lawn was soaked and
sodden with yesterday's rain. I wandered into Owen's room. He had
returned to his painting, but was not working, as it struck me,
with his customary assiduity and his customary sense of
We had a long talk together about George and Jessie and the
future. Owen urged me to risk speaking of my son in her presence
once more, on the chance of making her betray herself on a second
occasion, and I determined to take his advice. But she was in
such high spirits when she came home to dinner on this Seventh
Day, and seemed so incapable, for the time being, of either
feeling or speaking seriously, that I thought it wiser to wait
till her variable mood altered again with the next wet day.
The number drawn this evening was Eight, being the number of the
story which it had cost Owen so much labor to write. He looked a
little fluttered and anxious as he opened the manuscript. This
was the first occasion on which his ability as a narrator was to
be brought to the test, and I saw him glance nervously at
Jessie's attentive face.
"I need not trouble you with much in the way of preface," he
said. "This is the story of a very remarkable event in the life
of one of my brother clergymen. He and I became acquainted
through being associated with each other in the management of a
Missionary Society. I saw him for the last time in London when he
was about to leave his country and his friends forever, and was
then informed of the circumstances which have afforded the
material for this narrative."
BROTHER OWEN'S STORY
THE PARSON'S SCRUPLE.
IF you had been in the far West of England about thirteen years
since, and if you had happened to take up one of the Cornish
newspapers on a certain day of the month, which need not be
specially mentioned, you would have seen this notice of a
marriage at the top of a column:
On the third instant, at the parish church, the Reverend Alfred
Carling, Rector of Penliddy, to Emily Harriet, relict of the late
Fergus Duncan, Esq., of Glendarn, N. B.
The rector's marriage did not produce a very favorable impression
in the town, solely in consequence of the unaccountable private
and unpretending manner in which the ceremony had been performed.
The middle-aged bride and bridegroom had walked quietly to church
one morning, had been married by the curate before any one was
aware of it, and had embarked immediately afterward in the
steamer for Tenby, where they proposed to pass their honeymoon.
The bride being a stranger at Penliddy, all inquiries about her
previous history were fruitless, and the townspeople had no
alternative but to trust to their own investigations for
enlightenment when the rector and his wife came home to settle
among their friends.
After six weeks' absence Mr. and Mrs. Carling returned, and the
simple story of the rector's courtship and marriage was gathered
together in fragments, by inquisitive friends, from his own lips
and from the lips of his wife.
Mr. Carling and Mrs. Duncan had met at Torquay. The rector, who
had exchanged houses and duties for the season with a brother
clergyman settled at Torquay, had called on Mrs. Duncan in his
clerical capacity, and had come away from the interview deeply
impressed and interested by the widow's manners and conversation.
The visits were repeated; the acquaintance grew into friendship,
and the friendship into love--ardent, devoted love on both sides.
Middle-aged man though he was, this was Mr. Carling's first
attachment, and it was met by the same freshness of feeling on
the lady's part. Her life with her first husband had not been a
happy one. She had made the fatal mistake of marrying to please
her parents rather than herself, and had repented it ever
afterward. On her husband's death his family had not behaved well
to her, and she had passed her widowhood, with her only child, a
daughter, in the retirement of a small Scotch town many miles
away from the home of her married life. After a time the little
girl's health had begun to fail, and, by the doctor's advice, she
had migrated southward to the mild climate of Torquay. The change
had proved to be of no avail; and, rather more than a year since,
the child had died. The place where her darling was buried was a
sacred place to her and she remained a resident at Torquay. Her
position in the world was now a lonely one. She was herself an
only child; her father and mother were both dead; and, excepting
cousins, her one near relation left alive was a maternal uncle
living in London.
These particulars were all related simply and unaffectedly before
Mr. Carling ventured on the confession of his attachment. When he
made his proposal of marriage, Mrs. Duncan received it with an
excess of agitation which astonished and almost alarmed the
inexperienced clergyman. As soon as she could speak, she begged
with extraordinary earnestness and anxiety for a week to consider
her answer, and requested Mr. Carling not to visit her on any
account until the week had expired.
The next morning she and her maid departed for London. They did
not return until the week for consideration had expired. On the
eighth day Mr. Carling called again and was accepted.
The proposal to make the marriage as private as possible came
from the lady. She had been to London to consult her uncle (whose
health, she regretted to say, would not allow him to travel to
Cornwall to give his niece away at the altar), and he agreed with
Mrs. Duncan that the wedding could not be too private and
unpretending. If it was made public, the family of her first
husband would expect cards to be sent to them, and a renewal of
intercourse, which would be painful on both sides, might be the
consequence. Other friends in Scotland, again, would resent her
marrying a second time at her age, and would distress her and
annoy her future husband in many ways. She was anxious to break
altogether with her past existence, and to begin a new and
happier life untrammeled by any connection with former times and
troubles. She urged these points, as she had received the offer
of marriage, with an agitation which was almost painful to see.
This peculiarity in her conduct, however, which might have
irritated some men, and rendered others distrustful, had no
unfavorable effect on Mr. Carling. He set it down to an excess of
sensitiveness and delicacy which charmed him. He was
himself--though he never would confess it--a shy, nervous man by
nature. Ostentation of any sort was something which he shrank
from instinctively, even in the simplest affairs of daily life;
and his future wife's proposal to avoid all the usual ceremony
and publicity of a wedding was therefore more than agreeable to
him--it was a positive relief.
The courtship was kept secret at Torquay, and the marriage was
celebrated privately at Penliddy. It found its way into the local
newspapers as a matter of course, but it was not, as usual in
such cases, also advertised in the _Times_. Both husband and wife
were equally happy in the enjoyment of their new life, and
equally unsocial in taking no measures whatever to publish it to
Such was the story of the rector's marriage. Socially, Mr.
Carling's position was but little affected either way by the
change in his life. As a bachelor, his circle of friends had been
a small one, and when he married he made no attempt to enlarge
it. He had never been popular with the inhabitants of his parish
generally. Essentially a weak man, he was, like other weak men,
only capable of asserting himself positively in serious matters
by running into extremes. As a consequence of this moral defect,
he presented some singular anomalies in character. In the
ordinary affairs of life he was the gentlest and most yielding of
men, but in all that related to strictness of religious principle
he was the sternest and the most aggressive of fanatics. In the
pulpit he was a preacher of merciless sermons--an interpreter of
the Bible by the letter rather than by the spirit, as pitiless
and gloomy as one of the Puritans of old; while, on the other
hand, by his own fireside he was considerate, forbearing, and
humble almost to a fault. As a necessary result of this singular
inconsistency of character, he was feared, and sometimes even
disliked, by the members of his congregation who only knew him as
their pastor, and he was prized and loved by the small circle of
friends who also knew him as a man.
Those friends gathered round him more closely and more
affectionately than ever after his marriage, not on his own
account only, but influenced also by the attractions that they
found in the society of his wife. Her refinement and gentleness
of manner; her extraordinary accomplishments as a musician; her
unvarying sweetness of temper, and her quick, winning, womanly
intelligence in conversation, charmed every one who approached
her. She was quoted as a model wife and woman by all her
husband's friends, and she amply deserved the character that they
gave her. Although no children came to cheer it, a happier and a
more admirable married life has seldom been witnessed in this
world than the life which was once to be seen in the rectory
house at Penliddy.
With these necessary explanations, that preliminary part of my
narrative of which the events may be massed together generally,
for brevity's sake, comes to a close. What I have next to tell is
of a deeper and a more serious interest, and must be carefully
related in detail.
The rector and his wife had lived together without, as I honestly
believe, a harsh word or an unkind look once passing between them
for upward of two years, when Mr. Carling took his first step
toward the fatal future that was awaiting him by devoting his
leisure hours to the apparently simple a nd harmless occupation
of writing a pamphlet.
He had been connected for many years with one of our great
Missionary Societies, and had taken as active a part as a country
clergyman could in the management of its affairs. At the period
of which I speak, certain influential members of the society had
proposed a plan for greatly extending the sphere of its
operations, trusting to a proportionate increase in the annual
subscriptions to defray the additional expenses of the new
movement. The question was not now brought forward for the first
time. It had been agitated eight years previously, and the
settlement of it had been at that time deferred to a future
opportunity. The revival of the project, as usual in such cases,
split the working members of the society into two parties; one
party cautiously objecting to run any risks, the other hopefully
declaring that the venture was a safe one, and that success was