Part 4 out of 6
"You cad!" he cried, growing red in the face with horror and disgust.
"You dare to speak so to me, and to urge such motives! But you've
mistaken your man. I won't be bullied. If what you want is to use
this vile knowledge you've so vilely ferreted out, as a lever to
compel me to marry my daughter to you against her will--I can only
tell you, you sneak, you're on the wrong tack. I will never consent
to it. You may do your worst, but you will never bend me. I'm not
a man to be bent or bullied--I won't be put down. I'll withstand
you and defy you. You may ruin me, if you like, but you'll never
break me. I stand here firm. Expose me, and I'll fight you to the
bitter end: I'll fight you, and I'll conquer you."
He spoke with a fiery earnestness that Nevitt was only just beginning to
understand. There was something in this. Here was a clue indeed to
follow up and investigate. Surely, a menace to Granville Kelmscott's
prospects could never have moved that heavy, phlegmatic, pachydermatous
man to such an outburst of anger and suppressed fear.
"Expose YOU?" Nevitt repeated, in a dazed and startled voice. "Expose
YOU, my dear sir! I assure you, in truth, I don't understand you."
The barrister gazed down upon him with immeasurable scorn. "You
liar!" he broke forth, almost choking at the words. "How dare you
so pretend and prevaricate to my face? I KNOW it's not true. My own
daughter told me. She told me what you said to her--every word of
your vile threats. You had the incredible meanness to terrify a poor
helpless and innocent girl by threatening to expose her mother's
disgrace publicly. Only YOU could have done it; but you did it,
you abject thing, you did it. She told me with her own lips you
threatened to come down to Mambury, to hunt up the records. And
she told me the truth; for I've seen you doing it."
A light broke slowly upon Montague Nevitt's mind. He drew a deep
breath. This was good luck incredible. What Gilbert Gildersleeve
meant he hadn't as yet, to be sure, the faintest conception. But
it was clear they two were at cross-questions with one another.
The secret Gilbert Gildersleeve thought he had come down to Mambury
to discover was not the secret he had actually found out in the
register that morning. It was nothing about the Kelmscotts or Guy
and Cyril Waring; it was something about the great Q..C. and his
wife themselves--presumably some unknown and disgraceful fact in
Mrs. Gilbert Gildersleeve's early history.
And here was the cleverest lawyer at the English criminal bar just
giving himself away--giving himself away unawares and telling him
the secret, bit by bit, unconsciously.
This chance was too valuable for Mr. Montague Nevitt to lose. At
all risks he must worm it out. He paused and temporized. His cue
was now not to let Gilbert Gildersleeve see he didn't know his
secret. He must draw on the Q.C. by obscure half hints till he was
inextricably entangled in a complete confession.
"I had no intention of terrifying Miss Gildersleeve, I'm sure,"
he said, in his blandest voice, with his best company smile, now
recovering his equanimity exactly in proportion as the barrister
grew angrier. "I merely desired to satisfy myself as to the salient
facts, and to learn their true bearing upon the family history.
If I spoke to her at all as to any knowledge I might possess with
regard to any other lady's early antecedents--"
Gilbert Gildersleeve's brow was black as night. His great hands
trembled and twitched convulsively. Was ever blackguard so cynically
candid in his avowal of the basest crimes as this fine-spoken
specimen of the culture of Pall Mall in his open confession of that
disgusting insult to a young girl's innocence? Gilbert Gildersleeve,
who was at heart an honest man, loathed and despised and scorned
and detested him.
"Do you dare to hint to me, then," he cried, every muscle of his
body quivering with just horror, "that you told my own daughter you
thought you had reason to suspect her own mother's early antecedents?"
Montague Nevitt looked up at him with a quietly sarcastic smile.
"All's fair in love and war, you know," he said, not caring to
That smile sealed his fate. With an irrepressible impulse, Gilbert
Gildersleeve sprang upon him. He didn't mean to hurt the man: he
sprang upon him merely as the sole outlet for his own incensed and
outraged feelings. Those great hands seized him for a second by the
dainty white throat, and flung him back in anger. Montague Nevitt
fell heavily on a thick mass of bracken. There was a gurgle, a
gasp; then his head lolled senseless. He was very much hurt. That
at least was certain. The barrister stood over him for a minute,
still purple in the face. Montague Nevitt was white--very white and
death-like. All at once it occurred to the big strong man that
his hands--those great hands--were very fierce and powerful. He
had clutched Nevitt by the throat, half unconsciously, with all
his might, just to give him a purchase as he flung the man from
him. He looked at him again. Great heavens--what was this? It burst
over him at once. He awoke to it with a wild start. The fellow was
dead! And this was clearly manslaughter!
Justifiable homicide, if the jury knew all. But no jury now could
ever know all. And he had killed him unawares! A great horror
came over him. The man was dead--the man was dead; and he, Gilbert
Gildersleeve, had unconsciously choked him.
He had no time to think. He had no time to calculate. His wrath was
still hot, though rapidly cooling down before this awful discovery.
Hide it! Hide it! Hide it! That was all he could think. He lifted
the body in his arms, as easily as most men would lift a baby.
Then he laid it down among the brambles close beside the stream.
Something heavy fell out of the pocket as he carried it. The
barrister took no heed. Little matter for that. He laid it down
in fear and trembling. As soon as it was hidden, he fled for his
life. By trackless ways, he walked over the Moor, and returned to
Ivybridge unseen very late in the evening. Ten minutes after he
left the spot, Guy Waring passed by and picked up the pocket-book.
Naturally, under these circumstances, it was all in vain that Guy
Waring pursued his investigations into Montague Nevitt's whereabouts.
Neither at Plymouth nor anywhere else along the skirts of Dartmoor
could he learn that anything more had been seen or heard of the
man who called himself "Mr. McGregor." And yet Guy felt sure Nevitt
wouldn't go far from Mambury, as things stood just then; for as
soon as he missed the pocket-book containing the three thousand
pounds, he would surely take some steps to recover it.
Two days later, however, Gilbert Gildersleeve sat in the hotel
at Plymouth, where he had moved from Ivybridge after--well, as he
phrased it to himself, after that unfortunate accident. The blustering
Q.C. was like another man now. For the first time in his life he
knew what it meant to be nervous and timid. Every sound made him
suppress an involuntary start; for as yet he had heard no whisper
of the body being discovered. He couldn't leave the neighbourhood,
however, till the murder was out. Dangerous as he felt it to
remain on the spot, some strange spell seemed to bind him against
his will to Dartmoor. He must stop and hear what local gossip had
to say when the body came to light. And above all, for the present,
he hadn't the courage to go home; he dared not face his own wife
So he stayed on and lounged, and pretended to interest himself with
walks over the hills and up the Tamar valley.
As he sat there in the billiard-room, that day, a young fellow
entered whom he remembered to have seen once or twice in London,
at evening parties, with Montague Nevitt. He turned pale at the
sight--Gilbert Gildersleeve turned pale, that great red man. At
first he didn't even remember the young fellow's name; but it came
back to him in time that he was one Guy Waring. It was a hard ordeal
to meet him, but Gilbert Gildersleeve felt he must brazen it out.
To slink away from the young man would be to rouse suspicion. So
they sat and talked for a minute or two together, on indifferent
subjects, neither, to say truth, being very well pleased to see
the other under such peculiar circumstances. Then Guy, who had the
least reason for concealment of the two, sauntered out for a stroll,
with his heart still full of that villain Nevitt, whose name, of
course, he had never mentioned to Gilbert Gildersleeve. And Gilbert
Gildersleeve, for his part, had had equal cause for a corresponding
reticence as to their common acquaintance.
Just as Guy left the room, the landlord dropped in and began to
talk with his guest about the latest new sensation.
"Heard the news, sir, this morning?" he asked, with an important
air. "Inspector's just told me. A case very much in your line of
business. Dead body's been discovered at Mambury, choked, and then
thrown among the brake by the river. Name of McGregor--a visitor
from London. And they do say the police have a clue to the murderer.
Person who did it--"
Gilbert Gildersleeve's heart gave a great bound within him, and
then stood stock-still; but by an iron effort of will he suppressed
all outer sign of his profound emotion. He seemed to the observant
eye merely interested and curious, as the landlord finished his
sentence carelessly--"Person who did it's supposed to be a young
man who was at Mambury this week, of the name of Waring."
Gilbert Gildersleeve's heart gave another bound, still more violent
than before. But again he repressed with difficulty all external
symptoms of his profound agitation. This was very strange news. Then
somebody else was suspected instead of himself. In one way that
was bad; for Gilbert Gildersleeve had a conscience and a sense of
justice. But, in another way, why, it would save time for the moment,
and divert attention from his own personality. Better anything now
than immediate suspicion. In a week or two more every trace would
be lost of his presence at Mambury.
"Waring," he said thoughtfully, turning over the name to himself,
as if he attached it to no particular individual. "Waring--Waring--Waring."
He paused and looked hard. Ha! so far good! It was clear the
landlord didn't know Waring was the name of the young man who had
just left the billiard-room. This was lucky, indeed, for if he HAD
known it now, and had taxed Guy then and there, before his own very
face, with being the murderer of this unknown person at Mambury,
Gilbert Gildersleeve felt no course would have been open for him
save to tell the whole truth on the spot unreservedly. Try as he
would, he COULDN'T see another man arrested before his very eyes
for the crime he himself had really, though almost unwittingly,
"Waring," he repeated slowly, like one who endeavoured to collect
his scattered thoughts; "what sort of person was he, do you know?
And how did the police come to get a clue to him?"
The landlord, nothing loth, went off into a long and circumstantial
story of the discovery of the body, with minute details of how the
innkeeper at Mambury had traced the supposed murderer--who gave no
name--by an envelope which he'd left in his bedroom that evening.
The county was up in arms about the affair to-day. All Dartmoor
was being searched, and it was supposed the fellow was in hiding
somewhere in the neighbourhood of Tavistock or Oakhampton. They'd
catch him by to-night. The landlord wouldn't be surprised, indeed,
now he came to think on it, if his truest himself--here a very long
pause--were retained by-and-by for the prosecution.
Gilbert Gildersleeve drew a deep breath, unperceived. That was
all, was it? The pause had unnerved him. He talked some minutes,
as unconcernedly as he could, though trembling inwardly all the
while, about the murder and the murderer. The landlord listened
with profound respect to the words of legal wisdom as they dropped
from his lips; for he knew Mr. Gildersleeve by common repute as
one of the ablest and acutest of criminal lawyers in all England.
Then, after a short interval, the big burly man, moving his guilty
fingers nervously over the seal on his watch-chain, and assuming
as much as possible his ordinary air of blustering self-assertion,
asked, in an off-hand fashion, "By the way, let me see, I've, some
business to arrange; what's the number of my friend Mr. Billington's
The landlord looked up with a little start of surprise. "Mr.
Billington?" he said, hesitating. "We've got no Mr. Billington."
Gilbert Gildersleeve smiled a sickly smile. It was neck or nothing
now. He must go right through with it. "Oh yes," he answered, with
prompt conviction, playing a dangerous card well--for how could
he know what name this young man Waring might possibly be passing
under? "The gentleman who was talking to me when you came in just
now. His name's Billington--though, perhaps," he added, after a
pause, with a reflective air, "he may have given you another one.
Young men will be young men. They've often some reason, when
travelling, for concealing their names. Though Billington's not
the sort of fellow, to be sure, who's likely to be knocking about
The landlord laughed. "Oh, we've plenty of that sort," he replied
good-humouredly. "Both ladies and gentlemen. It all makes trade.
But your friend ain't one of 'em. To tell you the truth, he didn't
give any name at all when he came to the hotel; and we didn't
ask any. Billington, is it? Ah, Billington, Billington. I knew a
Billington myself once, a trainer at Newmarket. Well, he's a very
pleasant young man, nice-spoken, and that; but I don't fancy he's
quite right in his head, somehow."
With instinctive cleverness, Gilbert Clildersleeve snatched at the
opening at once. "Ah no, poor fellow," he said, shaking his head
sympathetically. "You've found that out already, have you? Well,
he's subject to delusions a bit; mere harmless delusions; but
he's not at all dangerous. Excitable, very, when anything odd turns
up; he'll be calling himself Waring and giving himself in charge
for this murder, I dare say, when he comes to hear of it. But as
good-hearted a fellow as ever lived, though; only, a trifle obstinate.
If you've any difficulty with him at any time, just send for me.
I've known him from a boy. He'll do anything I tell him."
It was a critical game, but Gilbert Gildersleeve saw something
definite must be done, and he trusted to bluster, and a well-known
name, to carry him through with it. And, indeed, he had said enough.
From that moment forth, the landlord's suspicions were never even
so much as aroused by the innocent young man with the preoccupied
manner, who knew Mr. Gildersleeve. The great Q.C.'s word
was guarantee enough--for any one but himself. And the great Q.C.
himself knew it. Why, a chance word from his lips was enough to
protect Guy Waring from suspicion. Who would ever believe, then,
anything so preposterously improbable as that the great Q.C. himself
was the murderer?
Not the police, you may be sure; nor the Plymouth landlord.
He went out into the town, with his mind now filled full of a
curious scheme. A plan of campaign loomed up visibly before him.
Waring was suspected. Therefore Waring must somehow have given cause
for suspicion. Well, Waring was a friend of Montague Nevitt's,
and had evidently been at Mambury, either with him or without him,
immediately before the--h'm--the unfortunate accident. But as
soon as Waring came to learn of the discovery of the body, which
he would be sure to do from the paper that evening at latest, he
would see at once the full strength of whatever suspicions might
tell against him. Now, Gilbert Gildersleeve's experience of criminal
cases had abundantly shown him that a suspected person, even when
innocent, always has one fixed desire in his head--to gain time,
anyhow. So Waring would naturally wish to gain time, at whatever
cost. There were evidently circumstances connecting Waring with the
crime; there were none at all, known to the outer world, connecting
the eminent lawyer. Therefore, the eminent lawyer argued to himself,
as coolly almost as if it had been somebody else's case, not his
own, he was conducting--therefore, if an immediate means of escape
is provided for Waring, Waring will almost undoubtedly fall blindfold
Not that he meant to let Guy pay the penalty in the end for his own
rash crime. He was no hardened villain. He had still a conscience.
If the worst came to the worst, he said to himself, he would tell
all, openly, rather than let an innocent man suffer. But, like every
one else, in accordance with his own inference from his observation
of others, he, too, wanted to gain time, anyhow; and if he could
but gain time by kindly helping Guy to escape for the present,
why, he would gladly do so. An innocent man may be suspected for
the moment, Gilbert Gildersleeve thought to himself, with a lawyer's
blind confidence; but under our English law he need never at least
fear that the suspicion will be permanent. For lawyers repeat
their own incredible commonplaces about the absolute perfection of
English law so often that at last, by a sort of retributive nemesis,
they really almost come to believe them.
Filled with these ideas, then, which rose naturally up in his mind
without his taking the trouble, as it were, definitely to prove
them, Gilbert Gildersleeve hurried on through the crowded streets
of Plymouth town, till he reached the office of the London and
South African Steamship Company. There he entered with an air of
decided business, and asked to take a passage to Cape Town at once
by the steamer "Cetewayo", due to call at Plymouth, outward bound,
that evening. He had looked up particulars of sailing in the
papers at the hotel, and asked now, as if for himself, for a large
and roomy berth, with all his usual self-possession and boldness
of manner. The clerk gazed at him carelessly; that big and burly
man with the great awkward hands raised no picture in his brain of
the supposed murderer of McGregor in the wood at Mambury as that
murderer had been described to him by the police that morning, from
a verbal portrait after the landlord of the Talbot Arms. This
colossal, red-faced, loud-spoken person, who required a large
and roomy berth, was certainly "not" the rather slim young man, a
little above the medium height, with a dark moustache and a gentle
musical voice, whom the inn-keeper had seen in an excited mood on
the hunt for McGregor along the slopes of Dartmoor.
"What name?" the clerk asked briskly, after Gilbert Gildersleeve had
selected his state-room from the plan, with some show of interest
as to its being well amidships and not too near the noise of the
"Billington," the barrister answered, without a glimmer of hesitation.
"Arthur Standish Billington, if you want the full name. Thirty-two
will suit me very well, I think, and I'll pay for it now. Go aboard
when she's sighted, I suppose; nine o'clock or thereabouts."
The clerk made out the ticket in the name he was told. "Yes, nine
o'clock," he said curtly. "All luggage to be on board the tender
by eight, sharp. You've left taking your passage very late, Mr.
Billington. Lucky we've a room that'll suit you, I'm sure, It
isn't often we have berths left amidships like this on the day of
Gilbert Gildersleeve pretended to look unconcerned once more. "No,
I suppose not," he answered, in a careless voice. "People generally
know their own minds rather longer beforehand. But I'd a telegram
from the Cape this morning that calls me over immediately."
He folded up his ticket, and put it in his pocket. Then he pulled
out a roll of notes and paid the amount in full. The clerk gave him
change promptly. Nobody could ever have suspected so solid a man
as the great Q.C. of any more serious crime or misdemeanour than
shirking the second service on Sunday evening. There was a ponderous
respectability about his portly build that defied detection. The
agents of all the steamboat companies had been warned that morning
that the slim young man of the name of Waring might try to escape
at the last moment. But who could ever suspect this colossal pile,
in the British churchwarden style of human architecture, of aiding
and abetting the escape of the young man Waring from the pervasive
myrmidons of English justice? The very idea was absurd. Gilbert
Gildersleeve's waistcoat was above suspicion.
And when Guy Waring returned to his room at the Duke of Devonshire
Hotel half an hour later, in complete ignorance as yet of the bare
fact of the murder, he found on his table an envelope addressed,
in an unknown hand, "Guy Waring, Esq.," while below in the corner,
twice underlined, were the importunate words, "IMMEDIATE! IMPORTANT!"
Guy tore it open in wonder. What on earth could this mean? He
trembled as he read. Could Cyril have learnt all? Or had Nevitt,
that double-dyed traitor, now trebled his treachery by informing
against the man whom he had driven into a crime? Guy couldn't imagine
what it all could be driving at, for there, before his eyes, in a
round schoolboy hand, very carefully formed, without the faintest
trace of anything like character, were the words of this strange
and startling message, whose origin and intent were alike a mystery
"Guy Waring, a warrant is out for your apprehension. Fly at once,
or things may be worse for you. It is something always to gain time
for the moment. You will avoid suspicion, public scandal, trial.
Enclosed find a ticket for Cape Town by the Cetewayo to-night. She
sails at nine. Luggage to be on board the tender by eight sharp.
If you go, all can yet be satisfactorily cleared up. If you stay,
the danger is great, and may be very serious. Ticket is taken (and
paid for) in the name of Arthur Standish Billington. Settle your
account at the hotel in that name and go.
"Yours, in frantic haste,
"A SINCERE WELL-WISHER."
Guy gazed at the strange missive long and dubiously. "A warrant
is out." He scarcely knew what to do. Oh, for time, time, time!
Had Cyril sent this? Or was it some final device of that fiend,
A CHANCE MEETING.
There wasn't much time left, however, for Guy to make up his mind
in. He must decide at once. Should he accept this mysterious
warning or not? Pure fate decided it. As he hesitated he heard a
boy crying in the street. It was the special-edition-fiend calling
his evening paper. The words the boy said Guy didn't altogether
catch; but the last sentence of all fell on his ear distinctly.
He started in horror. It was an awful sound: "Warrant issued to-day
for the apprehension of Waring."
Then the letter, whoever wrote it, was not all a lie. The forgery
was out. Cyril or the bankers had learnt the whole truth. He was
to be arrested to-day as a common felon. All the world knew his
shame. He hid his face in his hands. Come what might, he must accept
the mysterious warning now. He would take the ticket, and go off
to South Africa.
In a moment a whole policy had arisen like a cloud and framed itself
in his mind. He was a forger, he knew, and by this time Cyril too
most probably knew it. But he had the three thousand pounds safe
and sound in his pocket, and those at least he could send back to
Cyril. With them he could send a cheque on his own banker for three
thousand more; not that there were funds there at present to meet
the demand; but if the unknown benefactor should pay in the six
thousand he promised within the next few weeks, then Cyril could
repay himself from that hypothetical fortune. On the other hand,
Guy didn't disguise from himself the strong probability that the
unknown benefactor might now refuse to pay in the six thousand.
In that case, Guy said to himself with a groan, he would take to
the diamond fields, and never rest day or night in his self-imposed
task till he had made enough to repay Cyril in full the missing
three thousand, and to make up the other three thousand he still
owed the creditors of the Rio Negro Company. After which, he
would return and give himself up like a man, to stand his trial
voluntarily for the crime he had committed.
It was a young man's scheme, very fond and youthful; but with
the full confidence of his age he proceeded at once to put it
in practice. Indeed, now he came to think upon it, he fancied
to himself he saw something like a solution of the mystery in the
presence of the great Q.C. at Plymouth that morning. Cyril had
found out all, and had determined to save him. The bankers had
found out all, and had determined to prosecute. They had consulted
Gildersleeve. Gildersleeve had come down on a holiday trip,
and run up against him at Plymouth by pure accident. Indeed, Guy
remembered now that the great Q.C. looked not a little surprised
and excited at meeting him. Clearly Gildersleeve had communicated
with the police at once; hence the issue of the warrant. At the
same time the writer of the letter, whoever he might be--and Guy
now believed he was sent down by Cyril, or in Cyril's interest--the
writer had found out the facts betimes, and had taken a passage
for him in the name of Billington. Uncertain as he felt about
the minor details, Guy was sure this interpretation must be right
in the main. For Elma's sake--for the honour of the family--Cyril
wished him for the present to disappear. Cyril's wish was sacred.
He would go to South Africa.
The great point was now to avoid meeting Gildersleeve before the
ship sailed. So he would pay his bill quietly, put his things in
his portmanteau, stop in his room till dusk, and then drive off in
a close cab to the landing-stage.
But, first of all, he must send the three thousand direct to Cyril.
He sat down in a fit of profound penitence, and penned a heart-broken
letter of confession to his brother.
It was vague, of course; such letters are always vague; no man, even
in confessing, likes to allude in plain terms to the exact nature
of the crime he has committed; and besides, Guy took it for granted
that Cyril knew all about the main features of the case already.
He didn't ask his brother to forgive him, he said; he didn't
try to explain, for explanation would be impossible. How he came
to do it, he had no idea himself. A sudden suggestion--a strange
unaccountable impulse--a minute or two of indecision--and almost
before he knew it, under the spell of that strange eye, the thing
was done, irretrievably done for ever. The best he could offer
now was to express his profound and undying regret at the wrong he
had committed, and by which he had never profited himself a single
farthing. Nevitt had deceived him with incredible meanness; he
could never have believed any man would act as Nevitt had acted.
Nevitt had stolen three thousand pounds of the sum, and applied
them to paying off his own debt to the Rio Negro creditors: The
remaining three thousand, sent herewith, Guy had recovered, almost
by a miracle, from that false creature's grasp, and he returned them
now, in proof of the fact, in Montague Nevitt's own pocket-book,
which Cyril would no doubt immediately recognise. For himself, he
meant to leave England at once, at least for the present. Where
he was going he wouldn't as yet let Cyril know. He hoped in a new
country to recover his honour and rehabilitate his name. Meanwhile,
it was mainly for Cyril's sake that he fled--and for one other
person's too--to avoid a scandal. He hoped Cyril would be happy
with the woman of his choice; for it was to insure their joint
happiness that he was accepting the offer of escape so unexpectedly
He sealed up the letter--that incriminating letter, that might mean
so much more than he ever put into it--and took it out to the post,
with the three thousand pounds and Montague Nevitt's pocket-book in
a separate packet. Proud Kelmscott as he was by birth and nature,
he slunk through the streets like a guilty man, fancying all eyes
were fixed suspiciously upon him. Then he returned to the hotel
in a burning heat, went into the smoking room on purpose like an
honest man, and rang the bell for the servant boldly.
"Bring my bill, please," he said to the waiter who answered it. "I
go at seven o'clock."
"Yes, sir," the waiter replied, with official promptitude. "Directly,
sir. What number?"
"I forget the number," Guy answered, with a beating heart; "but
the name's Billington."
"Yes, sir," the waiter responded once more, in the self-same unvaried
tone, and went off to the office.
Guy waited in profound suspense, half expecting the waiter to
come back for the number again; but to his immense surprise and
mystification, the fellow didn't. Instead of that, he returned
some minutes later, all respectful attention, bringing the bill on
a salver, duly headed and lettered, "Mr. Billington, number 40."
In unspeakable trepidation, Guy paid it and walked away. Never
before in all his life had he been surrounded so close on every
side by a thick hedge of impenetrable and inexplicable mystery.
Then a new terror seized him. Was he running his head into a noose,
blindfold? Who was the Billington he was thus made to personate,
and who must really be staying at the very same time in the Duke of
Devonshire? Was this just another of Nevitt's wily tricks? Had he
induced his victim to accept without question the name and character
of some still more open criminal?
There was no time now, however, to drawback or to hesitate. The
die was cast; he must stand by its arbitrament. He had decided to
go, and on that hasty decision had acted in a way that was practically
irrevocable. He put his things together with trembling hands,
called a cab by the porter, and drove off alone in a turmoil of
doubt, to the landing-stage in the harbour.
Policemen not a few were standing about on the pier and in the
streets as he drove past openly. But in spite of the fact that
a warrant had been issued for his apprehension, none of them took
the slightest apparent notice of him. He wondered much at this.
But there was really no just cause for wonder. For at least an hour
earlier the police had ceased to look out any longer for Nevitt's
murderer. And the reason they had done so was simply this: a telegram
had come down from Scotland Yard in the most positive terms, "Waring
arrested this afternoon at Dover. The murdered man McGregor is
now certainly known to be Montague Nevitt, a bank clerk in London.
Endeavour to trace Waring's line of retreat from Mambury to Dover
by inquiry of the railway officials. We are sure of our man.
Photographs will be forwarded you by post immediately."
And, as a matter of fact, at the very moment when Guy was driving
down to the tender, in order to escape from an imaginary charge of
forgery, his brother Cyril, to his own immense astonishment, was
being conveyed from Dover Pier to Tavistock, under close police
escort, on a warrant charging him with the wilful murder of Montague
Nevitt, two days before, at Mambury, in Devon.
If Guy had only known that, he would never have fled. But he didn't
know it. How could he, indeed, in his turmoil and hurry? He didn't
even know Montague Nevitt was dead. He had been too busy that day
to look at the papers. And the few facts he knew from the boys
crying in the street he naturally misinterpreted, by the light of
his own fears and personal dangers. He thought he was "wanted" for
the yet undiscovered forgery, not for the murder, of which he was
Nevertheless, we can never in this world entirely escape our own
personality. As Guy went on board, believing himself to have left
his identity on shore, he heard somebody, in a voice that he fancied
he knew, ask a newsboy on the tender for an evening paper. Guy
was the only passenger who embarked at Plymouth; and this person
unseen was the newsboy's one customer.
Guy couldn't discover who he was at the moment, for the call for a
paper came from the upper deck; he only heard the voice, and wasn't
certain at first that he recognised even that any more than in a
vague and indeterminate reminiscence. No doubt the sense of guilt
made him preternaturally suspicious. But he began to fear that
somebody might possibly recognise him. And he had bought the paper
with news about the warrant. That was bad; but 'twas too late to
draw back again now. The tender lay alongside a while, discharging
her mails, and then cast loose to go. The Cetewayo's screw began
to move through the water. With a dim sense of horror, Guy knew
they were off. He was well under way for far distant South Africa.
But he did NOT know or reflect that while he ploughed his path on
over that trackless sea, day after day, without news from England,
there would be ample time for Cyril to be tried, and found guilty,
and perhaps hanged as well, for the crime that neither of them had
The great ship steamed out, cutting the waves with her prow, and
left the harbour lights far, far behind her. Guy stood on deck and
watched them disappearing with very mingled feelings. Everything
had been so hurried, he hardly knew himself as yet how his flight
affected all the active and passive characters in this painful
drama. He only knew he was irrevocably committed to the voyage now.
There would be no chance of turning till they reached Cape Town,
or at, the very least Madeira,
He stood on deck and looked back. Somebody else in an ulster stood
not far off, near a light by the saloon, conversing with an officer.
Guy recognised at once the voice of the man who had asked in the
harbour for an evening paper. At that moment a steward came up as
he stood there, on the look-out for the new passenger they'd just
taken in. "You're in thirty-two, sir, I think," he said, "and your
"Is Billington," Guy answered, with a faint tremor of shame at the
The man who had bought the paper turned round sharply and stared at
him. Their eyes met in one quick flash of unexpected recognition.
Guy started in horror. This was an awful meeting. He had seen the
man but once before in his life, yet he knew him at a glance. It
was Granville Kelmscott.
For a minute or two they stood and stared at one another blankly,
those unacknowledged half-brothers, of whom one now knew, while
the other still ignored, the real relationship that existed between
them. Then Granville Kelmscott turned away without one word of
greeting. Guy trembled in his shame. He knew he was discovered. But
before his very eyes, Granville took the paper he had been reading
by that uncertain light, and, raising it high in his hand, flung
it over into the sea with spasmodic energy. It was the special
edition containing the account of the man McGregor's death and Guy
Waring's supposed connection with the murder. Granville Kelmscott,
indeed, couldn't bring himself to denounce his own half-brother.
He stared at him coldly for a second with a horrified face.
Then he said, in a very low and distant voice, "I know your identity,
Mr. Billington," with a profoundly sarcastic accent on the assumed
name, "and I will not betray it. I know your secret, too; and I
will keep that inviolate. Only, during the rest of this voyage, do
me the honour, I beg of you, not to recognise me or speak to me in
any way at any time."
Guy slunk away in silence to his own cabin. Never before in his
life had he known such shame. He felt that his punishment was
indeed too heavy for him.
SOMETHING TO THEIR ADVANTAGE.
At Tilgate and Chetwood next morning, two distinguished households
were thrown into confusion by the news in the papers. To Colonel
Kelmscott and to Elma Clifford alike that news came with crushing
force and horror. A murder, said the Times, had been committed in
Devonshire, in a romantic dell, on the skirts of Dartmoor. No element
of dramatic interest was wanting to the case; persons, place, and
time were all equally remarkable. The victim of the outrage was Mr.
Montague Nevitt, confidential clerk to Messrs. Drummond, Coutts,
and Barclay, the well-known bankers, and himself a familiar figure
in musical society in London. The murderer was presumably a young
journalist, Mr. Guy Waring, not unknown himself in musical circles,
and brother of that rising landscape painter, Mr. Cyril Waring,
whose pictures of wild life in forest scenery had lately attracted
considerable attention at the Academy and the Grosvenor. Mr. Guy
Waring had been arrested the day before on the pier at Dover, where
he had just arrived by the Ostend packet. It was supposed by the
police that he had hastily crossed the Channel from Plymouth to
Cherbourg, soon after the murder, to escape detection, and, after
journeying by cross-country routes through France and Belgium, had
returned via Ostend to the shores of England. It was a triumphant
vindication of our much maligned detective system that within a few
hours after the discovery of the body on Dartmoor, the supposed
criminal should have been recognised, arrested, and detained among
a thousand others, in a busy port, at the very opposite extremity
of southern England.
Colonel Kelmscott that day was strangely touched, even before
he took up his morning paper. A letter from Granville, posted at
Plymouth, had just reached him by the early mail, to tell him that
the only son he had ever really loved or cared for on earth had
sailed the day before, a disinherited outcast, to seek his fortune
in the wild wastes of Africa. How he could break the news to Lady
Emily he couldn't imagine. The Colonel, twisting his white moustache,
with a quivering hand on his tremulous lip, hardly dared to realize
what their future would seem like. And then--he turned to the
paper, and saw to his horror this awful tale of a cold-blooded and
cowardly murder, committed on a friend by one who, however little
he might choose to acknowledge it, was after all his own eldest
son, a Kelmscott of Tilgate, as much as Granville himself, in lawful
wedlock duly begotten.
The proud but broken man gazed at the deadly announcement in blank
amaze and agony. His Nemesis had come. Guy Waring was his own
son--and Guy Waring was a murderer.
He tried to argue with himself at first that this tragic result in
some strange way justified him, after the event, for his own long
neglect of his parental responsibilities. The young man was no
true Kelmscott at heart, he was sure, or such an act as that would
have revolted and appalled him. He was no true son in reality; his
order disowned him. Base blood flowed in his veins, and made crimes
like these conceivable.
"I was right after all," the Colonel thought, "not to acknowledge
these half low-born lads as the heirs of Tilgate. Bad blood will
out in the end--and THIS is the result of it."
And then, with sudden revulsion he thought once more--God help
him! How could he say such things in his heart even now of HER,
his pure, trustful Lucy? She was better than him in her soul, he
knew--ten thousand times better. If bad blood came in anywhere, it
came in from himself, not from that simple-hearted, innocent little
And perhaps if he'd treated these lads as he ought, and brought
them up to their own, and made them Kelmscotts indeed, instead of
nameless adventurers, they might never have fallen into such abysses
of turpitude. But he had let them grow up in ignorance of their
own origin, with the vague stain of a possible illegitimacy hanging
over their heads; and what wonder if they forgot in the end how
noblesse oblige, and sank at last into foul depths of vice and
As he read on, his head swam with the cumulative evidence of that
deliberately planned and cruelly executed yet brutal murder. The
details of the crime gave him a sickening sense of loathing and
incredulity. Impossible that his own son could have schemed and
carried out so vile an attack upon a helpless person, who had once
been his nearest and dearest companion. And yet, the account in
the paper gave him no alternative but to believe it. Nevitt and
Guy Waring had been inseparable friends. They had dined together,
supped together, played duets in their own rooms, gone out to the
same parties, belonged to the same club, in all things been closer
than even the two twin brothers. Some quarrel seemed to have
arisen about a matter of speculations in which both had suffered.
They separated at once--separated in anger. Nevitt went down to
Devonshire by himself for his holiday. Then Waring followed him,
without any pretence at concealment; inquired for him at the village
inn with expressions of deadly hate; tracked him to a lonely place
in the adjacent wood; choked him, apparently with some form of
garotte or twisted rope--for the injuries seemed greater than even
the most powerful man could possibly inflict with the hands alone;
and hid the body of his murdered friend at last in a mossy dell
by the bank of the streamlet. Nor was that all; for with callous
effrontery he had returned to the inn, still inquiring after his
victim; and had gone off next morning early with a lie on his lips,
pretending even then to nurse his undying wrath and to be bent on
following up with coarse threats of revenge his stark and silent
So far the Times. But to Colonel Kelmscott, reading in between
the lines as he went, there was more in it than even that. He saw,
though dimly, some hint of a motive. For it was at Mambury that
all these things had taken place; and it was at Mambury that the
secret of Guy Waring's descent lay buried, as he thought, in the
parish registers. What it all meant, Colonel Kelmscott couldn't
indeed wholly understand; but many things he knew which the writer
of the account in the Times knew not. He knew that Nevitt was a
clerk in the bank where he himself kept his account, and to which
he had given orders to pay in the six thousand to Cyril's credit,
at Cyril's bankers. He knew, therefore, that Nevitt might thus
have been led to suspect the real truth of the case as to the two
so-called Warings. He knew that Cyril had just received the six
thousand. Trying to put these facts together and understand their
meaning he utterly failed; but this much at least was clear to him,
he thought--the reason for the murder was something connected with
a search for the entry of his own clandestine marriage.
He looked down at the paper again. Great heavens, what was this?
"It is rumoured that a further inducement to the crime may perhaps
be sought in the fact that the deceased gentleman had a large sum
of money in his possession in Bank of England notes at the time
of his death. These notes he carried in a pocket-book about his
person, where they were seen by the landlord of the Talbot Arms at
Mambury, the night before the supposed murder. When the body was
discovered by the side of the brook, two days later, the notes were
gone. The pockets were carefully searched by order of the police,
but no trace of the missing money could be discovered. It is now
conjectured that Mr. Guy Waring, who is known to have lost heavily
in the Rio Negro Diamond Mines, may have committed the crime from
purely pecuniary motives, in order to release himself from his
considerable and very pressing financial embarrassments."
The paper dropped from Colonel Kelmscott's hands. His eyes ceased
to see. His arm fell rigid. This last horrible suggestion proved
too much for him to bear. He shrank from it like poison. That
a son of his own, unacknowledged or not, should be a criminal--a
murderer--was terrible enough; but that he should even be suspected
of having committed murder for such base and vulgar motives as mere
thirst of gain was more than the blood of the Kelmscotts could put
up with. The unhappy father had said to himself in his agony at
first that if Guy really killed that prying bank clerk at all, it
was no doubt in defence of his mother's honour. THAT was a reason a
Kelmscott could understand. That, if not an excuse, was at least
a palliation. But to be told he had killed him for a roll of
bank-notes--oh, horrible, incredible; his reason drew back at it.
That was a depth to which the Kelmscott idiosyncrasy could never
descend. The Colonel in his horror refused to believe it.
He put his hands up feebly to his throbbing brow. This was a ghastly
idea--a ghastly accusation. The man called Waring had dragged the
honour of the Kelmscotts through the mud of the street. There was
but one comfort left. He never bore that unsullied name. Nobody
would know he was a Kelmscott of Tilgate.
The Colonel rose from his seat, and staggered across the floor.
Half-way to the door, he reeled and stopped short. The veins of his
forehead were black and swollen. He had the same strange feeling
in his head as he experienced on the day when Granville left--only
a hundred times worse. The two halves of his brain were opening
and shutting. His temples seemed too full; he fancied there was
something wrong with his forehead somewhere. He reeled once more,
like a drunken man. Then he clutched at a chair and sat down. His
brain was flooded.
He collapsed all at once, mumbling to himself some inarticulate
gibberish. Half an hour later, the servants came in and found him.
He was seated in his chair, still doddering feebly. The house was
roused. A doctor was summoned, and the Colonel put to bed. Lady
Emily watched him with devoted care. But it was all in vain. The
doctor shook his head the moment he examined him. "A paralytic
stroke," he said gravely; "and a very serious one. He seems to have
had a slighter attack some time since, and to have wholly neglected
it. A great blood-vessel in the brain must have given way with a
rush. I can hold out no hope. He won't live till morning."
And indeed, as it turned out, about ten that night the Colonel's
loud and stentorious breathing began to fail slowly. The intervals
grew longer and longer between each recurrent gasp, and life died
away at last in imperceptible struggles.
By two in the morning, Kelmscott of Tilgate lay dead on his bed;
and his two unacknowledged and unrecognised sons were the masters
of his property.
But one of them was at that moment being tossed about wildly on the
waves of Biscay; and the other was locked up on a charge of murder
in the county jail at Tavistock, in Devonshire.
Meanwhile, at the other house at Chetwood, where these tidings were
being read with almost equal interest, Elma Clifford laid down the
paper on the table with a very pale face, and looked at her mother.
Mrs. Clifford, all solicitous watchfulness for the effect on Elma,
looked in return with searching eyes at her daughter. Then Elma
opened her lips like one who talks in her sleep, and spoke out
twice in two short disconnected sentences. The first time she
said simply, "He didn't do it, I know," and the second time, with
all the intensity of her emotional nature, "Mother, mother, whatever
turns up, I MUST go there."
"HE will be there," Mrs. Clifford interposed, after a painful pause.
And Elma answered dreamily, with her great eyes far away, "Yes, of
course, I know he will. And I must be there too, to see how far,
if at all, I can help them."
"Yes, darling," her mother replied, stroking her daughter's hair
with a caressing hand. She knew that when Elma spoke in a tone like
that, no power on earth could possibly restrain her.
To Cyril Waring himself, the arrest at Dover came as an immense
surprise; rather a surprise, indeed, than a shock just at first, for
he could only treat it as a mistaken identity. The man the police
wanted was Guy, not himself; and that Guy should have done it was
As he landed from the Ostend packet, recalled to England unexpectedly
by the announcement that the Rio Negro Diamond Mines had gone
with a crash--and no doubt involved Guy in the common ruin--Cyril
was astonished to find himself greeted on the Admiralty Pier by a
policeman, who tapped him on the shoulder with the casual remark,
"I think your name's Waring."
Cyril answered at once, "Yes, my name's Waring."
It didn't occur to him at the moment that the man meant to arrest
"Then you're wanted," the minion of authority answered, seizing his
arm rather gruffly. "We've got a warrant out to-day against you,
my friend. You'd better come along with me quietly to the station."
"A warrant!" Cyril repeated, amazed, shaking off the man's hand.
"There must be some mistake somewhere."
The policeman smiled. "Oh yes," he answered briskly, with some
humour in his tone. "There's always a mistake, of course, in all
these arrests. You never get a hold of the right man just at first.
It's sure to be a case of his twin brother. But there ain't no
mistake this time, don't you fear. I knowed you at once, when I
see you, by your photograph. Though we were looking out for you, to
be sure, going the other way. But it's you all right. There ain't
a doubt about that. Warrant in the name of Guy Waring, gentleman;
wanted for the wilful murder of a man unknown, said to be one
McGregor, alias Montague Nevitt, on the 27th instant, at Mambury,
Cyril gave a sudden start at the conjunction of names, which naturally
increased his captor's suspicions. "But there IS a mistake, though,"
he said angrily, "even on your own showing. You've got the wrong
man. It's not I that am wanted. My name's Cyril Waring, and Guy is
my brother's. Though Guy can't have murdered Mr. Nevitt, either, if
it comes to that; they were most intimate friends. However, that's
neither here nor there. I'm Cyril, not Guy; I'm not your prisoner."
"Oh yes, you are, though," the officer answered, holding his arm very
tight, and calling mutely for assistance by a glance at the other
policemen. "I've got your photograph in my pocket right enough.
Here's the man we've orders to arrest at once. I suppose you won't
deny, now, that's your living image."
Cyril glanced at the photograph with another start of surprise.
Sure enough, it WAS Guy; his last new cabinet portrait. The police
must be acting under some gross misapprehension.
"That man's my brother," he said confidently, brushing the photograph
aside. "I can't understand it at all. This is extremely odd. It's
impossible my brother can even be suspected of committing murder."
The policeman smiled cynically. "Well, it ain't impossible your
brother's brother can be suspected, anyhow," he said, with a quiet
air of superior knowledge. "The good old double trick's been tried
on once too often. If I was you, I wouldn't say too much. Whatever
you say may be used as evidence at the trial against you. You just
come along quietly to the station with me--take his other arm, Jim,
that's right: no violence please, prisoner--and we'll pretty soon
find out whether you're the man we've got orders to arrest, or his
twin brother." And he winked at his ally. He was proud of having
effected the catch of the season.
"But I AM his twin brother," Cyril said, half struggling still to
release himself. "You can't take me up on that warrant, I tell you.
It's not my name. I'm not the man you've orders to look for."
"Oh, that's all right," the constable answered as before, with an
incredulous smile. "Don't you go trying to obstruct the police in
the exercise of their duty. If I can't take you up on the warrant
as it stands, well, anyhow, I can arrest you on suspicion all the
same, for looking so precious like the photograph of the man as is
wanted. Twin brothers ain't got any call, don't you know, to sit,
turn about, for one another's photographs. It hinders the administration
of justice; that's where it is. And remember, whatever you choose
to say may be used as evidence at the trial against you."
Thus adjured, Cyril yielded at last to force majeure and walked arm
in arm between the two policemen, followed by a large and admiring
crowd, to the nearest station.
But the matter was far less easily arranged than at first imagined.
An innocent man who knows his own innocence, taken up in mistake
for a brother whom he believes to be equally incapable of the crime
with which he is charged, naturally expects to find no difficulty
at all in proving his identity and escaping from custody on a false
charge of murder. But the result of a hasty examination at the station
soon effectually removed this little delusion. His own admission
that the photograph was a portrait of Guy, and his resemblance
to it in every leading particular, made the authorities decide on
the first blush of the thing this was really the man Scotland Yard
was in search of. He was trying to escape them on the ridiculous
pretext that he was in point of fact his own twin brother. The
inspector declined to let him go for the night. He wasn't going to
repeat the mistake that was made in the Lefroy case, he said very
decidedly. He would send the suspected person under escort to
So to Tavistock Cyril went, uncertain as yet what all this could
mean, and ignorant of the crime with which he was charged, if indeed
any crime had been really committed. All the way down, an endless
string of questions suggested themselves one by one to his excited
mind. Was Nevitt really dead? And if so, who had killed him? Was
it suicide to escape from the monetary embarrassments brought about
by the failure of the Rio Negro Diamond Mines, or was it accident
or mischance? Or was it in fact a murder? And in any case--strangest
of all--where was Guy? Why didn't Guy come forward and court inquiry?
For as yet, of course, Cyril hadn't received his brother's letter,
with the incriminating pocket-book and the three thousand pounds;
nor indeed, for several days after, as things turned out, was there
even a possibility of his ever receiving it.
Next morning, however, when Cyril was examined before the Tavistock
magistrates, he began to realize the whole strength of the case
against him. The proceedings were purely formal, as the lawyers
said; yet they were quite enough to make Cyril's cheek turn pale
with horror. One witness after another came forward and swore to
him. The station-master at Mambury gave evidence that he had made
inquiries on the platform after Nevitt by name; the inn-keeper
deposed as to his excited behaviour when he called at the Talbot
Arms, and his recognition of McGregor as the person he was in search
of; the boy of whom Guy had inquired at the gate unhesitatingly
set down the conversation to Cyril. None of them had the faintest
doubt in his own mind--each swore--that the prisoner before the
magistrates was the self-same person who went over to Mambury on
that fatal day, and who followed Montague Nevitt down the path by
As Cyril listened, one terrible fact dawned clearer and clearer
upon his brain. Every fragment of evidence they piled up against
himself made the case against Guy look blacker and blacker.
The magistrates accepted the proofs thus tendered, and Cyril, as
yet unassisted by professional advice, was remanded accordingly
till next morning.
Just as he was about to leave the Sessions House in a tumult of
horror, fear, and suspense, somebody close by tapped him on the
shoulder gravely, after a few whispered words with the chairman
and the magistrates. Cyril turned round, and saw a burly man with
very large hands, whom he remembered to have had pointed out to
him in London, and, strange to say, by Montague Nevitt himself--as
the eminent Q.C., Mr. Gilbert Gildersleeve.
The great advocate was pale, but very sincere and earnest. Cyril
noticed his manner was completely changed. It was clear some
overmastering idea possessed his soul.
"Mr. Waring," he said, looking him full in the face, "I see you're
unrepresented. This is a case in which I take a very deep interest.
My conduct's unprofessional, I know--point-blank against all our
recognised etiquette--but perhaps you'll excuse it. Will you allow
me to undertake your defence in this matter?"
Cyril turned round to him with truly heartfelt thanks. It was a
great relief to him, alone and in doubt, and much wondering about
Guy, to hear a friendly word from whatever quarter.
And Cyril knew he was safe in Gilbert Gildersleeve's hands: the
greatest criminal lawyer of the day in England might surely be
trusted to set right such a mere little error of mistaken identity.
Though for Guy--whenever Guy gave himself up to the police--Cyril
felt the position was far more dangerous. He couldn't believe,
indeed, that Guy was guilty; yet the circumstances, he could no
longer conceal from himself, looked terribly black against him.
"You're too good," he cried, taking the lawyer's hand in his with
very fervent gratitude. "How can I thank you enough? I'm deeply
obliged to you."
"Not at all," Gilbert Gildersleeve answered, with very blanched
lips. He was ashamed of his duplicity. "You've nothing to thank me
for. This case is a simple one, and I'd like to see you out of it.
I've met your brother; and the moment I saw you I knew you weren't
he, though you're very like him. I should know you two apart wherever
I saw you."
"That's curious," Cyril cried, "for very few people know us from
one another, except the most intimate friends."
The Q.C. looked at him with a very penetrating glance. "I had
occasion to see your brother not long since," he answered slowly,
"and his features and expression fastened themselves indelibly on
my mind's eye. I should know you from him at a glance. This case,
as you say, is one of mistaken identity. That's just why I'm so
anxious to help you well through it."
And indeed, Gilbert Gildersleeve, profoundly agitated as he was,
saw in the accident a marvellous chance for himself to secure a
diversion of police attention from the real murderer. The fact was,
he had passed twenty-four hours of supreme misery. As soon as he
learned from common report that "the murderer was caught, and was
being brought to Tavistock," he took it for granted at first that
Guy hadn't gone to Africa at all, but had left by rail for the
East, and been arrested elsewhere. That belief filled him full
of excruciating terrors. For Gilbert Gildersleeve, accidental
manslaughterer as he was, was not by any means a depraved or wholly
heartless person. Big, blustering, and gruff, he was yet in essence
an honest, kind-hearted, unemotional Englishman. His one desire
now was to save his wife and daughter from further misery; and if
he could only save them, he was ready to sacrifice for the moment,
to a certain extent, Guy Waring's reputation. But if Guy Waring
himself had stood before him in the dock, he must have stepped
forward to confess. The strain would have been too great for him.
He couldn't have allowed an innocent man to be hanged in his place.
Come what might, in that case he must let his wife and daughter
go, and save the innocent by acknowledging himself guilty. So, when
he looked at the prisoner, it gave him a shock of joy to see that
fortune had once more befriended him. Thank Heaven, thank Heaven,
it wasn't the man they wanted at all. This was the other brother
of the two--Cyril, the painter, not Guy, the journalist.
In a moment the acute and experienced criminal hand recognised
that this chance told unconsciously in his own favour. Like every
other suspected person, he wanted time, and time would be taken
up in proving an alibi for Cyril, as well as showing by concurrent
proof that he was not his brother. Meanwhile, suspicion would fix
itself still more firmly upon Guy, whose flight would give colour
to the charges brought against him by the authorities.
So the great Q.C. determined to take up Cyril Waring's case as a
labour of love, and didn't doubt he would succeed in finally proving
Next morning, Cyril Waring appeared once more in the Sessions House
for the preliminary investigation on the charge of murder. As he
entered, a momentary hush pervaded the room; then, suddenly, from
a seat beneath, a woman's voice burst forth, quite low, yet loud
enough to be heard by all the magistrates on the bench.
"Why, mother," it said, in a very tremulous tone, "it isn't Guy
himself at all; don't you see it's Cyril?"
The words were so involuntarily spoken, and in such hushed awe
and amaze, that even the magistrates themselves, hard Devonshire
squires, didn't turn their heads to rebuke the speaker. As for
Cyril, he had no need to look towards a blushing face in the body
of the court to know that the voice was Elma Clifford's.
She sat there looking lovelier than he had ever before seen her.
Cyril's glance caught hers. They didn't need to speak. He saw at once
in her eye that Elma at least knew instinctively he was innocent.
Next moment Gilbert Gildersleeve stood up to state his defence,
and gazed at her steadily. As he rose in his place, Elma's eye met
his. Gilbert Gildersleeve's fell. He didn't know why, but in that
second of time the great blustering man felt certain in his heart
that Elma Clifford suspected him.
Elma Clifford, for her part, knew still more than that. With
the swift intuition she inherited from her long line of Oriental
ancestry, she said to herself at once, in categorical terms, "It
was that man that did it. I know it was he. And he sees I know it.
And he knows I'm right. And he's afraid of me accordingly." But an
intuition, however valuable to its possessor, is not yet admitted
as evidence in English courts. Elma also knew it was no use in the
world for her to get up in her place and say so openly.
The great Q.C. put his case in a nutshell. "Our client," he
contended, "was NOT the man against whom the warrant in this case
had been duly issued; he was NOT the man named Guy Waring; he was
NOT the man whom the witnesses deposed to having seen at Mambury; he
was NOT the man who had loitered with evil intent around the skirts
of Dartmoor; in short," the great Q.C. observed, with demonstrative
eye-glass, "it was a very clear case of mistaken identity. It would
take them time, no doubt, to prove the conclusive alibi they intended
to establish; for the gentleman now charged before them, he would
hope to show hereafter, was Mr. Cyril Waring, the distinguished
painter, twin brother to Mr. Guy Waring, the journalist, against
whom warrant was issued; and he was away in Belgium during the whole
precise time when Mr. Guy Waring--as to whose guilt or innocence
he would make no definite assertion--was prowling round Dartmoor
on the trail of McGregor, alias Montague Nevitt. Therefore, they
would consent to an indefinite remand till evidence to that effect
was duly forthcoming. Meanwhile--" and here Gilbert Gildersleeve's
eyes fell upon Elma once more with a quiet forensic smile--he
would call one witness, on the spur of the moment, whom he hadn't
thought till that very morning of calling, but whom the magistrates
would allow to be a very important one--a lady from Chetwood--Miss
Elma, taken aback, stood up in the box and gave her evidence timidly.
It amounted to no more than the simple fact that the person before
the magistrates was Cyril, not Guy; that the two brothers were
extremely like; but that she had reason to know them easily apart,
having been associated in a most painful accident in a tunnel with
the brother, the present Mr. Cyril Waring. What she said gave only
a presumption of mistaken identity, but didn't at all invalidate
the positive identification of all the people who had seen the
supposed murderer. However, from Gilbert Gildersleeve's point of
view, this delay was doubly valuable. In the first place, it gave
him time to prove his alibi for Cyril and bring witnesses from
Belgium; and, in the second place, it succeeded in still further
fastening public suspicion on Guy, and narrowing the question for
the police to the simple issue whether or not they had really caught
the brother who was seen at Mambury on the day of the murder.
The law's delays were as marvellous as is their wont. It was a
full fortnight before the barrister was able to prove his point by
bringing over witnesses at considerable expense from Belgium and
elsewhere, and by the aid of a few intimate friends in London, who
could speak with certainty as to the difference between the two
brothers. At the end of a fortnight, however, he did sufficiently
prove it by tracing Cyril in detail from England to the Ardennes
and back again to Dover, as well as by showing exactly how Guy had
been employed in London and elsewhere on every day or night of
the intervening period. The magistrates at last released Cyril,
convinced by his arguments; and on the very same day, the coroner's
inquest on Montague Nevitt's body, after adjourning time upon time
to await the clearing up of this initial difficulty, returned a
verdict of wilful murder against Guy Waring.
That evening, in town, the most completely mystified person of
all was a certain cashier of the London and West County Bank, in
Lombard Street, who read in his St. James's this complete proof that
Cyril had been in Belgium through all those days when he himself
distinctly remembered cashing over the counter for him a cheque
for no less a sum than six thousand pounds to "self or bearer."
Had the brothers, then, been deliberately and nefariously engaged
in a deep-laid scheme--the cashier asked himself, much puzzled--to
confuse one another's identity with great care beforehand, with
a distinct view to the projected murder? For as yet, of course,
nobody on earth except Guy Waring himself on the waters of Biscay
knew or suspected anything at all about the forgery.
Elma Clifford and her mother, meanwhile, had stopped on at Tavistock
till Cyril was released from his close confinement. Elma never
meant to marry him, of course--to that prime determination she still
remained firm as a rock under all conditions--but in such straits
as those, why, naturally she couldn't bear to be far away from him.
So she remained at Tavistock quietly till the inquiry was over.
On the evening of his release Elma met him at the hotel. Her mother
had gone out on purpose to leave them alone. Elma took Cyril's hand
in hers with a profound trembling. She felt the moment for reserve
had long gone past.
"Cyril," she said, boldly calling him by his Christian name, because
she could call him only as she always thought of him, "I knew from
the first you didn't do it. And just because I know you didn't, I
know Guy didn't either, though everything looks now so very black
against him. I can trust YOU, and I can trust HIM. All through,
I've never had a doubt one moment of either of you."
Cyril held her hand in his, and raised it tenderly to his lips. Elma
looked at him, half surprised. Only her hand, how strange of him.
Cyril read the unspoken thought, as she would have read it herself,
and answered quickly, "Never, Elma, now, till Guy has cleared himself
of this deadly accusation. I couldn't bear to ask you to accept a
man who every one else would call a murderer's brother."
Elma gazed at him steadfastly. Tears stood in her eyes. Her voice
trembled; but she was very firm.
"We must clear you and him of this dreadful charge," she said slowly.
"I know we must do that, Cyril. Guy didn't kill him. Guy's wholly
incapable of it. But where is Guy now? That's what I don't understand.
We must clear that all up. Though, even when it's cleared up, I
can only LOVE you. As I told you that day at Chetwood--and I mean
it still--whatever comes to us two, I can never, never marry you."
"Not even if I clear this all up?" Cyril asked, with a wistful
"Not even if you clear this all up," Elma answered seriously. "The
difficulty's on MY side, don't you see, not on yours at all. So far
as you're concerned, Cyril, clear this up or leave it just where
it is, I'd marry you to-morrow. I'd marry you at once, and proud
to do it, if only to show the world openly I trust you both. I half
faltered just once as you stood there in court, whether I wouldn't
say yes to you, for nothing else but that--to let everybody see
how implicitly I trusted you."
"But _I_ couldn't allow it," Cyril answered, all aglow. "As things
stand now, Elma, our positions are reversed. While this cloud
still hangs so black over Guy, I couldn't find it in my conscience
to ask you to marry me."
He gazed at her steadily. They were both too profoundly stirred
for tears or emotions. A quiet despair gleamed in the eyes of each.
Cyril could never marry her till he had cleared up this mystery.
Elma could never marry him, even if it were all cleared up, with that
terrible taint of madness, as she thought it, hanging threateningly
for ever over her and her family.
She paused for a minute or two, with her hand locked in his. Then
she said once more, very low, "No, Guy didn't do it. But why did
he run away? That baffles me quite. That's the one point of it
all that makes it so strange and so terribly mysterious."
"Elma," Cyril answered, with a cold thrill, "I believe in Guy;
I think I know myself, and I think I know him, well enough to say
that such a thing as murder is impossible for either of us. He's weak
at times, I admit, and his will was powerless before the magnetic
force of Montague Nevitt's. But when I try to face that inscrutable
mystery of why, if he's innocent, he has run away from this
charge, I confess my faith begins to falter and tremble. He must
have seen it in the papers. He must have seen I was accused. What
can he mean by leaving me to bear it in his stead without ever
coming forward to help me fairly out of it?"
Elma looked up at him with another of her sudden flashes of superb
intuition. "He CAN'T have seen it in the papers," she said. "That
gives us some clue. If he'd seen it, he MUST have come forward to
help you. But, Cyril, MY faith never falters at all. And I tell
you why. Not only do I know Guy didn't do it, but I know who did
it. The man who murdered Montague Nevitt is--why shouldn't I tell
you?--Mr. Gilbert Gildersleeve!"
Cyril started back astonished. "Oh, Elma, why do you think so?" he
cried in amazement. "What possible reason can you have for saying
"None," Elma answered, with a calmly resigned air. "I only know it;
I know it from his eyes. I looked in them once and read it like a
book. But of course that's nothing. What we must do now is to try
and find out the facts. I looked in his eyes and I saw it at a
glance. And I saw he saw it. He knows I've discovered him."
Cyril half drew away from her with a faint sense of alarm. "Elma,"
he said slowly, "I believe in Guy; but really and truly I can't
quite believe THAT. You make your intuition tell you far too much. In
your natural anxiety to screen my brother, you've fixed the guilt,
without proof, upon another innocent man. I'm sure Mr. Gildersleeve's
as incapable as Guy of any such action."
"And I'm sure of it, too," Elma answered, with the instinctive
certainty of feminine conviction. "But still I know, for all that,
he did it. Perhaps it was all done in a moment of haste. But at
least he did it. And nothing on earth that anybody could say will
ever make me believe he didn't."
When Mrs. Clifford came back to the hotel an hour later, she scanned
her daughter's face with a keen glance of inquiry.
"Well, he says he won't ask you again," she murmured, laying Elma's
head on her shoulder, "till this case is cleared up, and Guy is
"Yes," Elma answered, nestling close and looking red as a rose.
"He knows very well Guy didn't do it, but he wants all the rest of
the world to acknowledge it also."
"And YOU know who did it?" Mrs, Clifford said, with a tentative
"Yes, mother. Do you?"
"Of course I do, darling. But it'll never be proved against HIM,
you may be sure. I saw it at a glance. It's Mr. Gilbert Gildersleeve."
As Cyril drove home from Waterloo next day to his lonely rooms in
Staple Inn, Holborn, he turned aside with his cab for a few minutes
to make a passing call at the bank in Lombard Street. He was short
of ready money, and wanted to cash a cheque for fifty pounds for
expenses incurred in his defence at Tavistock.
The cashier stared at him hard; then, without consulting anybody,
he said, in a somewhat embarrassed tone, "I don't know whether
you're aware of it, Mr. Waring, but this overdraws your current
account. We haven't fifty pounds on our books to your credit."
He was well posted on the subject, in fact, for only that morning
he had hunted up Cyril's balance in the ledger at his side for the
gratification of his own pure personal curiosity.
Cyril stared at him in astonishment. In this age of surprises, one
more surprise was thus suddenly sprung upon him. His first impulse
was to exclaim in a very amazed voice, "Why, I've six thousand odd
pounds to my credit, surely;" but he checked himself in time with
a violent effort. How could he tell what strange things might have
happened in his absence? If the money was gone, and Nevitt was
murdered, and Guy in hiding, who could say what fresh complications
might not still be in store for him? So he merely answered, with
a strenuous endeavour to suppress his agitation, "Will you kindly
let me have my balance-sheet, if you please? I--ur--I thought I'd
more money than that still left with you."
The cashier brought out a big book and a bundle of cheques, which
he handed to Cyril with a face of profound interest. To him, too,
this little drama was pregnant with mystery and personal implications.
Cyril turned the vouchers over one by one, with close attention,
recognising the signature and occasion of each, till he arrived
at last at a big cheque which staggered him sadly for a moment. He
took it up in his hands and examined it in the light. "Pay Self or
Bearer, Six Thousand Pounds (L6,000), Cyril Waring."
Oh, horrible, horrible! This, then, was the secret of Guy's sudden
He didn't cry aloud. He didn't say a word. He looked at the thing
hard, and knew in a moment exactly what had happened. Guy had
forged that cheque; it was Guy's natural hand, written forward like
Cyril's own, instead of backward, as usual. And no one but himself
could possibly have told it from his own true signature. But Cyril
knew it at once for Guy's by one infallible sign--a tiny sign that
might escape the veriest expert--some faint hesitation about the
tail of the capital C, which was shorter in Guy's hand than Cyril
ever made it, and which Guy had therefore deliberately lengthened,
by an effort or an afterthought, to complete the imitation.
"You cashed that cheque yourself, sir, over the counter, you
remember," the cashier said quietly, "on the date it was drawn on."
Cyril never altered a muscle of his rigid face.
"Ah, quite so," he answered, in a very dry voice, not daring to
contradict the man. He knew just what had happened. Guy must have
come to get the money himself, and the cashier must have mistaken
him for the proper owner of the purloined six thousand. They were
so very much alike. Nobody ever distinguished them.
"And that was one of the days, I think, when you proved the alibi
in Belgium before the Devonshire magistrates at Tavistock yesterday,"
the clerk went on, with a searching glance. Cyril started this
time. He saw in a second the new danger thus sprung upon him. If
the cashier chose to press the matter home to the hilt, he must
necessarily arrive at one or other of two results. Either the alibi
would break down altogether, or it would be perfectly clear that
Guy had committed a forgery.
"So it seems," he answered, looking his keen interlocutor straight
in the eyes. "So it seems, I should say, by the date on the face
But the cashier did NOT care to press the matter home any further;
and for a very good reason. It was none of his business to suggest
the idea of a forgery, after a cheque had been presented and duly
cashed, if the customer to whose account it was debited in course
chose voluntarily to accept the responsibility of honouring it.
The objection should come first from the customer's side. If HE
didn't care to press it, then neither did the cashier. Why should
he, indeed? Why saddle his firm with six thousand pounds loss? He
would only get himself into trouble for having failed to observe
the discrepancy in the signatures, and the difference between the
brothers. That, after all, is what a cashier is for. If he doesn't
fulfil those first duties of his post, why what on earth can be
the good of him to anybody in any way?
The two men looked at one another across the counter with a strong
inscrutable stare of mutual suspicion. Then Cyril slowly tore
up the cheque he had tendered for fifty pounds, filled in another
for his real balance of twenty-two, handed it across to the clerk
without another word, received the cash in white trembling hands,
and went out to his cab again in a turmoil of excitement.
All the way back to his rooms in Staple Inn one seething idea alone
possessed his soul. His faith in Guy was beginning to break down.
And with it, his faith in himself almost went. The man was his own
brother--his very counterpart, he knew; could he really believe
him capable of committing a murder? Cyril looked within, and said
a thousand times NO; he looked at that forged cheque, and his heart
At Staple Inn, the housekeeper who took care of their joint rooms
came out to greet him with no small store of tears and lamentations.
"Oh, Mr. Cyril," she cried, seizing both his hands in hers with a
tremulous welcome, "I'm glad to see you back, and to know you're
innocent. I always said you never could have done it; no, no, not
you, nor yet Mr. Guy neither. The police has been here time and
again to search the rooms, but, the Lord be praised, they never
found anything. And I've got a letter for you, too, from Mr. Guy
himself; but there--I locked it up till you come in my own cupboard
at home, for fear of the detectives; and now you're back and safe
in London again, I'll run home this minute round the corner and
Cyril sat down in the familiar easy-chair, holding his face in his
hands, and gazed about him blankly. Such a home-coming as this
was inexpressibly terrible to him.
In a few minutes more the housekeeper came back, bringing in her
hand Guy's letter from Plymouth.
Cyril sat for a minute and looked at the envelope in deadly silence.
Then he motioned the housekeeper out of the room with one quivering
hand. Before that good woman's face, he couldn't open it and read
As soon as she was gone, he tore it apart, trembling. As he read
and read the suspicion within him deepened quickly into a doubt,
the doubt into a conviction, the conviction into a certainty. He
clapped his hands to his head. Oh, God, what was this? Guy acknowledged
his own guilt! He confessed he had done it!
Cyril's last hope was gone. Guy himself admitted it!
"How I came to do it," the letter said, "I've no idea myself. A
sudden suggestion--a strange, unaccountable impulse--a prompting,
as it were, pressed upon me from without, and almost before I knew,
the crime was committed."
Cyril bent his head low upon his knees with shame. He never
could hold up that head henceforth. No further doubt or hesitation
remained. He knew the whole truth. Guy was indeed a murderer.
He steeled himself for the worst, and read the letter through
with a superhuman effort. It almost choked him to read. The very
consecutiveness and coherency of the sentences seemed all but
incredible under such awful circumstances. A murderer, red-handed,
to speak of his crime so calmly as that! And then, too, this undying
anger expressed and felt, even after death, against his victim
Nevitt! Cyril couldn't understand how any man--least of all his own
brother--could write such words about the murdered man whose body
was then lying all silent and cold, under the open sky, among the
bracken at Mambury.
And once more, this awful clue of the dead man's pocket-book! Those
accursed notes! That hateful sum of money! How could Guy venture
to speak of it all in such terms as those--the one palpable fact
that indubitably linked him with that cold-blooded murder. "The
three thousand sent herewith I recovered, almost by a miracle, from
that false creature's grasp, under extraordinary circumstances,
and I return them now, in proof of the fact, in Montague Nevitt's
own pocket-book, which I'm sure you'll recognise as soon as you
look at it."
Cyril saw it all now beyond the shadow of a doubt. He reconstructed
the whole sad tale. He was sure he understood it. But to understand
it was hardly even yet to believe it. Guy had lost heavily in the
Rio Negro Mines, as the prosecution declared; in an evil hour he'd
been cajoled into forging Cyril's name for six thousand. Montague
Nevitt had in some way misappropriated the stolen sum. Guy had
pursued him in a sudden white-heat of fury, had come up with him
unawares, had killed him in his rage, and now calmly returned as
much as he could recover of that fateful and twice-stolen money to
Cyril. It was all too horrible, but all too true. In a wild ferment
of remorse for his brother's sin, the unhappy painter sat down at
once and penned a letter of abject self-humiliation to Elma Clifford.
"ELMA,-I said to you last night that I could never marry you till
I had clearly proved my brother Guy's innocence. Well, I said what
I can never conceivably do. Since returning to town I received a
letter from Guy himself. What it contained I must never tell you,
for Guy's own sake. But what I MUST tell you is this--I can never
again see you. Guy and I are so nearly one, in every nerve and
fibre of our being, that whatever he may have done is to me almost
as if I myself had done it. You will know how terrible a thing it
is for me to write these words, but for YOUR sake I can't refrain
from writing them. Think no more of me. I am not worthy of you.
I will think of you as long as I live.
"Your ever devoted and heart-broken
He folded the letter, and sent it off to the temporary address at
the West-End where Elma had told him that she and her mother would
spend the night in London. Very late that evening a ring came at
the bell. Cyril ran to the door. It was a boy with a telegram. He
opened it, and read it with breathless excitement.
"Whatever Guy may have said, you are quite mistaken. There's a
mystery somewhere. Keep his letter and show it to me. I may, perhaps,
be able to unravel the tangle. I'm more than ever convinced that
what I said to you last night was perfectly true. We will save him
But the telegram brought little peace to Cyril. Of what value were
Elma's vague intuitions now, by the side of Guy's own positive
confession? With his very own hand Guy admitted that he had done
it. Cyril went to bed that night, the unhappiest, loneliest man
in London. What Guy was, he was. He felt himself almost like the
The voyage to the Cape was long and tedious. On the whole way out,
Guy made but few friends, and talked very little to his fellow
passengers. That unhappy recognition by Granville Kelmscott the
evening he went on board the Cetewayo poisoned the fugitive's mind
for the entire passage. He felt himself, in fact, a moral outcast;
he slunk away from his kind; he hardly dared to meet Kelmscott's
eyes for shame, whenever he passed him. But for one thing at least
he was truly grateful. Though Kelmscott had evidently discovered
from the papers the nature of Guy's crime, and knew his real name
well, it was clear he had said nothing of any sort on the subject
to the other passengers. Only one man on board was aware of his
guilt, Guy believed, and that one man he shunned accordingly as
far as was possible within the narrow limits of the saloon and the
Granville Kelmscott, of course, took a very different view of Guy
Waring's position. He had read in the paper he bought at Plymouth
that Guy was the murderer of Montague Nevitt. Regarding him,
therefore, as a criminal of the deepest dye now flying from justice,
he wasn't at all surprised at Guy's shrinking and shunning him;
what astonished him rather was the man's occasional and incredible
fits of effrontery. How that fellow could ever laugh and talk at
all among the ladies on deck--with the hangman at his back--simply
appalled and horrified the proud soul of a Kelmscott. Granville
had hard work to keep from expressing his horror openly at times.
But still, with an effort, he kept his peace. With the picture of
his father and Lady Emily now strong before his mind, he couldn't
find it in his heart to bring his own half-brother, however guilty
and criminal the man might be, to the foot of the gallows.
So they voyaged on together without once interchanging a single
word, all the way from Plymouth to the Cape Colony. And the day
they landed at Port Elizabeth, it was an infinite relief indeed to
Guy to think he could now get well away for ever from that fellow
Kelmscott. Not being by any means over-burdened with ready cash,
however, Guy determined to waste no time in the coastwise towns,
but to make his way at once boldly up country towards Kimberley.
The railway ran then only as far as Grahamstown; the rest of his
journey to the South African Golconda was accomplished by road,
in a two-wheeled cart, drawn by four small horses, which rattled
along with a will, up hill and down dale, over the precarious
highways of that semi-civilized upland.
To Guy, just fresh from England and the monotonous sea, there was
a certain exhilaration in this first hasty glimpse of the infinite
luxuriance of sub-tropical nature. At times he almost forgot
Montague Nevitt and the forgery in the boundless sense of freedom
and novelty given him by those vast wastes of rolling tableland,
thickly covered with grass or low thorny acacias, and stretching
illimitably away in low range after range to the blue mountains
in the distance. It was strange indeed to him on the wide plains
through which they scurried in wild haste to see the springbok rush
away from the doubtful track at the first whirr of their wheels,
or the bolder bustard stand and gaze among the long grass, with his
wary eye turned sideways to look at them. Guy felt for the moment
he had left Europe and its reminiscences now fairly behind him; in
this free new world, he was free once more himself; his shame was
cast aside; he could revel like the antelopes in the immensity of
a land where nobody knew him and he knew nobody.
What added most of all, however, to this quaint new sense of vastness
and freedom was the occasional appearance of naked blacks, roaming
at large through the burnt-up fields of which till lately they
had been undisputed possessors. Day after day Guy drove on along
the uncertain roads, past queer outlying towns of white wooden
houses--Cradock, and Middelburg, and Colesberg, and others--till
they crossed at last the boundary of Orange River into the Free
State, and halted for a while in the main street of Philippolis.
It was a dreary place; Guy began now to see the other side of South
Africa. Though he had left England in autumn, it was spring-time
at the Cape, and the winter drought had parched up all the grass,
leaving the bare red dust in the roads or streets as dry and desolate
as the sand of the desert. The town itself consisted of some sixty
melancholy and distressful houses, bare, square, and flat-roofed,
standing unenclosed along a dismal high-road, and with that
congenitally shabby look, in spite of their newness, which seems
to belong by nature to all southern buildings. Some stagnant pools
alone remained to attest the presence after rain of a roaring brook,
the pits in whose dried-up channel they now occupied; over their
tops hung the faded foliage of a few dust-laden trees, struggling
hard for life with the energy of despair against depressing
circumstances. It was a picture that gave Guy a sudden attack of
pessimism; if THIS was the El Dorado towards which he was going,
he earnestly wished himself back again once more, forgery or no
forgery, among the breezy green fields of dear old England.
On to Fauresmith he travelled with less comfort than before in
a rickety buggy of most primitive construction, designed to meet
the needs of rough mountain roads, and as innocent of springs as
Guy himself of the murder of Montague Nevitt. It was a wretched
drive. The drought had now broken; the wet season had begun;
rain fell heavily. A piercing cold wind blew down from the nearer
mountains; and Guy began to feel still more acutely than ever that
South Africa was by no means an earthly paradise. As he drove on and
on this feeling deepened upon him. Huge blocks of stone obstructed
the rough road, intersected as it was by deep cart-wheel ruts, down
which the rain-water now flowed in impromptu torrents. The Dutch
driver, too, anxious to show the mettle of his coarse-limbed steeds,
persisted in dashing over the hummocky ground at a break-neck pace,
while Guy balanced himself with difficulty on the narrow seat,
hanging on to his portmanteau for dear life among the jerks and
jolts, till his ringers were numbed with cold and exposure.
They held out against it all, before the pelting rain, till man
and beast were well-nigh exhausted. At last, about three-quarters
of the way to Fauresmith, on the bleak bare hill-tops, sleety snow
began to fall in big flakes, and the barking of a dog to be heard
in the distance. The Boer driver pricked up his ears at the sound.
"That must a house be," he remarked in his Dutch pigeon-English to
Guy; and Guy felt in his soul that the most miserable and filthy of
Kaffir huts would just then be a welcome sight to his weary eyes.
He would have given a sovereign, indeed, from the scanty store he
possessed, for a night's lodging in a convenient dog-kennel. He
was agreeably surprised, therefore, to find it was a comfortable
farmhouse, where the lights in the casement beamed forth a cheery
welcome on the wet and draggled wayfarers from real glass windows.
The farmer within received them hospitably. Business was brisk to-day.
Another traveller, he said, had just gone on towards Fauresmith.
"A young man like yourself, fresh from England," the farmer observed,
scanning Guy closely. "He's off for the diamond diggings. I think
Guy rested the right there, thinking nothing of the stranger, and
went on next day more quietly to Fauresmith. Thence to the diamond
fields, the country became at each step more sombre and more
monotonous than ever. In the afternoon they rested at Jacobsdal,
another dusty, dreary, comfortless place, consisting of about five
and twenty bankrupt houses scattered in bare clumps over a scorched-up
desert. Then on again next day, over a drearier and ever drearier
expanse of landscape. It was ghastly. It was horrible. At last, on
the top of a dismal hill range, looking down on a deep dale, the
driver halted. In the vast flat below, a dull dense fog seemed to
envelop the world with inscrutable mists. The driver pointed to it
with his demonstrative whip.
"Down yonder," he said encouragingly, as he put the skid on his
wheel, "down yonder's the diamond fields--that's Dutoitspan before
"What makes it so grey?" Guy asked, looking in front of him with a
sinking heart. This first view of his future home was by no means
"Oh, the sand make it be like that," the driver answered unconcernedly.
"Diamond fields all make up of fine red sand; and diggers pile it
about around their own claims. Then the wind comes and blow, and
make sandstorm always around Dutoitspan."
Guy groaned inwardly. This was certainly NOT the El Dorado of his
fancy. They descended the hill, at the same break-neck pace as
before, and entered the miserable mushroom town of diamond-grubbers.
Amidst the huts in the diggings great heaps of red earth lay piled
up everywhere. Dust and sand rose high on the hot breeze into
the stifling air. As they reached the encampment--for Dutoitspan
then was little more than a camp--the blinding mists of solid red
particles drove so thick in their eyes that Guy could hardly see
a few yards before him. Their clothes and faces were literally
encrusted in thick coats of dust. The fine red mist seemed to
pervade everything. It filled their eyes, their nostrils, their
ears, their mouths. They breathed solid dust. The air was laden
deep with it.
And THIS was the diamond fields! This was the Golconda where Guy
was to find six thousand pounds ready made to recover his losses
and to repay Cyril. Oh, horrible, horrible. His heart sank low at
And still they went on, and on, and on, and on, through the mist
of dust to the place for out-spanning. Guy only shared the common
fate of all new-comers to "the fields" in feeling much distressed
and really ill. The very horses in the cart snorted and sneezed
and showed their high displeasure by trying every now and then to
jib and turn back again. Here and there, on either side, to right
and left, where the gloom permitted it, Guy made out dimly a few
round or oblong tents, with occasional rude huts of corrugated
iron. A few uncertain figures lounged vaguely in the background.
On closer inspection they proved to be much-grimed and half-naked
natives, resting their weary limbs on piles of dry dust after their
toil in the diggings.
It was an unearthly scene. Guy's heart sank lower and lower still
at every step the horses took into that howling wilderness.
At last the driver drew up with a jolt in front of a long low hut
of corrugated iron, somewhat larger than the rest, but no less dull
and dreary. "The hotel," he said briefly; and Guy jumped out to
secure himself a night's lodging or so at this place of entertainment,
till he could negotiate for a hut and a decent claim, and commence
At the bar of the primitive saloon where he found himself landed,
a man in a grey tweed suit was already seated. He was drinking
something fizzy from a tall soda-water glass. With a sudden start
of horror Guy recognised him at once. Oh, great heavens, what was
this? It was Granville Kelmscott!
Then Granville, too, was bound for the diamond fields like himself.
What an incredible coincidence! How strange! How inexplicable!
That rich man's son, the pampered heir to Tilgate! what could HE
be doing here, in this out-of-the-way spot, this last resort of
poor broken-down men, this miserable haunt of wretched gambling
Here curiosity, surely, must have drawn him to the spot. He couldn't
have come to DIG! Guy gazed in amazement at that grey tweed suit.
He must be staying for a day or two in search of adventure. No more
than just that! He couldn't mean to STOP here.
As he gazed and stood open-mouthed in the shadow of the door,
Granville Kelmscott, who hadn't seen him enter, laid down his glass,
wiped his lips with gusto, and continued his conversation with the
"Yes, I want a hut here," he said, "and to buy a good claim. I've
been looking over the kopje down by Watson's spare land, and I
think I've seen a lot that's likely to suit me."
Guy sould hardly restrain his astonishment and surprise. He had
come, then, to dig! Oh, incredible! impossible!
But at any rate this settled his own immediate movements. Guy's
mind was made up at once. If Granville Kelmscott was going to dig
at Dutoitspan--why, clearly Dutoitspan was no place for HIM. He
could never stand the continual presence of the one man in South
Africa who knew his deadly secret. Come what might he must leave
the neighbourhood without a moment's delay. He must strike out at
once for the far interior. As he paused, Granville Kelmscott turned
round and saw him. Their eyes met with a start. Each was equally
astonished. Then Granville rose slowly from his seat, and murmured
in a low voice, as he regarded him fixedly--
"You here again, Mr. Billington! This is once too often. I hardly
expected THIS. There's no room here for both of us."
And he strode from the saloon, with a very black brow, leaving Guy
for the moment alone with the barman.
A NEW DEPARTURE.
A fortnight later, one sultry afternoon, Granville Kelmscott found
himself, after various strange adventures and escapes by the way,
in a Koranna hut, far in the untravelled heart of the savage Barolong
The tenement where he sat, or more precisely squatted, was by
no means either a commodious or sweet-scented one. Yet it was the
biggest of a group on the river-bank, some five feet high from
floor to roof, so that a Kelmscott couldn't possibly stand erect
at full length in it; and it was roughly round in shape, like an
overgrown beehive, the framework consisting of branches of trees,
arranged in a rude circle, over whose arching ribs native rush
mats had been thrown or sewn with irregular order. The door was a
hole, through which the proud descendant of the squires of Tilgate
had to creep on all fours; a hollow pit dug out in the centre served
as the only fireplace; smoke and stagnant air formed the staples
of the atmosphere. A more squalid hovel Granville Kelmscott had
never even conceived as possible. It was as dirty and as loathsome
as the most vivid imagination could picture the hut of the lowest
Yet here that delicately nurtured English gentleman was to be
cooped up for an indefinite time, as it seemed, by order of the
black despot who ruled over the Barolong with a rod of iron.
What had led Granville Kelmscott into this extraordinary scrape
it would not be hard to say. The Kelmscott nature, in all
its embodiments, worked on very simple but very fixed lines. The
moment Granville saw his half-brother Guy at Dutoitspan, his mind
was made up at once as to his immediate procedure. He wouldn't stop
one day--one hour longer than necessary where he could see that
fellow who committed the murder. Come what might, he would make
his escape at once into the far interior.
As before in England, so now in Africa, both brothers were moved by
the self-same impulses. And each carried them out with characteristic
Where could Granville go, however? Well, it was rumoured at
Dutoitspan that "pebbles" had been found far away to the north in
the Barolong country. "Pebbles," of course, is good South African
for diamonds; and at this welcome news all Kimberley and Griqualand
pricked up their ears with congenial delight; for business was
growing flat on the old-established diamond fields. The palmy era
of great finds and lucky hits was now long past; the day of systematic
and prosaic industry had set in instead for the over-stocked
diggings. It was no longer possible for the luckiest fresh hand
to pick up pebbles lying loose on the surface; the mode of working
had become highly skilled and scientific.
Machines and scaffolds, and washing-cradles and lifting apparatus
were now required to make the business a success; the simple old
gambling element was rapidly going out, and the capitalist was rapidly
coming up in its stead as master of the situation. So Granville
Kelmscott, being an enterprising young man, though destitute of
cash, and utterly ignorant of South African life, determined to
push on with all his might and main into the Barolong country, and
to rush for the front among the first in the field in these rumoured
new diggings on the extreme north frontier of civilization.
He started alone, as a Kelmscott might do, and made his way
adventurously, without any knowledge of the Koranna language or
manners, through many wild villages of King Khatsua's dominions.
Night after night he camped out in the open; and day after day
he tramped on by himself, buying food as he went from the natives
for English silver, in search of precious stones, over that dreary
tableland. At last, on the fourteenth day, in a deep alluvial
hollow near a squalid group of small Barolong huts, he saw a tiny
round stone, much rubbed and water-worn, which he picked up and
examined with no little curiosity. The two days he had spent at
Dutoitspan had not been wasted. He had learnt to recognise the look
of the native gem. Once glance told him at once what his pebble
was. He recognised it at sight as one of those small but much-valued
diamonds of the finest water, which diggers know by the technical
name of "glass-stones."
The hollow where he stood was in fact an ancient alluvial pit or
volcanic mud-crater. Scoriac rubble filled it in to a very great
depth; and in the interstices of this rubble were embedded here
and there rude blocks of greenstone, containing almond-shaped
chalcedonies and agate and milk-quartz, with now and then a tiny
water-worn spec which an experienced eye would have detected at
once as the finest "riverstones."
Here indeed was a prize! The solitary Englishman recognised in a
second that he was the first pioneer of a new and richer Kimberley.
But as Granville Kelmscott stood still, looking hard at his find
through the little pocket-lens he had brought with him from England,
with a justifiable tremor of delight at the pleasant thought that
here, perhaps, he had lighted on the key to something which might
restore him once more to his proper place at Tilgate, he was suddenly
roused from his delightful reverie by a harsh negro voice, shrill
and clear, close behind him, saying, in very tolerable African-English--
"Hillo, you white man! what dat you got there? You come here to
Barolong land, so go look for diamond?"
Granville turned sharply round, and saw standing by his side a
naked and stalwart black man, smiling blandly at his discovery with
broad negro amusement.
"It's a pebble," the Englishman said, pocketing it as carelessly as
he could, and trying to look unconcerned, for his new acquaintance
held a long native spear in his stout left hand, and looked by no
means the sort of person to be lightly trifled with.
"Oh, dat a pebble, mistah white man!" the Barolong said sarcastically,
holding out his black right hand with a very imperious air. "Den
you please hand him over dat pebble you find. Me got me orders.
King Khatsua no want any diamond digging in Barolong land."
Granville tried to parley with the categorical native; but his
attempts at palaver were eminently unsuccessful. The naked black
man was master of the situation.
"You hand over dat stone, me friend," he said, assuming a menacing
attitude, and holding out his hand once more with no very gentle
air, "or me run you trew de body wit me assegai--just so! King
Khatsua, him no want any diamond diggings in Barolong land."
And, indeed, Granville Kelmscott couldn't help admitting to himself,
when he came to think of it, that King Khatsua was acting wisely in
his generation. For the introduction of diggers into his dominions
would surely have meant, as everywhere else, the speedy proclamation
of a British protectorate, and the final annihilation of King
Khatsua himself and his dusky fellow-countrymen.