Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Devlin the Barber
Author: Farjeon, B. L. (Benjamin Leopold)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Devlin the Barber" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



Web Archive (University of California Libraries)



Transcriber's Notes:
   1. Page Scan Source:
   https://ia600201.us.archive.org/10/items/devlinbarber00farjrich/devlin
   barber00farjrich.pdf
   (University of California Libraries)

   2 The diphthong oe is represented by [oe].



DEVLIN THE BARBER


BY
B. L. FARJEON,
AUTHOR OF "THE NINE OF HEARTS," "GREAT PORTER SQUARE,"
ETC. ETC.



_FOURTH EDITION_.



LONDON:
WARD AND DOWNEY,
12 YORK STREET, COVENT GARDEN.
[_All rights reserved._]
1888.



CONTENTS.
Introduction.--In which reference is made to a strange, unfathomable
            being, through whose instrumentality an awful mystery was
            solved.
Chap. I. In which an account is given of the good fortune which
            befell Mr. Melladew.
     II. I am the recipient of terrible news.
    III. A shoal of visitors--followed by another mystery.
     IV. Mr. Richard Portland makes a singular proposition to me.
      V. I pay a visit to Mrs. Lemon.
     VI. I am haunted by three evil-looking objects in Mrs. Lemon's
            room.
    VII. Devlin's first introduction into the mystery.
   VIII. I make the acquaintance of George Carton's guardian, Mr.
            Kenneth Dowsett.
     IX. Fanny Lemon relates under what circumstances she resolved
            to let her second floor front.
      X. Devlin the Barber takes Fanny's first floor front.
     XI. Devlin performs some wonderful tricks, fascinates Mr. Lemon,
            and strikes terror to the soul of Fanny Lemon.
    XII. Fanny Lemon relates how her husband, after becoming better
            acquainted with Devlin the Barber, seemed to be haunted
            by shadows and spirits.
   XIII. In which Fanny narrates how her husband had a fit, and what
            the doctor thought of it.
    XIV. Devlin appears suddenly, and holds a conversation with Fanny
            about the murder.
     XV. Fanny describes how she made up her mind what to do with
            Lemon.
    XVI. Mr. Lemon wakes up.
   XVII. Lemon's vision in the "Twisted Cow."
  XVIII. Fanny's story being concluded, I pay a visit to Mr. Lemon,
            and resolve to interview Devlin the Barber.
    XIX. Face to face with Devlin, I demand an explanation of him.
     XX. Devlin astonishes me.
    XXI. Devlin and I make a compact.
   XXII. I send Devlin's desk to my wife, and smoke fragrant cigar.
  XXIII. I pass a morning in Devlin's place of business.
   XXIV. Mr. Kenneth Dowsett gives me the slip.
    XXV. We follow in pursuit.
   XXVI. Another strange and unexpected discovery.
  XXVII. We track Mr. Kenneth Dowsett to Boulogne.
 XXVIII. The trance and the revelation.
   XXIX. The rescue.
    XXX. Devlin's last scheme.



DEVLIN THE BARBER



INTRODUCTION.

IN WHICH REFERENCE IS MADE TO A STRANGE, UNFATHOMABLE BEING THROUGH
WHOSE INSTRUMENTALITY AN AWFUL MYSTERY WAS SOLVED.


The manner in which I became intimately associated with a fearful
mystery with which not only all London but all England was ringing,
and the strange, inexplicable Being whom the course of events brought
to my knowledge, are so startling and wonderful, that I have grown to
believe that by no effort of the imagination, however wild and
bewildering the labyrinths into which it may lead a man, can the
actual realism of our everyday life be outrivalled. What I am about to
narrate is absolutely true--somewhat of an unnecessary statement, for
the reason that human fancy could never have invented it. To a person
unfamiliar with the wondrous life of a great city like London the
story may appear impossible, but there are thousands of men and women
who will immediately recognise in it features with which they became
acquainted through the columns of the newspapers. I venture to
say that the leading incident by which one morning--it was but
yesterday--the great city was thrilled and horrified can never be
entirely effaced from their memories. Dark crimes and deeds of
heroism, in which the incidents are pathetic or pitiful, draw even
strangers into sympathetic relation with each other. These events come
home to us, as it were. What happened to one whose face we have never
seen, whose hand we have never grasped, may happen to us who move in
the same familiar grooves of humanity. Our hopes and fears, our joys
and sorrows, our duties and temptations, are the same, because we are
human; and it is this common tie of kinship that will cause the story
of Devlin the Barber to be received with more than ordinary interest.
Now, for the first time is revealed, in these pages, the strange
manner in which the fearful mystery in which it was enshrouded was
unravelled. The facts are as I shall relate them, and whatever the
impression they may create, a shuddering curiosity must inevitably be
aroused as to the nature and movements of the inscrutable Being
through whose instrumentality I was made the agent in revealing what
would otherwise have remained for ever hidden from human knowledge. By
a few incredulous persons--I refer to those to whom nothing spiritual
is demonstrable--the existence of this Being may be doubted; but none
the less does he live and move among us this very day, pursuing his
mission with a purpose and to an end which it is not in the power of
mortal insight to fathom. It is not unlikely that some of my readers
may have come unconsciously in contact with him within the last few
hours.



CHAPTER I.

IN WHICH AN ACCOUNT IS GIVEN OF THE GOOD FORTUNE WHICH BEFELL MR.
MELLADEW.


I am a struggling man--the phrase will be well understood, for the
class to which I belong is a large one--and I reside in a
neighbourhood which is neither very poor nor very fashionable. I have,
of course, my friends and acquaintances, and among the most intimate
of the former is a family of the name of Melladew.

Mr. Melladew is a reader in a printing-office in which a weekly
newspaper is printed. Mrs. Melladew, with the assistance of one small
servant, manages the home. They had two daughters, twins, eighteen
years of age, named respectively Mary and Elizabeth. These girls were
very beautiful, and were so much alike that they were frequently
mistaken for one another. Mrs. Melladew has told me that when they
were very young she was compelled to make some distinguishing mark in
their dress to avoid confusion in her recognition of them, such as
differently coloured socks or pieces of ribbon. The home of the
Melladews was a happy one, and the sisters loved each other sincerely.
They were both in outdoor employment, in the establishments of a
general linendraper and a fashionable dressmaker. Mary was in the
employment of the linendraper--Limbird's, in Regent Street. It is a
firm of wide repute, and employs a great number of hands, some of whom
sleep in the house. This was the case with Mary Melladew, who went to
her work on Monday morning and did not return home until Saturday
night. Elizabeth, or Lizzie as she was always called, was employed by
Madame Michel, in Baker Street. She went to her work at half-past
eight every morning and returned home at half-past seven every night.

The printing-office in which Mr. Melladew is engaged employs two
readers, a night reader and a day reader. Mr. Melladew is the day
reader, his hours being from nine in the morning till seven in the
evening. But on Saturdays he has a much longer spell; he is due in the
office at eight in the morning, and he remains until two or three
hours past midnight--a stretch of eighteen or nineteen hours. By that
time all the work for the Sunday edition of the weekly newspaper is
done, and the outside pages are being worked off on the steam presses.

Now, upon the Saturday morning on which, so far as I am concerned, the
enthralling interest of my story commences, certain important events
had occurred in my career and in that of Mr. Melladew. Exactly one
month previous to that day, the firm in which I had been employed for
a great many years had given me a month's notice to leave. My
dismissal was not caused by any lapse of duty on my part; it was
simply that business had been for some time in a bad state, and that
my employers found it necessary to reduce their staff. Among those who
received notice to quit, I, unfortunately, was included. Therefore,
when I rose on Saturday morning I was in the dismal position of a man
out of work, my time having expired on the day before. This was of
serious importance to me. With Mr. Melladew the case was different. In
what unexpectedly occurred to him there was bright sunshine, to be
succeeded by black darkness.

He had visited me on the Friday night, and I perceived at once that he
was in a state of intense and pleasurable excitement.

"I have come to tell you some good news," he said.

For a moment I thought that this good news might affect myself, and
might bring about a favourable turn in my affairs, but Mr. Melladew's
next words dispelled the hope.

"I am the happiest man in London," he said.

I reflected gravely, but not enviously, upon my own position, and
waited for Mr. Melladew to explain himself.

"Did I ever mention to you," he asked, "that I had a brother-in-law in
Australia?"

"Yes," I replied, "you have spoken of him lately two or three times."

"So many years had passed," said Mr. Melladew, "since my wife heard
from him that I had almost forgotten him. He is her brother, you know,
and his name is Portland--Richard Portland. That was my wife's name
before we were married---not Richard, of course, but Portland." He
laughed, and rubbed his leg with his right hand; in his left hand was
a letter. "It was about eight months ago that we received a letter
from him, asking us to give him information about our family and
circumstances. He did not say anything about his own, so we were left
quite in the dark as to whether he was rich or poor, or a married man
or a bachelor. However, my wife answered his letter, and sent him the
pictures of our two girls, and in her letter she asked whether he was
married and had a family, and said also that she would like him to
send us their pictures. Well, we heard nothing further from him till
to-day. Another letter came from him while I was at the office. You
may read it; there is nothing private in it. It isn't from Australia;
it is written from Southampton, you see. But that is not the only
surprise in it."

I took the letter and read it. It was, indeed, a letter to give
pleasurable surprise to the receiver. Without any announcement to Mr.
Melladew of his intention, Mr. Portland had left Australia, and was
now in Southampton. He intended to start by an early train on Saturday
morning for London, and would come straight to his brother-in-law's
house. In the letter he replied to the questions put by Mrs. Melladew.
He was a bachelor, without family ties of any kind in Australia.
Moreover, he had made his fortune, and it was the portraits of his two
nieces which were the main cause of his return to England. Their
beauty had evidently made a deep impression upon him. He spoke of them
and of Mrs. Melladew in the most affectionate terms, and said it was a
great pleasure to him to think that he was coming to a home which he
hoped ho might look upon as partly his own. He sent his warmest love
to them all, and in pleasantly tender words, the meaning of which
could scarcely be mistaken, he desired a message to be given to his
"dear nieces," to the effect that "their ship had come home." I handed
the letter back to Mr. Melladew, and expressed my gratification at the
good news.

"It is good news," he said gleefully, "the best of news. I knew you
would be pleased. I am wondering whether it is a large or a small
fortune he has made. My wife says a large one."

"And _I_ say a large one," I remarked.

"What makes you of that opinion?" inquired Mr. Melladew.

"Well, in the first place there are so many large fortunes made in
Australia."

"That is true."

"Then, money being so much more plentiful there than here, a man gets
to think less of a little than we do. His ideas become larger, I mean.
At any time these last dozen years a hundred pounds would have been a
God-send to me, and I should have thought of it so----"

"So would I," interposed Mr. Melladew.

"But if you and I were in a land of gold, we should, I daresay, think
much more lightly of a hundred pounds. I wish I had emigrated when I
was first married; I had the chance, and let it slip. But it's no use
crying over spilt milk."

"Not a bit of use," said Mr. Melladew; "life's a perpetual grind here,
and I am truly grateful for the light this letter has let in upon us.
You've given me two reasons for thinking my brother-in-law's fortune a
large one. Have you any others?"

"Well, he speaks of your daughters' ship having come home. That looks
as if he meant to provide for them."

"It _does_ look like it," said Mr. Melladew; and I saw that my
arguments had given him pleasure. "My wife has a reason, also, for
thinking so. She says, when Dick--that is her brother, you know--went
away he declared he would never come back to England unless he could
come back a very rich man. 'And,' says my wife, 'what Dick said, he'd
stick to.' She is sure of that. It's wonderful, isn't it? He didn't
have a sovereign to bless himself with when he left England, and
now--but it's no use speculating. We shall know everything soon. You
will understand my feelings; you have children of your own."

I had indeed, and it made me rueful to think of them. Getting another
situation in such hard times was no easy matter.

"It isn't for myself," resumed Mr. Melladew, "that I am overjoyed at
the better prospect before us: it is for my girls. Perhaps it means
that they will not have to go out to work any longer. They are good
girls, but they are so pretty, and have such engaging ways, that I
have often been disturbed by the circumstance of their not being so
much under my own and their mother's eyes as we would wish them to be.
It could not be helped hitherto. There's the question of dress, now.
You can manage tolerably well when they're little girls; a clever
woman like my wife can turn and twist, and cut up old things in a way
to make the little ones look quite nice; but when they become young
women, with all sorts of new ideas in their pretty heads, it is
another pair of shoes. It's natural, too, that they should want a
little pocket money to spend upon innocent pleasures and harmless
vanities. We were young ourselves once, weren't we? We found we
couldn't afford to give the girls what they wanted. They saw it, too,
so they made up their minds, without saying a word to us, to look out
for situations for themselves, and for months they haven't been a
farthing's expense to us. They even give their mother a trifle a week
towards the home. Good girls, the best of girls; I should be a
miserable man without them. Still, as I said, I have been uneasy about
them: there are so many scoundrels in the world ready with honeyed
words to turn a girl's head; and it hurts me to think that they have
their little secrets which they don't ask us to share. Now, thank God,
it will be all right. My brother-in-law will be here to-morrow, and
when he sees Lizzie and Mary he will be confirmed in his kind
intentions towards them. They can leave their situations; and if any
man wishes to pay them attentions he can do so in a straightforward
manner in the home in which they were brought up."

He was in the blithest of spirits, and I cordially renewed my
congratulations on his good fortune. In return, he condoled with
me on the unpromising change in my own prospects. I was not very
cheerful--no man could be in such a position--but I am not in the
habit of magnifying my misfortunes to my friends, and I plucked up my
spirits.

"You will soon get another situation," said Mr. Melladew.

"I hope so," I replied; "I cannot afford to keep long out of one."

"It may be in my power to give you a lift," he said kindly. "Who knows
what may turn up in the course of the next few hours?"

I attached no signification to this not uncommon remark at the time it
was uttered, but it recurred to me afterwards, charged with sad and
terrible import. We fell to again discussing the matter of which he
was full.

"I am almost ashamed of my good luck," said Mr. Melladew, "when I
think what has happened to you."

"A man must accept the ups and downs of life with courage," I said,
"and must put the best face he can upon them."

We were true friends, and I had a sincere respect for him as a worthy
fellow who had faithfully performed his duties to his family and
employers. He was passionately fond of his two daughters, and
frequently spoke of them as the greatest blessing in his life. It was,
indeed, delightful to witness the affection he bestowed upon them in
the happy home of which he was the head. They were girls of which any
man might have been proud, being not only beautiful, but bright and
witty, and full of animation.

Mr. Melladew and I chatted together for another half-hour, and then he
wished me good-night.

"It is fortunate," he said, "that I got away from the office an hour
earlier than usual. I shall be at home when Lizzie returns from her
work, and I want to be the first to tell her the good news. How
excited she will be! There was a friend at the house last night, who
told us our fortunes. Lizzie is very fond of having her fortune told.
'There, father,' she says, 'didn't my fortune say that I was to
receive a letter? And I've got one.' As if there was anything out of
the way in receiving a letter! Last night she was told that a great
and wonderful surprise was in store for her. Well, there is, but I am
certain the fortune-teller knew as much about its nature as the man in
the moon."

"And Mary?" I said. "Will you tell her to-night?"

"No," replied Mr. Melladew, "we will wait till she comes home
to-morrow. When she sees her uncle from Australia sitting in my
arm-chair, she won't know what to think of it. Happy girls, happy
girls!"

"And happy father and mother, too," I said.

"Yes, yes," he said, with great feeling, "and happy father and mother
too."

It was in no envious spirit that I contrasted his good luck with my
bad, but had I suspected what the next few hours had in store for him,
I should have thanked God for my lot. We have reason to be profoundly
grateful for the ills we escape.



CHAPTER II.

I AM THE RECIPIENT OF TERRIBLE NEWS.


On Saturday morning I rose early, with the strange feelings of a man
whose habits of life had been suddenly and violently wrenched out of
their usual course. I wandered up and down the stairs and into all the
rooms in the house, and to the street-door, where I stood looking
vacantly along the street, perhaps for the situation I had lost, as
though it were something I had dropped by accident and could pick up
again. Two or three neighbours passed and gave me good-morning, and
one paused and asked if I was not well.

"Not well?" I echoed, somewhat irritably; "I am well, quite well. What
makes you think otherwise?"

"O," he answered apologetically, "only seeing you here, that's all.
It's so unusual."

He passed on, looking once or twice behind him. Unusual? Of course it
was unusual. Everything was unusual, everything in the world, which
seemed to be turned topsy-turvy. If the people in the street had
walked on their heads instead of their feet it would not have
surprised me very much. I should have regarded it as quite in keeping
with the fact that I was standing at my own street-door in idleness at
half-past eight o'clock on a Saturday morning; I could not remember
the time when such a thing had occurred to me.

Standing thus in a state of semi-stupefaction, the postman came up and
gave me a letter. This recalled me to myself.

"Now," thought I, as I turned the envelope over in my hand, "whom is
it from, and what does it contain?"

At first I had an unreasonable hope that it was from my employers,
imploring me to come back, but a glance at the address convinced me
that it was a foolish hope. The writing was strange to me, and the
envelope was a common one, and was fastened with sealing-wax bearing
the impression of a thimble. I opened and read the letter, and
although it did not contain the offer of a situation, or hold out the
prospect of one, the contents interested me. I shall have occasion
presently to refer to this letter more particularly, and shall at
present content myself with saying that had it not arrived this story
would never have been written. While my wife and I were at breakfast
we spoke of it, and I said it was my intention to comply with the
request it contained.

Over breakfast, also, we reviewed our position. During my years of
employment I had managed to save very little money, and upon reckoning
up what I had in my purse and what I owed, I arrived at a balance in
my favour of a little less than four pounds, which represented the
whole of my worldly wealth. A poor look-out, and I was reflecting upon
it gloomily, when my good little wife, with a tender deprecatory
smile, laid before me on the table a Post Office savings-book.

"What is this?" I asked.

"Look," she replied.

The book was made out in her name, and the small deposits, extending
over a number of years, made therein showed a credit of more than
twenty pounds.

"Yours?" I said, in wonder. "Really yours?"

"No," said my wife. "Yours."

My heart beat with joy; these twenty pounds were like a reprieve. I
should have time to look about, without being tortured by fears of
immediate want. I drew my wife to my side, and embraced her. Twenty
pounds, with which to commence over again the battle of life! Why it
was a fortune! How the little woman had contrived to save so much out
of her scanty housekeeping money was a mystery to me, but she had done
it by hook or by crook, as the saying is, and she now experienced a
true and sweet delight in handing it over to me.

"Well," said I, rubbing my hands cheerfully, "things might look worse
than they do--a great deal worse. We have a little store to help us
over compulsorily idle days, and, thank God, all the children are
well."

It was much to be grateful for, and we kissed each other in token of
our gratitude, and also as a pledge that we would not lose heart, but
would battle bravely on.

I had just finished my second cup of tea when the street-door was
hastily opened, and my friend Mr. Melladew staggered, or rather fell,
into the room, with a face as white as a ghost. His limbs were
trembling so that he could not stand, and my wife, much alarmed,
started up and helped him into a chair.

On this special morning we had breakfasted late, and as my wife was
assisting Mr. Melladew the clock struck ten.

It sometimes happens that the most ordinary occurrences become of
unusual importance by reason of circumstances with which they have no
connection. Thus it was that the striking of ten o'clock, as I gazed
upon the white face of my visitor, filled me with an apprehension of
impending evil.

"Good God!" I cried. "What has happened?" My thought was that there
had been an accident to the train by which Mr. Melladew expected his
brother-in-law from Southampton, but I was soon undeceived. It was
difficult to extract anything intelligible from Mr. Melladew in his
terrible state of agitation; but eventually I was placed in possession
of the following particulars.

Mr. Melladew had risen early and had left his wife abed, and, as he
supposed, his daughter Lizzie. It was Mrs. Melladew's custom on
Saturday mornings to take half-an-hour extra in the way of sleep, and
Mr. Melladew would prepare his own breakfast on these occasions. He
did so on this morning, and left his house at twenty minutes to eight.
At eight o'clock punctually he was sitting at his desk in the
printing-office, reading proofs. Everything was going on as usual, the
only pleasant difference being the extraordinary lightness of Mr.
Melladew's heart as he thought of his rich brother-in-law from
Australia, perhaps at that very hour stepping into the train for
London, and of his two darling children, Lizzie and Mary. He did not,
however, allow this contemplation to interfere with the faithful and
steady discharge of his duties, and his work proceeded uninterruptedly
until half-past nine, when he sent his young assistant, a reading boy,
into the composing-room with the last proofs he had read, telling him
to bring back any more that were ready. A workman at the galley-press
had just pulled off a column of newly set-up matter, and the lad,
without waiting for it to be delivered to him, took the slip from the
printer's hand, and returned quickly to the reading-room. Mr.
Melladew, receiving the slip from his assistant, was about to commence
arranging the "copy," which the lad had also brought with him, when a
compositor rushed in, and, snatching both slip and "copy" from Mr.
Melladew's desk, hurriedly left the room.

"What's that for?" inquired Mr. Melladew.

"I don't know, sir," replied the lad; "but there's something 'up' in
the composing-room. The men are all standing talking in a regular
fluster."

"What about?"

"Ain't got a notion, sir; but they seem regular upset."

Curious to ascertain what was going on, Mr. Melladew strolled into the
composing-room, and was struck by the sudden silence which ensued upon
his entrance. It was all the more singular because Mr. Melladew, as he
pushed the door open, heard the men speaking in excited voices, and
had half a fancy that he heard his own name uttered in tones of pity.
"Poor Melladew!" Yes, it was not a fancy. The words had been uttered
at the moment of his entrance. The silence of the compositors, their
pitying looks, confirmed it. But why should they speak of him as "poor
Melladew" at a time when life had never been so bright and fair? What
was the meaning of the pitying glances directed towards him? The
composing-room, especially on Saturdays, was a scene of lively bustle
and animation, but now the men were standing idle, stick in hand, at
the corners of their frames, or tip-toeing over their cases, and the
eyes of every man there were fixed upon Mr. Melladew. Had he been in
trouble, had his wife or one of his darling daughters been ill, his
thoughts would have immediately flown to his home, and he would have
seen in the pitying glances of the compositors a sign of some dread
misfortune; but in his happy mood he received no such impression.

"What on earth is the matter with you all?" he said in a light tone.

He saw the compositor who had snatched the slip of new matter from his
desk, and before he could be prevented he took it from the man's hand.

The compositors found their voices.

"No, Mr. Melladew!" they cried. "No; don't, don't!"

"Nonsense!" he said, and keeping possession of the slip, he left the
composing-room for his own.

"Go and get the copy," he said to the lad who had followed him.

When the lad was gone he spread the slip on the desk before him. The
first words he saw formed the title of the column he was about to
read: "Horrible Murder in Victoria Park!" Beneath it were the
sub-headings, "Stabbed to the Heart!" and "A Bunch of Blood-stained
Daisies!" To a newspaper reader such events, shocking though they be,
are unhappily no novelties, and Mr. Melladew looked down the column, I
will not say mechanically, for he was a humane man, but steadily, and
stirred no doubt by pity and indignation. But before he had got
half-way down the pulsations of his heart seemed to stop, and the
words swam before his eyes. His eyes lighted on the name of the girl
who had been murdered.

It was that of his own daughter, Lizzie Melladew!



CHAPTER III.

A SHOAL OF VISITORS FOLLOWED BY ANOTHER MYSTERY.


In an agony of horror and despair he had flown from the
printing-office to my house.

I cannot say whether he chose my house premeditatedly; it is likely
that it was done without distinct intention, but it was a proof that
he regarded my friendship as genuine, and that he knew he could depend
upon my sympathy in times of trouble. As indeed he could. My heart
bled as I gazed upon him. The words issued with difficulty from his
trembling lips; his features were convulsed; he shook like a man in an
ague.

"O, my Lizzie!" he moaned. "My poor, poor Lizzie! O, my child, my
child!"

I took in regularly a penny daily newspaper, and I had read it on this
morning, but there was no mention in its columns of the dreadful
occurrence. The discovery had been made too late for the first
editions of the daily journals.

Mr. Melladew's story being told, disjointedly, and in fragments which
I had to piece together in order to arrive at an intelligible
comprehension of it, the unhappy man sat before me, moaning.

"O, my Lizzie! O, my poor child!"

"Was she at home?" I asked gently; I did not attempt to console him.
Of what avail were mere words at such a moment? "Was she at home when
you went from here last night?"

"Yes, she was there," he moaned. "When she went to bed I kissed her.
For the last time! For the last, last time!"

And then he broke down utterly. I could get nothing further from him.

When she went to bed, he kissed her. What kind of riddle was here, in
the midst of the horrible tragedy, that the hapless girl should have
wished her parents good-night and retired to rest, and be found
ruthlessly murdered a few hours afterwards in an open park at some
distance from her house? With such joyful news as Mr. Melladew had to
communicate to his daughter, the probability was that they had kept up
later than usual, talking of the brighter future that then seemed
spread before them. It made the tragic riddle all the more difficult.

There came a knock at the street-door, and a gentleman was admitted,
upon most urgent business he said. It turned out that he was a
newspaper reporter, who, in advance of the police, had tracked Mr.
Melladew to my house, and had come to obtain information from him for
his newspaper. I, pointed out to him the condition of Mr. Melladew,
and said something to the effect that it was scarcely decent to
intrude upon him at such a time.

The reporter, who evidently felt deeply for the bereaved father, and
whose considerate manner was such as to completely disarm me, said
aside to me,

"Pray do not think that I am devoid of feeling; I am a father myself,
and have a daughter of the age of his poor girl. My mission is not one
of idle curiosity. A ruthless murder has been committed, and the
murderer is at large. I am not working only for my paper; I am
assisting the cause of justice. Every scrap of information we can
obtain will hasten the arrest of the wretch who has been guilty of a
crime so diabolical."

"He can tell you nothing," I said, compelled to admit that he was
right. "Look at him as he sits there, crushed and broken down by the
blow."

"I pity him from my heart," said the reporter. "Can you assist me in
any way? Did the poor girl live at home?"

"She lived at home certainly, but she had employment at Madame
Michel's, in Baker Street."

"Madame Michel's, in Baker Street. I must go there. Did she sleep
out?"

"No; she came home every night at half-past seven."

"Did she do so last night?"

"Yes."

"Did she not go to some place of amusement?"

"Not to my knowledge. Her father told me that before she went to bed
he kissed her good-night."

"Do you know at what hour?"

"I do not."

"But presumably not early."

"Not so early as usual, I should say, because her father had some good
news to communicate to her, and they would stop up late talking of it.
Understand, much of what I say is presumptive."

"But reasonable," said the reporter. "Did the poor girl have a
sweetheart?"

Words which Mr. Melladew had spoken on the previous night recurred to
me here. "There are so many scoundrels in the world ready with honeyed
words to turn a girl's head; and it hurts me to think that they have
their little secrets which they don't ask us to share." Did not this
point to a secret which was hidden from her parents? I said nothing of
this to the reporter, but answered that I was not aware that the poor
girl had a sweetheart.

"Some one must have been in love with her," said the reporter.

"Many, perhaps," I rejoined; "but not one courted her openly, I
believe--that is, to her parents' knowledge."

"That counts for very little. She was a beautiful girl."

"How?" I exclaimed. "Have you seen her?"

"I saw her this morning," he answered gravely, "within the last two
hours. She looked like an angel."

"Was there no trace of suffering in her face?" I asked wistfully.

"None. She was stabbed to the heart--only one, sharp, swift, devilish
blow, and death must have been instantaneous. To my unprofessional eye
it almost seems as if she must have died in sleep--in happy sleep."

"That, at least, is merciful. Hush!"

Mr. Melladew was rocking to and fro murmuring, "O, my Lizzie, my
darling child! O, my poor, poor Lizzie!" We had spoken in low tones,
and he evinced no consciousness of having heard what we said. During
our conversation the reporter was jotting down notes unobtrusively.
The conversation would doubtless have been continued had it not been
for the appearance of other persons, following rapidly upon each
other, policemen, and additional reporters, who had discovered that
Mr. Melladew was in my house. The last to appear was Mrs. Melladew,
who had heard rumours of the frightful crime, and who flew round to
me, not knowing that her husband was in the room. What passed from
that moment, while all these persons were buzzing around me, was so
confusing that I cannot hope to give an intelligible transcript of it.
I was, as it were, in the background, as one who had no immediate
interest in the unravelling of the terrible mystery. It was a most
agitating time to me and my wife, and when my visitors had all
departed I felt like a man who had been afflicted by a horrible
nightmare. How little did I imagine that the letter I had received by
the early morning's post, and which I had in my pocket, was vitally
connected with it, and that of all those present I was the man who was
destined to bring the mystery to light!

Before the day was over fresh surprises were in store for me in
connection with the dreadful deed. Needless to say that the whole
neighbourhood was in a state of great excitement; so numerous were my
idle visitors that I was compelled to tell my wife to admit into the
house no person but the Melladews, or relatives of theirs. In the
afternoon, however, one visitor called who would not be denied. He
sent in his card, which bore the name of George Carton, and I said I
would see him.

He was a young man, whose age I judged to be between twenty and
twenty-five, well dressed, and remarkably good-looking. His manners
were those of one who was accustomed to move in good society, and both
his speech and behaviour during the interview impressed me favourably.
I observed when he entered the room that he was greatly agitated.

"I have intruded myself upon you, sir," he said, "because I felt that
I should go mad if I did not speak to some person who was a friend
of--or----"

He could not proceed, and I finished the sentence for him. "Of the
poor girl who has been so cruelly murdered?"

He nodded his head, and, when he could control his voice, said, "You
were an intimate friend of hers, sir?"

"Mr. Melladew's family and mine," I replied, "have been on terms of
friendship for many years. I have known the poor girl and her sister
since their infancy."

"I did not dare to call upon Mr. Melladew," he said, and then he
faltered again and paused.

"Are you acquainted with him?" I asked.

"No," he said, "but I hoped to be. If I went now and told him what I
wish to impart to you, he might look upon me as responsible for what
has occurred." He put his hand over his eyes, from which the tears
were flowing.

"What is it you wish to impart to me?" I inquired, "and why should you
suppose you would be held responsible for so horrible a crime?"

"I scarcely know what I am saying," he replied. "But my secret
intimacy with Lizzie"--I caught my breath at his familiar utterance of
the name--"becoming known to him now for the first time, might put
wrong ideas into his head."

"Your secret intimacy with Lizzie?" I exclaimed.

"We have known each other for more than four months," he said.

"Secretly?"

"Yes, secretly."

"And the poor girl's parents were not aware of it?"

"They were not. It was partly my poor Lizzie's wish, and partly my
own, I think, until I was sure that I possessed her love. She kept it
from me for a long time. 'Wait,' she used to say, smiling--pardon me,
sir; my heart seems as if it would break when I speak of her--'Wait,'
she used to say, 'I am not certain yet whether I really, really love
you.' But she did, sir, all along."

"How do you know that?" I asked, in doubt now whether I should regard
him with favour or suspicion.

"She confessed it to me last Tuesday night as she walked home from
Baker Street."

"You were in the habit of meeting her, then?"

"Yes. I beg you to believe, sir, there was nothing wrong in it. I
loved and honoured her sincerely. I wanted then to accompany her home
and ask her parents' permission to pay my addresses to her openly: but
she said no, and that she would speak to them first herself. It was
arranged so. She was to tell them to-night, and I was to call and see
her father and mother to-morrow. And now--and now--" Again he paused,
overpowered by grief. Presently he spoke again. "See here, sir."

He detached a locket from his chain, and opening it, showed me the
sweet and beautiful face of Lizzie Melladew.

"It was taken for me," he said, "on Wednesday morning. She obtained
permission from her employers for an hour's absence, and we went
together to get it taken. The photographer hurried the picture on for
me, I was so anxious for it. I had my picture taken for her, and put
into a locket, which I was to give her to-morrow with this ring in the
presence of her parents." He produced both the locket and the ring.
The locket was a handsome gold ornament, set with pearls; the ring was
a half-hoop, set with diamonds. The gifts were such as only a man in a
good position could afford to give. "I shall never be happy again," he
said mournfully, as he replaced the locket on his chain, after gazing
on the beautiful face with eyes of pitiful love.

"Were you in the habit of writing to her?" I asked.

"No, sir. No letters passed between us; there was no need to write, I
saw her so often--four or five times a week. 'When father and mother
know everything,' she said on Tuesday night, 'you shall write to me
every day.' I promised that I would."

"I am not sorry you confided in me," I said, completely won over by
the young man's ingenuousness and undoubted sincerity; "but I can
offer you no words of comfort. You will have to make this known to
others."

"I shall do what is right, sir. It is not in your power, nor in any
man's, to give me any comfort or consolation. The happiness of my life
is destroyed--but there is still one thing left me, and I will not
rest till it is accomplished. As God is my judge, I will not!" He did
not give me time to ask his meaning, but continued: "You can do me the
greatest favour, sir."

"What is it?"

"I must see Mary--her sister, sir. Can you send round to the house,
and ask her to come and see me here? She _will_ come when she gets my
message. Will you do this for me, sir?"

"Yes," I replied, "there is no harm in it."

I called my wife, and bade her go to Mr. Melladew's house, and
contrive to see Mary Melladew privately, and give her the young man's
message. During my wife's absence George Carton and I exchanged but
few words. He sat for the chief part of the time with his head resting
on his hand, and I was busy thinking whether the information he had
imparted to me would be likely to afford a clue to the discovery of
the murderer. My wife returned with consternation depicted on her
face.

"Mary is not at home," she said.

"Where has she gone?" cried George Carton, starting up.

To my astonishment my wife replied, "They are in the greatest trouble
about her. She has not been home all the day."

"Have they not seen anything of her?" I asked, also rising to my feet.

"No," said my wife, "they have seen nothing whatever of her."

"Is it possible," I exclaimed, "that she can be still at her place of
business, in ignorance of what has taken place?"

"No," cried George Carton, in great excitement, "she is not there. I
have been to inquire. She went out last night, and never returned.
Great God! What can be the meaning of it?"

I strove in vain to calm him. He paced the room with flashing eyes,
muttering to himself words so wild that I could not arrive at the
least understanding of them.

"Gone! Gone!" he cried at last. "But where, where? I will not sleep, I
will not rest, till I find her! Neither will I rest till I discover
the murderer of my darling girl! And when I discover him, when he
stands before me, as there is a living God, I will kill him with my
own hands!"

His passion was so intense that I feared he would there and then
commit some act of violence, and I made an endeavour to restrain and
calm him by throwing my arms around him; but he broke from me with a
torrent of frantic words, and rushed out of the house.

Here was another mystery, added to the tragedy of the last few hours.
What was to be the outcome of it? From what quarter was light to come?



CHAPTER IV.

MR. RICHARD PORTLAND MAKES A SINGULAR PROPOSITION TO ME.


In the evening I received another visitor, in the person of Mr.
Richard Portland, Mr. Melladew's brother-in-law. A shrewd, hard-headed
man, but much cast down at present. It was clear to me, after a little
conversation with him, that his nieces, Mary and the hapless Lizzie,
had been the great inducement of his coming home to England, and I
learnt from him that there was no doubt about the news of Mary
Melladew's mysterious disappearance.

Mr. Portland was a thoroughly practical man, even in matters of
sentiment. It was sentiment truly that had brought him home, but his
expectations had been blasted by the news of the tragedy which had
greeted him on his arrival. He was deeply moved by the affliction
which had fallen upon his sister's family; his indignation was aroused
against the monster who had brought this fearful blow upon them; and,
in addition, he was bitterly angry at being deprived of the society of
two lovely, interesting girls, in whose hearts he had naturally hoped
to find a place.

"My brother is fit for nothing," he said. "He is prostrate, and cannot
be roused to action. He moans and moans, and clasps his head. My
sister is no better; she goes out of one fainting fit into another."

"What can they do?" I asked. "What would you have them do?"

"Not sit idly down," he replied curtly. "That is not the way to
discover the murderer; and discovered he must and shall be, if it
costs me my fortune."

"There have been murders," I remarked, "in the very heart of London,
and though years have passed, the murderers still walk the streets
undetected."

"It is incredible," he said.

"It is true," was my rejoinder.

"But surely," he urged, "this will not be classed among them?"

"I trust not."

"Money will do much."

"Much, but not everything. You have been many years in Australia. Have
not such crimes been committed even there without the perpetrators
being brought to justice?"

"Yes," he replied, "but Australia and London are not to be spoken of
in the same breath. There, a man may succeed in making himself lost in
wild and vast tracts of country. He can walk for days without meeting
a living soul. Here he is surrounded by his fellow-creatures."

"Your argument," I said, "tells against yourself. Here, in the crush
and turmoil of millions, each atom with its own individual and
overwhelming cares and anxieties, the murderer is comparatively safe.
No one notices him. Why should they, in such a seething crowd? In the
bush he is the central figure; he walks along with a hang-dog look; he
_must_ halt at certain places for food, and his guilty manner draws
attention upon him. In that lies his danger. But this is profitless
argument. For my part, I see no reason why the murderer of your
unfortunate niece should not be discovered."

"Sensibly said. It must be a man who committed the deed."

"That has to be proved," I remarked.

"Surely you don't believe it was a woman?" exclaimed Mr. Portland.

"Such things have been. In these cases of mystery it is always an
error to rush at a conclusion and to set to work upon it, to the
exclusion of all others. It is as great an error to reject a theory
because of its improbability. My dear sir, nothing is improbable in
this city of ours; I am almost tempted to say that nothing is
impossible. The columns of our newspapers teem with romance which once
upon a time would have been regarded as fables."

Mr. Portland looked at me thoughtfully as he said, "You are doubtless
right. It needs such a mind as yours to bring the matter to light--a
mind both comprehensive and microscopic. There is some satisfaction in
speaking to you; a man hears things worth listening to. The
unpractical stuff that has been buzzing in my ears ever since I
arrived from Southampton has almost driven me crazy. Give me your
careful attention for a few moments; it may be something in your
pocket."

He paused awhile, as though considering a point, before he resumed.

"My coming home to the old country has been a bitter disappointment to
me. Quite apart from the sympathy I feel for the parents upon whom
such a dreadful blow has fallen, the news which greeted me on my
arrival has upset the plans I had formed. Over there"--with a jerk of
his thumb over his right shoulder, as though Australia lay immediately
in the rear of his chair-"where I made a pretty considerable fortune,
I had no family ties, and was often chewing the cud of loneliness,
lamenting that I had no one to care for, and no one to care for me.
When I received the portraits of my nieces I was captivated by them,
and I thought of them continually. Here was the very thing I was
sighing for, a human tie to banish the devil of loneliness from my
heart. The beautiful young girls belonged to me in a measure, and
would welcome and love me. I should have a home to go to where I
should be greeted with affection. I won't dwell upon what I thought,
because I hate a man who spins a thing out threadbare, but you will
understand it. I came home to enjoy the society of my two beautiful
nieces, and I find what you know of. Well, one poor girl has gone, and
cannot be recalled; but the other, Mary, so far as we know, is alive;
and yet she, too, disappeared last night, and nothing has been heard
of her. She must be found; if she is in danger she must be rescued;
she must be restored to her parents' arms, and to mine. Something
else. The murderer of my poor niece Lizzie must be discovered and
brought to justice--must be, I say! There shall be no miscarriage
here; the villain shall not escape. Now, you--excuse me if I speak
abruptly, I mean no disrespect by it; it is only my way of speaking;
and I don't wish to be rude or to pry into your private affairs, far
from it. What I mean is, money?"

I stared at him in amazement; he had stated his meaning in one
pregnant word, but he had failed in conveying to my mind any
comprehension of it.

"Now, I put it to you," he said, "and I hope you'll take it kindly. I
give you my word that my intentions are good. You are not a rich man,
are you?"

"No," I answered promptly; for he was so frank and open, and was
speaking in a tone of such deep concern, that I could not take offence
at a question which at other times I should have resented. "I am not."

"And you wouldn't turn your nose up at a thousand pounds?"

"No, indeed I would not," I said heartily, wondering what on earth the
rich Australian was driving at.

"Well, then," he said, touching my breast with his forefinger, "you
discover the murderer of my poor niece Lizzie, and the thousand pounds
are yours. I will give the money to you. Something else: find my niece
Mary, and restore her to her parents and to me, and I'll make it two
thousand. Come, you don't have such a chance every day."

"That is true," I said, and I could not help liking the old fellow for
this display of heart. "But it is too remote for consideration."

"Not at all, my dear sir, not at all," and again he touched my breast
with his forefinger; "there is nothing remote in it."

"But why," I asked, not at all convinced by his insistence, "do you
offer _me_ such a reward, instead of going to the police?"

"Partly because of what you said, confirmed--though I didn't think of
it at the time you mentioned it--by what I have read, about murders
being committed in the very heart of London, without the murderers
ever being discovered."

"I was simply stating a fact."

"Exactly; and it speaks well for the police, doesn't it? But I have
only explained part of my reason for offering you the reward. It isn't
alone what you said about undiscovered murderers, it is because you
spoke like a sensible man, who, once having his finger on a clue,
wouldn't let it slip till he'd worked it right out; and like a man
who, while he was working that clue, wouldn't let others slip that
might happen to come in his way. I've opened my mind to you, and I've
nothing more to say until you come to me to say something on your own
account. O, yes I have, though; I was forgetting that we're strangers
to one another, and that it wouldn't be reasonable for me to expect
you to take my word for a thousand pounds. Well, then, to show you
that I am in earnest, I lay on the table Bank of England notes for a
hundred pounds. Here they are, on account."

To my astonishment he had pulled out his pocket-book and extracted ten
ten-pound notes, and there they lay on the table before me. I would
have entreated him to take them back, feeling that it would be the
falsest of false pretences to accept them, but before I could speak
again he was gone.

I called my wife into the room, and told her what had passed. She
regarded it in the same light as myself, but I noted a little wistful
look in her eyes as she glanced at the bank-notes.

"A thousand pounds!" she sighed, half-longingly, half-humorously. "If
we could only call it ours! Why, it would make our fortune!"

"It would, my dear," I said, wishing in my heart of hearts that I had
a thousand pounds of my own to throw into her lap. "But this
particular thousand pounds which the good old fellow has so generously
offered will never come into our possession. So let us dismiss it from
our minds."

"Mr. Portland," said my wife, "evidently thinks you would make a good
detective."

"That may or may not be, though his opinion of me is altogether too
flattering. Certainly, if I had a clue to the discovery of this
terrible mystery--"

"You would follow it up," said my wife, finishing the sentence for me.

"Undoubtedly I would, with courage and determination. With such a
reward in view, nothing should shake me off. I would prove myself a
very bloodhound. But there," I said, half ashamed at being led away,
"I am sailing in the clouds. Let's talk no more about it. As for Mr.
Portland's hundred pounds I will put the notes carefully by, and
return them to him at the first opportunity. Poor Mrs. Melladew! How I
pity her and Melladew! I shall never forget the picture of the father
sitting in that chair, moaning, 'My poor, poor Lizzie! O, my child, my
child!' It was heartbreaking."

My wife and I talked a great deal of it during the night, and before
we went to bed I had purchased at least seven or eight newspapers of
the newsboys who passed through the street crying out new editions and
latest news of the dreadful deed. But there was nothing really new.
Matters were in the same state as when the body of the hapless girl
was found in Victoria Park early in the morning. I recognised how
dangerous was the delay. Every additional hour increased the chances
of the murderer's escape from the hands of justice.

I did not sleep well; my slumbers were disturbed by fantastic,
horrible dreams. It was eleven o'clock on Sunday morning before I
quitted my bed.



CHAPTER V.

I PAY A VISIT TO MRS. LEMON.


I must now speak of the letter which I received on the morning of the
murder, as I stood at my street-door. It was from a Mrs. Lemon,
entreating me to call upon her at any hour most convenient to me on
this Sunday, and it was couched in terms so imploring that it would
have been cruel on my part to refuse, more especially as the writer
had some slight claim upon me. Mrs. Lemon had been for many years a
nurse and servant in my parents' house, and the children were fond of
her. She was then a spinster, and her name was Fanny Peel. We used to
make jokes upon it, and call her Fancy Peel, Orange Peel, Candied
Peel, Lemon Peel--and we little dreamt, when we called her Lemon Peel,
that we were unconsciously moved by the spirit of prophecy. For though
she was thirty years of age she succeeded in captivating a widower a
few years older than herself, Ephraim Lemon, a master barber and
hairdresser, who used to haunt the area. We youngsters were in the
habit of watching for him and playing him tricks, I am afraid, but
nothing daunted his ardour. He proposed for Fanny, and she accepted
him. Some enterprising tradesmen, when their stock is stale or
old-fashioned, put bills in their windows announcing that no
reasonable offer will be refused. Fanny Peel, having been long on the
shelf, may have thought of this when she accepted Ephraim Lemon's
hand. After her marriage she came to see me once a year to pay her
respects; but suddenly her visits became less frequent, until they
ceased altogether. For a long time past I had heard nothing of my old
nurse.

"It is a fine morning," I said to my wife, "and I shall walk to
Fanny's house."

In the course of an hour I presented myself at Mrs. Lemon's
street-door, and knocked. She herself opened it to me, and after an
anxious scrutiny asked me eagerly to walk in. There was trouble in her
face, tempered by an expression of relief when she fully recognised
me. She preceded me into her little parlour, and I sat down, awaiting
the communication she desired to make. Up to the point of my sitting
down the only words exchanged between us were--

From her: "O, sir, it _is_ you, and you _have_ come!"

From me: "Yes, Fanny; I hope I am not later than you expected?"

From her: "Not at all, sir. You always was that punkchel that I used
to time myself by you."

It is a detail to state that I had not the remotest idea what she
meant by this compliment, especially as I had not made an appointment
for any particular hour. However, I did not ask her for an
explanation. I addressed her as Fanny quite naturally, and when I
followed her into the parlour an odd impression came upon me that I
had gone right back into the past, and that I was once more a little
boy in pinafores.

The house Mrs. Lemon inhabits is situated in the north of London, in a
sadly resigned neighbourhood, which bears a shabby genteel reputation.
If I may be allowed such a form of expression I may say that it is
respectable in a demi-semi kind of way. I do not mean in respect of
its morals, which are unexceptionable, but in respect of its social
position. It is situated in a square, and is one of a cluster of
tenements so exactly alike in their frontage appearance that were it
not for the numbers on the doors a man, that way inclined, might hope
for forgiveness for walking in and taking tea with his neighbour's
wife instead of with his own. In the centre of the square is an
enclosure, bounded by iron railings, which once may have been intended
for the cultivation of flowers; at the present time it contains a few
ancient shrubs which nobody ever waters, and which are, therefore,
always shabby and dusty in dry weather. Even when it rains they do not
attempt to put on an air of liveliness; it is as though they had
settled down to the conviction that their day is over. To this
enclosed rural mockery, each tenant in the square is supposed to have
a key, but the only use the ground is put to is to shake carpets in,
and every person in or out of the neighbourhood is made free of it, by
reason of there being no lock to the gate. There are no signs of
absolute poverty in the square. Vagrant children do not play at
"shops" on the doorsteps and window-sills; organ men avoid it with a
shudder; beggars walk slowly through, and do not linger; peripatetic
vendors of food never venture there; and the donkey of the period is
unfamiliar with the region. Amusement is provided twice a week by a
lanky old gentleman in a long tail coat and a frayed black stock
reaching to his ears, whose instrument is a wheezy flute, and whose
repertoire consists of "The Last Rose of Summer" and "Away with
Melancholy," which he blows out in a fashion so unutterably mournful
and dismal as to suggest to the ingenious mind that his nightly
wanderings are part of a punishment inflicted upon him at some remote
period for the commission of a dark, mysterious crime.

"It's very good of you to come, sir," said Mrs. Lemon, working her
right hand slowly backwards and forwards on a faded black silk dress,
which I judged had been put on in honour of my visit. "I hope you are
well, sir, and your lady, and your precious family."

I replied that my wife and children were quite well, and that we
should be glad to see her at any time. When she heard this she burst
into tears.

"You always _was_ the kindest-hearted gentleman!" she sobbed. "You
never _did_ object to being put upon, and you give away your toys that
free that all the other children used to take advantage of you. But
you didn't mind, sir, not you. Over and over agin have your blessed
father said when he was alive, 'That boy'll never git along in the
world, he's so soft!'" Mrs. Lemon's tears at this reminiscence flowed
more freely. "I can't believe, sir, no, I can't believe as time has
flown so quick since those happy, happy days!"

The happy days referred to were, of course, the days of my childhood;
and my father's prophecy, which I heard now for the first time,
respecting my future, brought a contemplative smile to my lips.

"Ah, sir," said Mrs. Lemon, with a sigh, "if we only knew when we was
well off, what a lot of troubles we shouldn't have!"

I nodded assent to this little bit of philosophy, and looked round the
room, not dreaming that in the humble apartment I was to receive a
clue to the mystery of the murder of pretty Lizzie Melladew.



CHAPTER VI.

I AM HAUNTED BY THREE EVIL-LOOKING OBJECTS IN MRS. LEMON'S ROOM.


It was plentifully furnished: stuffed chairs and couch, the latter
with a guilty air about it which seemed to say, "I am not what I
seem;" a mahogany table in the centre, upon which was an album which
had seen very much better days; ornaments on the mantelshelf, bounded
on each corner by a lustre with broken pendants; a faded green carpet
on the floor; two pictures on the walls; and on a small table near the
window a glass case with an evil-looking bird in it. The pictures were
portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Lemon in oil-colour. They appeared to have
been recently painted, and I made a remark to that effect.

"Yes, sir," said Mrs. Lemon, in a voice which struck me as being
uneasy. "They was done only a few weeks ago." And then, as though the
words were forced from her against her will, "Do you see a likeness,
sir?"

When she asked this question she was gazing at the portrait of
herself.

As a work of art, the painting was a shocking exhibition; as a
likeness, it was unmistakable.

"It is," I said, "your very image. Is the portrait of your husband--if
that is your husband hanging there----"

She interrupted me with a shudder. "_Hanging_ there, sir?"

"I mean on the wall. It _is_ a picture of Mr. Lemon, I presume."

"Yes, sir, it's him."

"Is it as faithful a portrait as your own?"

"It's as like him, sir, as two peas. Egscept----" but she suddenly
paused.

"Except what, Fanny?"

"Nothing, sir, nothing," she said hurriedly.

If, thought I, it is as like him as two peas, there must be something
extraordinarily strange and odd in Mr. Lemon. That he was not a
good-looking man could be borne with; but that, of his own free will,
he should have submitted to be painted and exhibited with such a sly,
sinister expression on his face, was decidedly not in his favour. With
his thought in my mind I turned involuntarily to the evil-looking bird
in the glass case, and, singularly enough, was struck by an absurd and
fearful resemblance between the bird's beak and the man's face. Mrs.
Lemon's eyes followed mine.

"Have you had that bird long?" I asked.

"Not long, sir," she replied, and her voice trembled. "About as long
as the pictures."

"Did your husband buy it in England? It is a strange bird, and I can't
find a name for it."

"Lemon didn't buy it, sir. It was give to him."

I hazarded a guess. "By the artist who painted your husband's
portrait?"

"Yes, sir."

Turning from the stuffed bird to the fireplace, I received a shock. In
the centre of the mantelshelf was the stone figure of a creature, half
monster and half man, with a face bearing such a singular resemblance
to Mr. Lemon's and the bird's beak that I rubbed my eyes in
bewilderment, believing myself to have suddenly fallen under the
influence of a devilish enchantment. But rub my eyes as I might, I
could not rub away the strange resemblance. It was no delusion of the
senses.

"Was that--that figure, Fanny, given to you by the artist who painted
your husband's portrait, and who presented him with that stuffed
bird?"

"Yes, sir; he give it to Lemon." And then, in a timorous voice, she
asked, "Do you see anything odd in it, sir?"

"It is not only that it's odd," I replied; "but, if you will excuse me
for saying so, Fanny, there is really something horrible about it."

In a low tone Mrs. Lemon said, "That's egsactly as I feel, sir."

"Then, why don't you get rid of it?"

"It's more than I dare do, sir. There it is, and there it must
remain."

"And there that evil-looking bird is, I suppose, and there that must
remain."

"Yes, sir."

"Ah, well," I said, thinking it time to get upon the track, "and now
let us talk about something else. You appear to be in trouble."

"You may well say that, sir. I'm worn to skin and bone."

"I'm sorry to hear it, Fanny. Money troubles, I suppose?"

"O, no, sir! We can manage on what we've got, Lemon and me, though he
_has_ made ducks and drakes with the best part of his savings. Not
money troubles, sir; a good deal worser than that."

"Your husband is well, I trust."

"I wish I could say so, sir. No, sir, he's a long way from well, and I
didn't know who else to call in, for poor dear Lemon wouldn't stand
anybody but you."

Why poor dear Lemon wouldn't stand anybody but me was, to say the
least of it, inexplicable; as, since I used to catch indistinct views
of his legs when he came courting Fanny in my father's house, I had
never set eyes on him. I made no remark, however, but waited quietly
for developments.

"He took to his bed, sir," said Mrs. Lemon, "at a quarter to four
o'clock yesterday afternoon; and it's my opinion he'll never git up
from it."

"That is bad news, Fanny. But your letter to me was written before
yesterday afternoon."

"Yes, sir; because I felt that things mustn't be allowed to go on as
they _are_ going on without trying to alter 'em. They was bad enough
when I posted my letter to you, sir; but they're a million times worse
now. My blood's a-curdling, sir."

"Eh?" I cried, much startled by this solemn matter-of-fact description
of the condition of her blood.

"It's curdling inside me, sir, to think of what is going to happen to
Lemon!"

"Come, come, Fanny," I expostulated, "you mustn't take things so
seriously; it will not mend them. What does the doctor say?"

"Doctor, sir? Love your heart! If I was to take a doctor into Lemon's
room now, I wouldn't answer for the consequences."

"That is all nonsense," I said; "he must be reasoned with."

Mrs. Lemon shook her head triumphantly. "You may reason with some men,
sir, and you may delood a child; but reason with Lemon--I defy you,
sir!"

There was really no occasion for her to do that, as I was there in the
capacity of a friend. While we were conversing I made continual
unsuccessful attempts to avoid sight of the objects which had produced
upon me so disagreeable an impression, but I could not place myself in
such a position as to escape the whole three at one and the same time.
If I turned my back upon the evil-looking bird and the portrait of Mr.
Lemon, the hideous stone figure on the mantelshelf met my gaze; if I
turned my back upon that, I not only had a side view of the bird's
beak, but a full-faced view of my friend Lemon. Familiarity with these
objects intensified my first impressions of them, and at times I could
almost fancy that their sinister features moved in mockery of me.
There was in them a fiend-like magnetism I found it impossible to
resist.

"Does your husband eat well?" I asked.

"Not so well as he used to do, sir."

"Perhaps," I said, hazarding a guess, "he drinks a little too much."

"No, sir, you're wrong there. He likes a glass--we none of us despise
it, sir--but he never exceeds."

"Then, in the name of all that's reasonable, Fanny, what is the matter
with him?"

Mrs. Lemon turned to her husband's portrait, turned to the stone
figure on the mantelshelf, turned to the evil-looking bird; and her
frame was shaken by a strong shuddering.

"Is it anything to do with those objects?" I inquired, my wonder and
perplexity growing.

"That's what I want you to find out for me, sir, if I can so fur
trespass. Don't refuse me, sir, don't! It's a deal to ask you to do, I
know, but I shall be everlastingly grateful."

"I am ready to serve you, Fanny," I said gravely, "but at present I am
completely in the dark. For instance, this is the first time I have
seen those Mephistophelian-looking objects with which you have chosen
to decorate your room."

"I didn't choose, sir. It was done, and I daredn't go agin it."

"I have nothing to say to that; I must wait for your explanation. What
I was about to remark was, why that evil-beaked bird----"

"Which I wish," she interposed, "had been burnt before it was
stuffed."

"----Should bear so strange a resemblance," I continued, "to the
portrait of your husband, and why both should bear so strange a
resemblance to the stone monster on your mantelshelf, is so very much
beyond me, that I cannot for the life of me arrive at a satisfactory
solution of the mystery. Surely it cannot spring from a diseased
imagination, for you have the same fancy as myself."

"It ain't fancy, sir; it's fact. And the sing'lar part of it is that
the party as brought them all three into the house is as much like
them as they are to each other."

"We're getting on solid ground," I said. "The party who brought them
into the house--who gave you the stone monster, who painted your
husband's portrait and yours, who stuffed the bird; for, doubtless, he
was the taxidermist. An Admirable Crichton, indeed, in the way of
accomplishments! You see, Fanny, you are introducing me to new
acquaintances. You have not mentioned this party before. A man, I
presume."

"I suppose so, sir," she said, with an awestruck look.

"Why suppose?" I asked. "In such a case, supposition is absurd. He is,
or is not, a man."

"Let us call him so, sir. It'll make things easier."

"Very much easier, and they will be easier still if you will be more
explicit. I seem to be getting more and more in the dark. In looking
again upon your portrait, Fanny----"

"Yes, sir?"

"I can almost discern a likeness to----"

"For the merciful Lord's sake, sir," she cried, "don't say that! If I
thought so, I should go mad. I'm scared enough already with what has
occurred and the trouble I'm in--and Lemon talking in his sleep all
the night through, and having the most horrible nightmares--and me
trembling and shaking in my bed with what I'm forced to hear--it's
unbearable, sir; it's unbearable!"

I was becoming very excited. Unless Mrs. Lemon had lost her senses,
there was in this common house a frightful and awful mystery. And Mrs.
Lemon had sent for me to fathom it! What was I about to hear--what to
discover?

I strove to speak in a calm voice.

"You say your husband took to his bed yesterday, and that you fear he
will never rise from it. Then he is in bed at this moment?"

"Yes, sir."

"Where is his bedroom?"

"On the first floor back, sir."

"Can he hear us talking?"

"No, sir."

"And you want me to see him?"

"Before you go, sir, if you have no objections. I sha'n't know how to
thank you."

"I will do what I can for you, Fanny. First for your own sake, and
next because there appears to be something going on in this house that
ought to be brought to light."

"You may well say that, sir. Not only in this house, but out of this
house. The good Lord above only knows what _is_ going on! But Lemon's
done nothing wrong, sir. I won't have him thought badly of, and I
won't have him hurt. He's been weak, yes, sir, but he ain't been
guilty of a wicked, horrible crime. It ain't in his nature, sir. When
I first begun to hear things that he used to say in his sleep, and
sometimes when he was awake and lost to everything, my hair used to
stand on end. I could feel it stirring up, giving me the creeps all
over my skin, and my heart'd beat that quick that it was a mercy it
didn't jump out of my body. But after a time, frightened as I was, and
getting no satisfaction out of Lemon, who only glared at me when I
spoke to him, I thought the time might come--and I ain't sure it won't
be this blessed day--when I should have to come forward as a witness
to save him from the gallows. I am his wife, sir, and if he ain't fit
to look after hisself, it's for me to look after him, and so, sir, I
thought the best thing for me to do was to keep a dairy."

"A dairy!" I echoed, in wonder.

"Yes, sir, a dairy--to put down in writing everything what happened at
the very time."

"O," I said, "you mean a diary!"

"If that's what you call it, sir. I got an old lodger's book that
wasn't all filled up. I keep it locked in my desk, sir. Perhaps you'd
like to look at it?"

"It may be as well, Fanny."

"If," she said, fumbling in her pocket for a key, and placing one by
one upon the table the most extraordinary collection of oddments that
female pocket was ever called upon to hold, "if, when we come into
this house to retire and live genteel, after Lemon had sold his
business, I'd have known what was to come out of my notion to let the
second floor front to a single man, I'd have had my feet cut off
before I'd done it. But I did it for the best, to keep down the
egspenses. Here it is, sir."



CHAPTER VII.

DEVLIN'S FIRST INTRODUCTION INTO THE MYSTERY.


She had found the key she had been searching for, and now she opened a
mahogany desk, from which she took a penny memorandum-book. She handed
it to me in silence, and I turned over the leaves. Most of the pages
were filled with weekly accounts of her lodgers, in which "ham and
eggs, 8_d_.;" "a rasher, 5_d_.;" "chop, 8_d_.;" "two boyled eggs,
3_d_.;" "bloater, 2_d_.;" "crewet, 4_d_.;" and other such-like items
appeared again and again. There was also, at the foot of pages,
receipts for payment, "Paid, Fanny Lemon." And this, in the midst of
the presumably tragic business upon which we were engaged, brought to
my mind an anomaly which had often occurred to me, namely, that
landladies should present their accounts to their lodgers in penny
memorandum-books, should receive the money, should sign a receipt, and
then take away the books containing their acknowledgment of payment.
In view of the grave issues impending, it is a trivial matter to
comment upon, but it was really a relief to me to dwell for a moment
or two upon it. At the end of the memorandum-book which I was looking
through were five or six leaves which had not been utilised for
lodgers' accounts, and these Mrs. Lemon had pressed into service for
her diary. She was a bad writer and an indifferent speller, and the
entries were brief, and, to me, at that point, incomprehensible.

"I see, Fanny," I said "that your first entry is made on a Thursday, a
good many weeks ago."

"Yes, sir."

"I must confess I can make nothing of it. It states that Lemon rose at
eight o'clock on that morning, that he had breakfast at half-past
eight, that he ate four slices of bread and butter, two rashers of
bacon, and two eggs----"

"Ah!" sighed Mrs. Lemon, interrupting me. "He had his appetite then,
had Lemon! He ain't got none now to speak of."

"And," I continued, "that he went out of the house at nine o'clock
with a person whose name is unintelligible. It commences, I think,
with a D."

"D-e-v-l-i-n," said Mrs. Lemon, her eyes almost starting out of her
head as she spelt the name, letter by letter.

"I can make it out now. That is it, Devlin. A peculiar name, Fanny."

"Everything about him is that, sir, and worse."

"Had it been a common name, I daresay I should have made it out at
once. Now, Fanny, who is this Devlin?"

"You called him a man, sir," said Mrs. Lemon, striving unsuccessfully
to keep her eyes from the portrait of her husband, from the
evil-beaked bird, and from the image of the stone monster on the
mantelshelf.

The magnetism was not in her, it was in the objects, and as she turned
from one to the other I also turned--as though I were a piece of
machinery and she was setting me in motion. But it is likely that my
eyes would have wandered in those directions without her silent
prompting. One peculiarity of the fascination--growing more horrible
every moment--exercised by the three objects, was that I could not
look upon the one without being compelled to complete the triangle
formed by the positions in which they were placed--the wall, the
window, the mantelshelf.

"It was Devlin, then," I said, "who painted the portraits and stuffed
the bird and gave you the stone monster?"

"You've guessed it, sir. It was him."

Referring to the entry in the memorandum-book, I asked, "Did this
Devlin call for your husband on the Thursday morning that they went
out together?"

"No, sir, he lodged here."

"Does he lodge here now?"

"Yes, sir, I am sorry to say. If I could only see the last of him I'd
give thanks on my bended knees morning, noon, and night."

"Why don't you get rid of him, then?"

"I can't, sir."

I accepted this as part of the mystery, and did not press her on the
point, but I asked why she would feel so grateful if he were gone from
the house.

"Because," she replied, "it's all through him that Lemon is as he is."

"Am I to see this man before I leave?"

"It ain't for me to say, sir."

"Is he in the house now?"

"No, sir."

I inwardly resolved if he came into the house before I left it, that I
would see the man of whom Mrs. Lemon so evidently stood in dread.

"I suppose, Fanny, you will tell me something more of him."

"That is why I asked you to come, sir. If you're to do any good in
this dreadful affair, you must know as much as I do about him."

"Very well, Fanny." I referred again to the first entry in the diary.
"After stating that your husband went out with Devlin at nine o'clock
in the morning, you say that he returned alone at six o'clock in the
evening, and that he did not stir out of the house again on that
night."

"Yes, sir."

"I see that you have made a record of the time Lemon went to bed and
the time he rose next morning."

"To which, sir, I am ready to take my gospel oath."

"Supposing your gospel oath to be necessary."

"It might be. God only knows!"

I stared at her, beginning to doubt whether she was sane; but there
was nothing in her face to justify my suspicion. The expression I saw
on it was one of solemn, painful, intense earnestness.

"Go on, sir," she said, "if you please."

I turned again to the concluding words of the first entry, and read
them aloud:

"Devlin did not come home all night. I locked the street-door myself,
and put up the chain. I went down at seven in the morning, when Lemon
was asleep, and the chain was up. I went to Devlin's room, the second
floor front, and Devlin was not there!"

"That's true, sir. I can take my gospel oath of that."

"Fanny," I said, with the little book in my hand, closed, but keeping
my forefinger between the leaves upon which the first entry was made,
"I cannot go any farther until you tell me what all this means."

"After you've finished what I wrote, sir," was her reply, "I'll make a
clean breast of it, and tell you everything, or as much of it as I can
remember, from the time you saw me last--a good many years ago, wasn't
it, sir?--up to this very day."

I thought it best to humour her, and I looked through the remaining
entries. They were all of the same kind. Mr. Lemon rose in the morning
at such a time; he had breakfast at such a time; he went out at such a
time, with or without Devlin; he came home at such a time, with or
without Devlin; and so on, and so on. It was a peculiar feature in
these entries that Lemon never went out or came home without Devlin's
name being mentioned.

I handed the book back to her; she took it irresolutely, and asked,

"Did you read what I last wrote, sir?"

"Yes, Fanny, the usual thing."

"Perhaps, sir, but the time I wrote it; that is what I mean."

"No, Fanny, I don't think I noticed that."

"It was wrote yesterday, sir, and it fixes the time that Lemon came
home on Friday, and that he didn't stir out of the house all the
night. If I can swear to anything, sir, I can swear to that. Lemon
never crossed the street-door from the minute he came in on Friday to
the minute he went out agin yesterday. If it was the last word I
spoke, I'd swear to it, and it's the truth, and nothing but the truth,
so help me God!"

I was about to inquire why she laid such particular stress upon these
recent movements of her husband, when there flashed into her eyes an
expression of such absolute terror and horror that my first thought
was that a spectre had entered the room noiselessly, and was standing
at my back. Before I had time to turn and look, Mrs. Lemon clutched my
arm, and gasped,

"Do you hear that? Do you hear that?"



CHAPTER VIII.

I MAKE THE ACQUAINTANCE OF GEORGE CARTON'S GUARDIAN, MR. KENNETH
DOWSETT.


I heard something certainly which by this time, unhappily, was neither
new nor strange. It was the voice of a newsboy calling out the last
edition of a newspaper which, he asserted with stentorian lungs,
contained further particulars of the awful murder in Victoria Park.
Amid all the jargon he was bawling out, there were really only three
words clearly distinguishable. "Murder! Awful murder! Discoveries!
Awful discoveries!"

"Are you alarmed, Fanny," I asked, "by what that boy is calling out?"

"Yes," she replied in a whisper, "it is that, it is that!"

"But you must be familiar with the cry," I observed. "There isn't a
street in London that was not ringing with it all yesterday."

"It don't matter, it don't matter!" she gasped, in the most
inexplicable state of agitation I had ever beheld. "Lemon never
stirred out of the house. I'll take my solemn oath of it--my solemn
oath."

I released myself from her grasp, and, running into the square, caught
up with the newsvendor and bought a paper. Before I returned to the
house I satisfied myself that the paper contained nothing new in the
shape of intelligence relating to the murder of my friend Melladew's
daughter. What the man had bawled out was merely a trick to dispose of
his wares. I had reached the doorstep of Fanny's house when my
attention was arrested by the figures of two men on the opposite side
of the road. One was a man of middle age, and was a stranger to me. In
his companion I immediately recognised George Carton. The elder man
appeared to be endeavouring to prevail upon George Carton to leave the
square, but his arguments had no effect upon Carton, who, shaking him
off, hurried across the road to speak to me. His companion followed
him.

"Any news, sir?" cried George Carton. "Have you discovered anything?"

"Nothing," I replied, not pausing to inquire why he should put a
question so direct to me.

"Nothing!" he muttered. "Nothing! But it shall be brought to light--it
shall, or I will not live!"

"Come, come, my dear boy," said the elder man. "What is the use of
going on in this frantic manner? It won't better things."

"How am I to be sure of that?" retorted Carton. "It won't better
things to stand idly aside, and think and think about it without ever
moving a step."

"My ward knows you, sir," said Carton's friend, "and I confess I was
endeavouring to persuade him to come home with me when you were
running after the newspaper boy. He insisted that your sudden
appearance in this square was a strange and eventful coincidence."

"A strange and eventful coincidence!" I exclaimed, and thought,
without giving my thought expression, that there was something strange
in the circumstance of my being in Fanny Lemon's house, about to
listen to a revelation which was not unlikely to have some bearing
upon the tragic event, and in being thus unexpectedly confronted by
the young man who was to have been married to the murdered girl.

"Yes, that is his idea," said Carton's friend; "but I am really
forgetting my manners. Allow me to introduce myself. You are
acquainted with my ward, George Carton, the dearest, most
generous-hearted, most magnanimous young fellow in the world. I have
the happiness to be his guardian. My name is Kenneth Dowsett."

He was a smiling, fair-faced man, with blue, dreamy eyes, and his
voice and manners were most agreeable. I murmured that I was very
pleased to make his acquaintance.

"My ward," continued Mr. Dowsett, laying his hand affectionately on
Carton's shoulder, "has also an odd idea in reference to this dreadful
affair, that something significant and pregnant will be discovered in
an odd and unaccountable fashion. Heaven knows, I don't want to
deprive him of any consolation he can derive from his imaginings. I
have too sincere a love for him; but I am a man of the world, and it
grieves me to see him indulge in fancies which can lead to no good
result. To tell you the honest truth," Mr. Dowsett whispered to me, "I
am afraid to let him out of my sight for fear he should do violence to
himself."

"My dear guardian," said Carton, "who should know better than I how
kind and good you are to me? Who should be better able to appreciate
the tenderness and consideration I have always received at your hands?
I may be wilful, headstrong, but I am not ungrateful. Indeed,
sir"--turning to me--"I am wild with grief and despair, and my
guardian has the best of reasons for chiding me. He has only my good
at heart, and I am truly sorry to distress him; but I have my
ideas--call them fancies if you like--and I must have something to
cling to. I will not abandon my pursuit till the murderer is brought
to justice, or till I kill him with my own hands!"

"That is how he has been going on," said Mr. Dowsett, "all day
yesterday, and the whole live-long night. He hasn't had a moment's
sleep."

"Sleep!" cried Carton. "Who could sleep under such agony as I am
suffering?"

"But," I said to the young man, whose intense earnestness deepened my
sympathy for him, "sleep is necessary. It isn't possible to work
without it. There are limits to human strength, and if you wish to be
of any service in the clearing up of this mystery, you must conduct
yourself with some kind of human wisdom."

"There, my dear lad," said Mr. Dowsett, "doesn't that tally with my
advice? I tried to prevail upon him last night to take an opiate----"

"And I wouldn't," interrupted Carton, "and I said I would never
forgive you if you administered it to me without my knowledge. Never,
never will I take another!" Mr. Dowsett looked at him reproachfully,
and the young man added, "There--I beg your pardon. I did not mean to
refer to it again."

"If I have erred at all in my behaviour towards you, my dear lad, it
is on the side of indulgence. Still," said Mr. Dowsett, addressing me,
"that does not mean that I shall give up endeavouring to persuade
George to do what is sensible. As matters stand, who is the better
judge, he or I? Just look at the state he is in now, and tell me
whether he is fit to be trusted alone. My fear is that he will break
down entirely."

"I agree with your guardian," I said to Carton; "he is your best
adviser."

"I know, I know," said the young man, "and I ought to be ashamed of
myself for causing him so much uneasiness. But, after all, sir, I am
not altogether in the wrong. I saw Mr. Portland last night, and he
said that you and he had had an important interview about this
dreadful occurrence."

"I was not aware," I observed, "that you were acquainted with any of
the elder members of your poor Lizzie's family."

"I was not," rejoined Carton, "till last night. I introduced myself to
Mr. Portland, and told him all that had passed between poor Lizzie and
me. I did not have courage enough to go and see Mr. and Mrs. Melladew,
but Mr. Portland was very kind to me, and he said that you had
undertaken to unravel the mystery."

I did not contradict this unauthorised statement on the part of Mr.
Portland, not wishing to get into an argument and prolong the
conversation unnecessarily; indeed, it would have been disingenuous to
say anything to the contrary, for it really seemed to me in some dim
way that I was on the threshold of a discovery in connection with the
murder.

"Hearing this welcome news from Mr. Portland," continued Carton, "you
would not have me believe that my meeting with you now in a square I
never remember to have passed through in my life is accidental? No,
there is more in it than you or I can explain."

"What brought you here, then?" I inquired. "Were you aware I was in
this neighbourhood?"

"No," replied Carton, "I had not the slightest idea of it."

"He followed the newsboy," explained Mr. Dowsett, "of whom you bought
a paper just now. These people, crying out the dreadful news,
excercise a kind of fascination over my dear George. I give you my
word, he seems to be in a waking dream as he follows in their
footsteps."

"I am in no dream," said Carton. "I am on the alert, on the watch. I
gaze at the face of every man and woman I pass for signs of guilt.
Where is the murderer, the monster who took the life of my poor girl?
Not in hiding! It would draw suspicion upon him. He is in the streets,
and I may meet him. If I do, if I do----"

"You see," whispered Mr. Dowsett to me, "how easy it would be for him
to get into serious trouble if he had not a friend at his elbow."

"What good," I said, addressing Carton, "can you, in reason, expect to
accomplish by wearing yourself out in the way you are doing?"

"It will lead me to the end," replied Carton, putting his hand to his
forehead; and there was in his tone, despite his denial, a dreaminess
which confirmed Mr. Dowsett's remark, "and then I do not care what
becomes of me!"

Mr. Dowsett gazed at his ward solicitously, and passed his arm around
him sympathisingly.

"Would it be a liberty, sir," said Carton, "to ask what brings you
here?"

"I came on a visit to an old friend," I replied evasively, "whom I
have not seen for years, and who wished to consult me upon her private
affairs."

"Pardon me for my rudeness," he said, with a pitiful, deprecatory
movement of his shoulders. "In what you have undertaken for Mr.
Portland, will you accept my assistance?"

"If I see that it is likely to be of any service, yes, most
certainly."

"Give me something to do," he said in a husky tone, "give me some clue
to follow. This suspense is maddening."

"I will do what I can. And now I must leave you. My friend will wonder
what is detaining me."

"But one word more, sir. Have you heard any news of Mary?"

"None. So far as I know, she is still missing. If we could find her we
should, perhaps, learn the truth."

"Should you need me," said Carton, "you know my address. I gave you my
card yesterday, but you may have mislaid it. Here is another. I live
with my guardian. It is a good thing for me that I am not left alone.
But, good God! what am I saying? I _am_ alone--alone! My Lizzie, my
poor Lizzie, is dead!"

As I turned into the house I caught a last sight of him standing
irresolutely on the pavement, his guardian in the kindest and
tenderest manner striving to draw him away.

Fanny was waiting for me at the door of her little parlour. There was
a wild apprehensive look in her eyes as they rested on my face.

"What has kep you so long, sir?" she asked in a low tone of fear.

"I came across an acquaintance accidentally," I replied.

"A policeman, sir, or a detective?"

"Good heavens, neither!" I exclaimed.

A sigh of relief escaped her, but immediately afterwards she became
anxious again.

"You was talking a long time, sir."

"It was not my fault, Fanny."

"Was--was Lemon's name mentioned, sir?"

"No."

"Was there nothing said about him?"

"Not a word."

This assurance plainly took a weight from her mind. She glanced at the
paper I held in my hand, and said:

"Is there anything new in it, sir? Is the murderer caught?"

"No," I replied; "the paper contains nothing that has not appeared in
a hundred other newspapers yesterday and to-day. Fanny, I am about to
speak to you now very seriously."

"I'm listening, sir."

"Has Mr. Lemon, your husband, anything to do with this dreadful deed?"

"He had no hand in it, sir, as I hope for mercy! I'll tell you
everything I know, as I said I would; but it must be in my own way,
and you mustn't interrupt me."

I decided that it would be useless to put any further questions to
her, and that I had best listen patiently to what she was about to
impart. I told her that I would give her my best attention, and I
solemnly impressed upon her the necessity of concealing nothing from
me. She nodded, and pouring out a glass of water, drank it off. A
silence of two or three minutes intervened before she had sufficiently
composed herself to commence, and during that silence the feeling grew
strong within me that Providence had directed my steps to her house.

The tale she related I now set down in her own words as nearly as I
can recall them. Of all the stories I had ever heard or read, this
which she now imparted to me was the most fantastic and weird, and it
led directly to a result which to the last hour of my life I shall
think of with wonder and amazement.



CHAPTER IX.

FANNY LEMON EELATES UNDER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES SHE RESOLVED TO LET HER
SECOND FLOOR FRONT.


"I must go back sir," she commenced, "a few years, else you won't be
able to understand it properly. I'll run over them years as quick as
possible, and won't say more About e'm than is necessary, because I
know you are as anxious as I am to come to the horrible thing that has
just happened. I was a happy woman in your angel father's house, but
when Lemon come a-courting me I got that unsettled that I hardly knew
what I was about. Well, sir, as you know, we got married, and I
thought I was made for life, and that honey was to be my portion
evermore. I soon found out my mistake, though I don't suppose I had
more to complain of than other women. In the early days things went
fairly well between me and Lemon. We had our little fall-outs and our
little differences, but they was soon made up. We ain't angels, sir,
any of us, and when we're tied together we soon find it out. I daresay
it's much of a muchness on the men's side as well as on our'n. Lemon
is quick-tempered, but it's all over in a minute, and he forgits and
forgives. Leastways, that is how it used to be with him; he would fly
out at me like a flash of lightning, and be sorry for it afterwards;
and one good thing in him was that he never sulked and never brooded.
It ain't so now; he's growed that irritable that it takes more than a
woman's patience to bear with him; he won't stand contradiction, and
the littlest of things'll frighten him and make him as weak as a child
unborn. There was only a couple of nights ago. He'd been going on that
strange that it was as much as I could do to keep from screaming out
loud and alarming the neighbourhood, and right in the middle of it all
he fell asleep quite sudden. It was heavenly not to hear the sound of
his voice, but I couldn't help pitying him when I saw him laying
there, with the prespiration starting out of his forehead, and I took
a cool handkercher and wiped the damp away, and smoothed his hair back
from his eyes.

"He woke up as sudden as he went off, and when he felt my hand on his
head he burst out crying and begged me to forgive him. Not for the way
he'd been storming at me--no, sir, he didn't beg my forgiveness for
that, but for something else he wouldn't or couldn't understandingly
explain."

"'What do you mean by it all?' I said. 'What do you mean by it all?'

"But though I as good as went on my bended knees to git it out of him,
it wasn't a bit of good. I might as well have spoke to a stone
stature. Lemon's had a scare, sir, a frightful awful scare, and I
don't know what to think.

"When I married him, sir, he kep a saloon, as I daresay you remember
hearing of; shaving threepence, hair-cutting fourpence, shampooing
ditter. He had a wax lady's head in the winder as went round by
machinery, and Lemon kep it regularly wound up with her hair dressed
that elegant that it would have been a credit to Burlington Arcade.
There used to be a crowd round his winder all day long, and girls and
boys 'd come a long way to have a good look at it; and though I say
it, she was worth looking at. Her lips was like bits of red coral, and
you could see her white teeth through 'em; her skin was that pearly
and her cheeks that rosy as I never saw equalled; and as for her eyes,
sir, they was that blue that they had to be seen to be believed. She
carried her head on one side as she went round and round, looking
slantways over her right shoulder, and, taking her altogether, she was
as pritty a exhibition as you could see anywheres in London. It
brought customers to Lemon, there was no doubt of that; he was doing a
splendid trade, and we put by a matter of between four and five pounds
a week after all expenses paid. It _did_ go agin me, I own, when I
discovered that Lemon had female customers, and, what's more, a
private room set apart to do 'em up in; but when I spoke to him about
he said, with a stern eye:

"'What do you object to? The ladies?'

"'Not so much the ladies, Lemon,' I answered, 'as the private room.'

"'O,' said he, 'the private room?'

"'Yes,' said I; 'I don't think it proper.'

"'Don't you?' said he, getting nasty. 'Well, I do, and there's a end
of it. You mind your business, Fanny, and I'll mind mine.'

"I saw that he meant it and didn't intend to give way, and I
consequenchually held my tongue. Even when I was told that Lemon often
went out to private houses to dress ladies' hair I thought it best to
say nothing. I had my feelings, but I kep 'em to myself. I'm for peace
and harmony, sir, and I wish everybody was like me.

"One night Lemon give me a most agreeable surprise. He came home and
said:

"'Fanny, what would you like best in the world?'

"There was a question to put to a woman! I thought of everything,
without giving anything a name. The truth is I was knocked over, so to
speak.

"Lemon spoke up agin. 'What would you say, Fanny, if I told you I was
going to sell the business and retire?'

"'No, Lemon!' I cried, for I thought, he was trying me with one of his
jokes.

"'Yes, Fanny,' he said, 'it's what I've made up my mind to. I've been
thinking of it a long time, and now I'm going to do it.'

"I saw that he was in real rightdown earnest, and I was that glad that
I can't egspress.

"'Lemon,' I said, when I got cool, 'can we afford it?'

"'Old woman,' he answered 'we've got a matter of a hundred and fifty
pound a year to live on, and if that ain't enough for the enjoyment of
life, I should like to know how much more you want?'

"He had his light moments had Lemon before certain things happened.
People as didn't know him well thought him nothing but a grumpy,
crusty man. Well, sir, he _was_ that mostly, but with them as was
intimate he cracked his joke now and then, and it used to do my heart
good to hear him.

"So it was settled, sir. Lemon actually sold his business, and we
retired. Five year ago almost to the very day we took this house and
become fashionable.

"It was a bit dull at first. Lemon missed his shop, and his customers,
and his wax lady, that he'd growed to look upon almost like flesh and
blood; but he practised on my head for hours together with his
crimping irons and curling tongs, and that consoled him a little. He
used to pretend it was all real, and that I was one of his reg'lars,
and while he was gitting his things ready he'd speak about the weather
and the news in a manner quite perfessional. When he come into the
room of a morning at eleven or twelve o'clock with his white apern on
and his comb stuck in his hair, and say, 'Good morning, ma'am, a
beautiful day,'--which was the way he always begun, whether it was
raining or not--I'd take my seat instanter in the chair, and he'd
begin to operate. I humoured him, sir! it was my duty to; and though
he often screwed my hair that tight round the tongs that I felt as if
my eyes was starting out of my head, I never so much as murmured.

"We went on in this way for nearly three years, and then Lemon took
another turn. Being retired, and living, like gentlefolk, on our
income, we got any number of circulars, and among 'em a lot about
companies, and how to make thousands of pounds without risking a
penny. I never properly understood how it came about; all I know is
that Lemon used to set poring over the papers and writing down figgers
and adding 'em up, and that at last he got speculating and dabbling
and talking wild about making millions. From that time he spoke about
nothing but Turks, and Peruvians, and Egyptians, and Bulls, and Bears,
and goodness only knows what other outlandish things; and sometimes
he'd come home smiling, and sometimes in such a dreadful temper that I
was afraid to say a word to him. One thing, after a little while, I
did understand, and that was that Lemon was losing money instead of
making it by his goings on with his Turks, and Peruvians, and
Egyptians, and his Bulls and Bears; and as I was beginning to git
frightened as to how it was all going to end, I plucked up courage to
say,

"'Lemon, is it worth while?'

"And all the thanks I got was,

"'Jest you hold your tongue. Haven't I got enough to worrit me that
you must come nagging at me?'

"He snapped me up so savage that I didn't dare to say another word,
but before a year was out he sung to another tune. He confessed to me
with tears in his eyes that he'd been chizzled out of half the money
we retired on, and it was a blessed relief to me to hear him say,

"'I've done with it, Fanny, for ever. They don't rob me no longer with
their Bulls and their Bears.'

"'A joyful hour it is to me. Lemon,' I cried, 'to hear them words. The
life I've led since you took up with Bulls and Bears and all the other
trash, there's no describing. But now we can be comfortable once more.
Never mind the money you've lost; I'll make it up somehow.'

"It was then I got the idea of letting the second floor front. As it's
turned out, sir, it was the very worst idea that ever got into my
head, and what it's going to lead to the Lord above only knows."



CHAPTER X.

DEVLIN THE BARBER TAKES FANNY'S FIRST FLOOR FRONT.


"Our first lodger, sir, was a clerk in the City, and he played the
bassoon that excruciating that our lives become a torment. The
neighbours all complained, and threatened to bring me and Lemon and
the young man and his bassoon before the magerstrates. I told the
clerk that he'd have to give up the second floor front or the bassoon,
and that he might take his choice. He took his choice, and went away
owing me one pound fourteen, and I haven't seen the colour of his
money from that day to this.

"Our second lodger was a printer, who worked all night and slep all
day. I could have stood him if it hadn't turned out that he'd run away
from his wife, who found out where he was living, and give us no
peace. She was a dreadful creature, and I never saw her sober. She
smelt of gin that strong that you knew a mile off when she was coming.
'That's why I left her, Mrs. Lemon,' the poor man said to me; 'she's
been the ruin of me. Three homes has she sold up, and she's that
disgraced me that it makes me wild to hear the sound of her voice. The
law won't help me, and what am I to do?' I made him a cup of tea, and
said I was very sorry for him, but that she wasn't _my_ wife, and that
I'd take it kind of him if he'd find some other lodgings. All he said
was, 'Very well, Mrs. Lemon, I can't blame you; but don't be surprised
if you read in the papers one day that I am brought up for being the
death of her, or that I've made a hole in the water. If she goes on
much longer, one of them things is sure to happen.' He went away
sorrowful, and paid me honourable to the last farthing.

"It wasn't encouraging, sir, but I didn't lose heart. 'The third
time's lucky,' I said to myself, as I put the bill in the winder agin,
little dreaming what was to come of it. It remained there nigh on a
fortnight, when a knock come at the street-door.

"I do all the work in the house myself. A body may be genteel without
keeping a parcel of servants to eat you out of house and home, and
sauce you in the bargain. A knock come at the street-door, as I said.
If I'd known what I know now, the party as knocked might have knocked
till he was blue in the face, or dropped down in a fit before he'd got
me to answer him. But I had no suspicions, and I went and opened the
door, and there I saw a tall, dark man, with a black moustache, curled
up at the ends.

"'You've got a bill in the winder,' said he, 'of a room to let.'

"'Yes, sir,' I answered, hardly giving myself time to look at him, I
was that glad of the chance of letting the room; 'would you like to
see it?'

"'I should,' said he.

"And in he walked, and up the stairs, after me, to the second floor
front. It didn't strike me at the time, but it did often afterwards
when I listened for 'em in vain, that I didn't hear his footsteps as
he follered me up-stairs. Never, from the moment he entered this
house, have I heard the least sound from his feet, and yet he wears
what looks like boots. He's never asked me to clean 'em, and I'd
rather be torn to pieces with red hot pinchers than do it now.

"'It's a cheerful room, sir,' said I to him. 'Looks out on the
square.'

"'Charming,' he said, 'the room, the square, you, everything.'

"'That's a funny way of talking,' I thought, and I said out loud, 'Do
you think it will suit, sir?'

"'Do I think it will suit?' he said. 'I am sure it will suit. I take
it from this minute. What's the rent?'

"'With attendance, sir?' I asked.

"'With or without attendance,' he answered; 'it matters not.'

"Not 'It don't matter,' as ordinary people say, but 'It matters not,'
for all the world like one of them foreign fellers we see on the
stage. I told him the rent, reckoning attendance, and he said:

"'Good. The bargain is made. I am yours, and you are mine.'

"And then he laughed in a way that almost made my hair stand on end.
It wasn't the laugh of a human creature; there was something unearthly
about it. As a rule, a body's pleased when another body laughs, but
this laugh made me shiver all over; you know the sensation, sir, like
cold water running down your back. Then, and a good many times since
when he's been speaking or laughing, I felt myself turn faint with
sech a swimming sensation that I had to ketch hold of something to
keep myself from sinking to the ground.

"'I beg your pardon, sir,' I said, when I come to, 'but if you've no
objections I'd like a reference.'

"'Of course you would,' he said, laughing again, 'and here it is.'

"With that he gives me a sovering, and orders me to light the fire.
There's that about him as makes it unpossible not to do as he orders
you to, so on my knees I went there and then, and lit the fire.

"'Good,' he said. 'I couldn't have done it better myself. Mrs.
Lemon--' and you might have knocked me down with a feather when I
heard him speak my name. How did he get to know it? _I_ never told
him.--Mrs. Lemon,' said he, 'I see in your face that you'd like to ask
me a question or two.'

"'I would, sir,' I said, shaking and trembling all over. 'If I may
make so bold, sir, are you a married man?'

"He put his hand on his heart, and, grinning all over his face,
answered, 'Mrs. Lemon, I am, and have ever been, single.'

"'Might I be so bold as to ask your name, sir?' I said.

"'Devlin,' said he.

"'Dev--what?' I garsped.

"'Lin,' said he. 'Devlin. I'll spell it for you. D-e-v-l-i-n. Have you
got it well in your mind?'

"'I have, sir,' I said, very faint.

"'Good,' said he, pointing to the door. 'Go.'

"I had to go, sir, and I went, and that is how Mr. Devlin become our
lodger."



CHAPTER XI.

DEVLIN PERFORMS SOME WONDERFUL TRICKS, FASCINATES MR. LEMON, AND
STRIKES TERROR TO THE SOUL OF FANNY LEMON.


"That very night Mr. Devlin come down to this room, without 'with your
leave or by your leave,' where Lemon and me was setting, having our
regular game of cribbage for a ha'penny a game, and droring a chair up
to the table, he begun to talk as though he'd known us all his life.
And he can talk, sir, by the hour, and it never seens to tire him,
whatever it does with other people. Lemon was took with him, and
couldn't keep his eyes off him. No more could I, sir. No more could
you if he was here. You might try your hardest, but it wouldn't be a
bit of good. There's something in him as forces you to look at
him--just as there's something in that bird, and the stone figger on
the mantelshelf, and Lemon's portrait as forces you to look at _them_.
I've found out the reason of that. When Devlin ain't here _he leaves
his sperrit behind him_--that's how it is. I was never frightened of
the dark before he come into the house, but now the very thought of
going into a room of a night without a candle makes me shiver. And
many and many's the time as I've been going up-stairs that I've turned
that faint there's no describing. He's been behind me, sir, coming up
after me, step by step. I can't see him, I can't hear him, but I feel
him; and yet there ain't a soul in sight but me. At them times I'm
frightened to look at the wall for fear of seeing his shadder.

"Well, sir, on the night that he come into this parlour he goes on
talking and talking, and then proposes a hand at cribbage, which Lemon
was only too glad to say yes to.

"'Mrs. Lemon must play,' said Devlin; 'we'll have a three-handed
game.'

"I shouldn't have minded being left out, especially as our
cribbage-board only pegs for two, but his word was lore. So we begun
to play, and Devlin marks his score with a red pencil.

"The things he did while we played made my flesh creep. He threw out
his card for crib without looking at it, and told us how much was in
crib while the cards was laying backs up on the table; and when Lemon
and me, both of us slow counters, began to reckon what we had in our
hands, Mr. Devlin, like a flash of lightning, cried out how many we
was to take. We played five games, and he won 'em all. Then he said
he'd show us some tricks. Sir, the like of them tricks was never seen
before or since. I've seen conjurers in my time, but not one who could
hold a candle to Mr. Devlin. He made the cards fly all over the room,
and while he held the pack in his hand and you was looking at 'em,
they'd disappear before your very eyes.

"'Where would you like 'em to be?' he asked. 'Underneath you, on your
chair? Git up; you're sitting on 'em. In your workbox? Open it and
behold 'em.'

"And there they was, sir, sure enough, underneath me, though I'd never
stirred from my seat, or in my workbox, which was at the other end of
the room. It wasn't conjuring, sir, it was something I can't put a
name to, and it wasn't natural. I could hardly move for fright, and as
I looked at Mr. Devlin, he seemed to grow taller and thinner, and his
black eyes become blacker, and his moustaches curled up to his nose
till they as good as met. But Lemon didn't feel as I felt; he was that
delighted that he kep on crying--

"'Wonderful! Beautiful! Do it agin, Mr. Devlin, do it agin. Show us
another.'

"I don't know when I've seen him so excited; that Devlin had bewitched
him.

"'We're brothers you and me,' said Devlin to him. 'I am yours, and you
are mine, and we'll never part.'

"The very words, sir, he'd used to me.

"'Hooray!' cried Lemon, 'we're brothers, you and me, and we'll never,
never part.'

"'I once kep a barber's shop myself,' said Devlin.

"'What!' cried Lemon, 'are you one of us?'

"'I am,' said Devlin, 'and I've worked for the best in the trade--for
Truefitt and Shipwright, and all the rest of 'em. I've been abroad
studying the new styles. I'll show you something as 'll make you open
your eyes, something splendid.'

"And before I knew where I was, sir, Devlin, in his shirt-sleeves, had
whipped a large towel round my neck, and had my hair all down, and was
beginning to dress it. Where he got the towel from, and the combs, and
the curling-tongs, and the fire, goodness only knows. I didn't see him
take them from nowhere, but there they was on the table, and there was
Devlin, with his hands in my hair, frizzling it up and corkscrewing
it, and twisting and twirling it, and me setting in the chair for all
the world as if I'd been turned into stone. But though I didn't have
the power to move, I could think about things, and what come into my
head was that the man as had taken the second floor front must be some
unearthly creature, sprung from I won't mention where.

"'Do you really believe so?' whispered Devlin in my ear.

"'Believe what?' I asked, though my throat was that hot and dry that I
wondered how he could make out what I said.

"'That I am an unearthly creature,' he said softly, 'sprung from a
place which shouldn't be mentioned to ears perlite?'

"If I was petrified before, sir, you may guess how I felt when I found
out that he knew what I was thinking of.

"'You shouldn't be, you shouldn't be,' he whispered agin.

"'Shouldn't be what?' I managed to git out, though the words almost
stuck to the roof of my mouth.

"'Sorry you ever took me as a lodger,' he said with a grin. 'Fye, fye!
It isn't grateful of you after sech a good reference as I give you.
Something 'll happen to you if you don't mind.'

"Well, sir, it was true I'd thought it, but I'll take my solemn oath I
never spoke it. It was jest as though that Devlin had my brains spread
open before him, and could see every thought as was passing through
'em. I was so overcome that I as good as swooned away, and I believe I
should have gone off in a dead faint if he hadn't put something strong
to my nose as made me almost sneeze my head off. And while I was
sneezing, there was Devlin and Lemon laughing fit to burst
theirselves. All the time he was dressing my hair that sort of thing
was going on; there wasn't a thought that come into my head that he
didn't tell me of the minute it was there, till he got me into that
state that I hardly knew whether I was asleep or awake. At last, sir,
he finished me up, and stepping back a little, he waved his hand and
said to Lemon,

"'There! what do you think of that?' meaning my hair.

"'Wonderful! Beautiful!' cried Lemon, clapping his hands and jumping
up and down in his chair, he was that egscited. 'I never saw nothing
like it in all my whole born days. It's a new style--quite a new
style, and so taking! The ladies 'll go wild over it. Where did you
git it from?'

"'From a place,' said Devlin, grinning right in my face, 'as shall be
nameless.'

"'But you'll tell me some day, won't you?' cried Lemon. 'Because there
might be other styles there as good as that, and we could make our
fortunes out of 'em.'

"'I'll take you there one day,' said Devlin, with an unearthly laugh,
'and you shall see for yourself.'

"'Do, do!' screamed Lemon. 'I'd give anything in the world to go there
with you!'

"'Good Lord save him!' I thought, looking at Lemon whose eyes was
almost starting out of his head. 'He's going mad, he's going mad!'

"'As to making our fortunes,' Devlin went on, 'why not? It shall be
so.'

"'It shall, it shall!' cried Lemon.

"'We'll make hunderds, thousands,' said Devlin.

"'We will, we will!' cried Lemon. 'Fanny shall ride in her own
kerridge.'

"'Fanny shall,' said Devlin.

"'The Lord forbid,' I thought, 'that I should ever ride in a kerridge
bought at sech a price!'

"I thought more free now that Devlin's hands was not in my hair; he
didn't seem to be able to read what I was thinking of so long as we
was apart.

"'I bind myself to you,' said Devlin to my poor dear Lemon, 'and you
bind yourself to me. The bargain's made. Your hand upon it.'

"Lemon gave him his hand, and whether it was fancy or not, it seemed
to me that Devlin grew and grew till he almost touched the ceiling;
and that, while he was bending over Lemon and looking down on him,
like one of them vampires you've read of, sir. Lemon kep growing
smaller and smaller till he was no better than a bag of bones.

"'We go out to-morrer morning,' said Devlin, 'you and me together, to
look for a shop. Is it agreed?'

"'It is,' answered Lemon, 'it is.'

"'We will set London on fire,' said Devlin.

"'We will, we will,' said Lemon; 'and we'll have shops all over it.'

"'You're a man of sperrit,' said Devlin. 'I kiss your hand.'

"He said that to me; but I clapped my hands behind my back.

"'If you refuse,' said Devlin, smiling at me all the while, 'I must
show Lemon another style.'

"And he made as though he was about to dress my hair agin.

"'No, no!' I screamed; 'anything but that, anything but that!"

"I give him my hand, and he kissed it. His mouth was like burning hot
coals, and I wondered I wasn't scarred.

"'Don't forgit,' said Lemon, 'to-morrow morning.'

"'I'll not forgit,' said Devlin. 'Till then, adoo.'

"The next minute he was gone.

"No sooner did he close the door behind him than I felt as if tons
weight had been lifted off me. I started up, and put my hands to my
hair, intending to pull it down.

"'What are you doing?' cried Lemon, starting up too, and seizing hold
of me. 'Don't touch it--don't touch it! I must study the style. I
never saw sech a thing in all my life. It's more than wonderful, its
stoopendous. You look like another woman. Jest take a sight of yerself
in the glass.'

"I did take a sight of myself in the glass, and if you'll believe me,
sir, it seemed as if my head was covered with millions of little
serpents, curling and twisting all sorts of ways at once; and, as I
looked at 'em moving, sir--which might have been or might not have
been, but so it was to me--I saw millions of eyes shining and glaring
at me.

"'O, Lemon, Lemon!' I cried, bursting out into tears; 'what _have_ you
done, what _have_ you done?'

"'Done?' said Lemon, rubbing his hands; he'd let mine go. 'Why, gone
into partnership with the finest hairdresser as ever was seen. Our
fortune's made, Fanny, our fortune's made!'

"I tried to reason with him, but I might as well have spoke to stone.
He was that worked up that he wouldn't listen to a word I said. All
the satisfaction I could git out of him was--

"'A good night's work, Fanny; a good night's work!'

"If he said it once he said it fifty times. But I knew it was the
worst night's work Lemon had ever done, and that it'd come to bad. And
it has, sir."



CHAPTER XII.

FANNY LEMON RELATES HOW HER HUSBAND, AFTER BECOMING BETTER ACQUAINTED
WITH DEVLIN THE BARBER, SEEMED TO BE HAUNTED BY SHADOWS AND SPIRITS.


"I had my way about my hair before I went to bed. I waited till Lemon
was asleep, and then I brushed all the serpents out, and did it up in
a plain knot behind. I felt then like a Christian, and I said my
prayers before I stepped in between the sheets. I didn't sleep much;
Lemon was that restless he torsed and torsed the whole night long, and
his eyes was quite bloodshot when he got up. While he was dressing I
heard Devlin call out:

"'Lemon, I'm coming down to have breakfast with you.'

"'Do,' cried Lemon. 'You're heartily welcome.'

"I was down-stairs at the time--I always git up before Lemon, to make
the place straight and cook the breakfast--and I heard what passed.
Lemon, half-dressed, come running down to me, and told me to be sure
to git something nice for breakfast, and not to cut the rashers too
thin.

"'Go to the fish-shop,' he said, 'and git a haddick. We must treat him
well, Fanny, or he might cry off the bargain he made with me last
night.'

"I thought to myself I knew how I'd treat him if I had my way, but it
wouldn't have done jest then for me to go agin Lemon. There was times
when he said a thing that it had to be done, and that was one of 'em.
So I goes to the fishmonger's and gits a haddick, and I cooks three
large rashers and six eggs-three fried and three biled--and then Lemon
and Devlin they come in together as thick as thieves. Devlin had been
telling Lemon something as had made him laugh till his face was
purple.

"'You never heard sech a man,' said Lemon to me. 'He's one in a
thousand.'

"'He's one in millions,' I thought, and I kep my head down for fear
Devlin should suspect what I was thinking of; 'and there's only one as
ever _I_ heard of.'

"Devlin give me good morning and shook hands with me; I didn't dare to
refuse him. If he'd offered to kiss me, Lemon wouldn't have objected,
I believe, though there was a time when he was that jealous of me that
a man hardly dared to look at me. But those happy days was gone for
ever.

"I didn't have much appetite for breakfast, and no more had Lemon, but
Devlin made up for the pair of us. There was the haddick, and there
was the three rashers, and there was the six eggs. Devlin pretty well
cleared the lot. It was Lemon, I _must_ say, who pushed him on to it,
though it didn't seem to me as he wanted much persuading. He had the
appetite of a shark. It didn't give me no pleasure to hear him praise
my cooking and to hear him say to Lemon that he'd got a treasure of a
wife.

"'I have,' said Lemon; 'Fanny's a good sort.'

"When breakfast was over and everything cleared away Lemon asked
Devlin if he was ready, and Devlin said he was, and they went out arm
in arm jest as if they was brothers.

"They come home late, and Lemon was more excited than ever.

"'It's all settled, Fanny,' he said, 'I've taken another shop, and
Devlin and me's gone into partnership. We're going to work together,
and we'll astonish your weak nerves.'

"As if they hadn't been astonished enough already.

"I asked Lemon where the shop was that he'd taken, but he wouldn't
tell me.

"'It's a secret,' he said, 'between Devlin and me. What an
egstrordinary man he is, Fanny! What a glorious, glorious fellow! What
a fortunate thing that he saw the bill in our winder of a room to let,
and that he didn't go somewheres else! It's a providence, Fanny,
that's what it is.'

"I wasn't to be put down so easy, and I tried my hardest to git out of
Lemon where the shop was, but he wouldn't let on.

"'I've promised Devlin,' he said, 'not to say a word about it to a
living soul. Perhaps we sha'n't keep it open long; perhaps we shall
shut it up after a month or two and take another; perhaps we shall do
a lot of trade at private houses. It's all as Devlin likes. I've give
him the lead. There never was sech a man.'

"That was all I could git out of him. Devlin had him tight; 'twas
nothing but Devlin this, and Devlin that, and Devlin t'other. Devlin
was as close as he was; I couldn't git nothing out of him.

"'I love wimmin,' he said, 'but they must be kep in their place. Eh,
Lemon?'

"That was a nice thing for a wife to hear, wasn't it?

"'Yes,' said Lemon: 'you mind your business, Fanny, and we'll mind
our'n.'

"They went out the next morning together, and kep out late agin; and
so it went on for a matter of four or five weeks. Then there come a
change. From being in love with Devlin, Lemon begun to be frightened
of him. I saw it in his face every morning when they went away.
Instead of Lemon's taking Devlin's arm as he did at first, it was
Devlin who used to take Lemon's arm, jest above the elber jint, as
much as to say:

"'I've got you, and I'm not going to let you escape me.'

"And instead of Lemon being brisk and lively and egscited of a
morning, as though he was going for an excursion in a pleasure van, he
got grumpy and dull, as though he was going to the lock-up to answer
for some dreadful thing he'd done. I spoke to him about it, but if he
was close before, he was a thousand times closer now.

"'Don't ask me nothing, Fanny,' he'd say; 'don't put questions to me
about _him_. I daren't say a word, I daren't, I daren't!'

"That didn't stop me; he was my husband, and if strange things was
being done, who had a better right than me to know all about 'em? But
it was all no use; I couldn't git nothing out of him.

"'If you don't shut up,' he said, quite savage like, 'I'll set Devlin
on to you, and you'll have cause to remember it to the last day of
your life!'

"Jest as if I haven't got cause to remember it! If I lived a thousand
years I couldn't forgit what's happened.

"If I could have got rid of my lodger I shouldn't have thought twice
about it; out he'd have gone; but he paid me reg'lar, did Devlin, and
always in advance, so that I had no egscuse for giving him notice. And
even if I had, I ain't at all sure that I should have had the courage
to do it.

"It begun to trouble me more than I can say, that I never heard him
come in or go out, and that I never caught the sound of his footsteps
on the stairs or in the passage, and that, when he might have been in
the Canary Islands for all I knew, I'd turn my head and see him
standing at the back of me, without my having the least idea how he
got into the room.

"'Here I am, you see, Mrs. Lemon,' he'd say; 'back agin, like a bad
penny. You're glad to see me, I'm sure. Say you're glad.'

"And I had to, whether I liked it or not. Then he'd grin and wag his
head at me, and sometimes say if he knew where there was another woman
like me he'd stick up to her. 'Lord have mercy,' I used to think, 'on
the woman who'd give you a second look unless she was obliged to!'

"I grew to be that shaky and trembly that my life was a perfect
misery; and so was Lemon's. But I used to speak about it, which was a
little relief, while poor Lemon would never so much as open his lips.
I pitied him a deal more than I did myself. I did say to him once:

"'Lemon, let's call a broker in when Devlin's not here, and sell the
furniture, and run away.'

"'You talk like a fool,' said Lemon. 'If we was to hide ourselves in
the bowels of the earth he'd ferret us out.'

"Then Lemon said one night that Devlin was going to paint our
portraits.

"'He sha'n't paint mine,' I cried, 'not if he orfered to frame it in
dymens!'

"The words was no sooner out of my lips than I turned almost to a
jelly at hearing Devlin's voice at the back of me, saying,

"'Nonsense, nonsense, Mrs. Lemon! Surely it ain't me you're speaking
of? Don't they paint all the Court beauties, and ain't you as good as
the best of them? Your face is like milk and roses, and I'm the artist
that's going to do justice to it. You can't refuse me; you won't have
the heart to refuse me.'

"Which I hadn't, with him so close to me. He seemed to take the
backbone out of me; I used to feel quite limp when he took me up like
that. He _did_ paint my picture, and there it is, stuck on the wall;
and though it's come over me a hunderd times to drag it down and burn
it, it's more than I dare do for fear of something dreadful happening.

"I can't describe what I went through while that picture was being
painted. There was I, setting like a stature in the position that
Devlin placed me; and there was Lemon, leaning for'ard, with his hands
clarsping the arms of his chair, and his eyes glaring like a ghost's;
and there was Devlin, waving his brush and painting me, making all
sorts of strange remarks, and singing all sorts of songs in all sorts
of languages. He could do that, sir; I don't believe there's a
language in the world that he can't speak, and I don't believe there's
anything in the world, or out of it, for that matter, that he doesn't
know. "_Now, where did he get it all from?_

"I used to wonder about his age. It was a regular puzzler. Sometimes
he looked quite young, and sometimes he looked as old as Methusalem. I
plucked up courage once to ask him.

"'What do you say to twenty?' he answered. 'Or if that won't do, what
do you say to eighty, or a couple of hunderd?'

"When my portrait was finished he pretended to go into egstacies over
it, and said that it really ought to be egshibited.

"'Mind you keep it as a airloom,' he said. 'You've no notion what it's
worth.'

"Then he took Lemon's picture, and it was a comfort to me that he
painted my husband up-stairs. Every night for a fortnight Lemon went
up to Devlin's room, and set there for two or three hours, and then
he'd slide into this room looking as if he'd jest come out of his
corfin. It give me such a shock when I first saw the picture that I
threw my apern over my head.

"'Ah,' said Devlin with a grin, pulling my apern away, 'I thought
you'd be overcome when you set eyes on it. It's a rare piece of work,
ain't it? Why, it almost speaks!'

"It was as like Lemon as like could be--I couldn't deny that; but
there was the sly, wicked look which you've noticed in that there
stuffed bird and in the stone image on the mantelshelf. Devlin made us
a present of them things after he'd painted the portraits, and told me
to treasure 'em for his sake, and that whenever I looked at 'em I was
to think of him. He said they was worth ever so much money, but that I
was never, never to part with 'em.

"'If you do,' he said, laughing in my face, 'I'll haunt you day and
night.'

"So things went on, gitting worser and worser every day, and Lemon got
that thin that you could almost blow him away. And now, sir, I'm
coming to the most dreadful part of the whole affair, something that
has frightened me more than all the rest put together. What I'm going
to speak of now is that awful murder in Victoria Park. Don't think I'm
making it up out of my head. I ain't clever enough or wicked enough.
If I was I should deserve a judgment to fall on me.

"I've told you of Lemon speaking in his sleep--never did he go to bed
without saying things in the night that'd send my heart into my mouth.
He seemed as if he was haunted by shadders and spirits, and as if
there was always something weighing on his soul that he daren't let
out when he was awake. When I found it was no good arguing with him I
give it up, and I bore with his writhes and groans, without telling
him in the morning of the dreadful night I'd passed. But the day
before yesterday, sir, things come to a head.

"He went out early with Devlin as usual, and they both come home
together a deal later than they was in the habit of doing. I fixed the
time in my dairy, sir; it was half-past eight o'clock. Before that I'd
wrote my letter to you and posted it--the letter you got yesterday
morning. Little did I dream of what was going to happen after I sent
it off.

"I noticed that Lemon was more trembly than ever, and there was that
in his eyes which made my heart bleed for him. It wasn't a wandering
look, because he was afraid to look behind him; it was as if he was
trying to shut out something horrible. But I didn't say a word to him
while Devlin was with us. He didn't remain long.

"'I'm going to my room,' he said; 'I've got a lot of writing to do.
Bring me up a pot of tea before you go to bed. Lemon and me's been
spending a pleasant hour at the Twisted Cow.'

"'Lemon looks as if he'd been spending a pleasant hour,' I thought, as
I looked at his white face.

"Then Devlin went to his room on the second floor, and I breathed more
free.

"The Twisted Cow, sir, is a public which Devlin is fond of. You may be
sure he'd pick out a house with a outlandish name.

"'O, Lemon, Lemon,' I said, 'you look like a ghost!'

"'Hush!' he said, with his hand to his ear; he was afraid Devlin might
be listening. 'Don't speak to me, Fanny; I want to be quiet, very
quiet. How horrible, how horrible!'

"'What's horrible. Lemon?' I asked, putting my arms round his neck.

"He pushed me away and asked what I meant.

"'You said "How horrible, how horrible!" jest now, Lemon.'

"To my surprise, he answered 'I didn't. You must have fancied it. Let
me be quiet.'

"I didn't dispute with him, and we set here in the parlour for more
than an hour without saying a word to each other. Lemon hadn't been
drinking, sir; he was as sober as I am this minute.

"'I think I'll go to bed, Fanny,' he said.

"The tears come into my eyes, he spoke so soft.

"'Shall I go and git your supper-beer, Lemon?' I asked.

"'No,' he said, ketching hold of me. 'I won't be left alone in the
house with that--that devil up-stairs! I don't want no supper-beer.'

"It was the first time he'd ever spoke of Devlin in that way, and I
knew that something out of the common must have happened. Perhaps
they'd quarrelled. O, how I hoped they had! It might put a end to
their partnership, and there would be a chance of peace and happiness
once more.

"'I won't leave you. Lemon,' I said. 'I'll take that wretch his tea,
and I hope it'll choke him, and then I'll come to bed too. Shall I
make you some gruel, Lemon, or anything else you fancy?'

"'No,' he answered. 'I don't want nothing--only to sleep, to sleep!'

"I made the tea for Devlin, and it's a mercy I didn't have any poison
in the house, because I might have been tempted to put it in the
pot--though perhaps that wouldn't have hurt him. I knocked at his
door, and he said as pleasant as pleasant can be, 'Come in, Mrs.
Lemon. What a treasure you are! How happy Lemon ought to be with sech
a wife!'

"But I didn't stop to talk to him. I put the tea on the table and went
down to Lemon. He was already in bed, and his head was covered with
the bedclothes.

"'I'll jest run down,' I whispered, 'and put up the chain on the
street-door. I won't be a minute. Lemon.'

"I was back in less than that, and I went to bed. Lemon never moved. I
spoke to him, but he didn't answer me; and after a little while I went
to sleep.

"I woke up as the clock struck twelve all in a prespiration. Lemon was
talking in his sleep, and this is what he said:

"'Victoria Park. Eighteen years old. Golden hair. With a bunch of
daisies in her belt. A bunch of white daisies, with blood on 'em! With
blood on 'em! With blood on 'em! O Lord, have mercy on her! Near the
water. Lord, have mercy on her! Lord, have mercy on her!'

"And then, sir, he give a scream that curdled right through me, and
cried, 'Don't let him--don't let him! Save her--save her!'

"How would _you_ feel, sir, if you heard some one laying by your side
saying sech things in the dead of night?"



CHAPTER XIII.

IN WHICH FANNY NARRATES HOW HER HUSBAND HAD A FIT, AND WHAT THE DOCTOR
THOUGHT OF IT.


"Nothing more took place before we got up in the morning. Lemon torsed
about as usual, and kept groaning and talking to hisself, but, excep
what I've told you, I couldn't make head or tail of his mumblings.
Devlin come down to breakfast, and said, as gay as gay can be,

"'I've had a lovely night.'

"'Have you?' said I. I wouldn't have spoke if I could have helped it,
but he's got a way of forcing the words out of you.

"'Yes,' he answered, 'a most lovely night. I've slep the sleep of the
just.' What he meant by it I don't know, but it's what he said. 'You
look tired, Mrs. Lemon.'

"He grinned in my face, sir, as he made the remark, and my blood begun
to boil.

"I've got enough to make me look tired,' I said. 'Lemon hasn't had a
decent night's rest for months.'

"'You don't say so! But why not, why not?' asked Devlin, pitching into
the ham and eggs.

"'You can answer that better than I can,' I said, jumping from the
table; 'You; yes, you!'

"'Fanny!' cried Lemon.

"'I don't care,' I said, feeling reckless; I think it must have been
because I was sure you'd come to my help, sir. 'I don't care. Things
aren't as they should be, and it stands to reason they can't go on
like this much longer.'

"'O,' said Devlin, helping hisself to the last rasher. 'It stands to
reason, does it?'

"'Yes, it does,' I answered. 'I'm Lemon's wife, and if he can't take
care of hisself it's my duty to do it for him.'

"'Can't you take care of yourself?' asked Devlin of my poor husband.
'That's sad, very sad!'

"'I can, I can,' cried Lemon. 'Fanny don't know what she's talking
about.'

"'I thought as much,' said Devlin. 'Nerves unstrung. She wants bracing
up. I must prescribe for her.'

"'Not if I know it,' I said. 'I've had enough of you and your
prescribing to last me a lifetime. Don't look at me like that, or
you'll drive me mad!'

"'Was there ever sech an unreasonable woman?' said Devlin, and he come
and laid his hand upon me. 'Jest see how she's shaking. Lemon. She's
low, very low; I really must prescribe for her. Leave her to me. I'll
see that no harm comes to her.'

"What with his great staring eyes piercing me through and through, and
his hand patting my shoulder, and his mocking voice, and the grin on
his face, all my courage melted clean away, and I burst out crying and
run into the kitchen. There I stayed till I heard the street-door
slam, and then I went back to clear the breakfast-things, with a
thankful heart that Devlin was gone. If he'd only have left my husband
behind him I should have been satisfied, but Lemon was gone too. There
was a bottle on the table with something in it, and a label on it in
Devlin's writing--

"For my dear kind friend, Mrs. Lemon. A tonic for her nerves. A
tablespoonful, in water, three times a day.'

"'A tablespoonful, in water, three times a day,' thinks I to myself.
'Not if I know it.'

"I was going to throw the bottle in the dusthole, but I thought I'd
better not, and I put it away on the top shelf of the cupboard, right
at the back. After that I went about my work, wondering how it was all
going to end, and casting about in my mind whether there was anything
I could do to get rid of the creature as was making our lives a
misery. But I couldn't think of nothing.

"Lemon was never very fond of politics, but he likes to know what's
going on, and we take in a penny weekly newspaper as gives all the
news from one end of the week to the other, and how they do it for the
money beats me holler. The boy brings it every Sunday morning, and it
ain't once in a year that Lemon buys a daily paper. You'll see
presently why I mention it.

"It was five o'clock in the afternoon, and I was setting sewing when I
hears the latchkey in the street-door. Now, Saturday is always a late
day with Lemon and Devlin; they don't generally come home till ten or
eleven o'clock at night, and I was surprised when I heard the key in
the lock. I knew it must be one or the other of 'em, because nobody
but them and me has a latchkey. I set and listened, wondering whether
it was Lemon and what had brought him home so early, and I made up my
mind, if it _was_ him, to have a good talk with him, and try and
persuade him once more to give up Devlin altogether. 'But why don't he
come in?' thought I. There he was in the street, fumbling about with
the key as though there was something wrong with it; and he stayed
there so long that I couldn't stand it no longer, so I goes to the
door and opens it myself. The minute it was open Lemon reels past me,
behaving hisself as if he was mad or drunk. I picked up the latchkey
which he'd dropped, and follered him into the parlour here. What made
him ketch hold of me, and moan, and cry, and look round as if he'd
brought a ghost in with him, and it was standing at his elber? And
what made him suddingly cover his face with his hands, and after
trembling like a aspen leaf, tumble down on the floor in a fit right
before my very eyes? There he laid, sir, twisting and foaming, a sight
I pray I may never see agin.

"I knelt down quick and undid his neck-handkercher, and tried to bring
him to, but he got worse and worse, and all I could do wasn't a bit of
good.

"There was nobody in the house but Lemon and me, and, almost
distracted, I run like mad to the chemist's shop at the corner of the
second turning to the right, who's got a son walking the horspitals,
and begged him to come with me and see my poor man. He come at once,
sir, and there was Lemon still on the floor in his fit. The doctor
unclarsped Lemon's hands and put something in 'em, and I slipped a
cold key down his back because his nose was bleeding.

"'That's a good sign,' said the doctor, as he forced Lemon's jaws
apart and put a spoon between his teeth, which Lemon almost bit in
two. Then he threw a jug of cold water into Lemon's face, completely
satcherating him, and after that Lemon wasn't so violent; but he
didn't recover his senses or open his eyes.

"'Let's git him to bed,' said the doctor.

"He helped me carry Lemon up-stairs, where we undressed him, and it
wasn't before we got him between the sheets that he come to.

"'Feel better?' asked the doctor.

"But Lemon never spoke.

"'Don't leave him,' said the doctor to me, and he went back to his
shop and brought a sleeping draught, which Lemon took, and soon
afterwards fell asleep.

"'He won't wake,' said the doctor, 'for twelve hours at least. Is he
subject to fits?'

"'No, sir,' I answered; 'this is the first he's ever had. Can you tell
me what's the matter with him? He ain't been drinking, has he?'

"There's no sign of drink,' said the doctor, 'and no smell of it.
_Does_ he drink?'

"'Not more than is good for him,' I said. 'I've never seen Lemon the
worse for liquor.'

"'What I don't like about him,' the doctor then said, 'was the look in
his eyes when he come to his senses--as if he'd had a shock. Has he
taken a religious turn?'

"'No, sir.'

"'Is he sooperstitious at all?'

"'No, sir.'

"'The reason I ask, Mrs. Lemon,' said the doctor, 'is because this
don't seem to me a ordinary fit. Is there any madness in your
husband's family?'

"'I never heard of any,' I answered, 'and I think I should have been
sure to know it if there was.'

"'Very likely,' said the doctor, 'though sometimes they keep it dark.
All I can say is, there's something on Mr. Lemon's mind, or he's
received a mental shock.'

"With that he went away.

"Lemon by that time was sound as a top. The doctor must have given him
a strong dose to overcome him so, and it did my heart good to see him
laying so peaceful. But I couldn't help thinking over what the doctor
had said of him. There was either something on Lemon's mind or he'd
received a mental shock. And that was said without the doctor knowing
what I knew, for I'd kep my troubles to myself. I didn't as much as
whisper what Lemon had said in his sleep the night before about the
young girl in Victoria Park with golden hair and a bunch of white
daisies in her belt, covered with blood.

"'Perhaps Lemon's been reading a story,' I thought, 'with something
like that in it, and it's took hold of him.'

"There was nothing to wonder at in that. The penny newspaper we take
in always has a story in it that goes on from week to week, and always
ending at such a aggravating part that I can hardly wait to git the
next number. I fly for it the first thing Sunday morning, before I
read anything else. Lemon goes for the police-courts, and takes the
story afterwards.

"My mind was running on in that way as I picked up Lemon's clothes,
which the doctor and me had tore off him and throwed on the floor; and
I don't mind telling you, sir, that I felt in the pockets. First, his
trousers. There was nothing in 'em but a few coppers and two-and-six
in silver. Then his westcoat. There was nothing in that but his silver
watch and a button that had come off. Then his coat. What I found
there was his handkercher, his spectacles, and a evening newspaper, I
folded his clothes tidy, and come down-stairs with the paper in my
hand. There must be something particular in it, thinks I, as I set
down in the parlour here, and opened it in the middle, and smoothed it
out. There was, sir.

"The very first words I saw, in big letters, at the top of the column
was--'Dreadful and Mysterious Discovery in Victoria Park. Ruthless
Murder of a Young Girl. Stabbed to the Heart! A Bunch of Blood-stained
Daisies!'

"Can you imagine my feelings, sir?

"I could scarce believe my eyes. But there it was, staring me in the
face, like a great bill on the walls printed in red. The ink was
black, of course, but as I looked at the awful words they grew larger
and larger, and their colour seemed to change to the colour of blood."



CHAPTER XIV.

DEVLIN APPEARS SUDDENLY, AND HOLDS A CONVERSATION WITH FANNY ABOUT THE
MURDER.


"Now, sir, while I was looking in a state of daze at the paper, and
trying to pluck up courage to read it, I felt a chill down the small
of my back, and I knew that our lodger Devlin had crep into the room
unbeknown, without me hearing of him.

"'What is this I've been told as I come along?' he said. 'My friend
Lemon, your worthy husband, taken ill? It is sad news. Is he very ill?
Let me see him.'

"What did I do, sir, but run out of the room, and up-stairs where
Lemon was sleeping, and whip out the key from the inside of the door
and put it in the outside, and turn the lock. Then I felt I could
breathe, and I went down-stairs to Devlin.

"'Why do you lock the poor man in?' he asked.

"'How do you know?' I said, 'that I have locked him in, unless you've
been spying me?'

"'How do I know what I know?' he said, laughing. 'Ah, if I egsplained
you might not understand. Perhaps there's little I don't know. I've
travelled the world over, Mrs. Lemon, and there's no saying what I've
learnt. As for spying, fye, fye, my dear landlady! But you must be
satisfied, I suppose, being a woman. Have you ever heard of second
sight? It's a wonderful gift. Perhaps I've got it; perhaps I can see
with my eyes shut. Sech things are. But this is trifling. Poor Lemon!
I am really concerned for him. You musn't keep me away from him. I'm a
doctor, and can do him a power of good.'

"'Not,' I said, and where I got the courage from in the state I was
in, goodness only knows, 'while there's breath in my body shall you
doctor my husband. Mischief enough you've done; you don't do no more.'

"'Mischief, you foolish woman!' he said. 'What mischief? Have you took
leave of your senses?' But I didn't answer him. 'Ah, well,' he said,
shrugging his shoulders, 'let it be as you wish with my poor friend
Lemon. I yield always to a lady. What is this?' And he took up the
newspaper. 'You've been reading, I see, the particulars of this sad
case. It is more than sad; it is frightful.'

"'I haven't read it,' I said.

"'But you was going to?'

"'I won't bemean myself by denying it,' I said. 'Yes, I was going to,
when you come into the room unbeknown and unbeware.'

"I had it in my mind to say that it was a liberty to come into a room
as didn't belong to him without first knocking at the door, but his
black eyes was fixed on me and his moustache was curling up to his
nose, and I didn't dare to.

"'When I come into the room,' he said, 'unbeknown and unbeware, as you
egspress it, you had no ears for anything. You was staring at the
paper, and your eyes was wild. What for? Is it a murder that frightens
you? Foolish, stupid, because murders are so common. How many people
go to bed at night and never rise from it agin, because of what
happens while they sleep! This murder is strange in a sort of way, but
not clever--no, not clever. A young girl, eighteen years of age,
beautiful, very beautiful, with hair of gold and eyes of blue,
receives a letter. From her lover? Who shall say? That is yet to be
discovered in the future. "Meet me," the letter says, "in Victoria
Park, at the old spot"--which proves, my dear landlady, that they have
met before in the same place--"at eleven o'clock to-night." An
imprudent hour for a girl so young; but, then, what will not love
dare? When you and Lemon was a-courting didn't you meet him whenever
he asked you at all sorts of out-of-the-way places? It is what lovers
do, without asking why. "And wear," the letter goes on, "in your belt
a bunch of white daisies, so that I may know it is you." Now, why
that? It is the request of a bungler. If the letter was wrote by her
lover--and there is at present no reason to suppose otherwise--he
would recognise his sweetheart without a bunch of white daisies in her
belt. What, then, is the egsplanation? That, also, is in the future to
be discovered. Let us imagine something. Say that between the young
girl with the hair of gold and the eyes of blue and the man that
writes the letter there is a secret, the discovery of which will be
bad for him. Pardon, you wish to ask something?'

"'Yes,' I said, 'about the letter. How do you know it was wrote?'

"'Did I say I know?' he answered, with his slyest, wickedest look.
'Ain't we imagining, simply imagining? Being in the dark, we must find
some point to commence at, and nothing can be more natural than a
letter.'

"'Was it found in the young lady's pocket?' I asked.

"'Nothing was found,' he answered, 'in the young lady's pocket.'

"'Then it ain't possible,' I said, 'that the letter could have been
wrote.'

"'Sweet innocence!' said Devlin, and with all these dreadful goings
on, sir, that was making me tremble in my shoes, he had the impidence
to chuck me under the chin--and Lemon up-stairs in the state he was!
'What could be easier than to empty a young lady's pockets when she's
laying dead before you. A job any fool could do. But the letter may be
found.'

"'And the murderer, too,' I said, with a shudder, 'and hanged, I
hope!'

"'I share your hope,' he said, with one of his strange laughs,' by the
neck till he is dead. The more the merrier. To continue our
imaginings. Between the young lady and her lover, as I said, there's a
secret as would be bad for him if it was made public--as might,
indeed, be the ruin of him. This secret may be revealed in the
correspondence as passed between them. The chances are that those
letters are not destroyed. Men are so indiscreet! Why, they often
forgit there's a to-morrer. The young lady is described as being
beautiful. More's the pity. Beauty's a snare. If ever I marry--which
ain't likely, Mrs. Lemon--I'll marry a fright. Beautiful as the young
lady is, her lover wishes to git rid of her. Perhaps he's tired of
her; perhaps he's got another fancy; perhaps he's seen her twin
sister, and is smit with her. There's any number of perhapses to fit
the case. But the poor girl, having been brought to shame----'

"'Is that in the paper?' I asked, interrupting him.

"'No,' he answered, 'but it may be. It is always so with those girls;
there's hardly a pin to choose between 'em. Naturally, she won't
consent to let him get rid of her--won't consent to release him--won't
consent to let him go free. They quarrel, and make it up. They quarrel
agin, and make it up agin. Days, weeks go by, till yesterday comes,
and she is to meet him at night. She's got a mother, she's got a
father; they set together, and she goes to bed early. She's got a
headache, she says, and so, "Good-night, mother; good-night, father;"
a kiss for each of 'em; and there's a end of kisses and good-nights.
The last page of her little book of life is reached. There's a lot in
that scene to make a body think--it's full of pictures of the past.
Think of all the days of childhood wasted; think of all the love,
laughter, hopes, joys--wasted; flowers, ribbons, fancies,
dreams--wasted; all that good men say is sweetest in life, and that's
played its part for so many, many years--all wasted. Better to have
been wicked at once, better to have been sinful and deceitful all
through--think you not so? "Good-night, mother; good-night, father,"
and so--to bed? No. To go up to her little room and lock the door, to
dress herself in her best clothes, to make herself still more
beautiful--for that, you see, may melt her lover's heart--to put
the bunch of white daisies in her belt, to wait till the house is
quiet--so quiet, so quiet!--and then to steal out softly, softly! She
stops at mother's door and listens. Not a sound. Mother and father
sleep in peace. Remembrances of the past come to her in the dark, and
she cries a little, very quietly. Then she departs. It is done. From
that home she is gone for ever, and she is walking to her grave! The
park is still and quiet at that hour of the night; excep for a few
hungry wretches who prowl or sleep, the girl and the man have it all
to themselves. First--love passages. Twelve o'clock. They stop and
listen to the tolling of the bell--they all do that. Some smile and
sing at the chimes, some shiver and groan. Next--arguments, entreaties
to be released. He will be so good to her, O, so good, if she will
only release him! One o'clock. Next--more love-making and coaxing,
then threats, passionate reproaches, defiance. Ah, it has come to
that--the end is near! Two o'clock. He stabs her, quick and sudden, to
the heart? Hark! do you hear the wild scream? Her body is dead,
and her soul--? But that and other mysteries remain to be
unravelled--which may be--Never!'"



CHAPTER XV.

FANNY DESCRIBES HOW SHE MADE UP HER MIND WHAT TO DO WITH LEMON.


"Devlin put down the newspaper, and waited for me to speak. I think,
sir, I've told you egsactly what he said, and as fur as possible in
his own words. They are so printed on my mind that I couldn't forgit
'em if I tried ever so hard. As he described what had took place it
was as if he was painting pictures, and he made me see 'em. I saw the
poor girl's home; I saw her setting with her father and mother in jest
sech a little room as this--for they are only humble people, sir; I
saw her kiss 'em good-night; I saw her in her bedroom a-doing herself
up before the looking-glass; I saw her put the bunch of white daisies
in her belt; I saw her steal out of the house to the park; I saw the
man and her walking about among the trees, and sometimes setting down
to talk; I heard a scream--another!--another!--and I covered my eyes
with my hands to shut it all out. I was so overcome that I hadn't
strength to wrench myself away from Devlin, who was smoothing my hair
with his hands. But presently I managed to scream:

"'Don't touch me! Don't touch me, you--you----'

"'You what?' asked Devlin in his false voice, moving a little away
from my chair.

"My scream, and him speaking agin, brought me to myself.

"'Never mind, never mind,' I said. 'If you know what I'm thinking
about, it's no use my telling you.'

"'I do know,' he said. 'Why, it's wrote on your face. And I know, too,
that you want to ask me some questions. Fire away.'

"'Mr. Devlin, I said, upon that, 'you slep at home last night, didn't
you?'

"'Certainly, I did,' he answered. 'Don't you remember Lemon and me
coming in together?'

"'Yes,' I said, 'I remember.'

"'Don't you remember,' he said, 'that you brought me up a cup of tea
before you went to bed, and that I told you I had a lot of writing to
do, and that I said what a treasure you was, and how happy Lemon ought
to be with sech a wife?'

"'Yes,' I said, 'I remember.' I couldn't say nothing else, it was the
truth.

"'Inspired by the egsellent tea you make,' he went on, 'I stopped up
late and did my writing. If I mistake not, you put the chain on the
street-door before you went to bed.'

"'Yes, I did.'

"'And when you went down this morning the chain was still up?'

"'Yes, it was.'

"'And I breakfasted with you and Lemon?'

"'Yes, you did.'

"'And I presume you made my bed some time during the day?'

"'Of course I did.'

"'Did it look as if it had been slep in?'

"'Yes.'

"'So that you see, my dear landlady,' he said, grinning at me, 'that
it wasn't possible for me to have murdered the girl.'

"'Who said you did it?' I asked, starting back, for he had come close
to me, and I thought he was going to touch me ag'in.

"'You didn't say so,' he said, 'but you thought so. It was wrote in
your face, as I told you a minute ago. It is women like you who would
put a man's life in danger, and think no more of it than snuffing a
candle.'

"He didn't remain with me much longer, but went up to his room. He was
right in what he said he saw wrote in my face while he was smoothing
my hair; an idea had entered my head that it was him who had killed
the poor girl. I think him bad enough for anything; there's nothing
wicked I wouldn't believe of him. But of course it wasn't possible for
him to have done it; and I thought with thankfulness it wasn't
possible for Lemon to have done it, for he never stirred out of the
house that night. It was what Lemon said in his sleep that made me
tremble and shiver. Why, sir, he spoke of the murder _before it was
done!_ It says in the papers that when the poor girl was found she had
been dead hours, and the doctor fixes it that she must have been
murdered between two and three o'clock in the morning. And two hours
and a half before she was murdered Lemon was raving in his sleep and
telling all about it! How did he know, sir? how did he know?

"If it had been a ordinary case--if Lemon had only spoke in his sleep
about some murder or other, and I'd read the next day that a murder
_had_ been committed that night, it would have been strange, but
nothing so very much out of the way. Our minds sometimes runs on
dreadful things, enough to give one the creeps, and we ain't
accountable for everything we say when we're asleep. But Lemon said
Victoria Park, and it was done in Victoria Park. He said eighteen
years, and that was jest her age. He said golden hair, and she _had_
golden hair. He said a bunch of white daisies, and she wore a bunch of
white daisies. He said blood on 'em, and there _was_ blood on 'em. He
said stabbed to the heart, and she _was_ stabbed to the heart!

"I'll tell you, sir, what come to me, and made me feel almost like a
murderess. It was that if I'd really known what was going to happen
when I heard Lemon talking in his sleep, I might have saved the life
of that poor girl. But how was it possible for me to know? Still, that
didn't prevent me feeling like a guilty woman.

"But how much did Lemon know? Did the wretch who killed the girl tell
him beforehand what he was going to do, and was Lemon wicked enough to
keep it to hisself? Was the murderer an acquaintance of Lemon's? If he
was, I made up my mind that a hour shouldn't pass after Lemon was
awake this morning before I put the police on the wretch's track.
Lemon would know his name, and where he lived, perhaps. Whatever was
the consequences, I'd do what I could to bring the monster into the
dock.

"I was more than sorry that the doctor had give Lemon sech a
strong sleeping draught, and I prayed that he would wake up
sooner than I expected. I went to the bedroom, but there was
Lemon fast asleep, with a face as innocent as a babe unborn. He
wasn't dreaming, he wasn't talking; his mind was at rest as well
as his body. You know more than I do, sir. Could anybody with
something dreadful on his mind have slep' like that? But my mind
was made up. The very minute Lemon was sensible, and knew what
he was about, to the police-station he should go with me, and
make a clean breast of it."



CHAPTER XVI.

Mr. LEMON WAKES UP.


"I was that impatient that I hardly knew what to do. Minutes was like
dymens, and there Lemon lay like a log. Couldn't I bring him to his
senses somehow or other? I tried. I walked about heavy. I threw down
things. I even turned Lemon over, but it had no more effect on him
than water on a duck's back. He never give so much as a murmur, and I
don't think a earthquake would have roused him. I had to give it up as
a bad job, but I felt that it would be a mockery for me to go to bed,
because in the state I was in it wasn't likely I could git a wink of
sleep. Then I knew, too, that there wouldn't be a minute to lose when
Lemon opened his eyes, and that it was my duty to git everything
ready. So I spread out Lemon's clothes in regular order, not
forgetting his clean Sunday shirt, and I put on my bonnet and cloak,
and set down and waited all through that blessed night, looking at
Lemon. I didn't hear a sound in the room up-stairs, so I supposed that
Devlin was asleep, and I thought how dreadful it was to have a man
like that in the house, a man as spoke of murder as though he enjoyed
it. The only sound that come to my ears two or three times in the
night was the policeman on his beat outside as he passed through the
square, and you may guess, sir, I didn't get any comfort out of that.
I had my fancies, but I shook 'em off, though they made me shake and
shiver. One of 'em was that all of a sudden, jest as the policeman had
passed by, there rung through the square shrieks of 'Murder! murder!'
and millions of people seemed to be battering at the street-door and
crying that they'd tear Lemon and me to pieces. It didn't seem as if
they wanted to hurt Devlin, for there he was, standing and grinning at
us and the people, with that aggravating look on his face that makes
me burn to fly at him, if I only had the courage. Of course it was all
fancy, sir; but how would you like to pass sech a night?

"At nine o'clock this morning, and not a minute before, Lemon woke up.
I had a cup of tea ready for him in the bedroom, and a slice of bread
and butter. He's gone off his breakfast for a long time past, and one
slice of bread and butter is as much as he can git down, if he can do
that. Before I took Devlin as a lodger, Lemon used to eat a big
breakfast, never less than a couple of rashers, and a couple of boiled
eggs on the top of that, and four or five slices of bread and butter
cut thick. It is a bad sign when a man begins to say he's got no
appetite for breakfast. If his stomach ain't going all to pieces, it's
something worse, perhaps.

"'Why, Fanny,' said Lemon, seeing me with my bonnet on, 'have you been
out? What's the time?'

"He spoke quite calm and cheerful; the sleeping draught had done him
good, and had made him forgit.

"'The time's nine o'clock, Lemon,' I answered, 'and I ain't been out.'

"'What's to-day?' he asked.

"'Sunday,' I answered.

"'Sunday!' he exclaimed. 'It's funny. Everything seems mixed. Sunday,
is it? But, I say, Fanny, if you ain't been out, what have you got
your bonnet on for?'

"'I'm waiting for you,' I said. 'Git up, quick, you must come with me
at once.'

"'Come with you at once,' he said, rubbing his eyes, to make sure
whether he was awake or asleep; and then he must have seen something
in my face, for he looked at me strange, and left off rubbing his
eyes, and began to rub his forehead. 'I can't understand it. Has
anything gone wrong?'

"'Lemon,' I said, speaking very solemn, and speaking as I felt, 'you
know too well what has gone wrong, and I only hope you may be
forgiven.'

"I shouldn't have stopped short in the middle if it hadn't been that
we heard Devlin moving about in the room up-stairs. I looked up at the
ceiling, and so did Lemon, and when I saw his face grow white I knew
that mine was growing white as well; and I knew, too, that Lemon was
gitting his memory back.

"'Speak low, speak low,' he whispered. 'Devlin mustn't hear a word we
say. You hope I may be forgiven! For what? What have I done? O, my
head, my head! It feels as if it was going to burst!'

"His face begun to get flushed, and the veins swelled out. I thought
to myself, I must be careful with Lemon; I mustn't be too sudden with
him, or he'll have another fit. I was going to speak soothing, when he
clapped his hand on my mouth and almost stopped my breath.

"'Don't say nothing yet,' he said. 'You must tell me something first
that I want to know. I feel so confused--so confused! What's been the
matter with me? I don't remember going to bed last night.'

"'You fell down in a fit, Lemon,' I said, 'and I had to get the doctor
to you.'

"'Yes, yes,' he said eagerly. 'Go on--go on.'

"'We carried you up-stairs here, the doctor and me, and undressed you
and put you to bed; and when you come out of your fit he give you a
sleeping draught.'

"'It's not that I want to know,' he said. 'What _made_ me go into a
fit? I never had a fit before, as I remember. O Fanny, is it all a
dream?'

"'Lemon,' I answered, 'you must ask your conscience; I can't answer
you. You come home with a evening paper in your pocket, a-moaning and
crying, and you ketches hold of me, and looks round as if a ghost had
follered you into the room, and then you falls down in your fit.'

"'And him?' he said, pointing to the ceiling. 'Him--Devlin? Was he
with me? Did he see me while I was in the fit?'

"'No,' I answered. 'He come home after we'd got you to bed, and said
he wanted to see you; but I wouldn't let him. I whipped up-stairs
here, and turned the key, so as he shouldn't git at you.'

"'You did right, you did right. Was he angry?'

"'If he was, he didn't show it. He kep with me a long time, talking
about the--the----'

"'About the what?' asked Lemon, the perspiration breaking out on him.

"'About the murder! Well may you shiver! It was in the newspaper you
brought home with you, and he read it out loud, and talked about it in
a way as froze my blood.'

"'Blood!' groaned Lemon, 'Blood! O Fanny, Fanny!'

"He is my husband, sir, and he was suffering, and I ain't ashamed to
say that I took him in my arms, and tried to comfort him.

"'One word, Lemon,' I said, 'only one word before we go on. You ain't
guilty, are you?'

"'Guilty?' he answered, but speaking quite soft; we neither of us
raised our voices above a whisper 'My God, no! How could I be? Wasn't
I at home and abed when it was done? O, it's horrible! horrible! and I
don't know what to think.'

"'Thank God, you're innocent!' I said, and I was so grateful in my
heart that my eyes brimmed over. 'And you didn't have nothing to do
with the planning of it? Tell me that.'

"'No, Fanny,' he said. '_Him_ up-stairs there--did _he_ sleep at home
last night?'

"'Unless there's something going on too awful to think of,' I said,
'he did. I ain't been in bed, Lemon, since home you come yesterday and
had your fit. And here in this room I've been setting with you from
the time I put the chain on the street-door last night till now. I've
only left you once--to take in the milk at seven o'clock this morning,
and then the chain was on; it hadn't been touched. No one went out of
this house last night by the street-door.'

"'They couldn't have gone out no other way,' said Lemon.

"'I don't see how they could,' I said, though I had my thoughts.

"'And the night before, Fanny,' said Lemon, and now he looked at me as
if life and death was in my answer, 'the night it was done, did he
sleep at home then?'

"'To the best of my belief he did,' I said. 'You may put me on the
rack and tear me with red hot pinchers, and I can't say nothing but
the truth. He _did_ sleep here the night that awful murder was done in
Victoria Park. Drag me to the witness-box and put me in irons, and I
can't say nothing else. I saw him go to his room after I'd put up the
chain; he called out 'Good night;' and the next morning the chain was
up jest as I left it. You can't put the chain on the street-door from
the outside; it must be done from the in. And now, Lemon, listen to
me.'

"'What do you want?' he groaned. 'O, what do you want? Ain't I bad
enough already that you try to make me worse?'

"'I _must_ say, Lemon, what is on my mind.'

"'Won't it keep, Fanny?' he asked.

"'It won't keep,' I answered. 'You know the man as committed the
murder, and you'll come with me to the police-station, and put the
police on his track.'

"'_Me_ know the wretch!' Lemon cried, his eyes almost starting out of
his head. 'Have you gone mad?'

"'No, Lemon,' I answered, 'I'm in my sober senses. Whatever happens
afterwards, we've got to face the consequences, or we shall wake up in
the middle of the night and see that poor girl standing at our bedside
pointing her finger at us. It's no use trying to disguise it. I _know_
you know the wretch, and deny it you shan't.'

"'O,' he said, speaking very slow, as if he was choosing words, 'you
know I know him!'

"'I do,' I answered.

"'Perhaps,' he said, with something like a click in his throat, 'you
will tell me how that's possible, when it's gospel truth I've never
set eyes on him all my born days.'

"'Lemon,' I said, 'be careful, O, be careful, how you speak of gospel
truth! Remember Ananias! You may beat about the bush as much as you
like, but I'm determined to do what I've made up my mind to, and
nothing shall drive me from it.'

"'Of course,' he said, upon that, and speaking flippant, 'if you've
made up your mind to the egstent you speak of, I'd best shut my mouth.
I'll keep it shut till you tell me how you know what you say you
know.'

"'Lemon,' I said, 'light you speak, but sech you don't feel. You can't
deceive me. When we was first married, you slep the sleep of
innocence, and your breathing was that regular as showed you had
nothing on your mind to take egsception to. But since that Devlin come
into the house, the way you've gone on of a night is simply awful.
Jumping about in bed as you've been doing night after night, and
screaming and talking in your sleep----'

"'Talking in my sleep!' he cried, and I saw that I'd scared him. 'You
shouldn't have let me! Call yourself a wife? You should have stopped
me!'

"'I couldn't help letting you, and I couldn't have stopped you, Lemon,
and I'm not sure whether it would have been right to do it if sech was
in my power.'

"'What have I said, what have I said?' he asked.

"'The night before last as ever was,' I said, 'when that dreadful deed
was done as was printed in the paper you brought home yesterday, you
said, while you was laying asleep on the very bed you're laying on
now, words as chilled my blood, and it's a mercy I'm alive to tell it.
You spoke of Victoria Park; you spoke of a beautiful young girl with
hair the colour of gold; you spoke--O, Lemon, Lemon!--you spoke of her
being stabbed to the heart; you spoke of a bunch of white daisies as
she wore in her belt, and you said there was blood on 'em----'

"I had to stop myself, sir; for Lemon had hid his face in the
bedclothes, and was shaking like a man with Sam Witus's dance in his
marrer. I let him lay till he got over it a bit, and then he uncovered
his face; it was as white as a sheet.

"'Fanny,' he said--and he was hardly able to get his words out--'there's
the Bible on the mantelshelf, there. Bring it to me.'"



CHAPTER XVII.

LEMON'S VISION IN THE TWISTED COW.


"I fetched the Bible, sir, and he took it in his hand, and swore a
most solemn oath, and kissed the book on it, that he didn't know the
man, that he didn't know the girl, and that he had no more to do with
the murder than a babe unborn. Never in my life did I see a man in
sech a state as he was.

"'But, Lemon,' I said, 'how could you come to speak sech words? How
could you come to know all about the murder hours and hours before it
was done?'

"'I'll tell you, Fanny,' he said, 'as fur as I know; and if you was to
cut me in a thousand pieces I couldn't tell you more.'

"'It ain't to be egspected,' I said.

"'If there's men in the world,' Lemon went on, 'as can look into the
future, Devlin's one of 'em. If there's men in the world as can tell
you what's going to happen--without having anything to do with it
theirselves, mind--Devlin's one of 'em. The things he's told me of
people is unbelievable, but as true as true can be. "Did you take
particular notice of the gentleman whose hair I've been jest cutting?"
he said to me. "No," says I; "why should I?" "He's the great Mr.
Danebury that all the world's talking of," says he. "Is he?" says I.
"I wonder what brings him to our shop? What a charitable man he is!
"What a good, good man he is!" "Good ain't the word for him," says
Devlin. "He comes to our shop because it's out of the way. All the
while I was operating on him he was thinking of a little milliner's
girl as he's got an appointment with to-night. 'Pritty little
Ph[oe]be!' he was saying to hisself as I was cutting his hair. 'What
eyes she's got! Bloo and swimming! What a skin's she's got! like
satting, it is so white and smooth! What lips she's got! She's a bit
of spring, jest budding. Pritty little Ph[oe]be--pretty little
Ph[oe]be!'" "But what was he saying that for?" I asks. "He can't be in
love with her. He's a family man, ain't he?" "I should think he was a
family man," says Devlin. "He's got the most beautiful wife a man
could wish for, and as good as she's beautiful; and he's got
half-a-dozen blooming children. But that don't prevent his being in
love with pritty little Ph[oe]be, and he's got an appointment with her
to-night; and, what's more, he's going to keep it." I'm putting a true
case to you, Fanny,' says Lemon, 'one of many sech. I fires up at what
Devlin says about such a good man--that is, I used to fire up when
things first commenced. I don't dispute with him now; I know it's no
use, and that he's always right, and me always wrong. But then I did,
and I asks him how dare he talk like that of sech a man as Mr.
Danebury, as gives money to charities, and talks about being
everybody's friend. "O, you don't believe me!" Devlin says. "Well,
come with me to-night, and we'll jest see for ourselves." And I go
with him, and I see a pritty little girl walking up and down the dark
turning at the bottom of the Langham Hotel. Up and down she walks, up
and down, up and down. "That must be her," says Devlin. We keep
watching a little way off on the other side of the way, where it's
darker still than where she's walking and waiting, and presently who
should come up to her but the great Mr. Danebury; and he takes her
hand and holds it long, and they stand talking, and he says something
to make her laugh, and then he tucks her arm in his, and walks off
with her. "What do you think of that?" Devlin asks. "He's going to
take her to a meeting of the missionary society." What I think of it
makes me melancholy, and makes me ask myself, "Can sech things be?" At
another time Devlin says, "I shouldn't wonder if you heard of a big
fire to-morrer." "Why do you say that?" I asks. "The man who's jest
gone out," Devlin answers, "was thinking of one while I was shampooing
him--that's all." And that _was_ all; but sure enough I do read of a
big fire to-morrer in a great place of business that's heavily
insured, and there's lives lost and dreadful scenes. And then
sometimes when Devlin and me is setting together, he gits up all of a
sudden and stands over me, and what he does to me I couldn't tell you
if you was to burn me alive; but my senses seems to go, and I either
gits fancies, or Devlin puts 'em in my head; but when I come to
there's Devlin setting before me, and he says, "I'll wager," says he,
"that I'll tell you what you've been dreaming of." "Have I been
asleep?" I asks. "Sound," he answers, "and talking in your sleep." And
he tells me something dreadful that I've said about something that's
going to happen; and before the week's out it does happen, and I read
of it in the papers. For a long time this has been going on till I've
got in that state that I'd as soon die as live. If you don't
understand what I'm trying to egsplain, Fanny,' said my poor Lemon,
'it ain't my fault; it's as dark to me as it is to you. Sometimes I
says to Devlin, "I'll go and warn the police." "Do," says Devlin, "and
be took up as a accomplice, and be follered about all your life like a
thief or a murderer. Go and tell, and git yourself hanged or clapped
in a madhouse." Of course, I see the sense of that, and I keep my
mouth shut, but I get miserabler and miserabler. So the day before
yesterday--that's Friday, Fanny--Devlin and me is sitting in the
private room of the Twisted Cow, when he asks me whether I've ever
been to Victoria Park, and I answers "Lots of times." Now Fanny,' said
Lemon, breaking off in his awful confession, 'if you ain't prepared to
believe what's coming, I'll say no more. It'll sound unbelievable, but
I can't help that. Things has happened without me having anything to
do with 'em, and I'd need to be a sperrit instead of a man to account
for 'em.'

"'Lemon,' I said, 'I'm prepared to believe everything, only don't keep
nothing from me.'

"'I won't,' said Lemon; 'I'll tell you as near and as straight as I
can what happened after Devlin asked me whether I'd ever been to
Victoria Park. His eyes was fixed upon me that strange that I felt my
senses slipping away from me; it wasn't that things went round so much
as they seemed to fade away and become nothing at all. Was I setting
in the private room of the Twisted Cow? I don't know. Was it day or
night? I don't know. I wouldn't swear to it, though the moon _was_
shining through the trees. The trees where? Why, in Victoria Park, and
no place else. And there was a man and a woman--a young beautiful
woman, with golden hair, and a bunch of white daisies in her
belt--talking together. How do I know that she's young and beautiful
when I didn't see her face? That's one of the things I'm unable to
answer. And I don't see the man's face, either. Whether a minute
passed or a hour, before I heard a shriek, I can't say, and perhaps it
ain't material. And upon the shriek, there, near the water, laid the
young girl, dead, with the bunch of white daisies in her belt, stained
with blood. Then, everything disappeared, and, trembling and shaking
to that degree that I felt as if I must fall to pieces, I looked up
and round, and found myself in the private room of the Twisted Cow,
with Devlin setting opposite me. "Dreaming agin, Lemon?" he says, with
a grin. But I don't answer him; my tongue sticks to the roof of my
mouth. That's all I know, Fanny. Whether I saw what I've told you, or
was told it, or only fancied it, is beyond me. What I've said is the
truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God!'

"That's what I heard from Lemon's own lips this morning, sir,
up-stairs, abed, where he is laying now, with the door locked on him.

"I took off my hat and cloak, and Lemon burst out crying.

"'You believe me, Fanny!' he cried.

"'I believe every word you said,' I answered. 'It's no use going to
the police-station this morning. A good friend of our'n is coming to
see me to-day, and we'll wait and do what he advises us. Only you must
promise to see him.' And I told him who you was, and why I wrote to
you on Friday before poor Lizzie Melladew met her death.

"'I promise,' said Lemon, 'and you've done right, Fanny.'

"And now, sir, I've told you everything as I said I would, and you
know as much as I do about this dreadful business."



CHAPTER XVIII.

FANNY'S STORY BEING CONCLUDED, I PAY A VISIT TO MR. LEMON, AND RESOLVE
TO INTERVIEW DEVLIN THE BARBER.


This was the story which Fanny related to me, and to which I listened
in wonder and amazement. As she related it I wondered at times whether
it was possible that what she said could be true, but I saw no reason
to question her veracity; and there certainly could be no doubt of her
sincerity. I had to some extent conquered the fascination which
Lemon's portrait on the wall, the stuffed bird in its glass case, and
the evil-looking monster on the mantelshelf had exercised over me, but
even now I could scarcely gaze upon them without a shudder. Fanny did
not relate her story straight off, without a break, and I need hardly
say that it was much longer than is here transcribed. But I have
omitted no important point; everything pertinent to the tragedy of the
murder of Mr. Melladew's daughter is faithfully set down. When she
finished it was quite dark; at my request she had not lighted lamp or
candle.

There were breaks, as I have said. Twice she left off, and went
up-stairs to see Lemon, and give him something to eat and drink.

"He knows you're here, sir," she said, when she returned on the first
occasion.

"Is he impatient to see me?" I asked.

"No, sir," she replied. "All he seems to want is to be left alone."

"But he will see me?"

"O, yes, sir! He'll keep his promise."

Once there was an interval of more than half-an-hour, during which I
ate some cold meat and bread she brought me, and drank a pint bottle
of stout.

There was another occasion when she suddenly paused, with her finger
at her lips.

"What are you stopping for, Fanny?" I asked.

"Speak low, sir," she said. "Devlin!"

"Where?" I said, much startled.

"He has just opened the street-door, sir."

"I heard nothing, Fanny."

"No, sir, you wouldn't. You don't know his ways as I do. Don't speak
for a minute or two, sir."

I waited, and strained my ears, but no footfall reached my ears.
Presently Fanny said:

"He's gone up to his room. He waited outside Lemon's door, and tried
it, I think. Have you any notion what you are going to do about him,
sir?"

"My ideas are not yet formed, but I intend to see and speak with him."

"You do, sir?"

"I do, Fanny, A special providence has directed my steps here to-day.
I knew the poor girl who has been murdered."

"Sir!"

"Her family and mine have been friends for years. The interest I take
in the discovery of the murderer is no common interest, and I intend
to bring him to justice."

"How, sir?" exclaimed Fanny, greatly excited.

"Through Mr. Devlin. The way will suggest itself. You have not heard
him leave the house since he entered a little while since?"

"No, sir. He is in his room now."

"If," I said, "when I am with your husband--and I intend to remain
with him but a short time--Devlin comes down-stairs, let me know
immediately. Keep watch for him."

"I will, sir. O, how thankful I am that you're here--how thankful, how
thankful!"

"I hope we shall all have reason to be thankful. And now, Fanny, I
will go up to your husband."

"I'll go in first, and prepare him, sir."

"Let us have lights in the house. Don't leave Mr. Lemon in the dark.
Put a candle in the passage also."

She followed my instructions, and then we went to her husband's
bedroom. I waited outside while she "prepared" him. It did not take
long to do so, and she came to the door and beckoned to me. I entered
the room, and desired her to leave us alone.

"But don't lock us in," I added.

"No, sir," she said. "Lemon's safe now you're with him."

With that she retired, first smoothing the bedclothes and the pillow
with a kind of pitying, soothing motion as though Lemon was about to
undergo an operation.

I moved the candle so that its light fell upon Lemon's face. A scared,
frightened face it was that turned towards me, the face of a man who
had received a deadly shock.

It is unnecessary to say more than a few words about what passed
between Mr. Lemon and myself. My purpose was to obtain from him
confirmation of the strange mysterious story which Fanny had related.
In this purpose I succeeded; it was correct in every particular. What
I elicited from Lemon was elicited in the form of questions which I
put to him and which he answered, sometimes readily, sometimes
reluctantly. Had time not been so precious, my curiosity would have
impelled me to go into matters respecting Devlin other than the murder
of Lizzie Melladew, but I felt there was not a minute to waste; and at
the termination of my interview with Lemon I went into the passage,
where I found Fanny waiting for me. Whispering to her not to remain
there, in order that Devlin might not be too strongly prejudiced
against me--supposing him to be on the watch as well as ourselves--and
receiving from her instructions as to the position of his room, I
mounted the stairs with a firm, loud tread, and stood in the dark at
the door which was to conduct me to the presence of the mysterious
being.



CHAPTER XIX.

FACE TO FACE WITH DEVLIN, I DEMAND AN EXPLANATION OF HIM.


I rapped with my knuckles, and a voice which could have been none
other than the voice of Devlin immediately responded, calling to me to
enter. The next moment I stood face to face with the strange creature,
concerning whom my curiosity was raised to the highest pitch. He was
sitting in a chair upon my entrance, and he did not rise from it;
therefore I looked down upon him and he looked up at me. As my eyes
rested on his face, I saw in it the inspiration of the evil expression
in the faces of Mr. Lemon's portrait, the stone monster, and the
bird's beak, which had made so profound an impression upon me in the
parlour on the ground-floor.

"You have been in the house some time," said Devlin.

"I have," I answered.

"And have had a long, a very long, conversation with my worthy
landlady," he observed.

"Yes," I said.

"About me," he said, not in the form of a question but as a statement
of fact.

"Partly about you."

"And about poor Lemon?"

"Yes, about him as well."

"Sit down," said Devlin, "I expected you."

There was only one other chair in the room besides the one he
occupied, and I accepted his invitation, and drew it up to the table.
And there we sat gazing at each other for what appeared to me a long
time in silence.

The room was very poorly furnished. There were the two chairs, a small
deal table, and a single iron bedstead in the corner. Off the room was
a kind of closet, in which I supposed were a washstand and fittings.
There was only one other article in view in addition to those I have
mentioned, and that was a desk at which Devlin was writing.[1] He did
not put away his papers, and I was enabled to observe, without undue
prying, that his writing was very fine and very close.

How shall I describe him? A casual observation of his face and figure
would not suffice for the detection of anything uncanny about him, but
it must be remembered that I was abnormally excited, and most
strangely interested in him. He was tall and dark, his face was long
and spare; his forehead was low; his eyes were black, with an
extraordinary brilliancy in them; his mouth was large, and his lips
thin. He wore a moustache, but no beard. In the order and importance
of the impressions they produced upon me I should place first, his
black eyes with their extraordinary brilliancy, and next, his hands,
which were unusually small and white. They were the hands of a lady of
gentle culture rather than those of a man in the class of life to
which Devlin appeared to belong. Not alone was his social standing
presumably fixed by the fact of his living in a room so poorly
furnished at the top of a house so common as Mr. Lemon's, but his
clothes were a special indication. They were shabby and worn; black
frock-coat, black trousers and waistcoat, narrow black tie. Not a
vestige of colour about them, and no sign of jewellery of any kind.

"Well?" he said.

I started. I had been so absorbed in my observance of him that I, who
should have been the first to plunge into the conversation, had
remained silent for a time so unreasonably long that the man upon whom
I had intruded might have justly taken offence.

"I beg your pardon," I said; "did you not remark that you expected
me?"

"Yes."

"May I inquire upon what grounds your expectation was based?"

He smiled; and here I observed, in the quality of this smile, a
characteristic of which Mrs. Lemon had given me no indication. Devlin
was evidently gifted with a touch of humour.

"I reason by analogy," he said. "My landlady has very few visitors.
You are here for the first time, with an object. You remain closeted
with her for hours. She probably sent for you. During the long
interview down-stairs you have been told a great deal about me. You
hear me open the street-door, and you know I am in the house. My
landlady has a trouble on her mind, and mixes me up with it. You have
been made acquainted with this trouble and with my supposed connection
with it. Your curiosity has been aroused, and you determine to seek an
interview with me before you take your leave of her. You come up
uninvited, and here you are, as I expected. Am I logical?"

"Quite logical."

"In a common-sense view of commonplace matters--and everything in the
world is commonplace--lies the ripest wisdom. Follow my example.
Exercise your common sense."

But I did not immediately speak. Devlin's words were so different from
what I had expected that I was for a moment at a loss. The prospect of
my being able to bring the murderer of Lizzie Melladew to justice and
of earning a thousand pounds did not appear so bright.

"I will assist you," he resumed; "I will endeavour to set you at your
ease with me. Your scrutiny of me has been very searching; I ought to
feel flattered. What anticipations of my appearance you may have
entertained before you entered the room is your affair, not mine. How
far they are realised is your affair, not mine. But allow me to assure
you, my dear sir," and here he rose to his full height, and made me a
half-humorous, half-mocking bow, "that I am a very ordinary person."

"That cannot be," I said, "after what I have heard."

"It is the destiny," he said, resuming his seat, "of greater
personages than myself to be ranked much higher than they deserve.
Proceed."

"I am here to speak to you about this murder," I said, plunging boldly
into the subject.

"Ah, about a murder! But there are so many."

"You know to which one I refer. The murder of a young girl in Victoria
Park, which took place the night before last."

"I have heard and read of it," said Devlin.

"You know also," I continued, "that the tragedy has produced in Mr.
Lemon a condition of mind and body which may lead to dangerous
results, probably to a despairing death."

"All men must die," he said cynically.

I was now thoroughly aroused. "I have come to you for an explanation,"
I said, "and it must be a satisfactory one."

"You speak like an inquisitor," said Devlin, with a quiet smile, and I
seemed to detect in his altered manner a desire to irritate me and to
drive me into an excess of passion. For this reason I kept myself
cool, and simply said,

"I am resolved."

"Good. Keep resolved."

"I shall do so. By some devilish and mysterious means you were aware,
before the poor girl left her home on Friday night, that her doom was
sealed. You could have prevented it, and you did not raise a hand to
save her. This knowledge I have gained from Mr. Lemon, to whom,
through you, the impending tragedy was known."

"Then why did _he_ not prevent it?"

"It was not in his power. He was not acquainted with the names of the
murderer and his victim."

"Was I?"

"You must have been. I do not pretend to an understanding of the
extraordinary power you exercise, but I am convinced that, in
connection with you, there is a mystery which should be brought to
light, and if I can be the agent to unmask you I am ready for the
work. With all the earnestness of my soul, I swear it."

A low laugh escaped Devlin's lips. "Were a commissioner of lunacy
here," he said, "you would be in peril. This young girl you speak of,
is she in any way connected with you?"

"She was my friend; I knew her from childhood; she has sat at my table
with her sister and parents, and I and mine have sat at theirs. Her
family are plunged into the lowest depths of despair by the cruel,
remorseless blow which has fallen upon them."

"And you have taken upon yourself the task of an avenger. It is
chivalrous, but is it entirely unselfish? I am always suspicious of
mere words; there is ever behind them a secret motive, hidden by a
dark curtain. I speak in metaphor, but you will seize my meaning, for
you are a man of nerve and intelligence, utterly unlike our friend in
the room below, whose nature is servile and abject, and who is not, as
you are, given to heroics. Calm yourself. I am ready to discuss this
matter with you, but in your present condition I should have the
advantage of you. You are heated; I am cool and collected. You have
some self-interest at heart; I have none. Your words are so wild that
any person but myself hearing them would take you for a madman. For
your own sake--not for mine, for the affair does not concern me--I
advise moderation of language. I suppose you will scarcely believe
that the man upon whom you have unceremoniously intruded, and against
whom you launch accusations, the very extravagance of which renders
them unworthy of serious consideration--you will scarcely believe that
this man is simply a poor barber who has not a second coat to his
back, nor a second pair of shoes to his feet. But it is a fact--a
proof of the injustice of the world, ever blind to merit. For I am not
only a barber, sir, I am a capable workman, as I will convince you.
Pray do not move; a cooling essence and a brush skilfully used effect
wonders on an over-heated head."

It was not in my power to resist him. He had taken his place behind my
chair, and before he had finished speaking had sprinkled a liquid over
my head which was so overpoweringly refreshing that I insensibly
yielded to its influence. With brush and comb he arranged my hair, his
small white hands occasionally touching my forehead gently and
persuasively. When I thought afterwards of this strange incident I
called to mind that, for the two or three minutes during which he was
engaged in the exercise of his art, I was in a kind of quiet dream, in
which all the agitating occurrences of the previous day in connection
with the murder of Lizzie Melladew were mentally repeated in proper
sequence, closing with Mr. Portland's offer of a thousand pounds for
the discovery of the murderer. It was, as it were, a kind of panorama
which passed before me of all that occurred between morning and night.
I looked up, inexpressibly refreshed, and with my mind bright and
clear. Devlin stood before me, smiling.

"Confess, sir," he said, in a soft persuasive tone, "that I have
returned good for evil. The fever of the brain is abated, or I am a
bungler indeed. We will now discuss the matter."



CHAPTER XX.

DEVLIN ASTONISHES ME.


"I remarked to you just now," he said, seating himself comfortably in
his chair, "that I am always suspicious of mere words, for the reason
that there is ever a secret motive behind them. From what you have
said I should be justified in supposing that your desire to discover
the mystery in which the death of your poor young friend is involved
springs simply from sympathy with her bereaved family. I will not set
a trap for you, and pin you to that statement by asking questions
which you would answer only in one way. You would argue with yourself
probably as to the disingenuousness of those answers, but would
finally appease your conscience by deciding that I, a perfect stranger
to you and your affairs, cannot possibly have anything to do with the
private motives by which you are influenced. Say, for instance, by
such a motive as the earning of a reward which we will put down at a
thousand pounds."

For the life of me I could not restrain a start of astonishment. It
was the exact sum Mr. Portland had offered me. By what dark means had
Devlin divined it?

"You need not be discomposed," said Devlin. "The thing is natural
enough. You have credited me with so much that it will harm neither of
us if you credit me with a little more--say, with a certain faculty
for reading men's thoughts. The world knows very little as yet; it has
much to learn; and I, in my humble way, may be a master in a new
species of spiritual power. Now, I have a profound belief in Fate;
what it wills must inevitably be. And, impressed by this article of
faith, I, the master, may be willing to become the slave. Fate has led
you to this house, and it may be that you are an instrument in
discoveries yet to be made. I continue, you observe, to speak
occasionally in metaphor. Be as frank with me as I have been with you.
No, don't trouble yourself to speak immediately. In the words you were
about to utter there is a subterfuge; you have not yet made up your
mind to be entirely open with me. You and I meet now for the first
time. Before this day I have never known of your existence, nor have
you been aware of mine."

"If that be true," I said, interrupting him, "what made you mention
the reward of a specific sum?"

"Of a thousand pounds?" he asked, smiling.

"Exactly."

"Do you deny that such a reward has been offered to you?"

"I do not deny it; but by what mysterious means did you come to the
knowledge of it?"

"Because it is in your mind, my dear sir," he said.

"That is no answer."

"Is it not? I should have thought it would satisfy you, but you are
inclined to be unreasonable. Come, now, I will show you how little I
am concealing from you with respect to my knowledge of your
movements." He shaded his eyes with his hand, and looked at me from
beneath it.

"I do not know your name, nor in what part of London you reside, but
certainly you and your wife--no doubt a most estimable lady--were
sitting together at breakfast yesterday morning."

He paused, and waited for me to speak. "It is quite true," I said;
"but there is nothing unusual in husband and wife partaking of that
meal in company."

"Nothing in the least unusual if a man is master of his own time, as
you were yesterday morning, for the first time for a long while past.
The fact is, you had lost a situation in which you have been employed
for years."

I sat spellbound. Devlin continued:

"The breakfast-things are on the table, and you and your lady are
discussing ways and means. You are not rich, and you look forward with
some fear to the future. Times are hard, and situations are not easy
to obtain. In the midst of your consultation a man rushes into the
room. He is a middle-aged man. Shall I describe him?"

"If you can," I said, my wonder growing.

He gave me a fairly faithful description of Mr. Melladew, and
proceeded:

"A great grief has fallen upon this man. It is only within the last
hour that he has discovered that his daughter had been murdered. He
remains with you some time, and then other persons make their
appearance, among them newspaper reporters and policemen, all
doubtless drawn to your house by this business of the murder. You have
also an interview with a young gentleman. The day passes. It is
evening, and you are seated with another person. By this person you
are offered one thousand pounds if you discover the murderer of the
young girl, and another thousand if you find her sister, who has
strangely disappeared. I do not wish to deprive you of such credit as
belongs to a man who sympathises with a friend in trouble; but it is
certainly a fact that the dim prospect of earning such a handsome sum
of money is very strong within you. That is all."

I deliberated awhile in silence, and Devlin did not disturb my
musings. All that he had narrated had passed through my mind while he
was engaged in dressing my hair. Had he the power of reading thoughts
by the mere action of his fingers upon a man's head? No other solution
occurred to me, and had I not been placed in my present position I
should instantly have rejected it; but now I was in the mood for
entertaining it, wild and incredible as it appeared. During this
interval of silence I made a strong endeavour to calm myself for what
was yet to take place between me and Devlin, and I was successful.
When I spoke I was more composed.

"You say you do not know where I live. Is it true?" I asked.

"Quite true," he answered.

"You do not really know my name?"

"I do not."

"Nor the names of my visitors?"

"Nor the names of your visitors."

"But you must be aware," I said, "admitting, for the sake of argument,
that you are not romancing----"

"Yes," he said, laughing, "admitting that, for the sake of argument."

"You must be aware that the name of the first man who visited me--he
being, as you have declared, the father of the murdered girl--is
Melladew."

"I am aware of it, not from actual knowledge, but from what I have
read in the newspapers."

"But of the name of the gentleman who, you say, offers the reward of a
thousand pounds, you are ignorant."

"Quite ignorant. Now, having replied to your questions frankly,
confess that you have forced yourself upon me with a distinct motive,
in which I, a stranger to you, am interested."

"My object is to discover the murderer and bring him to justice."

"A very estimable design."

"And also to discover what has become of the murdered girl's sister."

"Exactly. How do you propose to accomplish your object?"

"Through you."

"Indeed! Through me?"

"As surely as we are in the same room together, through you. Receive
what I am about to say as the fixed resolve of a man who sees before
him a stern duty and will not flinch from it. Having come into
association with you, I am determined not to lose sight of you. I put
aside any further consideration of a strange and inexplicable mystery
in connection with yourself as being utterly and entirely beyond my
power to understand."

"My dear sir," said Devlin, with a glance at his shabby clothes, "you
flatter me."

"All my energies now are bent to one purpose, which, through you, I
shall carry to its certain end. You have made yourself plain to me. I
hope up to this point I have made myself plain to you."

"You are the soul of lucidity," said Devlin, "but much remains yet to
explain. For the sake of argument we have admitted an element of
romance into this very prosaic matter; for it is really prosaic,
almost commonplace. Life is largely made up of tragedies and
mysteries, the majority of them petty and contemptible, a few only
deserving to be called grand. As a matter of fact, my dear sir,
existence, with all its worries, anxieties, hopes, and disappointments,
is nothing better than a game of pins and needles. It is the littleness
of human nature that magnifies a pin prick into a wound of serious
importance. To think that some of these mortals should call themselves
philosophers! It is laughable. Do you follow me?"

"Not entirely," I replied, "but I have some small glimmering of your
meaning."

"Were your mind," said Devlin, shaking with internal laughter, "quite
free from the influence of that thousand pounds, it would be clearer.
In the grand Scheme of Nature, so far as mortals comprehend it, the
potent screw is human selfishness. These speculations, however, are
perhaps foreign to the point. Let us continue our amicable argument
until we thoroughly understand each other upon the subject of this
murder. You see, my dear sir, I wish to know exactly how I stand; for
despite the extraordinary opinion you have formed of me, it is you who
have assumed the _rôle_ of Controller of Destinies. I am but a mere
instrument in your hands." He measured me with his eyes. "You are well
built, and are, I should judge, a powerful man."

"You are contemplating the probability of a physical struggle between
us," I said. "Dismiss it; there will be none."

He made me a mocking bow. "My mind is, indeed, relieved. You do not
intend violence, then. I am free to leave the house if I wish--at this
moment, if I please. Have you taken that contingency into account?"

"I have."

"You will not attempt to detain me by force?"

"No."

"In such an event, how will you act?"

"I shall follow you, and to the first policeman I meet I shall say,
'Arrest that person. He is implicated in the murder of Lizzie
Melladew.'"

Devlin cast upon me a look of admiration. "That would be awkward," he
said.

"Decidedly awkward--for you."

"You would be asked to furnish evidence."

"Direct evidence it would be, at present, out of my power to supply,"
I said; I was on my mettle; my mental forces were never clearer, were
never more resolutely set upon one object; "but there is such a thing
as circumstantial evidence. Mr. Lemon and his wife should come
forward, and relate all that they know concerning you. You and Mr.
Lemon are carrying on a business somewhere; the place should be
searched; it should be made food for the multitude who are ever on the
hunt for the sensational. Your desk on the table here contains
writings of yours; they may throw light upon the investigation. So we
should go on, step by step, independent of your assistance, until we
get the murderer--who may or may not be an accomplice of yours--into
the clutches of the law."

Towards the end of this speech I had risen and approached the window,
which faced the square. Mechanically lifting the blind, I looked out,
and saw what arrested my attention. By the railings on the opposite
side, with his eyes raised to the window, was the figure of a man. He
was standing quite motionless, and, the night being fine, with a
panoply of stars in the sky, I presently recognised the figure to be
that of George Carton, poor Lizzie Melladew's distracted lover. At
some little distance from him was the figure of another man, whose
movements were distinguished by restlessness, and in him I recognised
Carton's guardian, Mr. Kenneth Dowsett.

"Looking for a policeman?" inquired Devlin, with a touch of amusement
in his voice.

"No," I replied, "but I am pleased to discover that I am not alone,
that I have friends outside ready to assist me the moment I call upon
them."

Devlin rose, and joined me at the window.

"Is your sight very keen?" he asked.

"Keen enough to recognise friends," I said.

"Mine is wonderful," said Devlin, "quite catlike; another of my
abnormal qualities. I can plainly distinguish the features of the two
men upon whom we are gazing. One is young. Who is he?"

"His name," I replied, believing that entire frankness would be more
likely to win Devlin to my side, "is George Carton."

"I recognise him; he was in your house yesterday morning. He seems
distressed. There is a troubled look in his face."

"He was the murdered girl's lover."

"Ah! And the other, the elder man, casting anxious glances upon the
younger--who may he be?"

"His name is Mr. Kenneth Dowsett. He is young Carton's guardian."

"Thank you," said Devlin, returning to his seat at the table. I
dropped the blind, and resumed my seat opposite to him, and then I
observed a singular smile upon his face, to which I could attach no
meaning.

"I presented," he said, "a certain contingency to you, the contingency
of my leaving this house, and you have been delightfully explicit as
to the course you would pursue. But, my dear sir, crediting myself
with a species of occult power, which you appear ready to grant to me,
might it not be in my power to vanish, to disappear from your sight
the moment the policeman you would summons attempted to lay hands upon
me?"

"I must chance that," I said.

"Good. Nothing of the sort will occur, I promise. I cannot carry on my
pursuit as a Shadow. The idea of leaving the house did occur to me; I
banish it. Well, then, suppose I remain here; suppose I put an end to
this discussion; suppose I go to bed. To all your vapourings, suppose
I say, 'Go to the devil!' Why on earth do you stare at me so? It is a
common saying, and the awful consequences of such a journey are seldom
thought of. I repeat, I say to you, 'Go to the devil!' What, then?"

"I still could summon a policeman," I said; "but even if I postponed
that step or you managed to escape from me, I have a talent which, now
that it occurs to me, I shall immediately press into my service."

"Enlighten me."

I took from my pocket some letters, and tore from them three blank
leaves, upon which I set to work with pencil. My task occupied me ten
minutes and more, during which time Devlin, sitting back in his chair,
watched me with an expression of intense amusement in his face. When I
had finished I handed him one of the blank leaves.

"My portrait!" he exclaimed. "I am an artist myself, as you have seen
in Mrs. Lemon's parlour. This picture is the very image of me!"

"There is no mistaking it," I said complacently. "It will insure
recognition."

"In what way do you propose to turn it to advantage, in the event of
my being contumacious?"

"You have doubtless," I said, "noted the changes that have taken place
in the life of civilised cities?"

"Excellent," he said. "My dear sir, you compel my admiration; you are
altogether so different a person from the simpleton who lies shaking
in his bed on the floor below. You have brain power. My worthy
landlord and partner would have as well fulfilled his destiny had he
been a mouse. The changes that have taken place! Ah, what changes have
I not seen, say, in the course of the last thousand years!" And here
he laughed loud and long. "But proceed, my dear sir, proceed. How do
these changes affect me in the matter we are now considering?"

"There was a time----"

"Really, like the beginning of a fairy story," he interposed.

"When public opinion was of small weight, whereas now it is the most
important factor in social affairs."

"Lucidly put. I listen to you with interest."

"The penny newspaper," I observed sagely, "is a mighty engine."

"You speak with the wisdom of a platitudinarian."

"It enlists itself in the cause of justice, and frequently plays, to a
serviceable end, the part of a detective. You may remember the case of
Leroy."

"A poor bungler, a very poor bungler. A small mind, my dear sir, eaten
up by self-conceit of the lowest and meanest quality."

"For a long time Leroy evaded justice, but at length he was arrested.
A popular newspaper published in its columns a portrait of the
wretch----"

"I see," said Devlin, "and you would publish my portrait in the
newspapers?"

"In every paper that would give it admittance; and few would refuse.
Beneath it should be words to the effect that it was the portrait of a
man who knew, before its committal, that the murder of the poor girl
Lizzie Melladew was planned, and who must, therefore, be implicated in
it. The portrait would lead to your arrest, and then Mr. and Mrs.
Lemon would come forward with certain facts. Mr. Devlin, I would make
London too hot to hold you."

"An expressive phrase. Your plan is more than ordinarily clever; it is
ingenious. And London," said Devlin thoughtfully, "is such a place to
work in, such a place to live in, such a place to observe in! To be
banished from it would be a great misfortune. What other city in the
world is so full of devilment and crime; what other city in the world
is so full of revelations; what other city in the world is so full of
opportunities, so full of contrasts, so full of hypocrisy and
frivolity, so full of cold-blooded villainy? The gutters, with their
ripening harvests of vice for gaol find gallows; the perfumed gardens,
the fevered courts; the river, with its burden of jewels and beauty,
with its burden of woe and despair; the bridges, with their nightly
load of hunger, sin, and shame; the mansions, with their music, and
false smiles, and aching hearts; the garrets, with their dim lights
flickering; the bells, with their solemn warning; the busy streets,
with their scheming life; the smug faces, the pinched bellies, the
satins, the rags, the social treacheries, the suicides, the secret
crimes, the rotting souls! My dear sir, the prospect of your making
such a field too hot to hold even such a poor tatter-demalion as
myself overwhelms me. What is the alternative?"

"That you pledge yourself by all that is holy and sacred to give me
your fullest assistance towards the discovery of Lizzie Melladew's
murderer."



CHAPTER XXI.

DEVLIN AND I MAKE A COMPACT.


"A sacred and holy pledge," said Devlin, "from me? Is it possible that
you ask _me_ to bind myself to you by a pledge that you deem holy and
sacred?"

"I know of no other way to secure your assistance," I said, feeling
the weight of the sneer.

"If you did, you would adopt it?"

"Assuredly."

"So that, after all, you are to a certain extent in my power."

"As you to a certain extent are in mine."

"A fair retort. Before I point out to you how illogical and
inconsistent you are, let me thank you for having converted what
promised to be a dull evening into a veritable entertainment. It is a
real cause for gratitude in such a house as Lemon's, of whom I have
already spoken disparagingly, but of whom I cannot speak disparagingly
enough. My dear sir, that person is devoid of colour, his moral and
physical qualities are feeble, his intellect may be said to be washed
out. It is the bold, the daring, that recommends itself to me,
although I admit that there are curious studies to be found among the
meanest of mortals. Now, my dear sir, for your inconsistency and your
lack of the logical quality. My worthy landlady has conveyed to you an
impression of me which, to describe it truthfully, may be designated
unearthly. How much farther it goes I will not inquire. Her small
capacity has instilled into what, as a compliment, I will call her
mind, a belief that I am not exactly human--in point of fact, that if
I am not the Evil One himself, I am at least one of his satellites.
Common people are inclined to such extravagances. They believe in
apparitions, vampires, and supernatural signs, or, to speak more
correctly, in signs which they believe to be supernatural. The most
ordinary coincidences--and think, my dear sir, that there are myriads
of circumstances, of more or less importance, occurring every
twenty-four hours in this motley world, and that it is a mathematical
certainty that a certain proportion of these myriads should be coeval
and should bear some relation to each other--the most ordinary
coincidences, I repeat, are outrageously magnified by their
imaginations when, say, sickness or death is concerned. A woman wakes
up in the night, and in the darkness hears a ticking--tick, tick,
tick! She rises in the morning, and hears that her mother-in-law has
died during the night. 'Bless my soul!' she exclaims. 'I knew it, I
knew it! Last night I woke up all of a tremble'--(which, she did not,
but that is a detail)--'and heard the death-tick!' The story, being
told to the neighbours, invests this woman, who is proud of having
received a supernatural warning, with supreme importance. She becomes
for a time a social star. She relates the story again and again, and
each time adds something which her imagination supplies, until, in the
end, it is settled that her mother-in-law died at the precise moment
she woke up; that she saw the ghost of that person at her bedside,
very ghastly and sulphury, in the moonlight--(it is always moonlight
on these occasions)--that the ghost whispered in sepulchral tones, 'I
am dying, good-bye;' that there was a long wail; and that then she
jumped out of bed and screamed, 'My mother-in-law is dead!' This is
the story after it has grown. What are the facts? The woman has eaten
a heavy supper, and she sleeps not so well as usual; she wakes up in
the middle of the night. In the kitchen a mouse creeps on to the
dresser, after some crumbs of bread and cheese which are in a plate.
The ever-watchful cat--I love cats, especially good mousers--jumps
upon the dresser, with the intention of making a meal of the mouse. On
the dresser, then, at this precise moment, are the plate containing
the crumbs of bread and cheese, the mouse, and the cat. There are
other things there, of course, but there is only one other thing
connected with the story, and that is a jug half-full of water. The
cat, jumping after the mouse, overturns this jug, and the water flows
till it reaches the edge of the dresser, whence it drips, drips,
drips, upon the floor. This is the tick, tick, tick which the woman
up-stairs hears--the death-tick of her mother-in-law! Her mother-in-law
is eighty-seven years of age, and has been ill for months; her death
is daily expected. She dies on this night, and the story is complete.
A dying old woman, eighty-seven years of age, her daughter-in-law who
has eaten too much supper, a plate of crumbs, a jug with water in it,
a cat, and a mouse. Of these simple materials is a message from the
unseen world created, which enthrals the entire neighbourhood. Analyse
the miracles handed down from ancient times, some of which are woven
into the religious beliefs of the people, and you will find that they
are composed of parts as common and vulgar."

I made no attempt to interrupt Devlin in his narration of this
commonplace story. He had, when he chose to exercise it, a singularly
fascinating manner, and his voice was melodious, and when he paused I
felt as if I had been listening to an attractive romance. While he
spoke, his fingers were playing with a penholder and a pencil which
were on the table; the penholder was long, the pencil was short, and I
observed that he had placed one upon the other in the form of a cross.

"I am dull, perhaps," I said, "but I do not see how your story proves
me to be illogical and inconsistent."

"I related it," replied Devlin, looking at the cross, "simply to show
how willing people are to believe in the supernatural. My worthy
landlady believes that I am a supernatural being; her husband believes
it; _you_ are inclined to lend a ready ear to it. And yet you tell me
that you will be satisfied with a sacred and holy pledge from me,
knowing, if you are at all correct in your estimate of me, that such a
pledge is of as much weight and value as a soap bubble. How easy for
me to give you this pledge! And all the while I may be a direct
accessory in the tragedy you have resolved to unriddle."

"I thank you for reminding me," I said. "You shall swear to me that
you have had no hand in this most horrible and dastardly murder."

"More inconsistency, more lack of logical perception," he said, and
the magnetism in his eyes compelled me to fix my gaze upon the cross
on the table. "You ask me to swear, and you will be content with my
oath. I render you my obligations for your faith in my veracity. How
shall I swear? How shall I deliver myself of the sacred and holy
pledge? There are so many forms, so many symbols, of pledging one's
mortal heart and immortal soul. The civilised Jew, when he is married
to his beloved under the canopy, grinds a wine glass to dust with the
heel of his boot, and the guests and relatives, especially the
relatives of the bride, lift up their voices in joyful praise, with
the conscious self-delusion that this sacred rite insures the
faithfulness of the bridegroom to the woman he has wedded. Some burn
wax candles--very bad wax often--for the release of souls from
purgatory. The Chinaman, called upon for his oath, blows out a candle,
twists the neck of a terrified cock, or smashes a saucer. The
Christian kisses the New Testament; the Jew kisses the Old. The
Christian swears with his hat off; the Jew with his hat on. I could
multiply anomalies, all opposed to each other. Which kind of
obligation would you prefer from me? A cock or a hen? Produce the
sacred symbol, and I am ready. Shall my head be covered or uncovered?
As you please. Ah, how strange! With this pencil and penholder my
fingers have insensibly formed a cross. Shall I swear upon that, and
will it content you? Take your choice, my dear sir, take your choice.
Call me Jew, Christian, Pagan, Chinaman--which you please. I am
willing to oblige you. Or shall we be sensible. Will you take my
simple word for it?"

"I will," I said; "but I must have a hostage."

"Anything, anything, my dear sir. Give it a name."

"Your desk," I said, "which not unlikely contains private writings and
confessions."

"It does," he replied, tapping on the desk with his knuckles. "You
little dream of the treasures, the strange secrets, herein contained.
You would have this as a hostage?"

"I would."

"It shall be yours, on the understanding that if I claim it from you
within three months after the mystery of the murder of Lizzie Melladew
is cleared up, you will deliver it to me again intact, with its
contents unread."

"I promise faithfully," I said.

"I must trouble you," he said; and he suddenly placed his hand upon my
forehead, and stood over me. "Yes," he said, resuming his seat, "the
promise is faithfully made. You will keep it."

He locked the desk, and pushed it across the table to me, putting the
key in his pocket.

"And now, your word of truth and honour," I said.

"Give me your hand. On my truth and honour I pledge myself to you.
Moreover, if it will ease your mind of an absurd suspicion, I declare,
on my truth and honour, that I have had nothing whatever to do with
this murder."

His words carried conviction with them.

"But you will assist me in my search?" I said.

"To the extent of my power. Understand, however, that I do not
undertake that your search shall be successful. It does not depend
upon me; accident will probably play its part in the matter. There is
a clause, moreover, in our agreement to which I require your adhesion.
It is, that during your search you will do nothing to fasten publicity
upon me, and that, in the event of your succeeding, I shall not be
dragged into the case."

"Unless you are required as a witness," I said.

"I shall not be required. I have no evidence to offer which a court of
law would accept."

"Who is to be the judge of that?"

"You yourself."

"I agree. You must not regard me as a spy upon your movements when I
tell you I shall sleep in this house to-night."

"Not at all. That you are a man of mettle--a man who can form a
resolution and carry it out, never mind at what inconvenience to
yourself--makes your company agreeable to me. I like you; I accept you
as my comrade, for a brief space, in lieu of that miserable groveller
Lemon, who has no more strength of nerve than a jelly-fish. Sleep in
the house, and welcome. Sleep in this room."

"Where?" I asked, looking around for the accommodation.

"A shake-down on the floor. Our mutual good friend Mrs. Lemon shall
bring up a mattress, a pillow, a sheet, and a pair of blankets, and
you shall lie snug and warm. I do not offer you my own bed, for I know
that, having the instincts of a gentleman, you would not accept it,
but I offer you the hospitality of my poor apartment. We will sup
together, we will sleep together, in the morning we will breakfast
together, and we will go out to business together, you taking the
position of poor Lemon, whom, from this moment, I cast off for ever.
What say you?"

I debated with myself. It was important that I should not lose sight
of Devlin; left to my own resources, I should not know how to proceed;
I depended entirely upon him to supply me with a clue. But what could
be his reason for proposing that we should go out to business
together? Of what use could I be in a barber's shop, and how would my
presence there assist me? As, however, he appeared to be dealing
frankly and honestly, my best course perhaps would be to do the same.
Therefore I put the questions which perplexed me in plain language.

"My dear sir," he replied, "in my place of business, and in no other
place, shall we be able to find a starting-point. Do not entail upon
me the necessity of saying 'upon my truth and honour' to everything I
advance. Have confidence in me, and you will be a thousand pounds the
richer, probably two, if the gentleman who made you the offer keeps
his word."

I hesitated no longer. I would act frankly and boldly, and for the
next twenty-four hours at least would be guided by him.

"I accept your hospitality," I said, "and will do as you wish."

"Good," he said, rubbing his hands; "we may regard the campaign as
opened. Woe to the murderer! Justice shall overtake him; he shall
hang!" He uttered these words in a tone of malignant satisfaction, and
as though the prospect of any man being hanged was thoroughly
agreeable to him. "I will prove to you," he continued, "how completely
you can trust me. You came here to-day with the intention of returning
home and sleeping there. Your absence will alarm your wife. You must
write to her."

He placed notepaper and envelopes before me, and took from the
mantelshelf a penny stone bottle of ink, then pointed to the pen which
formed part of the cross upon the table.

I wrote a line to my wife, informing her that events of great
importance had occurred in relation to the murder of Lizzie Melladew,
and that, for the purpose of following up the threads of a possible
discovery, I intended to sleep out to-night; I desired her in my
letter to go and see Mr. Portland and tell him that I was engaged in
the task he had intrusted to me, and believed I should soon be in
possession of a clue. "Have no anxiety for me," I said; "I am quite
safe, and no harm will befall me. The prospect of unravelling this
dreadful mystery fills me with joy." She would know what I meant by
this; the murderer discovered, we should be comparatively rich. I
fastened and addressed my letter.

"It should reach her hands to-night," said Devlin. "How will you send
it?"

I stepped to the window, and, looking out, distinguished the figures
of George Carton and Mr. Kenneth Dowsett, Mr. Dowsett seemed to be
endeavouring, unavailingly, to persuade his ward to come away with
him. I could employ no better messenger than George Carton; he should
take my letter to my wife. Returning to the centre of the room, my
eyes fell upon Devlin's desk. Devlin smiled and nodded; he knew what
was passing in my mind.

"I shall send my letter," I said, "by the hands of George Carton, who
is still in the square, and I shall send your desk with it."

"Do so," said Devlin.

I opened the envelope, and tearing it into very small pieces flung
them out of window. Devlin smiled again.

"So that I should not discover your address," he said.

"That is it," I replied.

"It is likely," he said, "to be not very far from Mr. Melladew,
because you and he are friends."

I added a few words to my letter, desiring my wife to put the desk in
a place of safety; and then, addressing another envelope, I went
down-stairs, bearing both desk and letter.

"I shall be here when you come back," said Devlin. "Even were I
protean, I shall not change my shape. My word is given."

On my way to the street-door I encountered Fanny Lemon.

"Well, sir?" she asked anxiously.

"I will speak to you presently," I said, and, opening the street-door,
crossed the road to where George Carton and his guardian were
standing.



CHAPTER XXII.

I SEND DEVLIN'S DESK TO MY WIFE, AND SMOKE A FRAGRANT CIGAR.


"This foolish, headstrong lad will be the death of me," said Mr.
Dowsett in a fretful tone, "and of himself as well."

"I am neither foolish nor headstrong," retorted the unhappy young man.
"I told you he was in there still, and you told me he had left the
house."

"I said it for your good," said Mr. Dowsett, "but you will not be
ruled."

"No, I will not!" exclaimed George Carton violently; and then said
remorsefully, "I beg you to forgive me for speaking so wildly; it is
the height of ingratitude after all your goodness to me. But do you
not see--for God's sake, do you not see--that you are making things
worse instead of better for me by opposing me as you are doing? I will
have my way! I will, whether I am right or wrong!"

"My poor boy," said Mr. Dowsett, addressing me, "has got it into his
foolish head that you can be of some assistance to him. In heaven's
name, how can you be?"

"Mr. Dowsett," I said, and the strange experiences of the last few
hours imported, I felt, a solemnity into my voice, "the ends of
justice are sometimes reached by roads we cannot see. It may be so in
this sad instance."

"There," said George Carton to his guardian, in a tone of melancholy
triumph, "did I not tell you?"

Mr. Dowsett shrugged his shoulders impatiently, and said, "I declare
that if I did not love my ward with a love as sincere and perfect as
any human being ever felt for another, I would wash my hands of this
business altogether."

"But why," said Carton, with much affection, "do you torment yourself
about it at all?"

"It is you I torment myself about," said Mr. Dowsett, "not the
horrible deed. I love you with a father's love, and I cannot leave you
in the state you are."

George Carton put his arm around his guardian caressingly. "I am not
worth it," he murmured; "I am not worth it; but I cannot act otherwise
than I do. Sir"--to me--"I have lingered here in the hope that you
might have some news to tell me."

"I have nothing I can communicate to you," I said; "but rest assured
that my interest in the discovery of the murderer is scarcely less
than yours. I have taken up the search, and I will not rest while
there is the shadow of a hope left."

"I knew it, I knew it," said George Carton.

"Knowing it, then," I said, "and receiving the assurance from my lips,
will you do me a service, and be guided by my advice?"

"I will, indeed I will," replied Carton.

"It is heartbreaking," said Mr. Dowsett mournfully, turning his head,
"to find a stranger's counsel preferred to mine."

"No, no," cried George Carton, "I declare to you, no! But you would
have me do nothing, and I cannot obey you. I cannot--I cannot sit idly
down, and make no effort in the cause of justice. My dear Lizzie
is dead, and I do not care to live. But I will live for one
thing--revenge!"

"Be calm," I said, taking the young man's fevered hand, "and listen to
me. I wish you to take this letter and desk to my wife, and deliver
them to her with your own hands. Will you do so?"

"Yes."

"You must not part with them under any pretext or persuasion until you
place them in my wife's possession."

"No one shall touch them till she receives them."

"You must go at once, for she is anxious about me. I intend to sleep
here to-night. And when you have done what I ask you, I beg you to go
home with your guardian, and have a good night's rest."

He looked discontented at this, but Mr. Dowsett said, "Be persuaded,
George, be persuaded!"

"Believe me," I said, speaking very earnestly, "that it will be for
the best."

"Very well, sir. I will do as you desire. But"--turning to Mr.
Dowsett--"no opiates. If sleep comes to me, it shall come naturally."

"I promise you, George," said Mr. Dowsett; "and now let us go. Thank
you, sir, thank you a thousand times, for having prevailed upon my
ward to do what is right. Come, George, come."

He was so anxious to get the young man away that he advanced a few
steps quickly; thus for two or three moments Carton and I were alone.

"Shall I see you to-morrow, sir," asked Carton.

"In all probability," I replied; "but do not seek me here. I have your
address, and will either call upon or write to you."

"Then I am to remain home all day?"

"Yes. By following my instructions you will be rendering me practical
assistance."

"Very well, sir. I put all my trust in you."

"Are you coming, George?" cried Mr. Dowsett, looking back.

"Yes, I am ready," said the young man, joining his guardian; and
presently they were both out of sight.

I reëntered the house. Fanny Lemon was still in the passage.

"Fanny," I said, "I cannot keep long with you, as I have business
up-stairs with Mr. Devlin; but I wish to impress upon you not to speak
to a single soul of what has passed between us to-day. Say nothing to
anybody about Mr. Lemon being ill, and, above all, do not call in a
doctor. Doctors are apt to be inquisitive, and it is of the highest
importance that curiosity shall not be aroused in the minds of the
neighbours. There is nothing radically wrong with Lemon; he has
received a fright, and his nerves are shaken, that is all. Tell him
that I have taken his place with Devlin, and that the partnership is
at an end. That will relieve his mind. Keep him quiet, and give him
nothing to drink but milk or barley water. Lower his system, Fanny,
lower his system."

"Don't you think it low enough already, sir?" asked Fanny.

"I do not; he is in a state of dangerous excitement, and everything
must be done to soothe and quiet him. But I have no more time to
waste. You will do as I have told you?"

"Yes, sir, I'll be careful to. But are you sure he don't want a
doctor? Are you sure he won't die?"

"Quite sure; and you can tell him, if you like, that _I_ say it is all
right."

"_Is_ it all right, sir?"

"If it isn't, I'm going to try to make it so. I shall sleep here
to-night, Fanny."

"And welcome, sir. We haven't a spare bedroom, but I can make you up a
bed on the sofa in the parlour."

"I shall not need it. I am going to sleep in Devlin's room, on the
floor."

She caught my arm with a cry of alarm. "Has he got hold of you, too,
sir? The Lord save us! He's got the lot of us in his claws!"

"Don't be absurd," I said. "I know what I'm about, and Mr. Devlin will
find me a match for him. No more questions; do as you are bid. If you
have a mattress and some bedclothes to spare, bring them up at once."

"I won't look at him, sir--I won't speak to him! O, how shall I ever
forgive myself--how shall I ever forgive myself?"

She threw her apron (which during my absence she had put on over her
faded black silk dress) over her head, and swayed to and fro in the
passage, moaning and groaning in great distress of mind.

I pulled the apron from her face, and gave her a good shaking by way
of corrective. She ceased her moans.

"I have no patience with you, Fanny," I exclaimed. "In heaven's name,
what do you want to be forgiven for?"

"For dragging you into this horrible business, sir," she said, with a
tendency to relapse, which I immediately checked by another shaking.
"That--that devil up-stairs----"

This time I shook her so soundly that she could not get out another
word for the chattering of her teeth.

"No more, Fanny," I said roughly, "or you will make me angry. I know
what I am about, and if you don't stop instantly and do exactly as I
bid you, I'll leave you and your Lemon to your fate. Do you hear?"

The threat terrified her into calmness.

"I'll bring up the bed-things, sir," she said, with bated breath.

"And lose no time," I said, as I mounted the stairs.

"I won't, sir."

Devlin was smoking when I joined him, and not smoking a pipe, but a
cigar with a most delicious fragrance.

"Take one," he said, pushing a cigar-case over to me; "you will find
them good. I manufactured them while you were away."

I bore good-humouredly with his banter, and I took a cigar from the
case, but did not immediately light it.

"Sent your letter?" he inquired curtly.

"Yes."

"And my desk?"

"Yes."

"By Lizzie Melladew's sweetheart?"

"Yes."

"Not by the other?"

"No."

"Do they live together?"

"Yes."

"Do you know where?"

"Yes."

"Capital!" he said, with the air of a man who had been asking
important instead of trivial questions. "There is a knock at the
door--a frightened, feminine knock. Enter, my dear Mrs. Lemon, enter."

Fanny Lemon came in, smothered with a mattress, sheets, blankets, and
pillows, and, without uttering a word, proceeded to make the bed on
the floor.

"You have brought plenty of pillows, Fanny," I remarked.

"I thought you'd like to lay high, sir," she whispered.

Devlin broke out into a loud laugh. "Most people do," he said, "while
they live. When they die they all lie low-all of them, all of them!"

For a moment I thought that Fanny was going to run away, but a look
from me restrained her, and she finished making the bed.

"Do you wish anything else, sir?" she asked, still in a whisper, and
keeping her back to Devlin.

"Yes, my charming landlady, yes," replied Devlin, "A large pot of your
exquisite tea. Fly!"

"Make it, Fanny, and bring it up," I said.

She flew, and returned with the steaming pot. Surely never was tea so
quickly prepared before. The pot, milk, sugar, and two cups and
saucers were on a tray, which, without raising her eyes, she placed
before me.

"Here, here," cried Devlin, tapping the table. "Before _me_, my dear
creature! _I_ am the host on this occasion."

She slid the tray over to him, and he made a motion as if he were
about to place his hand on her.

"If you lay a finger on me," she exclaimed, beating a hasty retreat
from the table, "I'll scream the house down!"

"Leave the room," I said sternly; "and call us at seven in the
morning."

"We shall be here, my dear creature," added Devlin. "You will find
both of us safe and sound, ready to do justice to your excellent
cooking. I have a premonition of a fine appetite for breakfast; cook
me an extra rasher."

I saw in Fanny's eyes a desire to say a word to me alone. Devlin saw
it too.

"Humour her," he said, and quoted a line from a comedy. "What is the
use of a friend if you can't make a stranger of him?"

I followed Fanny into the passage.

"You've quite made up your mind, sir?"

"Quite, Fanny."

"Take this, sir," she said, pushing a hard substance into my hands.
"If anything happens in the night, spring it."

It was a policeman's rattle.

"I don't know where Lemon got it from," she said, "but we've had it in
the house for years."

"Pshaw, Fanny!" I said, forcing the rattle back into her hands. "You
are too ridiculous!"

Yet when I was once again face to face with Devlin, with the door
locked, I could not help thinking that I was acting a perilous part in
putting myself, as it were, into his power. He might kill me while I
slept. I determined to keep awake, and to lie down in my clothes.

"Have some tea?" he asked.

"Thank you," I replied. The tea would assist me in my resolve not to
sleep.

The teapot being emptied, I lit the cigar Devlin had given me.

"I owe you an explanation," he said, puffing the smoke from his cigar
into a series of circles. "I take it as a fact that Lemon is suffering
from some kind of prophetic vision in connection with the murder of
Lizzie Melladew in Victoria Park on Friday night."

"It is so," I said.

"Part of my explanation lies in the admission that he received that
forewarning from me."

"Then you knew it was done," I cried.

"I did not know it. It passed through the mind of a customer whose
hair I was dressing. I do not call that knowing a thing. I am
something of a thought-reader, my dear sir, and I possess a certain
power, under suitable conditions, of conveying my impressions to
another person. That is the extent of my explanation. Excuse me for
making it so brief."

Never in my life had I smoked a cigar with a fragrance so exquisite.
Not only exquisite, but overpowering. It beguiled my senses, and had
such an effect upon me that the last twenty or thirty words uttered by
Devlin seemed to be spoken at a great distance from me. This sense of
distance affected not only his voice, but himself and all surrounding
things. He and they seemed to recede into space, as it were, not
bounded by the walls of the small apartment in which we were sitting.
I had a dim desire to continue the conversation, and to press Devlin
to be more explicit, but it died away. Everything floated in a mist
around me, and in this state I fell asleep.



CHAPTER XXIII.

I PASS A MORNING IN DEVLIN'S PLACE OF BUSINESS.


Devlin was up and dressed when I awoke in the morning. I had not to go
through the trouble of putting on my clothes, as I had not taken them
off on the previous night. It would not have surprised me to find that
I had unconsciously sought repose in the usual way, or that I had
risen in my sleep to undress; nothing, indeed, would very much have
surprised me, so strange had been my dreaming fancies. Naturally they
all turned upon Devlin and the case upon which I was engaged. I could
easily write a chapter upon them, but I will content myself with
briefly describing one of the strangest of them all.

I was sitting in a chair, opposite a mirror, in which I saw everything
that was passing in the room. Devlin was standing over me, dressing my
hair. Suddenly I saw a sharp surgical instrument in his hand.

"That is not a razor," I said, "and I don't want to be shaved."

"My dear sir," remarked Devlin, with excessive politeness, "what you
want or what you don't want matters little."

With that he made a straight cut across the top of my head, and laid
bare my brains. I saw them and every little cell in them quite
distinctly.

"To think," he observed, as he peered into the cavities, "that in this
small compass should abide the passions, the emotions, the meannesses,
the noble aspirations, the sordid desires, the selfish instincts and
the power to resist them, the sense of duty, the conscious deceits,
the lust for power, the grovelling worship, the filthy qualities of
animalism, the secret promptings, and all the motley mental and moral
attributes which make a man! To think that from this small compass
have sprung all that constitutes man's history--religion, ethics, the
rise and fall of nations, music, poetry, law, and science! How grand,
how noble does this man, who represents humankind, think himself! What
works he has executed, what marvels discovered! But if the truth were
known, he is a mere dabbler, who, out of his conceit, magnifies the
smallest of molehills into the largest of mountains. He can build a
bridge, but he cannot make a flower that shall bloom to-day and die
to-morrow. He can destroy, but he cannot create. In the open page of
Nature he makes the most trivial of discoveries, and he straightway
writes himself up in letters of gold and builds monuments in his
honour. The stars mock him; the mountains of snow look loftily down
upon the pigmy; the gossamer fly which his eyes can scarcely see
triumphs over his highest efforts. But he has invented for himself a
supreme shelter for defeat and decay. Dear me, dear me--I cannot find
it!"

"What are you looking for?" I asked. "Be kind enough to leave my
brains alone." For he was industriously probing them with some
sensitive instrument.

"I am looking for your grand invention, your soul. I am wondrously
wise, but I have never yet been able to discover its precise
locality."

After some further search he shut up my head, so to speak, and my
fancies took another direction.

All these vagaries seemed to be tumbling over each other in my brain
as I rose from my bed on the floor.

"Had a good night?" asked Devlin.

"If being asleep," I replied, "means having a good night, I have had
it. But my head is in a whirl, nevertheless."

"Keep it cool if you can," said Devlin, "for what you have to go
through. You will find water and soap inside."

He pointed to the little closet adjoining his room, and there I found
all that was necessary for my toilet. I had just finished when Fanny
knocked at the door.

"It's all right, Fanny," I cried. "You can get breakfast ready."

"And don't forget," added Devlin, "the extra rasher for me. How is
dear Lemon?"

That she did not reply and was heard beating a hasty retreat caused a
broad grin to spread over Devlin's face.

"I have provided," he said, "for that worthy creature something of an
entertaining, not to say enthralling, nature, which she can dilate
upon to the last hour of her life. And yet she is not grateful."

We went down to breakfast, and there I was afforded an opportunity of
verifying the subtle likeness in Devlin's face to the portrait of
Lemon on the wall, the evil-looking bird in its glass case, and the
stone figure, half monster, half man, on the mantelshelf.

"There is a likeness," said Devlin pleasantly, "between my works and
me, and if you will attribute me with anything human, you can
attribute it to a common human failing. It springs from the vanity and
the weakness of man that he can evolve only that which is within
himself. Nowhere is that vanity and weakness more conspicuous than in
Genesis, in the very first chapter, my dear sir, where man himself has
had the audacity to write that 'God created man in His own image.' My
dear Mrs. Lemon, you have excelled yourself this morning. This rasher
is perfect, and your cooking of these eggs to the infinitesimal part
of a second is a marvel of art."

Fanny did not open her lips to him, and the meal passed on in silence
so far as she was concerned. I made a good breakfast, and Devlin
expressed approval of my appetite.

"It will strengthen you," he said, "for what is before you."

Fanny looked up in alarm, and Devlin laughed. I may mention that the
first thing I did when I came down-stairs was to run to the nearest
newspaper shop and purchase copies of the morning papers.

"Is there anything new concerning the murder?" asked Devlin.

Fanny waited breathlessly for my reply.

"Nothing," I said.

"Have any arrests been made?"

"None."

"Of course," observed Devlin sarcastically, "the police are on the
track of the murderer."

"There is something to that effect in the papers."

"Fudge!" said Devlin.

Breakfast over, Devlin said he would go up to his room for a few
minutes, and bade me be ready when he came down. Alone with Fanny, she
asked me whether I would like to see Lemon, adding that it would do
him "a power of good."

"Is he any better?" I asked.

"I really think he is," she replied. "What I told him last night about
your taking up the case was a comfort to him--though he ain't easy in
his mind about you. He is afraid that Devlin will get hold of you as
he did of him."

"He will not, Fanny. We shall get along famously together."

She shook her head. I failed to convince her, as I failed to convince
Mr. Lemon, that I should prove a match for their lodger. Lemon
presented a ludicrous picture, sitting up in bed with an old-fashioned
nightcap on.

"Don't go with him, sir," he whispered, "to the Twisted Cow."

"I shall go with him," I said, "wherever he proposes to take me."

I could not help smiling at Lemon's expression of melancholy as I made
this statement. He dared not give utterance to his fears of what my
ultimate destination would be if I continued to keep company with
Devlin. When that strange personage came down I was ready for him, and
we went out together, Fanny looking after us from the street-door,
shaking, I well knew, in her inward soul.

Devlin made himself exceedingly pleasant, and the comments he passed
on the people we met excited my admiration and increased my wonder. He
seemed to be able to read their characters in their faces, and
although I would have liked to combat his views I did not venture to
oppose my judgment to his. What struck me particularly was that he saw
the evil in men, not the good. Not once did he give man or woman
credit for the possession of good qualities. All was mean, sordid,
grasping, and selfish. He told me that we should have to walk four
miles to his place of business.

"I enjoy walking," he said, "and the only riding I care for is on the
top of an omnibus through squalid streets. You get peeps into garrets
and one-room habitations. Gifted with the power of observation, you
can see rare pictures there."

On our road I stopped at a post-office, and sent a telegram of three
words to my wife: "All is well."

Our course lay in the direction of Westminster. We crossed the bridge,
and turned down a narrow street. Chapel Street. Half-way down the
street Devlin paused, and said,

"Behold our establishment."

It was a poor and common house, and had it not been for a barber's
pole sticking out from the doorway, and a fly-blown cardboard in the
parlour window, on which was written, "Barber and Hairdresser. All
styles. Lowest charges," I should not have supposed that a trade was
carried on therein. As we entered the passage a woman came forward and
handed Devlin a key. He thanked her, unlocked the parlour door, and we
went in.

The fittings in this room, which I saw at a glance was the shop in
which the shaving and hair-dressing were done, were entirely out of
keeping with the poor tenement in which it was situated. The walls
were lined with fine mirrors; there were three luxurious barber's
chairs; the washstands were of marble; and the appliances for
shampooing perfect.

"You would hardly expect it," observed Devlin.

"I would not," I replied.

"It is my idea," he said. "It rivals the West End establishments, and
for skill I would challenge the world, if I were desirous of courting
publicity. Then, the charges. One-sixth those of Truefit. I shave for
a penny, cut for another penny, shampoo for another. But only those
can be attended to who hold my tickets. I was compelled to adopt this
plan, otherwise I should have been overwhelmed with customers. It
enables me to choose them. When I see a likely man, one who is ripe,
and in whom I discern possibilities which commend themselves to me, I
say, 'Oblige me, sir, by accepting this ticket of admission;' and
having given him a taste of my skill, he comes again. I have quite a
connection." He accompanied these last words with a strange smile.

"What part do you propose to assign to me in the business?" I asked.

"A part to which you will not object, that of looker-on. Not from this
room, but that"--pointing to the back room. "The panels of the door,
you will observe, are of ground glass. Sitting within there, you can
see all that passes in this room without being yourself seen. If you
will keep quiet, no one will suspect that you are in hiding."

"For the life of me," I said, "I cannot guess what good my sitting in
there will do."

"I do not suppose you can; but learn from me that I do nothing without
a motive. I do not care to be questioned too closely. The promise I
have made to you will be kept if you do not thwart it. You may see
something that will surprise you. I say 'may,' because I have not the
power to entirely rule men's movements. But I think it almost certain
he will pay me a visit this morning."

"He?" I cried. "Who?"

"The man whose thoughts I read on Friday with respect to the girl who
was murdered on that night."

I started. If Devlin spoke the truth, and if the man came to his shop
this morning, I should be in possession of a practical clue which
would lead me to the goal I wished to reach.

"He comes regularly," continued Devlin, "on Mondays, Wednesdays, and
Fridays. This is his day."

"Do you know his name?" I inquired, in great excitement.

"I did not," replied Devlin, "the last time I saw him. How should I
know it now?"

"Nor where he lives?"

"Nor where he lives."

"I must obey you, I suppose," I said.

"It will be advisable, and you must obey me implicitly. Deviate by a
hair's breadth from what I require of you, and I withdraw my promise,
which now exists in full integrity. Decide."

"I have decided. I will remain in that room."

"There is another point upon which I must insist positively. From that
room you do not stir until I bid you; in that room you do not speak
unless you receive a cue from me. Agreed?"

"Agreed."

"On your honour?"

"On my honour."

"Good. Now you can retire. You will find books in there to amuse you
if you get wearied with your watch."

He opened the door for me, and closed it upon me. He had spoken
correctly. Through the ground glass I could see everything in the
shop, and I took his word for it that I could not myself be seen.

Scarcely had a minute passed before a customer entered. Devlin, who,
while he was arguing with me, had taken off his coat, and put on a
linen jacket of spotless white, behaved most decorously. His manner
was deferential without being subservient, respectful without being
familiar. The man was shaved by Devlin, and then his head was brushed
by machinery, which I had forgotten to mention was fixed in the shop.
There was a caressing motion about Devlin's shapely hands which could
not but be agreeable to those who sought his tonsorial aid, and his
conversation, judging from the expression on his customer's face, must
have been amusing and entertaining. The customer took his departure,
and another, appearing as he went out, was duly attended to. This went
on until eleven o'clock by my watch, and nothing had occurred of
especial interest to me. Devlin was kept pretty busy; but, although
his time was fully employed, the business at such prices could not
have been remunerative, especially when it was considered that the
fitting up of the shop must have cost a pretty sum of money, and that
the profits of the concern had to be divided between two persons, Mr.
Lemon and himself. It was not till past eleven that my attention was
more than ordinarily attracted by Devlin's behaviour, the difference
in which perhaps no one except myself would have particularly noticed.
A man of the middle class entered and took his seat. He wore a beard
and moustache; and although I could not hear what he said, he spoke in
so low a tone, I judged correctly that he instructed Devlin to shave
his face bare. Devlin proceeded to obey him, and clipped and cut, and
finally applied his razor until not a vestige of hair was left on the
man's face. That being done, Devlin cut this customer's hair close,
and then used his brushes; and as his hands moved about the man's head
there was, if I may so describe it, a feline, insinuating expression
in them which aroused my curiosity. I thought of the singular dream I
have described, and it appeared to me that all the while Devlin was
employed over his customer the brains of the man sitting so quietly in
the chair were figuratively exposed to his view, and that he was
reading the thoughts which stirred therein. When the man was gone
there was a peculiar smile upon Devlin's face, and I observed that he
laughed quietly to himself. There happened to be no one in the shop to
claim Devlin's attention, and I, who was impatiently waiting for some
sign from Devlin pertinent to the secret purpose to which both he and
I were pledged, expected it to be given now; for the circumstance of
the man having been shaved bare--which so altered his appearance that
I should not otherwise have known that the person who entered the shop
was the same person who left it--was to me so suspicious that in my
anxiety and agitation I connected it with the murder of poor Lizzie
Melladew, arguing that the man had effected this disguise in himself
for the purpose of escaping detection. But Devlin made no sign, and
did not even look towards the glass-door. Other customers coming in,
Devlin was busy again. Twelve o'clock--half-past twelve--one
o'clock-and still no indication of anything in connection with my
task. With a feeling of intense disappointment, and beginning to doubt
whether I had not allowed myself to be duped, I replaced my watch in
my pocket, and had scarcely done so before my heart was beating
violently at the appearance of a gentleman whom I little expected to
see in Devlin's shop. This gentleman was no other than Mr. Kenneth
Dowsett, George Carton's guardian.



CHAPTER XXIV.

MR. KENNETH DOWSETT GIVES ME THE SLIP.


The beating of my heart became normal; I suppose it was the sudden
appearance of a gentleman with whose face I was familiar, after many
hours of suspense, that had caused its pulsations to become so rapid
and violent. There was nothing surprising, after all, in the presence
of Mr. Dowsett in Devlin's shop. His address was in Westminster,
Devlin was an exceptionally fine workman, the accommodation was
luxurious, the charges low. Even I, in my position in life, would be
tempted to deal occasionally with so expert and perfect a barber as
Devlin, at the prices he charged. Then, why not Mr. Kenneth Dowsett?
Besides, he might be of a frugal turn.

Devlin was not long engaged over him. Mr. Dowsett was shaved; Mr.
Dowsett had his hair brushed by machinery; Mr. Dowsett, moreover, was
very particular as to the arrangement of his hair; and Devlin, I saw,
did his best to please him. But so deft and facile was Devlin that he
did not dally with Mr. Dowsett for longer than five or six minutes.
Mr. Dowsett rose, paid Devlin, exchanged a few smiling words with him,
and taking a final look at himself in the mirrors, turning himself
this way and that, walked out of the shop. Evidently Mr. Dowsett was a
very vain man.

No sooner was he gone than Devlin locked the shop-door from within,
whipped off his linen jacket, and opened the door of the room in which
I was sitting. I came forward in no amiable mood.

"You are wearied with your long enforced rest," said Devlin.

"I am wearied and disgusted," I retorted. "I expected a clue."

"Have you not received it?" asked Devlin, smiling.

"Received it!" I echoed. "How? Where?"

"You have seen my customers, and all that has passed between me and
them."

"Well?"

"Well?" he said, mocking me. "Is there not one among them upon whom
your suspicions are fixed? Is there not one among them who could, if
he chose, supply us with a starting-point? I say 'us,' because we are
comrades."

"Fool, fool, that I was!" I exclaimed, involuntarily raising my hand
to my forehead. "Why did I allow him to escape?"

"Why did you let whom escape you?" asked Devlin, in a bantering tone.

"The man whose beard and moustache you shaved off. He must have a
reason, a vital reason, for effecting this disguise in himself. And I
have let him slip through my fingers!"

"He has a vital reason for so disguising himself," said Devlin, "but
it has no connection with the murder of Lizzie Melladew."

"Then what do you mean?" I cried, "by asking me whether I have not
received a clue?"

"Was your attention attracted to no other of my customers than this
man?"

"There was only one who was known to me--Mr. Kenneth Dowsett."

"Ah!" said Devlin. "Mr. Kenneth Dowsett."

A light seemed to dawn suddenly upon me, but the suggestion conveyed
in Devlin's significant tone so amazed me that I could not receive it
unquestioningly.

"Do you mean to tell me," I cried, "that you suspect Mr. Dowsett of
complicity in this frightful murder?"

"I mean to tell you nothing of my suspicions," replied Devlin. "It is
for you, not for me, to suspect. It is for you, not for me, to draw
conclusions. What I know positively of Mr. Dowsett--with whose name I
was unacquainted until last evening, when you mentioned it in Lemon's
house--I will tell you, if you wish."

"Tell me, then."

"It is short but pregnant. Through Mr. Kenneth Dowsett's mind, as I
shaved him and dressed his hair on Friday last, passed the picture of
a beautiful girl, with golden hair, wearing a bunch of white daisies
in her belt. Through his mind passed a picture of a lake of still
water in Victoria Park. Through his mind passed a vision of blood."

"Are you a devil," I exclaimed, "that you did not step in to prevent
the deed?"

"My dear sir," he said, seizing my arm, which I had involuntarily
raised, and holding it as in a vice, "you are unreasonable. I have
never in my life been in Victoria Park, which, I believe, covers a
large space of ground. Why should I elect to pass an intensely
uncomfortable night, wandering about paths in an unknown place, to
interfere in I know not what? Even were I an interested party, it
would be an act of folly, for such a proceeding would lay me open to
suspicion. A nice task you would allot to me when you tacitly declare
that it should be my mission to prevent the commission of human crime!
Then how was I to gauge the precise value of Mr. Dowsett's thoughts?
He might be a dramatist, inventing a sensational plot for a popular
theatre; he might be an author of exciting fiction. Give over your
absurdities, and school yourself into calmer methods. Unless you do
so, you will have small chance of unravelling this mystery. And
consider, my dear sir," he added, making me a mocking bow, "if I am a
devil, how honoured you should be that I accept you as my comrade!"

The tone in which he spoke was calm and measured; indeed, it had not
escaped my observation that, whether he was inclined to be malignant
or agreeable, insinuating or threatening, he never raised his voice
above a certain pitch. I inwardly acknowledged the wisdom of his
counsel that I should keep my passion in control, and I resolved from
that moment to follow it.

"You locked the shop-door," I said, "when Mr. Dowsett left you just
now."

"I did," was his response, "thinking it would be your wish that I
should do no more business to-day."

"Why should you think that?"

"Because of what was passing through Mr. Dowsett's mind."

"I ask you to pardon me for my display of passion. What was Mr.
Dowsett thinking of?"

"Of two very simple matters," said Devlin; "the time of day and an
address. The time was fifteen minutes past three, the address, 28
Athelstan Road."

"Nothing more?" I inquired, much puzzled.

"Nothing more."

I pondered a moment; I could draw no immediate conclusion from
material so bare. I asked Devlin what he could make of it; he replied,
politely, that it was for me, not for him, to make what I could of it.
A suggestion presented itself.

"At fifteen minutes past three," I said, "Mr. Dowsett has an
appointment with some person at 28 Athelstan Road."

"Possibly," said Devlin.

"Have you a 'London Directory'?"

"I have not; nor, I imagine, will you easily find one in this
neighbourhood."

"A simpler plan," I said, "perhaps will be to go to Mr. Dowsett's
house, to which he has most likely returned, and set watch there for
him, keeping ourselves well out of sight. It is now twenty minutes
past one; we can reach his house in ten minutes. He will hardly leave
it for his appointment till two, or a little past. We will follow him
secretly, and ascertain whom he is going to see, and his purpose. I am
determined now to adopt bold measures. Behind this frightful mystery
there is another, which shall be brought to light. You will accompany
me?"

"I am at your orders," said Devlin.

We left the house together, and in the time I specified were within a
few yards of Mr. Dowsett's residence. Aware of the importance of not
attracting attention, I looked about for a means of escaping
observation. Nearly opposite Mr. Dowsett's dwelling was a
public-house, in the first-floor window of which I saw a placard,
"Billiards. Pool." I concluded that it was the window of a
billiard-room, and without hesitation I entered the public-house,
followed by Devlin, and mounted the stairs. The room, as I supposed,
contained a billiard-table; the marker, a very pale and very thin
youth, was practising the spot stroke.

"Billiards, sir?" he asked, as we entered.

"Yes," I said, "we wish to play a private game. How much an hour?"

"Eighteenpence."

"Here are five shillings," I said, "for a couple of hours. We shall
not want you to mark. Don't let us be disturbed."

The pale thin youth took the money, laid down his cue, and left us to
ourselves. When he was gone I placed a chair at an angle against the
handle of the door, there being no key in the lock, and thus prevented
the entrance of any person without notice. It was the leisure time of
the day, and there was little fear of our being disturbed. The extra
gratuity I had given to the marker would insure privacy. As I took my
station at the window, from which Mr. Dowsett's house was in full
view, Devlin nodded approval of my proceedings.

"You are a man of resource," he said. "I perceive that you intend
henceforth to act sensibly."

Minute after minute passed, and there was no sign of any person
leaving or entering Mr. Dowsett's house. Every now and then I
consulted my watch. Two o'clock--a quarter-past two--half-past. I
began to grow impatient, but, to please Devlin, did not exhibit it.
Perfect silence reigned between us; we exchanged not a word.

Time waned, and now I more frequently looked at my watch, the hands of
which were drawing on to three. They reached the hour and passed it. A
quarter-past three.

Perplexed and disappointed, I debated on my next move. I soon decided
what it should be. I had promised Richard Carton that I would call
upon him. I would do so now. If Mr. Dowsett was at home, all the
better.

I made Devlin acquainted with my resolve, and he said,

"Very good; I will go with you."

Removing the chair I had placed against the handle of the door, we
went from the public-house and crossed the road. I knocked at Mr.
Dowsett's door, and a maidservant answered the summons.

"Does Mr. Kenneth Dowsett live here?"

"Yes, sir."

"Is he at home?"

"No, sir."

"Is Mr. Richard Carton in?"

"Yes, sir."

"Give him my card, and say I wish to see him."

"Will you please walk this way, sir?" said the maidservant.

She ushered us into the dining-room, where she left us alone while she
went to apprise Richard Carton of my visit. The room was exceedingly
well furnished. Good pictures were on the walls, and there was a
tasteful arrangement of bric-a-brac and bronzes. I had no time for
further observation, the entrance of Richard Carton claiming my
attention.

"Ah!" he exclaimed, "you have come. I was beginning to be afraid you
would disappoint me."

"You delivered my letter to my wife?" I asked.

"Yes, and the desk. My guardian wanted to persuade me to leave it till
this morning, but I would not."

"You were quite right."

He looked towards Devlin.

"A friend," I said, waving my hand as a kind of introduction, "who may
be of assistance to us."

"But introduce us plainly," expostulated Devlin.

"Mr. Devlin," I said, "Mr. Richard Carton."

They shook hands, and then Carton inquired whether I had anything to
tell him.

"Nothing tangible," I replied, "but we are on the road."

"Yes," repeated Devlin, "we are on the road."

"Excuse me for asking," said Carton to Devlin, "but are you a
detective?"

"In a spiritual way," said Devlin.

Carton's mind was too deeply occupied with the one supreme subject of
the murder to ask for an explanation of this enigmatical reply. He
turned towards me.

"Is your guardian in?" I inquired.

"No," said Carton.

What should I say next? It would have been folly to make Richard
Carton a participant in the strange revelations which were directing
my proceedings.

"Can you tell me," I asked, "where Athelstan Road is?"

"It is in Margate," he replied, in a tone of surprise, "and the number
is 28."

It was my turn now to exhibit surprise. "No. 28!" I exclaimed. "Who
lives there?"

"I don't know. Mrs. Dowsett and Letitia went to Margate by an early
train on Saturday morning, before I was awake, and my guardian has
gone there to see them. I should have proposed to go with him had it
not been for my determination not to leave London till this dreadful
mystery was cleared up; and then there was the promise you made me
give you last night, that I should remain here all the day till you
came to see me."

"When did your guardian go to Margate?" I asked.

"He has gone from Victoria," replied Carton, glancing at a marble
clock on the mantelshelf, "by the Granville train. It starts at
fifteen minutes past three."

I also glanced at the clock. It was just half-past three, a quarter of
an hour past the time!



CHAPTER XXV.

WE FOLLOW IN PURSUIT.


Carton, noticing my discomposure, inquired if there was anything
wrong. I answered, yes; I was afraid there was something very wrong.

"In connection with the fate of my poor girl?" he asked.

"Yes," I replied, "in connection with her fate."

"Great heavens!" he cried. "You surely do not suspect that my guardian
is mixed up with it?"

"I am of the opinion," I answered guardedly, "that he may be able to
throw some light on it. Mr. Carton, ask me no further questions, or
you may seriously hamper me. Have you a time-table in the house? No?
Then we must obtain one immediately. It is my purpose to follow your
guardian to Margate by the quickest and earliest train. I give you
five minutes to get ready."

Greatly excited, he darted from the room, and in half the time I had
named returned, with a small bag, into which he had thrust a few
articles of clothing. During his absence I said to Devlin,

"You will accompany us?"

"My dear sir," he replied, "I will go with you to the ends of the
earth. I shall greatly enjoy this pursuit; the vigour and spirit you
are putting into it are worthy of the highest admiration."

We three went out together, and at the first book-shop I purchased an
"A B C," and ascertained that the next best train to Margate was the
5.15 from Victoria, which was timed to arrive at 7.31. Calculating
that it would be a few minutes late, we could, no doubt, reach
Athelstan Road at half-past eight. I had time to run home to my wife,
and embrace her and my children; it was necessary, also, that I should
furnish myself with funds, there being very little money in my purse,
and I determined to use the one hundred pounds which Mr. Portland had
left with me. Employed as I was, the use of this money was
justifiable. Hailing a hansom, we jumped into it. Carton sitting on
Devlin's knee, and we soon reached my house. In as few words as
possible I explained to my wife all that was necessary, kissed her and
the children, took possession of the hundred pounds and of a light bag
in which my wife had put a change of clothing, left a private message
for Mr. Portland, and rejoined Devlin and Carton, who were waiting for
me in the hansom. I asked my wife but two questions--the first, how
Mr. and Mrs. Melladew were, the second, whether anything had been
heard of the missing daughter Mary. She told me that the unhappy
parents were completely prostrated by the blow, and that no news
whatever had been heard of Mary.

We arrived at Victoria Station in good time, and, by the aid of a
judicious tip, I secured a first-class compartment, into which the
guard assured me no one should be admitted. I had a distinct reason
for desiring this privacy. There were subjects upon which I wished to
talk with Richard Carton, and I could not carry on the conversation in
the presence of strangers. I said nothing to him of this in the cab,
the noise of the wheels making conversation difficult. We should be
two hours and a half getting to Margate, and on the journey I could
obtain all the information I desired. We started promptly to the
minute, and then I requested Carton to give me his best attention. He
and I sat next to each other, Devlin sitting in the opposite corner.
He threw himself back, and closed his eyes, but I knew that he heard
every word that passed between me and Carton.

"I am going to ask you a series of questions," I said to the young
man, "not one of which shall be asked from idle curiosity. Answer me
as directly to the point as you can. Explain how it is that Mr.
Kenneth Dowsett is your guardian."

"I lost both my parents," replied Carton, "when I was very young. Of
my mother I have no remembrance whatever; of my father, but little. He
and Mr. Dowsett were upon the most intimate terms of friendship; my
father had such confidence in him that when he drew his will he named
Mr. Dowsett as his executor and my guardian. I was to live with him
and his wife, and he was to see to my education. He has faithfully
fulfilled the trust my father reposed in him."

"Did your father leave a large fortune?"

"Roughly speaking, I am worth two thousand pounds a year."

"Mr. Dowsett, having to receive you in his house as a son and to look
after your education, doubtless was in receipt of a fair consideration
for his services?"

"O, yes. Until I was twenty-one years of age he was to draw six
hundred pounds a year out of the funds invested for me. The balance
accumulated for my benefit until I came of age."

"He drew this money regularly?"

"Yes, as he was entitled to do."

"How old are you now?"

"Twenty-four."

"You are living still with Mr. Dowsett, and you still regard him as
your guardian?"

"I have a great affection for him; he has treated me most kindly."

"What do you pay him for your board and lodging?"

"He continues to receive the six hundred a year. It is all he has to
depend on."

"Was this last arrangement of his own proposing, or yours?"

"Of mine. I cannot sufficiently repay him for his care of me."

"In your father's will what was to become of your fortune in the event
of your death?"

"If I died before I came of age, my guardian was to have the six
hundred a year, and the rest was to be given to various charities."

"And after you came of age?"

"It was mine absolutely, to do as I pleased with."

"Have you made a will?"

"Yes."

"Who proposed that?"

"My guardian."

"What are the terms of this will?"

"I have left everything to him. I have no relatives, and no other
claims upon me."

"When I came to see you this afternoon you mentioned a name which was
new to me. You said that your guardian had gone to Margate with his
wife and 'Letitia.' I supposed he was married, and your speaking of
Mrs. Dowsett did not surprise me. But who is Letitia?"

"Their daughter."

"An only child?"

"Yes."

"What is her age?"

"Twenty-two."

"Has she a sweetheart? Is she engaged to be married?"

"No."

"That answer seems to me to be given with constraint."

"Well," said Carton, "it is hardly right, is it, to go so minutely
into my guardian's private family affairs?"

"It is entirely right. I am engaged upon a very solemn task, and I can
see, probably, what is hidden from you. Why were you partly
disinclined to answer my last question?"

"It is a little awkward," replied Carton, "because, perhaps, I am not
quite free from blame."

"Explain your meaning. Believe me, this may be more serious than you
imagine. Speak frankly. I am acting, indeed, as your true friend."

"Yet, after all," said Carton, with hesitation, "I never made love to
her, I give you my honour."

"Made love to whom? Miss Dowsett?"

"Yes. The fact is they looked upon it as a settled thing that I was to
marry Letitia. I did not know it at the time; no, though we were
living in the same house for so many years, I never suspected it. I
always looked upon Letitia as a sister, and I behaved affectionately
towards her. They must have put a wrong construction upon it. When
they discovered that I was in love with my poor Lizzie, Mr. Dowsett
said to me, 'It will break Letitia's heart.' Then I began to
understand, and I assure you I felt remorseful. Letitia did not say
anything to me, but I could see by her looks how deeply she was
wounded. Once my guardian made the remark, 'That if I had not met the
young lady'--meaning Lizzie--'his most joyful hope would have been
realised,' meaning by that that when I saw that Letitia loved me I
might have grown to love her, and we should have been married. I said,
I remember, that it might have been, for he seemed to expect something
like that from me, and I said it to console him. But it was not true;
I could never have loved Letitia except as a sister."

"Did your guardian know the name of the poor girl you have lost?"

"O, yes. He met us first when we were walking together, and I
introduced him. We had almost a quarrel, my guardian and I, some time
afterwards. He said that Miss Melladew was beneath me, and that it
would be better if I married in my own station in life. I was hurt and
angry, and I begged him to retract his words. Beneath me! She was as
far above me as the highest lady in the land could have been. She was
the best, the brightest, the purest girl in the world. And I have lost
her! I have lost her! What hope is there left to me now?"

He covered his face with his hands, and I waited till he was calm
before I spoke again.

"In my hearing," I then said, "you have twice made a remark which
struck me as strange. It was to the effect that you would not allow
your guardian to give you any more opiates."

"He gave me one last Friday night before I went to bed--on the night
my poor Lizzie was killed. I was excited, because I think I told you,
sir, that it was decided between Lizzie and me that I should go to her
father's house on Sunday, to ask permission to pay my addresses openly
to her. Till then I was not to see her again, and that made me
restless. My guardian was anxious about me, though he did not know the
cause of my restlessness and excitement. To please him I took the
opiate, and slept soundly till late in the morning; and when I woke,
sir--when I woke and went out to buy a present for Lizzie, which I
intended to take to Lizzie on Sunday, almost the first thing I
heard----"

He quite broke down here, and a considerable time elapsed before he
was sufficiently recovered to continue the conversation.

"Supposing," I said, "that this dreadful event had not occurred, and
that you and poor Lizzie had been happily married, would you have
continued to give your guardian the income he had enjoyed so long?"

"I do not know--I cannot say. Perhaps not; although I never considered
the question. But on the day that I left his house for the home I
dreamt and hoped would be mine, the home in which Lizzie and I would
have lived happily together. I should have given him something
handsome, and I am sure I should always have been his friend. I ought
not, perhaps, now that we have gone so far, to conceal anything from
you."

"Indeed you ought not. Tell me everything; it may help me."

"I am sure," said the young fellow, with deep feeling, "that he did
not mean it, and that he said it only to comfort me. But it made me
mad. He hinted that my poor Lizzie could not have been true to me,
that she must have had another lover, whom she was in the habit of
meeting late at night. If any other man had dared to say as much I
would have killed him. But my guardian meant no harm, and when he saw
how he had wounded me, he begged my pardon humbly. I am sure, I am
sure he repented that he had breathed a suspicion against my poor
girl!"

"Pardon me," I said, "for asking you a question which, in any other
circumstances, would not cross my lips; but it will be as well for me
to put it to you. You yourself had no appointment with her on that
night?"

"No," cried Carton indignantly, "as Heaven is my judge! I never met
her, I never proposed to meet her, at such an hour!"

"I am certain of it. And yet--receive this calmly, if you can--and yet
she must have gone out late on that night for some purpose or other."

"There is the mystery," said Carton mournfully, "and I have thought
and thought about it without being able to find a key to it. There
must have been a trap set for her--a devilish trap to ensnare her."

"I think so myself. Otherwise it is not likely she would have left her
home, as she must have done, secretly. Now, a word or two about Mrs.
Dowsett and Letitia."

"When you woke up on Saturday morning you found that they had gone to
Margate?"

"Yes."

"Did you know on the day before that they were going?"

"No, nothing was said about it. It was quite sudden."

"Was Mrs. Dowsett or her daughter ill? Did they go into the country
for their health?"

"Not to my knowledge."

"Were they in the habit of going away suddenly?"

"O, no; they had never done so before."

"What explanation did your guardian give?"

"He said that Letitia had been suffering in secret for some time, and
that her mother thought a change would do her good."

"Did he tell you where they had gone to?"

"No, he did not mention the place. I learnt it from one of the
servants."

"So that afterwards he was forced to be frank with you?"

"I don't understand you."

"Reflect. When you rose on Saturday morning you found that Mrs.
Dowsett and her daughter had gone away suddenly. You knew nothing at
that moment of poor Lizzie's death, and therefore had nothing to
trouble you. Did it not strike you as strange that your guardian did
not mention the part of the country they had gone to? Or if, your mind
being greatly occupied with the arranged interview with Mr. and Mrs.
Melladew on the following day, you did not then think it strange that
your guardian said nothing of Margate--do you not think so now?"

"Yes," answered Carton thoughtfully, "I do think so now."

"How did you learn that Mrs. Dowsett was stopping at 28 Athelstan
Road?"

"By accident. My guardian opened a letter this morning, and a piece of
paper dropped from it. I picked it up, and as I gave it to him I saw
28 Athelstan Road written on it. 'Is that where Mrs. Dowsett and
Letitia are stopping?' I asked; and he answered, 'Yes.'"

"So that it was not directly through him that you learnt the address?"

"No; but I don't see that it is of any importance."

It was not my cue to enter into an argument, therefore I did not reply
to this remark. I had gained from Carton information which, lightly as
he regarded it, I deemed of the highest importance. There was,
however, still something more which I desired to speak of, but which I
scarcely knew how to approach. After a little reflection I made a bold
plunge.

"Is your fortune under your own control?"

"Yes."

"Do you keep a large balance at your bank?"

"Pretty fair; but just now it does not amount to much. Still, if you
want any----"

"I do not want any. Am I right in conjecturing that there is a special
reason for your balance being small just now?"

"There _is_ a special reason. On Saturday morning, before I left home,
I drew a large cheque----"

"Which you gave to your guardian."

"How do you know that?" asked Carton, in a tone of surprise.

"It was but a guess. What was the amount of the cheque?"

"Two thousand pounds."

"Payable to 'order' or 'bearer'?"

"To 'bearer.' It was for two investments which Mr. Dowsett
recommended. That was the reason for the cheque being made payable to
'bearer,' to enable my guardian to pay it to two different firms. He
said both the investments would turn out splendidly, but it matters
very little to me now whether they do or not. All the money in the
world will not bring happiness to me now that my poor Lizzie is dead."

"Do you know whether your guardian cashed the cheque?"

"I do not; I haven't asked him anything about it. I could think only
of one thing."

"I can well imagine it. Thank you for answering my questions so
clearly. By and by you may know why I asked them."

These words had hardly passed my lips before Devlin, Carton, and I
were thrown violently against each other. The shock was great, but
fortunately we were not hurt. Screams of pain from adjoining carriages
proclaimed that this was not the case with other passengers. The train
was dragged with erratic force for a considerable distance, and then
came to a sudden standstill.

"We had best get out," said Devlin, who was the first to recover.

We followed the sensible advice, and, upon emerging from the carriage,
discovered that other carriages were overturned, and that the line was
blocked. Happily, despite the screams of the frightened passengers,
the injuries they had met with were slight, and when all were safely
got out we stood along the line, gazing helplessly at each other.
Devlin, however, was an exception; he was the only perfectly composed
person amongst us.

"It is unfortunate," he said, with a certain maliciousness in his
voice; "we are not half-way to Margate. The best laid schemes are
liable to come to grief. If Mr. Kenneth Dowsett knew of this, he would
rejoice."

It was with intense anxiety that I made inquiries of the guard whether
the accident would delay us long. The guard answered that he could not
say yet, but that to all appearance we should be delayed two or three
hours. I received this information with dismay. It would upon that
calculation be midnight before we reached our destination. I
considered time so precious that I would have given every shilling in
my pocket to have been at that moment in Margate.

"Take it philosophically," said Devlin, at my elbow, "and be thankful
that your bones are not broken. It will but prolong the hunt, which, I
promise you, shall in the end be successful."

I looked at him almost gratefully for this speculative crumb of
comfort, and there was real humour in the smile with which he met my
gaze.

"Behold me in another character," he said; "Devlin the Consoler. But
you have laid me under an obligation, my dear sir, which I am
endeavouring to repay. Your conversation with that unhappy young
man"--pointing to Carton, who stood at a little distance from us--"was
truly interesting. You have mistaken your vocation; you would have
made a first-class detective."

To add to the discomfiture of the situation it began to rain heavily.
I felt it would be foolish, and a waste of power, to fret and fume,
and I therefore endeavoured to profit by Devlin's advice to take it
philosophically. A number of men were now at work setting things
straight. They worked with a will, but the guard's prognostication
proved correct. It was nearly eleven o'clock before we started again,
and past midnight when we arrived at Margate. It was pitch dark, and
the furious wind drove the pelting rain into our faces.

"A wild night at sea," cried Devlin, with a kind of exultation in his
voice (though this may have been my fancy); he had to speak very loud
to make himself heard. "You can do nothing till the morning, and very
little then if the storm lasts. Do you know Margate at all?"

"No," I shouted despondently.

"Do you?" asked Devlin, addressing Carton.

"I've never been here before," replied Carton.

"There's a decent hotel not far off," said Devlin: "the Nayland Rock.
We'll knock them up, and get beds there. Cling tight to me if you
don't want your bones broken. Steady now, steady!"

We had to cling tightly to him, for we could not see a yard before us.
Devlin pulled us along, singing some strange wild song at the top of
his voice. We were a long time making those in the hotel hear us, but
the door was opened at last, and we were admitted. There was only one
vacant room in the hotel, but fortunately it contained two beds. To
this room we were conducted, and then came the question of settling
three persons in the two beds. Devlin solved the difficulty by pulling
the counterpanes off, and extending himself full length upon the
floor.

"This will do for me," he said, wrapping himself up in the
counterpanes. "I've had worse accommodation in my travels through the
world. I've slept in the bush, with the sky for a roof; I've slept in
the hollow of a tree, with wild beasts howling round me; I've slept on
billiard-tables and under them, with a thousand rats running over me
and a score of other wanderers. Good-night, comrades."

Anxiety did not keep me awake; I was tired out, and slept well. When
we arose in the morning all signs of the storm had fled. The sun was
shining brightly, and a soft warm air flowed through the open window.



CHAPTER XXVI.

ANOTHER STRANGE AND UNEXPECTED DISCOVERY.


The first thing to be done, after partaking of a hurried breakfast,
was to arrange our programme. Carton suggested that we should all go
together to Athelstan Road to see his guardian, and I had some
difficulty in prevailing upon him to forego this plan. We spoke
together quite openly in the presence of Devlin, who, for the most
part, contented himself with listening to the discussion.

"Evidently," said Carton, "you have suspicions against my guardian,
and it is only fair that he should be made acquainted with them."

"He shall be made acquainted with them," I replied, "but it must be in
the way and at the time I deem best. I hold you to your promise to be
guided by me."

Carton nodded discontentedly. "I am to stop here and do nothing, I
suppose," he said.

"That is how you will best assist me," I said. "If you are seen at
present by Mr. Dowsett, you will ruin everything. You shall not,
however, be quite idle. Have you your cheque-book with you?"

"Yes," he said, producing it.

"Let me look at the block of the cheque for the two thousand pounds
you drew on Saturday morning, payable to bearer, and gave to Mr.
Dowsett."

"It is the last cheque I drew," said Carton, handing me the book.

I glanced at it, saw that the bank was the National Provincial Bank of
England, and the number of the cheque 134,178. Then I obtained a
telegraph form, and at my instruction Carton wrote the following
telegram:

"To the Manager, National Provincial Bank of England, 112 Bishopsgate
Street, London. Has my cheque for two thousand pounds (No. 184,178),
drawn by me on Saturday, and made payable to bearer, been cashed, and
how was it paid, in notes or gold? Reply paid. Urgent. Waiting here
for answer. From Richard Carton, Nayland Rock Hotel, Margate."

"I will take this myself to the telegraph-office," I said, "and you
will wait here for the answer. I will be back as quickly as possible,
but it is likely I may be absent for an hour or more."

With that I left him, Devlin accompanying me at my request.

I could have sent the telegram from the railway station, but I chose
to send it from the local post-office, for the reason that I expected
to receive there a telegram from my wife, whom I had instructed to
wire to me, before eight o'clock, whether there was anything fresh in
the London newspapers concerning the murder of Lizzie Melladew. I
mentioned this to Devlin, and he said,

"You omit nothing; it is a pleasure to work with you. Command me in
any way you please. My turn, perhaps, will come by and by."

It was early morning, and our way lay along the Marine Parade, every
house in which was either a public or a boarding house. From every
basement in the row, as we walked on, ascended one uniform odour of
the cooking of bacon and eggs, which caused Devlin to humorously
remark that when bacon and eggs ceased to be the breakfast of the
average Englishman, the decay of England's greatness would commence.
All along the line this familiar odour accompanied us.

At the post-office I found my wife's telegram awaiting me. It was to
the effect that there was nothing new in the papers concerning the
murder. The criminal was still at large, and the police appeared to
have failed in obtaining a clue. I despatched Carton's telegram to the
London bank, and then we proceeded to Athelstan Road, and soon found
the house we were in search of. I had decided upon my plan of
operations: Devlin was not to appear; he was to stand at some distance
from the house, and only to come forward if I called him. I was to
knock and inquire for Mr. Dowsett, and explain to him that, not
feeling well, I had run down to Margate for the day. Carton had given
me his guardian's address, and had asked me to inquire whether Mr.
Dowsett would be absent from London for any length of time, intending,
if such was the case, to join Mr. Dowsett and his family in the
country. Then I was to trust to chance and to anything I observed how
next to proceed. The whole invention was as lame as well could be, but
I could not think of a better. It was only when decided action was
necessary that I felt how powerless I was. All that I had to depend
upon was a slender and mysterious thread of conjecture.

I knocked at the door, and of the servant who opened it I inquired if
Mr. Dowsett was up yet.

"O, yes, sir," replied the girl. "Up and gone, all of 'em."

"Up and gone, all of them!" I exclaimed.

"Yes, sir. Had breakfast at half-past six, and went away directly
afterwards."

"Do you know where to?"

"No, sir. O, here's missus."

The landlady came forward. "Do you want rooms, sir?"

"Not at present. I came to see Mr. Dowsett."

"Gone away, sir; him and the three ladies."

"So your servant informed me; but I thought I should be certain to
find him here. Stop. What did you say? Mr. Dowsett and the three
ladies? You mean the two ladies?"

"I mean three," said the landlady, looking sharply at me. "They only
came on Saturday; Mr. Dowsett came yesterday. You must excuse me, sir;
there's the dining-room bell and the drawing-room bell ringing all
together."

"A moment, I beg," I said, slipping half-a-crown into her hand. "Do
you know where they have gone to?"

"No; they didn't tell me. They were in a hurry to catch a train; but I
don't know what train, and don't know where to."

Her manner proclaimed that she not only did not know, but did not
care.

"They had some boxes with them?" I said.

"Yes, two. I can't wait another minute. I never did see such a
impatient gentleman as the dining-rooms."

"Only one more question," I said, forcibly detaining her. "Did they
drive to the station?"

"Yes; they had a carriage. Please let me go, sir."

"Do you know the man who drove them? Do you know the number of the
carriage?"

"Haven't the slightest idea," said the landlady; and, freeing herself
from my grasp, she ran down to her kitchen.

I stepped into the street with a feeling of mortification. Mr. Kenneth
Dowsett had given me the slip again. Rejoining Devlin, I related to
him what had passed.

"What are you going to do next?" he asked.

"I am puzzled," I replied, "and hardly know what to do."

"That is not like you," said Devlin. "Come, I will assist you. Mr.
Kenneth Dowsett seems to be in a hurry. The more reason for spirit and
increased vigilance on our part. Observe, I say our part. I am growing
interested in this case, and am curious to see the end of it. If Mr.
Dowsett has gone back to London, we must follow him there. If he has
gone to some other place, we must follow him to some other place."

"But how to find that out?"

"He was driven to the station in a carriage. We must get hold of
the driver. At present we are ignorant whether he has gone by the
South-Eastern or the London, Chatham, and Dover. We will go and
inquire at the cab-ranks."

But although we spent fully an hour and a half in asking questions of
every driver of a carriage we saw, we could ascertain no news of the
carriage which had driven Mr. Dowsett and his family from Athelstan
Road. I was in despair, and was about to give up the search and return
disconsolately to the Nayland Rock, when a bare-footed boy ran up to
me, and asked whether I wasn't looking for "the cove wot drove a party
from Athelstan Road."

"Yes," I said excitedly. "Do you know him?"

"O, I knows him," said the boy. "Bill Foster he is. I 'elped him up
with the boxes. There was one little box the gent wouldn't let us
touch. There was somethink 'eavy in it, and the gent give me a copper.
Thank yer, sir."

He was about to scuttle off with the sixpence I gave him, when I
seized him, not by the collar, because he had none on, but by the neck
where the collar should have been.

"Not so fast. There's half-a-crown more for you if you take me to Bill
Foster at once."

"Can't do that, sir; don't know where he is; but I'll find 'im for
yer."

"Very good. How many persons went away in Bill Foster's carriage?"

"There was the gent and one-two-three women--two young 'uns and a old
'un."

"You're quite sure?"

"I'll take my oath on it."

"Now look here? Do you see these five shillings? They're yours
if you bring Bill Foster to me at the Nayland Rock in less than
half-an-hour."

"You ain't kidding, sir?"

"Not at all. The money's yours if you do what I tell you."

"All right, sir? I'll do it."

"And tell Bill Foster there's half-a-sovereign waiting for him at the
Nayland Rock; but he mustn't lose a minute."

With an intelligent nod the boy scampered off, and we made our way
quickly back to the hotel, where Richard Carton was impatiently
waiting us.

"Did you see him?" he asked eagerly.

"No," I replied, "he went away early this morning."

"Where to?"

"I hope to learn that presently. Have you received an answer to your
telegram?"

"No, not yet. There's the telegraph messenger."

The lad was mounting the steps of the hotel. We followed him, and
obtained the buff-coloured envelope, addressed to "Richard Carton,
Nayland Rock Hotel, Margate," which he delivered to a waiter. Carton
tore open the envelope, read the message, and handed it to me. The
information it contained was that cheque 134,178, for two thousand
pounds, signed by Richard Carton, was cashed across the counter on
Saturday morning; that the gentleman who presented it demanded that it
should be paid in gold; that as this was a large amount to be so paid
the cashier had asked the gentleman to sign his name at the back of
the cheque, notwithstanding that it was payable to bearer, and that
the signature was that of Kenneth Dowsett.

"Do you think there is anything strange in that?" I asked.

"It does seem strange," replied Carton thoughtfully.

I made a rapid mental calculation, and said, "Two thousand sovereigns
in gold weigh forty pounds. A heavy weight for a man to carry away
with him." Carton did not reply, but I saw that, for the first time,
his suspicions were aroused. "You told me," I continued, "that Mrs.
Dowsett and her daughter Letitia went away from their house on
Saturday morning early."

"So my guardian informed me."

"Was any other lady stopping with them?"

"I did not understand so from my guardian."

"Did they have any particular lady friend whom, for some reason or
other, they wished to take with them to the seaside?"

"Not to my knowledge."

"You can think of no one?"

"Indeed, I cannot."

"It is your belief that only two ladies left the house?'

"Yes, it is my belief."

"But," I said, "Mrs. Dowsett took not only her daughter Letitia with
her, but another lady, a young lady, as well; and the three, in
company with your guardian, left Margate suddenly this morning. I have
ascertained this positively. Now, who is this young lady of whom you
have no knowledge?" He passed his hand across his forehead, and gazed
at me with a dawning terror in his eyes. "Shall I tell you what is in
my mind?"

"Yes."

"If," I said, speaking slowly and impressively, "the theory I have
formed is correct--and I believe it is--the young lady is Mary
Melladew, poor Lizzie's sister."

"Good God!" cried Carton. "What makes you think that?"



CHAPTER XXVII.

WE TRACK MR. KENNETH DOWSETT TO BOULOGNE.


"It would occupy too long a time," I replied, "to make my theory
thoroughly comprehensible to you. Besides," I added, glancing at
Devlin, "it is a theory strangely born and strangely built up, and, in
all likelihood, you would reject the most important parts of it as
incredible and impossible. Therefore, we will not waste time in
explaining or discussing it. Sufficient for us if we succeed in
tracing this dreadful mystery to its roots and in bringing the
murderer to justice. If I do not mistake, here comes the man I am
waiting for."

It was, indeed. Bill Foster, pioneered by the sharp lad who had
engaged to find him.

"Here he is, sir," said the boy, holding out his hand, half-eagerly,
half-doubtfully.

"Your name is Foster," I said, addressing the man.

"That's me," said Bill Foster.

"You drove a party from Athelstan Road early this morning?"

"Yes."

I counted fire shillings into the boy's outstretched hand, and he
scampered away in great delight.

"There's half-a-sovereign for you," I said to Bill Foster, "if you
answer correctly a few questions."

"About the party I drove from Athelstan Road?" he asked.

"My questions will refer to them. You seem to hesitate."

"The fact is," said Bill Foster, "the gentleman gave me a florin over
my fare to keep my mouth shut."

"Only a fifth of what I offer you," I said.

"Make it a sovereign," suggested Devlin.

"I've no objection," I said.

"All right," said Bill Foster; "fire away."

"The gentleman bribed you to keep silence respecting his movements?" I
asked.

"It must have been for that," replied Bill Foster.

"Proving," I observed, "that he must have had some strong reason for
secrecy."

"That's got nothing to do with me," remarked Bill Foster.

"Of course not. What you've got to do is to earn the sovereign. Who
engaged you for the job?"

"The gentleman himself. I wasn't out with my trap so early, and some
one must have told him where I live. Anyways, he comes at a
quarter-past six, and knocks me up, and says there's a good job
waiting for me at 28 Athelstan Road, if I'd come at once. I says, 'All
right,' and I puts my horse to, and drives there. I got to the house
at ten minutes to seven, and I drives the party to the London,
Chatham, and Dover."

"How many were in the party?"

"Four. The gentleman, a middle-aged lady, and two young 'uns."

"About what ages were the young ladies?"

"Can't quite say. They wore veils; but I should reckon from eighteen
to twenty-two. That's near enough."

"What luggage was there?"

"Two trunks, a small box, and some other little things they took care
of themselves."

"You had charge of the two trunks?"

"Yes."

"And of the small box?"

"O, no; the gentleman wouldn't let it out of his hands. I offered to
help him with it, but he wouldn't let me touch it."

"That surprised you?"

"Well, yes, because it was uncommon heavy. If it was filled with gold
he couldn't have been more careful of it."

"Perhaps it was," I said, turning slightly to Richard Carton.

"It was heavy enough. Why, he could hardly carry it."

"Did either of the ladies appear anxious about it?"

"Yes, the middle-aged one. When I saw them so particular, I said, said
I--to myself, you know--I shouldn't mind having that myself."

"When the gentleman told you to drive to the London, Chatham, and
Dover station, did he say what train he wished to catch?"

"No, but I found out the train they went by. It was the down train for
Ramsgate, 7.31."

"They reached the station some time before it started?"

"Yes, twenty minutes before. After the gentleman took his tickets he
came from the platform two or three times and looked at me. 'What are
you waiting for?' he asked the last time. 'For a fare,' I answered.
'Look here,' he said, 'if anybody asks you any questions about me,
don't answer them. 'Why shouldn't I?' I asked. It was then he pulled
out the florin. 'O, very well,' I said; 'it's no business of mine.'
But I didn't go away till the train started with them in it."

"Do you know whether they intended to stop in Margate?"

"I should say not. As I drove 'em to the station, I heard the
gentleman speak to the middle-aged lady--his wife, I suppose--about
the boat for Boulogne."

I gave a start of vexation; Devlin smiled; Carton was following the
conversation with great attention.

"Do you know what boat?"

"The Sir Walter Raleigh. The gentleman had one of the bills in his
hand, and was looking at it. He said to the lady, 'We shall be in
plenty of time.'"

"Do you know at what time the boat starts from Ramsgate for Boulogne?"

"Leaves the harbour at half-past nine, but is generally half an hour
late."

I looked at my watch. It was just eleven o'clock.

"Is there any chance," I asked, "of this boat being delayed?"

"Why should it? The weather's fair."

"Is there any other boat starting for Boulogne this morning?"

"None. There's the Sir Walter Raleigh from Ramsgate, and sometimes the
India from here; but the India don't go to-day."

"Could we hire a boat from here?"

"You might, but it would be risky, and would cost a lot of money.
Then, there's no saying when you would get there. It's a matter of
between forty and fifty miles, and the steamers take about five hours
getting across; sometimes a little less, generally a little more.
There's no depending upon 'em. Look here. You're going to behave to me
liberal. You want to follow the party I drove from Athelstan Road this
morning."

"Show me the way to get to Boulogne to-day," I said, "and I'll give
you another half-sovereign."

"Practical creature!" murmured Devlin. "In human dealings there is but
one true touchstone."

"Spoke like a real gentleman," said Bill Foster to me. "What time is
it?"

"Five minutes past eleven."

"Wait here; I sha'n't be gone but a few minutes. Get everything ready
to start directly I come back."

His trap was standing at the corner of Royal Crescent. He ran out,
jumped on the box, and was gone. I called to the waiter, and in three
minutes the hotel bill was paid, and we were ready.

During Bill Foster's absence I said to Carton,

"Do you make anything of all this?"

"It looks," replied Carton, "as if my guardian was running away."

"To my mind there's not a doubt of it. Have you any idea what that
little box he would not let out of his charge contains?"

"The two thousand sovereigns he obtained from the bank," said Carton,
in a tone of inquiry.

"Exactly. I tell you now plainly that I am positive Mr. Kenneth
Dowsett is implicated in the murder of your poor girl."

Carton set his teeth in great agitation. "If he is! if he is!" he
said; but he could say no more.

Bill Foster was back.

"There's a train to Folkestone," he cried, "the South-Eastern line, at
11.47. You can catch it easily. If there's no boat handy from
Folkestone to Boulogne, you'll be able to hire one there. The steamers
take two hours going across. You can get there in four. Train arrives
at Folkestone at 1.27. By six o'clock you can be in Boulogne. Jump
into my trap, gentlemen."

We jumped in, and were driven to the station. His information was
correct. I gave him thirty shillings, and he departed in high glee.
Then we took tickets for Folkestone, and arrived there at a quarter to
two.

There was no steamer going, but with little difficulty we arranged to
get across. The passage took longer than four hours--it took six. At
nine o'clock at night we were in Boulogne.

I cannot speak an intelligible sentence in French. Carton was too
agitated to take the direction of affairs.

"Do you know where we can stop?" I asked of Devlin. "Have you ever
been here before?"

"My dear sir," said Devlin, "I have travelled all over the world, and
I know Boulogne by heart. There's a little out-of-the-way hotel, the
Hôtel de Poilly, in Rue de l'Amiral Bruix, that will suit us as though
it were built for us."

"Let us get there at once," I said.

He called a fly, and in a very short time we entered the courtyard of
the Hotel de Poilly. There we made arrangements with the jolly,
comfortable-looking landlady, and then I looked at Carton, and he
looked at me. The helplessness of our situation struck us both
forcibly.

"Who is in command?" asked Devlin suddenly.

"You," I replied, as by an inspiration.

"Good," said Devlin. "I accept the office. From this moment you are
under my orders. Remain you here; I go to reconnoitre."

"You will return?" I said.

"My dear sir," said Devlin airily, "it is too late now to doubt my
integrity. I will return."

"For God's sake," said Carton, when Devlin was gone, "who is this man
who seems to divine everything, to know everything, and whom nothing
disturbs? Sometimes when he looks at me I feel that he is exercising
over me a terrible fascination."

"I cannot answer you," I said. "Be satisfied with the knowledge that
it is through him we have so far succeeded, and that, in my belief, it
will be through him that the murderer will be tracked down. The world
is full of mysteries, and that man is not the least of them."

It wanted an hour to midnight when Devlin returned. In his inscrutable
face I read no sign of success or failure; but the first words he
spoke afforded me infinite relief.

"I have seen him," he said. "Let us go out and talk. Walls have ears."

The river Liane was but a short distance from the hotel, and we
strolled along the bank in silence, Devlin, contrary to my
expectation, not uttering a word for many minutes. He had lit a cigar,
and Carton had accepted one from him; I refused to smoke, having too
vivid a remembrance of the cigar I had smoked in Fanny Lemon's house,
and its effect upon me. At length Devlin said to Carton:

"You appear sleepy."

"I am," said the young man.

"You had best go to bed," said Devlin; "nothing can be done to-night."

Carton, assenting, would have returned to the hotel alone, saying he
could find the way, but I insisted that we should accompany him
thither. I had heard that Boulogne was not the safest place in the
world for strangers on a dark night. Having seen Carton to his room,
we returned to the river's bank. Had Carton been in possession of his
full senses he would doubtless have objected, but he was dead asleep
when he entered his bedroom, Devlin's cigar having affected him as the
one I smoked had affected me.

"He encumbers us," said Devlin, looking out upon the dark river. "I
have discovered where Mr. Dowsett is lodging, and were our young
friend informed of the address he might rush there, and spoil all. We
happen to be in luck, if you believe in such a quality as luck. I do
not; but I use the term out of compliment to you. Mr. Dowsett's
quarters are in the locality of the Rue de la Paix, and, singularly
enough, are situated over a barber's shop. Things go in runs, do they
not? Nothing but barbers. I do not return with you to the hotel
to-night."

"What do you mean?" I asked, startled by this information.

"The proprietor of the barber's shop over which Mr. Kenneth Dowsett is
sleeping--but, perhaps, not sleeping, for a sword is hanging above his
head, and he may be gazing at the phantom in terror--say, then, over
which he is lying, is an agreeable person. I have struck up an
acquaintance with him, and, by arrangement, shall be in his saloon
to-morrow, to attend to any persons who may present themselves. Mr.
Dowsett will probably need the razor and the brush. I can easily
account for my appearance in Boulogne; I have come to see my friend
and brother. Mr. Dowsett, unsuspecting--for what connection can he
trace between me and Lizzie Melladew?--will place himself in my hands.
He has told me that there is not my equal; he may find that it is so.
In order that I may not miss him I go to the house to-night. Early in
the morning come you, alone, to the Rue de la Paix. You can ride to
the foot of the hill, there alight, and on the right-hand side, a
third of the way up, you will see my new friend's establishment. I
will find you a snug corner from which you may observe and hear,
yourself unseen, all that passes. Are you satisfied now that I am
keeping faith with you?"

"Indeed, you are proving it," I replied.

"Give me no more credit than I deserve," said Devlin. "It is simply
that I keep a promise. In the fulfilment of this promise--both in the
spirit and to the letter, my dear sir--I may to-morrow unfold to you a
wonder. It is my purpose to compel the man we have pursued to himself
reveal all that he knows of Lizzie Melladew. Perhaps it will be as
well for you to take down in writing what passes between us. Accept it
from me that there are unseen forces and unseen powers in this world,
so rich in sin, of which few men dream. See those shadows moving on
the water--are they not like living spirits? The dark river itself,
had it a tongue, could appal you. On such nights as this are secret
crimes committed by devils who bear the shape of men. What kind of
being is that who smiles in your face, who presses your hand, who
speaks pleasant words to you, and harbours all the while in what is
called his heart a fell design towards the execution of which he moves
without one spark of compassion? I don't complain of him, my dear sir;
on the contrary"--and here, although I could not see Devlin's face, I
could fancy a sinister smile overspreading it--"I rather delight in
him. It proves him to be what he is--and he is but a type of
innumerable others. Your innocent ones are arrogant in the vaunting of
their goodness; your ambitious ones glory in their successes which
bring ruin to their brethren; your kings and emperors appropriate
Providence, and do not even pay him a shilling for the conscription. A
grand world, and grandly peopled! The man who glories in sin compels
my admiration; but this one whom we are hunting is a coward and a
sneak. He shall meet his doom!"

As he ceased speaking he vanished; I can find no other word to express
the effect his sudden disappearance had upon me. Whether he intended
to create a dramatic surprise I cannot say, but, certainly, he was no
longer by my side. With some difficulty I found my way alone back to
the Hotel de Poilly, where Carton was fast asleep.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

THE TRANCE AND THE REVELATION.


Of all the strange experiences I have narrated in connection with
Devlin, that which awaited me on the following morning was the most
startling and inexplicable. Prevailing with difficulty upon Richard
Carton to remain at the hotel until I either came to or sent for him,
I drove to the foot of the Rue de la Paix, as I was instructed to do.
I took the precaution to hire the driver of the fly by the hour, and
desired him to stop where I alighted until I needed him. I was
impelled to this course by a feeling that I might possibly require
some person to take a message to Carton or bring him to the Rue de la
Paix. I found the barber's shop easily, and could scarcely refrain
from uttering a loud exclamation at the sight of Mr. Kenneth Dowsett
sitting in a barber's chair, and Devlin standing over him, leisurely
at work. Devlin, with his finger at his lips, pointed to a table in a
corner of the shop, at which I seated myself in obedience to the
silent command. On the table were writing materials and paper, and on
a sheet of this paper was written: "You are late. I have thrown Mr.
Dowsett into a trance. He will reveal all he knows. I will compel him
to do so. Take down in writing what transpires."

My heart throbbed violently as I prepared myself for the task.

Devlin: "Do you know where you are?"

Mr. Dowsett: "Yes, in Boulogne."

Devlin: "Where were you yesterday?"

Mr. Dowsett: "In Margate."

Devlin: "Where were you on Friday last?"

Mr. Dowsett: "At home, in London."

Devlin: "Recall the occurrences of that day?"

Mr. Dowsett: "I do so."

Devlin: "At what hour did you rise?"

Mr. Dowsett: "At nine o'clock."

Devlin: "Who were present at the breakfast-table?"

Mr. Dowsett: "My wife and daughter, and Richard Carton."

Devlin: "Was anything relating to the engagement of Richard Carton and
Lizzie Melladew said at the breakfast-table?"

Mr. Dowsett: "Nothing."

Devlin: "Was there anything in your mind in relation to it?"

Mr. Dowsett: "Yes. I had a plan to carry out, and was thinking of it."

Devlin: "In what way did you put the plan into execution?"

Mr. Dowsett: "When breakfast was over, I went to my private room and
locked the door. Then I sat down and wrote a letter."

Devlin: "To whom?"

Mr. Dowsett: "To Lizzie Melladew."

Devlin: "What did you write?"

Mr. Dowsett: "A heart-broken woman implores you to meet her to-night
at eleven o'clock in Victoria Park, and, so that she may recognise
you, begs you to wear a bunch of white daisies in your belt. She will
wear the same, so that you may recognise her. The life and welfare of
Mr. Richard Carton hangs upon this meeting. If you fail, a dreadful
fate awaits him, which you can avert. As you value his happiness and
your own, come."

Devlin: "What did you do with the letter?"

Mr. Dowsett: "I addressed it to Miss Lizzie Melladew, at her place of
business in Baker Street, and posted it at the Charing Cross
Post-office."

Devlin: "How did you know she worked there?"

Mr. Dowsett: "I learnt it from my ward, Richard Carton."

Devlin: "Did you disguise your handwriting?"

Mr. Dowsett: "Yes; I wrote it in a feminine hand."

Devlin: "What was your object in writing the letter?"

Mr. Dowsett: "I was determined that Richard Carton should not marry
Lizzie Melladew."

Devlin: "Why?"

Mr. Dowsett: "I had all along arranged that he should marry my
daughter Letitia."

Devlin: "How did you propose to break off the match between your ward
and Lizzie Melladew?"

Mr. Dowsett: "My plans were not entirely clear to myself. I intended
to appeal to the young woman, and to invent some disreputable story to
make her suspect that he was false to her. If that failed, then----"

Devlin: "Proceed. Then?"

Mr. Dowsett: "I was resolved to go any lengths, to do anything to
prevent the marriage."

Devlin: "Even murder."

Mr. Dowsett: "I did not think of that--I would not think of it."

Devlin: "But you did think of it. You could not banish that idea from
your mind?"

Mr. Dowsett: "I could not, though I tried. It crept in the whole of
the day. I could not help seeing the scene. Night--the park--the young
woman with the bunch of white daisies in her belt stained with blood."

Devlin: "Those pictures were in your mind, and you could not banish
them?"

Mr. Dowsett: "I could not."

Devlin: "There were other reasons for preventing the marriage than
your wish that Richard Carton should marry your daughter?"

Mr. Dowsett: "There were."

Devlin: "What were they?"

Mr. Dowsett: "If he married Lizzie Melladew, I should no longer enjoy
the income I had received for so many years. I looked upon it as mine.
I could not live without it. We should have been beggared--disgraced
as well. I had forged my ward's name to bills, and if he married out
of my family there would have been exposure, and I might have found
myself in a felon's dock. If he married my daughter this would not
occur. I was safe so long as I could keep my hold upon him."

Devlin: "Did your wife and daughter know this?"

Mr. Dowsett: "My daughter knew nothing of it. My wife suspected it."

Devlin: "Did she know that you contemplated murder?"

Mr. Dowsett: "She did not."

Devlin: "Why did you give Richard Carton a sleeping draught on that
night?"

Mr. Dowsett: "In order that he might sleep soundly, and not discover
that I left the house late."

Devlin: "Were your wife and daughter asleep when you left your house?"

Mr. Dowsett: "They were abed. I do not know whether they were asleep."

Devlin: "You took a knife with you?"

Mr. Dowsett: "I did."

Devlin: "Where did you obtain it?"

Mr. Dowsett: "It was a large clasp knife I had had for years. I found
it in a private drawer."

Devlin: "You went to the private drawer for the purpose of finding
it?"

Mr. Dowsett: "I did."

Devlin: "Did any one see you leave the house?"

Mr. Dowsett: "No one."

Devlin: "Did you walk or ride to Victoria Park?"

Mr. Dowsett: "I walked."

Devlin: "To avoid suspicion?"

Mr. Dowsett: "Yes."

Devlin: "When you arrived at the Park did you have any difficulty in
finding Miss Melladew?"

Mr. Dowsett: "I soon found her."

Devlin: "What did you do then?"

Mr. Dowsett: "I made an appeal to her."

Devlin: "Did she listen to you quietly?"

Mr. Dowsett: "No. She taunted me with having tricked her by writing an
anonymous letter in a disguised hand."

Devlin: "Go on."

Mr. Dowsett: "I told her it was the only way I could obtain a private
interview with her. I invented a scandalous story about my ward. She
said she did not believe it, and that she would expose me to him. She
told me that I was infamous, and that it was her belief I had been
systematically practising deceit upon my ward, and that she would not
be surprised to discover that I had been robbing him. 'To-morrow he
shall see you in your true colours,' she said. I was maddened. If she
carried out her intention I knew that I was a ruined and disgraced
man. 'That to-morrow will never come!' I cried. The knife was in my
hand. I scarcely know how it came there, and do not remember opening
the blade. 'That to-morrow will come!' she retorted. 'It shall not!' I
cried; and I stabbed her to the heart. She uttered but one cry, and
fell down dead."

Devlin: "What did you do after that?"

Mr. Dowsett: "I hastened away, taking the knife with me. I chose the
darkest paths. Suddenly I came upon a young woman sitting upon a
bench, reclining against the back. I saw her face, and was rooted to
the spot in sudden fear. She did not stir. Recovering, I crept softly
towards her, and found that she was asleep. Leaving her there, I
hastened back to the woman I had stabbed. I knelt down and looked
closely at her. I felt in her pockets; she was quite dead. There were
letters in her pockets which I examined, and then--and then----"

Devlin: "And then?"

Mr. Dowsett: "I discovered that the woman I had killed was not Lizzie
Melladew!"



CHAPTER XXIX.

THE RESCUE.


So startled was I by this revelation that I jumped to my feet in a
state of uncontrollable agitation. What I should have done I cannot
say, but the direction of events was not left in my hands.
Simultaneously with my movement of astonishment, a piercing scream
rang through the house.

I was standing now by the chair in which Mr. Kenneth Dowsett was
sitting in his trance, and I observed a change pass over his face; the
scream had pierced the veil in which his waking senses were
enshrouded. Devlin also observed this change, and he said to me
hurriedly:

"Go up-stairs and see what is taking place. Your presence may be
needed there, and to one person may be very welcome. I will keep
charge over this man."

As I left the room I heard Devlin turn the key in the lock. Rapidly I
mounted the stairs, and dashed into a room on the first landing, from
which the sound of female voices were issuing. Three women were there;
two were strangers to me, but even in that agitating moment I
correctly divined that they were Mrs. Dowsett and Letitia; the third,
who rushed with convulsive sobs into my open arms, was no other than
Lizzie Melladew herself.

"O, thank God, you have come!" she sobbed; "thank God! thank God!
Where is Mary? Where is Richard? Take me to them! O, take me to them!"

Mrs. Dowsett was the first to recover herself. "You will remain here,"
she said sternly to Lizzie; and then, addressing me, "How dare you
break into my apartment in this manner?"

"I dare do more than that," I replied, in a voice sterner than her
own, and holding the weeping girl close to my heart. "Prepare you to
answer for what has been done. I thank God, indeed, that I have
arrived in time, perhaps, to prevent another crime. All is
discovered."

At these words Mrs. Dowsett shrank back, white and trembling. I did
not stop to say more. My first duty was to place Lizzie Melladew in
safety; but where? The mental question conveyed its own answer. Where,
but in her lover's arms?

"Come," I said to Lizzie. "You are safe now. I am going to take you to
Richard Carton. Trust yourself to me."

"I will, I will!" sobbed Lizzie, "Richard is here, then? How thankful
I am, how thankful! And Mary, my dear sister, is she here, too?"

I was appalled at this last question. It proved that Lizzie was
ignorant of what had occurred. Not daring to answer her, I drew her
from the room, and the women I left there made no attempt to prevent
me. Swiftly I took my precious charge from the house, and in a very
few minutes we were in the carriage which was waiting for me at the
foot of the Rue de la Paix. The driver understood the direction I gave
him, and we galloped at full speed to the Hotel de Poilly. Without
revealing to Lizzie what I knew, I learnt from her before we reached
the hotel sufficient to enlighten me as to Mr. Kenneth Dowsett's
proceedings, and to confirm my suspicion that it was Mary Melladew who
had met her death at that villain's hands. When Lizzie received the
anonymous letter which he wrote to her, she took it to her poor
sister, who, fearing some plot, prevailed upon her to let her see the
anonymous writer in Lizzie's place; and, the better to carry out the
plan, the sisters changed dresses, and went together to Victoria Park.
Being twins, and bearing so close a resemblance to each other, there
was little fear of the change being discovered until at least Mary had
ascertained why the meeting was so urgently desired. Leaving Lizzie in
a secluded part of the park, Mary proceeded to the rendezvous, with
what result Mr. Dowsett's confession has already made clear.
Discovering the fatal error he had committed, Mr. Dowsett returned to
Lizzie, who, while waiting for her sister, had fallen asleep. Being
thoroughly unnerved, he decided that there was only one means of
safety before him--flight and the concealment of Lizzie Melladew. The
idea of a second murder may have occurred to him, but, villain as he
was, he had not the courage to carry it out. He had taken from the
dead girl's pocket everything it contained, with the exception of a
handkerchief which, in his haste, he overlooked; and upon this
handkerchief was marked the name of Lizzie Melladew. He could imitate
Richard Carton's writing--as was proved by the forgeries he had
already committed--and upon the back of this anonymous letter he wrote
in pencil a few words in which Lizzie was implored to trust herself
implicitly to Mr. Dowsett, and without question to do as he directed.
Signing these words in Richard Carton's name, he awoke Lizzie and gave
her the note. Alarmed and agitated as the young girl was, and fearing
that some great danger threatened her lover, she, with very little
hesitation, allowed herself to be persuaded by Mr. Dowsett, and
accompanied him home. "Where is Mary?" she asked. "With our dear
Richard," replied Mr. Dowsett; "we shall see them to-morrow, when all
will be explained." At home Mr. Dowsett informed his wife of his
peril, and the three females left for Margate by an early train in the
morning. In Margate Mrs. Dowsett received telegrams signed "Richard
Carton," but really sent by her husband, which she showed to Lizzie,
and which served in some measure to assist the successful continuation
of the scheme by which Lizzie was to be taken out of the country.
Meanwhile she was in absolute ignorance of her sister's fate; no
newspaper was allowed to reach her hands, nor was she allowed to speak
to a soul but Mrs. Dowsett and Letitia. What was eventually to be done
with her I cannot say; probably Mr. Dowsett himself had not been able
to make up his mind, which was almost entirely occupied by
considerations for his own safety.

I did not, of course, learn all this from Lizzie, she being then
ignorant of much which I have related, but I have put together what
she told me and what I subsequently learnt from Devlin and other
sources.

Arriving at the Hotel de Poilly, I succeeded in conveying Lizzie into
a private room, and then I sought Richard Carton. I need not set down
here in detail the conversation I had with him. Little by little I
made him acquainted with the whole truth. Needless to describe his joy
when he heard that his beloved girl was alive and safe--joy, tempered
with grief at poor Mary's fate. When he was calm enough to be
practical, he asked me what was to be done.

"No time must be lost," I said, "in restoring your dear Lizzie to her
parents. To you I shall confide her. Leave that monster, your
treacherous guardian, to Devlin and me."

It was with difficulty I restrained him from rushing to Lizzie, but I
insisted that his movements must be definitely decided upon before he
saw her. I called in the assistance of the jolly landlady, and she
supplied me with a time-table, from which I ascertained that a boat
for Dover left at 12.31, and that it was timed to reach its
destination at 3.20. There were numerous trains from Dover to London,
and Lizzie would be in her parents' arms before night. Carton joyfully
acquiesced in this arrangement, and then I took him in to his dear
girl, and, closing the door upon them, left them to themselves. A
meeting such as theirs, and under such circumstances, was sacred.

While they were together I wrote two letters--one to my wife, and the
other to Mr. Portland--which I intended should be delivered by Carton.
I did not intrude upon the happy lovers till the last moment. I found
them sitting close together, quite silent, hand clasped in hand, her
head upon his breast. I had cautioned him to say nothing of Mary's sad
fate, and I saw by the expression upon Lizzie's face that he had
obeyed me. After joy would come sorrow; there was time enough for
that. Mary had given her life for her sister's; the sacrifice would
ever be held in sacred remembrance.

I saw them off by the boat; they waved their handkerchiefs to me, and
I thought of the Melladews mourning at home, to whom, at least, one
dear child would soon be restored. When the boat was out of sight, I
jumped into the carriage, and was driven back to the Rue de la Paix.



CHAPTER XXX.

DEVLIN'S LAST SCHEME.


I tried the door of the room in which I had left Devlin and Mr.
Kenneth Dowsett. It was locked.

"Enter," said Devlin, unlocking the door.

They were both in the room, Devlin smiling and unruffled, Mr. Dowsett
in the full possession of his senses, and terribly ill at ease.

He turned like death when he saw me.

"This gentleman," said Devlin, "is angry at being detained by me, and
would have resorted to violence if he thought it would serve his
purpose. I have waited for your return to decide what to do."

"You shall pay for this," Mr. Dowsett managed to say, "you and your
confederate. If there is justice in this world, I will make you smart
for your unlawful proceedings."

"There _is_ justice in the world," I said calmly, "as you shall find."

He was silent. With a weight of guilt upon his soul, he did not know
how to reply to this remark. But he managed presently to ask:

"How long do you intend to detain me?"

"You shall know soon," I said; and, by a gesture, I intimated to
Devlin that I wished to confer with him alone.

He accompanied me from the room, and we stood in the passage, keeping
guard upon the door, which Devlin locked from the outside.

"There are no means of escape from within," he said. "I have seen to
that."

In a low tone I told him what I had done, and he approved.

"The question now is," I said, "what step are we next to take?"

"There lies the difficulty," replied Devlin. "You see my dear sir, we
have no evidence upon which to arrest him."

"No evidence!" I cried. "Is there not his own confession of guilt?"

Devlin shook his head. "Spiritual evidence only, my dear sir. Not
admissible in any court of law in the world. Impossible to obtain his
arrest in a foreign country upon such a slender thread. He might bring
the same accusation against us, and we might all be thrown into gaol,
and kept there for months. That is not what I bargained for. Our best
plan will be to get him back to England; then you can take some
practicable step."

"But how to manage that?" I asked.

"It can be managed, I think," said Devlin. "I have a scheme. He knows
nothing of the confession he has made. Lizzie Melladew's name has not
been mentioned between us. It is only his fears and my strength of
will that make him tractable. Before I put my scheme into operation,
go up-stairs to see if his wife and daughter are in the house. I have
my suspicions that they have flown. You will find me here when you
come down."

I ran up-stairs to the apartments occupied by Mrs. Dowsett. Devlin's
suspicions were confirmed. The two women were gone. There were
evidences around of a hasty flight, the most pregnant of them being a
small box which had been broken open. I judged immediately that this
was the box which had contained the two thousand sovereigns; and,
indeed, I found two of the sovereigns under a couch, whither they had
rolled while the bulk was being taken out. The conclusion I came to
was, that the women, frightened that all was discovered, as I had
informed them, had broken open the box, and, packing the gold away
upon their persons, had taken to flight, leaving Mr. Dowsett to his
fate.

I went down to Devlin, and acquainted him with the result of my
investigation.

"Quite as I expected," he said. "Let them go for the present. Our
concern is with the man inside. I am going to put my scheme into
operation. What is the time?"

"Five minutes past two," I replied, looking at my watch.

"In capital time," said Devlin. "Wait you here until half-past two.
Then go in to Mr. Dowsett, and apologise to him for the indignity to
which he has been subjected. He will fume and threaten; let him. Be
you humble and contrite, and say that you are very, very sorry. Throw
all the blame upon me: say that I have deceived you, imposed upon you,
robbed you--anything that comes to your mind. To me it matters not; it
will assist our scheme. There is no fear of Mr. Dowsett not waiting
till you go in to him; he is frightened out of his life. Your humble
attitude will give him courage; he will think himself safe."

"I cannot imagine," I said, "how this will help us."

"Don't imagine," said Devlin curtly. "Leave all to me. The first thing
Mr. Dowsett will do when he finds himself free will be to go up to the
rooms in which he left the three women who accompanied him here.
Meanwhile, you will keep watch outside the house; but on no account
must he see you. Trust to me for the rest."

He had served me so faithfully up to this point that I trusted him
unhesitatingly. As he had prophesied, Mr. Dowsett kept quiet within
the room. Listening at the door, I heard him moving softly about, but
he made no attempt to come out. At half-past two I entered the room,
and followed Devlin's instructions to the letter. Mr. Dowsett, his
courage restored, immediately began to bluster and threaten. I
listened submissively, and made pretence of being greatly distressed.
When he had exhausted himself, I left him with further profuse
expressions of regret, and as I issued from the house I saw him
mounting the stairs to his wife's apartments.

Emerging into the Rue de la Paix, I planted myself in a spot from
which I had a clear view of the house, and was myself concealed from
observation. Scarcely was I settled in my position when I saw a man,
with a telegram in his hand, enter the house. He remained there a very
few moments, and then came out and walked away, having, presumably,
delivered his message. Within a space of five minutes, Mr. Dowsett,
holding the telegram, came forth, and, casting sharp glances around,
quickly left the Rue de la Paix. Before he had turned the corner,
Devlin joined me, humming a French song. Together we followed Mr.
Dowsett at a safe distance.

"My scheme is alive," he said.

I asked him to explain it to me.

"You saw the messenger," he said, "enter with a telegram. You saw him
leave without it. You saw Mr. Dowsett come out with the telegram. It
was from his wife."

"From his wife?"

"Sent by me. The telegram was to the effect that something had
occurred which had induced her to leave Boulogne immediately, and that
she, her daughter, and the young lady with them (I was careful not to
mention her name, you see) would be in Ramsgate, waiting for him. He
was to come by the afternoon boat, and she would meet him on the pier.
See, he is entering the shipping-office now, to secure his passage."

"What are we to do?"

"We travel in the same boat, going aboard at the last moment. After
the boat has started--not before--he will know that we are
fellow-passengers."

All happened as Devlin had arranged. By his skilful pioneering we did
not lose sight of Mr. Dowsett until he stepped aboard the boat, and I
inferred from his manner that by that time he had regained confidence,
and deemed his secret safe. When we slipped on deck, at the very
moment of starting, Mr. Dowsett was below in the saloon.

There were not many passengers, and the French coast was still in view
when Mr. Dowsett came up from the saloon and stood by the bulwarks,
within a yard or two of the seat upon which we were sitting. We did
not speak, but sat watching him. Turning, he saw us.

"You here!" he cried.

"By your leave," I replied.

"Not by my leave," he said. "Why are you following me?"

"Have you any reason," I said, "for suspecting that you are being
followed?"

"I was a fool to ask the question," he said, turning abruptly away.

I did not speak, but kept my eyes upon him. I was determined not to
lose sight of him for another moment. Some understanding of this
determination seemed to dawn upon him; he looked at me two or three
times with wavering eyes, and presently, summoning all his courage to
his aid, he stared me full in the face. I met his gaze sternly,
unflinchingly, until I compelled him to lower his eyes. Then he
suddenly went down into the saloon. I stepped swiftly after him, and
Devlin accompanied me. For the purpose of testing me, he turned and
ascended again to the deck. We followed him.

"Perhaps," he said, "you will explain what you mean by this conduct?"

"What need to ask?" I replied. "Let your conscience answer."

"It is an outrage," he said, after a pause. "If you continue to annoy
me, I shall appeal to the captain."

"Do so," I said, "and prepare to meet at once the charge I shall bring
against you."

He did not dare to inquire the nature of the charge. He did not dare
to move or speak again. Sullenly, and with an inward raging, the
traces of which he could not disguise, he remained by the bulwarks,
staring down at the water.

Suddenly there was a lull aboard. The machinery stopped working.

"Some accident," said Devlin, and went to ascertain its nature.
Returning, he said, "We shall be delayed a couple of hours, most
likely. It will be dark night, when we arrive."

It was as he said. For two hours or more we made no progress; then,
the necessary repairs having been made, we started again. By that time
it was evening. And still Mr. Dowsett neither moved or spoke.

Night crept on; there was no moon, and not a star visible in the dark
sky; it was black night. Mr. Dowsett strove to take advantage of this
to evade and escape from us, but we kept so close to him that we could
have touched him by the movement of a finger; where he glided, we
glided; and still he uttered not a word.

We stood in a group alone, isolated as it were, from the other
passengers. After repeated attempts to slip from us, Mr. Dowsett
remained still again. In the midst of the darkness Devlin's voice
stole upon our ears.

"Short-sighted fool," he said, "to think that crime can be for ever
successfully hidden. Wherever man moves, the spirit of committed evil
accompanies him, and leads him to his doom. His peril lies not only in
mortal insight, but in the unseen, mysterious agencies, by which he is
surrounded. Blood for blood; it is the immutable law; and if by some
human failure he for a time evades his punishment at the hand of man,
he suffers a punishment more terrible than human justice can execute
upon him. Waking or sleeping, it is ever with him. Look out upon the
darkness, and behold, rising from the shadows, the form of the
innocent girl whose life you took. To the last moment of your life her
spirit shall accompany you; till death claims you, you shall know no
peace!"

Whatever of malignancy there was in Devlin's voice, the words he spoke
conveyed the stern, eternal truth. It seemed to me, as I gazed before
me, that the spirit he evoked loomed sadly among the shadows.

Onward through the sea the boat ploughed its way, and we three stood
close together, encompassed by a dread and awful silence; for Devlin
spoke no more, nor from Mr. Dowsett's lips did any sound issue.

In the distance we saw the lights of Ramsgate Pier, and before the
captain or any person on board was aware of its close contiguity, we
suddenly dashed against it.

I and all others on board were thrown violently down by the shock.
There were loud cries of alarm and agony, and I found myself separated
from my companions. From the water came appeals for help from some who
had been tossed overboard by the collision, and a period of great
confusion ensued. What help could be given was afforded, and when I
succeeded in reaching the stone pier in safety, I heard that a few of
the passengers were missing--among them Devlin and Mr. Dowsett.

I remained on the pier till past one o'clock in the morning, rendering
what little assistance I could; and eventually I learnt that all who
had been in danger were saved, with the exception of the two whom I
have named. It was early morning before the body of one was recovered.
That one was Mr. Kenneth Dowsett. He lay dead in a boat, his face
convulsed with agony, upturned to the gray light of the coming day. Of
Devlin no trace could be found.


*    *    *    *    *    *


There is but little more to tell. With the exception of the part which
Devlin played in it, and which has now for the first time been
related, the story became public property, and Kenneth Dowsett was
proved to be the murderer of poor Mary Melladew. Time has softened the
grief of Mr. and Mrs. Melladew, and they find in the love of Lizzie
and her husband, Richard Carton, some solace for the tragedy which a
ruthless hand committed. Mr. Portland paid me the two thousand pounds
he promised, and I am in a fair way of business. Fanny Lemon and her
husband live in retirement in the country. Not a word ever passes
their lips in connection with the events I have related. I have seen
and heard nothing of Mrs. Dowsett and her daughter.


*    *    *    *    *    *


A short time ago my wife and I were in an open-air public place of
amusement witnessing a wonderful exhibition, the extraordinary novelty
of which consisted in a man floating earthwards from the clouds at a
distance of some thousands of feet from the earth.

"Look there!" said my wife.

I had given her such faithful and vivid descriptions of Devlin that
she always said, if it happened that he still lived and she saw him,
that she could not fail to recognise him. I turned in the direction
she indicated, and, standing alone, apart from the crowd, once more
saw Devlin. He was watching the performer floating from heaven to
earth. There was a strange smile upon his lips.

I could not restrain the impulse which prompted me to move towards
him. My approach attracted his attention. He looked at me, and was
gone. I have never seen him since.

The last words I heard him speak recur to me. There was in them the
spirit of Divine justice. Crimes cannot be for ever successfully
hidden. The monsters who commit them shall be brought to their doom by
those whose duty it is to track them down, or by unseen mysterious
agencies by which they are surrounded, or by their own confession.

But let the legislators see to it; let those who call themselves
philanthropists and humanitarians see to it; let those whose fortune
it is to possess great wealth see to it. There are in this modern
Babylon fester-spots of corruption wherein nothing but sin and vice
can possibly grow. They are crowded with human beings ripening for
evil; they are crowded with human souls lost to salvation. They are an
infamy--and the infamy rests not upon the creatures who are born and
bred there, but upon those who allow them to be, and who have the
undoubted power to cleanse them, and make them healthy for body and
soul. For generation upon generation have they been allowed to breed
corruption; to this day they are allowed to do so. All who have the
remedy in their hands are responsible. The preacher who preaches and
does not practise; the rich who can afford, but grudges to give; the
statesman with his dilettante efforts towards social improvement, and
his huge efforts towards place and power--one and all of these are
accountable for the sin. It is no less, and it rests upon them.



FOOTNOTES

[Footnote 1: I have this desk, with its contents, now in my
possession. The extraordinary revelations made therein (which I may
mention have no connection with the present story) will one day be
made public--B. L. F.]



THE END.


LONDON:
ROBSON AND SONS, LIMITED, PRINTERS, PANCRAS ROAD, N.W.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Devlin the Barber" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home