M. E. Braddon
Part 3 out of 9
morning, and the theme of every conversation was the murder that had
been done in the grove on the way to St. Cross.
Mr. Balderby and Arthur Lovell arrived at the George a few minutes
before two o'clock. They were shown at once into the apartment in which
Henry Dunbar sat waiting for them.
Arthur Lovell had been thinking of Laura and Laura's father throughout
the journey from London. He had wondered, as he got nearer and nearer to
Winchester, what would be his first impression respecting Mr. Dunbar.
That first impression was not a good one--no, it was not a good one. Mr.
Dunbar was a handsome man--a very handsome man--tall and
aristocratic-looking, with a certain haughty pace in his manner that
harmonized well with his good looks. But, in spite of all this, the
impression which he made upon the mind of Arthur Lovell was not an
The young lawyer had heard the story of the forgery vaguely hinted at by
those who were familiar with the history of the Dunbar family; and he
had heard that the early life of Henry Dunbar had been that of a selfish
Perhaps this may have had some influence upon his feelings in this his
first meeting with the father of the woman he loved.
Henry Dunbar told the story of the murder. The two men were
inexpressibly shocked by this story.
"But where is Sampson Wilmot?" exclaimed Mr. Balderby. "It was he whom I
sent to meet you, knowing that he was the only person in the office who
remembered you, or whom you remembered."
"Sampson was taken ill upon the way, according to his brother's story,"
Mr. Dunbar answered. "Joseph left the poor old man somewhere upon the
"He did not say where?"
"No; and, strange to say, I forgot to ask him the question. The poor
fellow amused me by old memories of the past on the road between
Southampton and this place, and we therefore talked very little of the
"Sampson must be very ill," exclaimed Mr. Balderby, "or he would
certainly have returned to St. Gundolph Lane to tell me what had taken
Mr. Dunbar smiled.
"If he was too ill to go on to Southampton, he would, of course, be too
ill to return to London," he said, with supreme indifference.
Mr. Balderby, who was a good-hearted man, was distressed at the idea of
Sampson Wilmot's desolation; an old man, stricken with sudden illness,
and abandoned to strangers.
Arthur Lovell was silent: he sat a little way apart from the two others,
watching Henry Dunbar.
At three o'clock the inquest commenced. The witnesses summoned were the
two Irishmen, Patrick Hennessy and Philip Murtock, who had found the
body in the stream near St. Cross; Mr. Cricklewood, the surgeon; the
verger, who had seen and spoken to the two men, and who had afterwards
shown the cathedral to Mr. Dunbar; the landlord of the George, and the
waiter who had received the travellers and had taken Mr. Dunbar's orders
for the dinner; and Henry Dunbar himself.
There were a great many people in the room, for by this time the tidings
of the murder had spread far and wide. There were influential people
present, amongst others, Sir Arden Westhorpe, one of the county
magistrates resident at Winchester. Arthur Lovell, Mr. Balderby, and the
Anglo-Indian sat in a little group apart from the rest.
The jurymen were ranged upon either side of a long mahogany table. The
coroner sat at the top.
But before the examination of the witnesses was commenced, the jurymen
were conducted into that dismal chamber where the dead man lay upon one
of the long tap-room tables. Arthur Lovell went with them; and Mr.
Cricklewood, the surgeon, proceeded to examine the corpse, so as to
enable him to give evidence respecting the cause of death.
The face of the dead man was distorted and blackened by the agony of
strangulation. The coroner and the jurymen looked at that dead face with
wondering, awe-stricken glances. Sometimes a cruel stab, that goes
straight home to the heart, will leave the face of the murdered as calm,
as the face of a sleeping child.
But in this case it was not so. The horrible stamp of assassination was
branded upon that rigid brow. Horror, surprise, and the dread agony of
sudden death were all blended in the expression of the face.
The jurymen talked a little to one another in scarcely audible whispers,
asked a few questions of the surgeon, and then walked softly from the
The facts of the case were very simple, and speedily elicited. But
whatever the truth of that awful story might be, there was nothing that
threw any light upon the mystery.
Arthur Lovell, watching the case in the interests of Mr. Dunbar, asked
several questions of the witnesses. Henry Dunbar was himself the first
person examined. He gave a very simple and intelligible account of all
that had taken place from the moment of his landing at Southampton.
"I found the deceased waiting to receive me when I landed," he said. "He
told me that he came as a substitute for another person. I did not know
him at first--that is to say, I did not recognize him as the valet who
had been in my service prior to my leaving England five-and-thirty years
ago. But he made himself known to me afterwards, and he told me that he
had met his brother in London on the sixteenth of this month, and had
travelled with him part of the way to Southampton. He also told me that,
on the way to Southampton, his brother, Sampson Wilmot, a much older man
than the deceased, was taken ill, and that the two men then parted
Mr. Dunbar had said all this with perfect self-possession, and with
great deliberation. He was so very self-possessed, so very deliberate,
that it seemed almost as if he had been reciting something which he had
learned by heart.
Arthur Lovell, watching him very intently, saw this, and wondered at it.
It is very usual for a witness, even the most indifferent witness,
giving evidence about some trifling matter, to be confused, to falter,
and hesitate, and contradict himself, embarrassed by the strangeness of
his position. But Henry Dunbar was in nowise discomposed by the awful
nature of the event which had happened. He was pale; but his firmly-set
lips, his erect carriage, the determined glance of his eyes, bore
witness to the strength of his nerves and the power of his intellect.
"The man must be made of iron," Arthur Lovell thought to himself. "He is
either a very great man, or a very wicked one. I almost fear to ask
"Where did the deceased Joseph Wilmot say he left his brother Sampson,
Mr. Dunbar?" asked the coroner.
"I do not remember."
The coroner scratched his chin, thoughtfully.
"That is rather awkward," he said; "the evidence of this man Sampson
might throw some light upon this most mysterious event."
Mr. Dunbar then told the rest of his story.
He spoke of the luncheon at Southampton, the journey from Southampton to
Winchester, the afternoon stroll down to the meadows near St. Cross.
"Can you tell us the exact spot at which you parted with the deceased?"
asked the coroner.
"No," Mr. Dunbar answered; "you must bear in mind that I am a stranger
in England. I have not been in this neighbourhood since I was a boy. My
old schoolfellow, Michael Marston, married and settled at the Ferns
during my absence in India. I found at Southampton that I should have a
few hours on my hands before I could travel express for London, and I
came to this place on purpose to see my old friend. I was very much
disappointed to find that he was dead. But I thought that I would call
upon his widow, from whom I should no doubt hear the history of my poor
friend's last moments. I went with Joseph Wilmot through the cathedral
yard, and down towards St. Cross. The verger saw us, and spoke to us as
we went by."
The verger, who was standing amongst the other witnesses, waiting to be
examined, here exclaimed,--
"Ay, that I did, sir; I remember it well."
"At what time did you leave the George?"
"At a little after four o'clock."
"Where did you go then?"
"I went," answered Mr. Dunbar, boldly, "into the grove with the
deceased, arm-in-arm. We walked together about a quarter of a mile under
the trees, and I had intended to go on to the Ferns, to call upon
Michael Marston's widow; but my habits of late years have been
sedentary; the heat of the day and the walk together were too much for
me. I sent Joseph Wilmot on to the Ferns with a message for Mrs.
Marston, asking at what hour she could conveniently receive me to-day;
and I returned to the cathedral. Joseph Wilmot was to deliver his
message at the Ferns, and rejoin me in the cathedral."
"He was to return to the cathedral?"
"But why should he not have returned to the George Hotel? Why should you
wait for him at the cathedral?"
Arthur Lovell listened, with a strange expression upon his face. If
Henry Dunbar was pale, Henry Dunbar's legal adviser was still more so.
The jurymen stared aghast at the coroner, as if they had been
awe-stricken by his impertinence towards the chief partner of the great
banking-house of Dunbar, Dunbar, and Balderby. How dared he--a man with
an income of five hundred a year at the most--how dared he discredit or
question any assertion made by Henry Dunbar?
The Anglo-Indian smiled, a little contemptuously. He stood in a careless
attitude, playing with the golden trinkets at his watch-chain, with the
hot August sunshine streaming upon his face from a bare unshaded window
opposite him. But he did not attempt to escape that almost blinding
glare. He stood facing the sunlight; facing the gaze of the coroner and
the jurymen; the scrutinizing glance of Arthur Lovell. Unabashed and
_nonchalant_ as if he had been standing in a ball-room, the hero of the
hour, the admired of all who looked upon him, Mr. Dunbar stood before
the coroner and jury, and told the broken history of his old servant's
"Yes," Mr. Lovell thought again, as he watched the rich man's face, "his
nerves must be made of iron."
The coroner repeated his question:
"Why did you tell the deceased to join you at the cathedral, Mr.
"Merely because it suited my humour at the time to do so," answered the
Anglo-Indian, coolly. "We had been very friendly together, and I had a
fancy for going over the cathedral. I thought that Wilmot might return
from the Ferns in time to go over some portion of the edifice with me.
He was a very intelligent fellow, and I liked his society."
"But the journey to the Ferns and back would have occupied some time."
"Perhaps so," answered Mr. Dunbar; "I did not know the distance to the
Ferns, and I did not make any calculation as to time. I merely said to
the deceased, 'I shall go back and look at the cathedral; and I will
wait for you there.' I said this, and I told him to be as quick as he
"That was all that passed between you?"
"It was. I then returned to the cathedral."
"And you waited there for the deceased?"
"I did. I waited until close upon the hour at which I had ordered dinner
at the George."
There was a pause, during which the coroner looked very thoughtful.
"I am compelled to ask you one more question, Mr. Dunbar," he said,
presently, hesitating a little as he spoke.
"I am ready to answer any questions you may wish to ask," Mr. Dunbar
replied, very quietly.
"Were you upon friendly terms with the deceased?"
"I have just told you so. We were on excellent terms. I found him an
agreeable companion. His manners were those of a gentleman. I don't know
how he had picked up his education, but he certainly had contrived to
educate himself some how or other."
"I understand you were friendly together at the time of his death; but
prior to that time----"
Mr. Dunbar smiled.
"I have been in India five-and-thirty years," he said.
"Precisely. But before your departure for India, had you any
misunderstanding, any serious quarrel with the deceased?"
Mr. Dunbar's face flushed suddenly, and his brows contracted as if even
his self-possession were not proof against the unpleasant memories of
"No," he said, with determination; "I never quarrelled with him."
"There had been no cause of quarrel between you?"
"I don't understand your question. I have told you that I never
quarrelled with him."
"Perhaps not; but there might have been some hidden animosity, some
smothered feeling, stronger than any openly-expressed anger, hidden in
your breast. Was there any such feeling?"
"Not on my part."
"Was there any such feeling on the part of the deceased?"
Mr. Dunbar looked furtively at William Balderby. The junior partner's
eyelids dropped under that stolen glance.
It was clear that he knew the story of the forged bills.
Had the coroner for Winchester been a clever man, he would have followed
that glance of Mr. Dunbar's, and would have understood that the junior
partner knew something about the antecedents of the dead man. But the
coroner was not a very close observer, and Mr. Dunbar's eager glance
escaped him altogether.
"Yes," answered the Anglo-Indian, "Joseph Wilmot had a grudge against me
before I sailed for Calcutta, but we settled all that at Southampton,
and I promised to allow him an annuity."
"You promised him an annuity?"
"Yes--not a very large one--only fifty pounds a year; but he was quite
satisfied with that promise."
"He had some claim upon you, then?"
"No, he had no claim whatever upon me," replied Mr. Dunbar, haughtily.
Of course, it could be scarcely pleasant for a millionaire to be
cross-questioned in this manner by an impertinent Hampshire coroner.
The jurymen sympathized with the banker.
The coroner looked rather puzzled.
"If the deceased had no claim upon you, why did you promise him an
annuity?" he asked, after a pause.
"I made that promise for the sake of 'auld lang syne,'" answered Mr.
Dunbar. "Joseph Wilmot was a favourite servant of mine five-and-thirty
years ago. We were young men together. I believe that he had, at one
time, a very sincere affection for me. I know that I always liked him."
"How long were you in the grove with the deceased?"
"Not more than ten minutes."
"And you cannot describe the spot where you left him?"
"Not very easily; I could point it out, perhaps, if I were taken there."
"What time elapsed between your leaving the cathedral yard with the
deceased and your returning to it without him?"
"Perhaps half an hour."
"No; I do not imagine that it can have been longer."
"Thank you, Mr. Dunbar; that will do for the present," said the coroner.
The banker returned to his seat.
Arthur Lovell, still watching him, saw that his strong white hand
trembled a little as his fingers trifled with those glittering toys
hanging to his watch-chain.
The verger was the next person examined.
He described how he had been loitering in the yard of the cathedral as
the two men passed across it. He told how they had gone by arm-in-arm,
laughing and talking together.
"Which of them was talking as they passed you?" asked the coroner.
"Could you hear what he was saying?"
"No, sir. I could hear his voice, but I couldn't hear the words."
"What time elapsed between Mr. Dunbar and the deceased leaving the
cathedral yard, and Mr. Dunbar returning alone?"
The verger scratched his head, and looked doubtfully at Henry Dunbar.
That gentleman was looking straight before him, and seemed quite
unconscious of the verger's glance.
"I can't quite exactly say how long it was, sir," the old man answered,
after a pause.
"Why can't you say exactly?"
"Because, you see, sir, I didn't keep no particular 'count of the time,
and I shouldn't like to tell a falsehood."
"You must not tell a falsehood. We want the truth, and nothing but the
"I know, sir; but you see I am an old man, and my memory is not as good
as it used to be. I _think_ Mr. Dunbar was away an hour."
Arthur Lovell gave an involuntary start. Every one of the jurymen looked
suddenly at Mr. Dunbar.
But the Anglo-Indian did not flinch. He was looking at the verger now
with a quiet steady gaze, which seemed that of a man who had nothing to
fear, and who was serene and undisturbed by reason of his innocence.
"We don't want to know what you _think_," the coroner said; "you must
tell us only what you are certain of."
"Then I'm not certain, sir."
"You are not certain that Mr. Dunbar was absent for an hour?"
"Not quite certain, sir."
"But very nearly certain. Is that so?"
"Yes, sir, I'm very nearly certain. You see, sir, when the two gentlemen
went through the yard, the cathedral clock was chiming the quarter after
four; I remember that. And when Mr. Dunbar came back, I was just going
away to my tea, and I seldom go to my tea until it's gone five."
"But supposing it to have struck five when Mr. Dunbar returned, that
would only make it three quarters of an hour after the time at which he
went through the yard, supposing him to have gone through, as you say,
at the quarter past four."
The verger scratched his head again.
"I'd been loiterin' about yesterday afternoon, sir," he said; "and I was
a bit late thinkin' of my tea."
"And you believe, therefore, that Mr. Dunbar was absent for an hour?"
"Yes, sir; an hour--or more."
"An hour, or more?"
"He was absent more than an hour; do you mean to say that?"
"It might have been more, sir. I didn't keep no particular 'count of the
Arthur Lovell had taken out his pocket-book, and was making notes of the
The old man went on to describe his having shown Mr. Dunbar all over the
cathedral. He made no mention of that sudden faintness which had seized
upon the Anglo-Indian at the door of one of the chapels; but he
described the rich man's manner as having been affable in the extreme.
He told how Henry Dunbar had loitered at the door of the cathedral, and
afterwards lingered in the quadrangle, waiting for the coming of his
servant. He told all this with many encomiums upon the rich man's
The next, and perhaps the most important, witnesses were the two
labourers, Philip Murtock and Patrick Hennessy, who had found the body
of the murdered man.
Patrick Hennessy was sent out of the room while Murtock gave his
evidence; but the evidence of the two men tallied in every particular.
They were Irishmen, reapers, and were returning from a harvest supper at
a farm five miles from St. Cross, upon the previous evening. One of them
had knelt down upon the edge of the stream to get a drink of water in
the crown of his felt hat, and had been horrified by seeing the face of
the dead man looking up at him in the moonlight, through the shallow
water that barely covered it. The two men had dragged the body out of
the streamlet, and Philip Murtock had watched beside it while Patrick
Hennessy had gone to seek assistance.
The dead man's clothes had been stripped from him, with the exception of
his trousers and boots, and the other part of his body was bare. There
was a revolting brutality in this fact. It seemed that the murderer had
stripped his victim for the sake of the clothes which he had worn. There
could be little doubt, therefore, that the murder had been committed for
the greed of gain, and not from any motive of revenge.
Arthur Lovell breathed more freely; until this moment his mind had been
racked in agonizing doubts. Dark suspicions had been working in his
breast. He had been tortured by the idea that the Anglo-Indian had
murdered his old servant, in order to remove out of his way the chief
witness of the crime of his youth.
But if this had been so, the murderer would never have lingered upon the
scene of his crime in order to strip the clothes from his victim's body.
No! the deed had doubtless been done by some savage wretch, some lost
and ignorant creature, hardened by a long life of crime, and preying
like a wild beast upon his fellow-men.
Such murders are done in the world. Blood has been shed for the sake of
some prize so small, so paltry, that it has been difficult for men to
believe that one human being could destroy another for such an object.
Heaven have pity upon the wretch so lost as to be separated from his
fellow-creatures by reason of the vileness of his nature! Heaven
strengthen the hands of those who seek to spread Christian enlightenment
and education through the land! for it is only those blessings that will
thin the crowded prison wards, and rob the gallows of its victims.
The robbery of the dead man's clothes, and such property as he might
have had about him at the time of his death, gave a new aspect to the
murder in the eyes of Arthur Lovell. The case was clear and plain now,
and the young man's duty was no longer loathsome to him; for he no
longer suspected Henry Dunbar.
The constabulary had already been busy; the spot upon which the murder
had been committed, and the neighbourhood of that spot, had been
diligently searched. But no vestige of the dead man's garments had been
The medical man's evidence was very brief. He stated, that when he
arrived at the Foresters' Arms he found the deceased quite dead, and
that he appeared to have been dead some hours; that from the bruises and
marks on the throat and neck, some contusions on the back of the head,
and other appearances on the body, which witness minutely described, he
said there were indications of a struggle having taken place between
deceased and some other person or persons; that the man had been thrown,
or had fallen down violently; and that death had ultimately been caused
by strangling and suffocation.
The coroner questioned the surgeon very closely as to how long he
thought the murdered man had been dead. The medical man declined to give
any positive statement on this point; he could only say that when he was
called in, the body was cold, and that the deceased might have been dead
three hours--or he might have been dead five hours. It was impossible to
form an opinion with regard to the exact time at which death had taken
The evidence of the waiter and the landlord of the George only went to
show that the two men had arrived at the hotel together; that they had
appeared in very high spirits, and on excellent terms with each other;
that Mr. Dunbar had shown very great concern and anxiety about the
absence of his companion, and had declined to eat his dinner until nine
This closed the evidence; and the jury retired.
They were absent about a quarter of an hour, and then returned a verdict
of wilful murder against some person or persons unknown.
Henry Dunbar, Arthur Lovell, and Mr. Balderby went back to the hotel. It
was past six o'clock when the coroner's inquest was concluded, and the
three men sat down to dinner together at seven.
That dinner-party was not a pleasant one; there was a feeling of
oppression upon the minds of the three men. The awful event of the
previous day cast its dreadful shadow upon them. They could not talk
freely of this subject--for it was too ghastly a theme for
discussion--and to talk of any other seemed almost impossible.
Arthur Lovell had observed with surprise that Henry Dunbar had not once
spoken of his daughter. And yet this was scarcely strange; the utterance
of that name might have jarred upon the father's feelings at such a time
"You will write to Miss Dunbar to-night, will you not, sir?" the young
man said at last. "I fear that she will have been very anxious about you
all this day. She was alarmed by your message to Mr. Balderby."
"I shall not write," said the banker; "for I hope to see my daughter
"You will leave Winchester this evening, then?"
"Yes, by the 10.15 express. I should have travelled by that train
yesterday evening, but for this terrible event."
Arthur Lovell looked rather astonished at this.
"You are surprised," said Mr. Dunbar.
"I thought perhaps that you might stay--until----"
"Until what?" asked the Anglo-Indian; "everything is finished, is it
not? The inquest was concluded to-day. I shall leave full directions for
the burial of this poor fellow, and an ample sum for his funeral
expenses. I spoke to the coroner upon that subject this afternoon. What
more can I do?"
"Nothing, certainly," answered Arthur Lovell, with rather a hesitating
manner; "but I thought, under the peculiar circumstances, it might be
better that you should remain upon the spot, if possible, until some
steps shall have been taken for the finding of the murderer."
He did not like to give utterance to the thought that was in his mind;
for he was thinking that some people would perhaps suspect Mr. Dunbar
himself, and that it might be well for him to remain upon the scene of
the murder until that suspicion should be done away with by the arrest
of the real murderer.
The banker shook his head.
"I very much doubt the discovery of the guilty man," he said; "what is
there to hinder his escape?"
"Everything," answered Arthur Lovell, warmly. "First, the stupidity of
guilt, the blind besotted folly which so often betrays the murderer. It
is not the commission of a crime only that is horrible; think of the
hideous state of the criminal's mind _after_ the deed is done. And it is
at that time, immediately after the crime has been perpetrated, when the
breast of the murderer is like a raging hell; it is at that time that he
is called upon to be most circumspect--to keep guard upon his every
look, his smallest word, his most trivial action,--for he knows that
every look and action is watched; that every word is greedily listened
to by men who are eager to bring his guilt home to him; by hungry men,
wrestling for his conviction as a result that will bring them a golden
reward; by practised men, who have studied the philosophy of crime, and
who, by reason of their peculiar skill, are able to read dark meanings
in words and looks that to other people are like a strange language. He
knows that the scent of blood is in the air, and that the bloodhounds
are at their loathsome work. He knows this; and at such a time he is
called upon to face the world with a bold front, and so to fashion his
words and looks that he shall deceive the secret watchers. He is never
alone. The servant who waits upon him, or the railway guard who shows
him to his seat in the first-class carriage, the porter who carries his
luggage, or the sailor who looks at him scrutinizingly as he breathes
the fresh sea-air upon the deck of that ship which is to carry him to a
secure hiding-place--any one of these may be a disguised detective, and
at any moment the bolt may fall; he may feel the light hand upon his
shoulder, and know that he is a doomed man. Who can wonder, then, that a
criminal is generally a coward, and that he betrays himself by some
blind folly of his own?"
The young man had been carried away by his subject, and had spoken with
a strange energy.
Mr. Dunbar laughed aloud at the lawyer's enthusiasm.
"You should have been a barrister, Mr. Lovell," he said; "that would
have been a capital opening for your speech as counsel for the crown. I
can see the wretched criminal shivering in the dock, cowering under that
burst of forensic eloquence."
Henry Dunbar laughed heartily as he finished speaking, and then threw
himself back in his easy-chair, and passed his handkerchief across his
handsome forehead, as it was his habit to do occasionally.
"In this case I think the criminal will be most likely arrested," Arthur
Lovell continued, still dwelling upon the subject of the murder; "he
will be traced by those clothes. He will endeavour to sell them, of
course; and as he is most likely some wretchedly ignorant boor, he will
very probably try to sell them within a few miles of the scene of the
"I hope he will be found," said Mr. Balderby, filling his glass with
claret as he spoke; "I never heard any good of this man Wilmot, and,
indeed, I believe he went to the bad altogether after you left England,
"Yes," answered the junior partner, looking rather nervously at his
chief; "he committed forgery, I believe; fabricated forged bank notes,
or something of that kind, and was transported for life, I heard; but I
suppose he got a remission of his sentence, or something of that kind,
and returned to England."
"I had no idea of this," said Mr. Dunbar.
"He did not tell you, then?"
"Oh, no; it was scarcely likely that he should tell me."
Very little more was said upon the subject just then. At nine o'clock
Mr. Dunbar left the room to see to the packing of his things, at a
little before ten the three gentlemen drove away from the George Hotel,
on their way to the station.
They reached the station at five minutes past ten; the train was not due
until a quarter past.
Mr. Balderby went to the office to procure the three tickets. Henry
Dunbar and Arthur Lovell walked arm-in-arm up and down the platform.
As the bell for the up-train was ringing, a man came suddenly upon the
platform and looked about him.
He recognized the banker, walked straight up to him, and, taking off his
hat, addressed Mr. Dunbar respectfully.
"I am sorry to detain you, sir," he said; "but I have a warrant to
prevent you leaving Winchester."
"What do you mean?"
"I hold a warrant for your apprehension, sir."
"From Sir Arden Westhorpe, our chief county magistrate; and I am to take
you before him immediately, sir."
"Upon what charge?" cried Arthur Lovell.
"Upon suspicion of having been concerned in the murder of Joseph
The millionaire drew himself up haughtily, and looked at the constable
with a proud smile.
"This is too absurd," he said; "but I am quite ready to go with you. Be
good enough to telegraph to my daughter, Mr. Lovell," he added, turning
to the young man; "tell her that circumstances over which I have no
control will detain me in Winchester for a week. Take care not to alarm
Everybody about the station had collected on the platform, and made a
circle about Mr. Dunbar. They stood a little aloof from him, looking at
him with respectful interest: altogether different from the eager
clamorous curiosity with which they would have regarded any ordinary man
suspected of the same crime.
He was suspected; but he could not be guilty. Why should a millionaire
commit a murder? The motives that might influence other men could have
had no weight with him.
The bystanders repeated this to one another, as they followed Mr. Dunbar
and his custodian from the station, loudly indignant against the minions
of the law.
Mr. Dunbar, the constable, and Mr. Balderby drove straight to the
The junior partner offered any amount of bail for his chief; but the
Anglo-Indian motioned him to silence, with a haughty gesture.
"I thank you, Mr. Balderby," he said, proudly; "but I will not accept my
liberty on sufferance. Sir Arden Westhorpe has chosen to arrest me, and
I shall abide the issue of that arrest."
It was in vain that the junior partner protested against this. Henry
Dunbar was inflexible.
"I hope, and I venture to believe, that you are as innocent as I am
myself of this horrible crime, Mr. Dunbar," the baronet said, kindly;
"and I sympathize with you in this very terrible position. But upon the
information laid before me, I consider it my duty to detain you until
the matter shall have been further investigated. You were the last
person seen with the deceased."
"And for that reason it is supposed that I strangled my old servant for
the sake of his clothes," cried Mr. Dunbar, bitterly. "I am a stranger
in England; but if that is your English law, I am not sorry that the
best part of my life has been passed in India. However, I am perfectly
willing to submit to any examination that may be considered necessary to
the furtherance of justice."
So, upon the second night of his arrival in England, Henry Dunbar, chief
of the wealthy house of Dunbar, Dunbar, and Balderby, slept in
THE PRISONER IS REMANDED.
Mr. Dunbar was brought before Sir Arden Westhorpe, at ten o'clock, on
the morning after his arrest. The witnesses who had given evidence at
the inquest were again summoned, and--with the exception of the verger,
and Mr. Dunbar, who was now a prisoner--gave the same evidence, or
evidence to the same effect.
Arthur Lovell again watched the proceedings in the interest of Laura's
father, and cross-examined some of the witnesses.
But very little new evidence was elicited. The empty pocket-book, which
had been found a few paces from the body, was produced. The rope by
which the murdered man had been strangled was also produced and
It was a common rope, rather slender, and about a yard and a half in
length. It was made into a running noose that had been drawn tightly
round the neck of the victim.
Had the victim been a strong man he might perhaps have resisted the
attack, and might have prevented his assailant tightening the fatal
knot; but the surgeon bore witness that the dead man, though tall and
stalwart-looking, had not been strong.
It was a strange murder, a bloodless murder; a deed that must have been
done by a man of unfaltering resolution and iron nerve: for it must have
been the work of a moment, in which the victim's first cry of surprise
was stifled ere it was half uttered.
The chief witness upon this day was the verger; and it was in
consequence of certain remarks dropped by him that Henry Dunbar had been
Upon the afternoon of the inquest this official had found himself a
person of considerable importance. He was surrounded by eager gossips,
greedy to hear anything he might have to tell upon the subject of the
murder; and amongst those who listened to his talk was one of the
constables--a sharp, clear-headed fellow--who was on the watch for any
hint that might point to the secret of Joseph Wilmot's death. The
verger, in describing the events of the previous afternoon, spoke of
that one fact which he had omitted to refer to before the coroner. He
spoke of the sudden faintness which had come over Mr. Dunbar.
"Poor gentleman!" he said, "I don't think I ever see the like of
anything as come over him so sudden. He walked along the aisle with his
head up, dashing and millingtary-like; but, all in a minute, he reeled
as if he'd been dead drunk, and he would have fell if there hadn't been
a bench handy. Down he dropped upon that bench like a stone; and when I
turned round to look at him the drops of perspiration was rollin' down
his forehead like beads. I never see such a face in my life, as
ghastly-like as if he'd seen a ghost. But he was laughin' and smilin'
the next minute; and it was only the heat of the weather, he says."
"It's odd as a gentleman that's just come home from India should
complain of the heat on such a day as yesterday," said one of the
This was the substance of the evidence that the verger gave before Sir
Arden Westhorpe. This, with the evidence of a boy who had met the
deceased and Henry Dunbar close to the spot where the body was found,
was the only evidence against the rich man.
To the mind of Sir Arden Westhorpe the agitation displayed by Henry
Dunbar in the cathedral was a very strong point; yet, what more possible
than that the Anglo-Indian should have been seized with a momentary
giddiness? He was not a young man; and though his broad chest, square
shoulders, and long, muscular arms betokened strength, that natural
vigour might have been impaired by the effects of a warm climate.
There were new witnesses upon this day, people who testified to having
been in the neighbourhood of the grove, and in the grove itself, upon
that fatal afternoon and evening.
Other labourers, besides the two Irishmen, had passed beneath the shadow
of the trees in the moonlight. Idle pedestrians had strolled through the
grove in the still twilight; not one of these had seen Joseph Wilmot,
nor had there been heard any cry of anguish, or wild shrieks of terror.
One man deposed to having met a rough-looking fellow, half-gipsy,
half-hawker, in the grove between seven and eight o'clock.
Arthur Lovell questioned this person as to the appearance and manner of
the man he had met.
But the witness declared that there was nothing peculiar in the man's
manner. He had not seemed confused, or excited, or hurried, or
frightened. He was a coarse-featured, sunburnt ruffianly-looking fellow;
and that was all.
Mr. Balderby was examined, and swore to the splendid position which
Henry Dunbar occupied as chief of the house in St. Gundolph Lane; and
then the examination was adjourned, and the prisoner remanded, although
Arthur Lovell contended that there was no evidence to justify his
Mr. Dunbar still protested against any offer of bail; he again declared
that he would rather remain in prison than accept his liberty on
sufferance, and go out into the world a suspected man.
"I will never leave Winchester Gaol," he said, "until I leave it with my
character cleared in the eyes of every living creature."
He had been treated with the greatest respect by the prison officials,
and had been provided with comfortable apartments. Arthur Lovell and Mr.
Balderby were admitted to him whenever he chose to receive them.
Meanwhile every voice in Winchester was loud in indignation against
those who had caused the detention of the millionaire.
Here was an English gentleman, a man whose wealth was something
fabulous, newly returned from India, eager to embrace his only child;
and before he had done more than set his foot upon his native soil, he
was seized upon by obstinate and pig-headed officials, and thrown into a
Arthur Lovell worked nobly in the service of Laura's father. He did not
particularly like the man, though he wished to like him; but he believed
him to be innocent of the dreadful crime imputed to him, and he was
determined to make that innocence clear to the eyes of other people.
For this purpose he urged on the police upon the track of the strange
man, the rough-looking hawker, who had been seen in the grove on the day
of the murder.
He himself left Winchester upon another errand. He went away with the
determination of discovering the sick man, Sampson Wilmot. The old
clerk's evidence might be most important in such a case as this; as he
would perhaps be able to throw much light upon the antecedents and
associations of the dead man.
The young lawyer travelled along the line, stopping at every station. At
Basingstoke he was informed that an old man, travelling with his
brother, had been taken ill; and that he had since died. An inquest had
been held upon his remains some days before, and he had been buried by
It was upon the 21st of August that Arthur Lovell visited Basingstoke.
The people at the village inn told him that the old man had died at two
o'clock upon the morning of the 17th, only a few hours after his
brother's desertion of him. He had never spoken after the final stroke
There was nothing to be learned here, therefore. Death had closed the
lips of this witness.
But even if Sampson Wilmot had lived to speak, what could he have told?
The dead man's antecedents could have thrown little light upon the way
in which he had met his death. It was a common murder, after all; a
murder that had been done for the sake of the victim's little property;
a silver watch, perhaps; a few sovereigns; a coat, waistcoat, and shirt.
The only evidence that tended in the least to implicate Henry Dunbar was
the fact that he had been the last person seen in company with the dead
man, and the discrepancy between his assertion and that of the verger
respecting the time during which he had been absent from the cathedral
No magistrate in his senses would commit the Anglo-Indian for trial upon
such evidence as this.
While these things were taking place at Winchester, Margaret waited for
the coming of her father. She waited until her heart grew sick, but
still she did not despair of his return. He had promised to come back to
her by ten o'clock upon the evening of the 16th; but he was not a man
who always kept his promises. He had often left her in the same manner,
and had stayed away for days and weeks together.
There was nothing extraordinary, therefore, in his absence; and if the
girl's heart grew sick, it was not with the fear that her father would
not return to her; but with the thought of what dishonest work he might
be engaged in during his absence.
She knew now that he led a dishonest life. His own lips had told her the
cruel truth. She would no longer be able to defend him when people spoke
against him. Henceforth she must only plead for him.
The poor girl had been proud of her father, reprobate though he was; she
had been proud of his gentlemanly bearing, his cleverness, his air of
superiority over other men of his station; and the thought of his
acknowledged guilt stung her to the heart. She pitied him, and she tried
to make excuses for him in her own mind: and with every thought of the
penniless reprobate there was intermingled the memory of the wrong that
had been done him by Henry Dunbar.
"If my father has been guilty, that man is answerable for his guilt,"
she thought perpetually.
Meanwhile she waited, Heaven only knows how anxiously, for her father's
coming. A week passed, and another week began, and still he did not
come; but she was not alarmed for his personal safety, she was only
anxious about him; and she expected his return every day, every hour.
But he did not come.
And all this time, with her mind racked by anxious thoughts, the girl
went about the weary duties of her daily life. Her thoughts might wander
away into vague speculations about her father's absence while she sat by
her pupil's side; but her eyes never wandered from the fingers it was
her duty to watch. Her life had been a hard one, and she was better able
to hide her sorrows and anxieties than any one to whom such a burden had
been a novelty. So, very few people suspected that there was anything
amiss with the grave young music-mistress.
One person did see the vague change in her manner; but that person was
Clement Austin, who had already grown skilled in reading the varying
expressions of her face, and who saw now that she was changed. She
listened to him when he talked to her of the books or the music she
loved; but her face never lighted up now with a bright look of pleasure;
and he heard her sigh now and then as she gave her lesson.
He asked her once if there was anything in which his services, or his
mother's, could be of any assistance to her; but she thanked him for the
kindness of his offer, and told him, "No, there was nothing in which he
could help her."
"But I am sure there is something on your mind. Pray do not think me
intrusive or impertinent for saying so; but I am sure of it."
Margaret only shook her head.
"I am mistaken, then?" said Clement, interrogatively.
"You are indeed. I have no special trouble. I am only a little uneasy
about my father, who has been away from home for the last week or two.
But there is nothing strange in that; he is often away. Only I am apt to
be foolishly anxious about him. He will scold me when he comes home and
hears that I have been so."
Upon the evening of the 27th August, Margaret gave her accustomed
lesson, and lingered a little as usual after the lesson, talking to Mrs.
Austin, who had taken a wonderful fancy to her granddaughter's
music-mistress; and to Clement, who somehow or other had discontinued
his summer evening walks of late, more especially on those occasions on
which his niece took he music-lesson. They talked of all manner of
things, and it was scarcely strange that amongst other topics they
should come by and-by to the Winchester murder.
"By the bye, Miss Wentworth," exclaimed Mrs. Austin, breaking in upon
Clement's disquisition on his favourite Carlyle's "Hero-Worship," "I
suppose you've heard about this dreadful murder that is making such a
"A dreadful murder--no, Mrs. Austin; I rarely hear anything of that
kind; for the person with whom I lodge is old and deaf. She troubles
herself very little about what is going on in the world, and I never
read the newspapers myself."
"Indeed," said Mrs. Austin; "well, my dear, you really surprise me. I
thought this dreadful business had made such a sensation, on account of
the great Mr. Dunbar being mixed up in it."
"Mr. Dunbar!" cried Margaret, looking at the speaker with dilated eyes.
"Yes, my dear, Mr. Dunbar, the rich banker. I have been very much
interested in the matter, because my son is employed in Mr. Dunbar's
bank. It seems that an old servant, a confidential valet of Mr.
Dunbar's, has been murdered at Winchester; and at first Mr. Dunbar
himself was suspected of the crime,--though, of course, that was utterly
ridiculous; for what motive could he possibly have had for murdering his
old servant? However, he has been suspected, and some stupid country
magistrate actually had him arrested. There was an examination about a
week ago, which was adjourned until to-day. We shan't know the result of
it till to-morrow."
Margaret sat listening to these words with a face that was as white as
the face of the dead.
Clement Austin saw the sudden change that had come over her countenance.
"Mother," he said, "you should not talk of these things before Miss
Wentworth; you have made her look quite ill. Remember, she may not be so
strong-minded as you are."
"No, no!" gasped Margaret, in a choking voice. "I--I--wish to hear of
this. Tell me, Mrs. Austin, what was the name of the murdered man?"
"Joseph Wilmot!" repeated Margaret, slowly. She had always known her
father by the name of James Wentworth; but what more likely than that
Wilmot was his real name! She had good reason to suspect that Wentworth
was a false one.
"I'll lend you a newspaper," Mrs. Austin said, good-naturedly, "if you
really want to learn the particulars of this murder."
"I do, if you please."
Mrs. Austin took a weekly paper from amongst some others that were
scattered upon a side-table. She folded up this paper and handed it to
"Give Miss Wentworth a glass of wine, mother," exclaimed Clement Austin;
"I'm sure all this talk about the murder has upset her."
"No, no, indeed!" Margaret answered, "I would rather not take anything.
I want to get home quickly. Good evening, Mrs. Austin."
She tried to say something more, but her voice failed her. She had been
in the habit of shaking hands with Mrs. Austin and Clement when she left
them; and the cashier had always accompanied her to the gate, and had
sometimes lingered with her there in the dusk, prolonging some
conversation that had been begun in the drawing-room; but to-night she
hurried from the room before the widow could remonstrate with her.
Clement followed her into the hall.
"Miss Wentworth," he said, "I know that something has agitated you. Pray
return to the drawing-room, and stop with us until you are more
"Let me see you home, then?"
"Oh! no! no!" she cried, as the young man barred her passage, to the
door; "for pity's sake don't detain me, Mr. Austin; don't detain me, or
She passed by him, and hurried out of the house. He followed her to the
gate, and watched her disappear in the twilight; and then went back to
the drawing-room, sighing heavily as he went.
"I have no right to follow her against her own wish," he said to
himself. "She has given me no right to interfere with her; or to think
of her, for the matter of that."
He threw himself into a chair, and took up a newspaper; but he did not
read half-a-dozen lines. He sat with his eyes fixed upon the page before
him, thinking of Margaret Wentworth.
"Poor girl!" he said to himself, presently; "poor lonely girl! She is
too pure and beautiful for the hard struggles of this world."
* * * * *
Margaret Wentworth walked rapidly along the road that led her back to
Wandsworth. She held the folded newspaper clutched tightly against her
breast. It was her death-warrant, perhaps. She never paused or slackened
her pace until she reached the lane leading down to the water.
She, opened the gate of the simple cottage-garden--there was no need of
bolts or locks for the fortification of Godolphin Cottages--and went up
to her own little sitting-room,--the room in which her father had told
her the secret of his life,--the room in which she had sworn to remember
the Henry Dunbar. All was dark and quiet in the house, for the mistress
of it was elderly-and old-fashioned in her ways; and Margaret was
accustomed to wait upon herself when she came home after nightfall.
She struck a lucifer, lighted her candle, and sat down with the
newspaper in her hand. She unfolded it, and examined the pages. She was
not long finding what she wanted.
"_The Winchester Murder. Latest Particulars_."
Margaret Wentworth read that horrible story. She read the newspaper
record of the cruel deed that had been done--twice--slowly and
deliberately. Her eyes were tearless, and there was a desperate courage
at her heart; that miserable, agonized heart, which seemed like a block
of ice in her breast.
"I swore to remember the name of Henry Dunbar," she said in, a low,
sombre voice; "I have good reason to remember it now."
From the first she had no doubt in her mind--from the very first she had
but one idea: and that idea was a conviction. Her father had been
murdered by his old master. The man Joseph Wilmot was her father: the
murderer was Henry Dunbar. The newspaper record told how the murdered
man had, according to his own account, met his brother at the Waterloo
station upon the afternoon of the 16th of August. That was the very
afternoon upon which James Wentworth had left his daughter to go to
London by rail.
He had met his old master, the man who had so bitterly injured him; the
cold-hearted scoundrel who had so cruelly betrayed him. He had been
violent, perhaps, and had threatened Henry Dunbar: and then--then the
rich man, treacherous and cold-hearted in his age as in his youth, had
beguiled his old valet by a pretended friendship, had lured him into a
lonely place, and had there murdered him; in order that all the wicked
secrets of the past might be buried with his victim.
As to the robbery of the clothes--the rifling of the pocketbook--that,
of course, was only a part of Henry Dunbar's deep laid scheme.
The girl folded the paper and put it in her breast. It was a strange
document to lie against that virginal bosom: and the breast beneath it
ached with a sick, cold pain, that was like the pain of death.
Margaret took up her candle, and went into a neatly-kept little room at
the back of the house,--the room in which her father had always slept
when he stayed in that house.
There was an old box, a battered and dilapidated hair-trunk, with a worn
rope knotted about it. The girl knelt down before the box, and put her
candle on a chair beside it. Then with her slender fingers she tried to
unfasten the knots that secured the cord. This task was not an easy one,
and her fingers ached before she had done. But she succeeded at last,
and lifted the lid of the trunk.
There were worn and shabby garments, tumbled and dusty, that had been
thrown pell-mell into the box: there were broken meerschaum-pipes; old
newspapers, pale with age, and with passages here and there marked by
thick strokes in faded ink. A faint effluvium that arose from the mass
of dilapidated rubbish--the weeds which the great ocean Time casts up
upon the shore of the present--testified to the neighbourhood of mice:
and scattered about the bottom of the box, amongst loose shreds of
tobacco--broken lumps of petrified cavendish--and scraps of paper, there
were a few letters.
Margaret gathered together these letters, and examined them. Three of
them--very old, faded, and flabby--were directed to "Joseph Wilmot, care
of the Governor of Norfolk Island," in a prim, clerk-like hand.
It was an ominous address. Margaret Wentworth bowed her head upon her
knees and sobbed aloud.
"He had been very wicked, and had need of a long life of penitence," she
thought; "but he has been murdered by Henry Dunbar."
There was no shadow of doubt now in her mind. She had in her own hand
the conclusive proof of the identity between Joseph Wilmot and her
father; and to her this seemed quite enough to prove that Henry Dunbar
was the murderer of his old servant. He had injured the man, and it was
in the man's power to do him injury. He had resolved, therefore, to get
rid of this old accomplice, this dangerous witness of the past.
This was how Margaret reasoned. That the crime committed in the quiet
grove, near St. Cross, was an every-day deed, done for the most pitiful
and sordid motives that can tempt a man to shed his brother's blood,
never for a moment entered into her thoughts. Other people might think
this in their ignorance of the story of the past.
At daybreak the next morning she left the house, after giving a very
brief explanation of her departure to the old woman with whom she
lodged. She took the first train to Winchester, and reached the station
two hours before noon. She had her whole stock of money with her, but
nothing else. Her own wants, her own necessities, had no place in her
thoughts. Her errand was a fearful one, for she went to tell so much as
she knew of the story of the past, and to bear witness against Henry
The railway official to whom she addressed herself at the Winchester
station treated her with civility and good-nature. The pale beauty of
her pensive face won her friends wherever she went. It is very hard upon
pug-nosed merit and red-haired virtue, that a Grecian profile, or raven
tresses, should be such an excellent letter of introduction; but,
unhappily, human nature is weak; and while beauty appeals straight to
the eye of the frivolous, merit requires to be appreciated by the wise.
"If there is anything I can do for you, miss," the railway official
said, politely, "I shall be very happy, I'm sure."
"I want to know about the murder," the girl answered, in a low,
tremulous voice, "the murder that was committed----"
"Yes, miss, to be sure. Everybody in Winchester is talking about it; a
most mysterious event! But," cried the official, brightening suddenly,
"you ain't a witness, miss, are you? You don't know anything
He was quite excited at the bare idea that this pretty girl had
something to say about the murder, and that he might have the privilege
of introducing her to his fellow-citizens. To know anybody who knew
anything about Joseph Wilmot's murder was to occupy a post of some
distinction in Winchester just now.
"Yes," Margaret said; "I want to give evidence against Henry Dunbar."
The railway official started, and stared aghast.
"Evidence against Mr. Dunbar, miss?" he said; "why, Mr. Henry Dunbar was
dismissed from custody only yesterday afternoon, and is going up to town
by the express this night, and everybody in Winchester is full of the
shameful way in which he has been treated. Why, as far as that goes,
there was no more ground for suspecting Mr. Dunbar--not that has come
out yet, at any rate--than there is for suspecting me!" And the porter
snapped his fingers contemptuously. "But if you know anything against
Mr. Dunbar, why, of course, that alters the case; and it's yer bounden
dooty, miss, to go before the magistrate directly-minute and make yer
The porter could hardly refrain, from smacking his lips with an air of
relish as he said this. Distinction had come to him unsought.
"Wait a minute, miss," he said; "I'll go and ask lief to take you round
to the magistrate's. You'll never find your way by yourself. The next up
isn't till 12.7--I can be spared."
The porter ran away, presented himself to a higher official, told his
story, and obtained a brief leave of absence. Then he returned to
"Now, miss," he said, "if you'll come along with me I'll take you to Sir
Arden Westhorpe's house. Sir Arden is the gentleman that has taken so
much trouble with this case."
On the way through the back-streets of the quiet city the porter would
fain have extracted from Margaret all that she had to tell. But the girl
would reveal nothing; she only said that she wanted to bear witness
against Henry Dunbar.
The porter, upon the other hand, was very communicative. He told his
companion what had happened at the adjourned examination.
"There was a deal of applause in the court when Mr. Dunbar was told he
might consider himself free," said the porter; "but Sir Arden checked
it; there was no need for clapping of hands, he says, or for anything
but sorrow that such a wicked deed had been done, and that the cruel
wretch as did it should escape. A young man as was in the court told me
that them was Sir Arden's exack words."
They had reached Sir Arden's house by this time. It was a very handsome
house, though it stood in a back sweet; and a grave man-servant, in a
linen jacket, admitted Margaret into the oak-panelled hall.
She might have had some difficulty perhaps in seeing Sir Arden, had not
the railway porter immediately declared her business. But the name of
the murdered man was a passport, and she was ushered at once into a low
room, which was lined with book-shelves, and opened into an
Here Sir Arden Westhorpe, the magistrate, sat at a table writing. He was
an elderly man, with grey hair and whiskers, and with rather a stern
expression of countenance. Rut he was a good and a just man; and though
Henry Dunbar had been the emperor of half Europe instead of an
Anglo-Indian banker, Sir Arden would have committed him for trial had he
seen just cause for so doing.
Margaret was in nowise abashed by the presence of the magistrate. She
had but one thought in her mind, the thought of her father's wrongs; and
she could have spoken freely in the presence of a king.
"I hope I am not too late, sir," she said; "I hear that Mr. Dunbar has
been discharged from custody. I hope I am not too late to bear witness
The magistrate looked up with an expression of surprise. "That will
depend upon circumstances," he said; "that is to say, upon the nature of
the statement which you may have to make."
The magistrate summoned his clerk from an adjoining room, and then took
down the girl's information.
But he shook his head doubtfully when Margaret had told him all she had
to tell. That which to the impulsive girl seemed proof positive of Henry
Dunbar's guilt was very little when written down in a business-like
manner by Sir Arden Westhorpe's clerk.
"You know your unhappy father to have been injured by Mr. Dunbar, and
you think he may have been in the possession of secrets of a damaging
nature to that gentleman; but you do not know what those secrets were.
My poor girl, I cannot possibly move in this business upon such evidence
as this. The police are at work. This matter will not be allowed to pass
off without the closest investigation, believe me. I shall take care to
have your statement placed in the hands of the detective officer who is
entrusted with the conduct of this affair. We must wait--we must wait. I
cannot bring myself to believe that Henry Dunbar has been guilty of this
fearful crime. He is rich enough to have bribed your father to keep
silence, if he had any reason to fear what he might say. Money is a very
powerful agent, and can buy almost anything. It is rarely that a man,
with almost unlimited wealth at his command, finds himself compelled to
commit an act of violence."
The magistrate read aloud Margaret Wilmot's deposition, and the girl
signed it in the presence of the clerk; she signed it with her father's
real name, the name that she had never written before that day.
Then, having given the magistrate the address of her Wandsworth lodging,
she bade him good morning, and went out into the unfamiliar street.
Nothing that Sir Arden Westhorpe had said had in any way weakened her
rooted conviction of Henry Dunbar's guilt. She still believed that he
was the murderer of her father.
She walked for some distance without knowing where she went, then
suddenly she stopped; her face flushed, her eyes grew bright, and an
ominous smile lit up her countenance.
"I will go to Henry Dunbar," she said to herself, "since the law will
not help me; I will go to my father's murderer. Surely he will tremble
when he knows that his victim left a daughter who will rest neither
night nor day until she sees justice done."
Sir Arden had mentioned the hotel at which Henry Dunbar was staying; so
Margaret asked the first passer-by to direct her to the George.
She found a waiter lounging in the doorway of the hotel.
"I want to see Mr. Dunbar," she said.
The man looked at her with considerable surprise.
"I don't think it's likely Mr. Dunbar will see you, miss," he said; "but
I'll take your name up if you wish it."
"I shall be much obliged if you will do so."
"Certainly, miss. If you'll please to sit down in the hall I'll go to
Mr. Dunbar immediately. Your name is----"
"My name is Margaret Wilmot."
The waiter started as if he had been shot.
"Wilmot!" he exclaimed; "any relation to----"
"I am the daughter of Joseph Wilmot," answered Margaret, quietly. "You
can tell Mr. Dunbar so if you please."
"Yes, miss; I will, miss. Bless my soul! you really might knock me down
with a feather, miss. Mr. Dunbar can't possibly refuse to see _you_, I
should think, miss."
The waiter went up-stairs, looking back at Margaret as he went. He
seemed to think that the daughter of the murdered man ought to be, in
some way or other, different from other young women.
Mr. Dunbar was sitting in a luxurious easy-chair, with a newspaper lying
across his knee. Mr. Balderby had returned to London upon the previous
evening, but Arthur Lovell still remained with the Anglo-Indian.
Henry Dunbar was a good deal the worse for the close confinement which
he had suffered since his arrival in the cathedral city. Everybody who
looked at him saw the change which the last ten days had made in his
appearance. He was very pale; there were dark purple rings about his
eyes; the eyes themselves were unnaturally bright: and the mouth--that
tell-tale feature, over whose expression no man has perfect
control--betrayed that the banker had suffered.
Arthur Lovell had been indefatigable in the service of his client: not
from any love towards the man, but always influenced more or less by the
reflection that Henry Dunbar was Laura's father; and that to serve Henry
Dunbar was in some manner to serve the woman he loved.
Mr. Dunbar had only been discharged from custody upon the previous
evening, after a long and wearisome examination and cross-examination of
the witnesses who had given evidence at the coroner's inquest, and that
additional testimony upon which the magistrate had issued his warrant.
He had slept till late, and had only just finished breakfast, when the
waiter entered with Margaret's message.
"A young person wishes to see you, sir," he said, respectfully.
"A young person!" exclaimed Mr. Dunbar, impatiently; "I can't see any
one. What should any young person want with me?"
"She wants to see you particularly, sir; she says her name is
Wilmot--Margaret Wilmot; and that she is the daughter of----"
The sickly pallor of Mr. Dunbar's face changed to an awful livid hue:
and Arthur Lovell, looking at his client at this moment, saw the change.
It was the first time he had seen any evidence of fear either in the
face or manner of Henry Dunbar.
"I will not see her," exclaimed Mr. Dunbar; "I never heard Wilmot speak
of any daughter. This woman is some impudent impostor, who wants to
extort money out of me. I will not see her: let her be sent about her
The waiter hesitated.
"She is a very respectable-looking person, sir," he said; "she doesn't
look anything like an impostor."
"Perhaps not!" answered Mr. Dunbar, haughtily; "but she is an impostor,
for all that. Joseph Wilmot had no daughter, to my knowledge. Pray do
not let me be disturbed about this business. I have suffered quite
enough already on account of this man's death."
He sank back in his chair, and took up his newspaper as he finished
speaking. His face was completely hidden behind the newspaper.
"Shall I go and speak to this girl?" asked Arthur Lovell. "On no
account! The girl is an impostor. Let her be sent about her business!"
The waiter left the room.
"Pardon me, Mr. Dunbar," said the young lawyer; "but if you will allow
me to make a suggestion, as your legal adviser in this business, I would
really recommend you to see this girl."
"Because the people in a place like this are notorious gossips and
scandal-mongers. If you refuse to see this person, who, at any rate,
calls herself Joseph Wilmot's daughter, they may say----"
"They may say what?" asked Henry Dunbar.
"They may say that it is because you have some special reason for not
"Indeed, Mr. Lovell. Then I am to put myself out of the way--after being
fagged and harassed to death already about this business--and am to see
every adventuress who chooses to trade upon the name of the murdered
man, in order to stop the mouths of the good people of Winchester. I beg
to tell you, my dear sir, that I am utterly indifferent to anything that
may be said of me: and that I shall only study my own ease and comfort.
If people choose to think that Henry Dunbar is the murderer of his old
servant, they are welcome to their opinion: I shall not trouble myself
to set them right."
The waiter re-entered the room as Mr. Dunbar finished speaking.
"The young person says that she must see you, sir," the man said. "She
says that if you refuse to see her, she will wait at the door of this
house until you leave it. My master has spoken to her, sir; but it's no
use: she's the most determined young woman I ever saw."
Mr. Dunbar's face was still hidden by the newspaper. There was a little
pause before he replied.
"Lovell," he said at last, "perhaps you had better go and see this
person. You can find out if she is really related to that unhappy man.
Here is my purse. You can let her have any money you think proper. If
she is the daughter of that wretched man, I should, of course, wish her
to be well provided for. I will thank you to tell her that, Lovell. Tell
her that I am willing to settle an annuity upon her; always on condition
that she does not intrude herself upon me. But remember, whatever I give
is contingent upon her own good conduct, and must not in any way be
taken as a bribe. If she chooses to think and speak ill of me, she is
free to do so. I have no fear of her; nor of any one else."
Arthur Lovell took the millionaire's purse and went down stairs with the
waiter. He found Margaret sitting in the hall. There was no impatience,
no violence in her manner: but there was a steady, fixed, resolute look
in her white face. The young lawyer felt that this girl would not be
easily put off by any denial of Mr. Dunbar.
He ushered Margaret into a private sitting-room leading out of the hall,
and then closed the door behind him. The disappointed waiter lingered
upon the door-mat: but the George is a well-built house, and that waiter
lingered in vain.
"You want to see Mr. Dunbar?" he said.
"He is very much fatigued by yesterday's business, and he declines to
see you. What is your motive for being so eager to see him?"
"I will tell that to Mr. Dunbar himself."
"You are _really_ the daughter of Joseph Wilmot? Mr. Dunbar seems to
doubt the fact of his having had a daughter."
"Perhaps so. Mr. Dunbar may have been unaware of my existence until this
moment. I did not know until last night what had happened."
She stopped for a moment, half-stifled by a hysterical sob, which she
could not repress: but she very quickly regained her self-control, and
continued, slowly and deliberately, looking earnestly in the young man's
face with her clear brown eyes, "I did not know until last night that my
father's name was Wilmot; he had called himself by a false name--but
last night, after hearing of the--the--murder"--the horrible word seemed
to suffocate her, but she still went bravely on--"I searched a box of my
father's and found this."
She took from her pocket the letter directed to Norfolk Island, and
handed it to the lawyer.
"Read it," she said; "you will see then how my father had been wronged
by Henry Dunbar."
Arthur Lovell unfolded the worn and faded letter. It had been written
five-and-twenty years before by Sampson Wilmot. Margaret pointed to one
passage on the second page.
_"Your bitterness against Henry Dunbar is very painful to me, my dear
Joseph; yet I cannot but feel that your hatred against my employer's son
is only natural. I know that he was the first cause of your ruin; and
that, but for him, your lot in life might have been very different. Try
to forgive him; try to forget him, even if you cannot forgive. Do not
talk of revenge. The revelation of that secret which you hold respecting
the forged bills would bring disgrace not only upon him, but upon his
father and his uncle. They are both good and honourable men, and I think
that shame would kill them. Remember this, and keep the secret of that
Arthur Lovell's face grew terribly grave as he read these lines. He had
heard the story of the forgery hinted at, but he had never heard its
details. He had looked upon it as a cruel scandal, which had perhaps
arisen out of some trifling error, some unpaid debt of honour; some
foolish gambling transaction in the early youth of Henry Dunbar.
But here, in the handwriting of the dead clerk, here was the evidence of
that old story. Those few lines in Sampson Wilmot's letter suggested a
The young lawyer dropped into a chair, and sat for some minutes silently
poring over the clerk's letter. He did not like Henry Dunbar. His
generous young heart, which had yearned towards Laura's father, had sunk
in his breast with a dull, chill feeling of disappointment, at his first
meeting with the rich man.
Still, after carefully sifting the evidence of the coroner's inquest, he
had come to the conclusion that Henry Dunbar was innocent of Joseph
Wilmot's death. He had carefully weighed every scrap of evidence against
the Anglo-Indian; and had deliberately arrived at this conclusion.
But now he looked at everything in a new light. The clerk's letter
suggested a motive, perhaps an adequate motive. The two men had gone
down together into that silent grove, the servant had threatened his
patron, they had quarrelled, and--
No! the murder could scarcely have happened in this way. The assassin
had been armed with the cruel rope, and had crept stealthily behind his
victim. It was not a common murder; the rope and the slip-knot, the
treacherous running noose, hinted darkly at Oriental experiences:
somewhat in this fashion might a murderous Thug have assailed his
But then, on the other hand, there was one circumstance that always
remained in Henry Dunbar's favour--that circumstance was the robbery of
the dead man's clothes. The Anglo-Indian might very well have rifled the
pocket-book, and left it empty upon the scene of the murder, in order to
throw the officers of justice upon a wrong scent. That would have been
only the work of a few moments.
But was it probable--was it even possible--that the murderer would have
lingered in broad daylight, with every chance against him, long enough
to strip off the garments of his victim, in order still more effectually
to hoodwink suspicion? Was it not a great deal more likely that Joseph
Wilmot had spent the afternoon drinking in the tap-room of some roadside
public-house, and had rambled back into the grove after dark, to meet
his death at the hands of some every-day assassin, bent only upon
All these thoughts passed through Arthur Lovell's mind as he sat with
Sampson's faded letter in his hands. Margaret Wilmot watched him with
eager, scrutinizing eyes. She saw doubt, perplexity, horror, indecision,
all struggling in his handsome face.
But the lawyer felt that it was his duty to act, and to act in the
interests of his client, whatever vaguely-hideous doubts might arise in
his own breast. Nothing but his _conviction_ of Henry Dunbar's guilt
could justify him in deserting his client. He was not convinced; he was
only horror-stricken by the first whisper of doubt.
"Mr. Dunbar declines to see you," he said to Margaret; "and I do not
really see what good could possibly arise out of an interview between
you. In the meantime, if you are in any way distressed--and you must
most likely need assistance at such a time as this--he is quite ready to
help you: and he is also ready to give you permanent help if you require
He opened Henry Dunbar's purse as he spoke, but the girl rose and looked
at him with icy disdain in her fixed white face.
"I would sooner crawl from door to door, begging my bread of the hardest
strangers in this cruel world--I would sooner die from the lingering
agonies of starvation--than I would accept help from Henry Dunbar. No
power on earth will ever induce me to take a sixpence from that man's
"_You_ know why not. I can see that knowledge in your face. Tell Mr.
Dunbar that I will wait at the door of this house till he comes out to
speak to me. I will wait until I drop down dead."
Arthur Lovell went back to his client, and told him what the girl said.
Mr. Dunbar was walking up and down the room, with his head bent moodily
upon his breast.
"By heavens!" he cried, angrily, "I will have this girl removed by the
He stopped abruptly, and his head sank once more upon his breast.
"I would most earnestly advise you to see her," pleaded Arthur Lovell;
"if she goes away in her present frame of mind, she may spread a
horrible scandal against you. Your refusing to see her will confirm the
"What!" cried Henry Dunbar; "does she dare to suspect me?"
"I fear so."
"Has she said as much?"
"Not in actual words. But her manner betrayed her suspicions. You must
not wonder if this girl is unreasonable. Her father's miserable fate
must have been a terrible blow to her."
"Did you offer her money?"
"She refused it."
Mr. Dunbar winced, as if the announcement of the girl's refusal had
stung him to the quick.
"Since it must be so," he said, "I will see this importunate woman. But
not to-day. To-day I must and will have rest. Tell her to come to me
to-morrow morning at ten o'clock. I will see her then."
Arthur Lovell carried this message to Margaret.
The girl looked at him with an earnest questioning glance.
"You are not deceiving me?" she said.
"Mr. Dunbar said that?"
"Then I will go away. But do not let Henry Dunbar try to deceive me! for
I will follow him to the end of the world. I care very little where I go
in my search for the man who murdered my father!"
She went slowly away. She went down into the cathedral yard, across
which the murdered man had gone arm-in-arm with his companion. Some
boys, loitering about at the entrance to the meadows, answered all her
questions, and took her to the spot upon which the body had been found.
It was a dull misty day, and there was a low wind wailing amongst the
wet branches of the old trees. The rain-drops from the fading leaves
fell into the streamlet, from whose shallow waters the dead man's face
had looked up to the moonlit sky.
Later in the afternoon, Margaret found her way to a cemetery outside the
town, where, under a newly-made mound of turf, the murdered man lay.
A great many people had been to see this grave, and had been very much
disappointed at finding it in no way different from other graves.
Already the good citizens of Winchester had begun to hint that the grove
near St. Cross was haunted; and there was a vague report to the effect
that the dead man had been seen there, walking in the twilight.
Punctual to the very striking of the clock, Margaret Wilmot presented
herself at the George at the time appointed by Mr. Dunbar.
She had passed a wretched night at a humble inn a little way put of the
town, and had been dreaming all night of her meeting with Mr. Dunbar. In
those troubled dreams she had met the rich man perpetually: now in one
place, now in another: but always in the most unlikely places: yet she
had never seen his face. She had tried to see it; but by some strange
devilry or other, peculiar to the incidents of a dream, it had been
always hidden from her.
The same waiter was lounging in the same attitude at the door of the
hotel. He looked up with an expression of surprise as Margaret
"You've not gone, then, miss?" he exclaimed.
"Gone! No! I have waited to see Mr. Dunbar!"
"Well, that's queer," said the waiter; "did he tell you he'd see you?"
"Yes, he promised to see me at ten o'clock this morning."
"That's uncommon queer."
"Why so?" asked Margaret, eagerly.
"Because Mr. Dunbar, and that young gent as was with him, went away, bag
and baggage, by last night's express."
Margaret Wilmot gave no utterance to either surprise or indignation. She
walked quietly away, and went once more to the house of Sir Arden
Westhorpe. She told him what had occurred; and her statement was written
down and signed, as upon the previous day.
"Mr. Dunbar murdered my father!" she said, after this had been done;
"and he's afraid to see me!"
The magistrate shook his head gravely.
"No, no, my dear," he said; "you must not say that. I cannot allow you
to make such an assertion as that. Circumstantial evidence often points
to an innocent person. If Mr. Dunbar had been in any way concerned in
this matter, he would have made a point of seeing you, in order to set
your suspicions at rest. His declining to see you is only the act of a
selfish man, who has already suffered very great inconvenience from this
business, and who dreads the scandal of some tragical scene."
IS IT LOVE OR FEAR?
Henry Dunbar and Arthur Lovell slept at the same hotel upon the night of
their journey from Winchester to London; for the banker refused to
disturb his daughter by presenting himself at the house in Portland
Place after midnight.
In this, at least, he showed himself a considerate father.
Arthur Lovell had made every effort in his power to dissuade the banker
from leaving Winchester upon that night, and thus breaking the promise
that he had made to Margaret Wilmot. Henry Dunbar was resolute; and the
young lawyer had no alternative. If his client chose to do a
dishonourable thing, in spite of all that the young man could say
against it, of course it was no business of his. For his own part,
Arthur Lovell was only too glad to get back to London; for Laura Dunbar
was there: and wherever she was, there was Paradise, in the opinion of
this foolish young man.
Early upon the morning after their arrival in London, Henry Dunbar and
the young lawyer breakfasted together in their sitting-room at the
hotel. It was a bright morning, and even London looked pleasant in the
sunshine. Henry Dunbar stood in the window, looking out into the street
below, while the breakfast was being placed upon the table. The hotel
was situated in a new street at the West End.
"You find London very much altered, I dare say, Mr. Dunbar?" said Arthur
Lovell, as he unfolded the morning paper.
"How do you mean altered?" asked the banker, absently.
"I mean, that after so long an absence you must find great improvements.
This street for instance--it has not been built six years."
"Oh, yes, I remember. There were fields upon this spot when I went to
They sat down to breakfast. Henry Dunbar was absent-minded, and ate very
little. When he had drunk a cup of tea, he took out the locket
containing Laura's miniature, and sat silently contemplating it.
By-and-by he unfastened the locket from the chain, and handed it across
the table to Arthur Lovell.
"My daughter is very beautiful, if she is like that," said the banker;
"do you consider it a good likeness?"
The young lawyer looked at the portrait with a tender smile. "Yes," he
said, thoughtfully, "it is very like her--only----"
"The picture is not lovely enough."
"Indeed! and yet it is very beautiful. Laura resembles her mother, who
was a lovely woman."
"But I have heard your father say, that the lower part of Miss Dunbar's
face--the mouth and chin--reminded him of yours. I must own, Mr.
Dunbar, that I cannot see the likeness."
"I dare say not," the banker answered, carelessly; "you must allow
something for the passage of time, my dear Lovell. and the wear and tear
of a life in Calcutta. I dare say my mouth and chin are rather harder
and sterner in their character than Laura's."
There was nothing more said upon the subject of the likeness; by-and-by
Mr. Dunbar got up, took his hat, and went towards the door.
"You will come with me, Lovell," he said.
"Oh, no, Mr. Dunbar. I would not wish to intrude upon you at such a
time. The first interview between a father and daughter, after a
separation of so many years, is almost sacred in its character. I----"
"Pshaw, Mr. Lovell! I did not think a solicitor's son would be weak
enough to indulge in any silly sentimentality. I shall be very glad to
see my daughter; and I understand from her letters that she will be
pleased to see me. That is all! At the same time, as you know Laura much
better than I do, you may as well come with me."
Mr. Dunbar's looks belied the carelessness of his words. His face was
deadly pale, and there was a singularly rigid expression about his
Laura had received no notice of her father's coming. She was sitting at
the same window by which she had sat when Arthur Lovell asked her to be
his wife. She was sitting in the same low luxurious easy-chair, with the
hot-house flowers behind her, and a huge Newfoundland dog--a faithful
attendant that she had brought from Maudesley Abbey--lying at her feet.
The door of Miss Dunbar's morning-room was open: and upon the broad
landing-place outside the apartment the banker stopped suddenly, and
laid his hand upon the gilded balustrade. For a moment it seemed almost
as if he would have fallen: but he leaned heavily upon the bronze
scroll-work of the banister, and bit his lower lip fiercely with his
strong white teeth. Arthur Lovell was not displeased to perceive this
agitation: for he had been wounded by the careless manner in which Henry
Dunbar had spoken of his beautiful daughter. Now it was evident that the
banker's indifference had only been assumed as a mask beneath which the
strong man had tried to conceal the intensity of his feelings.
The two men lingered upon the landing-place for a few minutes; while Mr.
Dunbar looked about him, and endeavoured to control his agitation.
Everything here was new to him: for neither the house in Portland Place,
nor Maudesley Abbey, had been in the possession of the Dunbar family
more than twenty years.
The millionaire contemplated his possessions. Even upon that
landing-place there was no lack of evidence of wealth. A Persian carpet
covered the centre of the floor, and beyond its fringed margin a
tessellated pavement of coloured marbles took new and brighter hues from
the slanting rays of sunlight that streamed in through a wide
stained-glass window upon the staircase. Great Dresden vases of exotics
stood on pedestals of malachite and gold: and a trailing curtain of
purple velvet hung half-way across the entrance to a long suite of
drawing-rooms--a glistening vista of light and splendour.
Mr. Dunbar pushed open the door, and stood upon the threshold of his
daughter's chamber. Laura started to her feet.
"Papa!--papa!" she cried; "I thought that you would come to-day!"
She ran to him and fell upon his breast, half-weeping, half-laughing.
The Newfoundland dog crept up to Mr. Dunbar with his head down: he
sniffed at the heels of the millionaire, and then looked slowly upward
at the man's face with sombre sulky-looking eyes, and began to growl
"Take your dog away, Laura!" cried Mr. Dunbar, angrily.
It happened thus that the very first words Henry Dunbar said to his
daughter were uttered in a tone of anger. The girl drew herself away
from him, and looked up almost piteously in her father's face. That face
was as pale as death: but cold, stern, and impassible. Laura Dunbar
shivered as she looked at it. She had been a spoiled child; a pampered,
idolized beauty; and had never heard anything but words of love and
tenderness. Her lips quivered, and the tears came into her eyes.
"Come away, Pluto," she said to the dog; "papa does not want us."
She took the great flapping ears of the animal in her two hands, and led
him out of the room. The dog went with his young mistress submissively
enough: but he looked back at the last moment to growl at Mr. Dunbar.
Laura left the Newfoundland on the landing-place, and went back to her
father. She flung herself for the second time into the banker's arms.
"Darling papa," she cried, impetuously; "my dog shall never growl at you
again. Dear papa, tell me you are glad to come home to your poor girl.
You _would_ tell me so, if you knew how dearly I love you."
She lifted up her lips and kissed Henry Dunbar's impassible face. But
she recoiled from him for the second time with a shudder and a
long-drawn shivering sigh. The lips of the millionaire were as cold as
"Papa," she cried, "how cold you are! I'm afraid that you are ill!"
He was ill. Arthur Lovell, who stood quietly watching the meeting
between the father and daughter, saw a change come over his client's
face, and wheeled forward an arm-chair just in time for Henry Dunbar to
fall into it as heavily as a log of wood.
The banker had fainted. For the second time since the murder in the
grove near St. Cross he had betrayed violent and sudden emotion. This
time the emotion was stronger than his will, and altogether overcame
Arthur Lovell laid the insensible man flat upon his back on the carpet.
Laura rushed to fetch water and aromatic vinegar from her dressing-room:
and in five minutes Mr. Dunbar opened his eyes, and looked about him
with a wild half-terrified expression in his face. For a moment he
glared fiercely at the anxious countenance of Laura, who knelt beside
him: then his whole frame was shaken by a convulsive trembling, and his
teeth chattered violently. But this lasted only for a few moments. He
overcame it: grinding his teeth, and clenching his strong hands: and
then staggered heavily to his feet.
"I am subject to these fainting fits," he said, with a wan, sickly smile
upon his white face; "and I dreaded this interview on that account: I
knew that it would be too much for me."
He seated himself upon the low sofa which Laura had pushed towards him,
resting his elbows on his knees, and hiding his face in his hands. Miss
Dunbar placed herself beside her father, and wound her arm about his
"Poor papa," she murmured, softly; "I am so sorry our meeting has
agitated you like this: and to think that I should have fancied you cold
and unkind to me, at the very time when your silent emotion was an
evidence of your love!"
Arthur Lovell had gone through the open window into the conservatory:
but he could hear the girl talking to her father. His face was very
grave: and the same shadow that had clouded it once during the course of
the coroner's inquest rested upon it now.
"An evidence of his love! Heaven grant this may be love," he thought to
himself; "but to me it seems a great deal more like fear!"
THE BROKEN PICTURE.
Arthur Lovell stopped at Portland Place for the rest of the day, and
dined with the banker and his daughter in the evening. The dinner-party
was a very cheerful one, as far as Mr. Dunbar and his daughter were
concerned: for Laura was in very high spirits on account of her father's
return, and Dora Macmahon joined pleasantly in the conversation. The
banker had welcomed his dead wife's elder daughter with a speech which,
if a little studied in its tone, was at any rate very kind in its
"I shall always be glad to see you with my poor motherless girl," he
said; "and if you can make your home altogether with us, you shall never
have cause to remember that you are less nearly allied to me than Laura
When he met Arthur and the two girls at the dinner-table, Henry Dunbar
had quite recovered from the agitation of the morning, and talked gaily
of the future. He alluded now and then to his Indian reminiscences, but
did not dwell long upon this subject. His mind seemed full of plans for
his future life. He would do this, that, and the other, at Maudesley
Abbey, in Yorkshire, and in Portland Place. He had the air of a man who
fully appreciates the power of wealth; and is prepared to enjoy all that
wealth can give him. He drank a good deal of wine during the course of
the dinner, and his spirits rose with every glass.
But in spite of his host's gaiety, Arthur Lovell was ill at ease. Do
what he would, he could not shake off the memory of the meeting between
the father and daughter. Henry Dunbar's deadly pallor--that wild, scared
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