That Mainwaring Affair
Part 3 out of 7
for a while, don't you know?"
"Well," said Scott, pleasantly, "we are not out of the woods yet,
and there is no telling what developments may arise. Things might
'look queer' again, you know."
"That's all right. I know a gentleman when I see him, unless I
happen to lose my head, and that doesn't occur very often. Now
it's different with the governor. He's got so confoundedly wrought
up over that will, don't you know, that he can't think of anything
else, and there's no reason in him."
"As I understand it," remarked Scott, "Mr. Mainwaring expects to
win the property in any case, either for you or for himself."
"Yes; and naturally you might think that the loss of the will
wouldn't amount to much, one way or the other; but it's like this:
the governor and I are very different; I know we've got plenty of
ducats, and that's enough for me, but not for him; he is ambitious.
It has always galled him that we were not in the direct line of
descent from the main branch of the Mainwarings; and it has been
his one great ambition since the death of old Ralph Mainwaring,
Hugh's father, a few years before I was born, to win into his own
family the old Mainwaring estate. He had an idea that Hugh would
never marry, and gave me his name, hoping that I would be made
his heir. Should the governor succeed in this scheme of his, he
will immediately buy back the Mainwaring estate, although he knows
I don't care a rap for the whole thing, and we will then have the
honor, as he considers it, of perpetuating the old family line.
On the other hand, if the property goes to the nearest heirs, it
will be divided between him and his younger brother. Uncle Harold
has no more ambition than I have, and though he is at present a
bachelor, that is no guarantee that he will remain one; and, anyhow,
it isn't likely that there will be much of his share left when he
gets through with it. So you see how much importance the governor
attached to that will."
"I understand," said Scott, as his companion paused. Then he added,
musingly, "Your uncle's name seems to be rather unusual among the
Mainwarings; I do not recall your having mentioned it before."
"What, Harold? On the contrary, it is the great name in our family,
especially in the main line. I would have been given that name if
the governor had not been looking out for Hugh Mainwaring's money.
There was a direct line of Harolds down to my great-grandfather.
He gave the name to his eldest son, but he died, and the next one,
Ralph, Hugh's father, took up the line. Guy, my grandfather, was
"One would almost have thought that Hugh Mainwaring would have borne
the name of Harold," commented Scott.
Young Mainwaring smoked for a moment in silence, then said, in lower
tones, "Old Uncle Ralph had a son by that name."
"Indeed! Had Hugh Mainwaring a brother?" Scott asked in surprise.
"Yes, there was a brother, but he died a great many years ago.
There is quite a story connected with his name, but I don't know
many of the particulars, for the governor seldom alludes to it. I
know, however, that Harold was the elder son, but that Uncle Ralph
disinherited him for marrying against his wishes, and afterwards
died of grief over the affair, and soon after his father's death
Harold was lost at sea."
"You say he married; did he leave any children?"
"No, I believe he had no children; but even if he had, they would have
been disinherited also. Uncle Ralph was severe; he would not even
allow Harold's name to be mentioned; and Hugh also must have turned
against his brother, for I have heard that he never spoke of him or
allowed any allusion to be made to him."
"Well," said Scott, after a pause, "I believe Hugh Mainwaring's life
was far from happy."
"You are right there. I'll never forget the last words he ever
spoke to me as I took leave of him that night. They were to the
effect that he hoped when I should have reached his age, I would be
able to look back over a happier past than his had been. It is my
opinion, too, that that woman was the cause of his unhappiness, and
I believe she is at the bottom of all this trouble."
Their conversation had drifted to the mystery then surrounding them,
and for more than an hour they dwelt on that subject, advancing many
surmises, some strangely improbable, but none of which seemed to
bring them any nearer a solution of the problem.
"My first visit to this country has proved an eventful one," said
young Mainwaring, as, at a late hour, they finally separated for the
night, "and I don't know yet how it may terminate; but there's one
thing I shall look back upon with pleasure, and that is my meeting
with you; and I hope that from this time or we will be friends; and
that this friendship, begun to-night, will be renewed in old England
many a time."
"Are you not rather rash," Scott inquired, slowly, "considering how
little we know of each other, the circumstances under which we have
met, and the uncertainty of what the future may reveal?"
"No; I'm peculiar. When I like a fellow, I like him; and I've been
studying you pretty closely. I don't think we need either of us be
troubled about the future; but I'm your friend, Scott, and, whatever
happens, I'll stand by you."
"So be it, then, Hugh," replied the secretary, clasping the hand of
the young Englishman and, for the first time, calling him by name.
"I thank you, and I hope you will never go back on that."
On the following morning the gentlemen at Fair Oaks were astir at
an unusually early hour, and immediately after breakfast held a brief
conference. It was decided to offer a heavy reward for the
apprehension of the murderer of Hugh Mainwaring, while a lesser
reward was to be offered for information leading to identification
and arrest of the guilty party. Preparations were also to be made
for the funeral, which would take place the next day, and which, in
accordance with the wishes of Ralph Mainwaring, was to be strictly
Their conference at an end, Ralph Mainwaring ordered the carriage to
take himself, Mr. Whitney, and the secretary to the depot.
"I believe I will ride down with you," said Mr. Merrick.
"Certainly; plenty of room. Going to the city?"
"Yes; but not with you gentlemen. We will part company at the
depot and I will take another car."
"How are you getting on, Mr. Merrick?" inquired Mr. Thorton.
"As well as can be expected, all things considered," was the
"Going to be a slow case, I'm afraid," commented Ralph Mainwaring,
shaking his head in a doubtful way, while Mr. Thornton added
"We've got some mighty fine fellows over home there at the Yard; if
you should want any help, Mr. Merrick, I'll cable for one of them."
"Thank you, sir," said the detective, with quiet dignity; "I don't
anticipate that I shall want any assistance; and if I should, I will
hardly need import it from Scotland Yard."
"Ha, ha! That all depends, you know, on what your man is. If the
rascal happens to have any English blood in him, it will take a
Scotland Yard chap to run him down."
"On the principle, I suppose, of 'set a rogue to catch a rogue,'"
Merrick replied, smiling.
He bad scarcely finished speaking when Hardy suddenly entered the
"Beg pardon, sir," he said, addressing Ralph Mainwaring; "but the
coachman is gone! We've looked everywhere for him, but he's nowhere
about the place."
"When did he go?" asked Mr. Whitney, quickly.
"Nobody knows, sir. Joe, the stable-boy, says he hasn't been around
at all this morning."
"Bring the boy here," said Mr. Mainwaring.
There was instantly recalled to every one present the memory of
Brown's insolent manner at the inquest, together with his confused
and false statements. In a few moments Hardy returned with the
stable-boy, an unkempt, ignorant lad of about fourteen, but with a
face old and shrewd beyond his years.
"Are you one of the servants here?" Mr. Mainwaring inquired.
"I works here, ef that's wot yer mean; but I don't call myself
"How did it happen that you were not at the inquest?" he demanded.
"Didn't got no invite," was the reply, accompanied by a grin, while
Hardy explained that the boy did not belong to the place, but had
been hired by the coachman to come nights and mornings and attend
to the stable work.
"What do you know about this Brown?" inquired Mr. Mainwaring,
addressing the boy.
"Wal, I guess he's ben a-goin' it at a putty lively gait lately."
"You mean he was fast?"
"I guess that's about the size of it."
"When did you see him last?"
"Hain't seen nothin' of him sence las' night, an' then he was sorter
crusty an' didn't say much. I come down this mornin' an' went to
work, - he allus left the stable key where I could get it, - but I
ham' t seen nor heard nothin' o' him. Me'n him," with an emphatic
nod towards Hardy, "went up to his room, but he warn't there, nor
hadn't ben there all night."
"Why do you think he was fast?"
"Wal, from all I've hearn about him I guess he's ben goin' with a
kinder hard set lately. I've seen some putty tough-lookin' subs
hangin' 'round the stables. There was a lot of 'em waitin' for him
"Wednesday night!" ejaculated Mr. Whitney. "At what time? and who
"I dunno who they was, but they was hangin' 'round about eight
o'clock waitin' for him to go with 'em. An' then he's had lots of
"How do you know this?"
"I've hearn him a-jinglin' it in his room; an' night afore las' I
clim' up-stairs and peeked in, an' he had a whole pile of gold
pieces 'bout that high," measuring with his hands; "but he see me,
an' he said he'd gimme a whalin' ef he catched me at it agin."
"Did you watch him last night?" asked Mr. Mainwaring.
"Yas; he acted so kinder queer that I waited 'round to see what he
was goin' to do. After 'twas still an' he thought I'd gone, he come
down an' started off towards the side street. Jes' fer fun I
follered him; an' when he got to the lake he stopped and looked all
'round, as ef to make sure there warn't nobody to see him, an' then
he takes somethin', I couldn't see what, out from under his coat an'
chucks it quick into the lake, an' then he started on a run down
towards the street."
"Couldn't you see what he threw?"
"No, I couldn't see what 'twas; but it struck the water awful heavy."
"Is that all you know about the affair?"
"Yas, that's all."
"Wait a moment," said Mr. Merrick, as the boy turned to leave the
room. "Can you tell how many, or what kind of looking men were with
Brown on Wednesday night?"
"There was three of 'em. One was a big feller with kinder squint
eyes, the other two was ornery lookin' fellers; one of 'em was dark
like a furriner, an' t'other one had sorter yeller hair."
"How long were they there?"
"About half' n hour, I guess. They was all gone 'fore nine o'clock."
"Did you hear anything that was said?"
"I hearn 'em talkin' somethin' about the boss."
"Yas. He'd made a kick about somethin' or 'nuther that afternoon,
an' Brown he was cussin' mad, an' then when they went away I hearn
one of 'em say somethin' about 'makin' a good job of it.'"
"How was this, Hardy?" inquired Mr. Whitney. "Had there been any
words Wednesday between Mr. Mainwaring and the coachman?"
"Yes, sir; I had forgotten it; but now I remember that when he came
back that afternoon, he found some fault with the coachman, and
Brown was very insolent, and then Mr. Mainwaring threatened to
"'Pon my soul! I should say here was something worth looking into,"
said Mr. Thornton, as the boy left the room, accompanied by Hardy.
"A great pity that we could not have had his testimony at the
inquest," commented the attorney. "We might then have cornered
Brown; but I was not aware that there was such a person employed on
Meanwhile, a carriage ordered by telephone from the Arlington had
already arrived at Fair Oaks.
"Well," said Ralph Mainwaring, "the carriage is waiting. We had
better proceed to the depot; we can talk of this latest development
on our way."
"You will excuse me, gentlemen," said Mr. Merrick, quietly, "I have
changed my mind, and will postpone my trip to the city."
"Struck a new trail, eh?" queried Ralph Mainwaring, with a peculiar
expression, as he paused to light a cigar.
"On the contrary, sir, only following up an old one," and, with a
somewhat ambiguous smile, the detective withdrew.
The coachman's sudden disappearance, together with the facts learned
from the stable-boy, formed the subject of discussion for the next
half-hour between Ralph Mainwaring and the attorney, Scott listening
with a thoughtful face, although taking little part in the
conversation. Upon their arrival at the offices of Mainwaring &
Co. they were given a cordial greeting by Mr. Elliott and Mr.
Chittenden, after which they passed on to the elegant private
offices of Hugh Mainwaring. Mr. Whitney was visibly affected as
he entered the familiar rooms, and to each one was forcibly
recalled the memory of their meeting a few days before. A brief
silence followed, and then in subdued tones they began to discuss
the business which had now brought them there.
At about two o'clock that afternoon, Scott found himself entering
an ancient and dilapidated looking block in a rather disreputable
part of the city. He had fulfilled his appointment with Mr.
Sutherland, and after an hour's conversation both gentlemen appeared
very sanguine regarding the case under consideration. As Scott was
taking leave, he produced Hobson's card and related the particulars
of their incidental meeting at Fair Oaks, and Hobson's urgent
invitation to call upon him at his office.
Mr. Sutherland laughed. "About what I expected," he said. "It was
evident from his remarks at the inquest that some one - probably
Mrs. LaGrange - had posted him concerning you, and he is afraid you
are onto his secret."
"I had questioned if it were that, or whether possibly he might be
"Not at all probable," said the attorney, after a moment's
reflection. "If he really understood your position, he would be
far too cunning to allow you to get sight of him. You have the
scoundrel completely in your power."
"Yes, as much as he is in anybody's power; but it is doubtful if
any one can hold so slippery a rascal as he. I believe I will give
him a call, however."
"It would do no harm, taking care, of course, that you give him no
"Oh, certainly," said Scott, with a smile, as he paused for an
instant in the doorway; "my object will be to get, not give,
"His object will probably be the same," was Mr. Sutherland's parting
shot, as he turned with a laugh to his desk.
Scott, having ascended a narrow, crooked stairway, found himself in
a long, dark hall, poorly ventilated, and whose filthy condition was
only too apparent even in the dim light. Far in the rear he saw a
door bearing the words, "R. Hobson, Attorney." As he pushed open
the door, a boy of about seventeen, who, with a cigarette in his
mouth and his feet on a table, sat reading a novel, instantly assumed
the perpendicular and, wheeling about, faced Scott with one of the
most villainous countenances the latter had ever seen. Something in
Scott's appearance seemed to surprise him, for he stared impudently
without speaking. After silently studying the face before him for
an instant, Scott inquired for Mr. Hobson.
"He is in, sir, but he is engaged at present with a client," said
the boy, in tones which closely resembled Hobson's. "I will take
in your card, sir."
The boy disappeared with the card into an adjoining room, returning
a moment later with the most obsequious manners and the announcement
that Mr. Hobson would be at liberty in a few moments. Scott rightly
judged that this ceremony was merely enacted for effect, and contented
himself with looking about the small, poorly furnished room, while
the office boy opposite regarded him with an undisguised curiosity,
which betrayed that this client - if such he could be regarded -
differed greatly from the usual class. Young and untaught though
he were, he had learned to read the faces about him, and that of
his employer was to him as an open book, and the expression which
flashed into Hobson's eyes as they fell upon Scott's card indicated
plainly to the office boy that in this instance the usual conditions
were reversed, and the attorney stood in fear of his visitor.
A few moments later the door of the next room opened noiselessly
and Hobson, attired in a red dressing-gown and wearing his most
ingratiating smile, silently beckoned Scott to enter. With a quick
glance the latter took in every detail of the second apartment. It
was somewhat larger than the first, but the furnishing was meagre
and shabby in the extreme, and, with the exception of a small set
of shelves containing a few dilapidated volumes, there were no
visible signs of an attorney's office.
Hobson did not speak until he had carefully closed the door, then
he said, in low tones,-
"As our conversation is likely to be of a confidential nature, you
would perhaps desire greater privacy than can be secured here. Step
He opened the door into a room so dark and so thick with stale
tobacco smoke that at first Scott could discern nothing clearly.
"My den!" said Hobson, with a magnificent flourish, and Scott stepped
within, feeling, he afterwards said, as though he were being ushered
by Mephistopheles into the infernal regions, and this impression was
not lessened by the first objects which he was able to distinguish,
- a pair of skulls grinning at him through the smoky atmosphere.
As his eyes became accustomed to the dim light he noted that the
room was extremely small, with only one window, which opened upon
the blank wall of an adjoining building, and with no furniture, save
an enormous, high-top desk and two chairs. One of the latter Hobson
placed near the window for his visitor, and then busied himself for
a moment at the desk in hastily concealing what to Scott looked like
some paraphernalia of the black arts. Upon the top of the desk were
the two skulls which had first attracted Scott's attention, and
which he now regarded rather curiously. Hobson, following his
glance, said, by way of explanation,-
"Rather peculiar ornaments, I dare say, you consider those, Mr.
Scott; but I am greatly interested in phrenology and devote much of
my leisure time to its study. It is not only amusing, you know, but
it is of great assistance in reading and understanding my fellow-men,
and enables me to adapt myself to my clients, so to speak."
Having satisfactorily arranged his belongings, Hobson locked the
door, and, seating himself behind his desk, appeared ready for
"Well, my young friend," he began, "I rather expected you, for I
flatter myself that I understand enough of human nature to know that
there are very few who will pass by an opportunity of learning
something for the advancement of their own interests or the
betterment of their own condition in life."
"That may be perfectly natural," Scott replied; "but you flatter
yourself altogether too much if you think that I have come here
with any expectation that you can advance my interests or better
"That remains to be seen. Much also depends upon yourself, for I
take it that a young man of your calibre is not without ambition."
Hobson paused, regarding his visitor with sharp scrutiny, but
receiving no reply, continued, "I might add, that to a young man
with ambitious designs such as yours, I would probably be able to
render great assistance."
"I am not aware of any unusual ambition on my part."
"Oh, no, nothing unusual. You simply had no intention of remaining
Hugh Mainwaring's secretary any longer than was necessary. That
was perfectly natural, perfectly laudable, my young friend, and I
admire the shrewdness and foresight with which you set about to
accomplish your designs. At the same time, I believe I am in a
position to give you just the information and advice you need in
order to insure your success."
Both men had the same object in view. Each wished to ascertain what
the other knew concerning himself. Scott, unable to determine
whether Hobson had spoken at random or with an inkling of the facts,
"I do not know to what you refer, or on what grounds you base the
inference which you seem to have drawn."
"No? Then you will allow me to remark, Mr. Scott, that such
familiarity as yours with a portion of Hugh Mainwaring's private
correspondence, extending back over a period of fifteen or more
years, taking into consideration the facts that you cannot be much
more than twenty-five years of age, and have only been about two
years in Mr. Mainwaring's employ, would indicate that you had sought
to acquaint yourself with some facts connected with your employer's
early life with the express purpose of using the same to your own
"You must see the inconsistency of such a supposition, when you
consider that I have been in possession of these facts for some
time - it is unnecessary to state how long - and have made no use
of them whatever."
"Possibly," said Hobson, with emphasis, "your knowledge of the
facts may not have been definite enough to warrant your use of them."
His voice and manner unconsciously betrayed the importance which he
attached to Scott's reply. The latter detected this, and answered
"It is sufficiently definite for any own personal satisfaction in
Hobson shook his head. "It is useless to evade the point. You had
an object in looking up that correspondence; you intended to make
a good thing out of the facts you got hold of; and, if your
information is sufficiently complete, you can make a good thing out
of them yet."
"If I have not attempted anything of that kind in the past, would
I be likely to try it at this late day?" Scott asked, with the air
of one who is open to any available suggestion.
Hobson at once assumed a confidential manner, and, moving a little
nearer his visitor, replied, in a low tone,-
"Look here, Mr. Scott, that's just why I wanted to meet you. You
see I knew more about you than you think. I've taken an unusual
interest in you, too; and, seeing the little game you were playing,
and knowing that I held the trump card myself, I naturally would
like to take a hand and help you out at the same time. Now, the
point is just this, Mr. Scott: What do you really know concerning
the transaction referred to in that correspondence? I suppose
you are familiar with all the letters that passed on both sides?"
"Certainly. But you will acknowledge, Mr. Scott, that those letters
were expressed in very guarded terms, and, with the exception of
possibly one or two, gave no hint of the nature of that transaction.
Remember," he added, impressively, "I have an exact copy of the
correspondence on both sides, and no one could ever assume any
statement or admissions that were not there."
"I presumed that, of course," said Scott, calmly.
"Now, my young friend, let us get down to the actual knowledge which
you have of the facts. You are, I suppose, aware that there was a
missing will involved in the case?"
"I am; and that one or two of your letters purported to show that
the missing will was destroyed by Hugh Mainwaring."
"Did I make any such allegation?"
"Not directly; but your allusions and references would be clear to
any one having a knowledge of the English statutes."
Hobson started, and inquired quickly, "Are you familiar with English
"I made myself familiar with your citations and references in this
"I see; you have indeed made a study of the case. Well, Mr. Scott,
permit me to say that I accused Hugh Mainwaring of nothing which he
had not previously confessed to me himself. Have you any knowledge
concerning that will, - its terms or conditions, or the names of the
testator or beneficiaries?"
"There was nothing in the correspondence to give any clue to those
particulars. I could only gather that Hugh Mainwaring had defrauded
others and enriched himself by destroying this will."
Hobson looked relieved. "Without doubt, he did; but allow me to
call your attention to one point, Mr. Scott. You see how little
actual knowledge you have of this affair. There are others - Mrs.
LaGrange, for instance, and the mysterious individual whom she heard
conversing with Mr. Mainwaring on the night of the murder, - all of
whom know as much or more than you; and while this meagre knowledge
of the case might perhaps have been sufficient to bring to bear upon
Mainwaring himself, personally, it would have little or no weight
with those with whom we would now have to deal. You know nothing
of the terms of the will, or of the persons named as beneficiaries,
whom, consequently, Hugh Mainwaring defrauded. You have no proof
that he destroyed the will. In fact, my dear young friend, you
could produce no proof that such a document ever existed at all!"
"Do I understand you, then, that those letters, Mr. Mainwaring's
included, would not be regarded as proof?" Scott asked, with
"Not of themselves with these people; I know them too well."
Hobson shook his head decidedly, then continued, in oracular
tones, "Remember, I am only speaking of your chances with them.
Mainwaring's letters were very guarded, mine scarcely less so.
They would have no weight whatever with men like Ralph Mainwaring or
William Thornton. They might even charge you with forging the whole
thing. The point is just this, Mr. Scott: in order to be able to
get anything from these parties you must have complete data, absolute
proof of every statement you are to make; and such data and proofs
are in the possession of no one but myself. So you see I am the
only one who can assist you in this matter."
"And what compensation would you demand for 'assisting' me?"
"We will not put it that way, Mr. Scott," Hobson replied, his small,
malignant eyes gleaming with delight at the ease with which his
prey was falling into his clutches. "It is like this: Ralph
Mainwaring and Thornton are prejudiced against me; I might not be
able to work them as successfully as I could wish, but you and I
could work together very smoothly. I could remain invisible, as it
were, and give you the benefit of the information I possess and of
my experience and advice, and you could then successfully manipulate
the wires which would bring in the ducats for both of us. What do
you say, my young friend?"
"Do you think that either Ralph Mainwaring or Mr. Thornton would
care enough for any secrets you might be able to disclose to pay
you hush money?"
"I object to the term of 'hush money.' I am merely trying to get
what was due me from Hugh Mainwaring. As he never paid me in full,
his heirs must. Yes, I could work them after they return to
England and set up in style on the old Mainwaring estate. They
would be rather sensitive about the family reputation then."
"Where are the beneficiaries of that will that was destroyed?" Scott
Hobson looked sharply at him. "Dead, long ago. Why do you ask?"
"I was thinking that if they or their heirs were living, it would
be better to go to them with this information. They would probably
pay a good price for it."
"You're right, they would," Hobson replied, approvingly; "but they
are all dead."
"Were there no heirs left?"
"None whatever, more's the pity. However, I've got a good hold on
these English chaps and will make them hand over the sovereigns yet."
The contempt which Scott had hitherto concealed as Hobson unfolded
his plans was now plainly visible on his face as he rose from his
"Don't hasten, my young friend," said Hobson, eagerly. "Sit down,
sit down; we have not laid our plans yet."
"No, nor will we," was the reply. "If you think to make a cat's-paw
of me in any of your dirty, contemptible pieces of work, you are
mistaken. If you think that I came here with any intention of
listening for one moment to any of your vile propositions, you are
mistaken. I came here simply to satisfy myself on one point. My
errand is accomplished, and I will remain no longer."
Hobson had sprung to his feet and now faced Scott, barring the way
to the door, while fear, anger, defiance, and hate passed in rapid
succession across his evil countenance, making his appearance more
demon-like than ever.
"You lie!" he exclaimed, in a hoarse whisper. "I have not given
you one word of information!"
"No," Scott interrupted, "you have given me no information, and you
could give me none, for the reason that I know more concerning this
whole affair than you do. I also have knowledge of certain other
matters regarding one Richard Hobson, alias Dick Carroll, and his
Hobson's face had become a livid hue, and Scott detected a sudden
movement of his right hand towards his desk.
"None of that!" he cried, warningly, at the same time springing
quickly upon him with two well-aimed blows, one of which knocked a
revolver from Hobson's hand, while the other deposited him in a heap
upon the floor. While the latter was recovering from the effect of
the stunning blow he had received, Scott picked up the revolver and,
having examined it, slipped it into his pocket, saying,-
"I will keep this for a while as a souvenir of our interview. It
may be needed as evidence later."
Hobson crawled to his feet and stood cowering abjectly before Scott,
rage written on every lineament of his face, but not daring to give
"Who in the devil are you, anyway?" he growled.
"That is none of your business whatever," Scott replied, seizing
him by the collar and dragging him to the door. "The only thing for
you to do is to unlock that door as expeditiously as possible,
asking no questions and making no comments."
With trembling fingers the wretch complied, and Scott, still
retaining his hold upon his collar, reached the door of the outer
room, where, with a final shake, he released him.
"Wait a moment," Hobson whispered, eagerly, half-paralyzed with fear,
while his eyes gleamed with malign hatred. "You've got no hold on
me by anything I've said, and you've no proof of that Carroll
Scott looked at him an instant with silent contempt. "You cowardly
scoundrel! all I have to say to you at present is, be careful how
you interfere with me! I'm only sorry I soiled my hands with you,
but I'll do it again if necessary; and the next time you will fare
worse!" and, opening the door, he passed quickly through the outer
room, conscious of the amazed stare of the office boy, who had
overheard his last words. Hobson did not attempt to follow him, but
paced up and down his room, trembling with fear and rage combined,
and vainly striving to imagine who his visitor might be. At last
he sat down to his desk and began to write rapidly, muttering to
"I half believe - only that he's too young - that he is some hound
over here trying to scent out the whole thing. But," he added, with
an oath, "whoever he is, if he crosses my track he'll be likely to
follow Hugh Mainwaring before long, that's all!"
On the morning following Scott's interview with Hobson, he awoke at
an early hour, vaguely conscious of some disturbing influence,
though unable to tell what had awakened him. He lay for a moment
recalling the events of the preceding day, then suddenly remembered
that this was the day fixed for the funeral of Hugh Mainwaring.
None of the servants were astir about the house, but Scott soon
became conscious of the sound of stealthy movements and subdued
voices coming through the open window, and, rising, he looked out.
At first he could see nothing unusual. It was just sunrise, and the
river, at a little distance shimmering in the golden light, held
him entranced by its beauty. Then a slight rustling in the
shrubbery near the lake attracted his attention. The golden shafts
of sunlight had not yet reached that small body of water, and it
lay smooth and unbroken as the surface of a mirror, so clear at
that hour that one could easily look into its depths. Suddenly a
light boat shot out from the side nearest the grove, breaking the
smooth surface into a thousand rippling waves of light. In the boat
were two men, one of whom Scott instantly recognized as the
detective; the other, who was rowing and had his back towards the
house, seemed to be a stranger. Some one concealed in the shrubbery
called to the boatmen, whereupon they rowed across in that direction,
stopping a few yards from shore. Here they rested a few moments
till the surface was again smooth, when, both men having carefully
peered into the depths of the little lake, the detective proceeded
to let down a drag into the water.
"By George!" Scott ejaculated, "the sly old fox is improving the
opportunity, while every one is asleep, to drag the lake in search
of whatever the coachman threw in there. All right, my dear sir,
go ahead! But I'm somewhat interested in this affair myself, and
I don't intend that you shall monopolize all the facts in the case."
Keeping an eye on the boat, he dressed quickly and, letting himself
out at the front entrance, he hastened down the walk through the
grove to the edge of the lake, keeping himself concealed among the
trees. The boat was moving slowly back and forth, and was now in
such a position that Scott could see the face of the man rowing,
who proved to be, as he had thought, a stranger. On the other side,
seated under the flowering shrubs and trees bordering the lake, was
Joe, the stable-boy, watching proceedings with intense interest.
With a smile, the young secretary followed his example, seating
himself at the foot of an ancient elm whose branches drooped nearly
to the ground.
"All right, Mr. Detective!" he said, "I can stay as long as you.
If you fail to make a success of your work this morning no one will
be the wiser, but in case you find anything I propose to know
something about it myself."
The sun was now shining brightly, but the hour was yet so early that
there was little danger of any one else appearing on the scene,
especially as it was Sunday morning.
For nearly an hour Mr. Merrick and his companion rowed slowly back
and forth in constantly widening circles, meeting with no success
and saying little. Suddenly, while Scott was watching the face of
the stranger, wondering who he might be, he heard a low exclamation
and saw that the drag had fastened itself upon some object at the
bottom of the lake. He watched eagerly as they drew it to the
surface, and could scarcely restrain a cry of astonishment as he
saw what it was, but before either of the men could secure it, it
had slipped and fallen again into the water. With language more
forcible than elegant, the drag was again lowered, and the boat
once more began its slow trailing.
This time they had not so long to wait for success. The drag was
brought to the surface, but carrying in its clutches an entirely
different object, and one with which the young secretary was totally
unfamiliar, - a somewhat rusty revolver.
Mr. Merrick's back was now towards Scott, but the latter saw him
take something from his pocket which he seemed to compare with the
revolver, at the same time remarking to the stranger, who was
watching with an appearance of great interest,
"A pretty good find, Jim, pretty good! However, we'll have another
try for that box, whatever it is. It may amount to something or it
may not, but it will do no harm to make a trial."
Having let down the drag once more, he glanced at the house, then at
his watch, saying, "No signs of any one astir; we're all right for
another hour yet."
After a few more turns, Scott saw them suddenly pulling in the
ropes, and once more the box appeared, rusty and covered with slime,
but still familiar. He at once sprang to his feet and sauntered
carelessly down the walk, humming a tune and watching the occupants
of the boat with an air of mild curiosity. The stranger was the
first to see him, and with an expression of evident disgust gave
Merrick warning of his approach. If the detective felt any
annoyance he did not betray it as he turned and nodded to Scott in
the most nonchalant manner possible, as though dragging the lake
were an every-day occurrence.
"You've been fishing, I see," said Scott, pleasantly. "How did you
"Well, I've made this find which you see here," answered Mr. Merrick,
as the boat headed for shore. "I don't know yet what it is, but it
has not lain long in the water, and it may be worth looking into."
Scott made no reply until the detective had sprung ashore; then, as
the latter proceeded to examine the box, leaving his companion to
take care of the boat and drag, he said, in a low tone,-
"That is likely to prove an important discovery, Mr. Merrick."
"You are familiar with it then?" queried the latter.
"I have seen it in Mr. Mainwaring's safe. That was the box in which
he kept the old jewels that were stolen on the night of the murder."
Mr. Merrick whistled softly and studied the box anew. "Well, there
are no jewels in it now, but we will open it. There is no one up
yet to let us into the house, so suppose we go to the stables; we'll
be safe there from intrusion."
They proceeded to the stables, and, arriving there, Scott was puzzled
to see Merrick's companion at work and evidently perfectly at home.
"We are going to use your room a while, Matthews," said Merrick,
carelessly. Then, noting the surprise on Scott's face, he added,
"This is Matthews, the new coachman, Mr. Scott. I thought you knew
of his coming."
"At your service, sir," said Matthews, respectfully lifting his cap
in response to Scott's greeting, while the latter inquired, as he
and the detective passed up-stairs together,-
"When did he come?"
"Yesterday afternoon. He applied for the position, and, as he
happened to be an acquaintance of mine, Mr. Mainwaring hired him
upon my recommendation. Now," as he locked the door of the room
they had entered, "we will open this box as quickly as possible.
I suppose there is no key to be found, and, if there were, the
lock is too rusty to work."
With the aid of a file and chisel the box was soon opened. The
satin linings were somewhat water-soaked and discolored, and the
box appeared to be empty, but on opening an inner compartment there
were exposed to view a pair of oddly shaped keys and a blood-stained
handkerchief, the latter firmly knotted as though it had been used
to bandage a wound of some kind.
"Ah!" said the detective, with peculiar emphasis, examining the
handkerchief, which was of fine linen, with the initials "H. M."
embroidered in one corner. "Did Mr. Mainwaring carry a handkerchief
of that style?"
"Yes; he carried that, or one precisely like it, the last day of
"Very good!" was the only reply, as the detective carefully folded
and pocketed the article with an air that indicated that he wished
to say no more about it. "And these keys, do you recognize them?"
"They were Mr. Mainwaring's private keys to his library and the
"The ones the valet said were missing?"
Mr. Merrick, after studying them curiously for a moment, consigned
them to his pocket also, and then began a careful inspection of the
interior of the box. Scott watched him in silence, thinking
meanwhile of the old document which he had found hidden away in its
depths, and inwardly rejoicing that it had not been left to be
discovered by the detective. Nothing in Mr. Merrick's manner or
expression betrayed the nature of his thoughts, and, so long as he
chose to remain silent, Scott refrained from questioning him.
At length he closed the box, saying, indifferently, "Well, I don't
know as there is any reason why I should detain you any longer, Mr.
Scott. We have satisfied ourselves as to the contents of the box,
and you have identified the articles. For the present, however, I
would prefer that you say nothing of this."
"Certainly, Mr. Merrick. The discovery, whatever its import, is
your secret, and I shall make no mention of it whatever."
"I don't know that it is of any special importance," said the
detective, carelessly, as they prepared to descend the stairs; "but
it only confirms the opinion that I have had all along."
"Don't you think that this tends to show that the murder and robbery
were connected, notwithstanding Mr. Whitney's theories to the
contrary?" Scott inquired, as they were about to separate.
"Possibly," replied the other, gravely. Then added, with a smile,
"Mr. Whitney has his own preconceived ideas of the case and tries
to adapt the circumstances to suit them, when, in reality, one must
first ascertain whatever facts are available and adjust his theories
They parted company at the door of the stables, but Scott had not
reached the house when the detective, with a peculiar smile,
returned to the room up-stairs, and once more opening the box, drew
forth from underneath the satin linings a folded paper, yellow with
age and covered with closely written lines; which he read with great
interest, after which he remained absorbed in thought until aroused
by the entrance of his friend, the coachman.
Several hours later Scott stood alone beside the casket of the
murdered man. The head had been turned slightly to one side and a
spray of white blossoms, dropped with seeming carelessness within
the casket, concealed all traces of the ghastly wound, their snowy
petals scarcely whiter than the marble features of the dead.
It lacked more than an hour of the time set for the funeral. None
of the few invited friends would arrive for some time yet. The
gentlemen of the house were still in the hands of their valets, and
the ladies engrossed with the details of their elegant mourning
costumes. Scott, knowing he would be secure from interruption, had
chosen this opportunity to take his farewell look at the face of his
employer, desiring to be alone with his own thoughts beside the dead.
With strangely commingled emotions he gazed upon the face, so
familiar, and yet upon which the death angel had already traced many
unfamiliar lines, and as he realized the utter loneliness of the
rich man, both in life and in death, a wave of intense pity swept
across heart and brain, well-nigh obliterating all sense of personal
wrong and injury.
"Unhappy man!" he murmured. "Unloved in life, unmourned in death!
Not one of those whom you sought to enrich will look upon you to-day
with one-half the sorrow or the pity with which I do, whom you have
wronged and defrauded from the day of my birth! But I forgive you
the wrong you have done me. It was slight compared with the far
greater wrong you did another, - your brother - your only brother!
A wrong which no sums of money, however vast, could ever repair.
What would I not give if I could once have stood by his side, even
as I stand by yours to-day, and looked once upon his face, - the
face of your brother and of the father whom, because of your guilt,
I have never seen or known, of whom I have not even a memory!
Living, I could never have forgiven you; but here, to-day, in pity
for your loveless life and out of the great love I bear that father
in his far-away ocean grave, - in his name and in my own, - I
forgive you, his brother, even that wrong!"
As Scott left the room, he passed Mr. Whitney in the hall, who,
seeing in his face traces of recent emotion, looked after him with
"That young man is a mystery!" he soliloquized. "A mystery! I
confess I cannot understand him."
A little later the master of Fair Oaks passed for the last time
down the winding, oak-lined avenue, followed by the guests of the
place and by a small concourse of friends, whose sorrow, though
unexpressed by outward signs of mourning, was, in reality, the more
Mrs. LaGrange, who, as housekeeper, had remained at Fair Oaks,
seemed, as the last carriage disappeared from view, to be on the
verge of collapse from nervous prostration. No one knew the mental
excitement or the terrible nervous strain which she had undergone
during those last few days. Many at the funeral had noted her
extreme pallor, but no one dreamed of the tremendous will power
by which she had maintained her customary haughty bearing. When
all had gone, she rose and attempted to go to her room, but in the
hall she staggered helplessly and, with a low moan, sank unconscious
to the floor. The screams of the chambermaid, who had seen her
fall, summoned to her assistance the other servants, who carried
her to her room, where she slowly regained consciousness, opening
her eyes with an expression of terror, then closing them again with
a shudder. Suddenly she seemed to recall her surroundings; with a
great effort she rallied and dismissed the servants, with the
exception of the chambermaid, saying, "It was nothing, only a little
faintness caused by the heat. The room was insufferably close. Say
nothing of this to the others when they return."
With Katie's assistance, she exchanged her heavy dress for a light
wrapper of creamy silk, and soon seemed herself again except for
her unusual pallor.
"That will do, Katie; I shall not need you further. By the way,
did Walter go with the others, or did he remain at home?"
"Mr. Walter is in his room, ma'am; and I heard Hardy say that he
was packing up his clothes and things."
Mrs. LaGrange betrayed no surprise, no emotion of any kind. "Say
to him that I would like to see him in my room at once."
The girl disappeared, leaving Mrs. LaGrange to her own reflections,
which seemed anything but pleasant. The look of terror returned
to her face; she clinched her hands until the jewels cut deeply into
the white fingers; then, springing to her feet, she paced the room
wildly until she heard the footsteps of her son approaching, when
she instantly assumed her usual composure.
Walter LaGrange had left Fair Oaks immediately at the close of the
inquest, and had not returned except to be present at the funeral,
and even there his sullen appearance had caused general remark.
Very little love had ever existed between mother and son, for neither
had a nature capable of deep affection, but never until now had there
been any open rupture between them. Though closely resembling each
other, he lacked her ability to plan and execute, and had hitherto
been content to follow her counsels. But, as he now entered his
mother's room, a glance revealed to her that her authority and
influence over him were past.
"You sent for me, I believe. What do you want?" he asked, as she
looked at him without speaking.
"Do you consider your conduct becoming towards a mother who is
risking everything for you and your interests?"
"Oh, my interests be hanged," he exclaimed, petulantly. "I don't
see that you've accomplished much for my interests with all your
scheming. A week ago I could hold up my head with any of the
fellows. I was supposed to be a relative of Hugh Mainwaring's,
with good prospects, and that I would come in for a good round
sum whenever the old fellow made his will, - just as I did. Now
that's gone, and everything's gone; I haven't even a name left!"
"Walter LaGrange, what do you mean? Do you dare insinuate to your
"Why don't you call me Walter Mainwaring?" he sneered. "As to
insinuations, I have to hear plenty of 'em. Last night I was
black-balled at one of the clubs where my name had been presented
for membership, and a lot of the fellows have cut me dead."
"Walter, listen to me. You are Hugh Mainwaring's son and I was
his wife. I will yet compel people to recognize us as such; but
you must - "
"Tell me one thing," he demanded, interrupting her. "If I was Hugh
Mainwaring's son, why have I not borne his name? Why did he not
recognize me as such? I'll claim no man for my father who would
not acknowledge me as his son."
Then, before she could reply, he added, "If you were the wife of
Hugh Mainwaring, what was the meaning of your proposal of marriage
to him less than three months ago?"
She grew deathly pale; but he, seeming to enjoy the situation,
repeated, sneeringly, "Less than three months ago, the night on
which he gave you the necklace which you commissioned me to sell
the other day! You urged your suit with a vengeance, too, I
remember, for you threatened to ruin him if he did not come to
"I only laughed then, for I thought 'twas another scheme of yours
to get a tighter hold on the old man's purse-strings. It's nothing
to me what your object was, but in view of the fact that I happened
to overhear that little episode, it might be just as well not to
try to tell me that I am Hugh Mainwaring's son. You will naturally
see that I am not likely to be interested in helping carry out that
Still controlling herself by a tremendous will power, the wretched
woman made one more desperate effort. In low tones she replied,-
"You show your base ingratitude by thus insulting your mother and
running the risk of betraying her to listening servants by your
talk. Of course, this is all a farce, as you say, but it must be
carried through. You and I were distantly related to Hugh
Mainwaring, but what chance would we have against these people with
no more of a claim than ours? I am compelled to assert that I was
his wife and that you are his son in order to win any recognition
in the eyes of the law."
For an instant her son regarded her with an expression of mingled
surprise and incredulity, then the sneer returned, and, turning to
leave the room, he answered, carelessly,-
"You can tell your little story to other people, and when you have
won a fortune on it, why, I'll be around for my share, as, whatever
my doubts in other directions, I have not the slightest doubt that
you are my mother, and therefore bound to support me. But, for the
present, if you please, I'll go by the old name of LaGrange. It's
a name that suits me very well yet, even though," and a strange look
flashed at her from his dark eyes, "even though it may be only a
borrowed one," and the door closed, for the last time, between
mother and son.
A low moan escaped from the lips of the unhappy woman. "My son -
the only living being of my flesh and blood - even he has turned
against me!" Too proud to recall him, however, she sank exhausted
upon a couch, and, burying her face in her hands, wept bitterly for
the first and only time in her remembrance.
Meanwhile, the guests of Fair Oaks, having returned from the funeral,
had assembled in the large library below, and were engaged in
animated discussion regarding the disposition to be made of the
property. Ralph Mainwaring and Mr. Thornton, with pencils and paper,
were computing stocks and bonds, and estimating how much of a margin
would be left after the purchase of the old Mainwaring estate, which
they had heard could be bought at a comparatively low figure, the
present owner being somewhat embarrassed financially; while Mrs.
Mainwaring was making a careful inventory of the furniture, paintings,
and bric-a-brac at Fair Oaks, with a view of ascertaining whether
there were any articles which she would care to retain for their
Mr. Whitney, who, as a bachelor and an intimate friend of Hugh
Mainwaring's, as well as his legal adviser, had perhaps more than
any one else enjoyed the hospitality of his beautiful suburban home,
found the conversation extremely distasteful, and, having furnished
whatever information was desired, excused himself and left the room.
As he sauntered out upon the broad veranda, he was surprised to see
Miss Carleton, who had made her escape through one of the long
windows, and who looked decidedly bored.
"It's perfectly beastly! Don't you think so?" she exclaimed,
looking frankly into his face, as if sure of sympathy.
She had so nearly expressed his own feelings that he flushed
slightly, as he replied, with a smile, "It looks rather peculiar to
an outsider, but I suppose it is only natural."
"It is natural for them," she replied, with emphasis.
"I did not intend to be personal; I meant human nature generally."
"I have too much respect for human nature generally to believe it
as selfish and as mercenary as that. I have learned one lesson,
however. I will never leave my property to my friends, hoping by
so doing to be held in loving remembrance. It would be the surest
way to make them forget me."
"Has your experience of the last few days made you so cynical as
that?" the attorney inquired, again smiling into the bright, fair
face beside him.
"It is not cynicism, Mr. Whitney; it is the plain truth. I have
always known that the Mainwarings as a family were mercenary; but I
confess I had no idea, until within the last few days, that they
were capable of such beastly ingratitude."
"Do you mean to say that it is a trait of the entire Mainwaring
family, or only of this branch in particular?" he inquired, somewhat
"All the Mainwarings are noted for their worship of the golden god,"
she replied, with a low musical laugh; "but Ralph Mainwaring's love
of money is almost a monomania. He has planned and schemed to get
that old piece of English property into his hands for years and
years, in fact, ever since it was willed to Hugh Mainwaring at the
time his brother was disinherited, and the name he gave to his son
was the first stone laid to pave the way to this coveted fortune."
"I see. Pardon me, Miss Carleton; but you just now alluded to Hugh
Mainwaring's brother. I remember some mention was made at the
inquest of a brother, but I supposed it must be an error. Had he
really a brother?"
"Ah, yes, an elder brother; and he must have been less avaricious
than the rest of them, as he sacrificed a fortune for love. It was
quite a little romance, you know. He and his brother Hugh were
both in love with the same lady. The father did not approve, and
gave his sons their choice between love without a fortune or a
fortune without love. Hugh Mainwaring chose the latter, but Harold,
the elder, was true to his lady, and was consequently disinherited."
"Poor Hugh Mainwaring!" commented the attorney; "he made his choice
for life of a fortune without love, and a sad life it was, too!"
Miss Carleton glanced up with quick sympathy. "Yes, it seemed to
me his life must have been rather lonely and sad."
There was a pause, and she added, "And did he never speak to you,
his intimate friend, of his brother?"
"Strange! Perhaps he was like the others, after all, and thought
of nothing but money."
"No, I cannot believe that of Hugh Mainwaring," the attorney replied,
loyally; then added, "What became of the brother, Miss Carleton?"
"He was lost at sea. He had started for Africa, to make a fortune
for himself, but the boat was wrecked in a storm and every one on
board was lost."
"And his family, what of them?" queried the attorney.
"He had no children, and no one ever knew what became of his wife.
The Mainwarings are a very prosaic family; that is the only bit of
romance in their history; but I always enjoyed that, except that
it ended so sadly, and I always admired Harold Mainwaring. I would
like to meet such a man as he."
"Why, I should say there was a romance in progress at present in
the Mainwaring family," said Mr. Whitney, smiling.
"What! Hugh and Edith Thornton?" She laughed again, a wonderfully
musical, rippling laugh, the attorney thought. "Oh, there is no
more romance there than there is in that marble," and she pointed
to a beautiful Cupid and Psyche embracing each other in the centre
of a mass of brilliant geraniums and coleas. "They have been
engaged ever since their days of long dresses and highchairs, -
another of Ralph Mainwaring's schemes! You know Edith is Hugh's
cousin, an only child, and her father is immensely rich! Oh, no; if
I ever have a romance of my own, it must spring right up
spontaneously, and grow in spite of all opposition. Not one of the
sort that has been fostered in a hot-house until its life is nearly
stifled out of it."
Mr. Whitney glanced in admiration at the fair English face beside
him glowing with physical and intellectual beauty. Then a moment
later, as they passed down the long hall in response to the summons
to dinner, and he caught a glimpse, in one of the mirrors, of a
tolerably good-looking, professional gentleman of nearly forty, he
wondered why he suddenly felt so much older than ever before.
Miss Carleton was seated beside him at dinner, while nearly opposite
was Harry Scott, conversing with young Mainwaring. He was quietly
but elegantly dressed, and his fine physique and noble bearing, as
well as the striking beauty of his dark face, seemed more marked
than usual. Mr. Whitney watched the young secretary narrowly.
Something in the play of his features seemed half familiar, and yet
gave him a strange sense of pain, but why, he could not determine.
"Mr. Whitney," said Miss Carleton, in a low tone, "did you ever
observe a resemblance at times between Mr. Scott and your friend,
Mr. Hugh Mainwaring?"
The attorney looked up in surprise. "Why, no, Miss Carleton, I
would not think a resemblance possible. Mr. Scott is much darker
and his features are altogether different."
"Oh, I did not refer to any resemblance of feature or complexion,
but his manner, and sometimes his expression, strikes me as very
similar. I suppose because he was associated with him so much,
Mr. Whitney's eyes again wandered to the face of the secretary. He
started involuntarily. "By George!" he ejaculated, mentally, "Hugh
Mainwaring, as sure as I live! Not a feature like him, but the same
expression. What does it mean? Can it be simply from association?"
In a state of great bewilderment he endeavored still to entertain
Miss Carleton, though it is to be feared she found him rather
absent-minded. He was passing out of the dining-room in a brown
study when some one touched his arm. He turned and saw Merrick.
"When you are at liberty, come out to the grove," the latter said,
briefly, and was gone before the attorney could more than bow in
THEORIES, WISE AND OTHERWISE
Half an hour later, having excused himself to Miss Carleton, Mr.
Whitney hastened to the grove, where he found the detective
sauntering up and down the winding walk, his hands behind him in a
reflective mood, absorbed in thought and in the enjoyment of a fine
cigar. He nodded pleasantly as the attorney approached.
"Going to be at liberty for some time?" he inquired, at the same
time extending his cigar-case.
"Yes, for any length of time you please; it's a relief to get away
from those egotists."
"H'm!" said Merrick, as he returned the cigar-case to his pocket
after the attorney had helped himself; "I didn't think that you
looked particularly anxious to be relieved of your company when I
saw you. I really felt considerable delicacy about speaking as I
"Oh, to the deuce with your nonsense!" the attorney replied, his
cheek flushing as he lighted his cigar. "If you had listened to
the twaddle that I have all day, you would be glad to talk to almost
any one for a change."
"In that event, perhaps you won't mind talking to me for a while.
Well, suppose we go down to the stables, to the coachman's room; he
is probably with his best girl by this time, and we will be safe
from interruption or eavesdroppers."
"That suits me all right so long as Ralph Mainwaring doesn't think
of looking for me there. That man makes me exceedingly weary!"
"Anxious to secure the property according to the terms of that will,
"Anxious! He is perfectly insane on the subject; he can't talk of
anything else, and he'll move heaven and earth to accomplish it,
too, if necessary."
"Don't anticipate any difficulty, do you?"
"None whatever, unless from that woman; there's no knowing to what
she may resort. It will only be necessary to prove that the will,
if not in existence at the death of the testator, was fraudulently
destroyed prior thereto, and I think we have a pretty clear case.
By George, Merrick!" suddenly exclaimed the attorney in a different
tone, as he paused on the way to the stables. "I hadn't thought of
it before, but there's one thing ought to be done; we should have
this lake dragged at once."
Merrick raised his eyebrows in mute inquiry.
"To find whatever Brown threw in there, you know; it might furnish
us with an almighty important clue."
"H'm! might be a good idea," Merrick remarked, thoughtfully.
"Of course it would! I tell you, Merrick, I was cut out for a
detective myself, and I'm pretty good for an amateur, now."
"Haven't a doubt of it," was the quiet response, and the pair resumed
their walk. Both were soon comfortably seated in the coachman's
room, their chairs tilted at just the right angle before a large
double window, facing the sunset. Both smoked in silence for a few
moments, each waiting for the other to speak.
"Well, my friend, what do you know?" inquired the detective, while
he watched the delicate spirals of blue smoke as they diffused
themselves in the golden haze of the sunlight.
"Just what I was about to ask you," said his companion.
"Oh, time enough for that later. You have been looking into this
case, and, as you are a born detective, I naturally would like to
compare notes with you."
Mr. Whitney glanced sharply at the detective, as though suspicious
of some sarcasm lurking in those words, but the serious face of
the latter reassured him, and he replied,-
"Well, I've not had much experience in that line, but I've made
quite a study of character, and can tell pretty correctly what a
person of such and such evident characteristics will do under such
and such conditions. As I have already stated to you, I know, both
from observation and from hints dropped by Hugh Mainwaring, that if
ever a dangerous woman existed, - artful, designing, absolutely
devoid of the first principles of truth, honor, or virtue, - that
woman is Mrs. LaGrange. I know that Mainwaring stood in fear of
her to a certain extent, and that she was constantly seeking, by
threats, to compel him to either marry her or secure the property
to her and her son and I also know that he was anxious to have the
will drawn in favor of his namesake as quickly and as secretly as
"Now, knowing all these circumstances, what is more reasonable than
to suppose that she, learning in some way of his intentions, would
resort to desperate measures to thwart them? Her first impulse
would be to destroy the will; then to make one final effort to
bring him, by threats, to her terms, and, failing in that, her fury
would know no bounds. Now, what does she do? Sends for Hobson, the
one man whom Hugh Mainwaring feared, who knew his secret and stood
ready to betray it. Between them the plot was formed. They have
another interview in the evening, to which Hobson brings one of his
coadjutors, the two coming by different ways like the vile
conspirators they were, and in all probability, when Hugh Mainwaring
bade his guests good-night, every detail of his death was planned
and ready to be carried into execution in the event of his refusing
to comply with that woman's demands made by herself, personally,
and later, through Hobson. We know, from the darkey's testimony,
that Hobson and his companion appeared in the doorway together; that
the man suddenly vanished - probably concealing himself in the
shrubbery - as Hobson went back into the house; that a few moments
later, the latter reappeared with Mrs. LaGrange; and the darkey
tells me that he, supposing all was right, slunk away in the bushes
and left them standing there. We know that the valet, going up
stairs a while after, found Mrs. LaGrange in the private library,
and at the same time detected the smell of burning paper. You
found the burnt fragments of the will in the grate in the tower-room.
"Now, to my mind, it is perfectly clear that Mrs. LaGrange and
Hobson proceeded together to the library and tower-room, where they
first destroyed the will, and where she secreted him to await the
result of her interview with Mainwaring, at the same time providing
him with the private keys by which he could effect his escape, and
with Hugh Mainwaring's own revolver with which the terrible deed was
done. Later, finding that Mainwaring would not accede to her
demands, I believe she left that room knowing to a certainty what
his fate would be in case Hobson could not succeed in making terms
with him, and I believe her object in coming down the corridor
afterwards was simply to ascertain that her plans were being carried
into execution. Now there is my theory of this whole affair; what
do you think of it?"
"Very ingeniously put together! What about the jewels? Do you
think Hobson took them?"
"No. I think Mrs. LaGrange got possession of them in some way. She
has no means of her own to hire that scoundrel, yet the darkey heard
her promise to pay him liberally, and you see her very first attempt
to pay him was by the sale of some of those jewels. I'll acknowledge
I'm not prepared to say how or when she secured them."
"Could she open the safe?"
"That I cannot say. Mainwaring told me, some months ego, that he
found her one day attempting to open it, and he immediately changed
the combination. Whether she had discovered the new combination, I
am unable to say; but she is a deep woman, and usually finds some way
of accomplishing her designs."
"Brown, the coachman, seems to have no place in this theory of
"Well, of course we none of us thought of him in connection with
this affair until since his sudden disappearance yesterday, but I
am inclined to think that he is to be regarded in the light of an
accessory after the fact. I think it very probable that Mrs.
LaGrange has employed him since the murder to assist her in
concealing evidences of the crime, and that is why I suggested
dragging the lake in search of what may be hidden there; but,
according to his own story, he was in the city that night until
some time after the murder was committed."
"Yes, according to his own story, but in reality he did not go to
the city at all that night. More than that, he was seen in this
vicinity about midnight with a couple of suspicious looking
"By George! when did you learn that?"
"I knew it when Brown gave his testimony at the inquest."
"The deuce you did! and then let the rascal give you the slip,
"Don't give yourself any anxiety on that score; I can produce Brown
any hour he's wanted. One of my subordinates has his eye on him
day and night. At last reports, he and Brown were occupying the
same room in a third-class lodging house; I'll wager they're having
a game of cards together this evening."
"Well, well! you have stolen a march on us. But, if I may ask, why
don't you bag your game?"
"I am using him as a decoy for larger game. Whatever Brown is mixed
up in, he is only a tool in the hands of older and shrewder rascals."
Before the attorney could say anything further, Merrick rose abruptly
and stepped to a table near by, returning with a package.
"What do you think of that?" he asked, removing the wrappings and
holding up the rusty, metallic box.
"Great heavens!" ejaculated Mr. Whitney, springing forward excitedly.
"Why, man alive, you don't mean to say that you have found the jewels!"
"No such good fortune as that yet," the detective answered quietly,
"only the empty casket;" and having opened the box, he handed it to
"Where did you find this?" the latter inquired.
"Fished it out of the lake."
"Ah-h! I should like to know when."
"While you were snoring this morning."
"Great Scott! They'll catch a weasel asleep when they find you
napping! But, by George! this rather confirms my theory about that
woman getting possession of the jewels and hiring Brown to help her,
Without replying, Merrick handed over the revolver which had been
brought to light that morning.
"Where did you get this rusty thing? Was it in the lake, also?"
The detective nodded affirmatively, and Mr. Whitney examined the
weapon in some perplexity.
"Well, I must say," he remarked at length, "I don't see what
connection this has with the case. The shooting was done with
Hugh Mainwaring's own revolver; that was settled at the inquest-"
"Pardon me! It was only 'settled' that the revolver found lying
beside him was his own."
The attorney stared as Merrick continued, at the same time producing
from his pocket the revolver in question, "This, as you are
doubtless aware, is a Smith and Wesson, 32 calibre, while that,"
pointing to the rusty weapon in Mr. Whitney's hands, "is an old
Colt's revolver, a 38. On the morning of the murder, after you and
the coroner had gone, I found the bullet for which we had searched
unsuccessfully, and from that hour to this I have known, what before
I had suspected, that this dainty little weapon of Mr. Mainwaring's
played no part in the shooting. Here is the bullet, you can see for
Mr. Whitney gazed in silent astonishment as the detective compared
the bullet with the two weapons, showing conclusively that it could
never have been discharged from the familiar 32-calibre revolver.
"Well, I'll be blessed if I can see what in the dickens that
revolver of Mainwaring's had to do with the affair, anyway!"
"Very easily explained when you once take into consideration the
fact that the whole thing was an elaborately arranged plan, on the
part of the murderer, to give the affair an appearance of suicide.
One glance at the murdered man convinced me that the wound had
never been produced by the weapon lying at his side. That clue
led to others, and when I left that room with you, to attend the
inquest, I knew that Hugh Mainwaring had been shot with a 38-calibre
revolver, in his library, near the centre of the room, and that the
body had afterwards been so arranged in the tower-room as to give
the appearance of his having deliberately shot himself beside his
desk and with his own revolver."
"By George! I believe you're right," said the attorney; "and I
recall now your statement that day, that the shooting had occurred
in the library; I wondered then what reason you had for such an
"A small stain on the library carpet and the bullet told me that
much. Another thing, which at first puzzled me, was the marked
absence of blood-stains. There was a small pool of blood underneath
the head, a slight stain on the carpet in the adjoining room, but
none on the clothing or elsewhere. The solution to this I found
on further investigation. The wound had been firmly and skillfully
bandaged by an expert hand, the imprint of the bandage being
plainly visible in the hair on the temples. Here is the proof that
I was correct," and Merrick held up to the attorney's astonished
view the stained and knotted handkerchief. "This, with the private
keys belonging to Mr. Mainwaring's library, was in that box at the
bottom of the lake. Do you consider Mrs. LaGrange or Hobson capable
of planning and carrying out an affair so adroitly as that?"
"You've got me floored," the attorney answered, gazing at the proofs
before him. "Hobson I know nothing about; but that woman I believe
could scheme to beat the very devil himself; and yet, Merrick, when
you think of it, it must have taken time - considerable time - to
plan a thing like that."
"Or else," Merrick suggested, "it was the performance of an expert
criminal; no bungling, no work of a green hand."
Mr. Whitney started slightly, but the detective continued. "Another
point: Hobson, as you say, was the one man whom Hugh Mainwaring
feared and who evidently had some hold upon him; would he then have
dared denounce him as a liar and an impostor? Would not his use of
such terms imply that he was addressing one whom he considered a
stranger and unacquainted with the facts in the case?"
"I see," the attorney replied quickly; "you have in mind Hobson's
accomplice, the tall man with dark glasses."
Merrick smiled. "You are then inclined to the opinion that J. Henry
Carruthers, who called in the afternoon, is identical with the
so-called Jack Carroll who accompanied Hobson in the evening?"
"Certainly that is a reasonable supposition. The descriptions of
the two men agree remarkably, and the darkey was positive, both in
his testimony at the inquest and in conversation with me, that they
were one and the same person."
"Their general appearance seems to have been much the same, but
their conduct and actions were totally unlike. Carruthers acted
fearlessly, with no attempt at concealment; while, if you will stop
to think of it, of all the witnesses who tried to give a description
of Carroll, not one had seen his face. He always remained in the
background, as much concealed as possible."
"I don't deny that you are correct," the attorney said musingly;
"and they may have been two distinct individuals, Carroll evidently
being the guilty party; but even in that event, in my opinion, he
was only carrying out with a skillful hand the plans already arranged
by that woman and Hobson."
"Whatever part Carroll took in the affair, he was undoubtedly
Hobson's agent; and you will find that Hobson and Mrs. LaGrange have
been more intimately associated and for a much longer time than you
suspect," and Merrick repeated what he had overheard of the interview
in Mrs. LaGrange's parlor, just after the close of the inquest.
Mr. Whitney listened with deep interest. "Well, well! And you
heard her accuse him of being an accessory? Of course she referred
to the murder. By George! I should have wanted them arrested on
After a slight pause, he continued. "There's one thing, Merrick,
in the conduct of Carruthers which I don't understand. Why, after
telling the secretary that he would remain at the Arlington for the
next two or three days, should he return to the city the next morning
on the 3.10 train?"
"He seems to have been an impulsive man, who acted on the spur of
the moment," Merrick answered; "but the strangest part of that is,
that he did not return to the city at all. He bought a ticket for
New York, but the conductor informs me there was no such man on
board; while the north-bound train, which pulls out about five
minutes later, had a passenger answering exactly to his description.
The conductor on the latter train also informed me that, just as
they were pulling out of the station, a man, tall and dark, rather
good-looking, he should judge, though he could not see his face, and
wearing a long, light overcoat, sprang aboard, decidedly winded, as
though from running, and immediately steered for the darkest corner
of the smoking-car, where he sat with his hat well drawn down over
"Carroll again, by George!" exclaimed the attorney.
"Here is a problem for you to solve," Merrick continued, pointing
to the revolver and box lying side by side. "You think Brown threw
those in the lake. Who was the man that Brown saw standing beside
the lake just before three o'clock in the morning, and what was he
doing? He was tall and dark, and wore a long coat or ulster. Was
that Carroll or Carruthers? Did he throw anything into the lake?
And if so, what?"
Mr. Whitney gazed dubiously at the detective for a moment, then
began to whistle softly, while he slowly shook his head.
"No, Merrick; you've got me there! I never have had enough
experience in this line that I could go into the detail work. I
have to be guided by the main points in the case. Then, again, I
gave Brown's testimony very little thought, as I considered him
unreliable and irresponsible."
"Well, to come back to the 'main points,' then: what reasons have
you for connecting Mrs. LaGrange and Hobson with this affair that
might not apply equally well in the cases of certain other people?"
"What reason? Why, man alive! there is every reason to consider
Mrs. LaGrange the instigator of the whole affair. In the first
place, her one object and aim for the past seventeen or eighteen
years has been to get hold of Hugh Mainwaring's property, to secure
for herself and her son what she calls their 'rights' - "
"That is the point," Merrick interrupted. "You consider her guilty
because she would be interested in securing a hold upon the property,
although she, personally, has no claim whatever. Has it never
occurred to you that there might be others more deeply interested
than she, inasmuch as they have valid claims, being the rightful
"I never thought of such a possibility," said the astonished
attorney; "and I don't know that I understand now to whom you refer."
"I have learned from various reliable sources," the detective
replied, "that Ralph Mainwaring has a younger brother, Harold, who
is as much of a money-lover as himself, though too indolent to take
the same measures for acquiring it. He is a reckless, unprincipled
fellow, and having about run through his own property, I understand,
he has had great expectations regarding this American estate,
depending upon his share of the same to retrieve his wasted fortune.
I learned yesterday, by cable, that since the departure of Ralph
Mainwaring and his family for this country, his brother has been
missing, and it is supposed, among his associates in London, that
he took the next steamer for America, intending to assert his own
"And you think - " the attorney interrupted, breathlessly; but
Merrick shook his head and continued,-
"I have also, in the course of my investigations, incidentally
discovered Hugh Mainwaring's secret, and, consequently, Hobson's
secret, only that I know the real facts in the case, which Hobson
does not know. You, as Mainwaring's friend, will not care to
learn the details, and I shall not speak of them now, but I will
say this much: there are probably in existence to-day, and perhaps
not very far distant, heirs to this property, having a claim
preceding not only that of Ralph Mainwaring or his son, but of
Hugh Mainwaring himself."
There was silence for a few moments as the detective paused, Mr.
Whitney's surprise rendering him speechless; at last he said,-
"Well, you are a truthful fellow, Merrick, and you never jump at
conclusions, so I know your statements can be relied upon; but I'll
be blessed if I understand how or when you have gathered all this
information together. I suppose it would be useless to ask your
deductions from all this, but I wish you would answer one or two
questions. Do you think that this Harold Mainwaring, or those
possible heirs you mention, would put in an appearance personally,
or that they would work through agents and emissaries?"
"Depends altogether upon circumstances. Harold Mainwaring would not
be likely to appear on the scene unless he were pretty effectually
disguised. As to the others, - if they were to assert their claim,
- it would be difficult to say just what course they might take.
I have made these statements merely to give you a hint of the
possibilities involved in the case. It is now getting rather late,
but I will give you one or two pointers to ruminate upon. Don't
think that Hobson will run any risks or put himself to any personal
inconvenience for Mrs. LaGrange. He is working first and foremost
for Richard Hobson, after that for whoever will pay him best.
Another thing, don't ever for a moment imagine that Hugh Mainwaring's
private secretary is looking for a job. It's my opinion he'll give
you fellows one of the hardest jobs you ever tackled; and, unless
I'm greatly mistaken, he's got brains enough and backing enough to
carry through whatever he undertakes."
"Say! I don't know as I exactly catch your meaning; but that's one
thing I wanted to ask you. What do you think of that young man,
anyway? I can't make him out."
"I noticed that you had not assigned him any place in that theory
"No; he's been a mystery to me, a perfect mystery; but this evening
a new idea has occurred to me, and I would like your judgment on it.
Has he ever reminded you of any one? That is, can you recall any
one whom he resembles?"
"Well, I should say there was a marked resemblance. I've often
wondered where your eyes were that you had not seen it."
"You have noticed it, then? Well, so have I; but it has puzzled me,
for, though the look was familiar, I was unable to recall whose it
was until to-night. Now that I have recalled it, that, taken in
connection with some other things I have observed, has led me to
wonder whether it were possible that he is a son of Hugh
Mainwaring's, of whose existence no one in this country has ever
"Hugh Mainwaring! I don't understand you."
"Why, you just acknowledged you had noticed the resemblance between
"I beg your pardon; but you must recollect that I have never seen
Hugh Mainwaring living, and have little idea how he looked."
"By George! that's a fact. Well, then, who in the dickens do you
think he resembles?"
The coachman's step was heard at that instant on the stairs, and
Merrick's reply was necessarily brief.
"Laying aside expression, take feature for feature, and you have
the face of Mrs. LaGrange."
THE EXIT OF SCOTT, THE SECRETARY
One of the first duties which the secretary was called upon to
perform, during his brief stay at Fair Oaks, was to make a copy of
the lost will. He still retained in his possession the stenographic
notes of the original document as it had been dictated by Hugh
Mainwaring on that last morning of his life, and it was but the
work of an hour or two to again transcribe them in his clear
Engaged in this work, he was seated at the large desk in the
tower-room, which had that morning been opened for use for the first
time since the death of its owner. He wrote rapidly, and the
document was nearly completed when Mr. Whitney and Ralph Mainwaring
together entered the adjoining room.
"Egad!" he heard the latter exclaim, angrily, "if that blasted
scoundrel thinks he has any hold on me, or that he can keep me on
the rack as he did Hugh, he'll find he has made the biggest mistake
of his life. It is nothing but a blackmailing scheme, and I've more
than half a mind to sift the whole matter to the bottom and land
that beggarly impostor where he belongs."
"I hardly know just what to advise under the circumstances," Mr.
Whitney answered, quietly, "for I, naturally, have some personal
feeling in this matter, and I am forced to believe, Mr. Mainwaring,
that there is something back of all this which neither you nor I
would care to have given publicity. But, laying aside that
consideration, I am of the opinion that it might not be to your
interest to push this matter too closely."
"On what grounds, sir, do you base your opinion?" Mr. Mainwaring
The attorney's reply, however, was lost upon Scott, whose attention
had been suddenly arrested by the imprint of a peculiar signature
across one corner of the blotter upon which he was drying his work,
now completed. Instantly, oblivious to everything else, he
carefully examined the blotter. It was a large one, fastened to
the top of the desk, and had been in use but a comparatively short
time. It bore traces both of Hugh Mainwaring's writing and of
his own, but this name, standing out boldly on one corner, was
utterly unlike either. Nor did it resemble any of the signatures
attached to the will on that memorable day when the desk with its
paraphernalia had been last used.
Considerably perplexed, Scott suddenly recalled a small pocket
mirror which he had seen in the desk. This he speedily found, and,
having placed it at the right angle, leaned over to get a view of
the name as it had been originally written. As he did so, he
caught sight of some faint lines above the signature which he had
not observed, but which were plainly visible in the mirror. It was
well for the secretary that he was alone, for, as he read the
signature with the words outlined above, he was spellbound. For a
moment he seemed almost paralyzed, unable to move. His brain
whirled, and, when he at last sank back in his chair, his face was
blanched and he felt giddy and faint from the discovery which he
had made. Gradually he became conscious of his surroundings. Again
he heard, as in a dream, the conversation in the adjoining room.
The attorney was speaking.
"I do not at present feel at liberty to give the source of my
information, but I can assure you it is perfectly reliable, and my
informant would never have made such an assertion unless he had ample
authority to back it up."
"I don't care a rap for your information or its source," the other
interrupted, impatiently. "The whole thing is simply preposterous.
The estate descended regularly to Hugh Mainwaring, and from him to
our own family as next of kin. You can see for yourself that to
talk of any other claimants having prior rights is an utter
"Had not Hugh Mainwaring an elder brother?"
"He had; but you must be aware that he died a great many years ago."
"But had that elder brother no issue?"
"None living," Mr. Mainwaring replied, coldly. Then added, in the
same tone, "Even had there been, that fact would have no bearing on
this case, Mr. Whitney. The entire estate was transferred to Hugh
Mainwaring by legal process before the death of his brother, he and
his heirs having been forever disinherited, so that it is the same
as though he had never existed."
While he was speaking, the secretary entered the library, his pallor
and unusual expression attracting Mr. Whitney's attention. In
response to a glance of inquiry from the latter, however, he merely
"The copy is completed. You will find it on the desk," and passed
from the library into the hall.
Still wondering at his appearance, Mr. Whitney proceeded to the
tower-room, and a moment later both gentlemen were absorbed in the
perusal of the duplicate of the lost will; but afterwards the
attorney recalled that, on taking the document from the desk, he
had noticed that the large blotter covering the top had been removed
and replaced by a new one.
There was no perceptible change in Scott's appearance during the
remainder of the day, except that he seemed more than usually
thoughtful, sometimes to the verge of abstraction, but, in reality,
his mind was so preoccupied with endless doubts and surmises
regarding his recent discovery that he found it exceedingly difficult
to concentrate his attention upon the work required of him. That
afternoon, however, while engaged in looking through some important
documents belonging to Hugh Mainwaring, kept at the city offices,
a cablegram was handed him, addressed to himself personally, from
Barton & Barton, a well-known legal firm in London. The despatch
itself caused him little surprise, as he had been in correspondence
with this firm for more than a year; but the contents of the message
were altogether unexpected, and left him in a state of bewilderment.
"Have you met J. Henry Carruthers, of London, supposed to have
sailed ten days since, or can you give us his whereabouts?"
Fortunately, Scott was alone, Ralph Mainwaring and the attorney
being in the private offices, and he had plenty of opportunity to
recover from his surprise. For half an hour he revolved the
matter in his thoughts, wondering whether this had any bearing
upon the question which for the last few hours he had been trying
to solve. A little later he sent the following reply:
"Person mentioned seen on 7th instant. No trace since. You have
my letter of 8th instant. Cable instructions."
As the Mainwaring carriage appeared at the offices at four o'clock,
to convey the gentlemen to Fair Oaks, Mr. Whitney was surprised to
find the secretary still engaged at his desk.
"If you will excuse me," the latter said, pleasantly, "I will not
go out to Fair Oaks this evening. I have some unfinished work here,
and I will remain in the city to-night."
Upon entering the offices the next day, however, the attorney found
the following note addressed to himself:
"DEAR SIR,-I regret to be compelled to inform you that you will
have to look for another assistant, as important business calls
me away for an indefinite period. Do not give yourself any
trouble concerning the salary which you kindly offered me. I am
not in need of it, and have only been too glad to render you the
little assistance within my power, knowing, as I do, that you have
no easy case on your hands.
"Trusting we shall meet in the future, I am, with great esteem,
"Very truly yours,
As Mr. Whitney read and reread this note, the words of the detective
regarding the private secretary were recalled to his mind, and he
"Yes, Merrick was right. It is very evident the young man is not
'looking for a job;' but I'll be blessed if I know what to think
Upon Mr. Whitney's return to Fair Oaks, he found the guests assembled
on the veranda, overlooking the river, Mr. Merrick, who had just
returned from a few days' absence, being also included in the company.
There were many exclamations of surprise and considerable comment
when Mr. Whitney told of the sudden disappearance of the secretary.
"Now, that is too bad!" cried Edith Thornton. "He was so
interesting, and we were all beginning to like him so much."
"I don't know that any of us were so charmed with him as one might
be led to suppose from your remark, Edith," said Isabel Mainwaring,
with a disdainful glance towards the attorney, who had seated
himself beside Miss Carleton; "but here, almost any one will answer
for a diversion, and he was really quite entertaining."
"It is not to be expected that you would see or appreciate his good
points," said her brother, with half a sneer; "but Scott is a fine
fellow and a gentleman, and I shall miss him awfully."
Miss Carleton remained silent; but for some reason, unexplainable
to herself, she was conscious of a vague sense of disappointment and
injury. She would not admit to herself that she was troubled because
Scott had gone, it was the manner of his departure. Surely, after
the friendship and confidence she had shown him, he might at least
have sent some word of farewell, instead of leaving as he had,
apparently without a thought of her. However, she chatted graciously
with Mr. Whitney, though, all the while, a proud, dark face with
strangely beautiful eyes persistently forced itself before her mental
vision, nearly obliterating the smiling face of the attorney.
Meanwhile, Ralph Mainwaring was giving the detective his views on
"I, for one, am not sorry that he has followed the example of the
coachman and taken himself off. It is my opinion," he continued,
in impressive tones, "that we will yet find he had reasons for
leaving in this manner."
"Undoubtedly!" Merrick replied, with equal emphasis.
"Now, that's just where you're wrong, governor," said young
Mainwaring. "Scott is as good as gold. There is no sneak about
him, either; and if he had reasons for leaving as he has, they were
nothing to his discredit; you can stake your last shilling on that!"
"Oh, I know he has pulled the wool over your eyes," said his father;
"but he has never tried his smooth games on me; he knows I can see
through him. I detest him. One of your typical American swells!
Just what one would expect to find in a country where a common clerk
is allowed to associate with gentlemen!"
"But, begging your pardon, Mr. Mainwaring," the detective interposed,
quietly, "Mr. Scott is not an American. He has lived less than two
years in this country."
A chorus of exclamations followed this statement.
"Not an American! Then he must be an Englishman," cried Miss
Carleton, her sparkling eyes unconsciously betraying her pleasure at
"Merrick, are you sure of that?" inquired Mr. Whitney, in
"Certainly, or I would never have made the assertion I did."
Ralph Mainwaring suddenly turned the conversation. "How about that
will business, Mr. Whitney? When will that come off?"
"The petition was filed this afternoon, and will be granted a
hearing some time next week; I have not yet learned the day."
"And then will you gentlemen be ready to start for home?" Mrs.
Mainwaring inquired, a touch of impatience in her voice.
"Well, by my soul! I should say not," laughed Mr. Thornton, before
her husband could reply. "It will probably take a number of months,
my dear madam, to settle up this estate, even if there should be no
contest; and if the case is contested, it may drag on for years, eh,
"That will depend upon circumstances. A contest would, of course,
delay the case, perhaps for several months; but I am not aware of
any contestants with sufficient means for continuing it the length
of time you mention."
"Mercy me!" exclaimed Mrs. Mainwaring, addressing her husband; "do
you and Hugh intend to remain here all that time?"
"Our stay will probably be somewhat indefinite," he replied,
evasively; "but that is no reason why you and the young ladies need
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