That Mainwaring Affair
Part 6 out of 7
preceding day's testimony to have been so closely related to him.
Perhaps no one was more surprised at this omission than Merrick
himself but if so, his only comment was made mentally.
"He's got the cinch on them all around, and he'll win, hands down!"
The inquest, held at an early hour, was merely a matter of form,
the evidence of intentional suicide being conclusive, and the
interment, a few hours later, was strictly private. Excepting the
clergyman who read the burial service, there were present only the
two sons of the wretched woman.
It was their first meeting since learning of the strange relationship
existing between them, and Walter LaGrange, as he entered the
presence of the dead, cast a curious glance, half shrinking, half
defiant, at the calm, stern face of Harold Mainwaring, who had
preceded him. His own face was haggard and drawn, and the hard,
rigid lines deepened as his glance fell for an instant on the casket
between them. Then his eyes looked straight into those of Harold
Mainwaring with an expression almost imploring.
"Tell me," he demanded in low, hoarse tones, "is it true that I am
- what she once said and what report is now saying - the son of
"It is true," the other replied, gravely.
"Then curse them both!" he exclaimed, while his hands clinched
involuntarily. "What right had they to blight and ruin my life?
What right had they to live as they did, and let the stigma, the
shame, the curse of it all fall on me? A few months since I had
the honor and respect of my classmates and associates; to-day, not
one will recognize me, and for no fault of mine!"
"Hush!" interposed Harold Mainwaring; "I know the wrong which has
been done you, - they have wronged me, also, far more deeply than
you know, - but this is no time or place to recall it!"
The calmness and kindness of his tones seemed to soothe and control
his excited companion.
"I know they have wronged you," the latter replied; "but they have
not ruined you! You have not only friends and wealth, but, more
than all, your father's name. I," he added bitterly, "am a pauper,
and worse than a pauper, for I have not even a name!"
For a few moments Harold Mainwaring silently studied the haggard
young face confronting him, in which anger was slowly giving place
to dull, sullen despair; and his own heart was suddenly moved with
pity for the boy.
"Robbed of his birthright before he was born," reared in an
atmosphere of treachery and deceit calculated to foster and develop
the evil tendencies already inherited; yet, notwithstanding all, so
closely akin to himself.
"Walter," he said, gravely, at the same time extending his hand
across the casket, "I realize the truth of much that you have said,
but you need not allow this to ruin or blight your life. Mark my
words, your future from this time forth is, to a great extent, in
your own hands; your life will be what you make it, and you alone.
See to it that it is not blighted by your own wrong-doing! Be
yourself a man of honor, and I will assure you, you can depend upon
me to stand by you and to help you." Walter LaGrange raised his
eyes in astonishment at these words, containing a pledge of probably
the first genuine friendship he had ever known in his young life.
He gave a look, searching, almost cynical, into Harold Mainwaring's
face; then reading nothing but sincerity, he took the proffered hand,
"Do you really mean it? I supposed that you, of all others, would
despise me; and it would be no great wonder if you did!"
"It will depend entirely upon yourself, Walter, whether or not I
despise you. If I ever do, it will be the result of your own
unworthiness, not because of the wrong-doing of others."
There were signs in the boy's face of a brief struggle between the
old pride, inherited from his mother, and the self-respect which
Harold Mainwaring's words had but just awakened.
"If it were the other fellow," he said, slowly, "the one the old
man intended to make his heir, had made me such a proposition, I
would tell him to go to the devil; but, by George! if you will
stand by me, it's all right, and I'll be man enough anyway that
you'll never regret it."
A few days later, Walter LaGrange, penniless and friendless, had
disappeared, whither his former associates neither knew nor cared.
In a large banking establishment in one of the principal western
cities, - a branch of the firm of Mainwaring & Co., - a young man,
known as the ward of Harold Scott Mainwaring, was entered as an
employee, with prospect of advancement should he prove himself
worthy of responsibility and trust. But of this, as of many other
events just then quietly transpiring behind the scenes, little or
nothing was known.
Meanwhile, as the days slipped rapidly away, the party at the
Waldorf was not idle. There were conferences, numerous and
protracted, behind dosed doors, telegrams and cablegrams in cipher
flashed hither and thither in multitudinous directions, while Mr.
Sutherland seemed fairly ubiquitous. Much of his time, however,
was spent in the private parlors of the English party, with frequent
journeys to the court-house to ascertain the status of the case.
From one of these trips he returned one evening jubilant.
"Well," said he, settling himself comfortably, with a sigh of
relief, "the first point in the case is decided in our favor."
"That is a good omen," Mr. Barton replied cheerfully; "but may I
inquire to what you refer?"
"I have succeeded in getting the date for the hearing set for the
next term of court, which opens early in December."
"I am glad to hear it; a little time just now is of the utmost
importance to our interests. Did you have any difficulty in
securing a postponement until the next term?"
"Whitney, of course, opposed it strongly. He said his client
wanted the matter settled at the earliest possible moment; but I
told him that so long as Ralph Mainwaring persisted in butting
against a stone wall, just so long a speedy settlement was out of
the question; it was bound to be a hard fight, and would be carried
over into the next term in any event. Then I had a private
interview with Judge Bingham, and, without giving particulars, told
him that new developments had arisen, and, with a little time in
which to procure certain evidence, we would have our opponents
completely floored, - they would not even have an inch of room left
to stand upon, - while under present conditions, Mainwaring, so long
as he had a shilling, would, if beaten, move for a new trial, or
appeal to a higher court, - anything to keep up the fight. So he
will grant us till December, which, I am inclined to think, will be
"It looks now," said Mr. Barton, producing a telegram, "as though
we might succeed in securing that evidence much sooner than we have
anticipated. What do you think of that?" and he handed the despatch
to Mr. Sutherland.
The face of the latter brightened as he glanced rapidly over the
"The dickens! McCabe has left the city!" he exclaimed.
Mr. Barton bowed. "Which means," he said in reply, "that he has
evidently struck the scent; and when he once starts on the trail,
it is only a question of time - and usually not any great length
of time, either - before he runs his game to cover."
"Well," ejaculated Mr. Sutherland, rubbing his hands together
enthusiastically, "I, for one, want to be 'in at the death' on this,
for it will simply be the finest piece of work, the grandest
denouement, of any case that has ever come within my twenty years of
Mr. Barton smiled. "My brother is evidently of the same opinion
with yourself," he said. "I received a cablegram from him to-day,
requesting me to inform him at once of the date set for the hearing,
as he stated he would not, for a kingdom, fail of being present at
With the announcement that the case of Mainwaring versus Mainwaring
had been set for the opening of the December term of court, the
public paused to take breath and to wonder at this unlooked-for
delay, but preparations for the coming contest were continued with
unabated vigor on both sides. Contrary to all expectations, Ralph
Mainwaring, so far from objecting to the postponement of the case,
took special pains to express his entire satisfaction with this
turn of affairs.
"It is an indication of conscious weakness on their part," he
remarked with great complacency, as he and Mr. Whitney were dining
at the club on the following day. "They have evidently discovered
some flaw in their defence which it will take some time to repair.
I can afford to wait, however; my attorneys and experts will soon
be here, and while our side could easily have been in readiness in
a much shorter time, this, of course, will give us an opportunity
for still more elaborate preparation, so that we will gain an
immense advantage over them."
"I suppose, Mr. Mainwaring," said one of his listeners, giving a
quick side-glance at his companions, "I suppose that during this
interim a truce will be declared, and for the time being there will
be a cessation of hostilities between the parties in interest, will
"Sir!" roared Ralph Mainwaring, transfixing the speaker with a
stare calculated to annihilate him.
"I beg pardon, sir, I intended no offence," continued the
irrepressible young American, ignoring the warning signals from his
associates; "it only occurred to me that with such an immense
advantage on your side you could afford to be magnanimous and treat
your opponent with some consideration."
"I am not accustomed to showing magnanimity or consideration to any
but my own equals," the other rejoined, with freezing dignity; "and
the fact that my 'opponent,' as you are pleased to designate him,
is, for the present, allowed liberty to go and come at his pleasure,
although under strict surveillance, is, in this instance, sufficient
"Harold Scott Mainwaring under surveillance? Incredible!" exclaimed
one of the party in a low tone, while the first speaker remarked, "I
certainly was unaware that the gentleman in question was to be
regarded in the light of a suspected criminal!"
"It is to be presumed," said Ralph Mainwaring, haughtily, stung by
the tinge of irony in the other's tone, "that there are a number of
points in this case of which people in general are as yet unaware,
but upon which they are likely to become enlightened in the near
future, when this person who has assumed such a variety of roles
will be disclosed in his true light, - not that of a suspected
criminal merely, but of a condemned criminal, convicted by a chain
of evidence every link of which has been forged by himself."
There was an ominous silence as Ralph Mainwaring rose from the
table, broken at last by an elderly gentleman seated at a little
distance, who, while apparently an interested listener, had taken
no part in the conversation.
"Begging your pardon, Mr. Mainwaring, I would judge the charges
which you would prefer against this young man to be unusually
serious; may I inquire their nature?"
The words were spoken with the utmost deliberation, but in the calm,
even tones there was an implied challenge, which was all that was
needed at that instant to fan Ralph Mainwaring's wrath into a flame.
Utterly disregarding a cautionary glance from Mr. Whitney, he turned
his monocle upon the speaker, glaring at him in contemptuous silence
for a moment.
"You have decidedly the advantage of me, sir, but allow me to say
that the person under discussion has not only, with unheard of
effrontery, publicly and unblushingly proclaimed himself as a
blackmailer and knave, capable of descending to any perfidy or
treachery for the purpose of favoring his own base schemes, but he
has also, in his inordinate greed and ambition, unwittingly proved
himself by his own statements and conduct to be a villain of the
deepest dye; and I will say, furthermore, that if Harold Scott
Mainwaring, as he styles himself, ends his days upon the gallows
in expiation of the foul murder of Hugh Mainwaring, he will have
only himself to thank, for his own words and deeds will have put
the noose about his neck."
Having thus expressed himself, Ralph Mainwaring, without waiting
for reply, left the room accompanied by Mr. Whitney. The latter
made no comment until they were seated in the carriage and rolling
down the avenue; then he remarked, casually,-
"I was surprised, Mr. Mainwaring, that you failed to recognize the
gentleman who addressed you as you were leaving the table."
"His face was somewhat familiar; I have met him, but I cannot recall
when or where. I considered his tone decidedly offensive, however,
and I proposed, whoever he might be, to give him to understand that
I would brook no interference. Do you know him?"
"I have never met him, but I know of him," the attorney replied,
watching his client closely. "He is the Honorable J. Ponsonby Roget,
Q. C., of London. I supposed of course that you knew him."
"J. Ponsonby Roget, Queen's Counsel? Egad! I have met him, but it
was years ago, and he has aged so that I did not recognize him.
Strange!" he added, visibly annoyed. "What the deuce is he doing
in this country?"
"That is just what no one is able to say," replied the attorney,
slowly. "He is stopping at the Waldorf, with our friends, the
English party, but whether as a guest or in a professional capacity,
no one has been able to ascertain."
"Zounds, man! why did you not give me this information earlier?"
"For the good and sufficient reason, Mr. Mainwaring, that I did not
learn of the facts myself until within the last two hours. My
attention was called to the gentleman as I entered the club. I
assumed, of course, that you knew him, at least by sight, and when
he addressed you I supposed for the instant that you were
"But how came he at the club? None of the party from the Waldorf
were with him."
"He was there as the especial guest of Chief-Justice Parmalee, of
the Supreme Court, the gentleman on his left. Judge Parmalee spent
much of his life in London, and the two are particular friends."
"Well, it's done, and can't be undone, and I don't know that I
regret it," Ralph Mainwaring remarked, sullenly. "If he chooses to
identify himself with that side of the case he is at liberty to do
so, but he has my opinion of his client gratis."
Mr. Whitney made no reply, and the drive was concluded in silence.
Meanwhile, Ralph Mainwaring had no sooner left the club than a
chorus of exclamations, protests, and running comments arose on
"Harold Scott Mainwaring the murderer of Hugh Mainwaring! That is
carrying this farce beyond all bounds!"
"If he cannot get possession of the property in any other way, he
will send the new heir to the gallows, eh?"
"He will attempt it, too; he is desperate," said one.
"He may make it pretty serious for the young fellow," said another,
thoughtfully. "You remember, by his own statements he was the last
person who saw Hugh Mainwaring alive; in fact, he was in his library
within a few moments preceding his death; and after all that has
been brought to light, it's not to be supposed that he had any great
affection for his uncle."
"What is this, gentlemen?" said a reporter, briskly, appearing on
the scene, note-book in hand. "Any new developments in the
"Yes, a genuine sensation!" shouted two or three voices.
"Gentlemen, attention a moment!" said a commanding voice outside,
and an instant later a tall, well-known form entered.
"The ubiquitous Mr. Sutherland!" laughingly announced a jovial
young fellow, standing near the entrance.
"Sutherland, how is this?" demanded one of the elder gentlemen.
"Have you a private battery concealed about your person with
invisible wires distributed throughout the city, that you seem to
arrive at any and every spot just on the nick of time?"
"That is one of the secrets of the profession, Mr. Norton, not to
be revealed to the uninitiated," replied the attorney, while a
quick glance flashed between himself and the Queen's Counsel.
"There is one thing, gentlemen," he continued, with great dignity,
"to which I wish to call your attention, particularly you gentlemen
of the press. I am aware of the nature of the 'sensation' of which
you made mention a moment ago, but I wish it distinctly understood
that it is to be given no publicity whatever. The name of my client
is not to be bandied about before the public in connection with any
of Ralph Mainwaring's imputations or vilifications, for the reason
that they are wholly without foundation. We are thoroughly
cognizant of that gentleman's intentions regarding our client, and
we will meet him on his own ground. In the coming contest we will
not only establish beyond all shadow of doubt our client's sole
right and title to the Mainwaring estate, but we will, at the same
time, forever refute and silence any and every aspersion which Ralph
Mainwaring may seek to cast upon him. Even were there any truth
in these insinuations, it would be time enough, when the charges
should be preferred against our client, to brazen them before the
public, but since they are only the product of spleen and malignity,
simply consign them to the odium and obloquy to which they are
"That is right!" responded two or three voices, while the reporter
"We will certainly respect your wishes, sir; but you see the public
is on the qui vive, so to speak, over this case, and it is our
business to get hold of every item which we can to add to the
interest. You have checked us off on some rather interesting matter
already, I believe."
"Perhaps so," said Mr. Sutherland, quietly, "but I can promise you
that before long there will be developments in the case which will
give you boys all the interesting matter you will need for some
time, and they will be fact, not fabrication."
As the result of Mr. Sutherland's prompt action, the newspapers
contained no allusion to that evening's scene at the club; but even
his energy and caution were powerless to prevent the spread of the
affair from lip to lip. Mentioned scarcely above a whisper, the
report rippled onward, the waves widening in all directions, with
various alterations and additions, till it was regarded as an open
secret in all circles of society. It reached young Mainwaring in
his rather secluded bachelor quarters at the Murray Hill, and he
bowed his head in shame that a Mainwaring should stoop to so
disgraceful an exhibition of his venomous rage and hatred. It
reached Harold Scott Mainwaring, and the smouldering fire in the
dark eyes gleamed afresh and the proud face grew rigid and stern.
Donning overcoat and hat, he left his apartments at the Waldorf;
and started forth in the direction of the club most frequented by
Ralph Mainwaring and Mr. Whitney.
He had gone but a short distance when he met young Mainwaring. The
young men exchanged cordial greetings, and, at Harold's request, his
cousin retraced his steps to accompany him.
"Why are you making such a stranger of yourself; Hugh? I have
scarcely seen you of late," said Harold, after a little general
"Well, to be frank with you, old boy, I haven't been around so often
as I would like for two reasons; for one thing, I find people
generally are not inclined to regard our friendship in the same light
that we do. You and I understand one another, and you don't suspect
me of any flunkeyism, or any ulterior motive, don't you know, -"
"I understand perfectly," said Harold, as his cousin paused, seeming
to find some difficulty in conveying his exact meaning; "and so
long as you and I do understand each other, what is the use of
paying any attention to outsiders? Whether we were friends, or
refused to recognize one another, their small talk and gossip would
flow on forever, so why attempt to check it?"
"I believe you are right; but that isn't all of it, don't you know.
What I care most about is the governor's losing his head in the way
he has lately. It is simply outrageous, the reports he has started
Hugh paused and glanced anxiously into his cousin's face, but the
frank, brotherly kindness which he read there reassured him.
"My dear cousin," said Harold, warmly, "nothing that Ralph
Mainwaring can ever say or do shall make any difference between us.
There are but two contingencies in this connection that I regret."
"And those are what?" the younger man questioned eagerly.
"That he bears the name of Mainwaring, and that he is your father!"
"By Jove! I'm with you on that," the other exclaimed heartily, "and
I hope you'll win every point in the game; but I've been awfully
cut up over what he has said and done recently. I know that he
intends to carry his threats into execution, and I'm afraid he'll
make it deucedly unpleasant for you, don't you know."
They had reached the club-house, and Harold Mainwaring, as he paused
on the lowest step, smiled brightly into the boyish face, regarding
him with such solicitude.
"I understand his intentions as well as you, and know that it would
give him great delight to carry them into execution; but, my dear
boy, he will never have the opportunity to even make the attempt."
Young Mainwaring's face brightened. "Why, are you prepared to head
him off in that direction? By Jove! I'm right glad to know it.
Well, I'll be around to the Waldorf in the course of a day or two
No, much obliged, but I don't care to go into the club-rooms
to-night; in fact, I haven't been in there since the governor made
that after-dinner speech of his. Good-night!"
As Harold Mainwaring sauntered carelessly through the club-rooms,
returning the greetings of the select circle of friends which he
had made, he was conscious of glances of interest and undisguised
curiosity from the many with whom he had no acquaintance. No
allusion was made to the subject which he well knew was in their
minds, however, until, meeting Mr. Chittenden, the latter drew him
aside into an alcove.
"I say, my dear Mainwaring, are you aware that your esteemed kinsman
has you under strict surveillance?"
Mainwaring smiled, though his eyes flashed. "I am aware that he
has made statements to that effect, although, thus far, his
'surveillance' has interfered in no way either with my duties or
pleasures, nor do I apprehend that it will."
"My dear fellow, it is simply preposterous! The man must be insane."
"Is he here this evening?" Mainwaring inquired.
"No; to tell the truth, he has not found it so very congenial here
since that outbreak of his; he seldom is here now, excepting, of
course, at meals. Mr. Whitney is here, however."
"I came here," Harold Mainwaring replied, "with the express purpose
of meeting one or the other, or both; on the whole, it will be
rather better to meet Mr. Whitney."
"No trouble, no unpleasant words, I hope?" said the elder man,
"Mr. Chittenden, when you knew me as Hugh Mainwaring's private
secretary, you knew me as a gentleman; I trust I shall never be
"You are right, you are right, my boy, and I beg your pardon; but
young blood is apt to be hasty, you know."
A little later Harold Mainwaring strolled leisurely across the large
reading-room to a table where Mr. Whitney was seated. The latter,
seeing him, rose to greet him, while his sensitive face flushed
with momentary excitement.
"Mr. Mainwaring, I am delighted to meet you. I had hoped from the
friendly tone of that rather mysterious note of yours, upon your
somewhat abrupt departure, that we might meet again soon, and,
though it is under greatly altered circumstances, I am proud to
have the opportunity of congratulating you."
The younger man responded courteously, and for a few moments the
two chatted pleasantly upon subjects of general interest, while
many pairs of eyes looked on in silent astonishment, wondering what
this peculiar interview might portend.
At last, after a slight pause, Harold Mainwaring remarked, calmly,
"Mr. Whitney, I understand that, when the coming litigation is
terminated, your client intends to institute proceedings against me
of a far different nature, - criminal proceedings, in fact."
The attorney colored and started nervously, then replied in a low
tone, "Mr. Mainwaring, let us withdraw to one of the side rooms;
this is rather a public place for any conversation regarding those
"It is none too public for me, Mr. Whitney, as I have nothing
unpleasant to say towards yourself personally, and nothing which I
am not perfectly willing should be heard by any and every individual
in these rooms to-night. You have not yet answered my inquiry, Mr.
The attorney paused for a moment, as though laboring under great
excitement, then he spoke in a tone vibrating with strong emotion,-
"Mr. Mainwaring, regarding my client's intentions, you have, in all
probability, been correctly informed. I believe that he has made
statements at various times to that effect, and I am now so well
acquainted with him that I know there is no doubt but that he will
attempt to carry out what he has threatened. But, Mr. Mainwaring, I
wish to say a word or two for myself. In the coming litigation
over the estate, I, as Ralph Mainwaring's counsel, am bound to do
my part without any reference to my own personal opinions or
prejudices, and I expect to meet you and your counsel in an open
fight, - perhaps a bitter one. But this much I have to say: Should
Ralph Mainwaring undertake to bring against you any action of the
character which he has threatened," here Mr. Whitney rose to his
feet and brought his hand down with a ringing blow upon the table
at his side, "he will have to employ other counsel than myself, for
I will have nothing whatever to do with such a case."
He paused a moment, then continued: "I do not claim to understand
you perfectly, Mr. Mainwaring. I will confess you have always been
a mystery to me, and you are still. There are depths about you that
I cannot fathom. But I do believe in your honor, your integrity,
and your probity, and as for taking part in any action reflecting
upon your character, or incriminating you in any respect, I never
A roar of applause resounded through the club-rooms as he concluded.
When it had subsided, Harold Mainwaring replied,-
"Mr. Whitney, I thank you for this public expression of your
confidence in me. The relations between us in the past have been
pleasant, and I trust they will continue so in the future. As I
stated, however, I came here to-night with no unfriendly feeling
towards yourself, but to ask you to be the bearer of a message
from me to your client. Ralph Mainwaring, not content with trying
by every means within his power to deprive me of my right and
title to the estate for years wrongfully withheld from my father
and from myself, now accuses me of being the murderer of Hugh
Mainwaring. I Say to Ralph Mainwaring, for me, that, not through
what he terms my 'inordinate greed and ambition,' but through
God-given rights which no man can take from me, I will have my
own, and he is powerless to prevent it or to stand in my way. But
say to him that I will never touch one farthing of this property
until I stand before the world free and acquitted of the most remote
shadow of the murder of Hugh Mainwaring; nor until the foul and
dastardly crime that stains Fair Oaks shall have been avenged!"
Amid the prolonged applause that followed, Harold Mainwaring left
RUN TO COVER
A dull, cheerless day in the early part of December was merging
into a stormy night as the west-bound express over one of the
transcontinental railways, swiftly winding its way along the
tortuous course of a Rocky Mountain canyon, suddenly paused before
the long, low depot of a typical western mining city. The arc
lights swinging to and fro shed only a ghastly radiance through the
dense fog, and grotesque shadows, dancing hither and thither to the
vibratory motion of the lights, seemed trying to contest supremacy
with the feeble rays.
The train had not come to a full stop when a man sprang lightly
from one of the car platforms, and, passing swiftly through the
waiting crowd, concealed himself in the friendly shelter of the
shadows, where he remained oblivious to the rain falling in
spiteful dashes, while he scanned the hurrying crowd surging in
various directions. Not one of the crowd observed him; not one
escaped his observation. Soon his attention was riveted upon a
tall man, closely muffled in fur coat and cap, who descended from
one of the rear coaches, and, after a quick, cautious glance about
him, passed the silent, motionless figure in the shadow and hastily
entered a carriage standing near. The other, listening intently
for the instructions given the driver, caught the words, "545
As the carriage rolled away, he emerged from the shadow and jotted
down the address in a small note-book, soliloquizing as he did so,-
"I have tracked him to his lair at last, and now, unless that
infernal hoodoo looms upon the scene, I can get in my work in good
shape. I would have had my game weeks ago, but for his appearance,
He looked at his watch. "Dinner first," he muttered, "the next
thing in order is to find the alias under which my gentleman is at
present travelling. No one seems to know much about him in these
The dim light revealed a man below medium height, his form enveloped
in a heavy English mackintosh thrown carelessly about his shoulders,
which, as he made his notes, blew partially open, revealing an
immaculate shirt front and a brilliant diamond which scintillated
and sparkled in open defiance of the surrounding gloom. A soft felt
hat well pulled down concealed his eyes and the upper part of his
face, leaving visible only a slightly aquiline nose and heavy, black
mustache, which gave his face something of a Jewish cast. Replacing
his note-book in his pocket, he called a belated carriage, and
hastily gave orders to be taken to the Clifton House.
Arriving at the hotel, the stranger registered as "A. Rosenbaum,
Berlin," and, having secured one of the best rooms the house afforded,
repaired to the dining-room. Dinner over, Mr. Rosenbaum betook
himself to a quiet corner of the office, which served also as a
reading-room, and soon was apparently absorbed in a number of Eastern
papers, both English and German, though a keen observer would have
noted that the papers were occasionally lowered sufficiently to give
the eyes - again concealed beneath the hat-brim - an opportunity for
reconnoitering the situation. He was attired in a black suit of
faultless fit, and a superb ruby on his left hand gleamed and glowed
like living fire, rivalling in beauty the flashing diamond. He
speedily became the subject of considerable speculation among the
various classes of men congregating in the hotel office, most of
them for an evening of social enjoyment, though a few seemed to have
gathered there for the purpose of conducting business negotiations.
Among the latter, after a time, was the tall man in fur coat and
cap, who appeared to be waiting for some one with whom he had an
appointment, as he shunned the crowd, selecting a seat near Mr.
Rosenbaum as the most quiet place available. Having removed his
cap and thrown back the high collar of his fur coat, he appeared to
be a man of about fifty years of age, with iron-gray hair and a full,
heavy beard of the same shade. He wore dark glasses, and, having
seated himself with his back towards the light, drew forth from his
pocket a number of voluminous type-written documents, and became
absorbed in a perusal of their contents.
Meanwhile, the proprietor of the Clifton House, feeling considerable
curiosity regarding his new guest, sauntered over in his direction.
"Well, Mr. Rosenbaum," he remarked, genially, "you have hit on
rather a stormy night for your introduction to our city, for I take
it you are a stranger here, are you not?"
The soft hat was raised slightly, revealing a rather stolid,
expressionless face, with dark eyes nearly concealed by long lashes.
"Not the most agreeable, certainly," he answered, with an expressive
shrug and a marked German accent, at the same time ignoring the
"Your first impressions are not likely to be very pleasant, but if
you stop over a few days you will see we have a fine city. Do you
remain here long?"
"I cannot say at present; depends entirely upon business, you
"I see. What's your line?"
For reply the stranger handed the other a small card, on which was
engraved, "Rosenbaum Brothers, Diamond Brokers, Berlin," and bearing
on one corner his own name, "A. Rosenbaum."
"Diamond brokers, eh? You don't say!" exclaimed the proprietor,
regarding the bit of pasteboard with visible respect. "Must be quite
a business. You represent this firm, I suppose; you are their
The stranger shook his head with a smile. "We have no salesmen," he
answered, quietly. "We have branch houses in Paris, London, and New
York, but we employ no travelling salesmen. Any one can sell
diamonds; my business is to buy them," with marked emphasis on the
"Well," said his interlocutor, "you're not looking for 'em out here,
"Why not here as well as anywhere? So far as my experience goes,
it is nothing uncommon in this part of the country to run across
owners of fine stones who, for one reason or another, are very glad
to exchange the same for cash."
"Yes, I suppose so. When a fellow gets down to bedrock, he'll put
up most anything to make a raise."
"There are many besides those who are down to bedrock, as you call
it, who are glad to make an exchange of that kind," said Mr.
Rosenbaum, speaking with deliberation and keeping an eye upon his
neighbor in the fur coat; "but their reasons, whatever they may be,
do not concern us; our business is simply to buy the gems wherever
we can find them and ask no questions."
By this time a fourth man was approaching in their direction,
evidently the individual for whom the man in the fur coat was
waiting, and Mr. Rosenbaum, thinking it time to put an end to the
conversation, rose and began to don his mackintosh.
"Surely you are not going out to-night!" said the proprietor; "better
stay indoors, and I'll make you acquainted with some of the boys."
"Much obliged, but an important engagement compels me to forego that
pleasure," said Mr. Rosenbaum, and, bidding his host good-evening, he
sallied forth, well aware that every word of their conversation had
been overheard by their silent neighbor, notwithstanding the
voluminous documents which seemed to engross his attention.
Passing out into the night, he found the storm fast abating.
Stopping at a news-stand, he inquired for a directory, which he
carefully studied for a few moments, then walked down the principal
thoroughfare until, coming to a side street, he turned and for a
number of blocks passed up one street and down another, plunging at
last into a dark alley.
Upon emerging therefrom a block away, the soft felt hat had given
place to a jaunty cap, while a pair of gold-rimmed eye-glasses
perched upon the aquiline nose gave the wearer a decidedly youthful
and debonnaire appearance. Approaching a secluded house in a dimly
lighted location, he glanced sharply at the number, as though to
reassure himself, then running swiftly up the front steps, he
pulled the door-bell vigorously and awaited developments. After
considerable delay the door was unlocked and partially opened by a
hatchet-faced woman, who peered cautiously out, her features lighted
by the uncertain rays of a candle which the draught momentarily
threatened to extinguish.
"Good-evening, madam," said the stranger, airily. "Pardon such an
unseasonable call, but I wish to see Mr. Lovering, who, I understand,
has rooms here."
"There's no such person rooming here," she replied, sharply, her
manner indicating that this bit of information ended the interview,
but her interlocutor was not to be so easily dismissed.
"No such person!" he exclaimed, at the same time scrutinizing in
apparent perplexity a small card which he had produced. "J. D.
Lovering, 545 Jefferson Street; isn't this 545, madam?"
"Yes," she answered, testily, "this is 545; but there's nobody here
by the name of Lovering."
The young man turned as if to go. "Have you any roomers at present?"
he inquired, doubtfully.
"I have one, but his name is Mannering."
"Mannering," he repeated, thoughtfully, once more facing her; "I
wonder if I am not mistaken in the name? Will you kindly describe
The woman hesitated, eying him suspiciously. "He ain't likely to
be the man you want," she said, slowly, "for he don't have no
callers, and he never goes anywhere, except out of the city once in
a while on business. He's an oldish man, with dark hair and beard
streaked with gray, and he wears dark glasses."
"Ah, no," the young man interrupted hastily, "that is not the man at
all; the man I am looking for is rather young and a decided blond.
I am sorry to have troubled you, madam; I beg a thousand pardons,"
and with profuse apologies he bowed himself down the steps, to the
evident relief of the landlady.
As the door closed behind him, Mr. Rosenbaum paused a moment to
reconnoitre. The house he had just left was the only habitable
building visible in the immediate vicinity, but a few rods farther
down the street was a small cabin, whose dilapidated appearance
indicated that it was unoccupied. Approaching the cabin cautiously,
Mr. Rosenbaum tried the door; it offered but slight resistance, and,
entering, he found it, as he had surmised, empty and deserted.
Stationing himself near a window which overlooked No. 545, he
regarded the isolated dwelling with considerable interest. It was
a two-story structure with a long extension in the rear, only one
story in height. With the exception of a dim light in this rear
portion, the house was entirely dark, which led Mr. Rosenbaum to
the conclusion that the landlady's private apartments were in this
part of the building and remote from the room occupied by her lodger,
which he surmised to be the front room on the second floor, a side
window of which faced the cabin.
For more than an hour Mr. Rosenbaum remained at his post, and at
last had the satisfaction of seeing the tall figure in the fur coat
approaching down the dimly lighted street. He ascended the steps
of 545, let himself in with a night-key, and a moment later the gas
in the upper front room was turned on, showing Mr. Rosenbaum's
surmise to be correct. For an instant the flaring flame revealed
a pale face without the dark glasses, and with a full, dark beard
tinged with gray; then it was lowered and the window blinds were
closely drawn, precluding the possibility of further observation.
The face was like and yet unlike what Mr. Rosenbaum had expected
to see; he determined upon a nearer and better view, without the
dark glasses, before making any decisive move.
The following evening, as soon as it was dusk, found Mr. Rosenbaum
again at the window of the deserted cabin, keenly observant of No.
545. A faint light burned in the rear of the lower floor, while in
the front room upstairs a fire was evidently burning in an open
grate, the rest of the house being in darkness. Presently a man's
figure, tall and well formed, could be seen pacing up and down the
room, appearing, vanishing, and reappearing in the wavering
firelight. For nearly an hour he continued his perambulation, his
hands clasped behind him as though absorbed in deep thought. At
last, arousing himself from his revery, the man looked at his watch
and vanished, reappearing ten minutes later at the front door, in
the usual fur coat and cap, and, descending the steps, turned
towards town and proceeded leisurely down the street, Mr. Rosenbaum
following at some distance, but always keeping him in view and
gradually diminishing the distance between them as the thoroughfare
became more crowded, till they were nearly opposite each other.
Finally, the man paused before a restaurant and, turning, looked
carefully up and down the street. For the first time he observed
Mr. Rosenbaum and seemed to regard him with close attention, but
the latter gentleman was absorbed in the contemplation of an
assortment of diamonds and various gems displayed in a jeweller's
window, directly opposite the restaurant. In the mirrored back of
the show-case the restaurant was plainly visible, and Mr. Rosenbaum
noted with satisfaction the other's evident interest in himself,
and continued to study the contents of the show-case till the man
had entered the restaurant, seating himself at one of the
unoccupied tables. Having observed his man well started on the
first course of dinner, Mr. Rosenbaum crossed the street slowly,
entered the restaurant and with a pre-occupied air seated himself
at the same table with Mr. Mannering. After giving his order, he
proceeded to unfold the evening paper laid beside his plate, without
even a glance at his vis-a-vis. His thoughts, however, were not
on the printed page, but upon the man opposite, whom he had followed
from city to city, hearing of him by various names and under various
guises; hitherto unable to obtain more than a fleeting glimpse of
him, but now brought face to face.
"Alias Henry J. Mannering at last!" he commented mentally, as he
refolded his paper; "you have led me a long chase, my man, but you
and I will now have our little game, and I will force you to show
your hand before it is over!"
Glancing casually across at his neighbor, he found the dark glasses
focused upon himself with such fixity that he responded with a
friendly nod, and, making some trivial remark, found Mr. Mannering
not at all averse to conversation. A few commonplaces were exchanged
until the arrival of Mr. Rosenbaum's order, when the other remarked,-
"Evidently you do not find the cuisine of the Clifton House entirely
"It is very good," Mr. Rosenbaum answered, indifferently, "but an
occasional change is agreeable. By the way, sir, have I met you at
the Clifton? I do not remember to have had that pleasure."
"We have not met," replied the other. "I saw you there last evening,
however, as I happened in soon after your arrival."
"Ah, so? I am very deficient in remembering faces."
Mr. Mannering hesitated a moment, then remarked with a smile, "I,
on the contrary, am quite observant of faces, and yours seems
somewhat familiar; have I not seen you elsewhere than here?"
Mr. Rosenbaum raised his eyebrows in amusement. "It is very possible
you have, my dear sir; I travel constantly, and for aught that I
know you may have seen me in nearly every city on the globe. May I
inquire your business, sir? Do you also travel?"
"No," said Mr. Mannering, slowly, but apparently relieved by Mr.
Rosenbaum's answer, "I am not engaged in any particular line of
business at present. I am interested in mining to a considerable
extent, and am out here just now looking after my properties. How
do you find business in your line?"
Mr. Rosenbaum shook his head with a slight shrug.
"Nothing so far to make it worth my while to stay. You see, sir,
for such a trade as ours we want only the finest gems that can be
bought; we have no use for ordinary stones, and that is all I have
seen here so far;" and, having thrown out his bait, he awaited
A long pause followed, while Mr. Mannering toyed with his fork,
drawing numerous diagrams on the table-cloth.
"I think," he said at last, slowly, "that I could get you one or two
fine diamonds if you cared to buy and would give anything like their
"That would depend, of course, upon the quality of the diamonds;
really fine gems we are always ready to buy and to pay a good price
"If I am any judge of diamonds, these are valuable stones," said Mr.
Mannering, "and the owner of them, who is a friend of mine, being
himself a connoisseur in that line, would not be likely to entertain
any false ideas regarding their value."
"And your friend wishes to sell them?"
"I am inclined to think that he might dispose of one or two for a
sufficient consideration, subject, however, to one condition, - that
no questions will be asked."
"That goes without saying, my dear sir; asking questions is not our
business. We are simply looking for the finest stones that money
can buy, without regard to anything else. Perhaps," added Mr.
Rosenbaum, tentatively, "we might arrange with your friend for a
meeting between the three of us."
"That would be impracticable," Mr. Mannering replied; "he is out of
the city; and furthermore I know he would not care to appear in the
transaction, but would prefer to have me conduct the negotiations.
I was going to suggest that if you were to remain here a few days,
I shall see my friend in a day or so, as I am going out to look
over some mining properties in which we are both interested, and I
could bring in some of the gems with me, and we might then see what
terms we could make."
"I can remain over, sir, if you can make it an object for me, and
if the stones prove satisfactory I have no doubt we can make terms.
Why, sir," Mr. Rosenbaum leaned across the table and his voice
assumed a confidential tone, "money would be no object with me if I
could get one or two particular gems that I want. For instance, I
have one diamond that I would go to the ends of the earth and pay
a small fortune when I got there, if I could only find a perfect
match for it!" and he launched forth upon an enthusiastic description
of the stone, expatiating upon its enormous size, its wonderful
brilliancy and perfection, adding in conclusion, "and its workmanship
shows it to be at least two hundred years old! Think of that, sir!
What would I not give to be able to match it!"
A peculiar expression flitted over his listener's face, not
unobserved by Mr. Rosenbaum. He made no immediate response, however,
but when at last the two men separated, it was with the agreement
that they should dine together at the same café three days later,
when Mr. Mannering would have returned from his conference with his
friend, at which time, if the latter cared to dispose of his jewels,
they would be submitted for inspection.
Upon retiring to his room that night, Mr. Rosenbaum sat for some
time in deep abstraction, and when he finally turned off the gas,
"He will produce the jewels all right, and may heaven preserve us
both from the hoodoo!"
For the two days next ensuing, Mr. Rosenbaum watched closely the
arrivals in the city, but, notwithstanding his vigilance, there
slipped in unaware, on the evening of the second day, a quiet,
unassuming man, who went to the Windsor Hotel, registering there
as "A. J. Johnson, Chicago." At a late hour, while Mr. Rosenbaum,
in the solitude of his own room, was perfecting his plans for the
following day, Mr. Johnson, who was making a tour of inspection
among the leading hotels, sauntered carelessly into the office of
the Clifton. He seemed rather socially inclined, and soon was
engaged in conversation with the proprietor and a dozen of the
"boys," all of whom were informed that he was travelling through
the West on the lookout for "snaps" in the way of mining investments.
This announcement produced general good feeling, and there were not
wanting plenty who offered to take Mr. Johnson around the city on
the following day and introduce him to the leading mining men and
"Much obliged, boys," said Mr. Johnson, "but there's no rush. I
expect to meet some friends here in a few days, and till they come
I shall simply look around on the q. t., you understand, and make
some observations for myself. And that reminds me, gentlemen," he
added, "do any of you happen to know a man by the name of Mannering,
who is interested in mines out here?"
"Mannering?" answered one of the group; "there's a man by that name
has been around here off and on for the last two or three months;
but I didn't know he was interested in mines to any extent, though
he seems to have plenty of money."
"I think that is the man I have in mind; will you describe him?"
"Well, he's tall, about middle age, rather gray, wears blue glasses,
and never has anything to say to anybody; a queer sort of fellow."
Mr. Johnson nodded, but before he could reply, another in the group
remarked, "Oh, that's the fellow you mean, is it? I've seen him at
the Royal Café for the last six weeks, and in all that time he's
never exchanged a dozen words with anybody, till here, the other
night, that diamond Dutchman of yours," addressing the proprietor
of the Clifton, "came waltzing in there, and I'll be hanged if the
two didn't get as confidential over their dinner as two old women
over a cup of tea."
Mr. Johnson turned towards the proprietor with a quiet smile. "The
'diamond Dutchman!' Is he a guest of your house?"
"Yes; do you know him?"
"Not by name, but I think I have seen the gentleman on my travels;
engaged in the jewelry business, isn't he, and carries his
advertisements on his shirt-front and fingers?"
"That's the man," the proprietor replied, amid a general laugh.
"Why?" He's all right, isn't he?"
"All right for aught that I know, sir; I haven't the pleasure of
the gentleman's acquaintance, though possibly I may have if we both
remain here long enough," and he carelessly turned the subject of
A little later, as Mr. Johnson left the Clifton, he soliloquized,
"Well, if I haven't exactly killed two birds with one stone, I think
I've snared two birds in one trap. Since coming West I haven't
located one without seeing or hearing of the other; it's my belief
they're 'pals,' and if I can pull in the pair, so much the better."
The following evening found Mr. Johnson in the vicinity of the Royal
Café; having discovered a small newsstand opposite, he strolled in
thither, and, buying a couple of papers, seated himself in a quiet
corner, prepared to take observations. He had not waited long when
Mr. Mannering made his appearance, and, after pausing a moment to
look up and down the street, entered the restaurant. He had been
seated but a moment when Mr. Rosenbaum appeared, crossing the street,
having evidently left the jeweller's store, and also entered the
café. The two men shook hands and immediately withdrew to one of
the private boxes. Mr. Johnson had visited the Royal Café earlier
in the day and made himself familiar with its interior arrangement.
Knowing the box just taken to be No. 3, and that No. 4 directly
opposite was unoccupied, he at once proceeded across the street to
the restaurant. Stopping at the cashier's desk, he said in a low
tone, "I expect some friends later, and don't wish to be disturbed
till they come; understand?"
The man nodded, and Mr. Johnson passed on noiselessly into No. 4.
Meanwhile, the occupants of No. 3 having received their orders,
dismissed the waiter, with the information that when they needed
his services they would ring for him. Mr. Mannering was visibly
excited, so much so that his dinner remained almost untasted, and
the other, observing his evident agitation, pushed aside his own
plate and, folding his arms upon the table, inquired indifferently,-
"Well, my dear sir, what was your friend's decision?"
For reply, the other drew from his pocket a small case, which he
silently handed across the table. Mr. Rosenbaum opened it,
disclosing, as he did so, a pair of diamonds of moderate size, but
of unusual brilliancy and perfectly matched. He examined them
silently, scrutinizing them closely, while his face indicated
"What does your friend expect for these?" he asked at length.
"What will you give for them?" was the counter-question.
"I do not care to set a price on them, for I do not want them," he
replied, rather shortly.
"I think," said Mr. Mannering, "that my friend would dispose of
them at a reasonable figure, as he is at present in need of ready
cash with which to consummate an important mining negotiation."
After considerable fencing and parrying, Mr. Rosenbaum made an offer
for the gems, to which Mr. Mannering demurred.
"Show me a higher class of gems and I will offer you a better price,"
said Mr. Rosenbaum, finally seeming to grow impatient. "Show me one
like this, for instance, and I will offer you a small fortune," and
opening a case which he had quickly drawn from his pocket, he took
from it an enormous diamond, beside whose dazzling brilliancy the
pair of gems under consideration seemed suddenly to grow dim and
lustreless. He held it up and a thousand rays of prismatic light
flashed in as many different directions.
"What do you think of that, my dear sir? When I can find a match
for that magnificent stone, we can fill an order which we have held
for more than twelve months from the royal house in Germany. But
where will I find it?"
Twirling the gem carelessly between his thumb and finger, he watched
the face of his companion and saw it change to a deathly pallor.
"May I see that for one moment?" he asked, and his voice sounded
unnatural and constrained, while the hand which he extended across
the table trembled visibly.
"Most certainly, sir," Mr. Rosenbaum replied, and, in compliance
with the request, handed to Mr. Mannering the gem which the latter
had himself disposed of less than three months before in one of the
large Western cities. Nothing could escape the piercing eyes now
fastened upon that face with its strange pallor, its swiftly
changing expression. Unconscious of this scrutiny, Mr. Mannering
regarded the gem silently, then removed his glasses for a closer
inspection. Having satisfied his curiosity, he returned the stone
to Mr. Rosenbaum, and as he did so, found the eyes of the latter
fixed not upon the gem, but upon his own face. Something in their
glance seemed to disconcert him for an instant, but he quickly
recovered himself, and, replacing the colored glasses, remarked
with a forced composure,-
"That is a magnificent stone. May I ask when and where you found
"I picked it up in one of your cities some three months ago, maybe,
more or less."
"You bought it in this country, then? Why may you not expect to
match it here?"
"Simply on the theory, my dear sir, that the lightning never strikes
twice in the same place."
"Well, sir," said Mr. Mannering, calmly, "I will show you a stone so
perfect a match for that, you yourself could not distinguish between
"You have such a diamond!" Mr. Rosenbaum exclaimed; "why then are
you wasting time with these?" and he pushed the smaller diamonds
from him with a gesture of contempt. "Why did you not produce it
in the first place?"
"Because," replied Mr. Mannering, his composure now fully restored,
"I do not propose to produce it until I know somewhere near what
you will give for it."
"My dear sir," Mr. Rosenbaum's tones became eager, "as I have already
told you, if I can match this stone," placing it on the table between
them, "I will pay you a small fortune; money would be no object; you
could have your own price."
Without further words, Mr. Mannering drew forth a small package,
which he carefully opened, and, taking therefrom an exact duplicate
of the wonderful gem, placed it upon the table beside the latter.
With a smile which the other did not see, Mr. Rosenbaum bent his
head to examine the stones; he had recognized his man in the brief
instant that their eyes had met, and now, within his grasp, lay, as
he well knew from the description which he carried, two of the finest
diamonds in the famous Mainwaring collection of jewels, stolen less
than six months before; his triumph was almost complete.
Meanwhile, Mr. Johnson, who had overheard much of their conversation,
was congratulating himself upon the near success of his own schemes,
when the officiousness of a waiter overthrew the plans of all parties
and produced the greatest confusion. Catching sight of the gentleman
waiting in No. 4, he ignored the cashier's instructions and entered
the box to take his order. Mr. Johnson's reply, low and brief though
it was, caught the quick ear of Mr. Rosenbaum, who muttered under his
"The hoodoo! confound him!"
At the same instant a draught lifted the curtain to NO. 3, revealing
to the astonished Mannering a view of Mr. Johnson's profile in the
opposite box. His own face grew white as the table-cloth before
him; he reached wildly for the diamond, but both gems were gone, and
Rosenbaum confronted him with a most sinister expression.
"My diamond!" he gasped.
"The diamonds are safe," replied the other in a low tone, "and you,"
addressing Mannering by his true name, "the more quiet you are just
now the better."
The elder man's face grew livid with rage and fear, and, rising
suddenly to his feet, his tall form towered far above Rosenbaum.
"Wretch!" he hissed, with an oath, "you have betrayed me, curse you!"
and, dealing the smaller man a blow which floored him, he rushed from
In an instant Rosenbaum staggered to his feet, and, pausing only long
enough to make sure of the safety of the jewels, rushed from the café,
reaching the street just in time to see his man jump into a cab, which
whirled swiftly and started down the street at break-neck speed. Two
cabmen, talking at a short distance, hurried to the scene, and,
calling one of them, Mr. Rosenbaum hastily took a second cab and
started in pursuit of the first, but not before he had caught a
glimpse of Mr. Johnson making active preparations to follow them
"Hang that fellow!" he muttered, as he heard wheels behind him.
"This is the third time he has spoiled the game; but I've got the
winning hand, and he'll not beat me out of it!"
By this time the first cab, having turned a corner a short distance
ahead, was out of sight, but Rosenbaum, convinced from the direction
taken of its destination, and knowing a more direct route, shouted
to the driver what streets to follow, and to come out upon the alley
near No. 545 Jefferson Street.
"The old fellow will think I've lost the trail when he finds he's
not followed," he soliloquized, amid the joltings of the vehicle,
"and maybe it will throw the hoodoo off the track."
But Mr. Johnson had no intention of being thrown off. He had seen
cab No. 2 a take a different course, and, having lost sight of No. 1,
decided that a bird in the hand would be worth two in the bush, and
that he would follow up the "pal."
As cab No. 2 approached Jefferson Street, Rosenbaum called to the
driver to slacken and drive on the dark side of the alley. He jumped
out to reconnoitre; a cab was just stopping at No. 545, a tall figure
got out and hastily disappeared up the steps, while the cab whirled
"Turn about, drive back quietly, and answer no questions," Rosenbaum
said, slipping a bill into the driver's hand, and then glided swiftly
through the shadow to No. 545. His maneuvers were seen, however, by
Mr. Johnson, who immediately proceeded to follow his example.
Running quickly up the steps to No. 545, Rosenbaum produced a bunch
of skeleton keys, which he proceeded to try. The first was useless,
the second ditto; he heard steps approaching; the third fitted the
lock, but, as it turned, a hand was laid upon his shoulder, a dark
lantern flashed in his face, and a voice said,-
"Your game is up, my man; you had better come with me as peaceably
For answer, the other turned quickly, and, without a word, lifted
the lapel of his coat, where a star gleamed brightly in the rays
of the lantern.
The band holding the lantern dropped suddenly, and its owner
ejaculated, "Heavens and earth! what does this mean? Who are you?"
"I am Dan McCabe, at your service," was the cool reply; then, as the
other remained speechless with astonishment, McCabe continued: "I've
no time to waste with you, Mr. Merrick; we may have a desperate piece
of work on hand; but if you'll come with me, I give you my word for
it that before this job is over you'll meet the biggest surprise of
Pushing open the door, McCabe noiselessly climbed the stairs,
beckoning Merrick to follow. By the light of the dark lantern he
selected the door leading to the room occupied by Mannering, and,
after listening a moment, nodded significantly to Merrick.
"Is he there?" the latter whispered.
"He is there," said McCabe, grimly, "but not the man you are looking
for. I'll tell you who is there," and he whispered in his ear.
Merrick staggered as if from a blow. "Great God!" he exclaimed
There was a sudden sound within as of some one frightened and moving
hastily. McCabe again called the man by name, and demanded
admittance. There was a moment's silence, and then McCabe, with
Merrick's aid, forced in the door, and as it yielded there came from
within the sharp report of a revolver, followed by a heavy groan.
MAINWARING VS. MAINWARING
The case of Mainwaring versus Mainwaring had been set for the opening
of the December term of court, being the first case on the docket.
The intervening weeks, crowded with preparation for the coming
litigation, had passed, and now, on the eve of the contest, each side
having marshalled its forces, awaited the beginning of the fray, each
alike confident of victory and each alike little dreaming of the end.
From near and far was gathered an array of legal talent as well as of
expert testimony seldom equalled, all for the purpose of determining
the validity or invalidity of a bit of paper-yellow with age,
time-worn and musty which stood as an insurmountable barrier between
Ralph Mainwaring and the fulfilment of his long cherished project.
The Fair Oaks tragedy still remained as deep a mystery as on the
morning when, in all its horror of sickening detail, it had startled
and shocked the entire community. No trace of the murderer had been
as yet reported, and even Mr. Whitney had been forced to acknowledge
in reply to numerous inquiries that he had of late received no
tidings whatever from Merrick, either of success or failure.
Since the announcement of Harold Mainwaring at the club that he
would not touch a farthing of the Mainwaring estate until not only
his own name should be cleared of the slightest imputation of murder,
but until the murder itself should be avenged, it had been rumored
that the party at the Waldorf was in possession of facts containing
the clue to the whole mystery. Though this was mere conjecture, it
was plainly evident that whatever secrets that party held in its
possession were not likely to be divulged before their time. The
party had been augmented by the arrival of the senior member of the
firm of Barton & Barton, while the register of the Waldorf showed at
that time numerous other arrivals from London, all of whom proved to
be individuals of a severely judicial appearance and on extremely
intimate terms with the original Waldorf party. Of the business of
the former, however, or the movements of the latter, nothing definite
could be learned. Despatches in cipher still flashed daily over the
wires, but their import remained a matter of the merest surmise to
the curious world outside.
Ralph Mainwaring, on the contrary, since the arrival of his London
attorneys, Upham and Blackwell, with Graham, the well-known
chirographical expert, had seized every opportunity for rendering
himself and them as conspicuous as possible, while his boasts of
their well-laid plans, the strong points in their case, and their
ultimate triumph, formed his theme on all occasions. Mr. Whitney's
position at this time was not an enviable one, for Ralph Mainwaring,
having of late become dimly conscious of a lack of harmony between
himself and his New York attorney, took special delight in frequently
flouting his opinions and advice in the presence of the English
solicitors; but that gentleman, mindful of a rapidly growing account,
wisely pocketed his pride, and continued to serve his client with
the most urbane courtesy, soothing his wounded sensibilities with an
extra fee for every snub.
On the day prior to that set for the opening of the trial, among the
numerous equipages drawn up at one of the piers, awaiting an incoming
ocean-liner, was the Mainwaring carriage, containing, as usual, Ralph
Mainwaring, Upham and Blackwell, and Mr. Whitney. The carriage and
its occupants formed the centre of attraction to a considerable
portion of the crowd, until attention was suddenly diverted by the
sight of a stylish turnout in the shape of an elegant trap and a pair
of superb bays driven tandem, which passed the Mainwaring carriage
and took its position at some distance nearer the pier. Seated in
the trap were Harold Mainwaring and Hugh Mainwaring, junior. Their
appearance together at that particular time and place excited no
little wonder and comment, especially when, the gangplank having
been thrown down, the young men left the turnout in care of a
policeman and walked rapidly towards the hurrying stream of
passengers, followed more slowly by Ralph Mainwaring and his party.
All was explained a few moments later, as that embodiment of
geniality, William Mainwaring Thornton, loomed up in the crowd, his
daughter upon one arm, upon the other Miss Carleton, and accompanied
by Mrs. Hogarth and the usual retinue of attendants.
"Looks like a family reunion, by George!" exclaimed one of the
on-lookers, as a general exchange of greetings ensued, but to a
close observer it was evident that between some members of the
different parties the relations were decidedly strained. No so with
Mr. Thornton, however; his first greetings were for the young men.
"Well, well, Hugh, you contumacious young rascal! how are you? I
hear you've kicked over the traces and set the governor and his
sovereigns at defiance! Well, you've shown yourself a Mainwaring,
that's all I have to say! Here is a young lady, however, who is
waiting to give you a piece of her mind; you'll have to settle with
"Papa!" exclaimed Edith Thornton in faint protest, her fair face
suffused with blushes as she came forward to meet her lover, while
her father turned towards Harold Mainwaring.
"Well, my dear sir," he said, extending his hand with the utmost
cordiality, "I am glad to meet you in your own proper sphere at
last; I always thought you were far too good looking for a secretary!
But, joking aside, my dear boy, let me assure you that as the son of
Harold Scott Mainwaring, one of the most royal fellows I ever knew,
I congratulate you and wish you success."
Deeply touched by Mr. Thornton's kindness and his allusion to his
father, the young man thanked him with considerable emotion.
"That is all right," the elder man responded heartily; "I was very
sorry not to have met you in London, but I heard the particulars of
your story from Winifred, and - well, I consider her a very
level-headed young woman, and I think you are to be congratulated
on that score also."
"No one is better aware of that fact than I," said the young man,
warmly, and passed on to meet the young ladies, while Mr. Thornton
turned to confront the frowning face of Ralph Mainwaring.
"Hello, Mainwaring! What's the matter? You look black as a
thunder-cloud! Did you have something indigestible for luncheon?"
"Matter enough I should say," growled the other, unsuccessfully
trying to ignore Mr. Thornton's outstretched hand, "to find you
hobnobbing with that blackguard!"
Mr. Thornton glanced over his shoulder at the young people with a
comical look of perplexity. "Well, you see how it is yourself,
Mainwaring: what is a fellow to do? This is a house divided against
itself, as it were, and no matter what my personal sentiments
towards you might be, I find myself forced to maintain a position
of strict neutrality."
"Neutrality be damned! you had better maintain better parental
government in your own family!"
"As you do in yours, for instance."
"You know very well," continued Ralph Mainwaring, flushing angrily,
"that if you had forbidden Edith marrying Hugh under present
conditions, he would have got down off his high horse very quickly."
"That is something I would never do," Mr. Thornton replied, calmly,
"for two reasons; first, I have never governed my daughter by direct
commands and prohibitions, and, second, I think just as much of Hugh
Mainwaring without his father's money as with it; more, if it is to
be accompanied with the conditions which you imposed."
"Then am I to understand," demanded the other, angrily, "that you
intend to go against me in this matter?"
"My dear Mainwaring," said Mr. Thornton, much as he would address a
petulant child, "this is all the merest nonsense. I am not going
against you, for I have no part in this contest; my position is
necessarily neutral; but if you want my opinion of the whole matter,
I will tell you frankly that I think, for once in your life, you
have bitten off more than you can swallow, and you will find it so
"Perhaps it might be just as well to reserve your opinion till it
is called for," the other answered, shortly.
"All right," returned Mr. Thornton, with imperturbable good humor;
"but any time that you want to wager a thousand or so on the outcome
of this affair, remember the money is ready for you!"
The conversation changed, but Ralph Mainwaring was far more
chagrined and annoyed than he would have acknowledged. Mr.
Thornton's words rang in his ears till they seemed an augury of
defeat, and, though outwardly as dogged and defiant as ever, he was
unable to banish them, or to throw off the strange sense of
depression which followed.
Meanwhile, amid the discordant elements surrounding them, Harold
Mainwaring and Winifred Carleton found little opportunity for any
but the most desultory conversation, but happily there was little
need for words between them. Heart can speak to heart through the
subtle magnetism of a hand-clasp, or the swift flash from eye to
eye, conveying meanings for which words often prove inadequate.
"You wrote that you were confident of victory, and your looks bear
it out," she said, 'with a radiant smile; "but I would have come
just the same, even had there been no hope of success for you."
"I need no assurance of your faith and loyalty," he replied, gazing
tenderly into her luminous eyes, "but your coming will make my
triumph ten times sweeter."
"Of course you will spend the evening with, us at our hotel, - uncle
cabled for apartments at the Savoy, - and I am all impatience to
learn whatever you are at liberty to tell me concerning your case,
for there must have been some wonderful developments in your favor
soon after your arrival in this country, you have seemed so much more
hopeful; and do not let me forget, I have something to show you which
will interest you. It is a written statement by Hugh Mainwaring
himself regarding this identical will that is causing all this
"A statement of Hugh Mainwaring's!" Harold repeated in astonishment;
"how did it come into your possession?"
"That is the strangest part of it," she replied, hurriedly, for
they had now reached the carriages in waiting for them. "I received
it through the mail, from America, a few days before I left London,
and from - you cannot imagine whom - Mr. Merrick, the detective.
How he ever knew my address, or how he should surmise that I was
particularly interested in you," she blushed very prettily with
these words, "is more than I can understand, however."
"I think I can explain that part of it," said Harold, with a smile;
"but how such a statement ever came into his hands is a mystery to
me. I will see you this evening without fail," and, assisting Miss
Carleton into the carriage, he bade her au revoir, and hastened to
rejoin young Mainwaring.
That evening witnessed rather a novel reception in the private
parlors of the Savoy; both parties to the coming contest being
entertained by their mutual friends. When Harold Mainwaring finally
succeeded in securing a tete-a-tete conversation with Miss Carleton,
she placed in his hands a small packet, saying,-
"You will find in this the statement of which I spoke to you, and
I wish you would also read the accompanying note, and explain how
the writer came to have so good an understanding of the situation."
With eager haste he drew forth a sheet of paper little less time-worn
and yellowed than the ancient will itself, upon which was written,
in the methodical business hand with which he was so familiar, a
brief statement to the effect that a certain accompanying document
described as the last will and testament of Ralph Maxwell Mainwaring
had been drawn and executed as such on the night preceding his
death, its intent and purpose being to reconvey to an elder son the
family estate, to which he had previously forfeited all right and
title; that efforts made to communicate with the beneficiary had
proved unavailing, as he had left the country and his place of
residence was unknown. Then followed Hugh Mainwaring's signature.
At the bottom of the page, however, was a foot-note of much later
date, which put a different complexion on the foregoing, and which
read as follows:
"It has now been ascertained for a certainty that the beneficiary
mentioned in the accompanying will is no longer living. I have,
therefore, a clear title to the estate, as it would revert to me at
his death. The document itself is worthless, except as a possible
means of silencing that scoundrel, Hobson, should he attempt to
reveal anything of the past, as he has threatened to do, and for
this purpose I shall retain it in my possession until such time as
I make final adjustment of my affairs.
"Ah," said Harold Mainwaring, thoughtfully, as he suddenly recalled
the morning when he had discovered Merrick and his assistant dragging
the lake at Fair Oaks, "I think I understand how this paper came
into Merrick's possession. It was evidently kept in the same
receptacle which held the will, but in my haste and excitement at
the discovery of the will I must have overlooked it. The box in
which these papers were kept afterwards fell into Merrick's hands,
and he must have found this."
"That solves one riddle, here is the other," and Miss Carleton
handed her lover a small note, covered with a fine, delicate
chirography whose perfectly formed characters revealed a mind
accustomed to the study of minute details and appreciative of their
significance. He opened it and read the following:
"MY DEAR MISS CARLETON:
"Pardon the liberty I take, but, thinking the enclosed bit of paper
might be of some possible assistance to one in whose success I
believe you are deeply interested, I send it herewith, as, for
obvious reasons, I deem this circuitous method of transmission
better than one more direct.
"As when taking leave of you on board the 'Campania,' so now, permit
me to assure you that if I can ever serve you as a friend, you have
but to command me.
"Most sincerely yours,
"C. D. MERRICK."
A smile of amusement lighted Harold Mainwaring's face as, glancing
up from the note, his eyes met those of Miss Carleton's with their
expression of perplexed inquiry.
"This is easily explained," he said; "do you remember the tall,
slender man whom we observed on board the 'Campania' as being rather
unsocial and taciturn?"
"Yes, I remember he rather annoyed me, for I fancied he concentrated
considerably more thought and attention upon us than the
circumstances called for."
"Which shows you were more observing than I. Such a thought never
entered my mind till I had been about ten days in London, when it
occurred to me that, considering the size of the town and the fact
that he and I were strangers, we met with astonishing frequency. I
have since learned that he was a detective sent over to London on
an important case, and being an intimate friend of Merrick's, the
latter, who, I am informed, was shadowing me pretty closely at the
time, requested him to follow my movements and report to him, which
he evidently did, as I have since heard that Merrick had expressed
to one or two that he was not at all surprised by the developments
which followed my return to this country. Consequently, it is not
to be wondered at if he has an inkling that you may be somewhat
interested in this case."
"But what could have been Mr. Merrick's object in shadowing you?"
"I cannot say. It may have been only part of his professional
vigilance in letting nothing escape his observation; but from the
first I was conscious of his close espionage of my movements. Now,
however, I am satisfied that he had none but friendly intentions,
and I appreciate his kindness, not only towards myself, but more
especially towards you."
"Will that statement be of any assistance to you, do you think?"
"I hardly think so under our present plans," he replied, after a
moment's reflection; "under recent developments our plans differ
so radically from what we first intended, that we will probably
have little use for any of the testimony which we had originally
"But these recent developments which have so changed your plans
must certainly have been in your favor and have rendered your
success the more assured, have they not?"
"Not only more assured, but more speedy and complete. To me, the
coming trial means far more than the settlement of the controversy
over the estate; it means the complete and final vindication of my
character, so that I can stand before you and before the world
acquitted of every charge which my enemies would have sought to
bring against me."
Her face grew radiant with sympathy. "I well know what that means
to you, and I would be first to congratulate you on such a victory,
for your own sake; but I needed no public acquittal to convince me
of your innocence, - not even," she added, slowly, "when you yourself
for some reason, which I hope one day to understand, were unable to
assure me of it."
His dark eyes, glowing with suppressed feeling, met hers, the
intensity of their gaze thrilling her heart to its inmost depths.
"Do not think that I can ever forget that," he said in low tones
which seemed to vibrate through her whole being; "do not think that
through any triumphs or joys which the future may bring, I can ever
forget, for one moment, the faith and love which stood loyally by
me in my darkest hour, - the hour when the shadow of the crime,
which has forever darkened Fair Oaks, was closing about my very
Startled at the sudden solemnity of his words and manner, she
remained silent, her eyes meeting his without a shade of doubt or
distrust, but full of wondering, tender inquiry, to which he
replied, while for an instant he laid his hand lightly and
caressingly on hers, "Only a few days longer, love, and I will tell
On the morning of the following day a dense crowd awaited, at an
early hour, the opening of the December term of court; a crowd which
was steadily augmented till, when the case of Mainwaring versus
Mainwaring was called, every available seat was filled. All
parties to the suit were promptly on hand, and amid a silence
almost oppressive, proponent and contestant, with their counsel
and witnesses, passed down the long aisle to their respective
Seldom had the, old court-room, in its long and varied history,
held so imposing an array of legal talent as was assemble that
morning within its walls. The principal attorneys for the
contestant were Hunnewell & Whitney of New York, and the London
firm of Upham & Blackwell, while grouped about these were a number
of lesser luminaries, whose milder rays would sufficiently illumine
the minor points in the case. But at a glance it was clearly
evident that the galaxy of legal lights opposing them contained
only stars of the first magnitude. Most prominent among the latter
were Barton & Barton, of London, with Mr. Sutherland and his
life-long friend and coadjutor, M. D. Montague, with whom he had
never failed to take counsel in cases of special importance, all
men of superb physique and magnificent brains; while slightly in
the rear, as reinforcements, were the Hon. I. Ponsonby Roget, Q.C.,
another Q.C. whose name had not yet reached the public ear, and a
Boston jurist whose brilliant career had made his name famous
throughout the United States.
Prominent among the spectators were Mr. Scott and Mr. Thornton,
apparently on the best of terms, and watching proceedings with
demonstrations of the liveliest interest, while seated at a little
distance, less demonstrative, but no less interested, was young
Mainwaring, accompanied by Miss Thornton and Miss Carleton.
The first day was devoted to preliminaries, the greater part of
the time being consumed in the selection of a jury. One after
another of those impaneled was examined, challenged by one side or
the other, and dismissed; not until the entire panel had been
exhausted and several special venires issued, was there found the
requisite number sufficiently unprejudiced to meet the requirements
of the situation.
The remainder of the day was occupied by counsel for contestant in
making the opening statement. A review of the grounds upon which
the contest was based was first read by one of the assistant
attorneys, after which Mr. Whitney followed with a lengthy statement
which occupied nearly an hour. He reviewed in detail the
circumstances of the case, beginning with the death of Hugh
Mainwaring, and laying special stress upon his irreproachable
reputation. He stated that it would be shown to the jury that the
life of Hugh Mainwaring had been above suspicion, an irrefutable
argument against the charges of fraud and dishonesty which had been
brought against him by those who sought to establish the will in
contest. It would also be shown that the said document was a
forgery, the result of a prearranged plan, devised by those who had
been lifelong enemies of Hugh Mainwaring and the contestant, to
defraud the latter of his rights, and to obtain possession of the
Mainwaring estate; and that the transparency of the device in
bringing the so-called will to light at that particular time and
under those particular circumstances was only too plainly evident.
Mr. Whitney was warming with his subject, but at this juncture he
was peremptorily called to order by Mr. Sutherland, who stated that
he objected to counsel making an argument to the jury, when he
should confine himself simply to an opening statement. Mr. Whitney's
face flushed as a ripple of amusement ran through the courtroom, but
the objection was sustained, and, after a brief summary of what the
contestant proposed to show, he resumed his seat, and the court then
adjourned until the following morning.
The first testimony introduced on the following day was to establish
the unimpeachable honesty and integrity of the deceased Hugh
Mainwaring. Both Mr. Elliot and Mr. Chittenden were called to the
stand, and their examination - particularly the cross-examination,
in which a number of damaging admissions were made - occupied nearly
the entire forenoon; the remainder of the day being devoted to the
testimony of witnesses from abroad, introduced to show that for
years a bitter estrangement had existed between Frederick Mainwaring
Scott, the alleged foster-father of the proponent, and the members
of the Mainwaring family, - the deceased Hugh Mainwaring and the
contestant in particular; and also to show the implacable anger of
Ralph Maxwell Mainwaring against his elder son and the extreme
improbability of his ever relenting in his favor.
Day after day dragged slowly on, still taken up with the examination
of witnesses for contestant; examinations too tedious and monotonous
for repetition, but full of interest to the crowds which came and
went, increasing daily, till, on the days devoted to the expert
testimony, galleries and aisles were packed to overflowing, while
throngs of eager listeners gathered in the corridors about the
It soon became evident that Ralph Mainwaring's oft repeated
assertions concerning the elaborate preparation he had made for the
coming contest were no idle boast. Nothing that human ingenuity
could devise had been left undone which could help to turn the
scale in his own favor. The original will of Ralph Maxwell
Mainwaring, by which his elder son was disinherited, was produced
and read in court. Both wills were photographed, and numerous
copies, minute in every detail, made, in order to show by comparison
the differences in their respective signatures. Under powerful
microscopes it was discovered that several pauses had been made in
the signature of the later will. Electric batteries were introduced
to show that the document had been steeped in coffee and tobacco
juice to give it the appearance of great age. Interesting chemical
experiments were performed, by which a piece of new paper was made
to look stained and spotted as if mildewed and musty, while by the
use of tiny files and needles, the edges, having first been slightly
scalloped, were grated and the paper punctured, till it presented
a very similar aspect to the will itself as though worn through at
the creases and frayed and tattered with age.
But the accumulation of this overwhelming mass of expert testimony
failed to make the impression upon counsel for proponent which had
been anticipated by the other side. Mr. Sutherland varied the
monotony of the direct examinations by frequent and pertinent
objections, while Barton & Barton took occasional notes, which were
afterwards passed to Sutherland and Montague, and by them used with
telling effect in the cross-examinations, but the faces of one and
all wore an expression inscrutable as that of the sphinx.
Only once was their equanimity disturbed by any ripple of agitation,
and then the incident was so little understood as to be soon
forgotten. As the third day of the trial was drawing to a close, a
despatch in cipher was handed Mr. Sutherland, which when translated
seemed to produce a startling effect upon its readers. Barton &
Barton exchanged glances and frowned heavily; Mr. Sutherland's
face for one brief moment showed genuine alarm, and Harold
Mainwaring, upon reading the slip of paper passed to him, grew pale.
A hurried consultation followed and Mr. Montague left the court-room.
On the following morning the papers announced that at 11 P.M. the
preceding night, the Victoria, the private car of the president of
one of the principal railway lines, with special engine attached,
had left for the West, evidently on business of great importance,
as everything on the road had been ordered side-tracked. It was
stated that no particulars could be ascertained, however, regarding
either her passengers or her destination, the utmost secrecy being
maintained by those on board, including even the trainmen. This
item, though attracting some attention, caused less comment than
did the fact that for the three days next ensuing, neither the
senior Mr. Barton nor Mr. Montague was present in court; but no one
suspected any connection between the two events, or dreamed that
the above gentlemen, with two of New York's most skilled surgeons,
were the occupants of the president's private car, then hastening
westward at almost lightning speed.
On the afternoon of the sixth day of the trial, as it became
apparent that the seemingly interminable evidence submitted by
contestant was nearly at an end, the eager impatience of the waiting
crowd could scarcely be restrained within the limits of order. A
change was noticeable also in the demeanor of proponent and his
counsel. For the two days preceding they had appeared as though
under some tension or suspense; now they seemed to exhibit almost
an indifference to the proceedings, as though the outcome of the
contest were already a settled fact, while a marked gravity
accompanied each word and gesture.
At last the contestant rested, and all eyes were fixed upon Mr.
Sutherland, as, after a brief pause, he rose to make, as was
supposed, his opening statement. Instead of addressing the jury,
however, he turned towards Judge Bingham.
"Your honor," he began, in slow, measured tones, "it now lacks but
little more than an hour of the usual time for adjournment, and
after the constant strain which has been put upon our nerves for
the past six days, I feel that none of us, including yourself, your
honor, are in a sufficiently receptive mood to listen to the
testimony which the proponent has to offer. In addition to this
is the fact that our most important witness is not present this
afternoon. I would therefore ask for an adjournment to be taken
until ten o'clock next Monday morning, at which time I will
guarantee your honor and the gentlemen of the jury that the
intricate and elaborate web of fine-spun theories which has been
presented will be swept away in fewer hours than the days which
have been required for its construction."
There was an attempt at applause, which was speedily checked, and
without further delay the court adjourned.
As judge, jury, and counsel took their respective places on the
following Monday at the hour appointed, the scene presented by the
old court-room was one never before witnessed in its history.
Every available inch of standing room, both on the main floor and
in the galleries, was taken; throngs were congregated about the
doorways, those in the rear standing on chairs and benches that
they might obtain a view over the heads of their more fortunate
neighbors, while even the recesses formed by the enormous windows
were packed with humanity, two rows deep, the outer row embracing
the inner one in its desperate efforts to maintain its equilibrium.
The opposing sides presented a marked contrast in their appearance
that morning. Ralph Mainwaring betrayed a nervous excitement very
unusual in one of his phlegmatic temperament; his face alternately
flushed and paled, and though much of the old defiant bravado
remained, yet he awaited the opening of proceedings with visible
impatience. Nor was Mr. Whitney less excited, his manner revealing
both agitation and anxiety. On the part of Harold Mainwaring and
his counsel, however, there was no agitation, no haste; every
movement was characterized by composure and deliberation, yet
something in their bearing - something subtle and indefinable but
nevertheless irresistible - impressed the sensibilities of the vast
audience much as the oppressive calm which precedes an electric
storm. All felt that some great crisis was at hand, and it was
amid almost breathless silence that Mr. Sutherland arose to make
his opening statement.
"Gentlemen of the jury," he began, and the slow, resonant tones
penetrated to the farthest corner and out into the corridors where
hundreds were eagerly listening, "as a defence to the charges
sought to be established in your hearing, we propose to show, not
by fine-spun theories based upon electrical and chemical experiments,
nor brilliant sophistries deduced from microscopic observations,
but by the citation of stubborn and incontrovertible facts, that
this document (holding up the will), copies of which you now have
in your possession, is the last will and testament of Ralph Maxwell
Mainwaring, executed by him on the night preceding his death, and
as such entitled to stand; that this will, from the date of its
execution to the day of its discovery on the seventh of July last,
was wilfully and fraudulently withheld from publication, and its
existence kept secret by the deceased Hugh Mainwaring. That the
proponent, Harold Scott Mainwaring, is the lawful and only son of
the beneficiary named therein, and as such the sole rightful and
lawful heir to and owner of the Mainwaring estate. More than this,
we propose at the same time and by the same evidence to forever
disprove, confute, and silence any and every aspersion and
insinuation which has been brought against the character of the
proponent, Harold Scott Mainwaring; and in doing this, we shall at
last lift the veil which, for the past five months, has hung over
the Fair Oaks tragedy."
Mr. Sutherland paused to allow the tremendous excitement produced
by his words to subside; then turning, he addressed himself to the
"Your honor, I have to request permission of the court to depart in
a slight degree from the usual custom. The witness for the defence
is in an adjoining room, ready to give testimony when summoned to
do so, but in this instance I have to ask that the name be withheld,
and that the witness himself be identified by the contestant and his
The judge bowed in assent, and amid a silence so rigid and intense
as to be almost painful, at a signal from Mr. Sutherland, the doors
of an anteroom were swung noiselessly open and approaching footsteps
THE SILENT WITNESS
Approaching footsteps were heard, but they were the steps of men
moving slowly and unsteadily, as though carrying some heavy burden.
An instant later, six men, bearing a casket beneath whose weight
they staggered, entered the court-room and, making their way through
the spell-bound crowd, deposited their burden near the witness stand.
Immediately following were two men, one of whom was instantly
recognized as Merrick, the detective; the other as the man who, a
few months before, had been known as the English barrister's clerk,
now wearing the full uniform of a Scotland Yard official. Bringing
up the rear was an undertaker, who, amid the breathless silence
which ensued, proceeded to open the casket. This done, Mr.
Sutherland rose and addressed the judge, his low tones for the first
time vibrating with suppressed feeling.
"Your honor, I request that William H. Whitney be first called upon
to identify the witness."
Controlling his agitation by a visible effort, Mr. Whitney approached
the casket, but his eyes no sooner rested on the form and features
within than his forced composure gave way. With a groan he exclaimed,
"My God, it is Hugh Mainwaring!" and bending over the casket, he
covered his face with his hands while he strove in vain to conceal
His words, ringing through the hushed court-room, seemed to break
the spell, and the over-wrought nerves of the people began to yield
under the tremendous pressure. Mr. Sutherland raised a warning
hand to check the tide of nervous excitement which threatened to
sweep over the entire crowd, but it was of little avail. Piercing
screams followed; women fainted and were borne from the room, and
the faces of strong men blanched to a deathly pallor as they gazed
at one another in mute consternation and bewilderment. For a few
moments the greatest confusion reigned, but when at last order was
restored and Mr. Whitney had regained his composure, Mr. Sutherland
"Mr. Whitney, do you identify the dead man as Hugh Mainwaring?"
"But did you not identify as Hugh Mainwaring the man who, at Fair
Oaks, on or about the eighth of July last, came to his death from
the effect of a gunshot wound?"
"I supposed then, and up until the present time, that it was he;
there certainly was a most wonderful resemblance which I am unable
to explain or account for, but this, beyond all question, is Hugh
"Will you state what proof of identification you can give in this
instance that was not present in the other?"
"Hugh Mainwaring had over the right temple a slight birthmark, a
red line extending upward into the hair, not always equally distinct,
but always visible to one who had once observed it, and in this
instance quite noticeable. I saw no trace of this mark on the face
of the murdered man; but as the face was somewhat blackened by
powder about the right temple, I attributed its absence to that
fact, and in the excitement which followed I thought little of it.
On the day of the funeral I also noted certain lines in the face
which seemed unfamiliar, but realizing that death often makes the
features of those whom we know best to seem strange to us, I
thought no further of the matter. Now, however, looking upon this
face, I am able to recall several differences, unnoticed then, but
all of which go to prove that this is Hugh Mainwaring."
Ralph Mainwaring was the next one summoned for identification.
During Mr. Whitney's examination his manner had betrayed intense
agitation, and he now came forward with an expression of mingled
incredulity and dread, but upon reaching the casket, he stood like
one petrified, unable to move or speak, while no one who saw him
could ever forget the look of horror which overspread his features.
"Mr. Mainwaring," said Mr. Sutherland at length, "do you know the
"It is he," answered Ralph Mainwaring in a low tone, apparently
speaking more to himself than to the attorney; "it is Hugh
Mainwaring; that was the distinguishing mark between them."
"Do you refer to the mark of which Mr. Whitney has just spoken?"
"What do you mean by designating it as 'the distinguishing mark
Ralph Mainwaring turned from the casket and faced Mr. Sutherland,
but his eyes had the strained, far-away look of one gazing into the
distance, unconscious of objects near him.
"It was the mark," he said, speaking with an effort, "by which, when
we were boys, he was distinguished from his twin brother."
"His twin brother, Harold Scott Mainwaring?" queried the attorney.
"Yes," the other answered, mechanically.
"Do you then identify this as Hugh Mainwaring?"
"Yes; and the other - he must have been - no, no, it could not be
- great God!" Ralph Mainwaring suddenly reeled and raised his hand
to his head. Mr. Whitney sprang to his assistance and led him to
his chair, but in those few moments he had aged twenty years.
A number of those most intimately acquainted with Hugh Mainwaring
were then called upon, all of whom identified the dead man as their
late friend and associate. These preliminaries over, Mr. Sutherland
"Your honor and gentlemen of the jury, before proceeding with the
testimony to be introduced, I have a brief statement to make. Soon
after the commencement of this action, we came into possession of
indisputable evidence that Hugh Mainwaring, the supposed victim of
the Fair Oaks tragedy, was still living, and that of whatever crime,
if crime there were associated with that fearful event, he was not
the victim but the perpetrator. We determined at all hazards to
secure him, first as a witness in this case, our subsequent action
to be decided by later developments. Through our special detective
we succeeded in locating him, but he, upon finding himself cornered,
supposing he was to be arrested for the murder of his brother,
attempted suicide by shooting. The combined skill of the best
surgeons obtainable, though unable to save him, yet prolonged life
for three days, long enough to enable two of our number, Mr. Barton
and Mr. Montague, to reach him in season to take his dying statement;
a statement not only setting forth the facts relating to the will
in question, but embracing also the details of the Fair Oaks tragedy
and mystery. This statement, made by Hugh Mainwaring and attested
by numerous witnesses present, will now be read by Mr. Montague."
Amid an impressive silence, Mr. Montague stepped to the side of the
casket and, unfolding a document which he held, read the following:
Back to Full Books