The Mystery of a Hansom Cab
Fergus Hume (1859-1932)
Part 2 out of 6
his arms on the fence, and, taking off his hat, enjoyed the calm beauty
of the hour.
"What a good-looking fellow," murmured Mr. Gorby, in a regretful tone.
"I can hardly believe it of him, but the proofs are too clear."
The night was perfectly still. Not a breath of wind stirred, for what
breeze there had been had long since died away. But
Brian could see the white wavelets breaking lightly on the sands. The
long narrow pier ran out like a black thread into the sheet of gleaming
silver, and away in the distance the line of the Williamstown lights
sparkled like some fairy illumination.
Over all this placid scene of land and water was a sky such as Dore
loved--a great heavy mass of rain-clouds heaped one on top of the
other, as the rocks the Titans piled to reach Olympus. Then a break in
the woof, and a bit of dark blue sky could be seen glittering with
stars, in the midst of which sailed the serene moon, shedding down her
light on the cloudland beneath, giving to it all, one silver lining.
Somewhat to the annoyance of Mr. Gorby, who had no eye for the
picturesque, Brian gazed at the sky for several minutes, admiring the
wonderful beauty of its broken masses of light and shade. At length he
lit a cigarette and walked down the steps on to the pier.
"Oh, suicide, is it?" muttered Mr. Gorby. "Not if I can help
it." And he lit his pipe and followed him.
He found Brian leaning over the parapet at the end of the pier, looking
at the glittering waters beneath, which kept rising and falling in a
dreamy rhythm, that soothed and charmed the ear. "Poor girl! poor
girl!" the detective heard him mutter as he came up. "If she only knew
all! If she--"
At this moment he heard the approaching step, and turned round sharply.
The detective saw that his face was ghastly pale in the moonlight, and
his brows wrinkled in anger.
"What the devil do you want?" he burst out, as Gorby paused.
"What do you mean by following me all over the place?"
"Saw me, watching the house," said Gorby to himself. "I'm not following
you, sir," he said aloud. "I suppose the pier ain't private property. I
only came down here for a breath of fresh air."
Fitzgerald did not answer, but turned sharply on his heel, and walked
quickly up the pier, leaving Gorby staring after him.
"He's getting frightened," soliloquised the detective to himself, as he
strolled easily along, keeping the black figure in front well in view.
"I'll have to keep a sharp eye on him or he'll be clearing out of
Brian walked rapidly up to the St. Kilda station, for on looking at his
watch he found that he would just have time to catch the last train. He
arrived a few minutes before it started, so, getting into the smoking
carriage at the near end of the platform, he lit a cigarette, and,
leaning back in his seat, watched the late comers hurrying into the
station. Just as the last bell rang he saw a man rush along, to catch
the train. It was the same man who had been watching him the whole
evening, and Brian felt confident that he was being followed. He
comforted himself, however, with the thought that this pertinacious
follower might lose the train, and, being in the last carriage himself,
he kept a look out along the platform, expecting to see his friend of
the Esplanade standing disappointed on it. There was no appearance of
him, so Brian, sinking back into his seat, lamented his ill-luck in not
shaking off this man who kept him under such strict surveillance.
"Confound him!" he muttered softly. "I expect he will follow me to East
Melbourne, and find out where I live, but he shan't if I can help it."
There was no one but himself in the carriage, and he felt relieved at
this because he was in no humour to hear chatter.
"Murdered in a cab," he said, lighting a fresh cigarette, and blowing a
cloud of smoke. "A romance in real life, which beats Miss Braddon
hollow. There is one thing certain, he won't come between Madge and me
again. Poor Madge!" with an impatient sigh. "If she only knew all,
there would not be much chance of our marriage; but she can never find
out, and I don't suppose anyone else will."
Here a thought suddenly struck him, and rising out of his seat, he
walked to the other end of the carriage, and threw himself on the
cushions, as if desirous to escape from himself.
"What grounds can that man have for suspecting me?" he said aloud. "No
one knows I was with Whyte on that night, and the police can't possibly
bring forward any evidence to show that I was. Pshaw!" he went on,
impatiently buttoning up his coat. "I am like a child, afraid of my
shadow--the fellow on the pier is only some one out for a breath of
fresh air, as he said himself--I am quite safe."
At the same time, he felt by no means easy in his mind, and as he
stepped out on to the platform at the Melbourne station he
looked round apprehensively, as if he half expected to feel the
detective's hand upon his shoulder. But he saw no one at all like the
man he had met on the St. Kilda pier, and with a sigh of relief he left
the station. Mr. Gorby, however, was not far away. He was following at
a safe distance. Brian walked slowly along Flinders Street apparently
deep in thought. He turned up Russell Street and did not stop until he
found himself close to the Burke and Wills' monument--the exact spot
where the cab had stopped on the night of Whyte's murder.
"Ah!" said the detective to himself, as he stood in the shadow on the
opposite side of the street. "You're going to have a look at it, are
you?--I wouldn't, if I were you--it's dangerous."
Fitzgerald stood for a few minutes at the corner, and then walked up
Collins Street. When he got to the cab-stand, opposite the Melbourne
Club, still suspecting he was followed, he hailed a hansom, and drove
away in the direction of Spring Street. Gorby was rather perplexed at
this sudden move, but without delay, he hailed another cab, and told
the driver to follow the first till it stopped.
"Two can play at that game," he said, settling himself back in the cab,
"and I'll get the better of you, clever as you are--and you are
clever," he went on in a tone of admiration, as he looked round the
luxurious hansom, "to choose such a convenient place for a murder; no
disturbance and plenty of time for escape after you had finished; it's
a pleasure going after a chap like you, instead of after men who tumble
down like ripe fruit, and ain't got any brains to keep their crime
While the detective thus soliloquised, his cab, following on the trail
of the other, had turned down Spring Street, and was being driven
rapidly along the Wellington Parade, in the direction of East
Melbourne. It then turned up Powlett Street, at which Mr. Gorby was
"Ain't so clever as I thought," he said to himself. "Shows his nest
right off, without any attempt to hide it."
The detective, however, had reckoned without his host, for the cab in
front kept driving on, through an interminable maze of streets, until
it seemed as though Brian were determined to drive the whole night.
"Look 'ere, sir!" cried Gorby's cabman, looking through his trap-door
in the roof of the hansom, "'ow long's this 'ere game agoin' to larst?
My 'oss is knocked up, 'e is, and 'is blessed old legs is agivin' way
"Go on! go on!" answered the detective, impatiently; "I'll pay you
The cabman's spirits were raised by this, and by dint of coaxing and a
liberal use of the whip, he managed to get his jaded horse up to a
pretty good pace. They were in Fitzroy by this time, and both cabs
turned out of Gertrude Street into Nicholson Street; thence passed on
to Evelyn Street and along Spring Street, until Brian's cab stopped at
the corner of Collins Street, and Gorby saw him alight and dismiss his
cab-man. He then walked down the street and disappeared into the
"Confound it," said the detective, as he got out and paid his fare,
which was by no means a light one, but over which he had no time to
argue, "we've come in a circle, and I do believe he lives in Powlett
Street after all."
He went into the gardens, and saw Brian some distance ahead of him,
walking rapidly. It was bright moonlight, and he could easily
distinguish Fitzgerald by his light coat.
As he went along that noble avenue with its elms in their winter dress,
the moon shining through their branches wrought a fantastic tracery, on
the smooth asphalte. And on either side Gorby could see the dim
white forms of the old Greek gods and goddesses--Venus Victrix, with
the apple in her hand (which Mr. Gorby, in his happy ignorance of
heathen mythology, took for Eve offering Adam the forbidden fruit);
Diana, with the hound at her feet, and Bacchus and Ariadne (which the
detective imagined were the Babes in the Wood). He knew that each of
the statues had queer names, but thought they were merely allegorical.
Passing over the bridge, with the water rippling quietly underneath,
Brian went up the smooth yellow path to where the statue of Hebe,
holding the cup, seems instinct with life; and turning down the path to
the right, he left the gardens by the end gate, near which stands the
statue of the Dancing Faun, with the great bush of scarlet geranium
burning like an altar before it. Then he went along the Wellington
Parade, and turned up Powlett Street, where he stopped at a house near
Cairns' Memorial Church, much to Mr. Gorby's relief, who, being like
Hamlet, "fat and scant of breath," found himself rather exhausted. He
kept well in the shadow, however, and saw Fitzgerald give one final
look round before he disappeared into the house. Then Mr. Gorby, like
the Robber Captain in Ali Baba, took careful stock of the house, and
fixed its locality and appearance well in his mind, as he intended to
call at it on the morrow.
"What I'm going to do," he said, as he walked slowly back to Melbourne,
"is to see his landlady when he's out, and find out what time he came
in on the night of the murder. If it fits into the time he got out of
Rankin's cab, I'll get out a warrant, and arrest him straight off."
MR. GORBY IS SATISFIED AT LAST.
In spite of his long walk, and still longer drive, Brian did not sleep
well that night. He kept tossing and turning, or lying on his back,
wide awake, looking into the darkness and thinking of Whyte. Towards
dawn, when the first faint glimmer of morning came through the venetian
blinds, he fell into a sort of uneasy doze, haunted by horrible dreams.
He thought he was driving in a hansom, when suddenly he found Whyte by
his side, clad in white cerements, grinning and gibbering at him with
ghastly merriment. Then the cab went over a precipice, and he fell from
a great height, down, down, with the mocking laughter still sounding in
his ears, until he woke with a loud cry, and found it was broad
daylight, and that drops of perspiration were standing on his brow. It
was no use trying to sleep any longer, so, with a weary sigh, he arose
and went to his tub, feeling jaded and worn out by worry and want of
sleep. His bath did him some good. The cold water brightened him up and
pulled him together. Still he could not help giving a start of surprise
when he saw his face reflected in the mirror, old and haggard-looking,
with dark circles round the eyes.
"A pleasant life I'll have of it if this sort of thing goes on," he
said, bitterly, "I wish I had never seen, or heard of Whyte."
He dressed himself carefully. He was not a man to neglect his
toilet, however worried and out of sorts he might happen to feel. Yet,
notwithstanding all his efforts the change in his appearance did not.
escape the eye of his landlady. She was a small, dried-up little woman,
with a wrinkled yellowish face. She seemed parched up and brittle.
Whenever she moved she crackled, and one went in constant dread of
seeing a wizen-looking limb break off short like the branch of some
dead tree. When she spoke it was in a voice hard and shrill, not unlike
the chirp of a cricket. When--as was frequently the case--she clothed
her attenuated form in a faded brown silk gown, her resemblance to that
lively insect was remarkable.
And, as on this morning she crackled into Brian's sitting-room with the
ARGUS and his coffee, a look of dismay at his altered appearance, came
over her stony little countenance.
"Dear me, sir," she chirped out in her shrill voice, as she placed her
burden on the table, "are you took bad?"
Brian shook his head.
"Want of sleep, that's all, Mrs. Sampson," he answered, unfolding the
"Ah! that's because ye ain't got enough blood in yer 'ead," said Mrs.
Sampson, wisely, for she had her own ideas on the subject of health.
"If you ain't got blood you ain't got sleep."
Brian looked at her as she said this, for there seemed such an obvious
want of blood in her veins that he wondered if she had ever slept in
all her life.
"There was my father's brother, which, of course, makes 'im my uncle,"
went on the landlady, pouring out a cup of coffee for Brian, "an' the
blood 'e 'ad was somethin' astoundin', which it made 'im sleep that
long as they 'ad to draw pints from 'im afore 'e'd wake in the
Brian had the ARGUS before his face, and under its friendly cover he
laughed quietly to himself.
"His blood poured out like a river," went on the landlady, still
drawing from the rich stores of her imagination, "and the doctor was
struck dumb with astonishment at seein' the Nigagerer which burst from
'im--but I'm not so full-blooded myself."
Fitzgerald again stifled a laugh, and wondered that Mrs. Sampson was
not afraid of being treated as were Ananias and Sapphira. However, he
said nothing, but merely intimated that if she would leave the room he
would take his breakfast.
"An' if you wants anythin' else, Mr. Fitzgerald," she said, going to
the door, "you knows your way to the bell as easily as I do to the
kitching," and, with a final chirrup, she crackled out of the room.
As soon as the door was closed, Brian put down his paper and roared, in
spite of his worries. He had that extraordinary vivacious Irish
temperament, which enables a man to put all trouble behind his back,
and thoroughly enjoy the present. His landlady, with her Arabian
Nightlike romances, was a source of great amusement to him, and he felt
considerably cheered by the odd turn her humour had taken this morning.
After a time, however, his laughter ceased, and his troubles came
crowding on him again. He drank his coffee, but pushed away the food
which was before him; and looked through the ARGUS, for the latest
report about the murder case. What he read made his cheek turn a shade
paler than before. He could feel his heart thumping wildly.
"They've found a clue, have they?" he muttered, rising and pacing
restlessly up and down. "I wonder what it can be? I threw that man off
the scent last night, but if he suspects me, there will be no
difficulty in his finding out where I live. Bah! What nonsense I am
talking. I am the victim of my own morbid imagination. There is nothing
to connect me with the crime, so I need not be afraid of my shadow.
I've a good mind to leave town for a time, but if I am suspected
that would excite suspicion. Oh, Madge! my darling," he cried
passionately, "if you only knew what I suffer, I know that you would
pity me--but you must never know the truth--Never! Never!" and
sinking into a chair by the window, he covered his face with his hands.
After remaining in this position for some minutes, occupied with his
own gloomy thoughts, he arose and rang the bell. A faint crackle in the
distance announced that Mrs. Sampson had heard it, and she soon came
into the room, looking more like a cricket than ever. Brian had gone
into his bedroom, and called out to her from there--
"I am going down to St. Kilda, Mrs. Sampson," he said, "and probably I
shall not be back all day."
"Which I 'opes it 'ull do you good," she answered, "for you've eaten
nothin', an' the sea breezes is miraculous for makin' you take to your
victuals. My mother's brother, bein' a sailor, an' wonderful for 'is
stomach, which, when 'e 'ad done a meal, the table looked as if a
low-cuss had gone over it."
"A what?" asked Fitzgerald, buttoning his gloves.
"A low-cuss!" replied the landlady, in surprise at his ignorance, "as
I've read in 'Oly Writ, as 'ow John the Baptist was partial to 'em, not
that I think they'd be very fillin', tho', to be sure, 'e 'ad a sweet
tooth, and ate 'oney with 'em."
"Oh! you mean locusts," said Brian now enlightened.
"An' what else?" asked Mrs. Sampson, indignantly; "which, tho' not
bein' a scholar'd, I speaks English, I 'opes, my mother's second cousin
'avin' 'ad first prize at a spellin' bee, tho' 'e died early through
brain fever, 'avin' crowded 'is 'ead over much with the dictionary."
"Dear me!" answered Brian, mechanically. "How unfortunate!" He was not
listening to Mrs. Sampson's remarks. He suddenly remembered an
arrangement which Madge had made, and which up till now had slipped his
"Mrs. Sampson," he said, turning round at the door, "I am going to
bring Mr. Frettlby and his daughter to have a cup of afternoon tea
here, so you might have some ready."
"You 'ave only to ask and to 'ave," answered Mrs. Sampson, hospitably,
with a gratified crackle of all her joints. "I'll make the tea, sir,
an' also some of my own perticler cakes, bein' a special kind I 'ave,
which my mother showed me. 'ow to make, 'avin' been taught by a lady as
she nussed thro' the scarlet fever, tho' bein' of a weak constitootion,
she died soon arter, bein' in the 'abit of contractin' any disease she
might chance on."
Brian hurried off lest in her Poe-like appreciation of them, Mrs.
Sampson should give vent to more charnel-house horrors.
At one period of her life, the little woman had been a nurse, and it
was told of her that she had frightened one of her patients into
convulsions during the night by narrating to her the history of all the
corpses she had laid out. This ghoul-like tendency in the end proved
fatal to her professional advancement.
As soon as Fitzgerald had gone, she went over to the window and watched
him as he walked slowly down the street--a tall, handsome man, of whom
any woman would be proud.
"What an awful thing it are to think 'e'll be a corpse some day," she
chirped cheerily to herself, "tho' of course bein' a great swell in 'is
own place, 'e'll 'ave a nice airy vault, which 'ud be far more
comfortable than a close, stuffy grave, even tho' it 'as a tombstone
an' vi'lets over it. Ah, now! Who are you, impertinence?" she broke
off, as a stout man in a light suit of clothes crossed the road and
rang the bell, "a-pullin' at the bell as if it were a pump 'andle."
As the gentleman at the door, who was none other than Mr. Gorby,
did not hear her, he of course did not reply, so she hurried down the
stairs, crackling with anger at the rough usage her bell had received.
Mr. Gorby had Been Brian go out, and deeming it a good opportunity for
enquiry had lost no time in making a start.
"You nearly tored the bell down," said Mrs. Sampson, as she presented
her thin body and wrinkled face to the view of the detective.
"I'm very sorry," answered Gorby, meekly. "I'll knock next time."
"Oh, no you won't," said the landlady, tossing her head, "me not 'avin'
a knocker, an' your 'and a-scratchin' the paint off the door, which it
ain't been done over six months by my sister-in-law's cousin, which 'e
is a painter, with a shop in Fitzroy, an' a wonderful heye to colour."
"Does Mr. Fitzgerald live here?" asked Mr. Gorby, quietly.
"He do," replied Mrs. Sampson, "but 'e's gone out, an' won't be back
till the arternoon, which any messige 'ull be delivered to 'im punctual
on 'is arrival."
"I'm glad he's not in," said Mr. Gorby. "Would you allow me to have a
few moments' conversation?"
"What is it?" asked the landlady, her curiosity being roused.
"I'll tell you when we get inside," answered Mr. Gorby.
She looked at him with her sharp little eyes, and seeing nothing
disreputable about him, led the way upstairs, crackling loudly the
whole time. This so astonished Mr. Gorby that he cast about in his own
mind for an explanation of the phenomenon.
"Wants oiling about the jints," was his conclusion, "but I never
heard anything like it, and she looks as if she'd snap in two, she's
Mrs. Sampson took Gorby into Brian's sitting-room, and having closed
the door, sat down and prepared to hear what he had to say for himself.
"I 'ope it ain't bills," she said. "Mr. Fitzgerald 'avin' money in the
bank, and everythin' respectable like a gentleman as 'e is, tho', to be
sure, your bill might come down on him unbeknown, 'e not 'avin' kept it
in mind, which it ain't everybody as 'ave sich a good memory as my aunt
on my mother's side, she 'avin' been famous for 'er dates like a
'istory, not to speak of 'er multiplication tables, and the numbers of
"It's not bills," answered Mr. Gorby, who, having vainly attempted to
stem the shrill torrent of words, had given in, and waited mildly until
she had finished; "I only want to know a few things about Mr.
"And what for?" asked Mrs. Sampson, indignantly. "Are you a noospaper
a-putin' in articles about people who don't want to see 'emselves in
print, which I knows your 'abits, my late 'usband 'avin' bin a printer
on a paper which bust up, not 'avin' the money to pay wages, thro'
which, there was doo to him the sum of one pound seven and sixpence
halfpenny, which I, bein' 'is widder, ought to 'ave, not that I expects
to see it on this side of the grave--oh, dear, no!" and she gave a
shrill, elfish laugh.
Mr. Gorby, seeing that unless he took the bull by the horns, he would
never be able to get what he wanted, grew desperate, and plunged in
"I am an insurance agent," he said, rapidly, so as to prevent any
interruption, "and Mr. Fitzgerald desires to insure his life in our
company. I, therefore, want to find out if he is a good life to insure;
does he live temperately? keep early hours? and, in fact, all about
"I shall be 'appy to answer any enquiries which may be of use to
you, sir," replied Mrs. Sampson; "knowin' as I do, 'ow good a insurance
is to a family, should the 'ead of it be taken off unexpected, leavin'
a widder, which, as I know, Mr. Fitzgerald is a-goin' to be married
soon, an' I 'opes 'e'll be 'appy, tho' thro' it I loses a lodger as 'as
allays paid regler, an' be'aved like a gentleman."
"So he is a temperate man?" said Mr. Gorby, feeling his way cautiously.
"Not bein' a blue ribbing all the same," answered Mrs. Sampson; "and I
never saw him the wuss for drink, 'e being allays able to use his
latch-key, and take 'is boots off afore going to bed, which is no more
than a woman ought to expect from a lodger, she 'avin' to do 'er own
"And he keeps good hours?"
"Allays in afore the clock strikes twelve," answered the landlady;
"tho', to be sure, I uses it as a figger of speech, none of the clocks
in the 'ouse strikin' but one, which is bein' mended, 'avin' broke
"Is he always in before twelve?" asked Mr. Gorby, keenly disappointed
at this answer.
Mrs. Sampson eyed him waggishly, and a smile crept over her wrinkled
"Young men, not bein' old men," she replied, cautiously, "and sinners
not bein' saints, it's not nattral as latch-keys should be made for
ornament instead of use, and Mr. Fitzgerald bein' one of the 'andsomest
men in Melbourne, it ain't to be expected as 'e should let 'is
latch-key git rusty, tho' 'avin' a good moral character, 'e uses it
"But I suppose you are seldom awake when he comes in really late," said
"Not as a rule," assented Mrs. Sampson; "bein' a 'eavy sleeper, and
much disposed for bed, but I 'ave 'eard 'im come in arter twelve, the
last time bein' Thursday week."
"Ah!" Mr. Gorby drew a long breath, for Thursday week was the
night upon which the murder was committed.
"Bein' troubled with my 'ead," said Mrs. Sampson, "thro' 'avin' been
out in the sun all day a-washin', I did not feel so partial to my bed
that night as in general, so went down to the kitching with the intent
of getting a linseed poultice to put at the back of my 'ead, it being
calculated to remove pain, as was told to me, when a nuss, by a doctor
in the horspital, 'e now bein' in business for hisself, at Geelong,
with a large family, 'avin' married early. Just as I was leavin' the
kitching I 'eard Mr. Fitzgerald a-comin' in, and, turnin' round, looked
at the clock, that 'avin' been my custom when my late 'usband came in,
in the early mornin', I bein' a-preparin' 'is meal."
"And the time was?" asked Mr. Gorby, breathlessly.
"Five minutes to two o'clock," replied Mrs. Sampson. Mr. Gorby thought
for a moment.
"Cab was hailed at one o'clock--started for St. Kilda at about ten
minutes past--reached Grammar School, say, at twenty-five minutes
past--Fitzgerald talks five minutes to cabman, making it half-past--say,
he waited ten minutes for other cab to turn up, makes it twenty minutes
to two--it would take another twenty minutes to get to East Melbourne--and
five minutes to walk up here--that makes it five minutes past
two instead of before--confound it. 'Was your clock in the kitchen
right?'" he asked, aloud.
"Well, I think so," answered Mrs. Sampson. "It does get a little slow
sometimes, not 'avin' been cleaned for some time, which my nevy bein' a
watchmaker I allays 'ands it over to 'im."
"Of course it was slow on that night," said Gorby, triumphantly.
"He must have come in at five minutes past two--which makes it right."
"Makes what right?" asked the landlady, sharply. "And 'ow do you
know my clock was ten minutes wrong?"
"Oh, it was, was it?" asked Gorby, eagerly.
"I'm not denyin' of it," replied Mrs. Sampson; "clocks ain't allays to
be relied on more than men an' women--but it won't be anythin' agin
'is insurance, will it, as in general 'e's in afore twelve?"
"Oh, all that will be quite safe," answered the detective, delighted
with the information he had obtained. "Is this Mr. Fitzgerald's room?"
"Yes, it is," replied the landlady; "but 'e furnished it 'imself, bein'
of a luxurus turn of mind, not but what 'is taste is good, tho' far be
it from me to deny I 'elped 'im to select; but 'avin' another room of
the same to let, any friends as you might 'ave in search of a 'ome 'ud
be well looked arter, my references bein' very 'igh, an' my cookin'
Here a ring at the front door bell called Mrs. Sampson away, so with a
hurried word to Gorby she crackled downstairs. Left to himself, Mr.
Gorby arose and looked round the room. It was excellently furnished,
and the pictures were good. At one end of the room, by the window,
there was a writing-table covered with papers.
"It's no good looking for the papers he took out of Whyte's pocket, I
suppose," said the detective to himself, as he turned over some
letters, "as I don't know what they are, and I couldn't tell them if I
saw them; but I'd like to find that missing glove and the bottle that
held the chloroform--unless he's done away with them. There doesn't
seem any sign of them here, so I'll have a look in his bedroom."
There was no time to lose, as Mrs. Sampson might return at any moment,
so Mr. Gorby walked quickly into the bedroom, which opened off the
sitting-room. The first thing that caught the detective's eye was a
large photograph, in a plush frame, of Madge Frettlby. It stood
on the dressing-table, and was similar to that one which he had already
seen in Whyte's album. He took it up with a laugh.
"You're a pretty girl," he said, apostrophising the picture, "but you
give your photograph to two young men, both in love with you, and both
hot-tempered. The result is that one is dead, and the other won't
survive him long. That's what you've done."
He put it down again, and looking round the room, caught sight of a
light covert coat hanging behind the door and also a soft hat.
"Ah," said the detective, going up to the door, "here is the very coat
you wore when you killed that poor fellow wonder what you have in the
pockets," and he plunged his hand into them in turn. There were an old
theatre programme and a pair of brown gloves in one, but in the second
pocket Mr. Gorby made a discovery--none other than that of the missing
glove. There it was--a soiled white glove for the right hand, with
black bands down the back; and the detective smiled in a gratified
manner as he put it carefully in his pocket.
"My morning has not been wasted," he said to himself. "I've found out
that he came in at a time which corresponds to all his movements after
one o'clock on Thursday night, and this is the missing glove, which
clearly belonged to Whyte. If I could only get hold of the chloroform
bottle I'd be satisfied."
But the chloroform bottle was not to be found, though he searched most
carefully for it. At last, hearing Mrs. Sampson coming upstairs again,
he gave up the search, and came back to the sitting-room.
"Threw it away, I suspect," he said, as he sat down in his, old place;
"but it doesn't matter. I think I can form a chain of evidence,
from what I have discovered, which will be sufficient to convict him.
Besides, I expect when he is arrested he will confess everything; he
seems to feel remorse for what he has done."
The door opened, and Mrs. Sampson entered the room in a state of
"One of them Chinese 'awkers," she explained, "'e's bin a-tryin' to git
the better of me over carrots--as if I didn't know what carrots was--and
'im a-talkin' about a shillin' in his gibberish, as if 'e 'adn't
been brought up in a place where they don't know what a shillin' is.
But I never could abide furreigners ever since a Frenchman, as taught
me 'is language, made orf with my mother's silver tea-pot, unbeknown to
'er, it bein' set out on the sideboard for company."
Mr. Gorby interrupted these domestic reminiscences of Mrs. Sampson's by
stating that, now she had given him all necessary information, he would
take his departure.
"An' I 'opes," said Mrs. Sampson, as she opened the door for him, "as
I'll 'ave the pleasure of seein' you again should any business on
be'alf of Mr. Fitzgerald require it."
"Oh, I'll see you again," said Mr. Gorby, with heavy jocularity, "and
in a way you won't like, as you'll be called as a witness," he added,
mentally. "Did I understand you to say, Mrs. Sampson," he went on,
"that Mr. Fitzgerald would be at home this afternoon?"
"Oh, yes, sir, 'e will," answered Mrs. Sampson, "a-drinkin' tea with
his young lady, who is Miss Frettlby, and 'as got no end of money, not
but what I mightn't 'ave 'ad the same 'ad I been born in a 'igher
"You need not tell Mr. Fitzgerald I have been here," said Gorby,
closing the gate; "I'll probably call and see him myself this
"What a stout person 'e are," said Mrs. Sampson to herself, as
the detective walked away, "just like my late father, who was allays
fleshy, bein' a great eater, and fond of 'is glass, but I took arter my
mother's family, they bein' thin-like, and proud of keeping 'emselves
so, as the vinegar they drank could testify, not that I indulge in it
She shut the door, and went upstairs to take away the breakfast things,
while Gorby was being driven along at a good pace to the police office,
to obtain a warrant for Brian's arrest, on a charge of wilful murder.
IN THE QUEEN'S NAME.
It was a broiling hot day--one of those cloudless days, with the
blazing sun beating down on the arid streets, and casting deep, black
shadows--a real Australian December day dropped by mistake of the
clerk of the weather into the middle of August. The previous week
having been really chilly, it was all the more welcome.
It was Saturday morning, and fashionable Melbourne was "doing the
Block." Collins Street is to the Southern city what Bond Street and the
Row are to London, and the Boulevards to Paris.
It is on the Block that people show off their new dresses, bow to their
friends, cut their enemies, and chatter small talk. The same thing no
doubt occurred in the Appian Way, the fashionable street of Imperial
Rome, when Catullus talked gay nonsense to Lesbia, and Horace received
the congratulations of his friends over his new volume of society
verses. History repeats itself, and every city is bound by all the laws
of civilisation to have one special street, wherein the votaries of
fashion can congregate.
Collins Street is not, of course, such a grand thoroughfare as those
above mentioned, but the people who stroll up and down the broad
pavement are quite as charmingly dressed, and as pleasant as any
of the peripatetics of those famous cities. As the sun brings out
bright flowers, so the seductive influence of the hot weather had
brought out all the ladies in gay dresses of innumerable colours, which
made the long street look like a restless rainbow.
Carriages were bowling smoothly along, their occupants smiling and
bowing as they recognised their friends on the side walk. Lawyers,
their legal quibbles finished for the week, were strolling leisurely
with their black bags in their hands; portly merchants, forgetting
Flinder's Lane and incoming ships, walked beside their pretty
daughters; and the representatives of swelldom were stalking along in
their customary apparel of curly brimmed hats, high collars, and
immaculate suits. Altogether, it was a pleasant and animated scene,
which would have delighted the heart of anyone who was not dyspeptic,
or in love--dyspeptic people and lovers (disappointed ones, of course)
being wont to survey the world in a cynical vein.
Madge Frettlby was engaged in that occupation so dear to every female
heart--shopping. She was in Moubray, Rowan, and Hicks', turning over
ribbons and laces, while the faithful Brian waited for her outside, and
amused himself by looking at the human stream which flowed along the
He disliked shopping quite as much as the majority of his sex, and
though as a lover he felt a certain amount of self-abnegation to be
becoming in him, it was difficult to drive away the thoughts of his
pleasant club, where he could be reading and smoking, with, perchance,
something cooling in a glass beside him.
However, after she had purchased a dozen or more articles she did not
want, Madge remembered that Brian was waiting for her, and hurried to
"I haven't been many minutes, have I, dear?" she said, touching him
lightly on the arm.
"Oh, dear no," answered Brian, looking at his watch, "only
thirty--a mere nothing, considering a new dress was being discussed."
"I thought I had been longer," said Madge, her brow clearing; "but
still I am sure you feel a martyr."
"Not at all," replied Fitzgerald, handing her into the carriage; "I
enjoyed myself very much."
"Nonsense," she laughed, opening her sunshade, while Brian took his
seat beside her; "that's one of those social stories--which every one
considers themselves bound to tell from a sense of duty. I'm afraid I
did keep you waiting--though, after all," she went on, with a true
feminine idea as to the flight of time, "I was only a few minutes."
"And the rest," said Brian, quizzically looking at her pretty face, so
charmingly flushed under her great white hat.
Madge disdained to notice this interruption.
"James," she cried to the coachman, "drive to the Melbourne Club. Papa
will be there, you know," she said to Brian, "and we'll take him off to
have tea with us."
"But it's only one o'clock," said Brian, as the Town Hall clock came in
sight. "Mrs. Sampson won't be ready."
"Oh, anything will do," replied Madge, "a cup of tea and some thin
bread and butter isn't hard to prepare. I don't feel like lunch, and
papa eats so little in the middle of the day, and you--"
"Eat a great deal at all times," finished Brian with a laugh.
Madge went on chattering in her usual lively manner, and Brian listened
to her with delight. Her pleasant talk drove away the evil spirit which
had been with him for the last three weeks. Suddenly Madge made an
observation as they were passing the Burke and Wills' monument, which
"Isn't that the place where Mr Whyte got into the cab?" she
asked, looking at the corner near the Scotch Church, where a vagrant of
musical tendencies was playing "Just before the Battle, Mother," on a
battered old concertina.
"So the papers say," answered Brian, listlessly, without turning his
"I wonder who the gentleman in the light coat could have been," said
Madge, as she settled herself again.
"No one seems to know," he replied evasively.
"Ah, but they have a clue," she said. "Do you know, Brian," she went
on, "that he was dressed just like you in a light overcoat and soft
"How remarkable," said Fitzgerald, speaking in a slightly sarcastic
tone, and as calmly as he was able. "He was dressed in the same manner
as nine out of every ten young fellows in Melbourne."
Madge looked at him in surprise at the tone in which he spoke, so
different from his usual nonchalant way of speaking. She was about to
answer when the carriage stopped at the door of the Melbourne Club.
Brian, anxious to escape any more remarks about the murder, sprang
quickly out, and ran up the steps into the building. He found Mr.
Frettlby smoking complacently, and reading the AGE. As Fitzgerald
entered he looked up, and putting down the paper, held out his hand,
which the other took.
"Ah! Fitzgerald," he said, "have you left the attractions of Collins
Street for the still greater ones of Clubland?"
"Not I," answered Brian. "I've come to carry you off to afternoon tea
with Madge and myself."
"I don't mind," answered Mr. Frettlby rising; "but, isn't afternoon tea
at half-past one rather an anomaly?"
"What's in a name?" said Fitzgerald, absently, as they left the room.
"What have you been doing all morning?"
"I've been in here for the last half-hour reading," answered the
"Wool market, I suppose?"
"No, the hansom cab murder."
"Oh, d--that thing!" said Brian, hastily; then, seeing his companion
looking at him in surprise, he apologised. "But, indeed," he went on,
"I'm nearly worried to death by people asking about Whyte, as if I knew
all about him, whereas I know nothing."
"Just as well you don't," answered Mr. Frettlby, as they descended the
steps together; "he was not a very desirable companion."
It was on the tip of Brian's tongue to say, "And yet you wanted him to
marry your daughter," but he wisely refrained, and they reached the
carriage in silence.
"Now then, papa," said Madge, when they were all settled in the
carriage, and it was rolling along smoothly in the direction of East
Melbourne, "what have you been doing?"
"Enjoying myself," answered her father, "until you and Brian came, and
dragged me out into this blazing sunshine."
"Well, Brian has been so good of late," said Madge, "that I had to
reward him, so I knew that nothing would please him better than to play
"Certainly," said Brian, rousing himself out of a fit of abstraction,
"especially when one has such charming visitors."
Madge laughed at this, and made a little grimace.
"If your tea is only equal to your compliments," she said lightly, "I'm
sure papa will forgive us for dragging him away from his club."
"Papa will forgive anything," murmured Mr. Frettlby, tilting his hat
over his eyes, "so long as he gets somewhere out of the sun. I
can't say I care about playing the parts of Shadrach, Meshach, and
Abednego in the fiery furnace of a Melbourne hot day."
"There now, papa is quite a host in himself," said Madge mischievously,
as, the carriage drew up at Mrs. Sampson's door.
"No, you are wrong," said Brian, as he alighted and helped her out; "I
am the host in myself this time."
"If there is one thing I hate above another," observed Miss Frettlby,
calmly, "it's a pun, and especially a bad one."
Mrs. Sampson was very much astonished at the early arrival of her
lodger's guests, and did not hesitate to express her astonishment.
"Bein' taken by surprise," she said, with an apologetic cackle, "it
ain't to be suppose as miraculs can be performed with regard to
cookin', the fire havin' gone out, not bein' kept alight on account of
the 'eat of the day, which was that 'ot as never was, tho', to be sure,
bein' a child in the early days, I remember it were that 'ot as my
sister's aunt was in the 'abit of roastin' her jints in the sun."
After telling this last romance, and leaving her visitors in doubt
whether the joints referred to belonged to an animal or to her sister's
aunt or to herself, Mrs. Sampson crackled away downstairs to get things
"What a curious thing that landlady of yours is, Brian," said Madge,
from the depths of a huge arm-chair. "I believe she's a grasshopper
from the Fitzroy Gardens."
"Oh, no, she's a woman," said Mr. Frettlby, cynically. "You can tell
that by the length of her tongue."
"A popular error, papa," retorted Madge, sharply. "I know plenty of men
who talk far more than any woman."
"I hope I'll never meet them, then," said Mr. Frettlby, "for if
I did I should be inclined to agree with De Quincey on murder as a fine
Brian winced at this, and looked apprehensively at Madge, and saw with
relief that she was not paying attention to her father, but was
"There she is," as a faint rustle at the door announced the arrival of
Mrs. Sampson and the tea-tray. "I wonder, Brian, you don't think the
house is on fire with that queer noise always going on--she wants
"Yes, St. Jacob's oil," laughed Brian, as Mrs. Sampson entered, and
placed her burden on the table.
"Not 'avin' any cake," said that lady, "thro' not being forewarned as
to the time of arrival--tho' it's not ofting I'm taken by surprise--except
as to a 'eadache, which, of course, is accidental to every
pusson--I ain't got nothin' but bread and butter, the baker and grocer
both bein' all that could be desired, except in the way of worryin' for
their money, which they thinks as 'ow I keeps the bank in the 'ouse,
like Allading's cave, as I've 'eard tell in the Arabian Nights, me
'avin' gained it as a prize for English in my early girl'ood, bein'
then considered a scholard an' industrus."
Mrs. Sampson's shrill apologies for the absence of cake having been
received, she hopped out of the room, and Madge made the tea. The
service was a quaint Chinese one, which Brian had picked up in his
wanderings. He used it only on special occasions. As he watched Madge
he could not help thinking how pretty she looked, with her hands moving
deftly among the cups and saucers, so bizarre-looking with their
sprawling dragons of yellow and green. He half smiled to himself as he
thought, "If they knew all, I wonder if they would sit with me so
Mr. Frettlby, too, as he looked at his daughter, thought of his dead
wife and sighed.
"Well," said Madge, as she handed them their tea, and helped
herself to some thin bread and butter, "you two gentlemen are most
delightful company--papa is sighing like 3 furnace, and Brian is
staring at me with his eyes like blue china saucers. You ought both to
be turned forth to funerals like melancholy."
"Why like melancholy?" queried Brian, lazily.
"I'm afraid, Mr. Fitzgerald," said the young lady with 3 smile in her
pretty black eyes, "that you are not a student of 'A Midsummer Night's
"Very likely not," answered Brian; "midsummer out here is so hot that
one gets no sleep, and, consequently no dreams. Depend upon it, if the
four lovers whom Puck treated so badly had lived in Australia they
wouldn't have been able to sleep for the mosquitoes."
"What nonsense you two young people do talk," said Mr. Frettlby, with
an amused smile, as he stirred his tea.
"Dulce est desipere in loco," observed Brian, gravely, "a man who can't
carry out that observation is sure not to be up to much."
"I don't like Latin," said Miss Frettlby, shaking her pretty head. "I
agree with Heine's remark, that if the Romans had been forced to learn
it they would not have found time to conquer the world."
"Which was a much more agreeable task," said Brian.
"And more profitable," finished Mr. Frettlby.
They chattered in this desultory fashion for a considerable time, till
at last Madge rose and said they must go.
Brian proposed to dine with them at St. Kilda, and then they would all
go to Brock's Fireworks. Madge consented to this, and she was just
pulling on her gloves when suddenly they heard a ring at the front
door, and presently Mrs. Sampson talking in an excited manner at
the pitch of her voice.
"You shan't come in, I tell you," they heard her say shrilly, "so it's
no good trying, which I've allays 'eard as an Englishman's 'ouse is 'is
castle, an' you're a-breakin' the law, as well as a-spilin' the
carpets, which 'as bin newly put down."
Some one made a reply; then the door of Brian's room was thrown open,
and Gorby walked in, followed by another man. Fitzgerald turned as
white as a sheet, for he felt instinctively that they had come for him.
However, pulling himself together, he demanded, in a haughty tone, the
reason of the intrusion.
Mr. Gorby walked straight over to where Brian was standing, and placed
his hand on the young man's shoulder.
"Brian Fitzgerald," he said, in a clear voice, "I arrest you in the
"For what?" asked Brian, steadily.
"The murder of Oliver Whyte."
At this Madge gave a cry.
"It is not true!" she said, wildly. "My God, it's not true."
Brian did not answer, but, ghastly pale, held out his hands. Gorby
slipped the handcuffs on to his wrists with a feeling of compunction,
despite his joy in running his Man down. This done, Fitzgerald turned
round to where Madge was standing, pale and still, as though turned
"Madge," he said, in a clear, low voice, "I am going to prison--perhaps
to death; but I swear to you, by all that I hold most sacred,
that I am innocent of this murder."
"My darling!" She made a step forward, but her father stepped before
"Keep back," he said, in a hard voice; "there is nothing between you
and that man now."
She turned round with an ashen face, but with a proud look in
her clear eyes.
"You are wrong," she answered, with a touch of scorn in her voice. "I
love him more now than ever." Then, before her father could stop her,
she placed her arms round her lover's neck, and kissed him wildly.
"My darling," she said, with the tears streaming down her white cheeks,
"whatever the world may say, you are always dearest of all to me."
Brian kissed her passionately, and moved away. Madge fell down at her
father's feet in a dead faint.
COUNSEL FOR THE PRISONER.
Brian Fitzgerald was arrested at a few minutes past three o'clock, and
by five all Melbourne was ringing with the news that the perpetrator of
the now famous hansom cab murder had been caught. The evening papers
were full of the affair, and the HERALD went through several editions,
the demand being far in the excess of the supply. Such a crime had not
been committed in Melbourne since the Greer shooting case in the Opera
House, and the mystery by which it was surrounded, made it even more
sensational. The committal of the crime in such an extraordinary place
as a hansom cab had been startling enough, but the discovery that the
assassin was one of the most fashionable young men in Melbourne was
still more so. Brian Fitzgerald being well known in society as a
wealthy squatter, and the future husband of one of the richest and
prettiest girls in Victoria, it was no wonder that his arrest caused
some sensation. The HERALD, which was fortunate enough to obtain the
earliest information about the arrest, made the best use of it, and
published a flaming article in its most sensational type, somewhat
after this fashion:--
HANSOM CAB TRAGEDY. ARREST OF THE SUPPOSED MURDERER. STARTLING
REVELATIONS IN HIGH LIFE.
It is needless to say that some of the reporters had painted the lily
pretty freely, but the public were ready to believe everything that
came out in the papers.
Mr. Frettlby, the day after Brian's arrest, had a long conversation
with his daughter, and wanted her to go up to Yabba Yallook Station
until the public excitement had somewhat subsided. But this Madge
flatly refused to do.
"I'm not going to desert him when he most needs me," she said,
resolutely; "everybody has turned against him, even before they have
heard the facts of the case. He says he is not guilty, and I believe
"Then let him prove his innocence," said her father, who was pacing
slowly up and down the room; "if he did not get into the cab with Whyte
he must have been somewhere else; so he ought to set up the defence of
"He can easily do that," said Madge, with a ray of hope lighting up her
sad face, "he was here till eleven o'clock on Thursday night."
"Very probably," returned her father, dryly; "but where was he at one
o'clock on Friday morning?"
"Besides, Mr. Whyte left the house long before Brian did," she went on
rapidly. "You must remember--it was when you quarrelled with Mr.
"My dear Madge," said Frettlby, stopping in front of her with a
displeased look, "you are incorrect--Whyte and myself did not quarrel.
He asked me if it were true that Fitzgerald was engaged to you, and I
answered 'Yes.' That was all, and then he left the house."
"Yes, and Brian didn't go until two hours after," said Madge,
triumphantly. "He never saw Mr. Whyte the whole night."
"So he says," replied Mr. Frettlby, significantly. "I believe Brian
before any one else in the world," said his daughter, hotly, with
flushed cheeks and flashing eyes.
"Ah! but will a jury?" queried her father.
"You have turned against him, too," answered Madge, her eyes filling
with tears. "You believe him guilty."
"I am not prepared either to deny or confirm his guilt," said Mr.
Frettlby, coldly. "I have done what I could to help him--I have
engaged Calton to defend him, and, if eloquence and skill can save him,
you may set your mind at rest."
"My dear father," said Madge, throwing her arms round his neck, "I knew
you would not desert him altogether, for my sake."
"My darling," replied her father, in a faltering voice, as he kissed
her, "there is nothing in the world I would not do for your sake."
Meanwhile Brian was sitting in his cell in the Melbourne Jail, thinking
sadly enough about his position. He saw no hope of escape except one,
and that he did not intend to take advantage of.
"It would kill her; it would kill her," he said, feverishly, as he
paced to and fro over the echoing stones. "Better that the last of the
Fitzgeralds should perish like a common thief than that she should know
the bitter truth. If I engage a lawyer to defend me," he went on, "the
first question he will ask me will be where was I on that night, and if
I tell him all will be discovered, and then--no--no--I cannot do it;
it would kill her, my darling," and throwing himself down on the bed,
he covered his face with his hands.
He was roused by the opening of the door of his cell, and on looking up
saw that it was Calton who entered. He was a great friend of
Fitzgerald's, and Brian was deeply touched by his kindness in coming to
Duncan Calton had a kindly heart, and was anxious to help Brian, but
there was also a touch of self interest in the matter. He had received
a note from Mr. Frettlby, asking him to defend Fitzgerald, which he
agreed to do with avidity, as he foresaw in this case an opportunity
for his name becoming known throughout the Australian colonies. It is
true that he was already a. celebrated lawyer, but his reputation was
purely a local one, and as he foresaw that Fitzgerald's trial for
murder would cause a great sensation throughout Australia and New
Zealand, he determined to take advantage of it as another step in the
ladder which led to fame, wealth, and position. So this tall, keen-eyed
man, with the clean shaven face and expressive mouth, advanced into the
cell, and took Brian by the hand.
"It is very kind of you to come and see me," said Fitzgerald; "it is at
a time like this that one appreciates friendship."
"Yes, of course," answered the lawyer, fixing his keen eyes on the
other's haggard face, as if he would read his innermost thoughts. "I
came partly on my own account, and partly because Frettlby asked me to
see you as to your defence."
"Mr. Frettlby?" said Brian, in a mechanical way. "He is very kind; I
thought he believed me guilty."
"No man is considered guilty until he has been proved so," answered
Brian noticed how guarded the answer was, for he heaved an impatient
"And Miss Frettlby?" he asked, in a hesitating manner. This time he got
a decided answer.
"She declines to believe you guilty, and will not hear a word said
"God bless her," said Brian, fervently; "she is a true woman. I
suppose I am pretty well canvassed?" he added, bitterly.
"Nothing else talked about," answered Calton, calmly. "Your arrest has
for the present suspended all interest in theatres, cricket matches,
and balls, and you are at the present moment being discussed threadbare
in Clubs and drawing-rooms."
Fitzgerald writhed. He was a singularly proud man, and there was
something inexpressibly galling in this unpleasant publicity.
"But this is all idle chatter," said Calton, taking a seat.
"We must get to business. Of course, you will accept me as your
"It's no good my doing so," replied Brian, gloomily. "The rope is
already round my neck."
"Nonsense," replied the lawyer, cheerfully, "the rope is round no man's
neck until he is on the scaffold. Now, you need not say a word," he
went on, holding up his hand as Brian was about to speak; "I intend to
defend you, whether you like it or not. I do not know all the facts,
except what the papers have stated, and they exaggerate so much that
one can place no reliance on them. At all events, I believe from my
heart that you are innocent, and you must walk out of the prisoner's
dock a free man, if only for the sake of that noble girl who loves
Brian did not answer, but put out his hand, which the other grasped
"I will not deny," went on Calton, "that there is a little bit of
professional curiosity about me. This case is such an extraordinary
one, that I feel as if I were unable to let slip an opportunity of
doing something with it. I don't care for your humdrum murders with the
poker, and all that sort of thing, but this is something
clever, and therefore interesting. When you are safe we will look
together for the real criminal, and the pleasure of the search will be
proportionate to the excitement when we find him out."
"I agree with everything you say," said Fitzgerald, calmly, "but I have
no defence to make."
"No defence? You are not going to confess you killed him?"
"No," with an angry flush, "but there are certain circumstances which
prevent me from defending myself."
"What nonsense," retorted Calton, sharply, "as if any circumstances
should prevent a man from saving his own life. But never mind, I like
these objections; they make the nut harder to crack--but the kernel
must be worth getting at. Now, I want you to answer certain questions."
"I won't promise."
"Well, we shall see," said the lawyer, cheerfully, taking out his
note-book, and resting it on his knee. "First, where were you on the
Thursday night preceding the murder?"
"I can't tell you."
"Oh, yes, you can, my friend. You left St. Kilda, and came up to town
by the eleven o'clock train."
"Eleven-twenty," corrected Brian.
Calton smiled in a gratified manner as he noted this down. "A little
diplomacy is all that's required," he said mentally.
"And where did you go then?" he added, aloud.
"I met Rolleston in the train, and we took a cab from the Flinders
Street station up to the Club."
"The Melbourne Club."
"Rolleston went home, and I went into the Club and played cards for a
"When did you leave the Club?"
"A few minutes to one o'clock in the morning."
"And then, I suppose, you went home?"
"No; I did not."
"Then where did you go?"
"Down the street."
"Rather vague. I presume you mean Collins Street?"
"You were going to meet some one, I suppose?"
"I never said so."
"Probably not; but young men don't wander about the streets at night
without some object."
"I was restless and wanted a walk."
"Indeed! How curious you should prefer going into the heart of the
dusty town for a walk to strolling through the Fitzroy Gardens, which
were on your way home! It won't do; you had an appointment to meet some
"I thought as much. Man or woman?"
"I cannot tell you."
"Then I must find out for myself."
"Indeed! Why not?"
"You don't know where to look for her."
"Her," cried Calton, delighted at the success of his craftily-put
question. "I knew it was a woman."
Brian did not answer, but sat biting his lips with vexation.
"Now, who is this woman?"
"Come now, Fitzgerald, I know that young men will be young men, and, of
course, you don't like these things talked about; but in this case your
character must be sacrificed to save your neck. What is her name?"
"I can't tell you."
"Oh! you know it, then?"
"And you won't tell me?"
Calton, however, had found out two things that pleased him; first, that
Fitzgerald had an appointment, and, second that it had been with a
woman. He pursued another line.
"When did you last see Whyte!"
Brian answered with great reluctance, "I saw him drunk by the Scotch
"What! you were the man who hailed the hansom?"
"Yes," assented the other, hesitating slightly, "I was!"
The thought flashed through Calton's brain as to whether the young man
before him was guilty or not, and he was obliged to confess that things
looked very black against him.
"Then what the newspapers said was correct?"
"Ah!" Calton drew a long breath--here was a ray of hope.
"You did not know it was Whyte when you found him lying drunk near the
"No, I did not. Had I known it was he I would not have picked him up."
"Of course, you recognised him afterwards?"
"Yes I did. And, as the paper stated, I dropped him and walked away."
"Why did you leave him so abruptly?"
Brian looked at his questioner in some surprise.
"Because I detested him," he said, shortly.
"Why did you detest him?"
No answer. "Was it because he admired Miss Frettlby, and from all
appearances, was going to marry her?"
"Well, yes," sullenly.
"And now," said Calton, impressively, "this is the whole point upon
which the case turns. Why did you get into the cab with him?"
"I did not get into the cab."
"The cabman declares that you did."
"He is wrong. I never came back after I recognised Whyte."
"Then who was the man who got into the cab with Whyte?"
"I don't know."
"You have no idea?"
"Not the least."
"You are certain?"
"Yes, perfectly certain."
"He seems to have been dressed exactly like you."
"Very probably. I could name at least a dozen of my acquaintances who
wear light coats over their evening dress, and soft hats."
"Do you know if Whyte had any enemies?"
"No, I don't; I know nothing about him, beyond that he came from
England a short time ago with a letter of introduction to Mr. Frettlby,
and had the impertinence to ask Madge to marry him."
"Where did Whyte live?"
"Down in St. Kilda, at the end of Grey Street."
"How do you know?"
"It was in the papers, and--and--" hesitatingly, "I called on him."
"To see if he would cease his attentions to Madge, and to tell him that
she was engaged to me."
"And what did he say?"
"Laughed at me. Curse him."
"You had high words, evidently?"
Brian laughed bitterly.
"Yes, we had."
"Did anyone hear you?"
"The landlady did, I think. I saw her in the passage as I left the
"The prosecution will bring her forward as a witness."
"Very likely," indifferently.
"Did you say anything likely to incriminate yourself?" Fitzgerald
turned away his head.
"Yes," he answered in a low voice, "I spoke very wildly--indeed, I did
not know at the time what I said."
"Did you threaten him?"
"Yes, I did. I told him I would kill him if he persisted in his plan of
"Ah! if the landlady can swear that she heard you say so, it will form
a strong piece of evidence against you. So far as I can see, there is
only one defence, and that is an easy one--you must prove an ALIBI."
"You say you did not come back and get into the cab?" said Calton,
watching the face of the other closely.
"No, it was some one else dressed like me."
"And you have no idea who it was?"
"No, I have not."
"Then, after you left Whyte, and walked along Russel! Street, where did
"I can't tell you."
"Were you intoxicated?"
"Then you remember?"
"And where were you?"
"I can't tell you."
"Yes, I do."
"Take time to consider. You may have to pay a heavy price for your
"If necessary, I will pay it."
"And you won't tell me where you were?"
"No, I won't."
Calton was beginning to feel annoyed.
"You're very foolish," he said, "sacrificing your life to some feeling
of false modesty. You must prove an ALIBI."
"At what hour did you get home?"
"About two o'clock in the morning."
"Did you walk home?"
"Yes--through the Fitzroy Gardens."
"Did you see anyone on your way home?"
"I don't know. I wasn't paying attention."
"Did anyone see you?"
"Not that I know of."
"Then you refuse to tell me where you were between one and two o'clock
on Friday morning?"
Calton thought for a moment, to consider his next move.
"Did you know that Whyte carried valuable papers about with him?"
Fitzgerald hesitated, and turned pale.
"No! I did not know," he said, reluctantly.
The lawyer made a master stroke.
"Then why did you take them from him?"
"What! Had he it with him?"
Calton saw his advantage, and seized it at once.
"Yes, he had it with him. Why did you take it?"
"I did not take it. I didn't even know he had it with him."
"Indeed! Will you kindly tell me what 'it' is Brian saw the trap into
which he had fallen."
"No! I will not," he answered steadily.
"Was it a jewel?"
"Was it an important paper?"
"I don't know."
"Ah! It was a paper. I can see it in your face. And was that paper of
importance to you?"
"Why do you ask?"
Calton fixed his keen grey eyes steadily on Brian's face.
"Because," he answered slowly, "the man to whom that paper was of such
value murdered Whyte."
Brian started up, ghastly pale.
"My God!" he almost shrieked, stretching out his hands, "it is true
after all," and he fell down on the stone pavement in a dead faint.
Calton, alarmed, summoned the gaoler, and between them they placed him
on the bed, and dashed some cold water over his face. He recovered, and
moaned feebly, while Calton, seeing that he was unfit to be spoken to,
left the prison. When he got outside he stopped for a moment and looked
back on the grim, grey walls.
"Brian Fitzgerald," he said to himself "you did not commit the murder
yourself, but you know who did."
SHE WAS A TRUE WOMAN.
Melbourne society was greatly agitated over the hansom cab murder.
Before the assassin had been discovered it had been looked upon merely
as a common murder, and one of which society need take no cognisance
beyond the bare fact of its committal. But now that one of the most
fashionable young men in Melbourne had been arrested as the assassin,
it bade fair to assume gigantic proportions. Mrs. Grundy was shocked,
and openly talked about having nourished in her bosom a viper which had
unexpectedly turned and stung her.
Morn, noon, and night, in Toorak drawing-rooms and Melbourne Clubs, the
case formed the principal subject of conversation. And Mrs. Grundy was
horrified. Here was a young man, well born--"the Fitzgeralds, my dear,
an Irish family, with royal blood in their veins"--well-bred--"most
charming manners, I assure you, and so very good-looking" and engaged
to one of the richest girls in Melbourne--"pretty enough, madam, no
doubt, but he wanted her money, sly dog;" and this young man, who had
been petted by the ladies, voted a good fellow by the men, and was
universally popular, both in drawing-room and club, had committed a
vulgar murder--it was truly shocking. What was the world
coming to, and what were gaols and lunatic asylums built for if men of
young Fitzgerald's calibre were not put in them, and kept from killing
people? And then, of course, everybody asked everybody else who Whyte
was, and why he had never been heard of before. All people who had met
Mr. Whyte were worried to death with questions about him, and underwent
a species of social martyrdom as to who he was, what he was like, why
he was killed, and all the rest of the insane questions which some
people will ask. It was talked about everywhere--in fashionable
drawing-rooms at five o'clock tea, over thin bread and butter and
souchong; at clubs, over brandies and sodas and cigarettes; by working
men over their mid-day pint, and by their wives in the congenial
atmosphere of the back yard over the wash-tub. The papers were full of
paragraphs about the famous murder, and the society papers gave an
interview with the prisoner by their special reporters, which had been
composed by those gentlemen out of the floating rumours which they
heard around, and their own fertile imaginations.
As to the prisoner's guilt, everyone was certain of it. The cabman
Royston had sworn that Fitzgerald had got into the cab with Whyte, and
when he got out Whyte was dead. There could be no stronger proof than
that, and the general opinion was that the prisoner would put in no
defence, but would throw himself on the mercy of the court. Even the
church caught the contagion, and ministers--Anglican, Roman Catholic,
and Presbyterian, together with the lesser lights of minor
denominations--took the hansom cab murder as a text whereon to preach
sermons on the profligacy of the age, and to point out that the only
ark which could save men from the rising flood of infidelity and
immorality was their own particular church. "Gad," as Calton remarked,
after hearing five or six ministers each claim their own church
as the one special vessel of safety, "there seems to be a whole fleet
For Mr. Felix Rolleston, acquainted as he was with all concerned, the
time was one of great and exceeding joy. He was ever to the fore in
retailing to his friends, plus certain garnishments of his own, any
fresh evidence that chanced to come to light. His endeavour was to
render it the more piquant, if not dramatic. If you asked him for his
definite opinion as to the innocence or guilt of the accused, Mr. Felix
shook his head sagaciously, and gave you to understand that neither he,
nor his dear friend Calton--he knew Calton to nod to--had yet been
able to make up their minds about the matter.
"Fact is, don't you know," observed Mr. Rolleston, wisely, "there's
more in this than meets the eye, and all that sort of thing--think
'tective fellers wrong myself--don't think Fitz killed Whyte; jolly
well sure he didn't."
This would be followed invariably by a query in chorus of "who killed
"Aha," Felix would retort, putting his head on one side, like a
meditative sparrow; "'tective fellers can't find out; that's the
difficulty. Good mind to go on the prowl myself, by Jove."
"But do you know anything of the detective business?" some one would
"Oh, dear yes," with an airy wave of his hand; "I've read Gaboreau, you
know; awfully jolly life, 'tectives."
Despite this evasion, Rolleston, in his heart of hearts, believed
Fitzgerald guilty. But he was one of those persons, who having either
tender hearts or obstinate natures--the latter is perhaps the more
general--deem it incumbent upon them to come forward in championship
of those in trouble. There are, doubtless, those who think that
Nero was a pleasant young man, whose cruelties were but the resultant
of an overflow of high spirits; and who regard Henry VIII. in the light
of a henpecked husband unfortunate in the possession of six wives.
These people delight in expressing their sympathy with great scoundrels
of the Ned Kelly order. They view them as the embodiment of heroism,
unsympathetically and disgracefully treated by the narrow understanding
of the law. If one half the world does kick a man when he is down, the
other half invariably consoles the prostrate individual with halfpence.
And therefore, even while the weight of public opinion was dead against
Fitzgerald he had his share of avowed sympathy. There was a comfort in
this for Madge. Not that if the whole countryside had unanimously
condemned her lover she would have believed him guilty. The element of
logic does not enter into the championship of woman Her love for a man
is sufficient to exalt him to the rank of a demi-god. She absolutely
refuses to see the clay feet of her idol. When all others forsake she
clings to him, when all others frown she smiles on him, and when he
dies she reveres his memory as that of a saint and a martyr. Young men
of the present day are prone to disparage their womenkind; but a poor
thing is the man, who in time of trouble has no woman to stand by him
with cheering words and loving comfort. And so Madge Frettlby, true
woman that she was, had nailed her colours to the mast. She refused
surrender to anyone, or before any argument. He was innocent, and his
innocence would be proved, for she had an intuitive feeling that he
would be saved at the eleventh hour. How, she knew not; but she was
certain that it would be so. She would have gone to see Brian in
prison, but that her father absolutely forbade her doing so. Therefore
she was dependent upon Calton for all the news respecting him,
and any message which she wished conveyed.
Brian's persistent refusal to set up the defence of an ALIBI, annoyed
Calton, the more so as he could conceive no reason sufficiently worthy
of the risk to which it subjected his client.
"If it's for the sake of a woman," he said to Brian, "I don't care who
she is, it's absurdly Quixotic. Self-preservation is the first law of
nature, and if my neck was in danger I'd spare neither man, woman, nor
child to save it."
"I dare say," answered Brian; "but if you had my reasons you might
Yet in his own mind the lawyer had a suspicion which he thought might
perhaps account for Brian's obstinate concealment of his movements on
the fatal night. He had admitted an appointment with a woman. He was a
handsome young fellow, and probably his morals were no better than
those of his fellows. There was perhaps some intrigue with a married
woman. He had perchance been with her on that night, and it was to
shield her that he refused to speak.
"Even so," argued Calton, "let him lose his character rather than his
life; indeed the woman herself should speak. It would be hard upon her
I admit; yet when a man's life is in danger, surely nothing should stop
Full of these perplexing thoughts, Calton went down to St. Kilda to
have a talk with Madge. He intended to ask her to assist him towards
obtaining the information he needed. He had a great respect for Madge,
and thought her a really clever woman. It was just possible, he argued,
that Brian's great love might cause him to confess everything to her,
at her urgent request. He found Madge awaiting his arrival with
"Where have you been all this time?" she said as they sat down;
"I have been counting every moment since I saw you last. How is he?"
"Just the same," answered Calton, taking off his gloves, "still
obstinately refusing to save his own life. Where's your father?" he
"Out of town," she answered, impatiently. "He will not be back for a
week--but what do you mean that he won't save his own life?"
Calton leaned forward, and took her hand.
"Do you want to save his life?" he asked.
"Save his life," she reiterated, starting up out of her chair with a
cry. "God knows, I would die to save him."
"Pish," murmured Calton to himself, as he looked at her glowing face
and outstretched hands, "these women are always in extremes. The fact
is," he said aloud, "Fitzgerald is able to prove an ALIBI, and he
refuses to do so."
Calton shrugged his shoulders.
"That is best known to himself--some Quixotic idea of honour, I fancy.
Now, he refuses to tell me where he was on that night; perhaps he won't
refuse to tell you--so you must come up and see him with me, and
perhaps he will recover his senses, and confess."
"But my father," she faltered.
"Did you not say he was out of town?" asked Calton.
"Yes," hesitated Madge. "But he told me not to go."
"In that case," said Calton, rising and taking up his hat and gloves,
"I won't ask you."
She laid her hand on his arm.
"Stop! will it do any good?"
Calton hesitated a moment, for he thought that if the reason of Brian's
silence was, as he surmised, an intrigue with a married woman,
he might not tell the girl he was engaged to about it--but, on the
other hand, there might be some other reason, and Calton trusted to
Madge to find it out. With these thoughts in his mind he turned round.
"Yes," he answered, boldly, "it may save his life."
"Then I shall go," she answered, recklessly "He is more to me than my
father, and if I can save him, I will. Wait," and she ran out of the
"An uncommonly plucky girl," murmured the lawyer, as he looked out of
the window. "If Fitzgerald is not a fool he will certainly tell her
all--that is, of course, if he is able to--queer things these women are--I
quite agree with Balzac's saying that no wonder man couldn't
understand woman, seeing that God who created her failed to do so."
Madge came back dressed to go out, with a heavy veil over her face.
"Shall I order the carriage?" she asked, pulling on her gloves with
"Hardly," answered Calton, dryly, "unless you want to see a paragraph
in the society papers to the effect that Miss Madge Frettlby visited
Mr. Fitzgerald in gaol--no--no--we'll get a cab. Come, my dear," and
taking her arm he led her away.
They reached the station, and caught a train just as it started, yet
notwithstanding this Madge was in a fever of impatience.
"How slowly it goes," she said, fretfully.
"Hush, my dear," said Calton, laying his hand on her arm. "You will
betray yourself--we'll arrive soon--and save him."
"Oh, God grant we may," she said with a low cry, clasping her hands
tightly together, while Calton could see the tears falling from under
her thick veil.
"This is not the way to do so," he said, almost roughly,
"you'll be in hysterics soon--control yourself for his sake."
"For his sake," she muttered, and with a powerful effort of will,
calmed herself They soon arrived in Melbourne, and, getting a hansom,
drove up quickly to the gaol. After going through the usual formula,
they entered the cell where Brian was, and, when the warder who
accompanied them opened the door, they found the young man seated on
his bed. He looked up, and, on seeing Madge, rose and held out his
hands with a cry of delight. She ran forward, and threw herself on his
breast with a stifled sob. For a short time no one spoke--Calton being
at the other end of the cell, busy with some notes which he had taken
from his pocket, and the warder having retired.
"My poor darling," said Madge, stroking back the soft, fair hair from
his flushed forehead, "how ill you look."
"Yes!" answered Fitzgerald, with a hard laugh. "Prison does not improve
a man--does it?"
"Don't speak in that tone, Brian," she said; "it is not like you--let
us sit down and talk calmly over the matter."
"I don't see what good that will do," he answered, wearily, as they sat
down hand-in-hand. "I have talked about it to Calton till my head
aches, and it is no good."
"Of course not," retorted the lawyer, sharply, as he also sat down.
"Nor will it be any good until you come to your senses, and tell us
where you were on that night."
"I tell you I cannot."
"Brian, dear," said Madge, softly, taking his hand, "you must tell
all--for my sake."
Fitzgerald sighed--this was the hardest temptation he had yet been
subjected to he felt half inclined to yield, and chance the result--but
one look at Madge's pure face steeled him against doing so.
What could his confession bring but sorrow and regret to one whom he
loved better than his life.
"Madge!" he answered, gravely, taking her hand again, "you do not know
what you ask."
"Yes, I do!" she replied, quickly. "I ask you to save yourself--to
prove that you are not guilty of this terrible crime, and not to
sacrifice your life for the sake of--of--"
Here she stopped, and looked helplessly at Calton, for she had no idea
of the reason of Fitzgerald's refusal to speak.
"For the sake of a woman," finished Calton, bluntly.
"A woman!" she faltered, still holding her lover's hand.
"Is--is--is that the reason?"
Brian averted his face.
"Yes!" he said, in a low, rough voice.
A sharp expression of anguish crossed her pale face, and, sinking her
head on her hands, she wept bitterly. Brian looked at her in a dogged
kind of way, and Calton stared grimly at them both.
"Look here," he said, at length, to Brian, in an angry voice; "if you
want my opinion of your conduct I think it's infamous--begging your
pardon, Miss Frettlby, for the expression. Here is this noble gill, who
loves you with her whole heart, and is ready to sacrifice everything
for your sake, comes to implore you to save your life, and you coolly
turn round and acknowledge another woman."
Brian lifted his head haughtily, and his face flushed.
"You are wrong," he said, turning round sharply; "there is the woman
for whose sake I keep silence;" and, rising up from the bed, he pointed
to Madge, as she sobbed bitterly on it She lifted up her haggard face
with an air of surprise.
"For my sake!" she cried in a startled voice.
"Oh, he's mad," said Calton, shrugging his shoulders; "I shall
put in a defence of insanity."
"No, I am not mad," cried Fitzgerald, wildly, as he caught Madge in his
arms. "My darling! My darling! It is for your sake that I keep silence,
and I shall do so though my life pays the penalty. I could tell you
where I was on that night and save myself: but if I did, you would
learn a secret which would curse your life, and I dare not speak--I
Madge looked up into his face with a pitiful smile as her--tears fell
"Dearest!" she said, softly. "Do not think of me, but only of yourself;
better that I should endure misery than that you should die. I do not
know what the secret can be, but if the telling of it will save your
life, do not hesitate. See," she cried, falling on her knees, "I am at
your feet--I implore you by all the love you ever had for me, to save
yourself, whatever the consequences may be to me."
"Madge," said Fitzgerald, as he raised her in his arms, "at one time I
might have done so, but now it is too late. There is another and
stronger reason for my silence, which I have only found out since my
arrest. I know that I am closing up the one way of escape from this
charge of murder, of which I am innocent; but as there is a God in
heaven, I swear that I will not speak."
There was a silence in the cell, broken only by Madge's convulsive
sobs, and even Calton, cynical man of the world as he was, felt his
eyes grow wet. Brian led Madge over to him, and placed her in his arms.
"Take her away," he said, in a broken voice, "or I shall forget that I
am a man;" and turning away he threw himself on his bed, and covered
his face with his hands. Calton did not answer him, but summoned the
warder, and tried to lead Madge away. But just as they reached the door
she broke away from him, and, running back, flung herself on
her lover's breast.
"My darling! My darling!" she sobbed, kissing him, "you shall not die.
I shall save you in spite of yourself;" and, as if afraid to trust
herself longer, she ran out of the cell, followed by the barrister.
MADGE MAKES A DISCOVERY.
Madge stepped into the cab, and Calton paused a moment to tell the
cabman to drive to the railway station Suddenly she stopped him.
"Tell him to drive to Brian's lodgings in Powlett Street," she said,
laying her hand on Calton's arm.
"What for?" asked the lawyer, in astonishment.
"And also to go past the Melbourne Club, as I want to stop there."
"What the deuce does she mean?" muttered Calton, as he gave the
necessary orders, and stepped into the cab.
"And now," he asked, looking at his companion, who had let down her
veil, while the cab rattled quickly down the street, "what do you
intend to do?"
She threw back her veil, and he was astonished to see the sudden change
which had come over her. There were no tears now, and her eyes were
hard and glittering, while her mouth was firmly closed. She looked like
a woman who had determined to do a certain thing, and would carry out
her intention at whatever cost.
"I intend to save Brian in spite of himself," she said, very
"Ah, you think that, being a woman, I can do nothing," she
said, bitterly. "Well, you shall see."
"I beg your pardon," retorted Calton, with a grim smile, "my opinion of
your sex has always been an excellent one--every lawyer's is; stands
to reason that it should be so, seeing that a woman is at the bottom of
nine cases out of ten."
"The old cry."
"Nevertheless a true one," answered Calton. "Ever since the time of
Father Adam it has been acknowledged that women influence the world
either for good or evil more than men. But this is not to the point,"
he went on, rather impatiently.
"What do you propose to do?"
"Simply this," she answered. "In the first place, I may tell you that I
do not understand Brian's statement that he keeps silence for my sake,
as there are no secrets in my life that can justify his saying so. The
facts of the case are simply these: Brian, on the night in question,
left our house at St. Kilda, at eleven o'clock. He told me that he
would call at the Club to see if there were any letters for him, and
then go straight home."
"But he might have said that merely as a blind."
Madge shook her head.
"No, I don't think so. I did not ask him where he was going. He told me
quite spontaneously. I know Brian's character, and he would not tell a
deliberate lie, especially when there was no necessity for it. I am
quite certain that he intended to do as he said, and go straight home.
When he got to the Club, he found a letter there, which caused him to
alter his mind."
"From whom was the letter?"
"Can't you guess," she said impatiently. "From the person, man or
woman, who wanted to see him and reveal this secret about me,
whatever it is. He got the letter at his Club, and went down Collins
Street to meet the writer. At the corner of the Scotch Church he found
Mr. Whyte, and on recognising him, left in disgust, and walked down
Russell Street to keep his appointment."
"Then you don't think he came back."
"I am certain he did not, for, as Brian told you, there are plenty of
young men who wear the same kind of coat and hat as he does. Who the
second man who got into the cab was I do not know, but I will swear
that it was not Brian."
"And you are going to look for that letter?"
"Yes, in Brian's lodgings."
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