The Mystery of a Hansom Cab
Fergus Hume (1859-1932)
Part 3 out of 6
"He might have burnt it."
"He might have done a thousand things, but he did not," she answered.
"Brian is the most careless man in the world; he would put the letter
into his pocket, or throw it into the waste-paper basket, and never
think of it again."
"In this case he did, however."
"Yes, he thought of the conversation he had with the writer, but not of
the letter itself. Depend upon it, we shall find it in his desk, or in
one of the pockets of the clothes he wore that night."
"Then there's another thing," said Calton, thoughtfully. "The letter
might, have been delivered to him between the Elizabeth Street Railway
Station and the Club."
"We can soon find out about that," answered Madge; "for Mr. Rolleston
was with him at the time."
"So he was," answered Calton; "and here is Rolleston coming down the
street. We'll ask him now."
The cab was just passing the Burke and Wills' monument, and Calton's
quick eye had caught a glimpse of Rolleston walking down the left-hand
side. What first attracted Calton's attention was the glittering
appearance of Felix. His well-brushed top hat glittered, his
varnished boots glittered, and his rings and scarf-pin glittered; in
fact, so resplendent was his appearance that he looked like an animated
diamond coming along in the blazing sunshine.
The cab drove up to the kerb, and Rolleston stopped short, as Calton
sprang out directly in front of him. Madge lay back in the cab and
pulled down her veil, not wishing to be recognised by Felix, as she
knew that if he did it would soon be all over the town.
"Hallo! old chap," said Rolleston, in considerable astonishment. "Where
did you spring from?"
"From the cab, of course," answered Calton, with a laugh.
"A kind of DEUS EX MACHINA," replied Rolleston, attempting a bad pun.
"Exactly," said Calton. "Look here, Rolleston, do you remember the
night of Whyte's murder--you met Fitzgerald at the Railway Station."
"In the train," corrected Felix.
"Well, well, no matter, you came up with him to the Club."
"Yes, and left him there."
"Did you notice if he received any message while he was with you?"
"Any message?" repeated Felix. "No, he did not; we were talking
together the whole time, and he spoke to no one but me."
"Was he in good spirits?"
"Excellent, made me laugh awfully--but why all this thusness?"
"Oh, nothing," answered Calton, getting back into the cab. "I wanted a
little information from you; I'll explain next time I see you--
"But I say," began Felix, but the cab had already rattled away,
so Mr. Rolleston turned angrily away.
"I never saw anything like these lawyers," he said to himself.
"Calton's a perfect whirlwind, by Jove."
Meanwhile Calton was talking to Madge.
"You were right," he said, "there must have been a message for him at
the Club, for he got none from the time he left your place."
"And what shall we do now?" asked Madge, who, having heard all the
conversation, did not trouble to question the lawyer about it.
"Find out at the Club if any letter was waiting for him on that night,"
said Calton, as the cab stopped at the door of the Melbourne Club.
"Here we are," and with a hasty word to Madge, he ran up the steps.
He went to the office of the Club to find out if any letters had been
waiting for Fitzgerald, and found there a waiter with whom he was
pretty well acquainted.
"Look here, Brown," said the lawyer, "do you remember on that Thursday
night when the hansom cab murder took place if any letters were waiting
here for Mr. Fitzgerald?"
"Well, really, sir," hesitated Brown, "it's so long ago that I almost
Calton gave him a sovereign.
"Oh! it's not that, Mr. Calton," said the waiter, pocketing the coin,
nevertheless. "But I really do forget."
"Try and remember," said Calton, shortly.
Brown made a tremendous effort of memory, and at last gave a
"No, sir, there were none!"
"Are you sure?" said Calton, feeling a thrill of disappointment.
"Quite sure, sir," replied the other, confidently, "I went to
the letter rack several times that night, and I am sure there were none
for Mr. Fitzgerald."
"Ah! I thought as much," said Calton, heaving a sigh.
"Stop!" said Brown, as though struck with a sudden idea. "Though there
was no letter came by post, sir, there was one brought to him on that
"Ah!" said Calton, turning sharply. "At what time?"
"Just before twelve o'clock, sir."
"Who brought it?"
"A young woman, sir," said Brown, in a tone of disgust. "A bold thing,
beggin' your pardon, sir; and no better than she should be. She bounced
in at the door as bold as brass, and sings out, 'Is he in?' 'Get out,'
I says, 'or I'll call the perlice.' 'Oh no, you won't,' says she.
'You'll give him that,' and she shoves a letter into my hands. 'Who's
him?' I asks. 'I dunno,' she answers. 'It's written there, and I can't
read; give it him at once.' And then she clears out before I could stop
"And the letter was for Mr. Fitzgerald?"
"Yes, sir; and a precious dirty letter it was, too."
"You gave it to him, of course?"
"I did, sir. He was playing cards, and he put it in his pocket, after
having looked at the outside of it, and went on with his game."
"Didn't he open it?"
"Not then, sir; but he did later on, about a quarter to one o'clock. I
was in the room, and he opens it and reads it. Then he says to himself,
'What d--d impertinence,' and puts it into his pocket."
"Was he disturbed!"
"Well, sir, he looked angry like, and put his coat and hat on, and
walked out about five minutes to one."
"Ah! and he met Whyte at one," muttered Calton. "There's no
doubt about it. The letter was an appointment, and he was going to keep
it. What kind of a letter was it?" he asked.
"Very dirty, sir, in a square envelope; but the paper was good, and so
was the writing."
"That will do," said Calton; "I am much obliged to you," and he hurried
down to where Madge awaited him in the cab.
"You were right," he said to her, when the cab was once more in motion
"He got a letter on that night, and went to keep his appointment at the
time he met Whyte."
"I knew it," cried Madge with delight. "You see, we will find it in his
"I hope so," answered Calton; "but we must not be too sanguine; he may
have destroyed it."
"No, he has not," she replied. "I am convinced it is there."
"Well," answered Calton, looking at her, "I don't contradict you, for
your feminine instincts have done more to discover the truth than my
reasonings; but that is often the case with women--they jump in the
dark where a man would hesitate, and in nine cases out of ten land
"Alas for the tenth!" said Miss Frettlby. "She has to be the one
exception to prove the rule."
She had in a great measure recovered her spirits, and seemed confident
that she would save her lover. But Mr. Calton saw that her nerves were
strung up to the highest pitch, and that it; was only her strong will
that kept her from breaking down altogether.
"By Jove," he muttered, in an admiring tone, as he watched her.
"She's a plucky girl, and Fitzgerald is a lucky man to have the love of
such a woman."
They soon arrived at Brian's lodgings, and the door was opened by Mrs.
Sampson, who looked very disconsolate indeed. The poor cricket had been
blaming herself severely for the information she had given to the false
insurance agent, and the floods of tears which she had wept had
apparently had an effect on her physical condition, for she crackled
less loudly than usual, though her voice was as shrill as ever.
"That sich a thing should 'ave 'appened to 'im," she wailed, in her
thin, high voice. "An' me that proud of 'im, not 'avin' any family of
my own, except one as died and went up to 'eaving arter 'is father,
which I 'opes as they both are now angels, an' friendly, as 'is nature
'ad not developed in this valley of the shadder to determine 'is
feelin's towards is father when 'e died, bein' carried off by a chill,
caused by the change from 'ot to cold, the weather bein' that
They had arrived in Brian's sitting-room by this time, and Madge sank
into a chair, while Calton, anxious to begin the search, hinted to Mrs.
Sampson that she could go.
"I'm departin', sir," piped the cricket, with a sad shake of her head,
as she opened the door; "knowin', as I do, as 'e's as innocent as an
unborn babe, an' to think of me 'avin' told that 'orrid pusson who 'ad
no regard for the truth all about 'im as is now in a cold cell, not as
what the weather ain't warm, an' 'e won't want a fire as long as they
allows 'im blankets."
"What did you tell him?" asked Calton, sharply.
"Ah! you may well say that," lamented Mrs. Sampson, rolling her dingy
handkerchief into a ball, and dabbing at her red-rimmed eyes,
which presented quite a bacchanalian appearance, due, be it said in
justice, to grief, not to liquor. "'Avin' bin beguiled by that serping
in light clothes as wanted to know if 'e allays come 'ome afore twelve,
which I said 'e was in the 'abit of doin', tho', to be sure, 'e did
sometimes use 'is latch-key."
"The night of the murder, for instance."
"Oh! don't say that, sir," said Mrs. Sampson, with a terrified crackle.
"Me bein' weak an' ailin', tho' comin' of a strong family, as allays
lived to a good age, thro' bein' in the 'abit of wearin' flannels,
which my mother's father thought better nor a-spilin' the inside with
"Clever man, that detective," murmured Calton to himself. "He got out
of her by strategy what he never would have done by force. It's a
strong piece of evidence against Fitzgerald, but it does not matter
much if he can prove an ALIBI. You'll likely be called as a witness for
the prosecution," he said aloud.
"Me, sir!" squeaked Mrs. Sampson, trembling violently, and thereby
producing a subdued rustle, as of wind in the trees. "As I've never bin
in the court, 'cept the time as father tooked me for a treat, to 'ear a
murder, which there's no denyin' is as good as a play, 'e bein' 'ung,
'avin' 'it 'is wife over the 'ead with the poker when she weren't
lookin', and a-berryin' 'er corpse in a back garding, without even a
stone to mark the place, let alone a line from the Psalms and a
remuneration of 'er virtues."
"Well, well," said Calton, rather impatiently, as he opened the door
for her, "leave us for a short time, there's a good soul. Miss Frettlby
and I want to rest, and we will ring for you when we are going."
"Thank you, sir," said the lachrymose landlady, "an' I 'opes
they won't 'ang 'im, which is sich a choky way of dyin'; but in life we
are in death," she went on, rather incoherently, "as is well known to
them as 'as diseases, an' may be corpsed at any minute, and as--"
Here Calton, unable to restrain his impatience any longer, shut the
door, and they heard Mrs. Sampson's shrill voice and subdued cracklings
die away in the distance.
"Now then," he said, "now that we have got rid of that woman and her
tongue, where are we to begin?"
"The desk," replied Madge, going over to it. "it's the most likely
"Don't think so," said Calton, shaking his head. "If, as you say,
Fitzgerald is a careless man, he would not have troubled to put it
there. However; perhaps we'd better look."
The desk was very untidy ("Just like Brian," as Madge remarked)--full
of paid and unpaid bills, old letters, play-bills, ball-programmes, and
"Reminiscences of former flirtations," said Calton, with a laugh,
pointing to these.
"I should not wonder," retorted Miss Frettlby, coolly. "Brian always
was in love with some one or other; but you know what Lytton says,
'There are many counterfeits, but only one Eros,' so I can afford to
forget these things."
The letter, however, was not to be found in the desk, nor was it in the
sitting-room. They tried the bedroom, but with no better result. Madge
was about to give up the search in despair, when suddenly Calton's eye
fell on the waste-paper basket, which, by some unaccountable reason,
they had over-looked. The basket was half-full, in fact; more than
half, and, on looking at it, a sudden thought struck the
lawyer. He rang the bell, and presently Mrs. Sampson made her
"How long has that waste-paper basket been standing like that?" he
asked, pointing to it.
"It bein' the only fault I 'ad to find with 'im," said Mrs. Sampson,
"'e bein' that untidy that 'e a never let me clean it out until 'e told
me pussonly. 'E said as 'ow 'e throwed things into it as 'e might 'ave
to look up again; an' I 'aven't touched it for more nor six weeks,
'opin' you won't think me a bad 'ousekeeper, it bein' 'is own wish--bein'
fond of litter an' sich like."
"Six weeks," repeated Calton, with a look at Madge. "Ah, and he got the
letter four weeks ago. Depend upon it, we shall find it there."
Madge gave a cry, and falling on her knees, emptied the basket out on
the floor, and both she and Calton were soon as busy among the
fragments of paper as though they were rag-pickers.
"'Opin they ain't orf their 'eads," murmured Mrs. Sampson, as she went
to the door, "but it looks like it, they bein'--"
Suddenly a cry broke from Madge, as she drew out of the mass of paper a
half-burnt letter, written on thick and creamy-looking paper.
"At last," she cried, rising off her knees, and smoothing it out; "I
knew he had not destroyed it."
"Pretty nearly, however," said Calton, as his eye glanced rapidly over
it; "it's almost useless as it is. There's no name to it."
He took it over to the window, and spread it out upon the table. It was
dirty, and half burnt, but still it was a clue. Here is a FAC-SIMILE of
"There is not much to be gained from that, I'm afraid," said Madge,
sadly. "It shows that he had an appointment--but where?"
Calton did not answer, but, leaning his head on his hands, stared hard
at the paper. At last he jumped up with a cry--
"I have it," he said, in an excited tone. "Look at that paper; see how
creamy and white it is, and above all, look at the printing in the
corner--'OT VILLA, TOORAK.'"
"Then he went down to Toorak?"
"In an hour, and back again--hardly!"
"Then it was not written from Toorak?"
"No, it was written in one of the Melbourne back slums."
"How do you know?"
"Look at the girl who brought it," said Calton, quickly. "A
disreputable woman, one far more likely to come from the back slums
than from Toorak. As to the paper, three months ago there was a
robbery at Toorak, and this is some of the paper that was stolen by the
Madge said nothing, but her sparkling eyes and the nervous trembling of
her hands showed her excitement.
"I will see a detective this evening," said Calton, exultingly, "find
out where this letter came from, and who wrote it. We'll save him yet,"
he said, placing the precious letter carefully in his pocket-book.
"You think that you will be able to find the woman who wrote that?"
"Hum," said the lawyer, looking thoughtful, "she may be dead, as the
letter says she is in a dying condition. However, if I can find the
woman who delivered the letter at the Club, and who waited for
Fitzgerald at the corner of Bourke and Russell Streets, that will be
sufficient. All I want to prove is that he was not in the hansom cab
"And do you think you can do that?"
"Depends upon this letter," said Calton, tapping his pocket-book with
his finger. "I'll tell you to-morrow."
Shortly afterwards they left the house, and when Calton put Madge
safely into the St. Kilda train, her heart felt lighter than it had
done since Fitzgerald's arrest.
ANOTHER RICHMOND IN THE FIELD.
There is an old adage that says "Like draws to like." The antithesis of
this is probably that "Unlike repels unlike." But there are times when
individualism does not enter into the matter, and Fate alone, by
throwing two persons together, sets up a state, congenial or
uncongenial, as the case may be. Fate chose to throw together Mr. Gorby
and Mr. Kilsip, and each was something more than uncongenial to the
other. Each was equally clever in their common profession; each was a
universal favourite, yet each hated the other. They were as fire and
water to one another, and when they came together, invariably there was
Kilsip was tall and slender; Gorby was short and stout. Kilsip looked
clever; Gorby wore a smile of self-satisfaction; which alone was
sufficient to prevent his doing so. Yet, singularly enough, it was this
very smile that proved most useful to Gorby in the pursuit of his
calling. It enabled him to come at information where his sharp-looking
colleague might try in vain. The hearts of all went forth to Gorby's
sweet smile and insinuating manner. But when Kilsip appeared people
were wont to shut up, and to retire promptly, like alarmed snails,
within their shells. Gorby gave the lie direct to those who
hold that the face is ever the index to the mind. Kilsip, on the other
hand, with his hawk-like countenance, his brilliant black eyes, hooked
nose, and small thin-lipped mouth, endorsed the theory. His complexion
was quite colourless, and his hair was jet black. Altogether, he could
not be called fair to look upon. His craft and cunning were of the
snake-like order. So long as he conducted his enquiries in secret he
was generally successful; but once let him appear personally on the
scene, and failure was assured to him. Thus, while Kilsip passed as the
cleverer, Gorby was invariably the more successful--at all events,
When, therefore, this hansom cab murder case was put into Gorby's
hands, the soul of Kilsip was smitten with envy, and when Fitzgerald
was arrested, and all the evidence collected by Gorby seemed to point
so conclusively to his guilt, Kilsip writhed in secret over the triumph
of his enemy. Though he would only have been too glad to say that Gorby
had got hold of the wrong man, yet the evidence was so conclusive that
such a thought never entered his head until he received a note from Mr.
Calton, asking him to call at his office that evening at eight o'clock,
with reference to the murder.
Kilsip knew that Calton was counsel for the prisoner. He guessed that
he was wanted to follow up a clue. And he determined to devote himself
to whatever Calton might require of him, if only to prove Gorby to be
wrong. So pleased was he at the mere possibility of triumphing over his
rival, that on casually meeting him, he stopped and invited him to
The primary effect of his sudden and unusual hospitality was to arouse
all Gorby's suspicions; but on second thoughts, deeming himself quite a
match for Kilsip, both mentally and physically, Gorby accepted the
"Ah!" said Kilsip, in his soft, low voice, rubbing his lean
white hands together, as they sat over their drinks, "you're a lucky
man to have laid your hands on that hansom cab murderer so quickly."
"Yes; I flatter myself I did manage it pretty well," said Gorby,
lighting his pipe. "I had no idea that it would be so simple--though,
mind you, it required a lot of thought before I got a proper start."
"I suppose you're pretty sure he's the man you want?" pursued Kilsip,
softly, with a brilliant flash of his black eyes.
"Pretty sure, indeed!" retorted Mr. Gorby, scornfully, "there ain't no
pretty sure about it. I'd take my Bible oath he's the man. He and Whyte
hated one another. He says to Whyte, 'I'll kill you, if I've got to do
it in the open street.' He meets Whyte drunk, a fact which he
acknowledges himself; he clears out, and the cabman swears he comes
back; then he gets into the cab with a living man, and when he comes
out leaves a dead one; he drives to East Melbourne and gets into the
house at a time which his landlady can prove--just the time that a cab
would take to drive from the Grammar School on the St. Kilda Road. If
you ain't a fool, Kilsip, you'll see as there's no doubt about it."
"It looks all square enough," said Kilsip, who wondered what evidence
Calton could have found to contradict such a plain statement of fact.
"And what's his defence?"
"Mr. Calton's the only man as knows that," answered Gorby, finishing
his drink; "but, clever and all as he is, he can't put anything in,
that can go against my evidence."
"Don't you be too sure of that," sneered Kilsip, whose soul was
devoured with envy.
"Oh! but I am," retorted Gorby, getting as red as a turkey-cock at the
sneer. "You're jealous, you are, because you haven't got a finger in
"Ah! but I may have yet."
"Going a-hunting yourself, are you?" said Gorby, with an indignant
snort. "A-hunting for what--for a man as is already caught?"
"I don't believe you've got the right man," remarked Kilsip,
Mr. Gorby looked upon him with a smile of pity.
"No! of course you don't, just because I've caught him; perhaps, when
you see him hanged, you'll believe it then?"
"You're a smart man, you are," retorted Kilsip; "but you ain't the Pope
to be infallible."
"And what grounds have you for saying he's not the right man?" demanded
Kilsip smiled, and stole softly across the room like a cat.
"You don't think I'm such a fool as to tell you? But you ain't so safe
nor clever as you think," and, with another irritating smile, he went
"He's a regular snake," said Gorby to himself, as the door closed on
his brother detective; "but he's bragging now. There isn't a link
missing in the chain of evidence against Fitzgerald, so I defy him. He
can do his worst."
At eight o'clock on that night the soft-footed and soft-voiced
detective presented himself at Calton's office. He found the lawyer
impatiently waiting for him. Kilsip closed the door softly, and then
taking a seat opposite to Calton, waited for him to speak. The lawyer,
however, first handed him a cigar, and then producing a bottle of
whisky and two glasses from some mysterious recess, he filled one and
pushed it towards the detective. Kilsip accepted these little
attentions with the utmost gravity, yet they were not without their
effect on him, as the keen-eyed lawyer saw. Calton was a great believer
in diplomacy, and never lost an opportunity of inculcating it into
young men starting in life. "Diplomacy," said Calton, to one
young aspirant for legal honours, "is the oil we cast on the troubled
waters of social, professional, and political life; and if you can, by
a little tact, manage mankind, you are pretty certain to get on in this
Calton was a man who practised what he preached. He believed Kilsip to
have that feline nature, which likes to be stroked, to be made much of,
and he paid him these little attentions, knowing full well they would
bear their fruit. He also knew that Kilsip entertained no friendly
feeling for Gorby, that, in fact, he bore him hatred, and he determined
that this feeling which existed between the two men, should serve him
to the end he had in view.
"I suppose," he said, leaning back in his chair, and watching the
wreaths of blue smoke curling from his cigar, "I suppose you know all
the ins and the outs of the hansom cab murder?"
"I should rather think so," said Kilsip, with a curious light in his
queer eyes. "Why, Gorby does nothing but brag about it, and his
smartness in catching the supposed murderer!"
"Aha!" said Calton, leaning forward, and putting his arms on the table.
"Supposed murderer. Eh! Does that mean that he hasn't been convicted by
a jury, or that you think that Fitzgerald is innocent?"
Kilsip stared hard at the lawyer, in a vague kind of way, slowly
rubbing his hands together.
"Well," he said at length, in a deliberate manner, "before I got your
note, I was convinced Gorby had got hold of the right man, but when I
heard that you wanted to see me, and knowing you are defending the
prisoner, I guessed that you must have found something in his favour
which you wanted me to look after."
"Right!" said Calton, laconically.
"As Mr. Fitzgerald said he met Whyte at the corner and hailed
the cab--" went on the detective.
"How do you know that?" interrupted Calton, sharply.
"Gorby told me."
"How the devil did he find out?" cried the lawyer, with genuine
"Because he is always poking and prying about," said Kilsip,
forgetting, in his indignation, that such poking and prying formed part
of detective business. "But, at any rate," he went on quickly, "if Mr.
Fitzgerald did leave Mr. Whyte, the only chance he's got of proving his
innocence is that he did not come back, as the cabman alleged."
"Then, I suppose, you think that Fitzgerald will prove an ALIBI," said
"Well, sir," answered Kilsip, modestly, "of course you know more about
the case than I do, but that is the only defence I can see he can
"Well, he's not going to put in such a defence."
"Then he must be guilty," said Kilsip, promptly.
"Not necessarily," returned the barrister, drily.
"But if he wants to save his neck, he'll have to prove an ALIBI,"
persisted the other.
"That's just where the point is," answered Calton. "He doesn't want to
save his neck."
Kilsip, looking rather bewildered, took a sip of whisky, and waited to
hear what Mr. Calton had to say.
"The fact is," said Calton, lighting a fresh cigar, "he has some
extraordinary idea in his head. He refuses absolutely to say where he
was on that night."
"I understand," said Kilsip, nodding his head. "Woman?"
"No, nothing of the kind," retorted Calton, hastily. "I thought so at
first, but I was wrong. He went to see a dying woman, who wished to
tell him something."
"That's just what I can't tell you," answered Calton quickly. "It must
have been something important, for she sent for him in great haste--and
he was by her bedside between the hours of one and two on Friday
"Then he did not return to the cab?"
"No, he did not, he went to keep his appointment, but, for some reason
or other, he won't tell where this appointment was. I went to his rooms
to-day and found this half-burnt letter, asking him to come."
Calton handed the letter to Kilsip, who placed it on the table and
examined it carefully.
"This was written on Thursday," said the detective.
"Of course--you can see that from the date; and Whyte was murdered on
Friday, the 27th."
"It was written at something Villa, Toorak," pursued Kilsip, still
examining the paper. "Oh! I understand; he went down there."
"Hardly," retorted Calton, in a sarcastic tone. "He couldn't very well
go down there, have an interview, and be back in East Melbourne in one
hour--the cabman Royston can prove that he was at Russell Street at
one o'clock, and his landlady that he entered his lodging in East
Melbourne at two--no, he wasn't at Toorak."
"When was this letter delivered?"
"Shortly before twelve o'clock, at the Melbourne Club, by a girl, who,
from what the waiter saw of her, appears to be a disreputable
individual--you will see it says bearer will wait him at Bourke
Street, and as another street is mentioned, and as Fitzgerald, after
leaving Whyte, went down Russell Street to keep his appointment, the
most logical conclusion is that the bearer of the letter waited for him
at the corner of Bourke and Russell Streets. Now," went on the lawyer,
"I want to find out who the girl that brought the letter is!"
"God bless my soul, Kilsip! How stupid you are," cried Calton, his
irritation getting the better of him. "Can't you understand--that
paper came from one of the back slums--therefore it must have been
A sudden light flashed into Kilsip's eyes.
"Talbot Villa, Toorak," he cried quickly, snatching up the letter
again, and examining it with great attention, "where that burglary took
"Exactly," said Calton, smiling complacently. "Now do you understand
what I want--you must take me to the crib in the back slums where the
articles stolen from the house in Toorak were hidden. This
paper"--pointing to the letter--"is part of the swag left behind, and must
have been used by someone there. Brian Fitzgerald obeyed the directions
given in the letter, and he was there, at the time of the murder."
"I understand," said Kilsip, with a gratified purr. "There were four
men engaged in that burglary, and they hid the swag at Mother
Guttersnipe's crib, in a lane off Little Bourke Street--but hang it, a
swell like Mr. Fitzgerald, in evening dress, couldn't very well have
gone down there unless--"
"He had some one with him well-known in the locality," finished Calton,
rapidly. "Exactly, that woman who delivered the letter at the Club
guided him. Judging from the waiter's description of her appearance, I
should think she was pretty well known about the slums."
"Well," said Kilsip, rising and looking at his watch, "it is now nine
o'clock, so if you like we will go to the old hag's place at once--dying
woman," he said, as if struck by a sudden thought, "there was a
woman who died there about four weeks ago."
"Who was she?" asked Calton, who was putting on his overcoat.
"Some relation of Mother Guttersnipe's, I fancy," answered Kilsip, as
they left the office. "I don't know exactly what she was--she was
called the 'Queen,' and a precious handsome woman she must have been--came
from Sydney about three months ago, and from what I can make out,
was not long from England, died of consumption on the Thursday night
before the murder."
A WOMAN OF THE PEOPLE.
Bourke Street is a more crowded thoroughfare than Collins Street,
especially at night. The theatres that it contains are in themselves
sufficient for the gathering of a considerable crowd. It is a grimy
crowd for the most part. Round the doors of the hotels a number of
ragged and shabby-looking individuals collect, waiting till some kind
friend shall invite them to step inside. Further on a knot of
horsey-looking men are to be seen standing under the Opera House
verandah giving and taking odds about the Melbourne Cup, or some other
meeting. Here and there are ragged street Arabs, selling matches and
newspapers; and against the verandah post, in the full blaze of the
electric light, leans a weary, draggled-looking woman, one arm clasping
a baby to her breast, and the other holding a pile of newspapers, while
she drones out in a hoarse voice, "'ERALD, third 'dition, one penny!"
until the ear wearies of the constant repetition. Cabs rattle
incessantly along the street; here, a fast-looking hansom, with a
rakish horse, bearing some gilded youth to his Club--there, a
dingy-looking vehicle, drawn by a lank quadruped, which staggers
blindly down the street. Alternating with these, carriages dash along
with their well-groomed horses, and within, the vision of bright eyes,
white dresses, and the sparkle of diamonds. Then, further up,
just on the verge of the pavement, three violins and a harp are playing
a German waltz to an admiring crowd of attentive spectators. If there
is one thing which the Melbourne folk love more than another, it is
music. Their fondness for it is only equalled by their admiration for
horse-racing. Any street band which plays at all decently, may be sure
of a good audience, and a substantial remuneration for their
performance. Some writer has described Melbourne, as Glasgow with the
sky of Alexandria; and certainly the beautiful climate of Australia, so
Italian in its brightness, must have a great effect on the nature of
such an adaptable race as the Anglo-Saxon. In spite of the dismal
prognostications of Marcus Clarke regarding the future Australian, whom
he describes as being "a tall, coarse, strong-jawed, greedy, pushing,
talented man, excelling in swimming and horsemanship," it is more
likely that he will be a cultured, indolent individual, with an intense
appreciation of the arts and sciences, and a dislike to hard work and
utilitarian principles. Climatic influence should be taken into account
with regard to the future Australian, and our posterity will no more
resemble us than the luxurious Venetians resembled their hardy
forefathers, who first started to build on those lonely sandy islands
of the Adriatic.
This was the conclusion at which Mr. Calton arrived as, he followed his
guide through the crowded streets, and saw with what deep interest the
crowd listened to the rhythmic strains of Strauss and the sparkling
melodies of Offenbach. The brilliantly-lit street, with the
never-ceasing stream of people pouring along; the shrill cries of the
street Arabs, the rattle of vehicles, and the fitful strains of music,
all made up a scene which fascinated him, and he could have gone on
wandering all night, watching the myriad phases of human character
constantly passing before his eyes. But his guide, with whom
familiarity with the proletarians had, in a great measure, bred
indifference, hurried him away to Little Bourke Street, where the
narrowness of the thoroughfare, with the high buildings on each side,
the dim light of the sparsely scattered gas-lamps, and the few
ragged-looking figures slouching along, formed a strong contrast to the
brilliant and crowded scene they had just left. Turning off Little
Bourke Street, the detective led the way down a dark lane. It was as
hot as a furnace from the accumulated heat of the day. To look up at
the clear starlit sky was to experience a sensation of delicious
"Keep close to me," whispered Kilsip, touching the barrister on the
arm; "we may meet some nasty customers about here."
It was not quite dark, for the atmosphere had that luminous kind of
haze so observable in Australian twilights, and this weird light was
just sufficient to make the darkness visible. Kilsip and the barrister
kept for safety in the middle of the alley, so that no one could spring
upon them unaware, and they could see sometimes on the one side, a man
cowering back into the black shadow, or on the other, a woman with
disordered hair and bare bosom, leaning out of a window trying to get a
breath of fresh air. There were also some children playing in the
dried-up gutter, and their shrill young voices came echoing strangely
through the gloom, mingling with a bacchanalian sort of song, sung by a
man, as he slouched along unsteadily over the rough stones. Now and
then a mild-looking string of Chinamen stole along, clad in their
dull-hued blue blouses, either chattering shrilly, like a lot of
parrots, or moving silently down the alley with a stolid Oriental
apathy on their yellow faces. Here and there came a stream of warm
light through an open door, and within, the Mongolians were
gathered round the gambling-tables, playing fan-tan, or leaving the
seductions of their favourite pastime, to glide soft-footed to the many
cook-shops, where enticing-looking fowls and turkeys already cooked
were awaiting purchasers. Kilsip turning to the left, led the barrister
down another and still narrower lane, the darkness and gloom of which
made the lawyer shudder, as he wondered how human beings could live in
such murky places.
At last, to Calton's relief, for he felt somewhat bewildered by the
darkness and narrowness of the lanes through which he had been taken,
the detective stopped before a door, which he opened, and stepping
inside, beckoned to the barrister to follow. Calton did so, and found
himself in a low, dark, ill-smelling passage. At the end a faint light
glimmered. Kilsip caught his companion by the arm and guided him
carefully along the passage. There was much need of this caution, for
Calton could feel that the rotten boards were full of holes, into which
one or the other of his feet kept slipping from time to time, while he
could hear the rats squeaking and scampering away on all sides. Just as
they got to the end of this tunnel, for it could be called nothing
else, the light suddenly went out, and they were left in complete
"Light that," cried the detective in a peremptory tone of voice. "What
do you mean by dowsing the glim?"
Thieves' argot was, evidently, well understood here, for there was a
shuffle in the dark, a muttered voice, and someone lit a candle. Calton
saw that the light was held by an elfish-looking child. Tangled masses
of black hair hung over her scowling white face. As she crouched down
on the floor against the damp wall she looked up defiantly yet
fearfully at the detective.
"Where's Mother Guttersnipe?" asked Kilsip, touching her with his foot.
She seemed to resent the indignity, and rose quickly to her
"Upstairs," she replied, jerking her head in the direction of the right
Following her direction, Calton--his eyes now somewhat accustomed to
the gloom--could discern a gaping black chasm, which he presumed was
the stair alluded to.
"Yer won't get much out of 'er to-night; she's a-going to start 'er
booze, she is."
"Never mind what she's doing or about to do," said Kilsip, sharply,
"take me to her at once."
The girl looked him sullenly up and down, then she led the way into the
black chasm and up the stairs. They were so shaky as to make Calton
fear they might give way. As they toiled slowly up the broken steps he
held tightly to his companion's arm. At last they stopped at a door
through the cracks of which a faint glimmer of light was to be seen.
Here the girl gave a shrill whistle, and the door opened. Still
preceded by their elfish guide, Calton and the detective stepped
through the doorway. A curious scene was before them. A small square
room, with a low roof, from which the paper mildewed and torn hung in
shreds; on the left hand, at the far end, was a kind of low stretcher,
upon which a woman, almost naked, lay, amid a heap of greasy clothes.
She appeared to be ill, for she kept tossing her head from side to side
restlessly, and every now and then sang snatches of song in a cracked
voice. In the centre of the room was a rough deal table, upon which
stood a guttering tallow candle, which but faintly illuminated the
scene, and a half empty rectangular bottle of Schnapps, with a broken
cup beside it. In front of these signs of festivity sat an old woman
with a pack of cards spread out before her, and from which she had
evidently been telling the fortune of a villainous-looking young
man who had opened the door, and who stood looking at the
detective with no very friendly expression of countenance. He wore a
greasy brown velvet coat, much patched, and a black wide-awake hat,
pulled down over his eyes. From his expression--so scowling and
vindictive was it--the barrister judged his ultimate destiny to lie
between Pentridge and the gallows.
As they entered, the fortune-teller raised her head, and, shading her
eyes with one skinny hand, looked curiously at the new comers. Calton
thought he had never seen such a repulsive-looking old crone; and, in
truth, her ugliness was, in its very grotesqueness well worthy the
pencil of a Dore. Her face was seamed and lined with innumerable
wrinkles, clearly defined by the dirt which was in them; bushy grey
eyebrows, drawn frowningly over two piercing black eyes, whose light
was undimmed by age; a hook nose, like the beak of a bird of prey, and
a thin-lipped mouth devoid of teeth. Her hair was very luxurious and
almost white, and was tied up in a great bunch by a greasy bit of black
ribbon. As to her chin, Calton, when he saw it wagging to and fro,
involuntarily quoted Macbeth's lines--
"Ye should be women,
And yet your beards forbid me to interpret
That ye are so."
She was no bad representative of the weird sisters.
As they entered she eyed them viciously, demanding,
"What the blazes they wanted."
"Want your booze," cried the child, with an elfish laugh, as she shook
back her tangled hair.
"Get out, you whelp," croaked the old hag, shaking one skinny fist at
her, "or I'll tear yer 'eart out."
"Yes, she can go." said Kilsip, nodding to the girl, "and you
can clear, too," he added, sharply, turning to the young man, who stood
still holding the door open.
At first he seemed inclined to dispute the detective's order, but
ultimately obeyed him, muttering, as he went out, something about "the
blooming cheek of showin' swells cove's cribs." The child followed him
out, her exit being accelerated by Mother Guttersnipe, who, with a
rapidity only attained by long practice, seized the shoe from one of
her feet, and flung it at the head of the rapidly retreating girl.
"Wait till I ketches yer, Lizer," she shrieked, with a volley of oaths,
"I'll break yer 'ead for ye!"
Lizer responded with a shrill laugh of disdain, and vanished through
the shaky door, which she closed after her.
When she had disappeared Mother Guttersnipe took a drink from the
broken cup, and, gathering all her greasy cards together in a
business-like way, looked insinuatingly at Calton, with a suggestive
"It's the future ye want unveiled, dearie?" she croaked, rapidly
shuffling the cards; "an' old mother 'ull tell--"
"No she won't," interrupted the detective, sharply. "I've come on
The old woman started at this, and looked keenly at him from under her
"What 'av the boys been up to now?" she asked, harshly. "There ain't no
swag 'ere this time."
Just then the sick woman, who had been restlessly tossing on the bed,
commenced singing a snatch of the quaint old ballad of "Barbara Allen"--
"Oh, mither, mither, mak' my bed,
An' mak' it saft an' narrow;
Since my true love died for me to-day
I'll die for him to-morrow."
"Shut up, cuss you!" yelled Mother Guttersnipe, viciously, "or
I'll knock yer bloomin' 'ead orf," and she seized the square bottle as
if to carry out her threat; but, altering her mind, she poured some of
its contents into the cup, and drank it off with avidity.
"The woman seems ill," said Calton, casting a shuddering glance at the
"So she are," growled Mother Guttersnipe, angrily. "She ought to be in
Yarrer Bend, she ought, instead of stoppin' 'ere an' singin' them
beastly things, which makes my blood run cold. Just 'ear 'er," she
said, viciously, as the sick woman broke out once more--
"Oh, little did my mither think,
When first she cradled me,
I'd die sa far away fra home,
Upon the gallows tree."
"Yah!" said the old woman, hastily, drinking some more gin out of the
cup. "She's allays a-talkin' of dyin' an' gallers, as if they were nice
things to jawr about."
"Who was that woman who died here three or four weeks ago?" asked
"'Ow should I know?" retorted Mother Guttersnipe, sullenly. "I didn't
kill 'er, did I? It were the brandy she drank; she was allays drinkin',
"Do you remember the night she died?"
"No, I don't," answered the beldame, frankly. "I were drunk--blind,
bloomin', blazin' drunk--s'elp me."
"You're always drunk," said Kilsip.
"What if I am?" snarled the woman, seizing her bottle. "You don't pay
fur it. Yes, I'm drunk. I'm allays drunk. I was drunk last night, an'
the night before, an' I'm a-goin' to git drunk to-night"--with an
impressive look at the bottle--"an' to-morrow night, an' I'll
keep it up till I'm rottin' in the grave."
Calton shuddered, so full of hatred and suppressed malignity was her
voice, but the detective merely shrugged his shoulders.
"More fool you," he said, briefly. "Come now, on the night the 'Queen,'
as you call her, died, there was a gentleman came to see her?"
"So she said," retorted Mother Guttersnipe; "but, lor, I dunno
anythin', I were drunk."
"Who said--the 'Queen?'"
"No, my gran'darter, Sal. The 'Queen,' sent 'er to fetch the toff to
see 'er cut 'er lucky. Wanted 'im to look at 'is work, I s'pose, cuss
'im; and Sal prigged some paper from my box," she shrieked,
indignantly; "prigged it w'en I were too drunk to stop 'er?"
The detective glanced at Calton, who nodded to him with a gratified
expression on his face. They were right as to the paper having been
stolen from the Villa at Toorak.
"You did not see the gentleman who came?" said Kilsip, turning again to
the old hag.
"Not I, cuss you," she retorted, politely. "'E came about 'arf-past one
in the morning, an' you don't expects we can stop up all night, do ye?"
"Half-past one o'clock," repeated Calton, quickly. "The very time. Is
"Wish I may die if it ain't," said Mother Guttersnipe, graciously. "My
gran'darter Sal kin tell ye."
"Where is she?" asked Kilsip, sharply.
At this the old woman threw back her head, and howled dismay.
"She's 'ooked it," she wailed, drumming on the ground with her feet.
"Gon' an' left 'er pore old gran' an' joined the Army, cuss 'em,
a-comin' round an' a-spilin' business."
Here the woman on the bed broke out again--
"Since the flowers o' the forest are a' wed awa."
"'Old yer jawr," yelled Mother Guttersnipe, rising, and making a dart
at the bed. "I'll choke the life out ye, s'elp me. D'y want me to
murder ye, singin' 'em funeral things?"
Meanwhile the detective was talking rapidly to Mr. Calton.
"The only person who can prove Mr. Fitzgerald was here between one and
two o'clock," he said, quickly, "is Sal Rawlins, as everyone else seems
to have been drunk or asleep. As she has joined the Salvation Army,
I'll go to the barracks the first thing in the morning and look for
"I hope you'll find her," answered Calton, drawing a long breath. "A
man's life hangs on her evidence."
They turned to go, Calton having first given Mother Guttersnipe some
loose silver, which she seized on with an avaricious clutch.
"You'll drink it, I suppose?" said the barrister, shrinking back from
"Werry likely," retorted the hag, with a repulsive grin, tying the
money up in a piece of her dress, which she tore off for the purpose.
"I'm a forting to the public-'ouse, I am, an' it's the on'y pleasure I
'ave in my life, cuss it."
The sight of money had a genial effect on her nature, for she held the
candle at the head of the stairs, as they went down, so that they
should not break their heads. As they arrived safely, they saw the
light vanish, and heard the sick woman singing, "The Last Rose of
The street door was open, and, after groping their way along the dark
passage, with its pitfalls, they found themselves in the open street.
"Thank heaven," said Calton, taking off his hat, and drawing a
long breath. "Thank heaven we are safely out of that den!"
"At all events, our journey has not been wasted," said the detective,
as they walked along. "We've found out where Mr. Fitzgerald was on the
night of the murder, so he will be safe."
"That depends upon Sal Rawlins," answered Calton, gravely; "but come,
let us have a glass of brandy, for I feel quite ill after my experience
of low life."
The next day Kilsip called at Calton's office late in the afternoon,
and found the lawyer eagerly expecting him. The detective's face,
however, looked rather dismal, and Calton was not reassured.
"Well!" he said, impatiently, when Kilsip had closed the door and taken
his seat. "Where is she?"
"That's just what I want to know," answered the detective, coolly; "I
went to the Salvation Army headquarters and made enquiries about her.
It appears that she had been in the Army as a hallelujah lass, but got
tired of it in a week, and went off with a friend of hers to Sydney.
She carried on her old life of dissipation, but, ultimately, her friend
got sick of her, and the last thing they heard about her was that she
had taken up with a Chinaman in one of the Sydney slums. I telegraphed
at once to Sydney, and got a reply that there was no person of the name
of Sal Rawlins known to the Sydney police, but they said they would
make enquiries, and let me know the result."
"Ah! she has, no doubt, changed her name," said Calton, thoughtfully,
stroking his chin. "I wonder why?"
"Wanted to get rid of the Army, I expect," answered Kilsip, drily. "The
straying lamb did not care about being hunted back to the fold."
"And when did she join the Army?"
"The very day after the murder."
"Rather sudden conversion?"
"Yes, but she said the death of the woman on Thursday night had so
startled her, that she went straight off to the Army to get her
religion properly fixed up."
"The effects of fright, no doubt," said Calton, dryly. "I've met a good
many examples of these sudden conversions, but they never last long as
a rule--it's a case of 'the devil was sick, the devil a monk would
be,' more than anything else. Good-looking?"
"So-so, I believe," replied Kilsip, shrugging his shoulders.
"Very ignorant--could neither read nor write."
"That accounts for her not asking for Fitzgerald when she called at the
Club--she probably did not know whom she had been sent for. It will
resolve itself into a question of identification, I expect. However, if
the police can't find her, we will put an advertisement in the papers
offering a reward, and send out handbills to the same effect. She must
be found. Brian Fitzgerald's life hangs on a thread, and that thread is
"Yes!" assented Kilsip, rubbing his hands together. "Even if Mr.
Fitzgerald acknowledges that he was at Mother Guttersnipe's on the
night in question, she will have to prove that he was there, as no one
else saw him."
"Are you sure of that?"
"As sure as anyone can be in such a case. It was a late hour when he
came, and everyone seems to have been asleep except the dying woman and
Sal; and as one is dead, the other is the only person that can prove
that he was there at the time when the murder was being committed in
"And Mother Guttersnipe?"
"Was drunk, as she acknowledged last night. She thought that if
a gentleman did call it must have been the other one."
"The other one?" repeated Calton, in 8 puzzled voice. "What other one?"
Calton arose from his seat with a blank air of astonishment.
"Oliver Whyte!" he said, as soon as he could find his voice. "Was he in
the habit of going there?"
Kilsip curled himself up in his seat like a sleek cat, and pushing
forward his head till his nose looked like the beak of a bird of prey,
looked keenly at Calton.
"Look here, sir," he said, in his low, purring voice, "there's a good
deal in this case which don't seem plain--in fact, the further we go
into it,--the more mixed up it seems to get. I went to see Mother
Guttersnipe this morning, and she told me that Whyte had visited the
'Queen' several times while she lay ill, and that he seemed to be
pretty well acquainted with her."
"But who the deuce is this woman they call the 'Queen'?" said Calton,
irritably. "She seems to be at the bottom of the whole affair--every
path we take leads to her."
"I know hardly anything about her," replied Kilsip, "except that she
was a good-looking woman, of about forty-nine--she come out from
England to Sydney a few months ago, then on here--how she got to
Mother Guttersnipe's I can't find out, though I've tried to pump that
old woman, but she's as close as wax, and it's my belief she knows more
about this dead woman than she chooses to tell."
"But what could she have told Fitzgerald to make him act in this silly
manner? A stranger who comes from England, and dies in a Melbourne
slum, can't possibly know anything about Miss Frettlby."
"Not unless Miss Frettlby was secretly married to Whyte,"
suggested Kilsip, "and the 'Queen' knew it."
"Nonsense," retorted Calton, sharply. "Why, she hated him and loves
Fitzgerald; besides, why on earth should she marry secretly, and make a
confidant of a woman in one of the lowest parts of Melbourne? At one
time her father wanted her to marry Whyte, but she made such strong
opposition, that he eventually gave his consent to her engagement with
"Oh, he had a row with Mr. Frettlby, and left the house in a rage. He
was murdered the same night, for the sake of some papers he carried."
"Oh, that's Gorby's idea," said Kilsip, scornfully, with a vicious
"And it's mine too," answered Calton, firmly. "Whyte had some valuable
papers, which he always carried about with him. The woman who died
evidently told Fitzgerald that he did so; I gathered as much from an
accidental admission he made."
Kilsip looked puzzled.
"I must confess that it is a riddle," he said at length; "but if Mr.
Fitzgerald would only speak, it would clear everything up."
"Speak about what--the man who murdered Whyte?"
"Well, if he did not go quite so far as that he might at least supply
the motive for the crime."
"Perhaps so," answered Calton, as the detective rose to go; "but it's
no use. Fitzgerald for some reason or another, has evidently made up
his mind not to speak, so our only hope in saving him lies in finding
"If she's anywhere in Australia you may be sure she'll be found,"
answered Kilsip, confidently, as he took his departure. "Australia
isn't so over-crowded as all that."
But if Sal Rawlins was in Australia at all she certainly must
have been in some very remote part. All efforts to find her proved
futile. It was an open question if she was alive or dead; she seemed to
have vanished completely. She was last seen in a Sydney den with a
Chinaman whom afterwards she appears to have left. Since then, nothing
whatever was known of her. Notices offering large rewards for her
discovery were inserted in all the newspapers, Australian and New
Zealand; but nothing came of them. As she herself was unable to read
there seemed little chance of her knowing of them; and, if, as Calton
surmised she had changed her name, no one would be likely to tell her
of them. There was only the bare chance that she might hear of them
casually, or that she might turn up of her own accord. If she returned
to Melbourne she would certainly go to her grandmother's. She had no
motive for not doing so. So Kilsip kept a sharp watch on the house,
much to Mrs. Rawlins' disgust, for, with true English pride, she
objected to this system of espionage.
"Cuss 'im," she croaked over her evening drink, to an old crone, as
withered and evil-looking as herself, "why can't 'e stop in 'is own
bloomin' 'ouse, an' leave mine alone--a-comin' round 'ere a-pokin' and
pryin' and a-perwenting people from earnin' their livin' an' a-gittin'
drunk when they ain't well."
"What do 'e want?" asked her friend, rubbing her weak old knees.
"Wants?--'e wants 'is throat cut," said Mother Guttersnipe, viciously.
"An' s'elp me I'll do for 'im some night w'en 'e's a watchin' round
'ere as if it were Pentridge--'e can git what he can out of that whelp
as ran away, but I knows suthin' 'e don't know, cuss 'im."
She ended with a senile laugh, and her companion having taken advantage
of the long speech to drink some gin out of the broken cup, Mother
Guttersnipe seized the unfortunate old creature by the hair,
and in spite of her feeble cries, banged her head against the wall.
"I'll have the perlice in at yer," whimpered the assaulted one, as she
tottered as quickly away as her rheumatics would allow her. "See if I
"Get out," retorted Mother Guttersnipe, indifferently, as she filled
herself a fresh cup. "You come a-falutin' round 'ere agin priggin' my
drinks, cuss you, an' I'll cut yer throat an' wring yer wicked old 'ead
The other gave a howl of dismay at hearing this pleasant proposal, and
tottered out as quickly as possible, leaving Mother Guttersnipe in
undisputed possession of the field.
Meanwhile Calton had seen Brian several times, and used every argument
in his power to get him to tell everything, but he either maintained an
obstinate silence, or merely answered,
"It would only break her heart."
He admitted to Calton, after a good deal of questioning, that he had
been at Mother Guttersnipe's on the night of the murder. After he had
left Whyte by the corner of the Scotch Church, as the cabman--Royston--had
stated, he had gone along Russell Street, and met Sal Rawlins
near the Unicorn Hotel. She had taken him to Mother Guttersnipe's,
where he had seen the dying woman, who had told him something he could
"Well," said Mr. Calton, after hearing the admission, "you might have
saved us all this trouble by admitting this before, and yet kept your
secret, whatever it may be. Had you done so, we might have got hold of
Sal Rawlins before she left Melbourne; but now it's a mere chance
whether she turns up or not."
Brian did not answer to this; in fact, he seemed hardly to be thinking
of what the lawyer was saying; but just as Calton was leaving, he asked--
"How is Madge?"
"How can you expect her to be?" said Calton, turning angrily on him.
"She is very ill, owing to the worry she has had over this affair."
"My darling! My darling!" cried Brian, in agony, clasping his hands
above his head. "I did it only to save you."
Calton approached him, and laid his hand lightly on his shoulder.
"My dear fellow," he said, gravely, "the confidences between lawyer and
client are as sacred as those between priest and penitent. You must
tell me this secret which concerns Miss Frettlby so deeply."
"No," said Brian, firmly, "I will never repeat what that wretched woman
told me. When I would not tell you before, in order to save my life, it
is not likely I am going to do so now, when I have nothing to gain and
everything to lose by telling it."
"I will never ask you again," said Calton, rather annoyed, as he walked
to the door. "And as to this accusation of murder, if I can find this
girl, you are safe."
When the lawyer left the gaol, he went to the Detective Office to see
Kilsip, and ascertain if there was any news of Sal Rawlins; but, as
usual, there was none.
"It is fighting against Fate," he said, sadly, as he went away; "his
life hangs on a mere chance."
The trial was fixed to come off in September, and, of course, there was
great excitement in Melbourne as the time drew near. Great, therefore,
was the disappointment when it was discovered that the prisoner's
counsel had applied for an adjournment of the trial till October, on
the ground that an important witness for the defence could not be
In spite of the utmost vigilance on the part of the police, and the
offer of a large reward, both by Calton, on behalf of the accused, and
by Mr. Frettlby, the much-desired Sal Rawlins still remained hidden.
The millionaire had maintained a most friendly attitude towards Brian
throughout the whole affair. He refused to believe him guilty, and when
Calton told him of the defence of proving an ALIBI by means of Sal
Rawlins, he immediately offered a large reward, which was in itself
enough to set every person with any time on their hands hunting for the
All Australia and New Zealand rang with the extremely plebeian name of
Sal Rawlins, the papers being full of notices offering rewards; and
handbills of staring red letters were posted up in all railway
stations, in conjunction with "Liquid Sunshine" Rum and "D.W.D."
Whisky. She had become famous without knowing it, unless, indeed, she
had kept herself concealed purposely, but this was hardly probable, as
there was no apparent motive for her doing so. If she was above ground
she must certainly have seen the handbills, if not the papers; and
though not able to read, she could hardly help hearing something about
the one topic of conversation throughout Australia. Notwithstanding all
this, Sal Rawlins was still undiscovered, and Calton, in
despair, began to think that she must be dead. But Madge, though at
times her courage gave way, was still hopeful.
"God will not permit such a judicial crime as the murder of an innocent
man to be committed," she declared.
Mr. Calton, to whom she said this, shook his head doubtfully.
"God has permitted it to take place before," he answered softly; "and
we can only judge the future by the past."
At last, the day of the long-expected trial came, and as Calton sat; in
his office looking over his brief, a clerk entered and told him Mr.
Frettlby and his daughter wished to see him. When they came in, the
barrister saw that the millionaire looked haggard and ill, and there
was a worried expression on his face.
"There is my daughter, Calton," he said, after hurried greetings had
been exchanged. "She wants to be present in Court during Fitzgerald's
trial, and nothing I can say will dissuade her."
Calton turned, and looked at the girl in some surprise.
"Yes," she answered, meeting his look steadily, though her face was
very pale; "I must be there. I shall go mad with anxiety unless I know
how the trial goes on."
"But think of the disagreeable amount of attention you will attract,"
urged the lawyer.
"No one will recognise me," she said calmly, "I am very plainly
dressed, and I will wear this veil;" and, drawing one from her pocket,
she went to a small looking-glass which was hanging on the wall, and
tied it over her face.
Calton looked in perplexity at Mr. Frettlby.
"I'm afraid you must consent," he said.
"Very well," replied the other, almost sternly, while a look of
annoyance passed over his face. "I shall leave her in your charge."
"I'm not coming," answered Frettlby, quickly, putting on his hat. "I
don't care about seeing a man whom I have had at my dinner-table, in
the prisoner's dock, much as I sympathise with him. Good-day;" and with
a curt nod he took his leave. When the door closed on her father, Madge
placed her hand on Calton's arm.
"Any hope?" she whispered, looking at him through the black veil.
"The merest chance," answered Calton, putting his brief into his bag.
"We have done everything in our power to discover this girl, but
without result. If she does not come at the eleventh hour I'm afraid
Brian Fitzgerald is a doomed man."
Madge fell on her knees, with a stifled cry.
"Oh, God of Mercy," she cried, raising her hands as if in prayer, "save
him. Save my darling, and let him not die for the crime of another. God--"
She dropped her face in her hands and wept convulsively, as the lawyer
touched her lightly on the shoulder.
"Come!" he said kindly. "Be the brave girl you were, and we may save
him yet. The hour is darkest before the dawn, you know."
Madge dried her tears, and followed the lawyer to the cab, which was
waiting for them at the door. They drove quickly up to the Court, and
Calton put her in a quiet place, where she could see the dock, and yet
be unobserved by the people in the body of the Court. Just as he was
leaving her she touched his arm.
"Tell him," she whispered, in a trembling voice, "tell him I am here."
Calton nodded, and hurried away to put on his wig and gown,
while Madge looked hurriedly round the Court from her point of vantage.
It was crowded with fashionable Melbourne of both sexes, and they were
all talking together in subdued whispers, The popular character of the
prisoner, his good looks, and engagement to Madge Frettlby, together
with the extraordinary circumstances of the case, had raised public
curiosity to the highest pitch, and, consequently, everybody who could
possibly manage to gain admission was there.
Felix Rolleston had secured an excellent seat beside the pretty Miss
Featherweight, whom he admired so much, and he was chattering to her
with the utmost volubility.
"Puts me in mind of the Coliseum and all that sort of thing, you know,"
he said, putting up his eye-glass and starting round. "Butchered to
make a Roman holiday by jove."
"Don't say such horrid things, you frivolous creature," simpered Miss
Featherweight, using her smelling-bottle. "We are all here out of
sympathy for that poor dear Mr. Fitzgerald."
The mercurial Felix, who had more cleverness in him than people gave
him credit for, smiled outright at this eminently feminine way of
covering an overpowering curiosity.
"Ah, yes," he said lightly; "exactly. I daresay Eve only ate the apple
because she didn't like to see such a lot of good fruit go to waste."
Miss Featherweight eyed him doubtfully. She was not quite certain
whether he was in jest or earnest. Just as she was about to reply to
the effect that she thought it wicked to make the Bible a subject for
joking, the Judge entered and the Court rose.
When the prisoner was brought in, there was a great flutter among the
ladies, and some of them even had the bad taste to produce
opera-glasses. Brian noticed this, and he flushed up to the roots of
his fair hair, for he felt his degradation acutely. He was an intensely
proud man, and to be placed in the criminal dock, with a lot of
frivolous people, who had called themselves his friends, looking at him
as though he were a new actor or a wild animal, was galling in the
extreme. He was dressed in black, and looked pale and worn, but all the
ladies declared that he was as good-looking as ever, and they were sure
he was innocent.
The jury were sworn in, and the Crown Prosecutor rose to deliver his
Most of those present knew the facts only through the medium of the
newspapers, and such floating rumours as they had been able to gather.
They were therefore unaware of the true history of events which had led
to Fitzgerald's arrest, and they prepared to listen to the speech with
The ladies ceased to talk, the men to stare round, and nothing could be
seen but row after row of eager and attentive faces, hanging on the
words that issued from the lips of the Crown Prosecutor. He was not a
great orator, but he spoke clearly and distinctly, and every word could
be heard in the dead silence.
He gave a rapid sketch of the crime--merely a repetition of what had
been published in the newspapers--and then proceeded to enumerate the
witnesses for the prosecution.
He would call the landlady of the deceased to show that ill-feeling
existed between the prisoner and the murdered man, and that the accused
had called on the deceased a week prior to the committal of the crime,
and threatened his life. (There was great excitement at this, and
several ladies decided, on the spur of the moment, that the horrid mall
was guilty, but the majority of them still refused to believe
in the guilt of such a good-looking young fellow.) He would call a
witness who could prove that Whyte was drunk on the night of the
murder, and went along Russell Street, in the direction of Collins
Street; the cabman Royston could swear to the fact that the prisoner
had hailed the cab, and after going away for a short time, returned and
entered the cab with the deceased. He would also prove that the
prisoner left the cab at the Grammar School, in the St. Kilda Road, and
on the arrival of the cab at the junction, he discovered the deceased
had been murdered. The cabman Rankin would prove that he drove the
prisoner from the St. Kilda Road to Powlett Street in East Melbourne,
where he got out; and he would call the prisoner's landlady to prove
that the prisoner resided in Powlett Street, and that on the night of
the murder he had not reached home till shortly after two o'clock. He
would also call the detective who had charge of the case, to prove the
finding of a glove belonging to the deceased in the pocket of the coat
which the prisoner wore on the night of the murder; and the doctor who
had examined the body of the deceased would give evidence that the
death was caused by inhalation of chloroform. As he had now fully shown
the chain of evidence which he proposed to prove, he would call the
first witness, MALCOLM ROYSTON.
ROYSTON, on being sworn, gave the same evidence as he had given at the
inquest, from the time that the cab was hailed up to his arrival at the
St. Kilda Police Station with the dead body of Whyte. In the
cross-examination, Calton asked him if he was prepared to swear that
the man who hailed the cab, and the man who got in with the deceased,
were one and the same person.
WITNESS: I am.
CALTON: You are quite certain?
WITNESS: Yes; quite certain.
CALTON: Do you then recognise the prisoner as the man who
hailed the cab?
WITNESS (hesitatingly): I cannot swear to that. The gentleman who
hailed the cab had his hat pulled down over his eyes, so that I could
not see his face; but the height and general appearance of the prisoner
are the same.
CALTON: Then it is only because the man who got into the cab was
dressed like the prisoner on that night that you thought they were both
WITNESS: It never struck me for a minute that they were not the same.
Besides, he spoke as if he had been there before. I said, "Oh, you've
come back," and he said, "Yes; I'm going to take him home," and got
into my cab.
CALTON: Did you notice any difference in his voice?
WITNESS: No; except that the first time I saw him he spoke in a loud
voice, and the second time he came back, very low.
CALTON: You were sober, I suppose?
WITNESS (indignantly): Yes; quite sober.
CALTON: Ah! You did not have a drink, say at the Oriental Hotel, which,
I believe, is near the rank where your cab stands?
WITNESS (hesitating): Well, I might have had a glass.
CALTON: So you might; you might have had several.
WITNESS (sulkily): Well, there's no law against a cove feeling thirsty.
CALTON: Certainly not; and I suppose you took advantage of the absence
of such a law.
WITNESS (defiantly): Yes, I did.
CALTON: And you were elevated?
WITNESS: Yes; on my cab.--(Laughter.)
CALTON (severely): You are here to give evidence, sir, not to make
jokes, however clever they may be. Were you, or were you not, slightly
the worse for drink?
WITNESS: I might have been.
CALTON: So you were in such a condition that you did not observe very
closely the man who hailed you?
WITNESS: No, I didn't--there was no reason why I should--I didn't
know a murder was going to be committed.
CALTON: And it never struck you it might be a different man?
WITNESS: No; I thought it was the same man the whole time.
This closed Royston's evidence, and Calton sat down very dissatisfied
at not being able to elicit anything more definite from him. One thing
appeared clear, that someone must have dressed himself to resemble
Brian, and have spoken in a low voice for fear of betraying himself.
Clement Rankin, the next witness, deposed to having picked up the
prisoner on the St. Kilda Road between one and two on Friday morning,
and driven him to Powlett Street, East Melbourne. In the
cross-examination, Calton elicited one point in the prisoner's favour.
CALTON: Is the prisoner the same gentleman you drove to Powlett Street?
WITNESS (confidently): Oh, yes.
CALTON: How do you know? Did you see his face?
WITNESS: No, his hat was pulled down over his eyes, and I could only
see the ends of his moustache and his chin, but he carried himself the
same as the prisoner, and his moustache is the same light colour.
CALTON: When you drove up to him on the St. Kilda Road, where was he,
and what was he doing?
WITNESS: He was near the Grammar School, walking quickly in the
direction of Melbourne, and was smoking a cigarette.
CALTON: Did he wear gloves?
WITNESS: Yes, one on the left hand, the other was bare.
CALTON: Did he wear any rings on the right hand?
WITNESS: Yes, a large diamond one on the forefinger.
CALTON: Are you sure?
WITNESS: Yes, because I thought it a curious place for a gentleman to
wear a ring, and when he was paying me my fare, I saw the diamond
glitter on his finger in the moonlight.
CALTON: That will do.
The counsel for the defence was pleased with this bit of evidence, as
Fitzgerald detested rings, and never wore any; so he made a note of the
matter on his brief.
Mrs. Hableton, the landlady of the deceased, was then called, and
deposed that Oliver Whyte had lodged with her for nearly two months. He
seemed a quiet enough young man, but often came home drunk. The only
friend she knew he had was a Mr. Moreland, who was often with him. On
the 14th July, the prisoner called to see Mr. Whyte, and they had a
quarrel. She heard Whyte say, "She is mine, you can't do anything with
her," and the prisoner answered, "I can kill you, and if you marry her
I shall do so in the open street." She had no idea at the time of the
name of the lady they were talking about. There was a great sensation
in the court at these words, and half the people present looked upon
such evidence as being sufficient in itself to prove the guilt of the
In cross-examination, Calton was unable to shake the evidence of the
witness, as she merely reiterated the same statements over and over
The next witness was Mrs. Sampson, who crackled into the witness-box
dissolved in tears, and gave her answers in a piercingly shrill tone of
anguish. She stated that the prisoner was in the habit of
coming home early, but on the night of the murder, had come in shortly
before two o'clock.
CROWN PROSECUTOR (referring to his brief): You mean after two.
WITNESS: 'Avin made a mistake once, by saying five minutes after two to
the policeman as called hisself a insurance agent, which 'e put the
words into my mouth, I ain't a goin' to do so again, it bein' five
minutes afore two, as I can swear to.
CROWN PROSECUTOR: You are sure your clock was right?
WITNESS: It 'adn't bin, but my nevy bein' a watchmaker, called
unbeknown to me, an' made it right on Thursday night, which it was
Friday mornin' when Mr. Fitzgerald came 'ome.
Mrs. Sampson bravely stuck to this statement, and ultimately left the
witness-box in triumph, the rest of her evidence being comparatively
unimportant as compared with this point of time. The witness Rankin,
who drove the prisoner to Powlett Street (as sworn to by him) was
recalled, and gave evidence that it was two o'clock when the prisoner
got down from his cab in Powlett Street.
CROWN PROSECUTOR: How do you know that?
WITNESS: Because I heard the Post Office clock strike.
CROWN PROSECUTOR: Could you hear it at East Melbourne?
WITNESS: It was a very still night, and I heard the chimes and then the
hour strike quite plainly.
This conflicting evidence as to time was a strong point in Brian's
favour. If, as the landlady stated, on the authority of the kitchen
clock, which had been put right on the day previous to the murder,
Fitzgerald had come into the house at five minutes to two, he could not
possibly be the man who had alighted from Rankin's cab at two o'clock
at Powlett Street.
The next witness was Dr. Chinston, who swore to the death of
the deceased by means of chloroform administered in a large quantity,
and he was followed by Mr. Gorby, who deposed as to the finding of the
glove belonging to the deceased in the pocket of the prisoner's coat.
Roger Moreland, an intimate friend of the deceased, was next called. He
stated that he had known the deceased in London, and had met him in
Melbourne. He was with him a great deal. On the night of the murder he
was in the Orient Hotel in Bourke Street. Whyte came in, and was
greatly excited. He was in evening dress, and wore a light coat. They
had several drinks together, and then went up to an hotel in Russell
Street, and had some more drinks there. Both witness and deceased were
intoxicated. Whyte took off his light coat, saying he felt warm, and
went out shortly afterwards, leaving witness asleep in the bar. He was
awakened by the barman, who wanted him to leave the hotel. He saw that
Whyte had left his coat behind him, and took it up with the intention
of giving it to him. As he stood in the street some one snatched the
coat from him and made off with it. He tried to follow the thief, but
he could not do so, being too intoxicated. He then went home, and to
bed, as he had to leave early for the country in the morning. In
CALTON: When you went into the street, after leaving the hotel, did you
see the deceased?
WITNESS: NO, I did not; but I was very drunk, and unless deceased had
spoken to me, I would not have noticed him.
CALTON: What was deceased excited about when you met him?
WITNESS: I don't know. He did not say.
CALTON: What were you talking about?
WITNESS: All sorts of things. London principally.
CALTON: Did the deceased mention anything about papers?
WITNESS (surprised): No, he did not.
CALTON: Are you sure?
WITNESS: Quite sure.
CALTON: What time did you get home?
WITNESS: I don't know; I was too drunk to remember.
This closed the case for the Crown, and as it was now late the case was
adjourned till the next day.
The Court was soon emptied of the busy, chattering crowd, and Calton,
on looking over his notes, found that the result of the first day's
trial was two points in favour of Fitzgerald. First: the discrepancy of
time in the evidence of Rankin and the landlady, Mrs. Sampson. Second:
the evidence of the cabman Royston, as to the wearing of a ring on the
forefinger of the right hand by the mall who murdered Whyte, whereas
the prisoner never wore rings.
These were slender proofs of innocence to put against the overwhelming
mass of evidence in favour of the prisoner's guilt. The opinions of all
were pretty well divided, some being in favour and others against, when
suddenly an event happened which surprised everyone. All over Melbourne
extras were posted, and the news passed from lip to lip like
wildfire--"Return of the Missing Witness, Sal Rawlins!"
SAL RAWLINS TELLS ALL SHE KNOWS.
And, indeed, such was the case. Sal Rawlins had made her appearance at
the eleventh hour, to the heartfelt thankfulness of Calton, who saw in
her an angel from heaven, sent to save the life of an innocent man.
It was at the conclusion of the trial; and, together with Madge, he had
gone down to his office, when his clerk entered with a telegram. The
lawyer opened it hastily, and, with a silent look of pleasure on his
face, handed the telegram to Madge.
She, womanlike, being more impulsive, gave a cry when she read it, and,
falling on her knees, thanked God for having heard her prayers, and
saved her lover's life.
"Take me to her at once," she implored the lawyer.
She was anxious to hear from Sal Rawlins' own lips the joyful words
which would save Brian from a felon's death.
"No, my dear," answered Calton, firmly, but kindly. "I can hardly take
a lady to the place where Sal Rawlins lives. You will know all
to-morrow, but, meanwhile, you must go home and get some sleep."
"And you will tell him?" she whispered, clasping her hands on Calton's
"At once," he answered promptly. "And I will see Sal Rawlins
to-night, and hear what she has to say. Rest content, my dear," he
added, as he placed her in the carriage, "he is perfectly safe now."
Brian heard the good news with a deep feeling of gratitude, knowing
that his life was safe, and that he could still keep his secret. It was
the natural revulsion of feeling after the unnatural life he had been
leading since his arrest. When one is young and healthy, and has all
the world before one, it is a terrible thing to contemplate a sudden
death. And yet, in spite of his joy at being delivered from the
hangman's rope, there mingled with his delight the horror of that
secret which the dying woman had told him with such malignant joy.
"I had rather she had died in silence than she should have bequeathed
me this legacy of sorrow."
And the gaoler, seeing his haggard face the next morning, muttered to
himself, "He war blest if the swell warn't sorry he war safe."
So, while Brian was pacing up and down his cell during the weary
watches of the night, Madge, in her own room, was kneeling beside her
bed and thanking God for His great mercy; and Calton, the good fairy of
the two lovers, was hurrying towards the humble abode of Mrs. Rawlins,
familiarly known as Mother Guttersnipe. Kilsip was beside him, and they
were talking eagerly about the providential appearance of the
"What I like," observed Kilsip, in his soft, purring tone, "is the sell
it will be for that Gorby. He was so certain that Mr. Fitzgerald was
the man, and when he gets off to-morrow Gorby will be in a rage."
"Where was Sal the whole time?" asked Calton, absently, not thinking of
what the detective was saying.
"Ill," answered Kilsip. "After she left the Chinaman she went
into the country, caught cold by falling into some river, and ended up
by getting brain fever. Some people found her, took her in, and nursed
her. When she got well she came back to her grandmother's."
"But why didn't the people who nursed her tell her she was wanted? They
must have seen the papers."
"Not they," retorted the detective. "They knew nothing."
"Vegetables!" muttered Calton, contemptuously. "How can people be so
ignorant! Why, all Australia has been ringing with the case. At any
rate, it's money out of their pocket. Well?"
"There's nothing more to tell," said Kilsip, "except that she turned up
to-night at five o'clock, looking more like a corpse than anything
When they entered the squalid, dingy passage that led to Mother
Guttersnipe's abode, they saw a faint light streaming down the stair.
As they climbed up they could hear the rancorous voice of the old hag
pouring forth alternate blessings and curses on her prodigal offspring,
and the low tones of a girl's voice in reply. On entering the room
Calton saw that the sick woman, who had been lying in the corner on the
occasion of his last visit, was gone. Mother Guttersnipe was seated in
front of the deal table, with a broken cup and her favourite bottle of
spirits before her. She evidently intended to have a night of it, in
order to celebrate Sal's return, and had commenced early, so as to lose
no time. Sal herself was seated on a broken chair, and leaned wearily
against the wall. She stood up as Calton and the detective entered, and
they saw that she was a tall, slender woman of about twenty-five, not
bad-looking, but with a pallid and haggard appearance from recent
illness. She was clothed in a kind of tawdry blue dress, much soiled
and torn, and had over her shoulders an old tartan shawl, which
she drew tightly across her breast as the strangers entered. Her
grandmother, who looked more weird and grotesquely horrible than ever,
saluted Calton and the detective on their entrance with a shrill yell,
and a volley of choice language.
"Oh, ye've come again, 'ave ye," she screeched, raising her skinny
arms, "to take my gal away from 'er pore old gran'mother, as nussed
'er, cuss her, when 'er own mother had gone a-gallivantin' with swells.
I'll 'ave the lawr of ye both, s'elp me, I will."
Kilsip paid no attention to this outbreak of the old fury, but turned
to the girl.
"This is the gentleman who wants to speak to you," he said, gently,
making the girl sit on the chair again, for indeed she looked too ill
to stand. "Just tell him what you told me."
"'Bout the 'Queen,' sir?" said Sal, in a low, hoarse voice, fixing her
wild eyes on Calton. "If I'd only known as you was a-wantin' me I'd
'ave come afore."
"Where were you?" asked Calton, in a pitying tone.
"Noo South Wales," answered the girl with a shiver. "The cove as I went
with t' Sydney left me--yes, left me to die like a dog in the gutter."
"Cuss 'im!" croaked the old woman in a sympathetic manner, as she took
a drink from the broken cup.
"I tooked up with a Chinerman," went on her granddaughter, wearily,
"an' lived with 'im for a bit--it's orful, ain't it?" she said with a
dreary laugh, as she saw the disgust on the lawyer's face. "But
Chinermen ain't bad; they treat a pore girl a dashed sight better nor a
white cove does. They don't beat the life out of 'em with their fists,
nor drag 'em about the floor by the 'air."
"Cuss 'em!" croaked Mother Guttersnipe, drowsily, "I'll tear
their 'earts out."
"I think I must have gone mad, I must," said Sal, pushing her tangled
hair off her forehead, "for arter I left the Chiner cove, I went on
walkin' and walkin' right into the bush, a-tryin' to cool my 'ead, for
it felt on fire like. I went into a river an' got wet, an' then I took
my 'at an' boots orf an' lay down on the grass, an' then the rain comed
on, an' I walked to a 'ouse as was near, where they tooked me in. Oh,
sich kind people," she sobbed, stretching out her hands, "that didn't
badger me 'bout my soul, but gave me good food to eat. I gave 'em a
wrong name. I was so 'fraid of that Army a-findin' me. Then I got ill,
an' knowd nothin' for weeks They said I was orf my chump. An' then I
came back 'ere to see gran'."
"Cuss ye," said the old woman, but in such a tender tons that it
sounded like a blessing.
"And did the people who took you in never tell you anything about the
murder?" asked Calton.
Sal shook her head.
"No, it were a long way in the country, and they never knowd anythin',
"Ah! that explains it," muttered Calton to himself.
"Come, now," he said cheerfully, "tell me all that happened on the
night you brought Mr. Fitzgerald to see the 'Queen.'"
"Who's 'e?" asked Sal, puzzled.
"Mr. Fitzgerald, the gentleman you brought the letter for to the
"Oh, 'im?" said Sal, a sudden light breaking over her wan face. "I
never knowd his name afore."
Calton nodded complacently.
"I knew you didn't," he said, "that's why you didn't ask for him at the
"She never told me 'is name," said Sal, jerking her head in the
direction of the bed.
"Then whom did she ask you to bring to her?" asked Calton, eagerly.
"No one," replied the girl. "This was the way of it. On that night she
was orfil ill, an' I sat beside 'er while gran' was asleep."
"I was drunk," broke in gran', fiercely, "none of yer lies; I was
"An' ses she to me, she ses," went on the girl, indifferent to her
grandmother's interruption, "'Get me some paper an' a pencil, an' I'll
write a note to 'im, I will.' So I goes an' gits 'er what she arsks fur
out of gran's box."
"Stole it, cuss ye," shrieked the old hag, shaking her fist.
"Hold your tongue," said Kilsip, in a peremptory tone.
Mother Guttersnipe burst into a volley of oaths, and having run rapidly
through all she knew, subsided into a sulky silence.
"She wrote on it," went on Sal, "an' then arsked me to take it to the
Melbourne Club an' give it to 'im. Ses I, 'Who's 'im?' Ses she, 'It's
on the letter; don't you arsk no questions an' you won't 'ear no lies,
but give it to 'im at the Club, an' wait for 'im at the corner of
Bourke Street and Russell Street.' So out I goes, and gives it to a
cove at the Club, an' then 'e comes along, an' ses 'e, 'Take me to
'er,' and I tooked 'im."
"And what like was the gentleman?"
"Oh, werry good lookin'," said Sal. "Werry tall, with yeller 'air an'
moustache. He 'ad party clothes on, an' a masher coat, an' a soft 'at."
"That's Fitzgerald right enough," muttered Calton. "And what did he do
when he came?"
"He goes right up to 'er, and she ses, 'Are you 'e?' and 'e
ses, 'I am.' Then ses she, 'Do you know what I'm a-goin' to tell you?'
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