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That Mainwaring Affair By A. Maynard Barbour Characters: 31309

Updated: 2017-11-28 00:07


Upon resuming the examination, the first witness called for was Mary Catron, the second cook, a woman about thirty-five years of age, with an honest face, but one indicative of a fiery temper. Her testimony was brief, but given with a directness that was amusing. When questioned of the occurrences of the day preceding the murder, she replied,-

"I know nothing of what went on except from the gossip of the rest. My place was in the kitchen, and I had too much to do that day to be loitering round in the halls, leaning on a broom-handle, and listening at keyholes," and she cast a glance of scathing contempt in the direction of the chambermaid.

"Did this 'gossip' that you speak of have any bearing on what has since occurred?" the coroner inquired.

"Well, sir, it might and it mightn't. 'Twas mostly about the will that Mr. Mainwaring was making; and as how them that got little was angry that they didn't get more, and them as got much was growling at not getting the whole."

"How did the servants gain any knowledge of this will?"

"That's more than I can say, sir, except as I knows the nature of some folks."

Upon further questioning, the witness stated that on the night of the murder, between the hours of two and three, she was aroused by a sound like the closing of an outside door, but on going to one of the basement windows to listen, she heard nothing further and concluded she had been mistaken.

"Did you see the coachman at that time?" she was asked.

"A few minutes later I looked out again and I see him gaping and grinning at the house and jabbering to himself like an idiot, and I was minded to send him about his business if he hadn't a-took himself off when he did."

"He was perfectly sober, was he not?"

"Sober for aught that I know; but, to my thinking, he's that daft that he's noways responsible for aught that he says."

"Were you up-stairs soon after the alarm was given?" asked the coroner, when she had told of hearing from the butler the news of the murder.

"Yes, sir; I went up as soon as ever I heard what had happened."

"Who was in the library at that time?"

"Nobody but some of the servants, sir. I met Mr. Whitney just as I came out."

"Did you meet any one else?"

"I met no one, but I saw the housekeeper coming out of her son's room. She didn't see me; but she was telling him to get ready quick to go somewheres, and I heard her say to hurry, for every minute was precious."

Louis Picot, the head cook, could give no information whatever. When the alarm was given, he had rushed, with the other servants, to the scene of the murder, and in his imperfect English, accompanied by expressive French gestures, he tried to convey his horror and grief at the situation, but that was all.

The two maids who attended the English ladies were next called upon; but their testimony was mainly corroborative of that given by the chambermaid, except that Sarah Whitely, Miss Carleton's maid, stated, in addition, that she had seen Mr. Walter LaGrange leave his mother's room in great haste and go down-stairs, and a little later, from one of the upper windows, saw him riding away from the stables in the direction of the south gate.

But one servant remained, "Uncle Mose," as he was familiarly called, the old colored man having charge of the grounds at Fair Oaks. His snow-white hair and bent form gave him a venerable appearance; but he was still active, and the shrewd old face showed both humor and pathos as he proceeded with his story. He had been a slave in his younger days, and still designated his late employer by the old term "mars'r." He was a well-known character to many present, including Dr. Westlake, who knew that in this instance questions would have to be abandoned and the witness allowed to tell his story in his own way.

"Well, Uncle Mose, you have been employed at Fair Oaks for a long time, haven't you?"

"Moah dan twenty yeahs, sah, I'se had charge ob dese y'er grounds; an' mars'r Mainwaring, he t'ought nobody but ole Mose cud take cyah ob 'em, sah."

"You were about the grounds as usual Wednesday, were you not?"

"I was 'bout de grounds all day, sah, 'case dere was a pow'ful lot to do a-gittin' ready for de big doins dere was goin' to be on mars'r's birfday."

"Did you see either of the strangers who called that day?"

"I'se a-comm' to dat d'rectly, sah. You see, sah, I wants to say right heah, befo' I goes any furder, dat I don' know noffin 'cept what tuk place under my own obserbation. I don' feel called upon to 'spress no 'pinions 'bout nobody. I jes' wants to state a few recurrences dat I noted at de time, speshally 'bout dem strangers as was heah in pertickeler. Well, sah, de fust man, he come heah in de mawnin'. De Inglish gentlemens, dey had been a-walkin' in de grounds and jes' done gone roun' de corner oh de house to go to mars'r Mainwaring's liberry, when dis man he comes up de av'nue in a kerridge, an' de fust ting I heah 'im a-cussin' de driver. Den he gets out and looks roun' kind o' quick, jes' like de possum in de kohn, as ef he was 'fraid somebody done see 'im. I was fixin' de roses on de front poach, an' I looked at 'im pow'ful sharp, an' when de dooh opened he jumped in quick, as ef he was glad to get out o' sight. Well, sah, I didn't like de 'pearance ob dat man, an' I jes' t'ought I'd get anoder look at 'im, but he stayed a mighty long time, sah, an' bime'by I had to go to de tool-house, an' when I gets back the kerridge was gone."

"Could you describe the man, Uncle Mose?" the coroner asked.

"No, sah, I don' know as I could 'scribe 'im perzacly; but I'd know 'im, no matter where I sot eyes on 'im, and I know'd 'im the nex' time I see 'im. Well, sah, dat aft'noon, mars'r Mainwaring an' de folks had gone out ridin', an' I was roun' kind o' permiscuous like, an' I see anoder kerridge way down de av'nue by de front gate, an' I waited, 'spectin' maybe I'd see dat man again. While I was waitin' by de front dooh, all oh a sudden a man come roun' from de side, as ef he come from mars'r Mainwaring's liberry, but he was anoder man."

"Didn't he look at all like the first man?" inquired the coroner.

"No, sah; he looked altogedder diff'rent; but I don' know as I could state whar'in de differensiashun consisted, sah. Dis man was berry good lookin' 'ceptin' his eyes, an' dem yoh cudn' see, 'case he had on cull'ed glasses. Mebbe his eyes was pow'ful weak, er mebbe he didn't want nobody to see 'em; but I 'spicioned dem glasses d'rectly, sah, an' I watched 'im. He goes down to de kerridge an' takes out a coat an' says sump' in to de driver, an' de kerridge goes away tow'ds de town, an' he walks off de oder way. Bime'by I see 'im gwine back again on de oder side ob de street-"

"Was he alone?" interrupted the coroner.

"Yes, sah; an' I done kep' my eye on 'im, an' he didn' go on to de town, but tuhned down de fust side street. Well, sah, I didn' see no moah ob 'im den; but dat ebenin' I'd ben a-workin' roun' de house, sprinklin' de grass and gettin' ready foh de nex' day, when I happens to pass by de side dooh, an' I sees dem two men comm' out togedder."

"What time was this, Uncle Mose?" the coroner asked, quickly.

"Well, sah," said the old man, reflectively, "my mem'ry is a little derelictious on dat p'int, but I knows 'twas gettin' putty late."

"Are you sure these were the same two men you had seen earlier in the day?"

"Yes, sah; 'case I stepped in de bushes to watch 'em. Dey talked togedder berry low, an' den one man goes back into de house, an' I seen 'im plain in de hall light, an' he was de fust man; an' while I was a-watchin' 'im, de oder man he disappeahed an' I cudn' see 'im nowhar, but I know'd he was de man dat came in de aft'noon, 'case he look jes' like 'im, an' toted a coat on his arm. Well, sah, I t'inks it a berry cur'is sarcumstance, an' I was jes' comm' to de preclushun dat I'd mention it to some ob de fambly, when de fust man, he come to de dooh wid de housekeeper. I was in de shadder and dey didn' see me, but I heah 'im say, kind o' soft like, 'Remember, my deah lady, dis is a biz'ness contract; I does my part, an' I 'spects my pay.' An' she says, 'Oh, yes, yoh shall hab yohr money widout fail.' An' I says to myse'f, 'Mose, yoh ole fool, what you stan'in' heah foh? Dat ain't nuffin dat consarns yoh nohow,' an' I goes home, an' dat's all I know, sah. But I'se ben pow'ful sorry eber sence dat I didn' let mars'r Mainwaring know 'bout it, 'case I has my 'spicions," and the old darkey shook his head, while the tears coursed down his furrowed cheeks.

"How did you hear of Mr. Mainwaring's death?" asked the coroner.

"De coachman, he done tole me, sah."

"Why, the coachman stated that you told him what had occurred."

"No, sah; he done tole me; I'd come up to de place pow'ful ahly dat mawnin' 'case dere was to be such big doings dat day, an' I was gwine to de tool-house foh sump'in, an' I see mars'r Walter ridin' away from de stables pow' ful fas' on his hoss-"

"Do you mean Walter LaGrange?"

"Yes, sah; an' de coachman he came out an' I ax 'im whar de young man was gwine dat ahly, an' he say mars'r Mainwaring ben killed, an' mars'r Walter had to go to town as fas' as his hoss cud take 'im."

"Do you know when he returned?"

"He came back, sah, befo' berry long, an' den he went away agin and didn't come back till mos' noon."

When the old darkey had been dismissed the coachman was recalled.

"What did you mean by stating that you first heard of Mr. Mainwaring's death from the gardener, when the reverse was the truth?"

"I don't know," he replied, carelessly; "I s'pose I got mixed. I remember talking with him about it, and I thought he told me."

"You had forgotten the interview with Walter LaGrange, I presume."

Brown made no answer.

"Why did you not mention that?"

"I wasn't asked to," he replied in insolent tones; "you said nothing to me about Mr. LaGrange."

"You are expected to state in full every occurrence having any bearing on the situation. You may give the particulars of that interview now."

"There's nothing to tell more than Uncle Mose told. I was working in the stables as usual, and Mr. LaGrange came in in a big hurry and ordered me to saddle his horse as quick as I could, that Mr. Mainwaring had been murdered, and he'd got to go to town."

"At what time was this?"

"About half-past seven, I should say."

"Did he state his errand?"

"No, sir."

"When did he return?"

"I saw his horse standing in the yard outside the stables about half an hour after, and then 'twas gone, and I didn't see it again till noon."

Walter LaGrange was next called. He stated that he had spent the greater part of the day preceding the murder away from Fair Oaks; he had not been at home to luncheon or dinner, and consequently knew nothing of the strangers seen on the place that day. He had returned about half-past ten that evening, and remembered seeing Mr. Mainwaring and his guests seated on the veranda, but he had gone directly to his room without meeting any one. The first intimation which he had received of any unusual occurrence the next morning was when his mother entered his room and told him that Mr. Mainwaring had either been murdered or had committed suicide, no one knew which.

"Was that her only object in coming to your room?"

"No, sir; she wanted me to do an errand for her."

"Will you state the nature of this errand?"

"It was only to deliver a note."

"To whom?"

"To Mr. Hobson," the young man answered weakly, while his mother frowned, the first sign of emotion of any kind which she had betrayed that day.

"Did you deliver the note?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then, under your mother's orders, you went to the city on your second trip, did you not?"

"Y-yes, sir."

"Were you successful in finding Mr. Hobson there?"

"Yes, sir," the witness answered sullenly.

"You had other business in the city aside from meeting him, had you not?"

Between the coroner's persistence and his mother's visible signs of displeasure, Walter LaGrange was fast losing his temper.

"If you know so much about this business, I don't see the use of your questioning me," he retorted angrily. "It's no affair of mine anyway; I had nothing to do with it, nor I won't be mixed up in it; and if you want any information you'd better ask mother for it; it's her business and none of mine."

After a few more questions, which the witness answered sullenly and in monosyllables, he was dismissed.

"Mr. Higgenbotham," announced the coroner. The greatest surprise was manifested on every side as the senior member of a well-known firm of jewellers stepped forward; the same gentleman who had accompanied Mr. Whitney on his return from the city on the preceding day.

"Mr. Higgenbotham," said the coroner, "I believe you are able to furnish some testimony which will be pertinent at this time."

"Yes, Dr. Westlake," responded the other, in deep, musical tones, "I think possibly I can render you a little assistance in your investigations."

"Mr. Higgenbotham, do you recognize the young gentleman who has just given his testimony?"

"I do, sir," said the witness, adjusting a pair of eyeglasses and gazing steadily at Walter LaGrange. "I recall his features perfectly."

"You were personally acquainted with the late Hugh Mainwaring, I believe?"

"Yes, sir, intimately acquainted with him."

"You are, I believe, familiar with the Mainwaring jewels which are now missing?" continued the coroner.

Walter LaGrange looked uncomfortable and his mother's cheek paled.

"I am, sir; having had them repeatedly left in my possession for safe keeping during their owner's absence from home; and I have also a complete list of them, with a detailed description of every piece."

"Very well, Mr. Higgenbotham, will you now please state when, and under what circumstances, you saw this young gentleman?"

"I was seated in my private office yesterday morning, when my head clerk came in and asked me to step out into the salesrooms for a moment, as he said a young man was there trying to sell some very fine jewels, and, from his youth and his ignorance of their value, he feared something was wrong. I went out immediately and saw this young gentleman, who handed me for inspection a superb diamond brooch and an elegant necklace of diamonds and pearls. I instantly recognized the gems as pieces from the old Mainwaring collection of jewels. Simultaneously there occurred to my mind the report of the murder of Hugh Mainwaring, which I had heard but a short time before, although then I knew nothing of the robbery. Naturally, my suspicions were awakened. I questioned the young man closely, however, and he stated that his home was at Fair Oaks, and that his mother was a distant relative of Mr. Mainwaring's; that the jewels were hers, and she wished to dispose of them for ready cash to meet an emergency. His story was so plausible that I thought possibly my suspicions had been somewhat hasty and premature. Still, I declined to purchase the jewels; and when he left the store I ordered one of our private detectives to follow him and report to me. In the course of an hour the detective returned and reported that the young man had sold the jewels to a pawnbroker for less than one-fourth their actual value. About half an hour later I heard the news of the robbery at Fair Oaks, and that the family jewels were missing; and knowing that Mr. Whitney was here, I immediately telephoned to him the facts which I have just stated. He came in to the city at once, and we proceede

d to the pawnshop, where he also identified the jewels."

Mr. Higgenbotham paused for a moment, producing a package from an inner pocket, which he proceeded to open.

"We secured a loan of the jewels for a few days," he continued, advancing towards the coroner. "Here they are, and here is a copy of the list of which I spoke. By comparing these gems with the description of those which I have checked on the list, you will see that they are identical."

He placed the open casket on the table. There was a moment's silence, broken by subdued exclamations of admiration as Dr. Westlake lifted the gems from their resting-place.

"You are correct," he said; "the description is complete. There is no doubt that these are a part of the collection. I see you have marked the value of these two items as seven thousand dollars."

"Yes; that is a moderate valuation. And were the prices of the other articles carried out, you would see that, with the exception of a few very small pieces, these have the least value of the entire lot. I believe I can be of no further service."

Mrs. LaGrange was next recalled.

"Have you anything to say in reference to the testimony just given?" the coroner inquired.

"I have this much to say," she replied, haughtily, "that I could have given you the history of those jewels, including, perhaps, some facts of which even Mr. Higgenbotham and Mr. Whitney are in ignorance, and thus have spared you the infinite pains you have taken to make public the straits to which I was reduced, because of my position here, when in need of a little ready money. I could have informed you that they were originally a part of the old Mainwaring collection of gems, until they were given me by my husband."

"It hardly seems consistent that a man who treated his wife in the manner in which you claim to have been treated would bestow upon her gifts of such value as these," the coroner remarked with emphasis.

"They were of little value to him," she answered, with scorn; "as you have been informed, they were the poorest which he possessed. Besides, there were times when I could persuade him to almost anything,-anything but to acknowledge his lawful wife and his legitimate son."

"Was the money which you were forced to raise by the sale of these jewels to be paid to Hobson?"

"It was."

"In accordance with the terms of your contract with him, made a few hours preceding the death of Mr. Mainwaring?"

"Yes," she replied, defiantly. "And as you probably would ask the nature of that contract, I will save you the trouble. Knowing that my son and I were likely to be defrauded of our rights in the same manner in which Hugh Mainwaring had defrauded others, I engaged Mr. Hobson as my attorney, as he, better than any one else, knew the facts in the case. When I learned yesterday morning of my husband's death, I realized that I would have immediate need of his services, and accordingly sent him word to that effect. He demanded a large cash payment at once. The result of this demand Mr. Higgenbotham has already told you."

"How was Hobson to secure for you your rights from Hugh Mainwaring?"

"That was left entirely to his own discretion."

"Will you describe the appearance of Mr. Hobson's clerk?"

"Unfortunately, I am unable to do so. He was merely brought as a witness to our contract. I knew that he was present, but he remained in the shadow, and I took no notice of him whatever."

"Your contract, then, was a verbal one?"

"It was."

Upon being closely questioned, Mrs. LaGrange reiterated her assertions of the preceding day, laying particular stress upon the alleged interview between Hugh Mainwaring and his secretary, after which she was dismissed, and Harry Scott was recalled.

"Mr. Scott," said the coroner, "what were the relations existing between Mr. Mainwaring and yourself up to the time of his death?"

Scott flushed slightly as he replied, "Those ordinarily existing between employer and employed, except that I believe Mr. Mainwaring accorded me more than usual consideration, and I, while duly appreciative of his kindness, yet took especial pains never to exceed the bounds of an employee."

"Were there ever any unpleasant words passed between you?"

"None whatever."

"Was your last interview with Mr. Mainwaring of a friendly nature?"

"Entirely so."

"What have you to say in reference to the testimony given to the effect that your voice was heard and recognized in angry conversation with Mr. Mainwaring at nearly one o'clock?"

"I have to say that it is false, and without foundation."

"Do you mean to say that the statement of the witness was wholly without truth?"

"I do not deny that such an interview, as alleged by the witness, may have taken place, for that is something concerning which I have no knowledge whatever; but I do deny that she heard my voice, or that I was in the library at that time, or at any time after about twenty minutes past twelve."

"Was that the time at which you went to your room?"

"Very near that time, as my interview with Mr. Mainwaring could not have exceeded ten minutes."

"At what time did you retire?"

"I sat up very late that night, for my mind was so occupied with some personal matters that I felt no inclination for sleep. I lighted a cigar and became so absorbed in my own thoughts that I was totally unaware of the lapse of time, until I was aroused by what I thought was a stealthy step outside. I then became conscious, for the first time, that I was very weary, both physically and mentally, and I also discovered that it was nearly three o'clock. Astonished to find it so late, and exhausted by hours of protracted thought, I threw myself as I was upon a low couch, where I slept soundly until awakened in the morning."

Further questions failed to reveal any discrepancy in his statement, and he was dismissed.

The testimony of Ralph Mainwaring and of his son added nothing of interest or importance. Mr. Thornton testified to his incidental meeting with Hobson and to the reputation which the man had borne in London. When he had resumed his seat the coroner remarked,-

"As a matter of form, I will have to call upon the ladies, though it is not expected they will be able to furnish any information throwing light on this mysterious case."

It was, as he had said, little more than a ceremony and occupied but a few moments. Miss Carleton was the last one called upon. She stated that it was nearly eleven o'clock when she reached her room, but added that she did not retire immediately, as her cousin, Miss Thornton, had come in, and they had chatted together for more than an hour; that while so engaged, she heard Mr. Scott come up-stairs and enter his room, which adjoined hers, and lock the door for the night.

"At what hour was this?" inquired the coroner.

"It could not have been more than twenty minutes after twelve, as it was twenty-five minutes after twelve when my cousin went to her room, and this was about five minutes earlier."

"Can you state whether or not he left his room within the next half-hour?"

"I know that he did not," she replied. "I can testify that he remained in his room until after one o'clock. After my cousin left I discovered that the moon was just rising, and the view across the Hudson being extremely beautiful, as well as novel to me, I extinguished the light in my room and sat down by the open window to enjoy it. I heard Mr. Scott stepping quietly about his room for a few moments; then all was still. I sat for some time admiring the scenery, until I was aroused by hearing him pacing back and forth like a person in deep thought. I then found it was much later than I supposed,-nearly one o' clock,-and I immediately retired; but so long as I was awake I could hear him walking in his room."

As Miss Carleton finished her testimony it was evident that the tide of general opinion had turned somewhat in favor of the young secretary, but the latter quietly ignored the friendly glances cast in his direction.

It was generally supposed that all testimony in the case had now been heard. Considerable surprise was, therefore, manifested when the coroner nodded to Mr. Whitney, who, in turn, beckoned to some one in the hall. In response the butler appeared, ushering in a tall man, with cadaverous features and small, dark eyes, which peered restlessly about him.

"Richard Hobson," announced the coroner.

"At your service, sir," said the man, advancing with a cringing gait and fawning, apologetic smile.

"Mr. Hobson," said the coroner, after a few preliminaries, "I understand you were somewhat acquainted with the late Hugh Mainwaring."

"Well, yes, sir, somewhat," the other replied in soft, insinuating tones, but with peculiar emphasis on the word used by Dr. Westlake. "Indeed, I might say, without exaggeration, that I was probably better acquainted with that estimable gentleman than was any one in this country."

"When did you last see Mr. Mainwaring?"

"I have not seen him to speak with him for fully twenty-three years."

"You have corresponded with, him, however, in that time?"

The witness showed no surprise.

"We exchanged a few letters while I was in England. I have neither heard from him nor written to him since coming to this country."

"When did you last see him, regardless of whether you spoke to him or not?"

"Probably within the last two or three weeks. I have occasionally met him on the street."

"Did Mr. Mainwaring see you at any of these times?"

"If he did, he did not recognize me."

"Did you see him when you called at Fair Oaks, Wednesday,-either morning or evening?"

"I did not."

"Mr. Hobson, will you describe the man who accompanied you when you called in the evening, Wednesday?"

"I could give you a general description. He was a large man, about my own height, but heavier, and rather good looking, on the whole. But I am not good on details, such as complexion, color of hair, and so on; and then, you know, those little things are very easily changed."

"What was his name?"

Mr. Hobson smiled blandly. "The name by which I know him is John Carroll, but I have no idea as to his real name. He is a very eccentric character, many-sided as it were, and I never know which side will come uppermost."

"He is your clerk and in your employ, is he not?"

"Agent, I think, would be a preferable term. He is in my employ, he transacts certain business for me, but he does it in his own way, and comes and goes at his own discretion."

"Where is he at present?"

"I have no idea, sir."

"Did he leave for the city that night, or did he remain with you at the Riverside Hotel?"

"He was not with me at the hotel except for a few hours. I have not the slightest idea from whence he came to see me, when he went away, or in what direction he went. He was in haste to be excused as soon as our joint business was done, and I have not seen him since."

"Did he have on dark glasses that day?"

"Not when I saw him, but that was only in my room at the hotel, and for a few moments in this house; he would have no need for them at either place."

"Did he not accompany you from the hotel to Fair Oaks?"

"No, sir; we met here by prearrangement."

"When do you expect to see your agent again?"

"Whenever he has any business reports to make," Hobson replied, with an exasperating smile; "but I have no idea when that will be. He has other commissions to execute; he is in the employ of others besides myself, and transacts some business on his own account also."

"I understand, Mr. Hobson, that you have repeatedly extorted money from Mr. Mainwaring by threatening to disclose facts in your possession regarding some questionable transaction."

"No, sir; my action could not be termed extortion or blackmail within the meaning of the law, though to any one conversant with Mr. Mainwaring's private correspondence it may have had that appearance. I was, however, merely making an effort to collect what was legally due me. Mr. Mainwaring, before leaving England, had voluntarily bound himself to pay me a certain sum upon the condition that I would not reveal certain transactions of considerably more than questionable character. I kept my part of the contract, but he failed in his. I wrote him, therefore, threatening, unless he fulfilled his share of the agreement, to institute proceedings against him, which would naturally involve a disclosure of his secret. He never paid me in full and the secret is still mine," he paused, then added slowly, "to keep or to sell, as will pay me best."

"Was Hugh Mainwaring ever married?" the coroner asked, abruptly.

"I believe he was not generally considered a married man, sir."

"Was there ever any private marriage?"

Hobson smiled enigmatically. "You already have the word of the lady herself, sir; that should be sufficient. I cannot reveal any of Hugh Mainwaring's secrets,-unless I am well paid for it!"

Hobson was dismissed without further questions, and the examination being now at an end, the coroner's jury retired to the room in the rear of the library. Very few left the house, for all felt that little time would be required for the finding of a verdict, and comment and opinion were freely exchanged.

"Well," said Mr. Sutherland, turning towards the secretary with a smile, "they did not learn one fact from that last witness, for I doubt whether one of the few statements he did make had an iota of truth in it. By the way, Mr. Scott, it's a very fortunate thing that you've got the proofs you have. It would be a risky piece of work to depend on that man's word for proof; he is as slippery as an eel. With those proofs, however, there is no doubt but that you've got a strong case."

"It will be hard to convince Ralph Mainwaring of that fact."

"Yes, he looks as though he would hold on to his opinions pretty tenaciously."

"Not so tenaciously as he would grasp any money coming within his reach!"

At a little distance, Mr. Whitney was engaged in conversation with the Englishmen.

"I never thought he could be in any way connected with it," he was saying. "In the first place, there was no motive, there could be none; then, again, I believe he is altogether above suspicion. I know that Mr. Mainwaring had the most implicit confidence in him."

"Well," said Mr. Thornton, "for my part, I'm heartily glad if there is nothing in it. I always liked the young fellow."

"That's just where I don't agree with you; I don't like him," Ralph Mainwaring replied in a surly tone. "He may be all right so far as this matter is concerned; I don't say yet that he is or isn't; but I do say that to defame a man's character after he's dead, in the manner he has, is simply outrageous, and, you may depend upon it, there's some personal spite back of it."

"Oh, well, as to Hugh's character, I don't think you or I are going to fret ourselves about that," laughed Mr. Thornton. "He probably sowed his wild oats with the rest of us, and there may have been some reason for his leaving England as he did."

"I don't believe it," Ralph Mainwaring retorted, angrily; but before he could say more, the doors opened and the coroner's jury filed into the room. There was instant silence, and a moment later the verdict had been announced. It was what every one had expected, and yet there was not one but experienced a feeling of disappointment and dissatisfaction.

"We find that the deceased, Hugh Mainwaring, came to his death by the discharge of a revolver in the hands of some person or persons to us unknown."

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