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 What's Bred In the Bone 20 Alerter l'administrateur Recommander à un ami Lien de l'article 

What's Bred In the Bone
by
Grant Allen







CHAPTER XXVII.

SOMETHING TO THEIR ADVANTAGE.





At Tilgate and Chetwood next morning, two distinguished households
were thrown into confusion by the news in the papers. To Colonel
Kelmscott and to Elma Clifford alike that news came with crushing
force and horror. A murder, said the Times, had been committed in
Devonshire, in a romantic dell, on the skirts of Dartmoor. No element
of dramatic interest was wanting to the case; persons, place, and
time were all equally remarkable. The victim of the outrage was Mr.
Montague Nevitt, confidential clerk to Messrs. Drummond, Coutts,
and Barclay, the well-known bankers, and himself a familiar figure
in musical society in London. The murderer was presumably a young
journalist, Mr. Guy Waring, not unknown himself in musical circles,
and brother of that rising landscape painter, Mr. Cyril Waring,
whose pictures of wild life in forest scenery had lately attracted
considerable attention at the Academy and the Grosvenor. Mr. Guy
Waring had been arrested the day before on the pier at Dover, where
he had just arrived by the Ostend packet. It was supposed by the
police that he had hastily crossed the Channel from Plymouth to
Cherbourg, soon after the murder, to escape detection, and, after
journeying by cross-country routes through France and Belgium, had
returned via Ostend to the shores of England. It was a triumphant
vindication of our much maligned detective system that within a few
hours after the discovery of the body on Dartmoor, the supposed
criminal should have been recognised, arrested, and detained among
a thousand others, in a busy port, at the very opposite extremity
of southern England.

Colonel Kelmscott that day was strangely touched, even before
he took up his morning paper. A letter from Granville, posted at
Plymouth, had just reached him by the early mail, to tell him that
the only son he had ever really loved or cared for on earth had
sailed the day before, a disinherited outcast, to seek his fortune
in the wild wastes of Africa. How he could break the news to Lady
Emily he couldn't imagine. The Colonel, twisting his white moustache,
with a quivering hand on his tremulous lip, hardly dared to realize
what their future would seem like. And then--he turned to the
paper, and saw to his horror this awful tale of a cold-blooded and
cowardly murder, committed on a friend by one who, however little
he might choose to acknowledge it, was after all his own eldest
son, a Kelmscott of Tilgate, as much as Granville himself, in lawful
wedlock duly begotten.

The proud but broken man gazed at the deadly announcement in blank
amaze and agony. His Nemesis had come. Guy Waring was his own
son--and Guy Waring was a murderer.

He tried to argue with himself at first that this tragic result in
some strange way justified him, after the event, for his own long
neglect of his parental responsibilities. The young man was no
true Kelmscott at heart, he was sure, or such an act as that would
have revolted and appalled him. He was no true son in reality; his
order disowned him. Base blood flowed in his veins, and made crimes
like these conceivable.

"I was right after all," the Colonel thought, "not to acknowledge
these half low-born lads as the heirs of Tilgate. Bad blood will
out in the end--and THIS is the result of it."

And then, with sudden revulsion he thought once more--God help
him! How could he say such things in his heart even now of HER,
his pure, trustful Lucy? She was better than him in her soul, he
knew--ten thousand times better. If bad blood came in anywhere, it
came in from himself, not from that simple-hearted, innocent little
country-bred angel.

And perhaps if he'd treated these lads as he ought, and brought
them up to their own, and made them Kelmscotts indeed, instead of
nameless adventurers, they might never have fallen into such abysses
of turpitude. But he had let them grow up in ignorance of their
own origin, with the vague stain of a possible illegitimacy hanging
over their heads; and what wonder if they forgot in the end how
noblesse oblige, and sank at last into foul depths of vice and
criminality?

As he read on, his head swam with the cumulative evidence of that
deliberately planned and cruelly executed yet brutal murder. The
details of the crime gave him a sickening sense of loathing and
incredulity. Impossible that his own son could have schemed and
carried out so vile an attack upon a helpless person, who had once
been his nearest and dearest companion. And yet, the account in
the paper gave him no alternative but to believe it. Nevitt and
Guy Waring had been inseparable friends. They had dined together,
supped together, played duets in their own rooms, gone out to the
same parties, belonged to the same club, in all things been closer
than even the two twin brothers. Some quarrel seemed to have
arisen about a matter of speculations in which both had suffered.
They separated at once--separated in anger. Nevitt went down to
Devonshire by himself for his holiday. Then Waring followed him,
without any pretence at concealment; inquired for him at the village
inn with expressions of deadly hate; tracked him to a lonely place
in the adjacent wood; choked him, apparently with some form of
garotte or twisted rope--for the injuries seemed greater than even
the most powerful man could possibly inflict with the hands alone;
and hid the body of his murdered friend at last in a mossy dell
by the bank of the streamlet. Nor was that all; for with callous
effrontery he had returned to the inn, still inquiring after his
victim; and had gone off next morning early with a lie on his lips,
pretending even then to nurse his undying wrath and to be bent on
following up with coarse threats of revenge his stark and silent
enemy.

So far the Times. But to Colonel Kelmscott, reading in between
the lines as he went, there was more in it than even that. He saw,
though dimly, some hint of a motive. For it was at Mambury that
all these things had taken place; and it was at Mambury that the
secret of Guy Waring's descent lay buried, as he thought, in the
parish registers. What it all meant, Colonel Kelmscott couldn't
indeed wholly understand; but many things he knew which the writer
of the account in the Times knew not. He knew that Nevitt was a
clerk in the bank where he himself kept his account, and to which
he had given orders to pay in the six thousand to Cyril's credit,
at Cyril's bankers. He knew, therefore, that Nevitt might thus
have been led to suspect the real truth of the case as to the two
so-called Warings. He knew that Cyril had just received the six
thousand. Trying to put these facts together and understand their
meaning he utterly failed; but this much at least was clear to him,
he thought--the reason for the murder was something connected with
a search for the entry of his own clandestine marriage.

He looked down at the paper again. Great heavens, what was this?
"It is rumoured that a further inducement to the crime may perhaps
be sought in the fact that the deceased gentleman had a large sum
of money in his possession in Bank of England notes at the time
of his death. These notes he carried in a pocket-book about his
person, where they were seen by the landlord of the Talbot Arms at
Mambury, the night before the supposed murder. When the body was
discovered by the side of the brook, two days later, the notes were
gone. The pockets were carefully searched by order of the police,
but no trace of the missing money could be discovered. It is now
conjectured that Mr. Guy Waring, who is known to have lost heavily
in the Rio Negro Diamond Mines, may have committed the crime from
purely pecuniary motives, in order to release himself from his
considerable and very pressing financial embarrassments."

The paper dropped from Colonel Kelmscott's hands. His eyes ceased
to see. His arm fell rigid. This last horrible suggestion proved
too much for him to bear. He shrank from it like poison. That
a son of his own, unacknowledged or not, should be a criminal--a
murderer--was terrible enough; but that he should even be suspected
of having committed murder for such base and vulgar motives as mere
thirst of gain was more than the blood of the Kelmscotts could put
up with. The unhappy father had said to himself in his agony at
first that if Guy really killed that prying bank clerk at all, it
was no doubt in defence of his mother's honour. THAT was a reason a
Kelmscott could understand. That, if not an excuse, was at least
a palliation. But to be told he had killed him for a roll of
bank-notes--oh, horrible, incredible; his reason drew back at it.
That was a depth to which the Kelmscott idiosyncrasy could never
descend. The Colonel in his horror refused to believe it.

He put his hands up feebly to his throbbing brow. This was a ghastly
idea--a ghastly accusation. The man called Waring had dragged the
honour of the Kelmscotts through the mud of the street. There was
but one comfort left. He never bore that unsullied name. Nobody
would know he was a Kelmscott of Tilgate.

The Colonel rose from his seat, and staggered across the floor.
Half-way to the door, he reeled and stopped short. The veins of his
forehead were black and swollen. He had the same strange feeling
in his head as he experienced on the day when Granville left--only
a hundred times worse. The two halves of his brain were opening
and shutting. His temples seemed too full; he fancied there was
something wrong with his forehead somewhere. He reeled once more,
like a drunken man. Then he clutched at a chair and sat down. His
brain was flooded.

He collapsed all at once, mumbling to himself some inarticulate
gibberish. Half an hour later, the servants came in and found him.
He was seated in his chair, still doddering feebly. The house was
roused. A doctor was summoned, and the Colonel put to bed. Lady
Emily watched him with devoted care. But it was all in vain. The
doctor shook his head the moment he examined him. "A paralytic
stroke," he said gravely; "and a very serious one. He seems to have
had a slighter attack some time since, and to have wholly neglected
it. A great blood-vessel in the brain must have given way with a
rush. I can hold out no hope. He won't live till morning."

And indeed, as it turned out, about ten that night the Colonel's
loud and stentorious breathing began to fail slowly. The intervals
grew longer and longer between each recurrent gasp, and life died
away at last in imperceptible struggles.

By two in the morning, Kelmscott of Tilgate lay dead on his bed;
and his two unacknowledged and unrecognised sons were the masters
of his property.

But one of them was at that moment being tossed about wildly on the
waves of Biscay; and the other was locked up on a charge of murder
in the county jail at Tavistock, in Devonshire.

Meanwhile, at the other house at Chetwood, where these tidings were
being read with almost equal interest, Elma Clifford laid down the
paper on the table with a very pale face, and looked at her mother.
Mrs. Clifford, all solicitous watchfulness for the effect on Elma,
looked in return with searching eyes at her daughter. Then Elma
opened her lips like one who talks in her sleep, and spoke out
twice in two short disconnected sentences. The first time she
said simply, "He didn't do it, I know," and the second time, with
all the intensity of her emotional nature, "Mother, mother, whatever
turns up, I MUST go there."

"HE will be there," Mrs. Clifford interposed, after a painful pause.

And Elma answered dreamily, with her great eyes far away, "Yes, of
course, I know he will. And I must be there too, to see how far,
if at all, I can help them."

"Yes, darling," her mother replied, stroking her daughter's hair
with a caressing hand. She knew that when Elma spoke in a tone like
that, no power on earth could possibly restrain her.






CHAPTER XXVIII.

MISTAKEN IDENTITY.





To Cyril Waring himself, the arrest at Dover came as an immense
surprise; rather a surprise, indeed, than a shock just at first, for
he could only treat it as a mistaken identity. The man the police
wanted was Guy, not himself; and that Guy should have done it was
clearly incredible.

As he landed from the Ostend packet, recalled to England unexpectedly
by the announcement that the Rio Negro Diamond Mines had gone
with a crash--and no doubt involved Guy in the common ruin--Cyril
was astonished to find himself greeted on the Admiralty Pier by a
policeman, who tapped him on the shoulder with the casual remark,
"I think your name's Waring."

Cyril answered at once, "Yes, my name's Waring."

It didn't occur to him at the moment that the man meant to arrest
him.

"Then you're wanted," the minion of authority answered, seizing his
arm rather gruffly. "We've got a warrant out to-day against you,
my friend. You'd better come along with me quietly to the station."

"A warrant!" Cyril repeated, amazed, shaking off the man's hand.
"There must be some mistake somewhere."

The policeman smiled. "Oh yes," he answered briskly, with some
humour in his tone. "There's always a mistake, of course, in all
these arrests. You never get a hold of the right man just at first.
It's sure to be a case of his twin brother. But there ain't no
mistake this time, don't you fear. I knowed you at once, when I
see you, by your photograph. Though we were looking out for you, to
be sure, going the other way. But it's you all right. There ain't
a doubt about that. Warrant in the name of Guy Waring, gentleman;
wanted for the wilful murder of a man unknown, said to be one
McGregor, alias Montague Nevitt, on the 27th instant, at Mambury,
in Devonshire."

Cyril gave a sudden start at the conjunction of names, which naturally
increased his captor's suspicions. "But there IS a mistake, though,"
he said angrily, "even on your own showing. You've got the wrong
man. It's not I that am wanted. My name's Cyril Waring, and Guy is
my brother's. Though Guy can't have murdered Mr. Nevitt, either, if
it comes to that; they were most intimate friends. However, that's
neither here nor there. I'm Cyril, not Guy; I'm not your prisoner."

"Oh yes, you are, though," the officer answered, holding his arm very
tight, and calling mutely for assistance by a glance at the other
policemen. "I've got your photograph in my pocket right enough.
Here's the man we've orders to arrest at once. I suppose you won't
deny, now, that's your living image."

Cyril glanced at the photograph with another start of surprise.
Sure enough, it WAS Guy; his last new cabinet portrait. The police
must be acting under some gross misapprehension.

"That man's my brother," he said confidently, brushing the photograph
aside. "I can't understand it at all. This is extremely odd. It's
impossible my brother can even be suspected of committing murder."

The policeman smiled cynically. "Well, it ain't impossible your
brother's brother can be suspected, anyhow," he said, with a quiet
air of superior knowledge. "The good old double trick's been tried
on once too often. If I was you, I wouldn't say too much. Whatever
you say may be used as evidence at the trial against you. You just
come along quietly to the station with me--take his other arm, Jim,
that's right: no violence please, prisoner--and we'll pretty soon
find out whether you're the man we've got orders to arrest, or his
twin brother." And he winked at his ally. He was proud of having
effected the catch of the season.

"But I AM his twin brother," Cyril said, half struggling still to
release himself. "You can't take me up on that warrant, I tell you.
It's not my name. I'm not the man you've orders to look for."

"Oh, that's all right," the constable answered as before, with an
incredulous smile. "Don't you go trying to obstruct the police in
the exercise of their duty. If I can't take you up on the warrant
as it stands, well, anyhow, I can arrest you on suspicion all the
same, for looking so precious like the photograph of the man as is
wanted. Twin brothers ain't got any call, don't you know, to sit,
turn about, for one another's photographs. It hinders the administration
of justice; that's where it is. And remember, whatever you choose
to say may be used as evidence at the trial against you."

Thus adjured, Cyril yielded at last to force majeure and walked arm
in arm between the two policemen, followed by a large and admiring
crowd, to the nearest station.

But the matter was far less easily arranged than at first imagined.
An innocent man who knows his own innocence, taken up in mistake
for a brother whom he believes to be equally incapable of the crime
with which he is charged, naturally expects to find no difficulty
at all in proving his identity and escaping from custody on a false
charge of murder. But the result of a hasty examination at the station
soon effectually removed this little delusion. His own admission
that the photograph was a portrait of Guy, and his resemblance
to it in every leading particular, made the authorities decide on
the first blush of the thing this was really the man Scotland Yard
was in search of. He was trying to escape them on the ridiculous
pretext that he was in point of fact his own twin brother. The
inspector declined to let him go for the night. He wasn't going to
repeat the mistake that was made in the Lefroy case, he said very
decidedly. He would send the suspected person under escort to
Tavistock.

So to Tavistock Cyril went, uncertain as yet what all this could
mean, and ignorant of the crime with which he was charged, if indeed
any crime had been really committed. All the way down, an endless
string of questions suggested themselves one by one to his excited
mind. Was Nevitt really dead? And if so, who had killed him? Was
it suicide to escape from the monetary embarrassments brought about
by the failure of the Rio Negro Diamond Mines, or was it accident
or mischance? Or was it in fact a murder? And in any case--strangest
of all--where was Guy? Why didn't Guy come forward and court inquiry?
For as yet, of course, Cyril hadn't received his brother's letter,
with the incriminating pocket-book and the three thousand pounds;
nor indeed, for several days after, as things turned out, was there
even a possibility of his ever receiving it.

Next morning, however, when Cyril was examined before the Tavistock
magistrates, he began to realize the whole strength of the case
against him. The proceedings were purely formal, as the lawyers
said; yet they were quite enough to make Cyril's cheek turn pale
with horror. One witness after another came forward and swore to
him. The station-master at Mambury gave evidence that he had made
inquiries on the platform after Nevitt by name; the inn-keeper
deposed as to his excited behaviour when he called at the Talbot
Arms, and his recognition of McGregor as the person he was in search
of; the boy of whom Guy had inquired at the gate unhesitatingly
set down the conversation to Cyril. None of them had the faintest
doubt in his own mind--each swore--that the prisoner before the
magistrates was the self-same person who went over to Mambury on
that fatal day, and who followed Montague Nevitt down the path by
the river.

As Cyril listened, one terrible fact dawned clearer and clearer
upon his brain. Every fragment of evidence they piled up against
himself made the case against Guy look blacker and blacker.

The magistrates accepted the proofs thus tendered, and Cyril, as
yet unassisted by professional advice, was remanded accordingly
till next morning.

Just as he was about to leave the Sessions House in a tumult of
horror, fear, and suspense, somebody close by tapped him on the
shoulder gravely, after a few whispered words with the chairman
and the magistrates. Cyril turned round, and saw a burly man with
very large hands, whom he remembered to have had pointed out to
him in London, and, strange to say, by Montague Nevitt himself--as
the eminent Q.C., Mr. Gilbert Gildersleeve.

The great advocate was pale, but very sincere and earnest. Cyril
noticed his manner was completely changed. It was clear some
overmastering idea possessed his soul.

"Mr. Waring," he said, looking him full in the face, "I see you're
unrepresented. This is a case in which I take a very deep interest.
My conduct's unprofessional, I know--point-blank against all our
recognised etiquette--but perhaps you'll excuse it. Will you allow
me to undertake your defence in this matter?"

Cyril turned round to him with truly heartfelt thanks. It was a
great relief to him, alone and in doubt, and much wondering about
Guy, to hear a friendly word from whatever quarter.

And Cyril knew he was safe in Gilbert Gildersleeve's hands: the
greatest criminal lawyer of the day in England might surely be
trusted to set right such a mere little error of mistaken identity.
Though for Guy--whenever Guy gave himself up to the police--Cyril
felt the position was far more dangerous. He couldn't believe,
indeed, that Guy was guilty; yet the circumstances, he could no
longer conceal from himself, looked terribly black against him.

"You're too good," he cried, taking the lawyer's hand in his with
very fervent gratitude. "How can I thank you enough? I'm deeply
obliged to you."

"Not at all," Gilbert Gildersleeve answered, with very blanched
lips. He was ashamed of his duplicity. "You've nothing to thank me
for. This case is a simple one, and I'd like to see you out of it.
I've met your brother; and the moment I saw you I knew you weren't
he, though you're very like him. I should know you two apart wherever
I saw you."

"That's curious," Cyril cried, "for very few people know us from
one another, except the most intimate friends."

The Q.C. looked at him with a very penetrating glance. "I had
occasion to see your brother not long since," he answered slowly,
"and his features and expression fastened themselves indelibly on
my mind's eye. I should know you from him at a glance. This case,
as you say, is one of mistaken identity. That's just why I'm so
anxious to help you well through it."

And indeed, Gilbert Gildersleeve, profoundly agitated as he was,
saw in the accident a marvellous chance for himself to secure a
diversion of police attention from the real murderer. The fact was,
he had passed twenty-four hours of supreme misery. As soon as he
learned from common report that "the murderer was caught, and was
being brought to Tavistock," he took it for granted at first that
Guy hadn't gone to Africa at all, but had left by rail for the
East, and been arrested elsewhere. That belief filled him full
of excruciating terrors. For Gilbert Gildersleeve, accidental
manslaughterer as he was, was not by any means a depraved or wholly
heartless person. Big, blustering, and gruff, he was yet in essence
an honest, kind-hearted, unemotional Englishman. His one desire
now was to save his wife and daughter from further misery; and if
he could only save them, he was ready to sacrifice for the moment,
to a certain extent, Guy Waring's reputation. But if Guy Waring
himself had stood before him in the dock, he must have stepped
forward to confess. The strain would have been too great for him.
He couldn't have allowed an innocent man to be hanged in his place.
Come what might, in that case he must let his wife and daughter
go, and save the innocent by acknowledging himself guilty. So, when
he looked at the prisoner, it gave him a shock of joy to see that
fortune had once more befriended him. Thank Heaven, thank Heaven,
it wasn't the man they wanted at all. This was the other brother
of the two--Cyril, the painter, not Guy, the journalist.

In a moment the acute and experienced criminal hand recognised
that this chance told unconsciously in his own favour. Like every
other suspected person, he wanted time, and time would be taken
up in proving an alibi for Cyril, as well as showing by concurrent
proof that he was not his brother. Meanwhile, suspicion would fix
itself still more firmly upon Guy, whose flight would give colour
to the charges brought against him by the authorities.

So the great Q.C. determined to take up Cyril Waring's case as a
labour of love, and didn't doubt he would succeed in finally proving
it.

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