What's Bred In the Bone
Next morning, Cyril Waring appeared once more in the Sessions House
for the preliminary investigation on the charge of murder. As he
entered, a momentary hush pervaded the room; then, suddenly, from
a seat beneath, a woman's voice burst forth, quite low, yet loud
enough to be heard by all the magistrates on the bench.
"Why, mother," it said, in a very tremulous tone, "it isn't Guy
himself at all; don't you see it's Cyril?"
The words were so involuntarily spoken, and in such hushed awe
and amaze, that even the magistrates themselves, hard Devonshire
squires, didn't turn their heads to rebuke the speaker. As for
Cyril, he had no need to look towards a blushing face in the body
of the court to know that the voice was Elma Clifford's.
She sat there looking lovelier than he had ever before seen her.
Cyril's glance caught hers. They didn't need to speak. He saw at once
in her eye that Elma at least knew instinctively he was innocent.
Next moment Gilbert Gildersleeve stood up to state his defence,
and gazed at her steadily. As he rose in his place, Elma's eye met
his. Gilbert Gildersleeve's fell. He didn't know why, but in that
second of time the great blustering man felt certain in his heart
that Elma Clifford suspected him.
Elma Clifford, for her part, knew still more than that. With
the swift intuition she inherited from her long line of Oriental
ancestry, she said to herself at once, in categorical terms, "It
was that man that did it. I know it was he. And he sees I know it.
And he knows I'm right. And he's afraid of me accordingly." But an
intuition, however valuable to its possessor, is not yet admitted
as evidence in English courts. Elma also knew it was no use in the
world for her to get up in her place and say so openly.
The great Q.C. put his case in a nutshell. "Our client," he
contended, "was NOT the man against whom the warrant in this case
had been duly issued; he was NOT the man named Guy Waring; he was
NOT the man whom the witnesses deposed to having seen at Mambury; he
was NOT the man who had loitered with evil intent around the skirts
of Dartmoor; in short," the great Q.C. observed, with demonstrative
eye-glass, "it was a very clear case of mistaken identity. It would
take them time, no doubt, to prove the conclusive alibi they intended
to establish; for the gentleman now charged before them, he would
hope to show hereafter, was Mr. Cyril Waring, the distinguished
painter, twin brother to Mr. Guy Waring, the journalist, against
whom warrant was issued; and he was away in Belgium during the whole
precise time when Mr. Guy Waring--as to whose guilt or innocence
he would make no definite assertion--was prowling round Dartmoor
on the trail of McGregor, alias Montague Nevitt. Therefore, they
would consent to an indefinite remand till evidence to that effect
was duly forthcoming. Meanwhile--" and here Gilbert Gildersleeve's
eyes fell upon Elma once more with a quiet forensic smile--he
would call one witness, on the spur of the moment, whom he hadn't
thought till that very morning of calling, but whom the magistrates
would allow to be a very important one--a lady from Chetwood--Miss
Elma, taken aback, stood up in the box and gave her evidence timidly.
It amounted to no more than the simple fact that the person before
the magistrates was Cyril, not Guy; that the two brothers were
extremely like; but that she had reason to know them easily apart,
having been associated in a most painful accident in a tunnel with
the brother, the present Mr. Cyril Waring. What she said gave only
a presumption of mistaken identity, but didn't at all invalidate
the positive identification of all the people who had seen the
supposed murderer. However, from Gilbert Gildersleeve's point of
view, this delay was doubly valuable. In the first place, it gave
him time to prove his alibi for Cyril and bring witnesses from
Belgium; and, in the second place, it succeeded in still further
fastening public suspicion on Guy, and narrowing the question for
the police to the simple issue whether or not they had really caught
the brother who was seen at Mambury on the day of the murder.
The law's delays were as marvellous as is their wont. It was a
full fortnight before the barrister was able to prove his point by
bringing over witnesses at considerable expense from Belgium and
elsewhere, and by the aid of a few intimate friends in London, who
could speak with certainty as to the difference between the two
brothers. At the end of a fortnight, however, he did sufficiently
prove it by tracing Cyril in detail from England to the Ardennes
and back again to Dover, as well as by showing exactly how Guy had
been employed in London and elsewhere on every day or night of
the intervening period. The magistrates at last released Cyril,
convinced by his arguments; and on the very same day, the coroner's
inquest on Montague Nevitt's body, after adjourning time upon time
to await the clearing up of this initial difficulty, returned a
verdict of wilful murder against Guy Waring.
That evening, in town, the most completely mystified person of
all was a certain cashier of the London and West County Bank, in
Lombard Street, who read in his St. James's this complete proof that
Cyril had been in Belgium through all those days when he himself
distinctly remembered cashing over the counter for him a cheque
for no less a sum than six thousand pounds to "self or bearer."
Had the brothers, then, been deliberately and nefariously engaged
in a deep-laid scheme--the cashier asked himself, much puzzled--to
confuse one another's identity with great care beforehand, with
a distinct view to the projected murder? For as yet, of course,
nobody on earth except Guy Waring himself on the waters of Biscay
knew or suspected anything at all about the forgery.
Elma Clifford and her mother, meanwhile, had stopped on at Tavistock
till Cyril was released from his close confinement. Elma never
meant to marry him, of course--to that prime determination she still
remained firm as a rock under all conditions--but in such straits
as those, why, naturally she couldn't bear to be far away from him.
So she remained at Tavistock quietly till the inquiry was over.
On the evening of his release Elma met him at the hotel. Her mother
had gone out on purpose to leave them alone. Elma took Cyril's hand
in hers with a profound trembling. She felt the moment for reserve
had long gone past.
"Cyril," she said, boldly calling him by his Christian name, because
she could call him only as she always thought of him, "I knew from
the first you didn't do it. And just because I know you didn't, I
know Guy didn't either, though everything looks now so very black
against him. I can trust YOU, and I can trust HIM. All through,
I've never had a doubt one moment of either of you."
Cyril held her hand in his, and raised it tenderly to his lips. Elma
looked at him, half surprised. Only her hand, how strange of him.
Cyril read the unspoken thought, as she would have read it herself,
and answered quickly, "Never, Elma, now, till Guy has cleared himself
of this deadly accusation. I couldn't bear to ask you to accept a
man who every one else would call a murderer's brother."
Elma gazed at him steadfastly. Tears stood in her eyes. Her voice
trembled; but she was very firm.
"We must clear you and him of this dreadful charge," she said slowly.
"I know we must do that, Cyril. Guy didn't kill him. Guy's wholly
incapable of it. But where is Guy now? That's what I don't understand.
We must clear that all up. Though, even when it's cleared up, I
can only LOVE you. As I told you that day at Chetwood--and I mean
it still--whatever comes to us two, I can never, never marry you."
"Not even if I clear this all up?" Cyril asked, with a wistful
"Not even if you clear this all up," Elma answered seriously. "The
difficulty's on MY side, don't you see, not on yours at all. So far
as you're concerned, Cyril, clear this up or leave it just where
it is, I'd marry you to-morrow. I'd marry you at once, and proud
to do it, if only to show the world openly I trust you both. I half
faltered just once as you stood there in court, whether I wouldn't
say yes to you, for nothing else but that--to let everybody see
how implicitly I trusted you."
"But _I_ couldn't allow it," Cyril answered, all aglow. "As things
stand now, Elma, our positions are reversed. While this cloud
still hangs so black over Guy, I couldn't find it in my conscience
to ask you to marry me."
He gazed at her steadily. They were both too profoundly stirred
for tears or emotions. A quiet despair gleamed in the eyes of each.
Cyril could never marry her till he had cleared up this mystery.
Elma could never marry him, even if it were all cleared up, with that
terrible taint of madness, as she thought it, hanging threateningly
for ever over her and her family.
She paused for a minute or two, with her hand locked in his. Then
she said once more, very low, "No, Guy didn't do it. But why did
he run away? That baffles me quite. That's the one point of it
all that makes it so strange and so terribly mysterious."
"Elma," Cyril answered, with a cold thrill, "I believe in Guy;
I think I know myself, and I think I know him, well enough to say
that such a thing as murder is impossible for either of us. He's weak
at times, I admit, and his will was powerless before the magnetic
force of Montague Nevitt's. But when I try to face that inscrutable
mystery of why, if he's innocent, he has run away from this
charge, I confess my faith begins to falter and tremble. He must
have seen it in the papers. He must have seen I was accused. What
can he mean by leaving me to bear it in his stead without ever
coming forward to help me fairly out of it?"
Elma looked up at him with another of her sudden flashes of superb
intuition. "He CAN'T have seen it in the papers," she said. "That
gives us some clue. If he'd seen it, he MUST have come forward to
help you. But, Cyril, MY faith never falters at all. And I tell
you why. Not only do I know Guy didn't do it, but I know who did
it. The man who murdered Montague Nevitt is--why shouldn't I tell
you?--Mr. Gilbert Gildersleeve!"
Cyril started back astonished. "Oh, Elma, why do you think so?" he
cried in amazement. "What possible reason can you have for saying
"None," Elma answered, with a calmly resigned air. "I only know it;
I know it from his eyes. I looked in them once and read it like a
book. But of course that's nothing. What we must do now is to try
and find out the facts. I looked in his eyes and I saw it at a
glance. And I saw he saw it. He knows I've discovered him."
Cyril half drew away from her with a faint sense of alarm. "Elma,"
he said slowly, "I believe in Guy; but really and truly I can't
quite believe THAT. You make your intuition tell you far too much. In
your natural anxiety to screen my brother, you've fixed the guilt,
without proof, upon another innocent man. I'm sure Mr. Gildersleeve's
as incapable as Guy of any such action."
"And I'm sure of it, too," Elma answered, with the instinctive
certainty of feminine conviction. "But still I know, for all that,
he did it. Perhaps it was all done in a moment of haste. But at
least he did it. And nothing on earth that anybody could say will
ever make me believe he didn't."
When Mrs. Clifford came back to the hotel an hour later, she scanned
her daughter's face with a keen glance of inquiry.
"Well, he says he won't ask you again," she murmured, laying Elma's
head on her shoulder, "till this case is cleared up, and Guy is
"Yes," Elma answered, nestling close and looking red as a rose.
"He knows very well Guy didn't do it, but he wants all the rest of
the world to acknowledge it also."
"And YOU know who did it?" Mrs, Clifford said, with a tentative
"Yes, mother. Do you?"
"Of course I do, darling. But it'll never be proved against HIM,
you may be sure. I saw it at a glance. It's Mr. Gilbert Gildersleeve."
As Cyril drove home from Waterloo next day to his lonely rooms in
Staple Inn, Holborn, he turned aside with his cab for a few minutes
to make a passing call at the bank in Lombard Street. He was short
of ready money, and wanted to cash a cheque for fifty pounds for
expenses incurred in his defence at Tavistock.
The cashier stared at him hard; then, without consulting anybody,
he said, in a somewhat embarrassed tone, "I don't know whether
you're aware of it, Mr. Waring, but this overdraws your current
account. We haven't fifty pounds on our books to your credit."
He was well posted on the subject, in fact, for only that morning
he had hunted up Cyril's balance in the ledger at his side for the
gratification of his own pure personal curiosity.
Cyril stared at him in astonishment. In this age of surprises, one
more surprise was thus suddenly sprung upon him. His first impulse
was to exclaim in a very amazed voice, "Why, I've six thousand odd
pounds to my credit, surely;" but he checked himself in time with
a violent effort. How could he tell what strange things might have
happened in his absence? If the money was gone, and Nevitt was
murdered, and Guy in hiding, who could say what fresh complications
might not still be in store for him? So he merely answered, with
a strenuous endeavour to suppress his agitation, "Will you kindly
let me have my balance-sheet, if you please? I--ur--I thought I'd
more money than that still left with you."
The cashier brought out a big book and a bundle of cheques, which
he handed to Cyril with a face of profound interest. To him, too,
this little drama was pregnant with mystery and personal implications.
Cyril turned the vouchers over one by one, with close attention,
recognising the signature and occasion of each, till he arrived
at last at a big cheque which staggered him sadly for a moment. He
took it up in his hands and examined it in the light. "Pay Self or
Bearer, Six Thousand Pounds (L6,000), Cyril Waring."
Oh, horrible, horrible! This, then, was the secret of Guy's sudden
He didn't cry aloud. He didn't say a word. He looked at the thing
hard, and knew in a moment exactly what had happened. Guy had
forged that cheque; it was Guy's natural hand, written forward like
Cyril's own, instead of backward, as usual. And no one but himself
could possibly have told it from his own true signature. But Cyril
knew it at once for Guy's by one infallible sign--a tiny sign that
might escape the veriest expert--some faint hesitation about the
tail of the capital C, which was shorter in Guy's hand than Cyril
ever made it, and which Guy had therefore deliberately lengthened,
by an effort or an afterthought, to complete the imitation.
"You cashed that cheque yourself, sir, over the counter, you
remember," the cashier said quietly, "on the date it was drawn on."
Cyril never altered a muscle of his rigid face.
"Ah, quite so," he answered, in a very dry voice, not daring to
contradict the man. He knew just what had happened. Guy must have
come to get the money himself, and the cashier must have mistaken
him for the proper owner of the purloined six thousand. They were
so very much alike. Nobody ever distinguished them.
"And that was one of the days, I think, when you proved the alibi
in Belgium before the Devonshire magistrates at Tavistock yesterday,"
the clerk went on, with a searching glance. Cyril started this
time. He saw in a second the new danger thus sprung upon him. If
the cashier chose to press the matter home to the hilt, he must
necessarily arrive at one or other of two results. Either the alibi
would break down altogether, or it would be perfectly clear that
Guy had committed a forgery.
"So it seems," he answered, looking his keen interlocutor straight
in the eyes. "So it seems, I should say, by the date on the face
But the cashier did NOT care to press the matter home any further;
and for a very good reason. It was none of his business to suggest
the idea of a forgery, after a cheque had been presented and duly
cashed, if the customer to whose account it was debited in course
chose voluntarily to accept the responsibility of honouring it.
The objection should come first from the customer's side. If HE
didn't care to press it, then neither did the cashier. Why should
he, indeed? Why saddle his firm with six thousand pounds loss? He
would only get himself into trouble for having failed to observe
the discrepancy in the signatures, and the difference between the
brothers. That, after all, is what a cashier is for. If he doesn't
fulfil those first duties of his post, why what on earth can be
the good of him to anybody in any way?
The two men looked at one another across the counter with a strong
inscrutable stare of mutual suspicion. Then Cyril slowly tore
up the cheque he had tendered for fifty pounds, filled in another
for his real balance of twenty-two, handed it across to the clerk
without another word, received the cash in white trembling hands,
and went out to his cab again in a turmoil of excitement.
All the way back to his rooms in Staple Inn one seething idea alone
possessed his soul. His faith in Guy was beginning to break down.
And with it, his faith in himself almost went. The man was his own
brother--his very counterpart, he knew; could he really believe
him capable of committing a murder? Cyril looked within, and said
a thousand times NO; he looked at that forged cheque, and his heart
At Staple Inn, the housekeeper who took care of their joint rooms
came out to greet him with no small store of tears and lamentations.
"Oh, Mr. Cyril," she cried, seizing both his hands in hers with a
tremulous welcome, "I'm glad to see you back, and to know you're
innocent. I always said you never could have done it; no, no, not
you, nor yet Mr. Guy neither. The police has been here time and
again to search the rooms, but, the Lord be praised, they never
found anything. And I've got a letter for you, too, from Mr. Guy
himself; but there--I locked it up till you come in my own cupboard
at home, for fear of the detectives; and now you're back and safe
in London again, I'll run home this minute round the corner and
Cyril sat down in the familiar easy-chair, holding his face in his
hands, and gazed about him blankly. Such a home-coming as this
was inexpressibly terrible to him.
In a few minutes more the housekeeper came back, bringing in her
hand Guy's letter from Plymouth.
Cyril sat for a minute and looked at the envelope in deadly silence.
Then he motioned the housekeeper out of the room with one quivering
hand. Before that good woman's face, he couldn't open it and read
As soon as she was gone, he tore it apart, trembling. As he read
and read the suspicion within him deepened quickly into a doubt,
the doubt into a conviction, the conviction into a certainty. He
clapped his hands to his head. Oh, God, what was this? Guy acknowledged
his own guilt! He confessed he had done it!
Cyril's last hope was gone. Guy himself admitted it!
"How I came to do it," the letter said, "I've no idea myself. A
sudden suggestion--a strange, unaccountable impulse--a prompting,
as it were, pressed upon me from without, and almost before I knew,
the crime was committed."
Cyril bent his head low upon his knees with shame. He never
could hold up that head henceforth. No further doubt or hesitation
remained. He knew the whole truth. Guy was indeed a murderer.
He steeled himself for the worst, and read the letter through
with a superhuman effort. It almost choked him to read. The very
consecutiveness and coherency of the sentences seemed all but
incredible under such awful circumstances. A murderer, red-handed,
to speak of his crime so calmly as that! And then, too, this undying
anger expressed and felt, even after death, against his victim
Nevitt! Cyril couldn't understand how any man--least of all his own
brother--could write such words about the murdered man whose body
was then lying all silent and cold, under the open sky, among the
bracken at Mambury.
And once more, this awful clue of the dead man's pocket-book! Those
accursed notes! That hateful sum of money! How could Guy venture
to speak of it all in such terms as those--the one palpable fact
that indubitably linked him with that cold-blooded murder. "The
three thousand sent herewith I recovered, almost by a miracle, from
that false creature's grasp, under extraordinary circumstances,
and I return them now, in proof of the fact, in Montague Nevitt's
own pocket-book, which I'm sure you'll recognise as soon as you
look at it."
Cyril saw it all now beyond the shadow of a doubt. He reconstructed
the whole sad tale. He was sure he understood it. But to understand
it was hardly even yet to believe it. Guy had lost heavily in the
Rio Negro Mines, as the prosecution declared; in an evil hour he'd
been cajoled into forging Cyril's name for six thousand. Montague
Nevitt had in some way misappropriated the stolen sum. Guy had
pursued him in a sudden white-heat of fury, had come up with him
unawares, had killed him in his rage, and now calmly returned as
much as he could recover of that fateful and twice-stolen money to
Cyril. It was all too horrible, but all too true. In a wild ferment
of remorse for his brother's sin, the unhappy painter sat down at
once and penned a letter of abject self-humiliation to Elma Clifford.
"ELMA,-I said to you last night that I could never marry you till
I had clearly proved my brother Guy's innocence. Well, I said what
I can never conceivably do. Since returning to town I received a
letter from Guy himself. What it contained I must never tell you,
for Guy's own sake. But what I MUST tell you is this--I can never
again see you. Guy and I are so nearly one, in every nerve and
fibre of our being, that whatever he may have done is to me almost
as if I myself had done it. You will know how terrible a thing it
is for me to write these words, but for YOUR sake I can't refrain
from writing them. Think no more of me. I am not worthy of you.
I will think of you as long as I live.
"Your ever devoted and heart-broken
He folded the letter, and sent it off to the temporary address at
the West-End where Elma had told him that she and her mother would
spend the night in London. Very late that evening a ring came at
the bell. Cyril ran to the door. It was a boy with a telegram. He
opened it, and read it with breathless excitement.
"Whatever Guy may have said, you are quite mistaken. There's a
mystery somewhere. Keep his letter and show it to me. I may, perhaps,
be able to unravel the tangle. I'm more than ever convinced that
what I said to you last night was perfectly true. We will save him
But the telegram brought little peace to Cyril. Of what value were
Elma's vague intuitions now, by the side of Guy's own positive
confession? With his very own hand Guy admitted that he had done
it. Cyril went to bed that night, the unhappiest, loneliest man
in London. What Guy was, he was. He felt himself almost like the