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 What's Bred In the Bone 28 Alerter l'administrateur Recommander à un ami Lien de l'article 

What's Bred In the Bone
by
Grant Allen







CHAPTER XLIII.

SIR GILBERT'S TEMPTATION.





Cyril felt all was up. Elma glanced at him trembling. This was
horrible, inconceivable, inexplicable, fatal. The very stars in
their courses seem to fight against Guy. Blind chance checkmated
them. No hope was left now, save in Gilbert Gildersleeve's own
sense of justice.

But Sir Gilbert Gildersleeve sat there, transfixed with horror. No
answering gleam now shot through his dull, glazed eye. For he alone
knew that whatever made the case against the prisoner look worse,
made his own position each moment more awful and more intolerable.

Through the rest of the case, Cyril sat in his place like a stone
figure. Counsel for the Crown generously abstained from putting
him into the witness-box to give testimony against his brother. Or
rather, they thought the facts themselves, as they had just come
out in court, more telling for the jury than any formal evidence.
The only other witness of importance was, therefore, the lad who
had sat on the gate by the entrance to The Tangle. As he scrambled
into the box Sir Gilbert's anxiety grew visibly deeper and more
acute than ever. For the boy was the one person who had seen him
at Mambury on the day of the murder; and on the boy depended his
sole chance of being recognised. At Tavistock, eighteen months
before, Sir Gilbert had left the cross-examination of this witness
in the hands of a junior, and the boy hadn't noticed him, sitting
down among the Bar with gown and wig on. But to-day, it was impossible
the boy shouldn't see him; and if the boy should recognise him--why,
then, Heaven help him.

The lad gave his evidence-in-chief with great care and deliberateness.
He swore positively to Guy, and wasn't for a moment to be shaken in
cross-examination. He admitted he had been mistaken at Tavistock,
and confused the prisoner with Cyril--when he saw one of them
apart--but now that he saw 'em both together before his eyes at
once, why, he could take his solemn oath as sure as fate upon him.
Guy's counsel failed utterly to elicit anything of importance,
except--and here Sir Gilbert's face grew whiter than ever--except
that another gentleman whom the lad didn't know had asked at the
gate about the path, and gone round the other way as if to meet
Mr. Nevitt.

"What sort of a gentleman?" the cross-examiner inquired, clutching
at this last straw as a mere chance diversion.

"Well, a vurry big zart o' a gentleman," witness answered, unabashed.
"A vine vigger o' a man. Jest such another as thik 'un with the
wig ther."

As he spoke he stared hard at the judge, a good scrutinizing stare.
Sir Gilbert quailed, and glanced instinctively, first at the boy,
and then at Elma. Not a spark of intelligence shone in the lad's
stolid eyes. But Elma's were fixed upon him with a serpentine glare
of awful fascination. "Thou art the man," they seemed to say to him
mutely. Sir Gilbert, in his awe, was afraid to look at them. They
made him wild with terror, yet they somehow fixed him. Try as he would
to keep his own from meeting them, they attracted him irresistibly.

A ripple, of faint laughter ran lightly through the court at the
undisguised frankness of the boy's reply. The judge repressed it
sternly.

"Oh, he was just such another one as his lordship, was he?" counsel
repeated, pressing the lad hard. "Now, are you quite sure you
remember all the people you saw that day? Are you quite sure the
other man who asked about passers-by wasn't--for example--the judge
himself who's sitting here?"

Sir Gilbert glanced up with a quick, suspicious air. It was only
a shot at random--the common advocate's trick in trying to confuse
a witness over questions of identity; but to Sir Gilbert, under the
circumstances, it was inexpressibly distressing. "Well, it murt
'a been he," the lad answered, putting his head on one side, and
surveying the judge closely with prolonged attention. "Thik un 'ad
just such another pair o' 'ands as his lordship do 'ave. It murt
'a been his lordship 'urself as is zitting there."

"This goes quite beyond the bounds of decency," Sir Gilbert murmured
faintly, with a vain endeavour to hold his hands on the desk in an
unconcerned attitude. "Have the kindness, Mr. Walters, to spare
the Bench. Attend to your examination. Observations of that sort
are wholly uncalled for."

But the boy, once started, was not so easily repressed. "Why, it
was his lordship," he went on, scanning the judge still harder. "I
do mind his vurry voice. It was 'im, no doubt about it. I've zeed
a zight o' people, since I zeed 'im that day, but I do mind his
voice, and I do mind his 'ands, and I do mind his ve-ace the zame
as if it wur yesterday. Now I come to look, blessed if it wasn't
his lordship!"

Guy's counsel smiled a triumphant smile. He had carried his point.
He had confused the witness. This showed how little reliance could
be placed upon the boy's evidence as to personal identity! He'd
identify anybody who happened to be suggested to him! But Sir
Gilbert's face grew yet more deadly pale. For he saw at a glance
this was no accident or mistake; the boy really remembered him!
And Elma's steadfast eyes looked him through and through, with that
irresistible appeal, still more earnestly than ever.

Sir Gilbert breathed again. He had been recognised to no purpose.
Even this positive identification fell flat upon everybody.

At last the examination and cross-examination were finished, and
Guy's counsel began his hopeless task of unravelling this tangled
mass of suggestion and coincidence. He had no witnesses to call;
the very nature of the case precluded that. All he could do was
to cavil over details, to point out possible alternatives, to lay
stress upon the absence of direct evidence, and to ask that the jury
should give the prisoner the benefit of the doubt, if any doubt at
all existed in their minds as to his guilt or innocence. Counsel
had meant when he first undertook the case to lay great stress also
on the presumed absence of motive; but, after the fatal accident
which resulted in the disclosure of Montague Nevitt's pocket-book,
any argument on that score would have been worse than useless.
Counsel elected rather to pass the episode by in discreet silence,
and to risk everything on the uncertainty of the actual encounter.

At last he sat down, wiping his brow in despair, after what he felt
himself to be a most feeble performance.

Then Sir Gilbert began, and in a very tremulous and failing voice
summed briefly up the whole of the evidence.

Men who remember Gildersleeve's old blustering manner stood aghast
at the timidity with which the famous lawyer delivered himself on
this, the first capital charge ever brought before him. He reminded
the jury, in very solemn and almost warning tones, that where a
human life was at stake, mere presumptive evidence should always
carry very little weight with it. And the evidence here was all
purely presumptive. The prosecution had shown nothing more than
a physical possibility that the prisoner at the bar might have
committed the murder. There was evidence of animus, it was true;
but that evidence was weak; there was partial identification; but
that identification lay open to the serious objection that all the
persons who now swore to Guy Waring's personality had sworn just
as surely and confidently before to his brother Cyril's. On the
whole, the judge summed up strongly in Guy's favour. He wiped his
clammy brow and looked appealingly at the bar. As the jury would
hope for justice themselves, let them remember to mete out nothing
but strict justice to the accused person who now stood trembling
in the dock before them.

All the court stood astonished. Could this be Gildersleeve? Atkins
would never have summed up like that. Atkins would have gone in
point-blank for hanging him. And everybody thought Gildersleeve
would hang with the best. Nobody had suspected him till then of
any womanly weakness about capital punishment. There was a solemn
hush as the judge ended. Then everybody saw the unhappy man was
seriously ill. Great streams of sweat trickled slowly down his brow.
His eyes stared in front of him. His mouth twitched horribly. He
looked like a person on the point of apoplexy. The prisoner at the
bar gazed hard at him and pitied him.

"He's dying himself, and he wants to go out with a clear conscience
at last," some one suggested in a low voice at the barristers'
table. The explanation served. It was whispered round the court
in a hushed undertone that the judge to-day was on his very last
legs, and had summed up accordingly. Late in life, he had learned
to show mercy, as he hoped for it.

There was a deadly pause. The jury retired to consider their
verdict. Two men remained behind in court, waiting breathless for
their return. Two lives hung at issue in the balance while the jury
deliberated. Elma Clifford, glancing with a terrified eye from
one to the other, could hardly help pitying the guiltiest most.
His look of mute suffering was so inexpressibly pathetic.

The twelve good men and true were gone for a full half-hour. Why,
nobody knew. The case was as plain as a pikestaff, gossipers said
in court. If he had been caught red-handed, he'd have been hanged
without remorse. It was only the eighteen months and the South
African episode that could make the jury hesitate for one moment
about hanging him.

At last, a sound, a thrill, a movement by the door. Every eye
was strained forward. The jury trooped back again. They took their
places in silence. Sir Gilbert scanned their faces with an agonized
look. It was a moment of ghastly and painful suspense. He was
waiting for their verdict--on himself, and Guy Waring.






CHAPTER XLIV.

AT BAY.





Only two people in court doubted for one moment what the verdict
would be. And those two were the pair who stood there on their trial.
Sir Gilbert couldn't believe the jury would convict an innocent
man of the crime he himself had half unwittingly committed. Guy
Waring couldn't believe the jury would convict an innocent man of
the crime he had never been guilty of. So those two doubted. To
all the rest the verdict was a foregone conclusion.

Nevertheless, dead silence reigned everywhere in the court as the
clerk of arraigns put the solemn question, "Gentlemen, do you find
the prisoner at the bar guilty or not guilty?"

And the foreman, clearing his throat huskily, answered in a very
tremulous tone, "We find him guilty of wilful murder."

There was a long, deep pause. Every one looked at the prisoner.
Guy Waring stood like one stunned by the immensity of the blow. It
was an awful moment. He knew he was innocent; but he knew now the
English law would hang him.

One pair of eyes in the court, however, was not fixed on Guy. Elma
Clifford, at that final and supreme moment, gazed hard with all
her soul at Sir Gilbert Gildersleeve. Her glance went through him.
She sat like an embodied conscience before him. The judge rose
slowly, his eyes riveted on hers. He was trembling with remorse,
and deadlier pale than ever. An awful lividness stole over his
face. His lips were contorted. His eyebrows quivered horribly. Still
gazing straight at Elma, he essayed to speak. Twice he opened his
parched lips. Then his voice failed him.

"I cannot accept that finding," he said at last, in a very solemn
tone, battling hard for speech against some internal enemy. "I
cannot accept it. Clerk, you will enter a verdict of not guilty."

A deep hum of surprise ran round the expectant court. Every mouth
opened wide, and drew a long hushed breath. Senior counsel for the
Crown jumped to his feet astonished. "But why, my lord?" he asked
tartly, thus baulked of his success. "On what ground does your
lordship decide to override the plain verdict of the jury?"

The pause that followed was inexpressibly terrible. Guy Waring
waited for the answer in an agony of suspense. He knew what it
meant now. With a rush it all occurred to him. He knew who was the
murderer. But he hoped for nothing. Sir Gilbert faltered: Elma
Clifford's eyes were upon him still, compelling him. "Because,"
he said at last, with a still more evident and physical effort,
pumping the words out slowly, "I am here to administer justice,
and justice I will administer.... This man is innocent. It was I
myself who killed Montague Nevitt that day at Mambury."

At those awful words, uttered in a tone so solemn that no one
could doubt either their truth or their sincerity, a cold thrill
ran responsive through the packed crowd of auditors. The silence
was profound. In its midst, a boy's voice burst forth all at once,
directed, as it seemed, to the counsel for the Crown, "I said it
was him," the voice cried, in a triumphant tone. "I knowed 'um!
I knowed 'um! Thik there's the man that axed me the way down the
dell the marnin' o' the murder."

The judge turned towards the boy with a ghastly smile of enforced
recognition. "You say the truth, my lad," he answered, without
any attempt at concealment. "It was I who asked you. It was I who
killed him. I went round by the far gate after hearing he was there,
and, cutting across the wood, I met Montague Nevitt in the path
by The Tangle. I went there to meet him; I went there to confront
him; but not of malice prepense to murder him. I wanted to question
him about a family matter. Why I needed to question him no one
henceforth shall ever know. That secret, thank Heaven, rests now
in Montague Nevitt's grave. But when I did question him, he answered
me back with so foul an aspersion upon a lady who was very near
and dear to me"--the judge paused a moment; he was fighting hard
for breath; something within was evidently choking him. Then he went
on more excitedly--"an aspersion upon a lady whom I love more than
life--an insult that no man could stand--an unspeakable foulness;
and I sprang at him, the cur, in the white heat of my anger, not
meaning or dreaming to hurt him seriously. I caught him by the throat."
The judge held up his hands before the whole court appealingly.
"Look at those hands, gentlemen," he cried, turning them about.
"How could I ever know how hard and how strong they were? I only
seemed to touch him. I just pushed him from my path. He fell at
once at my feet--dead, dead unexpectedly. Remember how it all came
about. The medical evidence showed his heart was weak, and he died
in the scuffle. How was I to know all that? I only knew this--he
fell dead before me."

With a face of speechless awe, he paused and wiped his brow. Not
a soul in court moved or breathed above a whisper. It was evident
the judge was in a paroxysm of contrition. His face was drawn up.
His whole frame quivered visibly. Even Elma pitied him.

"And then I did a grievous wrong," the judge continued once
more, his voice now very thick and growing rapidly thicker. "I did
a grievous wrong, for which here to-day, before all this court,
I humbly ask Guy Waring's pardon. I had killed Montague Nevitt,
unintentionally, unwittingly, accidentally almost, in a moment
of anger, never knowing I was killing him. And if he had been a
stronger or a healthier man, what little I did to him would never
have killed him. I didn't mean to murder him. For that my remorse
is far less poignant. But what I did after was far worse than the
murder. I behaved like a sneak--I behaved like a coward. I saw
suspicion was aroused against the prisoner, Guy Waring. And what did
I do then? Instead of coming forward like a man, as I ought, and
saying 'I did it,' and standing my trial on the charge of manslaughter,
I did my best to throw further suspicion on an innocent person.
I made the case look blacker and worse for Guy Waring. I don't
condone my own crime. I did it for my wife's sake and my daughter's,
I admit--but I regret it now bitterly--and am I not atoning for it?
With a great humiliation, am I not amply atoning for it? I wrote
an unsigned letter warning Waring at once to fly the country, as
a warrant was out against him. Waring foolishly took my advice,
and fled forthwith. From that day to this"--he gazed round him
appealingly--"oh, friends, I have never known one happy moment."

Guy gazed at him from the dock, where he still stood guarded by two
strong policemen, and felt a fresh light break suddenly in upon
him. Their positions now were almost reversed. It was he who was
the accuser, and Sir Gilbert Gildersleeve, the judge in that court,
who stood charged to-day on his own confession with causing the
death of Montague Nevitt.

"Then it was YOU" Guy said slowly, breaking the pause at last, "who
sent me that anonymous letter at Plymouth?"

"It was I," the judge answered, in an almost inaudible, gurgling
tone. "It was I who so wronged you. Can you ever forgive me for
it?"

Guy gazed at him fixedly. He himself had suffered much. Cyril and Elma
had suffered still more. But the judge, he felt sure, had suffered
most of all of them. In this moment of relief, this moment of
vindication, this moment of triumph, he could afford to be generous.
"Sir Gilbert Gildersleeve, I forgive you," he answered slowly.

The judge gazed around him with a vacant stare. "I feel cold,"
he said, shivering; "very cold, very faint, too. But I've made all
right HERE," and he held out a document. "I wrote this paper in
my room last night--in case of accident--confessing everything.
I brought it down here, signed and witnessed, unread, intending
to read it out if the verdict went against me--I mean, against
Waring.... But I feel too weak now to read anything further.... I'm
so cold, so cold. Take the paper, Forbes-Ewing. It's all in your
line. You'll know what to do with it." He could hardly utter a word,
breath failed him so fast. "This thing has killed me," he went on,
mumbling. "I deserved it. I deserved it."

"How about the prisoner?" the authority from the gaol asked, as
the judge collapsed rather than sat down on the bench again.

Those words roused Sir Gilbert to full consciousness once more.
The judge rose again, solemnly, in all the majesty of his ermine.
"The prisoner is discharged," he said, in a loud, clear voice. "I
am here to do justice--justice against myself. I enter a verdict
of not guilty." Then he turned to the polices "I am your prisoner,"
he went on, in a broken, rambling way. "I give myself in charge
for the manslaughter of Montague Nevitt. Manslaughter, not murder.
Though I don't even admit myself, indeed, it was anything. more
than justifiable homicide."

He sank back again once more, and murmured three times in his seat,
as if to himself, "Justifiable homicide! Justifiable homicide!
Just--ifiable homicide!"

Somebody rose in court as he sank, and moved quickly towards him.
The judge recognised him at once.

"Granville Kelmscott," he said; in a weary voice, "help me out of
this. I am very, very ill. You're a friend. I'm dying. Give me your
arm! Assist me!"

  Aucun commentaire | Ecrire un nouveau commentaire Posté le 07-08-2011 à 12h41

 What's Bred In the Bone 27 Alerter l'administrateur Recommander à un ami Lien de l'article 

What's Bred In the Bone
by
Grant Allen







CHAPTER XLI.

WHAT JUDGE?





For many days, meanwhile, Sir Gilbert had hovered between life
and death, and Elma had watched his illness daily with profound
and absorbing interest. For in her deep, intuitive way she felt
certain to herself that their one chance now lay in Sir Gilbert's
own sense of remorse and repentance. She didn't yet know, to be
sure--what Sir Gilbert himself knew--that if he recovered he would,
in all probability, have to sit in trial on another man for the
crime he had himself committed. But she did feel this,--that Sir
Gilbert would surely never stand by and let an innocent man die
for his own transgression.

IF he recovered, that was to say. But perhaps he would not recover.
Perhaps his life would flicker out by degrees in the midst of his
delirium, and he would go to his grave unconfessed and unforgiven!
Perhaps even, for his wife's and daughter's sake, he would shrink
from revealing what Elma felt to be the truth, and would rest
content to die, leaving Guy Waring to clear himself at the trial,
as best he might, from this hateful accusation.

It would be unjust. It would be criminal. Yet Sir Gilbert might do
it.

Elma had a bad time, therefore, during all those long days,
even before Guy returned to England. She knew his life hung by a
slender thread, which Sir Gilbert Gildersleeve might cut short at
any moment. But her anxiety was as nothing compared to Sir Gilbert's
own. That unhappy man, a moral coward at heart, in spite of all
his blustering, lay writhing in his own room now, very ill, and
longing to be worse, longing to die, as the easiest way out of
this impossible difficulty. For his wife's sake, for Gwendoline's
sake, it was better he should die; and if only he could, he would
have left Guy Waring to his fate contentedly. His anger against
Guy burnt so bright now at last that he would have sacrificed him
willingly, provided he was not there himself to see and know it.
What did the man mean by living on to vex him? Over and over again
the unhappy judge wished himself dead, and prayed to be taken. But
that powerful frame, though severely broken by the shock, seemed
hardly able to yield up its life merely because its owner was
anxious to part with it.

After a fortnight's severe illness, hovering all the time between
hope and fear, the doctor came one day, and looked at him hard.

"How is he?" Lady Gildersleeve asked, seeing him hold his breath
and consider.

To her great surprise the doctor answered, "Better; against all
hope, better." And indeed Sir Gilbert was once more convalescent.
A week or two abroad, it was said, would restore him completely.

Then Elma had another terrible source of doubt. Would the doctors
order Sir Gilbert abroad so long that he would be out of England
when the trial took place? If so, he might miss many pricks of
remorse. She must take some active steps to arouse his conscience.

Sir Gilbert, himself, now recovering fast, fought hard, as well he
might, for such leave of absence. He was quite unfit, he said, to
return to his judicial work so soon. Though he had said nothing
about it in public before (this was the tenor of his talk) he was
a man of profound but restrained feelings, and he had felt, he would
admit, the absence of Gwendoline's lover--especially when combined
with the tragic death of Colonel Kelmscott, the father, and the
memory of the unpleasantness that had once subsisted, through the
Colonel's blind obstinacy, between the two houses. This sudden news
of the young man's return had given him a nervous shock of which
few would have believed him capable. "You wouldn't think to look
at me," Sir Gilbert said plaintively, smoothing down his bedclothes
with those elephantine hands of his, "I was the sort of man to be
knocked down in this way;" and the great specialist from London,
gazing at him with a smile, admitted to himself that he certainly
would not have thought it.

"Oh, nonsense, my dear sir," the specialist answered, however, to
all his appeals. "This is the merest passing turn, I assure you.
I couldn't conscientiously say you'd be unfit for duty by the time
the assizes come round again. It's clear to me, on the contrary, with
a physique like yours, you'll pull yourself together in something
less than no time with a week or so at Spa. Before you're due in
England to take up harness again you'll be walking miles at a stretch
over those heathery hills there. Convalescence, with a man like
you, is a rapid process. In a fortnight from to-day, I'll venture
to guarantee, you'll be in a fit condition to swim the Channel on
your back, or to take one of your famous fifty-mile tramps across
the bogs of Dartmoor. I'll give you a tonic that'll set your nerves
all right at once. You'll come back from Spa as fresh as a daisy."

To Spa, accordingly, Sir Gilbert went; and from Spa came trembling
letters now and again between Gwendoline and Elma. Gwendoline was
very anxious papa should get well soon, she said, for she wanted
to be home before the Cape steamer arrived. "You know why, Elma."
But Sir Gilbert didn't return before Guy's arrival in England, for
all that. The papers continued to give bulletins of his health,
and to speculate on the probability of his returning in time to do
the Western Circuit. Elma remained in a fever of doubt and anxiety.
To her, much depended now on the question of Sir Gilbert's presence
or absence. For if he was indeed to try the case, she felt certain
to herself, it must work upon his remorse and compel confession.

Meanwhile, preparations went on in England for Guy's approaching
trial. The magistrates committed; the grand jury, of course, found
a true bill; all England rang with the strange news that the man Guy
Waring, the murderer of Mr. Montague Nevitt some eighteen months
before, had returned at last of his own free will, and had given
himself up to take his trial. Gildersleeve was to be the judge,
they said; or if he were too ill, Atkins. Atkins was as sure as a
gun to hang him, people thought--that was Atkins's way--and, besides,
the evidence against the man, though in a sense circumstantial,
was so absolutely overwhelming that acquittal seemed impossible.

Five to two was freely offered on Change that they'd hang him.

The case was down for first hearing at the assizes. The night
before the trial Elma Clifford, who had hurried to Devonshire with
her mother to see and hear all--she couldn't help it, she said;
she felt she MUST be present--Elma Clifford looked at the evening
paper with a sickening sense of suspense and anxiety. A paragraph
caught her eye: "We understand that, after all, Mr. Justice
Gildersleeve still finds himself too unwell to return to England for
the Western Assizes, and his place will, therefore, most probably
be taken by Mr. Justice Atkins. The calendar is a heavy one, and
includes the interesting case of Mr. Guy Waring, charged with the
wilful murder of Montague Nevitt, at Mambury, in Devonshire."

Elma laid down the paper with a swimming head. Too ill to return.
She wasn't at all surprised at it. It was almost more than
human nature could stand, for a man to sit as judge over another
to investigate the details of the crime he had himself committed.
But the suggestion of his absence ruined her peace of mind. She
couldn't sleep that night. She felt sure now there was no hope
left. Guy would almost certainly be convicted of murder.

Next morning she took her seat in court, with her mother and Cyril,
as soon as the assize hall was opened to the public. But her cheek
was very pale, and her eyes were weary. Places had been assigned
them by the courtesy of the authorities, as persons interested in
the case; and Elma looked eagerly towards the door in the corner,
by which, as the usher told her, the judge was to enter. There was
a long interval, and the usual unseemly turmoil of laughing and
talking went on among the spectators in the well below. Some of
them had opera-glasses and stared about them freely. Others quizzed
the counsel, the officers, and the witnesses. Then a hush came
over them, and the door opened. Cyril was merely aware of the
usual formalities and of a judicial wig making its way, with slow
dignity, to the vacant bench. But Elma leaned forward in a tumult
of feeling. Her face all at once turned scarlet with excitement.

"What's the matter, darling?" her mother asked, in a sympathetic
tone, noticing that something had profoundly stirred her.

And Elma answered with bated breath, in almost inarticulate tones,
"Don't you see? Don't you see, mother? Just look at the judge! It's
himself! It's Sir Gilbert!"

And so indeed it was. Against all hope, he had come over. At the
very last moment a telegram had been handed to the convalescent at
Spa:

"Fallen from my horse. A nasty tumble. Sustained severe internal
injuries. Impossible to go the Western Circuit, Relieve me if you
can. Wire reply,--ATKINS."

Sir Gilbert, as he received it, had just come in from a long ride
across the wild moors that stretch away from Spa towards Han, and
looked the picture of health, robust and fresh and ruddy. He glowed
with bodily vigour; no suspense could kill him. Refusal under such
circumstances was clearly impossible. He saw he must go, or resign
his post at once. So, with an agitated heart, he wired acquiescence,
took the next train to--Brussels and Calais, and caught the Dover
boat just in time for acceptance. And now he was there to try Guy
Waring for the murder of the man he himself had killed in The Tangle
at Mambury,






CHAPTER XLII.

UNEXPECTED EVIDENCE.





When Sir Gilbert Gildersleeve left Spa, he left with a ruddy glow
of recovered health on his bronzed red cheek; for in spite of anxiety
and repentance and doubt, the man's iron frame would somehow still
assert itself. When he took his seat on the bench in court that
morning, he looked so haggard and ill with fatigue and remorse
that even Elma Clifford herself pitied him. A hushed whisper ran
round among the spectators below that the judge wasn't fit to try
the case before him. And indeed he wasn't. For it was his own trial,
not Guy Waring's, he was really presiding over.

He sat down in his place, a ghastly picture of pallid despair. The
red colour had faded altogether from his wan, white cheeks. His eyes
were dreamy and bloodshot with long vigil. His big hands trembled
like a woman's as he opened his note-book. His mouth twitched
nervously. So utter a collapse, in such a man as he was, seemed
nothing short of pitiable to every spectator.

Counsel for the Crown stared him steadily in the face. Counsel for
the Crown--Forbes-Ewing, Q.C.--was an old forensic enemy, who had
fought many a hard battle against Gildersleeve, with scant interchange
of courtesy, when both were members of the junior Bar together; but
now Sir Gilbert's look moved even HIM to pity. "I think, my lord,"
the Q.C. suggested with a sympathetic simper, "your lordship's too
ill to open the court to-day. Perhaps the proceedings had better
be adjourned for the present."

"No, no," the judge answered, almost testily, shaking his sleeve
with impatience. "I'll have no putting off for trifles in the court
where I sit. There's a capital case to come on this morning. When
a man's neck's at stake--when a matter of life and death's at issue--I
don't like to keep any one longer in suspense than I absolutely
need. Delay would be cruel."

As he spoke he lifted his eyes--and caught Elma Clifford's. The
judge let his own drop again in speechless agony. Elma's never
flinched. Neither gave a sign; but Elma knew, as, well as Sir
Gilbert knew himself, it was his own life and death the judge was
thinking of, and not Guy Waring's.

"As you will, my lord," counsel for the Crown responded demurely.
"It was your lordship's convenience we all had at heart, rather
than the prisoner's."

"Eh! What's that?" the judge said sharply, with a suspicious frown.
Then he recovered himself with a start. For a moment he had half
fancied that fellow, Forbes-Ewing, meant SOMETHING by what he
said--meant to poke innuendoes at him. But, after all, it was a
mere polite form. How frightened we all are, to be sure, when we
know we're on our trial!

The opening formalities were soon got over, and then, amid a
deep hush of breathless lips, Guy Waring, of Staple Inn, Holborn,
gentleman, was put upon his trial for the wilful murder of Montague
Nevitt, eighteen months before, at Mambury in Devon.

Guy, standing in the dock, looked puzzled and distracted rather
than alarmed or terrified. His cheek was pale, to be sure, and his
eyes were weary; but as Elma glanced from him hastily to the judge
on the bench she had no hesitation in settling in her own mind
which of the two looked most at that moment like a detected murderer
before the faces of his accusers. Guy was calm and self-contained.
Sir Gilbert's mute agony was terrible to behold. Yet, strange to
say, no one else in court save Elma seemed to note it as she did.
People saw the judge was ill, but that was all. Perhaps his wig
and robes helped to hide the effect of conscious guilt--nobody
suspects a judge of murder; perhaps all eyes were more intent on
the prisoner.

Be that as it might, counsel for the Crown opened with a statement
of what they meant to prove, set forth in the familiar forensic
fashion. They didn't pretend the evidence against the accused
was absolutely conclusive or overwhelming in character. It was
inferential only, but not circumstantial--inferential in such a
cumulative and convincing way as could leave no moral doubt on any
intelligent mind as to the guilt of the prisoner. They would show
that a clbse intimacy had long existed between the prisoner Waring
and the deceased gentleman, Mr. Montague Nevitt. Witnesses would
be called who would prove to the court that just before the murder
this intimacy, owing to circumstances which could not fully be
cleared up, had passed suddenly into intense enmity and open hatred.
The landlord of the inn at Mambury, and other persons to be called,
would speak to the fact that prisoner had followed his victim in hot
blood into Devonshire, and had tracked him to the retreat where he
was passing his holiday alone and incognito--had tracked him with
every expression of indignant anger, and had uttered plain threats
of personal violence towards him.

Nor was that all. It would be shown that on the afternoon of
Waring's visit to Mambury, Mr. Nevitt, who possessed an intense
love of nature in her wildest and most romantic moods--it's always
counsel's cue, for the prosecution, to set the victim's character
in the most amiable light, and so win the sympathy of the jury
as against the accused--Mr. Nevitt, that close student of natural
beauty, had strolled by himself down a certain woodland path,
known as The Tangle, which led through the loneliest and leafiest
quarter of Mambury Chase, along the tumbling stream described as
the Mam-water. Ten minutes after he had passed the gate, a material
witness would show them, the prisoner Waring presented himself, and
pointedly asked whether his victim had already gone down the path
before him. He was told that that was so. Thereupon the prisoner
opened the gate, and followed excitedly. What happened next no
living eye but the prisoner's ever saw. Montague Nevitt was not
destined to issue from that wood alive. Two days later his breathless
body was found, all stiff and stark, hidden among the brown bracken
at the bottom of the dell, where the murderer no doubt had thrust it
away out of his sight on that fatal afternoon in fear and trembling.

Half-way through the opening speech Sir Gilbert's heart beat fast
and hard. He had never heard Forbes-Ewing open a case so well.
The man would be hanged! He felt sure of it! He could see it! For
a while the judge almost gloated over that prospect of release.
What was Guy's life to him now, by the side of his wife's and
Gwendoline's happiness? But as counsel uttered the words, "What
happened next no living eye but the prisoner's ever saw," he looked
hard at Guy. Not a quiver of remorse or of guilty knowledge passed
over the young man's face. But Elma Clifford, for her part, looked
at the judge on the bench. Their eyes met once more. Again Sir
Gilbert's fell. Oh, heavens! how terrible! Even for Gwendoline's
sake he could never stand this appalling suspense. But perhaps after
all the prosecution might fail. There was still a chance left that
the jury might acquit him.

So, torn by conflicting emotions, he sat there still, stiff and
motionless in his seat as an Egyptian statue.

Then counsel went on to deal in greater detail with the question of
motive. There were two motives the prosecution proposed to allege:
first, the known enmity of recent date between the two parties, believed
to have reference to some business dispute; and, secondly--here
counsel dropped his voice to a very low key--he was sorry to suggest
it; but the evidence bore it out--mere vulgar love of gain--the
commonplace thirst after filthy lucre. They would bring witnesses
to show that when Mr. Montague Nevitt was last seen alive, he was
in possession of a pocket-book containing a very large large sum in
Bank of England notes of high value; from the moment of his death
that pocket-book had disappeared, and nobody knew what had since
become of it. It was not upon the body when the body was found. And
all their efforts to trace the missing notes, whose numbers were
not known, had been unhappily unsuccessful.

Guy listened to all this impeachment in a dazed, dreamy way. He
hardly knew what it meant. It appalled and chilled him. The web of
circumstances was too thick for him to break. He couldn't understand
it himself. And what was far worse, he could give no active
assistance to his own lawyers on the question of the notes--which
might be very important evidence against him--without further
prejudicing his case by confessing the forgery. At all hazards, he
was determined to keep that quiet now. Cyril had never spoken to
a soul of that episode, and to speak of it, as things stood, would
have been certain death to him. I would be to supply the one missing
link of motive which the prosecution needed to complete their chain
of cumulative evidence.

It was some comfort to him to think, however, that the secret was
safe in Cyril's keeping. Cyril had all the remaining notes, still
unchanged, in his possession; and the prosecution, knowing nothing
of the forgery, or its sequel, had no clue at all as to where they
came from.

But as for Sir Gilbert, he listened still with ever-deepening
horror. His mind swayed to and fro between hope and remorse. They
were making the man guilty, and Gwendoline would be saved! They
were making the man guilty, and a gross wrong would be perpetrated!
Great drops of sweat stood colder than ever on his burning brow.
He couldn't have believed Forbes-Ewing could have done it so well.
He was weaving a close web round an innocent man with consummate
forensic skill and cunning.

The case went on to its second stage. Witnesses were called, and Guy
listened to them dreamily. All of them bore out counsel's opening
statement. Every man in court felt the evidence was going very
hard against the prisoner. They'd caught the right man, that was
clear--so the spectators opined. They'd proved it to the hilt. This
fellow would swing for it.

At last the landlord of the Talbot Arms at Mambury shuffled slowly
into the witness-box. He was a heavy, dull man, and he gave evidence
as to Nevitt's stay under an assumed name--which counsel explained
suggestively by the deceased gentleman's profound love of retirement
--and as to Guy's angry remarks and evident indignation. But the
most sensational part of all his evidence was that which related
to the pocket-book Montague Nevitt was carrying at the time of his
death, containing notes, he should say, for several hundred-pounds,
"or it murt be thousands--and yet, again, it mustn't," which had
totally disappeared since the day of the murder. Diligent search
had been made for the pocket-book everywhere by the landlord and
the police, but it had vanished into space, "leaving not a wrack
behind," as junior counsel for the prosecution poetically phrased
it.

At the words Cyril mechanically dived his hand into his pocket, as
he had done a hundred times a day before, during these last eighteen
months, to assure himself that that most incriminating and unwelcome
object was still safely ensconced in its usual resting-place. Yes,
there it was sure enough, as snug as ever! He sighed, and pulled
his hand out again nervously, with a little jerk. Something came
with it, that fell on the floor with a jingle by his neighbour's
feet. Cyril turned crimson, then deadly pale. He snatched at the
object; but his neighbour picked it up and examined it cursorily.
Its flap had burst open with the force of the fall, and on the
inside the finder read with astonishment, in very plain letters,
the very name of the murdered man, "Montague Nevitt."

Cyril held out his hand to recover it impatiently. But the finder
was too much taken back at his strange discovery to part with it
so readily. It was full of money-Bank of England notes; and through
the transparent paper of the outermost among them the finder could
dimly read the words, "One hundred."

He rose in his place, and held the pocket-book aloft in his hand
with a triumphant gesture. Cyril tried in vain to clutch at it. The
witness turned round sharply, disturbed by this incident. "What's
that?" the judge exclaimed, puckering his brows in disapprobation,
and looking angrily towards the disturber.

"If you please, my lord," the innkeeper answered, letting his jaw
drop slowly in almost speechless amazement, "that's the thing I
was a-talking of: that's Mr. Nevitt's pocket-book."

"Hand it up," the judge said shortly, gazing hard with all his eyes
at the mute evidence so tendered.

The finder handed it up without note or comment.

Sir Gilbert turned the book over in blank surprise. He was dumfoundered
himself. For a minute or two he examined it carefully, inside and
out. Yes; there was no mistake. It was really what they called it.
"Montague Nevitt" was written in plain letters on the leather flap;
within lay half-a-dozen engraved visiting-cards, a Foreign Office
passport in Nevitt's name, and thirty Bank of England notes for
one hundred pounds apiece. This was, indeed, a mystery!

"Where did it come from?" the judge asked, drawing a painfully
deep breath, and handing it across to the jury.

And the finder answered, "If you please, my lord, the gentleman
next to me pulled it out of his pocket."

"Who is he?" the judge inquired, with a sinking heart, for he
himself knew perfectly well who was the unhappy possessor.

And a thrill of horror ran round the crowded court as Forbes-Ewing
answered, in a very distinct voice, "Mr. Cyril Waring, my lord,
the brother of the prisoner."

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What's Bred In the Bone
by
Grant Allen







CHAPTER XXXIX.

A GLEAM OF LIGHT.





Next day but one, the Companion of St. Michael and St. George came
in to Craighton with evil tidings. He had heard in the village that
Sir Gilbert Gildersleeve was ill--very seriously ill. The judge
had come home from the Holkers' the other evening much upset by
the arrival of Gwendoline's telegram.

"Though why on earth should that upset him," Mr. Clifford continued,
screwing up his small face with a very wise air, "is more than
I can conceive; for I'm sure the Gildersleeves angled hard enough
in their time to catch young Kelmscott, by hook or by crook, for
their gawky daughter; and now that young Kelmscott telegraphs over
to say he's coming home post haste to marry her, Miss Gwendoline
faints away, if you please, as she reads the news, and the judge
himself goes upstairs as soon as he gets home, and takes to his
bed incontinently. But there, the ways of the world are really
inscrutable! What reconciles me to life, every day I grow older, is
that it's so amusing--so intensely amusing! You never know what's
going to turn up next; and what you least expect is what most often
happens."

Elma, however, received his news with a very grave face.

"Is he really ill, do you think, papa?" she asked, somewhat anxiously;
"or is he only--well--only frightened?"

Mr. Clifford stared at her with a blank leathery face of self-satisfied
incomprehension.

"Frightened!" he repeated solemnly; "Sir Gilbert Gildersleeve
frightened! And of Granville Kelmscott, too! That's true wit, Elma;
the juxtaposition of the incongruous. Why, what on earth has the
man got to be frightened of, I should like to know? ... No, no;
he's really ill; very seriously ill. Humphreys says the case is a
most peculiar one, and he's telegraphed up to town for a specialist
to come down this afternoon and consult with him."

And indeed, Sir Gilbert was really very ill. This unexpected shock
had wholly unmanned him. To say the truth, the judge had begun to
look upon Guy Waring as practically lost, and upon the matter of
Montague Nevitt's death as closed for ever. Waring, no doubt, had
gone to Africa--under a false name--and proceeded to the diamond
fields direct, where he had probably been killed in a lucky quarrel
with some brother digger, or stuck through with an assegai by some
enterprising Zulu; and nobody had even taken the trouble to mention
it.

It's so easy for a man to get lost in the crowd in the Dark Continent!
Why, there was Granville Kelmscott, even--a young fellow of means,
and the heir of Tilgate, about whom Gwendoline was always moaning
and groaning, poor girl, and wouldn't be comforted--there was
Granville Kelmscott gone out to Africa, and, hi, presto, disappeared
into space without a vapour or a trace, like a conjurer's shilling. It
was all very queer; but, then, queer things are the way in Africa.

To be sure, Sir Gilbert had his qualms of conscience, too, over
having thus sent off Guy Waring, as he believed, to his grave in
Cape Colony. He was not at heart a bad man, though he was pushing,
and selfish, and self-seeking, and to a certain extent even--of
late--unscrupulous. He had his bad half-hours every now and again
with his own moral consciousness. But he had learnt to stifle his
doubts and to keep down his terrors. After all, he had told Guy no
more than the truth; and if Guy in his panic-terror chose to run
away and get killed in South Africa, that was no fault of HIS--he'd
only tried to warn the fellow of an impending danger. All's well
that ends well; and, to-day, Guy Waring was lost or dead, while he
himself was a judge, and a knight to boot, with all trace of his
crime destroyed for ever.

So he said to himself, rejoicing, the very day Granville Kelmscott's
telegram arrived. But now that he stood face to face again with that
pressing terror, his thoughts on the matter were very different.
Strange to say, his first idea was this: what a disgraceful shame
of that fellow Waring to come to life again thus suddenly on
purpose to annoy him! He was really angry, nay, more, indignant.
Such shuffling was inexcusable. If Waring meant to give himself
up and stand his trial like a man, why the dickens didn't he do it
immediately after the--well, the accident? What did he mean by going
off for eighteen months undiscovered, and leaving one to build up
fresh plans in life, like this--and then coming home on a sudden
just on purpose to upset them? It was simply disgraceful. Sir
Gilbert felt injured; this man Waring was wronging him. Eighteen
months before he was keenly aware that he was unjustly casting a vile
and hideous suspicion on an innocent person. But in the intervening
period his moral sense had got largely blunted. Familiarity with
the hateful plot had warped his ideas about it. Their places were
reversed. Sir Gilbert was really aggrieved now that Guy Waring should
turn up again, and should venture to vindicate his deeply-wronged
character.

The man was as good as dead. Well, and he ought to have stopped so;
or else he ought never to have died at all. He ought to have kept
himself continually in evidence. But to go away for eighteen months,
unknown and unheard of, till one's sense of security had had time
to re-establish itself, and then to turn up again like this without
one minute's warning--oh, it was infamous, scandalous. The fellow
must be devoid of all consideration for others. Sir Gilbert wiped
his clammy brow with those ample hands. What on earth was he to do
for his wife, and for Gwendoline?

And Gwendoline was so happy, too, over Granville Kelmscott's return!
How could he endure that Granville Kelmscott's return should be
the signal for discovering her father's sin and shame to her! If
only he could have married her off before it all came out! Or if
only he could die before the man was tried!--Tried! Sir Gilbert's
eyes started from his head with horror. What was that Elma Clifford
suggested the other night? Why--if the man was arrested, he would
be arrested at Plymouth, the moment he landed, and would be tried
for murder at the Western Assizes. And it was he himself, Sir
Gilbert Gildersleeve, who was that term to take the Western Circuit.

He would be called upon to sit on the bench himself, and try Guy
Waring for the murder he had himself committed!

No wonder that thought sent him ill to bed at once. He lay and
tossed all night long in speechless agony and terror. It was an
appalling night. Next morning he was found delirious with fever.

When the news reached Elma, she saw its full and fatal significance.
Cyril had stopped on for three days at the Holkers', and he came
over in the course of the morning to take a walk across the fields
with her. Elma was profoundly excited, Cyril could hardly see why.

"This is a terrible thing," she said, "about Sir Gilbert's illness.
What I'm afraid of now is that he may die before your brother
returns. The shock must have been awful for him; mamma noticed it
every bit as much as I did; and so did Miss Ewes. They both said
at once, 'This blow will kill him!' And they both knew why, Cyril,
as well as I did. It's the Ewes' intuition. We've all of us got it,
and we all of us say, at once and unanimously--it was Sir Gilbert
Gildersleeve."

"But suppose he DID die," Cyril asked, still sceptical, as he
always was when Elma got upon her instinctive consciousness; "what
difference would that make? If Guy's innocent, as I suppose in some
way he must be, from the tone of his telegram, he'll be acquitted
whether Sir Gilbert's alive or not. And if he's guilty--"

He broke off suddenly with an awful pause; the other alternative
was too terrible to contemplate.

"But he's NOT guilty," Elma answered with confidence. "I know it
more surely now than ever. And the difficulty's this. Nobody knows
the real truth, I feel certain, except Sir Gilbert Gildersleeve.
And if Sir Gilbert dies unconfessed, the truth dies with him. And
then--" She paused a moment. "I'm half afraid," she went on with a
doubtful sigh, "your brother's been too precipitate in coming home
to face it."

"But, Elma," Cyril cried, "I can't bear to say it--yet one must
face the facts--how on earth can he be innocent, when I tell you
again and again he wrote to me himself saying he really did it?"

"You never showed me that letter," Elma answered, with a faint
undercurrent of reproach in her tone.

"How could I?" Cyril replied. "Even to YOU, Elma, there are some
things a man can hardly bear to speak about."

"I have more faith than you, Cyril," Elma answered. "I've never given
up believing in Guy all the time. I believe in him still--because
I know he's your brother."

There was a short pause, during which neither spoke. They walked
along together, looking at each other's faces with half downcast
eyes, but with the not unpleasant sense of mute companionship and
sympathy in a great sorrow. At last Elma spoke again.

"There was one thing in Guy's telegram," she said, "I didn't quite
understand. 'Coming home immediately to repay everything.' What
did he mean by that? What has that got to do with Mr. Nevitt's
disappearance?"

"Oh, that was quite another matter," Cyril answered, blushing deep
with shame, for he couldn't bear to let Elma know Guy was a forger
as well as a murderer. "That was something purely personal between
us two. He--he owed me money."

Elma's keen eyes read him through at a glance.

"But he said it all in one sentence," she objected, "as if the two
went naturally together. Coming home immediately to repay everything
and stand my trial. Cyril, Cyril, you've held something back. I
believe there's some fearful mistake here somewhere."

"You think so?" Cyril answered, feeling more and more uncomfortable.

"I'm sure of it," Elma replied, with a thrill, reading his thoughts
still deeper. "Oh, Cyril"--she seized his arm with a convulsive
grip--"for Heaven's sake, go and get it; let me see that letter!"

"I have it here," Cyril answered, pulling it out with some shame
from Montague Nevitt's pocket-book, which he wouldn't destroy, and
dared not leave about for prying eyes to light upon. "I've carried
it day and night, ever since, about with me."

Elma seized it from his hands, and sat down upon a stile, and read
it through with profound attention.

At the end she handed it back and tears stood in her eyes. "Cyril,"
she said, half laughing hysterically and half crying as she spoke,
"you've been doing that poor fellow a deep injustice. Oh, don't
you see--don't you see it? That isn't the letter of a man who has
committed a murder. It's the letter of a man who has unwittingly and
unwillingly done you some personal wrong, and is eager to repair
it. My darling, my darling, you've misread it altogether. It
isn't about Montague Nevitt's death at all; it's about nothing an
earth but some private money matter. More than that, when it was
written, Guy didn't yet know Mr. Nevitt was dead. He didn't know
he was suspected. He didn't know anything. I wonder you don't see!
I wish to Heaven you'd shown me that letter months ago! Sir Gilbert
fastened suspicion on the wrong man; and this letter has made you
accept it too easily. Guy went to Africa--that's as plain as words
can put it--to make money of his own to repay what he owed you. And
it's this, the purely personal and unimportant charge, he's coming
home to give himself up upon."

A light seemed to burst on Cyril's mind as she spoke. For the very
first time, he felt a gleam of hope. Elma was right, after all,
he believed. Guy was wholly innocent of the greater crime; and his
heart-broken letter had only meant to deal with the question of
the forgery.

But Cyril had heard of the murder first, and had had that most in
his mind when the letter reached him; so he interpreted it at once
as referring to the capital charge, and never dreamt for a moment
of its real narrower meaning.

That evening, when the messenger came back from "kind inquiries" at
Woodlands, Elma asked, with hushed awe, how Sir Gilbert was going
on.

"Very poorly, miss," the servant answered. "The doctor says he's
sunk dreadful low; and the butler thinks he has something on his
mind he can't get out in his wanderings. He's in a terrible bad
way. They wouldn't be astonished if he don't live to morning."

So Elma went to bed that night trembling most for the result of
Sir Gilbert's illness.






CHAPTER XL.

THE BOLT FALLS.





All the way home on that long journey from Cape Town, as the two
half-brothers lounged on deck together in their canvas chairs,
Granville Kelmscott was wholly at a loss to understand what seemed
to him Guy Waring's unaccountable and almost incredible levity. The
man's conduct didn't in the least resemble that of a person who is
returning to give himself up on a charge of wilful murder. On the
contrary, Guy showed no signs of remorse or mental agony in any way;
he seemed rather elated, instead, at the pleasing thought that he
was going home, with his diamonds all turned at the Cape into solid
coin, to make his peace once more with his brother Cyril.

To be sure, at times he did casually allude to some expected
unpleasantness when he arrived in England; yet he treated it,
Granville noticed, as though hanging were at worst but a temporary
inconvenience. Granville wondered whether, after all, he could
have some complete and crushing answer to that appalling charge; on
any other supposition, his spirits and his talk were really little
short of what one might expect from a madman.

And indeed, now and again, Granville did really begin to suspect
that something had gone wrong somewhere with Guy Waring's intellect.
The more he thought over it, the more likely did this seem, for
Guy talked on with the greatest composure about his plans for the
future "when this difficulty was cleared up," as though a trial
for murder were a most ordinary occurrence--an accident that might
happen to any gentleman any day. And, if so, was it possible that
Guy had gone wrong in his head BEFORE the affray with Montague
Nevitt? That seemed likely enough; for when Granville remembered
Guy's invariable gentleness and kindness to himself, his devotion
in sickness and in the trials of the desert, his obvious aversion
to do harm to any one, and, above all, his heartfelt objection
to shedding human blood, Granville was constrained to believe his
newly found half-brother, if ever he committed the murder at all,
must have committed it while in a state of unsound mind, deserving
rather of pity than of moral reprehension. He comforted himself,
indeed, with this consoling idea--he could never believe a Kelmscott
of Tilgate, when clothed and in his right mind, could be guilty
of such a detestable and motiveless crime as the wilful murder of
Montague Nevitt.

Strangely enough, moreover, the subject that seemed most to occupy
Guy Waring's mind, on the voyage home, was not his forthcoming trial
on a capital charge, but the future distribution of the Tilgate
property. Was he essentially a money-grubber, Granville wondered
to himself, as he had thought him at first in the diamond fields
in Barolong land? Was he incapable of thinking about anything but
filthy lucre? No; that was clearly not the true solution of the
problem, for, whenever Guy spoke to him about the subject, it was
generally to say one and the self-same thing--

"In this matter, I feel I can speak for Cyril as I speak for myself.
Neither of us would wish to deprive you now of what you've always
been brought up to consider as your own. Neither of us would wish
to dispossess Lady Emily. The most we would desire is this--to have
our position openly acknowledged and settled before the world. We
should like it to be known we were the lawful sons of a brave man
and an honest woman. And if you wish voluntarily to share with us
some part of our father's estate, we'll be willing to enter into
a reasonable arrangement by which yon yourself can retain Tilgate
Park and the mass of the property that immediately appertains to
it. I'm sure Cyril would no more wish to be grasping in this matter
than I am; and after all that you and I have gone through together,
Granville, I don't think yon need doubt the sincerity of my feelings
towards you."

He spoke so sensibly, he spoke so manfully, he spoke so kindly
always, with a bright gleam in those tender eyes, that Granville
hardly knew what to make of his evident confidence. Surely a
man couldn't be mad who could speak like that; and yet, whenever
he alluded in any way to his return to England, it was always as
though he ignored the gravity and heinousness of the charge brought
against him. It was as though murder was an accident, for which one
was hardly responsible. Granville couldn't make him out at all;
the fellow was an enigma to him. There was so much that was good
in him; and yet, there must be so much that was bad as well. He was
such a delicate, considerate, self-effacing gentleman--and yet,
if one could believe what he himself more than once as good as
admitted, he was a criminal, a felon, an open murderer.

Still, even so, Granville couldn't turn his back upon the brother
who had seen him so bravely across the terrors of Namaqua land. He
thought of how he had misjudged him once before, and how much he
had repented it. Whether Guy was a murderer or not, Granville felt,
the man he had saved, at least, could never forsake him.

The night before their arrival at Plymouth, Guy was in unusually
high spirits. His mirth was contagious. Everybody on board
was delighted at the prospect of reaching land, but Guy was more
delighted and more sanguine than anybody. He was sure in his own
mind this difficulty must have blown over long before now; Cyril must
have explained; Nevitt must have confessed; everything must have
been set right, and his own good name satisfactorily rehabilitated.
For more than eighteen months he had heard nothing from England.
To-morrow he would see Cyril, and account for everything. He had
money to set all right--his hard-earned money, got at the risk
of his own life in the dreary deserts of Barolong land. All would
yet be well, and Cyril would marry, and Elma Clifford would be the
mistress of nearly half the Tilgate property.

"It was all so different, Granville," he said to his friend
confidentially, as they paced the deck after supper, cigar in
mouth, "when you first went out, and we didn't know one another.
Then, I distrusted you, and you distrusted me. We didn't understand
one another's characters. But now we can settle it all as a family
affair. Men who have camped out together under the open sky on the
African veldt, who have run the gauntlet of Korannas and Barolong
and Namaqua, who have stood by one another in sickness and in
fight, needn't be afraid of disagreeing about their money matters
in England. Cyril will meet us to-morrow and talk it all over,
and I'm not the least troubled about the result, either for you or
for him. The same blood runs in all our veins alike. Whatever you
propose, he'll be ready to agree to. He's the very best fellow
that ever lived, and when he hears what I have to say about you,
he'll welcome you as a brother, and be as fond of you as I am."

Next morning early they reached Plymouth Harbour. As they entered
the mouth of the breakwater, the tender came alongside to convey
them ashore. Guy looked over the bulwarks and saw Cyril waiting
for him. In a fervour of delight at the sight of the green fields
and the soft hills of old England--the beautiful Hoe, and the solid
stone houses, and the familiar face turned up to welcome him--Guy
waved his handkerchief round and round his head in triumph; to
which demonstration Cyril, as he fancied, responded but coldly. A
chill fell upon his heart. This was bad, but still, after all, he
could hardly expect Cyril to know intuitively under what sinister
influence he had signed that fatal cheque. And yet he was disappointed.
His heart had jumped so hard at sight of Cyril, he could hardly
believe Cyril wasn't glad to see him.

As he stepped into the tender from the gangway, just ready to rush
up and shake Cyril's hand fervently, a resolute-looking man by the
side of the steps laid a very firm grip on his shoulder with an
air of authority.

"Guy Waring?" he said interrogatively.

And Guy, turning pale, answered without flinching--

"Yes, my name's Guy Waring."

"Then you're my prisoner," the man said, in a very firm voice. "I'm
an inspector of constabulary."

"On what charge?" Guy exclaimed, half taken aback at this promptitude.

"I have a warrant against you, sir," the inspector answered, "as
you are no doubt aware, for the wilful murder of Montague Nevitt,
on the 17th of August, year before last, at Mambury, in Devonshire."

The word's fell upon Guy's ears with all the suddenness and crushing
force of an unexpected thunderbolt.

"Wilful murder," he cried, taken aback by the charge. "Wilful
murder of Montague Nevitt at Mambury! Oh no, you can't mean that!
Montague Nevitt dead! Montague Nevitt murdered! And at Mambury,
too! There MUST be some mistake somewhere."

"No, there's no mistake at all, this time," the inspector said
quietly, slipping a pair of handcuffs unobstrusively into his pocket
as he spoke. "If you come along with me without any unnecessary

noise, we won't trouble to iron you. But you'd better say as little
as possible about the charget just now, for whatever you say may
be used in evidence at the trial against you."

Guy turned to Cyril with an appealing look. "Cyril," he, cried,
"what does all this mean? Is Nevitt dead? It's the very first word
I've ever heard about it."

Cyril's heart gave a bound of wild relief at those words. The moment
Guy said it his brother knew he spoke the simple truth.

"Why, Guy," he answered, with a fierce burst of joy, "then you're
not a murderer after all? You're innocent! You're innocent! And
for eighteen months all England has thought you guilty; and I've
lived under the burden of being universally considered a murderer's
brother!"

Guy looked him back in the face with those truthful grey eyes of
his.

"Cyril," he said solemnly, "I'm as innocent of this charge as you
or Granville Kelmscott here. I never even heard one whisper of it
before. I don't know what it means. I don't know who they want. Till
this moment I thought Montague Nevitt was still alive in England."

And as he said it, Granville Kelmscott, too, saw he was speaking
the truth. Impossible as he found it in his own mind to reconcile
those strange words with all that Guy had said to him in the wilds
of Namaqua land, he couldn't look him in the face without seeing
at a glance how profound and unexpected was this sudden surprise
to him. He was right in saying, "I'm as innocent of this charge as
you or Granville Kelmscott."

But the inspector only smiled a cynical smile, and answered calmly--

"That's for the jury to decide. We shall hear more of this then.
You'll be tried at the assizes. Meanwhile, the less said, the
sooner mended."

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What's Bred In the Bone
by
Grant Allen







CHAPTER XXXVII.

AUX ARMES!





For a day or two more, Granville remained seriously ill in the
dirty hut. At the end of that time, weak and wasted as he was, he
insisted upon getting up and setting out alone on his long march
seaward.

It was a wild resolve. He was utterly unfit for it. The hospitable
Namaqua, whose wives had nursed him well through that almost hopeless
illness, did his best to persuade the rash Englishman from so mad
a course, by gestures and entreaties, in his own mute language.
But Granville was obstinate. He would NOT sit down quietly and
be robbed like this of the fruit of his labours. He would not be
despoiled. He would not be trampled upon. He would make for the
coast, if he staggered in like a skeleton, and would confront the
robber with his own vile crime, be it at Angra Pequena, or Cape
Town, or London, or Tilgate.

In short, he would do much as Guy himself had done when he discovered
Montague Nevitt's theft of the six thousand. He would follow the
villain till he ran him to earth, and would tax him at last to
his face with the open proofs of his consummate treachery. What's
bred in the bone will out in the blood. The Kelmscott strain worked
alike its own way in each of them.

The Namaqua, to be sure, tried in vain to explain to Granville by
elaborate signs that the other white man had given orders to the
contrary. The other white man had strictly enjoined upon him not to
let the invalid escape from his hut on any pretext whatever. The
other white man had promised him a reward, a very large reward--money,
guns, ammunition--if he kept him safely and didn't allow him to
escape. Granville Kelmscott smiled to himself a bitter, cynical,
smile. Poor confiding savage! He didn't know Guy as well as he,
his brother, did.

And yet, in the midst of it all, in spite of the revulsion, Granville
was conscious now and then of some little ingratitude somewhere to
his half-brother's memory. After all, Guy had shown him time and
again no small kindness. Some excuse should be made for a man who
saves his own life first in very dire extremities. But none, no,
none for one who has the incredible and inhuman meanness to rob his
own brother of his hard-earned gams, in a strange wild land, when
he thinks him dying.

For it was the robbery, not the desertion, Granville could never
forgive. The man who was capable of doing that basest of acts was
capable also of murder or any crime in the decalogue.

So the fevered white man rose at last one morning on his shrunken
limbs, and staggered, as best he might, from his protector's hut
in a wild impulse of resolution, on his mad journey seaward. When
the Namaqua saw nothing on earth would induce him to remain, he
shouldered his arms and went out beside him, fully equipped for
fight with matchlock and assegai. Not that the savage made any
undue pretence to a purely personal devotion to the belated white
man. On the contrary, he signified to Granville with many ingenious
signs that he was afraid of losing the great reward he had been
promised, if once he let the invalid get out of his sight unattended.

Granville smiled once more that bitter smile of new-born cynicism.
Well, let the fellow follow him if he liked! He would reward
him himself if ever they reached the coast in safety. And in any
case, it was better to go attended by a native. An interpreter who
can communicate in their own tongue with the people through whose
territory you are going to pass is always, useful in a savage
country.

How Granville got over that terrible journey seaward he could never
tell. He crawled on and on, supported by the faithful Namaqua with
unfailing good-humour, over that endless veldt, for three long days
of wretched footsore marching. And for three long nights he slept,
or lay awake, under the clear desert stars, on the open ground of
barren Namaqua land. It was a terrible time. Worn and weary with
the fever, Granville was wholly unfit for any kind of travelling.
Nothing but the iron constitution of the Kelmscotts could ever
have stood so severe an ordeal. But the son of six generations of
soldiers, who had commanded in the fever-stricken flats of Walcheren,
or followed Wellesley through the jungles of tropical India, or
forced their way with Napier into the depths of Abyssinia, was not
to be daunted even by the nameless horrors of that South African
desert. Granville still endured, for three days and nights, and
was ready to march, or crawl on, once more, upon the fourth morning.

Here, however, his Namaqua, guide, with every appearance of terror,
made strong warnings of danger. The country beyond, he signified
by strange gestures, lay in the hands of a hostile tribe, hereditarily
at war with his fellow-clansmen. He didn't even know whether the
other white man, with the diamonds round his waist, had got safely
through, or whether the hostile tribe beyond the frontier had
assegaied him and "eaten him up," as the picturesque native phrase
goes. It was difficult enough for even a strong warrior to force
his way through that district with a good company of followers;
impossible for a single weak invalid like Granville, attended only
by one poor, ill-armed Namaqua.

So the savage seemed to say in his ingenious pantomime. If they
went on, they'd be killed and eaten up resistlessly. If they stopped
they might pull through. They must wait and camp there. For what
they were to wait, Granville hadn't the faintest conception. But
the Namaqua insisted upon it, and Granville was helpless as a child
in his hands. The man was alarmed, apparently, for his promised
reward. If Granville insisted, he showed in very frank dumb show,
why--a thrust with the assegai explained the rest most persuasively.
Granville still had his revolver, to be sure, and a few rounds
of ball cartridge. But he was too weak to show fight; the savage
overmastered him.

They were seated on a stony ridge or sharp hog's back, overlooking
the valley of a dry summer stream. The watershed on which they sat
separated, with its chine of rugged rocks, the territory of the
two rival tribes. But the Namaqua was evidently very little afraid
that the enemy might transgress the boundaries of his fellow-tribesmen.
He dared not himself go beyond the jagged crest of the ridge; but
he seemed to think it pretty certain the people of the other tribe
wouldn't, for their part, in turn come across to molest him. He sat
down there doggedly, as if expecting something or other to turn up
in the course of time; and more than once he made signs to Granville
which the Englishman interpreted to mean that after so many days
and nights from some previous event unspecified, somebody would
arrive on the track from the coast at the point of junction between
the hostile races.

Granville was gazing at the Namaqua in the vain attempt to interpret
these signs more fully to himself, when, all of a sudden, an
unexpected noise in the valley below attracted his attention. He
pricked up his ears, Impossible! Incredible! It couldn't be--yes,
it was--the sharp hiss of firearms!

At the very same moment the Namaqua leapt to his feet in sudden
alarm, and, shading his eyes with his dusky hand, gazed intently
in front of him. For a minute or so he stood still, with brows knit
and neck craning. Then he called out something in an excited tone
two or three times over in his own tongue to Granville. The Englishman
stared in the same direction, but could make out nothing definite
just at first, in the full glare of the sunlight. But the Namaqua,
with a cry of joy, held up his two fingers as before, to symbolize
the two white men, and pointed with one of them to his guest, while
with the other he indicated some object in the valley, nodding
many times over. Granville seized his meaning at once. Could it be
true, what he said in this strange mute language? Could relief be
at hand? Could the firing beneath show that Guy was returning?

As he looked and strained his eyes, peering down upon the red plain,
under the shadow of his open palm, the objects by the water-course
grew gradually clearer. Granville could make out now that a party
of natives, armed with spears and matchlocks, was attacking some
little encampment on the bank of the dry torrent. The small force
in the encampment was returning the fire with great vigour and
spirit, though apparently over-powered by the superior numbers of
their swarming assailants. Even as Granville looked, their case grew
more desperate. A whole horde of black men seemed to be making an
onset on some small white object, most jealously guarded, round
which the defenders of the camp rallied with infinite energy. At the
head of the little band of strangers, a European in a pith helmet
was directing the fire, and fighting hard himself for the precious
white object. The rest were blacks, he thought, in half-civilized
costume. Granville's heart gave a bound as the leader sprang forth
upon one approaching savage. His action, as he leapt, stamped the
man at once. There was Kelmscott in the leap. Granville knew in a
second it was indeed Guy Waring.

The Namaqua recognised him too, and pointed enthusiastically
forward. Granville saw what he meant. To the front! To the front!
If there was fighting to be done, let them help their friends. Let
them go forward and claim the great reward offered.

Next moment, with a painful thrill of shame and remorse,
the Englishman saw what was the nature of the object they were so
jealously guarding. His heart stood still within him. It was a sort
of sedan chair, or invalid litter, borne on poles by four native
porters. Talk about coals of fire! Granville Kelmscott hardly knew
how to forgive himself for his unworthy distrust. Then Guy must
have reached the coast in safety, after leaving him in charge of
the Namaqua and fighting his way through, and now he was on his
way back to the interior again, with a sufficient escort and a
palanquin to fetch him.

Even as he looked, the assailants closed in more fiercely than
ever on the faltering little band. One of them thrust out with an
assegai at Guy. In an agony of horror, Granville cried aloud where
he stood. Surely, surely, they must be crushed to earth. No arms of
precision could ever avail them against such a swarm of assailants,
poured forth over their camp as if from some human ant-hill.

"Let us run!" the sick man cried to the Namaqua, pointing to the
fight below; and the Namaqua, comprehending the gesture, if not the
words, set forward to run with him down the slope into the valley.

At about a hundred yards off from the crowd, Granville, crouched
behind a clump of thorny acacia, and, signalling to the Namaqua to
hide at the same time, drew his revolver and fired point-blank at
the hindmost natives.

The effect was electrical. In a moment the savages turned and gazed
around them astonished. One of their number was hit and wounded
in the leg. Granville had aimed so purposely, to maim and terrify
them. The natives faltered and fell back. As they did so, Granville
emerged from the shelter of the acacia bush, and fired a second
shot from another point at them. At the same instant the Namaqua
raised a loud native battle-cry, and brandished his assegai. The
effect was electrical. The hostile tribe broke up in wild panic at
once. They cried in their own tongue that the Namaquas were down
upon them, under English guidance: and, quick as lightning, they
dispersed as if by magic, to hide themselves about in the thick
bush jungle.

Two seconds later, Guy was wringing Granville's hand in a fervour
of gratitude. Each man had saved the other's life. In the rapid
interchange of question and answer that followed, one point alone
puzzled them both for a minute or two.

"But why on earth didn't you leave a line to explain what you'd
done?" Granville cried, now thoroughly ashamed of his unbelief, "If
only I'd known, you were coming back to the village it would have
saved me so much distress, so much sleepless misery."

"Why, so I did," Guy answered, still thoroughly out of breath, and
stained with blood and powder. "I tore a leaf from my note-book and
gave it to the Namaqua, explaining to him by signs that he was to
let you have it at once, the moment you were conscious. Here, you,
sir," he went on, turning round to their faithful black ally, and
holding up the note-book before his eyes to refresh his memory,
"why didn't you give it to the gentleman as I told you?"

The Namaqua, catching hastily at the meaning from the mere tone
of the question, as well as from Guy's instinctive and graphic
imitation of the act of writing, pulled out from his waistband the
last relics of a very brown and tattered fragment of paper, on which
were still legible in pencil the half-obliterated words: "My dear
Granville,--I find there is no chance of conveying you to the coast
through the territory of the next tribe in your present condition,
unless---"

The rest was torn off. Guy looked at it dubiously. But the Namaqua,
anxious to show he had followed out all instructions to the very
letter, tore off the next scrap before their eyes, rolled it up
between his palms into a nice greasy pill, and proceeded to offer
it for Granville's acceptance. The misapprehension was too absurd.
Guy went off into a hearty peal of laughter at once. The Namaqua
had taken the mysterious signs for "a very great medicine," and
had administered the magical paper accordingly, as he understood
himself to be instructed, at fixed intervals to his unfortunate
patient. That was the medicine Granville remembered having forced
down his throat at the moment when he first learned, as he thought,
his half-brother's treachery.






CHAPTER XXXVIII.

NEWS FROM THE CAPE.





At the Holkers' at Chetwood, one evening some days later, Cyril
Waring met Elma Clifford once more, the first time for months, and
had twenty minutes' talk in the tea-room alone with her. Contrary
to his rule, he had gone to the Holkers' party that night, for a man
can't remain a recluse all his life, no matter how hard he tries,
merely because his brother's suspected of having committed a murder.
In course of time, the attitude palls upon him. For the first year
after Guy's sudden and mysterious disappearance, indeed, Cyril
refused all invitations point-blank, except from the most intimate
friends; the shame and disgrace of that terrible episode weighed
him down so heavily that he couldn't bear to go out in the world
among unsympathetic strangers.

But the deepest sorrow wears away by degrees, and at the end of
twelve months Cyril found he could mix a little more unreservedly
at last among his fellow-men. The hang-dog air sat ill upon his
frank, free nature. This invitation to the Holkers', too, had one
special attraction: he knew it was a house where he was almost
certain of meeting Elma. And since Elma insisted now on writing
to him constantly--she was a self-willed young woman was Elma, and
would have her way--he really saw no reason on earth himself why
he shouldn't meet her. To meet is one thing, don't you know--to
marry, another. At least so fifty generations of young people have
deluded themselves under similar circumstances into believing.

Elma was in the room before him, prettier than ever, people said,
in the pale red ball-dress which exactly suited her gipsy-like
eyes and creamy complexion. As she entered she saw Sir Gilbert
Gildersleeve with his wife and Gwendoline standing in the corner
by the big piano. Gwendoline looked pale and preoccupied, as she
had always looked since Granville Kelmscott disappeared, leaving
behind him no more definite address for love-letters than simply
Africa; and Lady Gildersleeve was, as usual, quite subdued and
broken. But the judge himself, consoled by his new honours, seemed,
as time wore on, to have recovered a trifle of his old blustering
manner. A knighthood had reassured him. He was talking to Mr.
Holker in a loud voice as Elma approached him from behind.

"Yes, a very curious coincidence," he was just saying, in his noisy
fashion, with one big burly hand held demonstratively before him.
"A very curious and unexplained coincidence. They both vanished
into space about the self-same time. And nothing more has ever
since been heard of them. Quite an Arabian Nights' affair in its
way--the Enchanted Carpet sort of business, don't you know--wafted
through the air unawares, like Sinbad the Sailor, or the One-eyed
Calender, from London to Bagdad, or Timbuctoo or St. Petersburg. The
OTHER young man one understands about, of course; HE had sufficient
reasons of his own, no doubt, for leaving a country which had
grown too warm for him. But that Granville Kelmscott, a gentleman
of means, the heir to such a fine estate as Tilgate, should disappear
into infinity leaving no trace behind, like a lost comet--and at
the very moment, too, when he was just about to come into the family
property--why, I call it... I call it... I call it--"

His jaw dropped suddenly. He grew deadly pale. Words failed his
stammering tongue. Do what he would, he couldn't finish his sentence.
And yet, nothing very serious had occurred to him in any way. It
was merely that, as he uttered these words, he caught Elma Clifford's
eye, and saw lurking in it a certain gleam of deadly contempt before
which the big blustering man himself had quailed more than once
in many a Surrey drawing-room.

For Sir Gilbert Gildersleeve knew, as well as if she had told him
the truth in so many words, that Elma Clifford suspected him of
being Montague Nevitt's murderer.

Elma came forward, just to break the awkward pause, and shook hands
with the party by the piano coldly. Sir Gilbert tried to avoid
her; but, with the inherited instinct of her race, Elma cut off
his retreat. She boxed him in the corner between the piano and the
wall.

"I heard what you were saying just now, Sir Gilbert," she murmured
low, but with marked emphasis, after a few polite commonplaces of
conversation had first passed between them; "and I want to ask you
one question only about the matter. ARE you so sure as you seem
of what you said this minute? Are you so sure that Mr. Guy Waring
HAD sufficient reasons of his own for wishing to leave the country?"

Before that unflinching eye, the great lawyer trembled, as many
a witness had trembled of old under his own cross-examination. But
he tried to pass it off just at first with a little society banter.
He bowed, and smiled, and pretended to look arch--look arch, indeed,
with that ashen, white face of his!--as he answered, with forced
humour--

"My dear young lady, Mr. Guy Waring, as I understand, is Mr. Cyril
Waring's brother, and as by the law of England the king can do no
wrong, so I suppose--"

Elma cut him short in the middle of his sentence with an imperious
gesture. He had never cut short an obnoxious and intruding barrister
himself with more crushing dignity.

"Mr. Cyril Waring has nothing at all to do with the point, one way
or the other," the girl said severely. "Attend to my question.
What I ask is this: Why do you, a judge who may one day be called
upon to try the case, venture to say, on such partial evidence,
that Mr. Guy Waring had sufficient reasons of his own for leaving
the country?"

Called upon to try Guy Waring's case! The judge paused abashed.
He was very much afraid of her. This girl had such a strange look
about the eyes, she made him tremble. People said the Ewes women
were the descendants of a witch. And there was something truly
witch-like in the way Elma Clifford looked straight down into his
eyes. She seemed to see into his very soul. He knew she suspected
him.

He shuffled and temporized. "Well, everybody says so, you know," he
answered, shrugging his shoulders carelessly. "And what everybody
says MUST be true. ... Besides, if HE, didn't do it, who did, I
wonder?"

Elma pounced upon her opportunity with a woman's quickness. "Somebody
else who was at Mambury that day, no doubt," she replied, with a
meaning look. "It MUST have been somebody out of the few who were
at Mambury."

That home-thrust told. The judge's colour was livid to look upon.
What could this girl mean? How on earth could she know? How had she
even found out he was at Mambury at all? A terrible doubt oppressed
his soul. Had Gwendoline confided his movements to Elma? He had
warned his daughter time and again not to mention the fact, "for
fear of misapprehension," he said, with shuffling eyes askance. It
was better nobody should know he had been anywhere near Dartmoor
on the day of the accident.

However, there was one consolation; the law! the law! She could
have no legal proof, and intuition goes for nothing in a court
of justice. All the suspicion went against Guy Waring, and Guy
Waring--well, Guy Waring had fled the kingdom in the very nick of
time, and was skulking now, Heaven alone knew where or why, in the
remotest depths of some far African diggings.

And even as he thought it, the servant opened the door, and, in
the regulation footman's voice, announced "Mr. Waring."

The judge started afresh. For one moment his senses deceived him
sadly. His mind was naturally full of Guy, just now; and as the
servant spoke, he saw a handsome young man in evening dress coming
up the long drawing-room with the very air and walk of the man
he had met that eventful afternoon at the "Duke of Devonshire"
at Plymouth. Of course, it was only Cyril; and a minute later the
judge saw his mistake, and remembered, with a bitter smile, how
conscience makes cowards of us all, as he had often remarked about
shaky witnesses in his admirable perorations. But Elma hadn't failed
to notice either the start or its reason.

"It's only Mr. Cyril," she said pointedly; "not Mr. Guy, Sir Gilbert.
The name came very pat, though. I don't wonder it startled you."

She was crimson herself. The judge moved away with a stealthy
uncomfortable air. He didn't half care for this uncanny young
woman. A girl who can read people's thoughts like that, a girl who
can play with you like a cat with a mouse, oughtn't to be allowed
at large in society. She should be shut up in a cage at home like
a dangerous animal, and prevented from spying out the inmost history
of families.

A little later, Elma had twenty minutes' talk with Cyril alone. It
was in the tea-room behind, where the light refreshments were laid
out before supper. She spoke low and seriously.

"Cyril," she said, in a tone of absolute confidence--they were
not engaged, of course, but still, it had got to plain "Cyril" and
"Elma" by this time--"I'm surer of it than ever, no matter what you
say. Guy's perfectly innocent. I know it as certainly as I know my
own name. I can't be mistaken. And the man who really did it is,
as I told you, Sir Gilbert Gildersleeve."

"My dear child," Cyril answered--you call the girl you are in love
with "my dear child," when you mean to differ from her, with an
air of masculine superiority--"how on earth can that be, when, as
I told you, I have Guy's confession in writing, under his own very
hand, that he really did it?"

"I don't care a pin for that," Elma cried, with a true woman's
contempt for anything so unimportant as mere positive evidence.
"Perhaps Sir Gilbert made him do it somehow--compelled him, or
coerced him, or willed him, or something--I don't understand these
new notions--or perhaps he got him into a scrape and then hadn't
the courage or the manliness to get him out of it. But at any rate,
I can answer for one thing, I were to go to the stake for it--Sir
Gilbert Gildersleeve is the man who's really guilty."

As she spoke, a great shadow darkened the door of the room for a
moment ominously. Sir Gilbert looked in with a lady on his arm--the
inevitable dowager who refreshes herself continuously at frequent
intervals through six hours of entertainment. When he saw those
two tte--tte, he drew back, somewhat disconcerted.

"Don't let's go in there, Lady Knowles," he whispered to the dowager
by his side. "A pair of young people discussing their hearts. We
were once young ourselves. It's a pity to disturb them."

And he passed on across the hall towards the great refreshment-room
opposite.

"Well, I don't know," Cyril said bitterly, as the judge disappeared
through the opposite door. "I wish I could agree with you. But I
can't, I can't. The burden of it's heavier than my shoulders can
bear. Guy's weak, I know, and might be led half unawares into
certain sorts of crime; yet I only knew one man ever likely to lead
him--and that was poor Nevitt himself, not Sir Gilbert Gildersleeve,
whom he hardly even knew to speak to."

As he paused and reflected, a servant with a salver came up and
looked into Cyril's face inquiringly.

"Beg your pardon, sir," he said, hesitating, "but I think you're
Mr. Waring."

"That's my name," Cyril answered, with a faint blush on his cheek.
"Do you want to speak to me?"

"Yes, sir; there's half-a-crown to pay for porterage, if you please.
A telegram for you, sir."

Cyril pulled out the half-a-crown, and tore open the telegram.
Its contents were indeed enough to startle him. It was dated "Cape
Town," and was as brief as is the wont of cable messages at nine
shillings a word--

"Coming home immediately to repay everything and stand my trial.
Kelmscott accompanies me. All well.--GUY WARING."

Cyril looked at it with a gasp, and handed it on to Elma. Elma took
it in her dainty gloved fingers, and read it through with keen eyes
of absorbing interest. Cyril sighed a profound sigh. Elma glanced
back at him all triumph. "I told you so," she said, in a very jubilant
voice. "He wouldn't do that if he didn't KNOW he was innocent."

At the very same second, a blustering voice was heard above the
murmur in the hall without.

"What, half-a-crown for porterage!" it exclaimed in indignant tones.
"Why, that's a clear imposition. The people at my house ought
never to have sent it on. It's addressed to Woodlands. Unimportant,
unimportant! Here, Gwendoline, take your message--some milliner's
or dressmaker's appointment for to-morrow, I suppose. Half-a-crown
for porterage! They'd no right to bring it."

Gwendoline took the telegram with trembling hands, tore it open
all quivers, and broke into a cry of astonishment. Then she fell
all at once into her father's arms. Elma understood it all. It was
a similar message from Granville Kelmscott to tell the lady of his
heart he was coming home to marry her.

Sir Gilbert, somewhat flustered, called for water in haste, and
revived the fainting girl by bathing her temples. At last he took
up the cause of the mischief himself. As he read it his own face
turned white as death. Elma noticed that, too. And no wonder it
did--for these were the words of that unexpected message--

"Coming home to claim you by the next mail. Guy Waring accompanies
me.--GKANVILLE KELMSCOTT."

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What's Bred In the Bone
by
Grant Allen







CHAPTER XXXV.

PERILS BY THE WAY.





Three weeks later, two torn and tattered, half-starved Europeans
sat under a burning South African sun by the dry bed of a shrunken
summer torrent. It was in the depths of Namaqua land, among the
stony Karoo; and the fugitives were straggling, helplessly and
hopelessly, seaward, thirsty and weary, through a half-hostile
country, making their marches as best they could at dead of night
and resting by day where the natives would permit them.

Their commissariat had indeed been a lean and hungry one. Though
they carried many thousand pounds' worth of diamonds about their
persons, they had nothing negotiable with which to buy food or
shelter from the uncivilized Namaquas. Ivory, cloth, and beads were
the currency of the country. No native thereabouts would look for
a moment at their little round nobs of water-worn pebbles. The fame
of the diamond fields hadn't penetrated as yet so far west in the
land as to have reached to the huts of the savage Namaquas.

And now their staying power was almost worn out Granville Kelmscott
lay down on the sandy soil with a wild gesture of despair. All
around were bare rocks and the dry sweltering veldts, covered only
with round stones and red sand and low bushy vegetation.

"Waring," he said feebly, in a very faint voice, "I wish you'd
leave me and go on by yourself. I'm no good any more. I'm only a
drag upon you. This fever's too bad for me to stand much longer.
I can never pull through to the coast alive. I've no energy left,
were it even to try. I'd like to lie down here and die where I sit.
Do go and leave me."

"Never!" Guy answered resolutely. "I'll never desert you, Kelmscott,
while I've a drop of blood left. If I carry you on my back to the
coast, I'll get you there at last, or else we'll both die on the
veldt together."

Granville held his friend's hand in his own fevered fingers as he
might have held a woman's.

"Oh, Waring," he cried once more, in a voice half choked with profound
emotion, "I don't know how to thank you enough for all you've done
for me. You've behaved to me like a brother--like a brother indeed.
It makes me ashamed to think, when I see how unselfish, and good,
and kind you've been--ashamed to think I once distrusted you.
You've been an angel to me all through. Without you, I don't know
how I could ever have lived on through this journey at all. And
I can't bear to feel now I may spoil your retreat--can't bear to
know I'm a drag and burden to you."

"My dear fellow," Guy said, holding the thin and fevered hand very
tenderly in his, "don't talk to me like that. I feel to you every
bit as you feel to me in this matter. I was afraid of you at first,
because I knew you misunderstood me. But the more I've seen of you,
the better we've each of us learned to sympathize with the other.
We've long been friends. I love you now, as you say, like a brother."

Granville hesitated for a moment. Should he out with it or not? Then
at last the whole long-suppressed truth came out with a burst. He
seized his companion's two hands at once in a convulsive grasp.

"That's not surprising either," he said, "after all--for Guy, do
you know, we ARE really brothers!"

Guy gazed at him in astonishment. For a moment he thought his
friend's reason was giving way. Then slowly and gradually he took
it all in.

"ARE really brothers!" he repeated, in a dazed sort of way. "Do
you mean it, Kelmscott? Then my father and Cyril's--"

"Was mine too, Waring. Yes; I couldn't bear to die without telling
you that. And I tell it now to you. You two are the heirs of
the Tilgate estates. And the unknown person who paid six thousand
pounds to Cyril, just before you left England, was your father and
mine--Colonel Henry Kelmscott."

Guy bent over him for a few seconds in speechless surprise. Words
failed him at first. "How do you know all this, Kelmscott?" he said
at last faintly.

Granville told him in as few words as possible--for indeed he was
desperately weak and ill--by what accident he had discovered his
father's secret. But he told him only what he knew himself. For, of
course, he was ignorant as yet of the Colonel's seizure and sudden
death on the very day after they had sailed from England.

Guy listened to it all in profound silence. It was a strange,
and for him a momentous tale. Then he said at last, as Granville
finished, "And you never told me this all these long months,
Kelmscott."

"I always meant to tell you, Guy," his half-brother answered, in
a sudden fit of penitence. "I always meant in the end you and your
brother Cyril should come into your own at Tilgate as you ought.
I was only waiting--"

"Till you'd realized enough to make good some part of your personal
loss," Guy suggested, not unkindly.

"Oh no," Granville answered, flushing up at the suggestion. "I
wasn't waiting for that. Don't think me so mercenary. I was waiting
for YOU, in your turn to extend to ME your own personal confidence.
You know, Guy," he went on, dropping into a still more hushed
and solemn undertone, "I saw an evening paper the night we left
Plymouth--"

"Oh, I know, I know," Guy cried, interrupting him, with a very
pale face. "Don't speak to me of that. I can't bear to think of
it. Kelmscott, I was mad when I did that deed. I wasn't myself. I
acted under somebody else's compulsion and influence. The man had
a sort of hypnotic power over my will, I believe. I couldn't help
doing whatever he ordered me. It was he who suggested it. It was
he that did it. And it's he who was really and truly guilty."

"And who was that man?" Granville Kelmscott asked with some little
curiosity.

"There's no reason I shouldn't tell you," Guy answered, "now we've
once broken the ice; and I'm glad in my heart, I must say, that
we've broken it. For a year and a half, day and night, that barrier
has been raised between us always, and I've longed to get rid of
it. But I was afraid to speak of it to you, and you to me! Well,
the man, if you must know, was Montague Nevitt!"

Granville Kelmscott looked up at him in credulous surprise. But he
was too ill and weak to ask the meaning of this riddle. Montague
Nevitt! What on earth could Waring mean by that? How on earth could
Montague Nevitt have influenced and directed him in assaulting and
murdering Montague Nevitt?

For a long time there was silence. Each brother was thinking his
own thoughts to himself about this double disclosure. At last,
Granville lifted his head and spoke again.

"And you'll go home to England now," he said, "under an assumed
name, I suppose; and arrange with your brother Cyril for him to
claim the Kelmscott estates, and allow you something out of them
in retirement somewhere."

"Oh no," Guy answered manfully. "I'm going home to England now, if
I go at all, under my own proper name that I've always borne, to
repay Cyril in full every penny I owe him, to make what reparation
I can for the wrong I've done, and to give myself up to the police
for trial."

Granville gazed at him, more surprised and more admiring than ever.

"You're a brave man, Waring," he said slowly. "I don't understand
it at all. But I know you're right. And I almost believe you. I
almost believe it was not your fault. I should like to get through
to England after all, if it was only to see you safe out of your
troubles."

Guy looked at him fixedly.

"My dear fellow," he said, in a compassionate tone, "you mustn't
talk any more. You've talked a great deal too much already. I see
a hut, I fancy, over yonder, beside that dark patch of brush. Now,
you must do exactly as I bid you. Don't struggle or kick. Lie as
still as you can. I'll carry you there on my back, and then we'll
see if we can get you anyhow a drop of pure water."






CHAPTER XXXVI.

DESERTED.





That was almost the last thing Granville Kelmscott knew. Some
strange shadowy dreams, to be sure, disturbed the lethargy into which
he fell soon after; but they were intermittent and indefinite. He
was vaguely aware of being lifted with gentle care into somebody's
arms, and of the somebody staggering along with him, not without
considerable difficulty, over the rough stony ground of that South
African plateau. He remembered also, as in a trance, some sound of
angry voices--a loud expostulation--a hasty palaver--a long slow
pause--a gradual sense of reconciliation and friendliness--during
all which, as far as he could recover the circumstances afterwards,
he must have been extended on the earth, with his back propped
against a great ledge of jutting rock, and his head hanging listless
on his sinking breast. Thenceforward all was blank, or just dimly
perceived at long intervals between delirium and unconsciousness.
He was ill for many days, where or how he knew not.

In some half dreamy way, he was aware too, now and again, of strange
voices by his side, strange faces tending him. But they were black
faces, all, and the voices spoke in deep guttural tones, unlike
even the clicks and harsh Bantu jerks with which he had grown
so familiar in eighteen months among the Barolong. This that he
heard now, or seemed to hear in his delirium, like distant sounds
of water, was a wholly different and very much harsher tongue--the
tongue of the Namaquas, in fact, though Granville was far too ill
and too drowsy just then to think of reasoning about it or classifying
it in any way. All he knew for the moment was that sometimes, when
he turned round feebly on his bed of straw, and asked for drink
or help in a faltering voice, no white man appeared to answer
his summons. Black, faces all--black, black, and unfamiliar. Very
intermittently he was conscious of a faint sense of loneliness. He
knew not why. But he thought he could guess. Guy Waring had deserted
him!

At last, one morning, after more days had passed than Granville
could possibly count, all of a sudden, in a wild whirl, he came
to himself again at once, with that instant revulsion of complete
awakening which often occurs at the end of long fits of delirium
in malarious fever. A light burst in upon him with a flash. In
a moment, his brain seemed to clear all at once, and everything
to grow plain as day before him. He raised himself on one wasted
elbow and gazed around him with profound awe. He saw it all now;
he remembered everything, everything.

He was alone, among savages in the far heart of Africa.

He lay on his back, on a heap of fresh straw, in a close and filthy
mud-built hut. Under his aching neck a wooden pillow or prop of
native make supported his head. Two women and a man bent over him
and smiled. Their faces, though black, were far from unkindly.
They were pleased to see him stare about with such meaning in his
eyes. They were friendly, no doubt. They seemed really to take an
interest in their patient's recovery.

But where was Guy Waring? Dead? Dead? Or run away? Had his
half-brother, in this utmost need, then, so basely deserted him?

For some minutes, Granville gazed around him, half dazed, and in
a turmoil of surprise, yet with a vivid passion of acute inquiry.
Now he was once well awake, he must know all immediately. But
how? Who to ask? This was terrible, terrible. He had no means of
intercommunication with the people in the hut. He knew none of their
language, nor they of his. He was utterly alone, among unmitigated
savages.

Meanwhile, the man and the women talked loud among themselves in
their own harsh speech, evidently well pleased and satisfied at
their guest's improvement. With a violent effort, Granville began to
communicate with them in the language of signs which every savage
knows as he knows his native tongue, and in which the two Englishmen
had already made some progress during their stay in Barolong land.

Pointing first to himself, with one hand on his breast, he held
up two fingers before the observant Namaqua, to indicate that at
first there had been a couple of them on the road, both white men.
The latter point he still further elaborated by showing the white
skin on his own bare wrist, and once more holding up the two fingers
demonstratively. The Namaqua nodded. He had seized the point well.
He held up two fingers in return himself; then looked at his own
black wrist and shook his head in dissent--they were not black men;
after which he touched Granville's fair forearm with his hand; yes,
yes, just so; he took it in; two white men.

What had become of the other one? Granville asked in the same fashion,
by looking around him on all sides in dumb show, inquiringly. One
finger only was held up now, pointing about the hut; one hand was
laid upon his own breast to show that a single white man alone
remained. He glanced about him uneasily. What had happened to his
companion?

The Namaqua pointed with his finger to the door of the hut, as much
as to say the other man was gone. He seized every sign at once
with true savage quickness.

Then Granville tried once more. Was his companion dead? Had he been
killed in a fight? Was that the reason of his absence? He lunged
forward with his hand holding an imaginary assegai. He pressed on
upon the foe; he drove it through a body. Then he fell, as if dead,
on the floor, with a groan and a shriek. After which, picking
himself up as well as he was able, and crawling back to his straw,
he proceeded in mute pantomime to bury himself decently.

The Namaqua shook his head again with a laugh of dissent. Oh no;
not like that. It had happened quite otherwise. The missing white
man was well and vigorous, a slap on his own chest sufficiently
indicated that news. He placed his two first fingers in the ground,
astride like legs, and made them walk along fast, one in front
of the other. The white man had gone away. He had gone on foot.
Granville nodded acquiescence. The savage took water in a calabash
and laid it on the floor. Then he walked once more with his fingers,
as if on a long and weary march, to the water's brink. Granville
nodded comprehension again. He understood the signs. The white man
had gone away, alone, on foot--and seaward.

At that instant, with a sudden cry of terror, the invalid's hands
went down to his waist, where he wore the girdle that contained
those precious diamonds--the diamonds that were to be the ransom
of some fraction of Tilgate. An awful sense of desertion broke over
him all at once. He called aloud in his horror. It was too much to
believe. The girdle was gone, and the diamonds with it!

Hypocrite! Hypocrite! Thief! Murderer! Robber! He had trusted that
vile creature, that plausible wretch, in spite of all the horrible
charges he knew against him. And THIS was the sequel of their talk
that day! THIS was how Guy Waring had requited his confidence.

He had stolen the fruits of eighteen months' labour.

Granville turned to the Namaqua, wild with his terrible loss, and
pointed angrily to his loins, where the diamonds were not. The
savage nodded; looked wise and shook his head; pretended to gird
himself round the waist with a cloth; then went over to Granville,
who lay still in the straw, undid an imaginary belt, with deliberate
care, tied it round his own body above the other one, with every
appearance of prudence and forethought, counted the small stones
in it one by one, in his hand, to the exact number, with grotesque
fidelity, and finally set his fingers to walk a second time at a
rapid pace, in the direction of the calabash which represented the
ocean.

Granville fell back on his wooden pillow with a horrible groan of
awakened distrust. The man had gone off, that was clear, and had
stolen his diamonds That is what comes of intrusting your life and
property to a discovered murderer. How could he ever have been such
a fool? He would never forgive himself.

The desertion itself was bad enough in all conscience; but it was
as nothing at all in Granville's mind to the wickedness of the
robbery.

He might have known it, of course. How that fellow toiled and moiled
and gloated over his wretched diamonds! How little he seemed to
think of the stain of blood on his hands, and how much of the mere
chance of making filthy lucre! Pah! Pah! it was pitiable. The man's
whole mind was distorted by a hideous fungoid growth--the love of
gain, which is the root of all evil. For a few miserable stones,
he would plunder his own brother, lying helpless and ill in that
African hut, and make off with the booty himself, saving his own
skin, seaward.

If it hadn't been for the unrequited kindness of these mere savage
Namaquas, Granville cried to himself in his bitterness, he might
have died of want in the open desert. And now he would go down to
the coast, after all, a ruined man, penniless and friendless. It
was a hard thought indeed for a Kelmscott to think he should have
been abandoned and robbed by his own half-brother, and should owe
his life now to a heathen African. The tender mercies of a naked
barbarian in a mud-built hut were better than the false friendship
of his father's son, the true heir of Tilgate.

It was miserable! pitiable! The shock of that discovery threw
Granville back once more into a profound fever. For several hours
he relapsed into delirium. And the worst of it was, the negroes
wouldn't let him die quietly in his own plain way. In the midst of
it all, he was dimly aware of a dose thrust down his throat. It
was the Namaqua administering him a pill--some nauseous native
decoction, no doubt--which tasted as if it were made of stiff white
paper.

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