The man and the hour, or, Sheridan Keene's clever artifice

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The man and the hour, or, Sheridan Keene's clever artifice

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The man and the hour, or, Sheridan Keene's clever artifice
Series Title:
Shield Weekly
Bradshaw, Alden F.
Place of Publication:
New York
Street & Smith
Publication Date:
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32 p. : port. ; 25 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Dime novels. ( lcsh )
Detective and mystery stories, American ( lcsh )
serial ( sobekcm )

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University of South Florida
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University of South Florida
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The University of South Florida Libraries believes that the Item is in the Public Domain under the laws of the United States, but a determination was not made as to its copyright status under the copyright laws of other countries. The Item may not be in the Public Domain under the laws of other countries.
Resource Identifier:
024870597 ( ALEPH )
43559963 ( OCLC )
S75-00004 ( USF DOI )
s75.4 ( USF Handle )

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cH 1 ELDriw E .EKlY .. : J I ', '11 . ,_ . .. .. : .. . : : . ., .. . : THE MAN AND THE HOUR orSherido.n Keene s Clever Artifice er ALDEN F. PUBLISHED WEEKLY BY STREET & SMITH, 2:;8 Willi a m Street, New York City. C opyright, 1900. b y Strut & Smitll. A ll E nturd al Y ork P MlQtJiu as Suond-ClasJ Ma/I rr


TRUE DETECTIVE .STRAnGER THAft flCTIOft I.rnutl Weeki,. By Su/J.rcri"jtion $2,SO /Jl'" yeal'. Entered as Suond-Clau },fatter at tl:e N. Y. Po.rt 0.f}fct, 6y STREET & SMITH, 2J8 William St. N. Y. No 5. Entered Accordinr to Act o f Conrus, in the year r90r, in the O.ffict "/the Librarian of Conrress, D C NEW YORK, January 5, 1901. Price, Five Cenfs. CHIRF. INSPECTOR WATTS. The head of the detective f.or c e of the city of Ho ston. H e prominently in the S!-'TFLr> \\"FEKLY stories, and is well known throughout New Eng-l3nd ns ""E> of the ablest and m o8t etli c 1ent p

The Man and the H our: OR, SHERIDAN KEENEtS C LEVER By ALDEN F. ; BRADSHAW. CHAPTER I. THE DEATH OF JACOB MOORE. "Chief Inspector Watts, I want you to do me a favor." Chief Watts met the request with a rather encouraging smile "I have not forgotten, Mr. French, that I am considerably your debtor in that line," he genially rejoined, with some significance. "\Vell, it is not on that account, Chief \Vatts, that I appeal to you at just this time. I never charge up favors against my friends. But I am confrontetl just now by a case which, while I am still ignorant of the im mediate particulars, I fear will exceedingly shrewd and delicate handling." The expression on the face of the chief in spector changed slightly. "Is it a criminal' case, Mr. French?" he asked, quietly "It is a case of murder, Chief Watts, or so, at least, it is here stated," replied Mr. Hamill ton French, one the the brighfest of Boston s legal lights and a noted criminal "Here is a telegram I received less than ten minutes ago "Read it, please." "It reads: 'Jacob Moore was murdered last night. Come at once.' It is signed by Moore' s nephew, a man named Richard T horpe, who has lived wit h Moore off and on si n c e h i s boyho o d." "Who is this Moore? Is he an acquaint ance of yours?" "Oh, yes. I have been Moo r e's legal ad viser for something like twenty years, and am so well informed of his family affairs / t hat this crime, if Moore has actually been murder ed, at once suggests to me possibilities an

SHIELD WEEKLY. 3 them and deduce the most probable con clusion." "You want a rather clever man," laughed Chief watts, in his agreeable way. "I want a very clever man," returned the lawyer, pointedly. "As a matter of fact, Chief vVatts, you are the man whose aid I wonld have liked to secure; but I am aware that your duties here make that impossible. Furthermore, this Moore lives out Lynn way, "V\ hi ch is beyond the customary circle of your work." "So it is, Mr. French." "Can't you loan me just such a man as I have aescribed, however-one to whom I can impart some of the inside facts of this case, who will quietly investigate it for my special benefit. I apprehend some little bother from the regular force of constables and po lice, who persistently cling to their own r methods and views; and I want the help of a man who will pull in the harness with me to some extent, at least, and whose features are not very generally known." ou want him to do this work on the qttiet, I take it." "Precisely." "Have you visited the scene of the mur--. der ?" ''No, not since the crime was committed, Chief Wafts," replied the lawyer. "This m e ssage was the first intimation I had of it. l at once wired Thon pe that I would come out to the Moore place this morning, and as ked him to stay active investigations until I arrived. I then came directly here to make the request stated." "Which leads me to infer that you already suspect some person of the crime, assuming one to have been committed, said Chief Vlatts, looking up with a curious light in his e y es :well, I will admit--" "One moment, please. That's neither here nor there. I do not wish to anticipate the work of any of my men." "Have you such a one as I describea ?" asked the lawyer, with manifest eagerness. "A better one than you described Mr. French," nodded the chief, with an expres sive upward glance at the face of the attorney; "for he is a young man who has qualities and abilities to which mere words cannot do justice. Moreover, if it is your wish, I will give him such assistance as may come 1n my way." "It will be appreciated, I assure you." "What is involved in this case, more than placing the crime where it belongs?" "A considerable fortune." "The Moore estate?" "Precisely." "When are you goi{lg down there?" "The sooner the If you will grant the favor I have asked, I would like to take the next train." "Do so by all means," said Chief Watts, rising. "Garratt, send Sl1eridan Keene in here!" "Is he the officer to whom you referred?" asked the lawyer. "Yes, he is." "I think I have heard the name before." "You will hear it may times again, if he decides to continue the work he has begun. He is a young man of extraordinary--" But the sound of a firm step in the corri dor, followed by the opening of the office door, led Chief Watts to suppress his compli mentary utterances, and to turn, instead, to the person who entered-a tall, atheletic young man, of about twenty-five years, with an erect and supple figure and noticeably re fined and forceful face. "Detective Keene, this is Mr. Hamilton French, the law y er," said the chief, gravely. "He is a personal friend--0ne I would be glad t o effectively serve, if it is possible. I wish you to undertake some special detective work at his solicitation. A c u r i o us smile rose about the lips of Sher idan K ee n e : and he took the hand which Lawyer French extended. A f t e r the preface of Chief Watts," he said with dry" "I hardly need assure you Mr. French, that I shall do the best I can for you. What is the nature of this work, sir?" f "One moment, gentlemen," interposed Chi e f Watts. "You have just about time to hit the half-past nine train. The sooner you reach the immediate scene of this tragedy, the better. I would suggest, Mr. French, that you start at once and give Detective Keene ---


4 SHIELD WEEKLY. any points you may desire during the journey." "My idea, exactly!" exclaimed the lawyer. "Are you ready to go with me at once, Detective Keene?" "I am. always ready when duty calls," said Keene, laughing. Yet his response was true to the very letter. "Good!" cried th e law y er, heartily. "Come, then I I have a coupe at the door Keene turned with only one swift glance at the expressive eyes of the chief inspector; then hastened through th e corridor and overtook the attorney at outer door. CHAPTER II. ON THE TRAIN. Detective Keene and the attorney caught their train by a narrow margin only, and secure d a seat somewhat aloof from the few other passengers in the smoking car. This parti a l seclusion evidently suited the law y er, who appeared seriously disturbed b y the n e ws of his client's tragic death, and anxi o us to give Keene what information he c o uld that would aid him in locating the criminal. But the young detective checked him al most at the beginning. "It is only a short run down there," said the lawyer. I will give you all the points I can in the time allowed, that on your arrival you will be better equipped to look the evi dence over. I think--" "First, allow me just a word, Mr. French, if you will pardon the interruption," said Keene, turning his clear, grave eyes on the face of the atto rne y "Whatever you may think, there is one thing I do not wish you to tell me." "What is that, Mr. Keene? "You already suspect some person of this and I prefer not to know whom." "Well, well! You detectives are discerning fellows!" Mr. French exclaimed, smiling faintly Chief Watts drew the same infer ence, though from what I cannot imagine." "That you engage the help of a special offi cer before you have verified your telegram, even, is to me a sufficient indication of your su s p icion," Keene explained. "Quite logical, too." .. You also fear that some innocent pe r son may be to some extent complicated." "That is true, also." "The person," continued Keene, w ith a curious twi nkle in his eyes, "is a young lady --one of whom you are very fond, and who regards you as a very dear friend. She is young. and, I should say,. was quite recently married; but her husband is not a clever man, nor one of much stabilit y and is most hkely--" Hold, hold You will next be telling me what sort of a woman my grandmother was!" cri e d the a t torney, who, in truth, was amazed at the acumen of the young detective. "How on earth did you guess these facts?" "They are fa ts, ? "Precisely." ) "I do not guess them," Keene laughed lightly "They are apparent through a very simple process of deducti on." Will you tell me how?" Certainly! That the person you suspect ma y be guilty, is not the same person you fear may be implicated, is at once su g g este d by your ha s te in procuring the aid of a special det e ctive If the guilt y one were likely to be involved, you would have at first examined the c a se mor e calml y." "That is true enou g h laughe d the attor ney. "But why do you infer m y int e rest t o be in a lad y ? "If it were a man you w o uld b e less anxi ous to relieve him of what you f ear may b e a distressing situation. Men can face such tl:iings more easily than wom e n added Keene sign i ficantly M o reover, that you take this very active int e re s t indi ca tes both that you a re fond of h e r and that yo u know that she will expect you to do it, which indi cates, in turn, that she reli e s upon you. This suggests inexperience, hence she probably i s y oung. So serious a crime as murder very rarely involves a young single girl, however; hence she very likely has been recently mar ried. But her husband is not a clever man, capable of handling so serious a situation, or you would have left this matter t o him r a ther than p lunging into i t so hurr iedly " D ea r me You s h o u ld have been a lawye r. I cannot but admi re--" -"Ah but we w a s t e time, M r. Fre nch," ..


SHIELD WEEKLY. Keene, q u iet l y checking t h e l awyer's expres sions of approval. "What I wish to avoid, sir, are the very s u spicions by which you are actuated, and under which you are l aboring. I do no.t want to know whom you suspect, nor why. These things only tend to draw a de tective from the straight line of true detective work. I want on l y the bare facts, from which, and from my own observations of the evidence in the case, I may make unbiased de

6 SHIELD WEEKLY. glad to r eturn. A more s urly and p e rv e rse old codger could not be imagined "Has he mad e a will ? inquir e d Keene. "Yes." "Disinherrtin g his daughter?" "Yes." "Who i s his r es i d 1 p r y l egatee?" "His neph ew." ''Doe s Thorpe know of thi s w ill?" I think n o t r e pli ed Mr. French. "In fact I am quit e sure o f it for the w ill is m my po ssession, and Moo r e wa s not a man to have disclose

SHIELD WEEKLY. 7 "I'm the stable hand up to the house yonder, and Mr. Thorpe sent me down here to you. Re said y ou might come by this train. Bad business, this, sir!" ''I. see," nodded the lawyer, who had not recognized the fellow as Moore's groom and gardener. "Will there be room for my clerk, also? " Aye sir, I reckon so. Tumble in, and I'll squat in the middle With no observable interest in the bumpkin, yet who did not quite impress him as a foor oughbred countryman, Sheridan Keene fol lowed the lawyer into the wagon and suffered Mr. Darbage to squeeze his broad hips be tween them ''I'd a come withJ.he carry-all if I'd knowed there were two o' you he explained with a side glance at the face 9 i the detective. Get up! G'Iang !" "I brought a clerk, thinking I might need him," said Mr. French, as the venicle rattled over the rough road. "I reckon there'll be room enough, now the old man's gone," returnoo Darbage, ir reverently. "There wa'n' t room for no ex tras, though, when he was alive." "Then old Jacob is really dead, is he?" "Aye, sir, as d e ad as h e 'll ever be in this world Can't say what he 'll come to in the next. "Well, this world is the one we have most tf, do with while in it," said the law y er, with some austerity. "What are the particulars? I have onl y M.I;. Thorpe 's telegram saying Jacob had b e en murdered." Darbage looked up without a change of countenance. A ye sir, he was murdered right enough," said he. in his grim fashion. Ma'am Haynie found him dead in b e d this m o rnin g with two knife-slits atween his ribs, and most of his bl o o d run out of his body, which wasn't much at that." "Is it known the crime was com mitted?" "I r ec kon not, sir, though I'm not sartin. Jim Bragg, the constabl e is up there nosing round and looking as wise as an owl; but I can't say what he s larned. They don't tell me much. "Is Mr. Thorpe at the house?" Aye, sir ; he's been down here nigh a week." "Isn't that quite a long visit for him?" "The ole man ain't been over well, so Mr. Thorpe stayed on his account." "And Mabel?" "Mr. Thorpe sent her word this morning, and she came right up. Fust time she'd been in the house since the ole man kicked 1her out. ;r reckon there's the coroner driving in, sir. I heerd em say they'd sent fo; him." The ride from the station had been of brief duration, and they now came in view of a large country house, situated somewhat off the road. A at the place indicated the character of its late owner. The dwelling, once a mansion, was now out of repair; and the surrounding acres of woodland and meadows had run rank as tJtey pleased. A large stable was at the rear and at one side of the house, and the faded old gray mare, behind which Jacob Moore had been wont to ride, ambled up the driveway be tween the elms as if eager to reach her stall. But grim Mr. Darbage drew her down at the side door of the house, which was im mediately opened by a young woman in dark attire, whose pale, pretty face and red eyes at once suggested to Keene her identity. "Oh, Mr. French!" she exclaimed, ap proaching with much emotion to greet him; I am s o glad you have come! My poor father has met with-, But the kind old lawyer took her in his arms, and silenced her with a more loving kiss then the father mentioned had ever given her in all her worthy and gentle girl hood. He led her in, and took her alone to the library; while Sheridan I\.eene, alread y at work on the case in his quiet way, fol low e d them as far as the bro ad hall Though things wore the aspect of years of service, the large house was comfortabl y furnished, and the general cleanliness and order sugge sted the care of a capable hou s e keeper. The sound voices from a room off one side of the hall now reached the detective s ears, and in an affair of this kind Sheridan Keene did not stand upon ceremony. He at once approached the room, the door of which stood partly open.


8 SHIELD WEEKLY. It was a large, square bedroom, with two window s A broad fireplace was at one end, but the half-burned logs were cold and dead, and the air was very chilly. A bed occupied the opposite end of the room, and there, upon its blood-stained linen, stiff and cold in death, lay the figure of a thin-faced, gray haired old man, whose face in death, even, still carried an expression of that severity and hardness which had marked all the latter years of his life. Three men were standing near the bed, and one, evidently a physician, was exam ining the body. "The man has been dead many hours, not less than twelve, I should say," he observed, as Sheridan Keene stepped softly into the room. "It is a shocking crime!" Can anything be done?" asked a tall, broad-shouldered young man at his elbow. The physician shook his head. "Not for him," he replied. "You had bet ter do nothing here, Mr. Thorpe, until after the arrival of the coroner." Sheridan Keene looked the latter over. He was a well-built man of twenty-five, this nephew of the deceased. He had a frank and rather attractive face, with dark eyes and hair; and was the style of a man most women would have fancied, despite Mabel Moore's evident aversion to marrying His fea_ tures were pale now, and his manner gravely composed. "I have already sent for the coroner, doc tor," he replied. "Le. t everything remain as it is, then, until he comes." "He should be here now." "It is a case, I think," added the physician, "which will require capable investigation. Would it not be well to send into Boston for a competent detective?" "I have sent for Lawyer French, my uncle's solicitor," replied Thorpe, "and I shall place matters entirely in his hands on his arrival. I think that would be my uncle's own wish if he were alive, instead of lying there, the victim of perfidious cowardice and foul play; and I shall be governed accord ingly. I think I had better-beg pardon, sir! Who are you?" He had turned slightly, and now observed Sherid an Keene standing just withi11 the threshold. The detective approached with a ... grave bow, and without a glance at the grewsome figure on the bed. "My name is Keene, and I am Mr. French' s cierk," he explained, politely. "I have just arrived with the attorney." "Oh, yes. Excuse me!" cried Thorpe, quickly offering his hand. "Where is Mr. French?" "He is in the library with Mrs. Jeffrey "I must see him at once !" "Oh, by the way," and Thorpe quickly turned back, "this is Dr. Carr, our local phy1 sician, Mr. Keene, and this is Mr. Bragg, the constable. They w ill give you any informa tion you may desire, and I shall now request Mr. French to take entire charge of this dreadful affair. He will know all about the law bearing upon it, of which I know noth ing. You will excuse me, won't you?" The detective bowed and gravely acknowl edged the introduction to the two men re maining, while Richard Thorpe hurried from the room to seek the attorney. Sheridan Keene sized up at a glance the two men left in his company. The physician was an ordinary old gentle man, and presented nothing of interest. Not SC', however, the other. Jim Bragg was a burly man with coal black eyes and a bushy beard. He was a capital fellow for battering down a door and entering a dive of lawless ruffians, where in domitable courage was an absolute requisite; for such an occasion, you would have to go far to find Jim Bragg's better. But the ferreting out of a cunning, well-wrought piece of knavery was utterly beyond Mr. Bragg's ability. But Mr. Bragg did not think so. All he wanted, or had ever wanted, as he said, was an opportunity And it now had happened like a long-awaited dream, when the news of Jacob Moore's murder was published that morning; and as he left his own home and hastened across the meadows toward the im mediate scene of the tragedy, his mind, stim ulated by the occasion, was filled with vague visions of startling stories in the city dailies, with the name of Detective Bragg in scare-


SHIELD WEEKLY. 9 head letters and thrilling depiction of the marvelQus deeds of this new Vidocq, to say nothing of renown handed down to posterity, and the probable demand for his immediate services in Pemberton Square. This was the man to whom Sheridan Keene now turned, with a: glance that at once took in the constable's chief characteristics. CHAPTER IV. DETECTIVE KEENE MAKES AN IMPRESSION. Richard Thorpe's immediate cordiality toward Keene, when informed of his rela tions with the attorney, did not escape the notice of the burly constable, whose conduct presently indicated that he not only regarded Thorpe very fa v orably but was also inclined to extend this sentiment even to the latter's friends. He winked affably to as Thorpe hastened from the room then turned to growl in face of the innocent physi cian. "Send to town for a detective, eh? Carr, you infernal sawbones, don'.t you think I'm equal to getting at the bottom o' this affair?" "Why, yes, Mr. Bragg, stammered the startled physician; "but I made the suggestion only--" "It was a curs.ed innuendo, no matter what 'twas made for!" protested the doughty con stable. "Looking arter crime and criminals is my bread and butter, Dr. Carr, the which I 'll not let you nor any other bone-setter whip from 'tween my teeth. No""'., yo.u look arter your ena o' this case, and don't trouble mine, .or the trouble'll not end there. Send to town for a detective! The blamed old meddler!" "Some folks don t know a clever man when they see one," said Keene, in tones disparaging the perturbed little physician, who had beaten a hasty retreat from the room, and from the ire of the bustling, blackbearded constable. "Too true for a joke, -Mr. Keene!" cried Bragg, with an emphatic head-shake. "Some men are blind, and some are jealous; but I never aaw a sawbones who wa'n't a blamed fool." "It's owing to their business," assented Keene, with an object "So 'tis, sir! For cleverness, give me a lawyer, or a detective, or a politician, or even a gospel-sharp! But a sawbones--" and the disgruntled Bragg spat his disgust into the fireplace; "a sawb o nes ain't nothing! Nothing at aIJ "Not even worthy of contempt, eh?" smiled Keene. "You are the constable, I believe Mr. Thorpe said." "Aye, sir, I am!" Mr. Bragg readily al lowed. "Mr. Thorpe put it dead right, as he always does." "He appears to be a nice, gentlemanly fel low," observed Keene, in a friendly way. "More'n that, sir, he is!" declared the garrulous constable, with emphasis. "A cleaner, nicer man than Dick Thorpe never stood in leather. He hasn't a foe in these 'ere parts. Even that old man, stiff and stark there, was his friend-and whoever could win old Jacob Moore's favor, sir, could win any man's! I know, 'cause I know 'em all, root and branch. You're a lawyer, ain't you?" "Yes, Constable Bragg," affably nodded Keene, careful to give this pretentious officer all the distinction possible. "Our Mr. French has always been Moore's legal adviser and we shall now execute his estate-and possibl y his assassins." "Cleverly put-very!" chuckled Mr Bragg, clapping the detective on the shoul der. "And seeing's your interest runs with mine, I'II not mind helping you, when I can." "Then you'll not object to my looking over the evidence with you, merely as an assist ant?" "Sure not!" "I'II keep mum, understand Of course I don't to see all you'll see, for detect-. ive work is not in my line; but what little I get may help Mr. French in conducting th e case. And say!" "Well, sir?" Keene slipped his hand through the con stable's brawny arm and drew him closer, to add confidentially : "If yott can make a hit in ferreting out the truth here, there'd be a big opening els e where for a man of your measure." "D'ye think so?" was the eager inquiry.


10 SHIELD WEEKLY. "I know so! Furthermore, since you're inclined to do me a turn, I d like to recip rocate some day. Our law firm you know, stands ace high with Chief Watts, of the Boston inspectors; and if it com e s right, we can make a strong pull for you at Head quarters." "And you ll do it?" "With pleasure! "Put it th e r e!" said Mr. Bragg, thrusting out his huge hand. "As for this case what I get you get. But that's between us, mind v on !" M y word upon it I'll do nothing to get in your way." "That's good enough for m e sir!" Thus Sheridan Keene made an impression, and paved the wa y t o securing infoqnation from the one man who, his own detective in stinct told him, would know more of the superficial features of this tragedy than all the rest of the communit y combined. "Was this Moore s d e sk ? he now care lessly asked, turning to a piece of furniture near o ne o f th e windows Y e s sir 'twas. "It i s much di s tu r b e d Was he i:i the habit o f k ee pirtg mone y -in it?" ' I r e ckon not. But some one went through it last night, that' s plain. Most lik e ly a s e arch for papers ." / P o s s ibl y a will "My id e a exactl y Say, you're tolerably cle v e r y o u rse lf Well I'll gambl e I can nam e wh o did it " I h o p e so. If yo u can it w ill b e o ne f e ath e r in your cap ." I 'll hav e man y in it afore this c as e is end e d C o m e do w n this way, and I'll sh o w you s o m ething more. But this i s betw e en us mind y ou !" "If yo u doubt me k ee p it to yours elf. " Oh no, I'll trust you! I can r e ad a man s fa ce and don't y ou forge t 1t." At t h e he els of the burly constable who was that c o m m on t y pe of man whose eager ness to serve himself makes him the cat's-paw of hi s s u perio rs, Sheridan Kee ne followedthroug h the dim hall and down a back stair way, and entered a basem ent laundry From the s ingle window a part of one pane was missing making the room easy of access from without ; and upon the plank floor, extehding from the window towards the entry door were several marks of muddy boots. "D'y e see that, and them?" triumphantly demand e d Mr. Bragg, pointing first to the window and then the floor "It came cold late last night, and the ground was soft in the earl y ev e ning. The sawbon es says Moore was killed b e for e midnight. The party who entere d that window and stole out here and upstairs, was the party who searched the desk and most likel y did the rest of the job. !t was d o ne in the evening. " B y Jove! I believe you've struck the trail, c o nstable!" said Kee ne, admiringly. I know I've struck it!" declared Mr. Bragg, witlra twitch of his bushy beard. "Now c o me outside here!" He led the way through the entry and out of a narrow back door, and thence around to one side of the house. The soil of a flower bed under the windows of Moore's chamb e r was then frozen hard. But in s e v eral plac e s .among the d e ad plants and vines, were the clearly d e fined footprints of a man' s h e av y boots; d e eper h e re and there, as if he had at times stood on tip-toe to reach the height o f th e wind o w and peer into the room. ' \ Vhat d'ye say t o that?" d emande d Mr. Bragg. I'll sa y nothing, till y ou se e fit t o do so! s aid K e ene, s ignificantl y G o od fo r you!" n od d e d th e con s table, 2p provingl y N o w l et's return b y the front d oo r. "Wait a m o ment con s tabl e," sa id She ri da n K ee ne. I d lik e a littl e m o r e light on thi s affair if yo u don t mind. vVho discovered th e c rim e ? M r Bragg demu .rre d for a mom e nt, but visio n s of an app o intment und e r Chi e f Watts led him t o r e spond to the requ e st. He had lost sight o f th e pro v ision s und e r w hi c h the promis e o f influen c e had be e n ma de. "The housekeeper Mrs. Hay nie," he repli e d "At what hour, do y ou know?" "Nigh half-past eight." Did she give the alarm?" "She ran to one of the neighbors, a piece up the road here, scared half out of her wits.


) SIIlELD WEEKLY. 11 One of 'em came down here at onc e and one went to tell Thorpe at the ttl.rnpike tav e rn, half a mile away. Dick mounted his h o r s e and struck around to my house to notify me, in which he showed his good sense; and we came up here together Then he sent the tel egram to Mr. French, and word to Mab e l Jeffrey ." "The n Mr...;fhorpe was not at home here last night?" "No, he wasn't," said Mr. Bragg, glibl y "He was at the road-house all night. Le as t wise, he was with Mabel part of the evening waiting to se e her husband. He' s been try ing, you see, to fix up t h ings between th e m and the old man. But Bob Jeffrey didn't show up till m idnight. Dick had dropp e d into the road-house for a dri nk, and join e d in a game of cards. "Has this b e en a habit of Thorpe?" "Playing cards there? Oh, yes, regular thing. Genial fellow Dick-and everybody l ikes him. I t came co l d soon after midnight, and his mare, being under cover, he didn' t like t o expose h er. She'd been sick for a week back, and that was her first time ou t So he stayed at the tavern until morning. 1 "I see," nodded Keene. "Then M rs. H a y nie and the stable man were h ere alone a ll night?" "That's about the size of it. Darbage w a s at the tav;ern, and he stayed there until day break, when he came up here and s l ept in the stable, for fear the old man would hear him enter the house. He was some slued I reckon ; but, Lord save us, Moore was past hearing long afore that. Joe Darbage might just as we ll have tumbled i nto his own bed." "Do y ou know who last saw Mr. Moore aliv e constabl e ?" inquire d Ke e ne, who had r e ceived with a series of litt l e nods the infor mation thus far imparted. "Mrs. Hay ni e was the last who saw him." "Do you know at what time?" "About nin e o'clock last night.'' "Wa s he up?" "No, he was in b e d She went in to look to his fire, and to see if he was all r ight/' "That was after Thorpe and the stable man went to the road-house was it?" "Long after! Thorpe left here about sev e n o 'clock and Joe went a little later. Lord, sir nobod y will ever think of suspect ing e ither of them! But ther e 's a sartin ma n wh o d on't st a nd so w ell h e re and s o m e things p'int strong a g in him," Mr. Bragg added, in lower t e n c s ''Now, this is all atween us, mind. y o u " Y o u can d e p end upon m e c o nstabl e," said Ke e n e / assurin g ly. "This information wi ll n o t go any further than t o Mr. Fre nch. It will be of great help to him in the case, and we'll not forget it What man do yo u m e an ? "Young B ob Jeffrey," 'V'liispered Mr. Bragg, with m y st e ri o us sigmficanc e You m e an M ab e l' s husband?" "Sure thing! Since th e ir marriage he has b e en dead nuts agin the old man, and t a lks pretty rough agin him. More'n that, sir, he's b e en drinking more'n is good for him and using his tongue too freely. I reckon he'll have a hard time t e lling where he was till midnight last night." "What sort of a man is t his J effrey?" Well, sir, he's a hot-headed say, there' s t he coroner, now! I'll have to quit you ri ght here, sir, for I've a word for him alone.'" "Many thanks for this, howeve r Cons t a ble Bragg," said Keene extending h is hand. "That's all right, lawyer!" exclaimed Mr. Bragg, with a growl of friendly appreciatio n "But all this is atween us, mind you." I will not forget it "And I r eckon I can let you into something m o re a little later. Leave it to .t;pe." And the burly con s tabl e wip e d th e froze n moisture from his bushy black mustac h e and beard, and hustled around the corner of t he house. CHAPTER V. THE MOVEMENTS OF MR. BRAGG. The disclosures confidentially made b y the constable opened up the case in a new l ight for She ridan K e ene, and the r e alizati o n that its solution might prove difficult but added zest to his int e r e st. It w a s plain that Bragg su s pected Bob Jeffrey of having had a hand in the crime and was doubtless possessed of more e v iden ce inv olving him than he had yet disclo se d . \!Vishing to hide his own iden tity and mission as long as possible, Keene


12 SHIELD WEEKLY. decided that Bragg was the man for him to watch in a search for information. He followed the constable to the front of the house. The news of the crime had spread, and many people had gathered in the front yard and along street, where, de spite the cold, they stood surveying tne scene of the tragedy. Reporters were arriving from Lynn and Boston, and before nightfall the news was destined to become public property. Detective Keene entered the hall, and ob served Bragg. and the coroner in close con sultation in the parlor. Very evidently some decisive move was imminent, and the detec tive inferred that a speedy inquest was prob able if this hustling officer of the law had already secured sufficient evidence to warrant it. That Keene was right in his conjecture presently appeared. Hearing his name spoken, he turned toward the library, and saw Lawyer French beckoning to him from the partly open door. !'Come in here, Mr. Keene," said the law yer. "I want you to meet Mabel and Mr. Thorpe." "Certainly, sir," bowed the detective. The attorney closed the door, and then in troduced him to the two mentioned, who were the only other occupants of the room. Looking at the pale, sweet face of the girl, Keene could not but feel a thrill of pity for her, knowing too well the painful ordeal she was destined yet to meet, and he resolved to stand between her and greater sorrow, if by any means it was possible. "I met your associate on his arrival," said Thorpe, with grave courtesy, as he again shook Sheridan Keene's hand. "It was he who told me you were here." "The introd uction will serve as a voucher for me, however," said Keene, smiling gravely. "Ah, but I needed no voucher, Mr. Keene,'' replied Thorpe, agreeably. "We all are very fond of Mr. French, who is like one of the family, and his friends are our friends, I hope. I have turned the investigation of this dreadful affair over to him." "It is dreadful, indeed," bowed Keene, with sympathy. "I understand the coroner has arrived. If you will excuse me, Mr. French, I think I will see if I can serve him in any way." ""Certainly, Richard," nodded the lawyer. "I'll join you with him presently. What is his name, by the way?" "Mr. Clark. He was once on the bench, but retired because of ill-health. He is im proved, now, and is a rather able lawyer." "I will meet him in a few r.iomerits." "I'll tell him so, sir." And Richard Thorpe, who was evidently a man of instinctive gentility, bowed and soft ly withdrew. "Mabel," said the lawyer, now turning to the bereaved girl, "I wish to say one word before I go." "Yes, sir." "This gentleman, Mr. Keene, is one of my associates, and his interest in this affair and in your welfare will not be less than my own. Should the occasion arise, I want you to speak as freely to him as you would to me, and tell him anything you may know. Will you do so?" "I will, Mr. French, if you tell me to,'' said Mabel, with a grateful glance in the direction of Sheridan Keene. "It will be to your advantage, I think," bowed the lawyer. "Have you seen the coroner, Mr. Keene?" "He is in the parlor," replied the latter, drawing the attorney aside. "Vlith the constable?" "Yes," said Keene, lowering his voice t9 a whisper. "I foresee what is coming, and it may prove all for the best. Let them start an inquest as soon as they wish, and rather expedite it, if it comes in your way to do so." "Have you discovered anything?" "I shall discover something," murmured Keene, significantly, "but I cannot yet say how. Take care not to observe me too close ly, and don't betray my business here." "Surely not!" "If a jury is impaneled to-day, and the inquest begun, plan to remain here over night, and retain me with you." "I can easily do that." "Now, I want a few words with this girl alone, so slip away and leave me with her. I'll see you again later." "Very well."


.. SHIELD WEEKLY. 13 "One moment, sir Don't interpose any objection to Bragg's doings!" "I understand." Th lawyer nodded, then turned to Mabel Jeffrey and said a few low words of encour agement, and presently withdrew from the room. And Sheridan Keene found himself alone with the girl whose happiness he had re solved, if possible, to restore. But he already knew that the barrier to be removed was a serious one. "Though words alone give but little comfort in great bereavements, Mrs. Jeffrey, al low me to express at least my sympathy," he said, with grave kindness, as he approached and took a seat by her side. "Mr. French has informed me of some portions of your history, and I quite appreciate your present distress." His gentle tone instantly won her. She regarded him with tearful eyes, and replied, with tremulous pathos: "You are very good, sir, to speak so kindly." I "I know all about your estrangement from your father and the causes of it," Keene gravely continued. "I shall be very glad if I can serve you effectively, and very possi b!y I may yet be able to do so. I would like, however, to ask you a few questions, which, p,erhaps, may seem to you unwarrantably ipersonal. But I will preface them by saying that I have only your happiness and welfare in view." "Ah,sir, the assurance given me by dear Mr. French is a sufficient voucher for that," said Mabel, in grateful tones. "And you will answer my questions?" ''"Willingly, sir, under the circumstances." "You shall have no occasion to regret it," smiled Keene, gravely. "Tell me how long you had known Robert Jeffrey when you 'married him." "Since childhood, sir." "And' loved him that long?" "We were always fond of one another, sir," she said, simply; and a faint tint oj pink now showed in her pale cheeks "He has been a kind husband?" sir! None can clisprove that; nor can man or woman turn me from Bob, or Robert from me. Of that I am sure !'1 "I am glad to hear you say so," bowed Keene, smiling at he1: fervor. "Do you know why your father objected to your marriage?" "Solely because he had set his mind upon my marrying my cousin, Richard. Father was terribly hard, in his way-but I can for give and forget, now sir!" "Of course, of course," nodded Keene. ;'Yet Mr. Thorpe was willing to marry you, I understand." '"Yes, sir," said l\Iabel, sadly. "That was the one occasion on which I think my cousin unmanly and unkind-for he knew my senti ments." 'Has he generally been interested in your J. welfare?" "Save then alone," was the reply. "Yes, Richard has done all he could to reunite me with my fathei:_. In that he has been very earnest and manly. I bear him no ill-will, sir." "vVhat effe,.ct has your father's antipathy had upon your husband, Mrs. Jeffrey?" A startled expression crept into the woman's eyes, then slowly faded. The assurance given her in the beginning still held sway. "Alas sir!" she replied, "a most unhappy effect. It has made him very gloomy and morose. He has l(itterly resented my father's treatment of me, more than of himself; and he a l so discredits Richard's display of friend ship. He has bitterly denounced both of them, and too openly at times, I fear-for he is an honest and plain-spoken man, is Bob Jeffrey, and quick of temper. But, sir," and now she laid her fair hand with touching significance on the detective's arm, "my hus band would do no man bodily harm, save in self-defense, or in some righteous causeof that I am sure!" Sheridan Keene was a little moved by the look in her pathetic eyes, yet he could answer only: "Hold fast to your faith in him, then, like a lpving and loyal wife, whatever may come!" "I shall \lo that, sir." "Now, tell me, has this moodii;iess led him to indulge in drink to any serious extent?"


14 SHIELD WEEKLY. "I7ideed, sir, no! I never saw Bob the worse for liquor." "Has he remained away from you nights?" "Neve r sir, since our marriage!" "Where is he to-day?" "At work in M alden." "Has h e been informed of what has hap pened h ere ?" "I hav e asked that word b e sent to him, sir." "He will probably come as soon as he hears th e sad n ew s "Surely, sir!" "Did Mr. Thorpe call on you last evening?" "Yes, sir-and Mrs. Haynie." "Was your husband at home?" "No, sir. He always avoids Richard. My cousin and I waited for him till after eight o'clock, then Richard had to look after his horse." "Did your husband soon arrive?" "Not until n ea r midnight, sir.1'' "Was that unu sua l? "Very, sir! But he said where he had been," Mabel hastened to add "He was up about the hous e here, thinking whether it were not best to try to get a word with father in m y b e half But h e did n o t see him, sir--0f that I am sure; for I'll not doubt Bob's word!" ./ "Did you sit up at home for h im, Mrs. Jeffrey?" "Not in the house, sir. I went out with Richan! when h e l eft, and went to look for Bob. Not finding him I became anxious. I stood about near home and walking the street, until h e finally came along." "Ah, yes Then you both wen t home?" "Yes, sir. "That was abou t midnight?"' "Precisely, sir. It was just twelve by the clock in our dining-room, and we went to bed at once." "Wh a t time did your h usband go t o work thi s morning?" "He left home at six o'clock. He wouldn't allow me to rise that ea rly, as I was up so lat e last night; and I did not l eave my bed until word W'1S broug"ht me of this -dreadful event. Then I came up here at o nc e:'' "Do yo u live far from h ere?" "About half a mile, sir. I think--oh, there's Bob!" The sound of a v01ce from the hall had reached both their ears, a voice that was deep and full, and ringing with manly affection. "In the library, you say? Let me pass, please?" Mabel Jeffrey had s.prung to her feet, and would have approached the door, but something in the tones he had heard led Sheridan Keene to wave her back. He opened the door himself and looked into the hall. Richard Thorpe, with hand extended, stood confronting a strapping, handsome man in workmah's dress yet in whose pale features and repellent attitude pride and scorn cried out with mutely eloquent effect. "Mr. Jeffrey," Thorpe was saying, "this is no time for bitterness between you and me! I would not willingly do you a wrong. \i\Till you take my hand?" "No; sir! I"w ill never take 0your hand till I know it to be that of a true man !" cried Jeffrey, with terrible sternness. "Let me go to my wife, sir!' Thorpe instantly stepped aside, and Sheri dan Keene admitted Jeffrey to his wife's presence and closed the door "Who was that rough fellow?" he. asl

-SHJEI.D WEEKLY. 15 "But there are certain legal proceedings necessary, my dear Richard." "l presume so, sir. I leave it all to you." "Can you accommodate Mr. Keene and myself to-night?" "Certainly, sir." "You can remain, Mr. Keene?" "That's for you to say, sir. I suppose the case of Gammon vs. Welch can wait my return?" ''Oh, yes; that's not important." "I can remain, then." "You can have my chamber, which has a stove," said Thorpe, agreeably. "I shall be glad to give it up to you." "You're very kind," nodded Keene, with manifest appreciation. Something like a quarter-hour later, he observed that Constable Bragg, upon whose movements he was keeping a furtive watch, was leaving the house alone and striking across lots toward a strip of woodland. He would follow and try to ascertain the nature of, the constable's mission. His celerity in securing evidence had already im pressed the detective. By constant maneuvering, Keene suc ceeded in tracking the constable unobserved, and at the end of a quarter-hour saw him approach a f>retty wooden cottage, which he at once suspected to be that of Bob Jeffrey. The detective dropped behind a wall to watch the constable's movements. Mr. Bragg was certainly there with a mis sion of no ordinary importance. He tried the several doors in an attempt to enter, and finally resorted to the windows. With these he was more successful, and presently, find ing one he could open, he boldly entered the house. Keene now found himself at a disadvan tage. He suspected Bragg was there in search of something, yet to approach for the purpose of spying was to invite discovery and possib1y awaken misgivings. He waited a full hour, thinking the con stable might emerge; then he decided to take the chances. He stole to one of the side win dows and looked in. It was a window of the dining-room, and by good luck he caught Mr. Bragg in the very act of searching the sideboard, inside, under and behind. He already had searched the most of the house. He was so intently occupied, however, that he had no eyes for the opposite window, and Keene watched him unobserved. But this persistent and methodical search proved vain, until exami nation was made of a tall old clock in one corner. From the upper box of this and through one of the hinged panels, which, from either,, side, gave access to the works, this indefatigable servant of the law extracted a narrow, flat object, which evidently had stopped the movement of the works, since the long pen dulum hung motionless. Detective Keene instantly observed the parcel to be a package of documents, tied with a string. Were these the 1Japers for which the house of Jacob Moore had been searched and his desk ravaged? The detective glanced at the face of the clock. The hands pointed to twelve. The very hour at which Bob Jeffrey had returned home the night before! Sheridan Keene ducked from observation and stole back to the wall. The hustling constable presently emerged from the window with a buIJdle under his arm and a look of triumph under his bushy brows, and struck back across lots to the scene of the tragedy. But Sheridan Keene did not follow him. For where the work of the constable end ed that of the detective began. CHAPTER VI. THE INQUEST. It was nearly four o'clock when Detective Keene returned to the Moore dwelling, when he found his inference relative to the inquest to be correct. Judge Clark already had impaneled a coroner's jury, and was about issuing summons upon the various persons whose testimony as witnesses was desired. During this latter work, he was constantly in private conference with the busy constable. The day was so far spent, that the inquest itself was not to be begun until nine the following morning. Keene and Lawyer French spent the night


16 SHIELD WEEKLY. at the hcitse, but Robert Jeffrey and his wife returne d home. The detective had a brief talk with them before their departure, how ever, but solely of a conventional character. He was rather favorably impressed with J effrey, whose outspoken manner and sturdy Saxon nature were those of a man of genuine worth. Yet he was not without a certain reserve when with friends, which indicated considerable diffidence or bashfulness. The following day was clear and cold, and long before nine o'clock the hall and lower rooj)1s of the Moore dwelling were thronged with people, the jury, impaneled the previ ous d ay, the witnesses who had been sum moned, and no end of curious and interested 'neighbors. The remains of Jacdb Moore had been removed to an upper chamber, and the entire ground floor of the house was to serve the requirements of the day. It was precisely nine o'clock when Judge Clark took his seat at the table at one encl of the large parlor, and arranged a place for his stenographer. He was a grave, thin-featured man, with sharp eyes and a dignified air of decision. The jury occupied chairs at one end of the room, that next to the windows. The wi t nesses were seated opposite the coroner, with the centre of the room vacant, to be u sed by each in giving the required testimony. A table for several reporters was n ear the hall door, and the hall itself was thronged with observers. Just after nine o'clock both Lawyer French and Sheridan Keene e nter ed the room and took seats near the coroner. Both had had a long conference with him that morning, one result of which po ssib ly appeared in his opening words, if any well-informed hearer took notice. Immediate ly a.fter rapping for order, he said, gravely: "I may deviate a little from the ordinary course in conducting this inquiry, gentlemen of th e jury. A crime has b ee n committed and the object of this inqu est is to gather any facts which may sheq light upon the case and serve to appreh end the criminal. Truth and justice are what the law aims to sustain, and mere methods to further that end are of secondary importance. Lawyer French. if yott desire at any time to question a witness in the interest of the relatives of the deceased, I will give you the privilege." The attorney bowed. "If it becomes desirable, judge, my asso ciate, Mr. Keene, will avail himself of your courtesy," he said, blandly. The coroner glanced over the room, then said, shortly: "Dr. Carr, will you take the stand?" Amid a profound silence, the little physi cian left his seat among the witnesses and came to the middle of the room. His testi? mony was a long report of his examination of the remains of the deceased, a rather scientific and pedantic dissertation, as clear as mud to the twelve jurymen; yet it estab lished the fact that Jacob Moore had been killed by violence at th.: hand of which was .the first fact necessary to estab lish. This havingbeen done, Dr. Carr was excused from farther attendance and allowed to depart about his business. From the array of witnesses which ener getic Mr. Bragg had unearthed, the coroner then selected those best suited to his purpose. The first was the keeper of the turnpike tavern, a man named Jenks, who testified to the time when both Thorpe and Joe Darbage had come to the tavern on the night of the cri,ne, and the interval they remained there. Jen ks further testified that Robert Jeffrey visited his place, occasionally drinking the re, and at times using threatening ianguage against b o th Moore and Richard Thorpe. At one time, in an altercation with Darbage over the character of Thorpe, Jenks further testi fied that Jeffrey had drawn a knife in the violence of his passion, and that he and Darbage had come to blows. The effect of all this on the various ob servers was at once noticeable, for it hinted at the culmination to which the inquest was likely to tend. Mabel Jeffrey grew .more than ever pale, and was trembling visibly; but Jeffrey himself, who had a chair by her side, sat as motionless as a man of bronze, with a flush on his cheeks and a subdued fire in the depths of his frowning eyes. With the retirement of Mr. Jenks, the coroner turned to a corpulent, perturbed-looking woman in life, and said, quietly:


SHIELD WEEKLY. 17 "As you are the last person known to have seen Moore alive, I next will ask you to testify; Mrs. Haynie. You may sit, if you pre fer, Mrs. Haynie." Sheridan Keene at once arose and placed a chair for her in the middle of the room. Very much flustrated by instantly becom ing the centre of attraction the corpulent lady, with much blushing and coughing, managed at length to take the seat provided. "What is your name, please?" asked the coroner. "Margaret Haynie." "And your residence?" "I have been housekeeper for Mr. Moore for most twelve years." "I understand that you were not at home all of Tuesday evening?" "No, sir; I was not," Mrs. Haynie replied, by degrees recovering her composure. "At what time did you leave here?" "It was just seven o'clock." "Had Mr. Moore retired for the night?" "He had-leastwise he was in his chamber. I went through the kitchen to see Mr. Darbage, who was in the stable and told him ;L would come back in just an hour." Mrs. Haynie, encouraged by the sound of her own voice, characteristic of her sex, was now inclined to exercise it. "Did you do so?" inquired the coroner. "No, sir. I went to see a sick friend, and carried some catnip; then called on Mabel Jeffrey. I stayed there till eight o'clock." "You seem quite positive about t)le hour, Mrs .Haynie." "So I am, sir," was the ready reply. "I know, because Mr. Richard came in just as I was leaving, and I called Mabel's attention to the dining-room clock." "Did you leave immediately after Mr. Thorpe came?" "Yes, sir." "And returned home?" r"I did." "How long did it take you?" "Maybe it were three-quarters of an hour. Being rather fat"-and here Mrs. Haynie blushed profusely-"! did not hurry." "Did you see any person near here when you were returning?" Mrs. Haynie hesitated, coiored more deep ly than ever ; and the coroner added: "In other words, did you meet Mr. Jef frey?" "No, sir; I didn't meet Mr. Jeffrey,'' Mrs. Haynie faltered, tremulously None of this escaped the eye of her ques tioner, who now said, a little sharply: Did you see him at all? This is not a matter for equivocation." Yes, I did," explained Mrs. Haynie, turning white under the rebuke. 'Where was he?" "He was walking in the grounds, out beyond the stable." Did you speak to him?" "No, sir. He was gone in a jiffy." "Did you come directly to the house?" "I did, sir, and sat down in the kitchen to rest till the clock struck nine. I know the time, sir, because I counted." "Did you see anything of Mr. Darbage ?" "No, sir, I didn't. He was not in the stable. I went u 1 p to the library and fixed the lamp for Mr. Richard, when he should return." "Did you go to Moore's chamber?" "Yes, sir, I did." "For what purpose?" "I saw his door was ajar, and Y went to close it." The coroner sat in silent thought for sev eral moments, while his every hearer waited with intense interest for his next words. "Had you a lamp, Mrs. Haynie?" he asked, at length. "I had one in my hand, sir, but I placed it on the stairs when I went down the hall." "Did you enter Moore's room?" "I stepped just over the threshold, to see ii the fire was right." "Did you find it so?" "Yes, sir. Joe-that's Darbage-he had fixed it." "Did Moore speak to you, Mrs. Haynie?" "No, sir. He was fast asleep." "Then you could see him could you?" "La! yes, sir. It was bright moonlight. I am sure he was asleep, for I stayed only for a moment, lest I sljould wake him. Then I made sure to fasten the latch of the door,


18 SHIELD WEEKLY. which is damaged; for an old man like him oughtn't to sleep in a draught." .. "Is the latch of the door so damaged, Mrs. Haynie, that the door comes ajar unless se cured with considerable care?" "Yes, sir; that's the very trouble. That's most likely why it came ajar after Joethat's Darbage, sir-closed it." The coroner drew himself up in his chair, and settled his collar and tie. "Mrs. Haynie," he asked, with his voice involuntarily betraying a quickening mental action, "at what time did you arise next morning?" "About seven o'clock, sir." "Did you go to Moore's room?" "I did, sir. I went to fix his fire," stam mered Mrs. Haynie, beginning to grow pale at her recollection of the picture that there had met her gaze. "Did you find the door latched, as you had left it?" I did, sir; just the same," cried the ness, decidedly. "Could you tell if Moore had changed his 1 osition during the night?" .. Lord, sir Mrs. Haynie's teeth L h>. ttcrecl-"I didn't see nothing but blood ; ,nd gore and those staring eyes." That will do, Mrs. Haynie," interposed '.hl'. coroner, and he signified with a wave of -Iiis hand that he had finished questioning ] ;er. In her chair, at the opposite side of the mom, Mabel Jeffrey sat with the last vestige of color gone from her girlish face. As Mrs. Haynie started to rise from her chair, Detective Keene leaned forward in his, and gravely interposed: "One moment, Mrs. Haynie, if you please," he said, politely. "I would like to ask you a question." "Yes, sir," assented the woman, in rather timid tones. "You say it was exactly eight o'clock when you left Mrs. Jeffrey's cottage that evening? Are you sure that the clock was going?" "Yes, sir, I am," replied the witness; "for I had no other means of noting the time, and I remarked to Mabel, when I left that I had been there half an hour.'' "Thank you," Keene, indifferently. j "Now, you say you had no lamp when you entered Moore's room before retiring. How were you able to see him?" "Only by the moonlight, sir. It was a very bright night, and one of the curtains was raised." "Could you swear, Mrs. Haynie, that Moore was not dead at that very moment?" "Lord, sir, no!" cried Mrs. Haynie, with more confusion than she had yet betrayed. "If you keep asking me questions, sir, I shall get where I can't swear to anything." "Very well, Mrs. Haynie," laughed She(i dan Keene. "In that case, I will stop imme diately." A murmur of rising excitement ran round the when Sheridan Keene interposed his questions, and even Richard Thorp.e leaned forward with quickening interest ; but the apparent indifference with which the._, detective terminated his inquiries, and the laugh with which he accepted Mrs. Haynie's final response, served to dispel from most minds the idea that he had been actuated by any hidden motive. Furtive glances between a few, nevertheless, indicated that a suspi cion had arisen of something under the surface. As Keene settled back in his chair. still smiling as if amused, and corpulent Mrs. Jia' ynie waddled back fo her seat in the row of witnesses, Judge Clark a few sub dued words to his stenographer; and then resumed the inquiry. "I next would like your testimony, Mr. Thorpe," he said, with a glance in the latter's direction. Richard Thorpe immediat ely arose and came forward, till the full glare of light from the wmdow fell upon him. If he was rather pale, it was but natural under the trying circumstances; and he was certainly very self possessed, and met the coroner's gaze with no sign of perturbation. For the first time since the inquiry, Bob Jeffrey betrayed noticeable interest. He drew up his powerful figure higher in his chair, and the hands resting on his hips were tightly clenched. His wife observed, and signifi cantly laid her fair hand upon his arm, at which he nodded slightly; but his frowning


SHIELD WEEKLY. 19 blue eyes never for an instant left the face and figure of the man standing on the floor. "'Nhat is your full name, Mr. Thorpe?" began the coroner. Without a tremor in his voice, though he well knew that some there might think h i m the heir to Jacob Moore's thousands, the wit ness answered : "Richard Gaylord Thorpe." "You are a nephew of the deceased?" "Yes, sir." "What is your vocation?" "I have a brokerage business in Boston." "Do you reside there a part of the time?" "Yes,. sir; I keep rooms in Appleton street." "Do you consider your home there?" "Nc<'sir; I was reared in this h o use, and consider it my home." "And you are here a portion of the time?" "Tu, sir." "Do you travel betwe e n here and Boston by train mostly?" "In bad weather I do. At other times I usually ride my horse, which I keep for enjoyment and exercise." "A saddle-horse, I take it." "Yes, sir." "When here, do you usually pass your Bights in this house?" "As a general thing, yes," Thorpe answ e red. with a nod. "Sometimes, however, I remain over n ight at the turnpike tavern." "How about last Tuesday night, that on which your uncle was killed?" asked the coro ner, with scarce a c hange in his monotonous int o nation. "I was at the tavern." "At what time did you leave here?" "About seven o'clock." "Did you go at once to the tavern, Mr. 1'horp e ?'' "I did not." "vVh e re else?" "I rod e up toward Malden, sir, then swung across t o Rev e r e till I struck the turnpike, and th e n c e t o the where I left my horse wh ile I called upon my c o u s in, M rs. Jeffrey." "How long a ride would you call that, Mr. Thorpe?" ask e d the coroner, with some dis play of indifference. "Between five and six miles, I should say "After leaving your horse at the tavern, did you go directly to your cousin's house? "Yes, sir, I did." "Arriving there about what time, please?" "About eight o'clock, as Mrs. Haynie has testified." "How long did you remain there, Mr. Thorpe?" "About half an hour, sir." "Did you leave there before or after Mrs. Haynie?" sir. I sat with Mrs. Jeffrey in the sittin&"-room, waiting for her husband to come in; and about half-pa s t eight we b oth went out upon the street. I left Mrs. J ef frey t her gate, and returned to the tavern." 'i\That did you do there?" "I found a card game in progress and took a hand. "How long were you so engaged ?" "Until I heard the clock strike tw e lve," plied Thorpe, who n o w l o oked as if he didn't quite see why he should be questioned so closely. "I was then about to return home, when I w as told that it ha d grown very cold out of doors." "Well?" "'vVell, what, sir? Am I to understand tl!at you wish to know my every movement?" demanded Thorpe, with a slight frown. The coroner did not resent his umbrage. "Yob are to understand, Mr. Thorpe, that you are an heir presumptive of the d e c e ased, which makes your testimony very d e sirable," he replied, quietly. "You may decline to an swer any ol my qu e stions if y o u have any reason for so doin g ." Thorpe colored d e eply and hastened to exclaim: "I beg your. pardon, judge! I had over l oo k e d the fact of m y r e latitnship. I will a nswer an y questi o ns that y ou may ask." F o r a mom ent Thorpe 's attitude had create d a vague su spic i o n in man y minds; b u t it w a s in s tantl y d i ss i pate d b y his imm e d iate and gentle manl y c h a n ge. E ven the c orone r h o;ve d a grave i!Ck no wledg 1 1 erit. "Well, the n, Mr. Thorpe," h e co .l1tinu ecl, q ui e tly, how were you i nft11e11cc d l1y th e


20 SHIELD WEEKLY. fact that it had become very cold during your stay at tavern?" "I was led to remain there until morning, sir. My horse had not previously been out oi her stable for a week. I thought it unsafe to expose her to the sudden change. I did not wish to walk home, moreover ,.,.so I re mained where I was." "You might as well have stated that without demurring," smiled the judge. "I regret my mistake," Thorpe again ob served, "and hope you will not misinterpret it." "No, surely not! You remained at the tavern, then, until morning?" "Yes, sir." "Was Joe Darbage in your company?" "I did not see Joe Darbage, sir." "Do you know if the deceased has been in the habit of keeping large sums of money in the house ?" "He has not, sir, in so far as I know." "Upon what terms have you lived with birn ?" "Our relations have been amicable." "When did you last see him alive, Mr. Thorpe?" "When I mounted my horse, Tuesday evening, and rode out of the stable He then was standing at the window of his room, in which a lamp was burning. He was about retiring to bed." / "Did he usually retire so early?" "Yes, sir. His health ha lately been poor." "Do you know if he has executed a will, Mr. Thorpe?" "Most assuredly I do not!" was the em phatic rejoinder. "That is all at present, Mr. -:fhorpe," said the coroner. Then he g1anced at Sheridan Keene; but Keene was gazing with thoughtful eyes at the intricate figure in the carpet covering the floor. Mr. Thorpe bowed himself back to his seat, and within a minute had resumed his complacent indifference. The frown on the face of Bob Jeffrey, had steadily deepened. CHAPTER VIL THE TESTIMONY OF JOE DARBAGE. Though it already was approaching noon, Judge Clark did not call a recess. Evidently, he was following a plan previously laid out in his mind, for, without a moment's hes itation, he said, sharply: "Mr. Darbage will now take the stand.'' There was a craning of necks in the hall when the groom came forward. Such scenes, though for the most part quietly conducted, involve such terrible results that an undercurrent of excitement pervades the proceed ings from the very beginning, and becomes the stronger and mor<: intense as the inquiry progresses. There were pale faces among the crowd and eyes eager to see; yet scarce a sound rose from all the throng, so intent were all to lose no part of the testimony evoked. The witness called came forward from a corner of the room and took the position that Richard Thorpe had vacated. He still was roughly clad, with his pants tucked in at the top of his cowhide boots. His face was grim, his brows knit, his eyes glittering brightly; but the steady gaze of so many curious people had no perceptible effect upon him until he chanced to catch a piercing glance from the eyes of Sheridan Keene. when he flushed slightly. "What is your name?" demanded the cor oner. "Darbage," was the reply; and the speaker cleared his throat with a hoarse cough, and thrust his hands into his pockets. "You full name?" said the coroner. "My front name's Joseph-Joe, for short." "Your birthplace?" "Couldn't say, sir," growled Darbage, steadily eyeing his questioner from under his brows. "Do you mean to say, Mr. Darbage, that you don't know where you were born?" Judge Clark demanded, sharply. "That's just what I mean, sir," Darbage nodded, unabashed. "But 'twas somewhere about Liverpool, I reckon. That's the fir s place I remember of!" "Who were your parents?''


J .. .. SHIELD WEEKLY. 21 "I don't know I ever had any-leastwise, I never seen 'cm." A slight smile crossed the faces of some, and the jurors took occasion to twist uneasily in their seats; but the expression of grim decorum on the face of Mr. Darbage did not alter in the least. The coroner frowned slightly, and his voice hardened. "What is your occupation?" he asked, after a brief pause. Just now I'm a stable man, and do odd work about here, sir. "How long have you occupied your pres-=ent place ?" 'Bout a year." "Don't you know when you came here?" "I can't say exact. I've no head for dates." "What was your previous employment?" "I didn't have any. I picked up an odd job now and. then, and when 'twas gone I looked up another. I reckon I've been knocked about as much as any." "So it appears!" observed the judge, with rather dry austerity. "vVhere were you lo cated, Mr. Darbage, before you came here?" "Round Boston and New York, at times." "Your information doesn't give one a very definite idea of yourself or your past, Mr. Darbage." "My own idea ain't over definite, please you!" replied Darbage, with a furtiv!il glance of his gray 'eyes. "What led you to come out this way?" "I was thinking a change might do me good, so I reckoned I'd come. I s'pose a man has a right to go where he likes, sir." "You may_ suppose what you please, providing you keep your suppositions to yourself and answer my guestions," said Judge Clark, "Where did you first go, when you arrived in these parts?" "I knocked about the turnpike tavern for a week or two, till I brought up here," said Mr. Darbage, with his grim composure un ruffled by the coroner's sharp rebuke. "What were you doing at the tavern?" "Looking for a job, sir." "Were you employed there?" "No, sir." "Then you were supplied with money at that time, were you?" The brows of the grim witness drew closer, and he hesitated for a moment, then answered: "I had a little." "Where did you get it, Mr. Darbage ?" 'Twas some I found in the street." "Ah, you were very fortunate! Then you found sufficient money to pay your way at the tavern for a week or two before coming to work here-is that it?" "I reckon that's about the size of it, sir. The other hostler here--" "Never mind about the other hostler, Mr. Darbage !" interrupted the coroner, curtly. At this moment Constable Bragg entered the room, bringing with him the refreshing chill of the wintry air outside. He bore a small parcel wrapped in paper, which he handed to the coroner, at the same time whispering a few words in his ear. JtJdge Clark put the parcel in the table drawer, but his grave countenance underwent no change. "On Tuesday evening, Mr. Darbage," he continued, "where were you?" 'Bout what time, sir?" returned Darbage, "From the time you saddled Mr. Thorpe's horse until morning." "Here about the house, and at the tavern." "At what time did you leave here?" "Can't say exact, sir. 'Tween eight and nine." "You have no head for time either, it ap pears." "Not over much, I reckon," admitted Darbage, with a grim smile. "Perhaps you have a better head for other things. Which way did you go from here?" "The shortest; across the meadows." "What occasioned your visit to the tavern that night?" "I went to see one o' the girls there." "Was she expecting you?" "I reckon she was. I'd told her I'd come." "How long before you left here did you last see the deceased?" 'Bout five minutes. I went to his room to put a log on the fire, and I saw him in bed." "Did he speak to you?" "He did. He said the room was warm


22 SHIELD WEEKLY. enough. I told him it were getting cold o ut,

] SHIELD WEEKLY. 2 3 ney, with manifest di st;.ess. I would I could!" "I'll adjust that for you-when the man an d the hour are in joint!" answered Keene, scarce above his bre ath. "But don't reflect that assurance in your face, or give it to an othe'r, lest you ruin all!" He did not ..rait for a response from the lawyer, but abruptly turned and left the room, worming his wa y among the people in the hall and securing his overcoat and hat from a near closet. As he was returning, and aiming to depart from the front door, he came in contact with Richard Thorpe, who was just emerging from the parlor. Thorpe instantl y detained him, asking, m a low whisp er: "Why did you question Mrs. Hay nie m that way? "Merel:'.' to suggest a point for Mr. French," Keene e:x,plained, both pleasantly and vaguely. "The case is going to be a walkov e r however. "Do you think so ? "Sure thing! The evidence will be con clusive. That Bragg. is a w onder for g e tting at things, and ought t ,.J b e on the cit y fqrce "He is very energeti c nod de d Thorpe, in whos e dark e y es there now was an expression of manifest relief. "Energetic doesn't e x press it!" laugh e d Keene I wouldn t ha v e him afte r me, as he's afte r Jeffrey, for all a man's neck is worth. "It lo ok s bad fo r Mabel's husband, I'll admit," Thorpe answer e d with dubi o u s sy m pathy. "I'm d e u c edl y s orry for him! You 'll be h e r e t o lunch with us? "Probably thanks I'm going for a breath of fresh air, first o f all. It's as hot and close as an oven in the re." 1 Shall exp ec t yo u ba ck." Sherid a n Kee ne bowed and smiled agree ably and m o ved toward the d oor. Avoid ing the curious gaz e of those ab out him he immediatel v left the hQuse and took a short walk up the road. At th e end of ten minutes he returned, sauntering carelessl y into the yard ; and pres ently in an aimless sort of wav. turned his steps in the direction of the stable. One of the broad doors sto o d -open, and Mr. J o e Darbage was busil y grooming Thorpe's horse, which stood in the barn. The hostler looked ,up on he aring the d e tective s approach but his grim face gave no sign of his fee lin g s;"' hate ver th ey ma y have been ;./ He c o ntinued hi s wo rk in si lence, and it be c am e n e cessary for Sheridan Keen e to op e n the conversation. "Which is the short cut b y which one can go from here t o the turnpike tavern?" he asked pleasantly. Mr. Darbage straightene d up from the animal's fore fetlock. "Out that wa y," he r e pli e d pointing with his forefinger one joint of which Keene ob served to be missing "Take the path through th e gap in th e hedge and strike straight a c ross the m e adows ." "Is the walkin g go od?" 'Tis in this kind o' weathe r," s aid Dar bage. "In th e spring, or in mild da ys, it's kind o damp in plac es." "How much do e s it save one in distance?'' "'Bout a half-mile, I reckon. ''Well, that's worth saving on a cold day or a w e t o ne." So tis," assent e d Darbage, gluml y "I most al w a ys g o that v vo.y "Cars run o v e r th e turnpike don t they?" "Ofte n sir .' ' I ma y want t o go into t o wn a little later e xplain e d Keen e risin g from the grain-b o x on which h e had briefly ...s_eated himself. "That's a fine-l o oking horse Mr. Darbage," he added, drawing nearer to survey the ani mal. A ye, sir; sh e s a g ood horse.'' "Mr. Tho rp e' s ? "Yes, s ir. "That's th e one he rides most of t he time I suppose? " All the time-when he rides ..... "It must be a great pleasure observed Kee n e after a paus e of se ver a l minutes during which he studied the animal more close ly "'0l e poor devils who are comp e lled to dig in the pages of musty law book s don't get man y chances for riding"' "I s'pose not," said Darbage, furtively viewing him fro m under hi s brows "Is she speedy?"


24 SHIELD WEEKLY. "Tolerably so," growled the groom, beand sighted an imaginary line to the gap in coming impatient, "and a good cross-counthe hedge. try rider." "Now, when were those prints made?" he "Want to know!" exclaimed Keene, with asked himself. "It rained hard on Monday, increased display of interest, and he studied and up to Tuesday noon, and since Tuesday the mare harder than ever. "Mr. Thorpe evening the ground has been frozen hard. rides a good deal, I take it." They must have been made early Tuesday "Sometimes." evening. Moreover, the rider was no "She doesn t look as if ridden hard." stranger, for he rode too fast, and knew the She ain't been out but once for a week ground where he was going." back,'' answered with a deeper Again the detective sighted the gap in the frown. "That's what makes her so resthedge, and then he went on his way for apless." pea;ance sake, and approached the turnpike, "Is it?" and later the turnpike tavern. she don't fancy strangers stand"So Mr. Thorpe rode up Malden way, did ing around her. You'd better get back a lithe?" he said to himself, smiling complacenttle if you're going to stay here." ly, as he walked. "That testimnny was a lie! And then the groom, perhaps thinking his He rode hard and fast across the meadows own departure might accelerate that of his to a point in the turnpike, and thence to the importunate visitor, caught up a bucket from tavern. Mr. Thorpe, I now shall drive you to the floor and startedr for a well in the yard the wall!" to draw some water. It was nearly two o'clock when Sheridan Quick as a flash, Sheridan Keene placed a Keene returned to the Moore dwelling. The sheet of paper beneath one forehoof of the crowd was collectii1g again and it was near mare and raised the other. A moment later ly time for the inquest to be resumed. He he strolled carelessly out of the stable, meetsaw nothing of Thorpe, nor of Darbage; and, ing Mr. Darbage returning; but he had in on enterin g the h tJUse, he at once w ent up.: his pocket an impression of one of the mare's stairs to t he ro om he had occupied the preiron shoes. vious night. "Bound off?" questioned Darbage, with a When he left it, 3ust before the inquest suspicious gleam in his gray eyes. was to reopen, he passed the closed door of one of the chambers. It was that which "Just for a bit of a walk," nodded Keene. Mabel Moore had occupied during her child "! think I'll slip over to the tavern and buy hood and early womanhood. The sound of a a cigar." voice from within caught the detective's ear, He did not look back to see if Darbage the voice of Bob Jeffrey; and Keene drew was watching him. He followed the latter's back to listen. directions, the way taking him bacK of the "Mabel," the man was saying; "yours has stable and through an orchard, and thencebeen a great courage and a great love you into a hollow where the hedge ran along a left this home and accepted a father's curse low strip of meadow. He found the gap to come to my arms and share my humbler mentioned, and passing through it, examined home the ground with careful scrutiny. A low, half-choked sob was the only an-He discovered just what he had expected. swer. In the. frozen soil was the clear impression ,., "God knows I have tried to be a good husof a horse's hoof, an imprint which must band to you," Jeffrey went on. "If I have have been made when the weather was erred in resenting your father's 'conduct, it warmer and the ground damp. There was was only because I could not endure the in than one, and he now followed them justice done you. For myself, I cared noth diagonally across the meadow to the higher ing. My resentment may have brought a land, where they were lost in the harder soil. great trouble to us both, possibly a Keene stood near the last one discernible, danger to me; and you may lie called on to


SHIELD WEEKLY. 25 exercise your love and courage in a far more terrible trial than any you have yet experi enced Do you know what I mean?" "Yes, Bob! the girl sobbed, chokingly. "Mabel," and the man s deep voice fal tered slightly; "by all the love I have for you, by the memory of my dead mother, who, if she hears me now, knows that I speak the 1 uth, I swear that I am innocent of any act of violence against your father! Will you -can you believe that, in the face of any thing that comes ?" Keene heard her kiss the lips that uttered the solemn oath, and then her tearful an swer. "Oh, Bob! my husband! can you doubt it? Let come what will, let them say and do what they may, let all the world condemn you-Bob, I will cleave the closer to you! Never till your own lips confess it will I harbor a thought that you did harm to my poor father." "Thank God for that__assurance !" cried Jeffrey, with a voice that now rang with loving pride "Let them do their worst, now! I can face them like a man !" Keene smiled faintly, and descended the stairs to the parlor. The jurors were already in their chairs The crowd in the hall was increasing, and the excitement was intense. Every person present felt sure that Bob J effrey would be the next witness called. He entered the parlor a few minutes after Sheridan Keene. His step was firm, his face flushed, and the quick flash of his clear, blue eyes swept defiantly over every person pres ent. He had prevailed upon his wife to re main up-stairs. Sheridan Keene rubbed an idea from the point of his chin, and said to himself, quite gleefully: "That's not the same man that was here this morning!" CHAPTER IX. CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE. There was increased excitement when Robert Jeffrey was catted to the floor He faced the coroner and jury with his counte nance flushed with painful mortification, and a took in his eyes that was like a challenge to e ver y man. He felt that his past char acter did not merit the suspicious gaze of the many friends and neighbors who were .around him, and his replies to the coroner s questions were made in tones of subdued v e hemence evincing a resentment he could only partiatty suppress. The coroner began with the usual in quiries of name and bjrthplace, and the first half-hour was expended in ascertaining the meaning of the rash declarations of the wit ness at t11e tavern, also his motive in visiting the Moore place on the night of the crime. But nothing more of importance was evoked than has akeady appeared, and it became plainly evident from the doubtful expres sions upon the faces of the jurors that the stand taken by Jeffrey, and the explanations he was making, were anything but satisfac tory. This had a tendency to irritate Jeffrey and in reply to a question calculated to bring out his motive in seeking Moore that evening, he in a tone of fierce exasperation: "I suppose a man has a right to visit his father-in-law, hasn't he?" The coroner did not resent his inquir y other than to gently recommend calmn e ss and as concise responses as was possible. His tone seldom varied from its cold, porte n tous acuteness, and his eyes were rarel y turned from the pale face of the witness other than to glance quickly at the steady moving hand of the stenographer near by. "Mr. Jeffrey," he continued, "did you visit the t u rnpike tavern early Tuesday ev e n ing?" "Yes sir I did." "At what time did you leave there?" "It might have been half-past seven." "You have admitted that your relations with the deceased were not of a friendly char acter. Do you admit coming here on the night in question?" "Yes, sir, I do admit it," cried Jeffrey, with dogged bravado in tone and manner. "At what time did you arrive here?" "I don't know what time it was. I was engaged in thought. I didn't notice the time. I was exercised by the injustice that was being done my wife, and I wanted to her father. I cannot tell what time it was


26 SHIELD WEEKLY. ''Did you make any stops on your way from the tavern?" ''No, I did not. I walked moderately. It might have been eight o'clock, or some after, when I came here." "Did you come by the way of the street and approach the house b y the driveway?" "Certainly, I did!" replied Jeffrey, impet uouslv. "What did you then tlo ?" demanded the coroner, with his searc11Mig scrutiny becoming even more intent. Jeffrey's brow lowered, and the bright red in either cheek deepened perceptibly. The nervous twitching of his lips, and"Lhe sw e lling veins of his forehead, indicated a terrible struggle going on within him. He was mad dened by his humiliating position, and real ized the terrible chasm on the brink o f which he stood, and into which it seem e d to be the design of one and all to drag him. "I did what any man would have done," he answered, fiercely "That does not reply to my question," the coroner cried, sternly. "I want to know what you did on arriving-here?" "I went and tried the door," said Jeffre y, in a voice of sullen desperation. Sheridan Keene, who had not taken his gaze from the face of the witness, perceived that he shrank from the next question. "Arn I to understand, then," demanded Judge Clark, forcibly, "that you came direct ly from the tavern to the door of this house?" "I have replied to that effect," said Jeffrey, sullen!):. "Did you obtain admission ?" The voice of the coroner fell to its former tone, but a strange frown. not observable before, had appeared upon his brow. "No, sir, I did not," said Robert Jeffrey, with some display of relief. "Who cam e to the door?" "Mr. Darbage." "He refused to admit you?" "Yes, sir. He thrust me off the steps and closed the door." "What did you do after that?" "I started down the driveway to go home." "Did you go?" "I did not. I was much wrought up in mind, and did not notice where I was going till I found myself out beyond the stable." "Near the curve in the road?" "Yes, sir." "What clicl vou do then?" "I intended, sir, to go home, and was on the point of starting off when I was struck on the head from behind!" The effect of. this statement was thrilling. Ev<>n Sheridan Keene was for a second dis concerted. "Struck from behind?" echoed the coroner, amazed, while every eye was glued on the witness. Keene, glancing at Mrs. Jeffrey's face, it turn a death-like pallor. "What do you mean, sir?" asked Judge Clark, at last, recovering from his surprise. Jeffrey's face was like stone as he repeated: "I was struck by some soft instrument-I do not know what." "H9w do you know it was a soft instru ment?" asked the coroner, incredulously. "Because I could find no bruise on my head when I recovered consciousness." ,"Did you see your assailant?" "I did not. It came too suddenly." By this time those present in a fever of excitement. VI/ as Jeffrey speaking the truth, or was he taking a course to account for his absence? "And how long did you remain uncon scious?" were the next words of the coroner. "I did not know at the time, but I am now aware that it must have been nearly mid night." "And have you no evidence to show that you were struck down?" asked the coroner, evidently placing littl e faith in the witness' words A look of despair crossed Jeffrey's face as he replied : "I have none. I)rnew you would not be lieve it-I knew it. But, by Heaven!" he cried, rising in his seat, and raising his arm, "as I live, it is the truth." For the first time the coroner showed signs of credence in his testimony. "If you lay unconscious ii;i the fields for several hours," he said, "would you not have been numb with the cold?" "I was, and for a while had a raging pain in my head. But I was dressed warm, and, besides, am hardened to the cold." As the stalwart man sat there, his eyes glowing and his ruddy cheeks warm with blood, he looked capable of defying the ele ments. "Why did you not tell your wife of this?" asked the coroner. "I knew it would only worry her, and I did not think 1 would have to mention it at all," answered Bob Jeffrey. The coroner leaned back in his seat, with a deep frown on his face. After a considerable pause, he said: "Do you know at just what time you reached home ?" "It was just twelve o'clock." "You seem to be accurate on that point." "I noticed the clock in the dining-room." "Then you had a lamp?"


> u SHIELD WEEKLY. 27 "No; the light from the moon was sufficient." "Did you at once retire to bed?" "Yes, sir, I did." "Bad your wife already retired?'" "Yes, she had !" Jeffrey curtly answered, almost at the end of his patience. "Mr. Jeffrey, will you please remove the shoe from your rigl1t foot and l e t me< have it?" Turning suddenly pale, a paleness at once followed bY a blush of confusion, Robert Jeffrey stooped and removed his shoe. The jurors, wearied by long and close attention, moved restlessly, and wondered what was about to occur. On the face of Constable Bragg there gr;tduall.}6 arose a glow of pride and triumph. The ceroner t ook the shoe. "The witness," he said with some austerity, "will remain here; the jury will pl e ase follow me." He led the way out of doors till h e stood beneath the windows of where he gravely addressed the men gathered about him. "Here is the ground, gentlemen. You will observe where some person has b ee n stand ing, with the evident intention of looking into this window. You will recall the severe storm of Monday and a part of Tuesday, and if these impressions had been here prior that time they would have been obliter ated. You may reasonably assume then, that they must have been made Tuesday afternoon or evening, at which latter t i me the ground became frozen." He stooped and placed the shoe in one of the depression!>'. "You will also obser ve, he continued, "that this shoe exactly fits the impression. That is all here, gentlemen." The expression upon the faces of the dif ferent jurymen was a study, as each examined in his turn : but the coroner presently Jed the way to the rear of the house, and there, ben ea th the kitchen window was found the same damaging evidence. "Now. g-entlemefi." he said, "we: will return to th e hou se." It was several minutes b e fore Judge Clark had resumed his seat in the parlor. and the jurors theirs. The flush had left Robert Jeffrev's face, and he stood, deathly pale, hesid e the chair in which he had b e en seated. Wiping bis damp palms, be gazed from one i11ror to anoth e r. as if in search of one doubt ful face. But one and all told in mute ac Cfnts of !'Orne frio-htfnl evidence against him, the nature of whkh he knew only too well, and the facts concerning which he had ven-tured to suppress. Amid an indescribable silence, the coroner resumed his inquiry. "Mr. Jeffrey," he said, slowly, "you arrived home at midnight, I believe?" "Yes, sir." The r es ponse was given with but little more than a hoarse whisp er. 'Mr. Jeff rey, did you ever before see this?" continued the coroner, taking from the drawe:the thin package of documents with which Mr. Bragg had provided him. after removing them from the clock in the diningroom of the witness. Jeffrey examined the package closely, turning it over in his trembling hands, and said at leneth: "Never, sir, to my knowledge." "Is this your property?" aske4 the coroner, handing from a parcel near by {thick woolen reefer. "Yes, sir; I think it is,''. stammered J eff rey, with intense surprise. "It looks like one I have "You will observe that it is torn on the right sidenear the b o ttom, as if it had caught upon something, say the blind-catch of a win dow, for instance. Can you explain how that was done?" "No, sir," faltered Jeffrey, with increasing agitation. "I did not know it was so. I have n o t worn it since night before last ." Judge Clark was pressing the questions very pointedly, and with one forefinger ex tended, as if to pierce the form of the man standing in the floor. "On the left sleeve near the cuff Mr. J ef frey, you will see by close examination the marks of some dark color. Can you tell what it is?" The g;irment shook visibly in Jeffrey's tremulous hands, as he turned it over and stared with strained eyes at the portion indi cated. There upon the dark cloth were sev eral stains of clotted blood With a cry of one suddenly enraged, Jef frey hurled the coat to the floor, and raising his clinched hand above his head, shouted violently: "I know nothing about it! This is some infernal scheme to incriminate me." The coroner raisecl his hand warningly. "But one question more, Mr. Jeffrey he said. "Do you recognize this as your prop erty?" And he extended under the very eyes of the jury and witness a bloodstained sheath knife with a buck -ho rn handle \i\Tith face as hueless as that of the d ead, Jeffrey recoiled for an instant. stariP<; with dilated eyes at the open knife. The n he sprang impulsively forward, crying ea1:;erly. in the wildly exultant tone of one who sees


---.... 2 8 SHIELD WEEKLY. escape from some horrible abyss into which he is falling: "No! No! It is not mine! It is not mine I have one like that, but mine is not broken!" "That will do, Mr. Jeffrey." And the witness reeled backward and re sumed his chair, the perspiration reeking from every porn, his countenance bloodless, and looking twenty years older from the mental strain of the last few hours. "Mr. Bragg," said the coroner, so sharply that the rising excitement was instantly quelled; "will you please make a statement to the jury of what you have discovered?" It was evident that Judge Clark was bringing the inquest to a close The constable rose from his seat and ap proached the table. "Your honor and gentlemen," he said, speaking slowly and with his usual air of wisdom, "my duty as an officer requires me to look up evidence in such cases as this. I began my work immediately upon arriving here "Vlednesday morning, and made those discoveries which the coroner has brought to your notice. I further thought it my duty to enter the house of Mr. Jeffrey, where I made a thorough search, and found the coat in the condition in which you see it. In looking for certain papers which had been taken from the

) SHIELD WEEKLY. the jury, but he turned when the detective entered, and almost immediately concluded his remarks. The effect of the inquest was apparent in the face of nearly every person in the room. Of the entire gathering there was hardly a man who doubted that Robert Jeffrey was guilty of having murdered Jacob Moore the previous Tuesday night. Sheridan Keene resumed his seat near the table, and the coroner drew his own chair nearer that of the detective. A subdued con ference ensued between the two, during which the great crowd in the room and about the doors watched them with curious gaze, and wondered what it all was about. Yet scarce a sound broke the impressive silence. Richard Thorpe still maintained his outward composure, and, though some of the color had vanished from his face, he ap peared to take only that same cursory interest in the proceedings. To the bowed man a few feet away, a man crushed, despite him self, by the awful calamity befallen him, Thorpe gave not the slightest attention. Presently the voice of the coroner again broke the silence. "As I observed in the beginning," he said, gravely, with his gaze reverting to the jury, "the object of this inquest is to discover the facts bearing upon the crime, and that mere methods are of secondary importance. In the interests of justice, and of all concerned, I shall grant the solicitor of the decea s ed the privilege of asking a few questions Mr. French, who is the witness?" The lawyer, who appeared a little doubt ful and perplexed, turned and replied, gravely: "'My assistant Mr. Keene, is here. Will you kindly give the privilege to him?" The coroner looked inquiringly at the de tective. "I would like to ask Mr. Thorpe a few questions, sir," said Sheridan Keene, "if that gentleman has no objections." "None at all," called Richard Thorpe, who immediately came forward. But many there noticed and remarked it later that he was unusually pale and his knees trembled. With an expression of grave austerity on his attractive face, Sheridan Keene rose to his feet and remained standing beside the coroner's table. Every eye in the room was upon him, but his were fixed upon the face nf Richard Thorpe. "I wish merely to verify, for my own sat isfaction, some of the testimony which you have given," he said, in a slow, effective way. "No doubt you can help me." "I will do so, if I can," Thorpe answered; yet he evaded the eyes that were so steadily searching his. "I understand from Jenks, of the turnpike tavern, that you occasionally talked with Mr. Darbage when he at first appeared there. ls that true?" "I think so," was the reply, after a mo ment. "I have a faint recollection of seeing him there about a year ago." "That was about the time your uncle wanted you to marry Mabel Moore, was it not?" "Yes," exclaimed Thorpe, with a change. of countenance. "But what has that to do with this affair?" "I don't imply that it has anything to do with it," replied Keene, shortly. "But it es tablishes the time when Darbage first ap peared in this locality. Of course you, Mr. Thorpe, had no previous acquaintance with Darbage ?" "Certainly not," cried Thorpe, resentfully; but the expression upon his face was drawing the atte ntion of all present. "Did yon in ai;iy way influence Mr. Moore to employ Darbage ?" "No, I did not! Your questions have the nature of insinuations, sir." "Pray don't misconstrue them," said Keene. "That might operate to your disad vantage. I am trying to establish absolute facts." "Well, don't imply that I knew Darbage before he came here, for I did not." If Sheridan Keene was seeking to disturb the v itness and perhaps confuse him, he was succeeding admirably. "I don't say you did know him," Keen e went on. "He was here most of Tuesday evening, however as he just testified. Don't you think. Mr. Thorpe, that it is a curious fact that the person who called on Jacob Moore, if the facts are as Mrs. Haynie testi fied, was so careful as to secure the damage d latch oi the door on leaving Moore's cham ber?" "What do you imply by that?" replied Thorpe, with a sneer. "Merely this-if the criminal was not as careful as I suggest, then Moore might have been killed before Mrs. Haynie closed the door. That is all." "And that is all very significant," cried Thorpe, who was trembling visibly. "But I don't care to have remarks of this kind ad dressed directly to me, sir. I am here to answer questions, if you have any to ask, not to be made the subject of insinuating obser vations." Keene's voice fell lower, and became somewhat severe "l will confine myself to questions, in that


30 SHIELD WEEKLY. case, Mr. Thorpe," he rejoined( in a way that startled all observers "You testified that yom horse was ill for a week previous to 1foore's death. Was she in the stable here, or in Boston ?" "She was here." "And had not been out for a week?" "Yott are positive of that?" "Of course I am. She was too sick to be ridden." "Too sick to have left the stable?" __ "Yes, yes! why do you press me with these qu e s t i ons?" d e manded Thorpe, with in creased impat i ence. "Because you rode her on the night in question," Keene said, shortly. "That was the only time in a week. She had improved, and exercise." "So you rode up to Malden and thence to the tavern." "I have testified to that." "May not some other person have ridden your horse during the week?" "I allow no other person to ride her, sir." "Then you are positive that she was ridden only byyourself, and at the time stated, sir? I have here a copy of the shoe now on your horse," cried Sheridan Keene, with forceful rapidity. "Through a gap in the hedge, and over meadows below here, I find corresponding 'imprints in the soil. Evidently your horse was ridden straight from here to the tavern. How do you explain that?" It would be impossible to describe the ex citement from that moment until the culmi natin r g tragedy of that sens a tional afternoon. Thorpe reeled as if he had been struck a blow, and Bob Jeffrey rose from his chair. But the coroner brought hi s clinched hand down upon the table, and c h e cked all inter ruptions. "The impressions in the soil may have been made at some previous time," cri-0. Thorpe, shaking, with fear, and now seeing only too plainly the purpose of his relentless ques tioner. "Not so!" cried.Keene, forcibly. "For the storm of Tuesday would have destroyed them, as the coroner has stated in a similar instance." "I don't know, then!" Thorpe cried, 1 'erately. "I' don't know when they were made! I don't know when--" "Well, never mind, then, just now," Keene said, sharply. "There is one other matter upon which I wish to be enlighten ed. You testified that it was precise ] y eight <''clock when you called at the hous e o f Mrs. J e ffrey." "And so it was !" cried Thorpe, with his gray lips twitching convulsively. "So it was, precisely eight o'clock." "Mr. Thorpe," and Sheridan Keene drew himself up with added sternness; "Mabel Jeffrey set her dining-roqm clock at noon Sunday last. I have been there and ex amined the timepiece. The clock stopped, or it was stopped, when the obstruction was in troduced among the works. The hands on the dial pointed to the hour of twelve. The weight operating the mechanism was still partially wound." "Well, what's all that to me?" cried Thorpe, scarcely able to govern his voice. Sheridan Keene continued, without a change in tone or manner. "Mr. Thorpe, on the woodwork I marked the exact position of the weight which runs the hands. I then wound the clock, removed the pendulum, and permitted the weight to fall. Mr. Thorpe, when the weight had reached the mark which I had made, what time should it had been by the dial?" Thorpe h e sitated for an instant, and then exclaimed, h oarsely: "It should have been twelve o'clock "It was exactly eight o'clock, Mr. Thorpe," said Keene, with terrible significance. A half-suppressed cry of fury came from Thorpe's lips, and he sprang forward with both hands extended "What do you mean! What do you mean, that you dare--" "I mean that I have established the man and the hour I mean--" "VVho are you \Vho are you, that you come here as a lawyer, yet now accuse--" "You have accused yourself, Richard Thorpe!" thundered Keene, with indescrib able severity. "I am not a lawyer! I am Sheridan Keene, of the Boston inspec.torsand you are the man who murdered Jacob Moore!" Amid the frightful excitement that fol lowed, some saw Richard Thorpe wildly fumbling in the pocket of his vest, and then thrust something between his lips. The n ext instant he fell like a log to the floor, at the very feet of the man whom he had aimed to ruin, and the one man who had read him aright. Bob Jeffrey started up with face trans figured. "Good' God!" he cried. "The man has killed himself !" "Cyanide of potassium!" exclaimed Detec tive Keene, bending over the prosfrate form on the floor, and instantly detecting the pungent odor of the fatal drug. "Ah, well, Jeffrey," he added, l ooking up, 'che has saved the sheriff a disagreeable job." .


;; SHIELD WEEKLY. 31 CHAPTER XI. CONCLUSION. "No, Chief Watts, it was not a very blind case," said Detective Keene, a few days later, as he sat alone with the chief inspector, to whom he had reported all 0f the particulars. "The very nature of the crime, and the pe culiar circumstances under which it had been committed were very significant," he con tinued. "It looked from the first as if Thorpe had taken advantage of Jeffrey's out spoken resentment, and of Moore's antipathy, to commit the deed and then involve Mabel's innocent husband in the crime." "I see." "If that were so, it became only a matter of sifting down the actual circuny;tances, and placing the guilt where it belonged." "Not always an easy task, Keene," smiled Chief Watts, with a nod. "No, not always, C""hief. But in this case I had considerable help of a superficial kind, from Constable Bragg. He is a hustler, that Bragg, and by following him about closely, I secured most of, the naked evidence. But," added Keene, laughing, "he has no head for going below the surface of things." "Evidentl y not." "I seized upon the evidence he unearthed, however, and s o on had the ribbons well in hand. It then became only a matter of sud denly driving Thorpe into such a corner that he would betray himself, which was not a very difficult task." "Do you know if he had learned about the will Moore had made?" asked the Chief. "Yes, he had," nodded Sheridan Keene. "Now that he is under arrest, Darbage states that Thorpe had heard Moore muttering about the will, when he believed himself t o be alone, and that Thorpe then resolved to do away with him before anything should occur to alter Moore's intentions. He knew the latter could not be persuaded to forgive his daughter, unless, possibly, when on his death-bed, so Thorpe struck while the situa tion was in his favor." "And the property." "Now goes legally to Mabel Jeffrey." "I see. Who is this man Darbage? Do you know?" "Not yet, Chief Watts, but I think it will appear later. We easily can convict him of having been an accessory in the <;;rime." "Oh, no doubt of it." "According to Darbage,' continued the detective, "it seems that Tho11pe ran across him here in town, and sent him down to the tavern until he could plan to have him em ployed at Moore's, where he wanted him in the capacity of a spy. This occurred about the time Moore was trying to effect the marriage, and Thorpe, who was in town much of the time, desired to ascertain Mabel's precise feelings, and just what chances he could safely take to secure Moore's favor. He found he could safely agree to marry the girl, and, when she peremptorily refused to consider the project, it resulted in Moore's disowning her-the very thing for which Thorpe had hoped." Chief Watts nodded understandingly. "On the night Darbage came to blows with Jeffrey at the tavern, when the latter drew his knife, Darbage noticed where he replaced it, and later secured it unobserved. When Thorpe was told of the fact, he took the knife himself." "Very cunning! He already was planning the crime." ''Not a doubt of it.'' "Just how was it wrought out?" "Oh, it was very well done, Chief Watts, as Darbage states it. On the night of the crime Thorpe mounted his horse and rode away from the house. He already knew that Mrs. Haynie was going away for a time, and probably he laid all his plans accordingly. The involving of Jeffrey, however, was not included in them at that time, and resulted purely from accident." "Naturally,'' bowed Chief Watts. "A short time after riding away, and after Mrs. Haynie had departed', Thorpe returned to the house, and secured his horse outside the stable." "This is what Darbage tells ? inquired the Chief. "And I am inclined to think it is the truth,'' replied Sheridan Keene, who had questioned the groom closely since his im prisonment. "Thorpe,'' he continued, "then entered the house1 and went to Moore's cham ber, where he made a request for money, de spite that Moore was then in bed. An alter cation ensued, part of which Darbage overheard from the kitchen. Startled by a cry for help Darbage ran up-stairs, and found Moore bleeding in bed, stabbed as stated. Within a few minutes he was d ead "A terrible affair, indeed." "Darbage states that his first impulse was to reveal the whole truth, but, by the promi se of money, Thorpe bought him to secrecy, and together they set to work to devise some scheme for averting suspicion." "They did pretty well, at that, in the lim ited time they had." smiled Chief Watts. "So they dicf,'' assented the detective. "It was the groom's idea, that of secreting the documents in Jeffrey's house, that were taken from Moore's desk." "It strikes me that Jeffrey selected a


32 SHIELD WEEKLY. strange p l ace in which to hide them, ob served Chief Watts. "In the clock! Yes, it was strange in a way; but he was compelled to accomplish his object when Mabel was not present, and he took the opportunity when she went to the with Mrs. Haynie. His object b eing to throw suspicion upon Jeffrey, he slipped the package into the upper part of the tall case, that part containing the works. He then stopped the clock, setting the hands at twelve, probably thinking it would be as sumed that Jeffrey h ad returned subsequent t o hi s own visit, and that the obstruction was placed there by him, and had stopped the clock. The scheme would have worked against such a man as Bragg, but not against your humble servant," laughed Sheridan Keene. Chief Watts smiled, a pprovingly "Don't you think Thorpe took rather a long chance? he asked, quietly. "Suppose Mrs. Jeffrey were to have noticed that the clock had stopped before her husband re turned?" "Ah, but Thorpe made sure that that would no t be l ikely to occur. He took the woman into the sitting-room, after Mrs. Haynie' s departure, and later suggested that they should go out and seek for her hus band. "Further mo re, had Mrs. Jeffrey noticed the time, on her r et u rn, she would have as sumed that the clock had accidentally stopped, and mere l y wou l d have started it again, without making an examinat i on of the works. In any case, you see, the package was bound to be fou n d there, and naturally would incr i minate the man intended "But for the d i scernmen t of a clever offi cer," smiled the Chief "What was Darbage doing, meantime?" "He saw Jeff r ey o u tside the house, and took advantage of t he circumstan ces," Keene explained. "Having extinguished the light in t he fatal room, he watched Jeffrey attempt to look into the window, and also heard him ente r the kitchen. Evidently Jeffrey sus pected Moore was alone, and was at inter vals determin e d to see him When he fina ll y tried the fron t door, Darbage made his own presence known, and took occasion to mois t e n his hand with the b l ood of the dead man, and to stain J effrey's coat s l eeve with it, when h e thrust him from the steps." "Ah, I see!" "Then D arbage, 1 w h o is a:n a rtful dog, fixed things to invo l ve J effrey H e followed him out beyond the barn and struck him w ith a s l ung-shot, with the intention of detaining him near the house so that he would come under suspicion. Then he t ossed aw a y the knife Thorpe had u sed, whe r e it was likely to be found, and went to the tavern. morning he and had their i nfamous design well in m i nd, and there's the case i n a nutshell." Chief Watt s bowed gra' vely, and consulted his watcp "It was one of those t ragedies which a t times result from fami l y dissens i on he ob served, gravely. "I am glad that Jeffrey and his wife get what belongs to them; and that, for the sake of one man, you were successful i n your effo r ts "What man is tha t Ch ief Watts?" Lawyer French, who r eq u este d me to l oan him a compe t ent officer. H e n ow thin ks ther e is no dete ctive who i s the pee r of Sher ida n Kee ne. Don't blu s h Inspector Kee n e I :fie i s more than half ri ght." THE END. A n othe r appare n t l y baffling ca se o f extr ao rdinar y i n teres t w ill app ear in next week's SHIELD WEEKLY (No. 6 ) entitled "Who W as the Mod el? or, M i ssing: A B eauti ful Heir..ess." No. /.-Sheridan Keene. Detective; or, The Chief's Best Man Issued Wedne s day, D ecember 5th. No. 2. -Silhouette or Shadow? or, A Question of Evidence. I ssued Wednes day, D e c em ber I 2 th. No. 3. -lnspector Watts' Oreat Capture; or, The Case of Alvord, the Embezzler. I ssued Wednesday, December I9lh. No. 4.-Cornered by Inches; or, A Curious Robbery in High Life. I ssue d Wednesday December 2 6 th No. 5 The Man and the Hour; or, Sheridan Keene's Cie ver Artifice. I ssue d Wedne s day, January 2d. No. 6-Who Was the Model? or, Missing; A Beautiful Heiress. I ssued W e d ne s day, January 9th. Back numbers alway s on hand. If you cannot get our publications from your newldealer, five ce nts a cop y will bring them to y ou b y mail, postpaid.


ANOTHER NEW IDEA The Shield Weekly RUE detective stories are stranger than fiction. The Shield Weekly is a new series of detective stories, but it is "some thing different." Street & Smith's long experience in the publishing business has taught them that the average man and boy like nothing better than good detedi


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