The Art-Music, Literature and Linguistics Forum
June 01, 2023, 07:36:33 am
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length
News: Here you may discover hundreds of little-known composers, hear thousands of long-forgotten compositions, contribute your own rare recordings, and discuss the Arts, Literature and Linguistics in an erudite and decorous atmosphere full of freedom and delight.
  Home Help Search Gallery Staff List Login Register  

24: The Truth

Pages: [1]   Go Down
Author Topic: 24: The Truth  (Read 2 times)
Level 8

Times thanked: 53
Offline Offline

Posts: 2207

View Profile
« on: March 25, 2023, 10:58:03 am »

WHEN Schwartz recovered from the fit, he was taken home in a cab, and for the time being Ellis saw no more of him. He was really puzzled how to act, for the man was evidently guilty, as he had not denied the crime. For the sake of Janet, who had received benefits at the hands of Schwartz, the doctor did not wish to denounce him to the police. If he left behind him a written confession exonerating Mrs. Moxton, Ellis was quite content that he should seek safety in flight. Certainly he had murdered a man, and although his victim was a worthless scoundrel, still there was no excuse to be made for so heinous a crime. But would hanging Schwartz do any good? Ellis thought not, neither did Cass, nor Janet.

"If it was Busham," said Harry, "I would see him swing with the greatest pleasure, for he is a thoroughly bad lot; but Schwartz has so many good qualities that I should like to give him a chance of repentance."

"And the crime was not committed deliberately," chimed in Janet. "I feel sure that Mr. Schwartz did not come to Dukesfield with the intention of murdering Edgar. No doubt he wanted that forged bill, and hoped to rob Edgar while he was drunk. It was seeing the carving-knife in Laura's hand which made him a criminal. Temptation was put in his way, and he snatched at it almost without thinking. Under these circumstances, and because he has been kind to me, I should like him to escape."

"He can take his own chance of that," said Ellis; "but to counter-plot Busham, it is necessary to get a full confession from Schwartz."

"But he may go away without making any confession, Bob!"

"I don't think so. Not until he is in absolute peril of his life will he leave. Besides, I called at Goethe Cottage, and he is still ill after his fit."

"Did you see him, doctor?"

"No, he refused to see me, being engaged with Garret."

"I cannot go round to the cottage now," said Janet, with a mournful shake of her head. "Mr. Schwartz thinks that I have been a spy and ungrateful."

"Indeed you wrong him," said Ellis, quickly. "He was much touched when I told him that you did not wish the police to be told. He would have said more about it, only he fell into the fit."

This conversation took place in Ellis's sitting-room on the evening of the day following Janet's discovery of the pocket-book. Schwartz was still ill, and, as Ellis said, would see no one. The three---Cass, Ellis and Janet---were now anxiously discussing what was best to be done. They wanted to thwart Busham, to save Mrs. Moxton and to spare Schwartz; but none of these three things were easy to do. Since Ellis had given his ultimatum to the lawyer, nothing had been heard from Esher Lane. Janet was inclined to think that Busham, afraid of being implicated in the crime, had fled; but Cass and Ellis were satisfied that the man, with his grasping, foxy, intriguing nature, would stay and face the matter until his personal safety was compromised. While they were discussing this point, the door opened abruptly, and Busham himself entered the room. It was a case of "Talk of the Devil and you will see his hoof." The trio were completely taken by surprise at his unlooked-for appearance and his insolent entry.

"He! he!" sniggered Busham, who had all his natural impudence about him. "I just looked in to see Dr. Ellis, and I find company. How do you do, Miss Gordon, or Mrs. Moxton---which?"

"I am Janet Gordon, Mr. Busham! I think you know that."

"Indeed, I do not, dear lady. You are one of twins, remember---a kind of double-face female Janus, eh?"

"Cease your insolence, man!" said Ellis, angrily, "and tell me how dare you walk into my room without knocking?"

"Oh, I informed your landlady that I was an old friend of yours, so she let me pass. She looks a fool, doctor. You don't offer me a seat. Well, I will anticipate your hospitality and take one. And who is this gentleman?"

"My name is Cass. I am a journalist," said Harry, enraged at the man's impudence. "What the deuce do you come here for?"

"Not to see you, my dear sir. My business is with Dr. Ellis, and possibly with Miss Gordon."

"Have you come to confess?" asked Janet, quietly.

"Confess! I have nothing to confess. I come here to make a proposal."

Ellis shrugged his shoulders. "You have brass enough for anything, I think," said he. "Well, Mr. Busham, and what is your proposal?"

"Let Mrs. Moxton surrender all my uncle's property to me. Now that Edgar is dead, I am his rightful heir, being his nephew, and nearest of kin. I destroyed the will---I don't mind admitting it, because Mrs. Moxton is in my power, and it is my place to make terms, not to be dictated to. Well, then, as the will is burnt, I take a portion of the property as next-of-kin; but that will not satisfy me. I want the whole, and," cried Busham, in a threatening tone, "I mean to have it!"

"What a modest demand," jeered Cass. "And if Mrs. Moxton surrenders her property as you wish, what then?"

"I shall tell you who killed Moxton. Oh, you need not look at me as though I was an accessory before the fact. I did not see the deed done. I knew nothing about it at the time, but by putting this and that together in a way," sneered Busham, "which you are all too ignorant to understand, I have a knowledge of who killed Edgar, and why he was killed. Don't mistake me. I hold all the threads of this case. If I get my price I shall save Mrs. Moxton by revealing the name of the murderer. Should she refuse my just demand, I shall denounce her to the police and let justice take its course."

"Justice!" echoed Janet, with scorn. "And by your own showing my unhappy sister is innocent."

"I know that," retorted Busham, with an ugly look, "and I can prove her innocence. No one else can."

There was a silence for a few minutes, and then Ellis spoke quietly and to the point. "Do you know, Busham, that I feel very much inclined to kick you," said he. "You are proposing blackmail."

"Call it what you like, but give me my price."

"For what? For information which we know already?"

Busham started from his seat in nervous haste. "You know already!"

"Yes. Do you think Mr. Cass and I have been idle all this time---that we have not strained every nerve to baffle a scoundrel like you, and protect two innocent women from your blackmail? You are a little late, Mr. Busham. We know who killed Moxton."

"You---you---you know!" stammered the scoundrel, white to the lips.

"Yes, we know; and we have discovered the reason why Moxton was killed. Surely you have forgotten our talk about the forged bill. Before the end of the present week the murderer will have confessed, Mrs. Moxton will be exonerated from all complicity in her husband's death, and you, Mr. Busham---well, I don't know about you. But from what I guess of your share in this tragedy, you will be in gaol."

"I had nothing to do with it. Who killed Moxton?"

"Oh," laughed Cass, delighted at the confusion of Busham, "as you know there is no need to tell you the name."

The baffled lawyer looked in turn at each of the scornful faces. Then he rose in a hurry. "This is a game of bluff," he cried savagely. "You do not know who murdered Edgar, and you are trying to get my secret from me without paying for it. Oh, I know you all; I can see through you."

"It does you credit," said Janet, contemptuously.

"Sneer and jeer as much as you like, madam, you will not look so merry when your sister is in prison on a charge of murder."

"Which she never will be," put in Ellis.

"We shall see, we shall see. You think yourself a clever man, doctor, do you not? But I am cleverer. Oh, you don't know what I am. You gave me five days to confess, as you call it, or else threatened to put the matter into the hands of the police. The five days are up."

"Quite so," said Ellis, smoothly, "and as you won't hear reason I shall see the police to-morrow."

"I dare you to! I dare you to!" foamed Busham, who had completely lost his temper. "I get my price, or Mrs. Moxton goes to gaol."

"You shall not get your price," broke out Cass, as furious as Busham. "You will not get one penny of the property."

"Shall I not? Aha, you don't know that Edgar's will is burnt."

"That is where you are wrong, my friend," said Ellis, calmly. "You burnt a copy. The original will given to me by Miss Gordon is in my possession."

Busham stared so wildly that for a moment or so the others thought he was about to have a fit like Schwartz. Ellis snatched up a glass of water from the table and dashed it in the man's face. The shock brought him round a trifle, but he seemed indisposed to speak further. With the knowledge that his intrigues had proved useless came a collapse of his courage and insolence. With a kind of sob he staggered blindly towards the door and out of the room. Ellis at the window saw him running down the road, reeling from side to side like a drunken man. Busham's nerve was broken. He did not even attempt to question Ellis as to the truth of his statement about the will. Instinctively he knew that the game was up, and that all his schemes had recoiled on himself. Never was there so complete a fall, so deserved a punishment.

"He will tell the police about Laura," cried Miss Gordon, nervously.

"Let him," said Cass. "We will have that confession out of Schwartz to-morrow, and your sister will be proved innocent; and when that confession is read, Miss Gordon, I should not wonder if there was sufficient in it to warrant Busham's arrest. There," added Cass, pointing to Busham's disappearing form, "that is the last we shall see of him." And, as subsequent events proved, he was a true prophet.

But the danger was not yet over. It was just possible that out of revenge at the failure of his plans, Busham might denounce Laura to the police. The only way to prove her innocence would be to get a confession from Schwartz. Ellis took the night to consider this question, and next day called at Goethe Cottage between eleven and twelve o'clock. He sent in his name, but quite expected that Schwartz would refuse to see him. To his secret surprise he was admitted at once and conducted into the study. Here he found the German clothed in a loose dressing-gown and seated at the desk.

Schwartz looked terribly ill. He had aged considerably since Ellis had seen him. His cheeks had fallen in, his forehead was wrinkled, and his eyes had lost their usual genial twinkle. With bowed shoulders he sat huddled up in his chair, and without offering his hand to the doctor, nodded to a seat.

"I am sorry I could not see you yesterday, doctor," said Schwartz, in a faint voice; "I was very ill, and I had much to do. But I wished to have some conversation with you to-day. If you had not come I should have sent for you."

Ellis replied in the German tongue which Schwartz, evidently for the sake of secrecy, was using. "You intend to confess, then?"

"Ah, then you are certain that I am guilty?"

"You must be. The pocket-book of the murdered man was found in that desk, and we know it was taken from the dead body. The other night when I accused you, you did not deny the charge."

"I had no time, doctor; but I deny it now."

"You say that you are innocent?" said Ellis, scarcely believing his ears.

"Perfectly innocent. Here is the confession of the guilty person;" and Schwartz, unlocking a drawer, took out two or three sheets of foolscap pinned together and covered with writing. "This is the confession," he said, "signed and witnessed."

"The confession of Busham?"

"Ach, no; the confession of the man who murdered Moxton---my friend, Captain Garret."

Report Spam   Logged

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Pages: [1]   Go Up
Jump to:  

Powered by EzPortal
Bookmark this site! | Upgrade This Forum
SMF For Free - Create your own Forum

Powered by SMF | SMF © 2016, Simple Machines
Privacy Policy