THE INTERVENTION OF CHANCE

True to his appointment Garth called the next evening at the chambers
in Duke Street, only to find that Fanks was absent, and that a note
was awaiting him.

“Dear Garth,” wrote the detective, “I have been called unexpectedly
out of town and shall not return for at least three days. Visit me at
the expiration of that time and prepare yourself for a surprise.”

“A surprise,” said Garth to himself, as he departed; “I wonder if he
has found out about Emma Calvert, and if his discovery has anything to
do with the death in Tooley’s Alley.”

Think as he might he could find no answer to this question, and he was
forced to restrain his curiosity until such time as Fanks should
return. In the meantime, out of curiosity, he called upon Mr. Vaud to
learn what that gentleman thought about the position of affairs.

Mr. Vaud thought nothing about them. A detective had charge of the
case, and, in Mr. Vaud’s opinion, it would be better to wait the
solution by him of this criminal problem. All this, as well as much
more, was expressed to Garth by the pompous lawyer. “And I should
advise you, Mr. Garth,” he concluded, “not to let this unhappy episode
divert your energies from your business.”

“As to that, I have precious little to do,” retorted Garth, with some
heat; “you do not put much in my way, Mr. Vaud. I am always hard up.”

“I am aware of that,” replied Vaud, ignoring the beginning of the
speech, “and I am aware also that our late client assisted you several
times.”

“Because I was necessary to him,” said Garth, bitterly. “And I’ll tell
you what, Mr. Vaud, had I known then what I know now about my cousin I
should never have accepted his help.”

“Oh, dear me!” said Mr. Vaud, “quite so. Sir Gregory had many faults;
but are you a saint yourself, Mr. Garth?”

“I don’t pretend to be one. Still, I never drove a woman to her
death.”

“Do you know what you are saying, Mr. Garth?”

“Do you know the name of Emma Calvert, Mr. Vaud?”

The lawyer paled and pushed his chair from the table. “I–I
have–heard the–name,” he stuttered.

“Then you have heard the name of a very injured woman, Mr. Vaud.”

Before the other could reply a knock came to the door, and immediately
afterwards it opened to admit a tall and handsome young man. He bowed
to Garth and placed some papers before Mr. Vaud. “Will you please
excuse this intrusion, father, and look over these?” he said quietly.

“My son Herbert, Mr. Garth,” said the elder Vaud, and again the young
man bowed. He rather resembled his father in appearance, but there was
a sternness about his manner which was wanting in that of the elder
gentleman. He was dark-haired, and clean shaven, with thin lips and a
compressed mouth. There was a look of resolution and hard work about
him which did not recommend his personality to pleasure-loving Garth.
However, the latter bowed and smiled when introduced, and scribbled on
a sheet of blotting-paper while Herbert spoke to his father. Still
thinking on the subject of his discourse with Mr. Vaud he absently
wrote the name of Emma Calvert. Young Vaud moved near him while
looking for a special paper, and in doing so his eye fell on the name.
With an ejaculation he drew back, and turned as pale as his father had
done.

“What do you know of Emma Calvert?” he demanded abruptly; “why do you
write down her name?”

“Herbert!” said the father, warningly–almost imploringly.
“I shall speak,” said Herbert, his composure replaced by intense
excitement. “What do you knew of Emma Calvert, sir?”

Garth looked up surprised. “I know as much as Robert, the valet of
Fellenger, could tell me.”

“A scamp who served a scamp,” muttered the young man.

“Sir Gregory was my cousin, Mr. Herbert.”

“Then your cousin was a scoundrel, Mr. Garth.”

“Herbert, leave the room,” said his father, sternly

The son looked defiantly at his father, and turned away without a
word. At the door he paused and addressed Garth. “I know that your
cousin was murdered, Mr. Garth,” he said savagely. “I am glad that he
met with such a death. He escaped me, but he could not escape
punishment. I hated Sir Gregory and I bless the man who killed him.”

He left the room, and in dumb astonishment Garth turned to the elder
Vaud for an explanation. The old man had buried his face in his hands;
but he looked up when Garth touched him, and groaned aloud.

“I am sorry you wrote down that name, Mr. Garth,” he said at length.
“Its effect on my unfortunate son is always terrible.”

“But for what reason?”

“I did not intend to tell you, but as you know so much, you may as
well know all. Herbert was in love with this girl. He wished to marry
her, and it was he who introduced her to Sir Gregory. You can guess
the rest.”

“I can guess that my cousin married the girl and took her to Paris,
where he neglected her and drove her to suicide.”

“I know about the marriage,” said Mr. Vaud. “I am glad that Sir
Gregory did her that justice. I also know of the death. Sad, very
sad.”

“She must have been a pretty girl to have so strongly attracted two
men.”

“I never saw her,” said Vaud. “I did not even know that Herbert was in
love with her until she eloped with Sir Gregory. Then my son came with
his broken heart and told me all. He would have followed Sir Gregory
to Paris but that he fell ill of brain fever. Afterwards he was
ordered on a sea voyage; and returned only six weeks ago. He heard of
the death of Lady Fellenger in Paris, and–”

“Did he know that Fellenger had married her?”

“Afterwards; not at first. He discovered all about the marriage and
death in Paris. How, I do not know. But he came back broken in health
and heart. He will never be the same man again; and whenever the name
of Emma Calvert is mentioned, the consequences are as you see.”

Garth rose to go. “It is a cruel story,” he said sadly, “but
Fellenger’s sins have come home to him in a terrible fashion.
Good-bye, Mr. Vaud.”

Then Garth took his leave; and withdrew to meditate on the villainy of
his cousin, which had ruined two lives. Half-way along the Strand, he
was struck by a sudden thought. If young Vaud had known and loved Emma
Calvert, he would be the man to identify the woman who had presented
herself at Fellenger’s chambers. He believed Emma Calvert to be dead;
brought face to face with the missing woman, and he would see that she
was alive. “Though it will be difficult to find that woman,” he said,
resuming his walk, “she has given us the slip. Still she may call to
see Robert again, and he is being watched by Maxwell; so the chances
are that we may find out whether she is my cousin’s wife or her ghost.
If she is confronted with Herbert Vaud we may arrive at the truth. But
will the truth lead to the detection of Gregory’s assassin. I doubt
it.”

He thought of calling upon Herbert and telling him about the
appearance and flight of the presumedly dead woman; but the same
reason which had prevented him from seeing Hersham, prevented this
visit. “No!” he said, resolutely. “I must interview Fanks and ask his
advice. The matter is too difficult for me to handle alone.”

Having come to this sensible conclusion; he went about his daily
business and postponed moving in the matter until the return of Fanks
from his mysterious journey. His appointment had been for the previous
night; and Fanks had asked him to wait three days. As he had employed
one day in seeing Mr. Vaud, he thought that he would utilise the
second by interviewing Mrs. Boazoph. For this purpose he called at the
Red Star, but he was disappointed, Mrs. Boazoph, the barmaid informed
him, was out of town–on business. Garth left Tooley’s Alley in a
meditative mood. “Fanks has gone to the country on business; Mrs.
Boazoph has gone to the country on business. I wonder if the same
errand takes them there.”

Nothing further transpired; and, on the evening of the third day,
Garth presented himself at Duke-street. Fanks was within and received
him in the most amiable manner. Garth noted that his friend looked
weary, and ventured an opinion that Fanks had made a long journey that
day.

“You are about right,” said Fanks, indicating a seat. “I only got back
three hours ago from Hampshire.”

“You have been to Mere Hall?”

“I have been in the neighbourhood of Mere Hall. And I have also been
to Plymouth,” he added, after a pause.

“What have you been doing there?”

“Following our friend Renshaw, alias Binjoy.”

“You don’t mean to say that the two are one,” cried Garth, jumping up.

“I do, and I can prove it by the clearest evidence you ever heard in
your life. Sit down and listen.”

Garth resumed his seat, and leaned forward with much curiosity to hear
the promised recital. It was well worthy of an attentive hearing.

“I told on that I suspected Renshaw to be Binjoy in disguise,” said
Fanks, “your description of the one fitted the other in many respects;
and the eagerness with which Renshaw tried to impress me with the fact
that he was going to India, roused my suspicions. I determined to see
for myself if he was really leaving England, so I disguised myself as
a parson, and went to the docks. Renshaw had been followed there by my
emissary, and he duly went on board the P. and O. steamer ‘Oceana.’
Assured of this I dismissed the watcher, and took up the running to
Plymouth.”

“But how about your passage.”

“Oh, I fixed that up all right; how, I need not stop to explain. You
may be sure that I kept a watch on our friend; and confident in my
disguise, I tried to get speech with him. This was impossible, as he
remained in his berth the whole time. I discovered, however, that his
passage was booked to Bombay, exchanging at Aden into the ‘Clyde.’ At
Plymouth he feigned to be so ill as to be unable to proceed further on
his journey, and rather than do so, he forfeited his passage money,
and got off–”

“Then he did not go to India after all?”

“My dear sir; he had no intention of going to India. I followed him
ashore; and then I am sorry to say that I lost him. It is not
creditable to my intelligence,” said Fanks, shrugging his shoulders.

“What did you do?”

“The best I could. I saw the local police, and had the railway
stations and boats watched. He could not leave Plymouth either by land
or water without my knowing it. To make a long story short, I was
informed that a stout gentleman, somewhat like my man, was awaiting a
train at a certain station. I went there–”

“And you saw Renshaw?” interrupted Garth.

“Indeed, no. I saw a clean-shaven man much younger in appearance than
Dr. Renshaw, and dressed differently. From your description I
recognised him as Binjoy, and to clinch the matter, I followed him to
Mere hall.”

“Then you are certain that Renshaw is Binjoy?”

“Positive. I made inquiries in the village, and I was informed that
Sir Louis was ill, and that Binjoy was attending him. Of course I said
nothing, for, to tell you the truth, I did not know what to say. But
you will observe, Garth, that I have proved that these two men are one
and the same.”

“And the negro. Did you see Binjoy’s negro servant?”

“I inquired about him, and I was informed that Binjoy had brought
no negro servant with him. No doubt, he left him behind at
Taxton-on-Thames.”

“Then my idea is correct,” said Garth, “the negro committed the crime
at the instigation of Binjoy; and Binjoy in the disguise of Renshaw,
went to the Red Star to see that it was accomplished. Now he has got
rid of the negro and of his disguise; so cutting off every trace of
his connection with the crime.”

“A very plausible theory,” said Fank, shaking his head, “but the
motive?”

“Motive? Why Binjoy wanted Louis to inherit the property. He has a
great influence over Louis; what would benefit the one would benefit
the other. Oh, depend upon it, Fanks, it is as I say.”

“No!” said Fanks, “there is a third person in it. A woman!”

“Emma Calvert?”

“Mrs. Boazoph!”

“Oh, come now; she is out of town on business.”

“I know that; and her business was at Mere Hall in Hants. I saw her
there.”

It was a moment or so before Garth could quite grasp the fact of this
new intrusion of Mrs. Boazoph into the case. When he did so, he
remarked that she had no doubt gone to Mere Hall to see Louis
Fellenger. Fanks dissented. “In my opinion she went to see Binjoy.”

“For what reason?”

“I can’t tell you. It must be a powerful reason which would make this
woman seek out Binjoy when he had so carefully destroyed his
connection with Renshaw. But I have long had my suspicions of Mrs.
Boazoph. She removed the dead body; she answered my questions in a
hesitating manner, and attempted to exculpate herself without being
requested so to do. Also she got rid of the grains of gunpowder. All
these things show that Mrs. Boazoph knows more about the matter than
she chooses to tell.”

“Do you think that she knows who committed the crime?”

“I wouldn’t swear to that,” said Fanks, with some hesitation; “but she
must have identified Renshaw with Binjoy, else she would never have
sought out the latter at Mere Hall.”

“Do you believe that Mrs. Boazoph inveigled Fellenger to her hotel by
means of that advertisement, and then had him killed?”

“How can I tell?” retorted Fanks; “you know as much about the matter
as I do. But I will do Mrs. Boazoph the justice to say that I hardly
believe she would adopt a course so dangerous to herself. I do not
think that she had anything to do with the advertisement.”

“The envelope was addressed in a woman’s handwriting.”

“No doubt; but the handwriting may not be that of Mrs. Boazoph. Still
she is in some way connected with Binjoy, and he is mixed up in the
crime.”

“You mean that he employed the negro to commit it?”

“It looks like it; and yet,” continued Fanks, with a frown, “the
evidence is too clear for me to take that view.”

“Why! The clearer the evidence, the more certain you must be of the
truth.”

Fanks shook his head. “From my experience I am inclined to doubt
easily-obtained evidence. Everything points to the committal of the
crime by the negro servant of Binjoy, and for that reason I do not
care to accept it. It would seem that in case of trouble Mrs. Boazoph
and Binjoy had provided for their own safety by throwing suspicion on
the negro.”

“But one thing is clear enough,” said Garth, impatiently, “the negro
killed my cousin.”

“A negro killed your cousin, but not necessarily the negro of Binjoy.”

Garth looked puzzled. “I am more in the dark than ever,” he said.

“Same here, Garth. Depend upon it this murder is no bungling affair.
It is a cleverly-planned and cleverly-executed scheme; carried out by
people who know what they are doing. As the case new stands I cannot
see my way. The evidence–in my opinion–leads to nothing. If Crate
had this matter in hand he would arrest Binjoy on suspicion, and hunt
for the negro servant as the supposed murderer, and by doing so he
would make a mess of the whole business. I shall arrest nobody–at
present. Save to yourself and perhaps Crate I shall give my opinions
to nobody. I shall watch and wait; put two and two together, and when
they make four I shall pounce on the assassin. It will take time and
patience and money, but, as I said before, the case is a delicate one.
We are dealing with people who are as clever and cleverer than we are.
I confess that the outlook is anything but promising,” concluded
Fanks, with a sigh.

“You cannot guess who committed the crime?”

“No, I cannot. To all appearances it was the negro, but–and this is
the main point–was it the negro of Binjoy, and would the negro be
clever enough to conceive so subtle a method of committing a crime as
the mode of the poisoned needle? Again, would a negro be in possession
of such information as would induce Fellenger to permit the use of the
needle? The whole mystery lies in that cross tattooed on the arm. When
I discover its meaning I shall be able to name the assassin.”

“Then why not see Hersham?” suggested Garth. “He has a similar tattoo
mark on his left arm. He may be able to tell you what you wish to
know.”

“I have an appointment with Hersham at his rooms to-morrow. I may
learn something from him; on the other hand, I may learn nothing.”

“And what about Emma Calvert?”

“Oh, I shall find out about her at Taxton-on-Thames. I may discover
dead Lady Fellenger of Paris alive at the Surrey village under another
name. And yet,” added Fanks, producing a paper, “Crate’s report proves
that the woman died in Paris in 1893, and was buried in Pere la
Chaise.”

“If that is so, who was the woman who appeared so strangely? The
evidence of the photograph and the valet both prove that she is Emma
Calvert.”

“I can only surmise that she did not die; but that either knowingly or
unknowingly some woman was buried in her place. It is the only
explanation that I can give. Yet, for all I know, Emma Calvert may
have employed that negro to kill her wicked husband.”

“It is a wild theory,” said Garth, “why should this woman, the lawful
wife of my cousin, pretend to be dead, and submit to have her identity
destroyed by the false burial? If she is alive, I can quite conceive
that she should have my cousin killed out of revenge; but why the
pretended death, which–to all appearances–was acquiesced in by
Fellenger?”

“I can’t answer that question until I wring the truth from Robert.”

“There is no necessity for Robert. I have found another person who can
tell you the truth.”

“Oh!” said Fanks, looking up sharply, “and this person?”

“Herbert Vaud; the son of the lawyer you saw the other day.”

“You don’t say so,” exclaimed Fanks, eagerly, “you laugh at chance,
Garth; well, here is another chance which may put us on the right
track. If we solve the mystery of Emma Calvert, we may unravel the
Tooley Alley enigma. Tell me all you know; omit no detail. Begin,
begin!”

Flattered by the interest taken in his discovery, Garth related at
great length the extraordinary conduct of young Vaud; the cause of
such conduct as explained by the elder Vaud; and drew attention to the
fact that if confronted with the missing woman, Herbert might be able
to recognise her, either as an imposter, or as the dead Emma Calvert.

Fanks listened with the closest attention; nor did he venture a remark
until Garth had concluded his story. Then he drew a breath and
reflected.

“It is most extraordinary,” he said at length, “dare you disbelieve in
chance. Chance led you to the office of the Vauds; chance made you
scribble that name on the paper; chance drew the attention of Herbert
Vaud to the name. I have always found that chance is my best friend.”

“All this is beside the point,” said Garth, impatiently, “what do you
say?”

“Your discovery may lead to something,” replied Fanks, cautiously. “I
shall see Herbert Vaud after I have interviewed Hersham. Between the
two of them I may learn something likely to throw light on the
darkness of this case; but we are only on the threshold of our
difficulties as yet.”

Garth rose to take his leave. “I agree with you,” he said, “the future
looks anything but hopeful. But I shall leave you now; as you are
tired after your long journey.”

Fanks stretched himself. “I am rather weary,” he remarked, yawning,
“and I shan’t be sorry to go to bed. Come and see me to-morrow, and
I’ll tell you how I get on with Hersham. And Garth,” added Fanks,
going to the door with his guest, “don’t do any more detective
business on your own account. It will take me some time to exhaust the
information you have brought me. When I have arrived at some
conclusion regarding this new evidence, I shall tell you what to do.”

Garth was quite willing to be guided by Fanks’ advice; the more so as
he was entirely at a loss how to proceed, and was waiting for the more
experienced head of the detective to guide him. With quite sufficient
to think about for the next twenty-four hours he took his departure,
and left Fanks to enjoy a well-earned rest.

The appointment with Hersham was for twelve o’clock the next day; and
punctually at that time Fanks took his way up to Acacia Road, St.
John’s Wood, where the journalist had his lodgings. Certainly not a
very central position for a man engaged in the press; but Hersham had
been brought up in the Isle of Wight, beside the sea, and amid green
trees. From the effect of early association he could not bear to be
cooped up amid bricks and mortar, where he could scarcely breathe.
Therefore he had taken up his abode in a suburb where he was certain
of fresh air. He went to and fro between Fleet Street and St. John’s
Wood on his bicycle, and thus by a little dexterity, he managed to
attend to his duties on the “Morning Planet,” and yet to live a
comparatively rural life.

When Fanks arrived at noon, Hersham, for health’s sake, was digging in
the garden; but, on seeing the detective, he came forward to greet his
visitor. He was a slender, handsome young man of eight and twenty, or
thereabouts; with curly, brown hair and blue eyes. He wore a
moustache, but otherwise he was clean-shaven. Usually his face was
pleasant and smiling, with a high colour and a genial expression. On
this occasion he was rather pale, and there was an anxious look in his
eyes which did not escape the detective. He had seen the same
expression in the eyes of Binjoy.

“How are you, Fanks,” said Hersham, with an obvious effort at
lightness. “I see that you are punctual to the minute. I am glad of
that; as I can’t give you much time. I have an engagement with my
editor at one-thirty.”

“Oh, I can explain my business in half an hour,” replied Fanks,
lightly. “I won’t take up more of your valuable time than I can help.
You were astonished to get my note.”

“Frankly speaking, I was,” said Hersham, with an uneasy look. “I can’t
conceive what you want to see me about. I hope,” he added, with a
faint smile, “that it is nothing in your line of business?”

“That is just the point. It is in my line of business.”

To the surprise of Fanks, the young man gave a kind of gasp, and
without a word he turned and led the way into the house. This
behaviour was so different to his usual manner, that Fanks suspected
trouble; and, with nothing but his incurable suspicion to go on, he
wondered if this agitation was in any way connected with the business
he had come about. In plain words, with the tattooed cross; and with
the crime of Tooley’s Alley. The room into which Hersham ushered the
detective, was a simply-furnished apartment of a bright and cheerful
character. Furniture, carpet, wallpaper, and curtains, were all of a
light and pleasant complexion. Two dwarf book-shelves on either side
of the fireplace were filled with well-chosen volumes; while boxing
gloves and foils on the walls showed that the tastes of the journalist
were not exclusively literary. Excellent pictures adorned the walls;
and photographs–mostly those of pretty women–were ranged on the
mantlepiece. As a whole, the room was remarkably bright and attractive
in both of which respects it thoroughly reflected the character of its
occupant.

With commendable hospitality, Hersham produced a bottle of whisky, two
glasses, and a jug of water. Signing to Fanks to help himself, he sat
in a chair near the window, and waited for his apparently unwelcome
visitor to speak. Fanks did not open his mouth, and Hersham looked up
to see the cause of his silence. The detective was staring at the
photographs on the mantleshelf–or rather, he was gazing with
astonished eyes at one portrait. It was little wonder that he did so;
for the picture was that of the young woman, who had appeared and
disappeared so unexpectedly at the chambers of Sir Gregory Fellenger,
in Half-Moon Street. For once in his life, Fanks was rendered dumb
with astonishment.

“What are you staring at?” asked Hersham, sharply.

The detective pointed to the picture. “Who is that young lady?” he
asked in a tone of intense curiosity.

“I don’t see what business that is of yours,” replied Hersham, “but to
gratify your curiosity I may tell you she is the girl I am engaged
to.”

“The girl you are engaged to! Is she alive?”

“Of course she is,” said Hersham, half angry, half amused, “why should
she be dead. Do you know her? Have you seen her? Why do you ask?”

“I shall tell you that later on,” answered Fanks, “but tell me. Is the
name of that girl Emma Calvert?”

“I never heard of Emma Calvert,” retorted Hersham, crossly, “the name
of that young lady is Anne Colmer.”

“Of Taxton-on-Thames?”

“Yes! Of Taxton-on-Thames.”

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