THE SECRET IS REVEALED

Silence ensued after this astounding statement had been made by Sir
Louis, during which time Fanks narrowly observed the personality of
the speaker. The baronet was a tall, and rather stout young man, with
a round face, destitute of beard and moustache. He was shabbily
dressed in an old tweed suit. He wore spectacles, and his shoulders
were slightly bowed as from constant bending over a desk. His
appearance was rather that of a studious German than that of a young
Englishman, but Fanks, from this hasty observation, judged him to be
of a sensible and reflective nature. Such a man would not make so
terrible an accusation unless he was able to substantiate it on every
point.

Binjoy arose to refute the accusation of his quondam pupil. “That
man,” he said, pointing an unsteady hand at the baronet, “is lying. He
hates me because I know his secrets. For their preservation he seeks
to destroy me. But if I fall he falls also; if I am guilty he is
doubly so. Let him speak and admit that our sin is mutual.”

“I admit nothing of the sort,” retorted Sir Louis, coming forward.
“You tell your story, and I shall tell mine. Mr. Fanks can judge
between us.”

“You had better be careful, Louis,” said Binjoy, with an attempt at
bravado. “I hold you in the hollow of my hand.”

“We will see,” said Fellenger, coldly. “Be seated, Mr. Fanks. Before
you leave this room you shall hear my story, and decide as you think
best. I refuse to be the accomplice of that man any longer.”

“Louis, I implore you.”

But Fellenger turned a deaf ear to the voice of the charmer, and sat
down near Fanks, to whom he addressed himself. “For the sake of Binjoy
I concealed the truth; out of pity for him I held my tongue; but when
he strives to make me an accomplice in the crime, when he attempts to
blackmail me by threatening to inform you of our doings on the night
of the twenty-first of June, I prefer to forestall him, and let you
know the worst of myself.”

“You were listening to our conversation, Sir Louis?” said Fanks.

“I was,” replied the baronet, coldly. “I know what Mrs. Jerusalem
thinks; I know how Binjoy has been lying to you; and I am sick of
living on the verge of a precipice, over which that man and my
housekeeper threaten to push me. At any cost you shall hear the truth
so far as I am able to tell it to you. Ask what questions you like,
Mr. Fanks, and I shall answer them; when I fail no doubt the worthy
doctor there will come to my aid, and shield himself if possible at my
expense.”

“I shall say nothing,” said Binjoy, wiping his lips. “My only desire
is to save myself from the consequences of your falsehoods. I wish you
no harm.”

“Just hear him!” cried Louis, in a mocking tone. “Would you believe
that my friend there threatened to blackmail me last week by saying he
would denounce me to the police. Well, Binjoy, here is a
representative of the law. You can now speak. I give you full power to
do so.”

Binjoy did not accept this challenge. He sat back in his chair to
listen to the forthcoming conversation, and to defend himself if
necessary.

“Well, Sir Louis,” said the detective, “I have heard your accusation
and the denial of Dr. Binjoy. Until I hear your story and his I attach
no value to either.”

Binjoy drew a long breath of relief. “I can defend myself,” he said,
in a defiant tone. “I can prove to you that Louis lies.”

“You shall have ample opportunity of doing so,” replied Fanks, coldly;
“in the meantime I shall hear what Sir Louis has to say.”

“I must begin at the beginning,” said Louis, quietly. “That man Binjoy
was the doctor in this village of Damington. When my father died
leaving me an orphan–for my mother had died some years before–he
asked Binjoy to look after me.”

“And I have done so,” broke in Binjoy, “and this is my reward.”

“This is your reward for trying to blackmail me,” said Fellenger,
dryly. “You did your best to ruin me, and to put bad thoughts into my
heart as to Gregory’s wealth and my own poverty. See here, Mr. Fanks,”
added Louis, turning to the detective, “I am a man of science; I am
devoted to my work. I wanted neither money nor title, and I would not
have lifted a finger to obtain either. I did not like Gregory; he was
a brutal and wicked boy, and when we were playmates together he
treated me like a dog. I never saw him for years. We never
corresponded or treated each other as relatives, but for all that I
did not wish him evil; I did not desire his death; least of all did I
desire to rob him of his titles and lands. Do you believe me, sir?”

Fanks looked at the open face of the young man, and glanced at the
scowl which rested on the countenance of Binjoy. Drawing his own
conclusions, he replied quietly, “I believe you, Sir Louis; proceed,
if you please.”

“Binjoy,” pursued Louis, “was always lamenting that I was not the
owner of the Fellenger estates; and now that I am he hopes to make me
pay him large sums of money to purchase his silence.”

“What does he threaten to accuse you of?” said Fanks.

“Of murdering my cousin under the disguise of the negro Caesar, but I
am innocent, Mr. Fanks, as I hope to prove to you. I was trapped by
that man and his accomplice, Dr. Turnor.”

“Ah!” murmured Fanks, while Binjoy scowled. “I was sure that the
ferret had something to do with the matter.”

“Of that you shall judge for yourself,” said Fellenger. “Have you
heard of Mithridates, Mr. Fanks?”

The detective was rather astonished at this apparently irrelevant
question; but having some knowledge of ancient history, he said that
he had heard of the monarch. “He was a king of Pontus, wasn’t he; who
lived on poisons?”

“Exactly. He accustomed himself to taking poisons for so long that in
the end the most deadly had no effect on him. I always thought that
this was a fable and I wanted to see if I was right. For this purpose,
I tried experiments on dogs. I inoculated an animal with a weak
poison, and gradually increased the dose. Whether I was successful
does not matter; it has nothing to do with my story. But I may tell
you this, that, with the aid of Binjoy, I prepared a very powerful
vegetable poison for my final experiment; with this I impregnated a
needle.”

“Oh!” said Fanks, “now I am beginning to see. Was it an ordinary
needle?”

“No, it was not an ordinary needle,” replied Fellenger. “In the first
place it was silver; in the second, it was hollow; in the third, it
was filled with this deadly vegetable poison, of which I told you.”

“Prepared by Dr. Binjoy?”

“Prepared by both of us,” said Binjoy, savagely. “Let him take his
share of the guilt.”

“I am not guilty. Mr. Fanks can judge of that for himself when I tell
him what I know,” retorted the baronet. “Well, Mr. Fanks, we prepared
this needle and placed it in a case; for the least prick with it meant
death by blood poisoning. We intended to use it on the dog, when the
animal was sufficiently saturated with weaker poisons to admit of the
experiment being made. You may be sure, sir, that I was very careful
of that needle; I placed it in my cabinet. Dr. Binjoy had access to
that cabinet.”

“I had not,” contradicted Binjoy.

“Yes, you had; you possessed a key as well as myself,” retorted Sir
Louis, sharply.

“I did not,” said the doctor, obstinate in his denial.

“Don’t lie, Binjoy, I found you with it opened one day; the day Anne
Colmer was with you, and I was so angry.”

“Oh, Anne Colmer knew about this needle?” said Fanks.

“I can’t say,” said Fellenger. “While I was living at
Taxton-on-Thames, Miss Colmer sometimes came to the house. But I was
angry at Binjoy for opening that cabinet in her presence, as there
were a lot of dangerous drugs in it.”

“She touched none of them,” growled. Binjoy.

“Oh!” said Fanks, sharply. “Then you admit that you showed Miss Colmer
the cabinet of poisons.”

Binjoy scowled, and grew a shade paler; as he said that he had over
reached himself. However, he said nothing, lest he should make bad
worse; and, with a significant glance at Fanks the baronet resumed his
story.

“One day, in the middle of June,” said Fellenger, “I found the needle
missing; and Binjoy told me he had given it to Turnor.”

“I did not say that,” exclaimed Binjoy, wrathfully. “I said that I
missed it one day when Turnor was in the laboratory; and I thought
that he might have taken it. As it proved, he did not. I know no more
than yourself who took it.”

“We will see,” said Louis. “I was ill at the time: and when Binjoy
hinted that Turnor had it, I determined to go up to London, and get it
again. I rose from my bed of sickness and went up to London on the
evening of the twenty-first.”

“But was it necessary that you should have gone up?” said Fanks,
“would not a line to Dr. Turnor have done?”

“Probably. But the preparation of the poison was a secret, and when I
heard that the needle was in Turnor’s possession, I was afraid lest he
should analyse the preparation. I went up to town with Binjoy post
haste to recover it again. This haste may appear strange to you, Mr.
Fanks; but you do not know how jealous we men of science are of our
secrets. But, at all events, we went up to town that evening. Do you
deny that, Binjoy?”

“No, I don’t deny it,” retorted Binjoy, gloomily. “Mr. Fanks tracked
me to Plymouth; he knows that I am Renshaw.”

“I do. May I ask, Dr. Binjoy, why you took a false name?”

Binjoy pointed to his friend. “It was to save that ungrateful man,” he
said, in a tragic voice. “When I saw you at the Red Star, and found
out that it was Sir Gregory who had been murdered, I foresaw how you
might suspect Louis as the cousin of the dead man. Mrs. Boazoph sent
for Dr. Turnor, I came instead of him, leaving Turnor with Louis. I
had been to the Red Star before, and Mrs. Boazoph knew me as Renshaw.”

“And you wore a false beard. How was that?”

“I used to go up to London to enjoy myself,” said Binjoy,
apologetically, “and I did not want any rumours to creep down to
Taxton-on-Thames concerning my movements. This is why I adopted the
false name; and disguise.”

“Did you know of this?” said Fanks, turning to Louis.

“I do now, I did not then,” said he, promptly. “When I arrived in
town, I went with Binjoy to Dr. Turnor’s house in Great Auk Street.
Turnor denied possession of the needle. Shortly afterwards, a message
came that the landlady of the Red Star wanted Turnor. I would not let
Turnor leave the room; as I felt sure that he had the needle, and
thought that he might make away with it. Binjoy went in his place; but
he had no disguise on when he went out of the house.”

“I put it on outside,” explained Renshaw, alias Binjoy. “I did not
tell you all my secrets, as you were always so straight-laced, you
might have objected to my enjoying myself.”

“I should certainly have objected to your disguising yourself, and
going under another name,” said Louis, coldly, “I do not like such
underhand doings. I did not know that you went to the Red Star as
Renshaw; when you came back I had gone.”

“Ah!” murmured Fanks, “that accounts why we didn’t catch you. The
house was not watched till Binjoy came back. Did you return to
Taxton-on-Thames?”

“Yes. I returned without the needle, which Turnor denied having. I
felt very ill, and got into bed at once.”

“Was Mrs. Jerusalem in the house, then?”

“Yes. Binjoy, as I afterwards learned, had sent her out. It was part
of the trap. He wanted to make out that I had got rid of the woman so
that I could go up to town and kill my cousin.”

“When did you hear of your cousin’s death?”

“The next day. Turnor came down; and said that Binjoy could not return
as he was being watched by detectives.”

“Quite so. And Turnor told you about your cousin’s death?”

“He did; and then he said that if I did not hold my tongue, and
pretend that I had not left Taxton-on-Thames that night, I should be
in danger of being accused of the crime. What could I do, Mr. Fanks; I
saw my danger, I held my tongue.”

“Yes,” said Fanks. “I can see why you were afraid. You were in a
dangerous position.”

“I was in a trap,” retorted Louis. “Can’t you see, Mr. Fanks. Gregory
was killed with a poisoned needle. I had talked about that needle to
many people. Many scientific men knew that I was experimenting with
it. I was in Turnor’s house at the very time that the crime was
committed.”

“And you were thereby able to prove an alibi.”

“Indeed, no. Turnor told me that he needed money; and he swore that he
would deny that I had been in his house; that he would denounce me as
the murderer of my cousin, if I did not give him a cheque. I could do
nothing, I was afraid; the circumstances were too strong for me. I
would have told the police; but in the face of Turnor’s denial; in the
face of Binjoy’s treachery in luring me into that house at the very
time of the murder, I dreaded lest I should be arrested and condemned
on circumstantial evidence. And the negro, Binjoy’s servant, was
smuggled off to Bombay by Binjoy, to close the trap more firmly on
me.”

“That’s a lie,” said Binjoy. “I sent the negro away to Bombay to avert
suspicion. I feigned a voyage to Plymouth for the same reason. I
ordered Caesar to meet me at Plymouth; and sent him to Bombay in my
place.”

“I know you did,” said Fanks, “you no doubt did that when I lost you
in the town after you disembarked.”

“Well, you see, Mr. Fanks,” said Louis, “that I am innocent. I held my
tongue, and lied about Binjoy, because I was afraid of the
circumstantial evidence which might be brought against me. Thanks to
Binjoy and Turnor, I was in a trap; I was at their mercy. I have told
you all because Binjoy tried to blackmail me last week. Now what do
you say?”

“Say, Sir Louis. I believe that you have told the truth. You are
innocent of this crime. But the question is, what does Dr. Binjoy
say?”

“I say that there is not one word of truth in the whole story,” said
the doctor, with a scowl.

Upon hearing this untruthful and obstinate denial of the baronet’s
story, Fanks wheeled round his chair, until it directly faced that of
Binjoy. At the sullen creature he looked sternly, and shook an
emphatic forefinger in his face.

“Now look you here, Dr. Binjoy, or Renshaw, or whatever you choose to
call yourself,” he said, sternly. “I believe that Sir Louis has spoken
the truth about this matter. I have not the least doubt that you and
your accomplice, Turnor, lured him into the Tooley Alley crime, with
which, to my belief, he has nothing to do whatever. You laid a trap,
and he fell into it–unluckily for him; but for his wise resolution to
confess his doings on that night to me, I have no doubt that you would
have blackmailed him.”

“I did not want to blackmail him,” said Binjoy in a low voice. “I did
not lure him into a trap. On the contrary, when I found cut that it
was his cousin who had been murdered, I did all I could to save
him–to draw suspicion on to myself. I feigned the voyage to Plymouth;
I made use of my false name; I sent off Caesar to Bombay; and I closed
the mouth of Dr. Turnor. What more could you expect me to do?”

“I quite believe that you did all these things; and for why? Because
you wished to rivet your chains more securely on your victim. When you
found that he was in possession of the property, you resolved to get
whatever money you wanted out of him in order to lead a debauched life
in town. Oh, yes, Doctor, I quite believe you changed your name and
assumed a disguise while in London. You did not wish that the scampish
Renshaw of the Red Star should be identified with, the respectable Dr.
Binjoy, late of Taxton-on-Thames, and now of Mere Hall in Hampshire. I
can understand that, and I can understand that you designed the murder
so that Sir Louis could become possessed of money which you intended
to spend.”

“I did not design the murder,” said Binjoy, in a hoarse voice. “I
swear I do not know who committed the crime. When I was called in by
Mrs. Boazoph, I was as ignorant as anyone that Gregory Fellenger had
been murdered. I only acted as I did because I saw how dangerous it
was that Louis should be suspected. He was in the neighbourhood–”

“Lured there by yourself?”

“No! No! I did not lure him there. That we should be at Turnor’s
house, so near to Tooley’s at that time, was quite an accident.”

“Was it an accident that Dr. Turnor came down to Taxton-on-Thames, and
threatened to blackmail me,” broke in Louis.

“I know nothing of what Turnor said or did. It was not because you
paid him money that he held his tongue; but because I told him to do
so.”

“You tried to blackmail me, also. That was why we quarrelled; that was
why you were going away next week. And I dare swear, Binjoy,” added
Sir Louis, quietly, “that had you gone, you would have found means to
betray me to the police. That is why I have told Mr. Fanks everything.
You cannot harm me now.

“Don’t you be too sure of that,” growled Binjoy; “you have got to
clear yourself of suspicion.”

“Sir Louis has cleared himself in my eyes,” said Fanks. “But you have
yet to explain what became of the poisoned needle.”

“I do not know; I missed it as did Sir Louis, but I do not know who
took it. You can’t prove that I committed the crime.”

“I am not sure of that,” said Fanks, coolly. “See here, Dr. Binjoy,
you wanted Sir Louis to get the Fellenger estates so that you could
handle the money. Sir Louis can prove that much. You had access to
this poisoned needle with which the crime was committed; you went up
to London on the evening of the twenty-first of June; you repaired to
the Red Star about the time the deed was committed; you lied about
your name; you took a pretended voyage; you sent your negro to Bombay
in order to thrown the suspicion on him. Now you attempt to blackmail
Sir Louis–you and Turnor–by threatening to accuse him of committing
a crime of which he is guiltless. From my own soul I believe that he
is the victim of conspiracy; I believe that you lured him up to Great
Auk Street to entangle him in the matter. And,” added Fanks, rising,
“I believe that you, in disguise of a negro, killed Sir Gregory
Fellenger with that poisoned needle.”

“I did not. I swear I did not. It is all a mistake,” gasped the
wretched man. “Ask Turnor.”

“The other blackguard, the other blackmailer? No, thank you. He would
only lie to me as you are doing. You are guilty. Confess your share in
this crime. Confess the mystery of the tattooed cross.”

“The tattooed cross? What do you know about the tattooed cross?”

“More than you think,” returned Fanks, significantly. “What about
Madaline Garry and her revenge?”

Binjoy’s eyes seemed to be starting out of his head with terror and
surprise. His face was of a deathly paleness, and great drops of
perspiration rolled down his cheeks. He tried to speak, but the words
rattled in his throat, and with a gasp the man, strong as he was,
fainted quietly in the chair. He had been struck down by his own
terrors; rendered insensible by an instinctive knowledge of his
danger.

“What do you intend to do, Mr. Fanks?” asked Louis, looking at the
inanimate form of Binjoy with strong distaste. “Arrest this man?”

“I do. I shall send a telegram to London to get a detective down. In
the meantime–I shall stay here so as not to lose sight of him.”

“You don’t think that I would help him to escape?” said Louis,
indignantly. “I am only too glad to see the scoundrel captured. He has
been the curse of my life ever since my father placed me in his care;
he spoilt my nature, he half ruined me, but I stood it all until he
tried to blackmail me. Then I revolted against his tyranny. If you had
not appeared here so opportunely I should have written for you to come
and hear my confession. I admit that I was afraid to speak before, for
these villains had laid their plans so skilfully that I was afraid my
tale would not be believed. But now the scamp has been caught in his
own trap, and I am glad of it.”

“All the same, I am not sure that he killed your cousin.”

“Why not? All the circumstances seem to point to his having done so.”

“No doubt. But some time ago I thought I had spotted the person who
had executed the crime. From that opinion I am not inclined to depart.
Evidently, Binjoy knows all about the affair, and possibly he may be
brought in as the accessory before the fact, but you can see for
yourself that the man is a rank coward. He has fainted. No man of his
timid nature would be brave enough to commit so daring a crime, and
then face me within an hour of such commission. No, Sir Louis, we have
not yet caught the assassin.”

“Then why arrest Binjoy?”

“Because he knows who is guilty, and I wish to force him into
confession. Just send the servant with this telegram, will you, and
tell him to ask if there are any letters for me at the Pretty Maid
Inn?”

“What about Binjoy?”

“Leave him here with me for a time. Should I get a letter I may ask
you to take me over the house. Till then I shall watch my man.”

“What is this letter you expect?” demanded Louis, with curiosity.

“I’ll tell you that when I have despatched my telegram. Send a groom
with it at once, please.”

Sir Louis obeyed and left the room, while Fanks remained to revive the
insensible Binjoy. He threw water on his face, loosened his collar,
but the doctor still continued insensible. Becoming alarmed, Fanks
rang the bell, and sent for a medical man. The upshot of the affair
was that Binjoy was put to bed in high fever. The shock inflicted on
him by the detective had unsettled his brain; and when Crate arrived
at Mere Hall there was no question of arresting the guilty man. Binjoy
was dangerously ill, and suffering from an attack of brain fever. What
with the doctor ill in the country and Mrs. Boazoph ill in town, Fanks
began to grow uneasy. If all the principals of the case were rendered
incapable of confession in this manner, he did not see how he was to
arrive at any solution of the riddle. He was two days meditating over
the next move in the game. “Mrs. Boazoph knows something,” said Fanks,
to himself, “and Dr. Binjoy knows more; but if both are ill and
incapable of confession, what am I to do?”

There was no answer to this question, but later on the detective’s
hands were full in elucidating the mystery of the tattooing. He asked
the baronet if he knew anything about the fancy Sir Francis had for
pricking crosses on the arms of women whom he loved.

“I never heard of it,” said Louis. “I did not know much about my uncle
Francis, and still less about my cousin, his son Gregory. I am afraid
we are a singularly unamiable family, Mr. Fanks, for we all seem to
quarrel.”

“Have you quarrelled with Garth?”

“Not exactly. But we do not get on well together. He used to come and
see me at Taxton-on-Thames, but I am afraid he thought me a scientific
prig. Indeed, he hinted so much.”

Fanks laughed at this, remembering how Garth had made use of the words
attributed to him by Sir Louis. However, he did not explain the reason
of his laughter, but asked the baronet about Madaline Garry. To this
also he received a denial. Sir Louis knew nothing about the lady or
her connection with the late Sir Francis.

“All these things were before my time,” he said, shaking his head. “If
you want to know about our family secrets, ask Mrs. Prisom, at the
inn. I believe she is a perfect book of anecdotes regarding the
Fellenger family.”

“I have asked her,” said Fanks, quietly. “She told me a great deal;
but not all I wish to know. Is there anyone else?”

“Well, there was Mrs. Jerusalem,” said Sir Louis. “But she has walked
off. I intended to tell you, since you referred to her.”

“Where has she gone?”

“I do not know. On that day you met her she went off and never came
back. I can’t say I am sorry, as I feel, from your description, she
bore me ill-will. Perhaps on account of the way my father treated her;
but you must ask Mrs. Prisom to tell you that story.”

“I don’t need to do that,” replied Fanks. “I know that Mrs. Jerusalem
hated you, and that is enough. She must have intended to bolt the day
I met her; but I thought she would have waited with the amiable
intention of assisting you into trouble. I wish I knew where she had
gone.”

“Perhaps she will come back?”

“Let us hope so. Now that Binjoy is ill, and she hates him, I should
like to know what she can say about him. By the way, there is a
question I wish to ask you. Why was it, when you were afraid of being
implicated in the crime, that you offered to supply the money for me
to hunt down the criminal?”

“Well, that was Binjoy’s idea. You see he thought that he had
completely destroyed the trail likely to bring you across my track; so
he said it would still further avert suspicion if I offered that
reward. I did so, but, to tell you the honest truth, if I had not
intended to confide in you in order to stop the blackmailing of
Messrs. Binjoy and Turnor, I should not have risked doing so. By the
way, are you going to arrest that atrocious little scamp?”

“Not yet. Binjoy is ill, and cannot have warned him; Mrs. Boazoph is
in the same plight; no, I will let him wait. He has no idea that he is
in any danger. When the time comes, I will pounce on him, if
necessary; though I hope he will not take a fit also. I can get
nothing out of Binjoy or Mrs. Boazoph, while they are ill.”

“You may not need to do so. You may find out the truth when the letter
comes from Hersham.”

“I wish it would come,” said Fanks. “I want to know why he has the
same symbol on his arm as that on the arms of Mrs. Prisom and Madaline
Garry.”

“You speak as if Madaline Garry were still alive?”

“Mrs. Jerusalem says she is. That is why I want to trace Mrs.
Jerusalem; she might help me to learn where I can find Madaline Garry.
The clue to the mystery of the cross lies with her; or else,” added
Fanks, “it is hidden in the desk of the late Sir Francis. You remember
I told you his parting words to Mrs. Prisom?”

Two days after this the long expected letter came from Hersham. And
not only from him, but one from his father, was enclosed also. The
contents caused Fanks surprise; and yet, he half expected to read what
he did. He was beginning to guess the mystery which filled Dr. Binjoy
and Mrs. Boazoph with such fear. After all, he would be able to
discover the truth without them; although their testimony would be
necessary to confirm it.

“Dear Fanks” (wrote Hersham). “When you read the enclosed, you will be
astonished, as I was. I have not yet recovered from the shock of
learning the truth; but, as you will see, the mystery of the tattooed
cross is a greater one than ever. I can give you no assistance–all is
told in the enclosed letter, which I particularly asked to be written
for you. I cannot say if it will solve the Tooley Alley riddle, but it
has certainly invested my life with a mystery which I shall not rest
until I solve. I can write no more, for my head is in a whirl. Tell me
what you think of enclosed. And believe me, yours, Ted Hersham (as I
suppose I may still sign myself).”

The enclosed was a letter from the Rev. George Hersham, to the effect
that Ted was not his son; that he was no relation to him.

“I am a bachelor” (wrote Mr. Hersham). “I adopted Ted from motives of
pity, and a desire to cheer my lonely life. Nearly twenty-eight years
age, a poorly clad woman came to my door. She was starving, and
carried an infant in her arms. I gave her succour, and procured her
work. After a time, she grew restless, and wished to go away, but in
that time I had become fond of the child. In the end, I offered to
adopt it. To this she consented, rather to my surprise; though,
indeed, she did not seem at any time very much attached to the babe.
However, she gave me the child, and went away with a little money I
had given her. I afterwards received a letter from her in London, but
she then stopped writing, and for years I have never heard anything
about her. The child–now my son, Ted–was marked with a cross on the
left arm, when I adopted him. The woman never told me why he had been
so tattooed. I knew nothing of the woman’s history, save that her name
was–Madaline Garry.”

On receipt of Mr. Hersham’s letter, Fanks sought out Sir Louis, and
showed him the communication. He had told the baronet all that he had
heard from Mrs. Prisom; for, without permission, he could not hope to
examine the desk of the late Sir Francis. If he did not do so, he
would not be able to discover the secret of the tattooed cross;
therefore, for the gaining of his ends, and also with a belief in
Fellenger’s good sense, he made him his confidant, and finally placed
the letter in his hands. Louis read it carefully; and, knowing all
that had gone before, he understood it partially. Nevertheless, he was
puzzled as to the real meaning of the affair; and looked to Fanks for
an explanation.

“What do you think of that?” asked Fanks, when the baronet gave back
the letter in silence. “Can you understand it?”

“I do not think it is very difficult to understand,” said Fellenger,
with a shrug of his shoulders, “Madeline Garry went from the Isle of
Wight; she was starving, and she met with a good Samaritan, who took
her in. Afterwards, she sought London, and left her child behind to be
adopted. That child is your friend, Edward Hersham. The story is plain
enough.”

“It is so far as you have related it. But Hersham has the cross of St.
Catherine tattooed on his arm. Why should the child of Madaline Garry
be marked in that way?”

“Perhaps my uncle marked the child. He seemed to have had a passion
for tattooing.”

“Why should Sir Francis mark the child of Fielding?”

There was something so significant in the tone of the detective that
Sir Louis looked at him intently. What he saw in his face prompted his
next remark. “You don’t think Hersham is illegitimate, do you?” he
asked.

“Indeed, that is my opinion,” returned Fanks. “Why was Sir Francis
afraid of Madaline Garry? Because he had done her a wrong. Why did she
marry Fielding, almost on the same day that your uncle married Miss
Darmer? Why did Sir Francis tattoo the child with his favourite cross?
The answer to all these questions is–to my mind–to be found in the
fact that the child of Madaline Garry was also the child of Sir
Francis Fellenger. I feel convinced that Hersham is the half-brother
of the man who was murdered at Tooley’s Alley.”

“It seems likely,” assented Louis, nursing his chin with his hand.
“But how can you establish the truth of your statement?”

“There are two ways. One is by asking Binjoy. He may know as he was in
attendance both at the birth of Gregory, and at that of Hersham. He
may tell the truth; but as he is delirious, there is no chance of
getting any information from him. The second way is to find out
Madaline Garry, and force her to own up. But the only person who knows
where she is, is Mrs. Jerusalem, who has vanished. If I find Mrs.
Jerusalem, I may find the other woman. But at present that is
impossible also.”

“Quite impossible. I do not see what you can do.”

“Do you remember what Mrs. Prisom said about the desk in the study of
your late uncle?”

“Yes. She alluded to some secret in connection with the desk, which
was to be used for the benefit of Gregory, should Madaline Garry
attempt to revenge herself.”

“Exactly. Well, we must examine the desk. I fancy that Sir Francis,
dreading the anger of the woman whom he had wronged, wrote out a full
account of his sin; and of the reason why he tattooed the cross on the
arm of the child. If we can find that paper–which Sir Francis plainly
hinted was in the desk, we may discover why your cousin was murdered.”

“I cannot conceive what you mean.”

“You will know soon enough,” replied Fanks, a trifle sadly. “I have a
very shrewd idea of what will be the outcome of my search. If things
are as I think, it will not be long before I run down the assassin of
Sir Gregory. I have an instinct–and more than an instinct–that the
clue to the mystery which has eluded me so long, is about to be placed
in my hand. I shall be pleased for my own sake; I shall be sorry for
yours.”

“Why. What do you mean? I do not understand. Explain yourself, Mr.
Fanks.”

“No,” replied Fanks, shaking his head. “I may be wrong, and I do not
wish to cause you unnecessary pain. Let me examine the desk. If I am
wrong, all the better for you; all the worse for the case. If am
right, I had rather you learned the truth without my intervention.
Come, Sir Louis, let us seek the study of your late uncle. Do you know
where it is?”

“Oh, yes,” said Sir Louis, leading the way. “It has been shut up since
his death. You know my cousin was not a man of books, so he did not
use it. As for myself, I am always in my laboratory in the old wing.
If Sir Francis left any secret paper in his desk, it will be there
still. Unless,” added Louis, with an afterthought, “unless it was
taken away by the woman he feared.”

“No. If the paper had given Madaline Garry power to revenge herself on
the heir of her old lover, she would have used that power; and then
Mrs. Prisom might have interfered by acting on the last request of Sir
Francis. Nothing of this has happened; so I am sure that if the paper
is in that desk, we shall find it; if we find it we shall learn the
truth about this tattooed cross; and, consequently, discover the
motive which prompted the murder of your cousin.”

After which speech, the detective went with Sir Louis to the study of
the late Sir Francis Fellenger.

Sir Louis unlocked the door; and they entered into the long-disused
room. It had been shut up for many years, the atmosphere was dusty and
musty, with a chill smell of decay. Fanks opened the shutters, and the
strong sunlight poured into the apartment; it illumined the dusty
carpet on which their feet made marks; it gleamed on the old-fashioned
furniture, cumbersome and comfortless, such as was used in the
early days of the Victorian era; and–to the satisfaction of the
detective–it revealed a mahogany escritoire, all drawers and
pigeon-holes, and brass handles. The key, massive and rusty, was still
in the lock; and Louis, turning it over with, a harsh creak, threw
open the heavy sheet of mahogany which covered the writing cloth. This
was lined with dingy green cloth, ink-stained and dusty, but on it
there rested no papers nor pens nor ink. Evidently the papers had been
arranged before the desk had been closed, and left to its many years’
solitude.

Fanks bent down and unlocked the drawers one after the other. These
contained nothing but masses of newspaper, everyone of which they
examined carefully, but without finding any writing referring to the
cross. There were also bundles of old letters; and musty accounts, and
ancient records of ships, and stores, and divers expenses; doubtless
remnants of Fellenger’s naval days. In another drawer they found
sea-shells, and seaweed mounted on cardboard; while some shallow
repositories contained pictures, and small charts. But nowhere could
they discover the paper to which Sir Francis had referred in that last
long conversation with Mrs. Prisom.

“Well, it is not in any of these,” said Fanks, rising with a look of
disappointment. “I wonder where it can be?”

“Perhaps there is a secret drawer,” suggested Sir Louis.

“It is not unlikely; and no doubt the paper would be hidden in such a
receptacle out of fear of the woman.

“I believe you are right, Sir Louis; let us look for a secret drawer.
If there is one I shall find it; I have been at this sort of work
before; and I have an idea how to go about it.”

Fanks made no vain boast, for after a hard search of an hour or more;
after sounding with the knuckles and measuring with a tape, they
stumbled across a hiding-place, contrived in the thickness of the wood
at the back of the desk. Herein was a paper yellow with age, which
Fanks drew slowly out; for it was so fragile with time that he thought
it would crumble in his hand; carrying this to the strong light of the
window he read carefully, while Sir Louis waited for a revelation of
its contents. The face of the detective paled when he read it; and he
glanced pityingly at the baronet, when he finished his perusal.

“It is the paper I hoped to find,” he said, slowly, “and it clears up
the most important point of the case. But I told you, Mr. Fellenger,
that the contents would give you pain. Read them for yourself.”

“Why do you call me Mr. Fellenger?” asked Louis, quietly.

“You will find the answer to that question in this paper,” replied
Fanks, and passed it to the baronet. After a pause, and a sharp glance
at the detective, Fellenger took the thin yellow sheet, and read it
slowly. This was what he read, in the faded handwriting of Sir
Francis:

“I have deceived Madaline Garry; I am the father of the child born to
her about the same time that my heir, Gregory, was born. Madaline
wished me to marry her; but, for reasons which I need not explain
here, I was unable to do so. She married Luke Fielding, and he is
supposed to be the father of her child. This is not so; the boy is
mine. When my wife died, Madaline insisted on coming to the Hall and
nursing Gregory. For obvious reasons I could not refuse her; she would
have revealed the truth, and have disgraced me and her family, had I
not yielded to her wish. She came to the Hall with her own child and
nursed that of my late wife. But I was afraid that she would change
the children so that her son should enjoy what rightfully belonged to
his half-brother. I was twice nearly sending her away on account of
this fear; but she threatened to disgrace me by revealing the truth;
so I let her stay. But, to avert the danger, I one night tattooed on
the left arm of my son, Gregory, the cross of St. Catherine, which I
had already tattooed on the arm of Madaline and of Nancy Prisom.
Should the children be changed, and I die, the truth can be
ascertained by the tattooed cross. The child marked with the cross is
my son and heir, Gregory Fellenger; the other is his brother, Edward,
the son of myself and Madaline Garry. I hope, in this way, that I
shall prevent Madaline from revenging herself on me, as I feel sure
she intends to do.

(Signed), Francis Luddham Fellenger.”

On reading this extraordinary document, Louis felt the room whirl
round him, and he was fain to be seated. Fanks turned silently towards
him and received back the paper–the paper which robbed the young man
at one sweep of title and property. Louis recovered himself, and
smiled faintly. “I understand,” he said, in a low tone, “Sir Gregory
enjoyed the title and estates wrongfully; Hersham is the rightful
heir.”

“Yes. Madaline Garry fulfilled her vengeance. She put her child in the
place of the real heir, after the death of Sir Francis, and took away
the son of Lady Fellenger. That was why she came to the Hall to be the
nurse; she wanted her child to enjoy the property. Owing to the
tattooing and the father being alive, she could not change the
children; but when Sir Francis was killed she did so, and therefore
secured the title for her son. I now understand why she parted so
readily with Hersham so that he should be adopted by the Vicar of
Fairview; he was not her child, but that of her rival in the
affections of Sir Francis; I can see all this; so can you; but,” added
Fat-11s, with hesitation, “can you guess how this discovery affects
you?”

“Certainly,” replied Louis, calmly, “I shall have to give the property
up to my cousin, who now goes by the name of Hersham. I assure you, I
shall not mind the loss so much as you seem to think. As I told you, I
care nothing for money, and everything for science. Oh, believe me,
Mr. Fanks, I am quite content to surrender title and estates, and go
back to Taxton-on-Thames, as plain Louis Fellenger.”

“You can contest this matter?”

“I shall not contest the matter. I believe that paper to be true. We
found it together; and it proved beyond a doubt–by the evidence of
the cross tattooed on Hersham’s left arm, that he is the rightful Sir
Gregory, and the owner of these estates. Let him have them; I shall
not raise one finger to prevent his enjoying what is rightfully his
own. Besides, I like Hersham–as I may still call him–he is a good
fellow. I used to meet him at Taxton-on-Thames. Let him marry Anne
Colmer, and take up his position; he will make a much better baronet
than I.”

They left the room, and went downstairs again to the library. In there
Louis asked Fanks a question which had been in his mind for some time.

“I say, Mr. Fanks,” he said, “what makes you say that this tattooed
cross clears up the mystery of Tooley’s Alley?”

“Well,” said Fanks, “someone must have known this story; and have told
it to Sir Gregory. That was why he allowed the cross to be tattooed on
his arm.”

“I don’t see that.”

“Why, the person who told him the story assured him that the only
chance he had of keeping the property was to be tattooed with the
mark, which Sir Francis said was on the arm of his real heir.”

“Oh, I understand now. But who was the person who told Sir Gregory the
secret of that cross and tattooed it on his arm?”

“Ah,” said Fanks, “tell me the name of that person, and I’ll tell you
the assassin of the son of Madaline Garry, who wrongfully bore the
title and name of Sir Gregory Fellenger.”

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