To all appearances the master

The glass skimmed past Haskins’ head, and smashed against the
wainscoting. By this time both men were on their feet; Rebb glaring
and furious, but Gerald perfectly calm. A few drops of the claret had
sprinkled his face, and he wiped these off quietly. “There is nothing
to be gained by your losing your temper, Rebb,” he remarked.

“Don’t tell me what to do or what not to do,” raged the Major,
striding towards the door, which he locked. “You are in my power
here.”

Haskins sat down again with a contemptuous laugh. “So much so that, if
you opened that door to let me out, I should refuse to go. Don’t be a
fool, Rebb. One would think you were a melodramatic actor. Do you
think that I am afraid of you or of a dozen like you? Sit down and let
us talk quietly over the matter.”

Rebb walked forward, and flung himself into a chair, gnawing his
moustache, somewhat taken aback by Haskins’ aplomb. Usually, when he
asserted his undeniably strong will, his opponents sat down and
obeyed. But the Major recognized readily enough that he had a
determined man to deal with, and, moreover, knew that he could not get
the better of him by treachery, since the Silbury police were aware of
Haskins’ whereabouts. The Pixy’s House already had an unpleasant
reputation, and Rebb did not wish an inexplicable disappearance to
take place there. He would willingly have got rid of this man, who so
persistently crossed his path, but the risk was too great. And as man
to man, Gerald was more than able to hold his own. Rebb was no fool,
and, for the moment, he mentally confessed himself beaten.

“I ask your pardon for losing my temper,” he said, wiping his
forehead, “but no man can sit quietly and hear himself accused of
woman murder.”

“Defend yourself then,” said Gerald, relighting his pipe, which had
gone out during the episode.

“There is no need for me to make a defence,” snarled the other.

“I think there is. Geary may hold his tongue, since he appears to be
devoted to you, but his wife, having left her husband, will certainly
speak out.”

“What can she say?” asked Rebb, taking another glass of claret.

“That you went to this place on the night, and about the time, of the
murder. You went away some time after I left, and did not return until
two in the morning.”

Major Rebb sat moodily looking at the tips of his slippers. He saw
well that Gerald was right, and if the young man–as he probably
would–supported Mrs. Geary in making trouble, very unpleasant
questions might be asked. “Why the devil do you interfere in my
business?” he asked, between his teeth.

“Because I love Mavis Durham.”

“She is dead.”

“You can’t be sure of that.”

“Then you know!” cried the Major, starting to his feet.

“Now how should I know anything when you have exonerated me from
complicity in her flight?” argued Gerald, dexterously skirting the
subject. “If I had run away with Mavis she would be my wife by this
time.”

“And would have passed her honeymoon in prison?” growled Rebb, quite
convinced by Gerald’s quiet tone.

“I think not. I should have fought for my wife. And I intend to search
for her and fight for her still.”

“You’ll never find her. If she were alive she would have been captured
long ago.”

“Ah, it would please you, no doubt, to see her hanged.”

“No! on my soul, no!” cried the Major, beginning to walk to and fro,
“I only want to see her happy. She was happy here,” he added, as
Gerald laughed unpleasantly. “She was happy until you came and
disturbed her poor brain.”

“Her very clever brain!” contradicted the young man acidly. “Pshaw!
Major, am I a fool that you should talk to me in this way? Whatever
you may state to the outside world, for the sake of your illegal
income, you know perfectly well that Mavis is perfectly sane.”

“She is not! Would she have killed Bellaria if sane?”

“Oh, you are trying to keep up that fiction also?”

“It is not fiction,” insisted Rebb, obviously in earnest. “I will
admit that the girl’s brain was stronger than I chose to tell anyone
outside this room. All the same, I believe that, weary of being shut
up, she tried to escape on that night. Bellaria came to stop her, and
Mavis then must have stabbed her. Remember, Bellaria had Geary’s
knife.”

“Do you really believe this?” asked Gerald, quite puzzled.

“I swear that I do! Come, Haskins, let us talk plainly, since there is
no one to hear us. Don’t you believe it yourself?”

“No, I do not! You, if anyone, killed Bellaria.”

“Why should I?”

“Because you knew that I would take the girl away and marry her. To
put her presumed insanity beyond all doubt you murdered Bellaria, and
placed the crime on the poor girl’s shoulders. In this way, should she
be found, you secure her income for life, since she cannot marry.”

“That would have been a clever thing for me to do,” said Rebb, in a
quiet way, “but I had not the brains to conceive such a plot, much
less the cleverness to carry it out. I might, in a fit of rage, kill a
man capable of defending himself. I certainly should never raise my
hand to stab a defenceless woman, whatever provocation I might have.”

“You were here about the time of the murder?” said Haskins, and he
wrinkled his brow in perplexity. Rebb spoke very earnestly.

“I was–since Mrs. Geary has let the cat out the bag I may as well
confess, and you will see how groundless your suspicions are. It was
long after ten o’clock when I left the Devon Maid, and I took a
lantern with me.”

“Why did you go at all?”

“To search for your confounded canoe. Geary told me about it, and so
did Bellaria, who learned where it was hidden from Mavis.”

“Yes. I told Mavis. Well?”

“Well, I wanted to find it and break it up, so that you should no
longer get across the pool and climb the wall. I walked over the
hills, and lost my way for a time. It was close upon twelve o’clock
when I got to the pool. I searched for the canoe and could not find
it. I heard a shriek inside the grounds of this house—-”

“And you went to see what it was?”

“Not at the moment. I knew that Bellaria, being always terrified, for
reasons you need not know—-”

“Pardon me, I know all about the Tána Society.”

Rebb looked astonished, but made no comment, being too occupied in
exonerating himself. “Then you know that she suffered greatly from
nerves, and was afraid of being discovered and killed. Often she
shrieked at night, as Mavis told me, and at times, when here late, I
heard her myself. I therefore merely thought that Bellaria was in one
of her mad fits and went on searching. About one o’clock I climbed the
bank and, crossing the stream by the bridge to Leegarth, I went to the
gate of the Pixy’s House, wondering if you had dared to come there,
after seeing me. I found the gates opened and Bellaria dead. As I was
stooping over the body, Geary came running from the house. He said
that he had followed me to tell about your shooting him in the arm,
and on finding Bellaria’s body he had gone to look for Mavis. She had
vanished. I searched the house also, and could not find her. I
therefore came back to Denleigh with Geary, making him promise to say
nothing of our midnight visit.”

“Why?” asked Gerald straightly.

“Why?” echoed the Major, looking surprised, “when you were meddling
with my affairs? Had you known of that visit at the time, you would
have denounced me to the police, and I should have had great
difficulty in clearing myself. I held my peace. And I tell you that I
really believed, as I believe now, that Mavis had stabbed Bellaria, so
as to get her liberty.”

“Why did you not believe that some emissary of the Tána Society had
found out Bellaria’s hiding place and had killed her?”

“You mean Venosta?” said Rebb hurriedly; “well I own that, after the
first shock of surprise, I did suspect Venosta, as Mrs. Crosbie had
shown me the coral hand, and had told me the use she put it to.”

“Did she know about the society?” asked Gerald. “She declared that she
was ignorant of its existence.”

“So she was. But I knew about the society at Naples fifteen or sixteen
years ago, when I rescued Bellaria from its clutches. No; I don’t
believe Venosta killed Bellaria, although he would have done so, I am
sure, had he known where she was hiding. But he did not, and who could
have told him? Not Mrs. Crosbie–although you mentioned Bellaria’s
name and whereabouts, confound you!–as Mrs. Crosbie knew nothing of
the Tána Society. Well, Haskins, you must see now that I am innocent.”

“It looks like it, I admit. But everything fitted in so well with your
plans that I naturally thought you guilty.”

“Then you see that I am not,” snapped Rebb, much ruffled. “If I were,
would I confess my midnight journey to you?”

“Seeing that Mrs. Geary is about to make it public, I think you would
have had to in the long run,” retorted Gerald sharply.

“She mustn’t do that,” muttered Rebb, still walking and becoming much
agitated, for he was beginning to realize his danger.

“She will, now that her husband can no longer terrorize her. You are
in a very awkward position. My advice to you–if you are really as
innocent as you pretend to be–is to search out Mavis and hand over
her income. After all, by the will, you need not account for what you
have spent up to date, and you have had a long run for your money.”

“You say that, because you want the income yourself.”

“I could do with it, and when I marry Mavis I shall certainly insist
upon justice being done to her. I would take her without a penny, as
you well know, but I am not such a fool as to refuse six thousand a
year along with a pretty, clever wife.”

“Well then, find Mavis, and we shall see,” cried Rebb, quite out of
temper, and throwing himself into a chair.

“For you to accuse her when she is found? No, thank you. First I want
to prove her innocence.”

“You will find that difficult.”

“Not with your help, Major.”

Rebb grew violent. “Damn you. I say that I believe the girl may be
innocent, and surely I have exonerated myself.”

“I may think so, but the public—-”

“The public need never know anything about it. See here, Haskins, you
love this girl, and you seem to think that she is still alive. Good. I
make a bargain with you. Give me three thousand of this six thousand a
year belonging to the Durham estate, and you can marry Mavis quietly,
and take her to America, or the Colonies. No one will think to find
the notorious Mavis Durham in Mrs. Gerald Haskins. Thus everything
will be settled, and I can marry Mrs. Crosbie–as I greatly want
to–with a quiet heart. What say you?”

“I refuse your offer,” said Gerald calmly. “Mavis shall have her
character cleared, and shall have nothing or all of her income.”

Rebb rose and snapped his fingers. “Do your worst,” he said, trying to
suppress his anger. “Find Mavis and marry her. But be prepared for me
to have her condemned for Bellaria’s murder and shut up in an asylum.”

“I hope to prove her innocence,” said Haskins quietly.

“Even if you do,” snarled Rebb, becoming reckless when he found
himself so beset, “you may lose the money.”

“That is impossible: it belongs to Mavis.”

“To the real Mavis.”

Gerald rose, guessing that Rebb referred to the other twin. “What do
you mean by that, Rebb?”

“Mavis has a sister. Yes, you may look, but Charity Bird is the real
Mavis–or at least I can prove it to be so.”

“There is a likeness between the girls, I admit,” said Gerald,
pretending ignorance, “but it is ridiculous to say that they are
sisters.”

“They are twin sisters. Sit down and I’ll tell you all about it. But
that you can make so much mischief I should not say a word; but when
you know the truth, for your own sake you may hold your tongue and
give me half the income.”

Without a word Haskins resumed his seat, marveling at thus having been
able to force Rebb’s hand, without revealing his suspicions. The Major
hastily swallowed another glass of claret, and began to speak in a
hurry.

“I was in a Goorkha regiment in India some twenty-five years ago—-”

Gerald interrupted: “I thought you were in a West Indian Regiment.”

“Later, later!” said Rebb testily. “Don’t interrupt. I exchanged to
Jamaica a few years later. But in India I had a brother officer, who
was my greatest friend. His name was Julian Durham, and he had six
thousand a year against my six hundred. He was not very strong, and
always said that, as he had no relatives, he would make me his heir.
Then he married a silly, flirting girl, with whom he quarreled, and my
hopes were thus dashed to the ground.”

“Did you aid the quarrel?” asked Gerald delicately.

“Yes,” replied Rebb shamelessly. “The wife stood in the way of my
getting a fortune from Julian, and I tried to part husband and wife. I
succeeded; for more than a year after the marriage, Mrs. Durham went
to Bombay, with the intention of living apart from her husband.”

“What a scoundrel you are, Rebb,” said Haskins, astonished at the
cold-blooded way in which the man recounted his villainy.

The Major laughed harshly. “I only tell this to you, and you don’t
matter,” he retorted. “Outside, if you say anything, I shall deny all,
and who will believe you, Haskins? However, to continue. We were
stationed in the far north of India, and I escorted Mrs. Durham to
Bombay, where she intended to embark for England. At Bombay she was
taken ill, and died giving birth to twins. I didn’t want a couple of
girls on my hands, as I knew that Julian could not live long, so I
paid the nurse to take one of the children–the eldest, mind you–to
Simla, and to get rid of it somehow. She sold it, I believe, to a
juggler’s wife, and afterwards Mrs. Pelham Odin, then on tour, bought
the child in Calcutta, to bring up. That child is Charity Bird.”

“Can you prove this?”

“Yes! Be quite certain of that. The ayah and the juggler’s wife are
still alive. Well, then, that disposed of one twin. I brought the
other back to the north of India to her father, and she was christened
Mavis. Julian was very ill, so made a will in my favor and in favor of
his child. I was to be her guardian, and to enjoy the money until she
married. Then I was to hand it over, without accounting for what I had
spent. In this way Julian hoped to satisfy me for his old promise to
make me his heir, and of course I agreed.”

“And you said nothing of the other twin?”

“No. Why should I? One brat on my hands was enough. Afterwards Julian
came home to Brighton and died. It was at Brighton that he made his
will, as you know. I came back from India with Mavis, and, to cut off
all association with those who knew her and Durham, I exchanged into a
West India regiment, and took her to Jamaica. I sold out fifteen or
sixteen years ago, and brought the child here, after a tour in Italy.
It was in Naples that I found Bellaria. She was a singer, and had
betrayed some man belonging to the Tána Society. I don’t know the
exact story, but she was in danger of death, so I took her by stealth
to Devonshire and made her nurse to Mavis.”

“And Geary?”

“He was my servant in Jamaica. In Devonshire, at Barnstaple, he met
with his wife, and, as I wanted someone to watch the Pixy’s House, I
established him at the Devon Maid, making him a present of the
freehold.”

Gerald rose. “And you paid for it out of Mavis’ money?”

“Of course I did–only you mistake, the money doesn’t belong to Mavis
until she is married.”

“She will be married to me the moment that I can find her,” said
Gerald grimly, stalking to the door.

“Wait a bit,” called out Rebb, “if you marry her without promising me
the three thousand a year I shall prove the identity of Charity, and
she will get the lot. When she marries Tod Macandrew–he’s in love
with her, you know–you will get left.”

“You cannot take the money from Mavis. Her name is mentioned in the
will,” said Gerald coolly, and tried the door, which was locked. “I
say, open this, confound you!”

Major Rebb flung the key across the room, and Haskins fitted it into
the lock. Before he could open the door Rebb continued: “Don’t be a
fool in your own interests, Haskins. I shall swear that Charity is
Mavis, and your beloved will lose all.”

“You can scarcely do that, in the face of the story you will have to
tell. Mrs. Pelham Odin and the juggler’s wife and the ayah can prove
that Charity is the missing twin. And I daresay Mavis’ baptismal
certificate can be found. Her name in the will makes her the heiress.”

“Then I’ll tell about Charity and prove her identity,” cried Rebb,
starting furiously to his feet, “and she will at least get half.”

“I don’t care if she does,” retorted Gerald, flinging open the door.

“But you had better give the money to me, and then I’ll be silent as
to Charity being Durham’s daughter.”

“No, Major. I don’t care for your crooked ways. I’ll find Mavis and
marry her. Probably she will be quite willing to halve the income with
her twin. Three thousand a year will be enough for her and for me.
Good-day, Major, find some other man who is willing to become such a
blackguard as you are.”

Rebb caught the decanter and slung it across the room. It only crashed
against the closed door. And when Rebb ran forward to pursue the man
who flouted him he found the door locked on the outside.

On returning to the Silbury Hotel. Gerald sat down to think over the
important conversation with Rebb. To all appearances the master was as
innocent as the man. Nevertheless, according to the Major, Geary had
been to the Pixy’s House on the fatal night, in spite of his denial.
On the face of it, the negro had no reason to kill Bellaria, and Rebb
had sworn that the murder was neither committed nor prompted by him.
If this were so, it appeared strange that Rebb should have found
Geary, not only in the grounds of the Pixy’s House, but in the mansion
itself, when he arrived. Seeing that Geary was thus first in the
field, it was not improbable that he had caught a glimpse of the
assassin. Whether he had, and had told his master, it was of course
impossible to say. But Haskins determined to have another interview
with the landlord of the Devon Maid, and force him to disclose the
whole truth, which he assuredly had not told in his wife’s presence.

One important thing Gerald had learned from Rebb, and that was the
truth of his surmise regarding Charity. She was–as he had always
supposed–the twin sister of Mavis, and Haskins congratulated himself
on guessing this before Rebb had spoken out. Still, it was just as
well that rage had made the Major thus candid, and the matter was put
beyond all doubt. Haskins was pleased also by the discovery, as,
guided by him, Mavis would be quite willing to divide the income, and
then Lady Euphemia would not be angry at Tod’s runaway marriage. So
far everything was right.

But the mystery of the crime had still to be solved. Until it was,
Mavis must continue, not only to be an outcast and a fugitive from
justice, but must remain unable to claim her rights as Julian Durham’s
heiress. Apparently Geary and Rebb and Signor Venosta, as an emissary
of the Tána Society, were all innocent. If so, who was the guilty
person? Gerald wondered, if the letter to which Mavis had referred
could be found, as he firmly believed that it would afford a clue to
the identity of the criminal. In his own mind he constructed the
manner in which the crime had been committed. Bellaria had received
this mysterious letter, which for some reason overcame her fears
sufficiently to make her venture out at night. To meet the writer of
the letter she had opened the gates, and then had been stabbed by her
own knife–Geary’s weapon–which had been wrested from her in a
hand-to-hand struggle. The wonder was that the struggle had not
attracted attention. As it was, Rebb swore that he had heard only one
scream, and that might have been uttered by Mavis when she found the
dead body of the nurse. Bellaria therefore was in all probability
slain unawares.

However, it was useless to build up theories, which were all
moonshine, so Gerald resolved to wait until Tod and Arnold arrived.
According to Macandrew’s letter, they would come to Silbury early the
next day, so Gerald had a good many hours to himself. He had half a
mind to see Inspector Morgan, and learn all details concerning the
inquest, as some possible evidence might have been obtained, likely to
throw light on the darkness. But Haskins refrained from doing so, as
he did not wish to arouse Morgan’s suspicions and reopen the case. For
Mavis’ sake the quieter he moved in the matter the better it would be.
Gerald wondered, after hearing Rebb’s acknowledgment of Charity’s
birth, if he had any idea of the scheme by which the girls had been
made to change places. But, after reflection, he decided that it was
impossible, as Mrs. Pelham Odin had managed very cleverly. Also Rebb
was unaware that the twin he had got rid of was now Mrs. Macandrew,
and, since that young lady was at Amsterdam, there would be no chance
of her being met by Mrs. Berch and her daughter, when in Switzerland.

Bearing in mind what Mrs. Crosbie had told him of her projected tour
abroad, Gerald was greatly surprised when he met the widow and her
mother driving up the Silbury High Street from the railway station.

She saw him at once, as he stood thunderstruck on the pavement, and
beckoned for him to come to the side of the landau.

“You are surprised to see us here,” she said, with a gay smile. “This
is not Switzerland, is it?”

“You said nothing about coming down here yesterday,” he answered.

“No, because neither I nor my mother had any intention of coming. It
was this way, Gerald. Michael–Major Rebb, you know–came in almost as
soon as you had left, and we told him all that had taken place.”

“Why did you do that?” asked Haskins imperatively.

“Don’t bully, Gerald,” said Mrs. Crosbie tartly. “I told Michael
because I have no secrets from Michael, and he was very angry that you
should have spoken to me as you did.”

“I was perfectly polite, permit me to remind you, Madge.”

“Don’t call me by my Christian name,” she said as usual, “well then,
Michael went away to have an explanation with you, and later
telegraphed to me that you had gone to Devonshire and that he intended
to follow at once. He also asked us to come down that we might see the
Pixy’s House, as we intend to repair it when we marry.”

“Do you indeed?” muttered Haskins ironically.

“Of course,” said Mrs. Crosbie, with an airy flutter of her laces,
“and I may tell you, Gerald, that I came down the more willingly,
since I do not want you and Michael to quarrel. That is why we are
here.”

“To see the house, and to prevent a quarrel,” said Gerald coolly. “I
am greatly obliged to you for the trouble you have taken, Mrs.
Crosbie, but I have already seen the Major.”

Mrs. Berch, who had hitherto kept silence, looked up sharply. “Have
you had a quarrel?” she demanded eagerly.

“Yes and no. Rebb was slightly difficult to deal with, but we now
understand one another.”

Mrs. Crosbie asked: “What about?”

“About various things,” answered Haskins carelessly. He was determined
not to answer her questions, as he had a vague idea that she was not
so honestly his friend as she pretended to be.

“And you parted amiably, I hope?” said Mrs. Berch.

Haskins laughed as he remembered the parting, and how he had locked
Rebb in the room. “I think that the Major would gladly see me tarred
and feathered,” he said lightly.

“There!” cried Mrs. Crosbie, with a childish pout. “I knew you had
quarreled, and I _did so_ wish you to be friends. I want you to come
to the Pixy’s House when I marry Michael and see the improvements. I
have already arranged what to do.”

“Have you been down here before then?” asked Gerald, astonished.

“Yes–over two years ago. Michael asked me down when we were first
engaged. I saw that poor Bellaria, but not Mavis.”

“Why did you not see Mavis?”

“Because Michael said her mental state was so sad, that she might be
dangerous. She was shut up on the day I went over the house, and, as I
was only there for an hour, she knew nothing of my visit. I and mother
were stopping in the neighborhood–it was when I was learning to drive
a motor, Gerald. I would have taken that poor girl out for drives, as
I got to know the country so thoroughly, but it was too dangerous.”

“Where did you stop?” asked Gerald, still lingering, although Mrs.
Berch seemed inclined to cut short her daughter’s chatter.

“At a village miles away, called Belldown. Why do you start?”

“A mosquito stung me,” answered Haskins readily: but his real reason
for starting was that Belldown happened to be the place where Mr.
Arnold and Tod were now stationed. “There are heaps of mosquitoes
here, Mrs. Crosbie. You will be stung.”

“Ah, well, we are only here for a couple of days–at the Pixy’s House,
that is. I merely want to look round, and now that the poor mad girl
has gone I can explore at my leisure. Good-day. I wish I could ask you
to come over, but Michael might object. So stupid of you to quarrel
with my future husband, when we are such friends.”

She gave the signal to the driver of the landau to move on, and both
she and her mother bestowed friendly smiles on the young man, as he
took off his hat. Gerald watched the carriage climb up the long street
and vanish over the crest of the hill. Then he walked back again to
the hotel, wondering why Mrs. Crosbie was so anxious to retain his
friendship when she became Mrs. Rebb. He knew that Madge was a flighty
woman, although much cleverer than she pretended to be, and was sure
that she had some reason for all this friendliness and chatter.

However, he had more important things to think about than Mrs.
Crosbie’s airs and graces, and spent a wakeful night building up
theories and knocking them down again. By dawn he had arrived at the
conclusion that Geary was the criminal. “I expect,” thought Haskins,
while taking his bath, “that Geary found his hold over Rebb was
getting lax, so he deliberately killed Bellaria, knowing that the
Major had gone to the Pixy’s House, in the hope of getting blackmail
by threatening to throw the blame of the murder on his master. And by
the murder he secured to Rebb an income out of which large sums could
be paid. Yes. I really believe that Geary will prove to be the guilty
person. But how am I to fix the crime on him?”

This was a hard question to answer, and Gerald waited for the arrival
of Tod to put it to him, since two heads are better than one. The
solicitor arrived at midday, along with Arnold, having come from
Belldown–so they explained–by railway. Tod looked anxious, and not
so healthy as he had done in London, but Haskins put this down to the
man’s unavoidable fretting after his bride. Arnold had not changed in
the least, and appeared to be as tiny and gnome-like as ever. First
and foremost the two men, being hungry, had dinner, and then Gerald
conducted them both to the hotel drawing-room–a gorgeous apartment,
which had been placed at his disposal by Mrs. Jennings, for an extra
pound on the bill. Having the apartment to themselves, the three men
saw that the door was closed, and then sat down to talk. Gerald
immediately asked the question which had been trembling on his tongue
from the moment he set eyes on his friend.

“In the first place, Tod,” he said impatiently, “what took you and
Arnold to Belldown?”

“That is a long story,” said Tod leisurely.

“Then tell it as shortly as you can.”

“One moment, let us do things in order. First let me know your doings
here, Jerry.”

“But—-” began Haskins with irritation.

Tod cut him short. “See here, Jerry,” said he firmly. “I am supposed
to be your solicitor, and it is my place to conduct the business. I
want things done in order. First your story and then mine. Both will
be extremely interesting, I have no doubt.”

Gerald stared. “Why should you think that I have anything to tell?”

“Well,” observed Macandrew jocularly, “a little bird–Mrs. Jennings by
name–whispered to me that two London ladies had come down on a visit
to Major Rebb, who is camping–so to speak–at the Pixy’s House.”

“Yes. Mrs. Crosbie and her mother. What of that?”

“I shall tell you when I have heard what you have to say about them.”

Arnold uttered a grunt and raked his long beard with lean fingers.
Haskins looked from one to the other quite mystified. “Has what you
have to say anything to do with those ladies?”

“A great deal to do with them, Jerry.”

A light broke in on Haskins’ clouded brain. “Mrs. Crosbie said that
she had stopped at Belldown–that is where you have been.”

“Hum,” said Tod, glancing at Arnold. “I didn’t think she would have
admitted so much.”

“Tod,” Gerald caught his friend’s arm, “don’t worry me with your hints
and looks. Has Mrs. Crosbie anything to do with this crime?”

“I can’t say,” rejoined the solicitor stolidly, “and I shan’t speak
until you tell me how you got along with Rebb.”

Haskins threw himself back in his chair and made the best of a
Scotsman’s obstinacy. “I have something very important indeed to tell
you,” he said seriously. “You know the likeness between the girls?”

Macandrew nodded. “I told Mr. Arnold here all about it, and about your
idea of the two beings twins.”

“My idea has proved to be correct. They _are_ twins.”

Tod jumped up, scattering his papers, and with his red hair almost
standing on end. “Do you mean to say that Rebb—-”

“Yes. Sit down. Toddy, and listen,” said Gerald vigorously, and when
his legal adviser became quiet he related the whole of the
conversation with Rebb.

“Well I’m blessed,” muttered Tod, rubbing his head, when the narrative
was ended, “what a wonderful thing! There is something in your
intuitions after all, Jerry.”

“I don’t think it needed much intuition to guess at a possible
relationship, seeing how marvelously alike Mavis is to Charity. The
wonderful part consists in my getting Rebb to give himself away.”

“Ah,” said Arnold significantly, “the military gentleman is beginning
to see that the wheel of fortune is turning the wrong way with him.”

“And quite right too,” said Tod meditatively. “What a scoundrel the
man is, to be sure! Well, Jerry, important as what you have told us
is, I am more interested in the movements of Mrs. Crosbie and her
mother. When you tell me about them I can explain what Mr. Arnold and
myself have discovered at Belldown.”

“There is little to tell about them. Rebb came down after me, and they
came down after Rebb. He asked his future bride here to have a second
look at her future home.”

“Oh, so she had been here before?”

“Yes–so she says–some time ago. This is her second visit.”

“Her third, more like,” muttered Arnold, in his beard.

“We can’t be sure of that,” said Tod rapidly.

“For Heaven’s sake, tell me what you mean,” cried Haskins, jumping up
in his turn, “my nerves are wearing thin with all this suspense.”

“Well then,” began Macandrew, shuffling with his papers, “it’s this
way. Mr. Arnold here was going about the country in his caravan,
selling books, and reached Belldown on the same day that Mavis fled.”

“Mavis fled at night.”

“Well, well,” cried Macandrew testily, “you know what I mean. Arnold
was at Belldown on the day of the night when Mavis fled and the murder
was committed. Is that plain enough?”

“Yes. Go on, Toddy. Don’t be a silly ass.”

“I am your solicitor just now and not your pal,” said Tod, with great
dignity; “well then, while wandering about Belldown, Arnold saw two
ladies in a motor car. One was driving and one was being driven.”

“And they were—-”

“Mrs. Berch and her daughter, whom we, Jerry, supposed to be at
Bognor. I never knew that Mrs. Crosbie could drive a motor.”

“Oh yes. I taught her a trifle myself, and she is quite an expert at
the business. She mentioned to-day, when I stood by her carriage, how
she had motored over every inch of the country. But what was she doing
down hereabouts, when—-”

“When she was supposed to be at Bognor? That is what I want to ask
her, and I am glad that she is on the spot.”

Gerald thought for a few moments. “How did you recognize these ladies,
Mr. Arnold?”

“Major Rebb once showed me a colored photograph of the lady to whom he
was engaged, and I recognized Mrs. Crosbie when she passed in her
motor. A severe-looking old lady in black was with her, and Mr.
Macandrew tells me that she is Mrs. Berch, the mother. I may tell you
that the two ladies wore motor goggles and veils.”

“Then how did you recognize them?” asked Gerald again.

“Mrs. Crosbie’s veil was up as they passed, and she pulled it down
when she saw that I was looking earnestly at her. The motor was going
very slowly at the moment because a hay wain was in front blocking the
road.”

“I see. Well, what happened?”

“The motor went to the inn at Belldown. It was about six o’clock, and
the two ladies had dinner. They were at the inn when I left Belldown
in my caravan on the way to Leegarth where I hoped to rescue Mavis.”

“Yes! yes! yes!” cried Tod, impatient at the slow way in which Arnold
was speaking, “and late that night–about ten o’clock–he passed the
motor on the road between Belldown and Leegarth. It had broken down,
and Mrs. Crosbie was tinkering with the machine.”

“I shouldn’t think she could mend a broken motor, Tod.”

“Oh, I don’t expect anything very serious was the matter. Probably her
driving–she drives furiously, as a woman always does–had put the
gear out of order. However, Arnold passed them and camped some
distance outside Leegarth, so that the villagers, who knew his face,
would not recognize him. Then, some time after eleven, he saw the
motor coming along, also skirting the village. The two women were in
it, and he thought that they had lost their way. And then again he
fancied that Mrs. Crosbie was going to the Devon Maid to see Rebb. At
all events the motor passed out of sight in the darkness. I may tell
you that its lamps were not lighted, so Mrs. Crosbie ran the risk of
police interference. Rather foolish, I think, seeing she did not want
to be seen.”

“Well! well,” said Gerald, after a pause, “and what does all this
mean?”

“Arnold,” went on Tod cautiously, “did not attach much importance to
this motor car business, but when he told me I fancied that Mrs.
Crosbie had to do with the murder.”

“I don’t see how—-”

“I do. She didn’t want to be recognized: she had no lamps, so that she
could slip along easily, and–as we learned at Belldown–she did not
return through the village. If she did not come down to murder
Bellaria, why was she in this neighborhood, and why did she lie to you
about Bognor?”

“It’s a mare’s nest you have found, Tod. Mrs. Crosbie has no motive to
murder Bellaria, and she certainly hasn’t the nerve.”

“I’ll ask her myself,” said Tod, rising. “Come on over to Leegarth.”

In his anxiety to prove his theory, Tod would then and there have
taken his friend and Arnold over to the Pixy’s House. But Gerald, more
cool-headed than the impetuous Scotsman, pointed out that he had not
sufficient grounds upon which to accuse the widow.

“If you ask her to explain her movements on that night she will only
refuse to gratify your curiosity,” said Haskins positively.

“The police could make her speak.”

“The police could not arrest her without a warrant, and there is not,
to my mind, sufficient evidence to obtain a warrant. And certainly the
police cannot ask questions about anyone’s private affairs until some
reason can be given to show why such questions should be asked.”

“Those ladies said that they were at Bognor, when they really intended
to come to Devonshire,” observed Arnold, who seemed to side entirely
with Macandrew.

“It is a woman’s privilege to change her mind, Mr. Arnold. And I ask
you, what possible motive could Mrs. Crosbie have had to journey all
the way to Devonshire to commit an unnecessary murder.”

“Unnecessary?” snorted Tod, displeased. “Seeing that the murder is
ascribed to Mavis, who may thus be shut up, to provide Rebb with an
income, I cannot see that it is unnecessary.”

“Ah, but Mrs. Crosbie did not know that the Major’s income depended
upon the seclusion of Mavis,” said Haskins rapidly. “I did not tell
her, as there was no reason why I should. And I am quite certain that
Rebb himself would not explain. If Mrs. Crosbie had known that his
income was so uncertain she would have refused to marry him.”

“Perhaps she will do so now,” said Arnold hopefully.

“No! She has come down to see about the repairs to the Pixy’s House,”
answered Gerald, “and Rebb loves her too well to let her go. I
believe, Tod, that Geary is the man who committed the murder.”

“It sounds plausible enough,” grumbled Macandrew, “and a case could
easily be built up against him. But the presence of Mrs. Crosbie on
the spot has to be explained.”

Gerald rose and walked up and down the room, thinking. “I tell you
what, Tod,” he said abruptly. “I am getting tired of poking about in
the dark. I believe, as you do, and Arnold does, that Mavis is
entirely innocent. Hitherto we have kept her in hiding, so as to prove
her innocence, since she may be arrested if she is discovered. Well
then, I think it would be best to let her be arrested.”

Both Arnold and Macandrew jumped up wrathfully! “What?” they
exclaimed, and Tod continued: “What is the use of Charity’s sacrifice
if you intend to hand over Mavis to the law?”

“Tod,” said Gerald seriously, “as things stand now, we are not able to
force either Geary or Mrs. Crosbie or Rebb to speak. If Mavis is put
on her trial they can be called as witnesses, and then the truth may
come out. Also Mavis can be examined by two doctors–I shall insist
upon that–when her sanity will certainly he proved beyond all doubt.
If she is proved to be sane, then Rebb will find himself in Queer
Street and will be hard put to it to prove his innocence.”

“We could have done all this in the first case,” said Arnold
irritably.

“No,” replied Haskins sharply, “for then we did not have the
evidence to hand that we have now. Rebb, Geary, and Mrs. Crosbie are
all implicated, and we may also be able to place Venosta in the
witness-box. But the proof that Mavis is responsible for her acts, and
has been shut up in the Pixy’s House, while Rebb enjoyed her income,
will gain the sympathy of everyone, and will go far to show her
innocence. I shall support her throughout the case.”

“She is Rebb’s ward, and is under twenty-one,” said Tod crossly; “so
the Major may not allow you to support her.”

“I propose to take her out of the Major’s keeping by making her my
wife forthwith,” said Gerald coolly.

“But if you do, sir,” cried Arnold, much upset, “Mavis will be
arrested. Indeed I doubt if you will find any clergyman who will marry
her to you, seeing that she is said to be a lunatic.”

“That’s all right,” rejoined Haskins easily. “I have arranged that in
my own mind. There is an old college chum of my late father’s who can
see both sides of the question, and I can trust him utterly. To-day I
am going to London to repeat your experience and get a special
license, Toddy. Our marriages are expensive matters, old boy, aren’t
they?”

Tod grunted, and kicked the carpet. “When you are married, what do you
intend to do?”

“I shall bring my wife down here within three days, and we shall all
go over to the Pixy’s House. Mrs. Crosbie will not have left by that
time, as, from the quantity of luggage she brought, I fancy she
intends to remain for a week or so. Then we can confront her and Rebb,
and, if possible, Tod, I wish you to bring Geary on the scene. Thus
all the actors in this tragedy of real life–as Mrs. Pelham Odin would
call it–will be together, and we can bring about the fall of the
curtain.”

“With Mrs. Gerald Haskins in gaol,” said Arnold gloomily. “Mavis will
be arrested on Rebb’s information, at once.”

“That is highly probable. But whether Mavis appears early or late she
will have to stand her trial, seeing that she is accused. Also she
will have to be examined as to her sanity. But in both these ordeals,
I intend to be beside her as her husband.” There was a pause. “Well?”

“It’s a forlorn hope,” said Macandrew, hesitating, “and risky.
Still—-” He looked questioningly at Arnold.

The little man nodded sadly. “Things are so bad that they can scarcely
be worse,” he remarked, “and certainly, as Mr. Haskins thinks, a
public trial would force the witnesses we want into court. Once in the
box, and closely examined, the truth might come to light. I think Mr.
Haskins should do as he says, but–it is a risk.”

“Life is all risks,” said Gerald cheerfully. “Well, I am going to pack
up and clear off to London. And you, Toddy?”

“I shall keep my eye on Geary, and, if possible, I shall see Mrs.
Crosbie, or her mother.”

Gerald nodded, and, matters thus being arranged, he went up to London
that same afternoon, _en route_ for Southend, there to make Mavis his
wife. Tod and Arnold, left behind, remained at the Prince’s Hotel, and
wandered about the country, even as far as Leegarth. They heard that
the London ladies were still with the Major, but did not catch a
glimpse of them. And even Tod, audacious as he was, shrank from going
to the Pixy’s House and openly accusing the lively widow.

Tod took occasion to pay a special visit to the Devon Maid, and found
the hotel in charge of a rough man and his slatternly wife. It
appeared that since Mrs. Geary’s disappearance her husband had taken
heavily to drink, and refused to attend to his business. His
uncivilized instincts had got the better of him, and he was running
wild in the neighborhood. Mrs. Geary, now with her mother in
Barnstaple, refused to return to him, or to surrender her children,
and Adonis talked loudly of forcing her stubborn will by law. But, as
yet, he had not done anything, perhaps because he was in danger of the
law himself. Tod learned as much from Inspector Morgan, whom he met in
the Silbury High Street on the third day after Gerald’s departure in
search of a wife.

In the course of an idle conversation about this, that, and the other
thing–for Macandrew, during his holiday at the Devon Maid, had
learned to know Morgan intimately–the name of the negro was
mentioned, and the inspector uttered a grunt.

“He’s a black scoundrel, that,” he remarked.

“Why?” asked Tod, pricking up his ears. “I always understood that
Geary was a meritorious inhabitant of Denleigh. He certainly conducted
the Devon Maid well, as I stopped there myself. You know that?”

Morgan nodded. “Things have changed since you and Mr. Haskins were
there, sir,” he said slowly. “It was Mrs. Geary who kept the inn
respectable, and a miserable life she had with that sooty blackguard.
But she got fed up with his brutality, and went back to her mother in
Barnstaple. Since then the inn has gone from bad to worse, and Geary
is drinking.”

“I heard something of this,” observed Tod. “Why don’t you pull him
up?”

“I am going to,” said Morgan grimly. “I have my eye on him. He is
nearly always drunk, and frightens children and insults women and
threatens men. Sooner or later he will be locked up. And the strength
the man has! Why, do you know, Mr. Macandrew, that he knocked down the
river wall of the Pixy’s House–that portion overhanging the pool. I
wanted to run him in for that, but Major Rebb will not prosecute, for
some reason.”

“He has a sneaking regard for his old servant, I suppose,” said Tod,
smiling. “But this wall, Morgan? How the dickens could one man knock
it down?”

“Oh, the wall has been in a shaky condition for years and years,” said
the inspector. “It was only held together by the ivy–the bricks and
mortar were rotten.”

“But even then—-”

“A good strong push would have sent it over, and Geary gave it that
push. He was climbing over, I believe, as he wanted, mad with drink,
to get into the Pixy’s House, and because of the ladies Major Rebb had
ordered the gates to be closed and locked. However, he found that the
wall leaned a trifle towards the cliff, and managed to knock it down.
The man has an immense strength naturally, and when drink is added to
that—-” Morgan shrugged his big shoulders. “I have known drunken men
do some wonderful things in the way of superhuman strength,” he
finished.

“I think Geary must have been superhuman to have pushed that wall
over, rotten as it was. If you remember, Mr. Haskins climbed it.”

“I remember, and a good thing it was that it didn’t fall and drop him
into the pool below. However, it’s down now, and on that side the
grounds of the Pixy’s House lie open to the world. By the way, how is
Mr. Haskins? Has he got over the death of that crazy girl?”

Tod laughed. “I don’t think myself that she was crazy, Morgan, or that
she killed that wretched Italian woman. Nor do I believe that she is
dead,” and he looked straightly at the officer’s red face.

“Have you any reason to think she is alive, sir?”

“Her body has not been found,” rejoined Tod evasively.

“What of that? Plenty of bodies are not found. But the girl was never
outside the Pixy’s House before that time she fled after the murder.
Not knowing the lie of the country, it is more than probable that she
tumbled into some river, or water hole, and was drowned. If alive, she
certainly would have been caught by now. We have had constables all
over the place for weeks.”

“Even now?”

“Well, no. The men have been withdrawn, as so long a time has elapsed
since the commission of the crime. We’ll hear no more of the matter.”

“Never prophesy until you know, Mr. Inspector.”

“I do know,” said Morgan positively. “I don’t go about with my eyes
shut, Mr. Macandrew.” And after saluting he stalked in a military way
down the street, leaving Tod to pursue his shopping–which Tod had
come out to do. Macandrew rather chuckled at the positive way in which
this official Dogberry, who could see no further than his nose,
asserted that the Pixy’s House murder had been relegated to the past.

On the fourth day of Gerald’s absence Tod received a letter from his
friend in the character of a bridegroom. Everything had gone well, as
the clergyman, on hearing the whole story, told in Haskins’ persuasive
manner, had joined Mavis and his friend’s son in holy matrimony. Now
Rebb had lost his income, as the conditions of the will had been
fulfilled, and in spite of all his precautions Mavis had come into her
own. Tod would have been less than human had he not reflected with
great glee that, the income being safe from Rebb’s clutches, his wife,
as the twin sister of Mavis, would benefit to the extent of three
thousand a year. “And Lady Euphemia called me a fool,” chuckled Tod
complacently. “What will she say when she knows that I have married an
heiress and will be able to get back a part of the family estate?”

In his letter, Gerald informed Macandrew with great pride that Mavis
had learned how to sign her name, and had produced a singularly fine
specimen of calligraphy. “The rest of my darling’s education,” wrote
the young man, “will be completed by me after all these troubles are
over, and we can spend a proper honeymoon.”

Education, as a means of passing a honeymoon, did not commend itself
to Tod, and he made a grimace. Then he sat down and wrote a letter to
Amsterdam telling Charity to come over and repair to Mrs. Pelham
Odin’s London flat, where he would join her later. He also gave her a
full account of all that had taken place, and detailed the story of
the Major, as to her birth, mentioning also the income which Mavis
intended to hand over, as soon as the mystery of the crime was solved.
When Tod posted this letter he took his way to Denleigh to see if he
could find Geary and arrange for him to appear at the Pixy’s House. It
was necessary, as Gerald had explained, that all the actors in this
drama should come together for the clearing up all perplexities.

But Geary was not easy to be found. Afraid of the official warning
uttered by Morgan, he had taken to the hills, and although Tod roamed
all over the place he could not find the man. He returned to the
Prince’s Head quite fatigued, and found a telegram from Gerald,
stating that he and his bride would be in Silbury by the midday train
next day. Macandrew communicated the joyful news to Arnold, who had
come back from a round of bookselling–for the gnome did not neglect
his business even in these anxious days–and the two had a merry
little dinner on that same night, prepared by Mrs. Jennings’ own
hands. And the landlady’s cooking, when she desired, was something to
be wondered at. Tod insisted on a bottle of champagne being sent for,
and the tutor and the lawyer drank long life and happiness to the
bride and bridegroom with all honors. “Although,” said Tod, setting
down his glass, “we are not yet out of the wood.”

An hour after dinner, and while Arnold was detailing his early
connection with Mavis, Mrs. Jennings came in, much flustered. “Oh,
sir,” she said, “here’s that horrid black landlord of the Devon Maid.
He asks to see you, sir. I wouldn’t if I were you. He’s always drunk,
and may be dangerous.”

“Never mind, I am not afraid. Show him up,” said Tod valiantly.

Mrs. Jennings shook her head but did as she was bidden, and in a few
minutes Mr. Adonis Geary, looking a wreck of his former stalwart self,
came into the room. However, he was perfectly sober, and very much
depressed. Wanderings on the hills did not agree with him, and he
looked as one of his ancestors might have looked when Cuban
bloodhounds were hunting flesh and blood in the days of slavery.

“You wish to see me, sah?” said Geary, after a casual glance at
Arnold.

“Yes, Mr. Geary,” replied Tod, settling himself in his chair, “the
fact is that things are coming to a climax, and I want you to come to
the Pixy’s House to-morrow afternoon, say at two o’clock, to state
what you know of Bellaria’s murder.”

“I doan’t know noting, sah,” said the negro doggedly.

“Mr. Haskins believes that you know everything,” retorted Tod sharply,
“and, unless you want to get into trouble, it will be best for you to
speak out.”

“I doan’t know noting,” said Geary again, and rolled his eyes
ferociously at the mention of Gerald’s name, “and dere’s noting can
hurt me. I hab sold de hotel, and nex’ week I go to Jamaica.”

“As a pensioner of Major Rebb’s, I suppose?”

“Dat’s my business, sah. Dis place no place for me, when my wife go
away wid my chill’n. Bellaria dead–dat mad gal dead–an’—-”

“You are wrong in thinking that Miss Durham is dead, Mr. Geary,” said
Tod, exploding his bombshell according to Gerald’s written
instruction, “she is very much alive.”

Geary staggered and turned his usual green. “She alive?”

“Yes, and married to Mr. Gerald Haskins. You can tell the Major that
if you like, Mr. Geary, and tell him also that we are all coming over
to-morrow to demand the six thousand a year which Major Rebb has held
for so long. I fear that your Jamaican pension is not very safe.”

Geary stood dumfounded, clutching his breast. His dull brain could
scarcely grasp the significance of this speech. But he did grasp
the fact that Rebb was losing the money, and that he–Mr. Adonis
Geary–would not benefit. “I tell de Major,” he faltered, wheeling.

“By all means,” said Tod easily. “I sent for you to be my messenger.
Come, Geary, as Rebb loses the money, you had better come on our side
and tell us who murdered Bellaria.”

The negro turned at the door and drew himself up. “No, sah,” he
declared, with something of majesty, “I eat de Major’s bread, and I no
betray de Major.” After which speech he went out abruptly.

“Does that mean Rebb is guilty?” Tod asked Arnold.

“I always said that he was,” rejoined the ex-tutor dryly, and later
the two retired to their several couches to ponder over the new
problem.

The bride and bridegroom duly arrived the next day. Tod was slightly
uneasy, since Geary had probably told the Major, and that gentleman
would undoubtedly, for his own safety, take steps to have Mrs. Haskins
arrested. However, Geary had probably not delivered the message that
Mavis was alive, for no officer of the law appeared to break the joy
of the meeting. Mavis looked slightly pale, but her courage was high,
and she evidently determined to go bravely through the ordeal. United
to her adored Prince Gerald, she was ready to face anyone and anything
by his side.

After greetings and explanations and a hurried meal the whole party
drove over to Leegarth in a landau for the momentous meeting. As the
carriage passed through the village Mavis kept her veil down, so she
was not recognized. The gates of the Pixy’s House, marvelous to
relate, were open, and the carriage drove up to the house. Major Rebb
with two ladies was on the terrace. Mavis alighted and raised her
veil.

“Great heavens!” cried Rebb, pale with terror. “Mavis Durham!”

“Mrs. Gerald Haskins,” she replied proudly, “and I come for my money.”

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