A SECRET HOARD

On seeing the pseudonymous gardener speeding down the avenue, Gebb
lost no time, but, leaving Mrs. Grix to her rage and lamentation,
vaulted over the terrace in his turn, and raced at top speed after the
fugitive. The detective was lean and young, and an excellent runner,
whereas Dean, _alias_ Martin, was old and scant of breath; so the only
thing which equalized the contest was the despair which winged the
feet of the wretched quarry. If Dean were caught by the bloodhound of
the law, he would be shortly relegated to the prison whence he had
escaped; so he flew wildly over the ground, running he knew not
whither to escape the fate which awaited him. And Gebb, who
personified Nemesis, followed hot-footed in his track.

The road to Norminster ran straight through the fields like a white
ribbon laid upon green velvet, and the town itself was distant a mile
from Kirkstone Hall. Down this, amid a cloud of white dust, Gebb saw
Dean running some way ahead, and setting his elbows to his sides he
followed steadily and surely, reserving his wind for the termination
of the race, the result of which could only be the capture of the
ragged figure now flying for dear life. Carters, and pedestrians, and
labourers in the fields stared in amazement at the chase, and some,
with that love of sport inherent in every breast, joined Gebb in his
man-hunt. After Dean had covered a quarter of a mile he began to fail,
and to zigzag in his course, bounding wildly from one side to the
other, and wasting his strength in useless ways. Gebb with his
shouting train drew steadily nearer, and the miserable, hunted wretch
could hear their cries, and the beating of their feet on the hard
white road. Still he endeavoured to shake off his pursuers and escape,
for by a powerful effort he managed to run another quarter of a mile.
Then age and fear and exhaustion told on his failing limbs, and with a
wild cry Dean flung up his hands despairingly and fell amid puffs of
dust. When Gebb arrived he was lying senseless in the middle of the
highroad.

“So!” said the detective to himself, as he knelt beside the ragged
creature. “I’ve found you at last, Mr. Dean. You know the truth of all
these matters, at any rate; and in some way or another I’ll force you
into confessing it.”

But at the present moment it seemed as though Dean would never speak
again in this world, for he lay as still as any corpse, his white head
and whiter face resting on Gebb’s knee. The frowning mark between the
eyes, by which the detective had known him, was smoothed away, and
there was no expression on the blank countenance, no movement in the
slack limbs. Gebb, however, knew that this apparent death was only a
temporary faintness, and whipping out his brandy-flask, forced some
drops of the fiery liquid between the white lips of his prisoner.
While engaged in this kindly office, the labourers who had joined in
the pursuit came up with much amazement expressed on their honest,
sunburnt faces.

“What’s the matter with Mad Martin, mister?” asked one, looking at the
unconscious Dean.

“He’s madder than usual, that’s all,” said Gebb, “and has nearly
killed Mrs. Grix at the Hall yonder. I must take him to Norminster and
get a doctor to look after him: he’ll die here.”

The detective made this artful speech with the intention of enlisting
the sympathy of the bystanders, both for himself and Martin, _alias_
Dean, as popular feeling generally inclines towards defiance of law
and order. Moreover, a detective is not an admired character with the
common people, and Gebb had no desire to render his task of capturing
Dean more difficult than was necessary by stating his vocation; so for
diplomatic reasons he spoke as above. The result justified his
precaution, for the labourers were most anxious that the mad
gardener–as they knew him to be–should be taken at once to
Norminster and placed in charge of a medical man. A cart was coming
along the road, and into this Dean was hoisted by friendly hands. Gebb
having taken his seat beside him, the vehicle rolled slowly towards
Norminster, while the labourers returned to their work, quite
vivacious after the exciting episode which had broken the monotony of
the day. Gebb, knowing what was at stake, felt thankful to get rid of
them so easily.

As it was but half a mile to Norminster from the spot where Dean had
fallen, the cart soon arrived there. The man himself had revived,
thanks to Gebb’s brandy, and sat staring straight before him in a kind
of sullen stupor. He made one effort to escape when he was set down at
the door of the gaol; but Gebb, with the assistance of a near
policeman, soon overpowered him, and carried him within, while the
carter drove off, wondering, in his slow-thinking mind, that a man
brought to see a doctor should be taken to the county gaol for
care. However, he had received five shillings from Gebb, so did not
trouble his head about the matter, and spent most of it at the next
public-house, where he narrated the episode with such additions as his
drunken humour suggested.

To the governor of the gaol Gebb explained that Dean was an escaped
prisoner, for whom the police had long been looking, and mentioned his
own name and occupation. The result of this was that Dean was confined
in a cell with a warder to watch him lest he should in his despair
attempt suicide. Then Gebb repaired to an hotel and wrote to the
governor of the gaol whence Dean had escaped, asking him to come down
himself or send some responsible person in order to identify the
prisoner. The detective also sent an urgent wire to Ferris, requesting
him to visit Norminster at once on business connected with Martin; for
he shrewdly suspected that the artist knew of the man’s identity with
Dean, and that the mention of the name would bring both Arthur and
Edith immediately to Kirkstone Hall. It was shortly after midday when
Gebb sent this telegram, so he quite expected that if matters stood as
he imagined Ferris would come down, and not alone; for if Ferris knew
that Martin was his father, Edith also must be in the secret, and, no
doubt, she would accompany him. Then Gebb, who was really angry with
the young couple for their many concealments, determined to have a
thorough explanation of their strange behaviour. These important
matters having been attended to, Gebb returned to the gaol and saw
Dean; but the interview proved to be anything but a success. Whether
the man was mad or not Gebb could not decide without evidence; but
certainly his present sullen silence formed a strange contrast to his
former excitement. He neither talked recklessly nor sang his wild
songs. His limbs were at rest, and his eyes looked dull, although
formerly they had been bright and glittering. With vacant gaze and a
sullen expression, he sat huddled up in a corner of his cell and
absolutely refused to speak or even notice his questioner. The man was
thoroughly exhausted and worn out; but Gebb left the cell with the
firm conviction that Dean was perfectly sane, and that his madness had
been feigned to more effectually baffle dangerous inquiries. But, like
the fox in the fable, for all his tricks the man had been caught at
last, and Gebb wondered if, after all, he had murdered Miss Gilmar.

“Did that return third-class ticket dropped in the room at Paradise
Row belong to Dean?” the detective asked himself. “I should not be
surprised if it did. As Miss Wedderburn denies that it is hers, Dean,
under the name of Martin, is the only person who could have used it.
In that case he must have remained in London all night; for, as the
crime was committed at ten o’clock, he could not have caught a return
train so late to Norminster. Now, Mrs. Grix lives in the Hall, so she
is the most likely person to let me know if Dean was absent on the
twenty-fourth of July. I’ll see her at once and get to know all I can,
pending the arrival of Ferris and Miss Wedderburn. They may deny
Dean’s complicity in the crime, so I must be prepared to baffle them.”

Having made up his mind to question Mrs. Grix, the detective, making a
hurried meal, walked out to Kirkstone Hall, and arrived to find the
old woman solacing herself with gin-and-water after the fatigues of
the morning. She was excessively nervous when Gebb reappeared, as she
was conscious she had said too much in her rage with Martin, and now
guessed that she was about to be thoroughly examined touching all she
knew concerning him. Mrs. Grix, to save her own skin, was quite
prepared to equivocate, and Gebb guessed as much, for he went to work
with her in a severe official way which frightened her considerably.

“Now, Mrs. Grix,” said he, when they were comfortably established in
the kitchen, “I’ve come to ask you a few questions.”

“I don’t know nothin’, I don’t,” protested Mrs. Grix, beginning her
tactics.

“You know a great deal,” replied Gebb, sharply. “And if you don’t
answer me truthfully, I’ll arrest you on suspicion and put you in gaol
‘longside of Dean; so now you know.”

“Lawk-a-mussy!” squealed Mrs. Grix, “have you put him in prison?”

“Yes, I have; so you tell me the truth, or I’ll put you in also!”

“I’ll speak out, sir,” cried the old wretch, much terrified. “I don’t
want to go to prison. I’ve done nothing.”

“You have spied and listened and searched,” retorted Gebb, “all for
the sake of gaining possession of other people’s secrets and
extracting blackmail when possible. Now you answer my questions, or it
will be the worse for you.”

“I’m willing, sir,” said Mrs. Grix, meekly; “but I don’t know as much
as you think. I only suspects like.”

“Can you tell me who killed Kirkstone?” asked the detective.

“That’s one thing I don’t know for certain,” replied the dame; “gbut
if you arsk me, sir, I bel’ve as Miss Gilmar did.”

“On what grounds do you suspect her?”

“Becose she wrote out summat telling the truth and hid it; and she
wouldn’t have done that, unless she were guilty. Then she were in love
with Mr. Dean, and Mr. Kirkstone wanted him to marry Miss Laura; so I
thinks as Miss Ellen got ’em both out of the way. She was a clever
one, was Miss Ellen.”

“Do you know where the confession is?”

“No, I don’t. Martin was always hunting for it to clear himself, but
if he found it he didn’t tell me.”

“And Martin is Dean?”

“Yes, he is. It ain’t no good tellin’ lies, lovey! He is Dean!”

“I thought there was a gardener here at the time of the murder called
Martin?”

“There was,” replied Mrs. Grix, coolly. “And he was queer, too, I tell
you; but not as queer as this Martin. I knowed he was Dean as soon as
I clapped eyes on him, though he was sorely altered from the ‘andsome
man he was.”

“Then he impersonated Martin to save himself from the police?”

“He did; he’s no more mad than I am; but he thought it was safer to
pretend being crazy. His songs was awful,” said Mrs. Grix, shuddering.

“Did Miss Wedderburn know the truth?”

“Of course, sir! And when she knowed as I knowed, she tole me to ‘old
my tongue, and paid me for doing it; but she didn’t give much, lovey!”

“Did Mr. Ferris know?”

“Seeing as Mr. Dean’s his own born father–which I knowed fro’
listening to ‘m talking–he did.”

“Did Dean kill Miss Gilmar?”

Mrs. Grix did not reply to this question with her former glibness. “I
don’t rightly know of that,” she said slowly. “If he did, it wasn’t
here, for Miss Ellen was in London this long time.”

“Was Dean ever in London while he stayed here under the name of
Martin?”

“Yes, he was. And just about the time of the murder. It was in July
Miss Ellen died, wasn’t it?”

“It was,” replied Gebb, eagerly, “on the twenty-fourth of July.”

“Ah, well, I shouldn’t be surprised if Dean did kill her. He was
always talking of punishing her,” continued Mrs. Grix, with relish;
“but I didn’t think he’d go so far as murder.”

“What makes you think that he did?” asked Gebb.

“Why,” said Mrs. Grix, nodding, “he was up in London in July, and he
stayed there all night.”

“On the twenty-fourth?”

“I can’t be sure, sir, but it was at the end of the month. And when he
came back he was queerer than ever. Ob, I dessay he went up to kill
Miss Ellen,” said Mrs. Grix, with conviction. “I can’t swear to it,
but I’m sure he did; and serve her right, too.”

On concluding the examination of Mrs. Grix–which lasted some time,
owing to the inherent objection of that lady to speak the truth–Gebb
spent the afternoon in searching the house for Miss Gilmar’s
confession. By this time he had quite adopted the opinion of Mrs. Grix
regarding the guilt of the former housekeeper, and, on the same
authority, he was certain that she had written out and hidden away an
account of her crime. The question was, where was it concealed? For
the house was so large and rambling, and dusty and dusky, that Gebb
almost despaired of finding the paper. At first he thought it might be
hidden in the Yellow Room. In that fatal apartment the crime had been
committed, and, to keep her perpetually in mind of Dean’s threat
against her life, the wretched woman had lived during her concealment
in a precisely similar apartment, decorated and furnished in the same
manner; so, seeing that she had attached such importance to it, the
probability was that she had hidden the paper within its precincts.
But a strict examination of floor, walls, carpet, hangings, and
furniture proved that the confession was not there. Gebb was disgusted
at this result and turned his attention to the rest of the house.

In the few hours he had to himself he examined nearly every room in
the place, not forgetting the sleeping apartments of Dean and Mrs.
Grix, which were situated in the back part of the house. He made
several discoveries of more or less importance, but the object of his
search he failed to find. Towards five o’clock he gave up hunting for
this needle in a haystack–for the search was quite as difficult and
impossible–and repaired hot and dusty to Mrs. Grix. From the old
woman he obtained water to wash in, and a brush for his clothes, and
afterwards she supplied him with a cold supper and beer. Just as Gebb
finished this, feeling very refreshed, he heard the sound of voices,
and stepped on to the terrace to find that Ferris and Edith had
arrived. They both looked pale and nervous, and the grim way in which
the detective eyed them inspired neither with confidence.

“We are here, you see,” said Ferris, as Edith seemed unwilling to
speak, “but neither Miss Wedderburn nor myself can guess the reason of
your very peremptory telegram.”

“I think you know the reason very well,” said Gebb, grimly, “else you
would not be here. However, there is no need to talk secrets in the
open, so if you will come with me to the Yellow Boudoir, we can speak
more at our ease–and perhaps more openly,” finished the detective,
with a dry cough.

Edith looked at her lover in a quick, terrified manner, but judged it
wiser to make no remark, and the two meekly followed Gebb into the
Yellow Room. Here they sat down side by side on the primrose-hued
couch, while Gebb, after glancing outside to see that Mrs. Grix was
not listening, closed and locked the door. Then he drew a chair in
front of the couch, and surveyed the pair in no very friendly manner.

“Well, Miss Wedderburn and Mr. Ferris,” he said, with much
displeasure, “It seems I have to find out things for myself.”

“What things?” asked Edith, flushing; for, not knowing the extent of
Gebb’s knowledge, neither she nor Ferris was prepared to speak freely.

“Things which you know. Miss Wedderburn, and about which you could
have informed me. If I had known then what I know now,” added Gebb,
with emphasis, “I might have had less trouble and more result in this
murder case.”

“I don’t understand you,” faltered Ferris, doubtfully.

“You may understand me better when I tell you that your father is in
prison again.”

“My father? Dean?”

“Yes, Dean or Martin–whichever you like to call him.”

“Do you mean to say that Mad Martin, the gardener, is really Mr.
Dean?” said Edith, making a final attempt to baffle Gebb.

“Yes, Miss Wedderburn, I do; and why should you or Mr. Ferris there
pretend ignorance of what you know to be true? I recognized Dean
myself from a description given by Parge. No one can mistake that mark
between the eyes when he frowns–which mark, I see, Mr. Ferris has at
this moment. And to make sure that Martin is Dean, I have the evidence
of Mrs. Grix.”

“Mrs. Grix! Has she told you—-”

“She has told me everything,” interrupted Gebb; “and Dean tried to
punish her for talking. Then he ran away, and I chased him into
Norminster, where he now lies in gaol.”

“But he is mad!” said Ferris, eagerly.

“Who is mad?” demanded Gebb, turning on him. “Your father, or Martin
the gardener?”

Ferris made a despairing gesture. “Since you know so much,” he said in
low tones, “I admit that the two are one and the same. Martin is
really my father, Marmaduke Dean, who has been concealed here; but he
is insane.”

“He is nothing of the sort, Mr. Ferris. His insanity was feigned for
the better baffling of the police. Neither you nor Miss Wedderburn can
deceive me any longer. You have kept silence, you have told untruths,
and altogether have given me endless trouble, but now I must insist
upon your speaking out, both of you. This time I know so much that you
cannot deceive me; and I’ll force you to speak.”

“Suppose we refuse?” cried Edith, indignant at this rough speech.

“If you do I’ll arrest you both as accessories after the fact to the
murder of Miss Gilmar. Ah, you look afraid! But I know–I know. Dean
murdered that woman, and you are both aware of it.”

“My father is innocent!” cried Arthur, with a groan.

“If he is, what was he doing at Grangebury on the evening of the
murder? Why did he stay in London all night? What was his return
ticket to Norminster doing in Miss Gilmar’s room at Paradise Row?
The man is guilty, I tell you. Defend him if you can. Tell the
truth if you dare, and for once both of you act honourably and
straightforwardly.”

The detective spoke with much vehemence, and rising from his seat
walked rapidly up and down the room. Much as Edith resented his
language, yet she was conscious that in a great measure it was
deserved. For this reason she restrained her passion and spoke frankly
and to the purpose.

“Mr. Gebb,” she said, and the detective paused to listen, “I do not
deny that much you say is true. Neither myself nor Mr. Ferris have
spoken so openly as we might have done. But you must not forget that
we had much that was dangerous to ourselves to conceal. If we had told
you about the necklace, you might have suspected us of the crime, and
it was dread of such danger which kept us silent.”

“I know that you are both innocent,” said Gebb, coldly. “But about
Dean?”

“We did not speak of Dean–of my father–for the same reason,” struck
in Arthur, earnestly. “He was imprisoned for a crime which he did not
commit, and you would not have had me–his own son–betray him.”

“Perhaps not; it is a hard thing to ask,” responded the detective.
“But now that I know so much, perhaps you will tell me more, and
inform me how it was that your father came here, and when it was that
you first recognized him.”

“Certainly,” replied Arthur, with a glance at Edith for permission to
speak. “I heard almost immediately about my father’s escape from
prison, and, knowing his hatred for Miss Gilmar, I came to Kirkstone
Hall, thinking he might go there to revenge himself. However, although
he had not come. Miss Gilmar, with a guilty conscience, no doubt, took
fright, and went to hide herself in London. On my first visit I met
Miss Wedderburn, and afterwards I frequently came to see her. One day
while I was here, an old man arrived and asked to see Miss Gilmar. I
saw him, and so did Miss Wedderburn; and when he heard my name, and
had examined me carefully, he saluted me as his son. At first I could
scarcely believe that he was my father, as I had not seen him for
close on twenty years, and was too young to retain much recollection
of him. But he soon proved to me that he was Marmaduke Dean, and told
us how he had escaped.”

“Did he come to the Hall to kill Miss Gilmar?” asked Gebb, anxiously.

“No!” said Ferris, with emphasis. “That threat was uttered only in his
mad passion. All he wanted from her was proof of his innocence.”

“And I wrote to her about it,” said Edith, taking up the tale; “but
she was afraid of Mr. Dean, and swore that he killed Mr. Kirkstone.”

“Though I am certain,” interposed Arthur, “that she killed him
herself, and accused my father because she was jealous of his love for
Laura.”

“That may be,” said Gebb, nodding; “but proceed with your story.”

“Let me tell the rest,” cried Miss Wedderburn. “Mr. Dean was so broken
down and ill with the life he had led in prison, that I suggested he
should stay here and let me look after him. The police had been to the
Hall, and not having found him there, had left. I did not think they
would come again, so I believed that Mr. Dean would be quite safe. So
he stayed for a day or so, until Mrs. Grix recognized him, but I
bribed her with money to silence. She suggested that for safety Mr.
Dean should pretend to be Martin–a gardener not quite right in his
head, who had left the Hall after the tragedy. It was twenty years
since he had gone, and Mr. Dean was much altered from his former self;
so in the end he adopted the name of Martin, and pretended to be mad.
So now you know, Mr. Gebb, when you saw me first, the reason why I was
not afraid of his madness. You thought it real; I knew it to be
feigned.”

“Did every one round here think he was really Martin come back?”

“Yes. But he kept within the Hall grounds, and saw few people. These
left him alone because of his madness. So there is the truth, Mr.
Gebb.”

“Not all the truth,” said Gebb, significantly. “You have not told me
how he killed Miss Gilmar.”

“He did not kill her!” cried Ferris, furiously.

“He did!” insisted Gebb. “He was in Grangebury on the twenty-fourth of
July.”

“Impossible!” said Edith, much alarmed. “I did not know that. But even
if he was,” she went on, “it does not prove that he killed the woman.”

“It’s pretty good as circumstantial evidence,” said Gebb, coolly; “but
I have another and stronger proof. Look here,” and out of his pocket
the detective took a canvas bag, which, when opened, displayed
bracelets rings, and diamond stars.

“Miss Gilmar’s jewels!” cried Edith, recognizing them at once.

“Yes,” said Gebb, “Miss Gilmar’s jewels, which I found concealed in
Dean’s bedroom.”

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