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:if ') if v A f h MmmtitttmmmimHHtmm VatHO WAS GUlLTCj A VICTIM OF CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE wmimmmmttm CHAPTER XIV. (Continued.) "A clerpymnu linn been bore to ee you, Mr," ho -mid, "and loft tlH pnekot for you." I took It from her hand, nnd would havo pasned on, but thoro was something In hor face which awoko within mo In fullest force the fcclliw of dlMpproval I had Iqiii? cntcrtnlnod toward her. "Mite Hosnlle," I anld, "I am about to cxercUo an authority which properly belonga to my wife. It will bo agreeable to mo, mndemolKollc, If you will regard your ivrrlcc In my establishment nt nn " ..... "Do you discharge mo, sir?' she nsk ed, with n placid smllo. If It was her purpose to anger me, she uccccded. "I discharge you," I said, with a wrathful look. "Not suddenly and Immediately, sir? It is almost dark, sir, ami to be thrift from your h.Mise so abruptly would ruin toy reputation." "You shall leave my house to-morrow," I aald. "After to-morrow you shall not lecn In It another nluht." "Do you forget, sir, that I am to be one of your daughters brlclpsmnlds "I forget nothing that has occurred. It is my onlulon that you are not n lit associate for my wife or my daughter." "That Is a shocking thing to say," slie aid, slowly nnd with marked emphasis, "But 1 wonder who will 1 the first to leave this house you or I?" She glided away, leaving me In a stnte of bitterest resentment against hor for her Impudent words. Hut I would not wnsto further time, upon hor. It was necessary that I should ascertain with out delay what the packet contained which tho clergjman had left for me. I went to my study, lit tho gus and open ed the packet. CIIAI'TKH XV. The first thing which nttractrd me Was nn unsealed letter from the clergy Ban, which I proceeded to read: "My Dear Sir I write this nt the bedsldo of Samuel Fleetwood, whose con fession I have taken down from his own lips. The original of this , confoiclon, duly signed by Snmuol Fleetwood, and witnessed by me, I retain, to deliver to the authorities The document you will find herein Is n faithful copy of the same, which I made at the unhappy iiiiiii'm ur gent request, who extracted from me the promlit! that 1 would deliver It to you ns oon ns he wnx dead. I cannot say that I am entirely xntlMlcd1 with tho confes sion, clear and explicit ns It must bo to all who rend It. Sly reason for dlsHatls faction lies in tho fact thnt, after the confession was drawn out, I nrked the dying criminal to swear to Its truth, nnd thnt he lightly refused, snjlng that sure ly the words of u dying mini would suf lice. There must be strange contradic tions In ItU iinture. As one who bus sat at many deathbeds I should have expect ed that, having committed a crime so horrible, Samuel Fleetwood would have been afraid to meet his Maker. It Ik not so. 1'iiIohh 1 hove gathered u fnlsu lin- firession from Ids utterances, he goes to lis account In a culm, reliant spirit, weighed down by no fenrs of the judg ment of the Ktcrnnl Lord. You will llnd alto In the packet I leave for you u seal ed letter from tho criminal which he mutt have already prepared before lie gnvo himself up to hitman justice, nnd successfully concealed from those who searched him In prison. It Is, he says, for your ejes iilouc, nnd I have fuithfully carried out his most varnost, nay, hlx solemn desire, by Incloilug It herewith. Heaven have mercy upon nil sinners!" This letter loiL mo to expect that I should llnd two Inclosiires In the packet. There wiu, however, but one, tho bending of which was, "Copy of Snmuel Fleet wood's Confession." Tho sealed letter was missing! Had tho clergyman forgotten to put U In tho packet, or had 1 dropped It on tho lawn? No, not the. hitter, because tho packet was firmly fled round with string, which I had to cut before I could open It. Iloweyer, I went out and look ed, but did not llnd It. There was an other possible, explanation; that Mile. Homllo hnd extracted It, with tho Ideu that It contained some Information which would bo of vnluojo her. Should I go to her and accuse hor of the theft? No, It would bo useless; sho would deny It. I decided, after a llttlo reflection, to read tho confession first, and then to hasten to the clergyman's house nnd ask him for tho mholng document. I should have gone Immediately hnd it not been that I was too anxious to read Samuel Fleetwood's confession. It rau as follows i "I, Samuel Fleetwood, lately nnd for many years in the servlco of Itlcluird Pardon, Esq., being on tho point of dentil and knowing thnt I have but a fow bourn to lire, hereby confess that I, nnd I alone, murdered my master's uncle, Mr. Wiluiot, who hnd como to pny my mas ter a visit at Itoscombo Lodge. No per son but I am Implicated in tho dreadful deed, no persou urged mo to It, no per son but I am responsible for It. "I awoko In the middle of tho night with tho awful purpose Its my mind. A Tolco whispered to mo: 'Kill him! Ho has flvo thousand pounds In n dispatch box, Tho box lies nt tho head of his bod. Tho key is in Ills pocket. Ho Is an Infirm man nnd the deed can lio easily and swiftly done. Then, take the money end fly!' "I will make no pretense to account for this prompting. Mr. Wllmnt hnd done mo lio wrong. I was not laboring under any sense ofv Injustice from his hnnds. I had hitherto enjoyed n good chnracter. My master was a good mns ter; my inlstrcsn was tliu sweetest lady on earth. Cheerfully, had I been asked, would I Imvo lain down my life for her. All thnt I can advance Is thnt there uru times In tho lives of tho best nnd noblest of men when they nru nflllctcd and over come by wicked temptation. "Ho lay asleep In his bed. I had In my pocket n thin pleeo of whipcord. Without arousing him from his slumbers, I mnnaged to put this cord around his neck. With nil my etrength I pulled It tight nnd sat upon his limbs to prevent him from rising. It wns soon accom plished. Tho poor gentleman wns dead. "I searched In his pockets for tho key of bis dispatch box and found it. I un locked tho box, took out tho money, lock ed tho box again and replaced tho key In the dead gentleman's pocket. Then 1 observed a ring upon bis finger. I drew It off, and with the money and the ring In my possession I fled from the house In which I had been troated with unvary ing kindness and consideration. "I succeeded In escaping unobserved, and before noon I waa at a sufficient dis tance from Bevenoaks to bellevo myself safe. But I knew that when the mur der waa discovered, and it was found that I bad fled, the police would be after me. I was therefore very careful In ay mortmenti, and kept mysslf con 2& aaai coaled during the day, and walked from place to place m tne nignr. i msnngea to got hold of n newspaper In which I rend nn account of the murder nnd n de scription of my personal appearance. It wns n long account nnd It told every thing about the robbery of tho money snd the ring. This made mc fearful of keeping these about me, nnd being one night on n bridge I tied them in a pocket handkerchief, to which I attached some heavy stones; then 1 threw tho treasure Into tho river. From thnt night I have no clear remembrance of what occurred. I suffered great hardships from hunger and often thought thnt I should die. At length, my life being a torture too grcnt to bear, I determined to go bajfc to Scvenoaks nnd glvo myself Into tho hands of justice." Htralghtforwiird and fatally tncrlml iintlng as this confession could not fall to be to the minds of strangers, It satis lied me less than It had satisfied tho clergyman. Certainly that portion of It was fnliu which referred to his drawing the ring off the linger of the dying man, and his hnvlng thrown It Into the river. The ring wns In my pocket, nnd from the moment I found it there, had never left my possession. I una Hoped tunc me confession would hnve set my conscience nt rest. It had not done so. My thought) beenme presently center ed upon the sealed letter which wns missing from the packet. It was for my eyes alone, Samuel Fleetwood hnd de clared. Doubtless the clergyman hnd It. I would proceed to his houso nt once, ami ask him for it. He wns at home when I arrived, nnd did not keep mc uniting n moment. I explained the object of my visit. He ex pressed surprise, and snld he wns posi tive he hnd placed the sealed letter In his pocket. "I have the mott distinct remem brance," be said, "of putting It there. The unhnppy man sot such Importanco upon Its reaching your bands without delay that I was more than ordlnnrlly careful. As you opened tho packet it must have dropped out. Most likely you will find It In your house." I did not prolong the Interview. Re turning to my hoiixe, I made (mother search, with the same result. Tho letter wns nowhere to be found. I passed tho evening In n miserable frame of mind. I determined to make still another M-nrcli after all in my household hnd retired to rest. I did not see Mile. Rosalie, and I Inferred that she was In her room, making preparations for her departure on the morrow. To my wife nnd daughter I said nothing of the confession, deter mining to leave the disclosure till the following day, In the hope that I should succeed In finding the missing document. CHAPTER XVI. It wns 1 o'clock In tho morning, nnd I was In my ttildy nlinie. My Inst search for Samuel Fleetwood's sealed letter had proved fruitless. I was In despair, and yet I knew not whnt I had to fear. Ab sorbed lu distressful mcditutioii, I did not hoar a soft knocking at my study door, Which was locked, and it wns not till It wns repeated several times that It readied my ears. "It Is my wife," I thought; "she Is uneasy that I am not abed." 1 opened the door and saw Mile. Rosalie! Without asking permission, she glided Into the room. "How dare you'," I cried, "Intrude up on me nt such nn hour?" ''Spenk low," she said, "for your own sake. I hnvu knocked nt your door sov erul times; you must havo been busily eiigagd not to hnve heard me." There was nil lurolciit calmness In hor voice; liutl troubled ns 1 wns. 1 shook off vthe drend which It Inspired. "If you do not Instantly leave tho room," I said, "I will call my wife, and your shameless character shall bo ox pined. "Call her," said Mile. Rosnlle, "and find yourself in prison within nn hour, charged with the murder of Mr. Wllinot." I sunk speechless Into my chair. Mile. Rosallo stepped softly to tho door and turned the key. I gnsed nt her In silence. "Speak plainly," I managed to gasp. "I have come here to do so, and Imvo chosen this hour In order that we shall not be disturbed. After your treatment of mo I do not know why I should wish to save you; but It may bo mode worth my while. Resides, my nature Is merci ful. I would return good for evil. I gnvo you n packet this evening which I received from u clergyman," "You did," I snld, and feared to add that from tills packet thoro was a docu ment missing which might bo of Impor tanco to me. "When I received It," sho continued, "with the injunction to deliver It Into your hnnds directly you came home, I thought I would first seo whnt It con tained." "You Infamous womnn!" "I mlvlse you to be polite. Therefore, I went to my room and opened It. Shall I tell you what It contained?" "I am listening to you." "It Is most considerate of you. seeing thnt your life hangs upon a thread which it Is lu my power to cut. It contained n letter nddroHred to you by tho clergymnu. I read it with great Interest. It contain ed nlso n copy of Samuel Fleetwood's falso confession, I read that with great er Interest. It contained also a private letter to you from Samuel Fleetwood. I road thnt with even grenter Interest In deed, with so much Interest that I re tained It." "You stole It, then?" "If you chooso to put It In thoso words I nm agreeable, I stolo it. Mr. Par don, you nro not n young man; you must havo had experiences nnd adventures; you must know something of men and life. I nut younger thnn you much, very much younger but 1 hnvo hnd my experiences nnd adventures, nnd I know something, too, of men nnd life. Just now, Judging from your agitation, I nm tho clearer-headed of the two, nnd I tell you that never did man stand in such fearful danger as you do nt this moment. A disgraceful, nu Infamous grave Is yawning wide for you, and I slone can lend you from It to snfo ground. Rut you shall buy your safety upon my terms." I looked helplessly nround; hor words carried conviction with them. Sho will fully misconstrued my distracted gm. "I know why you aro looking about. You are a strong man, I am a weak woman.1 Have you any Intention of com mitting a second murder? Do not enter tain It, I beg;' weak as 1 am, I shall bo able to defend myself till I alarm the bouse, Then no power on earth can save you from your fate, I waa speak ing of Samuel Fleetwood's private' letter, and I told you that I retained It. What la more, I made a copy of it. flPtlA A)m. lnal Is put safely away; It la in the bands of ons who will use It If the need occurs. Samuel Fleetwood did not murder Mr. Wllmot, but ho snw the deed done." "He snw It done?" I gnsped. "Who, then, la the murderer?" "What a question! Who the murder or? Youl- You, and no other man." "You lie!" I cried. "You lid" "I speak the truth, nnd you know It. Samuel Fleetwood's confession Is n fatso confession, made not so much to snvo you ns to snvs your wife and daughter from Indelible Infamy. I told you I had read the conforslon which, of course, you have nlso done. What do you think of thnt pnrt of It which speaks of the cord with which the unfortunate gentle man was strnngled? Do you know any thing of that cord? Could J oil produce It If you were forced to do so?" It did not seem to mc thnt n human being wns spenking. Tho words I heard seemed to be uttered by some remorse toss demon. "So mucti for the cord," sho snld. "There la e nother part of the confesflon which must hnve puzzled you tho ring with Its remarkable diamond. What do you think of the description Samuel Fleetwood gives In his confession of hav ing taken It off the dead man's finger? Whnt do you think of the description ho gives? Shall I hnznrd a guess, nnd de clare thnt ydu, and no other man, knows where Hint ring is nt tbis moment Hluill I hazard a guess, nnd declare that, If you were at this moment seized nnd searched, the ring which 'proclaims you thief and murderer would be discovered?" She paused, obviously with the Inten tion of giving mc time to reflect. Rut nil power of logical thought had passed from me. All I could say wns: "I must know more. Hnve you with you the copy of the private letter you say you made?" "I have It with mo. I brought It for you to rend," nnd she handed mo the following document: "From Samuel Fleetwood, dead, to Rich ard Pardon, Esq., living. "When this reaches your hands I shall bo dead, lying In a dishonored grnve. Ry man I shnll bo condemned, and In man's ryes my name will be lufnmoits; but the Supreme, I hope nnd believe, will for give the sin It Is my Intention to commit. This contemplated slu will tnku tho form of n confession, In which I shall declare myself to be guilty of the awful crime you committed. When you rend these lines, you alone, of nil men living, will know thnt I nm Innocent. "It wns an hour past midnight when I wns awakened from my sleep by Mr. Wllmot's voice. I went into his room nnd found him lu deep slumber talking to himself. Ho wns talking of you and my honored nnd beloved mistress and daughter; and 1 heard enough to suspect thnt, unless you bent yourself to Mr. Wilniot's commands, It wns his purpose to ruin nnd beggar you. Snd nt henrt, I returned to my room, nnd presently fell asleep again. 1 must have slept about two hours, when I started up lu bod with an impression thnt some perioii besides himself was lu Mr. Wllmot's npnrtmcntx. I rose. The door between bis room nnd mine wns softly opened and jou came forth. "I shrank nut of sight, nnd could not belt) seeing thnt your facu was white nnd convulsed, nnd thnt your limbs were trembling violently. Stepping very quiet ly, fearful of attracting notice, you left my room. Waiting n little while to glvo you time to get clear away, I once more entered Mr. Wllmot's apartment, and discovered, to my horror, that he had been murdered by jou! "Overwhelmed, I devoted n few min utes to thought. To all outward evi dence I wns tho only witness of your awful crime; my evidence, nnd only mine, could convict you. What n frightful' re payment for nil the nngellc kindness I nnd my dead wife had received from my beloved mistress! To condemn the mail she loved to the scaffold, and' make nil her future life and that of thu daughter she loved so deeply a life of agonizing shame and sorrow! I saw them pointed at, shunned, or thrust aside lu rags, beg ging for n emit. Could I not avert this terrible fate? I could. "From symptoms which were munis tnkuble I knew that I hud myself but n short tlmo to live. I wns, happily, without n relative In thu world to whom my death would bring n pang of sorrow. I could glvo up my llfo for yours. I could take your crime upon myself. "My resolution was made. All that I desired to nvold wns a shameful end up on the scnffold. Flight would fasten suspicion upon mc. I might be nblo to conceal myself till I was convinced the end wns near. Then would I glvo my self Into tho hnnds of Justice. Even if I were taken, 1 should In all probability die In prison. After all, tho sacrifice would not bo so great; n few days of suf fering that was nil; and when we have dolio with mortal llfo It is by God not by man that we are Judged. Doubtless you would keep your fearful secret, nnd my beloved mistress would never know that tho hands of tho husband who held her happiness and honor In his keeping wero stained with blood. "I fled, but I feel I am sinking fast. It Is tlmo for mo to glvo myself up nnd make my false confession. From news papers which I managed to obtain I learned all the surroundings of tho crime. I rend of tho money being missing from the dispatch box, and of tho stolon ring. It Is by means of this information that I shall be ablo to make the confession so circumstantial that it camiut bo doubted. "You are free; your secret Is safely hidden In my grave. What 1 havo duio Is for my beloved mistress and her child. To you 1 sny, repent. Endeavor by good deeds to atone for tho crime which must weigh heavily upon your soul. Pray, and humble yourself before tho Divine Throne; mid not only for this deed of blood, but for your friendship with Mile. Rorallc, may heaven pardon you! De stroy tho Inst visible traces of your crime, and burn this paper. Farewell," (To bo continued.) A Thontrluul Vurn. 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