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EL. PASO DAILY HERALD, SATURDAY. MARCH 16. 1901.
PAGE TEN. The Mystery of Agatha Webb. 44 .4- By Anna Katharine Green. Author of The Leavenworth Cue," "Lot Uu'i Lane," "Sand M. T Continued From Last Saturday) -it was now Lite, very late, tor a gin like myseir to lie out. but under" the excitement of what I Just seen and beard I became oblivious to fear and rushed Into those dismal shadows as Into transparent daylight. Perhaps the shouts and stray sounds of laughter that cam up from the wharfs where a ship tv-ss setting under way gar me a certain sense of companionship. Perhaps but it is folly for me to di late up" my feelings; it is my errand you are interested in and what hap pened when I came up to the Zabela' d.-eary dwelling." The look with which she paused, os ttusibl? to take breath, but In reality to weigh ami criticise the looks of those bout her. was one of those wholly In describable ones with which she was accustomed to control the judgment of men who allowed themselves to watch too closely the ever cbaugiug expres sion of her weird yet charming face. But it fell upon men steeled against Va fqcAinatinni: firwt renlivlnf llr ill. ability to move' them, she proceeded with her story In-fore even the most axious of iter hearers could request ker to do so. I bad come." said she. "very quietly along the road, for my feet were light ly shod, and the moonlight was too bright for me to make a misstep. But as I cleared the trees and came into the open place where the house stands I stumbled with surprise at seeing a figure crouching on the doorstep I had anticipated finding as empty as the road. It was an old man's figure, and s I paused in my embarrassment he slowly and with great feebleness rose to his" feet and began to grope about for the door. As he did so I beard a sharp, tinkling sound, as of something metallic falling on the doorstone, and, taking a quick step forward, I looked ver his shoulder and saw in the moon light at his feet a dagger so like the one I had lately handled in Mrs. Webb's yard that I was overwhelmed with astonishment and surveyed the aged and feeble form of the man who bad dropped it with a sensation diffi cult to describe. The next moment be was stooping for the weapon with a startled air that has impressed itself distinctly upon my memory, and when, after many feeble attempts, he suc ceeded in grasping it he vanished into the bouse so suddenly that I could not be sure whether he had seen me stand ing there or not. "Ail this was more than surprising to : i me, ror i naa never tnougui oi associ- wuere tue murderer could And It by ating an old man with this crime. In- j a Duncl, of soddeo leaves. Xo. I had deed I was so astonished to find him in ; aDOtber motive for my action, a motive possession of this weapon that I forgot ; wlth wUlcll few f anv of you will be all about my errand aud only wondered wming to orccit me. 1 wished to save sow I could see and know more. Fear- : the murderer, whom I had some rea ing to be observed where I was, I slid j Bon as vou 8p for ti,Dkms i knew. In among the bushes and soon found . from the consequences of his own ac sayself under one of the windows. The j tion." shade was down, and I was about to Mr Courtney. Dr. Talbot and even pusn u asuie wnen i uearu some one i toving about inside and stopped. But 1 could not restrain wy curiosity, so. "Iruthrd away tvicard the lonely road." palling a hairpin from my hair, I work ed a little hole iu the shade aud through tills I looked Into a room brightly il lumined by the moon which shone in through an adjoining window. And i what did I see there?" Her eye turned a Frederick. His right hand bad stolen toward his left, but It paused voder her look and remained motion less. "Only an old mau sitting at a ta ble and" Why did she pause, and why did she cover up that pause with wholly Inconsequential seutence? Ferhaps Frederick could have told, Frederick, whose hand had now fallen st bis side. But Frederick volunteered Both tag, and no one, not even Sweet water, guessed all that lay beyond that sad which was left hovering In the air to be finished when? Alas, had she sot set the day and the hour! What she did say was in seeming ex planation of ber previous sentence. "It was not the same old man I had seen th doorstep, and while 1 was look- " . 1 If felt: Copyright, 1900, by Anna Katharine Green. lug at him 1 became aware of some on leaving the house and passing me ou the road up hill. Of course this ended my Interest in what went on within, and. turning as quickly as 1 could. 1 hurried into the road and followed the shadow i could just perceive disap pearing in the woods above me. 1 was bound, gentlemen, as you see. to fol low out my ad venture to the end. But my task now lecauic very difficult, for the moon was high and shone down upon the road so distinctly that I could not follow the person before me as closely as 1 wished without running lie risk of being discovered. 1 there fore trusted more to my ear thau to my eye. and as long as 1 could hear his steps in front of me 1 was satin fled. But presently, as we turned up this very hill. I ceased to bear those steps and so became confident that he bad taken to the woods. I was so sure of this that I did not hesitate to enter them myself, and. knowing the paths well, as 1 have every opportunity of doing. ItTing as we do. directly appo site this forest. I easily fonnd my way h ,ittle Scaring that 4 have reason to think you gentlemen have since be come acquainted with. ' But. though, ;from the sounds 1 beard I was assured that the person I was following was not far in advance of me, I did not dare to enter this brilliantly illumined jsiuioe. especially ns there was every in dication of this iM-rson having com pleted whatever task he had set for himself. Indeed I was sure that I heard his steps coining back. So. for the second time. 1 crouched down in the darkest .place 1 could lind and let .this mysterious person puss me. When he had quite disappeared. I made my lowu retreat, for it was late, and 1 was afraid of iH-ing missed at the ball. But jlatcr. or, rather, the next day, 1 re turned ami began a search for the Jmoney which. I was conlidriit. had 'been left in these woods by the person jl bad been following. I found it. and 'when ' the man here present, who. .though a mere tiddler, has presumed to take a leading part in this inter view, came tqoii me witli the bills in 'my hand. I was but burying deeer the ill gotten gains 1 had come upon." ! "Ah. ami so maklu'g them your own," 'quoth Sweetwater, stung by the sar casm in that word fiddler. But with a suavity against which every attack fell powerless she met bis significant look with one fully as significant and quickly said: If I had wanted the money for my self. I would not have risked leaving it Stherlnd. who naturallv believed she referred to Zabel and who. 'one and all, bad a lingering tenderness for this unfortunate old man which uot even this seeming act of madness on his part could quite destroy, felt a species of reaction at this and surveyed the singular being liefore them with per haps the slightest shade of relenting In their severity. Sweetwater alone betrayed restlessness. Knapp showed no feeling at all. while Frederick look ed like one petrified and moved neither band nor foot. "Crime that is the outcome of fore thought Is despicable." she went on, with a delilierateuess so hard that the more susceptible of her auditors shud dered. But crime that springs from some imperative and overpowering ne cessity or the mind or body might well awaken sympathy, and 1 am not ashamed of having been sorry for this frenzied and suffering man. Weak and Impulsive as you may consider me, I did not want him to suffer on account of a moment's madness, as he undoubt edly would if he were ever found with this money in his possession, so I plunged It deeper into the soil and trusted to the confusion which crime always awakens even in the strongest mind for him not to discover my sub terfuge." "Ha! Wonderful! Devilish subtle, eh? Clever, too clever!" were some of the whispered exclamations which this curious explanation on ber part brought out. Yet only Sweetwater showed bis open and entire disbelief of the story, tbc others possibly remembering thut for such natures as hers there is no governing law and no commonplace In terpretation. To Sweetwater, however, this was but so much display of feminine re- '' source and subtlety. Though he felt he should keep still in the presence of men so greatly his superiors, be could not resist saying: "Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. I should never have attributed any such motive as you mention to the young girl I saw leaving this spot with many a backward look at the bole from wblcb we afterward extracted the large sum of money In question. But say that this reburying of stolen funds was out of consideration for the feeble old man you describe as having carried them there, do you not see that by this act yon can be held as an accessory after the fact?" Her eyebro.wa went up. and the dell-' M M i and Kin," Etc., Etc cafe curve of her ftps was hoi without menace as she said: "You hate me. Mr. Sweetwater. Do yon wish me to tell these gentlemen why?" The flush which, notwithstanding this peculiar young man's nerve. In stantly crimsoned bis features was a surprise to Frederick. So was it to the ot tiers, who saw in it a possible hint as to the real cause of his persistent pur suit of this young girl, which they had hlti.erto ascribed entirely to his love of justice. Slighted love makes some hearts venomous. Could this ungainly fellow have once loved this bewitching piece of unreliability and suffered from her disdain? It was a very possible assumption, though Sweetwater's blush was the only answer he gave to her question, which nevertheless had amply served Its turn. To fill the gap made by. his silence Mr. Sutherland made an effort and ad dressed her himself. "Your conduct." sld he. "has not been that of a strictly honorable per son. Why did you fail to give the alarm when you re-entered my bouse after being witness to this double tragedy?" Her serenity was not to be disturbed. "I have Just explained." she remind ed him. "that 1 had sympathy for ths criminal." "We all have sympathy for James Zabel. but" "I do not believe one word of this story." Interposed Sweetwater, In reck less disregard of the proprieties. "A hungry, feeble old man. like Zabel. on the verge of death, could not have found his way up Into this woods, as you say. Ton carried that money there yourself, miss; you are the" "Hush!" interposed the coroner au thoritatively. "Do not let us go too fast yet. Miss Page has an air of speak ing the truth, strauge and unaccount able as It may seem. Zabel was an ad mirable mau once, and if be was led Into theft and murder it was not until his faculties had been weakened by bis own suffering and that of his much loved brother." "Thank you." was her simple reply, and for the first time every man there thrilled at her tone. Seeing it. all the dangerous fascination of her look and manlier returned upou her with double force. "I have been unwise," said she, "and let my sympath; run away with my Judgment. Women have impulses of this kind sometime, and men blame them for If till they themselves come to the point of feeling the need of just such blind devotion. I am sure I re gret tuy shortsightedness now, for I have lost esteem by it. while he" With a wave of the hand she dismissed the subject, aud Dr. Talliot. watching ber. felt, a shade of is distrust leave blm and in its place a species of ad miration for tlii. lithe, graceful, be witching personality before them, with ber childish impuUes and womanly wit which half ms'.itied and half im posed upon them. Mr. Sutherland, on the contrary, was neither charmed from his antagonism bor convinced of ber houesty. There Si "Thl$ I am rtady to swear to before Qotl and before man" XL' tl a snmpthiiifT tn -thia ni.tt.ir. tl.at- could uot be explained away by her ar- gument, and his suspicion of that some- thing he felt perfectly sure was shared by bis son, toward whose cold, set face he bad frequently cast the most un easy glances. He was not ready, how ever, to probe Into the subject more nearly, nor could he for the sake of Frederick urge on to any further con fession a young woman whom his un happy sou professed to love and iu whose discretion he had so little confi dence. As for Sweetwater, he had now fully recovered himself and bore himself with great discretion when Dr. Talbot filially said: "Well, geutk-man. we have got more ! than we expected when we came here this morning. Tlyre ropialns. howturer. IS a point regarding which we' have re ceived no explanation. Miss Page, bow came that orchid, which. 1 am told, you wore In your hair at the dance, to be found lying near the hem of Batsy's skirts? Vou distinctly told us that you did not go up stairs when you were in Mrs. Webb's house." "Ah. that's so!" acquiesced the Bos ton detective dryly. "How came that flower on the scene of the murder?" She smiled and seemed equal to the emergency. "That is a mystery for us ail to solve." she said quietly, looking into the eyes of her questioner. "A mystery it Is your business to solve." corrected the district attorney. "Nothing that you have told us In sup port of your innocence would In the eyes of the law weigh for one Instant against the complicity shown by that one pice of circumstantial evidence against you." Her smile carried a certain high handed denial of this to one heart there at least But her words were humble enough. "1 am aware of that," said she. Then, turning like lightning to where Sweet water stood lowering upon her from out his half- closed eyes, she Impetu ously cricnl: "You. sir. you who with out call to do so have presumed to ar rogate the office of detective from those whose right it was to act in this matter, prove yourself equal to your presumption by finding out the ex planation of this mystery yourself It can be found out, for. mark. I did not carry that flower Into the room where it was found. This I am ready to swear to liefore God aud before man!" Her hand was raised, her whole at titude spoke deflauce and hard as It was for Sweetwater to acknowledge It truth. He felt that he had received a challenge, and. with a quick glance at Knapp. who barely responded by a shrug, he shifted over to the side of Di. Talbot. Amabel at once dropped ber band. "May I go?" she now cried appeal Ingly to Mr. Courtney. "1 really have no more to say. and 1 am tired." "Did you see the figure of the man who brushed by you iu the wood? Was is that of the old man you saw on the doorstep?" At this direct question Frederick quivered In spite of his dogged self control. But she. with her face up turned to meet the scrutiny of the speaker, showed only a childish kind of wonder. "Why do you ask that? Is there any doubt about its being the same?" What an actress! Frederick stood appalled. He hud been amazed at the skill with which she had manipulated ber story so as to keep her promise to him and yet leave the way open for that further confession which would alter the whole into a denunciation of himself which be would find it diffi cult if not impossible to meet. But this extreme dissimulation made him lose heart. It showed her to be an an tagonist of almost illimitable resource and secret determination. "I did uot suppose there could be any doubt," she added, iu such a natural tone of surprise that Mr. Courtney dropped the subject aud Dr. Talbot turned to Sweetwater, who for the mo ment seemed to have robbed Knapp of bis rightful place as the coroner's con fidant. "Shu II we let her go for the present?" he whispered. "She does look tired, poor girl'." The public challenge which Sweet water had received made him wary, aud his reply was a guarded one. "1 do not trust her, j-et there is much to confirm her story. Those sand wiches, uow! She says she dropped them In Mrs. Webb's yard under the pear tree and that the bag that held tbem burst open. (Jentlemen. the birds were so busy there on the morning aft er the murder that I could not but no tice tbem, notwithstanding my absorp tion in greater matters. 1 remember wondering what they were all pecking at so eagerly. Then the leugth of time that elapsed betweeu the moment Za bel was seen rushing from Mrs, Webb's gate and the hour in which be bought the bread has never been quite ac counted for. Though I doubt that so old a man would find streugtb for that Journey to the woods. 1 can but ac knowledge that it would account for those very' minutes we have had some difficulty in filling up. But the flower whose presence on the scene of guilt she challenges me to explain! How about that, sirs? Aud then the money so deftly reburled by her can any ex planation make her other than acces sory to a crime on whose fruits she lays her hand in a way tending solely to concealment? No. sirs, and so I shall not relax my vigilance over her actions even If, in order to be faithful to It. I have to suggest that a warrant be made out for ber imprisonment." "You are right." acquiesced the coro ner, and, turning to Knapp, he sug gested that Miss Page was such an im portant witness In this matter that perhaps It would be better to have ber down in the town where she could be more easily under bis eye. Nothing could have pleased Mr. Suth erland better. Glancing at Frederick and seeing that he was rather pleased than disturbed by this suggestion, be gave bis unqualified approval, and Miss Page was notified of the coroner's wishes. She made no objection. On the con trary, her cheeks dimpled, and she turned away with alacrity to prepare berself for departure. But before go ing she approached the coroner and said persuasively: "I have told you all that came to my mind this moment. But after thinkiug It over I may remember some little de tails that have escaped me today." "Call her back," cried Mr. Courtney. "She has kept back something; let us bear it all." But Mr. Sutherland, with a side look st Frederick, whispered: "Wait! She Is a subtle creature and .under the ex (To be Continued Next Saturday.) ' ---:--:--:::::::--:":--:k--:::--:K":--:--:--:--:-- :-:-::--:-:-:--:-:-::-:-::-:-:"::":":"::" -: : Do you want to get good value for your money If so buy your goods at the I, j Model Cash Grocery I $ They buy for cash and will give you the advanlage gained by selliug -: you good goods at a low price. Call and be convinced that they will Js give you better goods for less money than any other house in the city. The proprietors, (Jones & Tousant). Vill gladly show goods and ! quote prices whether you buy or not. .:. Don t forget the number. 316 a. The El Paso Live Cattle Bought and Sa on Commission. . . Special Atteniion Given to the v. . . Buying of mx can Cattle. Correspondence Solicited. ss Office Nations Building, San Antonio Street. 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 "Cleanliness is Next to Godli ness.' 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