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PAID IN HIS OWN COIN.

By Epward J. Goodman, Author of' Too Curious.' VOL. 111.-CFIAPTKR VIII. j With bancs tightly clenched, with teeth ! hard set, his pah" face quivering m every , muscle with excitf..uKTit, and smarting from i Mark E'liot'a blow, Abel Wynd, on trrmlili'n" liud'S, walked homeward from Eden Villa. Rage, bewilderment, and a burning thirst for revenge, in equal measure distracted his mind, the last feeling, perhaps, predominating. What could ho do to repay Mark Elliot for this outrage? If he had lVa-1 a knife or some firearm at hand he might have stabbed or shot him, and perhaps in the first moment of his fury he might have Mimmoned up courage enough to do such a deed. But he hid no such chance, and he could now only yearn, with au eager, fierce desire, for some means of vengeance. What remedy had he for that insult, that blow ? The law ? Ridiculous ! What ! pros-cute Mark Elliot for assault and battery and rrt him lined? H<3 would almost as soon have knelt and thanked him for that M-.t!Yi:.'e as M;ek such paltry retribution. N:>: if he could but somehow bring him to c!is!.Tnci! and ruin, or, better still, entice hi hi to some lonely pUce and kill him—tie j him np ami kill him by slow torture—that j would be sweet, indeed ! But these were j dreams—idle dream''. Ho must think and j plot, and devise some practicable scheme of revenge. _ | He had inflicted one wound on his foe, it | was true. That taunt which had provoked j the cowardly blow had struck home, at any ; rate. And ILden bad heard it, and perhaps ! relieved it. Oh! if that were only possible! \ Yet how had those two come together ] again ? What had brought Mark Elliot | once more to that house which he fondly j believed his hated enemy had quitted for j ever? And what, above all, was the mean- j ing of that prohibition that he himself { should not enter the house ! Why was he j accused of attempting to murder Matthew Musgrave ?He had dona no rvrong—this j time, at least; on the contrary, he had done his best for tho wretched old fool, who, thinks to him, had been nearly restored to health. Musgrave must have had a relapse —perhaps a fit of some sort—and lm family had in a panic called in Dr Elliot, who had taken advantage of the new illness to do him (Dr Wynd) a mischief. That was the only wav in which he could account at present for this vile outrage. But he would make sure, soon. Hither Helen or Crayke, or both, would call on him before long—perhaps that very night—and ■ he would then learn the truth from one or , other of them. Dear, ewect Helen ! How • shocked, how indignant she would be when she found how that man had maligned him : —and for the second time too after all ' the-kindness and care he had lavished on j her suffering father ! And that indiscretion of Elliot's with the widow—he had planted ] the dagger, and how ho would drive it home ! 'So Abel Wynd gathered some little consolation even out of his latest misfortune, and he hugged himself in the hope that the injustice and injury which had been done him by Mark Elliot might, after all, give him a fresh claim on Helen's sympathy and goodwill. I In a short time ho reached his abode, and found his wife anxiously awaiting his return. Mrs Wynd had nearly recovered from her recent attack, but was yet very weak and niling. Her husband still subjected her to those diabolical arrangements which he had j planned to injure her health. He con- i tinned to make her sit in the hack room j with tl-e window open, and it was only j dosed in bis absence-, or on the occasion of a , vbit from Helen. But Helen had not called I on her cousin for the: last three or four days, and Jane was sorely apprehensive that some- , thing had gone wrong at Eden Villa. Indeed, it was Helm's unusually long absence tV\ct prompted l>r Wywl to ps.y thut ill-starred visit w'uHi had had for him such unfortunate resides. So when the doctor cuinc home, much sooner than she had expected, Jane Wynd felt equally surprised and alarmed. She jumped to the conclusion j that Mr Musgrave must have had some j fresh attack, and that her husband had returned to obtain something for Ids relief. As he entered the room with his hat on, < shading his face, she could not perceive the j idgnsof his recjnt disaster, and asked at i : oifee, in a tone of anxiety : j " How i 3 uncle?" 1 "How (should f know?" replied Wynd. j " I have been forbidden the house, wich j insults and blows. Look herc-is this a i pleasant sight for you ? ' j And with these words he anatcned oil his hat and threw it down, revealing to his wife's astonished giw: his swollen cheeK, still bleeding from a slight cut inflicted on it by a riog which Mark Elliot wore on hid fili"er, "Oh, heavens !" cried Mr.3 Wynd ; " how did this happen?" Then he told her the story with every circumstance of falsehood and exaggeration liy which he could magnify his wrongs told her that Dr Elliot must have aggravated Mr Musgrave's illness in such a manner as to make it npper that he (Dr , Wynd) was the cause of the relapse ; that be had attacked and struck him, because ho had mentioned Helen'fi name, and had shut the door upon him before he had time to rixo anil return the blow. Jane Wvnd was horrified by this dreadful tak, and the sympathy she lavished on her ill-used husband was as sincere as it was warmly expressed. She declared that Dr Elliot'* conduct was shocking and cruel, and promised to tell Helen whit she thought of i<\ Then she offered to bathe her dear Abel's " poor face," and he passively submitted to her gentle ministrations, for he needed such attention very much indeed. Sarah, who had brought up a jug of warm water for this humane purpose, was not so sympathetic as her mistress, for, as she went downstairs again, she muttered to herself: " He'.i got it hot this time, and no mistake! A little more o' that would do him a deal o' good, that it would. Ah ! and he'd get a lot more of tho same article if I had my way." Dr Wyni sat with his wife to a late hour that night, she doing her best to comfort him, while he relieved his mind by venting hia spleen on Dr Elliot and all his works. He expected every moment to receive a visit from Helen or Oliver Crayke, but neither of them put in an appearance, and at last he, by no means reluctantly, allowed his wife to retire for the night. He himself sat up for some time longer, continuing to indulge his amiable fansies with regard to Dr Elliot's future welfare, and puzzling his brains with fresh conjectures as to what could have been the actual cause of the accusation made against him, and his exclusion from Eden Villa. His disappointment and perplexity wore not alleviated when the whole of the next day passed without a sign of cither Crayke or Helen, and it was the same on the day following. Matters weie now becoming serious. The non-appearance of Helen might be accounted for, but how about Crayke, his faithful friend and spy ? Why had he not come to bring him the latest news from the Musgrave household? So he resolved to take a course which he very rarely adopted. He would send his wife to Eden Villa in order that she might ascertain for him the actual state of affairs. " I desire to know everything," he said. " The meaning of that charge against me ; the reason why that fellow ordered me from the house ; and the reason why he was there. You will also find out why Crayke has absented himself, and, indeed, inform yourself of all that is going on. I have been j shamefully, infamously treated, and I have a right to know how matters stand before taking further steps." " I am sure, Abel," replied his wife, " I will do my best. Helen will tell me everything ; and believe mo, I will do my utmost to put you right with her and the family." Mrs Wynd set forth on her misnion, sincerely desiring to execute it faithfully, and believing that the information her husband required was elue to him, as sho meant to tell Helen herself. When Jane arrived at Eden Villa, Helen -wa,B waiting on her father. She was receive* in the sitting room by Mrs Musgrave and Tetaie, and there had the benefit of their view of recent events. "It is a dreadful thing, Jane,' said the older fedy, "that your husband should

have been accused of such a crime, and both Tessie and I are very, very sorry about it: are we not, my love?" ■ "Yes, iudecd, mother,'' replied her I daughter. "It is perfectly shocking to | think of, and after all Dr Wynd did for her I IV.licuv' i "Ah !" Mrs Musgrave continued, "Dr j Elliot is very rash—very hasty—l hope ' nothing worse. As though he had not done ' your poor hiuband injury enough already—- | am* then to strike him too ! Ob, it is too ! horrible !" " And how is uncle ?" asked Mrs Wynd. "Much better," replied Mrs Musgrave. "He soon recovered from that attack, which Dr Elliot calls his poisoning, and has hud no relapse since. I hope he will be able to coino downstairs now in the course of a few days." " And Mr Crayke ?" suggested Jane. Both Mrs Musgrave and Tessie uttered simultaneously a sort of groan. " Ah ! poor Mr Crayke," said the former. " Perhaps that is the saddest thing of all. You would hardly believe it, Jane, but Dr Elliot actually ordered that that good, kind man, who had been like a brother to all of us, should not even enter your uncle's room, where he had watched him night after night for weeks." " Indeed !" exclaimed Mrs Wynd. " Yos, indeed," continued Mrs Mnsgravo. "And what ha 3 been tho result? Why, that Mr Crayke was offended, and has gone away and left us." "What did he say ?" asked Jane. " Oh, he didn't say much," said Tessie, taking up the story. "Mo never does. He was very gentle, very quiet about it. Ho only made an excuse, and said he must leave us at once ; that he felt he was of no further use to us ; and so he packed up his few things and went away in a cab the day before yesterday." " I am very sorry to hear it," observed Mrs Wynd ; " for he helped you so much in many ways, didn't he?" " Indeed he did!" cried Mrs Musgrave, wining her eyes. "Poor man ! He was a great comfort to us, and read the 'Epic' beautifully; r ; ave quite a new meaning to some of it. Even my husband used to say that there were parts of it which, when Mr Crayke read them, he understood himself for the first time. And now he is gone, and perhaps wc shall never see him in this hf.uso again." At this moment Fanny entered with a message from Miss Helen requesting that her mother and sister would come up to sit with her father. The two ladies, being thus invited to " relieve guard," retired, and in a few minutes Helen herself appeared. She embraced her cousin warmly, kissing her again :md again, and pressing her hand; then, carefully closing the door, she seated herself by her side on the sofa. "Lennie, dear," said Mrs Wynd, "before you say a word I must tell you why I have come. I have been told to do so by Abel, and he has requested me to tell him all I hear. Ho thinks he has been treated very badly, and I, too, think, dear, there has hee.u some dreadful mistake. But I thought I would let you know this before you told me anything." "Yon do'right, Jennie," replied Helen; "Ami I have no objection to your repeating my words to your husband. And, oh, Jennie darling. 1 fear I shall grieve you—that I shall inflict cruel pain on you by what I have to say. But it cannot be helped. I can conceal facts from you no longer, though I have tried long to do so, for your own sake—to guard you from unbappiness, perhaps from something worse. For, oh ! Jennie dear, I must tell you the truth, tho bitter truth. Your husband is a bad man.'' "Lennie!" Mrs Wynd exclaimed, half rising from her seat, ar.d showing too plainly in her countenance the deep pain owned her by her cousin's last words and the peculiar emphasis with which she had utteied them. "That is a hard thing to say, .lennie," continued Helen, " but it hj true. It is the I'n.ot. boyorul cU shadow of doubt, that au attempt was made to poison my father. The symptons of his last illnesi were precisely like those of Uncle Stephen before he died, and can be attributed to no cause but one. What they call a narcotic was given to father in his medicine. Some of it lias been examined by chemist?, to whom it has been sent by Dr Elliot, and though they do not know exactly what tho poison is composed of, they declare that it is of that nature." "But how do you know that Abel sent it?" asked Mrs Wynd in great distress l . "It was found mixed with the medicine supplied by him," replied Helen, " and had passed through no other hands but those of Mr Crayke." " Mr Crayke ?" echoed Jane. "Yes," said Helen. "Mr Crayko has gone. He left us suddenly, a::d his conduct altogether has been very strange. _ Ho seemed reluctant to answer any questions ; but his manner implied, so I thought, a feeling that he had been made tho instrument of some other person. And what other person could it be but your husband ?" "And do you believe, Helen," cried Mrs Wynd, " that my husband is a murderer?" jlelen could not find it in her heart even then to answer this question directly ; but she went on : "Jennie dearest, it is most painful forme to say it, but as soon as father gets well enough some steps must be taken which, I hope, will result in releasing you from that man. You must be parted— rescued from him." " What! Leave my husband ? Oh, that I cannot do !" " You must, Jennie You have been mistaken in him all along. You do not know him." " Yes, I do, Lennie; indeed I do. I know he has faults ; but so have all people, and I cannot think, I do not believe, that he is—what you suppose. And remember, dear, he i 3 scill my husband, whatever may be his errors, and I am bound to love him and stand by him. Do you think I can forget the old days when he was my lover, when ho was so kind and gentle to me—to me, a poor, unattractive girl whom no one ever admired? Yes, I know he has faults, and his temper is soured by misfortune and disappointment. But I cannot leave him —I cannot, whatever he may have done." And the poor woman sobbed bitterly. I Helen did what she could to comfort her, [ but she could not withdraw tho words she had already uttered. " Jennie," she said, " I do not wish you [to desert your husband. But I must tell you that you may he forced to leave him. And you can tell hirn all that I have said, if vou will. He cannot blame you. It is not your fault that I have spoken to you as I have. I would tell him myself, but I cannot come to your house just now. I must not leave my father, and even for your sake I cannot bring myself to sec and spnuk to the man who I believe has attempted his life. But though I may not come to you, promise me, as you promised long ago, that if you should ever find yourself in any position of danger or difficulty, you will come at once to me for counsel and help." Mrs Wynd made the promise thus demanded, and, bidding her cousin an affectionate good-bye, left the house with a heavy heart. She fonnd her husband at home impatiently awaiting her return. " Well," he said, " what have you discovereel ?" Thenßhe told him, in substance at least, what she had heard—of Mr Musgrave's attack, and the suspicions excited thereby ; of Mr Crayke'a withdrawal from the house, and Helen's intentnn not to visit them at present. There was only one point on which she was silent. She could not bring herself to repeat to her husband that which Helen had said about a proposal to .separate her from him. Indeed, at that moment she did not clearly understand what Helen meant by it. " So," Dr Wynd exclaimed, after reflecting upon his wife's communication, "I am suspected of attempting to murder your uncle, am I ? What do you think of that yourself ?" " Oil, Abel !" cried Jane, " you need hardly ask me. Do you suppose I could , believe such a thing ?" "That is not what I mean," replied Wynd ; " I ask you what you think of such a charge—of the motives of the man who i has made it ?" Mrs Wynd was silent, hardly knowing what to say. So her husband went on: i "Do you not see the whole plot ? That 1 scoundrel Elliot haa trumped up this awusa-

tion to ruin me, just as he did in the other case." " But why should he do that ?" " Why ? Have you forgotten, Mrs Wynd, the provisions of your father's will ? Do you not remember that, in the event of my death and yours, the property which your father left will go to Matthew Musgrave's children, to one of whom Mark Elliot is—engaged?" He'was reluctant to speak that last word, and did so as though he were try ing to crush it between his teeth. " But the engagement is broken off—for the present," pleaded Jane. "Is it?" cried Dr Wynd ; " perhaps so ; but may it not be renewed ? Will it Dot be, if you and I are got rid of, as that villain hopes ?" " Oh, Abel!" exclaimed his wife ; " such an idea is too horriblo !" "Is it more horrible than tho charges that have been mado against me ? is it more horrible than these icpented attempts to brand tne as a murderer?" " No, indeed, Abel," sighed Mrs Wynd. The conversation was not much further prolonged, and it was with a sense of relief that Jane received a hint from her husband that she seemod fatigued and unwell, and had better go to bed. So, although it was somewhat early in the evening, Mrs Wynd retired, leaving her husband alone with his bitter thought);. " What am 1 to make of all thio?" he re- ■ fleeted. " They profess to have proved that the medicine was mixed with au unknown narcotic poison ; that Matthew Musgrave's symptoms were precisely like those of Stephen Musgrave ; and they say that the medicine was administered by no other hand than Oliver Crayke's. It is strangevery strange. And Crayko has left the Musgraves suddenly, almost immediately after tho discovery, as they call it. Yet ho has never come to me. That is stranger still. What can be the meaning of this ?" Here Dr Wynd rose and paced the room for several minutes, with his hands clasped behind his back. Presently he stopped with u start, as though some new and alarming thought had struck him. " Can it be possible that Crayke has played me false ? Have I been mistaken in him ? Thero is something strange and mysterious about the man. Can there ho anything in it beyond ordinary eccentricity ? No, surely he cannot have been playing mo any trick. What motive could he have ? He has served my purpose, it is true ; but I have served his. He found in my house a home and companionship, a pleasant chango from life in his gloomy, solitary den, and through mo he obtained a footing in the Mussrraved' circle. He interested himself in their affairs; he helped that wretched idiot with the publication of his trash ; he assisted them to live. Why should ho injure Matthew Musgrave? How, if he wished to do so, could he have procured tho means ? That night when I left my keys at home' fool that I wa3 to give anyone such a chance! Yet, am I not a fool to entertain the doubt? It is impossible that Crayke could have tampered with the secret —I have proved that beyond question. But again, a curse upon my folly! I destroyed the bottles, and therefore can find no evidence to prove whether they were touched. Were they touched? It could not be. Yet that failure I have never bean able to account for that. It is a profound and unfathomable mystery." So the perplexed man reflected, turning each fact and doubt and conjecture over and over again in his distracted mind ; but only to travel in a circle, and come to no conclusion. Again he rose from his chair and paced the room. He thought—thought; he racked his brains to find some cluo, some ground for suspicion, some missing link in his chain of facts, some flaw in the fabric of his reasoning. In vain. If he suspected Crayke, where was he to seek for the man's motive ? Where had been his opportunity ? Change of scene is sometimes favorable to the solution of doubt. So he passed from the front room to his study, where the gas wds still burning. A cold draught assailed him as he entered the chamber, and he shut the open window. "There is no use for that just now," he muttered. Then he paced up and down the apartment. His eyes rested on one object after another—his tall oak cupboard, his pedestal table, that table where he had left his bunch of keys beside Oliver Crayko'a borrowed volume, and lastly ho looked upon his safe—that safe which once contained those secret bottles, which he had destroyed, and—ah ! the manuscript. He had not destroyed that. Yet, what could it tell him ? Nothing—nothing but that which he knew already. Nevertheless, tempted by a vague feeling of curiosity, for which he coi'kl hardly account, he felt a strange impulse to open hi 3 safe, to take out that manuscript and examine it. Marks of fingers or some other indication might prove whether it had ever been touched, since he possessed it, by other hands than hi?. Taking the keys from his pocket—he had not mislaid them this time—he approached the safe and opened tho door. Then he unlocked the inner locker, and there stood that old manuscript in the exact place where he had last left it. He drew it forth, carried it to the table, and sat down before it, turning its pages over one by one with careful hand. No marks, no sign appeared that it had been lately used. Page by page he went through tho volumo, till ho came to that in which the secret of the making and application of the poison was recorded. Long and attentively ho studied it, when something on the paper caught his eye—something that caused him to bend clown his head" and hold hi 3 breath. Then he uttered an exclamation. " Great Heavens !" he cried ; " can it be possible ?" He rushed to his safe, took out the keys still left in the locker door, and selecting one with a trembling hand, opened one of the side-drawers of his pedestal table. From this he drew a magnifying glass, and lie gazed through it long and attentively upon the open page. " Yes!" he exclaimed ; "it is certain." For there, lying across the page, across the very passage touching the secret poison, pressed down upon it by the long closing of the book—there, glistening under the light above, was a nimjle thread of forty yellowred hah'! A thread of yellow-red hair ! A hair of the peculiar tint of Oliver Crayke's—that hair through which he was so characteristically accustomed to pass his fingers when he was engaged in talk, in thought, in reading. Abel Wynd had seen him at this trick many and many a time, and had noticed the stray hairs that had fallen on the collar or the shoulder of his coat, precisely the same in appearance as that which now lav across the page of that manuscript. Dr Wynd fell back in his chair as though I he had sustained a paralytic stroke. | What possible inference could he draw from this discovery—what but one ? What else could he suspect when he joined with this the facts that Crayke had had an opportunity of searching his safe ; that the poison in at least one of his bottles had proved innocuous, and might have been replaced by a harmless fluid; that poison producing tne same sytntoms as those which preceded the death of Stephen Musgrave had been administered in medicine to his brother, and that the only person who could have tampered with that medicine was Oliver Crayke ? Whatever his unknown motive might have been, whatever the hidden purpose or object he was seeking, the man who had abstracted the poison, and had by means of it attempted Matthew Musgrave's life, was, and must have been, no other than Oliver Crayke himself. (To be continued.)

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890817.2.29.2

Bibliographic details

PAID IN HIS OWN COIN., Issue 7988, 17 August 1889, Supplement

Word Count
4,310

PAID IN HIS OWN COIN. Issue 7988, 17 August 1889, Supplement

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