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PAID IN HIS OWN COIN.

By Edward J. Goodman, Author of ‘ Too Curious.’

VOL. lII.—CHAPTER XV. THE KINO OF THE MURDERERS,

“ Lennie,” said Dr Elliot pensively, putting his book down upon his knee, as he eat in his arm-chair by the fireside, “I wonder what became of that mysterious man, Oliver Crayke.” “ I can't imagine, Mark,” replied Mrs Elliot, looking up from her “ work.” “ Tho man was mad,” continued her husband ; “ I always thought so, and I am sure of it. But how ho put an end to that miserable creature, for kill him ho certainly did, I never could make out.” “Oh, Mark ! ’ exclaimed his wife, “ why talk, why think of that dreadful affair? It is now more than two years since it happened, and wo ought to forget it. Besides, remember our promise to poor Jennio, never to speak of her unhappy husband.” . « But I can’t help thinking of it, Lennie, said Mark. “Itis a mystery that seems to haunt mo, and I must say I should like to get at tho bottom of it. However, I won’t talk about it if tho subject distresses you.” “ Well, you must not talk to mo about anything just now, Mark,” said Helen, rising suddenly, “ for I hear baby crying. There, I must go up to him now, and I don’t think I shall come down again. You will not sit up late, will you ? And I hope you will not bo called out to-night.” Mark Elliot kissed his wife, promised not to sit up late, echoed her hope that he would not be summoned to any “ case ” that night, and then she left him to attend to her beloved one-year-old firstborn. Yet still he sat there thinking of that dark tragedy of two years ago, as he had often thought of it, seeking in vain to fathom the mystery of Oliver Crayke, and the means and motives of Jiis acts.^ There are curious coincidences in life, as we all know. Persons long absent, of whom wo are thinking, suddenly appear while our minds are dwelling upon them, and problems that puzzle us often find their solution by some accident, just at the very moment when they are occupying our thoughts. Such an experience befell Elliot as he sat there musing. His cogitations were interrupted by the entrance of Sarah, Jane Wynd’s old servant, now his own, who came in with an sur of great mystery, and with a letter or packet in he^hand. “This here was left for you, sir,” she said, “ a while ago, and I thought I would wait till the missus had gone up before giving it you. I found it in the letter-box, and it seemed so rum-looking that, thinks I, perhaps the doctor would like to have it first all to himself.” “You did right, Sarah,” replied her master, taking the letter and struck with surprise at its appearance. A singular missive, indeed, was that placed in Dr Elliot’s hands. The envelope was along one of the conventional “business” sort; but the direction ivas written in letters strangely fantastic in shape’, as though the hand that had traced them had been shaking violently under the influence of great mental agitation. “ That is a queer handwriting,” Dr Elliot reflected; “it looks like—but Avhat is the use of guessing ? Let us see what it is all about.” Then he opened the envelope, and drew out the enclosures. For there Avero two—a note and a series of folio sheets accompanying it. The note, like the envelope, bore letters of fantastic shape, but the document itself seemed written with a firm and steady hand. Dr Elliot uttered an exclamation of astonishment as his eye took in tho contents of the note, but it was with difficulty that he deciphered the xvords. At last he read as follows

Mark Elliot,— Hero is my statement, the record of my deeds, my great and glorious triumph. Bead it —publifh it—give it to all the world—to all tho fools—and make them stare and wonder. I can keep it back no longer. "Why should I? For I have learnt tho great secret now, and am safe—safe. No eye can see mo, no hand can touch me; and no% I can go to my work—my groat work—and show tho foo's what I can do. Let them all hear my WTds-all-all the fools. By command, from Olivkr Cbaykk, King of the Murderers.

From this startling preface Dr Elliot turned to tho accompanying document, written in a totally different hand. The letters were quaint and old-fashioned in form, but symmetrical and legible, and only an expert could have discerned anything in common between their character and that of the wild scrawl in which the note and the address on tho envelope were penned. At the head of tho first sheet was date, that of the day following tho acquittal of the writer. And these were the words of this singular communication : ■ I, Oliver Crayke, being in my sane and sober senses, desire to make known to all whom it may concern the secret of my life and acts. What time, what medium, 1 shall select for publishing this statement are questions for the future. But it is my wish that tho triumph which I have just gamed shall bo complete. It Is not enough to have succeeded as I have done in puzzling a learned Court and an enlightened public, and to have emerged from the greatest criminal trial of the century, the victor in ray conflict with the law. I desire that all men shall know mo as a master of my craff, and that they cannot know until they have learned all. . . , I killed Abel Wynd-I, whom your twelve jurymen have just pronounced “Not guilty ; and I will tell you why and how. Oh, you sage Judges and jurors and learned counsel! you skilful doctors, and you sharp police you intelligent public! you able j mrnalists I you all prate about human motives and human probabilities. What do yon know of such things? How your gullible minds can be put off the scent by a fool’s arguments of Would a man do 1 his ?” “ Why should he do that. and the like gropings in tho dark ! Can any one of you say what any other one of you may not bs likely to think or do at any moment of his life? Does it never occur to yon that the last thing a man seems “likely to do” is just that which he will do and has done? Why, the improbable is tho moat probable thing iu the world, and a thousand facts reveal it every day under your very noses. A man does nothing without a motive, you never tire of prating; but where do yon go about looking for motives I Under your feet, at your elbows, behind your heels! And if you cannot find a motive there, you shrug your foolish shoulders and give it up. Listen to me, and I will teach you what motive is-I, who have befogged and befooled you all. I killed Abel Wynd to place my name at the head of the roll of those famed for their skill m the art of homicide. “Dreadful! Incredible! you all exclaim. But it is true. It was my ambition— a strange one, eh? —hot is it stranger than many another lhatyon know of . Are the ambitions of all men what you call virtuous and honorable, and is it a veiy long step from some of them to mine ? Think the question out, and then answer me. , Yes, I killed Abel Wynd. I sought him out. I gained hia confidence. I studied his life. I learned his secrets, and was resolved to gam my end through him, and the means that he possessed. He poisoned Stephen Mnsgrave, and by patient watching and waiting I found the drug with which be did the deed hidden with that old manuscript in bis private safe. 1 stole his poison in his absence, and used it on the brother of hia own victim. A strange thing to do, ch ? No motive, again, no motive, is the old parrot cry. What I No motive? Had I stood in the dock arraigned for tho murder or Matthew Mufgtave without motive, mark yon —would you not all have stared and wondered, and would you not all have declared me “ Not guilty ” because I bad no motive . Ob, fools, foo’s 1 Well I bad no motive—no other motive—m killing Abel Wynd, though keen eyes believed they law one. Folly ! I had nothing to fear fiom him. He did not date to accuse me, and would not have been believed if ho had dared. I killed him to make you stale and wonder; to puzzle all your clever brains, and prove how infinitely more acute was I than all your Judges, lawyers, doctors, and colice. ~ , How did Ido it? Would you know? Ah! heteis a mystery for you-a masterstroke of craft and skill 1 , , _ I brought him to my bouse, tempted by a promise to kill his bated foe, MarkJJlliot whom I never meant to harm. And I practiced upon him an experiment I bad already tried. What was that? Listen and wonder. “He made him dream-he made him dream 1 cried that poor fool, my servant. That puzzled you all. did it not ? But it wss true. I made him dream, so that he would never dream him with a sleeping draught? With his own narcotic poison, eh ? No, no, ye wise ones— wrong—all wrong again. The poison was there, left there by me at his side, in his own phial, found by me in his house, to puzzle you all, and throw you off the scent.

And the half-crazy dwarf was right. Every word ho said was true. I did wake him up; I did ask him for a knife; I bade him follow mo, and left him outside the door. Why did I do all this ? To throw dust in the eyes of all you clever ones, and show that I am craftier than tho wisest among you. It was not “likely” that a man would act as I did. Aha ! not likely! I entered that room, and Abel Wynd was lying on tho bed—the bed on which 1 had forced him to He. How d : d I manage that? By means that you, blind fools, could never gucas, I brought him to my house; I terrified bis coward soul with sighs of horror; 1 all but scared away his very senses. And then he was ripe for my great project. I knew what I w.v about. I had tiied that plan before, and partially succeeded, and I knew that now I should not fail. Know that I can exercise mesmeric power, and put a fitting subject in a state to suit my purpose. Thus did I deal long since with my servant Jabez. I visited him at dead of night—l paralys'd his 1 mbs, while leaving his sense of consciousness alive and active. He knew of all that Avas going on around him, hut yet was powerless to move clutter a cry. And iu Ids half-dazed state ho saiv a figure standing over him with a knife at his throat, as though about to slay him. But he was not ai Abel Wynd. 1 terrified and cowed him, bit he did not die. I only made him “ dream,” and the memory of that night of dreaming rendered him thenceforth my slave for ever. And Abel Wynd—l made him dream indeed— I knew I should. I had no need to use his poison on him, though I had it ready. I had subjected him completely to my control Ho followed me up to tho room above, and lay down at my biddirg on the bed lo sleep, and there I left him.

'} hen in the dead of night I side once more into tho room. I fixed him with my eyes, and paralysed his powers, while still his senses were awake. I bent over him as he lay tlmro motionless, yet conscious. I drcAV forth the knife with which I Avas provid, d; felt at his throat, his heart, as though onsideiing how I should despatch him. I watched the abject terror in his eyes, tho horror of impending death, and still I seemed to pause ere striking a fatal blow. Should it bo at his heart or throat ? So_ the affrighted Avretch must have read my divided purpose. At last I raised tho knife as though to strike. Above his head I lifted tho glittering blade, and in a moment, to his mind, it must descend. And then I watched his eyes, and saw tho lustre of life die out of them and fade into the leaden glaze of death. I felt at his heart, and it was still. The man lay there a corpte, destroyed by terror. Ah ! I made him dream indeed ! I made him dream to death!

The paper dropped from Mark Elliot’s hands, and he stood gazing at it in horror. But he had not yet exhausted its contents. More yet remained to be read. The ghastly narrative was here concluded or broken off, and was followed by a scrawl of writing in wild fantastic letters, like that of the note and the direction. The main document, as previously stated, was written on the day after Oliver Crayke’s acquittal. This strange supplement must have been added quite recently. And thus the madman wrote I have it! The great secret! I walk invisible at will, and no man can behold me ! Now I am free to act—to go forth and slay-slay 1 It is my mission, and I will do it. Kill—killkill ! I go abroad unseen by mortal eye and strike my victims down on every side. The blow is felt, while the hand that deals it is hidden from all human eyes. And I have been moving in your midst for years, fools ! and you did not know it, Oh ! I have had a feast of blood, and hunger yet for more. You know me now, fools! For years you have been hanging men for deeds of mine all mine. You banged John Wrjght at Derby for the murder of his wife. But I did it—l—walking invisible at night. I strangl' d her in her bed, ant watched tire trial of hit husband. Who slew Philip Graves at Bristol —he who was found battered and dead in a ditch ? Not 1 rbort Wayne, who diod upon the gallows, hut I—l—Oliver Crayke It was I who poisoned Amos Hunt’ey, not the man Williams whom you convicted. The Durham murder, the Cambridge murder, the Harrow murder were all my doing, and you hanged the wrong men for all. Aha ! I sat and watched the trials from first to last, and listened to the evidence, to every word 1 All wrong—all wrong ! It was I did it all —I Oliver Gayko, the King of tho Murderers, who walks invisible, and slays—slays—slays—no eye seeing the hand that strikes. And I have more worn to do. To-night-this very night he dies, that dwarf of mine, a wretched victim; but I must kill him to keep my skill in iracticc, Come an l look at him, all you fools—see him as he lies here dead. Then search for me and find mo if you can ! I shall be there—there under your very eyes ; but my secret will protect mo, and you w ill look for me in vain. But I shall be seated here in my palace—Gore House, well named—high on my throne, surrounded by my court of corpses—the victims IJbave s’ain—l,

Oliver Crayke, The King of the Murderers 1 “ The man is a raving and homicidal maniac!” cried Dr Elliot, when he had at last deciphered that strange effusion. “Great heavens I What fearful mischief may he not do, and even this very night I And he talks about killing that wretched dwarf of his. Verhaps ho has done so already. Yet it might not be too late to prevent him.” Mark looked at his watch. It was eleven o’clock. He felt that he dared not retire to rest with this murderous maniac at large, and with tho knowledge he possessed of his bloodthirsty intentions. His mind was made up. He would seek police assistance and go to Gore House at onco. If the madman were merely under a delusion, and had no means or intention of mischief, no harm would bo done ; if otherwise, much harm might be prevented. So he quietly informed Sarah that he had to go out; told her not to disturb her mistress, and then, putting on his hat and coat and arming himself with a heavy stick, act forth on his strange errand. He resided now at Kensington, and thence he drove with all speed to tho neighborhood in which he formerly lived. On arriving there lie proceeded at onco to the police station where Helen had procured assistance, as she thought, to save his life. The same staunch aid was now placed at his disposal, and, accompanied by the two officers, Saunders and Kelly, ho hastened to tho madman’s house.

They entered the grounds and surveyed ;he premises. “There’s something up I” cried Saunders. Look there, doctor.”

The policeman pointed to the upper windows of the building, and a strange eight presented itself. A light was visible in one of those windows ; but in ft moment it disappeared, to be seen again in the next. Then this window again was lost in darkness, and in a minute or two one on the second floor was lighted up. And so from window to window the gleam of brightness passed, ever descending lower and lower in the house _ “What do you make of this? asked Mark. “There’s somebody moving about the house from room to room,” replied Saunders; “ that’s clear. Let us go a little nearer.” They approached tho main door of tho building and paused. “ Hark I” cried Saunders. “Do you here that?” , , They all listened, and presently they heard at intervals distinct shouts of “ Murder I” “ Help !” “ Mercy I” “If anything is to he done,” said Saunders, “wc must look sharp. I think wo know our way about here by this lime. Come round to the hack, doctor.” As ho spoke, the policeman hurried to tho rear of the premises, followed by his companions, and gained the back door by which he had previously obtained entrance. The door was fastened. “ Never mind that I” exclaimed Saunders. “ Here, doctor, lend us your stick. Wc will get in somehow.” Taking Mark’s stick, tho policeman broke a square of glass in the window of the kitchen and soon made his way into the apartment, admitting Dr Elliot and Kelly by the door. Not a moment did they hesitate, hut hurried out of tho kitchen along the passage to near the foot of the old oak staircase. At that instant heavy footsteps were heard descending the stairs in hot haste, and even as they reached the spot tho dwarf Jabcz came tumbling down tho steps in wild, long leaps, and his ungainly figure flashed past them as the panic - stricken creature fled for his life. Close behind him followed hia raving master. Down the stairs flew Oliver Crayke, holding a lamp in one hand and a long, glittering knife in the other. It was but for an instant that Mark Elliot and his companions caught sight of the maniac, as he, too, flashed past them, his eyes bloodshot and staring in mad fury, and his long yellowred hair streaming behind him. There was no time to stop either pursuer or pursued, Before Dr Elliot or the officers

could reach the foot of the stairs, Jabez had darted along the passage and into the sitting room, the madman close upon his heels. But the next instant the rescuers were after them and in the room.

“ Halloa !” cried Saunders; “ what’s this ?” For now they beheld a surprising spectacle. In the panelled wall, which they once thought solid, they saw an opening or door leading into an inner room, and through that aperture tho maniac and his victim had rushed.

Mark Elliot was about to follow them when Saunders stopped him. “Take care, doctor,” he cried; “you don't know what may be behind there.” At this moment they heard tho noise of some metallic object tailing, and both rooms were plunged in darkness. Then from the inner apartment came the sound of scurrying feet, as though the madman were chasing the dwarf round and round the room.

“ Let us go in, for Heaven’s sake,” cried Mark, “ or murder will be done !” But Saunders stood at the door in the panelled wall and barred the way. It was but a few seconds. There Ayas a stamping and scrambling of feet, a shriek of terror or despair, and then a sound of a dull, heavy thud as of a body falling to some distant depth. After that all was silence,

The police were provided with a pocket lantern, and this was soon lighted ; then the whole party stole cautiously into the secret room.

Saunders went first, stepping with care, tho others following, and with a rapid glance surveyed the chamber. First his eye fell on tho lamp which Oliver Crayke had dropped, while near it lay the madman’s knife. Then the rays of the lantern revealed a shapeless form—that of the dwarf —huddled up in a corner and shaking with terror. But of Oliver Crayke no trace could bo found.

“ I don’t sec him anywhere,” cried Saunders. “Ho has made himself invisible indeed.”

Mark Elliot was advancing into the room, when ho was again stopped by the policeman. “ Mind what you are about, doctor,” he exclaimed ; “ look doxvn there 1 ’

And then they discovered the dark gap in the floor opening to the dismal vault. “ That’s where he has gone,” said Saunders examiningtho aperture with the lantern. “ Halloa ! here’s a flight of steps.” “Someone must descend,” cried Dr Elliot; “tho wretched man may be lying maimed below.”

Even the officer, courageous as they were, hesitated to enter that dreadful vault, and shook their beads.

“ Well, if you will not go down, I will,” said Mark. “Show me a light.” Then Dr Elliot descended tho ladder to the depths of the vault, aud there, at tho foot of tho steps, ho found tho body of a man—the body of Oliver Crayke. “ Bring down the light—quick!” he cried; and Saunders joined him. Dr Elliot lifted the inanimate form of the maniac in his arms, and as he din so the head fell loosely aside upon tho shoulder, “The man is dead!” he exclaimed. “ His neck is broken by the fall! ’ CHAPTER XVI. CONCLUSION. To a man of impulsive temperament, who is not uufrequently wrong in his conjectures and suspicions, it is comforting to find that in some matter involving considerable difference of opinion he has been light. Such a satisfaction it was tin [[privilege of Mark Elliot to enjoy in the case of the late Oliver Crayke. He always thought tho man was not altogether sane, and so it had proved. “ A pleasant state of things to think of !” ho mentally exclaimed ; “ that a man, to all outward appearance, and in the eyes of ordinary observers, thoroughly in his senses, his acts consistent and natural, his talk coherent and reasonable, should be creeping about in the midst of society a prey to the impulses of a murderous monomania ! The idea of such a thing does not tend to make one feel comfortable. Yet how common it is for weak minds to saturate themselves, as it were, with tho contemplation of crimes of homicide until they seem to live in a very atmosphere of bloodshed! Half the hideous murders one hears of—especially those for which no adequate motive appears—are probably to be traced to such causes. And it is only going a step further to imagine a creature like that horrible Crayke becoming gradually more and more subject to the influence of a monomania of this sort, till it overmasters him, inspires him with a mad vanity, and impels him to commit crime from a sheer craze for distinction in the art of murder. De Quincey’a quaint fancy was, perhaps, not merely a grim literary joke, after all. Fortunately this particular maniac chose a suitable victim. At any rate ho only murdered a murderer, and Abel Wynd was paid in his own coin. However, there is an end of Mr Oliver Crayke, and it is to be hoped that there are no more of his stamp at large.” Nothing did Dr Elliot say to his wife on thispainfulsubject, though ho often discussed it with his professional brethren. Indeed, after the last dismal proceedings connected with tho tragic death of Oliver Crayke, Mark and Helen never alluded to the man or to his victim, Abel Wynd. They bad many other and far more agreeable topics of conversation, and in all things there was absolute confidence between them. That one misunderstanding with regard to Mrs Fleming only rendered their mutual trust tho sweeter, just as the memory of their long engagement gave an added zest to their sense of happiness in their married state.

And Mark and Helen were very happy indeed. All those bright hopes to which each had looked forward for so many years —hopes so long deferred were amply realised. They were now comfortably housed in a pretty home in the “ old Court suburb ” of Kensington, where Dr Elliot had established himself in a thriving practice, the good-will of which had been purchased out of Helen’s share of Stephen Musgrave’s money, and he was doing very well indeed.

Ralph’s marriage with May Hartopp was also a success, and the young gentleman in the course of a short time found himself able to set up in business on his own account, taking Tom into it, with groat advantage to both brothers.

Mark and Helen received another visit shortly after their marriage from the lady who was formerly Mrs Fleming,- and this time she brought her husband with her. They were delighted with the baron, who spoke very fair English, and was as charming in manner as all French gentlemen are. It was satisfactory to know that he “ wore well ” as a husband, and in their mutual confidences the baroness assured Helen that she loved her Alphonse a great deal better than ever she fancied she loved Mark Elliot, Mark and Helen were chatting about their old friends one day after breakfast in their cosy sitting room, while their first-born babe lay slumbering peacefully in his cradle at Helen’s feet.

“ We must really go and see them next summer, Lennic,” said Mark; “and spend our holiday at their chateau, I daresay they would not turn ns away, even if ve took that young squaller with us.” “ I am sure,” replied Helen, “they would be delighted to have us. How often has Mrs Fleming—l really must call her sopressed us to come! Besides, Una would be overjoyed to see baby. I wonder, by-the-byo, how that young lady is getting on. The baroness said nothing about her in her last letter, which, you know, I received months ago.” Then the subject dropped, and Dr Elliot resumed the perusal of his newspaper. Presently he uttered an exclamation : “What’s the matter, Mark?” asked Helen.

“ Oh, nothing particular,” replied her husband. “By the way, would you like to go to the theatre this evening, Lennie ?” “ Very much indeed, Mark dear. What theatre ?” “ The Variety.” “ Why the Variety ? Is there anything very good going on there ?” “ Well, a new actress has just made her debut in ‘ The Little Treasure,’ and she is spoken of as having had a great success, and as showing remarkable promise." “ Indeed ! What is her name ?” “ Una Fleming." [the end.]

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18891005.2.30.2

Bibliographic details

PAID IN HIS OWN COIN., Issue 8030, 5 October 1889, Supplement

Word Count
4,666

PAID IN HIS OWN COIN. Issue 8030, 5 October 1889, Supplement

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