THE STRANGE CASE OF CAVENDISH
"The Devils Own," "Beyond the Frontier," "When Wilderness Was King,"
A. L. Burt Company
Publishers New York
Published by arrangement with George H. Doran Company
by Randall Parrish
Printed in the United States of America
I THE REACHING OF A DECISION
II THE BODY ON THE FLOOR
III MR. ENRIGHT DECLARES HIMSELF
IV A BREATH OF SUSPICION
V ON THE TRACK OF A CRIME
VI AT STEINWAY'S
VII MISS DONOVAN ARRIVES
VIII A GANG OF ENEMIES
IX A NIGHT AND A MORNING
X AT A NEW ANGLE
XI DEAD OR ALIVE
XII VIEWED FROM BOTH SIDES
XIII THE SHOT OF DEATH
XIV LACY LEARNS THE TRUTH
XV MISS LA RUE PAYS A CALL
XVII IN THE SHOSHONE DESERT
XVIII IN MEXICAN POWER
XIX WESTCOTT FINDS HIMSELF ALONE
XX TO COMPEL AN ANSWER
XXI THE MARSHAL PLAYS A HAND
XXII THE ROCK IN THE STREAM
XXIII THE ESCAPE
XXIV THE CAVE IN THE CLIFF
XXV IN THE DARK PASSAGE
XXVI THE REAPPEARANCE OF CAVENDISH
XXVII A DANGEROUS PRISONER
XXVIII WITH BACK TO THE WALL
XXIX A NEEDLE IN A HAYSTACK
XXX ON THE EDGE OF THE CLIFF
XXXI WITH FORCE OF ARMS
XXXII IN THE TWO CABINS
XXXIII THE REAL MR. CAVENDISH
XXXIV MISS DONOVAN DECIDES
THE STRANGE CASE OF CAVENDISH
CHAPTER I: THE REACHING OF A DECISION
For the second time that night Frederick Cavendish, sitting at a small
table in a busy café where the night life of the city streamed
continually in and out, regarded the telegram spread out upon the white
napery. It read:
Bear Creek, Colorado, 4/2/15.
New York City.
Found big lead; lost it again. Need you badly.
For the second time that night, too, a picture rose before him, a
picture of great plains, towering mountains, and open spaces that spoke
the freedom and health of outdoor living. He had known that life once
before, when he and Jim Westcott had prospected and hit the trail
together, and its appeal to him now after three years of shallow
sightseeing in the city was deeper than ever.
"Good old Jim," he murmured, "struck pay-dirt at last only to lose it
and he needs me. By George, I think I'll go."
And why should he not? Only twenty-nine, he could still afford to
spend a few years in search of living. His fortune left him at the
death of his father was safely invested, and he had no close friends in
the city and no relatives, except a cousin, John Cavendish, for whom he
held no love, and little regard.
He had almost determined upon going to Bear Creek to meet Westcott and
was calling for his check when his attention was arrested by a noisy
party of four that boisterously took seats at a near-by table.
Cavendish recognised the two women as members of the chorus of the
prevailing Revue, one of them Celeste La Rue, an aggressive blonde with
thin lips and a metallic voice, whose name was synonymous with midnight
escapades and flowing wine. His contemptuous smile at the sight of
them deepened into a disgusted sneer when he saw that one of the men
was John Cavendish, his cousin.
The two men's eyes met, and the younger, a slight, mild-eyed youth with
a listless chin, excused himself and presented himself at the elder's
"Won't you join us?" he said nervously.
Frederick Cavendish's trim, bearded jaw tightened and he shook his
head. "They are not my people," he said shortly, then retreating,
begged, "John, when are you going to cut that sort out?"
"You make me weary!" the boy snapped. "It's easy enough for you to
talk when you've got all the money - that gives you an excuse to read me
moral homilies every time I ask you for a dollar, but Miss La Rue is as
good as any of your friends any day."
The other controlled himself. "What is it you want?" he demanded
directly: "Money? If so, how much?"
"A hundred will do," the younger man said eagerly. "I lost a little on
cards lately, and have to borrow. To-night I met the girl - - "
Frederick Cavendish silenced him and tendered him the bills. "Now," he
said gravely, "this is the last, unless - unless you cut out such people
as Celeste La Rue and others that you train with. I'm tired of paying
bills for your inane extravagances and parties. I can curtail your
income and what's more, I will unless you change."
"Cut me off?" The younger Cavendish's voice took on an incredulous
The other nodded. "Just that," he said. "You've reached the limit."
For a moment the dissipated youth surveyed his cousin, then an angry
flush mounted into his pasty face.
"You - you - " he stuttered, " - you go to hell."
Without another word the elderly Cavendish summoned the waiter, paid
the bill, and walked toward the door. John stared after him, a smile
of derision on his face. He had heard Cavendish threaten before.
"Your cousin seemed peeved," suggested Miss La Rue.
"It's his nature," explained John. "Got sore because I asked him for a
mere hundred and threatened to cut off my income unless I quit you two."
"You told him where to go," Miss La Rue said, laughing. "I heard you,
but I don't suppose he'll go - he doesn't look like that kind."
"Anyhow, I told him," laughed John; then producing a large bill, cried:
"Drink up, people, they're on me - and goody-goody cousin Fred."
When Frederick Cavendish reached the street and the fresh night air
raced through his lungs he came to a sudden realisation and then a
resolution. The realisation was that since further pleading would
avail nothing with John Cavendish, he needed a lesson. The resolution
was to give it to him. Both strengthened his previous half-hearted
desire to meet Westcott, into determination.
He turned the matter over in his mind as he walked along until
reflection was ended by the doors of the College Club which appeared
abruptly and took him in their swinging circle. He went immediately to
the writing-room, laid aside his things and sat down. The first thing
to do, he decided, was to obtain an attorney and consult him regarding
the proper steps. For no other reason than that they had met
occasionally in the corridor he thought of Patrick Enright, a heavy-set
man with a loud voice and given to wearing expensive clothes.
Calling a page boy, he asked that Enright be located if possible.
During the ensuing wait he outlined on a scrap of paper what he
proposed doing. Fifteen minutes passed before Enright, suave and
apparently young except for growing baldness, appeared.
"I take it you are Mr. Cavendish," he said, advancing, "and that you
are in immediate need of an attorney's counsel."
Cavendish nodded, shook hands, and motioned him into a chair. "I have
been called suddenly out of town, Mr. Enright," he explained, "and for
certain reasons which need not be disclosed I deem it necessary to
execute a will. I am the only son of the late William Huntington
Cavendish; also his sole heir, and in the event of my death without a
will, the property would descend to my only known relative, a cousin."
"His name?" Mr. Enright asked.
The lawyer nodded. Of young Cavendish he evidently knew.
"Because of his dissolute habits I have decided to dispose of a large
portion of my estate elsewhere in case of my early death. I have here
a rough draft of what I want done." He showed the paper. "All that I
require is that it be transposed into legal form."
Enright took the paper and read it carefully. The bulk of the
$1,000,000 Cavendish estate was willed to charitable organisations, and
a small allowance, a mere pittance, was provided for John Cavendish.
After a few inquiries the attorney said sharply: "You want this
"Since it can be made brief I may possibly be able to do it on the
girl's machine in the office. You do not mind waiting a moment?"
Cavendish shook his head, and rising, the attorney disappeared in the
direction of the office. Cavendish heaved a sigh of relief; now he was
free, absolutely free, to do as he chose. His disappearance would mean
nothing to his small circle of casual friends, and when he was settled
elsewhere he could notify the only two men who were concerned with his
whereabouts - his valet, Valois, and the agent handling the estate. He
thought of beginning a letter to John, but hesitated, and when Enright
returned he found him with pen in hand.
"A trifling task," the attorney smiled easily. "All ready for your
signature, too. You sign there, the second line. But wait - we must
Simms, the butler, and the doorman were called in and wrote their names
to the document and then withdrew, after which Enright began folding it
"I presume you leave this in my care?" he asked shortly.
Cavendish shook his head: "I think not. I prefer holding it myself in
case it is needed suddenly. I shall keep my rooms, and my man Valois
will remain there indefinitely. Now as to your charges."
A nominal sum was named and paid, after which Cavendish rose, picked up
his hat and stick and turned to Enright.
"You have obliged me greatly," he smiled, "and, of course, the
transaction will be considered as strictly confidential." And then
seeing Enright's nod bade him a courteous "Good night."
The attorney watched him disappear. Suddenly he struck the table with
"By God!" he muttered, "I'll have to see this thing a little further."
Wheeling suddenly, he walked to a telephone booth, called a number and
waited impatiently several moments before he said in intense subdued
tones: "Is this Carlton's Café? Give me Jackson, the head-waiter.
Jackson, is Mr. Cavendish - John Cavendish - there? Good! Call him to
the phone will you, Jackson? It's important."
CHAPTER II: THE BODY ON THE FLOOR
The early light of dawn stealing in faintly through the spider-web of
the fire-escape ladder, found a partially open window on the third
floor of the Waldron apartments, and began slowly to brighten the walls
of the room within. There were no curtains on this window as upon the
others, and the growing radiance streamed in revealing the whole
interior. It was a large apartment, furnished soberly and in excellent
taste as either lounging-room or library, the carpet a dark green, the
walls delicately tinted, bearing a few rare prints rather sombrely
framed, and containing a few upholstered chairs; a massive sofa, and a
library table bearing upon it a stack of magazines.
Its tenant evidently was of artistic leanings for about the room were
several large bronze candle-sticks filled with partially burned tapers.
A low bookcase extended along two sides of the room, each shelf filled,
and at the end of the cases a heavy imported drapery drawn slightly
aside revealed the entrance to a sleeping apartment, the bed's snowy
covering unruffled. Wealth, taste and comfort were everywhere manifest.
Yet, as the light lengthened, the surroundings evidenced disorder. One
chair lay overturned, a porcelain vase had fallen from off the
table-top to the floor and scattered into fragments. A few magazines
had fallen also, and there were miscellaneous papers scattered about
the carpet, one or two of them torn as though jerked open by an
impatient hand. Still others lying near the table disclosed corners
charred by fire, and as an eddy of wind whisked through the window and
along the floor it tumbled brown ashes along with it, at the same time
diluting the faint odour of smoke that clung to the room. Back of the
table a small safe embedded in the wall stood with its door wide open,
its inner drawer splintered as with a knife blade and hanging half out,
and below it a riffle of papers, many of them apparently legal
But the one object across which the golden beams of light fell as
though in soft caress was the motionless figure of a man lying upon his
back beside the table near the drapeless window. Across his face and
shoulders were the charred remains of what undoubtedly had been
curtains on that window. A three-socketed candle-stick filled with
partially burned candles which doubtless had been knocked from the
table was mute evidence of how the tiny flame had started upon its
short march. As to the man's injuries, a blow from behind had
evidently crushed his skull and, though the face was seared and burned,
though the curtain's partial ashes covered more than a half of it,
though the eye-lashes above the sightless eyes were singed and the trim
beard burned to black stubs, the face gave mute evidence of being that
of Frederick Cavendish.
In this grim scene a tiny clock on the mantel began pealing the hour of
eight. As though this were a signal for entrance, the door at the end
of the bookcase opened noiselessly and a man, smooth faced, his hair
brushed low across his forehead, stepped quietly in. As his eyes
surveyed the grewsome object by the table, they dilated with horror;
then his whole body stiffened and he fled back into the hall, crashing
the door behind him.
Ten minutes later he returned, not alone, however. This time his
companion was John Cavendish but partially dressed, his features white
With nervous hands he pushed open the door. At the sight of the body
he trembled a moment, then, mastering himself, strode over and touched
the dead face, the other meanwhile edging into the room.
"Dead, sir, really _dead_?" the late comer asked.
Cavendish nodded: "For several hours," he answered in an unnatural
voice. "He must have been struck from behind. Robbery evidently was
the object - cold-blooded robbery."
"The window is open, sir, and last night at twenty minutes after twelve
I locked it. Mr. Cavendish came in at twelve and locking the window
was the last thing I did before he told me I could go."
"He left no word for a morning call?"
Valois shook his head: "I always bring his breakfast at eight," he
"Did he say anything about suddenly leaving the city for a trip West?
I heard such a rumour."
"No, sir. He was still up when I left and had taken some papers from
his pocket. When last I saw him he was looking at them. He seemed
There was a moment's silence, during which the flush returned to
Cavendish's cheeks, but his hands still trembled.
"You heard nothing during the night?" he demanded.
"Nothing, sir. I swear I knew nothing until I opened the door and saw
the body a few moments ago."
"You'd better stick to your story, Valois," the other said sternly,
"The police will be here shortly. I'm going to call them, now."
He was calm, efficient, self-contained now as he got Central Station
upon the wire and began talking.
"Hello, lieutenant? Yes. This is John Cavendish of the Waldron
apartments speaking. My cousin, Frederick Cavendish, has been found
dead in his room and his safe rifled. Nothing has been disturbed.
Yes, at the Waldron, Fifty-Seventh Street. Please hurry."
Perhaps half an hour later the police came - two bull-necked
plain-clothes men and a flannel-mouthed "cop."
With them came three reporters, one of them a woman. She was a young
woman, plainly dressed and, though she could not be called beautiful,
there was a certain patrician prettiness in her small, oval, womanly
face with its grey kind eyes, its aquiline nose, its firm lips and
determined jaw, a certain charm in the manner in which her chestnut
hair escaped occasionally from under her trim hat. Young, aggressive,
keen of mind and tireless, Stella Donovan was one of the few good woman
reporters of the city and the only one the _Star_ kept upon its pinched
pay-roil. They did so because she could cover a man-size job and get a
feminine touch into her story after she did it. And, though her
customary assignments were "sob" stories, divorces, society events and
the tracking down of succulent bits of general scandal, she
nevertheless enjoyed being upon the scene of the murder even though she
was not assigned to it. This casual duty was for Willis, the _Star's_
"police" man, who had dragged her along with him for momentary company
over her protest that she must get a "yarn" concerning juvenile
prisoners for the Sunday edition.
"Now, we'll put 'em on the rack." Willis smiled as he left her side
and joined the detectives.
A flood of questions from the officers, interspersed frequently with a
number from Willis, and occasionally one from the youthful _Chronicle_
man, came down upon Valois and John Cavendish, while Miss Donovan,
silent and watchful, stood back, frequently letting her eyes admire the
tasteful prints upon the walls and the rich hangings in the room of
Valois repeated his experience, which was corroborated in part by the
testimony of John Cavendish's valet whom he had met and talked with in
the hall. The valet also testified that his employer, John Cavendish,
had come home not later than twelve o'clock and immediately retired.
Then John Cavendish established the fact that ten minutes before
arriving home he had dropped Celeste La Rue at her apartment. There
was no flaw in any of the stories to which the inquisitors could attach
suspicion. One thing alone seemed to irritate Willis.
"Are you sure," he said to Cavendish, "that the dead man is your
cousin? The face and chest are pretty badly burned you know, and I
thought perhaps - - "
A laugh from the detectives silenced him while Cavendish ended any
fleeting doubts with a contemptuous gaze.
"You can't fool a man on his own cousin, youngster," he said flatly.
"The idea is absurd."
The crime unquestionably was an outside job; the window opening on the
fire-escape had been jimmied, the marks left being clearly visible.
Apparently Frederick Cavendish had previously opened the safe
door - since it presented no evidence of being tampered with - and was
examining certain papers on the table, when the intruder had stolen up
from behind and dealt him a heavy blow probably, from the nature of the
wound, using a piece of lead pipe. Perhaps in falling Cavendish's arm
had caught in the curtains, pulling them from the supporting rod and
dragging them across the table, thus sweeping the candlestick with its
lighted tapers down to the floor with it. There the extinguished wicks
had ignited the draperies, which had fallen across the stricken man's
face and body. The clothes, torso, and legs, had been charred beyond
recognition but the face, by some peculiar whim of fate, had been
The marauder, aware that the flames would obliterate a portion, if not
all of the evidence against him, had rifled the safe in which, John
testified, his cousin always kept considerable money. Scattering
broadcast valueless papers, he had safely made his escape through the
window, leaving his victim's face to the licking flames. Foot-prints
below the window at the base of the fire-escape indicated that the
fugitive had returned that way. This was the sum of the evidence,
circumstantial and true, that was advanced. Satisfied that nothing
else was to be learned, the officers, detectives, Willis, and Miss
Donovan and the pale _Chronicle_ youth withdrew, leaving the officer on
The same day, young John, eager to be away from the scene, moved his
belongings to the Fairmount Hotel, and, since no will was found in the
dead man's papers, the entire estate came to him, as next of kin. A
day or two later the body was interred in the family lot beside the
father's grave, and the night of the funeral young John Cavendish dined
at an out-of-the-way road-house with a blonde with a hard metallic
voice. Her name was Miss Celeste La Rue.
And the day following he discharged Francois Valois without apparent
cause, in a sudden burst of temper. So, seemingly, the curtain fell on
the last act of the play.
CHAPTER III: MR. ENRIGHT DECLARES HIMSELF
One month after the Cavendish murder and two days after he had
despatched a casual, courteous note to John Cavendish requesting that
he call, Mr. Patrick Enright, of Enright and Dougherty, sat in his
private office on the top floor of the Collander Building in Cortlandt
Street waiting for the youth's appearance. Since young Cavendish had
consulted him before in minor matters, Mr. Enright had expected that he
would call voluntarily soon after the murder, but in this he was
disappointed. Realising that Broadway was very dear to the young man,
Enright had made allowances, until, weary of waiting, he decided to get
into the game himself and to this end had despatched the note, to which
Cavendish had replied both by telephone and note.
"He ought to be here now," murmured Mr. Enright sweetly, looking at his
watch, and soon the expected visitor was ushered in. Arising to his
feet the attorney extended a moist, pudgy hand.
"Quite prompt, John," he greeted. "Take the chair there - and pardon me
As the youth complied Enright opened the door, glanced into the outer
room, and gave orders not to be disturbed for the next half-hour.
Then, drawing in his head, closed the door and turned the key.
"John," he resumed smoothly, "I have been somewhat surprised that you
failed to consult me earlier regarding the will of your late cousin
"His - his will!" John leaned forward amazed, as he stared into the
other's expressionless face. "Did - did he leave one?"
"Oh! that's it," the attorney chuckled. "You didn't know about it, did
you? How odd. I thought I informed you of the fact over the phone the
same night Frederick died."
"You told me he had called upon you to prepare a will - but there was
none found in his papers."
"So I inferred from the newspaper accounts," Enright chuckled dryly,
his eyes narrowing, "as well as the information that you had applied
for letters of administration. In view of that, I thought a little
chat advisable - yes, quite advisable, since on the night of his death I
did draw up his will. Incidentally, I am the only one living aware
that such a will was drawn. You see my position?"
Young Cavendish didn't; this was all strange, confusing.
"The will," resumed Mr. Enright, "was drawn in proper form and duly
"There can't be such a will. None was found. You phoned me shortly
before midnight, and twenty minutes later Frederick was in his
apartments. He had no time to deposit it elsewhere. There is no such
Enright smiled, not pleasantly by any means.
"Possibly not," he said with quiet sinister gravity. "It was probably
destroyed and it was to gain possession of that will that Frederick
Cavendish was killed."
John leaped to his feet, his face bloodless: "My God!" he muttered
aghast, "do you mean to say - - "
"Sit down, John; this is no cause for quarrel. Now listen. I am not
accusing you of crime; not intentional crime, at least. There is no
reason why you should not naturally have desired to gain possession of
the will. If an accident happened, that was your misfortune. I merely
mention these things because I am your friend. Such friendship leads
me first to inform you what had happened over the phone. I realised
that Frederick's hasty determination to devise his property elsewhere
was the result of a quarrel. I believed it my duty to give you
opportunity to patch that quarrel up with the least possible delay.
Perhaps this was not entirely professional on my part, but the claims
of friendship are paramount to mere professional ethics."
He sighed, clasping and unclasping his hands, yet with eyes steadily
fixed upon Cavendish, who had sunk back into his chair.
"Now consider the situation, my dear fellow. I have, it is true,
performed an unprofessional act which, if known, would expose me to
severe criticism. There is, however, no taint of criminal intent about
my conduct and, no doubt, my course would be fully vindicated, were I
now to go directly before the court and testify to the existence of a
"But that could not be proved. You have already stated that Frederick
took the will with him; it has never been found."
"Quite true - or rather, it may have been found, and destroyed. It
chances, however, that I took the precaution to make a carbon copy."
"Yes, but along with this unsigned copy I also retain the original
memoranda furnished me in Frederick Cavendish's own handwriting. I
believe, from a legal standpoint, by the aid of my evidence, the court
would be very apt to hold such a will proved."