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"There was silence in the court for a few moments. Mr. Hazeldene seemed
to every one there present to be labouring under some terrible moral
doubt. He looked very pale and wretched, and twice attempted to speak
before he at last said in scarcely audible tones:

"'No; there were no financial difficulties of any sort. My wife had an
independent fortune of her own - she had no extravagant tastes - '

"'Nor any friend you at any time objected to?' insisted the coroner.

"'Nor any friend, I - at any time objected to,' stammered the unfortunate
young man, evidently speaking with an effort.

"I was present at the inquest," resumed the man in the corner, after he
had drunk a glass of milk and ordered another, "and I can assure you
that the most obtuse person there plainly realized that Mr. Hazeldene
was telling a lie. It was pretty plain to the meanest intelligence that
the unfortunate lady had not fallen into a state of morbid dejection for
nothing, and that perhaps there existed a third person who could throw
more light on her strange and sudden death than the unhappy, bereaved
young widower.

"That the death was more mysterious even than it had at first appeared
became very soon apparent. You read the case at the time, no doubt, and
must remember the excitement in the public mind caused by the evidence
of the two doctors. Dr. Arthur Jones, the lady's usual medical man, who
had attended her in a last very slight illness, and who had seen her in
a professional capacity fairly recently, declared most emphatically that
Mrs. Hazeldene suffered from no organic complaint which could possibly
have been the cause of sudden death. Moreover, he had assisted Mr.
Andrew Thornton, the district medical officer, in making a postmortem
examination, and together they had come to the conclusion that death was
due to the action of prussic acid, which had caused instantaneous
failure of the heart, but how the drug had been administered neither he
nor his colleague were at present able to state.

"'Do I understand, then, Dr. Jones, that the deceased died, poisoned
with prussic acid?'

"'Such is my opinion,' replied the doctor.

"'Did the bottle found in her satchel contain prussic acid?'

"'It had contained some at one time, certainly.'

"'In your opinion, then, the lady caused her own death by taking a dose
of that drug?'

"'Pardon me, I never suggested such a thing; the lady died poisoned by
the drug, but how the drug was administered we cannot say. By injection
of some sort, certainly. The drug certainly was not swallowed; there was
not a vestige of it in the stomach.'

"'Yes,' added the doctor in reply to another question from the coroner,
'death had probably followed the injection in this case almost
immediately; say within a couple of minutes, or perhaps three. It was
quite possible that the body would not have more than one quick and
sudden convulsion, perhaps not that; death in such cases is absolutely
sudden and crushing.'

"I don't think that at the time any one in the room realized how
important the doctor's statement was, a statement which, by the way, was
confirmed in all its details by the district medical officer, who had
conducted the postmortem. Mrs. Hazeldene had died suddenly from an
injection of prussic acid, administered no one knew how or when. She
had been travelling in a first-class railway carriage in a busy time of
the day. That young and elegant woman must have had singular nerve and
coolness to go through the process of a self-inflicted injection of a
deadly poison in the presence of perhaps two or three other persons.

"Mind you, when I say that no one there realized the importance of the
doctor's statement at that moment, I am wrong; there were three persons,
who fully understood at once the gravity of the situation, and the
astounding development which the case was beginning to assume.

"Of course, I should have put myself out of the question," added the
weird old man, with that inimitable self-conceit peculiar to himself. "I
guessed then and there in a moment where the police were going wrong,
and where they would go on going wrong until the mysterious death on the
Underground Railway had sunk into oblivion, together with the other
cases which they mismanage from time to time.

"I said there were three persons who understood the gravity of the two
doctors' statements - the other two were, firstly, the detective who had
originally examined the railway carriage, a young man of energy and
plenty of misguided intelligence, the other was Mr. Hazeldene.

"At this point the interesting element of the whole story was first
introduced into the proceedings, and this was done through the humble
channel of Emma Funnel, Mrs. Hazeldene's maid, who, as far as was known
then, was the last person who had seen the unfortunate lady alive and
had spoken to her.

"'Mrs. Hazeldene lunched at home,' explained Emma, who was shy, and
spoke almost in a whisper; 'she seemed well and cheerful. She went out
at about half-past three, and told me she was going to Spence's, in St.
Paul's Churchyard, to try on her new tailor-made gown. Mrs. Hazeldene
had meant to go there in the morning, but was prevented as Mr. Errington
called.'

"'Mr. Errington?' asked the coroner casually. 'Who is Mr. Errington?'

"But this Emma found difficult to explain. Mr. Errington was - Mr.
Errington, that's all.

"'Mr. Errington was a friend of the family. He lived in a flat in the
Albert Mansions. He very often came to Addison Row, and generally stayed
late.'

"Pressed still further with questions, Emma at last stated that latterly
Mrs. Hazeldene had been to the theatre several times with Mr. Errington,
and that on those nights the master looked very gloomy, and was very
cross.

"Recalled, the young widower was strangely reticent. He gave forth his
answers very grudgingly, and the coroner was evidently absolutely
satisfied with himself at the marvellous way in which, after a quarter
of an hour of firm yet very kind questionings, he had elicited from the
witness what information he wanted.

"Mr. Errington was a friend of his wife. He was a gentleman of means,
and seemed to have a great deal of time at his command. He himself did
not particularly care about Mr. Errington, but he certainly had never
made any observations to his wife on the subject.

"'But who is Mr. Errington?' repeated the coroner once more. 'What does
he do? What is his business or profession?'

"'He has no business or profession.

"'What is his occupation, then?

"He has no special occupation. He has ample private means. But he has a
great and very absorbing hobby.'

"'What is that?'

"'He spends all his time in chemical experiments, and is, I believe, as
an amateur, a very distinguished toxicologist.'"




CHAPTER XI

MR. ERRINGTON


"Did you ever see Mr. Errington, the gentleman so closely connected with
the mysterious death on the Underground Railway?" asked the man in the
corner as he placed one or two of his little snap-shot photos before
Miss Polly Burton.

"There he is, to the very life. Fairly good-looking, a pleasant face
enough, but ordinary, absolutely ordinary.

"It was this absence of any peculiarity which very nearly, but not
quite, placed the halter round Mr. Errington's neck.

"But I am going too fast, and you will lose the thread.

"The public, of course, never heard how it actually came about that Mr.
Errington, the wealthy bachelor of Albert Mansions, of the Grosvenor,
and other young dandies' clubs, one fine day found himself before the
magistrates at Bow Street, charged with being concerned in the death of
Mary Beatrice Hazeldene, late of No. 19, Addison Row.

"I can assure you both press and public were literally flabbergasted.
You see, Mr. Errington was a well-known and very popular member of a
certain smart section of London society. He was a constant visitor at
the opera, the racecourse, the Park, and the Carlton, he had a great
many friends, and there was consequently quite a large attendance at the
police court that morning.

"What had transpired was this:

"After the very scrappy bits of evidence which came to light at the
inquest, two gentlemen bethought themselves that perhaps they had some
duty to perform towards the State and the public generally. Accordingly
they had come forward, offering to throw what light they could upon the
mysterious affair on the Underground Railway.

"The police naturally felt that their information, such as it was, came
rather late in the day, but as it proved of paramount importance, and
the two gentlemen, moreover, were of undoubtedly good position in the
world, they were thankful for what they could get, and acted
accordingly; they accordingly brought Mr. Errington up before the
magistrate on a charge of murder.

"The accused looked pale and worried when I first caught sight of him in
the court that day, which was not to be wondered at, considering the
terrible position in which he found himself.

"He had been arrested at Marseilles, where he was preparing to start for
Colombo.

"I don't think he realized how terrible his position really was until
later in the proceedings, when all the evidence relating to the arrest
had been heard, and Emma Funnel had repeated her statement as to Mr.
Errington's call at 19, Addison Row, in the morning, and Mrs. Hazeldene
starting off for St. Paul's Churchyard at 3.30 in the afternoon.

"Mr. Hazeldene had nothing to add to the statements he had made at the
coroner's inquest. He had last seen his wife alive on the morning of the
fatal day. She had seemed very well and cheerful.

"I think every one present understood that he was trying to say as
little as possible that could in any way couple his deceased wife's name
with that of the accused.

"And yet, from the servant's evidence, it undoubtedly leaked out that
Mrs. Hazeldene, who was young, pretty, and evidently fond of admiration,
had once or twice annoyed her husband by her somewhat open, yet
perfectly innocent, flirtation with Mr. Errington.

"I think every one was most agreeably impressed by the widower's
moderate and dignified attitude. You will see his photo there, among
this bundle. That is just how he appeared in court. In deep black, of
course, but without any sign of ostentation in his mourning. He had
allowed his beard to grow lately, and wore it closely cut in a point.

"After his evidence, the sensation of the day occurred. A tall,
dark-haired man, with the word 'City' written metaphorically all over
him, had kissed the book, and was waiting to tell the truth, and nothing
but the truth.

"He gave his name as Andrew Campbell, head of the firm of Campbell &
Co., brokers, of Throgmorton Street.

"In the afternoon of March 18th Mr. Campbell, travelling on the
Underground Railway, had noticed a very pretty woman in the same
carriage as himself. She had asked him if she was in the right train for
Aldersgate. Mr. Campbell replied in the affirmative, and then buried
himself in the Stock Exchange quotations of his evening paper.

"At Gower Street, a gentleman in a tweed suit and bowler hat got into
the carriage, and took a seat opposite the lady.

"She seemed very much astonished at seeing him, but Mr. Andrew Campbell
did not recollect the exact words she said.

"The two talked to one another a good deal, and certainly the lady
appeared animated and cheerful. Witness took no notice of them; he was
very much engrossed in some calculations, and finally got out at
Farringdon Street. He noticed that the man in the tweed suit also got
out close behind him, having shaken hands with the lady, and said in a
pleasant way: '_Au revoir_! Don't be late to-night.' Mr. Campbell did
not hear the lady's reply, and soon lost sight of the man in the crowd.

"Every one was on tenter-hooks, and eagerly waiting for the palpitating
moment when witness would describe and identify the man who last had
seen and spoken to the unfortunate woman, within five minutes probably
of her strange and unaccountable death.

"Personally I knew what was coming before the Scotch stockbroker spoke.

"I could have jotted down the graphic and lifelike description he would
give of a probable murderer. It would have fitted equally well the man
who sat and had luncheon at this table just now; it would certainly have
described five out of every ten young Englishmen you know.

"The individual was of medium height, he wore a moustache which was not
very fair nor yet very dark, his hair was between colours. He wore a
bowler hat, and a tweed suit - and - and - that was all - Mr. Campbell might
perhaps know him again, but then again, he might not - he was not paying
much attention - the gentleman was sitting on the same side of the
carriage as himself - and he had his hat on all the time. He himself was
busy with his newspaper - yes - he might know him again - but he really
could not say.

"Mr. Andrew Campbell's evidence was not worth very much, you will say.
No, it was not in itself, and would not have justified any arrest were
it not for the additional statements made by Mr. James Verner, manager
of Messrs. Rodney & Co., colour printers.

"Mr. Verner is a personal friend of Mr. Andrew Campbell, and it appears
that at Farringdon Street, where he was waiting for his train, he saw
Mr. Campbell get out of a first-class railway carriage. Mr. Verner spoke
to him for a second, and then, just as the train was moving off, he
stepped into the same compartment which had just been vacated by the
stockbroker and the man in the tweed suit. He vaguely recollects a lady
sitting in the opposite corner to his own, with her face turned away
from him, apparently asleep, but he paid no special attention to her. He
was like nearly all business men when they are travelling - engrossed in
his paper. Presently a special quotation interested him; he wished to
make a note of it, took out a pencil from his waistcoat pocket, and
seeing a clean piece of paste-board on the floor, he picked it up, and
scribbled on it the memorandum, which he wished to keep. He then
slipped the card into his pocket-book.

"'It was only two or three days later,' added Mr. Verner in the midst of
breathless silence, 'that I had occasion to refer to these same notes
again.

"'In the meanwhile the papers had been full of the mysterious death on
the Underground Railway, and the names of those connected with it were
pretty familiar to me. It was, therefore, with much astonishment that on
looking at the paste-board which I had casually picked up in the railway
carriage I saw the name on it, "Frank Errington."'

"There was no doubt that the sensation in court was almost
unprecedented. Never since the days of the Fenchurch Street mystery, and
the trial of Smethurst, had I seen so much excitement. Mind you, I was
not excited - I knew by now every detail of that crime as if I had
committed it myself. In fact, I could not have done it better, although
I have been a student of crime for many years now. Many people
there - his friends, mostly - believed that Errington was doomed. I think
he thought so, too, for I could see that his face was terribly white,
and he now and then passed his tongue over his lips, as if they were
parched.

"You see he was in the awful dilemma - a perfectly natural one, by the
way - of being absolutely incapable of _proving_ an _alibi_. The
crime - if crime there was - had been committed three weeks ago. A man
about town like Mr. Frank Errington might remember that he spent certain
hours of a special afternoon at his club, or in the Park, but it is very
doubtful in nine cases out of ten if he can find a friend who could
positively swear as to having seen him there. No! no! Mr. Errington was
in a tight corner, and he knew it. You see, there were - besides the
evidence - two or three circumstances which did not improve matters for
him. His hobby in the direction of toxicology, to begin with. The police
had found in his room every description of poisonous substances,
including prussic acid.

"Then, again, that journey to Marseilles, the start for Colombo, was,
though perfectly innocent, a very unfortunate one. Mr. Errington had
gone on an aimless voyage, but the public thought that he had fled,
terrified at his own crime. Sir Arthur Inglewood, however, here again
displayed his marvellous skill on behalf of his client by the masterly
way in which he literally turned all the witnesses for the Crown inside
out.

"Having first got Mr. Andrew Campbell to state positively that in the
accused he certainly did _not_ recognize the man in the tweed suit, the
eminent lawyer, after twenty minutes' cross-examination, had so
completely upset the stockbroker's equanimity that it is very likely he
would not have recognized his own office-boy.

"But through all his flurry and all his annoyance Mr. Andrew Campbell
remained very sure of one thing; namely, that the lady was alive and
cheerful, and talking pleasantly with the man in the tweed suit up to
the moment when the latter, having shaken hands with her, left her with
a pleasant '_Au revoir_! Don't be late to-night.' He had heard neither
scream nor struggle, and in his opinion, if the individual in the tweed
suit had administered a dose of poison to his companion, it must have
been with her own knowledge and free will; and the lady in the train
most emphatically neither looked nor spoke like a woman prepared for a
sudden and violent death.

"Mr. James Verner, against that, swore equally positively that he had
stood in full view of the carriage door from the moment that Mr.
Campbell got out until he himself stepped into the compartment, that
there was no one else in that carriage between Farringdon Street and
Aldgate, and that the lady, to the best of his belief, had made no
movement during the whole of that journey.

"No; Frank Errington was _not_ committed for trial on the capital
charge," said the man in the corner with one of his sardonic smiles,
"thanks to the cleverness of Sir Arthur Inglewood, his lawyer. He
absolutely denied his identity with the man in the tweed suit, and swore
he had not seen Mrs. Hazeldene since eleven o'clock in the morning of
that fatal day. There was no _proof_ that he had; moreover, according to
Mr. Campbell's opinion, the man in the tweed suit was in all probability
not the murderer. Common sense would not admit that a woman could have a
deadly poison injected into her without her knowledge, while chatting
pleasantly to her murderer.

"Mr. Errington lives abroad now. He is about to marry. I don't think any
of his real friends for a moment believed that he committed the
dastardly crime. The police think they know better. They do know this
much, that it could not have been a case of suicide, that if the man who
undoubtedly travelled with Mrs. Hazeldene on that fatal afternoon had no
crime upon his conscience he would long ago have come forward and thrown
what light he could upon the mystery.

"As to who that man was, the police in their blindness have not the
faintest doubt. Under the unshakable belief that Errington is guilty
they have spent the last few months in unceasing labour to try and find
further and stronger proofs of his guilt. But they won't find them,
because there are none. There are no positive proofs against the actual
murderer, for he was one of those clever blackguards who think of
everything, foresee every eventuality, who know human nature well, and
can foretell exactly what evidence will be brought against them, and act
accordingly.

"This blackguard from the first kept the figure, the personality, of
Frank Errington before his mind. Frank Errington was the dust which the
scoundrel threw metaphorically in the eyes of the police, and you must
admit that he succeeded in blinding them - to the extent even of making
them entirely forget the one simple little sentence, overheard by Mr.
Andrew Campbell, and which was, of course, the clue to the whole
thing - the only slip the cunning rogue made - '_Au revoir_! Don't be late
to-night.' Mrs. Hazeldene was going that night to the opera with her
husband -

"You are astonished?" he added with a shrug of the shoulders, "you do
not see the tragedy yet, as I have seen it before me all along. The
frivolous young wife, the flirtation with the friend? - all a blind, all
pretence. I took the trouble which the police should have taken
immediately, of finding out something about the finances of the
Hazeldene _ménage_. Money is in nine cases out of ten the keynote to a
crime.

"I found that the will of Mary Beatrice Hazeldene had been proved by
the husband, her sole executor, the estate being sworn at £15,000. I
found out, moreover, that Mr. Edward Sholto Hazeldene was a poor
shipper's clerk when he married the daughter of a wealthy builder in
Kensington - and then I made note of the fact that the disconsolate
widower had allowed his beard to grow since the death of his wife.

"There's no doubt that he was a clever rogue," added the strange
creature, leaning excitedly over the table, and peering into Polly's
face. "Do you know how that deadly poison was injected into the poor
woman's system? By the simplest of all means, one known to every
scoundrel in Southern Europe. A ring - yes! a ring, which has a tiny
hollow needle capable of holding a sufficient quantity of prussic acid
to have killed two persons instead of one. The man in the tweed suit
shook hands with his fair companion - probably she hardly felt the prick,
not sufficiently in any case to make her utter a scream. And, mind you,
the scoundrel had every facility, through his friendship with Mr.
Errington, of procuring what poison he required, not to mention his
friend's visiting card. We cannot gauge how many months ago he began to
try and copy Frank Errington in his style of dress, the cut of his
moustache, his general appearance, making the change probably so
gradual, that no one in his own _entourage_ would notice it. He
selected for his model a man his own height and build, with the same
coloured hair."

"But there was the terrible risk of being identified by his
fellow-traveller in the Underground," suggested Polly.

"Yes, there certainly was that risk; he chose to take it, and he was
wise. He reckoned that several days would in any case elapse before that
person, who, by the way, was a business man absorbed in his newspaper,
would actually see him again. The great secret of successful crime is to
study human nature," added the man in the corner, as he began looking
for his hat and coat. "Edward Hazeldene knew it well."

"But the ring?"

"He may have bought that when he was on his honeymoon," he suggested
with a grim chuckle; "the tragedy was not planned in a week, it may have
taken years to mature. But you will own that there goes a frightful
scoundrel unhung. I have left you his photograph as he was a year ago,
and as he is now. You will see he has shaved his beard again, but also
his moustache. I fancy he is a friend now of Mr. Andrew Campbell."

He left Miss Polly Burton wondering, not knowing what to believe.

And that is why she missed her appointment with Mr. Richard Frobisher
(of the _London Mail_) to go and see Maud Allan dance at the Palace
Theatre that afternoon.




CHAPTER XII

THE LIVERPOOL MYSTERY


"A title - a foreign title, I mean - is always very useful for purposes of
swindles and frauds," remarked the man in the corner to Polly one day.
"The cleverest robberies of modern times were perpetrated lately in
Vienna by a man who dubbed himself Lord Seymour; whilst over here the
same class of thief calls himself Count Something ending in 'o,' or
Prince the other, ending in 'off.'"

"Fortunately for our hotel and lodging-house keepers over here," she
replied, "they are beginning to be more alive to the ways of foreign
swindlers, and look upon all titled gentry who speak broken English as
possible swindlers or thieves."

"The result sometimes being exceedingly unpleasant to the real _grands
seigneurs_ who honour this country at times with their visits," replied
the man in the corner. "Now, take the case of Prince Semionicz, a man
whose sixteen quarterings are duly recorded in Gotha, who carried enough
luggage with him to pay for the use of every room in an hotel for at
least a week, whose gold cigarette case with diamond and turquoise
ornament was actually stolen without his taking the slightest trouble to
try and recover it; that same man was undoubtedly looked upon with
suspicion by the manager of the Liverpool North-Western Hotel from the
moment that his secretary - a dapper, somewhat vulgar little
Frenchman - bespoke on behalf of his employer, with himself and a valet,


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