Like the one that was murdered

One month after the death of John Alder, the two detectives, Parge and
Gebb, sat in the room of the former, discussing the now solved mystery
of the Grangebury Murder Case. On the table there lay a cheque for two
hundred pounds made payable to Absalom Gebb, and signed by Edith
Wedderburn. The conversation was mostly about this cheque and how it
should be divided between them so as to compensate each with due
fairness. The matter was a delicate one, and could not be settled
without some sharp words on either side.

“After all, Simon,” remonstrated Gebb, in vexed tones, “I did most of
the work and deserve the reward for my pains.”

“You don’t deserve all of it,” retorted Parge, captiously.

“I don’t claim all of it. I say divide it into two parts of one
hundred pounds each. That will pay me, and much more than compensate
you.”

“I don’t know so much about that,” grunted the fat man. “I’ve done a
deal of thinking over the case, I can tell you. And it was me who
found out the murderer. So in justice I ought to have the whole two
hundred pounds.”

Gebb snatched up the cheque, and slipped it into his pocket. “If you
talk like that you won’t have a single penny!” he cried wrathfully,
for he was disgusted with the avarice of his coadjutor. “In the
goodness of her heart Miss Wedderburn considered that she should pay
the reward out of the estate, and did so–to me; there was no word of
you, Mr. Parge, when she signed this cheque.”

“I dare say not,” growled Simon, savagely, “that’s gratitude, that is;
yet if it hadn’t been for me her father-in-law to be would have swung
for a murder as he didn’t commit.”

“Don’t you make any mistake about that, Simon,” replied Gebb, dryly,
“Mr. Dean could have proved his innocence without you in both cases.
The confession of Miss Gilmar shows that she killed Kirkstone, and the
evidence of the hotel-keeper of the Golden Hind proves that Dean slept
there at the very hour of the murder. He would have been declared
innocent even if you hadn’t discovered the truth.”

“Well, I did, anyhow,” declared the other, sulkily.

“So did Mr. Basson, if you come to that.”

“Rubbish!” cried Parge. “He only heard the confession of Alder.”

“Well, and didn’t that reveal the truth? As a matter of fact, in the
face of that confession, Miss Wedderburn need not have paid the reward
to any one. However, she thought that I deserved payment for all my
work, so she gave me this money. It is only because you are a pal, and
because I know you’ve helped in the matter, that I give you fifty
pounds for yourself.”

“Fifty pounds!” roared the fat man, growing purple with rage. “You
said one hundred just now.”

“So I did; but I’ve taken off fifty for your greediness, Simon. I
don’t need to give you a single stiver if it comes to that.”

“I’ll never help you again!”

“Much I care!” retorted Gebb. “I can get on without you. And I can’t
say as I care to work with a man as doesn’t know when his friend is
doing him a good turn. You say another word, Simon Parge, and I’ll
reduce your reward to twenty-five pounds.”

If Parge had been able to move he would no doubt have fallen on Gebb;
but chained as he was to his chair, he could do nothing but glare at
his junior with a fierce eye and a very red face. He knew very well
that Gebb was acting in the most generous manner in offering to share
the reward, so, fearful of losing all by opening his mouth too wide,
he sulkily signified that half a loaf was better than none.

“I dare say it is,” said Gebb, tartly; “but you only get a quarter of
a loaf. I brought two fifty-pound notes with me, but as you have been
so avaricious, you shall only have one. There it is;” and Gebb clapped
a Bank of England note into the hand of Parge, which closed on it
readily enough.

“And you keep one hundred and fifty,” he said, with a frown.

“I do; and I’ve earned it, Simon, by the sweat of my brow. But now
that I’ve behaved towards you a deal better than you deserve, I’ll go
and bank my money. You’ll not see me here again in a hurry.”

“No, no!” cried Parge, seeing that his greed had carried him too far,
and softened by the money, which, after all, had been earned very
easily. “Don’t go, Absalom. I can’t do without you.”

“Haven’t I been generous, Simon?”

“Yes, you have. Don’t take a man up so short. Sit down and have a pipe
and a glass of grog, and a talk over the case.”

With some dignity Gebb accepted the olive branch thus held out, and
resumed his seat. Afterward Parge seemed so repentant of his late
behaviour that the dignity of Absalom disappeared altogether; and,
moreover, the whisky and tobacco proved strong aids to patching up the
quarrel. In ten minutes the pair were chatting together in the most
amicable fashion.

“Well, Absalom,” said Parge, with a plethoric grunt, “and how does the
matter of that Grangebury case stand now? You know I’m shut up here,
and never hear a word of what’s going on. Tell me the latest news.”

“Miss Wedderburn has inherited the Kirkstone property.”

“She owns the Hall, then?”

“Yes, she inherits the Hall, and also Miss Gilmar’s personal property.
It was left to Alder first, and failing him to Miss Wedderburn, so she
is now a rich woman, and I dare say will make a better use of her
money than the old skinflint who left it to her.”

“She’ll buy a husband with it, I suppose,” said Parge, ill-naturedly.

“Don’t you make any mistake,” contradicted Gebb, friendly to both
Edith and Arthur. “She was engaged to Ferris in the days of her
poverty, and she’ll not throw him over now that she is rich; but there
is no purchase about the matter. I dare say Ferris will yet succeed
with his pictures. In the mean time, he is to marry Miss Wedderburn,
and good luck to both of them, say I. They are as decent a young
couple as I know.”

“When docs the marriage take place?”

“Next month. Old Dean can’t live long, and he wants to see the pair
man and wife before he leaves this very unjust world.”

“Unjust world!” echoed Simon, incredulously. “Dean has been pardoned,
has he not, Absalom?”

“Of course; pardoned by the State for a crime he never committed,
after passing nearly twenty years in gaol for Miss Gilmar’s sake. I
don’t wonder the old fellow is dying. He is worn out with trouble and
a sense of harsh injustice. He has one foot in the grave now, and I
expect he’ll drop into it as soon as his son marries Edith
Wedderburn.”

“And he didn’t kill Kirkstone after all?”

“No,” replied Gebb, with something of a dismal air. “It appears from
the confession left by Miss Gilmar that she struck the blow. Do you
remember the bowie-knife mentioned in the evidence as belonging to
Dean?”

“Yes, the knife with which the man was killed,” said Parge. “The
sister borrowed it from Dean, didn’t she?”

“Yes; and it appears that in her rage against Ellen Gilmar for
presuming to love Dean, she threatened her upstairs with the knife,
while Kirkstone and Dean were quarrelling in the smoking-room. Ellen
wrenched the knife away, and said she would take it at once to Dean in
the Yellow Room. She went down with it, and found that having
quarrelled, Dean and Kirkstone had parted, the former having gone up
to bed Ellen entered with the knife in her hand, and laid it on the
table. Then Kirkstone, who was in a bad temper, began to insult her.
She retorted, and in a short space of time they were at it hard. Then
when Miss Gilmar said something unusually cutting to Kirkstone, he
rushed at her to strike her. She snatched up the knife to defend
herself, and held it point out. In his blind rage he dashed against
it, and the point pierced his heart. He fell dead on the spot.”

“Oh,” said Parge, reflectively, “then it was really an accident!”

“Yes; but Miss Gilmar was so terrified that she hardly knew what to
do. Then, remembering that the knife belonged to Dean, and that he had
been fighting with Kirkstone, also that he despised her love, she
determined to inculpate him, so as to avenge herself and save her own
life. She ran upstairs and told him that Kirkstone wished to see him
again in the Yellow Room. Dean fell into the snare, and came down only
to find Kirkstone dead with the knife in his heart Then he was seized
with a panic, and fled back to his room, whence he was dragged when
that wicked old woman accused him of the murder!”

“Didn’t Dean suspect her?”

“No; he fancied that Laura, to whom he had lent his knife, had struck
the blow; but afterwards, when reviewing the circumstances in prison,
it occurred to him that Miss Gilmar might be guilty.”

“But how did Miss Gilmar quieten Laura?”

“Easily enough! She told her that Dean had taken the knife and had
killed Kirkstone. But it seems to me,” said Gebb, meditatively, “that
if Laura had only given her evidence clearly, the truth about the
knife would have been found out.”

“I dare say!” rejoined Parge, tartly. “But if you had been in charge
of the case, as I was, you would have found out when too late that
Laura, being weak-witted and under the thumb of Ellen Gilmar, was
afraid to tell the absolute truth.”

“Nevertheless, the case was muddled,” insisted Gebb.

“Absalom!” cried Parge, fiercely. “You can take the best part of the
reward if you choose, but you shan’t throw discredit on my past work.
I conducted the Kirkstone murder case to the best of my ability.”

“And punished the wrong man.”

“That was the force of circumstances.”

“It was the want of getting the necessary evidence,” retorted Gebb,
with some heat. “However, we have improved since then in detective
matters, as in others.”

“Oh, have you?” growled Parge. “Then why did you arrest the wrong man
in the person of Ferris?”

“You have me there, Simon, you have me there,” laughed Gebb; which
admission put Parge into great good-humour.

“And criminals nowadays are just as stupid as they were in my youth,”
he said, waving his pipe. “For instance, why did Alder kill Miss
Gilmar?”

“Because he wanted her money.”

“Well, by threatening her with Dean he could have got her to allow him
a good income. There was no need for him to strangle her.”

“Perhaps not; and especially in poor Mrs. Presk’s front parlour. She
hasn’t been able to let it since. And, to make matters worse, Matilda
Crane has gone away with the five pounds you gave her.”

“Mrs. Presk had better give up the house at once,” said Parge,
nodding. “No one will occupy a room in which a murder has taken place.
‘Taint nat’ral to live with ghosts. What about that Yellow Boudoir at
Kirkstone Hall?”

“Oh! Mr. and Mrs. Ferris are going to pull it down when they come back
from their honeymoon, I expect they will build another wing.”

“By the way, is Ferris going to stick to that name?”

“Well, no; but all the same he isn’t going to call himself Dean.”

“Then he is going to take his wife’s name, I suppose?” suggested
Parge.

Gebb shook his head “By the will of that ancestor who left the Hall to
his descendants, all who live in it not being Kirkstones have to take
that name. If Alder had lived he would have called himself John
Kirkstone.”

“Like the one that was murdered. A bad omen!”

“Well, he never had a chance of changing his name. But I expect Ferris
and Miss Wedderburn will call themselves Mr. and Mrs. Arthur
Kirkstone.”

“Well,” said Parge, raising his glass, “I hope they will be lucky.”

“So do I,” responded Gebb, “If only because they paid this two hundred
pounds.”

“Of which I got only fifty,” grumbled Parge, and so got the last word
after all.

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