IT was in the year 1600, or thereabouts, that the family of Gyde first
took its place in the history of Cumberland.
A family may be likened to a thistle; plant it here or there, and, if
left, it grows and flourishes, it casts its spores, like thistle-down on
the wind of chance, and the spores blown here or there fade or flourish,
as the case may be.
The wind of chance in the year 1600, blew Sir John Gyde to the wilds of
Cumberland, from the original home of the family in Pembrokeshire.
How splendidly they built in those old days may still be seen in the
house he made for himself.
Sir John was a gentleman of a very old school; had he lived in the
present day, and did the law take cognizance of his pleasantries and way
of life, he would have found himself, within twenty-four hours, in the
gaol of Carlisle, and he would have been hanged, to a certainty, after
the lapse of three clear Sundays following his conviction at the next
In 1600, however, he was respected with that unalloyed respect which
fear of a bloody-minded and powerful scoundrel inspired in the medieval
For Cumberland, in 1600, was medieval to the core, and the core is
tinged, though ever so slightly, with medievalism still.
Sir John Gyde’s spirits, wine and tobacco, never paid duty, the
smugglers of Ravenglass knew why. He was the friend and protector of all
lawless scoundrels who put money in his pocket, and he hanged and
imprisoned all backsliders who didn’t. He had seduced other men’s wives,
betrayed other men’s daughters, he had killed three men in duel with his
red right hand, and he was a justice of the peace. Throstle Hall was the
name of the house he had built for himself, and Throstle Hall it remains
to this day, a formidable old pile, standing close up to the Fells of
Blencarn like an ancient malefactor, miraculously preserved for our
inspection; walls twenty-feet thick, a courtyard full of echoes,
dungeon-like cellars, interminable passages, intricate, like the
convolutions of a thief’s brain; little secret rooms, a picture gallery,
where the dead and gone Gydes stand still, despite the rigor of death,
confessing their sins by the expressions on their faces; their loves,
their hates, and, the fact, despite the beauty peeping here and there
from the gloom of a dusty canvas, that the Gydes were a sinister race.
A scarlet thread ran through the history of the family; there was
something appalling in the rapidity that marked the history of their
succession. Death had had a lot of dealings with the Gydes, and the
Gydes had dealt largely with death.
Sir Lionel Gyde had killed Sir Thomas Fiennes in a duel, and had been
killed in turn by Sir Thomas’s son. He stands, still, in effigy, does
Sir Lionel, dressed in faded violet velvet and Mechlin lace, staring
from the canvas straight before him, at the poplar trees waving in the
wind before the gallery windows. He has every point that goes to the
making of a handsome and debonair cavalier, but he has the pale blue
eyes of a murderer.
Near him there is a canvas blackened out. It has a history not to be
repeated. Beyond, another canvas exhibits a portly old gentleman. “Fox
hunter” is written upon his face across “Port wine,” and that was his
They were not all bad, the Gydes; the scarlet thread only appeared in
the family texture here and there, but when it did appear it was vivid.
The fortunes of the family had been varied; the estates had been
confiscated once and given back, it had cast spores as far as London,
where Aldermanic Gydes had bloomed with great splendour.
In the Overend and Gurney business the family had, as nearly as
possible, come to ruin; it was saved only by the genius of finance
displayed by the present Sir Anthony Gyde’s father.
When Sir Anthony, the man we have to deal with in this extraordinary
story, came to his own, he found himself the possessor of half a million
of money—a poor enough heritage in these days—Throstle Hall in
Cumberland, a house in Piccadilly, and the reputation of being a fool.
He had gained the reputation at Christ Church.
The reputations gained and discarded at Oxford would make a very quaint
museum, could they be preserved, labelled and classified, and when plain
Anthony Gyde became Sir Anthony, and succeeded to the banking business,
founded by his grandfather, he left his reputation behind him at the
University in more senses than one.
The thing was as surprising as the bursting of a dragon fly from its
It was in November that the University lost an undergraduate, noted
chiefly for a handsome face, effeminacy and a taste for collecting first
In the following January, Lombard Street became aware of a new hand in
the game of finance.
As a matter of fact Oxford had let loose, without knowing it (as she
sometimes does), a very great genius.
The young Sir Anthony had the gift of seeing the inwardness of a thing;
he had the gift of knowing what was going to appreciate; he had a nose
that could scent rotten security through all the rose leaves and
figments heaped upon it by the wiliest promoters of companies.
He would have succeeded as a small tradesman in a country town, but he
never would have made such a success as he did, with half a million of
money at his back, good credit and a hand in the European treacle-pot.
He was twenty-two when he succeeded to the banking business, and he was
forty-four at the date of this story. Twenty years, and he had done a
great deal in twenty years. He had made himself a name in finance, not
so great as the name of Rothschild or Schwab, but equally as great as
He had a house in the Avenue Malakoff, in Paris, as well as his house in
London. Paris and London were the two foci of his business orbit.
It is impossible for an ordinary person to estimate the power and
influence that lie in the hands of a man like Sir Anthony Gyde; millions
do not, of a necessity, confer power upon their possessor, except the
power of spending; but a man of genius, with seven million in cash and
credit at his elbow, can command events.
Of the private life of this banker-millionaire, the least said the
better. He was a patron of Art, he was many things besides. As a man of
the world, that is to say, a man capable of fighting the world, he was
all but flawless.
He had one weak point, his temper. He rarely lost his temper, but when
he did, he quite lost control of himself and a demon, carefully hidden
at all other times, arose and spoke and acted.
A terrible and familiar spirit.
When under its influence the man was appalling.
STANDING on Gamblesby Fell you can see Throstle Hall away to the right,
its gables and the smoke of its chimneys above the tall elm trees, and
the great sweep of park surrounding it.
Gazing straight before one the eye travels over pasture-land and
corn-field, farm and village, to the far dim valley of the Eden beyond,
and far beyond, the hills of Cumberland stand like the ramparts of a
world dominated by the Saddle Back.
Carlisle to the right, twenty miles away, shows a tracery of smoke
against the sky.
The pasture-land and the corn-fields come right up to the fell foot,
where they cease suddenly, as though a line had been drawn between
civilization and desolation.
The whole sky-line of the fells is unbroken by a tree; here and there,
on the fell sides, you may come across a clump of stunted firs, a spread
of bushes, a larch or two, but on the upper land nothing may grow but
the short fell grass, and here and there, in the shelter of a hollow, a
few whortle bushes. The reason of this desolation is the helm wind.
The helm wind has never been explained. Of nights in Blencarn, or
Skirwith, or any of the villages in the plain below, the villagers,
waking from their sleep, hear a roar like the roar of an express train.
It is the helm wind.
Next morning the trees are in torment; in the plain below a high gale is
blowing, and, looking up at the fells, you see above them, ruled upon
the sky, a bar of cloud. It is the helm bar, under it the wind comes
rushing. When it is high, nothing can withstand its force on the fell
top; it will blow a farm cart away like a feather; the horned and
black-faced fell sheep lie down before it.
One afternoon towards the end of March a man on a big black horse came
riding through the little village of Blencarn.
He was a middle-sized man, dark, with a Vandyke beard; he wore glasses,
and he rode as though half the countryside belonged to him, which, in
fact, it did.
A farmer, leaning over his gate, touched his hat to the passer-by,
watched him turn a corner, and then, turning, called out to a man
working in a field beyond.
That was all, but the tones of the men’s voices spoke volumes.
Twice a year or so, once for the shooting in the autumn, and again in
spring, as a rule, Sir Anthony Gyde came down to Throstle Hall, bringing
with him his French valet, his cook, and in the autumn half a dozen
He was a good landlord, and open-handed enough, but he had never gained
the esteem of the country folks; they touched their hats to him, but
they called him a stracklin.
A bad un.
Certain incidents of his youth lingered in their memory. In the country
the past dies slowly; if you leave a reputation there to-day, you will
find it there ten years hence, not much the worse for the wear.
Leaving Blencarn, Sir Anthony struck over the lower fells; he did not
trouble about roads or gates, when he met with a wall of loose stones he
put his horse at it, and the horse, an Irish hunter, tipped it with his
fore hoofs and passed over.
On Gamblesby Fell he drew rein. It was a still grey day; there was
scarcely a sound on the breeze; one could hear the call of a shepherd,
the bark of his dog, and, far away, the drumming sound of driven sheep.
The master of millions sat with the reins hanging loose upon his horse’s
neck, gazing at the scene before him. Then, touching his horse with the
spur, he resumed his way, making towards the plain and home.
He had only come down from London the day before, and he intended
returning on the morrow; he had spent the day in going over the estate,
and he intended passing the evening in consultation with his land-agent,
Two miles from home he took a short cut, and struck across the fields
into a very strange and desolate place.
Here, in a large meadow, stands Long Meg, and here recline her
They are a weird group, even by daylight, more so just now, for the dusk
was beginning to fall.
Long Meg is just a huge stone, standing erect and lonely, the relic of
some forgotten religion; her daughters, sixty or more, lie before her in
a circle. They are boulders, seen by daylight; but in the dusk, they are
anything your fancy wills. Hooded women, for choice, in all positions;
some crouched as if in prayer, some recumbent, some erect. He was
passing these things, which he had known from his childhood, when,
amidst them, and almost like one of them, he perceived a form seated on
a camp stool.
It was the form of a man wearing a broad-brimmed hat.
Now, what presentiment or curiosity stirred the mind of Sir Anthony Gyde
will never be known, but on perceiving this figure he reined in, then
turned his horse and rode towards it.
The man had been sketching, evidently, for a small easel stood before
him, but he seemed to have forgotten his work, forgotten the dusk that
had overtaken him, forgotten everything, in some reverie into which he
He must have heard the horse’s hoofs approaching, but he did not turn.
“You are sketching the stones?” said Sir Anthony, drawing rein a few
The man on the camp stool turned and looked from under the brim of his
hat at the man on the horse.
There was just enough light to see his face.
It was a face that no man or woman would ever forget, once having seen.
It was not ugly, but it was thin, cadaverous, and under the shadow of
the hat brim, in some mysterious way dreadful. Now Sir Anthony Gyde was
a man who feared neither ghost nor devil, but when his eyes met the eyes
of this man his face fell away, and he sat in his saddle like a man who
has suddenly been stricken by age.
He sat for a moment like this, then, wheeling his horse, he put spurs to
it and fled, as a man flies for his life.
HE struck into the high road.
A frost had set in with the evening, the road was like metal, and the
sound of the horse’s hoofs rang upon the air like the sound of a
trip-hammer on anvil.
A detour of several miles brought him to the main avenue gate of the
A groom was waiting at the steps of the house; he took the horse, which
was lathered with foam, and the horseman, without a word, went up the
He entered a large galleried hall, hung with armour and trophies of the
chase; a great fire blazed cheerily on the immense hearth, and the soft
electric light fell upon the Siberian bear-skins, and lit with the light
of another age the quaint figures of the dark oak carvings that were
there when Charles was King.
Sir Anthony Gyde passed across the hall, opened a door, and entered the
He paced up and down. To-morrow evening at this hour he was due to meet
Spain in the person of her Ambassador, and to discuss a loan that had
been entrusted to his hands.
But he was not thinking of Spain. For the moment the affairs of the
world were nothing to him.
For the moment his mind was driven into communication with his soul.
As he walked up and down, now with his hands in his pockets, now with
his arms crossed, his face wore that expression which a face wears when
its owner finds himself fronting his fate.
The most terrible experience in life is to meet the past, and to find
that it is still living.
What a helpless, vague, futile country seems the past; just a picture, a
voice, a dream. Yet what demons live there, active and in being.
Men fear the future, but it is in the past that danger lies. At any
moment one of those old vague pictures that lie beyond yesterday, may
become animated, and the woman we betrayed in the rose garden, or the
brother of the man we killed in the desert, may enter our lives through
some unseen door.
Gyde, having paced the room for some ten minutes, rang a bell by the
mantel and ordered the servant who answered it to summon Gristlethwaite,
He was a short, thick-set man, Cumbrian by birth, but with little trace
of the accent.
Sir Anthony bade him be seated, ordered in cigars and whisky, and
plunged into business.
He was once more the level-headed business man, the man who could take
in the whole details of the management of a big estate in a few hours,
pick holes in it, point out errors, and show as deep a knowledge of
detail as though he lived there all the year round.
It was past dinner-time, but he apparently forgot the fact.
After several hours’ conversation and inspection of accounts, Sir
Anthony, who was standing with his back to the mantelpiece, suddenly, in
the middle of a confabulation about drainage, turned the conversation.
“By the way,” he said, “have you seen an artist fellow about here, man
in a broad-brimmed hat—”
“If he’s the man you mean,” replied the agent, “I believe it’s a man
with a German name, Klein, an artist. I let him have Skirle Cottage a
“Klein,” said the other, in a meditative tone.
“He took it for three months,” went on Gristlethwaite. “Paid in advance.
He brought some sticks of furniture from Penrith; he’s an ill-looking
chap, but his money is good; half-cracked I should think, coming here
this time of year.”
“He didn’t give you any references.”
“No, he paid in advance; I was in two minds about letting him have the
place, but since old Lewthwaite’s death it has been lying idle and going
“Did you have any conversation with him?”
“Yes, sir,” said Gristlethwaite, “and his talk struck me as a bit daft.
I cannot remember all he said, but I remember he told he me had lived in
Paris and had seen you there.”
“What else did he say, try and think. I saw the fellow this evening
sketching the stones, and I don’t like the look of him; one never knows
in these days what burglars are about.”
“Oh, I don’t think he’s anything of that sort,” replied the other, “and
I can’t very well remember the words he said, except that he was
reckoned a great artist and that he had come down here to complete his
Sir Anthony made that movement of the shoulders of a person who, to use
a vulgar expression, feels a goose walking upon his grave.
“Well,” he said. “I suppose he has taken the cottage, and we can’t turn
Then he went on conversing about the drainage, at the exact point where
he had left off, as though Klein, the cottage, and the masterpiece were
things of no account.
At ten Gristlethwaite departed.
THE next morning’s post brought some fifty or so letters to Throstle
Hall, forwarded on from London.
Letters from Russia, letters from Japan, letters from Paris,
Constantinople and Madrid; bills, circulars, lottery announcements,
touting letters, begging letters, letters from lunatics, financiers,
friends, politicians and enemies.
It was a post the receipt of which would have driven an ordinary man to
distraction, but it did not distract Sir Anthony Gyde.
He reviewed them sitting up in bed propped up with pillows, a cup of tea
by his side and his correspondence spread upon the coverlet.
He sorted them by the simple process of casting them upon the floor,
some on the right, some on the left. The ones on the right went to the
waste-paper basket, the ones on the left to his secretary. He had nearly
finished, when he came upon an envelope thin and narrow, poverty
stricken, stamped in the left-hand corner as if in defiance of
convention and addressed in a handwriting unique, in that it managed to
be both prim and fantastic.
There are letters, men, streets, and numerous other things in this life,
that produce upon the mind of the person who sees them for the first
time, an impression to be summed up in the one word—Bad.
The letter in Sir Anthony’s hand would have struck you or me, most
probably, with an unfavourable impression, but it did not seem to affect
him; he was used to all sorts of impressions.
When you possess a fortune to be reckoned in millions, derived from
possessions all over the world, you must accommodate your temper to the
receipt of more things than rents and felicitations. Gyde, for instance,
was accustomed to receive at least one letter in the course of every
month, threatening either his life or his reputation; so accustomed,
indeed, that he looked forward perhaps with interest to their receipt.
He opened the murderous and mean-looking letter in his hand, and came
upon neither skull nor cross-bones, nor coffin, nor threat, but simply,
“I will be at home this afternoon at three o’clock. I must see you,
without fail, at that hour.
Leloir, the valet, was in the bath-room stropping a razor, when he heard
a stifled cry from the bedroom adjoining; running in, he found his
master standing on the floor, holding the bedpost with one hand, whilst
with the other he held the letter we have just read.
His face was of that peculiar grey we associate with damp walls, mildew,
ruin. He was shaking in every member, and the bed shook, as if the
terror of the man, or his rage, had diffused itself even into the
Leloir withdrew; he had too intimate a knowledge of his master to
intrude upon him when he was in one of his takings.
I have said that when Gyde lost himself in one of his attacks of anger,
a devil stepped forth and was seen. Speaking less hyperbolically, the
man became a ravening beast, and he would as soon have struck Leloir to
the ground, or anyone else, indeed, when in one of these attacks, as
Now, left to himself, with nothing to vent his anger upon, the attack
left him without an explosion, the shaking of the bed ceased, he called
his man to him, ordered his bath to be prepared, and whilst this was
being done, he examined the envelope in which the letter had arrived.
It bore the postmark “Skirwith,” and in the corner was written the word
It had evidently been posted at the village of Skirwith some time on the
day before, though the office stamp was half obliterated and quite
useless as an indication of the date.
Having examined the envelope carefully, he replaced the letter in it and
laid it on the mantelpiece, bathed, dressed, put the letter in his
pocket, and then sent for his secretary to the library, where he began
dictating letters in answer to the important ones he had received that
But he dictated no reply to the humble-looking epistle post-marked
At half-past one he had luncheon.
Shortly after luncheon he ordered his motor-car to be got ready to take
him to the railway station at Carlisle, in time to catch the express to
London at five; also a second car to take his secretary, dispatch boxes
and odds and ends. The French cook was not given the dignity of a car.
The cook, who was a personage in his way, would be driven to Little
Salkeld station in the dogcart, and find his way to Carlisle by train.
Leloir would go with his master.
It was like the mobilization of a small army every time Sir Anthony Gyde
chose to change his residence, even for a few days.
At half-past two a small Arol-Johnston car, used for short distances,
was brought to the door.
Sir Anthony got into it, having given Leloir strict injunctions as to
the luggage, etc. He told the man that he was about to visit an outlying
farm on the estate, and that he would be back in time for the motor to
take him to the train. Then he started.
He was his own chauffeur.
SKIRLE Cottage lies tucked away in a hollow of Blencarn Fell.
The fells, as I have before indicated, are one great sweep of low hills
facing the west; they are continuous and almost unbroken yet by the
local custom they are divided into sections, each with a name of its
Blencarn Fell, so called, perhaps, from the village of Blencarn at its
foot, is as wild and, perhaps, in summer, as lovely as any other part of
the Pennine Range.
Skirle Cottage, lying in a depression of it, was as far removed from
human eye as it is possible for a house to be.
It was a fairly large cottage, a barn was attached to it in the
Cumberland fashion, so that the whole building was of one piece.
The hollow in which it lay, was, of a summer afternoon, perfumed with
the smell of those wild flowers that grow in Cumberland as they grow
nowhere else, and filled with the murmur of bees. At dusk of a summer’s
evening it was a veritable cup of twilight and silence.
Even in summer, when the sky was blue above, when the wild strawberries
were in their glory and the hills were hazy with heat, there was
something strangely melancholy about this tiny valley, with the little
cottage nestling in its heart.
There were days in the long winter of Cumberland when the valley and the
cottage seen from above, presented a picture dreary to the point of
The high road, at the foot of the fells, was scarcely a quarter of a
mile away, yet the cottage was quite invisible from it.
The Arol-Johnston car, with its single occupant, drew up on the road
level with the unseen cottage. Sir Anthony Gyde descended, and leaving
the car to take care of itself, opened the gate, passed through, and
struck up the rising ground.
There was not a breath of wind, the air was keen with frost, there was
not a living thing in sight, save in the sky, far up, under the cold
grey clouds, a hawk poised, now moving with a flutter of the wings, now
motionless as a stone.
One might stand here seemingly unseen; it would have appeared that one
might commit any act, unseen by eye, save the eye of God. Yet far up the
fell, so small a figure as to be unnoticeable, a boy, Robert Lewthwaite,
son of a shoe-maker in Blencarn, attracted by the hum of the approaching
car on the high road far below, was watching.
From that elevation he could see the car approaching; he saw it stop and
the occupant get out. He recognized him at once as Sir Anthony Gyde. He
saw him cross the field and enter the little valley.
Here Sir Anthony looked around him, sweeping the fell face as though to
see if he were observed. Apparently satisfied, he knocked at the cottage
door; the door was opened for him, he entered, and the door was closed.
All this vastly interested the boy. Klein, the German artist, had
greatly exercised the local mind. A man whose face and personality would
have drawn attention in a city, excited the deepest interest among these
Primitive, perhaps, but full of imagination, and more than ordinarily
He, too, like Sir Anthony Gyde, had been labelled a stracklin; besides
being a stracklin he was “Waugh.”
No boy in the village would have approached Skirle Cottage after dark.
There was something about its occupant that fascinated them, but it was
a fascination composed three parts of fear.
He cooked his own food, and though the food he cooked was the food he
bought from the village shop and the surrounding farms, there were
sinister suspicions in the minds of the young people in the
neighbourhood that he cooked and ate other things besides eggs and bacon
and fell mutton.
An old woman of the village, Mrs Braithwaite, called every day at noon
to clean up the place and make the bed (Klein was a late riser, another
suspicious point about him), and her tales about the artist and his
doings did not detract from the villagers’ pre-conceived impressions.
She declared, at times, that he was enough to “mak’ t’ flesh creep up
yan’s back to think on,” but he paid her five shillings a week, and as
money was scarce in the Braithwaite household, and the work to be done
at Skirle Cottage occupied only half an hour or so a day, she kept on
with the job.
There was, besides the money, a sort of eerie fascination about the
stranger that was not entirely distasteful to the old lady’s heart.
Once, a small boy named Britten, greatly daring, had peeped through the
window at the ogre. The door opened and the ogre came out, and Britten
ran, returning home drenched, and with the following lucid description
of the incident and the cause of his wetting. “He chased me an’ I rin,
ah catcht mi teea ower a cobble and down ah went, end-ower-end inta the
beck.” So it was not surprising that Bob Lewthwaite, seeing Sir Anthony
Gyde going in to the ogre’s cottage and the door closing upon him,
waited, forgetting everything else in the world, to see what was going
He waited a long time, nearly three-quarters of an hour, then the door
opened and Sir Anthony Gyde came out.
He was carrying a black bag in his hand.
He closed the door and looked around him, just as he had done before
entering. Satisfied, apparently, that he was unobserved, he came down
the valley towards the road, got into the motor-car and drove off.
SIR ANTHONY GYDE was a fearless horseman, but a somewhat timid motorist,
as motorists go.
He drove carefully, rarely exceeding fifteen miles an hour.
To-day, however, he cast his timidity aside.
He was lucky to-day, for on these roads of Cumberland it is nothing to
meet with a flock of five hundred sheep or so, or a string of farm
carts, each drawn by a horse terrified of motor-cars, as most of the
farm horses of Cumberland still are.
It was ten minutes to four when he reached Throstle Hall.
The Edinburgh express for London stops at Carlisle at five, so he had
plenty of time in which to catch it.
He descended from the car in a leisurely manner, with the black bag in
his hand, and entered the house. He crossed the hall and entered the
library, remained there for a minute or so, and then came out and went
into the dining-room. One could tell, by the man’s footsteps, that he
was full of unrest. He went upstairs and entered the rooms on the first
floor. Here he met his secretary, Mr Folgam, but he did not speak a
In one of the corridors he met Leloir.
“The luggage has all been dispatched, sir,” said Leloir, “and the car is
waiting. When would you like to start?”
“Start,” said Sir Anthony, speaking like a person awakened from a dream,
“You ordered the car to take you to Carlisle, sir,” said the astonished
Leloir, “to catch the London express at five. I telegraphed this morning
for a special saloon carriage to be attached.”
“Ah, so I did,” said Sir Anthony, “so I did.” He chuckled, as if at some
obscure joke, known to him alone.
It was dusk in the corridor, and Leloir could not see his master’s face
distinctly, or the expression on it, but he heard the chuckle. He had
been in Gyde’s service for two years, and he thought that he knew every
phase of his master’s temperament and character, but this chuckle
alarmed him more than the wildest outbreak of rage would have done.
There was something inhuman in it, something horrible. It did not seem
the sound produced by a man’s voice, a great ape might have uttered it
or a devil.
Leloir was turning to go, in fact, he had made half a dozen steps, when
Gyde’s voice said:
“Sir?” replied the valet.
“You have all my jewels.”
“Yes, sir, they are in this bag.”
“Right. Order the car to the door.”
The valet, glad to be gone, did as he was bid, and the master of
Throstle Hall continued his peregrinations about the house, as though to
make sure that everything was right before leaving.
A few minutes later he came downstairs, still carrying the bag. The
motor, a large brougham affair, was standing at the steps; he got in,
Leloir closed the door, mounted beside the chauffeur, and they started.
Ten minutes before the express was due they arrived at Carlisle station.
“Tell me when the train arrives,” said Gyde through the speaking tube to
his valet. “I am busy and don’t want to be disturbed.”
He sat reading over some papers he had taken from his pocket, whilst
Leloir busied himself, seeing that what luggage they had with them was
prepared for the train.
When it arrived Sir Anthony, leaving the motor, walked hurriedly down
the platform to the special saloon carriage that had been attached for
him, took his seat, and ordered his man to let nobody disturb him.
It was dusk when the great two-engined express drew out of Carlisle
station and took its way to London.
TWICE during the journey to London Leloir entered the compartment where
Sir Anthony was, once bringing him tea, and again, just after leaving
Normanton, bringing him the evening papers.
One of the dining-car attendants, who was a friend of Leloir’s,
afterwards deposed that there was something very strange about the man’s
“He looked startled and white,” ran his deposition, “looked like a man
who had seen a ghost. I’ve known him a year, met him first on the run to
Carlisle, then I met him in town by appointment and we went to a music
hall together. He was always a good companion, and spent his money
freely, but when he came into the car-kitchen for his master’s tea he
had no sense in him; I asked him how his master was, he took me by the
buttonhole and he says, ‘Parsons, do you believe in the supernatural?’
“‘No,’ I says, ‘I don’t. What makes you ask me?’
“‘Because,’ he says, and then he stopped, for the head attendant was
calling to me.
“I’d give a dollar,” concluded Mr Parsons, “to know what he did mean,
and I’d bet a dollar it was something queer.”
At St Pancras two broughams were waiting; Gyde got into the first,
Leloir got on the box, and they drove off; the secretary and the
dispatch boxes followed in the second brougham.
It was half-past eleven when they arrived at 110B Piccadilly.
Sir Anthony went to his own room, followed by his valet; the secretary
went to his own room and to bed, as did Raymond the butler who was a man
who kept early hours.
At midnight the house was as silent as the tomb.
Now, Mr Folgam’s apartments were on the same floor as Sir Anthony’s
bedroom, and he was lying in bed reading _The Count of Monte Cristo_,
when, very shortly after midnight, he heard a cry.
It was exactly like the howl of a dog. It was not like the sound a human
being would emit, he afterwards deposed; and in this Mr Folgam, who was
not a student of inarticulate sounds, was wholly wrong; for it was
exactly like the cry of a man in the extremity of terror or mental
agony. A sound which, fortunately, very few of us have ever heard.
But it was in the house, he was sure of that, and getting out of bed he
came down the corridor towards Sir Anthony’s room.
The electric lamps were shut off in the corridor, but the place was
dimly illuminated by the flood of light streaming through the
secretary’s bedroom door.
He had reached the door of Sir Anthony’s room, when it was opened, and
Sir Anthony himself, fully dressed and carrying a black bag in his hand,
On seeing Folgam he started, like a person who has received a shock.
“I thought I heard a cry,” said Folgam. “I thought some one might be
“Ah!” said the other, “I heard nothing. Go to your room and tell them in
the morning not to awaken me till ten. I shall be at work till late.”
Folgam apologized for his mistake and withdrew, and Sir Anthony,
retiring into his room, shut the door.
Ten minutes later, had anyone been watching, they would have perceived
Gyde, bag in hand, passing down the corridor.
He was holding one of those small electric lamps that light on pressure
of a button. He came down the broad staircase, making as little sound as
He unbarred and unchained the front door, and if the bars and chains had
been covered with velvet he could not have made less noise.
Closing the door behind him, he stood upon the steps.
A late hansom was passing; he hailed it, gave an address to the cabman,
and drove away.
The clocks chimed the hours away, and the night-prowler and the
policeman passed the house in Piccadilly, the house with the great
marble pillars on either side the door, which every habitué of the West
End knew to be the mansion of Gyde, the millionaire.
Two o’clock, three and four o’clock passed, and the dawn peeped into the
bedroom of Sir Anthony Gyde, where, on his back, upon the floor, lay the
valet, Leloir, dead, without scratch or wound, his arms outspread, and
upon his face an expression of horror, caught and made immutable by