The fallen one recognized this fact

THERE was some coal in the coal-box and a bundle of wood in the grate.
The weather was chilly and a fire would have been very acceptable, but
the flicker of it when dusk was drawing on might have been observed from
outside. So he determined to do without a fire.

He would also be condemned to fast, for the remains of food upon the
table he could not touch. One does not eat where a leper has fed, or an
unclean beast.

He had his pipe with him, however, and plenty of tobacco.

Time wore on and dusk fell, gradually the room grew darker and the
silence of the house more oppressive.

Nothing could be more nerve-straining than a vigil like this in the
cold, in the darkness, in the silence; sitting with every sense alert,
waiting for the coming of a being far more terrible than a ghost.

Passing Freyberger in the street, you would not have looked at him
twice. You would never have fancied him a man of more than ordinary
strength. But, were you to have seen him stripped of his clothes, you
would have recognized the proportions of a trained athlete.

He had the physical basis of courage, that is to say, a great chest
measurement.

He had also the mental basis of courage, that is to say, an almost total
disregard for danger.

Danger blindness.

This same mental basis of courage is not always a desirable asset, for
it is often the basis, also, of a low intelligence. It nearly always
bespeaks want of imagination and ideality.

In Freyberger’s case, however, it was by no means the basis of a low
intelligence, and as for imagination and ideality, he had quite
sufficient for a man engaged in his profession.

The darkness deepened until it became absolute.

Time ceased as far as the watcher was concerned.

This sepulchral house seemed even deserted by mice, the movement of one
behind the wainscoting would have come as a relief.

Now and then, for a moment, the watcher in the chair, to obtain relief
from the absolute negation of sound, pressed his hands over his ears; it
was as though he were attempting to shut out the silence.

How long he had been waiting like this it would have been hard to say,
probably an hour, possibly less, when he heard the front gate gently
opened and as gently shut. Freyberger wore shoes; he had loosened the
laces of them, and now he kicked them off.

With incredible swiftness, considering the fact that he was moving in
black darkness, he was out of the room and in the passage.

At the end of the passage a pale, dim oblong of light indicated the
position of the door leading on to the verandah. Freyberger came down
the passage towards the door, and then, himself plunged in utter
darkness, he stood, like fate, waiting. He could see the squares of
glass forming the verandah wall and, dimly, the garden beyond.

Presently, moving with sinister gentleness and silence, the vague
silhouette of a man came gliding along the verandah side till it reached
the outside door.

The man was, as far as Freyberger could see, muffled up in a great coat;
he wore a slouch hat and he was about the middle height.

When he reached the door, he paused and drew from his pocket something,
the form of which the detective could not distinguish.

Freyberger had left the door, it will be remembered, simply closed. He
could easily have locked it from the inside by the same method as he had
opened it, but he had determined to leave it as it was.

The man turned the handle of the door, found that it opened easily, made
a slight exclamation of surprise and slipped into the verandah with the
rapidity of a lizard.

He closed the door behind him.

Freyberger, standing in the passage as motionless as a corpse, scarcely
breathed. The man stood for a moment, glancing around him, then, leaving
the verandah, he came down the passage.

The next moment Freyberger was upon him.

A man attacked in this fashion does not cry out; if he emits any sound
it is the gasp of a person who has received a douche of cold water.

The attack of Freyberger was ferocious, overpowering, unexpected, yet it
was received as if by a rock. After the first shock, which nearly bore
him to the ground, the intruder stiffened; to the grip of iron he
responded by a grip of steel, and then, in the dark, between the narrow
walls of the passage, a terrible struggle began.

A listener in the verandah would have heard very little. Just the hard
breathing of the two antagonists and the sound of their bodies hurled
from side to side against the passage walls. The detective was a heavier
man than his antagonist, but they were equally matched in science.

Now and then Freyberger succeeded in lifting him from his feet and, with
desperate efforts, attempted to bear him backwards and throw him; but
the feet always came to ground again, and the body turned from the
helpless bundle that a man is who has lost possession of his feet, into
an inflexible statue of steel.

Freyberger, failing in this, relaxed, or seemed to relax, his efforts
for a moment; the other automatically responded, a second later. With a
crash they were on the floor, the detective with his knees on the arms
of his fallen antagonist. He had cross-buttocked him.

There is no position on earth where a man is more utterly helpless than
when lying upon the ground, with another man kneeling upon his arms. He
may kick and struggle as much as he pleases, the only result is to wear
out his strength.

The fallen one recognized this fact, apparently, for he lay still.

Freyberger, breathing hard from his exertions, took a matchbox from his
waistcoat pocket, lit a match and cast its light upon the face of the
man beneath him.

The man was Hellier.

“MY GOD!” said Freyberger. “_You!_”

“Let me get up,” said the other. “Yes, it is I; we have both been
mistaken it seems.”

Freyberger said nothing, but rose to his feet and flung the extinguished
match away. They were again in darkness, but the detective did not
strike another light.

For a moment he was too angry for speech. Certain in his own mind that
he was dealing with Klein, triumphant at having captured him, his
feelings may be imagined when he found beneath him, not the criminal for
whom he had been seeking, but the interloper, Hellier.

Hellier had also risen to his feet.

“Strike a light,” he said, “and let me see where I am. I am giddy from
that fall.”

“I will strike no light,” replied the other, in a hard voice “you can
explain yourself in the darkness. You have cast enough darkness on this
business already. You ought to be used to darkness; come, explain
yourself.”

“Explain what?” said Hellier, in an irritable voice. “It seems to me the
explanation is clear enough.”

“Make it clearer. What are you doing here? What are you meddling in
police affairs for? Eh! You are one of those confounded people who fancy
themselves, one of those people who will not see where their own
business lies. What are you doing here?”

“Seems to me, I’m talking to a fool,” replied the other. “You know well
enough why I am here. I came here to find a mutual acquaintance of ours
named Klein. If not to find him, at least, to find traces of him and to
inspect the premises. You told me this morning you did not think he had
been here, yet I find you here on the same job as myself; if you had
only been frank this would not have happened.”

“Well,” replied the other, “you have been here and have not found him,
so you had better go. I will give him your kind regards when I see him,
which will not be to-night. You have spoilt the affair as far as
possible.”

“How?”

“How? You have frightened him, that is all.”

“How?”

“How?” shouted Freyberger, “By your d—d silly attempt to follow him this
morning, that is how.”

“If I had not seen him, should we have known of his connexion with this
house?”

“A thousand times better never to have known, considering the price we
have paid for our knowledge. He was unsuspecting, now he suspects. So
long as he was unsuspecting, all the chances were in our favour. Now
they are all against us. Go, tell your young lady that. Say Inspector
Freyberger told you to tell her, and say anything else you please.”

Hellier did not reply. He felt deeply mortified, for he felt there was
truth in the words.

He re-entered the verandah and opened the door leading to the garden.

“Are you going to remain?” he asked.

“I am.”

“Well, all I can say is I am very sorry. What I did was for the best.”

“It will be a lesson to you in future,” replied the other, “to trust
people who are to be trusted, and let the police do their own work.”

“Good night,” said Hellier. Freyberger grumbled some reply and the young
man departed.

Now Hellier had committed no great fault; he had even supplied
information that might have brought the whole case to a satisfactory
termination. But Freyberger was not in a frame of mind to do justice to
the barrister.

He was jealous, and that is the fact of the matter, as jealous of the
Gyde affair as any old man has ever been of his young wife.

HELLIER returned, slowly and sadly, to the High Street.

Assured in his own mind that Klein inhabited the house in St Ann’s Road,
hopeless of any help from Freyberger, whom he had put down as a
self-conceited man of not very luminous intelligence, he had undertaken
the desperate venture of going himself to the house, tackling the
occupant if he were at home, and if he were absent exploring the place.

He had provided himself with a powerful chisel to prise the verandah
door open. He had not to use it, however, for, as we have seen, the door
was only held by the catch.

It had been an expedition requiring a very great deal of pluck,
considering the appalling man with whom he would have had to contend had
his suspicions been correct. And it had ended in such a miserable
fiasco!

When he had lain on the floor of the passage with Freyberger on top of
him, he imagined that his last moment had come. He had not even cried
out for help, knowing that before help could arrive he would be dead.

He had not come badly out of the business, yet he felt depressed with a
miserable sense of failure.

It was striking nine when he passed the High Street, Kensington,
Station; just at the entry a flower-seller, with a basket of early roses
and Nice violets, caught his eye. He bought a great bunch, and, calling
a passing cab, ordered the driver to take him to the Langham.

Violets were Cécile Lefarge’s favourite flowers.

Love may be a liar, love may be blind, love may be anything you please,
but, whatever else he may be, love is a courtier. No frilled marquess of
the old regime, by long study, ever knew his monarch’s predilections as
a lover by instinct knows the predilections of his mistress.

Hellier bought violets instead of roses, instinctively and not from
choice.

At the Langham he found that Mademoiselle Lefarge was in, and a few
moments later he was in her presence.

She advanced to meet him, with hand outstretched.

“I have brought you these,” he said, sinking into a chair, whilst she
took a seat near him, “and some news—bad news, I am afraid.”

“I am used to that,” replied she, “but any news coming from you can not
be entirely bad. You, who have done so much and thought so much for me.”

“I wish I could have done more,” he replied. Then he told her the events
of the day, suppressing nothing, altering nothing.

She listened to him attentively. When he had finished she said:

“Is that all?”

“I think,” he said, “I have told you a good deal. I wish I could have
told you less, or more.”

“It is a good deal,” she replied. “And you went, alone and unarmed, to
face that fearful man?”

“Yes, and you see the result. I have spoiled everything.”

“You have not spoiled my regard for you,” she replied. “You are very
brave, and you know, or perhaps you do not know, how a woman can admire
bravery in a man. But you are better than brave, you are single-hearted.
And you let yourself be depressed by what that man, Freyberger, said to
you to-night?”

“It has depressed me, for he spoke the truth. He had no motive for
speaking otherwise.”

Cécile smiled.

“Not a motive, perhaps, but a half motive.”

“How?”

“What makes a woman depreciate the good looks of another woman?
Jealousy, my friend.”

“But Freyberger—”

“Is not a woman. No, but are men never jealous? I watched him last night
when you were speaking to him. I could read his mind. The information
you gave made his eyes sparkle with pleasure and excitement. Yet he was
displeased. He spoke to you almost as if you were an antagonist. He said
to himself, ‘This is a professional rival, a clever man who will,
perhaps, take from me some of the honour should I bring this case to a
successful termination.’

“I believe in this Mr Freyberger. He has great qualities, he has
perception and determination, but he is human. It is human to be
jealous. You have committed no fault that I can see; but, then, I am not
Freyberger. Had I met you in the passage of that house to-night, I would
have said to you, ‘Your coming here makes no difference if the bird has
flown; if the bird has not flown then remain with me, and help to
capture him on his return.’ But then, you see, I am just a woman, not a
jealous detective.

“Do not be depressed, and, above all, do not relax your vigilance, for
something tells me that, clever though our friend the detective may be,
you will materially help in the completion of this terrible case. The
only thing I regret is—”

“Yes?”

She sighed. “I regret that I have been instrumental in casting the
shadow of so much crime and wickedness upon so true a heart as my friend
Hellier.”

He left her, carrying with him the perfume of her hair and the warmth of
her lips.

She loved him entirely, and told him so without a word. He could have
made her his mistress that night. He would as soon have spat upon the
pyx.

The only love that is worth a name is the love that builds up barriers,
the love that can take yet withholds its hand.

The fatal, fatal mistake of the woman who gives herself up to a man
before marriage, the fatal mistake is not so much perhaps in yielding to
nature as in entertaining the idea that she is loved.

To Hellier the idea of love was inseparable from the idea of marriage.
He could not think of the woman he loved in any other position than
exactly on the same pedestal as himself. His wife before all the world,
on a par with his mother and his sisters, respected by them and received
as one of themselves.

And she was the daughter of an assassin. A cold-blooded murderer, whose
crime had shocked Europe.

It was not her fault. Leprosy is not the leper’s fault; is it any the
less a barrier, shutting happiness out for ever from the afflicted one?

FREYBERGER remained at his post all that night.

It was the bitterest experience he had ever known.

Without food, without fire, without light, half worn out from his
struggle with Hellier and depressed by the result, the chance of the
capture of Klein reduced to the barest possible, he still remained on
guard, watchful and ready to spring.

With the full light of day he left the place, bearing with him the only
scrap of evidence that could be any use, that is to say, the small
valise containing the suit of clothes and the jewel cases and the knife
sheath.

He had some food at an early morning coffee-stall in the High Street,
and then he proceeded on his way to the Yard.

The great Kalihari Desert is not a more desolate place than London in
the early morning.

There are no cabs, there are no omnibuses; there are no shops, no
people. You hear that which is the voice of a city’s desolation, the
echo of your own footsteps. The High Street of Kensington was empty from
end to end, experiencing the hiatus in traffic which comes between the
passing of the last market gardener’s cart and the passage of the first
cab.

Freyberger, with the valise in his hand, had made up his mind to walk to
his destination, when an early hansom turned out of one of the side
streets, and, getting in, he told the driver to take him to the Yard.

Here he delivered up the valise and the jewel cases, directed that a man
should be sent to St Ann’s Road to take charge of the house and make
inquiries, also that Sir Anthony Gyde’s tailor should be discovered and
the clothes submitted to him.

Then he returned to his lodgings, south of the water, to obtain a few
hours’ sleep.

“Well, Freyberger,” said the chief to the detective, when at four
o’clock that afternoon they found themselves together, “what have you to
report?”

Freyberger reported everything that we know as having taken place in St
Ann’s Road.

Had you been listening to his report, you would have admitted that if he
were jealous he was also honest, for he minimized nothing, nor did he
magnify anything or attempt to cast the blame for his failure on
Hellier.

He just told the truth. Freyberger loved the truth, not from any exalted
reason, but simply because it was the tool by which he earned his living
and made his reputation. The golden measuring rod by which he measured
statements, the crucible from which he distilled deductions, the glass
mask which he wore tied over his face to prevent himself being poisoned
by the fumes of misapprehension.

“You have missed him this time,” said the chief; “but never mind, you
are driving him back, you are getting him slowly into a corner. Another
move may mean checkmate.”

“If I had taken him yesterday,” replied Freyberger, “it would have meant
a life saved—who knows? Perhaps several lives saved. He is loose now,
like a wild beast, and the question we have to consider is this. If he
is seriously alarmed, if he suspects that we know of his monomania, may
fear overcome his madness and cause him to withhold his hand?”

“What is your opinion on that point?” asked the chief. “You have
considerable knowledge of the psychology of crime.”

“Well, sir, it is my belief that, if he is really alarmed, fear will
cause him to withhold his hand—for awhile.

“But fear, though checking, will not stay his desire to kill. He will at
first be careful, then, as time goes on and he gets farther away from
this murder, his caution will slacken and the desire become unchained.”

“You think fear is a check upon lunacy?”

“Not much. But I conceive the mind of this man to be essentially not the
mind of a lunatic.

“If I might use a simile, I would liken this man’s mind to a country
peopled with evil persons, and possessing one town peopled with
devils—that is the lunatic spot.”

“You almost speak as though you believe lunacy to be possession by
devils.”

“Absolutely, I believe that,” replied Freyberger. “Firstly, from a
prolonged study of lunacy; secondly, because my Bible bids me believe
it. I am a Protestant.”

“You have heard the report we have had about those clothes you brought
here this morning in the valise?”

“No.”

“Smalpage is, or should we say was, Sir Anthony Gyde’s tailor. He
identifies the measurements as being those of Sir Anthony Gyde, and his
chief cutter identifies the garments as his work, though, of course, he
cannot say for certain for whom he cut them.”

“That is evidence enough,” replied Freyberger; “the clothes are Gyde’s.”

“Yes, I think so. Then, again, Smith and Wilkinson, the jewellers,
identify the jewel cases as having been supplied to Sir Anthony; the
bank identify them as similar to those withdrawn by Sir Anthony.”

“That is evidence enough,” again replied Freyberger. “The things are
Gyde’s; the evidence is, unhappily, of little use at present. It will
help to hang our man when we catch him. There is nothing for us now to
do but wait.”

TIME passed, and April came to London, lighting the crocuses like little
lamps along the borders of the parks. Nothing could have been kindlier
than her coming or more cruel than her going, for it froze hard during
the last few days of her month; buds were brought to untimely ruin and
the ice on the ponds was sufficiently thick almost for skating.

But the first of May broke cloudless and warm, the herald of three weeks
of perfect weather.

Mademoiselle Lefarge had gone back to France, and Hellier ought to have
been on circuit.

But he was not in the mood for business. His mind was occupied by one
thing, the Gyde case. A month had passed since the murder of Mr Goldberg
and the occurrence in St Ann’s Road, yet not a word of the solution of
the mystery had come to the public ears as to Sir Anthony Gyde; the
public were beginning to forget him.

Occasionally some old clubman, a once friend of his, would remember the
fact of his existence, wonder why the police had not caught him, and
damn them for their inefficiency.

Up in Cumberland, where things, little or big, are not so easily
forgotten, the affair was still being discussed in market-square and
village ale-house. The Cottage on the Fells was deserted, and not for
many decades could the most astute land-agent hope to let it again.

One night, it was the 8th of May, exactly a month and ten days after the
murder, or the supposed murder, of Klein, a strange thing occurred.

A man named Davis, journeying from Alston to Langwathby on foot, lost
his way upon the fells, at dusk, and wandered for several hours, till
the rising moon showed him a few broken walls and remains of houses, and
he knew that he had come to the old ruined fell village of Unthank.

In the time of the Plague a fugitive from London sought refuge in this
village, and the inhabitants of it showed their hospitality by moving
out of it _en masse_ and leaving the plague-stricken one in undisputed
possession. They built themselves another village, lower down, which
they also labelled Unthank and which remains to this day.

Davis, recognizing the ruins, took them for a point of departure, and at
last struck the road at the foot of the fells, which runs through
Gamblesby and Melmerby to Blencarn.

Hopeless of reaching Langwathby that night, he determined to make for
Blencarn and put up with a relation of his who lived there.

He was nearing the place and the moon was high in the sky, making the
roadway as clear as if viewed by daylight, when, on the road right
before him, he saw the figure of a man walking also in the direction of
Blencarn.

It was just now that Davis remembered that he was close to the cottage
where the murder was committed, and he increased his pace, hoping to
overtake the man and walk with him for company’s sake. As he drew
closer, he recognised that the person before him was not an ordinary
countryman or farmer, but evidently a man used to the pavement of a town
and seemingly well dressed.

Then, to his astonishment, Davis saw the stranger pause at a gate on the
left of the road, unchain it and walk through, carefully putting the
chain up again.

Instantly Davis recognized the gate, and the fact that it was the gate
that gave entrance to the field beyond which, hidden by a dip of the
fells, lay the cottage of the murder.

He was passing the gate, when the stranger, who was only twenty paces or
so away in the field, turned, saw Davis and beckoned to him to follow
him.

The moonlight was full on the stranger’s face, and, horrified, Davis
recognized that the man before him in the field was Sir Anthony Gyde.

As he stood spellbound, gazing at the murderer, a cloud passed over the
moon, and the shadow of the cloud, like a black handkerchief, swept over
the field and seemed to sweep Sir Anthony Gyde away. For when the moon
returned he was gone.

Then Davis ran, and he did not stop running until he reached the door of
his relative. The accounts he gave of the occurrence were so confused as
to cast discredit on his narrative, and he was put down as a liar for
the strange reason that he was not gifted with the power of
story-telling.

Had he seen, or pretended to have seen, the ghost of Klein, every one
would have believed him, for every one knew that Klein was dead. But Sir
Anthony Gyde was alive, and the countryside were waiting to see him
caught and hanged, and no one wished to believe in his ghost for that
very reason.

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