The extraordinary will of Julian Edermont caused a no less
extraordinary sensation. Pursuant to the instructions of his late
client, Carver caused the contents of the will to be published in
almost every newspaper of the three kingdoms, and the advertisement
was copied and printed and talked about all over the civilized world.
Many of the leading London dailies devoted a leading article to
discussing the eccentricity of the bequest. Of these lucubrations none
was more noteworthy than that of the _Morning Planet_.

“Here is a chance for our amateur and professional detectives,” it
said. “A riddle to stimulate the curiosity; a magnificent reward to
repay the solution of the same. Mr. Edermont, a recluse, dwelling in
the Red House, near Canterbury, has been barbarously murdered, and
fifty thousand pounds are now offered for the discovery and
apprehension of his murderer. It seems that the dead man had a past,
and that that past had engendered an enemy. For twenty years Mr.
Edermont lived in strict retirement, and took extraordinary
precautions to ensure his safety. But all in vain. The man or
woman–for no one is aware of the sex of the assassin–discovered the
victim, and carried out the revenge in a peculiarly brutal fashion.
There is nothing to show how the assassin came or went; but the time
of the committal of the crime has been ascertained by the evidence of
Miss Carew, the ward of the deceased. She fancied she heard a cry, and
immediately afterwards the hall clock struck one. There can be no
doubt that Miss Carew really did hear a cry, and was not dreaming, as
she fancied, and that such cry was the last appeal of the poor victim
for mercy.

“In the will of Mr. Edermont, he mentions that the story of his life
is set forth in a manuscript locked up in his bureau. It is evident
that the assassin knew of the existence of this narrative, for,
immediately after committing the crime, he–we will assume by way of
argument that the criminal is a man–rifled the desk, and made off
with the paper containing an account of his motive for revenge. He
knew that such paper would condemn him, and that with its aid the
officers of the law would have little difficulty in putting a rope
round his neck. Doubtless such story gave his name–possibly his
address–and he was aware that it thus jeopardized his safety. But be
this as it may, one fact remains: that the assassin has stolen the
sole clue to his discovery, and it would seem that the death of Julian
Edermont must remain wrapped in mystery.

“But fifty thousand pounds! Will anyone permit this death to go
unavenged when he can gain such a reward? A fortune for life, and the
consciousness of having done his duty to the dead man and to society.
No doubt our inglorious Vidocques, our amateur Sherlock Holmes, will
set to work to unravel the mystery and gain the reward. The Red House,
near Canterbury, will become the shrine of pilgrim detectives from all
parts of the world. Nevertheless, in spite of their astuteness, in
spite of their greed, we doubt whether the mystery will ever be
solved. The sole clue, so far as we can see, is to be found in the
past life of the dead man. The tale of that past life is set forth in
a certain paper; such paper is in the possession of the assassin, who
is himself unknown. To find the paper, they must find the assassin;
without the paper the assassin cannot be found; and so matters are at
a deadlock. We shall await the development of this extraordinary case
with interest; but we doubt whether the fifty thousand pounds will
ever be claimed. Julian Edermont is dead and buried; his assassin has
escaped with the story of the motive for the crime in his pocket. Here
the case stands. What light can be thrown on this darkness? What clue
can be found to the cunning murderer? We wait the answer from the
possible man or woman who can honestly claim fifty thousand pounds.”

While the papers talked thus, while people wondered, and would-be
winners of the reward set their wits to work on the facts of the case,
Dora remained at the Red House. No change was made in her life, or in
that of Joad. In conjunction with Meg, the girl still looked after the
domestic details of the mansion; and Joad still came and went from
nine to nine. He became morose after the death of his friend, and
hardly addressed a word to Dora. But she was aware that he constantly
watched her in a furtive manner, which in the end became exceedingly
annoying. Had the terms of the will been less clear, she would have
left the Red House, or have induced Joad to confine his life to his
own cottage. But in order to exist, and draw her poor rental of two
hundred a year, she was forced to live in the house, with Joad, dirty,
disreputable and crabbed, at her elbow. She disliked the man
exceedingly, the more so as she had a suspicion that he admired her;
but, fettered as she was by the terms of the will, she could do

Nevertheless, she became aware, as the days went by, that she would
have to make some change in her life. It was impossible that she
should go on living with an illiterate servant and an admiring satyr.
It was equally impossible that she could continue to remain at
variance with Allen after the last interview. He neither came near her
nor wrote a line to comfort her; and, angered as she was at his
heartless and inexplicable conduct, she made up her mind to see him.
In one way or the other she would bring the matter to an end, and
treat him either as a stranger or as her affianced lover.

Again, she wished to see Carver as to her financial position. By the
will she had been left certain moneys and the Red House; but she also,
as she understood, possessed an income of five hundred pounds, which
came to her from her parents, and once or twice Mr. Edermont had
informed her that she was entitled to so much; but he stated also that
he was saving it up for her against the time she came of age.

As Dora was now twenty-one, she expected that the accumulations would
be considerable. Making allowance for the amounts given to her at
various times, she concluded that she was entitled to close on eight
thousand pounds. If this were so–as she could ascertain from Mr.
Carver–it was her intention to change her mode of life should Allen
prove obstinate.

“I shall give up the Red House and the two hundred a-year,” thought
Dora, making her plans, “and, after investing my eight thousand pounds
with the aid of Mr. Carver, I shall go to London. I cannot live any
longer in the company of that odious creature”–for so she termed the
learned Joad. “And if Allen is resolved to break off the engagement,
there is nothing to keep me here. Mr. Edermont is dead; Allen, for
some reason, is estranged, and I am all alone. I shall take my life in
my own hands, and go to London.”

It never entered her head to earn the reward. She was completely
ignorant as to how her late guardian had come to so untimely an end.
Lady Burville might have explained, but after the crime she had gone
to London, and Dora did not know where to find her. Mr. Pallant might
have given a hint, but he had left Hernwood Hall also. Dora saw no way
of solving the mystery; and even if she did conjecture the truth, she
scarcely felt herself called upon to revenge the death of Mr. Edermont
by discovering his assassin. She did not want the reward, and she had
not sufficient regard for the dead man’s memory to devote herself to
so difficult a task.

Mr. Carver lived and worked in a dusty, dingy, dreary house near
Mercery Lane. His rooms were above–he was a bachelor, dry and
crusty–and his offices below. Two clerks, as lean as their master,
worked in the dismal outer office, and in the inner apartment, the
window of which looked on to a mews, Mr. Carver sat all day, and often
far into the night. The appearance of so charming and blooming a woman
as Dora quite lighted up the musty, fusty den. Her fresh beauty had
little effect upon Carver, who regarded women as the root of all evil.
The generally accepted root of all evil is money. This he approved of
and hoarded; but women–he could not bear them, save in the light of
clients, and then they gave him endless trouble.

“Mr. Carver,” said Dora, facing the saturnine lawyer on the other side
of the table, “I have called to see you about my financial position. I
was, as you know, a ward of Mr. Edermont’s”–Carver nodded–“and he
has left me the Red House and two hundred a year.” Mr. Carver nodded
again. “But what about my own income of five hundred a year?”

“What five hundred a year?” said Carver grimly.

“The income which was left me by my parents.”

“I was not aware that any income had been left to you by your parents,
nor, for the matter of that–if you will excuse me–was I aware that
you had any parents.”

“What do you mean, sir?” asked Dora, sitting up very straight.

“Why,” said the lawyer meditatively, “it is not hard for you to gather
my meaning. I never saw your parents–I never heard mention of them.
All I know is that my late client arrived here with you, and shortly
after his arrival purchased the Red House. You were then a year old,
and as twenty years have now elapsed, it makes you twenty-one,” added
Mr. Carver in parenthesis. “My late client said that you were an
orphan, Carew by name, whom he intended to bring up; but as to
parents, or history, or income–I know nothing about them, absolutely

“But Mr. Edermont assured me that I had five hundred a year of my
own!” stammered Dora, taken aback by this plain speaking. “He handed
me money from time to time, and stated frequently that he was saving
the rest of the income to give me when I came of age. If this is so, I
ought to be entitled to at least eight thousand pounds.”

“I congratulate you on your logical arguments, and on your business
capabilities,” said Carver with grave irony; “but I am afraid that you
are mistaken, or else that the late Mr. Edermont deceived you
wilfully–a thing which I can hardly believe. I know all the details
of my late client’s monetary affairs. As I said before, I purchased
for him the Red House freehold some twenty years ago–shortly after
his arrival in the neighbourhood. The two hundred per annum which you
inherit under the will is the rental of three farms, which I purchased
at a later period for him. The silver, furniture and pictures, which
you also inherit, he brought with him from his last dwelling-house.
Finally, Miss Carew,” added the lawyer, with the air of a man who is
making a satisfactory statement, “I know precisely how he invested
that fifty thousand pounds which, by the will, has been so foolishly
offered as a reward for the discovery of the murderer of the testator.
All these matters I can explain and prove, but as regards your
supposititious income of five hundred pounds, I know nothing. There
are,” concluded Mr. Carver calmly, “neither letters, nor scrip, nor
documents of any kind whatsoever among the papers of my late client
which can in the least substantiate your statement, or even hint at
the possibility of such a thing.”

Dora listened to this long speech in silent amazement. She had never
contemplated the possibility of such a deception–for now it seemed
plainly a deception. Why Edermont should have told so many lies, and
fostered in her a belief that she was independent as regards pecuniary
matters, she could not understand. Carver waited for her to argue the
matter, but Dora made no attempt to do this. The lawyer’s explanation
was so clear and decisive that she saw no reason to doubt his honesty.
Besides, he had been always well-disposed towards her, and no motive
could exist to induce him to deceive her.

“Then I am penniless?” she murmured in dismay. “Mr. Edermont deceived

“Apparently he did deceive you,” assented Mr. Carver, placing the tips
of his fingers together; “but if you will permit me to remind you,
Miss Carew, you are not penniless.”

“I have a roof to cover me, and two hundred a year,” said Dora
bitterly. “True enough, Mr. Carver. But such a legacy is saddled with
the constant companionship of Mr. Joad.”

“He is scarcely a pleasant companion for a young lady, I grant, Miss
Carew. But if you permit him to potter about the library and garden, I
hardly think that he will trouble you much. These bookworms,
dry-as-dust scholars, are so wrapped up in their books, that they
rarely deign to notice mundane affairs, or the presence of youth and

Dora had her own opinion as to Mr. Joad’s blindness in this direction;
but as the subject was not pertinent to the matter under discussion,
she made no remark on Carver’s speech. After a few moments’ thought,
she looked earnestly at the lawyer.

“You are not deceiving me, Mr. Carver?” she asked imploringly.

“I deceive no one, Miss Carew,” he replied stiffly. “If you doubt my
integrity, you can consult any solicitor you think fit, and send him
to me. I can prove all my statements by means of documents signed by
my late client.”

“It is very hard to be so deceived, Mr. Carver.”

“I grant it, I grant it,” said Carver hastily; “but if you wish to be
rich, I can only remind you that fifty thousand pounds is waiting for
the discoverer of my late client’s assassin.”

“I wonder you do not earn it yourself,” said Dora, rising to take her

“I would willingly do so, Miss Carew, but unfortunately my knowledge
of Mr. Edermont’s past is confined to dry business details. I do not
know the romance of his life,” added Carver with emphasis. “And from
the romance, whatever it was, this present trouble springs.”

“Do you mean a love romance?”

Carver shrugged his shoulders.

“Why not?” he said, in his dryest tone. “With all due respect to you,
Miss Carew, I believe that a woman is to be found at the bottom of
everything. Trace back Mr. Edermont’s life to his period of romance,
and you will find a woman. Find that woman, Miss Carew; learn her
story, and her influence on your late guardian. Then I’ll guarantee
you will discover the assassin of the Red House.”

Dora said nothing, but hastily took leave. But once outside, Carver’s
words recurred to her. They seemed to fit in with her suspicions of
Lady Burville.

Having failed with the grim lawyer, Dora resolved to see Allen. She
felt singularly lonely, and longed to have some person to advise her.
That should have been Allen’s office, but after his cruel behaviour,
Dora could scarcely bring herself to consult him. Yet it was
imperative she should do so. She was an orphan, and had been kept so
secluded by the selfishness of Mr. Edermont that she had not a friend
in the world. If Allen failed her, the poor girl felt she would not
know what to do, or who to consult. He must love her, notwithstanding
his conduct, she thought; and perhaps if she told him how lonely she
was, how unhappy, how greatly in need of his counsel, he might soften
towards her. As Dora was naturally a haughty and self-reliant young
woman, it may be guessed how isolated she felt when she so far unbent
her pride as to turn for sympathy and consolation to the man who had
scorned her. But, after all, she was only a woman, and subject to the
weakness of her sex.

It was with slow and hesitating steps that she sought the house of her
lover. She was well aware that she would find him at home at this
hour; and the thought that she would soon see him face to face brought
the blood to her cheeks. Pausing at the door, she twice or thrice
resolved to go away; but the memory of her isolation, of her need of
sympathy, confirmed her original intention. She rang the bell, and the
door was opened by Mrs. Tice, who changed colour at the sight of the

“Deary me, Miss Carew!” she said in some confusion; “I had no idea it
was you. Is it the doctor you wish to see?”

“Yes, Mrs. Tice. Is he within?

“He is, my dear young lady. Come into the sitting-room, miss, and I’ll
inquire if Mr. Allen will see you.”

Left alone in the room, Dora sank into a chair. The ceremony with
which she had been received, the obvious confusion of Mrs. Tice,
touched her painfully. She wondered what could be the reason of such
things. They made her only the more determined to see Allen, and
demand an explanation. But he had refused her once before; it was
probable he would do so again. She felt her helpless condition keenly
at this moment.

While she was thus taken up with these sad thoughts, she heard a firm
step approach the door; it opened, and Allen stood before her. He
seemed even more haggard and worn than the last time she had seen him.
His shoulders were bent, his eyes lacked fire; altogether the man
looked so thoroughly ill, so consumed by trouble and vexation of
spirit, that Dora involuntarily took a step forward out of sheer
sympathy. Then she recollected his conduct, and stopped short. They
both looked steadily at one another.

“Why have you come to see me?” said Allen wearily. “It can do no good.
I can explain nothing.”

“Allen, you loved me once.”

“I love you still,” he responded hastily. “I shall always love you.”

“Words, words, words!” said Dora, after the manner of Hamlet. “Your
actions prove otherwise. Now listen to me, Allen: I have come to you
for advice.”

“I am the worst person in the world to give it to you,” replied Scott,
with cruel emphasis on the last words. “But if you wish it, I will do

“I do wish it, Allen. I am an orphan. I have few acquaintances, and no
friends. My guardian is dead, and in all the world there is no living
soul who cares about me.”

“Dora!” he cried in a tone of agony, “how can you speak so? I care! I
would rather die than see you suffer.”

“I do not wish you to die,” answered the girl with some bitterness;
“it is so easy to say so–so difficult, so difficult to do. No, Allen;
I wish you to live and help me. Let me put my position before you. My
guardian told me that I had five hundred a year. He deceived me; I
inherited nothing from my parents.”

“Who told you this, Dora?”

“Mr. Carver, the lawyer. For some reason Mr. Edermont lied to me, and
confirmed his lie by paying me certain moneys which he said came from
my inherited income. I hear now that I am a pauper. But for his
bequest of two hundred a year and the freehold of the Red House, I
should be a beggar.”

“I cannot understand his reason for deceiving you,” said Allen,
drawing a long breath; “but at all events, he has made some reparation
by leaving you enough to live on. You will always have a home at the
Red House.”

“You do not know the conditions of the will,” was Dora’s reply. “I
have to live at the Red House; I have to permit Mr. Joad to carry on
his former life, which means that I must see him daily, and I hate the
man,” added Dora fervently; “I loathe him; and now that Mr. Edermont
is dead, I do not know to what length his audacity may carry him.”

“What do you mean?” demanded Allen, frowning.

“I mean that Joad admires me.”

“Admires you?” The young man stepped forward and clenched his fists.
“Impossible that he should dare!”

“Oh, trust a woman’s instinct in such matters, Allen! Yes, Mr. Joad
admires me, and I believe he will soon put his admiration into words.”

“If he does, I’ll thrash him within an inch of his life!”

“As my affianced husband you no doubt have the right,” replied Dora
steadily; “but have you the will? You say you love me, yet—-”

“I do love you!” he burst out; “and it is because of my love for you
that I keep silent. On that fatal day Edermont, beside himself with
terror, betrayed to me a secret he had better have kept hidden. That
secret parts us for ever. I dare not marry you.”

“You dare not? What secret can have the power to make you say such

“If I told you that, I should tell you all,” replied Allen sullenly.
“Do not try me beyond my strength, Dora. If you suffer, I suffer also.
For your own sake I keep silent, and I love you too dearly to inflict
unnecessary pain.”

“What you might inflict can be no worse than what you have inflicted,”
said Dora bitterly. “I see it is useless to ask you to confide in me.
But one word: has this secret to do with Mr. Edermont’s death?”

Allen hesitated; then, turning away his head:

“I cannot answer you,” he said resolutely.

“Oh!” said Dora in a taunting tone; “then you know something about the

“I know nothing,” replied Allen, with a white face.

“Yes, you do. Your refusal to explain shows me that the secret has to
do with the murder. Perhaps Mr. Edermont told you the name of the
person he was afraid of. Well, that person perhaps carried out his
wicked purpose.”

“Why do you say ‘perhaps’?” asked Allen suddenly. “You seem to be

“Because a day or two before the crime was committed, Mr. Pallant
called on my guardian. What he told him relieved him of the fear of
assassination. Therefore I do not know if Mr. Edermont’s enemy killed

Allen jumped up and looked eagerly at the girl.

“Did Pallant say that the person whom Mr. Edermont feared was–was

“I cannot answer you that. Mr. Edermont only said that his nightmare
was at an end. I presume from such a speech that he felt there was no
more danger. Unfortunately, he was murdered shortly afterwards, so
that his hopes were vain. But you apparently know all about this
person whom my guardian feared. What is his name?”

“I can’t tell you, Dora,” said Allen with a groan.

“Oh, I do not want you to tell me!” she replied scornfully, “but tell
the authorities. No doubt you will be rewarded with fifty thousand

“Dora! How can you speak like this to me?”

“How else do you wish me to speak?” she retorted fiercely. “Do you
think that I have water in my veins, to put up with your neglect in

“It is for your own good.”

“You should permit me to be the best judge of that, Allen. My brain is
in confusion from the event of last week. I have suffered
indescribably. With Lady Burville and her fainting in church came
disaster. That woman caused a breach between us—-”

“No, no! Lady Burville has nothing to do with my secret.”

“Will you deny that her name was mentioned several times between you
and Mr. Edermont?”

“No, I will not deny it,” he returned doggedly. “All the same, she has
nothing to do with the matter.”

“So you say, for the preservation of your secret,” said Dora
disdainfully; “but I believe that she has everything to do with the
matter. And what is more,” continued the girl, raising her voice, “I
feel assured that indirectly she caused the death of my guardian.”

Allen turned even paler than before.

“I assure you such is not the case, Dora.”

“I decline to take your word for it. I will only believe the evidence
of my own senses, of my own researches.”

“Your own researches?”

“Yes; I intend to find out this secret which is a bar to our marriage.
To do so I must solve the mystery of Mr. Edermont’s death.”

“I warn you not to do so;” cried Allen, breathing heavily; “you are
playing with fire!”

“I’ll take the risk of that–if risk there is. Allen,” she said,
placing her hands on his shoulders, “you laughed at my premonition of
evil when I spoke to you of Lady Burville. You see I was right. Now I
have a premonition of good. My researches will mend the breach between
us, and bring about our marriage.”

“Impossible! and, moreover—-” he hesitated. “Can you love me after
the cruel way in which I have been forced to behave to you?”

“Yes. You mention the poison and the antidote at once. You have been
cruel, but you have been forced, as I truly believe, to be so. When I
discover that force, I shall learn the bar to our marriage. If so, it
can be removed.”

“I am afraid not,” he replied, shaking his head.

“In the meantime,” she continued, as though she had not heard him, “as
I am a pauper, I must remain at the Red House. But I refuse to do so
in the company of that creature Joad, unless I have a companion. Will
you let Mrs. Tice come and stay with me for a few weeks?”

“If Mrs. Tice will go, I shall be delighted that you should have her.”

“Very good, Allen.” She rose from her chair. “Now we understand one
another. When I know the truth, I shall come and see you again. Till
then, we must be strangers.”

“I suppose so,” said Scott gloomily; “but I warn you the danger is
great when you know the truth—-”

“Well, what will be the result?”

Allen Scott looked at her pityingly.

“Your life will be ruined, as mine has been,” he said.

Dora walked towards the window with a weary sigh.

“It is ruined already; I do not see how it can be much worse. I have
lost you; I have been deceived as regards my pecuniary position; I am
threatened with the attentions of that odious creature. It is all very

Allen groaned.

“I wish I could give you hope, Dora, but I cannot. I see nothing in
the future but pain, and separation, and misery.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” replied Dora with a hard laugh. “Since you can
give me up so easily, I have no doubt that you will speedily console
yourself for my loss. You will be married in a few years.”

“Never! If I do not marry you–and that is impossible–I shall marry
no other woman.”

“So you say; but I know what men are.”

“Not from experience.”

“I don’t think a woman needs experience to divine the nature of the
other sex,” said Dora loftily, with all the brave self-confidence of
youth; “our instinct teaches us what you are and how you will act. I
can’t expect you to be true to a phantom all your life.”

“Phantom! You are flesh and blood, my dear.”

“Yes; but I mean that should I fail to discover this secret, or should
you persist in treating me as a child, we must part, and never see one
another again. I will then be nothing to you but a phantom–a memory.
No man can remain true to a memory.”

“Strange as it may appear to you, Dora, there have been men thus
faithful, and I swear—-”

“Do not swear fidelity. You will only perjure yourself in after years.
But it is no use discussing such things, my dear,” she continued more
cheerfully. “I must return home.”

“Will you come back and see me again?”

“If I have occasion to, I shall do so. I do not intend to part from
you until all mysteries are made plain. It shall be my business to
make them so.”

“A hopeless task,” sighed Allen, as he accompanied her to the door. “I
shall send Mrs. Tice over to you in the morning.”

“Thank you. Do you know that Mrs. Tice was once acquainted with my

“Yes; she said something about it,” he murmured, turning away his
head; “she knows something.”

“I am convinced of that. She knows the celebrated past of Mr.
Edermont, about which so much has been said. I would not be surprised
if she knew the contents of that stolen manuscript.”

“I dare say; but she may not know everything.”

“She knows more than you give her credit for,” said Dora dryly. “For
instance; when you returned from London, I dare say she knew why you
had gone there.”

“Yes; that’s true enough.”

“And she knew why you quarrelled with my guardian.”

“She did. What of that?”

“Only this,” said Miss Carew triumphantly; “Mr. Carver said that he
believed the past whence this present trouble arose was connected with
a woman in love with Mr. Edermont. For all I know, that woman may
be–Mrs. Tice.”