RECALLED TO LIFE
BY GRANT ALLEN
I. UNA CALLINGHAM'S FIRST RECOLLECTION
II. BEGINNING LIFE AGAIN
III. AN UNEXPECTED VISITOR
IV. THE STORY OF THE PHOTOGRAPHS
V. I BECOME A WOMAN
VI. RE-LIVING MY LIFE
VII. THE GRANGE AT WOODBURY
VIII. A VISION OF DEAD YEARS
IX. HATEFUL SUSPICIONS
X. YET ANOTHER PHOTOGRAPH
XI. THE VISION RECURS
XII. THE MOORES OF TORQUAY
XIII. DR. IVOR OF BABBICOMBE
XIV. MY WELCOME TO CANADA
XV. A NEW ACQUAINTANCE
XVI. MY PLANS ALTER
XVII. A STRANGE RECOGNITION
XVIII. MURDER WILL OUT
XIX. THE REAL MURDERER
XX. THE STRANGER FROM THE SEA
XXI. THE PLOT UNRAVELS ITSELF
XXII. MY MEMORY RETURNS
XXIII. THE FATAL SHOT
XXIV. ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL
UNA CALLINGHAM'S FIRST RECOLLECTION
It may sound odd to say so, but the very earliest fact that
impressed itself on my memory was a scene that took place—so I was
told—when I was eighteen years old, in my father's house, The
Grange, at Woodbury.
My babyhood, my childhood, my girlhood, my school-days were all
utterly blotted out by that one strange shock of horror. My past
life became exactly as though it had never been. I forgot my own
name. I forgot my mother-tongue. I forgot everything I had ever done
or known or thought about. Except for the power to walk and stand
and perform simple actions of every-day use, I became a baby in arms
again, with a nurse to take care of me. The doctors told me, later,
I had fallen into what they were pleased to call "a Second State." I
was examined and reported upon as a Psychological Curiosity. But at
the time, I knew nothing of all this. A thunderbolt, as it were,
destroyed at one blow every relic, every trace of my previous
existence; and I began life all over again, with that terrible scene
of blood as my first birthday and practical starting point.
I remember it all even now with horrible distinctness. Each item in
it photographed itself vividly on my mind's eye. I saw it as in a
picture—just as clearly, just as visually. And the effect, now I
look back upon it with a maturer judgment, was precisely like a
photograph in another way too. It was wholly unrelated in time and
space: it stood alone by itself, lighted up by a single spark,
without rational connection before or after it. What led up to it
all, I hadn't the very faintest idea. I only knew the Event itself
took place; and I, like a statue, stood rooted in the midst of it.
And this was the Picture as, for many long months, it presented
itself incessantly to my startled brain, by day and by night, awake
or asleep, in colours more distinct than words can possibly paint
I saw myself standing in a large, square room—a very handsome old
room, filled with bookshelves like a library. On one side stood a
table, and on the table a box. A flash of light rendered the whole
scene visible. But it wasn't light that came in through the window.
It was rather like lightning, so quick it was, and clear, and
short-lived, and terrible. Half-way to the door, I stood and looked
in horror at the sight revealed before my eyes by that sudden flash.
A man lay dead in a little pool of blood that gurgled by short jets
from a wound on his left breast. I didn't even know at the moment
the man was my father; though slowly, afterward, by the concurrent
testimony of others, I learnt to call him so. But his relationship
wasn't part of the Picture to me. There, he was only in my eyes a
man—a man well past middle age, with a long white beard, now
dabbled with the thick blood that kept gurgling so hatefully from
the red spot in his waistcoat. He lay on his back, half-curled round
toward one arm, exactly as he fell. And the revolver he had been
shot with lay on the ground not far from him.
But that wasn't all the Picture. The murderer was there as well as
the victim. Besides the table, and the box, and the wounded man, and
the pistol, I saw another figure behind, getting out of the window.
It was the figure of a man, I should say about twenty-five or
thirty: he had just raised himself to the ledge, and was poising to
leap; for the room, as I afterwards learned, though on the ground
floor, stood raised on a basement above the garden behind. I
couldn't see the man's face, or any part of him, indeed, except his
stooping back, and his feet, and his neck, and his elbows. But what
little I saw was printed indelibly on the very fibre of my nature. I
could have recognised that man anywhere if I saw him in the same
attitude. I could have sworn to him in any court of justice on the
strength of his back alone, so vividly did I picture it.
He was tall and thin, but he stooped like a hunchback.
There were other points worth notice in that strange mental
photograph. The man was well-dressed, and had the bearing of a
gentleman. Looking back upon the scene long after, when I had
learned once more what words and things meant, I could feel
instinctively this was no common burglar, no vulgar murderer.
Whatever might have been the man's object in shooting my father, I
was certain from the very first it was not mere robbery. But at the
time, I'm confident, I never reasoned about his motives or his
actions in any way. I merely took in the scene, as it were,
passively, in a great access of horror, which rendered me incapable
of sense or thought or speech or motion. I saw the table, the box,
the apparatus by its side, the murdered man on the floor, the pistol
lying pointed with its muzzle towards his body, the pool of blood
that soaked deep into the Turkey carpet beneath, the ledge of the
window, the young man's rounded back as he paused and hesitated. And
I also saw, like an instantaneous flash, one hand pushed behind him,
waving me off, I almost thought, with the gesture of one warning.
Why didn't I remember the murderer's face? That puzzled me long
after. I must have seen him before: I must surely have been there
when the crime was committed. I must have known at the moment
everything about it. But the blank that came over my memory, came
over it with the fatal shot. All that went before, was to me as
though it were not. I recollect vaguely, as the first point in my
life, that my eyes were shut hard, and darkness came over me. While
they were so shut, I heard an explosion. Next moment, I believe, I
opened them, and saw this Picture. No sensitive-plate could have
photographed it more instantaneously, as by an electric spark, than
did my retina that evening, as for months after I saw it all. In
another moment, I shut my lids again, and all was over. There was
darkness once more, and I was alone with my Horror.
In years then to come, I puzzled my head much as to the meaning of
the Picture. Gradually, step by step, I worked some of it out, with
the aid of my friends, and of the evidence tendered at the coroner's
inquest. But for the moment I knew nothing of all that. I was a
newborn baby again. Only with this important difference. They say
our minds at birth are like a sheet of white paper, ready to take
whatever impressions may fall upon them. Mine was like a sheet all
covered and obscured by one hateful picture. It was weeks, I fancy,
before I knew or was conscious of anything else but that. The
Picture and a great Horror divided my life between them.
Recollect, I didn't even remember the murdered man was my father. I
didn't recognise the room as one in our own old house at Woodbury. I
didn't know anything at all except what I tell you here. I saw the
corpse, the blood, the box on the table, the wires by the side, the
bottles and baths and plates of an amateur photographer's kit,
without knowing what they all meant. I saw even the books not as
books but as visible points of colour. It had something the effect
on me that it might have upon anyone else to be dropped suddenly on
the stage of a theatre at the very moment when a hideous crime was
being committed, and to believe it real, or rather, to know it by
some vague sense as hateful and actual.
Here my history began. I date from that Picture. My second babyhood
was passed in the shadow of the abiding Horror.
BEGINNING LIFE AGAIN
Wha happened after is far more vague to me. Compared with the
vividness of that one initial Picture, the events of the next few
months have only the blurred indistinctness of all childish
memories. For I was a child once more, in all save stature, and had
to learn to remember things just like other children.
I will try to tell the whole tale over again exactly as it then
After the Picture, I told you, I shut my eyes in alarm for a second.
When I opened them once more there was a noise, a very great noise,
and my recollection is that people had burst wildly into the room,
and were lifting the dead body, and bending over it in astonishment,
and speaking loud to me, and staring at me. I believe they broke the
door open, though that's rather inference than memory; I learnt it
afterwards. Soon some of them rushed to the open window and looked
out into the garden. Then, suddenly, a man gave a shout, and leaping
on to the sill, jumped down in pursuit, as I thought, of the
murderer. As time went on, more people flocked in; and some of them
looked at the body and the pool of blood; and some of them turned
round and spoke to me. But what they said or what they meant I
hadn't the slightest idea. The noise of the pistol-shot still rang
loud in my ears: the ineffable Horror still drowned all my senses.
After a while, another man came in, with an air of authority, and
felt my pulse and my brow, and lifted me on to a sofa. But I didn't
even remember there was such a thing as a doctor. I lay there for a
while, quite dazed; and the man, who was kindly-looking and
close-shaven and fatherly, gave me something in a glass: after which
he turned round and examined the body. He looked hard at the
revolver, too, and chalked its place on the ground. Then I saw no
more, for two women lifted me in their arms and took me up to bed;
and with that, the first scene of my childhood seemed to end
I lay in bed for a day or two, during which time I was dimly aware
of much commotion going on here and there in the house; and the
doctor came night and morning, and tended me carefully. I suppose I
may call him the doctor now, though at the time I didn't call him
so—I knew him merely as a visible figure. I don't believe I THOUGHT
at all during those earliest days, or gave things names in any known
language. They rather passed before me dreamily in long procession,
like a vague panorama. When people spoke to me, it was like the
sound of a foreign tongue. I attached no more importance to anything
they said than to the cawing of the rooks in the trees by the
At the end of five days, the doctor came once more, and watched me a
great deal, and spoke in a low voice with a woman in a white cap and
a clean white apron who waited on me daily. As soon as he was gone,
my nurse, as I learned afterwards to call her,—it's so hard not to
drop into the language of everyday life when one has to describe
things to other people,—my nurse got me up, with much ado and
solemnity, and dressed me in a new black frock, very dismal and
ugly, and put on me a black hat, with a dreary-looking veil; and
took me downstairs, with the aid of a man who wore a suit of blue
clothes and a queer kind of helmet. The man was of the sort I now
call a policeman. These pictures are far less definite in my mind
than the one that begins my second life; but still, in a vague kind
of way, I pretty well remember them.
On the ground floor, nurse made me walk; and I walked out to the
door, where a cab was in waiting, drawn slowly by a pair of horses.
People were looking on, on either side, between the door and the
cab—great crowds of people, peering eagerly forward; and two more
men in blue suits were holding them off by main force from surging
against me and incommoding me. I don't think they wanted to hurt me:
it was rather curiosity than anger I saw in their faces. But I was
afraid, and shrank back. They were eager to see me, however, and
pressed forward with loud cries, so that the men in blue suits had
hard work to prevent them.
I know now there were two reasons why they wanted to see me. I was
the murdered man's daughter, and I was a Psychological Phenomenon.
We drove away, through green lanes, in the cab, nurse and I; and in
spite of the Horror, which surrounded me always, and the Picture,
which recurred every time I shut my eyes to think, I enjoyed that
drive very much, with all the fresh vividness of childish pleasure.
Though I learnt later I was eighteen years old at least, I was in my
inner self just like a baby of ten months, going ta-ta. At the end
of the drive, we drew up sharp at a house, where some more men stood
about, with red bands on their caps, and took boxes from the cab and
put them into a van, while nurse and I got into a different
carriage, drawn quickly by a thing that went puff-puff, puff-puff. I
didn't know it was a railway, and yet in a way I did. I half forgot,
half remembered it. Things that I'd seen in my previous state seemed
to come back to me, in fact, as soon as I saw them; or at least to
be more familiar to me than things I'd never seen before. Especially
afterwards. But while things were remembered, persons, I found
by-and-by, were completely forgotten. Or rather, while I remembered
after a while generalities, such as houses and men, recognising them
in the abstract as a house, or a man, or a horse, or a baby, I
forgot entirely particulars, such as the names of people and the
places I had lived in. Words soon came back to me: names and facts
were lost: I knew the world as a whole, not my own old part in it.
Well, not to make my story too long in these early childish stages,
we went on the train, as it seemed to me, a long way across fields
to Aunt Emma's. I didn't know she was Aunt Emma then for, indeed, I
had never seen her before; but I remember arriving there at her
pretty little cottage, and seeing a sweet old lady—barely sixty, I
should say, but with smooth white hair,—who stood on the steps of
the house and cried like a child, and held out her hands to me, and
hugged me and kissed me. And it was there that I learned my first
word. A great many times over, she spoke about "Una." She said it so
often, I caught vaguely at the sound. And nurse, when she answered
her, said "Una" also. Then, when Aunt Emma called me, she always
said "Una." So it came to me dimly that Una meant ME. But I didn't
exactly recollect it had been my name before, though I learned in
due time afterwards that I'd always been called so. However, just at
first, I picked up the word as a child might pick it up; and when,
some months later, I began to talk easily, I spoke of myself always
in the third person as Una. I can remember with a smile now how I
went one day to Aunt Emma—I, a great girl of eighteen—and held up
my skirt, that I'd muddied in the street, and said to her, with
"Una naughty girl: Una got her frock wet. Aunt Emma going to scold
poor Una for being so naughty!"
Not that I often smiled, in those days; for, in spite of Aunt Emma's
kindness, my second girlhood, like my first, was a very unhappy one.
The Horror and the Picture pursued me too close. It was months and
months before I could get rid for a moment of that persistent
nightmare. And yet I had everything else on earth to make me happy.
Aunt Emma lived in a pretty east-coast town, with high bracken-clad
downs, and breezy common beyond; while in front stretched great
sands, where I loved to race about and to play cricket and tennis.
It was the loveliest town that ever you saw in your life, with a
broken chancel to the grand old church, and a lighthouse on a hill,
with delicious views to seaward. The doctor had sent me there (I
know now) as soon as I was well enough to move, in order to get me
away from the terrible associations of The Grange at Woodbury. As
long as I lived in the midst of scenes which would remind me of poor
father, he said, and of his tragical death, there was no hope of my
recovery. The only chance for me to regain what I had lost in that
moment of shock was complete change of air, of life, of
surroundings. Aunt Emma, for her part, was only too glad to take me
in: and as poor papa had died intestate, Aunt Emma was now, of
course, my legal guardian.
She was my mother's sister, I learned as time went on; and there had
been feud while he lived between her and my father. Why, I couldn't
imagine. She was the sweetest old soul I ever knew, indeed, and what
on earth he could have quarrelled with her about I never could
fathom. She tended me so carefully that as months went by, the
Horror began to decrease and my soul to become calm again. I grew
gradually able to remain in a room alone for a few minutes at a
time, and to sleep at night in a bed by myself, if only there was a
candle, and nurse was in another bed in the same room close by me.
Yet every now and again a fresh shivering fit came on. At such times
I would cover my head with the bedclothes and cower, and see the
Picture even so floating visibly in mid-air like a vision before me.
My second education must have been almost as much of a business as
my first had been, only rather less longsome. I had first to relearn
the English language, which came back to me by degrees, much
quicker, of course, than I had picked it up in my childhood. Then I
had to begin again with reading, writing, and arithmetic—all new
to me in a way, and all old in another. Whatever I learned and
whatever I read seemed novel while I learned it, but familiar the
moment I had thoroughly grasped it. To put it shortly, I could
remember nothing of myself, but I could recall many things, after a
time, as soon as they were told me clearly. The process was rather a
process of reminding than of teaching, properly so called. But it
took some years for me to recall things, even when I was reminded of
I spent four years at Aunt Emma's, growing gradually to my own age
again. At the end of that time I was counted a girl of twenty-two,
much like any other. But I was older than my age; and the shadow of
the Horror pursued me incessantly.
All that time I knew, too, from what I heard said in the house that
my father's murderer had never been caught, and that nobody even
knew who he was, or anything definite about him. The police gave him
up as an uncaught criminal. He was still at large, and might always
be so. I knew this from vague hints and from vague hints alone; for
whenever I tried to ask, I was hushed up at once with an air of
"Una, dearest," Aunt Emma would say, in her quiet fashion, "you
mustn't talk about that night. I have Dr. Wade's strict orders that
nothing must be said to you about it, and above all nothing that
could in any way excite or arouse you."
So I was fain to keep my peace; for though Aunt Emma was kind, she
ruled me still in all things like a little girl, as I was when I
came to her.
AN UNEXPECTED VISITOR
One morning, after I'd been four whole years at Aunt Emma's, I heard
a ring at the bell, and, looking over the stairs, saw a tall and
handsome man in a semi-military coat, who asked in a most audible
voice for Miss Callingham.
Maria, the housemaid, hesitated a moment.
"Miss Callingham's in, sir," she answered in a somewhat dubious
tone; "but I don't know whether I ought to let you see her or not.
My mistress is out; and I've strict orders that no strangers are to
call on Miss Callingham when her aunt's not here."
And she held the door ajar in her hand undecidedly.
The tall man smiled, and seemed to me to slip a coin quietly into
"So much the better," he answered, with unobtrusive persistence; "I
thought Miss Moore was out. That's just why I've come. I'm an officer
from Scotland Yard, and I want to see Miss Callingham—alone—most
Maria drew herself up and paused.
My heart stood still within me at this chance of enlightenment. I
guessed what he meant; so I called over the stairs to her, in a
tremor of excitement:
"Show the gentleman into the drawing-room, Maria. I 'll come down to
him at once."
For I was dying to know the explanation of the Picture that haunted
me so persistently; and as nobody at home would ever tell me
anything worth knowing about it, I thought this was as good an
opportunity as I could get for making a beginning towards the
solution of the mystery.
Well, I ran into my own room as quick as quick could be, and set my
front hair straight, and slipped on a hat and jacket (for I was in
my morning dress), and then went down to the drawing-room to see the
He rose as I entered. He was a gentleman, I felt at once. His manner
was as deferential, as kind, and as considerate to my sensitiveness,
as anything it's possible for you to imagine in anyone.
"I'm sorry to have to trouble you, Miss Callingham," he said, with a
very gentle smile; "but I daresay you can understand yourself the
object of my visit. I could have wished to come in a more authorised
way; but I've been in correspondence with Miss Moore for some time
past as to the desirability of reopening the inquiry with regard to
your father's unfortunate death; and I thought the time might now
have arrived when it would be possible to put a few questions to you
personally upon that unhappy subject. Miss Moore objected to my
plan. She thought it would still perhaps be prejudicial to your
health—a point in which Dr. Wade, I must say, entirely agrees with
her. Nevertheless, in the interests of Justice, as the murderer is
still at large, I've ventured to ask you for this interview; because
what I read in the newspapers about the state of your health—."
I interrupted him, astonished.
"What you read in the newspapers about the state of my health!" I
repeated, thunderstruck. "Why, surely they don't put the state of MY
health in the newspapers!"
For I didn't know then I was a Psychological Phenomenon.
The Inspector smiled blandly, and pulling out his pocket-book,
selected a cutting from a pile that apparently all referred to me.
"You're mistaken," he said, briefly. "The newspapers, on the
contrary, have treated your case at great length. See, here's the
latest report. That's clipped from last Wednesday's Telegraph."
I remembered then that a paragraph of just that size had been
carefully cut out of Wednesday's paper before I was allowed by Aunt
Emma to read it. Aunt Emma always glanced over the paper first,
indeed, and often cut out such offending paragraphs. But I never
attached much importance to their absence before, because I thought
it was merely a little fussy result of auntie's good old English
sense of maidenly modesty. I supposed she merely meant to spare my
blushes. I knew girls were often prevented on particular days from
reading the papers.
But now I seized the paragraph he handed me, and read it with deep
interest. It was the very first time I had seen my own name in a
printed newspaper. I didn't know then how often it had figured
The paragraph was headed, "THE WOODBURY MURDER," and it ran
something like this, as well as I can remember it:
"There are still hopes that the miscreant who shot Mr. Vivian
Callingham at The Grange, at Woodbury, some four years since, may be
tracked down and punished at last for his cowardly crime. It will be
fresh in everyone's memory, as one of the most romantic episodes in
that extraordinary tragedy, that at the precise moment of her
father's death, Miss Callingham, who was present in the room during
the attack, and who alone might have been a witness capable of
recognising or describing the wretched assailant, lost her reason on
the spot, owing to the appalling shock to her nervous system, and
remained for some months in an imbecile condition. Gradually, as we
have informed our readers from time to time, Miss Callingham's
intellect has become stronger and stronger; and though she is still
totally unable to remember spontaneously any events that occurred
before her father's death, it is hoped it may be possible, by
describing vividly certain trains of previous incidents, to recall
them in some small degree to her imperfect memory. Dr. Thornton, of
Welbeck Street, who has visited her from time to time on behalf of
the Treasury, in conjunction with Dr. Wade, her own medical
attendant, went down to Barton-on-the-Sea on Monday, and once more
examined Miss Callingham's intellect. Though the Doctor is
judiciously reticent as to the result of his visit, it is generally
believed at Barton that he thinks the young lady sufficiently
recovered to undergo a regular interrogatory; and in spite of the
fact that Dr. Wade is opposed to any such proceeding at present, as
prejudicial to the lady's health, it is not unlikely that the
Treasury may act upon their own medical official's opinion, and send
down an Inspector from Scotland Yard to make inquiries direct on the
subject from Miss Callingham in person."
My head swam round. It was all like a dream to me. I held my
forehead with my hands, and gazed blankly at the Inspector.
"You understand what all this means?" he said interrogatively,
leaning forward as he spoke. "You remember the murder?"
"Perfectly," I answered him, trembling all over. "I remember every
detail of it. I could describe you exactly all the objects in the
room. The Picture it left behind has burned itself into my brain
like a flash of lightning!"
The Inspector drew his chair nearer. "Now, Miss Callingham," he said
in a very serious voice, "that's a remarkable expression—like a
flash of lightning.' Bear in mind, this is a matter of life and
death to somebody somewhere. Somebody's neck may depend upon your
answers. Will you tell me exactly how much you remember?"
I told him in a few words precisely how the scene had imprinted
itself on my memory. I recalled the room, the box, the green wires,
the carpet; the man who lay dead in his blood on the floor; the man
who stood poised ready to leap from the window. He let me go on
unchecked till I'd finished everything I had to say spontaneously.
Then he took a photograph from his pocket, which he didn't show me.
Looking at it attentively, he asked me questions, one by one, about
the different things in the room at the time in very minute detail:
Where exactly was the box? How did it stand relatively to the
unlighted lamp? What was the position of the pistol on the floor? In
which direction was my father's head lying? Though it brought back
the Horror to me in a fuller and more terrible form than ever, I
answered all his questions to the very best of my ability. I could
picture the whole scene like a photograph to myself; and I didn't
doubt the object he held in his hand was a photograph of the room as
it appeared after the murder. He checked my statements, one by one
as I went on, by reference to the photograph, murmuring half to
himself now and again: "Yes, yes, exactly so"; "That's right"; "That
was so," at each item I mentioned.
At the end of these inquiries, he paused and looked hard at me.
"Now, Miss Callingham," he said again, peering deep into my eyes, "I
want you to concentrate your mind very much, not on this Picture you
carry so vividly in your own brain, but on the events that went
immediately before and after it. Pause long and think. Try hard to
remember. And first, you say there was a great flash of light. Now,
answer me this: was it one flash alone, or had there been several?"
I stopped and racked my brain. Blank, blank, as usual.
"I can't remember," I faltered out, longing terribly to cry. "I can
recall just that one scene, and nothing else in the world before
He looked at me fixedly, jotting down a few words in his note-book
as he looked. Then he spoke again, still more slowly:
"Now, try once more," he said, with an encouraging air. "You saw
this man's back as he was getting out of the window. But can't you
remember having seen his face before? Had he a beard? a moustache?
what eyes? what nose? Did you see the shot fired? And if so, what
sort of person was the man who fired it?"
Again I searched the pigeon-holes of my memory in vain, as I had
done a hundred times before by myself.
"It's no use," I cried helplessly, letting my hands drop by my side.
"I can't remember a thing, except the Picture. I don't know whether
I saw the shot fired or not. I don't know what the murderer looked
like in the face. I've told you all I know. I can recall nothing
else. It's all a great blank to me."
The Inspector hesitated a moment, as if in doubt what step to take
next. Then he drew himself up and said, still more gravely:
"This inability to assist us is really very singular. I had hoped,
after Dr. Thornton's report, that we might at last count with some
certainty upon arriving at fresh results as to the actual murder. I
can see from what you tell me you're a young lady of
intelligence—much above the average—and great strength of mind.
It's curious your memory should fail you so pointedly just where we
stand most in need of its aid. Recollect, nobody else but you ever
saw the murderer's face. Now, I'm going to presume you're answering
me honestly, and try a bold means to arouse your dormant memory.
Look hard, and hark back.—Is that the room you recollect? Is that
the picture that still haunts and pursues you?"
He handed me the photograph he held in his fingers. I took it, all
on fire. The sight almost made me turn sick with horror. To my awe
and amazement, it was indeed the very scene I remembered so well.
Only, of course, it was taken from another point of view, and
represented things in rather different relative positions to those I
figured them in. But it showed my father's body lying dead upon the
floor; it showed his poor corpse weltering helpless in its blood; it
showed myself, as a girl of eighteen, standing awestruck, gazing on
in blank horror at the sight; and in the background, half blurred by
the summer evening light, it showed the vague outline of a man's
back, getting out of the window. On one side was the door: that
formed no part of my mental picture, because it was at my back; but
in the photograph it too was indistinct, as if in the very act of
being burst open. The details were vague, in part—probably the
picture had never been properly focussed;—but the main figures
stood out with perfect clearness, and everything in the room was,
allowing for the changed point of view, exactly as I remembered it
in my persistent mental photograph.
I drew a deep breath.
"That's my Picture," I said, slowly. "But it recalls to me nothing
new. I—I don't understand it."
The Inspector stared at me hard once more.
"Do you know," he asked, "how that photograph was produced, and how
it came into our possession?"
I trembled violently.
"No, I don't," I answered, reddening. "But—I think it had something
to do with the flash like lightning."
The Inspector jumped at those words like a cat upon a mouse.
"Quite right," he cried briskly, as one who at last, after long
search, finds a hopeful clue where all seemed hopeless. "It had to
do with the flash. The flash produced it. This is a photograph taken
by your father's process…. Of course you recollect your father's
He eyed me close. The words, as he spoke them, seemed to call up
dimly some faint memory of my pre-natal days—of my First State, as
I had learned from the doctors to call it. But his scrutiny made me
shrink. I shut my eyes and looked back.
"I think," I said slowly, rummaging my memory half in vain, "I
remember something about it. It had something to do with
photography, hadn't it?…No, no, with the electric light….I
can't exactly remember which. Will you tell me all about it?"
He leaned back in his chair, and, eyeing me all the time with that
same watchful glance, began to describe to me in some detail an
apparatus which he said my father had devised, for taking
instantaneous photographs by the electric light, with a clockwork
mechanism. It was an apparatus that let sensitive-plates revolve one
after another opposite the lens of a camera; and as each was
exposed, the clockwork that moved it produced an electric spark, so
as to represent such a series of effects as the successive positions
of a horse in trotting. My father, it seemed, was of a scientific
turn, and had just perfected this new automatic machine before his
sudden death. I listened with breathless interest; for up to that
time I had never been allowed to hear anything about my
father—anything about the great tragedy with which my second life
began. It was wonderful to me even now to be allowed to speak and
ask questions on it with anybody. So hedged about had I been all my
days with mystery.
As I listened, I saw the Inspector could tell by the answering flash
in my eye that his words recalled SOMETHING to me, however vaguely.
As he finished, I leant forward, and with a very flushed face, that
I could feel myself, I cried, in a burst of recollection:
"Yes, yes. I remember. And the box on the table—the box that's in
my mental picture, and is not in the photograph—THAT was the
apparatus you've just been describing."
The Inspector turned upon me with a rapidity that fairly took my
"Well, where are the other ones?" he asked, pouncing down upon me
"The other WHAT?" I repeated, amazed; for I didn't really understand
"Why, the other photographs!" he replied, as if trying to surprise
me. "There must have been more, you know. It held six plates. Except
for this one, the apparatus, when we found it, was empty."
His manner seemed to crush out the faint spark of recollection that
just flickered within me. I collapsed at once. I couldn't stand such
"I don't know what you mean," I answered in despair. "I never saw
the plates. I know nothing about them."
THE STORY OF THE PHOTOGRAPHS
The Inspector scanned me close for a few minutes in silence. He
seemed doubtful, suspicious. At last he made a new move. "I believe
you, Miss Callingham," he said, more gently. "I can see this train
of thought distresses you too much. But I can see, too, our best
chance lies in supplying you with independent clues which you may
work out for yourself. You must re-educate your memory. You want to
know all about this murder, of course. Well, now, look over these
papers. They'll tell you in brief what little we know about it. And
they may succeed in striking afresh some resonant chord in your
He handed me a book of pasted newspaper paragraphs, interspersed
here and there in red ink with little manuscript notes and comments.
I began to read it with profound interest. It was so strange for me
thus to learn for the first time the history of my own life; for I
was quite ignorant as yet of almost everything about my First State,
and my father and mother.
The paragraphs told me the whole story of the crime, as far as it
was known to the world, from the very beginning. First of all, in
the papers, came the bald announcement that a murder had been
committed in a country town in Staffordshire; and that the victim
was Mr. Vivian Callingham, a gentleman of means, residing in his own
house, The Grange, at Woodbury. Mr. Callingham was the inventor of
the acmegraphic process. The servants, said the telegram to the
London papers, had heard the sound of a pistol-shot, about half-past
eight at night, coming from the direction of Mr. Callingham's
library. Aroused by the report, they rushed hastily to the spot, and
broke open the door, which was locked from within. As they did so, a
horrible sight met their astonished eyes. Mr. Callingham's dead body
lay extended on the ground, shot right through the heart, and
weltering in its life-blood. Miss Callingham stood by his side,
transfixed with horror, and mute in her agony. On the floor lay the
pistol that had fired the fatal shot. And just as the servants
entered, for one second of time, the murderer who was otherwise
wholly unknown, was seen to leap from the window into the shrubbery
below. The gardener rushed after him, and jumped down at the same
spot. But the murderer had disappeared as if by magic. It was
conjectured he must have darted down the road at full speed, vaulted
the gate, which was usually locked, and made off at a rapid run for
the open country. Up to date of going to press, the Telegraph said,
he was still at large and had not been apprehended.
That was the earliest account—bald, simple, unvarnished. Then came
mysterious messages from the Central Press about the absence of any
clue to identify the stranger. He hadn't entered the house by any
regular way, it seemed; unless, indeed, Mr. Callingham had brought
him home himself and let him in with the latchkey. None of the
servants had opened the door that evening to any suspicious
character; not a soul had they seen, nor did any of them know a man
was with their master in the library. They heard voices, to be
sure—voices, loud at times and angry,—but they supposed it was Mr.
Callingham talking with his daughter. Till roused by the fatal
pistol-shot, the gardener said, they had no cause for alarm. Even
the footmarks the stranger might have left as he leaped from the
window were obliterated by the prints of the gardener's boots as he
jumped hastily after him. The only person who could cast any light
upon the mystery at all was clearly Miss Callingham, who was in the
room at the moment. But Miss Callingham's mind was completely
unhinged for the present by the nervous shock she had received as
her father fell dead before her. They must wait a few days till she
recovered consciousness, and then they might confidently hope that
the murderer would be identified, or at least so described that the
police could track him.
After that, I read the report of the coroner's inquest. The facts
there elicited added nothing very new to the general view of the
case. Only, the servants remarked on examination, there was a
strange smell of chemicals in the room when they entered; and the
doctors seemed to suggest that the smell might be that of
chloroform, mixed with another very powerful drug known to affect
the memory. Miss Callingham's present state, they thought, might
thus perhaps in part be accounted for.
You can't imagine how curious it was for me to see myself thus
impersonally discussed at such a distance of time, or to learn so
long after that for ten days or more I had been the central object
of interest to all reading England. My name was bandied about
without the slightest reserve. I trembled to see how cavalierly the
press had treated me.
As I went on, I began to learn more and more about my father. He had
made money in Australia, it was said, and had come to live at
Woodbury some fourteen years earlier, where my mother had died when
I was a child of four; and some accounts said she was a widow of
fortune. My father had been interested in chemistry and photography,
it seemed, and had lately completed a new invention, the acmegraph,
for taking successive photographs at measured intervals of so many
seconds by electric light. He was a grave, stern man, the papers
said, more feared than loved by his servants and neighbours; but
nobody about was known to have a personal grudge against him. On the
contrary, he lived at peace with all men. The motive for the murder
remained to the end a complete mystery.
On the second morning of the inquest, however, a curious thing
happened. The police, it appeared, had sealed up the room where the
murder took place, and allowed nobody to enter it till the inquiry
was over. But after the jury came round to view the room, the
policeman in charge found the window at the back of the house had
been recently opened, and the box with the photographic apparatus
had been stolen from the library. Till that moment nobody had
attached any importance to the presence of this camera. It hadn't
even been opened and examined by the police, who had carefully noted
everything else in the library. But as soon as the box was missed
strange questions began to be asked and conjecturally answered. The
police for the first time then observed that though it was half-past
eight at night when the murder occurred, and the lamp was not
lighted, the witnesses who burst first into the room described all
they saw as if they had seen it clearly. They spoke of things as
they would be seen in a very bright light, with absolute
definiteness. This set up inquiry, and the result of the inquiry was
to bring out the fact, which in the excitement of the moment had
escaped the notice of all the servants, that as they entered the
room and stared about at the murder, the electric flash of the
apparatus was actually in operation. But the scene itself had
diverted their attention from the minor matter of the light that
The Inspector had been watching me narrowly as I read these
extracts. When I reached that point, he broke in with a word of
"Well, that put me on the track, you see," he said, leaning forward
once more. "I thought to myself, if the light was acting, then the
whole apparatus must necessarily have been at work, and the scene as
it took place must have been photographed, act by act and step by
step, exactly as it happened. At the time the murderer, whoever he
was, can't have known the meaning of the flashes. But later, he must
have come to learn in some way what the electric light meant, and
must have realised, sooner than we did, that therein the box, in the
form of six successive negatives of the stages in the crime, was the
evidence that would infallibly convict him of this murder." He
stroked his moustache thoughtfully. "And to think, too," he went on
with a somewhat sheepish air, "we should have had those photographs
there in our power all those days and nights, and have let them in
the end slip like that through our fingers! To think he should have
found it out sooner than we! To think that an amateur like the
murderer should have outwitted us!"
"But how do you know," I cried, "there was ever more than one
photograph? How do you know this wasn't the only negative?"
"Because," the Inspector answered quickly, pointing to a figure in
the corner of the proof, "do you see that six? Well, that tells the
tale. Each plate of the series was numbered so in the apparatus.
Number six could only fall into focus after numbers one, and two,
and three, and four, and five, had first been photographed. We've
only got the last—and least useful for our purpose. There must have
been five earlier ones, showing every stage of the crime, if only
we'd known it."
I was worked up now to a strange pitch of excitement.
"And how did this one come into your possession?" I asked, all
breathless. "If you managed to lay your hands on one, why not on all
six of them?"
The Inspector drew a long breath.
"Ah, that's the trouble!" he replied, still gazing at me hard. "You
see, it was this way. As soon as we found the camera was missing, we
came to the conclusion the murderer must have returned to The Grange
to fetch it. But it was a large and heavy box, and the only one of
its kind as yet manufactured; so, to carry it away in his hands
would no doubt have led to instant detection. I concluded,
therefore, the man would take off the box entire, so as to prevent
the danger of removing the plates on the spot; and as soon as he
reached a place of safety in the shrubbery, he'd fling away the
camera, either destroying the incriminating negatives then and there
or carrying them off with him. The details of the invention had
already been explained to me by your father's instrument-maker, who
set up the clockwork for him from his own designs; and I knew that
the removal of the plates from the box was a delicate, and to some
extent a difficult, operation. So I felt sure they could only have
been taken out in a place of comparative safety, not far from the
house; and I searched the shrubbery carefully, to find the camera."
"And you found it at last?" I asked, unable to restrain my
"I found it at last," he answered, "near the far end of the grounds,
just flung into the deep grass, behind a clump of lilacs. The camera
was there intact, but five plates were missing. The sixth, from
which the positive you hold in your hand was taken, had got jammed
in the mechanism in the effort to remove it. Evidently the murderer
had tried to take out the plates in a very great hurry and with
trembling hands, as was not unnatural. He had succeeded with five,
when the sixth stuck fast in the groove of the clockwork. Just at
that moment, as we judged, either an alarm was raised in the rear,
or some panic fear seized on him. Probably the fellow judged right
that the most incriminating pictures of all had by that time been
removed, and that the last would only show his back, if it included
him at all, or if he came into focus. Perhaps he had even been able
unconsciously to count the flashes at the moment, and knew that
before the sixth flash arrived he was on the ledge of the window. At
any rate, he clearly gave up the attempt to remove the sixth, and
flung the whole apparatus away from him in a sudden access of
horror. We guessed as much both from the appearance of the spot
where the grass was trampled down, and the way the angle of the
camera was imbedded forcibly in the soft ground of the shrubbery."
"And he got away with the rest!" I exclaimed, following it up like a
story, but a story in which I was myself an unconscious character.
"No doubt," the Inspector answered, stroking his chin regretfully.
"And what's most annoying of all, we've every reason to suppose the
fellow stole the things only a few minutes before we actually missed
them. For we saw grounds for supposing he jumped away from the spot,
and climbed over the wall at the back, cutting his hands as he went
with the bottle-glass on the top to prevent intruders. And what
makes us think only a very short time must have elapsed between the
removal of the plates and the moment we came upon his tracks is
this—the blood from his cut hands was still fresh and wet upon the
wall when we found it."
"Then you only just missed him!" I exclaimed. "He got off by the
skin of his teeth. It's wonderful, when you were so near, you
shouldn't have managed to overtake him! One would have thought you
must have been able to track him to earth somehow!"
"One would have thought so," the Inspector answered, rather
crestfallen. "But policemen, after all, are human like the rest of
us. We missed the one chance that might have led to an arrest. And
now, what I want to ask you once more is this: Reflecting over what
you've heard and read to-day, do you think you can recollect—a
very small matter—whether or not there were SEVERAL distinct
I shut my eyes once more, and looked hard into the past. Slowly, as
I looked, a sort of dream seemed to come over me. I saw it vaguely
now, or thought I saw it. Flash, flash, flash, flash. Then the sound
of the pistol. Then the Picture, and the Horror, and the awful
blank. I opened my eyes again, and told the Inspector so.
"And once more," he went on, in a very insinuating voice. "Shut your
eyes again, and look back upon that day. Can't you remember whether
or not, just a moment before, you saw the murderer's face by the
light of the flashes?"
I shut my eyes and thought. Again the flashes seemed to stand out
clear and distinct. But no detail supervened—no face came back to
me. I felt it was useless.
"Impossible!" I said shortly. "It only makes my head swim. I can
remember no further."
"I see," the Inspector answered. "It's just as Dr. Wade said.
Suggest a fact in your past history, and you may possibly remember
it; but ask you to recall anything not suggested or already known,
and all seems a mere blank to you! You haven't the faintest idea,
then, who the murderer was or what he looked like?"
I rose up before him solemnly, and stared him full in the face. I
was wrought up by that time to a perfect pitch of excitement and
"I haven't the faintest idea," I answered, feeling myself a woman at
last, and realising my freedom; "I know and remember no more of it
than you do. But from this moment forth, I shall not rest until I've
found him out and tracked him down, and punished him. I shall never
let my head rest in peace on my pillow until I've discovered my
"That's well," the Inspector said sharply, shutting his notes up to
go. "If you persevere in that mind, and do as you say, we shall soon
get to the bottom of the Woodbury Mystery!"
And even as he spoke a key turned in the front door. I knew it was
Aunt Emma, come in from her marketing.
I BECOME A WOMAN
Aunt Emma burst into the room, all horror and astonishment. She
looked at the Inspector for a few seconds in breathless indignation;
then she broke out in a tone of fiery remonstrance which fairly
"What do you mean by this intrusion, sir? How dare you force your
way into my house in my absence? How dare you encourage my servants
to disobey my orders? How dare you imperil this young lady's health
by coming here to talk with her?"
She turned round to me anxiously. I suppose I was very flushed with
excitement and surprise.
"My darling child," she cried, growing pale all at once, "Maria
should never have allowed him to come inside the door! You should
have stopped upstairs! You should have refused to see him! I shall
have you ill again on my hands, as before, after this. He'll have
undone all the good the last four years have done for you!"
But I was another woman now. I felt it in a moment.
"Auntie dearest," I answered, moving across to her, and laying my
hand on her shoulder to soothe her poor ruffled nerves, "don't be
the least alarmed. It's I who'm to blame, and not Maria. I told her
to let this gentleman in. He's done me good, not harm. I'm so glad
to have been allowed at last to speak freely about it!"
Aunt Emma shook all over, visibly to the naked eye.
"You'll have a relapse, my child!" she exclaimed, half crying, and
clinging to me in her terror. "You'll forget all you've learned:
you'll go back these four years again!—Leave my house at once, sir!
You should never have entered it!"
I stood between them like a statue.
"No, stop here a little longer," I said, waving my hand towards him
imperiously. "I haven't yet heard all it's right for me to hear….
Auntie, you mistake. I'm a woman at last. I see what everything
means. I'm beginning to remember again. For four years that hateful
Picture has haunted me night and day. I could never shut my eyes for
a minute without seeing it. I've longed to know what it all meant;
but whenever I've asked, I've been repressed like a baby. I'm a baby
no longer: I feel myself a woman. What the Inspector here has told
me already, half opens my eyes: I must have them opened altogether
now. I can't stop at this point. I'm going back to Woodbury."
Aunt Emma clung to me still harder in a perfect agony of passionate
"To Woodbury, my darling!" she cried. "Going back! Oh, Una, it'll
"I think not," the Inspector answered, with a very quiet smile.
"Miss Callingham has recovered, I venture to say, far more
profoundly than you imagine. This repression, our medical adviser
tells us, has been bad for her. If she's allowed to visit freely the
places connected with her earlier life, it may all return again to
her; and the ends of Justice may thus at last be served for us. I
notice already one hopeful symptom: Miss Callingham speaks of going
back to Woodbury."
Aunt Emma looked up at him, horrified. All her firmness was gone
"It's YOU who've put this into her head!" she exclaimed, in a
ferment of horror. "She'd never thought of it herself. You've made
her do it!"
"On the contrary, auntie," I answered, feeling my ground grow surer
under me every moment as I spoke, "this gentleman has never even by
the merest hint suggested such an idea to my mind. It occurred to me
quite spontaneously. I MUST find out now who was my father's
murderer! All the Inspector has told me seems to arouse in my brain
some vague, forgotten chords. It brings back to me faint shadows. I
feel sure if I went to Woodbury I should remember much more. And
then, you must see for yourself, there's another reason, dear, that
ought to make me go. Nobody but I ever saw the murderer's face. It's
a duty imposed upon me from without, as it were, never to rest again
in peace till I've recognised him."
Aunt Emma collapsed into an easy-chair. Her face was deadly pale.
Her ringers trembled.
"If you go, Una," she cried, playing nervously with her gloves, "I
must go with you too! I must take care of you: I must watch over
I took her quivering hand in mine and stroked it gently. It was a
soft and delicate white little hand, all marked inside with curious
ragged scars that I'd known and observed ever since I first knew
her. I held it in silence for a minute. Somehow I felt our positions
were reversed to-day. This interview had suddenly brought out what I
know now to be my own natural and inherent character—self-reliant,
active, abounding in initiative. For four years I had been as a
child in her hands, through mere force of circumstances. My true
self came out now and asserted its supremacy.
"No, dear," I said, soothing her cheek; "I shall go alone. I shall
try what I can discover and remember myself without any suggestion
or explanation from others. I want to find out how things really
stand. I shall set to work on my own account to unravel this
"But how can you manage things by yourself?" Aunt Emma exclaimed,
wringing her hands despondently. "A girl of your age! without even a
maid! and all alone in the world! I shall be afraid to let you go.
Dr. Wade won't allow it."
I drew myself up very straight, and realised the position.
"Aunt Emma," I said plainly, in a decided voice, "I'm a full-grown
woman, over twenty-one years of age, mistress of my own acts, and no
longer a ward of yours. I can do as I like, and neither Dr. Wade nor
anybody else can prevent me. He may ADVICE me not to go: he has no
power to ORDER me. I'm my father's heiress, and a person of
independent means. I've been a cipher too long. From to-day I take
my affairs wholly into my own hands. I 'll go round at once and see
your lawyer, your banker, your agent, your tradesmen, and tell them
that henceforth I draw my own rents, I receive my own dividends, I
pay my own bills, I keep my own banking account. And to-morrow or
the next day I set out for Woodbury."
The Inspector turned to Aunt Emma with a demonstrative smile.
"There, you see for yourself," he said, well pleased, "what this
interview has done for her!"
But Aunt Emma only drew back, wrung her hands again in impotent
despair, and stared at him blankly like a wounded creature.
The Inspector took up his hat to leave. I followed him out to the
door, and shook hands with him cordially. The burden felt lighter on
my shoulders already. For four long years that mystery had haunted
me day and night, as a thing impenetrable, incomprehensible, not
even to be inquired about. The mere sense that I might now begin to
ask what it meant seemed to make it immediately less awful and less
burdensome to me.
When I returned to the drawing-room, Aunt Emma sat there on the
sofa, crying silently, the very picture of misery.
"Una," she said, without even raising her eyes to mine, "the man may
have done as he says: he may have restored you your mind again; but
what's that to me? He's lost me my child, my darling, my daughter!"
I stooped down and kissed her. Dear, tender-hearted auntie! she had
always been very good to me. But I knew I was right, for all that,
in becoming a woman,—in asserting my years, my independence, my
freedom, my duty. To have shirked it any longer would have been
sheer cowardice. So I just kissed her silently, and went up to my
own room—to put on my brown hat, and go out to the banker's.
From that moment forth, one fierce desire in life alone possessed
me. The brooding mystery that enveloped my life ceased to be
passive, and became an active goad, as it were, to push me forward
incessantly on my search for the runaway I was the creature of a
fixed idea. A fiery energy spurred me on all my time. I was
determined now to find out my father's murderer. I was determined to
shake off the atmosphere of doubt and forgetfulness. I was
determined to recall those first scenes of my life that so eluded my
Yet, strange to say, it was rather a burning curiosity and a deep
sense of duty that urged me on, than anything I could properly call
affection—still less, revenge or malice. I didn't remember my
father as alive at all: the one thing I could recollect about him
was the ghastly look of that dead body, stretched at full length on
the library floor, with its white beard all dabbled in the red blood
that clotted it. It was abstract zeal for the discovery of the truth
that alone pushed me on. This search became to me henceforth an end
and aim in itself. It stood out, as it were, visibly in the
imperative mood: "go here;" "go there;" "do this;" "try that;"
"leave no stone unturned anywhere till you've tracked down the
murderer!" Those were the voices that now incessantly though
inaudibly pursued me.
Next day I spent in preparations for my departure. I would hunt up
Woodbury now, though fifty Aunt Emma's held their gentle old faces
up in solemn warning against me. The day after that again, I set out
on my task. The pull was hard. I had taken my own affairs entirely
into my own hands by that time, and had provided myself with money
for a long stay at Woodbury. But it was the very first railway
journey I could ever remember to have made alone; and I confess,
when I found myself seated all by myself in a first-class carriage,
with no friend beside me, my resolution for a moment almost broke
down again. It was so terrible to feel oneself boxed up there for an
hour or two alone, with that awful Picture staring one in the face
all the time from every fence and field and wall and hoarding. It
obliterated Fry's Cocoa; it fixed itself on the yellow face of
I went by Liverpool Street, and drove across to Paddington. I had
never, to my knowledge, been in London before: and it was all so new
to me. But Liverpool Street was even newer to me than Paddington, I
noticed. A faint sense of familiarity seemed to hang about the Great
Western line. And that was not surprising, I thought, as I turned it
over; for, of course, in the old days, when we lived at Woodbury, I
must often have come down from town that way with my father. Yet I
remembered nothing of it all definitely; the most I could say was
that I seemed dimly to recollect having been there before—though
when or where or how, I hadn't the faintest notion.
I was early at Paddington. The refreshment room somehow failed to
attract me. I walked up and down the platform, waiting for my train.
As I did so, a boy pasted a poster on a board: it was the
contents-sheet of one of the baser little Society papers. Something
strange in it caught my eye. I looked again in amazement. Oh, great
heavens! what was this in big flaring letters?
"MISS UNA CALLINGHAM AND THE WOODBURY MYSTERY! Is SHE SCREENING THE
MURDERER? A POSSIBLE EXPLANATION!"
The words took my breath away. They were too horrible to realise. I
positively couldn't speak. I went up to the bookstall, laid down my
penny without moving my lips, and took the paper in my hand in
I dared not open it there and then, I confess. I waited till I was
in the train, and on my way to Woodbury.
When I did so, it was worse, even worse than my fears. The article
was short, but it was very hateful. It said nothing straight
out—the writer had evidently the fear of the law of libel before
his eyes as he wrote,—but it hinted and insinuated in a detestable
undertone the most vile innuendoes. A Treasury Doctor and a Police
Inspector, it said, had lately examined Miss Callingham again, and
found her intellect in every respect perfectly normal, except that
she couldn't remember the face of her father's murderer. Now, this
was odd, because, you see, Miss Callingham was in the room at the
moment the shot was fired; and, alone in the world, Miss Callingham
had seen the face of the man who fired it. Who was that man? and why
was he there, unknown to the servants, in a room with nobody but Mr.
Callingham and his daughter? A correspondent (who preferred to guard
his incognito) had suggested in this matter some very searching
questions: Could the young man—for it was allowed he was
young—have been there with Miss Callingham when Mr. Callingham
entered? Could he have been on terms of close intimacy with the
heroine of The Grange Mystery, who was a young lady—as all the
world knew from her photographs—of great personal attractiveness,
and who was also the heiress to a considerable property? Could he
have been there, then, by appointment, without the father's
knowledge? Was this the common case of a clandestine assignation?
Could the father have returned to the house unexpectedly, at an
inopportune moment, and found his daughter there, closeted with a
stranger—perhaps with a man who had already, for sufficient
grounds, been forbidden the premises? Such things might be, in this
world that we live in: he would be a bold man who would deny them
categorically. Could an altercation have arisen on the father's
return, and the fatal shot have been fired in the ensuing scuffle?
And could the young lady then have feigned this curious relapse into
that Second State we had all heard so much about, for no other
reason than to avoid giving evidence at a trial for murder against
her guilty lover?
These were suggestions that deserved the closest consideration of
the Authorities charged with the repression of crime. Was it not
high time that the inquest on Mr. Callingham's body should be
formally reopened, and that the young lady, now restored (as we
gathered) to her own seven senses, should be closely interrogated by
trained legal cross-examiners?
I laid down the paper with a burning face. I learned now, for the
first time, how closely my case had been watched, how eagerly my
every act and word had been canvassed. It was hateful to think of my
photograph having been exposed in every London shop-window, and of
anonymous slanderers being permitted to indite such scandal as this
about an innocent woman. But, at any rate, it had the effect of
sealing my fate. If I meant even before to probe this mystery to the
bottom, I felt now no other course was possibly open to me. For the
sake of my own credit, for the sake of my own good fame, I must find
out and punish my father's murderer.
RELIVING MY LIFE
Often, as you walk down a street, a man or woman passes you by. You
look up at them and say to yourself, "I seem to know that face"; but
you can put no name to it, attach to it no definite idea, no
associations of any sort. That was just how Woodbury struck me when
I first came back to it. The houses, the streets, the people, were
in a way familiar; yet I could no more have found my way alone from
the station to The Grange than I could find my way alone from here
So I drove up first in search of lodgings. At the station even
several people had bowed or shaken hands with me respectfully as I
descended from the train. They came up as if they thought I must
recognise them at once: there was recognition in their eyes; but
when they met my blank stare, they seemed to remember all about it,
and merely murmured in strange tones:
"Good-morning, miss! So you're here: glad to see you've come back
again at last to Woodbury."
This reception dazzled me. It was so strange, so uncanny. I was glad
to get away in a fly by myself, and to be driven to lodgings in the
clean little High Street. For to me, it wasn't really "coming back"
at all: it was coming to a strange town, where everyone knew me, and
I knew nobody.
"You'd like to go to Jane's, of course," the driver said to me with
a friendly nod as he reached the High Street: and not liking to
confess my forgetfulness of Jane, I responded with warmth that
Jane's would, no doubt, exactly suit me.
We drew up at the door of a neat little house. The driver rang the
"Miss Una's here," he said, confidentially; "and she's looking for
It was inexpressibly strange and weird to me, this one-sided
recognition, this unfamiliar familiarity: it gave me a queer thrill
of the supernatural that I can hardly express to you. But I didn't
know what to do, when a kindly-faced, middle-aged English
upper-class servant rushed out at me, open-armed, and hugging me
hard to her breast, exclaimed with many loud kisses:
"Miss Una, Miss Una! So it's YOU, dear; so it is! Then you've come
back at last to us!"
I could hardly imagine what to say or do. The utmost I could assert
with truth was, Jane's face wasn't exactly and entirely in all ways
unfamiliar to me. Yet I could see Jane herself was so unfeignedly
delighted to see me again, that I hadn't the heart to confess I'd
forgotten her very existence. So I took her two hands in mine—since
friendliness begets friendliness—and holding her off a little
way, for fear the kisses should be repeated, I said to her very
"You see, Jane, since those days I've had a terrible shock, and you
can hardly expect me to remember anything. It's all like a dream to
me. You must forgive me if I don't recall it just at once as I ought
"Oh! yes, miss," Jane answered, holding my hands in her delight and
weeping volubly. "We've read about all that, of course, in the
London newspapers. But there, I'm glad anyhow you remembered to come
and look for my lodgings. I think I should just have sat down and
cried if they told me Miss Una'd come back to Woodbury, and never so
much as asked to see me."
I don't think I ever felt so like a hypocrite in my life before. But
I realised at least that even if Jane's lodgings were discomfort
embodied, I must take them and stop in them, while I remained there,
now. Nothing else was possible. I COULDN'T go elsewhere.
Fortunately, however, the rooms turned out to be as neat as a new
pin, and as admirably kept as any woman in England could keep them.
I gathered from the very first, of course, that Jane had been one of
the servants at The Grange in the days of my First State; and while
I drank my cup of tea, Jane herself came in and talked volubly to
me, disclosing to me, parenthetically, the further fact that she was
the parlour-maid at the time of my father's murder. That gave me a
clue to her identity. Then she was the witness Greenfield who gave
evidence at the inquest! I made a mental note of that, and
determined to look up what she'd said to the coroner, in the book of
extracts the Inspector gave me, as soon as I got alone in my bedroom
After dinner, however, Jane came in again, with the freedom of an
old servant, and talked to me much about the Woodbury Mystery.
Gradually, as time went on that night, though I remembered nothing
definite of myself about her, the sense of familiarity and
friendliness came home to me more vividly. The appropriate emotion
seemed easier to rouse, I observed, than the intellectual memory. I
knew Jane and I had been on very good terms, some time, somewhere. I
talked with her easily, for I had a consciousness of companionship.
By-and-by, without revealing to her how little I could recollect
about her own personality, I confessed to Jane, by slow degrees,
that the whole past was still gone utterly from my shattered memory.
I told her I knew nothing except the Picture and the facts it
comprised; and to show her just how small that knowledge really was,
I showed her (imprudently enough) the photograph the Inspector had
left with me.
Jane looked at it long and slowly, with tears in her eyes. Then she
said at last, after a deep pause, in a very hushed voice:
"Why, how did you get this? It wasn't put in the papers."
"No," I answered quietly, "it wasn't put in the papers. For reasons
of their own, the police kept it unpublished."
Jane gazed at the proof still closer. "They oughtn't to have done
that," she said.
"They ought to have sent it out everywhere broadcast—so that
anybody who knew the man could tell him by his back."
That seemed to me such obvious good sense that I wondered to myself
the police hadn't thought long since of it; but I supposed they had
some good ground of their own for holding it all this time in their
Jane went on talking to me still for many minutes about the scene:
"Ah, yes; that was just how he lay, poor dear gentleman! And the
book on the chair, too! Well, did you ever in your life see anything
so like! And to think it was taken all by itself, as one might say,
by magic. But there! your poor papa was a wonderful clever man. Such
things as he used to invent! Such ideas and such machines! We were
sorry for him, though we always thought, to be sure, he was dreadful
severe with you, Miss Una. Such a gentleman to have his own way,
too—so cold and reserved like. But one mustn't talk nothing but good
about the dead, they say. And if he was a bit hard, he was more than
hard treated for it in the end, poor gentleman!"
It interested me to get these half side-lights on my father's
character. Knowing nothing of him, as I did, save the solitary fact
that he was the white-haired gentleman I saw dead in my Picture, I
naturally wanted to learn as much as I could from this old servant
of ours as to the family conditions.
"Then you thought him harsh, in the servants'-hall?" I said
tentatively to Jane. "You thought him hard and unbending?"
"Well, there, Miss," Jane ran on, putting a cushion to my back
tenderly—it was strange to be the recipient of so much delicate
attention from a perfect stranger,—"not exactly what you'd call
harsh to us ourselves, you know: he was a good master enough, as
long as one did what was ordered, though he was a little bit
fidgetty. But to you, we all thought he was always rather hard.
People said so in Woodbury. And yet, in a way, I don't know how it
was, he always seemed more'n half afraid of you. He was careful
about your health, and spoiled and petted you for that; yet he was
always pulling you up, you know, and looking after what you did: and
for one thing, I remember, there's many a time you were sent to bed
when you were a good big girl for nothing on earth else but because
he heard you talking to us in the hall about Australia."
"Talking to you about Australia!" I cried, pricking my ears. "Why,
what harm was there in that? Why on earth didn't he want me to talk
"Ah! what harm indeed?" Jane echoed blandly. "That's what we often
used to say among ourselves downstairs. But Mr. Callingham, he was
always that way, miss—so strict and particular. He said he'd
forbidden you to say a word to anybody about that confounded
country; and you must do as you were told. He seemed to have a
grudge against Australia, though it was there he made his money. And
he always would have his own way, your father would."
While she spoke, I looked hard at the white head in the photograph.
Even as I did so, a thought occurred to me that had never occurred
before. Both in my mental Picture, and in looking at the photograph
when I saw it first, the feeling that was uppermost in my mind was
not sorrow, but horror. I didn't think with affection and regret and
a deep sense of bereavement about my father's murder. The emotional
accompaniment that had stamped itself upon the very fibre of my
soul, was not pain but awe. I think my main feeling was a feeling
that a foul crime had taken place in the house, not a feeling that I
had lost a very dear and near relative. Rightly or wrongly, I drew
from this the inference, which Jane's gossip confirmed, that I had
probably rather feared than loved my father.
It was strange to be reduced to such indirect evidence on such a
point as that; but it was all I could get, and I had to be content
Jane, leaning over my shoulder, looked hard at the photograph too. I
could see her eyes were fixed on the back of the man who was seen
disappearing through the open window. He was dressed like a
gentleman, in knickerbockers and jacket, as far as one could judge;
for the evening light rather blurred that part of the picture. One
hand was just waved, palm open, behind him. Jane regarded it hard.
Then she gave an odd little start:
"Why, just look at that hand!" she cried, with a tremor of surprise.
"Don't you see what it is? Don't you think it's a woman's?"
I gazed back at her incredulously.
"Impossible," I answered, shaking my head. "It belongs as clear as
day to the man you see in the photograph. How on earth could his
hand be a woman's then, I'd like to know? I can see the shirt-cuff."
"Why, yes," Jane answered, with simple common-sense: "it's DRESSED
like a man, of course, and it's a man to look at; but the hand's a
woman's, as true as I'm standing here. Why mightn't a woman dress in
a man's suit on purpose? And perhaps it was just because they were
so sure it was a man as did it, that the police has gone wrong so
long in trying to find the murderer."
I looked hard at the hand myself. Then I shut my eyes, and thought
of the corresponding object in my mental Picture. The result fairly
staggered me. The impression in each case was exactly the same. It
was a soft and delicate hand, very white and womanlike. But was it
really a woman's? I couldn't feel quite sure in my own mind about
that; but the very warning Jane gave me seemed to me a most useful
one. It would be well, after all, to keep one's mind sedulously open
to every possible explanation, and to take nothing for granted as to
the murderer's personality.
THE GRANGE AT WOODBURY
I stopped for three weeks in Jane's lodgings; and before the end of
that time, Jane and I had got upon the most intimate footing. It was
partly her kindliness that endeared her to me, and her constant
sense of continuity with the earlier days which I had quite
forgotten; but it was partly too, I felt sure, a vague revival
within my own breast of a familiarity that had long ago subsisted
between us. I was coming to myself again, on one side of my nature.
Day by day I grew more certain that while facts had passed away from
me, appropriate emotions remained vaguely present. Among the
Woodbury people that I met, I recognised none to say that I knew
them; but I knew almost at first sight that I liked this one and
disliked that one. And in every case alike, when I talked the matter
over afterwards with Jane, she confirmed my suspicion that in my
First State I had liked or disliked just those persons respectively.
My brain was upset, but my heart remained precisely the same as
On my second morning I went up to The Grange with her. The house was
still unlet. Since the day of the murder, nobody cared to live in
it. The garden and shrubbery had been sadly neglected: Jane took me
out of the way as we walked up the path, to show me the place where
the photographic apparatus had been found embedded in the grass, and
where the murderer had cut his hands getting over the wall in his
frantic agitation. The wall was pretty high and protected with
bottle-glass. I guessed he must have been tall to scramble over it.
That seemed to tell against Jane's crude idea that a woman might
have done it.
But when I said so to Jane, she met me at once with the crushing
reply: "Perhaps it wasn't the same person that came back for the
box." I saw she was right again. I had jumped at a conclusion. In
cases like this, one must leave no hypothesis untried, jump at no
conclusions of any sort. Clearly, that woman ought to have been made
As I entered the house the weird sense of familiarity that pursued
me throughout rose to a very high pitch. I couldn't fairly say,
indeed, that I remembered the different rooms. All I could say with
certainty was that I had seen them before. To this there were three
exceptions—the three that belonged to my Second State—the library,
my bedroom, and the hall and staircase. The first was indelibly
printed on my memory as a component part of the Picture, and I found
my recollection of every object in the room almost startling in its
correctness. Only, there was an alcove on one side that I'd quite
forgotten, and I saw why most clearly. I stood with my back to it as
I looked at the Picture. The other two bits I remembered as the room
in which I had had my first great illness, and the passage down
which I had been carried or helped when I was taken to Aunt Emma's.
I had begun to recognise now that the emotional impression made upon
me by people and things was the only sure guide I still possessed as
to their connection or association with my past history. And the
rooms at The Grange had each in this way some distinctive
characteristic. The library, of course, was the chief home of the
Horror which had hung upon my spirit even during the days when I
hardly knew in any intelligible sense the cause of it. But the
drawing-room and dining-room both produced upon my mind a vague
consciousness of constraint. I was dimly aware of being ill at ease
and uncomfortable in them. My own bedroom, on the contrary, gave me
a pleasant feeling of rest and freedom and security: while the
servants'-hall and the kitchen seemed perfect paradises of liberty.
"Ah! many's the time, miss," Jane said with a sigh, looking over at
the empty grate, "you'd come down here to make cakes or puddings,
and laugh and joke like a child with Mary an' me. I often used to
say to Emily—her as was cook here before Ellen Smith,—'Miss Una's
never so happy as when she's down here in the kitchen.' And 'That's
true what you say,' says Emily to me, many a time and often."
That was exactly the impression left upon my own mind. I began to
conclude, in a dim, formless way, that my father must have been a
somewhat stern and unsympathetic man; that I had felt constrained
and uncomfortable in his presence upstairs, and had often been
pleased to get away from his eye to the comparative liberty and ease
of my own room or of the maid-servants' quarters.
At last, in the big attic that had once been the nursery, I paused
and looked at Jane. A queer sensation came over me.
"Jane," I said slowly, hardly liking to frame the words, "there's
something strange about this room. He wasn't cruel to me, was he?"
"Oh! no, miss," Jane answered promptly. "He wasn't never what you
might call exactly cruel. He was a very good father, and looked
after you well; but he was sort of stern and moody-like—would have
his own way, and didn't pay no attention to fads and fancies, he
called 'em. When you were little, many's the time he sent you up
here for punishment—disobedience and such like."
I took out the photograph and tried, as it were, to think of my
father as alive and with his eyes open. I couldn't remember the
eyes. Jane told me they were blue; but I think what she said was the
sort of impression the face produced upon me. A man not unjust or
harsh in his dealings with myself, but very strong and masterful. A
man who would have his own way in spite of anybody. A father who
ruled his daughter as a vessel of his making, to be done as he would
with, and be moulded to his fashion.
Still, my visit to The Grange resulted in the end in casting very
little light upon the problem before me. It pained and distressed me
greatly, but it brought no new elements of the case into view: at
best, it only familiarised me with the scene of action of the
tragedy. The presence of the alcove was the one fresh feature.
Nothing recalled to me as yet in any way the murderer's features. I
racked my brain in vain; no fresh image came up in it. I could
recollect nothing about the man or his antecedents.
I almost began to doubt that I would ever succeed in reconstructing
my past, when even the sight of the home in which I had spent my
childish days suggested so few new thoughts or ideas to me.
For a day or two after that I rested at Jane's, lest I should
disturb my brain too much. Then I called once more on the doctor who
had made the post mortem on my father, and given evidence at the
inquest, to see if anything he could say might recall my lapsed
The moment he came into the room—a man about fifty, close-shaven
and kindly-looking—I recognised him at once, and held out my hand
to him frankly. He surveyed me from head to foot with a good medical
stare, and then wrung my hand in return with extraordinary warmth
and effusion. I could see at once he retained a most pleasing
recollection of my First State, and was really glad to see me.
"What, you remember me then, Una!" he cried, with quite fatherly
delight. "You haven't forgotten me, my dear, as you've forgotten all
the rest, haven't you?"
It was startling to be called by one's Christian name like that, and
by a complete stranger, too; but I was getting quite accustomed now
to these little incongruities.
"Oh, yes; I remember you perfectly," I answered, half-grieved to
distress him, "though I shouldn't have known your name, and didn't
expect to see you. You're the doctor who attended me in my first
great illness—the illness with which my present life began—just
after the murder."
He drew back, a little crestfallen.
"Then that's all you recollect, is it?" he asked. "You don't
remember me before, dear? Not Dr. Marten, who used to take you on
his knee when you were a tiny little girl, and bring you lollipops
from town, to the great detriment of your digestion, and get into
rows with your poor father for indulging you and spoiling you? You
must surely remember me?"
I shook my head slowly. I was sorry to disappoint him; but it was
necessary before all things to get at the bare truth.
"I'm afraid not," I answered. "Do please forgive me! You must have
read in the papers, like everybody else, of the very great change
that has so long come over me. Bear in mind, I can't remember
anything at all that occurred before the murder. That first illness
is to me the earliest recollection of childhood."
He gazed across at me compassionately.
"My poor child," he said in a low voice, like a very affectionate
friend, "it's much better so. You have been mercifully spared a
great deal of pain. Una, when I first saw you at The Grange after
your father's death, I thanked heaven you had been so seized. I
thanked heaven the world had become suddenly a blank to you. I
prayed hard you might never recover your senses again, or at least
your memory. And now that you're slowly returned to life once more,
against all hope or fear, I'm heartily glad it's in this peculiar
way. I'm heartily glad all the past's blotted out for you. You can't
understand that, my child? Ah, no, very likely not. But I think it's
much best for you, all your first life should be wholly forgotten."
He paused for a second. Then he added slowly: "If you remembered it
all, the sense of the tragedy would be far more acute and poignant
even than at present."
"Perhaps so," I said resolutely; "but not the sense of mystery. It's
THAT that appals me so! I'd rather know the truth than be so wrapped
up in the incomprehensible."
He looked at me pityingly once more.
"My poor child," he said, in the same gentle and fatherly voice,
"you don't wholly understand. It doesn't all come home to you. I can
see clearly, from what Inspector Wolferstan told me, after his visit
to you the other day—"
I broke in, in surprise.
"Inspector Wolferstan!" I cried. "Then he came down here to see you,
It was horrible to find how all my movements were discussed and
"Yes, he came down here to see me and talk things over," Dr. Marten
went on, as calmly as if it were mere matter of course. "And I could
see from what he said you were still spared much. For instance, you
remember it all only as an event that happened to an old man with a
long white beard. You don't fully realise, except intellectually,
that it was your own father. You're saved, as a daughter, the misery
and horror of thinking and feeling it was your father who lay dead
"That's quite true," I answered. "I admit that I can't feel it all
as deeply as I ought. But none the less, I've come down here to make
a violent effort. Let it cost what it may, I must get at the truth.
I wanted to see whether the sight of The Grange and of Woodbury may
help me to recall the lost scenes in my memory."
To my immense surprise, Dr. Marten rose from his seat, and standing
up before me in a perfect agony of what seemed like terror, half
mixed with affection, exclaimed in a very earnest and resolute
"Oh, Una, my child, whatever you do—I beg of you—I implore
you—don't try to recall the past at all! Don't attempt it! Don't
dream of it!"
"Why not?" I cried, astonished. "Surely it's my duty to try and find
out my father's murderer!"
Instead of answering me, he looked about him for half a minute in
suspense, as if doubtful what next to do or to say. Then he walked
across with great deliberation to the door of the room, and locked
and double-locked it with furtive alarm, as I interpreted his
So terrified did he seem, indeed, that for a moment the idea
occurred to me in a very vague way—Was I talking with the murderer?
Had the man who himself committed the crime conducted the post
mortem, and put Justice off the scent? And was I now practically at
the mercy of the criminal I was trying to track down? The thought
for a second or two made me feel terribly uncomfortable. But I
glanced at his back and at his hands, and reassured myself. That
broad, short man was not the slim figure of my Picture and of the
photograph. Those large red hands were not the originals of the
small and delicate white palm just displayed at the back in both
those strange documents of the mysterious murder.
The doctor came over again, and drew his chair close to mine.
"Una, my child," he said slowly, "I love you very much, as if you
were my own daughter. I always loved you and admired you, and was
sorry—oh, so sorry!—for you. You've quite forgotten who I am; but
I've not forgotten you. Take what I say as coming from an old
friend, from one who loves you and has your interest at heart. For
heaven's sake, I implore you, my child, make no more inquiries. Try
to forget—not to remember. If you do recollect, you'll be sorry in
the end for it."
"Why so?" I asked, amazed, yet somehow feeling in my heart I could
trust him implicitly. "Why should the knowledge of the true
circumstances of the case make me more unhappy than I am at
He gazed harder at me than ever.
"Because," he replied in slow tones, weighing each word as he spoke,
"you may find that the murder was committed by some person or
persons you love or once loved very much indeed. You may find it
will rend your very heart-strings to see that person or those
persons punished. You may find the circumstances were wholly
otherwise than you imagine them to be…. Let sleeping dogs lie, my
dear. Without your aid, nothing more can be done. Don't trouble
yourself to put the blood-hounds on the track of some unhappy
creature who might otherwise escape. Don't rake it all up afresh.
Bury it—bury it—bury it!"
He spoke so earnestly that he filled me with vague alarm.
"Dr. Marten," I said solemnly, "answer me just one question. Do you
know who was the murderer?"
"No, no!" he exclaimed, starting once more. "Thank heaven, I can't
tell you that! I don't know. I know nothing. Nobody on earth knows
but the two who were present on the night of the murder, I feel
sure. And of those two, one's unknown, and the other has forgotten."
"But you suspect who he is?" I put in, probing the secret curiously.
He trembled visibly.
"I suspect who he is," he replied, after a moment's hesitation. "But
I have never communicated, and will never communicate, my suspicions
to anybody, not even to you. I will only say this: the person whom I
suspect is one with whom you may now have forgotten all your past
relations, but whom you would be sorry to punish if you recovered
your memory. I formed a strong opinion at the time who that person
was. I formed it from the nature and disposition of the wound, and
the arrangement of the objects in the room when I was called in to
see your father's body."
"And you never said so at the inquest!" I cried, indignant.
He looked at me hard again. Then he spoke in a very slow and earnest
"For your sake, Una, and for the sake of your affections, I held my
peace," he said. "My dear, the suspicion was but a very slender one:
I had nothing to go upon. And why should I have tried to destroy
That horrible article in the penny Society paper came back to my
mind once more with hideous suggestiveness. I turned to him almost
"So far as you know, Dr. Marten," I asked, "was I ever in love? Had
I ever an admirer? Was I ever engaged to anyone?"
He shrugged his shoulders and smiled a sort of smile of relief.
"How should I know?" he answered. "Admirers?—yes, dozens of them;
I was one myself. Lovers?—who can say? But I advise you not to
push the inquiry further."
I questioned him some minutes longer, but could get nothing more
from him. Then I rose to go.
"Dr. Marten," I said firmly, "if I remember all, and if it wrings my
heart to remember, I tell you I will give up that man to justice all
the same! I think I know myself well enough to know this much at
least, that I never, never could stoop either to love or to screen a
man who could commit such a foul and dastardly crime as this one."
He took my hand fervently, raised it with warmth to his lips and
kissed it twice over.
"My dear," he said, with tears dropping down his gentle old cheeks,
"this is a very great mystery—a terrible mystery. But I know you
speak the truth. I can see you mean it. Therefore, all the more
earnestly do I beg and beseech you, go away from Woodbury at once,
and as long as you live think no more about it."
A VISION OF DEAD YEARS
The interview with Dr. Marten left me very much disquieted. But it
wasn't the only disquieting thing that occurred at Woodbury. Before
I left the place I happened to go one day into Jane's own little
sitting-room. Jane was anxious I should see it—she wanted me to
know all her house, she said, for the sake of old times: and for the
sake of those old times that I couldn't remember, but when I knew
she'd been kind to me, I went in and looked at it.
There was nothing very peculiar about Jane's little sitting-room:
just the ordinary English landlady's parlour. You know the
type:—square table in the middle; bright blue vases on the
mantelpiece; chromo-lithograph from the Illustrated London News on
the wall; rickety whatnot with glass-shaded wax-flowers in the
recess by the window. But over in one corner I chanced to observe a
framed photograph of early execution, which hung faded and dim
there. Perhaps it was because my father was such a scientific
amateur; but photography, I found out in time, struck the key-note
of my history in every chapter. I didn't know why, but this
particular picture attracted me strangely. It came from The Grange,
Jane told me: she'd hunted it out in the attic over the front
bedroom after the house was shut up. It belonged to a lot of my
father's early attempts that were locked in a box there. "He'd
always been trying experiments and things," she said, "with
photography, poor gentleman."
Faded and dim as it was, the picture riveted my eyes at once by some
unknown power of attraction. I gazed at it long and earnestly. It
represented a house of colonial aspect, square, wood-built, and
verandah-girt, standing alone among strange trees whose very names
and aspects were then unfamiliar to me, but which I nowadays know to
be Australian eucalyptuses. On the steps of the verandah sat a lady
in deep mourning. A child played by her side, and a collie dog lay
curled up still and sleepy in the foreground. The child, indeed,
stirred no chord of any sort in my troubled brain; but my heart came
up into my mouth so at sight of the lady, that I said to myself all
at once in my awe, "That must surely be my mother!"
The longer I looked at it, the more was I convinced I must have
judged aright. Not indeed that in any true sense I could say I
remembered her face or figure: I was so young when she died,
according to everybody's account, that even if I'd remained in my
First State I could hardly have retained any vivid recollection of
her. But both lady and house brought up in me once more to some
vague degree that strange consciousness of familiarity I had noticed
at The Grange: and what was odder still, the sense of wont seemed
even more marked in the Australian cottage than in the case of the
house which all probability would have inclined one beforehand to
think I must have remembered better. If this was indeed my earliest
home, then I seemed to recollect it far more readily than my later
I turned trembling to Jane, hardly daring to frame the question that
rose first to my lips.
"Is that—my mother?" I faltered out slowly.
But there Jane couldn't help me. She'd never seen the lady, she
"When first I come to The Grange, miss, you see, your mother'd been
buried a year; there was only you and Mr. Callingham in family. And
I never saw that photograph, neither, till I picked it out of the
box locked up in the attic. The little girl might be you, like
enough, when you look at it sideways; and yet again it mightn't. But
the lady I don't know. I never saw your mother."
So I was fain to content myself with pure conjecture.
All day long, however, the new picture haunted me almost as
persistently as the old one.
That night I went to sleep fast, and slept for some hours heavily. I
woke with a start. I had been dreaming very hard. And my dream was
peculiarly clear and lifelike. Never since the first night of my new
life—the night of the murder—had I dreamed such a dream, or seen
dead objects so vividly. It came out in clear colours, like the
terrible Picture that had haunted me so long. And it affected me
strangely. It was a scene, rather than a dream—a scene, as at the
theatre; but a scene in which I realised and recognised everything.
I stood on the steps of a house—a white wooden house, with a
green-painted verandah—the very house I had seen that afternoon in
the faded photograph in Jane's little sitting-room. But I didn't
think of it at first as the house in the old picture: I thought of
it as home—our own place—the cottage. The steps seemed to me very
high, as in childish recollection. A lady walked about on the
verandah and called to me: a lady in a white gown, like the lady in
the photograph, only younger and prettier, and dressed much more
daintily. But I didn't think of her as that either: I called her
mamma to myself: I looked up into her face, oh, ever so much above
me: I must have been very small indeed when that picture first
occurred to me. There was a gentleman, too, in a white linen coat,
who pinched my mamma's ear, and talked softly and musically. But I
didn't think of him quite so: I knew he was my papa: I played about
his knees, a little scampering child, and looked up in his face, and
teased him and laughed at him. My papa looked down at me, and called
me a little kitten, and rolled me over on my back, and fondled me
and laughed with me. There were trees growing all about, big trees
with long grey leaves: the same sort of trees as the ones in the
photograph. But I didn't remember that at first: in my dream, and in
the first few minutes of my waking thought, I knew them at once as
the big blue-gum-trees.
I awoke in the midst of it: and the picture persisted.
Then, with a sudden burst of intuition, the truth flashed upon me
all at once. My dream was no mere dream, but a revelation in my
sleep. It was my intellect working unconsciously and spontaneously
in an automatic condition. For the very first time in my life, since
the night of the murder, I had really REMEMBERED something that
occurred before it.
This was a scene of my First State. In all probability it was my
earliest true childish recollection.
I sat up in bed, appalled. I dared not call aloud or ring for Jane
to come to me. But if I'd seen a ghost, it could hardly have
affected me more profoundly than this ghost of my own dead life thus
brought suddenly back to me. Gazing away across some illimitable
vista of dim years, I remembered this one scene as something that
once occurred, long ago, to my very self, in my own experience. Then
came a vast gulf, an unbridged abyss: and after that, with a
vividness as of yesterday, the murder.
I held my ears and crouched low, sitting up in my bed in the dark.
But the dream seemed to go on still: it remained with me distinctly.
The more I thought it over, the more certain it appeared as part of
my own experience. Putting two and two together, I made sure in my
own mind this was a genuine recollection of my life in Australia. I
was born there, I knew: that I had learned from everybody. But I
could distinctly remember having LIVED there now. It came back to me
as memory. The dream had reinstated it.
And it was the sight of the photograph that had produced the dream.
This was curious, very. A weird idea came across me. Had I begun, in
all past efforts to remember, at the wrong end? Instead of trying to
recollect the circumstances that immediately preceded the murder,
ought I to have set out by trying to reinstate my First Life,
chapter by chapter and verse by verse, from childhood upward? Ought
I to start by recalling as far as possible my very earliest
recollections in my previous existence, and then gradually work up
through all my subsequent history to the date of the murder?
The more I thought of it, the more convinced was I that that was the
It was certainly significant that this vague childish recollection
of something which might have happened when I was just about two
years old should be the very first thing to recur to my my memory.
Yet so appalled and alarmed was I by the weirdness of this sudden
apparition, looming up, as it were, all by itself in the depths of
my consciousness, that I hardly dared bring myself to think of
trying to recall any other scenes of that dead and past existence.
The picture rose like an exhalation, hanging unrelated in mid-air, a
mere mental mirage: and it terrified me so much, that I shrank
unutterably from the effort of calling up another of like sort to
The rest of that night I lay awake in my bed, the scene in the
verandah by the big blue-gum-trees haunting me all the time, much as
in earlier days the Picture of the murder had pursued and haunted
me. Early in the morning I rose up, and went down to Jane in her
little parlour. I longed for society in my awe. I needed human
presence. I couldn't bear to be left alone by myself with all these
pressing and encompassing mysteries.
"Jane," I said after a few minutes' careless talk—for I didn't
like to tell her about my wonderful dream,—"where exactly did you
find the picture of that house hanging over in the corner there?"
"Lor' bless your heart, miss," Jane answered, "there's a whole
boxful of them at The Grange. Nobody ever cared for them. They're up
in the top attic. They were locked till your papa died, and then
they were opened by order of the executors. Some of 'em's faded even
worse than that one, and none of 'em's very good; but I picked this
one out because it was better worth framing for my room than most of
'em. The executors took no notice when they found what they was.
They opened the box to see if it was dockyments."
"Well, Jane," I said, "I shall go up and bring them every one away
with me. It's possible they may help me to recollect things a bit."
I drew my hand across my forehead. "It all seems so hazy," I went
on. "Yet when I see things again, I sometimes feel as if I almost
So that very morning we went up together (I wouldn't go alone), and
got the rest of the photographs—very faded positives from
old-fashioned plates, most of them representing persons and places I
had never seen; and a few of them apparently not taken in England.
I didn't look them all over at once just then. I thought it best not
to do so. I would give my memory every possible chance. Take a few
at a time, and see what effect they produced on me. Perhaps—though
I shrank from the bare idea with horror—they might rouse in my
sleep such another stray effort of spontaneous reconstruction. Yet
the last one had cost me much nervous wear and tear—much mental
A few days after, I went away from Woodbury. I had learned for the
moment, I thought, all that Woodbury could teach me: and I longed to
get free again for a while from this pervading atmosphere of
mystery. At Aunt Emma's, at least, all was plain and aboveboard. I
would go back to Barton-on-the-Sea, and rest there for a while,
among the heathery hills, before proceeding any further on my voyage
But I took back Jane with me. I was fond of Jane now. In those two
short weeks I had learned to cling to her. Though I remembered her,
strictly speaking, no more than at first, yet the affection I must
have borne her in my First State seemed to revive in me very easily,
like all other emotions. I was as much at home with Jane, indeed, as
if I had known her for years. And this wasn't strange; for I HAD
known her for years, in point of fact; and and though I'd forgotten
most of those years, the sense of familiarity they had inspired
still lived on with me unconsciously. I know now that memory resides
chiefly in the brain, while the emotions are a wider endowment of
the nervous system in general; so that while a great shock may
obliterate whole tracts in the memory, no power on earth can ever
alter altogether the sentiments and feelings.
As for Jane, she was only too glad to come with me. There were no
lodgers at present, she said; and none expected. Her sister
Elizabeth would take care of the rooms, and if any stranger came,
why, Lizzie'd telegraph down at once for her. So I wrote to Aunt
Emma to expect us both next day. Aunt Emma's, I knew, was a home
where I or mine were always welcome.
Jane had never seen Aunt Emma. There had been feud between the
families while my father lived, so she didn't visit The Grange after
my mother's death. Aunt Emma had often explained to me in part how
all that happened. It was the one point in our family history on
which she'd ever been explicit: for she had a grievance there; and
what woman on earth can ever suppress her grievances? It's our
feminine way to air them before the world, as it's a man's to bury
them deep in his own breast and brood over them.
My mother, she told me, had been a widow when my father married
her—a rich young widow. She had gone away, a mere girl, to
Australia with her first husband, a clergyman, who was lost at sea
two or three years after, on the voyage home to England without her.
She had one little girl by her first husband, but the child died
quite young: and then she married my father, who met her first in
Australia while she waited for news of the clergyman's safety. Her
family always disapproved of the second marriage. My father had no
money, it seemed; and mamma was well off, having means of her own to
start with, like Aunt Emma, and having inherited also her first
husband's property, which was very considerable. He had left it to
his little girl, and after her to his wife; so that first my father,
and then I myself, came in, in the end, to both the little estates,
though my mother's had been settled on the children of the first
marriage. Aunt Emma always thought my father had married for money:
and she said he had been hard and unkind to mamma: not indeed cruel;
he wasn't a cruel man; but severe and wilful. He made her do exactly
as he wished about everything, in a masterful sort of way, that no
woman could stand against. He crushed her spirit entirely, Aunt Emma
told me; she had no will of her own, poor thing: his individuality
was so strong, that it overrode my mother's weak nature rough-shod.
Not that he was rough. He never scolded her; he never illtreated
her; but he said to her plainly, "You are to do so and so;" and she
obeyed like a child. She never dared to question him.
So Aunt Emma had always said my mother was badly used, especially in
money matters—the money being all, when one came to think of it,
her own or her first husband's;—and as a consequence, auntie was
never invited to The Grange during my father's lifetime.
When we reached Barton-on-the-Sea, Jane and I, on our way from
Woodbury, Aunt Emma was waiting at the station to meet us. To my
great disappointment, I could see at first sight she didn't care for
Jane: and I could also see at first sight Jane didn't care for her.
This was a serious blow to me, for I leaned upon those two more than
I leaned upon anyone; and I had far too few friends in the world of
my own, to afford to do without any one of them.
In the evening, however, when I went up to my own room to bed, Jane
came up to help me as she always did at Woodbury. I began at once to
tax her with not liking Aunt Emma. With a little hesitation, Jane
admitted that at first sight she hadn't felt by any means disposed
to care for her. I pressed her hard as to why. Jane held off and
prevaricated. That roused my curiosity:—you see, I'm a woman. I
insisted upon knowing.
"Oh, miss, I can't tell you!" Jane cried, growing red in the face,
"I can't bear to say it out. You oughtn't to ask. It'll hurt you to
know I even thought such a thing of her!"
"You MUST tell me, Jane," I exclaimed, with a cold shudder of
terror, half guessing what she meant. "Don't keep me in suspense.
Let me know what it is. I'm accustomed to shocks now. I know I can
Jane answered nothing directly. She only held out her coarse red
hand and asked me, with a face growing pale as she spoke:
"Where's that picture of the murder?"
I produced it from my box, trembling inwardly all over.
Jane darted one finger demonstratively at a point in the photograph.
"Whose hand is THAT?" she asked with a strange earnestness, putting
her nail on the murderer's.
The words escaped me in a cry of horror almost before I was aware of
"Aunt Emma's!" I said, gasping. "I NEVER noticed it before."
Then I drew back and stared at it in speechless awe and
It was quite, quite true. No use in denying it. The figure that
escaped through the window was dressed in man's clothes, to be sure,
and as far as one could judge from the foreshortening and the
peculiar stoop, had a man's form and stature. But the hand was a
woman's—soft, and white, and delicate: nay more, the hand, as I
said in my haste, was line for line Aunt Emma's.
In a moment a terrible sinking came over me from head to foot. I
trembled like an aspen-leaf. Could this, then, be the meaning of Dr.
Marten's warning, that I should let sleeping dogs lie, lest I should
be compelled to punish someone whom I loved most dearly? Had Fate
been so cruel to me, that I had learned to cling most in my Second
State to the very criminal whose act had blotted out my First? Had I
grown to treat like a mother my father's murderer?
Aunt Emma's hand! Aunt Emma's hand! That was Aunt Emma's hand, every
touch and every line of it. But no! where were the marks, those
well-known marks on the palm? I took up the big magnifying-glass
with which I had often scanned that photograph close before. Not a
sign or a trace of them. I shut my eyes, and called up again the
mental Picture of the murder. I looked hard at the phantom-hand in
it, that floated like a vision, all distinct before my mind's eye.
It was flat and smooth and white. Not a scar—not a sign on it. I
turned round to Jane, that too natural detective.
"No, no!" I cried hastily, with a quick tone of triumph. "Aunt
Emma's hand is marked on the palm with great gashes and cuts. This
one's smooth as smooth can be. And so's the one I can see in the
Picture within me!"
Jane drew back with a startled air, and opened her mouth, all agog,
to let in a deep breath.
"The wall!" she said slowly. "The bottle-glass, don't you know! The
blood on the top! Whoever did it, climbed over and tore his hands.
Or HER hands, if it was a woman! That would account for the gashes."
This was more than I could endure. The coincidence was too crushing.
I bent down my head on my arms and cried silently, bitterly. I hated
Jane in my heart for even suggesting it. Yet I couldn't deny to
myself for a moment the strength and suggestiveness of her
Not that for a second I believed it true. I could never believe it.
Aunt Emma, so gentle, so kindly, so sweet: incapable of hurting any
living thing: the tenderest old lady that breathed upon earth: and
my own mother's sister, whom I loved as I never before loved anyone!
Aunt Emma the murderess! The bare idea was preposterous! I couldn't
entertain it. My whole nature revolted from it.
And indeed, how very slight, after all, was the mere scrap of
evidence on which Jane ventured to suggest so terrible a charge! A
man—in man's clothes—fairly tall and slim, and apparently
dark-haired, but stooping so much that he looked almost hump-backed:
how different from Aunt Emma, with her womanly figure, and her upright
gait, and her sweet old white head! Why, it was clearly ridiculous.
And yet, the fact remained that as Jane pointed to the Picture and
asked, "Whose hand is that?" the answer came up all spontaneously to
my lips, without hesitation, "Aunt Emma's!"
I sat there long in my misery, thinking it over to myself. I didn't
know what to do. I couldn't go and confide to Aunt Emma's ear this
new and horrible doubt,—which was no doubt after all, for I KNEW it
was impossible. I hated Jane for suggesting it; I hated her for
telling me. Yet I couldn't be left alone. I was far too terrified.
"Oh, Jane;" I cried, looking up to her, and yet despising myself for
saying it, "you must stop here to-night and sleep with me. If I'm
left by myself in the room alone, I know I shall go mad—I can feel
it—I'm sure of it!"
Jane stopped with me and soothed me. She was certainly very kind.
Yet I felt in a dim underhand sort of way it was treason to Aunt
Emma to receive her caresses at all after what she had said to me.
Though to be sure, it was I, not she, who spoke those hateful words.
It was I myself who had said the hand was Aunt Emma's.
As I lay awake and thought, the idea flashed across me suddenly,
could Jane have any grudge of her own against Aunt Emma? Was this a
deliberate plot? What did she mean by her warnings that I should
keep my mind open? Why had she said from the very first it was a
woman's hand? Did she want to set me against my aunt? And was Dr.
Marten in league with her? In my tortured frame of mind, I felt all
alone in the world. I covered my head and sobbed in my misery. I
didn't know who were my friends and who were against me.
At last, after long watching, I dozed off into an uneasy sleep. Jane
had already been snoring long beside me. I woke up again with a
start. I was cold and shuddering. I had dreamed once more the same
Australian dream. My mamma as before stood gentle beside me. She
stooped down and smoothed my hair: I could see her face and her form
distinctly. And I noticed now she was like her sister, Aunt Emma,
only younger and prettier, and ever so much slighter. And her hand,
too, was soft and white like auntie's—very gentle and delicate.
It was just there that I woke up—with the hand before my eyes. Oh,
how vividly I noted it! Aunt Emma's hand, only younger, and
unscarred on the palm. The family hand, no doubt: the hand of the
Moores. I remembered, now, that Aunt Emma had spoken more than once
of that family peculiarity. It ran through the house, she said. But
my hand was quite different: not the Moore type at all: I supposed I
must have taken it, as was natural, from the Callinghams.
And then, in my utter horror and loneliness, a still more awful and
ghastly thought presented itself to me. This was my mother's hand I
saw in the picture. Was it my mother, indeed, who wrought the
murder? Was she living or dead? Had my father put upon her some
grievous wrong? Had he pretended to get her out of the way? Had he
buried her alive, so to speak, in some prison or madhouse? Had she
returned in disguise from the asylum or the living grave to avenge
herself and murder him? In my present frame of mind, no idea was too
wild or too strange for me to entertain. If this strain continued
much longer, I should go mad myself with suspense and horror!
YET ANOTHER PHOTOGRAPH
Next morning my head ached. After all I'd suffered, I could hardly
bear to recur to the one subject that now always occupied my
thoughts. And yet, on the other hand, I couldn't succeed in
banishing it. To relieve my mind a little, I took out the
photographs I had brought from the box at The Grange, and began to
sort them over according to probable date and subject.
They were of different periods, some old, some newer. I put them
together in series, as well as I could, by the nature of the
surroundings. The most recent of all were my father's early attempts
at instantaneous electric photography—the attempts which led up at
last to his automatic machine, the acmegraph, that produced all
unconsciously the picture of the murder. Some of these comparatively
recent proofs represented men running and horses trotting: but the
best of all, tied together with a bit of tape, clearly belonged to a
single set, and must have been taken at the same time at an athletic
meeting. There was one of a flat race, viewed from a little in
front, with the limbs of the runners in seemingly ridiculous
attitudes, so instantaneous and therefore so grotesquely rigid were
they. There was another of a high jump, seen from one side at the
very moment of clearing the pole, so that the figure poised solid in
mid-air as motionless as a statue. And there was a third, equally
successful, of a man throwing the hammer, in which the hammer, in
the same way, seemed to hang suspended of itself like Mahomet's
coffin between earth and heaven.
But the one that attracted my attention the most was a photograph of
an obstacle-race, in which the runners had to mount and climb over a
wagon placed obtrusively sideways across the course on purpose to
baffle them. This picture was taken from a few yards in the rear;
and the athletes were seen in it in the most varied attitudes. Some
of them were just climbing up one side of the wagon: others had
mounted to the top ledge of the body: and one, standing on the
further edge, was in the very act of leaping down to the ground in
front of him. He was bent double, to spring, with a stoop like a
hunchback, and balanced himself with one hand held tightly behind
As my eye fell on that figure, a cold thrill ran through me. For a
moment I only knew something important had happened. Next instant I
realised what the thrill portended. I could only see the man's back,
to be sure, but I knew him in a second. I had no doubt as to who it
was. This was HIM—the murderer!
Yes, yes! There could be no mistaking that arched round back that
had haunted me so long in my waking dreams. I knew him at sight. It
was the man I had seen on the night of the murder getting out of the
Perhaps I was overwrought. Perhaps my fancy ran away with me. But I
didn't doubt for a second. I rose from my seat, and in a tremulous
voice called Jane into the room. Without one word I laid both
pictures down before her together. Jane glanced first at the one,
then turned quickly to the other. A sharp little cry broke from her
lips all unbidden. She saw it as fast and as instinctively as I had
"That's him!" she exclaimed, aghast, and as pale as a sheet. "That's
him, right enough, Miss Una. That's the very same back! That's the
very same hand! That's the man! That's the murderer!"
And indeed, this unanimity was sufficiently startling. For nothing
could have been more different than the dress in the two cases. In
the murder scene, the man seemed to wear a tweed suit and
knickerbockers,—he was indistinct, as I said before, against the
blurred light of the window: while in the athletic scene, he wore
just a thin jersey and running-drawers, cut short at the knee, with
his arms and legs bare, and his muscles contracted. Yet for all
that, we both knew him for the same man at once. That stooping back
was unmistakable; that position of the hand was characteristic and
unique. We were sure he was the same man. I trembled with agitation.
I had a clue to the murderer!
Yet, strange to say, that wasn't the first thought that occurred to
my mind. In the relief of the moment, I looked up into Jane's eyes,
and exclaimed with a sigh of profound relief:
"Then you see how mistaken you were about the hands and Aunt Emma!"
Jane looked close at the hand in the photograph once more.
"Well, it's curious," she said, slowly. "That's a man, sure enough:
but he'd ought to be a Moore. The palm's your aunt's as clear as
ever you could paint it!"
I glanced over her shoulder. She was perfectly right. It was a man
beyond all doubt, the figure on the wagon. Yet the hand was Aunt
Emma's, every line and every stroke of it; except, of course, the
scars. Those, I saw at a glance, were wholly wanting.
And now I had really a clue to the murderer.
Yet how slight a clue! Just a photograph of men's backs. What men?
When and where? It was an athletic meeting. Of what club or society?
That was the next question now I had to answer. Instinctively I made
up my mind to answer it myself, without giving any notice to the
police of my discovery.
Perhaps I should never have been able to answer it at all but for
one of the photographs which, as I thought, though lying loose by
itself, formed part of the same series. It represented the end of a
hundred-yard race, with the winners coming in at the tape by a
pavilion with a flag-staff. On the staff a big flag was flying
loosely in the wind. The folds hid half of the words on its centre
from sight. But this much at least I could read:
I gazed at them long and earnestly. After a minute or two of
thought, I made out the last two words. The inscription must surely
be Something-or-other Athletic Club.
But what was "Er… om.. oy…"? That question staggered me. Gazing
harder at it than ever, I could come to no conclusion. It was the
name of a place, no doubt: but what place, I knew not.
"Er"? No, "Ber": just a suspicion of a B came round the corner of a
fold. If B was the first letter, I might possibly identify it.
I took the photograph down to Aunt Emma, without telling her what I
meant. She couldn't bear to think I was ever engaged in thinking of
my First State at all.
"Can you read the inscription on that flag, auntie?" I asked. "It's
an old photograph I picked up in the attic at The Grange, and I'd
like to know, if I could, at what place it was taken."
Aunt Emma gazed at it long and earnestly. Her colour never changed.
Then she shook her head quietly.
"I don't know the place," she said; "and I don't know the name. I
can't quite make it out. That's E, and R, and O. You see, the
letters in between might be almost anything."
I wasn't going to be put off, however, with the port thus in sight.
One fact was almost certain. Wherever that pavilion might be, the
murderer was there on the day unknown when those photo-graphs were
taken. And whatever that day might be, my father and the murderer
were there together. That brought the two into connection, and
brought me one step nearer a solution than ever the police had been;
for hitherto no one had even pretended to have the slightest clue to
the personality of the man who jumped out of the window.
I went into the library and took down the big atlas. Opening the map
of England and Wales, I began a hopeless search, county by county,
from Northumberland downward, for any town or village that would fit
these mysterious letters. It was a wild and foolish idea. In the
first place not a quarter of the villages were marked in the map;
and in the second place, my brain soon got muddled and dazed with
trying to fit in the names with the letters on the flag. Two hours
had passed away, and I'd only got as far down as Lancashire and
Durham. And, most probably even so, I would never come upon it.
Then suddenly, a bright idea broke on my brain at once. The Index!
The Index! Presumably, as no fold seemed to obscure the first words,
the name began with what looked like a B. That was always something.
A man would have thought of that at once, of course: but then, I
have the misfortune to be only a woman.
I turned to the Index in haste, and looked down it with hurried
eyes. Almost sooner than I could have hoped, the riddle unread
itself. "Ber-, Berb-, Berc-, Berd-," I read out: "Berkshire: Berham:
Berhampore: that won't do: Berlin: Berling: Bernina: Berry—what's
that? Oh, great heavens!"—my brain reeled—"Berry Pomeroy!"
It was as clear as day. How could I have missed it before? There it
seemed to stand out almost legible on the flagstaff. I read it now
with ease: "Berry Pomeroy Athletic Club."
I looked up the map once more, following the lines with my fingers,
till I found the very place where the name was printed. A village in
Devonshire, not far from Torquay. Yes! That's it; Berry Pomeroy. The
murderer was there on the day of that athletic meeting!
My heart came up into my mouth with mingled horror and triumph. I
felt like a bloodhound who gets on the trail of his man. I would
track him down now, no doubt—my father's murderer!
I had no resentment against him, no desire for vengeance. But I had
a burning wish to free myself from this environing mystery.
I wouldn't tell the police or the inspector, however, what clue I
had obtained. I'd find it all out for myself without anyone's help.
I remembered what Dr. Marten had said, and determined to be wise.
I'd work on my own lines till all was found out: and then, be it who
it might, I sternly resolved I'd let justice be done on him.
So I said nothing even to Jane about the discovery I'd just made. I
said nothing to anybody till we sat down at dinner. Then, in the
course of conversation, I got on the subject of Devonshire.
"Auntie," I ventured to ask at last, in a very casual way, "did I
ever, so far as you know, go anywhere near a place called Berry
Aunt Emma gave a start.
"Oh, darling, why do you ask?" she cried.
"You don't mean to say you remember that, do you? What do you want
to know for, Una? You can't possibly recollect your Torquay visit,
I trembled all over. Then I was on the right track!
"Was I ever at Torquay?" I asked once more, as firmly as I could.
"And when I was there, did I go over one day to Berry Pomeroy?"
Aunt Emma grew all at once as white as death.
"This is wonderful!" she cried in an agitated voice. "This is
wonderful—wonderful! If you can remember that, my child, you can
"I DON'T remember it auntie," I answered, not liking to deceive her.
"To tell you the truth, I simply guessed at it. But when and why was
I at Torquay? Please tell me. And did I go to Berry Pomeroy?" For I
stuck to my point, and meant to get it out of her.
Aunt Emma gazed at me fixedly.
"You went to Torquay, dear," she said in a very slow voice, "in the
spring of the same year your poor father was killed: that's more
than four years ago. The Willie Moores live at Torquay, and several
more of your cousins. You went to stop with Willie's wife, and you
stayed five weeks. I don't know whether you ever went over to Berry
Pomeroy. You may have, and you mayn't: it's within an easy driving
distance. Minnie Moore has often written to ask me whether you could
go there again; Minnie was always fond of you, and thinks you'd
remember her: but I've been afraid to allow you, for fear it should
recall sad scenes. She's about your own age, Minnie is; and she's a
daughter of Willie Moore, who's my own first cousin, and of course
your dear mother's."
I never hesitated a moment. I was strung up too tightly by that
"Auntie dear," I said quietly, "I go to-morrow to Torquay. I must
know all now. I must hunt up these people."
Auntie knew from my tone it was no use trying to stand in my way any
"Very well, dear," she said resignedly. "I don't believe it's good
for you: but you must do as you like. You have your father's will,
Una. You were always headstrong."
THE VISION RECURS
I hated asking auntie questions, they seemed to worry and distress
her so; but that evening, in view of my projected visit to Torquay,
I was obliged to cross-examine her rather closely about many things.
I wanted to know about my Torquay relations, and as far as possible
about my mother's family. In the end I learned that the Willie
Moores were cousins of ours on my mother's side who had never
quarrelled with my father, like Aunt Emma, and through whom alone
accordingly, in the days of my First State, Aunt Emma was able to
learn anything about me. They had a house at Torquay, and
connections all around; for the Moores were Devonshire people. Aunt
Emma was very anxious, if I went down there at all, I should stop
with Mrs. Moore: for Minnie would be so grieved, she said, if I went
to an hotel or took private lodgings. But I wouldn't hear of that
myself. I knew nothing of the Moores—in my present condition—and I
didn't like to trust myself in the hands of those who to me were
perfect strangers. So I decided on going to the Imperial Hotel, and
calling on the Moores quietly to pursue my investigation.
Another question I asked in the course of the evening. I had
wondered about it often, and now, in these last straits, curiosity
"Aunt Emma," I said unexpectedly after a pause, without one word of
introduction, "how ever did you get those scars on your hand? You've
never told me."
In a moment, Aunt Emma blushed suddenly crimson like a girl of
"Una," she answered very gravely, in a low strange tone, "oh, don't
ask me about that, dear. Don't ask me about that. You could never
understand it…. I got them… in climbing over a high stone
wall… a high stone wall, with bits of glass stuck on top of it."
In spite of her prohibition, I couldn't help asking one virtual
question more. I gave a start of horror:
"Not the wall at The Grange!" I cried. "Oh, Aunt Emma, how
She gazed at me, astonished.
"Yes, the wall at The Grange," she said simply. "But I don't know
how you guessed it…. Oh, Una, don't talk to me any more about
these things, I implore you. You can't think how they grieve me.
They distress me unspeakably."
Much as I longed to know, I couldn't ask her again after that. She
was trembling like an aspen-leaf. For some minutes we sat and
looked at the fireplace in silence.
Then curiosity overcame me again.
"Only one question more, auntie," I said. "When I came to you first,
you were at home here at Barton. You didn't come to Woodbury to
fetch me after the murder. You didn't attend the inquest. I've often
wondered at that. Why didn't you bring me yourself? Why didn't you
hurry to nurse me as soon as you heard they'd shot my father?"
Aunt Emma gazed at me again with a face like a sheet.
"Darling," she said, quivering, "I was ill. I was in bed. I was
obliged to stay away. I'd hurt myself badly a little before…. Oh,
Una, leave off! If you go on like this, you'll drive me mad. Say no
more, I implore of you."
I couldn't think what this meant; but as auntie wished it, I held my
peace, all inwardly trembling with suppressed excitement.
That night, when I went up to bed, I lay awake long, thinking to
myself of the Australian scene. In the silence of the night it came
back to me vividly. Rain pattered on the roof, and helped me to
remember it. I could see the blue-gum trees waving their long
ribbon-like leaves in the wind: I could see the cottage, the
verandah, my mother, our dog: nay, even, I remembered now, with a
burst of recollection, his name was Carlo. The effort was more truly
a recollection than before: it was part of myself: I felt aware it
was really I myself, not another, who had seen all this, and lived
and moved in it.
Slowly I fell asleep, and passed from thinking to dreaming. My dream
was but a prolongation of the thoughts I had been turning over in my
waking mind. I was still in Australia; still on the verandah of our
wooden house; and my mamma was there, and papa beside her. I knew it
was papa; for I held his hand and played with him. But he was so
much altered, so grave and severe; though he smiled at me
good-humouredly. Mamma was sitting behind, with baby on her lap. It
seemed to me quite natural she should be there with baby. The scene
was so distinct—very vivid and clear. It persisted for many
minutes, perhaps even hours. It burnt itself into my brain. At last,
it woke me up by its very intensity.
As I woke, a great many thoughts crowded in upon me all at once.
This time I knew instantly it was no mere dream, but a true
recollection. Yet what a strange recollection! how unexpected! how
incomprehensible! How much in it to settle! how much to investigate
and hunt up and inquire about!
In the first place, though I was still in my dream a little girl,
much time must have elapsed since the earlier vision; for my papa
looked far older, and graver, and sterner. He had more hair about
his face, too, a long brown beard and heavy moustache; and when I
gazed hard at him mentally, I could recognise the likeness with the
white-bearded man who lay dead on the floor: while in my former
recollection, I could scarcely make out any resemblance of the
features. This showed that the second scene came long after the
first: my father must by that time have begun to resemble his later
self. A weird feeling stole over me. Was I going to relive my
previous life, piecemeal? Was the past going to unroll itself in
slow but regular panorama to my sleeping vision? Was my First State
to become known like this in successive scenes to my Second?
But that wasn't all. There were strange questions to decide, too,
about this new dream of dead days. What could be the meaning of that
mysterious baby? She seemed to be so vivid, so natural, so real; her
presence there was so much a pure matter of course to me, that I
couldn't for a moment separate her from the rest of the Picture. I
REMEMBERED the baby, now; as I remembered my mother, and my father,
and Australia. There was no room for doubt as to that. The baby was
an integral part of my real recollection. Floating across the dim
ocean of years, I was certain that night I had once lived in such a
scene, with my mamma, and baby.
Yet oh, what baby? I never had a brother or sister of my own, except
the half-sister that died—the clergyman's child, Mary Wharton. And
Mary, from what I had learned from Aunt Emma and others, must have
died when I was only just five months old, immediately before we
left Australia. How, then, could I remember her, even in this
exalted mental state of trance or dream? And, above all, how could I
remember a far earlier scene, when my papa was younger, when his
face was smooth, and when there was no other baby?
This mystery only heightened the other mysteries which surrounded my
life. I was surfeited with them now. In very despair and
listlessness, I turned round on my side, and dozed dreamily off
again, unable to grapple with it.
But still that scene haunted me. And still, even in sleep, I asked
myself over and over again, "How on earth can this be? What's the
meaning of the baby?"
Perhaps it was a little sister that died young, whom I never had
heard of. And perhaps not. In a life such as mine, new surprises are
THE MOORES OF TORQUAY
Strange to say, in spite of everything, my sleep refreshed me. I
woke up in the morning strong and vigorous—thank goodness, I have
physically a magnificent constitution—and packed my box, with
Jane's help, for my Torquay expedition.
I went up to London and down to Torquay alone, though Jane offered
to accompany me. I was learning to be self-reliant. It suited my
plans better. Nobody could bear this burden for me but myself; and
the sooner I learnt to bear it my own way, the happier for me.
At Torquay station, to my great surprise, a fresh-looking girl of my
own age rushed up to me suddenly, and kissed me without one word of
warning. She was a very pretty girl, pink-cheeked and hazel-eyed:
and as she kissed me, she seized both my hands in hers, and cried
out to me frankly:
"Why, there you are, Una dear! Cousin Emma telegraphed us what train
you'd arrive by; so I've driven down to meet you. And now, you're
coming up with us this very minute in the pony-carriage."
"You're Minnie Moore, I suppose?" I said, gazing at her admiringly.
Her sweet, frank smile and apple-blossom cheek somehow inspired me
She looked back at me quite distressed. Tears rose at once into her
eyes with true Celtic suddenness.
"Oh, Una," she cried, deeply hurt and drawing back into her shell,
"don't tell me you don't know me! Why, I'm Minnie! Minnie!"
My heart went out to her at once. I took her hand in mine again.
"Minnie dear," I said softly, quite remorseful for my mistake, "you
must remember what has happened to me, and not be angry. I've
forgotten everything, even my own past life. I've forgotten that I
ever before set eyes upon you. But, my dear, there's one thing I've
NOT in a way forgotten; and that is, that I loved you and love you
dearly. And I 'll give you a proof of it. When I started, I knew
none of you; and I told Aunt Emma I wouldn't go among strangers. The
moment I see you, I know you're no stranger, but a very dear cousin.
When I've forgotten MYSELF, how can I remember YOU? But I'll go up
with you at once. And I'll countermand the room I ordered by
telegram at the Imperial."
The tears stood fuller in Minnie's eyes than before. She clasped my
hand hard. Her pretty lips trembled.
"Una darling," she said, "we always were friends, and we always
shall be. If you love me, that's all. You're a darling. I love you."
I looked at her sweet face, and knew it was true. And oh, I was so
glad to have a new friend—an old friend, already! For somehow, as
always, while the intellectual recollection had faded, the emotion
survived. I felt as if I'd known Minnie Moore for years, though I
never remembered to have seen her in my life till that minute.
Well, I remained at the Moores' for a week, and felt quite at home
there. They were all very nice, Cousin Willie, and Aunt Emily (she
made me call her aunt; she said I'd always done so), and Minnie, and
all of them. They were really dear people; and blood, after all, is
thicker than water. But I made no haste to push inquiries just at
first. I preferred to feel my way. I wanted to find out what they
knew, if anything, about Berry Pomeroy.
The first time I ventured to mention the subject to Minnie, she gave
a very queer smile—a smile of maidenly badinage.
"Well, you remember THAT, any way," she said, in a teasing little
way, looking down at me and laughing. "I thought you'd remember
that. I must say you enjoyed yourself wonderfully at Berry Pomeroy!"
"Remember what?" I cried, all eagerness; for I saw she attached some
special importance to the recollection. And yet, it was terrible she
should jest about the clue to my father's murderer!
Minnie looked arch. When she looked arch, she was charming.
"Why, I never saw you prettier or more engaging in your life than
you were that day," she said evasively, as if trying to pique me.
"And you flirted so much, too! And everybody admired you so.
Everybody on the grounds… especially one person!"
I looked up at her in surprise. I was in my own room, seated by the
dressing-table, late at night, when we'd gone up to bed; and Minnie
was beside me, standing up, with her bedroom candle in that pretty
white little hand of hers.
"What do you mean?" I exclaimed eagerly. "Was it a dance—or a
"Oh, you know very well," Minnie went on teasingly, "though you
pretend you forget. HE was there, don't you know. You must remember
HIM, if you've forgotten all the rest of your previous life. You say
you remember the appropriate emotions. Well, he was an emotion: at
least, you thought so. It was an Athletic Club Meeting: and Dr. Ivor
was there. He went across on his bicycle."
I gave a start of surprise. Minnie looked down at me half
"There, you see," she said archly again, "at Dr. Ivor you change
colour. I told you you'd remember him!"
I grew pale with astonishment.
"Minnie dear," I said, holding her hands very tight in my own, "it
wasn't that, I assure you. I've forgotten him, utterly. If ever I
knew a Dr. Ivor, if ever I flirted with him, as you seem to imply,
he's gone clean out of my head. His name stirs no chord—recalls
absolutely nothing. But I want to know about that Athletic Meeting.
Was my poor father there that day? And did he take a set of
Minnie clapped her hands triumphantly.
"I KNEW you remembered!" she cried. "Of course, Cousin Vivian was
there. We drove over in a break. You MUST remember that. And he took
a whole lot of instantaneous photographs."
My hand trembled violently in my cousin's. I felt I was now on the
very eve of a great discovery.
"Minnie," I said, tentatively, "do you think your papa would drive
us over some day and—and show us the place again?"
"Of course he would, dear," Minnie answered, with a gentle pressure
of my hand. "He'd be only too delighted. Whatever you choose. You
know you were always such a favourite of daddy's."
I knew nothing of the sort; but I was glad to learn it. I drew
Minnie out a little more about the Athletics and my visit to Berry
Pomeroy. She wouldn't tell me much: she was too illusive and
indefinite: she never could get the notion out of her head, somehow,
that I remembered all about it, and was only pretending to
forgetfulness. But I gathered from what she said, that Dr. Ivor and
I must have flirted a great deal; or, at least, that he must have
paid me a good lot of attention. My father didn't like it, Minnie
said; he thought Dr. Ivor wasn't well enough off to marry me. He was
a distant cousin of ours, of course—everything was always "of
course" with that dear bright Minnie—what, didn't I know that? Oh,
yes, his mother was one of the Moores of Barnstaple, cousin Edward's
people. His name was Courtenay Moore Ivor, you know—though I knew
nothing of the sort. And he was awfully clever. And, oh, so
"Is he at Berry Pomeroy still?" I asked, trembling, thinking this
would be a good person to get information from about the people at
the Athletic Sports.
"Oh dear, no," Minnie answered, looking hard at me, curiously. "He
was never at Berry Pomeroy. He had a practice at Babbicombe. He's in
Canada now, you know. He went over six months after Cousin Vivian's
death. I think, dear,"—she hesitated,—"he never QUITE got over
your entirely forgetting him, even if you forgot your whole past
This was a curious romance to me, that Minnie thus sprang on me—a
romance of my own past life of which I myself knew nothing.
We sat late talking, and I could see Minnie was very full indeed of
Dr. Ivor. Over and over again she recurred to his name, and always
as though she thought it might rouse some latent chord in my memory.
But nothing came of it. If ever I had cared for Dr. Ivor at all,
that feeling had passed away utterly with the rest of my
When Minnie rose to go, I took her hand once more in mine. As I did
so, I started. Something about it seemed strangely familiar. I
looked at it close with a keen glance. Why, this was curious! It was
Aunt Emma's hand: it was my mother's hand: it was the hand in my
mental Picture: it was the hand of the murderer!
"It's just like auntie's," I said with an effort, seeing Minnie
noticed my start.
She looked at it and laughed.
"The Moore hand," she said gaily. "We all have it, except you. It's
I turned it over in front and examined the palm. At sight of it my
brain reeled. This was surely magic! Minnie Moore's hand, too, was
scarred over with cuts, exactly like Aunt Emma's!
"Why, how on earth did you do that?" I cried, thunderstruck at the
But Minnie only laughed again, a bright girlish laugh.
"Climbing over that beastly wall at The Grange," she said with a
merry look. "Oh, what fun we did have! We climbed it together. We
were dreadful tomboys in those days, dear, you and I: but you were
luckier than I was, and didn't cut yourself with the bottle-glass."
This was too surprising to be passed over unnoticed. When Minnie was
gone, I lay awake and pondered about it. Had all the Moores got
scars on their hands, I wondered? And how many people, I asked
myself, had cut themselves time and again in climbing over that
barricaded garden-wall of my father's?
The Moore hand might be hereditary, but not surely the scars. Was
the murderer, then, a Moore, and was that the meaning of Dr.
DR. IVOR OF BABBICOMBE
Two days later, Cousin Willie drove us over to Berry Pomeroy. The
lion of the place is the castle, of course; but Minnie had told him
beforehand I wanted, for reasons of my own, to visit the
cricket-field where the sports were held "the year Dr. Ivor won the
mile race, you remember." So we went there straight. As soon as we
entered, I recognised the field at once, and the pavilion, and the
woods, as being precisely the same as those presented in the
photograph. But I got no further than that. The captain of the
cricket-club was on the ground that day, and I managed to get into
conversation with him, and strolled off in the grounds. There I
showed him the photograph, and asked if he could identify the man
climbing over the wagon: but he said he couldn't recognise him.
Somebody or other from Torquay, perhaps; not a regular resident. The
figures were so small, and so difficult to make sure about. If I'd
leave him the photograph, perhaps—but at that I drew back, for I
didn't want anybody, least of all at Torquay, to know what quest I
was engaged upon.
We drove back, a merry party enough, in spite of my failure. Minnie
was always so jolly, and her mirth was contagious. She talked all
the way still of Dr. Ivor, half-teasing me. It was all very well my
pretending not to remember, she said; but why did I want to see the
cricket-field if it wasn't for that? Poor Courtenay! if only he
knew, how delighted he'd be to know he wasn't forgotten! For he
really took it to heart, my illness—she always called it my
illness, and so I suppose it was. From the day I lost my memory,
nothing seemed to go right with him; and he was never content till
he went and buried himself somewhere in the wilds of Canada.
That evening again, I sat with Minnie in my room. I was depressed
and distressed. I didn't want to cry before Minnie, but I could have
cried with good heart for sheer vexation. Of course I couldn't bear
to go showing the photograph to all the world, and letting everybody
see I'd made myself a sort of amateur detective. They would mistake
my motives so. And yet I didn't know how I was ever to find out my
man any other way. It was that or nothing. I made up my mind I would
ask Cousin Willie.
I took out the photograph, as if unintentionally, when I went to my
box, and laid it down with my curling-tongs on the table close by
Minnie. Minnie took it up abstractedly and looked at it with an
"Why, this is the cricket-field!" she cried, as soon as she
collected her senses. "One of your father's experiments. The
earliest acmegraphs. How splendidly they come out! See, that's Sir
Everard at the bottom; and there's little Jack Hillier above; and
this on one side's Captain Brooks; and there, in front of all—well,
you know HIM anyhow, Una. Now, don't pretend you forget! That's
Her finger was on the man who stood poised ready to jump. With an
awful recoil, I drew back and suppressed a scream. It was on the tip
of my tongue to cry out, "Why, that's my father's murderer!"
But, happily, with a great effort of will I restrained myself. I saw
it all at a glance. That, then, was the meaning of Dr. Marten's
warning! No wonder, I thought, the shock had disorganised my whole
brain. If Minnie was right, I was in love once with that man. And I
must have seen my lover murder my father!
For I didn't doubt, from what Minnie said, I had really once loved
Dr. Ivor. Horrible and ghastly as it might be to realise it, I
didn't doubt it was the truth. I had once loved the very man I was
now bent on pursuing as a criminal and a murderer!
"You're sure that's him, Minnie?" I cried, trying to conceal my
agitation. "You're sure that's Courtenay Ivor, the man stooping on
Minnie looked at me, smiling. She thought I was asking for a very
"Yes, that's him, right enough, dear," she said. "I could tell him
among a thousand. Why, the Moore hand alone would be quite enough to
know him by. It's just like my own. We've all of us got it—except
yourself. I always said you weren't one of us. You're a regular born
I gazed at her fixedly. I could hardly speak.
"Oh, Minnie!" I cried once more, "have you … have you any
photograph of him?"
"No, we haven't, dear," Minnie answered.
"That was a fad of Courtenay's, you know. Wherever he went, he'd
never be photographed. He was annoyed that day that your father
should have taken him unawares. He hated being 'done,' he said. He's
so handsome and so nice, but he's not a bit conceited. And he was
such a splendid bicyclist! He rode over and back on his bicycle that
day, and then ran in all the races as if it were nothing."
A light burst over me at once. This was circumstantial evidence. The
murderer who disappeared as if by magic the moment his crime was
committed must have come and gone all unseen, no doubt, on his
bicycle. He must have left it under the window till his vile deed
was done, and then leapt out upon it in a second and dashed off
whence he came like a flash of lightning.
It was a premeditated crime, in that case, not the mere casual
result of a sudden quarrel.
I must find out this man now, were it only to relieve my own sense
"Minnie," I said once more, screwing up my courage to ask, "where's
Dr. Ivor now? I mean—that is to say—in what part of Canada?"
Minnie looked at me and laughed.
"There, I told you so!" she said, merrily. "It's not the least bit
of use your pretending you're not in love with him, Una. Why, just
look how you tremble! You're as white as a ghost! And then you say
you don't care for poor Courtenay! I forget the exact name of the
place where he lives, but I've got it in my desk, and I can tell you
to-morrow.—Oh, yes; it's Palmyra, on the Canada Pacific. I suppose
you want to write to him. Or perhaps you mean to go out and offer
It was awful having to bottle up the truth in one's own heart, and
to laugh and jest like this; but I endured it somehow.
"No, it's not that," I said gravely. "I've other reasons of my own
for asking his address, Minnie. I want to go out there, it's true;
but not because I cherish the faintest pleasing recollection of Dr.
Ivor in any way."
Minnie scanned me over in surprise.
"Well, how you ARE altered, Una!" she cried. "I love you, dear, and
like you every bit as much as ever. But you've changed so much. I
don't think you're at all what you used to be. You're so grave and
"No wonder, Minnie," I exclaimed, bursting gladly into tears—the
excuse was such a relief—"no wonder, when you think how much I've
Minnie flung her arms around my neck, and kissed me over and over
"Oh, dear!" she cried, melting. "What have I done? What have I said?
I ought never to have spoken so. It was cruel of me—cruel, Una
dear. I shall stop here to-night, and sleep with you."
"Oh, thank you, darling!" I cried. "Minnie, that IS good of you. I'm
so awfully glad. For to-morrow I must be thinking of getting ready
"Canada!" Minnie exclaimed, alarmed. "You're not really going to
Canada! Oh, Una, you're joking! You don't mean to say you're going
out there to find him!"
I took her hand in mine, and held it up in the air above her head
"Dear cousin," I said, "I love you. But you must promise me this one
thing. Whatever may happen, give me your sacred word of honour
you'll never tell anybody what we've said here to-night. You'll
kill me if you do. I don't want any living soul on earth to know of
I spoke so seriously, Minnie felt it was important.
"I promise you," she answered, growing suddenly far graver than her
wont. "Oh, Una, I haven't the faintest idea what you mean, but no
torture on earth shall ever wring a word of it from me!"
So I went to bed in her arms, and cried myself to sleep, thinking
with my latest breath, in a tremor of horror, that I'd found it at
last. Courtenay Ivor was the name of my father's murderer!
MY WELCOME TO CANADA
The voyage across the Atlantic was long and uneventful. No whales,
no icebergs, no excitement of any sort. My fellow-passengers said
it was as dull as it was calm. But as for me, I had plenty to occupy
my mind meanwhile. Strange things had happened in the interval, and
were happening to me on the way. Strange things, in part, of my own
For before I left England, as I sat with Aunt Emma in her little
drawing-room at Barton-on-the-Sea, discussing my plans and devising
routes westward, she made me, quite suddenly, an unexpected
"Una," she said, after a long pause, "you haven't told me, my dear,
why you're going to Canada. And I don't want to ask you. I know
pretty well. We needn't touch upon that. You're going to hunt up
some supposed clue to the murderer."
"Perhaps so, Auntie," I said oracularly: "and perhaps not."
For I didn't want it to get talked about and be put into all the
newspapers. And I knew now if I wanted to keep it out, I must first
Aunt Emma drew nearer and took my hand in hers. At the same time,
she held up the other scarred and lacerated palm.
"Do you know when I got that, Una?" she asked with a sudden burst.
"Well, I'll tell you, my child…. It was the night of your father's
death. And I got it climbing over the wall at The Grange, to escape
My blood ran cold once more. What on earth could this mean? Had
Auntie—? But no. I had the evidence of my own senses that it was
Courtenay Ivor. I'd tracked him down now. There was no room for
doubt. The man on the wagon was the man who fired the shot. I could
have sworn to that bent back, of my own knowledge, among a thousand.
I hadn't long to wait, however. Auntie went on after a short pause.
"I was there," she said, "by accident, trying for once to see you."
I looked at her fixedly still, and still I said nothing.
"I was stopping with friends at the time, ten miles off from
Woodbury," Aunt Emma went on, smoothing my hand with hers, "and I
longed so to see you. I came over by train that day, and stopped
late about the town in hopes I might meet you in the street. But I
was disappointed. Towards evening I ventured even to go into the
grounds of The Grange, and look about everywhere on the chance that
I might see you. Perhaps your father might be out. I went round
towards the window, which I now know to be the library. As I went, I
saw a bicycle leaning up against the wall by the window. I thought
that must be some visitor, but still I went on. But just as I
reached the window, I saw a flash of electric light; and by the
light, I could make out your father's head and beard. He looked as
if he were talking angrily and loudly to somebody. The window was
open. I was afraid to stop longer. In a sudden access of fear, I ran
across the shrubbery towards the garden-wall. To tell you the truth,
I was horribly frightened. Why, I don't know; for nothing had
happened as yet. I suppose it was just the dusk and the mean sense
She paused and wiped her brow. I sat still, and listened eagerly.
"Presently," she went on, very low, "as I ran and ran, I heard
behind me a loud crash—a sound as of a pistol-shot. That terrified
me still more. I thought I was being pursued. Perhaps they took me
for a burglar. In the agony of my terror, I rushed at the wall in
mad haste, and climbed over it anyhow. In climbing, I tore my hand,
as you see, and made myself bleed, oh, terribly! However, I
persevered, and got down on the other side, with my clothes very
little the worse for the scramble. And, fortunately, I was carrying
a small light dust-cloak: I put it on at once, and it covered up
everything. Then I began to walk along the road as fast as I could
in the direction of the station. As I did so, a bicycle shot out
from the gate in the opposite direction, going as hard as it could
spin, simply flying towards Whittingham. Three minutes later, a man
came up to me, breathless. It was the gardener at The Grange, I
"'Have you seen anybody go this way?' he asked. 'A young man,
running hard? A young man in knickerbockers?'
"'N—no,' I answered, trembling; for I was afraid to confess. 'Not a
soul has gone past!'
"Of course, I didn't know of the murder as yet; and I only wanted to
get off unperceived to the station.
"I'd bound up my hand in my handkerchief by that time, and held it
tight under my cloak. I went back by train unnoticed, and returned
to my friends' house. I hadn't even told them I was going to
Woodbury at all. I pretended I'd been spending the day at
Whittingham. Next morning, I read in the paper of your father's
I stared hard at Aunt Emma.
"Why didn't you tell me this long ago?" I cried, in an agony of
suspense. "Why didn't you give evidence and say so at the inquest?"
"How could I?" Aunt Emma answered, looking back at me appealingly.
"The circumstances were too suspicious. As it was, everybody was
running after the young man in knickerbockers. Nobody took any
notice of a little old lady in a long grey dust-cloak. But if once
I'd confessed and shown my wounded hand, who would ever have
believed I'd nothing to do with the murder?—except you, perhaps,
Una. Oh no: I came back here to my own home as fast as ever I could;
for I was really ill. I took to my bed at once. And as nobody called
me to give evidence at the inquest, I said nothing to anybody."
"But the bicycle!" I cried. "The bicycle! You ought to have
mentioned that. You were the only one who saw it. It was a clue to
"If I'd told," Aunt Emma answered, "I should never have been allowed
to take charge of you at all. I thought my one clear duty was to my
sister's child: it was to take care of your health in your shattered
condition. And even now, Una, I tell you only for this: if you find
out anything new, in Canada or here, try not to drag me into it. I
couldn't stand the strain. Cross-examination would kill me."
"I'll remember it, auntie," I said, wearied out with excitement.
"But I think you did wrong, all the same. In a case like this, it's
everybody's first duty to tell all he knows, in the interests of
However, this confession of Aunt Emma's rendered one thing more
certain to me than ever before. I was sure I was on the right track
now, after Courtenay Ivor. The bicycle clinched the proof.
But I said nothing as yet to the police, or to my friendly
Inspector. I was determined to hunt the whole thing up on my own
account first, and then deliver my criminal, when fully secured, to
the laws of my country.
Not that I was vindictive. Not that I wanted to punish the man. No;
I shrank terribly from the task. But to relieve myself from this
persistent sense of surrounding mystery, and to free others from
suspicion, I felt compelled to discover him. It seemed to me like a
duty laid upon me from without. I dared not shirk it.
On the way out to Quebec, the sea seemed to revive strange memories.
I had never crossed it before, except long, long ago, on my way home
from Australia. And now that I sat on deck, in a wicker-chair, and
looked at the deep dark waves by myself, I began once more, in vague
snatches, to recall that earlier voyage. It came back to me all of
itself. And that was quite in keeping with my previous recollections.
My past life, I felt sure, was unfolding itself slowly to me in
regular succession, from childhood onward.
Sitting there on the quarter-deck, gazing hard at the waves, I
remembered how I had played on a similar ship years and years
before, a little girl in short frocks, with my mamma in a long
folding-chair beside me. I could see my mamma, with a sort of
frightened smile on her poor pale face; and she looked so unhappy.
My papa was there too, somewhat older and greyer—very unlike the
papa of my first Australian picture. His face was so much hairier.
Mamma cried a good deal at times, and papa tried to comfort her.
Besides, what struck me most, there was no more baby. I wasn't even
allowed to speak about baby. That subject was tabooed—perhaps
because it always made mamma cry so much, and press me hard to her
bosom. At any rate, I remembered how once I spoke of baby to some
fellow-passenger in the saloon, and papa was very angry, and caught
me up in his arms and took me down to my berth; and there I had to
stop all day by myself (though it was rolling hard) and could have
no fruit for dinner, because I'd been naughty. I was strictly
enjoined never to mention baby to anyone again, either then or at
any time. I was to forget all about her.
Day after day, as we sailed on, reminiscences of the same sort
crowded thicker and thicker upon me. Never reminiscences of my later
life, but always early scenes brought up by distinct suggestion
of that Australian voyage. When we passed a ship, it burst upon me
how we'd passed such ships before: when there was fire-drill on
deck, I remembered having assisted years earlier at just such
fire-drill. The whole past came back like a dream, so that I could
reconstruct now the first five or six years of my life almost
entirely. And yet, even so there was a gap, a puzzle, a difficulty
somehow. I couldn't make the chronology of this slow-returning
memory fit in as it ought with the chronology of the facts given to
me by Aunt Emma and the Moores of Torquay. There was a constant
discrepancy. It seemed to me that I must be a year or two older at
least than they made me out. I remembered the voyage home far too
well for my age. I fancied I went back further in my Australian
recollections than would be possible from the dates Aunt Emma
Slowly, as I compared these mental pictures of my first childhood
one with the other, a strange fact seemed to loom forth,
incomprehensible, incredible. When first it struck me, all unnerved
as I was, my reason staggered before it. But it was true, none the
less: quite true, I felt certain. Had I had two papas, then?—for
the pictures differed so. Was one, clean-shaven, trim, and in a
linen coat, the same as the other, older, graver, and sterner, with
much hair on his face, and a rough sort of look, whom I saw more
persistently in my later childish memories? I could hardly believe
it. One man couldn't alter so greatly in a few short years. Yet I
thought of them both alike quite unquestioningly as papa: I thought
of them too, I fancied, in a dim sort of way, as one and the same
These fresh mysteries occupied my mind for the greater part of that
uneventful voyage. To throw them off, I laughed and talked as much
as possible with the rest of the passengers. Indeed, I gained the
reputation of being "an awfully jolly girl," so heartily did I throw
myself into all the games and amusements, to escape from the burden
of my pressing thoughts: and I believe many old ladies on board were
thoroughly scandalised that a woman whose father had been brutally
murdered should ever be able to seem so bright and lively again. How
little they knew! And what a world of mystery seemed to oppress and
At last, early one morning, we reached the Gulf, and took in our
pilot off the Straits of Belleisle. I was on deck at the time,
playing a game called "Shovelboard." As the pilot reached the ship,
he took the captain's hand, and, to my immense surprise, said in an
"So you've the famous Miss Callingham for a passenger, I hear, this
voyage. There's the latest Quebec papers. You'll see you're looked
for. Our people are expecting her."
I rushed forward, fiery hot, and with a trembling hand took one of
the papers he was distributing all round, right and left, to the
people on deck. It was unendurable that the memory of that one event
should thus dog me through life with such ubiquitous persistence. I
tore open the sheet. There, with horrified eyes, I read this hateful
paragraph, in the atrociously vulgar style of Transatlantic
"The Sarmatian, expected off Belleisle to-morrow morning, brings
among her passengers, as we learn by telegram, the famous Una
Callingham, whose connection with the so-called Woodbury Mystery is
now a matter of historical interest. The mysterious two-souled lady
possesses, at present, all her faculties intact, as before the
murder, and is indeed, people say, a remarkably spry and intelligent
young person; but she has most conveniently forgotten all the events
of her past life, and more particularly the circumstances of her
father's death, which is commonly conjectured to have been due to
the pistol of some unknown lover. Such freaks of memory are common,
we all know, in the matter of small debts and of newspaper
subscriptions, but they seldom extend quite so far as the violent
death of a near relation. However, Una knows her own business best.
The Sarmatian is due alongside the Bonsecours Quay at 10 a.m. on
Wednesday, the 10th; and all Quebec will, no doubt, be assembled at
the landing-stage to say 'Good-morning' to the two-souled lady."
The paper dropped from my hand. This was too horrible for anything!
How I was ever to go through the ordeal of the landing at Quebec
after that, I hadn't the faintest conception. And was I to be dogged
and annoyed like this through all my Canadian trip by anonymous
scribblers? Had these people no hearts? no consideration for the
sensitiveness of an English lady?
I looked over the side of the ship at the dark-blue water. Oh, how
I longed to plunge into it and be released for ever from this
A NEW ACQUAINTANCE
The moment we reached the quay at Quebec, some two days later, a
dozen young men, with little notebooks in their hands, jumped on
board all at once.
"Miss Callingham!" they cried with one accord, making a dash for the
quarter-deck. "Which is she? Oh, this!—If you please, Miss
Callingham, I should like to have ten minutes of your time to
I clapped my hands to my ears, and stood back, all horrified. What I
should have done, I don't know, but for a very kind man in a big
rough overcoat, who had jumped on board at the same time, and made
over to me like the reporters. He stepped up to me at once, pushed
aside the young men, and said in a most friendly tone:
"Miss Callingham, I think? You'd better come with me, then. These
people are all sharks. Everybody in Quebec's agog to see the
Two-souled Lady. Answer no questions at all. Take not the least
notice of them. Just follow me to the Custom House. Let them rave,
but don't speak to them."
"Who are you?" I asked blindly, clinging to his arm in my terror.
"I'm a policeman in plain clothes," my new friend answered; "and
I've been specially detailed by order for this duty. I'm here to
look after you. You've friends in Canada, though you may have quite
forgotten them. They've sent me to help you. Those are two of my
chums there, standing aside by the gangway. We'll walk you off
between us. Don't be afraid.—Here, you sir, there; make way!—No
one shall come near you."
I was so nervous, and so ashamed that I accepted my strange escort
without inquiry or remonstrance. He helped me, with remarkable
politeness for a common policeman, across to the Custom House, where
I sat waiting for my luggage. Reporters and sightseers, meanwhile,
pressed obtrusively around me. My protector held them back. I was
half wild with embarrassment. I'm naturally a reserved and somewhat
sensitive girl, and this American publicity made me crimson with
As I sat there waiting, however, the two other policemen to whom my
champion had beckoned sat one on each side of me, keeping off the
idle crowd, while my first friend looked after the luggage and saw
it safely through the Customs for me. He must be an Inspector, I
fancied, or some other superior officer, the officials were so
deferential to him. I gave him my keys, and he looked after
everything himself. I had nothing, for my part, to do but to sit and
wait patiently for him.
As soon as he had finished, he called a porter to his side.
"Vite!" he cried, in a tone of authority, to the man. "Un fiacre!"
And the porter called one.
I started to find that I knew what he meant. Till that moment, in my
Second State, I had learned no French, and didn't know I could speak
any. But I recognised the words quite well as soon as he uttered
them. My lost knowledge reasserted itself.
They bundled on my boxes. The crowd still stood around and gaped at
me, open-mouthed. I got into the cab, more dead than alive.
"Allez!" my policeman cried to the French-Canadian driver, seating
himself by my side.
"A la gare du chemin de fer Pacific! Aussi vite que possible!"
I understood every word. This was wonderful. My memory was coming
The man tore along the streets to the Pacific railway station. By
the time we reached it we had distanced the sightseers, though some
of them gave chase. My policeman got out.
"The train's just going!" he said sharply. "Don't take a ticket for
Palmyra, if you don't want to be followed and tracked out all the
way. They'll telegraph on your destination. Book to Kingston
instead, and then change at Sharbot Lake, and take a second ticket
on from there to Palmyra."
I listened, half dazed. Palmyra was the place where Dr. Ivor lived.
Yet, even in the hurry of the moment, I wondered much to myself how
the policeman knew I wanted to go to Palmyra.
There was no time to ask questions, however, or to deliberate on my
plans. I took my ticket as desired, in a turmoil of feelings, and
jumped on to the train. I trusted by this time I had eluded
detection. I ought to have come, I saw now, under a feigned name.
This horrid publicity was more than I could endure. My policeman
helped me in with his persistent politeness, and saw my boxes
checked as far as Sharbot Lake for me. Then he handed me the checks.
"Go in the Pullman," he said quietly. "It's a long journey, you
know: four-and-twenty hours. You've only just caught it. But if
you'd stopped in Quebec, you'd never have been able to give the
sightseers the slip. You'd have been pestered all through. I think
you're safe now. It was this or nothing."
"Oh, thank you so much!" I cried, with heartfelt gratitude, leaning
out of the window as the train was on the point of starting. I
pulled out my purse, and drew timidly forth a sovereign. "I've only
English money," I said, hesitating, for I didn't know whether he'd
be offended or not at the offer of a tip—he seemed such a perfect
gentleman. "But if that's any use to you—"
He smiled a broad smile and shook his head, much amused.
"Oh, thank you," he said, half laughing, with a very curious air.
"I'm a policeman, as I told you. But I don't need tips. I'm the
Chief Constable of Quebec—there's my card; Major Tascherel,—and
I'm glad to be of use, I'm sure, to any friend of Dr. Ivor's."
He lifted his hat with the inborn grace of a high-born gentleman. I
coloured and bowed. The train steamed out of the station. As it
went, I fell back, half fainting, in the comfortable armchair of the
Pullman car, hardly able to speak with surprise and horror. It was
all so strange, so puzzling, so bewildering! Then I owed my escape
from the stenographic myrmidons of the Canadian Press to the polite
care and attention of my father's murderer!
Major Tascherel was a friend, he said, of Dr. Ivor's!
Then Dr. Ivor knew I had come. He knew I was going to Palmyra to
find him. And yet he had written to Quebec, apparently, expecting
this crush, and asking his friend the Chief Constable to protect and
befriend me. Had he murdered my father, and was he in love with me
still? Did he think I'd come out, not to track him down, but to look
for him? Strange, horrible questions! My heart stood still within me
at this extraordinary revelation. Yet I was so frightened at the
moment, alone in a strange land, that I felt almost grateful to the
murderer himself for his kindness in thinking of me and providing
for my reception.
As I settled in my seat and had time to realise what these things
meant, it dawned upon me by degrees that all this was less
remarkable, after all, than I first thought it. For they had
telegraphed from England that I sailed on the Sarmatian; and Dr.
Ivor, like everybody else, must have read the telegram. He might
naturally conclude I would be half-mobbed by reporters; and as it
was clear he had once been fond of me—hateful as I felt it even to
admit the fact to myself—he might really have desired to save me
annoyance and trouble. It was degrading, to be sure, even to think I
owed anything of any sort to such a wretch as that murderer; yet in
a certain corner of my heart I couldn't help being thankful to him.
But how strange to feel I had come there on purpose to hunt him
down! How horrible that I must so repay good with evil!
Then a still more ghastly thought surged up suddenly in my mind. Why
on earth did he think I was going to Palmyra? Was it possible he
fancied I loved him still—that I wanted to marry him? Could he
imagine I'd come out just to fling myself at his feet and ask him to
take me? Could he suppose I'd forgotten all the rest of my past
life, and his vile act as well, and yet remembered alone what
little love, if any, I ever had borne him? It was incredible that
any man, however wicked, however conceited, should think such folly
as that—that a girl would marry her father's murderer; and yet what
might not one expect from a man who, after having shot my father,
had still the inconceivable and unbelievable audacity to take
deliberate steps for securing my own comfort and happiness? From
such a wretch as that, one might look for almost anything!
For ten minutes or more, as we whirled along the line in the Pullman
car, I was too dazed and confused to notice anything around me. My
brain swam vaguely, filled full with wild whirling thoughts; the
strange drama of my life, always teeming with mysteries, seemed to
culminate in this reception in an unknown land by people who
appeared almost to know more about my business than I myself did. I
gazed out of the window blankly. In some vague dim way I saw we were
passing between rocky hills, pine-clad and beautiful, with deep
glimpses now and then into the riven gorge of a noble river. But I
didn't even realise to myself that these were Canadian hills—those
were the heights of Abraham—that was the silver St. Lawrence. It
all passed by like a living dream. I sat still in my chair, as one
stunned and faint; I gazed out, more dead than alive, on the
unfamiliar scene that unrolled itself in exquisite panorama before
me. Quebec and the Laurentian hills were to me half unreal: the
inner senses alone were awake and conscious.
Presently a gentle voice at my side broke, not at all unpleasantly,
the current of my reflections. It was a lady's voice, very sweet and
"I'm afraid," it said kindly, with an air of tender solicitude, "you
only just caught the train, and were hurried and worried and
flurried at the last at the station. You look so white and tired.
How your breath comes and goes! And I think you're new to our
Canadian ways. I saw you didn't understand about the checks for the
baggage. Let me take away this bag and put it up in the rack for
you. Here's a footstool for your feet; that'll make you more
At the first sound of her sweet voice, I turned to look at the
speaker. She was a girl, perhaps a year or two younger than myself,
very slender and graceful, and with eyes like a mother's. She wasn't
exactly pretty, but her face was so full of intelligence and
expression that it was worth a great deal more than any doll-like
Perhaps it was pleasure at being spoken to kindly at all in this
land of strangers; perhaps it was revulsion from the agony of shame
and modesty I had endured at Quebec; but, at any rate, I felt drawn
at first sight to my sweet-voiced fellow-traveller. Besides, she
reminded me somewhat of Minnie Moore, and that resemblance alone was
enough to attract me. I looked up at her gratefully.
"Oh, thank you so much!" I cried, putting my bag in her hand. "I've
only just come out from England; and I'd hardly time at Quebec to
catch the train; and the people crowded around so, that I was
flustered at landing; and everything somehow seems to be going
And with that my poor overwrought nerves gave way all at once, and
without any more ado I just burst out crying.
The lady by my side leant over me tenderly.
"There—cry, dear," she said, as if she'd known me for years,
stooping down and almost caressing me. "Jack,"—and she turned to a
tall gentleman at her side,—"quick! you've got my black bag; get me
out the sal volatile. She's quite faint, poor thing; we must look
after her instantly."
The person to whom she spoke, and who was apparently her husband or
her brother, took down the black bag from the rack hastily, and got
out the sal volatile, as my friend directed him. He poured a little
into a tumbler and held it quietly to my lips. I liked his manner,
as I'd liked the lady's. He was so very brotherly. Besides, there
was something extremely soothing about his quick, noiseless way. He
did it all so fast, yet without the faintest sign of agitation. I
couldn't help thinking what a good nurse he would make; he was so
rapid and effective, yet so gentle and so quiet. He seemed perfectly
accustomed to the ways of nervous women.
I dried my eyes after a while, and looked up in his face. He was
very good-looking, and had a charming soft smile. How lucky I should
have tumbled upon such pleasant travelling companions! In my present
mental state, I had need of sympathy. And, indeed, they took as much
care of me, and coddled me up as tenderly, as if they'd known me for
years. I was almost tempted to make a clean breast of my personality
to them, and tell them why it was I had been so worried and upset by
my reception at Quebec: but I shrank from confessing it. I hated my
own name, almost, it seemed to bring me such very unpleasant
In a very few minutes, I felt quite at home with my new friends. I
explained to them that when I landed I had no intention of going on
West by train at once, but that news which I received on the way had
compelled me to push forward by the very first chance; and that I
had to change my ticket at a place called Sharbot Lake, whose very
position or distance I hadn't had time to discover. The lady smiled
sweetly, and calmed my fears by telling me we wouldn't reach Sharbot
Lake till mid-day to-morrow, and that I would have plenty of time
there to book on to my destination.
Thus encouraged, I went on to tell them I had no Canadian money,
having brought out what I needed for travelling expenses and hotels
in Bank of England 20 pound notes. The lady smiled again, and said
in the friendliest way:
"Oh, my brother'll get them changed for you at Montreal as we pass,
won't you, Jack? or at least as much as you need till you get
to"—she checked herself—"the end of your journey."
I noticed how she pulled herself up, though at the moment I attached
no particular importance to it.
So he was her brother, not her husband, then! Well, he was a very
nice fellow, either way, and nobody could be kinder or more
sympathetic than he'd been to me so far.
We fell into conversation, which soon by degrees grew quite
"How far West are you going?" the man she called Jack asked after a
little time, tentatively.
And I answered, all unsuspiciously:
"To a place called Palmyra."
"Why, we live not far from Palmyra," the sister replied, with a
smile. "We're going that way now. Our station's Adolphus Town, the
very next village."
I hadn't yet learned to join the wisdom of the serpent to the
innocence of the dove, I'm afraid. Remember, though in some ways I
was a woman full grown, in others I was little more than a
"Do you know a Dr. Ivor there?" I asked eagerly, leaning forward.
"Oh, yes, quite well," the lady answered, arranging my footstool
more comfortably as she spoke. "He's got a farm out there now, and
hardly practises at all. How queer it is! One always finds one knows
people in common. Is Dr. Ivor a friend of yours?"
I recoiled at the stray question almost as if I'd been shot.
"Oh, no!" I cried, horrified at the bare idea of such treason. "He's
anything but a friend… I—I only wanted to know about him."
The lady looked at Jack, and Jack looked at the lady. Were they
telegraphing signs? I fancied somehow they gave one another very
meaning glances. Jack was the first to speak, breaking an awkward
"You can't expect everyone to know your own friends, or to like them
either, Elsie," he said slowly, with his eyes fixed hard on her, as
if he expected her to flare up.
My heart misgave me. A hateful idea arose in it. Could my sweet
travelling companion be engaged—to my father's murderer?
"But he's a dear good fellow, for all that, Jack," Elsie said
stoutly; and strange as it sounds to say so, I admired her for
sticking up for her friend Dr. Ivor, if she really liked him. "I
won't hear him run down by anybody, not even by YOU. If this lady
knew him better, I'm sure she'd like him, as we all do."
Jack turned the conversation abruptly.
"But if you're going to Palmyra," he asked, "where do you mean to
stop? Have you thought about lodgings? You mustn't imagine it's a
place like an English town, with an inn or hotel or good private
apartments. There's nowhere you can put up at in these brand-new
villages. Are you going to friends, or did you expect to find
quarters as easily as in England?"
This was a difficulty which, indeed, had never even occurred to me
till that moment. I stammered and hesitated.
"Well," I said slowly, "to tell you the truth, I haven't thought
about that. The landing at Quebec was such a dreadful surprise to
me, and"—tears came into my eyes again—"I had a great shock
there—and I had to come on so quick, I didn't ask about anything
but catching the train. I meant to stop a night or two either at
Quebec or in Montreal, and to make all inquiries: but circumstances,
you see, have prevented that. So I really don't know what I'd better
do when I get to Palmyra."
"I do," my new friend answered quickly, her soft sweet voice having
quite a decisive ring in it. "You'd better not go on to Palmyra at
all. There's no sort of accommodation there, except a horrid
drinking-saloon. You'd better stop short at Adolphus Town and spend
the night with us; and then you can look about you next day, if you
like, and see what chance there may be of finding decent quarters.
Old Mrs. Wilkins might take her in, Jack, or the Blacks at the
I smiled, and felt touched.
"Oh, how good of you!" I cried. "But I really couldn't think of it.
Thank you ever so much, though, for your kind thought, all the same.
It's so good and sweet of you. But you don't even know who I am. I
have no introduction."
"You're your own best introduction," Elsie said, with a pretty nod:
I thought of her somehow from the very first moment I heard her name
as Elsie. "And as to your not knowing us, never mind about that. We
know YOU at first sight. It's the Canadian way to entertain Angels
unawares. Out here, you know, hospitality's the rule of the
Well, I demurred for a long time; I fought off their invitation as
well as I could: I couldn't bear thus to quarter myself upon utter
strangers. But they both were so pressing, and brought up so many
cogent arguments why I couldn't go alone to the one village
saloon—a mere whisky-drinking public-house, they said, of very bad
character,—that in the long run I was fain almost to acquiesce in
their kind plan for my temporary housing. Besides, after my horrid
experience at Quebec, it was such a positive relief to me to meet
anybody nice and delicate, that I couldn't find it in my heart to
refuse these dear people. And then, perhaps it was best not to go
quite on to Palmyra at once, for fear of unexpectedly running
against my father's murderer. If I met him in the street, and he
recognised me and spoke to me, what on earth could I do? My head was
all in a whirl, indeed, as to what he might intend or expect: for I
felt sure he expected me. I made one last despairing effort.
"If I stop at your house, though," I said, half ashamed of myself
for venturing to make conditions, "there's one promise you must make
me—that I sha'n't see Dr. Ivor unless you let me know and get my
Jack, as I called him to myself, answered gaily back with a rather
"If you like, you need see nobody but our own two selves. We'll
promise not to introduce anybody to you without due leave, and to
let you do as you like in that and in everything."
So I yielded at last.
"Well, I must know your name," I said tentatively.
And Jack, looking queerly at me with an inquiring air, said:
"My sister's name's Elsie; mine's John Cheriton."
"And yours?" Elsie asked, glancing timidly down at me.
My heart beat hard. I was face to face with a dilemma. These were
friends of Courtenay Ivor's, and I had given myself away to them. I
was going to their house, to accept their hospitality—and to
betray their friend! Never in my life did I feel so guilty before.
Oh! what on earth was I to do? I had told them too much; I had gone
to work foolishly. If I said my real name, I should let out my whole
secret. I must brazen it out now. With tremulous lips and flushed
cheek, I answered quickly, "Julia Marsden."
Elsie drew back, all abashed. In a moment her cheek grew still
redder, I felt sure, than my own.
"Oh, Marsden!" she cried, eyeing me close. "Why, I thought you were
"How on earth did you know that?" I exclaimed, terrified almost out
of my life. Was I never for one moment to escape my own personality?
"Why, they put it in the papers that you were coming," Elsie
answered, looking tenderly at me, more in sympathy than in anger.
"And it's written on your bag, you know, that Jack put up in the
rack there… That's why we were so sorry for you, and so grieved at
the way you must have been hustled on the quay. And that's also why
we wanted you to come to us… But don't be a bit afraid. We quite
understand you want to travel incognita. After the sort of reception
you got at Quebec, no wonder you're afraid of these hateful
sightseers!… Very well, dear," she took my hand with the air of an
old friend, "your disguise shall be respected while you stop at our
house. Miss Marsden let it be. You can make any inquiries you like
about Dr. Ivor. We will be secrecy itself. We'll say nothing to
anyone. And my brother'll take your ticket at Sharbot Lake for
I broke down once more. I fairly cried at such kindness.
"Oh, how good you are!" I said. "How very, very good. This is more
than one could ever have expected from strangers."
She held my hand and stroked it.
"We're not strangers," she answered. "We're English ourselves. We
sympathise deeply with you in this new, strange country. You must
treat us exactly like a brother and sister. We liked you at first
sight, and we're sure we'll get on with you."
I lifted her hand to my lips and kissed it.
"And I liked you also," I said, "and your brother, too. You're both
so good and kind. How can I ever sufficiently thank you?"
MY PLANS ALTER
The rest of that day we spent chatting very amicably in our Pullman
arm-chairs. I couldn't understand it myself—when I had a moment to
think, I was shocked and horrified at it. I was so terribly at home
with them. These were friends of Dr. Ivor's—friends of my father's
murderer! I had come out to Canada to track him, to deliver him
over, if I could, to the strong hand of Justice. And yet, there I
was talking away with his neighbours and friends as if I had known
them all my life, and loved them dearly. Nay, what was more, I
couldn't in my heart of hearts help liking them. They were really
sweet people—so kind and sympathetic, so perceptive of my
sensitiveness. They asked no questions that could hurt me in any
way. They showed no curiosity about the object of my visit or my
relation to Dr. Ivor. They were kindness and courtesy itself. I
could see Mr. Cheriton was a gentleman in fibre, and Elsie was as
sweet as any woman on earth could be.
By-and-by, the time came for the Pullman saloon to be transformed
for the night into a regular sleeping-car. All this was new to me,
and I watched it with interest. As soon as the beds were made up, I
crept into my berth, and my new friend Elsie took her place on the
sofa below me. I lay awake long and thought over the situation. The
more I thought of it, the stranger it all seemed. I tried hard to
persuade myself I was running some great danger in accepting the
Cheritons' invitation. Certainly, I had behaved with consummate
imprudence. Canada is a country, I said to myself, where they kidnap
and murder well-to-do young Englishmen. How much easier, then, to
kidnap and murder a poor weak stray English girl! I was entirely at
the mercy of the Cheritons, that was clear: and the Cheritons were
Dr. Ivor's friends. As I thought all the circumstances over, the
full folly of my own conduct came home to me more and more. I had
let these people suppose I was travelling under an assumed name. I
had let them know my ticket was not for Palmyra but for Kingston,
where I didn't mean to go. I had told them I meant to change it at
Sharbot Lake. So they were aware that no one on earth but themselves
had any idea where I had gone. And I had further divulged to them
the important fact that I had plenty of ready money in Bank of
England notes! I stood aghast at my own silliness. But still, I did
NOT distrust them.
No, I did NOT distrust them. I felt I ought to be distrustful. I
felt it might be expected of me. But they were so gentle-mannered
and so sweet-natured, that I couldn't distrust them. I tried very
hard, but distrust wouldn't come to me. That kind fellow Jack—I
thought of him, just so, as Jack already—couldn't hurt a fly, much
less kill a woman. It grieved me to think I would have to hurt his
For now that I came to look things squarely in the face in my berth
by myself, I began to see how utterly impossible it would be for me
after all to go and stop with the Cheritons. How I could ever have
dreamt it feasible I could hardly conceive. I ought to have refused
at once. I ought to have been braver. I ought to have said outright,
"I'll have nothing to do or say with anyone who is a friend or an
acquaintance of Courtenay Ivor's." And yet, to have said so would
have been to give up the game for lost. It would have been to
proclaim that I had come out to Canada as Courtenay Ivor's enemy.
I wasn't fit, that was the fact, for my self-imposed task of
A good part of that night I lay awake in my berth, bitterly
reproaching myself for having come on this wild-goose chase without
the aid of a man—an experienced officer. Next morning, I rose and
breakfasted in the car. The Cheritons breakfasted with me, and, sad
to say, seemed more charming than ever. That good fellow Jack was so
attentive and kind, I almost felt ashamed to have to refuse his
hospitality; and as for Elsie, she couldn't have treated me more
nicely or cordially if she'd been my own sister. It wasn't what they
said that touched my heart: it was what they didn't say or do—their
sweet, generous reticence.
After breakfast, I steeled myself for the task, and broke it to them
gently that, thinking it over in the night, I'd come to the
conclusion I couldn't consistently accept their proffered welcome.
"I don't know how to say NO to you," I cried, "after you've been so
wonderfully kind and nice; but reasons which I can't fully explain
just now make me feel it would be wrong of me to think of stopping
with you. It would hamper my independence of action to be in anybody
else's house. I must shift for myself, and try if I can't find board
and lodging somewhere."
"Find it with us then!" Elsie put in eagerly. "If that's all that's
the matter, I'm sure we're not proud—are we, Jack?—not a bit.
Sooner than you should go elsewhere and be uncomfortable in your
rooms, I'd take you in myself, and board you and look after you. You
could pay what you like; and then you'd retain your independence,
you see, as much as ever you wanted."
But her brother interrupted her with a somewhat graver air:
"It goes deeper than that, I'm afraid, Elsie," he said, turning his
eye full upon her. "If Miss Callingham feels she couldn't be happy
in stopping with us, she'd better try elsewhere. Though where on
earth we can put her, I haven't just now the very slightest idea.
But we'll turn it over in our own minds before we reach Adolphus
There was a sweet reasonableness about Jack that attracted me
greatly. I could see he entered vaguely into the real nature of my
feelings. But he wouldn't cross-question me: he was too much of a
"Miss Callingham knows her own motives best," he said more than
once, when Elsie tried to return to the charge. "If she feels she
can't come to us, we must be content to do the best we can for her
with our neighbours. Perhaps Mrs. Walters would take her in: she's
our clergyman's wife, Miss Callingham, and you mightn't feel the
same awkwardness with her as with my sister."
"Does she know—Dr. Ivor?" I faltered out, unable to conceal my real
"Not so intimately as we do," Jack answered, with a quick glance at
his sister. "We might ask her at any rate. There are so few houses
in Palmyra or the neighbourhood where you could live as you're
accustomed, that we mustn't be particular. But at least you'll spend
one night with us, and then we can arrange all the other things
My mind was made up.
"No, not even one night," I said. I couldn't accept hospitality from
Dr. Ivor's friends. Between his faction and mine there could be
nothing now but the bitterest enmity. How dare I even parley with
people who were friends of my father's murderer?
Yet I was sorry to disappoint that good fellow, Jack, all the same.
Did he want me to sleep one night at his house on purpose to rob me
and murder me? Girl as I was, and rendered timorous in some ways by
the terrible shocks I had received, I couldn't for one moment
believe it. I KNEW he was good: I KNEW he was honourable, gentle, a
So, journeying on all morning, we reached Sharbot Lake, still with
nothing decided. At the little junction station, Jack got me my
ticket. That was the turning point in my career. The die was cast.
There I lost my identity. A crowd lounged around the platform, and
surged about the Pullman car, calling to see "Una Callingham." But
no Una Callingham appeared on the scene. I went, on in the same
train, without a word to anyone, all unknown save to the two
Cheritons, and as an unrecognised unit of common humanity. I had
cast that horrid identity clean behind me.
The afternoon was pleasant. In spite of my uncertainty, it gave me a
sense of pleased confidence to be in the Cheritons' company. I had
taken to them at once: and the more I talked with them, the better I
liked them. Especially Jack, that nice brotherly Jack, who seemed
almost like an old friend to me. You get to know people so well on a
long railway journey. I was quite sorry to think that by five
o'clock that afternoon we should reach Adolphus Town, and so part
About ten minutes to five, we were collecting our scattered things,
and putting our front-hair straight by the mirror in the ladies'
"Well, Miss Cheriton," I said warmly, longing to kiss her as I
spoke, "I shall never forget how kind you two have been to me. I do
wish so much I hadn't to leave you like this. But it's quite
inevitable. I don't see really how I could ever endure—"
I said no more, for just at that moment, as the words trembled on my
lips, a terrible jar thrilled suddenly through the length and
breadth of the carriage. Something in front seemed to rush into us
with a deep thud. There was a crash, a fierce grating, a dull hiss,
a clatter. Broken glass was flying about. The very earth beneath the
wheels seemed to give way under us. Next instant, all was blank. I
just knew I was lying, bruised and stunned and bleeding, on a bare
dry bank, with my limbs aching painfully.
I guessed what it all meant. A collision, no doubt. But I lay faint
and ill, and knew nothing for the moment as to what had become of my
A STRANGE RECOGNITION
Gradually I was aware of somebody moistening my temples. A soft palm
held my hand. Elsie was leaning over me. I opened my eyes with a
"Oh, Elsie," I cried, "how kind of you!"
It seemed to me quite natural to call her Elsie.
Even as I spoke, somebody else raised my head and poured something
down my throat. I swallowed it with a gulp. Then I opened my eyes
"And Jack, too," I murmured.
It seemed as if he'd been "Jack" to me for years and years already.
"She knows us!" Elsie cried, clasping her hands. "She's much
better—much better. Quick, Jack, more brandy! And make haste
There was a noise close by. Unseen hands lifted me up, and Jack laid
me on the stretcher. Half-an-hour at least must have elapsed, I felt
since the first shock of the accident. I had been unconscious
meanwhile. The actual crash came and went like lightning. And my
memory of all else was blotted out for the moment.
Next, as I lay still, two men took the stretcher and carried me off
at a slow pace, under Jack's direction. They walked single-file
along the line, and turned down a rough road that led off near a
river. I didn't ask where they were going: I was too weak and
feeble. At last they came to a house, a small white wooden cottage,
very colonial and simple, but neat and pretty. There was a garden in
front, full of old-fashioned flowering shrubs; and a verandah ran
round the house, about whose posts clambered sweet English creepers.
They carried me in, and laid me down on a bed, in a sweet little
room, very plain but dainty. It was panelled with polished
pitchpine, and roses peeped in at the open window. Everything about
the cottage bore the impress of native good taste. I knew it was
Jack's home. It was just such a room as I should have expected from
The bed on which they placed me was neat and soft. I lay there
dozing with pain. Elsie sat by my side, her own arm in a sling.
By-and-by, an Irish maid came in and undressed me carefully under
Elsie's direction. Then Elsie said to me, half shrinking:
"Now you must see the doctor."
"Not Dr. Ivor!" I cried, waking up to a full sense of this new
threatened horror. "Whatever I do, dear, I WON'T see Dr. Ivor!"
Jack had come in while she spoke, and was standing by the bed, I saw
now. The servant had gone out. He lifted my arm, and held my wrist
in his hand.
"I'm a doctor myself, Miss Callingham," he said softly, with that
quiet, reassuring voice of his. "Don't be alarmed at that; nobody
but myself and Elsie need come near you in any way."
I smiled at his words, well pleased.
"Oh, I'm so glad you're a doctor!" I cried, much relieved at the
news; "for I'm not the least little bit in the world afraid of YOU.
I don't mind your attending me. I like to have you with me." For I
had always a great fancy for doctors, somehow.
"That's well," he said, smiling at me such a sweet sympathetic smile
as he felt my pulse with his finger. "Confidence is the first great
requisite in a patient: it's half the battle. You're not seriously
hurt, I hope, but you're very much shaken. Whether you like it or
not, you'll have to stop here now for some days at least, till
you're thoroughly recovered."
I'm ashamed to write it down; but I was really pleased to hear it.
Nothing would have induced me to go voluntarily to their house with
the intention of stopping there—for they were friends of Dr.
Ivor's. But when you're carried on a stretcher to the nearest
convenient house, you're not responsible for your own actions. And
they were both so nice and kind, it was a pleasure to be near them.
So I was almost thankful for that horrid accident, which had cut the
Gordian knot of my perplexity as to a house to lodge in.
It was a fortnight before I was well enough to get out of bed and
lie comfortably on the sofa. All that time Jack and Elsie tended me
with unsparing devotion. Elsie had a little bed made up in my room;
and Jack came to see me two or three times a day, and sat for whole
hours with me. It was so nice he was a doctor! A doctor, you know,
isn't a man—in some ways. And it soothed me so to have him sitting
there with Elsie by my bedside.
They were "Jack" and "Elsie" to me, to their faces, before three
days were out; and I was plain "Una" to them: it sounded so sweet
and sisterly. Elsie slipped it out the second morning as naturally
as could be.
"Una'd like a cup of tea, Jack;" then as red as fire all at once,
she corrected herself, and added, "I mean, Miss Callingham."
"Oh, do call me Una!" I cried; "it's so much nicer and more
natural…. But how did you come to know my name was Una at all?"
For she slipped it out as glibly as if she'd always called me so.
"Why, everybody knows that." Elsie answered, amused. "The whole
world speaks of you always as Una Callingham. You forget you're a
celebrity. Doctors have read memoirs about you at Medical
Congresses. You've been discussed in every paper in Europe and
I paused and sighed. This was very humiliating. It was unpleasant to
rank in the public mind somewhere between Constance Kent and Laura
Bridgman. But I had to put up with it.
"Very well," I said, with a deep breath, "if those I don't care for
call me so behind my back, let me at least have the pleasure of
hearing myself called so by those I love, like you, Elsie."
She leant over me and kissed my forehead with a burst of genuine
"Then you love me, Una!" she exclaimed.
"How can I help it?" I answered. "I love you dearly already." And I
might have added with truth, "And your brother also."
For Jack was really, without any exception, the most lovable man I
ever met in my life—at once so strong and manly, and yet so womanly
and so gentle. Every day I stopped there, I liked him better and
better. I was glad when he came into my room, and sorry when he went
away again to work on the farm: for he worked very hard; his hand
was all horny with common agricultural labour. It was sad to think
of such a man having to do such work. And yet he was so clever, and
such a capital doctor. I wondered he hadn't done well and stayed in
England. But Elsie told me he'd had great disappointments, and
failed in his profession through no fault of his own. I could never
understand that: he had such a delightful manner. Though, perhaps I
was prejudiced; for, in point of fact, I began to feel I was really
in love with Jack Cheriton.
And Jack was in love with me too. This was a curious result of my
voyage to Canada in search of Dr. Ivor! Instead of hunting up the
criminal, I had stopped to fall in love with one of his friends and
neighbours. And I found it so delicious: I won't pretend to deny it.
I was absolutely happy when Jack sat by my bedside and held my hand
in his. I didn't know what it would lead to, or whether it would
ever lead to anything at all; but I was happy meanwhile just to love
and be loved by him. I think when you're really in love, that's
quite enough. Jack never proposed to me: he never asked me to marry
him. He just sat by my bedside and held my hand; and once, when
Elsie went out to fetch my beef-tea, he stooped hastily down and
kissed, me, oh, so tenderly! I don't know why, but I wasn't the
least surprised. It seemed to me quite natural that Jack should kiss
So I went idly on for a fortnight, in a sort of lazy lotus-land,
never thinking of the future, but as happy and as much at home as if
I'd lived all my life with Jack and Elsie. I hated even to think I
would soon be well; for then I'd have to go and look out for
At last one afternoon I was sufficiently strong to be lifted out of
bed, and dressed in a morning robe, and laid out on the sofa in the
little drawing-room. It looked out upon the verandah, which was high
above the ground; and Jack came in and sat with me, alone without
Elsie. My heart throbbed high at that: I liked to be alone for
half-an-hour with Jack. Perhaps… But who knows? Well, at any rate,
even if he didn't, it was nice to have the chance of a good long,
quiet chat with him. I loved Elsie dearly; but at a moment like
this, why, I liked to have Jack all to myself without even Elsie.
So I was pleased when Jack told me Elsie was going into Palmyra with
the buggy to get the English letters. Then she'd be gone a good long
time! Oh, how lovely! How beautiful!
"Is there anything you'd like from the town?" he asked, as Elsie
drove past the window. "Anything Elsie could get for you? If so,
please say so."
I hesitated a moment.
"Do you think," I asked at last, for I didn't want to be
troublesome, "she could get me a lemon?"
"Oh, certainly," Jack answered; "there she goes in the buggy! Here,
wait a moment, Una! I'll run after her to the gate this minute and
He sprang lightly on to the parapet of the verandah. Then, with one
hand held behind him to poise himself, palm open backward, he leapt
with a bound to the road, and darted after her hurriedly.
My heart stood still within me. That action revealed him. The back,
the open hand, the gesture, the bend—I would have known them
anywhere. With a horrible revulsion I recognised the truth. This was
my father's murderer! This was Courtenay Ivor!
MURDER WILL OUT
He was gone but for three minutes. Meanwhile, I buried my face in my
burning hands, and cried to myself in unspeakable misery.
For, horrible as it sounds to say so, I knew perfectly well now that
Jack was Dr. Ivor: yet, in spite of that knowledge, I loved him
still. He was my father's murderer; and I couldn't help loving him!
It was that that filled up the cup of my misery to overflowing. I
loved the man well: and I must turn to denounce him.
He came back, flushed and hot, expecting thanks for his pains.
"Well, she'll get you the lemon, Una," he said, panting. "I overtook
her by the big tulip-tree."
I gazed at him fixedly, taking my hands from my face, with the tears
still wet on my burning cheek.
"You've deceived me!" I cried sternly. "Jack, you've given me a
false name. I know who you are, now. You're no Jack at all. You're
He drew back, quite amazed. Yet he didn't seem thunderstruck. Not
fear but surprise was the leading note on his features.
"So you've found that out at last, Una!" he exclaimed, staring hard
at me. "Then you remember me after all, darling! You know who I am.
You haven't quite forgotten me. And you recall what has gone, do
I rose from the sofa, ill as I was, in my horror.
"You dare to speak to me like that, sir!" I cried. "You, whom I've
tracked out to your hiding-place and discovered! You, whom I've come
across the ocean to hunt down! You, whom I mean to give up this very
day to Justice! Let me go from your house at once! How dare you ever
bring me here? How dare you stand unabashed before the daughter of
the man you so cruelly murdered?"
He drew back like one stung.
"The daughter of the man I murdered!" he faltered out slowly, as in
a turmoil of astonishment. "The man I murdered! Oh, Una, is it
possible you've forgotten so much, and yet remember me myself? I
can't believe it, darling. Sit down, my child, and think. Surely,
surely the rest will come back to you gradually."
His calmness unnerved me. What could he mean by these words? No
actor on earth could dissemble like this. His whole manner was
utterly unlike the manner of a man just detected in a terrible
crime. He seemed rather to reproach me, indeed, than to crouch; to
be shocked and indignant.
"Explain yourself," I said coldly, in a very chilly voice.
"Courtenay Ivor, I give you three minutes to explain. At the end of
that time, if you can't exonerate yourself, I walk out of this house
to give you up, as I ought, to the arm of Justice!"
He looked at me, all pity, yet inexpressibly reproachful.
"Oh, Una," he cried, clasping his hands—those small white hands of
his—Aunt Emma's hands—the murderer's hands—how had I never
before noticed them?—"and I, who have suffered so much for you! I,
who have wrecked my whole life for you, ungrudgingly, willingly! I,
who have sacrificed even Elsie's happiness and Elsie's future for
you! This is too, too hard! Una, Una, spare me!"
A strange trembling seized me. It was in my heart to rush forward
and clasp him to my breast. Murderer or no murderer, his look, his
voice, cut me sharply to the heart. Words trembled on the tip of my
tongue: "Oh, Jack, I love you!" But with a violent effort, I
repressed them sternly. This horrible revulsion seemed to tear me in
two. I loved him so much. Though till the moment of the discovery, I
never quite realised how deeply I loved him.
"Courtenay Ivor," I said slowly, steeling myself once more for a
hard effort, "I knew who you were at once when I saw you poise
yourself on the parapet. Once before in my life I saw you like that,
and the picture it produced has burned itself into the very fibre
and marrow of my being. As long as I live, I can never get rid of
it. It was when you leapt from the window at The Grange, at
Woodbury, after murdering my father!"
He started once more.
"Una," he said solemnly, in a very clear voice, "there's some
terrible error somewhere. You're utterly mistaken about what took
place that night. But oh, great heavens! how am I ever to explain
the misconception to YOU? If you still think thus, it would be cruel
to undeceive you. I daren't tell you the whole truth. It would kill
you! It would kill you!"
I drew myself up like a pillar of ice.
"Go on," I said, in a hard voice; for I saw he had something to say.
"Don't mind for my heart. Tell me the truth. I can stand it."
He hesitated for a minute or two.
"I can't!" he cried huskily. "Dear Una, don't ask me! Won't you
trust me, without? Won't you believe me when I tell you, I never did
"No, I can't," I answered with sullen resolution, though my eyes
belied my words. "I can't disbelieve the evidence of my own senses.
I SAW you escape that night. I see you still. I've seen you for
years. I KNOW it was you, and you only, who did it!"
He flung himself down in a chair, and let his arms drop listlessly.
"Oh! what can I ever do to disillusion you?" he cried in despair.
"Oh! what can I ever do? This is too, too terrible!"
I moved towards the door.
"I'm going," I said, with a gulp. "You've deceived me, Jack. You've
lied to me. You have given me feigned names. You have decoyed me to
your house under false pretences. And I recognise you now. I know
you in all your baseness. You're my father's murderer! Don't hope to
escape by playing on my feelings. I'd deserve to be murdered myself,
if I could act like that! I'm on my way to the police-office, to
give you in custody on the charge of murdering Vivian Callingham at
He jumped up again, all anxiety.
"Oh, no, you mustn't walk!" he cried, laying his hand upon my arm.
"Give me up, if you like; but wait till the buggy comes back, and
Elsie'll drive you round with me. You're not fit to go a step as you
are at present… Oh! what shall I ever do, though. You're so weak
and ill. Elsie'll never allow it."
"Elsie'll never allow WHAT?" I asked; though I felt it was rather
more grotesque than undignified and inconsistent thus to parley and
make terms with my father's murderer. Though, to be sure, it was
Jack, and I couldn't bear to refuse him.
He kept his hand on my arm with an air of authority.
"Una, my child," he said, thrusting me back—and even at that
moment of supreme horror, a thrill ran all through my body at his
touch and his words—"you MUSTN'T go out of this house as you are
this minute. I refuse to allow it. I'm your doctor, and I forbid it.
You're under my charge, and I won't let you stir. If I did, I'd be
He pushed me gently into a chair.
"I gave you but one false name," he said slowly—"the name of
Cheriton. To be sure I, was never christened John, but I'm Jack to
my intimates. It was my nickname from a baby. Jack's what I've
always been called at home—Jack's what, in the dear old days at
Torquay, you always called me. But I saw if I let you know who I was
at once, there'd be no chance of recalling the past, and so saving
you from yourself. To save you, I consented to that one mild
deception. It succeeded in bringing you here, and in keeping you
here till Elsie and I were once more what we'd always been to you. I
meant to tell you all in the end, when the right time came. Now,
you've forced my hand, and I don't know how I can any longer refrain
from telling you."
"Telling me WHAT?" I said icily. "What do you mean by your words?
Why all these dark hints? If you've anything to say, why not say it
like a man?"
For I loved him so much that in my heart of hearts, I half hoped
there might still be some excuse, some explanation.
He looked at me solemnly. Then he leant back in his chair and drew
his hand across his brow. I could see now why I hadn't recognised
that delicate hand before: white as it was by nature, hard work on
the farm had long bronzed and distorted it. But I saw also, for the
first time, that the palm was scarred with cuts and rents—exactly
like Minnie Moore's, exactly like Aunt Emma's.
"Una," he began slowly, in a very puzzled tone, "if I could, I'd
give myself up and be tried, and be found guilty and executed for
your sake, sooner than cause you any further distress, or expose you
to the shock of any more disclosures. But I can't do that, on
Elsie's account. Even if I decided to put Elsie to that shame and
disgrace—which would hardly be just, which would hardly be manly of
me—Elsie knows all, and Elsie'd never consent to it. She'd never
let her brother be hanged for a crime of which (as she knows) he's
entirely innocent. And she'd tell out all in full court—every fact,
every detail—which would be worse for you ten thousand times in the
end than learning it here quietly."
"Tell me all," I said, growing stony, yet trembling from head to
foot. "Oh, Jack,"—I seized his hand,—"I don't know what you mean!
But I somehow trust you. I want to know all. I can bear
anything—anything—better than this suspense. You MUST tell me! You
MUST explain to me!"
"I will," he said slowly, looking hard into my eyes, and feeling my
pulse half unconsciously with his finger as he spoke. "Una darling,
you must make up your mind now for a terrible shock. I won't tell
you in words, for you'd never believe it. I'll SHOW you who it was
that fired the shot at Mr. Callingham."
He moved over to the other side of the room, and unlocking drawer
after drawer, took a bundle of photographs from the inmost secret
cabinet of a desk in the corner.
"There, Una," he said, selecting one of them and holding it up
before my eyes. "Prepare yourself, darling. That's the person who
pulled the trigger that night in the library!"
I looked at it and fell back with a deadly shriek of horror. It was
an instantaneous photograph. It represented a scene just before the
one the Inspector gave me. And there, in its midst, I saw myself as
a girl, with a pistol in my hand. The muzzle flashed and smoked. I
knew the whole truth. It was I myself who held the pistol and fired
at my father!
THE REAL MURDERER
For some seconds I sat there, leaning back in my chair and gazing
close at that incredible, that accusing document. I knew it couldn't
lie: I knew it must be the very handiwork of unerring Nature. Then
slowly a recollection began to grow up in my mind. I knew of my own
memory it was really true. I remembered it so, now, as in a glass,
darkly. I remembered having stood, with the pistol in my hand,
pointing it straight at the breast of the man with the long white
beard whom they called my father. A new mental picture rose up
before me like a vision. I remembered it all as something that once
really occurred to me.
Yet I remembered it, as I had long remembered the next scene in the
series, merely as so much isolated and unrelated fact, without
connection of any sort to link it to the events that preceded or
followed it. It was I who shot my father! I realised that now with
a horrid gulp. But what on earth did I ever shoot him for?
And I had hunted down Jack for the crime I had committed myself! I
had threatened to give him up for my own dreadful parricide!
After a minute, I rose, and staggered feebly to the door. I saw the
path of duty clear as daylight before me.
"Where are you going?" Jack faltered out, watching me close with
anxious eyes, lest I should stumble or faint.
And I answered aloud, in a hollow voice:
"To the police-station, of course,—to give myself into custody for
the murder of my father."
When I thought it was Jack, though I loved him better than I loved
my own life, I would have given him up to justice as a sacred duty.
Now I knew it was myself, how could I possibly do otherwise? How
could I love my own life better than I loved dear Jack's, who had
given up everything to save me and protect me?
With a wild bound of horror, Jack sprang upon me at once. He seized
me bodily in his arms. He carried me back into the room with
irresistible strength. I fought against him in vain. He laid me on
the sofa. He bent over me like a whirlwind and smothered me with hot
"My darling," he cried, "my darling, then this shock hasn't killed
you! It hasn't stunned you like the last! You're still your own dear
self! You've still strength to think and plan exactly what one would
expect from you. Oh! Una, my Una, you must wait and hear all. When
you've learned HOW it happened, you won't wish to act so rashly."
I struggled to free myself, though his arms were hard and close like
a strong man's around me.
"Let me go, Jack!" I cried feebly, trying to tear myself from his
grasp. "I love you better than I love my own life. If I would have
given YOU up, how much more must I give up myself, now I know it was
I who really did it!"
He held me down by main force. He pinned me to the sofa. I suppose
it's because I'm a woman, and weak, and all that—but I liked even
then to feel how strong and how big he was, and how feeble I was
myself, like a child in his arms. And I resisted on purpose, just to
feel him hold me. Somehow, I couldn't realize, after all, that I was
indeed a murderess. It didn't seem possible. I couldn't believe it
was in me.
"Jack," I said slowly, giving way at last, and letting him hold me
down with his small strong hands and slender iron wrist, "tell me,
if you will, how I came to do it. I'll sit here quite still, if only
you'll tell me. Am I really a murderess?"
Jack recoiled like one shot.
"YOU a murderess, my spotless Una!" he exclaimed, all aghast. "If
anyone else on earth but you had just asked such a thing in my
presence, I'd have leapt at the fellow's throat, and held him down
till I choked him!"
"But I did it!" I cried wildly. "I remember now, I did it. It all
comes back to me at last. I fired at him, just so. I aimed the
loaded pistol point-blank at his heart, I can hear the din in my
ears. I can see the flash at the muzzle. And then I flung down the
pistol—like this—at my feet: and darkness came on; and I forgot
everything. Why, Dr. Marten knew that much! I remember now, he told
me he'd formed a very strong impression, from the nature of the
wound and the position of the various objects on the floor of the
room, who it was that did it! He must have seen it was I who flung
down the pistol."
Jack gazed at me in suspense.
"He's a very good friend of yours, then," he murmured, "that Dr.
Marten. For he never said a word of all that at the inquest."
"But I must give myself up!" I cried, in a fever of penitence for
what that other woman who once was ME had done. "Oh, Jack, do let
me! It's hateful to know I'm a murderess and to go unpunished. It's
hateful to draw back from the fate I'd have imposed on another. I'd
like to be hanged for it. I want to be hanged. It's the only
possible way to appease one's conscience."
And yet, though I said it, I felt all the time it wasn't really I,
but that other strange girl who once lived at The Grange and looked
exactly like me. I remember it, to be sure; but it was in my Other
State: and, so far as my moral responsibility was concerned, my
Other State and I were two different people.
For I knew in my heart I couldn't commit a murder.
Jack rose without a word, and fetched me in some brandy.
"Drink this," he said calmly, in his authoritative medical tone;
"drink this before you say another sentence."
And, obedient to his order, I took it up and drank it.
Then he sat down beside me, and took my hand in his, and with very
gentle words began to reason and argue with me.
He was glad I'd struggled, he said, because that broke the first
force of the terrible shock for me. Action was always good for one
in any great crisis. It gave an outlet for the pent-up emotions, too
suddenly let loose with explosive force, and kept them from turning
inward and doing serious harm, as mine had done on that horrible
night of the accident. He called it always the accident, I noticed,
and never the murder. That gave me fresh hope. Could I really after
all have fired unintentionally? But no; when I came to look
inward,—to look backward on my past state,—I was conscious all the
time of some strong and fierce resentment smouldering deep in my
heart at the exact moment of firing. However it might have happened,
I was angry with the man with the long white beard: I fired at him
hastily, it is true, but with malice prepense and deliberate intent
to wound and hurt him.
Jack went on, however, undeterred, in a low and quiet voice,
soothing my hand with his as he spoke, and very kind and gentle. My
spirit rebelled at the thought that I could ever for one moment have
imagined him a murderer. I said so in one wild burst. Jack held my
hand, and still reasoned with me. I like a man's reasoning; it's so
calm and impartial. It seems to overcome one by its mere display of
strength. If I'd changed my mind once, Jack said, I might change it
again, when further evidence on the point was again forthcoming. I
mustn't give myself up to the police till I understood much more. If
I did, I would commit a very grave mistake. There were reasons that
had led to the firing of the shot. Very grave reasons too. Couldn't
I restore and reconstruct them, now I knew the last stage of the
terrible history? If possible, he'd rather I should arrive at them
by myself than that he should tell me.
I cast my mind back all in vain.
"No, Jack," I said trustfully. "I can't remember anything one bit
like that. I can remember forward, sometimes, but never backwards. I
can remember now how I flung down the pistol, and how the servants
burst in. But not a word, not an item, of what went before. That's
all a pure blank to me."
And then I went on to tell him in very brief outline how the first
thing I could recollect in all my life was the Australian scene with
the big blue-gum-trees; and how that had been recalled to me by the
picture at Jane's; and how one scene in that way had gradually
suggested another; and how I could often think ahead from a given
fact but never go back behind it and discover what led up to it.
Jack drew his hand over his chin and reflected silently.
"That's odd," he said, after a pause. "Yet very comprehensible. I
might almost have thought of that before: might have arrived at it
on general principles. Psychologically and physiologically it's
exactly what one would have expected from the nature of memory. And
yet it never occurred to me. Set up the train of thought in the
order in which it originally presented itself, and the links may
readily restore themselves in successive series. Try to trace it
backward in the inverse order, and the process is very much more
difficult and involved.—Well, we'll try things just so with you,
Una. We'll begin by reconstructing your first life as far as we can
from the very outset, with the aid of these stray hints of yours;
and then we'll see whether we can get you to remember all your past
up to the day of the accident more easily."
I gazed up at him with gratitude.
"Oh, Jack," I said, trembling, "in spite of this shock, I believe I
can do it now. I believe I can remember. The scales are falling from
my eyes. I'm becoming myself again. What you've said and what you've
shown me seems to have broken down a veil. I feel as if I could
reconstruct all now, when once the key's suggested to me."
He smiled at me encouragingly. Oh, how could I ever have doubted
"That's right, darling," he answered. "I should have expected as
much, indeed. For now for the very first time since the accident
you've got really at the other side of the great blank in your
I felt so happy, though I knew I was a murderess. I didn't mind now
whether I was hanged or not. To love Jack and be loved by him was
quite enough for me. When he called me "darling," I was in the
seventh heavens. It sounded so familiar. I knew he must have called
me so, often and often before, in the dim dead past that was just
beginning to recur to me.
THE STRANGER FROM THE SEA
I held his hand tight. It was so pleasant to know I could love him
now with a clear conscience, even if I had to give myself up to the
police to-morrow. And indeed, being a woman, I didn't really much
care whether they took me or not, if only I could love Jack, and
know Jack loved me.
"You must tell me everything—this minute—Jack," I said, clinging
to him like a child. "I can't bear this suspense. Begin telling me
at once. You'll do me more harm than good if you keep me waiting any
Jack took instinctively a medical view of the situation.
"So I think, my child," he said, looking lovingly at me. "Your
nerves are on the rack, and will be the better for unstringing. Oh,
Una, it's such a comfort that you know at last who I am! It's such a
comfort that I'm able to talk to you to-day just as we two used to
talk four years ago in Devonshire!"
"Did I love you then, Jack?" I whispered, nestling still closer to
him, in spite of my horror. Or rather, my very horror made me feel
more acutely than ever the need for protection. I was no longer
alone in the world. I had a man to support me.
"You told me so, darling," he answered, smoothing my hair with his
hand. "Have you forgotten all about it? Doesn't even that come back?
Can't you remember it now, when I've told you who I am and how it
I shook my head.
"All cloudy still," I replied, vaguely. "Some dim sense of
familiarity, perhaps,—as when people say they have a feeling of
having lived all this over somewhere else before,—but nothing more
certain, nothing more definite."
"Then I must begin at the beginning," Jack answered, bracing himself
for his hard task, "and reconstruct your whole life for you, as far
as I know it, from your very childhood. I'm particularly anxious you
should not merely be TOLD what took place, but should remember the
past. There are gaps in my own knowledge I want you to eke out.
There are places I want you to help me myself over. And besides,
it'll be more satisfactory to yourself to remember than to be told
I leaned back, almost exhausted. Incredible as it may seem to you,
in spite of that awful photograph, I couldn't really believe even so
I had killed my father. And yet I knew very well now that Jack, at
least, hadn't done it. That was almost enough. But not quite. My
head swam round in terror. I waited and longed for Jack to explain
the whole thing to me.
"You remember," he said, watching me close, "that when you lived as
a very little girl in Australia you had a papa who seems different
to you still from the papa in your later childish memories?"
"I remember it very well," I replied. "It came back to me on the
Sarmatian. I think of him always now as the papa in the loose white
linen coat. The more I dwell on him, the more does he come out to me
as a different man from the other one—the father…I shot at The
Grange, at Woodbury. The father that lives with me in that
"He WAS a different man," Jack answered, with a sudden burst, as if
he knew all my story. "Una, I may as well relieve your mind all at
once on that formidable point. You shot that man"—he pointed to the
white-bearded person in the photograph,—"but it was not parricide:
it was not even murder. It was under grave provocation…in more
than self-defence…and he was NOT your father."
"Not my father!" I cried, clasping my hands and leaning forward in
my profound suspense. "But I killed him all the same! Oh, Jack, how
"You must quiet yourself, my child," he said, still soothing me
automatically. "I want your aid in this matter. You must listen to
me calmly, and bring your mind to bear on all I say to you."
Then he began with a regular history of my early life, which came
back to me as fast as he spoke, scene by scene and year by year, in
long and familiar succession. I remembered everything, sometimes
only when he suggested it; but sometimes also, before he said the
words, my memory outran his tongue, and I put in a recollection or
two with my own tongue as they recurred to me under the stimulus of
this new birth of my dead nature. I recalled my early days in the
far bush in Australia; my journey home to England on the big steamer
with mamma; the way we travelled about for years from place to place
on the Continent. I remembered how I had been strictly enjoined,
too, never to speak of baby; and how my father used to watch my
mother just as closely as he watched me, always afraid, as it
appeared to me, she should make some verbal slip or let out some
great secret in an unguarded moment. He seemed relieved, I
recollected now, when my poor mother died: he grew less strict with
me then, but as far as I could judge, though he was careful of my
health, he never really loved me.
Then Jack reminded me further of other scenes that came much later
in my forgotten life. He reminded me of my trip to Torquay, where I
first met him: and all at once the whole history of my old visits to
the Moores came back like a flood to me. The memory seemed to
inundate and overwhelm my brain. They were the happiest time of all
life, those delightful visits, when I met Jack and fell in love with
him, and half confided my love to my Cousin Minnie. Strange to say,
though at Torquay itself I'd forgotten it all, in that little
Canadian house, with Jack by my side to recall it, it rushed back
like a wave upon me. I'd fallen in love with Jack without my
father's knowledge or consent; and I knew very well my father would
never allow me to marry him. He had ideas of his own, my father,
about the sort of person I ought to marry: and I half suspected in
my heart of hearts he meant if possible always to keep me at home
single to take care of him and look after him. I didn't know, as
yet, he had sufficient reasons of his own for desiring me to remain
for ever unmarried.
I remembered, too, that I never really loved my father. His nature
was hard, cold, reserved, unsympathetic. I only feared and obeyed
him. At times, my own strong character came out, I remembered, and I
defied him to his face, defied him openly. Then there were scenes in
the house, dreadful scenes, too hateful to dwell upon: and the
servants came up to my room at the end and comforted me.
So, step by step, Jack reminded me of everything in my own past
life, up to the very night of the murder, from which my Second State
dated. I'd come back from Torquay a week or two before, very full
indeed of Jack, and determined at all costs, sooner or later, to
marry him. But though I had kept all quiet, papa had suspected my
liking on the day of the Berry Pomeroy athletics, and had forbidden
me to see Jack, or to write to him, or to have anything further to
say to him. He was determined, he told me, whoever I married, I
shouldn't at least marry a beggarly doctor. All that I remembered;
and also how, in spite of the prohibition, I wrote letters to Jack,
but could receive none in return—lest my father should see them.
And still, the central mystery of the murder was no nearer solution.
I held my breath in terror. Had I really any sort of justification
in killing him?
Dimly and instinctively, as Jack went on, a faint sense of
resentment and righteous indignation against the man with the white
beard rose up vaguely in my mind by slow degrees. I knew I had been
angry with him, I knew I had defied him, but how or why as yet I
Then Jack suddenly paused, and began in a different voice a new part
of his tale. It was nothing I remembered or could possibly remember,
he said; but it was necessary to the comprehension of what came
after, and would help me to recall it. About a week after I left
Torquay, it seemed, Jack was in his consulting-room at Babbicombe
one day, having just returned from a very long bicycle ride—for he
was a first-rate cyclist,—when the servant announced a new
patient; and a very worn-out old man came in to visit him.
The man had a ragged grey beard and scanty white hair; he was clad
in poor clothes, and had tramped on foot all the way from London to
Babbicombe, where Jack used to practice. But Jack saw at once under
this rough exterior he had the voice and address of a cultivated
gentleman, though he was so broken down by want and long suffering
and exposure and illness that he looked like a beggar just let loose
from the workhouse.
I held my breath as Jack showed me the poor old man's photograph. It
was a portrait taken after death—for Jack attended him to the end
through a fatal illness;—and it showed a face thin and worn, and
much lined by unspeakable hardships. But I burst out crying at once
the very moment I looked at it. For a second or two, I couldn't say
why: I suppose it was instinct. Blood is thicker than water, they
tell us; and I have the intuition of kindred very strong in me, I
believe. But at any rate, I cried silently, with big hot tears,
while I looked at that dead face of silent suffering, as I never had
cried over the photograph of the respectable-looking man who lay
dead on the floor of the library, and whom I was always taught to
consider my father. Then it came back to me, why… I gazed at it
and grew faint. I clutched Jack's arm for support. I knew what it
meant now. The poor worn old man who lay dead on the bed with that
look of mute agony on his features—was my first papa: the papa in
the loose white linen coat: the one I remembered with childlike love
and trustfulness in my earliest babyish Australian recollections!
I couldn't mistake the face. It was burnt into my brain now. This
was he, though much older and sadder, and more scarred and lined by
age and weather. It was my very first papa. My own papa. I cried
silently still. I couldn't bear to look at it. Then the real truth
broke upon me once more. This, and this alone, was in very deed my
one real father!
I seized the faded photograph and pressed it to my lips.
"Oh, I know him!" I cried wildly. "It's my father! My father!"
Some minutes passed before Jack could go on with his story. This
rush of emotions was too much for me for a while. I could hardly
hear him or attend to him, so deeply did it stir me.
At last I calmed down, still holding that pathetic photograph on the
table before me.
"Tell me all about him," I murmured, sobbing. "For, Jack, I remember
now, he was so good and kind, and I loved him—I loved him."
Jack went on with his story, trying to soothe me and reassure me.
The old man introduced himself by very cautious degrees as a person
in want, not so much of money, though of that to be sure he had
none, as of kindness and sympathy in a very great sorrow. He was a
shipwrecked mariner, in a sense: shipwrecked on the sea of Life and
on the open Pacific as well. But once he had been a clergyman, and a
man of education, position, reputation, fortune.
Gradually as he went on Jack began to grasp at the truth of this
curious tale. The worn and battered stranger had but lately landed
in London from a sailing vessel which had brought him over from a
remote Pacific islet: not a tropical islet of the kind with whose
palms and parrots we are all so familiar, but a cold and snowy rock,
away off far south, among the frosts and icebergs, near the
Antarctic continent. There for twenty long years that unhappy man
had lived by himself a solitary life.
I started at the sound.
"For twenty years!" I exclaimed. "Oh, Jack, you must be wrong; for
how could that be? I was only eighteen when all this happened. How
could my real father have been twenty years away from me, when I was
only eighteen, and I remember him so perfectly?"
Jack looked at me and shook his head.
"You've much to learn yet, Una," he answered. "The story's a long
one. You were NOT eighteen but twenty-two at the time. You've been
deliberately misled as to your own age all along. You developed
late, and were always short for your real years, not tall and
precocious as we all of us imagined. But you were four years older
than Mr. Callingham pretended. You're twenty-six now, not
twenty-two as you think. Wait, and in time you'll hear all about
He went on with his story. I listened, spell-bound. The unhappy
man explained to Jack how he had been wrecked on the voyage, and
escaped on a raft with one other passenger: how they had drifted far
south, before waves and current, till they were cast at last on this
wretched island: how they remained there for a month or two, picking
up a precarious living on roots and berries and eggs of sea-birds:
and how at last, one day, he had come back from hunting limpets and
sea-urchins on the shore of a lonely bay—to find, to his
amazement, his companion gone, and himself left alone on that
desolate island. His fellow-castaway, he knew then, had deceived and
There was no room, indeed, to doubt the treachery of the wretched
being who had so basely treated him. As he looked, a ship under full
sail stood away to northward. In vain the unhappy man made wild
signals from the shore with his tattered garments. No notice was
taken of them. His companion must deliberately have suppressed the
other's existence, and pretended to be alone by himself on the
"And his name?" Jack asked of the poor old man, horrified.
The stranger answered without a moment's pause:
"His name, if you want it—was Vivian Callingham."
"And yours?" Jack continued, as soon as he could recover from his
first shock of horror.
"And mine," the poor castaway replied, "is Richard Wharton."
As Jack told me those words, another strange thrill ran through me.
"Richard Wharton was the name of mamma's first husband. Then I'm not
a Callingham at all!" I cried, unable to take it all in at first in
its full complexity. "I'm really a Wharton!"
Jack nodded his head in assent.
"Yes, you're really a Wharton," he said. "You're the baby that died,
as we all were told. Your true Christian name's Mary. But, Una, you
were always Una to all of us in England; and though the real Una
Callingham died when you were a little girl of three or four years
old, you'll be Una always now to Elsie and me. We can't think of you
as other than we've always called you."
Then he went on to explain to me how the stranger had landed in
London, alone and friendless, twenty years later, from a passing
Australian merchant vessel which had picked him up on the island.
All those years he had waited, and fed himself on eggs of penguins.
He landed by himself, the crew having given him a suit of old
clothes, and subscribed to find him in immediate necessaries. He
began to inquire cautiously in London about his wife and family. At
first, he could learn little or nothing; for nobody remembered him,
and he feared to ask too openly, a sort of Enoch Arden terror
restraining him from proclaiming his personality till he knew
exactly what had happened in his long absence. But bit by bit, he
found out at last that his wife had married again, and was now long
dead: and that the man she had married was Vivian Callingham, his
own treacherous companion on the Crozet Islands. As soon as he
learned that, the full depth of the man's guilt burst upon him like
a thunderbolt. Richard Wharton understood now why Vivian Callingham
had left him alone on those desert rocks, and sailed away in the
ship without telling the captain of his fellow-castaway's plight. He
saw the whole vile plot the man had concocted at once, and the steps
he had taken to carry it into execution.
Vivian Callingham, whom I falsely thought my father, had gone back
to Australia with pretended news of Richard Wharton's death. He had
sought my widowed mother in her own home up country, and told her a
lying tale of his devotion to her husband in his dying moments on
that remote ocean speck in the far Southern Pacific. By this story
he ingratiated himself. He knew she was rich: he knew she was worth
marrying: and to marry her, he had left my own real father, Richard
Wharton, to starve and languish for twenty years among rocks and
sea-fowl on a lonely island!
My blood ran cold at such a tale of deadly treachery. I remembered
now to have heard some small part of it before. But much of it, as
Jack told it to me, was quite new and unexpected. No wonder I had
turned in horror that night from the man I long believed to be my
own father, when I learned by what vile and cruelly treacherous
means he had succeeded in imposing his supposed relationship upon
me! But still, all this brought me no nearer the real question of
questions—why did I shoot him?
THE PLOT UNRAVELS ITSELF
As Jack went on unfolding that strange tale of fraud and heartless
wrong, my interest every moment grew more and more absorbing. But I
can't recall it now exactly as Jack told me it. I can only give you
the substance of that terrible story.
When Richard Wharton first learned of his wife's second marriage
during his own lifetime to that wicked wretch who had ousted and
supplanted him, he believed also, on the strength of Vivian
Callingham's pretences, that his own daughter had died in her
babyhood in Australia. He fancied, therefore, that no person of his
kin remained alive at all, and that he might proceed to denounce and
punish Vivian Callingham. With that object in view, he tramped down
all the way from London to Torquay, to make himself known to his
wife's relations, the Moores, and to their cousin, Courtenay Ivor of
Babbicombe—my Jack, as I called him. For various reasons of his
own, he called first on Jack, and proceeded to detail to him this
terrible family story.
At first hearing, Jack could hardly believe such a tale was true—of
his Una's father, as he still thought Vivian Callingham. But a
strange chance happened to reveal a still further complication. It
came out in this way. I had given Jack a recent photograph of myself
in fancy dress, which hung up over his mantelpiece. As the
weather-worn visitor's eye fell on the picture, he started and grew
"Why, that's her!" he cried with a sudden gasp. "That's my
Well, naturally enough Jack thought, to begin with, this was a mere
mistake on his strange visitor's part.
"That's her half-sister," he said, "Una Callingham—your wife's
child by her second marriage. She may be like her, no doubt, as
half-sisters often are. But Mary Wharton, I know, died some eighteen
years ago or so, when Una was quite a baby, I believe. I've heard
all about it, because, don't you see, I'm engaged to Una."
The poor wreck of a clergyman, however, shook his head with profound
conviction. He knew better than that.
"Oh no," he said decisively: "that's my child, Mary Wharton. Even
after all these years, I couldn't possibly be mistaken. Blood is
thicker than water: I'd know her among ten thousand. She'd be just
that age now, too. I see the creature's vile plot. His daughter died
young, and he's palmed off my Mary as his own child, to keep her
money in his hands. But never mind the money. Thank Heaven, she's
alive! That's her! That's my Mary!"
The plot seemed too diabolical and too improbable for anybody to
believe. Jack could hardly think it possible when his new friend
told him. But the stranger persisted so—it's hard for me even to
think of him as quite really my father—that Jack at last brought
out two or three earlier photographs I'd given him some time before;
and his visitor recognised them at once, in all their stages, as his
own daughter. This roused Jack's curiosity. He determined to hunt
the matter up with his unknown connection. And he hunted it up
thenceforward with deliberate care, till he proved every word of it.
Meanwhile, the poor broken-down man, worn out with his long tramp
and his terrible emotions, fell ill almost at once, in Jack's own
house, and became rapidly so feeble that Jack dared not question him
further. The return to civilisation was more fatal than his long
solitary banishment. At the end of a week he died, leaving on Jack's
mind a profound conviction that all he had said was true, and that I
was really Richard Wharton's daughter, not Vivian Callingham's.
"For a week or two I made inquiries, Una," Jack said to me as we sat
there,—"inquiries which I won't detail to you in full just now, but
which gradually showed me the truth of the poor soul's belief. What
you yourself told me just now chimes in exactly with what I
discovered elsewhere, by inquiry and by letters from Australia. The
baby that died was the real Una Callingham. Shortly after its death,
your stepfather and your mother left the colony. All your real
father's money had been bequeathed to his child: and your mother's
also was settled on you. Mr. Callingham saw that if your mother
died, and you lived and married, he himself would be deprived of the
fortune for which he had so wickedly plotted. So he made up another
plot even more extraordinary and more diabolical still than the
first. He decided to pretend it was Mary Wharton that died, and to
palm you off on the world as his own child, Una Callingham. For if
Mary Wharton died, the property at once became absolutely your
mother's, and she could will it away to her husband or anyone else
she chose to."
"But baby was so much younger than I!" I cried, going back on my
recollections once more. "How could he ever manage to make the dates
come right again?"
"Quite true," Jack answered; "the baby was younger than you. But
your step-father—I've no other name by which I can call him—made a
clever plan to set that straight. He concealed from the people in
Australia which child had been ill, and he entered her death as Mary
Wharton. Then, to cover the falsification, he left Melbourne at
once, and travelled about for some years on the Continent in
out-of-the-way places till all had been forgotten. You went forth
upon the world as Una Callingham, with your true personality as Mary
Wharton all obscured even in your own memory. Fortunately for your
false father's plot, you were small for your age, and developed
slowly: he gave out, on the contrary, that you were big for your
years and had outgrown yourself, Australian-wise, both in wisdom and
"But my mother!" I exclaimed, appalled. "How could she ever consent
to such a wicked deception?"
"Mr. Callingham had your mother completely under his thumb," Jack
answered with promptitude. "She couldn't call her soul her own, your
poor mother—so I've heard: he cajoled her and terrified her till
she didn't dare to oppose him. Poor shrinking creature, she was
afraid of her life to do anything except as he bade her. He must
have persuaded her first to acquiesce passively in this hateful
plot, and then must have terrified her afterwards into full
compliance by threats of exposure."
"He was a very unhappy man himself," I put in, casting back. "His
money did him no good. I can remember now how gloomy and moody he
was often, at The Grange."
"Quite true," Jack replied. "He lived in perpetual fear of your real
father's return, or of some other breakdown to his complicated
system of successive deceptions. He never had a happy minute in his
whole life, I believe. Blind terrors surrounded him. He was afraid
of everything, and afraid of everybody. Only his scientific work
seemed ever to give him any relief. There, he became a free man. He
threw himself into that, heart and soul, on purpose, I fancy,
because it absorbed him while he was at it, and prevented him for
the time being from thinking of his position."
"And how did you find it all out?" I asked eagerly, anxious to get
on to the end.
"Well, that's long to tell," Jack replied. "Too long for one
sitting. I won't trouble you with it now. Discrepancies in facts and
dates, and inquiries among servants both in England and in Victoria,
first put me upon the track. But I said nothing at the time of my
suspicions to anyone. I waited till I could appeal to the man's own
conscience with success, as I hoped. And then, besides, I hardly
knew how to act for the best. I wanted to marry you; and therefore,
as far as was consistent with justice and honour, I wished to spare
your supposed father a complete exposure."
"But why didn't you tell the police?" I asked.
"Because I had really nothing definite in any way to go upon.
Realise the position to yourself, and you'll see how difficult it
was for me. Mr. Callingham suspected I was paying you attentions.
Clearly, under those circumstances, it was to my obvious interest
that you should get possession of all his property. Any claims I
might make for you would, therefore, be naturally regarded with
suspicion. The shipwrecked man had told nobody but myself. I hadn't
even an affidavit, a death-bed statement. All rested upon his word,
and upon mine as retailing it. He was dead, and there was nothing
but my narrative for what he told me. The story itself was too
improbable to be believed by the police on such dubious evidence. I
didn't even care to try. I wanted to make your step-father confess:
and I waited for that till I could compel confession."
MY MEMORY RETURNS
"At last my chance came," Jack went on. "I'd found out almost
everything; not, of course, exactly by way of legal proof, but to my
own entire satisfaction: and I determined to lay the matter
definitely at once before Mr. Callingham. So I took a holiday for a
fortnight, to go bicycling in the Midlands I told my patients; and I
fixed my head-quarters at Wrode, which, as you probably remember, is
twenty miles off from Woodbury.
"It was important for my scheme I should catch Mr. Callingham alone.
I had no idea of entrapping him. I wanted to work upon his
conscience and induce him to confess. My object was rather to move
him to remorse and restitution than to terrify or surprise him.
"So on the day of the accident—call it murder, if you will—I rode
over on my machine, unannounced, to The Grange to see him. You knew
where I was staying, you recollect—"
At the words, a burst of memory came suddenly over me.
"Oh yes!" I cried. "I remember. It was at the Wilsons', at Wrode. I
wrote over there to tell you we were going to dine alone at six that
evening, as papa had got his electric apparatus home from his
instrument-maker, and was anxious to try his experiments early.
You'd written to me privately—a boy brought the note—that you
wanted to have an hour's talk alone with papa. I thought it was
about ME, and I was, oh, ever so nervous!"
For it all came back to me now, as clear as yesterday.
Jack looked at me hard.
"I'm glad you remember that, dear," he said. "Now, Una, do try to
remember all you can as I go along with my story… Well, I rode
over alone, never telling anybody at Wrode where I was going, nor
giving your step-father any reason of any sort to expect me. I
trusted entirely to finding him busy with his new invention. When I
reached The Grange, I came up the drive unperceived, and looking in
at the library window, saw your father alone there. He was pottering
over his chemicals. That gave me the clue. I left my bicycle under
the window, tilted up against the wall, and walked in without
ringing, going straight to the library. Nobody saw me come: nobody
saw me return, except one old lady on the road, who seemed to have
forgotten all about it by the time of the inquest."
(I nodded and gave a start. I knew that must have been Aunt Emma.)
"Except yourself, Una, no human soul on earth ever seemed to suspect
me. And that wasn't odd; for you and your father, and perhaps Minnie
Moore, were the only people in the world who ever knew I was in love
with you or cared for you in any way."
"Go on," I said, breathless. "And you went into the library."
"I went into the library," Jack continued, "where I found your
father, just returned from enjoying his cigar on the lawn. He was
alone in the room—"
"No, no!" I cried eagerly, putting in my share now; for I had a part
in the history. "He WASN'T alone, Jack, though you thought him so at
the time. I remember all, at last. It comes back to me like a flash.
Oh, heavens, how it comes back to me! Jack, Jack, I remember to-day
every word, every syllable of it!"
He gazed at me in surprise.
"Then tell me yourself, Una!" he exclaimed. "How did you come to be
there? For I knew you were there at last; but till you fired the
pistol, I hadn't the faintest idea you had heard or seen anything.
Tell me all about it, quick! There comes in MY mystery."
In one wild rush of thought the whole picture rose up like a vision
"Why, Jack," I cried, "there was a screen, a little screen in the
alcove! You remember the alcove at the west end of the room. It was
so small a screen, you'd hardly have thought it could hide me; but
it did—it did—and all, too, by accident. I'd gone in there after
dinner, not much thinking where I went, and was seated on the floor
by the little alcove window, reading a book by the twilight. It was
a book papa told me I wasn't to read, and I took it trembling from
the shelves, and was afraid he'd scold me—for you know how stern he
was. And I never was allowed to go alone into the library. But I got
interested in my book, and went on reading. So when he came in, I
went on sitting there very still, with the book hidden under my
skirt, for fear he should scold me. I thought perhaps before long
papa'd go out for a second, to get some plates for his photography
or something, and then I could slip away and never be noticed. The
big window towards the garden was open, you remember, and I meant to
jump out of it—as you did afterwards. It wasn't very high; and
though the book was only The Vicar of Wakefield, he'd forbidden me
to read it, and I was dreadfully afraid of him."
"Then you were there all the time?" Jack cried interrogatively. "And
you heard our conversation—our whole conversation?"
"I was there all the time, Jack," I cried, in a fever of exaltation:
"and I heard every word of it! It comes back to me now with a
vividness like yesterday. I see the room before my eyes. I remember
every syllable: I could repeat every sentence of it."
Jack drew a deep sigh of intense relief.
"Thank God for that!" he exclaimed, with profound gratitude. "Then
I'm saved, and you're saved. We can both understand one another in
that case. We know how it all happened!"
"Perfectly," I answered. "I know all now. As I sat there and
cowered, I heard a knock at the door, and before papa could answer,
you entered hastily. Papa looked round, I could hear, and saw who it
was in a second.
"'Oh, it's you!' he said, coldly. 'It's you, Dr. Ivor. And pray,
sir, what do you want here this evening?'"
"Go on!" Jack cried, intensely relieved, I could feel. "Let me see
how much more you can remember, Una."
"So you shut the door softly and said:
"'Yes, it's I, Mr. Callingham,'" I continued all aglow, and looking
into his eyes for confirmation. "'And I've come to tell you a fact
that may surprise you. Prepare for strange news. Richard Wharton has
returned to England!'
"I knew Richard Wharton was mamma's first husband, who was dead
before I was born, as I'd always been told: and I sat there aghast
at the news: it was so sudden, so crushing. I'd heard he'd been
wrecked, and I thought he'd come to life again; but as yet I didn't
suspect what was all the real meaning of it.
"But papa drew back, I could hear, in a perfect frenzy of rage,
astonishment, and terror.
"'Richard Wharton!' he hissed out between his teeth, springing away
like one stung. 'Richard Wharton come back! You liar! You sneak!
He's dead this twenty years! You're trying to frighten me.'
"I never meant to overhear your conversation. But at that, it was so
strange, I drew back and cowered even closer. I was afraid of papa's
voice. I was afraid of his rage. He spoke just like a man who was
ready to murder you.
"Then you began to talk with papa about strange things that
astonished me—strange things that I only half understood just then,
but that by the light of what you've told me to-day I quite
understand now—the history of my real father.
"'I'm no liar,' you answered. 'Richard Wharton has come back. And by
the aid of what he's disclosed, I know the whole truth. The girl you
call your daughter, and whose money you've stolen, is not yours at
all. She's Richard Wharton's daughter Mary!'
"Papa staggered back a pace or two, and came quite close to the
screen. I cowered behind it in alarm. I could see he was terrified.
For a minute or two you talked with him, and urged him to confess.
Bit by bit, as you went on, he recovered his nerve, and began to
bluster. He didn't deny what you said: he saw it was no use: he just
sneered and prevaricated.
"As I listened to his words, I saw he admitted it all. A great
horror came over me. Then my life was one long lie! He was never my
father. He had concocted a vile plot. He had held me in this slavery
so many years to suit his own purposes. He had crushed my mother to
death, and robbed me of my birthright. Even before that night, I
never loved him. I thought it very wicked of me, but I never could
love him. As he spoke to you and grew cynical, I began to loathe and
despise him. I can't tell you how great a comfort it was to me to
know—to hear from his own lips I was not that man's daughter.
"At last, after many recriminations, he looked across at you, and
said, half laughing, for he was quite himself again by that time:
"'This is all very fine, Courtenay Ivor—all very fine in its way;
but how are you going to prove it? that's the real question. Do you
think any jury in England will believe, on your unsupported oath,
such a cock-and-bull story? Do you think, even if Richard Wharton's
come back, and you've got him on your side, I can't cross-examine
all the life out of his body?'
"At that you said gravely—wanting to touch his conscience, I
"'Richard Wharton's come back, but you can't cross-examine him. For
Richard Wharton died some six or eight weeks since at my cottage at
Babbicombe, after revealing to me all this vile plot against himself
and his daughter.'
"Then papa drew back with a loud laugh—a hateful laugh like a
demon's. I can't help calling him papa still, though it pains me
even to think of him. That loud laugh rings still in my ears to this
day. It was horrible, diabolical, like a wild beast's in triumph.
"'You fool!' he said, with a sneer. 'And you come here to tell me
that! You infernal idiot! You come here to put yourself in my power
like this! Courtenay Ivor, I always knew you were an ass, but I
didn't ever know you were quite such a born idiot of a fellow as
that. Hold back there, you image!' With a rapid dart, before you
could see what he was doing, he passed a wire round your body and
thrust two knobs into your hands. 'You're in my power now!' he
exclaimed. 'You can't move or stir!'
"I saw at once what he'd done. He'd pinned you to the spot with the
handles of his powerful electric apparatus. It was so strong that it
would hold one riveted to the spot in pain. You couldn't let go. You
could hardly even speak or cry aloud for help. He had pinned you
down irresistibly. I thought he meant to murder you.
"Yet I was too terrified, even so, to scream aloud for the servants.
I only crouched there, rooted, and wondered what next would happen.
"He went across to the door and turned the key in it. Then he opened
the cabinet and took out some things there. It was growing quite
dusk, and I could hardly see them. He returned with them where you
stood, struggling in vain to set yourself free. His voice was as
hard as adamant now. He spoke slowly and distinctly, in a voice like
a fiend's. Oh, Jack, no wonder that scene took away my reason!"
"And you can remember what he said next, Una?" Jack asked, following
"Yes, I can remember what he said next," I went on. "He stood over
you threateningly. I could see then the thing he held in his right
hand was a loaded revolver. In his left was a bottle, a small
"'If you stir, I'll shoot you,' he said; 'I'll shoot you like a dog!
You fool, you've sealed your own fate! What an idiot to let me know
Richard Wharton's dead! Now, hear your fate! Nobody saw you come
into this house to-night. Nobody shall see you leave. Look here,
sir, at this bottle. It's chloroform: do you understand?
Chloroform—chloroform—chloroform! I shall hold it to your
nose—so. I shall stifle you quietly—no blood, no fuss, no nasty
mess of any sort. And when I'm done,—do you see these flasks?—I
can reduce your damned carcase to a pound of ashes with chemicals in
half-an-hour! You've found out too much. But you've mistaken your
man! Courtenay Ivor, say your prayers and commend your soul to the
devil! You've driven me to bay, and I give you no quarter!'"
THE FATAL SHOT
"Thank God, Una," Jack cried, "you remember it now even better than
"Remember it!" I answered, holding my brow with my hands to keep the
flood of thought from bursting it to fragments. "Remember it! Why,
it comes back to me like waves of fire and burns me. I remember
every word, every act, every gesture. I lifted my head slowly, Jack,
and looked over the screen at him. In the twilight, I saw him
there—the man I called my father—holding the bottle to your face,
that wicked bottle of chloroform, with his revolver in one hand, and
a calm smile like a fiend's playing hatefully and cruelly round that
grave-looking mouth of his. I never saw any man look so ghastly in
my life. I was rooted to the spot with awe and terror. I dared
hardly cry out or move. Yet I knew this was murder. He would kill
you! He would kill you! He was trying to poison you before my very
eyes. Oh, heaven, how I hated him! He was no father of mine. He had
never been my father. And he was murdering the man I loved best in
the world. For I loved you better than life, Jack! Oh, the strain of
it was terrible! I see it all now. I live it all over again. With
one wild bound I leapt forward, and, hardly knowing what I did, I
pressed the button, turned off the current from the battery, and
rushed wildly upon him. I suppose the knob I pressed not only
released you, but set the photographic machine at work automatically.
But I didn't know it then. At any rate, I remember now, in the
seconds that followed, flash came fast after flash. There was a
sudden illumination. The room was lighter than day. It grew alternately
bright as noon and then dark as pitch again by contrast. And by the
light of the flashes, I saw you, half-dazed with the chloroform,
standing helpless there.
"I rushed up and caught the man's arm. He was never my father! He
dropped the bottle and struggled hard for possession of the pistol.
First he pointed it at you, then at me, then at you again. He meant
to shoot you. I was afraid it would go off. With a terrible effort I
twisted his wrist awry, in the mad force of passion, and wrenched
the revolver away from him. He jumped at my throat, still silent,
but fierce like a tiger at bay. I eluded him, and sprang back. Then
I remember no more, except that I stood with the pistol pointed at
him. Next, came a flash, a loud roar. And then, in a moment, the
Picture. He lay dead on the floor in his blood. And my Second State
began. And from that day, for months, I was like a little child
Jack looked at me as I paused.
"And then?" he went on in a very low voice, half prompting me.
"And then all I can remember," I said, "is how you got out of the
window. But I didn't know when I saw you, it was you or anyone else.
That was my Second State then. The shot seemed to end all. What
comes next is quite different. It belongs to the new world. There,
my life stopped dead short and began all over again."
There was a moments silence. Jack was the first to break it.
"And now will you give yourself up to the police, Una?" he asked me
The question brought me back to the present again with a bound.
"Oh! what ought I to do?" I cried, wringing my hands. "I don't quite
know all yet. Jack, why did you run away that last moment and leave
Jack took my hand very seriously.
"Una, my child," he said, fixing his eyes on mine, "I hardly know
whether I can ever make you understand all that. I must ask you at
first at least just simply to believe me. I must ask you to trust me
and to accept my account. When you rushed upon me as I stood there,
all entangled in that hateful apparatus, and unable to move, I
didn't know where you had been; I didn't know how you'd come there.
But I felt sure you must have heard at least your false father's
last words—that he'd stifle me with the chloroform and burn my
body up afterwards to ashes with his chemicals. You seized the
pistol before I could quite recover from the effects of the fumes.
He lay dead at my feet before I realised what was happening.
"Then, in a moment, as I looked at you, I took it all in, like a
flash of lightning. I saw how impossible it would be ever to
convince anybody else of the truth of our story. I saw if we both
told the truth, no one would ever believe us. There was no time then
to reflect, no time to hesitate. I had to make up my mind at once to
a plan of action, and to carry it out without a second's delay. In
one burst of inspiration, I saw that to stop would be to seal both
our fates. I didn't mind so much for myself; that was nothing,
nothing: but for your sake I felt I must dare and risk everything.
Then I turned round and looked at you. I saw at one glance the
horror of the moment had rendered you speechless and almost
senseless. The right plan came to me at once as if by magic. 'Una,'
I cried, 'stand back! Wait till the servants come!' For I knew the
report of the revolver would soon bring them up to the library. Then
I waited myself. As they reached the door, and forced it open, I
jumped up to the window. Just outside, my bicycle stood propped
against the wall. I let them purposely catch just a glimpse of my
back—an unfamiliar figure. They saw the pistol on the floor,—Mr.
Callingham dead—you, startled and horrified—a man unknown,
escaping in hot haste from the window. I risked my own life, so as
to save your name and honour. I let them see me escape, so as to
exonerate you from suspicion. If they hanged me, what matter? Then I
leapt down in a hurry, jumped lightly on my machine, and rode off
like the wind down the avenue to the high-road. For a second or two
they waited to look at you and your father. That second or two saved
us. By the time they'd come out to look, I was away down the
grounds, past the turn of the avenue, and well on for the high-road.
They'd seen a glimpse of the murderer, escaping by the window. They
would never suspect YOU. You were saved, and I was happy."
"And for the same reason even now," I said, "you wouldn't tell the
"Let sleeping dogs lie," Jack answered, in the same words as Dr.
Marten. "Why rake up this whole matter? It's finished for ever now,
and nobody but yourself is ever likely to reopen it. If we both told
our tale, we might run a great risk of being seriously misinterpreted.
You know it's true; so do I: but who else would believe us? No man's
bound to criminate himself. You shot him to save my life, at the very
moment when you first learned all his cruelty and his vileness. The
rest of the world could never be made to understand all that. They'd
say to the end, as it looks on the surface, 'She shot her father to
save her lover.'"
"You're right," I said slowly. "I shall let this thing rest. But the
photographs, Jack—the apparatus—the affair of the inquest?"
"That was all very simple," Jack answered. "For a day or two, of
course, I was in a frantic state of mind for fear you should be
suspected, or the revolver should betray you. But though I saw the
electric sparks, of course, I knew nothing about the photographs. I
wasn't even aware that the apparatus took negatives automatically.
And I was so full of the terrible reports in the newspapers about
your sudden loss of health, that I could think of nothing
else—least of all my own safety. As good luck would have it,
however, the clergyman at Wrode, who knew the Wilsons, happened to
speak to me of the murder—all England called it the murder and
talked of nothing else for at least a fortnight,—and in the course
of conversation he mentioned this apparatus of Mr. Callingham's
construction. 'What a pity,' he said, 'there didn't happen to be one
of them in the library at the time! If it was focussed towards the
persons, and had been set on by the victim, it would have
photographed the whole scene the murder, the murderer.'
"That hint revealed much to me. As he spoke, I remembered suddenly
about those mysterious flashes when you burst all at once on my
sight from behind the screen. Till that moment, I thought of them
only as some result of your too suddenly turning off the electric
current. But then, it came home to me in a second that Mr.
Callingham must have set out his apparatus all ready for
experimenting—that the electric apparatus was there to put it in
working order. The button you turned must not only have stopped the
current that nailed me writhing to the spot: it must also have set
working the automatic photographic camera!
"That thought, as you may imagine, filled me with speechless alarm:
for I remembered then that one of the flashes broke upon us at the
exact moment when you fired the pistol. Such a possibility was
horrible to contemplate. The photographs by themselves could give no
clue to our conversation or to the events that compelled you, almost
against your own will, to fire that fatal shot. If they were found
by the police, all would be up with both of us. They might hang ME
if they liked: except for Elsie's sake, I didn't mind much about
that: but for your safety, come what might, I felt I must manage to
get hold of them or to destroy them.
"Were the negatives already in the hands of the police? That was now
the great question. I read the reports diligently, with all their
descriptions of the room, and noticed that while the table, the
alcove, the screen, the box, the electrical apparatus, were all
carefully mentioned, not a word was said anywhere about the
possession of the negatives. Reasoning further upon the description
of the supposed murderer as given by the servants, and placarded
broadcast in every town in England, I came to the conclusion that
the police couldn't yet have discovered the existence of these
negatives: for some of them must surely have photographed my face,
however little in focus; while the printed descriptions mentioned
only the man's back, as the servants saw him escaping from the
window. The papers said the room was being kept closed till the
inquest, for inspection in due time by the coroner's jury. I made up
my mind at once. When the room was opened for the jurors to view it,
I must get in there and carry them off, if they caught me in the
"It was no use trying before the jury had seen the room. But as soon
as that was all over, I judged the strictness of the watch upon the
premises would be relaxed, and the windows would probably be opened
a little to air the place. So on the morning of the inquest, I told
the Wilsons casually I'd met you at Torquay and had therefore a sort
of interest in learning the result of the coroner's deliberation.
Then I took my bicycle, and rode across to Woodbury. Leaning up my
machine against the garden wall, I walked carelessly in at the gate,
and up the walk to the library window, as if the place belonged to
me. Oh, how my heart beat as I looked in and wondered! The folding
halves were open, and the box stood on the table, still connected
with the wires that conducted the electrical current. I stood and
hesitated in alarm. Were the negatives still there, or had the
police discovered them? If they were gone, all was up with you. The
game was lost. No jury on earth, I felt sure, would believe my
"I vaulted up to the sill. Thank heaven, I was athletic. Not a soul
was about: but I heard a noise of muffled voices in the other rooms
behind. Treading cat-like across the floor, I turned the key in the
lock. A chalk mark still showed the position of the pistol on the
ground exactly as you flung it. The box was on the table, and I saw
at a glance, the wires which connected it with the battery had never
been disconnected. I was afraid of receiving a shock if I touched
them with my hands, and I had no time to waste in discovering
electrical attachments. So I pulled out my knife, and you can fancy
with what trembling hands I cut that wire on either side and
released the box from its dangerous connections. I knew only too
well the force of that current. Then I took the thing under my arm,
leaped from the window once more, and ran across the shrubbery
towards the spot where I'd left my bicycle.
"On the way, the thought struck me that if I carried along the
camera, all would be up with me should I happen to be challenged. It
was the only one of the sort in existence at the time, and the wires
at the side would at once suffice to identify it and to arouse the
suspicion even of an English policeman. I paused for a moment behind
a thick clump of lilacs and tried to pull out the incriminating
negatives. Oh, Una, I did it for your sake; but there, terrified and
trembling, in hiding behind the bushes, and in danger of my life,
with that still more unspeakable danger for yours haunting me always
like a nightmare, can you wonder that for the moment I almost felt
myself a murderer? The very breezes in the trees made my heart give
a jump, and then stand still within me. I got out the first two or
three plates with some trifling difficulty, for I didn't understand
the automatic apparatus then as I understand it now: but the fourth
stuck hard for a minute; the fifth broke in two; and the
sixth—well, the sixth plate baffled me entirely by getting jammed
in the clockwork, and refusing to move, either backward or forward.
"At that moment, I either heard or fancied I heard a loud noise of
pursuit, a hue and cry behind me. Zeal for your safety had made me
preternaturally nervous. I looked about me hurriedly, thrust the
negatives I'd recovered into my breast-pocket as fast as ever I
could, flung the apparatus away from me with the sixth plate jammed
hard in the groove, and made off at the top of my speed for the wall
behind me. For there, at that critical point, it occurred to me
suddenly that the sixth and last flash of the machine had come and
gone just as I stood poising myself on the ledge of the window-sill;
and I thought to myself—rightly as it turned out—this additional
evidence would only strengthen the belief in the public mind that
Mr. Callingham had been murdered by the man whom the servants saw
escaping from the window.
"The rest, my child, you know pretty well already. In a panic on
your account, I scrambled over the wall, tearing my hands as I went
with that nasty-bottle glass, reached my bicycle outside, and made
off, not for the country, but for the inn where they were holding
the coroner's inquest. My left hand I had to hold, tied up in my
handkerchief to stop the bleeding, in the pocket of my jacket: but I
thought this the best way, all the same, to escape detection. And,
indeed, instead of being, as I feared, the only man there in
bicycling dress and knickerbockers, I found the occasion had
positively attracted all the cyclists of the neighbourhood. Each man
went there to show his own innocence of fear or suspicion. A good
dozen or two of bicyclists stood gathered already in the body of the
room in the same incriminating costume. So I found safety in
numbers. Even the servants who had seen me disappear through the
window, though their eyes lighted upon me more than once, never for
a moment seemed to suspect me. And I know very well why. When I
stand up, I'm the straightest and most perpendicular man that ever
walked erect. But when I poise to jump, I bend my spine so much that
I produce the impression of being almost hump-backed. It was that
attitude you recognised in me when I jumped from the window just
"Why, Jack," I cried clinging to him in a perfect whirlwind of
wonder, "one can hardly believe it—that was only an hour ago!"
"That was only an hour ago," Jack answered, smiling. "But as for
you, I suppose you've lived half a lifetime again in it. And now you
know the whole secret of the Woodbury Mystery. And you won't want to
give yourself up to the police any longer."
ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL
"But why didn't you explain it all to me at the very first?" I
exclaimed, all tremulous. "When you met me at Quebec, I mean—why
didn't you tell me then? Did you and Elsie come there on purpose to
"Yes, we came there to meet you," Jack answered. "But we were afraid
to make ourselves known to you all at once just at first, because,
you see, Una, I more than half suspected then, what I know now to be
the truth, that you were coming out to Canada on purpose to hunt me
up, not as your friend and future husband, but in enmity and
suspicion as your father's murderer. And in any case we were
uncertain which attitude you might adopt towards me. But I see I
must explain a little more even now. I haven't told you yet why I
came at all to Canada."
"Tell me now," I answered. "I must know everything to-day. I can
never rest now till I've heard the whole story."
"Well," Jack went on more calmly, "after the first excitement wore
off in the public mind, there came after a bit a lull of languid
interest; the papers began to forget the supposed facts of the
murder, and to dwell far more upon your own new role as a
psychological curiosity. They talked much about your strange new
life and its analogies elsewhere. I was anxious to see you, of
course, to satisfy myself of your condition; but the doctors who had
charge of you refused to let you mix for a while with anyone you had
known in your First State; and I now think wisely. It was best you
should recover your general health and faculties by slow degrees,
without being puzzled and distracted by constant upsetting
recollections and suggestions of your past history.
"But for me, of course, at the time, the separation was terrible.
Each morning, I read with feverish interest the reports of your
health, and longed, day after day, to hear of some distinct
improvement. And yet at the same time, I was terrified at every
approach to complete convalescence: I feared that if you got better
at all, you might remember too quick, and that then the sudden rush
of recollection might kill you or upset your reason. But by-and-by,
it became clear to me you could remember nothing of the actual shot
itself. And I saw plainly why. It was the firing of the pistol that
obliterated, as it were, every trace of your past life in your
disorganised brain. And it obliterated ITSELF too. Your new life
began just one moment later, with the Picture of the dead man
stretched before you in his blood on the floor, and a figure in the
background disappearing through the window."
How clever he was, to be sure! I saw in a moment Jack had
interpreted my whole frame of mind correctly and wonderfully.
"Well, I went back to Babbicombe," Jack continued, "and, lest my
heart should break for want of human sympathy, I confided every word
of my terrible story to Elsie. Elsie can trust me; and Elsie
believed me. Gradually, as you began to recover, I realised the
soundness of your doctor's idea that you should be allowed to come
back to yourself by re-education from the very beginning, without
any too early intrusion of reminiscences from your previous life to
confuse and disturb you. But I couldn't go on with my profession,
all the same, while I waited. I couldn't attend as I ought to my
patients' wants and ailments: I was too concentrated upon you: the
strain was too great upon me. So I threw up my practice, came out to
Canada, bought a bit of land, and began farming here, and seeing a
few patients now and again locally, just to fill up my time with. I
felt confident in the end you would recover and remember me. I felt
confident you would come to yourself and marry me. But still, it was
very long work waiting. Every month, Elsie got news indirectly from
Minnie Moore or someone of your state of health; and I intended to
go back and try to see you as soon as ever you were in a condition
to bear the shock of re-living your previous life again.
"Unfortunately, however, the police got hold of YOU before I could
carry my plan into execution. As soon as I heard that, I made up my
mind at once to go home by the first mail and break it all gently to
you. So Elsie and I started for Quebec, meaning to sail by the
Dominion steamer for England. But at the hotel at Quebec we saw the
telegrams announcing that you were then on your way out to Canada.
Well, of course we didn't feel sure whether you came as a friend or
an enemy. We were certain it was to seek me out you were coming to
America; but whether you remembered me still and still loved me, or
whether you'd found out some stray clue to the missing man, and were
anxious to hunt me down as your father's murderer, we hadn't the
slightest conception. So under those circumstances, we thought it
best not to meet you ourselves at the steamer, or to reveal our
identity too soon, for fear of a catastrophe. I knew it would be
better to wait and watch—to gain your confidence, if possible—in
any case, to find out how you were affected on first seeing us and
talking with us.
"Well then, as the time came on for the Sarmatian to arrive, it
began to strike me by degrees that all Quebec was agog with
curiosity to see you. I dared not go down to meet you at the quay
myself; but the Chief Constable of Quebec, Major Tascherel, was an
old friend and fellow-officer of my father's; and when I explained
to him my fears that you might be mobbed by sightseers on your
arrival at the harbour, and told him how afraid I was of the shock
it might give you to meet an old friend unexpectedly at the
steamer's side, he very kindly consented to go down and see you safe
through the Custom House, It was so lucky I knew him. If it hadn't
been for that, you might have been horribly inconvenienced.
"As you may imagine, when we first saw you get into the Pullman car,
both Elsie and I felt our hearts come up into our months with
suspense and anxiety. We'd arranged it all so on purpose, for we
felt sure you were on your way to Palmyra to find us: but when it
came to the actual crisis, we wondered most nervously what effect
the sight of us might have upon your system. But in a moment, I saw
you didn't remember us at all, or only vaguely attached to us some
faint sense of friendliness. That was well, because it enabled us to
gain your confidence easily. As we spoke with you, the sense of
friendly interest deepened. I knew that, all unconsciously to
yourself, you loved me still, and that in a very short time, if only
I could see you and be with you, I might bring all back to you."
Jack paused and looked at me. As he paused, I felt my old self
revive again more completely than ever with a rush.
"Oh, Jack," I cried, "so you HAVE done; so you HAVE brought all back
to me! My Second State's over: I'm the same girl you used to know at
Torquay once more. I remember everything—everything—such a
world—such a lifetime! I feel as if my head would burst with all
the things I remember. I don't know what to do with it. I'm so
tired, so weary."
"Lay it here," Jack said simply.
And I laid it on his shoulder, just as I used to do years ago, and
cried so long in silence, and was ever so much comforted. For I've
admitted all along that I'm only a woman.
There we sat, hand in hand, for many minutes more, saying never
another word, but sympathising silently, till Elsie returned from
When she burst into the room, she called out lightly as she entered:
"Well, I've got you your lemon, Una, and I do hope—" Then she broke
short suddenly. "Oh, Jack," she cried, faltering, and half guessing
the truth, "what's the meaning of this? Why, Una's been crying. You
bad boy, you've been frightening her. I oughtn't to have left her
ten minutes alone with you!"
Jack rose and held up his hand in warning.
"Don't talk to her at present, Elsie," he said. "You needn't be
afraid. Una's found out everything. She remembers all now. And she
knows how everything happened. And she's borne it so bravely,
without any more shock to her health and strength than was
absolutely inevitable.—Let her sleep if she can. It'll do her so
much good.—But, Elsie, there's one thing I want to say to you both
before I hand her over to you. After all that's happened, I don't
think Una'll want to hear that hateful name of Callingham any more.
It never was really hers, and it never shall be. We'll let bygones
be bygones in every other respect, and not rake up any details of
that hateful story. But she's been Una to us always, and she shall
be Una still. It's a very good name for her: for there's only one of
her. But next week, I propose, she shall be Una Ivor."
I threw myself on his neck, and cried again like a child.
"I accept, Jack," I said, sobbing. "Let it be Ivor, if you will.
Next week, then, I'll be your wife at last, my darling!"