The Fourth Plague - Edgar Wallace - ebook

The Fourth Plague ebook

Edgar Wallace

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The Fourth Plague” is an intriguing crime novel that was published in 1913, during the early years of Wallace’s career as a novelist. Here again pits a master detective against a powerful crime syndicate, this time with an Italian background. An Italian secret society, burglary, kidnapping, detectives, mysterious artefacts, remarkable coincidences! This is a tale of the Red-Hand, a criminal organization that makes Count Festini, its secret head, the most dangerous man in Europe. But for his hated eldest son, the Red-Hand’s plans for the downfall of the country may succeed. The cat and mouse game about high treasure, a beautiful woman and a bio-weapon never really leaves the ground and grips the reader.

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Contents

Prologue

Chapter I. Sir Ralph Delivers Judgment

Chapter II. The Call of Tillizini

Chapter III. A Hunter of Men

Chapter IV. The Red Hand Draws Blank

Chapter V. The Story of the Red Hand

Chapter VI. The Three

Chapter VII. The Golden Antonio

Chapter VIII. The Rare Collection

Chapter IX. Count Festini

Chapter X. A Way of Tillizini’s

Chapter XI. Lady Morte-Mannery Helps a Friend

Chapter XII. The Second Medallion

Chapter XIII. The Abduction of Marjorie

Chapter XIV. Tillizini Leaves a Mark

Chapter XV. The House by the River

Chapter XVI. Tillizini Addresses the House

Chapter XVII. Marjorie Crosses the Marsh

Chapter XVIII. The Woman

Chapter XIX. The Working of the Act

PROLOGUE

SOUTH of Florence by some sixty miles, and west of Rome by almost thrice the distance, upon three hills, is Siena, the most equable of the cities of Tuscany.

On the Terzo di Città in I know not what contrada, is the Palazzo Festini.

It stands aloof in its gloomy and dilapidated magnificence, and since it dates from the adjacent Baptistery of S. Giovanni, it leaves the impression of being a crumbling and disgruntled fragment of the sacred edifice that has wandered away in sullen rage to decay at its leisure.

Here, in penurious grandeur, dwelt the Festinis, who claimed descent from none other than Guido Novello, of whom Compagni, the arch-apologist, wrote: “Il conte Guido non aspettò il fine, ma senza dare colpo di spada si parti.“*

[* Count Guido did not wait for the end, but departed without a stroke of his sword.]

The Festini was a family to the name of which the Italian nobility listened with immobile faces. And if you chose to praise them they would politely agree; or if you condemned them they would listen in silence; but if you questioned them as to their standing in the hierarchy, you might be sure that, from Rome to Milan, your inquiry would be met by an immediate, but even, change of subject.

The Festinis, whatever might be their relationship with Guido the Coward, effectively carried on the methods of the Polomei, the Salvani, the Ponzi, the Piccolomini, and the Forteguerri.

The vendettas of the middle ages were revived and sustained by these products of nineteenth century civilization, and old Salvani Festini had, as was notoriously evident, gone outside the circumscribed range of his own family grievances, and had allied himself, either actively or sympathetically, with every secret society that menaced the good government of Italy.

It was a hot June afternoon, in the year ‘99, when a man and two youths sat at their midday meal in the gloomy dining-room of the Palazzo.

The man who sat at the head of the table was, despite his age, a broad-shouldered man of apparent vitality; a leonine head surmounted by a mane of grey hair would have distinguished him without the full beard which fell over his black velvet waistcoat.

Yet, for all his patriarchal appearance, there was something in the seamed white face, in the cold eyes which stared from under his busy brows, which was sinister and menacing.

He ate in silence, scarcely troubling to answer the questions which were put to him.

The boy on his right was a beautiful lad of seventeen; he had the ivory complexion, the perfect, clean-cut, patrician features which characterized the Italian nobility. His lustrous brown eyes, his delicate mouth, his almost effeminate chin, testified for the race from which he sprang.

The young man sitting opposite was four years older. He was at the stage when youth was merging into manhood, with disastrous consequences to facial contours. He seemed thin, almost hollow-jawed, and only the steady quality of his grave eyes saved him from positive ugliness.

“But, father,” asked the younger lad, “what makes you think that the Government suspects that you know about the ‘Red Hand’?”

The older youth said nothing, but his inquiring eyes were fixed upon his father.

Salvani Festini brought his mind back to the present with a start.

“Eh?” he asked.

His voice was gruff, but not unkindly, as he addressed the boy; and the light of unconscious pride which shone in his eyes as he looked at the youth, softened the forbidding expression of his face.

“I am very well informed, my son,” he said with a gentle growl. “You know we have excellent information. The carbineers are pursuing their investigations, and that infernal friend of yours”–he turned to the elder son–“is at the head of the inquisitors.”

The youth addressed smiled.

“Who is this?” he asked innocently.

The old man shot a glance of suspicion at his son.

“Tillizini,” he said shortly. “The old fool–why doesn’t he keep to his books and his lectures?”

“He has been very kind to me,” said the younger man. He spoke thoughtfully, reflectively. “I am sorry he has annoyed you, father; but it is his business–this investigation of crime.”

“Crime!” roared the old man. “How dare you, a son of mine, sitting at my own table, refer to the actions of the ‘Red Hand’ as crime!”

His face went red with rage, and he cast a glance of malevolence at his heir which might well have shocked a more susceptible man.

But Antonio Festini was used to such exhibitions. He was neither embarrassed nor distressed by this fresh exhibition of his father’s dislike. He knew, and did not resent, the favouritism shown to Simone, his brother. It did not make him love his brother less, nor dislike his father more.

Antonio Festini had many qualities which his countrymen do not usually possess. This phlegmatic, philosophical attitude of mind had been bred in him. Some remote ancestor, cool, daring, possibly with a touch of colder blood in his ancestry, had transmitted to this calm youth some of the power of detachment.

He knew his father hated the old professor of anthropology at Florence; for the Festinis, even to this day, preserved the spirit of antagonism which the Sienese of half a thousand years ago had adopted to the Florentine.

There were schools enough in Siena; a college most famous for its lawyers and its doctors.

Simone was graduating there, and what was good enough for Simone should surely be good enough for Antonio.

But the elder son had chosen Florence with that deliberation which had always been his peculiarity, even from his earliest childhood, and in face of all opposition, in defiance of all the Festini tradition, it was to Florence he went.

Tillizini, that remarkable scientist, had conceived a friendship for the boy; had taken him under his wing, and had trained him in his own weird, irregular, and inconsequent way.

Tillizini was a master of crime, and he possessed an encyclopaedic knowledge of men. He was at the beck and call of the secret police from one end of Italy to the other, and, so rumour said, was in receipt of retaining fees from the governments of other nations.

It was Tillizini who had set himself to work to track down the “Red Hand” which had terrorized the South of Italy for so many years, and had now extended its sphere of operations to the north.

And it was a hateful fact that his work had been crowned with success. His investigations had laid by the heels no less a person than the considerable Matteo degli Orsoni, the Roman lawyer, who, for so many years, had directed the operations of one of the most powerful sections of the “Red Hand.”

There was something like fear in the old man’s breast, though he was too good a Festini to display it; and it was fear which leavened his rage.

“You shall hear a different tale of this Tillizini,” he growled, “mark you that, Antonio. Some day he will be found dead– a knife in his heart, or his throat cut, or a bullet wound in his head–who knows? The ‘Red Hand’ is no amusing organization.” He looked long and keenly at his son. Simone leant over, his elbows on the table, his chin resting on his hands, and eyed his brother with dispassionate interest.

“What does Tillizini know of me?” asked the old man suddenly. “What have you told him?”

Antonio smiled.

“That is an absurd question, father,” he said; “you do not imagine that I should speak to Signor Tillizini of you?”

“Why not?” said the other gruffly. “Oh! I know your breed. There is something of your mother in you. Those Bonnichi would sell their wives for a hundred lira!”

Not even the reference to his mother aroused the young man to anger. He sat with his hands thrust into the pockets of his riding breeches, his head bent a little forward, looking at his father steadily, speculatively, curiously.

For a few minutes they stared at one another, and the boy on the other side of the table glanced from father to brother, from brother to father, eagerly.

At last the old man withdrew his eyes with a shrug, and Antonio leant across the table, and plucked two grapes from a big silver dish in the centre, with a hand to which neither annoyance nor fear contributed a tremor.

The old man turned to his favourite.

“You may expect the birri here to-day or to-morrow,” he said. “There will be a search for papers. A crowd of dirty Neapolitans will go rummaging through this house. I suppose you would like me to ask your friend, Tillizini, to stay to dinner?” he said, turning to the other with a little sneer.

“As to that, you must please yourself, father; I should be very delighted if you did.”

“By faith, you would,” snarled the old man. “If I had an assurance that the old dog would choke, I’d invite him. I know your Tillizini,” he said gratingly, “Paulo Tillizini.” He laughed, but there was no humour in his laughter.

Antonio rose from the table, folded his serviette into a square and placed it neatly between the two Venetian goblets which were in front of him.

“I have your permission to retire?” he said, with a ceremonious little bow.

A jerk of the head was the only answer.

With another little bow to his brother, the young man left the room. He walked through the flagged and gloomy hall to the ponderous door of the Palazzo.

A servant in faded livery opened the door, and he stepped out into the blinding sunlight. The heat struck up at him from the paved street as from a blast furnace.

He had no definite plans for spending the afternoon, but he was anxious to avoid any further conflict with his father; and though he himself did not approve of the association which his house had formed with the many desperate, guilty bands which tyrannized over Italy, yet he was anxious to think out a method by which the inevitable exposure and disgrace might be avoided.

There was no question of sentiment as far as he was concerned. He had reached the point where he had come to regard not only his father, but his younger brother, so eager to assist and so anxious for the day when he would be able to take an active part in the operations of the League, as people outside the range of his affections.

It was natural that he should gravitate towards the Piazza del Campo. All Siena moved naturally to this historic fan-like space, with its herring-boned brick pavement, and its imperishable association with the trials and triumphs of Siena.

He stood by the broad central pavement which marks the course of the Pallio, deep in thought, oblivious of the many curious glances which were thrown in his direction. For despite the heat of the day, all Siena was abroad.

Had he been less engrossed by his thoughts, he might have regarded it as curious that the Sienese, who hold this hour sacred to the siesta, should have so thronged the square and the street, on a hot June afternoon.

Standing there, absorbed by his thoughts, he heard his name spoken softly behind him, and turned.

He snatched off his soft felt hat with a smile, and extended his hand.

“I did not expect to see you, Signor Tillizini,” he said.

The pleasure of the meeting, however, was over-clouded a second later, as he realized with a sense of apprehension that the old professor’s visit was not without gloomy significance to his house.

Professor Tillizini, at that time, was in his eightieth year. As straight as a die, his emaciated and aesthetic face was relieved by two burning eyes in which the soul of the man throbbed and lived.

He took the arm of his pupil and led him across the piazza at a slow pace.

“Antonio mio,” he said with grave affection, “I am come because the Government desires certain information. You know, although I have not told you, that we are inquiring into a certain organization.”

He laid his thin white hand upon the other’s shoulder, and stopped, peering down into the boy’s face with keen attention.

“Antonio,” he said slowly, “that investigation is to be directed toward your father and his actions.”

The other nodded. “I know,” he said simply.

“I am glad you know,” said Tillizini, with a little sigh of relief. “It has rather worried me. I wanted to tell you some time ago that such an inquiry was inevitable, but I did not think I would be doing my duty to the State if I gave that information.”

Antonio smiled a little sadly.

“It does not matter, Signor,” he said; “as a matter of fact, my father knows, and is expecting you.”

Tillizini nodded.

“That I expected too,” he said, “or rather let me be frank–I hoped he would be; for a policeman expected is a policeman defeated,” he smiled.

They walked a little way in silence, then–

“Are you satisfied in your mind that my father is concerned in all these outrages?” asked Antonio.

The old man looked at him sharply.

“Are you not also?” he asked.

The heir of the Festinis made no reply. As if by mutual consent they changed the subject and spoke of other matters.

The old man was awaiting the arrival of the police officers; that much Antonio guessed.

They spoke of the college at Florence and of mutual friends. Then, by easy stages, the professor approached his favourite subject–the subject of his life-work.

“It is a thousand pities, is it not?” he said, “that, having got so far, the good God will not give me another hundred years of life?”

He smiled and shrugged his shoulders.

“At the end of which time I should require another hundred,” he said philosophically. “It is as well, perhaps, that we cannot have our desires. “It would have satisfied me,” he continued, “had I a son to carry on my work. Here again I am denied. I have not, I admit,” he said, with that naiveté which was his charm, “even in my life provided myself with a wife. That was an oversight for which I am now being punished.”

He stopped as a tall officer in the uniform of the carbineers came swinging across the Piazza del Campo, and Antonio Festini instinctively stepped away from his master’s side.

The two spoke together, and by and by, with a little nod of farewell and a fleeting shadow of pity in his eyes, Tillizini accompanied the tall officer in the direction of the Palazzo Festini.

Antonio watched him until he was out of sight. Then he resumed his aimless pacing up and down the Piazza, his hands behind his back, his head sunk forward on his breast.

Tillizini accompanied the tall officer to the Festini Palace. He pulled the rusty bell that hung by the side of the great door, and was admitted.

He was conducted with all the ceremony which his obvious rank demanded–for was not there an officer of carbineers accompanying him, and did not that officer treat him with great deference?–to the big salon of the Festinis.

It was an apartment bleak and bare. The ancient splendours of the painted ceiling were dim and dingy, the marble flagged floor was broken in places, and no attempt had been made to repair it. The few chairs, and the French table which had been pushed against the wall, seemed lost in that wilderness of chilly marble.

In a few moments Count Festini came in. He was still dressed in his velvet coat and waistcoat, and the riding breeches and boots which he and his sons invariably wore, for they were great horsemen, and had but that one taste in common.

He favoured Tillizini with a bow, which the professor returned.

“I am at your Excellency’s disposition,” he said formally, and waited.

“Count Festini,” said Tillizini, “I have come upon an unpleasant mission.”

“That is regrettable,” said Count Festini shortly.

“It is my duty to ask you to allow me to conduct a personal examination of your papers.”

“That is not only unfortunate, but outrageous,” said Festini, yet without the sign of irritation which the carbineer officer, his fingers nervously twitching the whistle which would summon his men, had expected.

“It is not my wish,” Tillizini went on, “to make this visit any more disagreeable to your Excellency than is necessary, therefore I ask you to regard me rather as a friend who desires to clear your name from aspersions which––”

“You will spare me your speeches,” said Count Festini shortly. “I know you, Paulo Tillizini. I thought you were a gentleman, and entrusted you with the education of my son. I find you are a policeman. In these days,” he shrugged his shoulders–” the Italian nobility–and if I remember aright, you come from the house of one Buonsignori?––”

Tillizini bowed.

“In these days,” Festini went on, “it is necessary, I presume, for our decaying nobility to find some means of providing portions for their marriageable daughters.”

“In my case,” said Tillizini, “that is unnecessary.”

He spoke suavely and calmly: every word which Count Festini had uttered was, by the code which both men understood, a deadly insult. Yet Tillizini preserved the same outward show of unconcern which Festini had seen so disastrously reproduced in his son.

“I can only add,” the old man went on, “this one fact–that to whatever depths a member of a noble house may sink in assisting the State to bring justice to the men who are setting the laws of the country at defiance, it is possible, Signor, for a man to sink still, lower, and to be one of those whose dreadful acts, and whose cruel practices, set the machinery of the law in motion.”

He spoke in his passionless, even tones, and a red flush crept over the Count’s face.

“You may search as you wish,” he said. “My house is at your disposition. Here are my keys.”

He produced from his pocket a steel ring on which a dozen keys hung.

Tillizini made no attempt to take them.

“If you will conduct me to your bedroom,” he said, “I shall not trouble you with any further search.”

For a second only Count Festini hesitated. A swift cloud of apprehension passed across his face. Then with a bow he extended his hand to the door.

He followed them into the hall and led the way up the stairs. His room was a large one, facing the road. It was as poorly furnished as the remainder of the house. Tillizini closed the door behind him, and the officer stood, barring all egress.

“Here are my keys.”

Again Count Festini held out the polished bunch.

“Thank you, I do not want them,” said Tillizini. He stood squarely before the man. “I think it is as well, Count,” he said gently, “that I should tell you what I know. Four days ago a man was arrested in the act of placing a bomb on the railway line between Rome and Florence. He was apparently a new recruit, but after he was arrested it was discovered that he was a man who stood very high in the councils of the Florentine branch of your excellent society.”

Festini said nothing. He listened with every interest.

“In some way,” Tillizini went on, “this man had discovered many secrets which I am sure the ‘Red Hand’ had no intention of revealing. He may have acted as secretary to one of the heads of your Order. At any rate, he knew that documents incriminating yourself and a very large number of influential people in Italy were secreted in this house.”

“Indeed!” said Festini, coldly. “You have the keys; you may verify for yourself the truth of your informant’s statement.” Again Tillizini made no attempt to take the keys from him.

“He knew more than I have told,” he said slowly. “He indicated to me a hiding-place which I gather is known only to you and to the leaders of your band.”

He walked to the end of the room, where four long windows lit the apartment. Between the second and the third hung a picture in a deep gold frame. He passed his hand gingerly over the scroll-work on the left side of the frame.

Presently he found what he wanted, and pressed.

The bottom half of the rich carving opened like a narrow drawer.

Festini watched him, motionless, as he took a bundle of papers from the secret recess behind the hinge moulding.

Tillizini examined them briefly at the window and placed them carefully in the inside pocket of his coat. He looked at Festini long and earnestly, but before he could speak the door was opened and Simone Festini came in quickly.

He walked to his father.

“What is it?” he asked, and bent his angry brows upon the old professor.

“It is nothing, my son,” said Count Festini.

He laid his hand upon the boy’s head and smiled.

“You must go downstairs until I have finished my business with his Excellency.”

The boy hesitated.

“Why should I go?” he asked.

He scented the danger and was hard to move. He looked round from one to the other, alert, suspicious, almost cat-like.

“If anything should happen to me, Simone,” said Count Festini softly, “I beg you to believe that I have provided for you handsomely, and there is a provision which is greater than any I can offer you–the protection and the friendship, and as I hope one day, the leadership, of comrades who will serve you well. And now you must go.”

He bent down and kissed the young man on the cheek.

Simone went out, dry-eyed, but full of understanding. In the hall below he came face to face with his brother, who had returned from the Piazza.

“Come this way, Antonio,” said the boy gravely.

He walked first into the dining-room where an hour ago they had been seated together at their meal.

“Our father is under arrest, I think,” he said, still coolly, as though he were surveying a commonplace happening. “I also think I know what will happen next. Now, I ask you, which way do you go if I take up our father’s work?”

His eyes were bright with suppressed excitement; he had grown suddenly to a man in that brief consciousness of impending responsibility.

Antonio looked at him sorrowfully.

“I go the straight way, Simone,” he said quietly. “Whichever way is honest and clean and kindly, I go that way.”

“Buono!” said the other. “Then we part here unless God sends a miracle–you to your destiny and I to mine.”

He stopped and went deadly white, and looking at him, Antonio saw the beads of sweat upon his brow.

“What is the matter?” he asked, and stepped forward to his side, but the boy pushed him back.

“It is nothing,” he said, “nothing.”

He held himself stiffly erect, his beautiful face raised, his eyes fixed on the discoloured decorations of the ceiling.

For he had heard the pistol shot, muffled as it was by intervening doors and thick walls, that told the end for Count Festini.

Tillizini, hurrying down to break the news to him, found him fully prepared.

“I thank your Excellency,” said the boy. “I knew. Your Excellency will not live to see the result of your work, for you are an old man, but if you did, you will behold the revenge which I shall extract from the world for this murder, for I am very young, and, by God’s favour, I have many years to live.” Tillizini said nothing, but he went back to Florence a sad man.

Three months afterwards he again visited Siena, and in the Via Cavour, in broad daylight, he was shot down by two masked men who made good their escape; and, in his chair, at the College of Anthropology at Florence, there reigned, in good time, Tillizini the younger.

I. SIR RALPH DELIVERS JUDGMENT

IT was absurd to call the affair “the Red Hand Trial,” because the “Red Hand” had played no part in the case so far as the burglary was concerned.

It was a very commonplace burglary with a well-known, albeit humble member of Burboro’s community in the dock. He had been found in a house in the early hours of the morning, he had given an incoherent explanation to the alert butler who had captured him, and, beyond a rigmarole of a story that some mysterious Italian had sent him thither, there was no hint of the workings of the extraordinary association which at the moment agitated the law-abiding people of Britain.

It was equally absurd and grossly unfair to accuse the newspapers who referred to it as “the Red Hand Case,” of unjustifiable sensationalism. After all, there was an Italian mentioned in connexion with the charge–quite enough in those days of panic to justify the reference.

The Session House was crowded, for the case had excited more than usual interest. All the county was there. Lady Morte-Mannery occupied a seat on the Bench, as was her right. Most of the house-party from East Mannery had driven over and was seated in privileged places, to the no small inconvenience of the Bar and the representatives of the Press, the latter of whom bitterly and indignantly resented this encroachment upon their already restricted domain.

But Sir Ralph Morte-Mannery, the Chairman of the Session, had a short way with critics and professed, though his practice did not always come into line with his theory, that the Press might be ignored and impressed with a sense of its own unworthiness.

The Pressmen in the Session House at Burboro’ were constantly undergoing that mysterious process which is known as “being put in their place.” They desired, most earnestly, that the principle should be applied now, for their places were occupied by the guests of the Chairman.

Hilary George, K.C., sat with his colleagues, though only as a spectator. He was curious to see in operation the workings of justice, as Sir Ralph conceived it.

Sir Ralph’s sentences were notorious, his judgments had before now come up for revision. He was, perhaps, the best hated man in the country. Mothers frightened their obstreperous children with references to Sir Ralph. He was the bogey man of the poacher, a moral scarecrow to tramps, people who slept out at night, and suchlike dangerous characters.

A little man, spare and bony, his clothes, though carefully fitted, seemed to hang upon him; his face was long and white, and solemn; his lips drooped mournfully at each corner. A pair of gold-mounted pince-nez struck an angle on his pendulous nose as to suggest that they were so placed in order not to obstruct his line of vision. His hair was white and thin; he had two dirty-grey tufts of side-whisker, and affected a Gladstonian collar. His voice, when he spoke, was querulous and complaining; he gave the impression that he felt a personal resentment toward the unfortunate prisoner in the dock, for having dragged him from his comfortable library to this ill-ventilated court.

Sir Ralph was a man hovering about the age of sixty. His wife, who was looking supremely lovely in her black velvet cloak and her big black hat, which one white feather lightened, was nearly thirty years his junior. A beautiful woman by some standards. Junoesque, imperial, commanding; her lips in repose were thin and straight, and if the truth be told, a little repellent. Some people found them so. Hilary George, for one, a daring rider to hounds, and wont to employ the phraseology of the field, confessed that he never saw those lips tighten but a voice within him uttered the warning, “‘Ware! ‘ware!”

She was a beautiful woman, and a disappointed woman. She had married Sir Ralph Morte-Mannery, five years before, in the supreme faith that she had emerged for ever from that atmosphere of penury which had surrounded her girlhood; that she had said “good-bye” to the strivings, the scrimpings and the make-believe of shabby gentility with which a mother with social aspirations and an income of a £150 a year had enclouded her.

But Vera Forsyth found she had moved from an atmosphere of penury enforced by circumstances to an atmosphere of penury practised for love of it. Sir Ralph was a mean man, he was little short of a miser, and he had the settled conviction that, in taking care of the pennies, he was appointed as by divine right, the natural heir to hundreds.

It seemed to her, in her first year of marriage, that she could never escape from the eternal account book. He was a man who believed in domestic stock-taking. He knew, better than she, the prevalent price of potatoes, and he noted with pain any advance in the grocer’s bill, and set himself the congenial task of discovering the cause for any such swollen expenditure.

Now she looked along the Bench at her husband curiously; he was always a source of interest to her. She needed some such interest to sustain her in her everyday acquaintance with this man.

He was summing up with gross partiality. Though he had had one or two bad raps from the Court of Criminal Appeal, he was not to be turned from his set purpose, which was to rid the country of those who showed a disinclination to distinguish the difference between meum and teum.

All who knew the circumstances realized that the summing up was in the veriest bad taste. The young man, white of face, who stood by the dock’s edge, his shaking hands clasping and unclasping the iron rail before him, was being tried for burglary, and the burglary was at Sir Ralph’s own place.

“He has told you, Gentlemen of the Jury,” went on Sir Ralph in his speech, “that a mysterious Italian asked him to break into the house, where somebody would be waiting to give him an equally mysterious packet. He did not intend to steal, so he tells you; he was merely carrying out the instructions of this mythical–perhaps I ought not to say ‘mythical,’” said Sir Ralph hastily, with the recollection of a Lord Chief Justice’s comments on a judgment of his–“but which may to you, Gentlemen of the Jury, appear to be a mythical person.

“He tells you that he was induced by his poverty to go to Highlawn at midnight, to effect an entrance through the kitchen, and there to wait until some cloaked, masked individual brought him a packet which he was to bring away. He tells you that he had no intention whatever of robbing the owner. He was merely being the accomplice of some person in the house.”

Sir Ralph leant back with a little contemptuous smile.

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