Serial Story The Hangman's Knot By Arthur Gask
By Arthur Gask
He gave a quick glance up at the pri-<*> soner, who in the imagination of many in the court had gone a little pale and lost something of his quiet assurance
lost ?ainn*tr*"ric at his quiet assurance "This man," he went on, "had been in the department for seventeen years, and had always shown himself a trust worthy and capaole servant. Then all suddenly he started to neglect his duties and absent himself witnout adequate explanation. Also, he took to coming to work under i**f influence of liquor, and finally he struck a superior officer and was then, of course, summarily dis missed." He looked significantly at the jury. "In effect he deliberately made them send him away. Peter Drew raised one long forefinger impressively. "This man was traced with difficulty for he had been killed hi a motor accident last May, but what was found out was this. About three weeks after he had been thrown out of employment, to the great astonish ment of his relations and everyone who knew him, he had left his house in Ttpivmrr) ctml, paying ro^yt down, had bought a poultry farm near Saffron Walden. Then from fr>"? moment of his taking over this concern it ap peared to have developed into an extra ordinary success, for he at once started to live well and was able to send his two boys, he was a widower, to a good school in the neighborhood." He thumped again on the table. "But my lord and gentlemen of the jury, I shall bring before you the manager of the National and Provincial Bank in Saff ron Walden and he will tell you that this man, within a few days of his coming to live in the neighborhood, de posited with Wii| Governmsnt bonds to bearer of no less value than the sum of £9,000." He folded up his brief and sat down He had spoken for longer than live hours and it being nearly five o'clock the court rose until the following day. CHAPTER XVL THE BATTLE CONTINUED The following day, all day %ong. a procession of witnesses trooped hi and out of the witness-box; the head of the finger print department of Scot land Yard, the manager from the bank at Saffron Walden, the Tme-time valet of Oscar Bascoigne, and half a dozen city men who had been acquainted with the company promoter in former days. Tresidder-Jarvis seemed to be little Interested in any of them, for of some V asked nothing at all, and to the others he put. perhaps, only a single ouestaon. * Cynthia Cramm appeared presently, and she entered the witness-box with an aplomb that made everyone smite. 6he told all that had happened that Sunday at the Gibbett Inn and dur ine her subsequent association with Larose and how finally she had picked out the prisoner's voice at once, when standing out of sight of every one in the corridor she had heard the head warder carry on a number of conversations with other prisoners through the opened doors of the rooms in which tnev were confined. Tresidder-Jarvis cross-examined her at some length, but could not shake her evidence in any way. Then he asked finally with an awe-inspiring frown—"And do you actually want this court to believe that after listening to that man's voice in your father's inn for a few minutes last June—you ?were actually able to recognise it again I when you stood in that corridor thp other day. after five months had passed away?" "Yes," replied Cynthia convincingly. I "fc^yvmiawi it at once."
?Then you must be a very remark able young woman," said Tresidder- Jarvis dryly, and then as he prepared to resume his seat he mi^pd sarcastically, ~I suppose it must be a gift you have inherited from your .father who has li.st^pffi to so many voices in h<g bar oaTling for beer." "No," commented Cynthia pertly, as she was bustling out of the witness box, "I get it from my mother, who was a telephonist for ten years before she married." Larose was the next witness and a thrill of expectation ran round the court when his name was called. Here was the star witness for the Crown and the man who had sent so men? people to the scaffold that he was know as the Angel of Death. Besides who had forgotten his romantic mar riage to the rich and beautiful Lady Ardane, such a little while ago? Larose looked very spick and span, with his handsome face fatm?| to a rich bronze by ws many journeyings in an open touring car. He mads an ideal witness and under the skilful question ing of Peter Drew the whole tale was soon told of all that had happened, from his first meeting with Cynthia Cramm to when he had been knocked down by the prisoner at Ingatestone. Tresidder-Jarvis smiled pleasantly when he rose sp to cross-examine. "Now I take it, Mr. Larose," he said quietly that It Is for no matter of remunera tion that you have been working on the case for the authorities! You have just taken it on. so to speak, for the love of the thing?" and when Larose an swered "Yes." he added, "It is a sort of sport to you?" Larose shook his head. "No, not ex actly," he replied, "but it has been my life's work and it still appeals to me "^ Tressidder-Jarvis nodded as if he quite understood. "But of course you are anxious to show the Yard, and "inciden tally the public, too, that you are still the same old Gilbert Larose," he smiled ironically, " the man who never faHgt* ? ? He paused a moment and the smile left his face. "Then that being so, accord ing to your lights, you have done every thing in your power to produce evidence against the prisoner!" "I have done everything in my power," corrected Larose, "to find out every thing he has been doing." "And you have not been too scrupu lous in your methods either, have you." suggested the KU3. with the fire of battle now beginning to smoulder in his eyes. "In fact, not to mince words, you have resorted to criminal means your self, "Oh! oh!" exclaimed Larose. very surprised. "Yes, 'oh: oh!'" repeated Tresidder- Jarvis sarcastically, and then his jaw Ehot out and his voice rose ominously. "You broke into the prisoner's house, sir. like a common felon yourself, with no mandate from the authorities, and you abstracted therefrom property be longing to the prisoner." His eves glared. "You took a paper from his desk! Not, do you attempt to justify that?" "Yes." replied Larose boldly. "The need was urgent and the occasion was so opportune that to the public interest I acted Trithout authority. Murders were being committed, bombs were betas " "That'll do, thank you." Interrupted TresidderTJarvis rudely, "you are not hi the witness box to make speeches but to answer questions," and Larose, with a smile, at once subsided into silence. The K.C. went on very sternly— I "And your assistant, your accomplice that night, was a"—he looked down at his notes and spoke with intense sar casm—"a Monsieur Raphael deChoisy iHautville. Was he, a foreigner, act the French authorities, the Surete-si
ing under the Instructions ol the authorities here In investigating this case?" he asked Incredulously. . "No," replied Larose instantly, "but he Is a friend of mine, and meeting him n"*"l?ntnTly upon the day when I was Invited to come back to the Yard, I suggested that as he had nothing particular to do at that moment he should help me." "What is his occupation?" was th? next question, asked very quietly. "He does nothing. He Is a well-to-do man of Independent means." "But now. did you consider it wise," asked Tresidder-Jarvis with a frown, "to take Wm into your ?v?nflfl<>nn?? when you were working for the Crown?" and when Larose had replied "Yes," he burst suddenly into a voice that rose stridently through the court. "But are you aware, Mr. Gilbert Larose," he thundered, "that this wnm. this friend of yours, is an ex-convict who for years has been the target of Generate of Paris?" "Yes," nodded Larose, "quite aware.' Tresidder-Jarvis half-dosed his eyes and, proceeding to ask the next question, his loud tone subsided all at once like the dying away of a storm. "Then for what purpose did you take m? with you to Orowborough?ll be asked almost gently. "To see if he could open the safe," replied Larose candidly. "He has con siderable knowledge of safes sens rally." "Ah!" came a long-drawn exclama tion of the great X.C, as he turned round to glance at the jury. ??Con siderable knowledge of safes!" He looked back at Larose. "I expect so" He picked up his brief, and after considering it for a few moments, passed quickly on. "And so. after your interview with that very remark able young lady. Miss Cramm." he eaid, with his lips curving scornfully, upon the strength of a soiled pair of boots, a voice, and the reference to a razor, an unpleasant smell and a Chinaman from Hankow, you have been able to adduce all this euflt against the prisoner!" Larose in the witness box, but it was generally conceded he did not get. much change out of him, and had not indeed shaken his evidence upon any point. . J^e 2^. and as it turned out. the tost witness for the day was Raphael Croupin, and another deep thrill ran round the court when, upon bis name being called, he entered and took his stand in toe witness box. Oh! what a good-looking man!" murmured one woman, and another ??^? ed- "Poor feflow! He probably doesn't know what is in store for , J 3nI UIS?' s dMt c 3res flashed curiously up at the gallery, and his handsome face lighted up as they fastened upon Angela, who was sitting there with ncr hands clenched so tightly tviat the nails almost bit Into the flesh. Peter Drew took Mm in hand and quickly drew out the salient parts of his association with Larose and the part he had taken in getttae hi touch with Guildford. Tresidder-Jarvis rose up to cross examine with all the delight in his massive face of a terrier about to worry a rat. "Monsieur de Choisy-Hautville" he began, rolling out the words as if he took great pleasure in their enuncia tion, "we have heard that Mr. Larose took you with him when that night he broke into the prisoner's residence in Crowborough." ttjc voice was silky and quite Innocent of offence. "Well, tell the .court why he took you down with him?" "To see if I could manage to open the safe," replied Croupin at once. Ttesidder-Jarvis's voice was still pleasant. "And what experience, pray, had you had in opening safes ?" he asked gently. "I am the patentee of a certain lock," replied Croupin confidingly, "and one of the largest shareholders in a safe-manufacturing company, Le Toujours Sauf. of Rue de la Lune. Paris." "Oh!" grunted the X.C, and his face hardened as if he were very much annoyed, "then what was your occu pation before you came into this estate that we are given to understand you now possess?" Cropin's reply was quite ready. "I was a dealer in paintings," he said, "an expert in precious stones, and"—he smiled, "I taught music."
"Is de Choisy-HautvUle your real jiame?" asked the BJC. carelessly. "It is now," replied Croupin, looking Interestedly round the court. "It was my mother's maiden name, -and I adopted it six months ago, when I came into the money." He looked quite inno cently at the KjC. "Before that I was Raphael Croupin." "And did you change your name. Monsieur?" asked Tresitider-Jarvis silkily, "because of this estate you in herited?" "No," replied Croupin. "that had rmthifip; to dO With it." "Then for what reason did you change it?" asked the K.C. Croupin's face was pathetic. "Because I have been in prison," ne replied sadly, "and I thought if I changed my Tinm", people would forget me sooner." A deep hush filled the court and for the moment Tresidder-Jarvis was in such a fury of annoyance that he could not pick up his train of thought. He could see now that a trap had been set for him and he had fallen into it iike the veriest tyro at the bar. His next remark was almost brutal in its rudeness. "You need not pull faces like that," he said loudly, "for It doesn't impress the court," and then before Peter Drew could interfere to protect his witness, he blurted out roughly, -'And if you nave been in prison only once, you have been tried many times, have you not?" "Three," replied Croupin promptly, "and I was acquitted every time." Then for half an hour he tried to catch Croupin tripping, but the latter never made a mfaitflirg, and in the end Tresidder-Jarvis sat down looking hot and out of temper. Peter Drew at once rose up to re examine. "Arising out of the questions my learned friend has just asked you," he said, "tell the Court when it was you were put In prison and what for." "It was ten years ago," replied Oroupin, "when I was eighteen, and I was found guilty of stealing the jewels of my hostess in a country house. I was sentenced to two years' imprison ment." "Did you serve the whole term?" asked Peter Drew. "No, I was released after one year and one month," replied Croupin, "be cause the man who had been the chief witness against me was himself caught breaking into another house He was shot dead." "And these are the papers substan tiating your statements," asked Peter Drew, handing up a small parcel of faded newspapers for vnm to examine. "Yes." nodded Croupin, and the papers were at once passed up to the Bench. "And one more question," said Peter Drew. "Why is it, in your opinion, these three other charges have been brought against you?" "Because," replied Croupin, "it has become a sort of legend in my country that when any art treasures are stolen it must be I who have done it. It has been so ever since I succeeded in getting into the Louvre one night and affixed a notice to a painting that it was not a genuine Rubens, but only a copy." He smiled. "I was apprehended in the morning, when trying to get away." That ended the days proceedings, and Croupin's reward for the ordeal he had gone through came that ni?ftt when Angela put her arms about his neck and told him she was proud of him and that he need never be ashamed any more. Croupin sighed heavily. Then during the ensuing two days witness after witness stepped into the witness-box and corroborated every statement Peter Drew had made in his address. Again Tresidder-Jarvis showed little Interest and either let them go al together, or else just asked a few what seemed to be quite unimportant ques tions. Then on the fifth day he rose to open the case for the defence and directly he began to speak the spectators were of opinion they were going to enjoy themselves. "My lord and gentlemen of the jury," he began, "in the opening words of his address for the Crown, my learned friend announced that the story he was going to unfold to you would be extra ordinary, but surely it is much more extraordinary still that he ever stood j up to- tell it, for notwithstanding the ? eloquence of his address and the large I number of witnesses who have been brought before you, we hai-e seen he is not in possession of one sinple atom of convincing proof against the prisoner." j To Be Continued On Monday (The names in this story are fictitious.! '