Mr. Scarse entered on tiptoe to inquire how the invalid was getting on. He brought in some fruit–always a welcome gift to the convalescent. He had heard enough to acquaint him with the subject under discussion. So busy had Brenda been in nursing her husband that she had not found time to tell the whole story to her father. Now he asked her for details, and she went over them again for his benefit.
“But why did Wilfred kill the man?” he asked.
长沙桑拿哪里好推荐”From sheer patriotic feeling,” answered his daughter. “He found out that Mr. Malet was supplying information about our defences to Van Zwieten, and he remonstrated with him. Malet laughed at his scruples and denied his complicity. Then Wilfred searched Mr. Malet’s desk and found papers which proved conclusively his treachery. Then it was he decided to kill him to save the honor of the family.”
“Well,” said Scarse, reflectively, “murder is a terrible crime; but if ever it is excusable, surely it is in such circumstances as these.”
“So I think,” chimed in Harold. “A man who betrays his country should not be allowed to live. In his place I would have acted just as Wilfred did. It was not a murder; it was well-deserved extermination.”
“It is terrible, nevertheless. Read the confession, Brenda,” said Mr. Scarse.
“No. I can 长沙桑拿spa tell you the story better. Harold must not be wearied, and the confession is long. Wilfred has stated at great length the reasons which led him to this act, and sets out a strong defence of it. He never regretted it at all events.”
“Go on, Brenda, dear child. I am anxious to hear how he did it.”
She glanced at Harold to see if he was listening, and began: “I need not weary you with his own defence,” she said. “As I have told you, from papers in Mr. Malet’s desk he found out that he was a traitor, and was supplying Van Zwieten with information concerning the plans of the Government, the number of men and guns which we could place in the field, and many other things which the Transvaal authorities wished to know. Had Kruger and his gang not known that we were wholly unprepared, they would not have dared to defy Great Britain and 湖南长沙桑拿论坛 risk this war. Mr. Malet, it appears, is responsible for a great deal–indeed, for the whole war!”
“The scoundrel!” Harold said weakly. “I am glad, indeed, that Wilfred shot him. I would have done so myself.”
“To ward off suspicions from his doings, Malet posed as an Imperialist. He saw Van Zwieten only at intervals. It was to obtain possession of some papers from Malet that Van Zwieten came down to Chippingholt, and for that reason he extorted an invitation from you, father.”
“I thought he was anxious to come,” Mr. Scarse said. “Now I can see it all.”
She continued: “Wilfred heard that Van Zwieten was at the cottage, and kept a sharp eye on Malet. He found out that he was to meet Van Zwieten on that night and give him some documents. He then made up his mind to kill him, to save–as I have said–the honor of the family, as well as to punish him for his wickedness in betraying his own country.
“Shortly before nine o’clock, Van Zwieten came to the Manor and entered the library by one of the French windows. It was his voice that Lady Jenny heard when she went to see if her husband was back from his walk. Indeed, it was Malet who brought Van Zwieten to the library to give him the papers. When Lady Jenny was on her way to the Rectory to see you, Harold, Wilfred escorted her. She mentioned that she had heard voices in the library, and wondered with whom her husband had been speaking. Wilfred guessed at once that the man was at his scoundrelly work, and was more than ever determined to put a stop to it. To get away from Lady Jenny without exciting her suspicion, and also to prove an alibi in case he shot the man, he pretended to sprain his ankle. Lady Jenny was quite unsuspicious, and went on to the Rectory alone. As you know, she never reached it, having been stopped by the storm. As soon as she was out of sight, Wilfred hastened back to the house with the intention of confronting both men, and killing Malet if he did not take the papers back from Van Zwieten. He also entered the library by the French window, so the servants never saw him come in. He found the room empty, as Van Zwieten had gone away, and Malet with him–I suppose it was to receive further instructions. Wilfred saw the revolvers belonging to Harold on a side-table, for Mr. Malet had been using them that afternoon. He took one, found that it was loaded, and hastened after the pair. Knowing that Van Zwieten was at our cottage, he went first in that direction; but for a long time he could see neither of them. At last he caught sight of Malet in the orchards, just before the storm. He was talking with a man whom Wilfred took to be you, father.”
“My brother, I suppose?”
“Yes,” replied Brenda. “It was Uncle Robert. He heard high words between the two and saw the struggle.”
“That was when the crape scarf was torn?”
“Undoubtedly. Malet must have torn it and held it in his hand without thinking. Well, Wilfred saw Malet throw the other man to the ground just when the storm broke, and hurry away to get back to shelter in the Manor; but the storm was so violent that he took shelter instead under a tree. Wilfred crept up to him and waited, but it was so dark that he could not see him plainly enough to shoot straight, and he was, of course, unwilling to risk failure. Then a flash of lightning revealed Mr. Malet. Wilfred sprang forward and grasped him by the shoulder. He cried out. I heard him myself. I was only a short distance away. When the darkness closed down again, Wilfred put the muzzle of the revolver close to his head and blew his brains out. Then he ran away, and in the darkness tripped over a stump. The
revolver flew out of his hand, and he lost it.”
“Van Zwieten found it?”
“Yes. Wilfred was a good deal troubled about it, for he knew that Harold’s name was on it, and he feared lest he should on that account be accused of the murder.”
“As I was, indeed, said Harold.
“Yes, dear, I know; but not officially. If, for instance, you had been arrested on the charge, then Wilfred would have come forward and have told the whole story. As it was, he kept silence.”
“And what did he do after he had killed Malet?” asked Mr. Scarse.