The Riddle of the Frozen Flame by Thomas W. Hanshew

The Riddle of the Frozen Flame by Thomas W. Hanshew

Author:Thomas W. Hanshew [Hanshew, Thomas W.]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Fiction, Mystery & Detective
Publisher: Feedbooks
Published: 1919-04-08T04:00:00+00:00

Chapter 17


What followed was like a sort of nightmare to Merriton. That he should be arrested for the murder of Dacre Wynne reeled drunkenly in his brain. Murderer! They were calling him a murderer! The liars! The fools! Calling him a murderer, were they? And taking the word of a crawling worm like Borkins, a man without honour and utterly devoid of decency, who could stand up before them and tell them a story that was a tissue of lies. It was appalling! What a fiend incarnate this man Cleek was! Coming here at Nigel's own bidding, and then suddenly manipulating the evidence, until it caught him up in its writhing coils like a well-thrown lasso. Oh, if he had only let well enough alone and not brought a detective to the house. Yet how was he to know that the man would try to fix a murder on him, himself? Useless for him to speak, to deny. The revolver-shot and the cruel little bullet (which showed there were others who possessed that sort of fire-arm besides himself) proved too easily, upon the circumstantial evidence theory at all events, that his word was naught.

He went through the next hour or two like a man who has been tortured. Silent, but bearing the mark of it upon his white face and in his haggard eyes. And indeed his situation was a terrible and strange one. He had set the wheels of the law in motion; he himself had brought the relentless Hamilton Cleek into the affair and now he was called a murderer!

In the little cell where they placed him, away from the gaping, murmuring, gesticulating knot of villagers that had marked his progress to the police-station—for news flies fast in the country, especially when there is a viper-tongue like Borkins's to wing it on its way—he was thankful for the momentary peace and quiet that the place afforded. At least he could think—think and pace up and down the narrow room with its tiny barred window too high for a man to reach, and its hard camp bedstead with the straw mattress, and go through the whole miserable fabrication that had landed him there.

The second day of confinement brought him a visitor. It was 'Toinette. His jailer—a rough-haired village-hand who had taken up with the "Force" and wore the uniform as though it belonged to someone else (which indeed it had)—brought him news of her arrival. It cut him like a lash to see her thus, and yet the longing for her was so great that it superseded all else. So he faced the man with a grim smile.

"I suppose, Bennett, that I shall be allowed to see Miss Brellier? You have made enquiries?"

"Yes, sir." Bennett was crestfallen and rather ashamed of his duty.

"Any restrictions?"

Bennett hedged.

"Well—if you please—Sir Nigel—that is—"

"What the devil are they, then?"

"Constable Roberts give orders that I was to stay 'ere with you—but I can turn me back," returned Bennett, with flushing countenance. "Shall I show the lady in?"



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