"There was no masquerading about the matter, my lord," said Darby, dryly; "since Sir Hubert really was a gypsy called Ishmael Hearne. That fact will come out at the inquest."
"It has come out now: everyone knows the truth. And a nice thing it is for me and Lady Agnes."
"I don't think you need worry about that, Lord Garvington. The honorable way in which the late Sir Hubert attained rank and gained wealth will reflect credit on his humble origin. When the papers learn the story—"
Tips, opportunities to make money：modern baseball cards worth money"Confound the papers!" interrupted Garvington fretfully. "I sincerely hope that they won't make too great a fuss over the business."
Tips, opportunities to make money：counting me moneyThe little man's hope was vain, as he might have guessed that it would be, for when the news became known in Fleet Street, the newspapers were only too glad to discover an original sensation for the dead season. Every day journalists and special correspondents were sent down in such numbers that the platform of Wanbury Railway Station was crowded with them. As the town—it was the chief town of Hengishire—was five miles away from the village of Garvington, every possible kind of vehicle was used to reach the scene of the crime, and The Manor became a rendezvous for all the morbid people, both in the neighborhood and out of it. The reporters in particular poked and pried all over the place, passing from the great house to the village, and thence to the gypsy camp on the borders of Abbot's Wood. From one person and another they learned facts, which were published with such fanciful additions that they read like fiction. On the authority of Mother Cockleshell—who was not averse to earning a few shillings—a kind of Gil Blas tale was put into print, and the wanderings of Ishmael Hearne were set forth in the picturesque style of a picarooning romance. But of the time when the adventurous gypsy assumed his Gentile name, the Romany could tell nothing, for obvious reasons. Until the truth became known, because of the man's tragic and unforeseen death, those in the camp were not aware that he was a Gorgio millionaire. But where the story of Mother Cockleshell left off, that of Mark Silver began, for the secretary had been connected with his employer almost from the days of Hearne's first exploits as Pine in London. And Silver—who also charged for the blended fact and fiction which he supplied—freely related all he knew.
"Hearne came to London and called himself Hubert Pine," he stated frankly, and not hesitating to confess his own lowly origin. "We met when I was starving as a toymaker in Whitechapel. I invented some penny toys, which Pine put on the market for me. They were successful and he made money. I am bound to confess that he paid me tolerably well, although he certainly took the lion's share. With the money he made in this way, he speculated in South African shares, and, as the boom was then on, he simply coined gold. Everything he touched turned into cash, and however deeply he plunged into the money market, he always came out top in the end. By turning over his money and re-investing it, and by fresh speculations, he became a millionaire in a wonderfully short space of time. Then he made me his secretary and afterwards took up politics. The Government gave him a knighthood for services rendered to his party, and he became a well-known figure in the world of finance. He married Lady Agnes Lambert, and—and—that's all."
"You were aware that he was a gypsy, Mr. Silver?" asked the reporter.
"Oh, yes. I knew all about his origin from the first days of our acquaintanceship. He asked me to keep his true name and rank secret. As it was none of my business, I did so. At times Hearne—or rather Pine, as I know him best by that name—grew weary of civilization, and then would return to his own life of the tent and road. No one suspected amongst the Romany that he was anything else but a horse-coper. He always pretended to be in Paris, or Berlin, on financial affairs, when he went back to his people, and I transacted all business during his absence."
"You knew that he was at the Abbot's Wood camp?"
"Certainly. I saw him there once or twice to receive instructions about business. I expostulated with him for being so near the house where his brother-in-law and wife were living, as I pointed out that the truth might easily become known. But Pine merely said that his safety in keeping his secret lay in his daring to run the risk."
"Have you any idea that Sir Hubert intended to come by night to Lord Garvington's house?"
"Not the slightest. In fact, I told him that Lord Garvington was afraid of burglars, and had threatened to shoot any man who tried to enter the house."
All this Silver said in a perfectly frank, free-and-easy manner, and also related how the dead man had instructed him to ask Garvington to allow the gypsies to remain in the wood. The reporter published the interview with sundry comments of his own, and it was read with great avidity by the public at large and by the many friends of the millionaire, who were surprised to learn of the double life led by the man. Of course, there was nothing disgraceful in Pine's past as Ishmael Hearne, and all attempts to discover something shady about his antecedents were vain. Yet—as was pointed out—there must have been something wrong, else the adventurer, as he plainly was, would not have met so terrible a death. But in spite of every one's desire to find fire to account for the smoke, nothing to Pine's disadvantage could be learned. Even at the inquest, and when the matter was thoroughly threshed out, the dead man's character proved to be honorable, and—save in the innocent concealment of his real name and origin—his public and private life was all that could be desired. The whole story was not criminal, but truly romantic, and the final tragedy gave a grim touch to what was regarded, even by the most censorious, as a picturesque narrative.
In spite of all his efforts, Inspector Darby, of Wanbury, could produce no evidence likely to show who had shot the deceased. Lord Garvington, under the natural impression that Pine was a burglar, had certainly wounded him in the right arm, but it was the second shot, fired by some one outside the house, which had pierced the heart. This was positively proved by the distinct evidence of Lady Agnes herself. She rose from her sick-bed to depose how she had opened her window, and had seen the actual death of the unfortunate man, whom she little guessed was her husband. The burglar—as she reasonably took him to be—was running down the path when she first caught sight of him, and after the first shot had been fired. It was the second shot, which came from the shrubbery—marked on the plan placed before the Coroner and jury—which had laid the fugitive low. Also various guests and servants stated that they had arrived in the passage in answer to Lord Garvington's outcries, to find that he had closed the door pending their coming. Some had even heard the second shot while descending the stairs. It was proved, therefore, in a very positive manner, that the master of the house had not murdered the supposed robber.
"I never intended to kill him," declared Garvington when his evidence was taken. "All I intended to do, and all I did do, was to wing him, so that he might be captured on the spot, or traced later. I closed the door after firing the shot, as I fancied that he might have had some accomplices with him, and I wished to make myself safe until assistance arrived."
"You had no idea that the man was Sir Hubert Pine?" asked a juryman.
"Certainly not. I should not have fired had I recognized him. The moment I opened the door he flung himself upon me. I fired and he ran away. It was not until we all went out and found him dead by the shrubbery that I recognized my brother-in-law. I thought he was in Paris."
Inspector Darby deposed that he had examined the shrubbery, and had noted broken twigs here and there, which showed that some one must have been concealed behind the screen of laurels. The grass—somewhat long in the thicket—had been trampled. But nothing had been discovered likely to lead to the discovery of the assassin who had been ambushed in this manner.
"Are there no footmarks?" questioned the Coroner.