The sunshine of an exquisite April
morning was shimmering over the Louisiana lowlands
as Battery “X” was “hitching in,”
and Mrs. Cram’s pretty pony-phaeton came flashing
through the garrison gate and reined up in front of
the guns. A proud and happy woman was Mrs. Cram,
and daintily she gathered the spotless, cream-colored
reins and slanted her long English driving-whip at
the exact angle prescribed by the vogue of the day.
By her side, reclining luxuriously on his pillows,
was Sam Waring, now senior first lieutenant of the
battery, taking his first airing since his strange
illness. Pallid and thin though he was, that
young gentleman was evidently capable of appreciating
to the fullest extent the devoted attentions of which
he had been the object ever since his return.
Stanch friend and fervent champion of her husband’s
most distinguished officer at any time, Mrs. Cram
had thrown herself into his cause with a zeal that
challenged the admiration even of the men whom she
mercilessly snubbed because they had accepted the general
verdict that Lascelles had died by Waring’s
hand. Had they met in the duello as practised
in the South in those days, sword to sword, or armed
with pistol at twelve paces, she would have shuddered,
but maintained that as a soldier and gentleman Waring
could not have refused his opponent’s challenge,
inexcusable though such challenge might have been.
But that he could have stooped to vulgar, unregulated
fracas, without seconds or the formality of the cartel,
first with fists and those women’s weapons,
nails, then knives or stilettoes, as though he was
some low dago or Sicilian, why, that was
simply and utterly incredible. None the less
she was relieved and rejoiced, as were all Waring’s
friends, when the full purport of poor Doyle’s
dying confession was noised abroad. Even those
who were sceptical were now silenced. For four
days her comfort and relief had been inexpressible;
and then came the hour when, with woe and trouble
in his face, her husband returned to her from Waring’s
bedside with the incomprehensible tidings that he had
utterly repudiated Doyle’s confession, had,
indeed, said that which could probably only serve
to renew the suspicion of his own guilt, or else justify
the theory that he was demented.
Though Cram and the doctor warned
Waring not to talk, talk he would, to Pierce, to Ferry,
to Ananias; and though these three were pledged by
Cram to reveal to no one what Waring said, it plunged
them in an agony of doubt and misgiving. Day
after day had the patient told and re-told the story,
and never could cross-questioning shake him in the
least. Cram sent for Reynolds and took him into
their confidence, and Reynolds heard the story and
added his questions, but to no effect. From first
to last he remembered every incident up to his parting
with Lascelles at his own gateway. After that nothing.
His story, in brief, was as follows.
He was both surprised and concerned, while smoking
and chatting with Mr. Allerton in the rotunda of the
St. Charles, to see Lascelles with a friend, evidently
watching an opportunity of speaking with him.
He had noticed about a week previous a marked difference
in the old Frenchman’s manner, and three days
before the tragedy, when calling on his way from town
to see Madame and Nin Nin, was informed that they
were not at home, and Monsieur himself was the informant;
nor did he, as heretofore, invite Waring to enter.
Sam was a fellow who detested misunderstanding.
Courteously, but positively, he demanded explanation.
Lascelles shrugged his shoulders, but gave it.
He had heard too much of Monsieur’s attentions
to Madame his wife, and desired their immediate discontinuance.
He must request Monsieur’s assurance that he
would not again visit Beau Rivage, or else the reparation
due a man of honor, etc. “Whereupon,”
said Waring, “I didn’t propose to be outdone
in civility, and therefore replied, in the best French
I could command, ’Permit me to tender Monsieur both.
Monsieur’s friends will find me at the barracks.’”
“All the same,” said Waring,
“when I found Madame and Nin Nin stuck in the
mud I did what I considered the proper thing, and drove
them, coram publico, to ‘bonne maman’s,’
never letting them see, of course, that there was
any row on tap, and so when I saw the old fellow with
a keen-looking party alongside I felt sure it meant
mischief. I was utterly surprised, therefore,
when Lascelles came up with hat off and hand extended,
bowing low, praying pardon for the intrusion, but saying
he could not defer another instant the desire to express
his gratitude the most profound for my extreme courtesy
to Madame and his beloved child. He had heard
the whole story, and, to my confusion, insisted on
going over all the details before Allerton, even to
my heroism, as he called it, in knocking down that
big bully of a cabman. I was confused, yet couldn’t
shake him off. He was persistent. He was
abject. He begged to meet my friend, to present
his, to open champagne and drink eternal friendship.
He would change the name of his chateau the
rotten old rookery from Beau Rivage to
Belle Alliance. He would make this day a fête
in the calendar of the Lascelles family. And then
it began to dawn on me that he had been drinking champagne
before he came. I did not catch the name of the
other gentleman, a much younger man. He was very
ceremonious and polite, but distant. Then, in
some way, came up the fact that I had been trying
to get a cab to take me back to barracks, and then
Lascelles declared that nothing could be more opportune.
He had secured a carriage and was just going down
with Monsieur. They had des affaires to
transact at once. He took me aside and said, ’In
proof that you accept my amende, and in order
that I may make to you my personal apologies, you
must accept my invitation.’ So go with them
I did. I was all the time thinking of Cram’s
mysterious note bidding me return at taps. I
couldn’t imagine what was up, but I made my best
endeavors to get a cab. None was to be had, so
I was really thankful for this opportunity. All
the way down Lascelles overwhelmed me with civilities,
and I could only murmur and protest, and the other
party only murmured approbation. He hardly spoke
English at all. Then Lascelles insisted on a
stop at the Pelican and on bumpers of champagne, and
there, as luck would have it, was Doyle, drunk,
as usual, and determined to join the party; and though
I endeavored to put him aside, Lascelles would not
have it. He insisted on being presented to the
comrade of his gallant friend, and in the private
room where we went he overwhelmed Doyle with details
of our grand reconciliation and with bumper after bumper
of Krug. This enabled me to fight shy of the
wine, but in ten minutes Doyle was fighting drunk,
Lascelles tipsy. The driver came in for his pay,
saying he would go no further. They had a row.
Lascelles wouldn’t pay; called him an Irish
thief, and all that. I slipped my last V into
the driver’s hand and got him out somehow.
Monsieur Philippes, or whatever his name was, said
he would go out, he’d get a cab in
the neighborhood; and the next thing I knew, Lascelles
and Doyle were in a fury of a row. Lascelles
said all the Irish were knaves and blackguards and
swindlers, and Doyle stumbled around after him.
Out came a pistol! Out came a knife! I tripped
Doyle and got him into a chair, and was so intent on
pacifying him and telling him not to make a fool of
himself that I didn’t notice anything else.
I handled him good-naturedly, got the knife away,
and then was amazed to find that he had my own pet
paper-cutter. I made them shake hands and make
up. It was all a mistake, said Lascelles.
But what made it a worse mistake, the old man would
order more wine, and, with it, brandy. He insisted
on celebrating this second grand reconciliation, and
then both got drunker, but the tall Frenchman had
Lascelles’s pistol and I had the knife, and then
a cab came, and, though it was storming beastly and
I had Ferry’s duds on and Larkin’s best
tile and Pierce’s umbrella, we bundled in somehow
and drove on down the levee, leaving Doyle in the
hands of that Amazon of a wife of his and a couple
of doughboys who happened to be around there.
Now Lascelles was all hilarity, singing, joking, confidential.
Nothing would do but we must stop and call on a lovely
woman, a belle amie. He could rely on
our discretion, he said, laying his finger on his nose,
and looking sly and coquettish, for all the world
like some old roue of a Frenchman. He
must stop and see her and take her some wine.
‘Indeed,’ he said, mysteriously, ‘it
is a rendezvous.’ Well, I was their guest;
I had no money. What could I do? It was
then after eleven, I should judge. Monsieur Philippes,
or whatever his name was, gave orders to the driver.
We pulled up, and then, to my surprise, I found we
were at Doyle’s. That ended it. I
told them they must excuse me. They protested,
but of course I couldn’t go in there. So
they took a couple of bottles apiece and went in the
gate, and I settled myself for a nap and got it.
I don’t know how long I slept, but I was aroused
by the devil’s own tumult. A shot had been
fired. Men and women both were screaming and swearing.
Some one suddenly burst into the cab beside me, really
pushed from behind, and then away we went through
the mud and the rain; and the lightning was flashing
now, and presently I could recognize Lascelles, raging.
‘Infâme!’ ‘Coquin!’ ‘Assassin!’
were the mildest terms he was volleying at somebody;
and then, recognizing me, he burst into maudlin tears,
swore I was his only friend. He had been insulted,
abused, denied reparation. Was he hurt?
I inquired, and instinctively felt for my knife.
It was still there where I’d hid it in the inside
pocket of my overcoat. No hurt; not a blow.
Did I suppose that he, a Frenchman, would pardon that
or leave the spot until satisfaction had been exacted?
Then I begged him to be calm and listen to me for
a moment. I told him my plight, that
I had given my word to be at barracks that evening;
that I had no money left, but I could go no further.
Instantly he forgot his woes and became absorbed in
my affairs. ’Parole d’honneur!’
he would see that mine was never unsullied. He
himself would escort me to the maison de Capitaine
Cram. He would rejoice to say to that brave ennemi,
Behold! here is thy lieutenant, of honor the most unsullied,
of courage the most admirable, of heart the most magnanimous.
The Lord only knows what he wouldn’t have done
had we not pulled up at his gate. There I helped
him out on the banquette. He was steadied by his
row, whatever it had been. He would not let me
expose myself even under Pierce’s
umbrella. He would not permit me to suffer ‘from
times so of the dog.’ ‘You will drive
Monsieur to his home and return here for me at once,’
he ordered cabby, grasped both my hands with fervent
good-night and the explanation that he had much haste,
implored pardon for leaving me, on the
morrow he would call and explain everything, then
darted into the gate. We never could have parted
on more friendly terms. I stood a moment to see
that he safely reached his door, for a light was dimly
burning in the hall, then turned to jump into the cab,
but it wasn’t there. Nothing was there.
I jumped from the banquette into a berth aboard some
steamer out at sea. They tell me the first thing
I asked for was Pierce’s umbrella and Larkin’s
And this was the story that Waring
maintained from first to last. “Pills”
ventured a query as to whether the amount of Krug and
Clicquot consumed might not have overthrown his mental
equipoise. No, Sam declared, he drank very little.
“The only bacchanalian thing I did was to join
in a jovial chorus from a new French opera which Lascelles’s
friend piped up and I had heard in the North:
Oui, buvons, buvons
un vin qu’on adore
De Paris a Macao,
Clicquot, c’est lé Clicquot.”
Asked if he had formed any conjecture
as to the identity of the stranger, Sam said no.
The name sounded like “Philippes,” but
he couldn’t be sure. But when told that
there were rumors to the effect that Lascelles’s
younger brother had been seen with him twice or thrice
of late, and that he had been in exile because, if
anything, of a hopeless passion for Madame his sister-in-law,
and that his name was Philippe, Waring looked dazed.
Then a sudden light, as of newer, fresher memory,
flashed up in his eyes. He seemed about to speak,
but as suddenly controlled himself and turned his
face to the wall. From that time on he was determinedly
dumb about the stranger. What roused him to lively
interest and conjecture, however, was Cram’s
query as to whether he had not recognized in the cabman,
called in by the stranger, the very one whom he had
“knocked endwise” and who had tried to
shoot him that morning. “No,” said
Waring: “the man did not speak at all, that
I noticed, and I did not once see his face, he was
so bundled up against the storm.” But if
it was the same party, suggested he, it seemed hardly
necessary to look any further in explanation of his
own disappearance. Cabby had simply squared matters
by knocking him senseless, helping himself to his
watch and ring, and turning out his pockets, then
hammering him until frightened off, and then, to cover
his tracks, setting him afloat in Anatole’s
“Perhaps cabby took a hand in
the murder, too,” suggested Sam, with eager
interest. “You say he had disappeared, gone
with his plunder. Now, who else could have taken
Then Reynolds had something to tell
him: that the “lady” who wrote the
anonymous letters, the belle amie whom Lascelles
proposed to visit, the occupant of the upper floor
of “the dove-cot,” was none other than
the blighted floweret who had appealed to him for aid
and sympathy, for fifty dollars at first and later
for more, the first year of his army service in the
South, “for the sake of the old home.”
Then Waring grew even more excited and interested.
“Pills” put a stop to further developments
for a few days. He feared a relapse. But,
in spite of “Pills,” the developments,
like other maladies, throve. The little detective
came down again. He was oddly inquisitive about
that chanson a boire from “Fleur de
The.” Would Mr. Waring hum it for him?
And Sam, now sitting up in his parlor, turned to his
piano, and with long, slender, fragile-looking fingers
rattled a lively prelude and then faintly quavered
the rollicking words.
“Odd,” said Mr. Pepper,
as they had grown to call him, “I heard that
sung by a fellow up in Chartres Street two nights hand-running
before this thing happened, a merry cuss,
too, with a rather loose hand on his shekels.
Lots of people may know it, though, mayn’t they?”
“No, indeed, not down here,”
said Sam. “It only came out in New York
within the last four months, and hasn’t been
South or West at all, that I know of. What did
he look like?”
“Well, what did the feller that was with you
But here Sam’s description grew
vague. So Pepper went up to have a beer by himself
at the cafe chantant on Chartres Street, and
didn’t return for nearly a week.
Meantime came this exquisite April
morning and Sam’s appearance in the pony-phaeton
in front of Battery “X.” Even the
horses seemed to prick up their ears and be glad to
see him. Grim old war sergeants rode up to touch
their caps and express the hope that they’d soon
have the lieutenant in command of the right section
again, “not but what Loot’n’t
Ferry’s doing first-rate, sir,” and
for a few minutes, as his fair charioteer drove him
around the battery, in his weak, languid voice, Waring
indulged in a little of his own characteristic chaffing:
“I expect you to bring this
section up to top notch, Mr. Ferry, as I am constitutionally
opposed to any work on my own account. I beg to
call your attention, sir, to the fact that it’s
very bad form to appear with full-dress schabraque
on your horse when the battery is in fatigue.
The red blanket, sir, the red blanket only should be
used. Be good enough to stretch your traces there,
right caisson. Yes, I thought so, swing trace
is twisted. Carelessness, Mr. Ferry, and indifference
to duty are things I won’t tolerate. Your
cheek-strap, too, sir, is an inch too long. Your
bit will fall through that horse’s mouth.
This won’t do, sir, not in my section, sir.
I’ll fine you a box of Partagas if it occurs
But the blare of the bugle sounding
“attention” announced the presence of
the battery commander. Nell whipped up in an instant
and whisked her invalid out of the way.
“Good-morning, Captain Cram,”
said he, as he passed his smiling chief. “I
regret to observe, sir, that things have been allowed
to run down somewhat in my absence.”
“Oh, out with you, you combination
of cheek and incapacity, or I’ll run you down
with the whole battery. Oh! Waring, some
gentlemen in a carriage have just stopped at your
quarters, all in black, too. Ah, here’s
the orderly now.”
And the card, black-bordered, handed
into the phaeton, bore a name which blanched Waring’s
| M. Philippe Lascelles, |
| N’lle Orleans.|
“Why, what is it, Waring?”
asked Cram, anxiously, bending down from his saddle.
For a moment Waring was silent.
Mrs. Cram felt her own hand trembling.
“Can you turn the battery over
to Ferry and come with me?” asked the lieutenant.
report to Lieutenant Ferry and tell him I shall have
to be absent for a while. Drive on, Nell.”
When, five minutes later, Waring was
assisted up the stair-way, Cram towering on his right,
the little party came upon a group of strangers, three
gentlemen, one of whom stepped courteously forward,
raising his hat in a black-gloved hand. He was
of medium height, slender, erect, and soldierly in
bearing; his face was dark and oval, his eyes large,
deep, and full of light. He spoke mainly in English,
but with marked accent, and the voice was soft and
“I fear I have intrude.
Have I the honor to address Lieutenant Waring?
I am Philippe Lascelles.”
For a moment Waring was too amazed
to speak. At last, with brightening face and
holding forth his hand, he said,
“I am most glad to meet you, to
know that it was not you who drove down with us that
“Alas, no! I left Armand
but that very morning, returning to Havana, thence
going to Santiago. It was not until five days
ago the news reached me. It is of that stranger
I come to ask.”
It was an odd council gathered there
in Waring’s room in the old barracks that April
morning while Ferry was drilling the battery to his
heart’s content and the infantry companies were
wearily going over the manual or bayonet exercise.
Old Brax had been sent for, and came. Monsieur
Lascelles’s friends, both, like himself, soldiers
of the South, were presented, and for their information
Waring’s story was again told, with only most
delicate allusion to certain incidents which might
be considered as reflecting on the character and dignity
of the elder brother. And then Philippe told
his. True, there had been certain transactions
between Armand and himself. He had fully trusted
his brother, a man of affairs, with the management
of the little inheritance which he, a soldier, had
no idea how to handle, and Armand’s business
had suffered greatly by the war. It was touching
to see how in every word the younger strove to conceal
the fact that the elder had misapplied the securities
and had been practically faithless to his trust.
Everything, he declared, had been finally settled as
between them that very morning before his return to
Havana. Armand had brought to him early all papers
remaining in his possession and had paid him what was
justly due. He knew, however, that Armand was
now greatly embarrassed in his affairs. They
had parted with fond embrace, the most affectionate
of brothers. But Philippe had been seeing and
hearing enough to make him gravely apprehensive as
to Armand’s future, to know that his business
was rapidly going down-hill, that he had been raising
money in various ways, speculating, and had fallen
into the hands of sharpers, and yet Armand would not
admit it, would not consent to accept help or to use
his younger brother’s property in any way.
“The lawyer,” said Philippe, “informed
me that Beau Rivage was heavily mortgaged, and it is
feared that there will be nothing left for Madame
and Nin Nin, though, for that matter, they shall never
want.” What he had also urged, and he spoke
with reluctance here, and owned it only because the
detectives told him it was now well known, was that
Armand had of late been playing the rôle of
galant homme, and that the woman in the case
had fled. Of all this he felt, he said, bound
to speak fully, because in coming here with his witnesses
to meet Lieutenant Waring and his friends he had two
objects in view. The first was to admit that he
had accepted as fact the published reports that Lieutenant
Waring was probably his brother’s slayer; had
hastened back to New Orleans to demand justice or obtain
revenge; had here learned from the lawyers and police
that there were now other and much more probable theories,
having heard only one of which he had cried “Enough,”
and had come to pray the forgiveness of Mr. Waring
for having believed an officer and a gentleman guilty
of so foul a crime. Second, he had come to invoke
his aid in running down the murderer. Philippe
was affected almost to tears.
“There is one question I must
beg to ask Monsieur,” said Waring, as the two
clasped hands. “Is there not still a member
of your family who entertains the idea that it was
I who killed Armand Lascelles?”
And Philippe was deeply embarrassed.
“Ah, monsieur,” he answered,
“I could not venture to intrude myself upon
a grief so sacred. I have not seen Madame, and
who is there who could who would tell
her of Armand’s ” And
Philippe broke off abruptly, with despairing shrug,
and outward wave of his slender hand.
“Let us try to see that she
never does know,” said Waring. “These
are the men we need to find: the driver of the
cab, the stranger whose name sounded so like yours,
a tall, swarthy, black-haired, black-eyed fellow with
pointed moustache ”
“C’est lui! c’est
bien lui!” exclaimed Lascelles, “the
very man who insisted on entering the private office
where, Armand and I, we close our affairs that morning.
His whispered words make my brother all of pale, and
yet he go off humming to himself.”
“Oh, we’ll nail him,”
said Cram. “Two of the best detectives in
the South are on his trail now.”
And then came Ananias with a silver
tray, champagne, and glasses (from Mrs. Cram), and
the conference went on another hour before the guests
“Bless my soul!” said
Brax, whose diameter seemed in no wise increased by
the quart of Roederer he had swallowed with such gusto, “bless
my soul! and to think I believed that we were going
to have a duel with some of those fellows a fortnight
or so ago!”
Then entered “Pills” and
ordered Waring back to bed. He was sleeping placidly
when, late that evening, Reynolds and Cram came tearing
up the stair-way, full of great news; but the doctor
said not to wake him.
Meantime, how fared it with that bruised
reed, the lone widow of the late Lieutenant Doyle?
Poor old Jim had been laid away with military honors
under the flag at Chalmette, and his faithful Bridget
was spending the days in the public calaboose.
Drunk and disorderly was the charge on which she had
been arraigned, and, though she declared herself abundantly
able to pay her fine twice over, Mr. Pepper had warned
the authorities to keep her under lock and key and
out of liquor, as her testimony would be of vital
importance, if for nothing better than to send her
up for perjury. Now she was alternately wheedling,
cursing, coaxing, bribing; all to no purpose.
The agent of the Lemaitre property had swooped down
on the dove-cot and found a beggarly array of empty
bottles and a good deal of discarded feminine gear
scattered about on both floors. One room in which
certain detectives were vastly interested contained
the unsavory relics of a late supper. Three or
four empty champagne-bottles, some shattered glasses,
and, what seemed most to attract them, various stubs
of partially-consumed cigarettes, lay about the tables
and floor. Adjoining this was the chamber which
had been known as Mrs. Dawson’s, and this, too,
had been thoroughly explored. ’Louette,
who had disappeared after Doyle’s tragic death,
was found not far away, and the police thought it
but fair that Mrs. Doyle should not be deprived of
the services of her maid. Then came other additions,
though confined in other sections of the city.
Mr. Pepper wired that the party known as Monsieur
Philippes had been run to earth and would reach town
with him by train about the same time that another
of the force returned from Mobile by boat, bringing
a young man known as Dawson and wanted as a deserter,
and a very sprightly young lady who appeared to move
in a higher sphere of life, but was unquestionably
his wife, for the officer could prove their marriage
in South Carolina in the spring of ’65.
As Mr. Pepper expressed it when he reported to Reynolds,
“It’s almost a full hand, but, for a fact,
it’s only a bobtail flush. We need that
cabman to fill.”
“How did you trace Philippes?” asked Reynolds.
“Him? Oh, he was too darned
musical. It was what do you call it? Flure
de Tay that did for him. Why, he’s the fellow
that raised all the money and most of the h ll
for this old man Lascelles. He’d been sharping
him for years.”
“Well, when can we bring this
thing to a head?” asked the aide-de-camp.
“Poco tiempo! by Saturday, I reckon.”
But it came sooner.
Waring was seated one lovely evening
in a low reclining chair on Mrs. Cram’s broad
gallery, sipping contentedly at the cup of fragrant
tea she had handed him. The band was playing,
and a number of children were chasing about in noisy
glee. The men were at supper, the officers, as
a rule, at mess. For several minutes the semi-restored
invalid had not spoken a word. In one of his
customary day-dreams he had been calmly gazing at
the shapely white hand of his hostess, “all queenly
with its weight of rings.”
“Will you permit me to examine those rings a
moment?” he said.
“Why, certainly. No, you
sit still, Mr. Waring,” she replied, promptly
rising, and, pulling them off her fingers, dropped
them into his open palm. With the same dreamy
expression on his clear-cut, pallid face, he turned
them over and over, held them up to the light, finally
selected one exquisite gem, and then, half rising,
held forth the others. As she took them and still
stood beside his chair as though patiently waiting,
he glanced up.
“Oh, beg pardon. You want
this, I suppose?” and, handing her the dainty
teacup, he calmly slipped the ring into his waistcoat-pocket
and languidly murmured, “Thanks.”
“Well, I like that.”
“Yes? So do I, rather better than the others.”
“May I ask what you purpose doing with my ring?”
“I was just thinking. I’ve
ordered a new Amidon for Larkin, a new ninety-dollar
suit for Ferry, and I shall be decidedly poor this
month, even if we recover Merton’s watch.”
“Oh, well, if it’s only to pawn one, why
not take a diamond?”
“But it isn’t.”
“What then, pray?”
“Well, again I was just thinking whether
I could find another to match this up in town, or
send this one to her.”
“Mr. Waring! Really?”
And now Mrs. Cram’s bright eyes are dancing
with eagerness and delight.
For all answer, though his own eyes
begin to moisten and swim, he draws from an inner
pocket a dainty letter, post-marked from a far, far
city to the northeast.
“You dear fellow!
How can I tell you how glad I am! I haven’t
dared to ask you of her since we met at Washington,
but oh, my heart has been just full of
her since since this trouble came.”
“God bless the trouble! it was
that that won her to me at last. I have loved
her ever since I first saw her long years
“Oh! oh! OH! if Ned were
only here! I’m wild to tell him. I
may, mayn’t I?”
“Yes, the moment he comes.”
But Ned brought a crowd with him when
he got back from town a little later. Reynolds
was there, and Philippe Lascelles, and Mr. Pepper,
and they had a tale to tell that must needs be condensed.
They had all been present by invitation
of the civil authorities at a very dramatic affair
during the late afternoon, the final lifting
of the veil that hid from public view the “strange,
eventful history” of the Lascelles tragedy.
Cram was the spokesman by common consent. “With
the exception of the Dawsons,” said he, “none
of the parties implicated knew up to the hour of his
or her examination that any one of the others was
to appear.” Mrs. Dawson, eager to save her
own pretty neck, had told her story without reservation.
Dawson knew nothing.
The story had been wrung from her
piecemeal, but was finally told in full, and in the
presence of the officers and civilians indicated.
She had married in April, ’65, to the scorn
of her people, a young Yankee officer attached to
the commissary department. She had starved all
through the war. She longed for life, luxury,
comforts. She had nothing but her beauty, he
nothing but his pay. The extravagances of
a month swamped him; the drink and desperation of
the next ruined him. He maintained her in luxury
at the best hotel only a few weeks, then all of his
and much of Uncle Sam’s money was gone.
Inspection proved him a thief and embezzler.
He fled, and she was abandoned to her own resources.
She had none but her beauty and a gift of penmanship
which covered the many sins of her orthography.
She was given a clerkship, but wanted more money,
and took it, blackmailing a quartermaster. She
imposed on Waring, but he quickly found her out and
absolutely refused afterwards to see her at all.
She was piqued and angered, “a woman scorned,”
but not until he joined Battery “X” did
opportunity present itself for revenge. She had
secured a room under Mrs. Doyle’s reputable
roof, to be near the barracks, where she could support
herself by writing for Mrs. Doyle and blackmailing
those whom she lured, and where she could watch him,
and, to her eager delight, she noted and prepared
to make much of his attentions to Madame Lascelles.
Incidentally, too, she might inveigle the susceptible
Lascelles himself, on the principle that there’s
no fool like an old fool. Mrs. Doyle lent herself
eagerly to the scheme. The letters began to pass
to and fro again. Lascelles was fool enough to
answer, and when, all on a sudden, Mrs. Doyle’s
“long-missing relative,” as she called
him, turned up, a pensioner on her charity, it was
through the united efforts of the two women he got
a situation as cab-driver at the stable up at the
eastern skirt of the town. Dawson had enlisted
to keep from starving, and, though she had no use
for him as a husband, he would do to fetch and carry,
and he dare not disobey. Twice when Doyle was
battery officer of the day did this strangely-assorted
pair of women entertain Lascelles at supper and fleece
him out of what money he had. Then came Philippes
with Lascelles in Mike’s cab, as luck would
have it, but they could not fleece Philippes.
Old Lascelles was rapidly succumbing to Nita’s
fascinations when came the night of the terrible storm.
Mike had got to drinking, and was laid low by the
lieutenant. Mike and Bridget both vowed vengeance.
But meantime Doyle himself had got wind of something
that was going on, and he and his tyrant had a fearful
row. He commanded her never to allow a man inside
the premises when he was away, and, though brought
home drunk that awful night, furiously ordered the
Frenchman out, and might have assaulted them had not
Bridget lassoed him with a chloroformed towel.
That was the last he knew until another day. Lascelles,
Philippes, and she, Mrs. Dawson, had already drunk
a bottle of champagne when interrupted by Doyle’s
coming. Lascelles was tipsy, had snatched his
pistol and fired a shot to frighten Doyle, but had
only enraged him, and then he had to run for his cab.
He was bundled in and Doyle disposed of. It was
only three blocks down to Beau Rivage, and thither
Mike drove them in all the storm. She did not
know at the time of Waring’s being in the cab.
In less than fifteen minutes Mike was back and called
excitedly for Bridget; had a hurried consultation with
her; she seized a waterproof and ran out with him,
but darted back and took the bottle of chloroform
she had used on her husband, now lying limp and senseless
on a sofa below, and then she disappeared. When
half an hour passed and Lascelles failed to return
with them, bringing certain papers of which he’d
been speaking to Philippes, the latter declared there
must be something wrong, and went out to reconnoitre
despite the storm. He could see nothing.
It was after midnight when Mrs. Doyle came rushing
in, gasping, all out of breath “along of the
storm,” she said. She had been down the
levee with Mike to find a cushion and lap-robe he dropped
and couldn’t afford to lose. They never
could have found it at all “but for ould Lascelles
lending them a lantern.” He wanted Mike
to bring down two bottles of champagne he’d
left here, but it was storming so that he would not
venture again, and Lieutenant Waring, she said, was
going to spend the night with Lascelles at Beau Rivage:
Mike couldn’t drive any farther down towards
the barracks. Lascelles sent word to Philippes
that he’d bring up the papers first thing in
the morning, if the storm lulled, and Philippes went
out indignant at all the time lost, but Mike swore
he’d not drive down again for a fortune.
So the Frenchman got into the cab and went up with
him to town. The moment he was gone Mrs. Doyle
declared she was dead tired, used up, and drank huge
goblets of the wine until she reeled off to her room,
leaving an apron behind. Then Mrs. Dawson went
to her own room, after putting out the lights, and
when, two days later, she heard the awful news of
the murder, knowing that investigation would follow
and she and her sins be brought to light, she fled,
for she had enough of his money in her possession,
and poor demented Dawson, finding her gone, followed.
Philippes’s story corroborated
this in every particular. The last he saw of
the cab or of the cabman was near the house of the
hook-and-ladder company east of the French Market.
The driver there said his horse was dead beat and
could do no more, so Philippes went into the market,
succeeded in getting another cab by paying a big price,
slept at Cassidy’s, waited all the morning about
Lascelles’s place, and finally, having to return
to the Northeast at once, he took the evening train
on the Jackson road and never heard of the murder
until ten days after. He was amazed at his arrest.
And then came before his examiners
a mere physical wreck, the shadow of his
former self, caught at the high tide of
a career of crime and debauchery, a much less bulky
party than the truculent Jehu of Madame Lascelles’s
cab, yet no less important a witness than that same
driver. He was accompanied by a priest.
He had been brought hither in an ambulance from the
Hotel-Dieu, where he had been traced several days
before and found almost at death’s door.
His confession was most important of all. He
had struck Lieutenant Waring as that officer turned
away from Lascelles’s gate, intending only to
down and then kick and hammer him, but he had struck
with a lead-loaded rubber club, and he was horrified
to see him drop like one dead. Then he lost his
nerve and drove furiously back for Bridget. Together
they returned, and found Waring lying there as he
had left him on the dripping banquette. “You’ve
killed him, Mike. There’s only one thing
to do,” she said: “take his watch
and everything valuable he has, and we’ll throw
him over on the levee.” She herself took
the knife from his overcoat-pocket, lest he should
recover suddenly, and then, said the driver, “even
as we were bending over him there came a sudden flash
of lightning, and there was Lascelles bending over
us, demanding to know what it meant. Then like
another flash he seemed to realize what was up, sprang
back, and drew pistol. He had caught us in the
act. There was nothing else to do; we both sprang
upon him. He fired, and hit me, but only in the
arm, and before he could pull trigger again we both
grappled him. I seized his gun, Bridget his throat,
but he screamed and fought like a tiger, then wilted
all of a sudden. I was scared and helpless, but
she had her wits about her, and told me what to do.
The lieutenant began to gasp and revive just then,
so she soaked the handkerchief in chloroform and placed
it over his mouth, and together we lifted him into
the cab. Then we raised Lascelles and carried
him in and laid him on his sofa, for he had left the
door open and the lamp on the table. Bridget had
been there before, and knew all about the house.
We set the pistol back in his hand, but couldn’t
make the fingers grasp it. We ransacked the desk
and got what money there was, locked and bolted the
doors, and climbed out of the side window, under which
she dropped the knife among the bushes. ‘They’ll
never suspect us in the world, Mike,’ she said.
’It’s the lieutenant’s knife that
did it, and, as he was going to fight him anyhow,
he’ll get the credit of it all.’ Then
we drove up the levee, put Waring in Anatole’s
boat, sculls and all, and shoved him off. ’I’ll
muzzle Jim,’ she said. ’I’ll
make him believe ’twas he that did it when he
was drunk.’ She took most of the money,
and the watch and ring. She said she could hide
them until they’d be needed. Then I drove
Philippes up to town until I began to get so sick
and faint I could do no more. I turned the cab
loose and got away to a house where I knew they’d
take care of me, and from there, when my money was
gone, they sent me to the hospital, thinking I was
dying. I swear to God I never meant to more than
get square with the lieutenant. I never struck
Lascelles at all; ’twas she who drove the knife
into his heart.”
Then, exhausted, he was led into an
adjoining room, and Mrs. Doyle was marched in, the
picture of injured Irish innocence. For ten minutes,
with wonderful effrontery and nerve, she denied all
personal participation in the crime, and faced her
inquisitors with brazen calm. Then the chief
quietly turned and signalled. An officer led forward
from one side the wreck of a cabman, supported by
the priest; a door opened on the other, and, escorted
by another policeman, Mrs. Dawson re-entered, holding
in her hands outstretched a gingham apron on which
were two deep stains the shape and size of a long,
straight-bladed, two-edged knife. It was the
apron that Bridget Doyle had worn that fatal night.
One quick, furtive look at that, one glance at her
trembling, shrinking, cowering kinsman, and, with
an Irish howl of despair, a loud wail of “Mike,
Mike, you’ve sworn your sister’s life away!”
she threw herself upon the floor, tearing madly at
her hair. And so ended the mystery of Beau Rivage.
There was silence a moment in Cram’s
pretty parlor when the captain had finished his story.
Waring was the first to speak:
“There is one point I wish they’d clear
“What’s that?” said Cram.
“Who’s got Merton’s watch?”
“Oh, by Jove! I quite forgot.
It’s all right, Waring. Anatole’s
place was ‘pulled’ last night, and he
had her valuables all done up in a box. ‘To
pay for his boat,’ he said.”
A quarter of a century has passed
away since the scarlet plumes of Light Battery “X”
were last seen dancing along the levee below New Orleans.
Beau Rivage, old and moss-grown at the close of the
war, fell into rapid decline after the tragedy of
that April night. Heavily mortgaged, the property
passed into other hands, but for years never found
a tenant. Far and near the negroes spoke of the
homestead as haunted, and none of their race could
be induced to set foot within its gates. One night
the sentry at the guard-house saw sudden light on
the westward sky, and then a column of flame.
Again the fire-alarm resounded among the echoing walls
of the barracks; but when the soldiers reached the
scene, a seething ruin was all that was left of the
old Southern home. Somebody sent Cram a marked
copy of a New Orleans paper, and in their cosey quarters
at Fort Hamilton the captain read it aloud to his devoted
Nell: “The old house has been vacant, an
object of almost superstitious dread to the neighborhood,”
said the Times, “ever since the tragic
death of Armand Lascelles in the spring of 1868.
In police annals the affair was remarkable because
of the extraordinary chain of circumstantial evidence
which for a time seemed to fasten the murder upon an
officer of the army then stationed at Jackson Barracks,
but whose innocence was triumphantly established.
Madame Lascelles, it is understood, is now educating
her daughter in Paris, whither she removed immediately
after her marriage a few months ago to Captain Philippe
Lascelles, formerly of the Confederate army, a younger
brother of her first husband.”
“Well,” said Cram, “I’ll
have to send that to Waring. They’re in
Vienna by this time, I suppose. Look here, Nell;
how was it that when we fellows were fretting about
Waring’s attentions to Madame, you should have
been so serenely superior to it all, even when, as
I know, the stories reached you?”
“Ah, Ned, I knew a story worth
two of those. He was in love with Natalie Maitland
all the time.”