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       The Holladay Case: A Tale, p.1

           Burton Egbert Stevenson
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The Holladay Case: A Tale


  Produced by Sam W., Suzanne Shell, and the OnlineDistributed Proofreading Team at https://www.pgdp.net

  THE HOLLADAY CASE

  _A TALE_

  By

  BURTON E. STEVENSON

  AUTHOR OF "AT ODDS WITH THE REGENT," "ASOLDIER OF VIRGINIA," ETC.

  NEW YORKHENRY HOLT AND COMPANY1903

  COPYRIGHT, 1903,BYHENRY HOLT AND COMPANY

  _Published November, 1903_

  THE MERSHON COMPANY PRESS,RAHWAY, N. J.

  MR. ROYCE DELIVERS THE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS.]

  CONTENTS

  CHAPTER PAGE

  I. A BOLT FROM THE BLUE, 1

  II. IN THE GRIP OF CIRCUMSTANCE, 15

  III. THE COIL TIGHTENS, 37

  IV. I HAVE AN INSPIRATION, 56

  V. I DINE WITH A FASCINATING STRANGER, 70

  VI. GODFREY'S PANEGYRIC, 90

  VII. MISS HOLLADAY BECOMES CAPRICIOUS, 101

  VIII. THE MYSTERIOUS MAID, 114

  IX. I MEET MONSIEUR MARTIGNY, 131

  X. AN ASTONISHING DISAPPEARANCE, 146

  XI. I UNMASK MY ENEMY, 165

  XII. AT THE CAFE JOURDAIN, 183

  XIII. EN VOYAGE, 197

  XIV. I PROVE A BAD SENTINEL, 213

  XV. TWO HEADS ARE BETTER THAN ONE, 229

  XVI. I BEARD THE LION, 247

  XVII. ETRETAT, 270

  XVIII. THE VEIL IS LIFTED, 280

  XIX. THE END OF THE STORY, 293

  THE HOLLADAY CASE

  CHAPTER I

  A Bolt from the Blue

  The atmosphere of the office that morning was a shade less genial thanusual. We had all of us fought our way downtown through such a stormof wind, snow, slush, and sleet as is to be found nowhere save inmid-March New York, and our tempers had suffered accordingly. I hadfound a cab unobtainable, and there was, of course, the inevitable jamon the Elevated, with the trains many minutes behind the schedule. Iwas some half-hour late, in consequence, and when I entered the inneroffice, I was surprised to find Mr. Graham, our senior, already at hisdesk. He nodded good-morning a little curtly.

  "I wish you'd look over these papers in the Hurd case, Lester," hesaid, and pushed them toward me.

  I took them and sat down; and just then the outer door slammed with aviolence extremely unusual.

  I had never seen Mr. Royce, our junior, so deeply shaken, so visiblydistracted, as he was when he burst in upon us a moment later, anewspaper in his hand. Mr. Graham, startled by the noise of hisentrance, wheeled around from his desk and stared at him inastonishment.

  "Why, upon my word, John," he began, "you look all done up. What's thematter?"

  "Matter enough, sir!" and Mr. Royce spread out the paper on the deskbefore him. "You haven't seen the morning papers, of course; well,look at that!" and he indicated with a trembling finger the articlewhich occupied the first column of the first page--the place ofhonor.

  I saw our senior's face change as he read the headlines, and he seemedpositively horror-stricken as he ran rapidly through the story whichfollowed.

  "Why, this is the most remarkable thing I ever read!" he burst out atlast.

  "Remarkable!" cried the other. "Why, it's a damnable outrage, sir! Theidea that a gentle, cultured girl like Frances Holladay woulddeliberately murder her own father--strike him down in cold blood--istoo monstrous, too absolutely preposterous, too--too----" and hestopped, fairly choked by his emotion.

  The words brought me upright in my chair. Frances Holladay accusedof--well!--no wonder our junior was upset!

  But Mr. Graham was reading through the article again more carefully,and while he nodded sympathetically to show that he fully assented tothe other's words, a straight, deep line of perplexity, which I hadcome to recognize, formed between his eyebrows.

  "Plainly," he said at last, "the whole case hinges on the evidence ofthis man Rogers--Holladay's confidential clerk--and from what I knowof Rogers, I should say that he'd be the last man in the world to makea willful misstatement. He says that Miss Holladay entered herfather's office late yesterday afternoon, stayed there ten minutes,and then came out hurriedly. A few minutes later Rogers went into theoffice and found his employer dead. That's the whole case, but it'llbe a hard one to break."

  "Well, it must be broken!" retorted the other, pulling himselftogether with a supreme effort. "Of course, I'll take the case."

  "Of course!"

  "Miss Holladay probably sent for me last night, but I was out atBabylon, you know, looking up that witness in the Hurd affair. He'llbe all right, and his evidence will give us the case. Our answer inthe Brown injunction can wait till to-morrow. That's all, I think."

  The chief nodded.

  "Yes--I see the inquest is to begin at ten o'clock. You haven't muchtime."

  "No--I'd like to have a good man with me," and he glanced in mydirection. "Can you spare me Lester?"

  My heart gave a jump. It was just the question I was hoping he wouldask.

  "Why, yes, of course," answered the chief readily. "In a case likethis, certainly. Let me hear from you in the course of the day."

  Mr. Royce nodded as he started for the door.

  "I will; we'll find some flaw in that fellow's story, depend upon it.Come on, Lester."

  I snatched up pen and paper and followed him to the elevator. In amoment we were in the street; there were cabs in plenty now,disgorging their loads and starting back uptown again; we hailed one,and in another moment were rattling along toward our destination withsuch speed as the storm permitted. There were many questions surgingthrough my brain to which I should have welcomed an answer. The stormhad cut off my paper that morning, and I regretted now that I had notmade a more determined effort to get another. A glance at my companionshowed me the folly of attempting to secure any information from his,so I contented myself with reviewing what I already knew of thehistory of the principals.

  I knew Hiram W. Holladay, the murdered man, quite well; not only asevery New Yorker knew that multi-millionaire as one of the mostsuccessful operators in Wall Street, but personally as well, since hehad been a client of Graham & Royce for twenty years and more. He wasat that time well on toward seventy years of age, I should say, thoughhe carried his years remarkably well; his wife had been long dead,and he had only one child, his daughter, Frances, who must have beenabout twenty-five. She had been born abroad, and had spent the firstyears of her life there with her mother, who had lingered on theRiviera and among the hills of Italy and Switzerland in the hope ofregaining a health, which had been failing, so I understood, eversince her daughter's birth. She had come home at last, bringing theblack-eyed child with her, and within the year was dead.

  Holladay's affections from that moment seemed to grow and center abouthis daughter, who developed into a tall and beautiful girl--toobeautiful, as was soon apparent, for our junior partner's peace ofmind. He had met her first in a business way, and afterwards socially,and all of us who had eyes could see how he was eating his heart outat the knowledge that she was far beyond his reach; for it was evidentthat her father deemed her worthy of a brilliant marriage--as, indeed,she was. I sometimes thought that she held herself at a like value,for though there was about her a constant crowd of suitors, none ofthem, seemingly, could win an atom of encouragement. She was waiting,I told myself, waiting; and I had even pictured to myself the grimirony of a situation in which our ju
nior might be called upon toarrange her marriage settlements.

  The cab stopped with a jolt, and I looked up to see that we hadreached the Criminal Courts building. Mr. Royce sprang out, paid thedriver, and ran up the steps to the door, I after him. He turned downthe corridor to the right, and entered the room at the end of it,which I recognized as the office of Coroner Goldberg. A considerablecrowd had already collected there.

  "Has the coroner arrived yet?" my companion asked one of the clerks.

  "Yes, sir; he's in his private office."

  "Will you take him this card and say that I'd like to see him at once,if possible?"

  The clerk hurried away with the card. He was back again in a moment.

  "This way, sir," he called.

  We followed him across the room and through a door at the fartherside.

  "Ah, Mr. Royce, glad to see you," cried the coroner, as we entered."We tried to find you last night, but learned that you were out oftown, and I was just calling up your office again."

  "Miss Holladay asked for me, then?"

  "Yes, at once. When we found we couldn't get you, we suggested yoursenior, but she said she'd wait till you returned."

  I could see our junior's face crimson with pleasure.

  "You didn't think it necessary to confine her, I trust?" he asked.

  "Oh, no; she wasn't disturbed. She spent the night at home--undersurveillance."

  "That was right. Of course, it's simply absurd to suspect her."

  Goldberg looked at him curiously.

  "I don't know, Mr. Royce," he said slowly. "If the evidence turns outas I think it will, I shall have to hold her--the district attorneyexpects it."

  Mr. Royce's hands were clutching a chair-back, and they trembled alittle at the coroner's words.

  "He'll be present at the examination, then?" he asked.

  "Yes, we're waiting for him. You see, it's rather an extraordinarycase."

  "Is it?"

  "We think so, anyway!" said the coroner, just a trifle impatiently.

  I could see the retort which sprang to our junior's lips, but hechoked it back. There was no use offending Goldberg.

  "I should like to see Miss Holladay before the examination begins," hesaid. "Is she present?"

  "She's in the next room, yes. You shall see her, certainly, at once.Julius, take Mr. Royce to Miss Holladay," he added to the clerk.

  I can see her yet, rising from her chair with face alight, as weentered, and I saw instantly how I had misjudged her. She came a steptoward us, holding out her hands impulsively; then, with an effort,controlled herself and clasped them before her.

  "Oh, but I'm glad to see you!" she cried in a voice so low I couldscarcely hear it. "I've wanted you so much!"

  "It was my great misfortune that I could come no sooner," said mychief, his voice trembling a little despite himself. "I--I scarcelyexpected to see you here with no one----"

  "Oh," she interrupted, "there was no one I cared to have. My friendshave been very kind--have offered to do anything--but I felt that Iwanted to be just alone and think. I should have liked to have mymaid, but----"

  "She's one of the witnesses, I suppose," explained Mr. Royce. "Well,now that I'm here, I shall stay until I've proved how utterlyridiculous this charge against you is."

  She sank back into her chair and looked up at him with dark, appealingeyes.

  "You think you can?" she asked.

  "Can! Certainly I can! Why, it's too preposterous to stand for amoment! We've only to prove an alibi--to show that you were somewhereelse, you know, at the time the crime was committed--and the wholebusiness falls to pieces in an instant. You can do that easily, can'tyou?"

  The color had gone from her cheeks again, and she buried her face inher hands.

  "I don't know," she murmured indistinctly. "I must think. Oh, don'tlet it come to that!"

  I was puzzled--confounded. With her good name, her life, perhaps, inthe balance, she wanted time to think! I could see that my chief wasastonished, too.

  "I'll try to keep it from coming to that, since you wish it," he saidslowly. "I'll not be able to call you, then, to testify in your ownbehalf--and that always hurts. But I hope the case will break down atonce--I believe it will. At any rate, don't worry. I want you to relyon me."

  She looked up at him again, smiling.

  "I shall," she murmured softly. "I'm sure I could desire no betterchampion!"

  Well, plainly, if he won this case he would win something elsebesides. I think even the policeman in the corner saw it, for heturned away with a discretion rare in policemen, and pretended tostare out of the window.

  I don't know what my chief would have said--his lips were trembling sohe could not speak for the moment--and just then there came a tap atthe door, and the coroner's clerk looked in.

  "We're ready to begin, sir," he said.

  "Very well," cried Mr. Royce. "I'll come at once. Good-by for themoment, Miss Holladay. I repeat, you may rely on me," and he hastenedfrom the room as confidently as though she had girded him for thebattle. Instead, I told myself, she had bound him hand and foot beforecasting him down into the arena.

 
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