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HOME > Classical Novels > Red Money > CHAPTER XIX. MOTHER COCKLESHELL.
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 It was late in the afternoon when Lambert got back to the village inn, and he felt both tired and bewildered. The examination of Silver had been so long, and what he revealed so amazing, that the young man wished to be alone, both to rest and to think over the situation. It was a very perplexing one, as he plainly saw, since, in the light of the new revelations, it seemed almost impossible to preserve the name of the family from disgrace. Seated in his sitting room, with his legs stretched out and his hands in his pockets, Lambert glared at the carpet, recalling all that had been confessed by the foxy secretary of Miss Greeby. That he should accuse her of committing the crime seemed .  
According to Silver, the woman had overheard by chance the scheme to Pine to The . Knowing that the millionaire was coming to Abbot's Wood, the secretary had the plan to Garvington long before the man's arrival. Hence the constant talk of the host about burglars and his somewhat unnecessary threat to shoot any one who tried to break into the house. The of this remark had roused Miss Greeby's curiosity, and noting that Silver and his host were frequently in one another's company, she had seized her opportunity to listen. For some time, so cautious were the plotters, she had heard nothing particular, but after her recognition of Hearne as Pine when she visited the gypsy camp she became aware that these secret talks were connected with his presence. Then a chance remark of Garvington's—he was always loose-tongued—gave her the clue, and by threats of exposure she managed to make Silver confess the whole plot. Far from it she agreed to let them carry it out, and promised , only extracting a promise that she should be advised of the time and place for the trapping of the millionaire. And it was this of Miss Greeby's which puzzled Lambert.
On the face of it, since she was in love with him, it was better for her own private plans that Pine should remain alive, because the marriage placed Agnes beyond his reach. Why, then, should Miss Greeby have removed the barrier—and at the cost of being hanged for murder? Lambert had asked Silver this question, but had obtained no definite answer, since the secretary protested that she had not explained her reasons. Jokingly referring to possible burglars, she had borrowed the revolver from Silver which he had obtained from Garvington, and it was this action which first led the little secretary to suspect her. , knowing that she had met Pine in Abbot's Wood, he kept a close watch on her every action to see if she intended to take a hand in the game. But Silver protested that he could see no reason for her doing so, and even up to the moment when he confessed to Lambert could not why she had acted in such a manner.
However, it appeared that she was duly informed of the hour when Pine would probably arrive to prevent the pretended elopement, and also learned that he would be hanging about the blue door. When Silver for the night he watched the door of her bedroom—which was in the same wing of the of his own. Also he occasionally looked out to see if Pine had arrived, as the window of his room afforded a fair view of the blue door and the shrubbery. For over an hour—as he told Lambert—he divided his attention between the passage and the window. It was while looking out of the last, and after midnight, that he saw Miss Greeby climb out of her room and to the ground by means of the which formed a natural ladder. Her window was no great height from the ground, and she was an woman much given to exercise. Wondering what she intended to do, yet afraid—because of Pine's expected arrival—to leave the house, Silver watched her cautiously. She was arrayed in a long black cloak with a , he said, but in the brilliant moonlight he could easily distinguish her gigantic form as she slipped into the shrubbery. When Pine arrived, Silver saw him dash at the blue door when it was opened by Garvington, and saw him fall back after the first shot. Then he heard the shutting of the door; immediately afterward the opening of Lady Agnes's window, and that Pine ran quickly and unsteadily down the path. As he passed the shrubbery, the second shot came—at this point Silver simply gave the same description as Lady Agnes did at the inquest—and then Pine fell. Afterward Garvington and his guests came out and gathered round the body, but Miss Greeby, slipping along the rear of the shrubbery, doubled back to the shadow at the corner of the house. Silver, having to play his part, did not wait to see her re-enter the mansion, but presumed she did so by clambering up the ivy. He ran down and with the guests and servants, who were clustered round the dead man, and finally found Miss Greeby at his elbow, artlessly inquiring what had happened. For the time being he accepted her innocent attitude.
Later on, when dismissed by Jarwin and in want of funds, he sought out Miss Greeby and accused her. At first she denied the story, but finally, as she judged that he could bring home the crime to her, she compromised with him by giving him the post of her secretary at a good salary. When he obtained the forged letter from Chaldea—and she learned this from Lambert when he was ill—Miss Greeby made him give it to her, that by showing it to Agnes she could the more part the widow from her lover. Miss Greeby, knowing who had written the letter, counted upon Agnes guessing the truth, and had she not seen that it had entered her mind, when the letter was brought to her, she would have given a hint as to the forger's name. But Agnes's and sudden paleness assured Miss Greeby that she guessed the truth, so the letter was left to work its poison. Silver, of course, clamored for his , but Miss Greeby promised to recompense him, and also threatened if he did not hold his tongue that she would accuse him and Garvington of the murder. Since the latter had forged the letter and the former had borrowed the revolver which had killed Pine, it would have been tolerably easy for Miss Greeby to her . As to her share in the crime, all she had to do was to deny that Silver had passed the borrowed revolver on to her, and there was no way in which he could prove that he had done so. On the whole, Silver had judged it best to fall in with Miss Greeby's plans, and preserve silence, especially as she was rich and could supply him with whatever money he chose to ask for. She was in his power, and he was in her power, so it was necessary to act on the golden rule of give and take.
And the final statement which Silver made to Lambert intimated that Garvington was ignorant of the truth. Until the bullet was produced in the library to fit the revolver it had never struck Garvington that the other weapon had been used to kill Pine. And he had honestly believed that Silver—as was actually the case—had remained in his bedroom all the time, until he came downstairs to play his part. As to Miss Greeby being concerned in the matter, such an idea had never entered Garvington's head. The little man's hesitation in producing the revolver, when he got an inkling of the truth, was due to his that if Silver was accused of the murder—and at the time it seemed as though the secretary was guilty—he might turn king's evidence to save his neck, and explain the very shady plot in which Garvington had been engaged. But Lambert had forced his cousin's hand, and Silver had been brought to book, with the result that the young man now sat in his room at the inn, quite convinced that Miss Greeby was guilty, yet wondering what had led her to act in such a murderous way.
Also, Lambert wondered what was best to be done, in order to save the family name. If he went to the police and had Miss Greeby arrested, the truth of Garvington's shady dealings would certainly come to light, especially as Silver was an accessory after the fact. On the other hand, if he left things as they were, there was always a chance that hints might be thrown out by Chaldea—who had everything to gain and nothing to lose—that he and Agnes were responsible for the death of Pine. Of course, Lambert, not knowing that Chaldea had been listening to the conversation in the cottage, believed that the girl was ignorant of the true state of affairs, and he wondered how he could inform her that the actual criminal was known without risking her . He wanted to clear his character and that of his wife; likewise he wished to save the family name. But it seemed to him that the issue of these things lay in the hands of Chaldea, and she was upon injuring him if she could. It was all very perplexing.
It was at this point of his that Mother Cockleshell arrived at the inn. He heard her voice outside and judged from its tone that the old was in excellent spirits. Her visit seemed to be a hint from heaven as to what he should do. Gentilla hated Chaldea and loved Agnes, so Lambert felt that she would be able to help him. As soon as possible he had her brought into the sitting room, and, having made her sit down, closed both the door and the window, preparatory to telling her all that he had learned. The conversation was, indeed, an important one, and he was anxious that it should take place without witnesses.
"You are kind, sir," said Mother Cockleshell, who had been supplied with a glass of gin and water. "But it ain't for the likes of me to be sitting down with the likes of you."
"Nonsense! We must have a long talk, and I can't expect you to stand all the time—at your age."
"Some Gentiles ain't so anxious to save the legs of old ones," remarked Gentilla Stanley cheerfully. "But I always did say as you were a golden one for kindness of heart. Well, them as does what's unexpected gets what they don't hope for."
"I have got my heart's desire, Mother," said Lambert, sitting down and his pipe. "I am happy now."
"Not as happy as you'd like to be, sir," said the old woman, speaking quite in the Gentile manner, and looking like a decent charwoman. "You've a dear wife, as I don't deny, Mr. Lambert, but money is what you want."
"I have enough for my needs."
"Not for her needs, sir. She should be wrapped in cloth of gold and have a path of flowers to tread upon."
"It's a path of thorns just now," muttered Lambert moodily.
"Not for long, sir; not for long. I come to put the straight and to raise a lamp to the dark. Very good this white satin is," said Mother Cockleshell , and to the gin. "And terbaccer goes well with it, as there's no denying. You wouldn't mind my taking a whiff, sir, would you?" and she produced a blackened clay pipe which had seen much service. "Smoking is good for the nerves, Mr. Lambert."
The young man handed her his . "Fill up," he said, smiling at the idea of his smoking in company with an old gypsy hag.
"Bless you, my precious!" said Mother Cockleshell, accepting the offer with avidity, and talking more in the Romany manner. "I allers did say as you were what I said before you were, and that's golden, my Gorgious one. Ahime!" she blew a wreath of blue smoke from her lips, "that's food to me, my dearie, and heat to my old bones."
Lambert nodded. "You hinted, in Devonshire, that you had something to say, and a few moments ago you talked about putting the crooked straight."
"And don't the crooked need that same?" Gentilla, nodding. "There's trouble at hand, my gentleman. The child's witch's , for sure."
"Chaldea!" Lambert sat up anxiously. He mistrusted the younger gypsy greatly, and was eager to know what she was now doing.
"Aye! Aye! Aye!" Mother Cockleshell nodded three times like a veritable Macbeth witch. "She came tearing, rampagious-like, to the camp an hour or so back and put on her fine clothes—may they with pain to her skin—to go to the big city. It is true, rye. Kara ran by the side............
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