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I Statement Made By Gilbert Vaughan, Manager of the L.S.D. Bank, Wattleville.

IT was a serious difficulty, and had occurred so suddenly that my presence of mind entirely forsook me—I saw no way out of it save instant flight. There lay the dead body, slain by my hand, and in a few moments I should be confronted with the girl whom I had intended to make my wife. How was I to face her, knowing how fondly she had loved the poor victim?

The act had been quite unintentional. Although there had never been much love lost between us, I had not meant his death.


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It had been simply the fault of hasty temper on my side and unfortunate curiosity on his. I had ridden out that day, my heart filled with the gentlest feelings; the bright morning and sunny landscape seemed to whisper naught but peace, and now, by an inconsiderate blow, I had dispelled all my hopes, and saw no escape but in prompt and immediate disappearance from the scene. To continue standing by the poor corpse would be the act of an idiot. By a strange chance no one was about; I had ridden up quite unperceived. So I mounted my horse and hastened back to the township which I had left that morning with such different feelings.

My duties at the bank that day (I was the manager of a small country branch) were, fortunately for me, of the slightest, for my mind was constantly running on the morning's tragedy, and I was ceaselessly wondering if my deed had been discovered, and picturing the sorrow of the innocent girl whom I so fondly loved. At three o'clock I heard a voice in the bank asking


  ― 27 ―
the teller if I was in, and soon afterwards, to my amazement, Ah Foo, the Chinese cook at Rumford Plains, walked into the small apartment that served as manager's room.

As he glanced at me with his cunning almond eyes I saw in a moment that my secret was known, and it did not need that he should take out two small objects and place them on the table to confirm this suspicion. For an instant I had wild thoughts of shooting him down with the bank revolver and swearing that he had tried to stick up the place, but I restrained myself in order to hear what he had to say.

“I saw you kill him, Misser Vawn, and I welly glad. No fear I say anyting. Evelybody ask. I no savee. Evelybody say Misser Muspius; I no savee, only laugh. Missee Lawrence she cly, cly, all day. Think it Misser Muspius doee.”

“Ah Foo,” I said, “you're a brick; here's a sovereign for you.”

“Allight, Misser Vawn. I no savee who


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kill him, only, when evelybody say, Misser Muspius, I laugh—” and he laughed himself out of the room, only to reappear for an instant. “You go, see Missee Lawrence to-night?” he whispered in a stage aside, and vanished.

Of course I would. I would make the most of the golden opportunity. Muspius, my hated rival, was evidently suspected, and Ah Foo had slyly confirmed these suspicions. I was safe, so long as I could bribe Ah Foo; at any rate, I would take his advice and go to Rumford Plains at once; it was only five miles, and I would arrange that the suspicions thrown on Muspius should be confirmed. I had taken the first step in crime; the second was easy.

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