It is not by mere coincidence that the enthralling elements of crime that mostly intrigue our heightened fascination are suspense and mystery; especially, when the crime exceeds the deliberate imposition and basic intrinsicality of the criminal.
Hence, there are distinctive crimes that are committed with sheer duplicity exposed of proficiency, whilst there are other crimes that are nothing more than the emboldened actions of the embodiment of arrant insanity.
This irredeemable act, that I acknowledge is named the crime of the impardonable sin, to which the inference of this story is based on.
The year was 1919, and a short, punctilious middle-aged attorney, by the name of Harold Whitby of London had recently returned from abroad on a leisure trip to New York, when he had received at his address at Piccadilly, an important murder case that dealt, with the death of the daughter of an English count from Devonshire.
His name was Lord Arrington and he was an established influence in London. He was a close acquaintance to the affluent members of London Society.
His beautiful daughter Emily Arrington had been murdered supposedly, by a former French soldier, who had courted her.
His name was Jean Pierre Duvauchelle, and he had migrated to England, after the war.
The body of the Lady Arrington was found dead at the Hotel Ritz in London.
At the time, the suspect was living in London until he was arrested and taken to gaol, where Mr Whitby first met him on that cold November day.
Once at the Police Station, he was taken to Mr Duvauchelle’s cell to speak to him therewith in privacy.
He had noticed when he saw Mr Duvauchelle that he was not in fine fettle or appeasement. He looked gaunt and extremely fidgety, as if he was concealing some terrible secret or consumed by his pending death, at the merciless hands of the gallows that awaited him.
He was a young, fain eclectic in his mid-twenties, average height and built.
His eyes were dark brown, his hair black, and the symmetry of his nose and cheekbones were extremely noticeable, in accordance to his French strain.
‘Mr Duvauchelle, it is a pleasure to meet you! I am your designated attorney. My name is Harold Whitby’.
‘Monsieur, it is good to meet you. Please, you must believe me. I am innocent. I have not killed anyone!’ He desperately entreated.
‘Calm down young man!’ Mr Whitby said.
‘They will send me to the gallows monsieur!’
‘There is sufficient time to attempt to establish your innocence, before you head off to the gallows young man.’
‘They will not believe I am innocent. I am a foreigner in this land!’
‘True Mr Duvauchelle, but that is the least of your troubles. You are charged with a serious crime. This accusation against you is a very portentous matter. It cannot be taken, as a mere dismissible action’.
‘But I repeat, I did not murder the Lady Arrington!’
‘That is why I am here Mr Duvauchelle! Now, it is exceedingly vital that we begin forthwith, the conversation on the incontrovertible facts. You understand?’
‘Qui monsieur!’ He affirmed.
‘Good, then let us start with your deposition or version of the ascribable facts. As your attorney I must recommend your absolute honesty, when describing the succession of events. I warn you to choose your words carefully, for the judge at your trial will not be that lenient with you, as I am presently. Is that fully understood, Mr Duvauchelle?’
‘I understand and agree, monsieur!’
‘Very well! Let us start at the beginning. After perusing the details that were provided to me of your case, you had been living in Devonshire previously, no?
Then, is it accurate to suggest Mr Duvauchelle, that you and the Lady Arrington were good acquaintances?’
‘No, we were lovers monsieur!’
‘Lovers Mr Duvauchelle? I was told that the Lady Arrington was engaged, to a Lord Greenfield from Devonshire.’
‘Yes, but she did not love him. She loved me, but her family would not accept a commoner like me in their prestigious family. Don’t you see, I have been framed by Lord Greenfield?’ His preoccupation turned, into a sudden anger and animadversion.
‘But you knew she was engaged? And still you courted her Mr Duvauchelle?’
‘Yes!’ He rejoined.
‘For how long did you know her and where did you meet?’
‘I have known her for approximately a year, monsieur. We met here in London at the St James Theatre a year ago. I remember that night, when we first met. The evening was lively, and the mild weather was a comforting sensation. I was seated beneath the balcony, when I spotted her in the nearest seat. She was a beautiful and elegant woman, who had possessed a natural charm and predilection.’
‘You stated in your deposition when you were arrested that you had moved from Devonshire to London. You said that you came to England from France, after the war. Why did you come to our country?’
‘This is correct, and the reason I came to England was that I lost everything back in Bezonvaux, my village. It was destroyed during the Battle of Verdun in the war, monsieur. Simply, I wanted to start over in a new place’.
‘But why England Mr Duvauchelle?’
He paused and then continued, ‘If you don’t mind me asking monsieur, do you have a cigarette? Oh, I need to smoke to calm my nerves’.
‘I don’t smoke, but if permitted, I shall have one of the guards bring you a cigarette’.
The guard then acquiesced to Mr Whitby’s demand and gave Mr Duvauchelle his cigarette to smoke.
‘Now Mr Duvauchelle, what exactly happened on that night of the murder?’
‘You want to know, where I was at the hour of the murder?’
‘At the hour of the murder, I was at the nightclub taking a drink with a friend’.
‘According to the deposition of the chambermaid of the Ritz Hotel you had been at the room of Lady Arrington and were the last person seen to leave her room. Am I to believe Mr Duvauchelle that version of the account is correct?’
‘It is true I was there before, visiting the Lady Arrington, because she had invited me’.
‘Then you were the last to have seen her alive, before she was found dead in her room?’
‘That I do not know, if I was the last person. But rest assure monsieur, I am confident that I was not!’
‘Oh, then what are you implying?’
‘I am not the killer I had an alibi. Whoever murdered the Lady Arrington planned everything to an absolute perfection!’
‘Do you recall the precise hour that you left the hotel Mr Duvauchelle?’
‘Ah, that I cannot answer completely, because I did not have my pocket watch’.
‘Surely, you can remember if it was before ten or eleven o’clock in the evening’.
‘It was close to 10.30 p.m. We returned to her room, after the play was finished. We had gone to see the play, ‘The Eyes of Youth at the St James Theatre.’
‘Is it true that you had a quarrel with the Lady Arrington and that you dashed out of her room with vehemence?’
‘That is not true! We had an argument like other couples, but that was all!’
‘An argument you say Mr Duvauchelle? Enough to murder the Lady Arrington?’
‘Of course not monsieur!”
‘Then, what was your argument about?’
He paused, before he continued, ‘She wanted to end our affair’.
‘But, you wanted to continue the affair to accommodate your needs?’
‘Yes!’ He muttered.
‘You understand Mr Duvauchelle, this circumstantial evidence can condemn you to the gallows?’
‘Yes, I know monsieur, but I am innocent—innocent I tell you!’
His comportment had discomposed, ‘You must regain your composure and equanimity Mr Duvauchelle.’
‘You must do everything in your power to absolve me of this crime, monsieur. I beg you!’
‘I can only promise you my diligence and effort. Before I go, you must tell me of your friend, who was with you at the nightclub’.
‘His name is Charles Cantrelle. He is Belgian!’
‘Where does he live?’
‘In the East End at 20 Brick Lane!’
‘Good, and one last question Mr Duvauchelle. Why, would the chambermaid accuse you, since there was a piece of your shirt that was found at the crime scene, as evidence?’
‘We had been arguing and the Lady Arrington grabbed my shirt, so that I could not leave, until she finished her words. Naturally, I did not stay. As for the chambermaid, she is the lover of Lord Greenfield’.
‘Can you prove that?
‘Not really, since she will deny it!’
‘I must go now Mr Duvauchelle. I shall attempt to locate your friend Mr Cantrelle and return tomorrow in the morning’.
He put his hand on Mr Whitby’s hand and grabbed on to it tautly, ‘Please monsieur, you are the only one who can help me!’
‘I shall do my best, monsieur!’
The next morning Mr Whitby woke to the inclement weather that had brought the usual rain. He had not slept well, considering the issue of Mr Duvauchelle’s defence was a daunting task.
He left the soothing comfort of his home in Soho and headed to the address provided of Mr Cantrelle in the East End. He took his umbrella with him, as he reached in a cab the address of Mr Cantrelle.
After several tappings on the door, there was no response. The general impression he had was that Mr Cantrelle was not present at his home. When he had realised that, he returned to the gaol to speak to his client Mr Duvauchelle.
Once there, he found him pensive in his thought, and he was pacing within his cell back and forth. Mr Duvauchelle was not in optimal spirits, since the indicative evidence was strongly incriminating.
Mr Whitby could only imagine being in his awkward predicament and the difficulty that had burdened his troubling expression.
‘Good morning Mr Duvauchelle! I am afraid I was not able to locate your friend Mr Cantrelle. Apparently, he was not home’.
‘Bon jour monsieur! I am glad you are here. I have not slept much the entire night. You say that my friend was not home. That is odd, since he is usually home at that hour. Did you knock several times? Perhaps, he was asleep monsieur?’
‘Perhaps Mr Duvauchelle! But I did knock several times and there was no response. If he was there, then he must have been slumbering like a bear’.
‘You will return afterwards to converse with him, no monsieur?’
‘Yes of course, but it would help, if you told me his occupation and where he works at’.
‘Oh, he is an artist like me monsieur. He is a brilliant painter to be specific!’
‘That is interesting Mr Duvauchelle. However, until I have another location to find him, I cannot utilise him as a witness. He is a pivotal witness to the case.’
‘Yes I understand monsieur! He is usually at the corner of the West End by the cafés and restaurants. Our clients are some of the wealthiest people in London. Our art galleries are funded by them monsieur. You can say, we are eccentric gents!’
‘I see! Have you always been a painter Mr Duvauchelle? If so, why did you become a soldier?’
‘Oh, I have always been a painter, since my childhood. You see monsieur, my childhood was the most pleasant time ever. As for my reason to be a soldier and fight in the war, I merely chose survival’.
‘What do you mean Mr Duvauchelle?’
‘You do not understand, monsieur! With all due respect, you are a man of power, while I am not. My father was a merchant, but he died when I was young, and my mother raised me in Bezonvaux. She married an opulent man, but he was abusive and left my mother. I was a young man then, and I was forced to abandon my studies to work. I worked in a factory that only exploited me. Thereafter, the war came, and I enlisted in the army. I was in my mid-twenties then and in Paris. My mother had died afterwards of tuberculosis.’
‘It must have been difficult! Do you not have siblings, Mr Duvauchelle?’
‘Of course it was monsieur! As for your question, I had only one brother Philippe. We were twins, but he too succumbed to the illness of tuberculosis. He was an infelicitous child, not even twelve monsieur’.
‘Oh, I am so sorry to hear that Mr Duvauchelle!’
‘It was not of your doing monsieur’.
‘All right, let us speak about the matter of your defence. You said in your deposition when questioned that you had left the Hotel Ritz, before the murder was committed. What did you leave in? Was it in your automobile? Was it in a cab?’
‘I took the cab to the nightclub!’
‘Do you remember the driver and cab number or colour? Think hard Mr Duvauchelle’.
‘He was a man with a pale complexion and uncouth in his demeanour, monsieur. The colour of the cab was black. As for the number I believe it was 20, 21, or 22. I cannot be certain monsieur. I did not really glance at the number, and it was pitch-black in the night.’
‘I shall have that information checked at the local cab agencies of London afterwards. It will be tedious, nonetheless, it must be done.’
‘Have you heard anything else, about my case monsieur? For how long shall I be here, in this wretched gaol?’
‘That I cannot tell you, but I shall know by tomorrow!’
Mr Duvauchelle took a deep breath to digest that reality, ‘I do not want to die monsieur. I fear death and I cannot be hanged for a crime, I did not commit!’
‘I shall do my best Mr Duvauchelle! There must be witnesses in the nightclub that saw you there at the hour of the murder.’
‘Yes, mademoiselle Madeline Schiller!’
‘Who is she?’
‘Oh, she is only a friend of mine. I met her through Charles’.
‘I must know the truth Mr Duvauchelle. Was this woman your lover? This will be investigated and revealed at your upcoming trial’.
He hesitated before responding, ‘Yes, we were lovers! I am a man with needs like any other men monsieur, but this does not make me a murderer’.
‘That is accurate Mr Duvauchelle! However, this will be addressed and utilised against you. It is necessary to speak at once with her’.
‘Please do not badger her, with too many questions monsieur. Ask her only, about my presence at the nightclub on that night’.
‘Is there something Mr Duvauchelle that I should know, since you realise that she will be cross-examined at your trial?’
‘The police have interviewed her already and she has told them everything, but they have discredited her, because she is a cabaret dancer, monsieur’.
‘That is a reasonable assumption Mr Duvauchelle. Unless I can find more credible witnesses such as Mr Cantrelle at the nightclub, proving your innocence will be a challenging endeavour!’
‘When will you speak to her?’
‘Now that I think about it, perhaps I can kill two birds with one stone,’ Mr Whitby’s eyebrows lifted.
‘What do you mean monsieur?’
‘Will your dear friend Mr Cantrelle be at the nightclub tonight?’
‘I believe monsieur!’
‘And your cabaret dancer also?’
‘The name of this nightclub Mr Duvauchelle?’
‘The Murray’s Cabaret Club on Beak Street!’
‘Where the Americans play their jazz at?’
‘Yes, you are correct!’
‘I have heard of it mentioned!’
‘I prefer it to the Nest in Kingly Street or the Savoy, monsieur!’
‘Then, I shall visit the Murray’s this night, and hope that your two friends are present Mr Duvauchelle’.
‘Please monsieur, I do not know how much longer I can bear the madness of this place!’
‘You must be patient Mr Duvauchelle! Now try to repose a bit and I shall return tomorrow, with better news I hope. Listen to me, prescribed rest will be good for you!’
‘I shall try, but every day I spend here, the killer is out there. Please investigate Lord Greenfield and his relationship with the chambermaid monsieur!’
‘I shall do that, after I speak to Mr Cantrelle and Miss Schiller’.
Mr Whitby had finished the conversation with Mr Duvauchelle and departed the Police Station.
He returned to his perusal of the report of the evidence established.
The terrible crime occurred at the Hotel Ritz, where the chambermaid had discovered the dead body of the Lady Arrington.
According to the deposition of the chambermaid a Miss Biggins, who was the main accuser and witness to the case. She had identified Mr Duvauchelle, as the last person seen speaking to the Lady Arrington alive.
Mr Whitby had waited after the midday to visit the Hotel Ritz and talk to Miss Biggins in privacy.
The notion that the chambermaid was having a sexual liaison or affair with Lord Greenfield, the count of Devonshire was a serious accusation. If true it still would not serve the purpose establishing the innocence of his client. The only thing it would imply would be another salacious scandal of an English nobleman. Of course, he was cognisant of the possibility, but he was committed to his dutiful pledge to his profession and his client.
At precisely 1.15 P.M. he left Piccadilly and headed towards the hotel. There, he found Miss Biggins working assiduously in one of the guest rooms of the hotel.
Naturally, she did not recognise Mr Whitby. When he told her who he was, he mentioned the murder of the Lady Arrington.
Her natural reaction was of distrust and uncertainty. She was perhaps, not a most prepossessing sight, but Mr Whitby perceived her reluctance to speak with him about the murder. Since it was a private matter they had discussed the murder at length.
‘Miss Biggins, you affirm to the police that the last individual who had departed the Lady Arrington’s room was my client Mr Duvauchelle. Is that not correct?’
‘Ay!’ She answered in her Cockney accent.
‘Miss Biggins, then if I can ask you, at what hour did you see Mr Duvauchelle leave the Lady Arrington’s room?’
‘Oh, it was at 10.15 p.m. sir!’
‘Were you certain about that? How did you know it was that hour?’
‘Because of the clock in the corridor! I always check the hour, during my toils, sir’.
‘What were you doing, at that time?’
‘I was preparing the room next to the Lady Arrington’.
‘Then, what happened?’
‘I heard an argument that had ended, and that is when I saw Mr Duvauchelle pass the room’.
‘You did not see him then exiting the Lady Arrington’s room’.
‘Then, how did you know he left?’
‘Oh, because I heard his voice and because the door in the room I was in was wide open, sir’.
‘You are certain that the man you saw passing in the corridor was Mr Duvauchelle?’
‘Quite certain, sir!’
‘When you found the Lady Arrington dead, what position was she in?’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Was she in a recumbent position, on her back, or lying face down?’
‘Oh, she was laying on her back, with her eyes open. I can’t forget that ghastly look of death. It was a horrible dread that sent chills down my spine, sir!’
‘How did you know the voice that you heard in the room of the Lady Arrington was that of Mr Duvauchelle?’
‘I recognise that voice!’
‘Oh, I have heard him speaking to the Lady Arrington many times before, sir’.
‘Here at the hotel. In the lounge, in the restaurant, and in her room, sir. He was a daily fixture here and always accompanied her. He was a brash and incurious fellow and did not care, who saw him come and go, from the Lady Arrington’s room. You know, it was her favourite room and she was engaged to the handsome Lord Greenfield. But that poor woman of the Lady Arrington was bedeviled, by that greedy scoundrel of your client. I tell you that he is evil and deceptive!’
‘How did you know she was engaged to Lord Greenfield, Miss Biggins?’
‘Oh, it is in the newspapers! Do you not read them, sir?’
‘I try not to, since they are usually comprised of mere balderdash and sensationalism! Before I go Miss Biggins, have you met Lord Greenfield?’
‘Yes, in person!’
‘I have only met him once, when he came to visit London. He stayed in the hotel’.
‘Was he alone Miss Biggins?’
‘Oh, that I do not know, since I try not to pry into the affairs of others. It is not ladylike!’
‘Yet, you did pry on the conversation between Mr Duvauchelle and the Lady Arrington, on the night of the murder’.
‘Oh, I suppose, but methink I did the right thing. If not, the killer of the Lady Arrington would have never been caught! I must go now, I have my cleaning duties to fulfill. If you will excuse me, sir’.
‘That will be all the questions for now Miss Biggins. If I need to ask more questions, then I shall return. Before I go, can I enter the former room of the Lady Arrington?’
‘You mean the room, where she was savagely murdered, by your client?’
‘I believe it is for the courts to decide that Miss Biggins and not you! Now, do I have to ask again?
‘Of course not, sir!’
Mr Whitby had sensed that her mien had altered through the interesting conversation and in particular, when speaking about Mr Duvauchelle and Lord Greenfield.
Her blatant animosity towards Mr Duvauchelle was apparently noticeable, as was her admirable persuasion for Lord Greenfield.
He could not forget that ironic comparison in her observation of the two men, and he took note of that in his notebook.
Although she displayed a queer attachment to the details of the sequence of events that had occurred before the murder of the Lady Arrington, and her fond admiration for Lord Greenfield, it was not sufficient to warrant any abnormal suspicion of her involvement with Lord Greenfield.
Mr Whitby entered into the room after Miss Biggins had opened it. The room had been closed since the murder. There was this sudden eeriness that he felt, as he stood inside that memorable room.
Gradually, he began to review in his thoughts the indubitable facts of the murder, including every minutia explored.
According to the version of the chambermaid, Mr Duvauchelle was the last person reported to have spoken to the Lady Arrington, and worse, he was the last person with her in the room. Mr Whitby investigated in all the places that were visible, including in every nook and cranny.
In the autopsy report of the pathologist, the Lady Arrington was killed, through suffocation. She was strangled to death, by an object that was not discovered by the police.
The discolouration of her face and the heavy marks on the neck displayed evident signs of strangulation.
There was no tincture of blood of hers that was discovered, nor any soupçon that could prove his client’s innocence.
At that time, there was none. Until Mr Whitby could discover more pertinent information on the matter, he had to concentrate on speaking to Mr Cantrelle and Miss Schiller at the nightclub.
He returned to his home to prepare himself for his trip to the nightclub. He took dinner at one of the local restaurants nearby the Criterion, and then headed to the Murray’s Cabaret Club, in hope that he would locate the two supposed witnesses for Mr Duvauchelle.
Once at the Murray’s, he entered. It was close to ten o’clock in the night, when he had arrived.
The festive ambience with music and cabaret dancers was everywhere. At the time he had entered and was seated, there were black jazz musicians, who were playing.
He had not frequented many nightclubs, instead more established gentlemen’s clubs.
Although he fancied more classical music, he enjoyed this newfangled American music that had become popular in England.
He was given a general description of Mr Cantrelle and he relied on a photograph provided by Mr Duvauchelle, for Miss Schiller’s appearance.
After half an hour had elapsed, the cabaret dancers had taken the stage to perform. From amongst the women was Miss Schiller.
Mr Whitby was taken aback by her beauty and her artistic talent.
However, his visit was not of a convivial nature and his concern that Mr Cantrelle had not appeared at the club was an imminent uncertainty.
He waited for him to present himself, but after searching around the club, he failed to find him. That meant he either was arriving late, or he was not going to come.
Afterwards, he spoke to Miss Schiller, once her performance had abated. He was standing, when he addressed her, as she started to smoke her cigarette.
‘Miss Schiller, I am Mr Harold Whitby. I don’t mean to inopportune you’.
She interposed, ‘Jean Pierre’s barrister!’
‘Criminal attorney I prefer! How did you know?’
‘Oh, I thought he told you that I visited him at the gaol he was being kept at!’
‘No, I was not aware. He did not tell me!’ Mr Whitby said with a flummoxed response.
‘Poor devil, with so much on his mind, he probably forgot, sir!’
‘Perchance! But I urge that we speak now of the case’.
‘Of course!’ She replied with a winsome smile.
‘Good! Let us begin with the questions, was Mr Duvauchelle here at the Murray’s, when the murder of the Lady Arrington occurred? Did you see him? Were you in his accompaniment Miss Schiller?’
‘Oh, I was performing on that night, when Jean Pierre was in the club’.
‘Then, you were not with him, at the hour of the murder?’
‘Not exactly, but I saw him at the table with Charles’.
‘You mean Mr Cantrelle?’
‘I see that he is not here! You are a friend of Mr Cantrelle?’
‘An acquaintance I would call it’.
‘What is your relationship with Mr Duvauchelle, Miss Schilller?’
She puffed ascendible circles of smoke of her cigarette, before she answered, ‘Are you wondering, if we were lovers, Mr Whitby?’
‘To be blunt Miss Schiller, yes!’
‘This is what Jean Pierre confessed?’
‘Yes, he did!’
‘If you must know. The answer to your question is, yes, we were lovers!’
‘You said were, then you are not presently?’
‘Oh, occasionally he does seek me! He is a man! I am sure you understand, being a man yourself. Are you single or married Mr Whitby, because I am single?’
‘I am single, but I did not come for a social visit. When you say occasionally, did that include the night of the murder?’
‘Oh no! He was with me intimately, but he then returned to his flat’.
‘At what time Miss Schiller?’
‘Oh, it was around eleven o’clock!’
‘How do you know?’
‘Because, I saw the clock in the lounge!’
‘What did you do next?’
‘I joined some of the girls, who were at a table, with a couple of fine gentlemen from abroad drinking. I believe they were Americans’.
‘Where did you meet Mr Duvauchelle at?’
‘We met at the Savoy!’
‘Was he alone?’
‘No, he was with Charles!’
‘Mr Cantrelle, you mean?’
‘Yes, forgive me if I did not mention that!’
They are always together. You know they are artists. They would frequent the corner of Piccadilly, Regent Street and Charing Cross displaying their wonderful art. They also had the good fortune of having their craft displayed, at the most prestigious galleries in London. Jean Pierre is an exceptional painter’.
‘And Mr Cantrelle, is he a better artist?’
She paused, ‘That all depends on taste and observation sir!’
‘What can you tell me of his relationship with the Lady Arrington? Was he in love with her?’
The question did not seem to please her, but her reply was indifferent that she did not gainsay it, ‘Oh, I suppose you could call what they had love!’
‘I shall require your deposition and presence at the trial, once it has been determined’.
‘I shall notify you of the date. That is of course, if Mr Duvauchelle has not told you before!’
Mr Whitby left the Murray’s at around eleven o’clock and took the cab back to his residence.
Even though, he did not converse with Mr Cantrelle, the conversation with Miss Schiller was an important revelation. There was only one possible dilemma with her narrative. She was not with Mr Duvauchelle at the exact moment of the murder.
It was imperative that Mr Whitby located Mr Cantrelle at once. He would have to wait until the following morning. He awoke that morning, with the urgency of attempting to speak with Mr Cantrelle.
He had received the date of the trial that morning, when he was informed. The trial was now set, and he realised then that Mr Duvauchelle’s defence had begun in earnest.
As was his usual wont since accepting the murder case, he visited the gaol where his client Mr Duvauchelle was detained.
Mr Duvauchelle was still within his unsettling state and mood reflected, pacing back and forth biting his nails constantly. He appeared to be musing in a profound contemplative thought, when Mr Whitby arrived.
Immediately, he had related the date of his trial.
‘Good morning Mr Duvauchelle. Your case has been listed for a trial before a judge and jury!’
‘Bon jour monsieur! When is my trial?’ Mr Duvauchelle enquired.
‘It is on the 18th of November monsieur!’
‘That is in two weeks only!’
‘True! I assure you that I shall try my best to prove your innocence Mr Duvauchelle’.
‘Can you assure me that I shall walk out of here a free man, monsieur?’
‘To be honest Mr Duvauchelle, no! But, considering your limited options, I am your best choice!’
‘Did you speak to Charles and Madeline monsieur?’
‘Well, I spoke to Miss Schiller at the Murray’s last night, but unfortunately, I was not able to find Mr Cantrelle there. I shall try to locate him today, at the places Miss Schiller referred to’.
‘Miss Schiller was able to confirm my account of the events?’
‘To a great extent yes, but there is one thing that could be a major problem’.
‘Miss Schiller said she saw you with Mr Cantrelle, but she was performing. Therefore, she was not physically with you at the time of the murder. Until I locate him, her testimony will be refelled’.
‘I don’t understand!’
‘Simple Mr Duvauchelle. The truth is that under cross-examination that important fact will be scrutinised and perhaps seen as inadmissible evidence. That all depends on the judge and prosecutor.’
‘But there were other individuals who saw me in the club’.
‘They were acquaintances? Where can I find them?’
‘Acquaintances they are not in the meaning of the word. I don’t know exactly where they live, since many of them come and go from London, monsieur’.
‘Then, that will be an unproductive endeavour to waste my time and effort solely. Hitherto, I shall concentrate on finding Mr Cantrelle, who is my primary witness’.
‘I would hope that you find him soon monsieur, before it is too late!’
‘Let us hope for your sake Mr Duvauchelle, it is not!
‘Madeline will be coming afterwards to see me. I will be forced to tell her of my date, monsieur’.
‘I don’t see anything wrong with that. You should use your gentleman’s persuasion on her, so that she understands the direful situation you are challenged to confront, Mr Duvauchelle’.
‘This judge that is presiding over my trial, you know him well, monsieur?’
‘Lord Hargreave, he is a very good judge Mr Duvauchelle. He is known for his stern moral judgment and his strict adherence to the interpretation of the law. This case will be lost in the presentation of the evidence Mr Duvauchelle, and not the whims of the judge or prosecutor’.
‘All I care monsieur, is my freedom and not my assumable guilt!’
‘Before I go, I want you to know that I visited the Hotel Ritz and spoke to the chambermaid Miss Biggins’.
‘That wench, she despises me, because I am not Lord Greenfield!’
‘Oh, she made that quite clear!’
‘She will be testifying against me?’
‘She is the leading witness, for the prosecution Mr Duvauchelle’.
‘She will condemn me to the gallows surely, monsieur. She and her lover Lord Greenfield planned this from the beginning. I know you don’t believe me, but I swear on the grave of my beloved mother that I speak the genuine truth!’
‘Right now Mr Duvauchelle what you need to do is prepare yourself, for the trial and let me resolve that conspiracy. I am off! I shall return tomorrow and please rest!’
‘Rest monsieur! I cannot rest, if my life is in the hands of a judge and jury. Would you be able to rest, if you were in my position, monsieur?’ He queried with a serious stare in his eyes.
‘I suppose not!’ Mr Whitby replied.
Mr Whitby left the Police Station and searched for the elusive Mr Cantrelle, his main witness in the case and trial. He looked for him meticulously in the aforementioned streets, where he frequented as a painter. However, once more, he failed to locate him.
It was becoming an apparent realisation to him that Mr Cantrelle was known for being an inconspicuous man, who had disappeared amain, from the face of the earth.
Mr Whitby had returned to Mr Cantrelle’s address and discovered that he had not been evicted from his flat by his landlord, instead left.
The question was, was he still in London?
This was an ominous foreboding and precursor for the trial, if Mr Cantrelle had departed London subitaneously. Without any reference to his whereabouts, it would equate to attempt to find a needle in a haystack.
He had to return to the gaol to speak to Mr Duvauchelle forthwith, about the anonymous disappearance of his dear friend Mr Cantrelle.
He had to confer with him about his growing suspicion of his departure as a mere coincidence or perhaps, it was related to the case.
He had depended on the testimony of Mr Cantrelle, as the significant basis of his defence. Without his presence and testimony, Mr Whitby was presented with a terrible quandary he did not foresee previously.
This was also a clear distraction for the preparation of his plausible arguments in the trial.
The intricate nature of his own investigation was slowly developing, into an intrinsic plot of heightened mystery, within an uncertain conflation.
When he spoke to Mr Duvauchelle anon, he was somewhat surprised to see him.
‘Monsieur, I did not expect you to return so soon. Has something terrible happened?’ Mr Duvauchelle enquired.
‘Perhaps Mr Duvauchelle! I have not been successful in finding your good friend, Mr Cantrelle,’ Mr Whitby answered.
‘That is not good! Have you searched for him at his address in the East End? At the cafés and restaurants in the West End?’
‘Yes, I have, but he was not there Mr Duvauchelle!’
‘The galleries and the pubs?’
‘I had a fellow companion of mine check these other places as well, and nothing!’
Mr Duvauchelle’s abrupt reaction was of a noticeable transparency, ‘Do you think that he will not appear at my trial monsieur? No, no—that cannot occur!’
‘Oh, I would hope not! Can you tell me Mr Duvauchelle, if there are any other places that Mr Cantrelle frequents in London or outside of the city’?
‘At the moment I cannot think of another place. He has no immediate family in London or in England. He is a foreigner monsieur, like me!’
‘His absence does make it difficult to precede with the defence, but I shall have to proceed for the nonce, with the evidence and facts of the case. For the meantime, the prosecution will present its case beforehand’.
‘Has Miss Schiller come to visit you today Mr Duvauchelle?’
‘Yes, she has!’
‘Am I to assume that you have apprised her of the date of your trial?’
‘Yes, I have done that!’
‘Monsieur, is there nothing else you could do that would prove my innocence, beyond a doubt!’
‘For now Mr Duvauchelle, we must prepare ourselves for the trial!’
Mr Whitby left Mr Duvauchelle with that grim reality to cogitate, there in the dim and drear confinement of that solitary gaol that was a very dreadful abode to endure.
He had returned to Piccadilly, and it was late in the afternoon.
Along the way, he pondered the whereabouts of Mr Cantrelle. He had dispatched someone to investigate the matter, and his solicitous concern was the procrastination of his defence of Mr Duvauchelle.
He had spent the night at his home, within the ruminative pattern and application of thought that was mostly effective to present in the trial.
He then was informed that the prosecutor in the case was a Thomas Bullwinkle, a studious and experienced attorney, with such an impeccable reputation and acumen.
The inexplicable mystery of Mr Cantrelle’s whereabouts would linger and prolong until the next week, when Mr Whitby had awakened, with the cold draught that had swathed the city gradually.
He was extremely pensive, as he had reviewed in the depth of his retrospective memory, all the proven facts and depositions of the witnesses, including those, who he had conversed with in person.
Since he could not locate Mr Cantrelle, the other important witness was Miss Schiller. The problem with her testimony before the judge would be her admissible credibility.
It was a deliberate risk in his part to undertake, but for the moment, he had no selection in the due course of that inevitability.
He had one week left to not only prepare Mr Duvauchelle’s defence, but to continue his thorough investigation also.
He headed to the gaol, as he did daily to see Mr Duvauchelle. He had noticed with this visit, the constant trepidation and angst Mr Duvauchelle had of being sent to the gallows afterwards, as a guilty man.
Mr Whitby was very mindful of those horrific expressions that a man who is accused of a horrendous murder would display so overtly. Nevertheless, Mr Duvauchelle’s fate lied in the hands of his innocence or guilt.
‘Good morning Mr Duvauchelle, I see that you are in an inquisitive mood!’
‘That is an understatement, monsieur. I am a wreck, and my anxiety is consuming me, like the rats that gnaw away at the walls of this cell.’
‘The rats you say Mr Duvauchelle, where?’
‘Behind these four walls! I hear their nocturnal squeaking and gnawing’.
‘It is regrettable that you experience this discomfort, but the rats are the least of your concerns Mr Duvauchelle. Hold on my boy and stay steadfast, amidst the adversity’.
‘Oh, it is difficult, monsieur. You do not know the horrors of war. I who was there in the deadly trenches of the battlefield still am haunted daily, with those horrific images of death and despair. These sturdy walls remind me of those confined trenches’.
‘I can only fathom that terrifying ordeal Mr Duvauchelle’.
‘Oh, monsieur, there are no adequate words to describe this horror that no civilised man should ever experience in his life!’
‘Well said Mr Duvauchelle, but we must proceed to the matter of your defence’.
Mr Duvauchelle then changed his demeanour and focused on the case, ‘Pardon monsieur, I am listening!’
‘Good Mr Duvauchelle! I was thinking about the other possible witnesses of that night. You said that you were at the Ritz Hotel on the night of the murder’.
‘You were with the Lady Arrington the whole night?’
‘What do you mean monsieur?’
‘I mean were you alone or with the Lady Arrington the entire night?’
‘I comprehend! Yes, we had gone to the theatre, as I had stated before’.
‘We returned to the hotel!’
‘Did you speak to anyone at the hotel?’
He paused to reflect on that question, ‘Oh, I believe I had spoken to the valet, before I entered the room with the Lady Arrington’.
‘Do you know his name Mr Duvauchelle?’
‘His name is George!’
‘Then, it is this George, who I must speak to!’
‘You think, he can attest to our conversation, monsieur?’
‘Perhaps, if I can find him!’
‘If you do, he will vouch for me, will he not monsieur?’
‘I hope, Mr Duvauchelle!’
Mr Whitby had excused himself and departed the Police Station.
He headed once more to the Ritz Hotel, this time, to speak to the valet. When he had arrived there, he asked if he could speak to the valet, who Mr Duvauchelle mentioned. It did not take long before, he located him and spoke to him privately.
He was a mild manner individual, who was sedulous in his occupation.
Mr Whitby presented himself to him, and he began his enquiry.
‘Yes, I am George Albright, what can I do for you, sir?’
‘I am Mr Harold Whitby, an attorney. I came to ask you several questions, about a certain gentleman that you might know’.
”Mr Duvauchelle! Does that name ring a bell?’
‘Oh, you mean Mr Duvauchelle, the Frenchman? The lover of the Lady Arrington’.
‘Yes, but how did you know that they were lovers?’
‘Oh, everyone who works at the hotel was aware of their amorous affair, sir. Even Lord Greenfield, who reproached them’.
‘What do you mean Mr Albright?’
‘Oh, I thought you were aware of their heated confrontation!’
‘Heated confrontation you say Mr Albright? What exactly took place that you recall of the night of the murder of the Lady Arrington?’
‘The Lady Arrington had been with Mr Duvauchelle in the room, and as they were exiting the hotel, Lord Greenfield had confronted them, and he argued with Mr Duvauchelle’.
‘Can you be more specific Mr Albright! What were they arguing about?’
‘Oh, it was about the affair, between Mr Duvauchelle and the Lady Arrington’.
‘Do you remember what Lord Greenfield was expressing?’
‘You mean his words?’
‘Lord Greenfield was telling him he was a scoundrel, a wastrel, who was only with her for her wealth and status in society’.
‘Did he threaten him?’
‘You mean did Lord Greenfield threaten Mr Duvauchelle?’
‘Oh, I am not one to quote the exact words of a man sir, but we all heard him say, that he was lucky to not be dead. The next time they would cross path, Mr Duvauchelle would not be a fortunate man’.
‘Then, what happened?’
‘Lord Greenfield was escorted to his room by the chambermaid’.
‘Who was that chambermaid?’
‘This Miss Biggins, she was the chambermaid that tended to the room of the Lady Arrington?
Did she tend to Lord Greenfield’s room as well, when he was here that night?’
‘I believe so, sir!’
Mr Whitby stared into the valet’s eyes to observe his response to his audacious question, ‘Did Miss Biggins always tend to his room, while he stayed in the hotel?’
‘Oh, whenever he came to visit London!’
‘Lord Greenfield came often?’
‘He came and went, sir!’
‘Where is Miss Biggins at? Is she currently working at the hotel?’
‘I believe she had the day off’.
‘I shall like to enter the room of the murder of the Lady Arrington. Can you have someone open the room with the key?’
The valet told Mr Whitby to wait in the lounge, until he found someone to open the door. Afterwards, a young lady had escorted Mr Whitby to the Lady Arrington’s room.
Even though he had entered the room before and it had been cleaned, the pristine room appeared almost the same, with its uncommon eeriness and indifference. This was due to the ghastliness of the nature of the death that impressed a haunting vestige of murder.
He began to investigate the room, with the hope of finding a clue and understanding the events that unfolded.
After he had traced every possible step of the episode of the murder, including the new information that preceded the death of the Lady Arrington, he searched from top to bottom, for any relevant clue that was overlooked or mistakenly dismissed, as an inconsequential irony.
As he was gazing at the mirror of the room, he saw the reflection of an inanimate object that was under the bed.
When he realised, it was a silver cigarette case that had been thrown to the ground or fell to the ground.
The question he had was, whose cigarette case did it belong to and was this here, when the murder of the Lady Arrington was committed?
So much was unclear, about the true nature behind the murder and its undetermined motive.
There was another fascinating item that he had discovered, an article of clothing that belonged to a garment of a woman’s dress. Was this item as well, connected to the murder of the daughter of the count of Devonshire?
How could he confirm his suspicion?
Perhaps, the valet would know! He spoke to him again, and this time, he had queried, about the possible significance of these new clues presented.
‘Mr Albright, do you recognise these two items. The first is a silver cigarette case, and the second, is a piece of garment?’
He examined the items, paused and then responded, ‘Oh, the cigarette case seems like the type that Lord Greenfield had, but then again, I may be wrong!’
‘Look closely, Mr Albright—for it is of extreme importance! It can make the difference from being a guilty man to an innocent man’.
‘It belonged to Lord Greenfield!’
‘And the garment?’
He examined it too, very closely and exclaimed, ‘Oh!’
‘What is it, Mr Albright? Do you recognise this item?’ Mr Whitby insisted.
‘To whom does it belong to?’
He had a singular expression that denoted a shocking revelation, ‘It belonged to Miss Biggins, the chambermaid, sir!’
‘Are you certain Mr Albright?’
‘Enough to testify?’
‘Is Miss Biggins working today?’
‘Then, I shall return tomorrow!’
Mr Whitby left the Ritz Hotel post-haste, with the stunning clues he had discovered and the asseveration disclosed.
Within the passing of twenty-four hours, he had perceived a propitious benefit to the case that would change the course of the investigation completely.
If it was an accurate intimation and he could prove the correlation, between the items and the murder, then he would uncover the truth to the mystery.
Thus, it would imply as well, unveiling the original identity of the murderer and culprit. He was anxious to apprise Mr Duvauchelle. He had returned to the gaol to tell him of his recent discoveries at the hotel, and the interesting conversation he shared with the valet.
He had an urgency also, to speak to Lord Greenfield, his main suspect. But, from what he read in the newspapers, he was back in Devonshire, attending the funeral of the late Lady Arrington.
Naturally, the other person who he needed to speak to was, Miss Biggins the chambermaid. There was much of her and her version of events that were incompatible and incompossible details, to the actual sequence of the murder of the Lady Arrington.
There was yet concern for the absence of Mr Cantrelle. He had received a correspondence sent by his private investigator, who had been outside of London that he could not find Mr Cantrelle.
‘Mr Duvauchelle, there is a good chance that you might be freed, quicker than you thought!’
‘What are you saying monsieur?’
‘I went to the hotel and spoke to the valet’.
‘What did he tell you, monsieur?’
‘He said that on the night of the murder, before the Lady Arrington was killed, you and Lord Greenfield argued’.
‘Is that true Mr Duvauchelle?’
‘Now that I remember, I did!
‘You forgot to mention this important occurrence!’
‘Pardon me monsieur, but my mind is distrait with the thought of being sent to the gallows!’
‘Mr Duvauchelle, do you remember what you were arguing?’
‘Naturally, we were arguing about my relationship, with the Lady Arrington’.
‘Did he threaten you Mr Duvauchelle?’
‘Yes! He was extremely a jealous man, with rage in his dilated eyes, monsieur’.
‘He was drunk?’
‘Like a mad drunkard monsieur!’
‘What happened next?’
‘The Lady Arrington had attempted to intervene. The argument abated, and we left for the theatre.’
‘Did you see Miss Biggins?’
‘Oh, she took Lord Greenfield away, by the arm. That is all I remember. That vile woman may appear to be charming and innocent, but she is a cunning serpent, whose fangs carry a lethal dose of poison, monsieur!’
‘Perchance Mr Duvauchelle!’
‘You must locate her at once monsieur, and make her confess! It will be much easier to rattle her, then Lord Greenfield. He is a reputable nobleman of solid disposition, who will not be shaken so facilely!’
‘I agree Mr Duvauchelle! Until I speak to Miss Biggins, then it is all mere speculative conjecture and theory’.
‘I have not still been able to locate Mr Cantrelle at all, Mr Duvauchelle. It is as if the earth has swallowed him entirely. Where could he be?’
‘Oh, I would not count on him returning, monsieur!
‘What do you mean?’
Mr Whitby left the cell of Mr Duvauchelle and had returned to Piccadilly to peruse the new revelations of the ongoing case.
He was mindful of the importance of these discovered clues. If he could link these items retrieved to the murder, then he would have a plausible connection to produce a consequential effect that resolved the enigma.
He began to surmise his analysis of the murder and Mr Duvauchelle’s involvement. The incriminating evidence that was attributed to his client was nothing more than circumstantial facts in nature.
The deposition of the chambermaid Miss Biggins was the primary cause for Mr Duvauchelle’s culpability in the murder.
He began to wonder about the probability of a conspiratorial plot designed to murder the Lady Arrington.
Therefore, he had sent a correspondence to his private investigator who was in Devonshire, to seek any substantial information, about Lord Greenfield, Miss Schiller, Miss Biggins, Mr Cantrelle, and including his client Mr Duvauchelle. What was evident that connected all these individuals to the murder of the Lady Arrington?
He considered the existential riddle to this mystery.
The question that had triggered his fascination had been what was the actual answer?
That following morning, Mr Whitby awoke with the immediacy of speaking to Miss Biggins.
He headed to the Ritz Hotel and was informed that Miss Biggins had not appeared to work there. She had been scheduled for that day. He thought it was unusual that she had not appeared, since she had never missed a day of work.
Although this was indicative of his theory of her surreptitious inclusion in the murder, it was inconclusive evidence that could attach her to the murder.
The impeding trial of Mr Duvauchelle was soon approaching, and the only proof established of his defence was the voluntary affirmation given by Miss Schiller, who stated she had seen Mr Duvauchelle at the Murray’s, during the critical hour of the murder.
There were subtle discrepancies in this murder that he could not yet accredit to any relevancy so apperceptively.
Mr Whitby had planned as usually he did in the mornings, to visit Mr Duvauchelle, but he visited the home of Miss Schiller to confirm her presence at the upcoming trial. When he arrived, she was absent. He had presumed she had left to visit Mr Duvauchelle and he was correct.
When he arrived at the Police Station, Miss Schiller was indeed visiting his client.
‘Good morning Miss Schiller, it is good to see you! I had stopped at your residence to speak to you, and you were not home’.
‘Good morning Mr Whitby! I left my flat early to stop to purchase cigarettes, for Jean Pierre’.
‘Understood Miss Schiller!’
‘Is there something you wanted to tell me, sir?’
‘I only wanted to confirm your appearance for the trial Miss Schiller’.
‘Oh, I see! In that case, yes, I shall be there!’
She excused herself and left the Police Station, while Mr Whitby conversed with Mr Duvauchelle.
‘How are you today, Mr Duvauchelle?’ Mr Whitby asked.
‘Nervous, extremely nervous! Is there any new tidings of the case? Have you found Charles? Have you spoken to Miss Biggins?’
His anxiety had developed into a moment of hysterics, ‘Not yet Mr Duvauchelle, but I am working on that!’
‘My time is running out monsieur. You must find the chambermaid!’
‘We still have time Mr Duvauchelle. I shall find her!’
Mr Whitby had noticed that Mr Duvachelle’s episode of hysteria had subsided for the nonce and he listened attentively to his words.
‘Forgive me, monsieur!’
‘There is no extra tidings Mr Duvauchelle’.
He seemed too glum and resigned to the reality of his forthcoming trial.
‘Cheer up Mr Duvauchelle, in spite of the uncertainty, there is still hope!’
Mr Whitby left his cell and returned to Piccadilly. There, he had received a note from the valet informing him that Miss Biggins had resigned from her position at the hotel. This was indeed significant information.
Immediately, he went to the Ritz Hotel to speak to the young man. Once he spoke to him, he confirmed that Miss Biggins had left her position willingly on her own accord. He found this, a very odd and coincidental piece of information that was difficult to believe.
As he was about to leave, the valet handed him some matches that belonged to the Hotel Savoy. The matches were found in the possessions left behind, by Miss Biggins.
At first, Mr Whitby did not perceive any connection, but he thought of Lord Greenfield.
He thanked the valet and headed towards the Hotel Savoy in Westminster. There in one of the rooms of the hotel he found Miss Biggins.
She had been staying there, for two days, but not as a chambermaid, instead, as a lady of prestige.
It was manifest that a wealthy person had been paying for her expenses, at the lofty hotel.
When Mr Whitby knocked on the door she was not expecting him, and her expression was of a startling surprise that was noticeable.
However, she quickly changed into her habitual demeanour and attempted to maintain her rigid composure.
‘Miss Biggins, it is a coincidence to see you here at the Savoy!’
She smiled and then said, ‘Mr Whitby, if I may enquire, what has brought you before me, sir?’
‘Oh, I believe you know why I am here!’
‘Excuse me, but I am afraid I don’t, and I don’t have much time to waste. I think I have answered all your questions respectfully, sir!’
She was about to close the door, before Mr Whitby had showed her the piece of garment found, ‘I believe this belongs to you Miss Biggins!’
Upon seeing the torn garment, she rapidly changed her conduct once more.
She proceeded to allow Mr Whitby to enter the room. Once inside they spoke, ‘Miss Biggins, you and I know that this garment was yours. It is from the typical uniform worn as a chambermaid of the Ritz Hotel. This can be easily corroborated by the employees of the hotel’.
‘This does not prove it was mine, sir!’
‘Perhaps, but you fail to realise that I have checked every employer that worked on that night of the murder, including the chambermaids, Miss Biggins. And ironically, you were the only chambermaid that was working in the vicinity, during the hour of the murder.’
Her straightforward defence had started to become, an atwitter discomfort that would then transform, into a sudden consternation and apprehension that was consuming her anxiety.
‘I must have torn it, while I was doing the rooms! It is a common occurrence daily—for we are constantly cleaning, sir!’
‘Oh quite understood!’
‘Where did you find it?’
‘In the room of the Lady Arrington, Miss Biggins, which you were in. Now, are you going to deny you were in the room on that night the Lady Arrington was mercilessly murdered?’
‘Oh, this is a mere circumstantial and fanciful supposition in your part. Are you linking me to the murder, Mr Whitby? If so, you know that this piece of garment will not condemn me!’
‘Perhaps, but there is more!’
She was about to exit the room, when he made her stop, with his revelations.
‘What do you mean by that, Mr Whitby?’
‘Oh, I have documentation proving your false signature. You attempted to falsify the Lady Arrington’s signature in several occasions, with your withdrawals Miss Biggins. The question I have is, why?’
”Mere insinuations, Mr Whitby!’
‘Not the case Miss Biggins! You fail to acknowledge the participation of your accomplice, Lord Greenfield. I found his silver cigarette case in the room as well’.
Her countenance was a listless and pallid representation of incredulity for a moment, then she uttered, ‘You can’t prove it, the cigarette case could belong to anyone, Mr Whitby’.
‘Asprey, is known for the nobleman’s choice, such as Lord Greenfield’.
‘I doubt it is a mere coincidence, since there are witnesses, who saw Lord Greenfield with that exact brand!’
‘What do you want?’
‘The truth of what happened that night’.
‘I told you already what I saw!’
‘Mr Duvauchelle was not the last person, who was in the room, Lord Greenfield was. He had a previous heated confrontation with Mr Duvauchelle on that night about his passionate affair with the Lady Arrington, in which he had threatened him. He waited for them to return from the theatre. The door was locked and only you the chambermaid had the key. Lord Greenfield was waiting in the toilet, whilst Mr Duvauchelle and the Lady Arrington were arguing. Most likely their argument was about Mr Duvauchelle’s confrontation with Lord Greenfield. After Mr Duvauchelle finished, he stormed out and went to the Murray’s. Lord Greenfield then attacked the Lady Arrington, when the door was closed by her, not knowing that her killer was nigh. In the attack, there was a struggle that caused Lord Greenfield to drop his cigarette case. You who were in the adjacent room had heard everything, and since the door was open, you knew that Mr Duvauchelle would pass within the corridor afterwards. You entered the room and attempted to clean the evidence. It was the perfect crime, except for one thing that you forgot’.
‘What was that, Mr Whitby?’
‘You forgot the cigarette case!’
‘What will happen now?’
‘Lord Greenfield will be arrested, for the murder of the Lady Arrington’.
‘No, it was not him, but I who killed her! She did not love him as I did! Do not blame him! I am the guilty one. She did not love him! She caroused in lechery, with that low life of Mr Duvauchelle! He is to blame for all of this!’
This was the last thing uttered by her, before the police officers who were in the other room listening to the conversation entered to arrest Miss Biggins.
She was taken into custody and transported to the Police Station.
Lord Greenfield was then arrested in Devonshire, and Mr Whitby had returned to give Mr Duvauchelle the wondrous tidings of his immediate release and exoneration of the murder of the Lady Arrington.
Mr Duvauchelle was exceedingly a joyous and thankful man to be freed that the first thing that he did was shake Mr Whitby’s hand and offer him a cigarette, as a token sign of his immense appreciation.
Mr Whitby told him that he had done his job, as he had pledged in his duty ere.
Miss Schiller had shortly arrived and was informed of Mr Duvauchelle’s release.
They had spent the night at the Murray’s celebrating, and Mr Whitby was their bidden guest. Miss Schiller’s cabaret act was performing one last night at the Murray’s.
The night Mr Whitby had experienced a queer phantasmagoria that had disturbed him, as he instantly awoke. The nightmare involved Mr Duvauchelle, and he saw the face of Miss Biggins pleading for her innocence.
The following morning when he had awakened in a deep sweat, he was consumed with the thought of speaking to Miss Biggins.
Mr Whitby headed to the Police Station, where she was detained and he was informed of her tragic suicide. Apparently, she had hanged herself and was found stone dead.
However, she left behind a letter that was addressed to Mr Whitby that he had intuited was her confession to the murder. He knew she was not the murderer, instead Lord Greenfield.
When he had read the contents, they were not the words of a confession, but a letter from Mr Duvauchelle to Miss Schiller describing how they had planned to kill the Lady Arrington and frame Lord Greenfield for the murder.
There were details that only the criminal mastermind would know.
Mr Whitby was stunned by the obfuscation as he tried to understand what this meant, and he doubted the veracity of this letter, but the ink and handwriting was not identical to that of Miss Biggins.
He departed the Police Station, with complete uncertainty of what was transpiring.
But as he got into the cab to head to Piccadilly, a gentleman had handed him the correspondence that was sent by the private investigator that had been investigating the participants in the case, as he had requested.
When he had perused the contents of his correspondence, he was in utter shock that he remained motionless.
According to the investigation, the Lady Arrington had included in her will, Mr Duvauchelle. Upon her death he would inherit her entire wealth. Yet, there was even more ghastly revelations about Mr Duvauchelle, referring to his anonymous past in France and during the time of the Great War. Mr Duvauchelle had been discharged from the Army, due to his mental disorder that was diagnosed as an acute madness.
There was a thorough report attached to the letter written in French that Mr Whitby had understood.
Mr Duvauchelle had been interned in Paris, until he had escaped the asylum he was being treated at, for his condition of hallucinatory episodes.
Mr Duvauchelle had admitted to killing his father and his mother.
He had discovered in the report that his identical twin brother, who also suffered the same mental illness had not died, as Mr Duvauchelle had stated before.
Duvauchelle was his maiden name, and Bouvier was his last name.
Mr Whitby’s heart beat fast and his breath shortened, as he had finished reading.
There was another shocking revelation that would alter his perception of the authenticity of the facts of the murder dramatically.
Mr Cantrelle was found shot dead in Paris. He was found in a solitary cul-de-sac, with a bullet to his head.
Once Mr Whitby comprehended the magnitude that these revelations signified, he came to the eventual conclusion that he had committed a grievous mistake and injustice.
Verily, he had freed the actual killer of the Lady Arrington, who he had been present with the night before, at the Murray’s.
He headed forthwith to the nightclub to enquire about Miss Schiller’s immediate whereabouts. She was not there, and when he headed to her residence, he was told by a neighbour that she had left the city.
When he had asked, whither did she go, the neighbour did not know, because Miss Schiller did not mention her destination.
He thought of Mr Duvauchelle’s address, but when he arrived, he was told that there was no Jean Pierre Duvauchelle who lived or had lived there previously.
He began to bethink himself where could they be, since neither Mr Duvauchelle or Miss Schiller had spoken to him, about their future?
Then, he thought of the train station, and he took the first cab he saw there and checked every possible departure from London to other cities.
He checked the passenger’s list and inside the prepared compartments, but to no avail—they were not aboard.
He remembered France, where Mr Duvauchelle was from originally, and he headed in a train to the port of Dover, and he did not locate them. They had simply vanished from Metropolitan London.
Mr Whitby could not admit his horrible mistake, until he spoke to Lord Greenfield, who was being detained at the Police Station.
When he arrived, he was informed by the police officer that Lord Greenfield had committed suicide as well.
He had taken a cyanide tablet that was secretly brought to him the day before.
There were two deceased persons, though guilty of the crime of passion were innocent of the crime of murder.
For years, Mr Whitby was haunted by the deaths of Miss Biggins and Lord Greenfield that he refrained from taking any more cases, as a solicitor, barrister or attorney.
The redoubtable horror of this horrendous error had redounded an irreversible consequence.
Five years would elapse, until he found Miss Schiller once more.
He was in Paris, inside a nightclub that will not be mentioned. There, as he was seated near the edge of the stage, he saw the image of Miss Schiller.
His eyes lit up with excitement, as he waited impatiently, for her to finish her performance.
Afterwards, he had approached her, as she walked past him.
Her expression upon seeing him was of an obvious disbelief.
They sat down in a lone table, where they could speak in privacy. Then, they naturally spoke of the murders.
She had feared that Mr Whitby had come for her arrest.
He told her that all depended on what she confessed really occurred that night of the horrific murder of the Lady Arrington.
She agreed to confess and disclose everything that had appertained to the mysterious sequence of events that led to the murder.
‘It all began the prior night at the Murray’s, when Jean Pierre had entered with his twin brother Philippe, who I had met before. Jean Pierre started to explain his detailed and preconceived plan to us’.
‘When you say us, what do you mean?’
‘I mean me, Jean Pierre, Philippe and Charles’.
‘Jean Pierre had convinced us that if we killed the Lady Arrington, he would inherit her wealth and distribute it amongst us’.
‘Explain to me the sequence of the murder!’
‘Jean Pierre had ordered his brother to remain in the nightclub, so that people would believe that he was at the nightclub, and not at the room of the Lady Arrington, when the murder was committed’.
‘How many persons knew about Philippe?’
‘No one except Charles and I. The musicians and cabaret dancers come and go, Mr Whitby. They don’t exactly remember the faces of the people’.
‘Jean Pierre had been with the Lady Arrington at the Ritz Hotel. They had planned to go to the St James Theatre, without much incident, but Lord Greenfield had been informed by Miss Biggins about their plan to go to the theatre. He arrived and confronted Jean Pierre and they argued’.
‘About what, Miss Schiller?’
‘About Jean Pierre’s love affair, with the Lady Arrington’.
‘Jean Pierre and the Lady Arrington returned to the hotel from the theatre. They were arguing, about their situation’.
‘What do you mean?’
‘She wanted to end the relationship, because she had discovered our affair’.
‘By that you mean you and Mr Duvauchelle?’
‘He begged her to reconsider, since she was a sentimental person. But she rejected him and that was when he killed her. Although he had planned on killing her, it was not planned on that night’.
‘How did he kill her, with what?’
‘He waited until she turned her back, and choked her to death, with his hands’.
‘Then, what happened next?’
‘He scurried out of the room, but not before he dropped his cigarette case’.
‘A silver cigarette case?’
‘Miss Biggins who had been in the other room listening had entered and found the body of the Lady Arrington. Unknown to her at the time, she had torn her dress and a piece had been entangled in the bedstead. Mr Duvauchelle was unaware that Miss Biggins was there in that room and of her auditory sense. He used this deceptitious ruse to effectuate his calculated plan. It was the archetype of a perfect crime Mr Whitby, when the facts can be easily manipulated, within the arbitrary notion of the truth.
‘But there are several things that I have not yet deciphered’.
‘What is that?’
‘Who killed Mr Cantrelle?’
‘It was Jean Pierre!’
‘Where can I find him and his twin brother at presently? Are they in Paris?’
She stared into his eyes and professed, ‘They are dead!’
Mr Whitby was shocked to hear her revelation, but he was not certain that she was telling him the truth, ‘How did they die? How do I know, you are not lying Miss Schiller?’
‘I killed Jean Pierre with the same gun, he killed the others!
‘He murdered him too, out of his irrepressible avarice. The typical lucrative agenda of profitable enterprise. However, their financial situation had changed. Jean Pierre could not claim the inheritance of the Lady Arrington. There were appeals made by the family, who contested the will. Jean Pierre betrayed me Mr Whitby and I had enough. He was an evil man, but I suppose that makes me an evil woman for killing him—does it not, Mr Whitby?’
‘I would call it a justifiable revenge of accountability!’
‘I prefer justice! You see, Mr Whitby, Jean Pierre had raped and murdered my sister, after the war’.
‘Then, it is justice, the moral edification of society!’
Mr Whitby looked into her eyes and saw this cogent plea for compassion.
‘What will happen to me next, Mr Whitby? Have you come to arrest me, for my involvement in the murder?’
‘No, the case is over! I have not seen you, and moreover, I am only a barrister now’.
She sighed a great relief and smiled. She thanked him as they shook hands, ‘I thank you!’
‘Oh, thank you, for riding the earth of this devious madman!’
She rose to her feet and excused herself afterwards. It was time for her artistic act.
The last aspectable image Mr Whitby had of Miss Schiller was her performance with the cabaret dancers, who were aligned side to side to her.
He departed the nightclub and Paris and had returned to London, with the satisfaction of knowing that the duplicitous craven Mr Duvauchelle had met the same fate of his inconsiderate victims.
At times, the truth is apposite to the aposteriori investigation, when it is a prerequisite for the paragon of a murder.
The worst connivance ever committed by Mr Duvauchelle was the disparate crime of the impardonable sin attained.