Read Agatha Webb Online

Authors: Anna Katharine Green

Agatha Webb (35 page)

Advertising Download Read Online

Agnes flushed and yielded to her father's gentle pressure. "Good-
bye, my friend," she said, the quiver in her tones sinking deep
into Frederick's heart. "Some day it will be good-morrow," and her
head, turned back over her shoulder, took on a beautiful radiance
that fixed itself forever in the hungry heart of him who watched
it disappear. When she was quite gone, a man not the one whom
Frederick had described, as lying in hiding in the arbour, but a
different one, in fact, no other than our old friend the
constable—advanced around the corner of the house and presented a
paper to him.

It was the warrant for his arrest on a charge of murder.

XXXV - Sweetwater Pays His Debt at Last to Mr. Sutherland

*

Frederick's arrest had been conducted so quietly that no hint of
the matter reached the village before the next morning. Then the
whole town broke into uproar, and business was not only suspended,
but the streets and docks overflowed with gesticulating men and
excited women, carrying on in every corner and across innumerable
doorsteps the endless debate which such an action on the part of
the police necessarily opened.

But the most agitated face, though the stillest tongue, was not to
be seen in town that morning, but in a little cottage on an arid
hill-slope overlooking the sea. Here Sweetwater sat and communed
with his great monitor, the ocean, and only from his flashing eye
and the firm set of his lips could the mother of Sweetwater see
that the crisis of her son's life was rapidly approaching, and
that on the outcome of this long brooding rested not only his own
self-satisfaction, but the interests of the man most dear to them.

Suddenly, from that far horizon upon which Sweetwater's eye rested
with a look that was almost a demand, came an answer that flushed
him with a hope as great as it was unexpected. Bounding to his
feet, he confronted his mother with eager eyes and outstretched
hand.

"Give me money, all the money we have in the house. I have an idea
that may be worth all I can ever make or can ever hope to have. If
it succeeds, we save Frederick Sutherland; if it fails, I have
only to meet another of Knapp's scornful looks. But it won't fail;
the inspiration came from the sea, and the sea, you know, is my
second mother!"

What this inspiration was he did not say, but it carried him
presently into town and landed him in the telegraph office.

*

The scene later in the day, when Frederick entered the village
under the guardianship of the police, was indescribable. Mr.
Sutherland had insisted upon accompanying him, and when the well-
loved figure and white head were recognised, the throng, which had
rapidly collected in the thoroughfare leading to the depot,
succumbed to the feelings occasioned by this devotion, and fell
into a wondering silence.

Frederick had never looked better. There is something in the
extremity of fate which brings out a man's best characteristics,
and this man, having much that was good in him, showed it at that
moment as never before in his short but over-eventful life. As the
carriage stopped before the court-house on its way to the train, a
glimpse was given of his handsome head to those who had followed
him closest, and as there became visible for the first time in his
face, so altered under his troubles, a likeness to their beautiful
and commanding Agatha, a murmur broke out around him that was half
a wail and half a groan, and which affected him so that he turned
from his father, whose hand he was secretly holding, and taking
the whole scene in with one flash of his eye, was about to speak,
when a sudden hubbub broke out in the direction of the telegraph
office, and a man was seen rushing down the street holding a paper
high over his head. It was Sweetwater.

"News!" he cried. "News! A cablegram from the Azores! A Swedish
sailor—"

But here a man with more authority than the amateur detective
pushed his way to the carriage and took off his hat to Mr.
Sutherland.

"I beg your pardon," said he, "but the prisoner will not leave
town to-day. Important evidence has just reached us."

Mr. Sutherland saw that it was in Frederick's favour and fainted
on his son's neck. As the people beheld his head fall forward, and
observed the look with which Frederick received him in his arms,
they broke into a great shout.

"News!" they shrieked. "News! Frederick Sutherland is innocent!
See! the old man has fainted from joy!" And caps went up and tears
fell, before a mother's son of them knew what grounds he had for
his enthusiasm.

Later, they found they were good and substantial ones. Sweetwater
had remembered the group of sailors who had passed by the corner
of Agatha's house just as Batsy fell forward on the window-sill,
and cabling to the captain of the vessel, at the first port at
which they were likely to put in, was fortunate enough to receive
in reply a communication from one of the men, who remembered the
words she shouted. They were in Swedish and none of his mates had
understood them, but he recalled them well. They were:

"Hjelp! Hjelp! Frun haller pa alb doda sig. Hon har en knif.
Hjelp! Hjelp!"

In English:

"Help! Help! My mistress kills herself. She has a knife. Help!
Help!"

The impossible had occurred. Batsy was not dead, or at least her
testimony still remained and had come at Sweetwater's beck from
the other side of the sea to save her mistress's son.

*

Sweetwater was a made man. And Frederick? In a week he was the
idol of the town. In a year—but let Agnes's contented face and
happy smile show what he was then. Sweet Agnes, who first
despised, then encouraged, then loved him, and who, next to
Agatha, commanded the open worship of his heart.

Agatha is first, must be first, as anyone can see who beholds him,
on a certain anniversary of each year, bury his face in the long
grass which covers the saddest and most passionate heart which
ever yielded to the pressure of life's deepest tragedy.

* * *

Endnotes

*

[1]
That Sweetwater in his hate, and with no real clew to
the real situation, should come so near the truth as in this last
supposition, shows the keenness of his insight.

Other books
05.A.Descent.Into.Hell.2008 by Casey, Kathryn
The Open Curtain by Brian Evenson
Elizabeth Chadwick by The Outlaw Knight
Dancing in the Moonlight by Bradshaw, Rita
The Gift of Charms by Julia Suzuki
Tales Of Grimea by Andrew Mowere
Let's Ride by Sonny Barger
Anda's Game by Cory Doctorow
The Riddle of the Lost Lover by Patricia Veryan