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THE belief prevalent in the town ascribed the
murder of Sir Philip to the violence of some
vulgar robber, probably not an inhabitant of
L——. Mr. Vigors did not favour that belief.
He intimated an opinion, which seemed extravagant
and groundless, that Sir Philip had been
murdered, for the sake not of the missing purse,
but of the missing casket. It was currently
believed that the solemn magistrate consulted
one of his pretended clairvoyants, and
that this impostor had gulled him with assurances,
to which he attached a credit that perverted
into egregiously absurd directions his
characteristic activity and zeal.

Be that as it may, the coroner's inquest closed
without casting any light on so mysterious a

What were my own conjectures I scarcely
dared to admitI certainly could not venture to
utter them. But my suspicions centred upon
Margrave. That for some reason or other he had cause
to dread Sir Philip's presence in L—— was clear,
even to my reason. And how could my reason
reject all the influences which had been brought to
bear on my imagination, whether by the scene in
the museum or my conversations with the
deceased? But it was impossible to act on such
suspicionsimpossible even to confide them.
Could I have told to any man the effect produced
on me in the museum, he would have considered
me a liar or a madman. And in Sir Philip's accusations
against Margrave, there was nothing tangible
nothing that could bear repetition. Those
accusations, if analysed, vanished into air.
What did they imply?—that Margrave was a
magician, a monstrous prodigy, a creature
exceptional to the ordinary conditions of humanity.
Would the most reckless of mortals have ventured
to bring against the worst of characters such
a charge, on the authority of a deceased witness,
and to found on evidence so fantastic the awful
accusation of murder? But of all men, certainly I
a sober, practical physicianwas the last whom
the public could excuse for such incredible implications
and certainly, of all men, the last against
whom any suspicion of heinous crime would be
readily entertained was that joyous youth in whose
sunny aspect life and conscience alike seemed to
keep careless holiday. But I could not overcome,
nor did I attempt to reason against, the horror
akin to detestation, that had succeeded to the
fascinating attraction by which Margrave had
before conciliated a liking founded rather on
admiration than esteem.

In order to avoid his visits I kept away from
the study in which I had habitually spent my
mornings, and to which he had been accustomed
to so ready an access. And if he called at the
front door I directed my servant to tell him that
I was either from home or engaged. He did
attempt for the first few days to visit me as before,
but when my intention to shun him became thus
manifest, desisted; naturally enough, as any other
man so pointedly repelled would have done.

I abstained from all those houses in which I
was likely to meet him; and went my professional
round of visits in a close carriage; so that
I might not be accosted by him in his walks.

One morning, a very few days after Strahan had
shown me Sir Philip Derval's letter, I received
a note from my old college acquaintance, stating
that he was going to Derval Court that afternoon;
that he should take with him the memoir
which he had found; and begging me to visit
him at his new home the next day, and
commence my inspection of the manuscript.
I consented eagerly.

That morning, on going my round, my carriage
passed by another drawn up to the pavement,
and I recognised the figure of Margrave
standing beside the vehicle, and talking to
some one seated within it. I looked back,
as my own carriage whirled rapidly by, and saw
with uneasiness and alarm that it was Richard
Strahan to whom Margrave was thus familiarly
addressing himself. How had the two
made acquaintance? Was it not an outrage
on Sir Philip Derval's memory, that the heir he
had selected should be thus apparently intimate
with the man whom he had so sternly denounced?
I became still more impatient to read the memoir
in all probability it would give such explanations
with respect to Margrave's antecedents,
as, if not sufficing to criminate him of
legal offences, would at least effectually
terminate any acquaintance between Sir Philip's
successor and himself.

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