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fixed upon the ground before him. Then he rose, wiped away the perspiration that was moistening his forehead, and with slow and unsteady step entered his room. There he was found by Wilkins when the latter returned towards six o'clock. Jervis now had to undergo another careful examination, and that over, Wilkins said he would send him a few powders, of which he was to take two at once,—two before going to bed and two in the morning. He repeated his advice several times as if it were of great importance, to which Jervis only replied seriously and thoughtfully—" All right, Doctor; all right."
The powders were brought; but Jervis did not take them. He sat down to dinner about seven o'clock, but hardly tasted the food that was placed before him, and retired early to his room, where he remained alone. When the servant brought the lamp he ordered it to be taken away again, telling the man to keep the parlour dark, as the mosquitoes had been very troublesome of late.
Ashbourne's rooms were brightly lighted, and Jervis could distinctly see everything that was going on there. He seemed to take a great interest in this, for he had got out his opera glass, and did not remove his eyes from the house. The two brothers remained alone talking together until nearly nine o'clock, when Thomas sat down at his desk to write, while Daniel, taking his hat and followed by a servant, left the house.
On the following morning Dr
Wilkins called as usual on Jervis,
and found his patient very much
fatigued and in low spirits. In
the hope of cheering him up a
little, the Doctor told him they
had been very merry at the club
the night before.
"Daniel Ashbourne," he said, "is a bright cheerful fellow, and for hours and hours he entertained the company with stories from Ireland."
"And what did Thomas Ashbourne say," asked Jervis, "if another talked for such a long time 1"
"Thomas had to work for his newspaper, and Dan came alone. We were all very glad to see him, and I am sure you will like him. He is anxious to make your acquaintance, for he is a thoroughbred Irishman, and would like to see the best horseman in the settlement. If it suits you, I will bring him with me to-morrow morning and introduce him."
"No, thanks; I would rather not," replied Jervis calmly. "I am really not well enough just now to take any pleasure in making new acquaintances."
"Well, just as you like," replied the Doctor, adding, after a short pause—" If you care to take a little walk this evening, I would be glad to call for you: I have promised Ashbourne to initiate him into the mysteries of the Yankiro. We have an appointment at nine o'clock, and as we pass your house I will call out for you."
"No, thanks, Doctor; not tonight."
When Wilkins was gone, Jervis walked up and down the verandah for a long time in deep thought. One of his servants came with a message that had been left for him; but the man was frightened at the wild expression of his master's face, and withdrew without speaking to him.
About half an hour later Jervis called his porter and sent him to Yedo to make some purchases. The servant replied that it was very late, and that he could not possibly return the same night. Jervis said it was of no consequence; he might return next morning. The man was glad to get a holiday in Yedo, and in half an hour was gone.
At nightfall Jervis summoned his Chinese comprador, the chief servant of his household, and said to him—
"The porter will not be here tonight. Take care, therefore, that by ten o'clock every light in the house and in the stables is put out. People here are very careless with fire."
At nine o'clock Jervis was sitting on the dark verandah looking intently towards the brightly lighted dwelling of his neighbour Ashbourne. In one of the rooms he recognised three persons—the two brothers and Dr Wilkins. At half-past nine Thomas sat down to his desk, and the two others left. Jervis heard them talking as they passed his verandah, and saw them take the road across the moor towards the Yankiro, followed by two native servants. The sound of their footsteps was soon lost on the soft turf. For a short time Jervis's eyes followed the two lanterns; these, also, were soon lost to sight in the sultry dark night. Then everything around became deserted, silent, and lonely. The heavens were black; and the sea rolled heavily and gloomily on the shore, with a sound like distant thunder before an approaching storm. Jervis was still on the verandah, breathing hard, listening attentively to the slightest sound. The comprador had extinguished all the lights in the house. Everything lay buried in deep, black darkness.
Towards midnight four men— two Europeans and two Japanese —left the Yankiro, and, walking leisurely, took the road to Yokohama. The servants walked in front, lighting up the narrow uneven path
way with their lanterns, while their masters were engaged in lively conversation. They had reached nearly the middle of the swamp when one of them turned suddenly round, and saw a dark mass leap forward. At the same instant he heard a dull thud, followed by a short terrible shriek, and saw his companion wildly beat the air with his arms, rush forward a few steps, and then fall with his face to the ground.
"Help! Help! Murder!" The two servants darted back and held up the lanterns. About twenty yards ahead of them they saw a human figure flying across the moor. Two shots from a revolver followed at brief intervals, but the fugitive, apparently, was not hit, and he was soon lost in the darkness of the night.
Thomas Ashbourne was working with open doors and windows when he was startled by a terrible shriek. Then the cry — "Murder! Murder! Help!" resounded through the silent night. He rushed out on the verandah, and saw several lanterns, which, in the swamp, were flickering and moving to and fro. In a few seconds he was outside, rushing towards the place.
Stretched on the ground, with a wide gaping wound in his back, a man was lying; by his side were Wilkins and the two servants.
"He has been murdered," said the Doctor, lifting up his pale terrorstricken face.
The murdered man was weltering in his blood, giving still some signs of life.
"What can I do, Doctor?" shrieked Thomas Ashbourne. "For God's sake, help! Oh, Dan! My brother Dan!"
He knelt down and took hold of the hand which was already growing cold, and which, in the last deadly struggle, had clutched the damp heavy soil.
Wilkins could say nothing. The blow, which seemed to have been given with a butcher's axe, had split
the back from the left shoulder to the middle of the spine. The dying man uttered a deep groan, drew a heavy agonised breath—there was a convulsive quivering of the limbs —and then all was over.
Most of the members of the English community were assembled in the large office of the English Consulate, where a court had been constituted, with Mr Mitchell as chairman, to make public inquiry into the murder of Mr Daniel Ashbourne of Limerick, Ireland. The witnesses waited in an adjoining room. They were—Doctor Wilkins, James Jervis, with his Chinese comprador, Walter M'Bean, and Arthur Gilmore.
Out of regard to their feelings, Thomas Ashbourne, the brother of the murdered man, and Patrick Inish, had been privately examined, but the Consul opened the public sittings by reading their depositions. It was stated that Mr Daniel Ashbourne had no quarrel of any kind with any native, so that the murder could not possibly be the work of personal revenge.
Dr Wilkins was the chief witness. He related what had occurred on the swamp, and stated that Daniel Ashbourne's behaviour in the Yankiro had been perfectly quiet and orderly. He maintained that the murdered man had given no cause to any one there to attack him.
"How do you account, Dr Wilkins, for the circumstance that neither Daniel Ashbourne nor yourself nor the servants noticed the approach of the murderer?"
"The night was dark; the lanterns being only a short distance ahead of us, the murderer could get behind us without being seen. I was chatting with Ashbourne,
and the servants in front were also talking. It was, therefore, possible for us not to hear a slight noise; but as it has been proved that the murderer wore sandals, and as the turf is very soft, it is probable that he approached us without making any noise whatever. The little I did hear was, in my opinion, the rustling of the assassin's dress as he lifted his arm to deal the blow."'
"What did you see of the murderer?"
"He was a man who leapt away like a wild stag, and in a moment had disappeared into the night. I had no time to aim at him, although my revolver was ready. He ran in the direction of the Japanese quarter. He wore the usual darkcoloured native garment, but he seemed to me very tall for a native. I am inclined to think it was a s'mo" (wrestler).
"And you say, Dr Wilkins, that the murderer made use of a Japanese sword 1"
"Without doubt. There is no modern European weapon with which one could deal such a blow as killed Daniel Ashbourne."
"Have you anything more to say?"
After Dr Wilkins, Mr Jervis was called into the witness-box. He was still suffering, and the court permitted him to sit down. Jervis indeed looked very ill. He replied to the usual preliminary questions as to his identity in a low voice, but without hesitation.
"James Jervis, you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."
"So help me God."
"Kiss the book."
"Now what do you know, Mr Jervis,"asked Mr Mitchell, "about the murder of Daniel Ashbourne?"
"I was asleep, and was suddenly awakened by screams and shouts. Immediately afterwards I heard two pistol - shots fired in quick succession. I stepped to the window and saw several lanterns right before me, about the middle of the swamp. I dressed at once, but not feeling very well, and having no idea that such a misfortune could have occurred, I called my groom, whom I knew to be the swiftest of my servants, and ordered him to run to the spot indicated by the lanterns, and report to me what had happened. The man was sleepy, and it was several minutes before I saw him leave the house. The other servants meanwhile had been roused, and my comprador joined me on the verandah. There, at a very short distance from my house, we saw a man, who shot past us at lightning speed, in the direction of the Japanese quarter on the hill. We could see him only for an instant. He was a Japanese or a Chinese, certainly not a European— that I could see even in the moment it took him to fly past us. I called my second groom, and ordered him to run after the man, offering him a good reward if he could tell me what had become of the fugitive. Half a minute later the betto was on his track; but a quarter of an hour afterwards he returned breathless, having run half the way to Homura (a village in the neighbourhood of Yokohama) without seeing a living soul. About the same time my first groom returned
and told me of the murder of my neighbour. He had assisted in carrying the corpse to the house of Thomas Ashbourne. That is all I know."
The Chinese comprador of Mr Jervis, who could not be sworn in the usual manner, was simply examined for the better information of the court, and, on the whole, confirmed his master's statement. About the appearance of the man who rushed past the house he could say nothing.
"Something like a shadow flew past us. I could not even recognise that it was a man; and in the same moment, when Mr Jervis called my attention to it, it had already vanished. I did not hear any footsteps."
M'Bean, Ashbourne's second neighbour, had little to tell. He had been awakened by the noise and the shrieks, had dressed himself quickly, and had run towards the lanterns, where he found Dr Wilkins, Thomas Ashbourne, and the two Japanese servants. Soon afterwards Mr Jervis's betto joined them, and they all carried the body to the house. He had not seen the murderer; but he recollected that he had heard from his house a noise as of some one climbing over a wooden fence: he had paid no attention to it, as he had only one thought—to reach the mooras quickly as possible.
Mr Gilmore, duly sworn, said he had left the club to go home a few minutes before midnight. On turning into his street, he was nearly knocked down by a Japanese who rushed against him. He thought the man was going to attack him, but he leapt like a stag, and disappeared immediately. He was a tall, slim man. He could not see the face, which, in Japanese fashion, was covered with a piece of cloth.
Two days later Daniel Ashbourne was carried to his last resting-place. All the members of the English community, and most of the Germans, Americans, and other foreigners living in the settlement, assembled to pay their last respects to the dead. As chief mourner, behind the coffin walked the unfortunate brother of the murdered man. By his side was Patrick Inish, the faithful Irish servant; and then, in long procession, followed the members of the foreign community.
Jervis had told Wilkins the evening before the funeral that he was very unwell, and that it would be impossible for him to be present. But the Doctor was of opinion that his patient would do well not to absent himself.
"You were seen yesterday at the Consulate, and everybody knows that you can go out. People might make all sorts of unpleasant comments. Take my advice, Jervis, and come. I'll keep by your side all the time."
After a little hesitation, Jervis had said that if he could possibly go out he would attend. He had come, but everybody could see how hard it was for him to climb the steep hill which led to the foreign cemetery. He looked pale and distressed. Several times he had to stop for breath, and to wipe away the heavy drops of perspiration that were gathering fast on his
forehead. Everybody felt grateful to him for doing this last honour to Daniel Ashbourne ; and many of his acquaintances who had avoided him for weeks shook hands with him, and asked kindly after his health.
The cemetery was in a wonderfully peaceful and beautiful little grove, formerly belonging to a Japanese temple, the ruins of which were still visible. Trees, hundreds of years old, formed with their mighty branches a leafy roof conferring shade and quiet. Entering the churchyard—which seen from Yokohama looked like a citadel— one could look upon the majestic sea spreading its deep blue waters to the distant horizon; to the left, the city of Yokohama ; to the right, the mountains of Hakkoni, and, towering above all, the mighty crater of Fusi-Yama. In these three directions the hill shelved down in steep, almost impassable declivities. Crippled trees and stunted brushwood had taken root in the rocky clefts, and a slippery, rich, darkgreen moss had covered the sides with a soft velvety carpet. At the foot of the hill were a few fishermen'shuts. Theforeign community of Yokohama had surrounded their burying-ground with a high stone wall, and appointed two Japanese watchmen to guard their graves from desecration by the natives.
The coffin in which the remains of Daniel Ashbourne reposed now