“You mean the heroine of the York mystery?” he replied blandly. “I know that you tried very hard that time to discredit the only possible version of that mysterious murder, the version which is my own. Now, I am equally sure that you have at the present moment no more notion as to who killed and robbed poor Lady Donaldson in Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, than the police have themselves, and yet you are fully prepared to pooh-pooh my arguments, and to disbelieve my version of the mystery. Such is the lady journalist’s mind.”
“If you have some cock-and-bull story to explain that extraordinary case,” she retorted, “of course I shall disbelieve it. Certainly, if you are going to try and enlist my sympathies on behalf of Edith Crawford, I can assure you you won’t succeed.”
“Well, I don’t know that that is altogether my intention. I see you are interested in the case, but I dare say you don’t remember all the circumstances. You must forgive me if I repeat that which you know already. If you have ever been to Edinburgh at all, you will have heard of Graham’s bank, and Mr. Andrew Graham, the present head of the firm, is undoubtedly one of the most prominent notabilities of ’modern Athens.’”
The man in the corner took two or three photos from his pocket-book and placed them before the young girl; then, pointing at them with his long bony finger—
“That,” he said, “is Mr. Elphinstone Graham, the eldest son, a typical young Scotchman, as you see, and this is David Graham, the second son.”
Polly looked more closely at this last photo, and saw before her a young face, upon which some lasting sorrow seemed already to have left its mark. The face was delicate and thin, the features pinched, and the eyes seemed almost unnaturally large and prominent.
“He was deformed,” commented the man in the corner in answer to the girl’s thoughts, “and, as such, an object of pity and even of repugnance to most of his friends. There was also a good deal of talk in Edinburgh society as to his mental condition, his mind, according to many intimate friends of the Grahams, being at times decidedly unhinged. Be that as it may, I fancy that his life must have been a very sad one; he had lost his mother when quite a baby, and his father seemed, strangely enough, to have an almost unconquerable dislike towards him.
“Every one got to know presently of David Graham’s sad position in his father’s own house, and also of the great affection lavished upon him by his godmother, Lady Donaldson, who was a sister of Mr. Graham’s.
“She was a lady of considerable wealth, being the widow of Sir George Donaldson, the great distiller; but she seems to have been decidedly eccentric. Latterly she had astonished all her family—who were rigid Presbyterians—by announcing her intention of embracing the Roman Catholic faith, and then retiring to the convent of St. Augustine’s at Newton Abbot in Devonshire.