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!'