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The Old Man in the Corner

XXII. Forgery
"The facts that transpired in connection with this extraordinary case were sufficiently
mysterious to puzzle everybody. As I told you before, all Mr. Brooks' friends never quite
grasped the idea that the old man should so completely have cut off his favourite son with
the proverbial shilling.
"You see, Percival had always been a thorn in the old man's flesh. Horse-racing,
gambling, theatres, and music-halls were, in the old pork-butcher's eyes, so many deadly
sins which his son committed every day of his life, and all the Fitzwilliam Place
household could testify to the many and bitter quarrels which had arisen between father
and son over the latter's gambling or racing debts. Many people asserted that Brooks
would sooner have left his money to charitable institutions than seen it squandered upon
the brightest stars that adorned the music-hall stage.
"The case came up for hearing early in the autumn. In the meanwhile Percival Brooks
had given up his racecourse associates, settled down in the Fitzwilliam Place mansion,
and conducted his father's business, without a manager, but with all the energy and
forethought which he had previously devoted to more unworthy causes.
"Murray had elected not to stay on in the old house; no doubt associations were of too
painful and recent a nature; he was boarding with the family of a Mr. Wilson Hibbert,
who was the late Patrick Wethered's, the murdered lawyer's, partner. They were quiet,
homely people, who lived in a very pokey little house in Kilkenny Street, and poor
Murray must, in spite of his grief, have felt very bitterly the change from his luxurious
quarters in his father's mansion to his present tiny room and homely meals.
"Percival Brooks, who was now drawing an income of over a hundred thousand a year,
was very severely criticised for adhering so strictly to the letter of his father's will, and
only paying his brother that paltry £300 a year, which was very literally but the crumbs
off his own magnificent dinner table.
"The issue of that contested will case was therefore awaited with eager interest. In the
meanwhile the police, who had at first seemed fairly loquacious on the subject of the
murder of Mr. Patrick Wethered, suddenly became strangely reticent, and by their very
reticence aroused a certain amount of uneasiness in the public mind, until one day the
_Irish Times_ published the following extraordinary, enigmatic paragraph:
"'We hear on authority which cannot be questioned, that certain extraordinary
developments are expected in connection with the brutal murder of our distinguished
townsman Mr. Wethered; the police, in fact, are vainly trying to keep it secret that they
hold a clue which is as important as it is sensational, and that they only await the
impending issue of a well-known litigation in the probate court to effect an arrest.'
 
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