The Old Man in the Corner HTML version

XXI. The Dublin Mystery
"I always thought that the history of that forged will was about as interesting as any I had
read," said the man in the corner that day. He had been silent for some time, and was
meditatively sorting and looking through a packet of small photographs in his pocket-
book. Polly guessed that some of these would presently be placed before her for
inspection--and she had not long to wait.
"That is old Brooks," he said, pointing to one of the photographs, "Millionaire Brooks, as
he was called, and these are his two sons, Percival and Murray. It was a curious case,
wasn't it? Personally I don't wonder that the police were completely at sea. If a member
of that highly estimable force happened to be as clever as the clever author of that forged
will, we should have very few undetected crimes in this country."
"That is why I always try to persuade you to give our poor ignorant police the benefit of
your great insight and wisdom," said Polly, with a smile.
"I know," he said blandly, "you have been most kind in that way, but I am only an
amateur. Crime interests me only when it resembles a clever game of chess, with many
intricate moves which all tend to one solution, the checkmating of the antagonist--the
detective force of the country. Now, confess that, in the Dublin mystery, the clever police
there were absolutely checkmated."
"Just as the public was. There were actually two crimes committed in one city which
have completely baffled detection: the murder of Patrick Wethered the lawyer, and the
forged will of Millionaire Brooks. There are not many millionaires in Ireland; no wonder
old Brooks was a notability in his way, since his business--bacon curing, I believe it is--is
said to be worth over £2,000,000 of solid money.
"His younger son Murray was a refined, highly educated man, and was, moreover, the
apple of his father's eye, as he was the spoilt darling of Dublin society; good-looking, a
splendid dancer, and a perfect rider, he was the acknowledged 'catch' of the matrimonial
market of Ireland, and many a very aristocratic house was opened hospitably to the
favourite son of the millionaire.
"Of course, Percival Brooks, the eldest son, would inherit the bulk of the old man's
property and also probably the larger share in the business; he, too, was good-looking,
more so than his brother; he, too, rode, danced, and talked well, but it was many years
ago that mammas with marriageable daughters had given up all hopes of Percival Brooks
as a probable son-in-law. That young man's infatuation for Maisie Fortescue, a lady of
undoubted charm but very doubtful antecedents, who had astonished the London and
Dublin music-halls with her extravagant dances, was too well known and too old-
established to encourage any hopes in other quarters.