Silence of the Dead (1913)
Amid the financial ruin which faces him, Trevor is confronted by his servant, Ponting, and later by Count Montmoran. As an old friend, the former has no difficulty in obtaining for the ruined marquis the few thousand which are necessary for the commencement of his new life. As the only thing of value which Trevor possesses, he gives to Montmoran s small, jeweled revolver, bearing the family crest and name, as a token of his regard, and Montmoran eventually shows his friend out by a private door. Just as Montmoran is about to reenter he is met by Kernizan, who has called to borrow a large sum of money to pay his wife's debts with. Fearful lest Montmoran should disappoint him, he can only think of the ignominy of the scandal which would ensue from his inability to meet his wife's debts. He observes Montmoran turn out valuable bonds and securities, and an occasional banknote, when suddenly his eye chances upon the revolver lying on the table which Trevor has left to the count. Montmoran, shaking his head, is about to say that he has nothing left, when a fit of madness seizes Kernizan, and, snatching the revolver, he fires at Montmoran. He then hurriedly fills his pockets with valuable papers and leaves the house as he came in. Nobody knows that Kernizan has been to the house at all, and the thief returns to his wife. Flinging the securities on the table, he accuses her of being the cause of everything, and announces his intention of going abroad for good. The discovery of Montmoran's body, Trevor's revolver, the money which Montmoran gave to Trevor, coupled with the damning evidence that Montmoran's wife had spoken to Trevor in passing through the drawing-room to her husband's study, constitute a chain of circumstantial evidence, out of which it is utterly impossible for Trevor to extricate himself. Subsequently sentenced to penal servitude for life, rather than suffer the torture of a living hell, he commits suicide in his cell. His devoted servant, Ponting, assumes guardianship over his master's son, and contrives to get his birth registered as the child of unknown parents by the local authorities, and hearing the name of Gilbert, Ponting's attempts to get the old marchioness to see the boy are unavailing, but she really gives an ample sum to cover his education, and bids the fisherman never to importune her again. Fifteen years pass away. Phillip, the son of the murdered Count Montmoran, is now a naval lieutenant, though long service abroad has aged him in appearance. On the occasion of the launching of a new battleship, his mother and his sister Lilian give a garden party in honor of the event, and of Philip's gazetting to the new ship. Not many miles away from the home of the Montmorans there lives a fisherman named Ponting, who is the guardian of a young naval ensign of the name of Gilbert, who is quite unaware that he is the Marquis Trevor. The ensign is also to serve the new battleship, and, after the launching ceremony, Philip invites him to his house, where he introduces him to his mother and sister Lilian. Here also he meets the Baroness Kernizan, who has designs on Philip as a future husband. Gilbert and Lilian find much that is attractive in each other, and friendship develops between them. On reaching their destination, the sailors receive instructions to be in readiness for possible attacks by tribes in insurrectionary Arabs. In a careless moment, Philip Montmoran is enticed into a Moorish house and made captive, whilst Gilbert, who goes to his rescue single-handed, is also made prisoner. Attracted by the noise of pistol shots, a party of European hunters are led to explore the neighborhood, and they arrive just in time to save the two officers from assassination. The man who is their rescuer is none other than Baron Kernizan, who lives in this isolated district, trying to forget his crime of fifteen years previous. He refuses to give his name, but accepts the young men's cards, and perceives that in Philip Montmoran he meets the son of his victim. When the ship returns home. Lieutenant Montmoran and Ensign Gilbert are mentioned as having performed distinguished service, and subsequently Gilbert's engagement to Lilian is achieved. When Gilbert announces his betrothal to his old guardian Ponting, the latter is horrified, and is compelled to reveal the fact that Gilbert is the Marquis of Trevor, and that his father had murdered Lilian's father. This terrible revelation puts the marriage of the young people out of the question, and not even the fact that the old Marchioness of Trevor, who learning of the identity of Gilbert, implores her grandson to come to her and take up his rightful position, does anything to assuage the bitterness in the young man's heart. In the midst of all this, a man disembarks at Marseilles. It is the Baron Kernizan, who returns home to make a complete avowal of his crime. The encounter with Philip Montmoran in the colony has convinced him that the step was necessary. Eventually, in the presence of the families of Kernizan, Trevor and Montmoran, and the public prosecutor, he states what actually occurred. The avowal is too much for his weakened condition, and he subsequently dies of heart failure.