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ON August 15, 188–, the public of Sydney were aroused to unusual

excitement by the following announcement in the Evening Times of that








                            CRIME OR SUICIDE?



                          WELL-KNOWN SPORTSMAN.

                       STABBED TO DEATH IN HIS BED.


                             HOW WAS IT DONE?


“The usual quiet of North Shore was this morning rudely dispelled by the

alarming rumour that a crime of an unusual kind had been committed in the

house of Mrs. Delfosse, Lavender Bay.


“An inquiry proved the report only too well founded.


“Mrs. Delfosse, it may be stated, is a widow lady of the highest

respectability, who keeps a boarding establishment of the better kind in

a stylish mansion near the Lavender Bay steps.  Amongst her boarders was,

till this morning, the well-known sportsman, Alexander Booth, more widely

known under his _nom de guerre_ as ‘Newmarket.’


“Mr. Booth was married, and shared with his wife a spacious bedroom on

the second floor, the window of which has a fine harbour view.  At seven

o’clock this morning the other inmates of the house were aroused and

startled by a succession of loud shrieks coming from this chamber.  In

haste they rushed to the landing, but in response to calls and knocking

on the door there was no reply.  The room was as quiet as the grave.


“The door was locked on the inside.  It was decided without hesitation to

burst it open.  This being done, the spectators were horrified to find

the senseless form of Mrs. Booth stretched on the floor, and in the bed

itself the lifeless corpse of Mr. Booth.  Further examination showed the

death of this gentleman to be no natural event.  The body was resting on

the chest and arms, and between the shoulder-blades was buried what

appears to be a thin knife or dagger.  The doctor and police were

immediately sent for, and Mrs. Booth removed to another room.  Here after

a time she recovered from what proved to be a swoon, but it was only to

return again very quickly to the same state.  At the time of writing she

is somewhat recovered.







“Her statement of the event is very brief, and only adds to the strange

surroundings of the case—Her husband and herself retired to rest on the

Sunday night at their usual hour, she herself locking and bolting the

door, as was her custom.  She slept well, and was only awakened by a

feeling of coldness close to her; she turned and looked at her husband,

he was stiff and rigid, the features a waxen pallor and the eyes wide

open, staring at her with a frightful horror in them.  She sprang from

the bed, she screamed, she screamed again; she remembers no more.







“Sergeant Burrel was quickly on the scene, and made a careful inspection

of the premises and the room itself.  It did not require the opinions of

a medical expert to convince the ordinary layman that death in this case

was not self-inflicted.  Apart from the absence of any motive for

self-destruction, the blow was such as no man could possibly give to



“The room, as has been stated, is on the second floor, and its one window

is protected by upright iron bars five inches apart, indicating that some

former tenant had used it as a nursery.  There is only the one door to

the room, and the chimney, which was carefully inspected, would not allow

a passage through its registered grate to an animal larger than a cat.

The window itself was found to be shut and fastened inside by the

ordinary catch.


“The police are very reticent, but so far no arrest has been made.  The

inquest will be held to-morrow, when the medical evidence and more

details may be disclosed.  In the meantime the house is surrounded by

crowds of the curious, particularly in the right-of-way in the rear of

the premises, from which the window of the room can be seen.


“Great sympathy was expressed at Tattersall’s this morning by Mr. Booth’s

fellow metallicians on the news of the sad event reaching the club.  No

member of the fraternity was more highly respected than the late

Alexander Booth, and his death will be a great loss to Sydney sportsmen.”







                           THE MYSTERY DEEPENS.



                         BROKEN OPEN AND ROBBED.


“Before going to press news reaches us that the mystery surrounding the

sudden death of Alexander Booth is heightened by the statement of his

clerk, David Israel, that on going to the office at the usual hour this

morning he found the door ajar, and on further examination in the office,

the safe itself open, and bare of all contents, save the books of the

firm.  He states that his first impression was that his master had

arrived before him, and had opened the premises and safe, and was

probably somewhere near at hand; but as minutes passed by and no one

appeared, he became alarmed.  He then locked the place up, and went at

once to his master’s private residence, Lavender Bay, only to learn the

sad details of his sudden death.


“An important statement made by this witness is that only Mr. Booth had a

key to his office safe, which he securely locked on Saturday afternoon.

As the safe does not appear to have been tampered with in any way, its

unlocking adds to the strange peculiarities surrounding this case.


“David Israel does not know the exact amount of money missing, but

estimates it at two or three hundred pounds only.  ‘If,’ said he, ‘this

had occurred a month ago, the loss would have been very different, as up

to that time Mr. Booth made no secret of the fact that he had a large

amount—thirty or forty thousand pounds—in securities, locked up in what

he considered a burglar and fireproof safe.  But the late notorious

robberies in the city seemed to have weakened his confidence, for only

three weeks ago he transferred the whole of his valuables to the safe

keeping of the Bank of New South Wales.’”


The extra special edition of the _Evening Times_ of the same date had the

following additional item—


“On learning the details of the office robbery we at once dispatched a

reporter to the scene of the crime in Lavender Bay.  It will be noted

that, according to the statement of David Israel, there was only one key

to the city safe, and that was in the possession of his master.  If this

key was missing, then a motive for what may now be safely called a crime

is forthcoming.


“The police authorities had already made a careful inventory of the dead

man’s personal effects, and amongst these, taken from the trousers

pocket, was a small flat key, said by Mrs. Booth to be, without doubt,

that of her husband’s safe.


“So far as the public is concerned, this safety of the key, the

abstraction of which was so naturally anticipated by our reporter, makes

the mystery still deeper, and banishes what would at first appear to be

the motive for at least part of the crime, and the connecting link

between the murder on North Shore and the robbery in town.


“Despite the reticence of the police, it is plain to all that they are as

puzzled as the public in general to form an acceptable theory as to how

the crime was committed.”







Status: Ongoing Type: , Author: Native Language: English
A great detective story .........


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