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The Harmon Murder

The Harmon Murder
Mr Mortimer Lightwood and Mr Eugene Wrayburn were sitting together in their chambers. The young men were lawyers, and they had been friends since their schooldays. Both of them were gentlemen, but they had very little money. They were not very interested in the Law, and they spent most of their time doing nothing at all. Now they were sitting in comfortable chairs, smoking and talking as the evening grew darker. A client of mine died the other day,’ said Mortimer. He was an old rogue called Harmon. He died very rich -made his money by Dust. ‘Dust?’ repeated Eugene in a slow, lazy voice. ‘Yes, dust. Coal-dust, vegetable dust, bone-dust, all kinds of dust. He got rich by selling the dust he collected. And did this dust collector make a will?’ asked Eugene. A will has been found. Most of the property goes to the only son-John Harmon.’ ‘Lucky man, said Eugene. He has been helping his father collect dust, I suppose.’
‘No. The two quarrelled long ago. The son left England and has been abroad for fourteen years. He is now on his way back, but he can only get the money on the condition. ’ And what s that? Eugene asked lazily He must marry a certain girl who is now beautiful. The old man saw this girl once when she was only four years old. So — John Harmon returns to find a fortune and to take a wife,’ said Eugene.A lucky man. Good Lucy with no hard work!’ The two friends sat quietly in the dark room. Each thought of how happy he would be with money and a beautiful wife. At that moment, there was a knock on the door. Mortimer got up slowly to open it and Eugene lit the lamp. A boy of about fifteen stood in the doorway. His clothes were poor, but clean. He had a sharp, clever face. The boy held out a piece of paper. Lawyer Lightwood? He asked. Mortimer took the note and read it once and then again. He looked at Eugene in amazement. This is very strange,’ said Mortimer. A most strange ending to young John Harmon’s story.
Is he already married?’ asked Eugene. Has another will been found? Or has he refused to marry the girl?’
No, said Mortimer slowly, the truth is stranger than that. John Harmon has been found in the river-drowned!’ 
Mortimer looked again at the careful writing on the paper. Did you write this? he asked the boy
Yes, sir. My father, Jesse Hexam, told me to do it. He found the body. I’ve come by cab. You could come back with me now, and pay the cab-man
Eugene looked hard at the boy He took the boy’s face by the chin and turned it towards the light.
Who taught you to write! Do you go to school?
 The boy pulled away angrily. ‘Yes. My sister sent me. But don’t tell my father.
‘You have a good sister,’ said Eugene.
Yes, Lizzie’s very good to me. But she hasn’t been to school. She only knows what I’ve taught her. ’The two friends went down to the cab with the boy, Charley Hexam. The cab turned towards the river, on past docks, boat-yards and poor, miserable houses. It stopped at last in a dark, damp street on the very edge of the water. That’s my father’s house, sir, where the light is.’
The boy opened the door of the dirty wooden hose.

A grey-haired man was standing by the fire. A girl sat on a low chair beside the fire, sewing. Two or three oars stood against the wall. This is Lawyer Lightwood, Father. And a friend. Mr Wrayburn, said Eugene quietly. The girl looked up for a minute at the sound of his voice. What have you found, Hexam? said Mortimer. Is the body here The police have it, said Hexam. He took up a candle and the light shone on a notice on the wall: "Body Found". The two friends looked at the notice with its description of the drowned man. There were other, older notices all round the walls. You did not find all these poor people yourself, did you? asked Mortimer. Most of them. That s how I make my living-I take drowned bodies from the river As he spoke, there was a mow
man stood thete, his face pale and afraid1...I am lost, said the young man. I am looking for the police station. I want to see the drowned man. And he held up a notice: "Body Found" Eugene Weayburn stepped forward. This gentleman is Mr Lightwood. He is a lawyer and be s here on the same business"
Mr Lightwood? repeated the pale young man. The young man looked closely at the lawyer. We are going to the police now, Mortimer said. Would you
like to come with us? Jesse Hexam led the way along the dark, muddy streets to the police station. An Inspector showed them the body of the drowned man. The young man leant against the wall, his face paler than ever. It’s a terrible sight, he said in a low voice. Friend ef yours, sir? asked the Inspector.
No, no. But you must be looking for someone, sir, said the Inspector or you would not be here. Are you from London, sir, or from the country? Perhaps you would leave me your name? Yes, of course. "Mr Julius Handford," wrote the young man, his hand shaking little. "Exchequer Coffee House, Westminster." Then with one last frightened look at Mortimer Lightwood, Mr Julius Handford hurried out into the dark street. Mortimer and Eugene went home together and Charley Hexam returned alone to his sister. The girl was sitting beside the fire as before. She looked up with a smile as Charley came into the room. I thought father would be angry when he saw you could write, Lizzie said. If only I could make him see that learning is good thing. You do work hard at aschool, don’t you, Charley?’ You know I do, Lizze.’
 "Your learning will take you away from the river and this terrible life. How I wish that I could read and write too ! But Father wouldn’t like it. Perhags, one day, I can change him. I hate the river. It brings nothing but unhappiness And the girl looked up terrible notices on the walls: "Body Found. Body Found’’. At the inquest, the dead man was identified as Mr John Harmon, who had recently returned from abroad. The body had been in the river for some days and was been drowned, but murdered. But how had he died and who had killed him? From that time on, the name of Jesse Hexam and Murder were spoken of together. Lizzie saw people turn away from her father and refuse to speak to him. More than ever, the great, black river seemed a place of fear and death.

At last, Lizzie made up her mind to send Charley away. He would never be able to rise in the world while he lived with his father. Lizzie had saved a little money. She gave some of this to her brother. ‘You must leave here, Charley,’ she said. ‘I will stay here with Father, but you must go away. ‘Must?’ repeated Charley. ‘Do you want to get rid of me? Isn’t there enough food for the three of us? You know that’s not true, said Lizzie. You must go to a better school. They will teach you and help you to get a living. I’ll send you some more money when I can. Perhaps Mr Lightwood will help a little. Don’t ask that other one, that Mr Wraybum for anything, said Charley sharply. I didn’t like the way he spoke to me. And I didn’t like the way he looked at you Lizzie gave her brother some food to take with hin Now remember, Charley Never listen to anything bad a bout Father. It will not be true. Goodbye, my darling. Go now, before Father comes back.’ When she was alone, Lizzie cried a little. Then she looked into the bright fire and dreams of the future. Did she her brother working hard and making asuccess of his life? Did she see herself as alady, clever and beautifull? Did she see afine gentleman who would love her and take her far away from the cold, dark river?


إذا أعجبك محتوى مدونتنا نتمنى البقاء على تواصل دائم ، فقط قم بإدخال بريدك الإلكتروني للإشتراك في بريد المدونة السريع ليصلك جديد المدونة أولاً بأول ، كما يمكنك إرسال رساله بالضغط على الزر المجاور ...

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