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This pastiche appeared in the New York Evening World in 1904. As far as I am aware it has not been republished since then.The Fatal Chord was published in twelve daily chapters, the excerpt below is chapter three.


The Fatal Chord,

or the Baffling Mystery of the Carnegie Hall Murder.

By Albert Payson Terhune.

To Be Completed in Twelve Dally Instalments.


Cyril Ballard, a young New Yorker, is killed during a musicale at Paul Craddock’s apartments in Carnegie Hall. Several apparently supernatural events attend his death. Poison tablets, also, are found in his pocket, but the autopsy reveals no trace of poison in his system. As Gresham and Beckwith, two detectives, are discussing the affair, they are joined by a tall, thin Englishman, whom Beckwith introduces to Gresham as the “ideal detective.” To which Gresham replies: “Do you mean to tell me this is SHERLOCK HOLMES?”

This other makes an evasive reply and tells Gresham that the latter may refer to him merely as “The Englishman.” The Englishman undertakes to solve the Ballard mystery.


Introducing Several Lovers

“The second of  Mr. Paul Craddock’s exclusive and brilliant musicales,” as the society papers termed it, was in progress.

The first of the musical evenings, which the death of Cyril Ballard had so tragically interrupted, was to have had as its chief feature the Initial rendition of Siurd von Rickerl’s new opus “Alnasehar.”

To-night, a month later, the same in inducement was offered. Despite the memory of that tragedy so recently enacted there, many members of New York’s artistic and musical, as well al of it’s society, circles eagerly welcomed the opportunity to throng to Craddock’s rooms at Carnegie Hall. Paul Craddock was a man who only semi-occasionally entertained. When he did so the occasion was usually one not lightly to be missed. For Craddock had reduced to a science the difficult art of successful entertaining. People who went to his “affairs” were not forced to talk to uncongenials, but were allowed to do pretty much as they pleased. Craddock seemingly taking no especial heed of their doings, yet all the time contriving to set every one at ease. There was, too, always some special attraction offered there.

The host, a man of perhaps forty, powerfully yet lightly built, a pointed black beard lending a foreign air to his dark, strong face, stood out from the crowd of guests as a striking figure which would command chief attention everywhere. He had that nameless air of distinction which nothing but centuries of high breeding can give and which is (falsely as a rule) attributed to royalty.

His deep-set eyes swept the rooms, seemingly without purpose, until they rested on a woman’s profile, thrown Into cameo-like relief for a moment against the dark red portieres of a bay window that concealed the rest of her figure. With apparent aimlessness, Paul made his way through the group of guests, reached the bay window and, drawing aside the portiere, sank into the cushioned window seat at the girl’s side.

She had looked up quickly, eagerly, at his approach. On recognizing him, a slight cloud, imperceptible to less keen eyes than Paul Craddock’s, had crossed her face.
Craddock at once divined that she had been waiting there for some one else, for some one whose presence would have been for more welcome. Tactfully he made no allusion to this, but entered into casual talk.

“It was good of you to come tonight, Miss Durand,” he began, “and to brave the sad memories that the sight of my rooms must bring. I was half afraid no one would venture here after the tragedy that stopped my last little musicale. It must be doubly hard on a sensitive, artistic nature like Von Rickerl’s.”

“Mr. Craddock,” said the girl, impulsively. “I came here to-night more for a word with you than for the music.”

“Yes?” interpolated Paul, courteously, as she hesitated; “you were waiting here in the bay-window for me?”

“No,” she answered frankly; “I was waiting for Siurd von Rickerl. I knew he would come here to look for me as soon as he arrived.”

“That isn’t very complimentary to me,” said Craddock with a smile. “but a girl with eyes like yours couldn’t lie. Yet you said you wanted a word with me during the evening. Pending von Rickerl’s arrival, perhaps you’ll” –

“Mr. Craddock,” she interrupted. “I don’t like to bring up the subject. It is not pleasant to either of us, but” –

“Let me save you the trouble then. Some time ago I begged you to do me the great honor to be my wife. It meant a great deal to me. You may not believe me when I tell you that though I have reached forty years, you are the first woman I ever asked to marry me. I only mention this to show you that mine was not a mere passing love, but one that filled and mastered my whole being. It was the first emotion I ever had that ruled me. All that cannot be of interest to you. But it will perhaps explain and palliate what followed. You did not, could not, regard me as anything more than a friend - a good loyal devoted friend, I trust - and you told me so, very kindly but very honestly. You even told me your own heart secret - your secret betrothal to Von Rickerl. That should have been enough for me, but it was not. Like a fool, like a raw schoolboy, I begged you, on the night Ballard died here, to reconsider your decision.”

The girl glanced up protestingly, but he continued: “When you refused, I lost myself for the moment, for the first time in ten years. I have a fearful temper. It is the one thing on earth I dread, and for years I have been able to keep it under control. But that night all the world seemed to crumble away, and I lost hold of my temper. I told you that I was stronger in every way than Von Rickerl, that I could make a woman of your splendid type happier than he could. I even sank to the wild threat that I would prevent your throwing yourself away on such a man. I rehearse that scene now to punish myself still further; though the shame and self-contempt it gave me have never been for a moment absent from my heart since then. My words were those of a coward, of a cur. I not only insulted the woman I most honor in all the world, but I spoke slightingly of the man whom I am proud to call my friend. It was to ask an explanation of all this that you wished to speak to me tonight was it not?”

His earnestness, the evident humiliation of this proud man, usually so strong, so silent, appealed to Iris Durand even more than did his words themselves. She laid an impulsive hand on his arm, and the light touch thrilled him like a chord of wild music.

“Don’t!” she begged. “It is horrible to hear a man like you speaking that way of himself. There is nothing more to be said about it. I understand, I think, and if you want my forgiveness, my continued friendship - they are both yours without the asking. Please let’s keep on being friends, and let’s both forget anything unpleasant that’s happened.”

“Thank you,” said Craddock simply. The unwonted emotion had passed from his face, leaving it perhaps a shade paler than usual. “Thank you,” he repeated. “I” – Then, as his quick ear noted a slight stir in the main drawing room, “Ah, von Rickerl must have come. I’ll go and speak to him. I ought not to have left my guests so long.”

He rose and left her. She looked after him wistfully.

“How splendid and strong he is!” she murmured. “The sort of mysterious great-hearted man women adore and make a hero of. Perhaps - if I’d never met Siurd –”

Her  sentence was unfinished, for a second man paused before the half-closed portieres.

“Siurd!” she exclaimed, rising and, concealed by the shadow of the curtain, grasping the newcomer’s hand in both or hers. I thought you were never coming. What detained you?”

The newcomer, a slender, tall man with big blue eyes, a boyish face and a shock of yellow hair, answered with a slight German accent:

“I’m sorry I kept you waiting, liebchen. I dined with Charles Beckwith and an English friend of his, a Dr. Joseph Watts. We all came here together. Have you waited lon?”

“Only a few minutes. Did you enjoy the dinner?”

“Very much. I always liked Beckwith, and I like to hear stories of his adventures in his role of ‘Millionaire Detective.’ His friend, Dr. Watts, I didn’t care for especially. He is a quiet stupid-seeming fellow.”

“He must have some brains or Mr. Craddock would never have taken him up as he has.  Mr. Beckwith introduced Dr. Watts to Mr. Craddock, and I’ve seen them together several times this past month. Oh, look!” she broke off suddenly, nodding toward a man who had just entered the drawing-room; “there is  Mr. Royce Ballard! To think of his going out like this, barely a month after his brother’s death.

“He is cold blooded. He cares for no one. Least of all did he care for his brother. He doubtless comes here to how his contempt for poor Cyril’s memory.”

“Mr. Craddock is beckoning you. Don’t be nervous dear, when you go to the piano. Put that tragedy out of your mind.”

As the lovers left the bay window a man slipped Into the window seat.

He leaned far back into the shadow as though to avoid the observation of some one, and over his sallow dark face an annoyed expression settled.

Thank heaven, the music’s begun!” he uttered half aloud. That’ll keep her from wandering around while it lasts, and the minute it’s over I’ll get out. If I’d had any idea she’d be here tonight” –

His chivalric reverie was interrupted. A woman slipped noiselessly behind the portiere and seated herself beside him on the window-seat.

“My dear Royce,” she whispered maliciously, “did you really think you could evade me? I have written to you, tried to waylay you, and in every way sought an interview since your lamented brother’s death, but you have refused. Why?”

“Because there is nothing to be said between us,” growled Royce Ballard. “There is” –

“There is a great deal to be said. There is everything to be said,” she cut in vehemently. “When You induced your brother to break his engagement with me you promised to marry me. Do you think I am the sort of woman to be cast aside like that?”

“Nonsense, Bona! Don’t make a scene. I’m too poor to marry.”

“But you are coming Into your brother’s wealth when the estate is settled. I ask you once more: Do you mean to keep your word?”

“And marry the fair Dona Pittani, whom my brother jilted? Scarcely.”

“You - you lied to me then? You” –

“Don’t talk to me now, please. I want to listen to Von Rickerl’s playing.”

“You cur! You would put me off like this? Deceive me into believing you were to marry me, and then throw me away like an old glove? If” –

“My dear Bona! Can’t you see you’re spoiling all my enjoyment of the music? If you don’t stop talking I shall be obliged to move out into the room.”

“Do!” she hissed, furiously. “Do, and I swear I will denounce you before everyone .”

“Denounce me for failing to relish the notion of marrying my brother’s cast-off sweetheart? I leave you to imagine which of us would suffer most from such a scene.”

He had risen and took a step toward the rest of the guests.

But Bona laid a detaining hand on his arm. The fury had cleared from her face.

“No,” she said, “don’t leave me. I know how low, how despicable a thing you are, and yet - and yet, God help me, I love you. I can’t let you go like this. Be a man. Be your better self. Redeem your pledge to marry me. No other woman in all the world would adore you as I do. Ah, Royce, give me but the chance and I will prove” –

“You’re attracting attention to us,” he retorted angrily. “Let me go.”

He caught the white detaining hand that clutched his sleeve and wrenched it loose with a brutal force that almost wrung a cry of pain from Bona.

The gesture transformed her in an instant from a pleading passionate woman into a devil.

“Go, then,” she whispered hoarsely, “and at the first step you take I will cry denouncing you: not of winning and casting away my love but of” – She whispered a half dozen words in his ear.

The effect was electrical. Royce Ballard sank back, pallid and shaking, into his seat.

“It’s – it's a lie!” he murmured feebly.

“What wretched luck!” muttered a man who leaned lazily against the outer side of the portieres, not three feet away. “Just as it was growing interesting she spoke so low I could not hear a word she said.”

(To Be Continued.)

The Evening World, 6 April 1904



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