Bruce Marvin had been found guilty of murder. Yet, condemned to the gallows, Bruce found a way out, urged by a lust for revenge against the man who had framed him – his cousin.
Revenge it was that prompted his daring escape, his desperate alliance with a mysterious secret society, and his walking in the shoes of a dead man. From this he found himself whirled into a maelstrom of mystery and adventure as he had never dreamed possible.
Chapter 1. Found Guilty.
Chapter 2. Escape.
Chapter 3. An Imposter.
Chapter 4. Bruce Puts His Foot Down.
Chapter 5. Sensation At A Dinner Party.
Chapter 6. Exit Signor Canova.
Chapter 7. The Hour Of Unmasking.
Chapter 8. Conclusion.
Hugh Desmond Clevely (1898-1964) was born in Bristol, England. He was educated by his uncle, a vicar, and spent his early life in the vicarage. He was a pilot in the RAF during the Second World War and finished the war as wing-commander.
Clevely wrote more than thirty titles for The Thriller an influential story paper that made famous ‘The Saint’ by Leslie Charteris and ‘The Toff’ and ‘The Baron’ by John Creasey. He also wrote under the pseudonym ‘Tod Claymore’ for a series of nine novels with the main character of the same name. After the war Clevely contributed about a dozen titles to the hugely popular Sexton Blake series.
Outside the Law was published in The Thriller in the July 6, 1929 issue.
“BRUCE TREVOR MARVIN, the jury, after a long and patient hearing, have found you guilty of the foul and heartless murder of your uncle and benefactor, Sir Digby Trevor Marvin. In that verdict I entirely concur. The sentence of the Court upon you is that you be hanged by the neck until you be dead, and that it is further ordered that judgment be carried into ”
“execution in His Majesty’s prison here in Maidford, and that your body be afterwards buried within the precincts in which you shall last have been confined, and may the Lord have mercy on your soul.” As the judge’s deep, solemn tones died into a dead silence, all eyes in the crowded court-room turned towards the prisoner. He stood erect in the dock, a fair-haired, very broad-shouldered, tall young man of four-and-twenty, with pale, set features.
In the hush which followed the pronouncement of the sentence, he turned his head slowly, as if seeking a last glimpse of some familiar face, and there was that in his expression which made people catch their breaths in shocked amazement; they would not have believed it possible that any man could change so much in a few days.
From a wild, laughing, reckless youth, fresh from Cambridge, he had changed into a grim-featured man with hard, set lips, and a cold devil of murderous hatred looking out of his eyes. It was his cousin’s face that he was searching for.
From outside the court came a muffled sound of mingled cheering and booing. The verdict had become known to the dense crowd assembled in the street, and they were voicing their approval of that verdict and their execration of the prisoner. Sir Digby, in spite of his hasty temper and eccentric ways, had been extremely popular with the townspeople of Maidford. His murderer could look for little sympathy from them.
Once more the prisoner gave that slow-look round the court. Then he shrugged his shoulders very slightly. Without a word he followed a warder out of the dock.
Outside the crowd still waited, hoping to catch a glimpse of the condemned man as he came out on his half-mile journey from the court to the prison. Spectators from the court were eagerly questioned as they came forth. For five hundred yards on either side of the entrance the road was packed with a seething mass of excited humanity, whose sentiments were aptly stated by a large navvy, in conversation with a friend:
“Well, ‘e deserves to ‘ang, if any man ever did, the dirty hound,” he stated, and spat ferociously.
“‘E’ll ‘ang all right,” replied his friend, who had just issued from the court. ‘”E ‘adn’t got a bloomin’ leg to stand on.”
Certainly the facts, as revealed by the evidence, bore out this statement. Shortly after lunch on the day of the murder, Mrs. Anderson, Sir Digby’s housekeeper, had heard him and his nephew Bruce engaged in a heated quarrel.
At nine the same evening she had taken two letters to Sir Digby in his study. Hardly had she left the room before Sir Digby had rung for her and told her to send Bruce to him at once. He had had a letter in his hand, and had appeared agitated. Brnce had remained with his uncle for a quarter of an hour. Then he had hastily packed a small suitcase, and driven away from the house in the Rolls-Royce.
At a quarter past ten she had heard Mr. Dario Marvin enter the house and go to the study. Almost immediately she had heard him shout. She had hastened to see what was the matter, and found her master lying dead with a deep gash in his head.
Bruce’s half-Italian cousin, Dario Marvin, a slim, well-groomed figure, with wavy black hair, clear-cut features, and olive-tinted skin, had been the next witness. His mother had been an Italian, and most of his life had been spent in Italy. For the last month he had been staying at Lydney Manor as Sir Digby’s guest.
On the evening of the tragedy he had been into the village of Lydney to post some letters, and on his way back had entered the Angel Inn for a drink. He had arrived at the Manor at a quarter past ten, to find his uncle lying murdered and his cousin absent. He had immediately telephoned for a doctor and a policeman.
Questioned further, he had stated, with some show of reluctance, that his uncle and Bruce had been on very bad terms. They had had frequent quarrels. On the afternoon of the tragedy his uncle had confided to him that he had discovered that Bruce, while at Cambridge, had become heavily involved in debt to a moneylender. He had seemed very angry about it.
On a previous occasion he had heard his uncle call Bruce a fool and a waster, and threaten to show him the door. He had not been present at the quarrel between Bruce and Sir Digby at lunch-time on the day of the murder, but he had been told by Sir Digby that it had been about Bruce’s debts. He had spoken to Bruce on the subject, offering to try to put a good word in for him with his uncle, and Bruce had told him to mind his own business. He had also said that his uncle was a skinflint and a tyrant, and that if it went on any longer he would do something desperate.
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