Bram Stoker ~ The Jewel of Seven Stars {Part One}

(1903 Edition)

Chapter I
A Summons in the Night

It all seemed so real that I could hardly imagine that it had ever
occurred before; and yet each episode came, not as a fresh step in the
logic of things, but as something expected. It is in such a wise that
memory plays its pranks for good or ill; for pleasure or pain; for weal
or woe. It is thus that life is bittersweet, and that which has been
done becomes eternal.

Again, the light skiff, ceasing to shoot through the lazy water as when
the oars flashed and dripped, glided out of the fierce July sunlight
into the cool shade of the great drooping willow branches–I standing up
in the swaying boat, she sitting still and with deft fingers guarding
herself from stray twigs or the freedom of the resilience of moving
boughs. Again, the water looked golden-brown under the canopy of
translucent green; and the grassy bank was of emerald hue. Again, we
sat in the cool shade, with the myriad noises of nature both without and
within our bower merging into that drowsy hum in whose sufficing
environment the great world with its disturbing trouble, and its more
disturbing joys, can be effectually forgotten. Again, in that blissful
solitude the young girl lost the convention of her prim, narrow
upbringing, and told me in a natural, dreamy way of the loneliness of
her new life. With an undertone of sadness she made m e feel how in that
spacious home each one of the household was isolated by the personal
magnificence of her father and herself; that there confidence had no
altar, and sympathy no shrine; and that there even her father’s face was
as distant as the old country life seemed now. Once more, the wisdom of
my manhood and the experience of my years laid themselves at the girl’s
feet. It was seemingly their own doing; for the individual “I” had no
say in the matter, but only just obeyed imperative orders. And once
again the flying seconds multiplied themselves endlessly. For it is in
the arcana of dreams that existences merge and renew themselves, change
and yet keep the same–like the soul of a musician in a fugue. And so
memory swooned, again and again, in sleep.

It seems that there is never to be any perfect rest. Even in Eden the
snake rears its head among the laden boughs of the Tree of Knowledge.
The silence of the dreamless night is broken by the roar of the
avalanche; the hissing of sudden floods; the clanging of the engine bell
marking its sweep through a sleeping American town; the clanking of
distant paddles over the sea…. Whatever it is, it is breaking the
charm of my Eden. The canopy of greenery above us, starred with
diamond-points of light, seems to quiver in the ceaseless beat of
paddles; and the restless bell seems as though it would never cease….

All at once the gates of Sleep were thrown wide open, and my waking ears
took in the cause of the disturbing sounds. Waking existence is prosaic
enough–there was somebody knocking and ringing at someone’s street door.

I was pretty well accustomed in my Jermyn Street chambers to passing
sounds; usually I did not concern myself, sleeping or waking, with the
doings, however noisy, of my neighbours. But this noise was too
continuous, too insistent, too imperative to be ignored. There was some
active intelligence behind that ceaseless sound; and some stress or need
behind the intelligence. I was not altogether selfish, and at the
thought of someone’s need I was, without premeditation, out of bed.
Instinctively I looked at my watch. It was just three o’clock; there
was a faint edging of grey round the green blind which darkened my room.
It was evident that the knocking and ringing were at the door of our own
house; and it was evident, too, that there was no one awake to answer
the call. I slipped on my dressing-gown and slippers, and went down to
the hall door. When I opened it there stood a dapper groom, with one
hand pressed unflinchingly on the electric bell whilst with the other he
raised a ceaseless clangour with the knocker. The instant he saw me the
noise ceased; one hand went up instinctively to the brim of his hat, and
the other produced a letter from his pocket. A neat brougham was
opposite the door, the horses were breathing heavily as though they had
come fast. A policeman, with his night lantern still alight at his
belt, stood by, attracted to the spot by the noise.

“Beg pardon, sir, I’m sorry for disturbing you, but my orders was
imperative; I was not to lose a moment, but to knock and ring till
someone came. May I ask you, sir, if Mr. Malcolm Ross lives here?”

“I am Mr. Malcolm Ross.”

“Then this letter is for you, sir, and the bro’am is for you too, sir!”

I took, with a strange curiosity, the letter which he handed to me. As
a barrister I had had, of course, odd experiences now and then,
including sudden demands upon my time; but never anything like this. I
stepped back into the hall, closing the door to, but leaving it ajar;
then I switched on the electric light. The letter was directed in a
strange hand, a woman’s. It began at once without “dear sir” or any
such address:

“You said you would like to help me if I needed it; and I believe you
meant what you said. The time has come sooner than I expected. I am in
dreadful trouble, and do not know where to turn, or to whom to apply. An
attempt has, I fear, been made to murder my Father; though, thank God,
he still lives. But he is quite unconscious. The doctors and police
have been sent for; but there is no one here whom I can depend on. Come
at once if you are able to; and forgive me if you can. I suppose I
shall realise later what I have done in asking such a favour; but at
present I cannot think. Come! Come at once! MARGARET TRELAWNY.”

Pain and exultation struggled in my mind as I read; but the mastering
thought was that she was in trouble and had called on me–me! My
dreaming of her, then, was not altogether without a cause. I called out
to the groom:

“Wait! I shall be with you in a minute!” Then I flew upstairs.

A very few minutes sufficed to wash and dress; and we were soon driving
through the streets as fast as the horses could go. It was market
morning, and when we got out on Picadilly there was an endless stream of
carts coming from the west; but for the rest the roadway was clear, and
we went quickly. I had told the groom to come into the brougham with me
so that he could tell me what had happened as we went along. He sat
awkwardly, with his hat on his knees as he spoke.

“Miss Trelawny, sir, sent a man to tell us to get out a carriage at
once; and when we was ready she come herself and gave me the letter and
told Morgan–the coachman, sir–to fly. She said as I was to lose not a
second, but to keep knocking till someone come.”

“Yes, I know, I know–you told me! What I want to know is, why she sent
for me. What happened in the house?”

“I don’t quite know myself, sir; except that master was found in his
room senseless, with the sheets all bloody, and a wound on his head. He
couldn’t be waked nohow. “Twas Miss Trelawny herself as found him.”

“How did she come to find him at such an hour? It was late in the
night, I suppose?”

“I don’t know, sir; I didn’t hear nothing at all of the details.”

As he could tell me no more, I stopped the carriage for a moment to let
him get out on the box; then I turned the matter over in my mind as I
sat alone. There were many things which I could have asked the servant;
and for a few moments after he had gone I was angry with myself for not
having used my opportunity. On second thought, however, I was glad the
temptation was gone. I felt that it would be more delicate to learn
what I wanted to know of Miss Trelawny’s surroundings from herself,
rather than from her servants.

We bowled swiftly along Knightsbridge, the small noise of our well-
appointed vehicle sounding hollowly in the morning air. We turned up
the Kensington Palace Road and presently stopped opposite a great house
on the left-hand side, nearer, so far as I could judge, the Notting Hill
than the Kensington end of the avenue. It was a truly fine house, not
only with regard to size but to architecture. Even in the dim grey
light of the morning, which tends to diminish the size of things, it
looked big.

Miss Trelawny met me in the hall. She was not in any way shy. She
seemed to rule all around her with a sort of high-bred dominance, all
the more remarkable as she was greatly agitated and as pale as snow. In
the great hall were several servants, the men standing together near the
hall door, and the women clinging together in the further corners and
doorways. A police superintendent had been talking to Miss Trelawny;
two men in uniform and one plain-clothes man stood near him. As she
took my hand impulsively there was a look of relief in her eyes, and she
gave a gentle sigh of relief. Her salutation was simple.

“I knew you would come!”

The clasp of the hand can mean a great deal, even when it is not
intended to mean anything especially. Miss Trelawny’s hand somehow
became lost in my own. It was not that it was a small hand; it was fine
and flexible, with long delicate fingers–a rare and beautiful hand; it
was the unconscious self-surrender. And though at the moment I could
not dwell on the cause of the thrill which swept me, it came back to me
later.

She turned and said to the police superintendent:

“This is Mr. Malcolm Ross.” The police officer saluted as he answered:

“I know Mr. Malcolm Ross, miss. Perhaps he will rem ember I had the
honour of working with him in the Brixton Coining case.” I had not at
first glance noticed who it was, my whole attention having been taken
with Miss Trelawny.

“Of course, Superintendent Dolan, I remember very well!” I said as we
shook hands. I could not but note that the acquaintanceship seemed a
relief to Miss Trelawny. There was a certain vague uneasiness in her
manner which took my attention; instinctively I felt that it would be
less embarrassing for her to speak with me alone. So I said to the
Superintendent:

“Perhaps it will be better if Miss Trelawny will see me alone for a few
minutes. You, of course, have already heard all she knows; and I shall
understand better how things are if I may ask some questions. I will
then talk the matter over with you if I may.”

“I shall be glad to be of what service I can, sir,” he answered
heartily.

Following Miss Trelawny, I moved over to a dainty room which opened from
the hall and looked out on the garden at the back of the house. When we
had entered and I had closed the door she said:

“I will thank you later for your goodness in coming to me in my trouble;
but at present you can best help me when you know the facts.”

“Go on,” I said. “Tell me all you know and spare no detail, however
trivial it may at the present time seem to be.” She went on at once:

“I was awakened by some sound; I do not know what. I only know that it
came through my sleep; for all at once I found myself awake, with my
heart beating wildly, listening anxiously for some sound from my
Father’s room. My room is next Father’s, and I can often hear him
moving about before I fall asleep. He works late at night, sometimes
very late indeed; so that when I wake early, as I do occasionally, or in
the grey of the dawn, I hear him still moving. I tried once to
remonstrate with him about staying up so late, as it cannot be good for
him; but I never ventured to repeat the experiment. You know how stern
and cold he can be–at least you may remember what I told you about him;
and when he is polite in this mood he is dreadful. When he is angry I
can bear it much better; but when he is slow and deliberate, and the
side of his mouth lifts up to show the sharp teeth, I think I feel–well,
I don’t know how! Last night I got up softly and stole to the door, for
I really feared to disturb him. There was not any noise of moving, and
no kind of cry at all; but there was a queer kind of dragging sound, and
a slow, heavy breathing. Oh! it was dreadful, waiting there in the dark
and the silence, and fearing–fearing I did not know what!

“At last I took my courage a deux mains, and turning the handle as
softly as I could, I opened the door a tiny bit. It was quite dark
within; I could just see the outline of the windows. But in the
darkness the sound of breathing, becoming more distinct, was appalling.
As I listened, this continued; but there was no other sound. I pushed
the door open all at once. I was afraid to open it slowly; I felt as if
there might be some dreadful thing behind it ready to pounce out on me!
Then I switched on the electric light, and stepped into the room. I
looked first at the bed. The sheets were all crumpled up, so that I
knew Father had been in bed; but there was a great dark red patch in the
centre of the bed, and spreading to the edge of it, that made my heart
stand still. As I was gazing at it the sound of the breathing came
across the room, and my eyes followed to it. There was Father on his
right side with the other arm under him, just as if his dead body had
been thrown there all in a heap. The track of blood went across the
room up to the bed, and there was a pool all around him which looked
terribly red and glittering as I bent over to examine him. The place
where he lay was right in front of the big safe. He was in his pyjamas.
The left sleeve was torn, showing his bare arm, and stretched out toward
the safe. It looked–oh! so terrible, patched all with blood, and with
the flesh torn or cut all around a gold chain bangle on his wrist. I
did not know he wore such a thing, and it seemed to give me a new shock
of surprise.”

She paused a moment; and as I wished to relieve her by a moment’s
divergence of thought, I said:

“Oh, that need not surprise you. You will see the most unlikely men
wearing bangles. I have seen a judge condemn a man to death, and the
wrist of the hand he held up had a gold bangle.” She did not seem to
heed much the words or the idea; the pause, however, relieved her
somewhat, and she went on in a steadier voice:

“I did not lose a moment in summoning aid, for I feared he might bleed
to death. I rang the bell, and then went out and called for help as
loudly as I could. In what must have been a very short time–though it
seemed an incredibly long one to me–some of the servants came running
up; and then others, till the room seemed full of staring eyes, and
dishevelled hair, and night clothes of all sorts.

“We lifted Father on a sofa; and the housekeeper, Mrs. Grant, who seemed
to have her wits about her more than any of us, began to look where the
flow of blood came from. In a few seconds it became apparent that it
came from the arm which was bare. There was a deep wound–not clean-cut
as with a knife, but like a jagged rent or tear–close to the wrist,
which seemed to have cut into the vein. Mrs. Grant tied a handkerchief
round the cut, and screwed it up tight with a silver paper-cutter; and
the flow of blood seemed to be checked at once. By this time I had come
to my senses–or such of them as remained; and I sent off one man for the
doctor and another for the police. When they had gone, I felt that,
except for the servants, I was all alone in the house, and that I knew
nothing–of my Father or anything else; and a great longing came to me to
have someone with me who could help me. Then I thought of you and your
kind offer in the boat under the willow-tree; and, without waiting to
think, I told the men to get a carriage ready at once, and I scribbled a
note and sent it on to you.”

She paused. I did not like to say just then anything of how I felt. I
looked at her; I think she understood, for her eyes were raised to mine
for a moment and then fell, leaving her cheeks as red as peony roses.
With a manifest effort she went on with her story:

“The Doctor was with us in an incredibly short time. The groom had met
him letting himself into his house with his latchkey, and he came here
running. He made a proper tourniquet for poor Father’s arm, and then
went home to get some appliances. I dare say he will be back almost
immediately. Then a policeman came, and sent a message to the station;
and very soon the Superintendent was here. Then you came.”

There was a long pause, and I ventured to take her hand for an instant.
Without a word more we opened the door, and joined the Superintendent in
the hall. He hurried up to us, saying as he came:

“I have been examining everything myself, and have sent off a message to
Scotland Yard. You see, Mr. Ross, there seemed so much that was odd
about the case that I thought we had better have the best man of the
Criminal Investigation Department that we could get. So I sent a note
asking to have Sergeant Daw sent at once. You remember him, sir, in
that American poisoning case at Hoxton.”

“Oh yes,” I said, “I remember him well; in that and other cases, for I
have benefited several times by his skill and acumen. He has a mind
that works as truly as any that I know. When I have been for the
defence, and believed my man was innocent, I was glad to have him
against us!”

“That is high praise, sir!” said the Superintendent gratified: “I am
glad you approve of my choice; that I did well in sending for him.”

I answered heartily:

“Could not be better. I do not doubt that between you we shall get at
the facts–and what lies behind them!”

We ascended to Mr. Trelawny’s room, where we found everything exactly as
his daughter had described.

There came a ring at the house bell, and a minute later a man was shown
into the room. A young man with aquiline features, keen grey eyes, and
a forehead that stood out square and broad as that of a thinker. In his
hand he had a black bag which he at once opened. Miss Trelawny
introduced us: “Doctor Winchester, Mr. Ross, Superintendent Dolan.” We
bowed mutually, and he, without a moment’s delay, began his work. We
all waited, and eagerly watched him as he proceeded to dress the wound.
As he went on he turned now and again to call the Superintendent’s
attention to some point about the wound, the latter proceeding to enter
the fact at once in his notebook.

“See! several parallel cuts or scratches beginning on the left side of
the wrist and in some places endangering the radial artery.

“These small wounds here, deep and jagged, seem as if made with a blunt
instrument. This in particular would seem as if made with some kind of
sharp wedge; the flesh round it seems torn as if with lateral pressure.”

Turning to Miss Trelawny he said presently:

“Do you think we might remove this bangle? It is not absolutely
necessary, as it will fall lower on the wrist where it can hang loosely;
but it might add to the patient’s comfort later on.” The poor girl
flushed deeply as she answered in a low voice:

“I do not know. I–I have only recently come to live with my Father; and
I know so little of his life or his ideas that I fear i can hardly judge
in such a matter. The Doctor, after a keen glance at her, said in a
very kindly way:

“Forgive me! I did not know. But in any case you need not be
distressed. It is not required at present to move it. Were it so I
should do so at once on my own responsibility. If it be necessary later
on, we can easily remove it with a file. Your Father doubtless has some
object in keeping it as it is. See! there is a tiny key attached to it.
. . .” As he was speaking he stopped and bent lower, taking from my
hand the candle which I held and lowering it till its light fell on the
bangle. Then motioning me to hold the candle in the same position, he
took from his pocket a magnifying-glass which he adjusted. When he had
made a careful examination he stood up and handed the magnifying-glass
to Dolan, saying as he did so:

“You had better examine it yourself. That is no ordinary bangle. The
gold is wrought over triple steel links; see where it is worn away. It
is manifestly not meant to be removed lightly; and it would need more
than an ordinary file to do it.”

The Superintendent bent his great body; but not getting close enough
that way knelt down by the sofa as the Doctor had done. He examined the
bangle minutely, turning it slowly round so that no particle of it
escaped observation. Then he stood up and handed the magnifying-glass to
me. “When you have examined it yourself,” he said, “let the lady look
at it if she will,” and she commenced to write at length in his
notebook.

I made a simple alteration in his suggestion. I held out the glass
toward Miss Trelawny, saying:

“Had you not better examine it first?” She drew back, slightly raising
her hand in disclaimer, as she said impulsively:

“Oh no! Father would doubtless have shown it to me had he wished me to
see it. I would not like to without his consent.” Then she added,
doubtless fearing lest her delicacy of view should give offence to the
rest of us:

“Of course it is right that you should see it. You have to examine and
consider everything; and indeed–indeed I am grateful to you. . .”

She turned away; I could see that she was crying quietly. It was
evident to me that even in the midst of her trouble and anxiety there
was a chagrin that she knew so little of her father; and that her
ignorance had to be shown at such a time and amongst so many strangers.
That they were all men did not make the shame more easy to bear, though
there was a certain relief in it. Trying to interpret her feelings I
could not but think that she must have been glad that no woman’s eyes–of
understanding greater than man’s–were upon her in that hour.

When I stood up from my examination, which verified to me that of the
Doctor, the latter resumed his place beside the couch and went on with
his ministrations. Superintendent Dolan said to me in a whisper:

“I think we are fortunate in our doctor!” I nodded, and was about to add
something in praise of his acumen, when there came a low tapping at the
door.

Chapter II
Strange Instructions

Superintendent Dolan went quietly to the door; by a sort of natural
understanding he had taken possession of affairs in the room. The rest
of us waited. He opened the door a little way; and then with a gesture
of manifest relief threw it wide, and a young man stepped in. A young
man clean-shaven, tall and slight; with an eagle face and bright, quick
eyes that seemed to take in everything around him at a glance. As he
came in, the Superintendent held out his hand; the two men shook hands
warmly.

“I came at once, sir, the moment I got your message. I am glad I still
have your confidence.”

“That you’ll always have,” said the Superintendent heartily. “I have
not forgotten our old Bow Street days, and I never shall!” Then,
without a word of preliminary, he began to tell everything he knew up to
the moment of the newcomer’s entry. Sergeant Daw asked a few questions–a
very few–when it was necessary for his understanding of circumstances or
the relative positions of persons; but as a rule Dolan, who knew his
work thoroughly, forestalled every query, and explained all necessary
matters as he went on. Sergeant Daw threw occasionally swift glances
round him; now at one of us; now at the room or some part of it; now at
the wounded man lying senseless on the sofa.

When the Superintendent had finished, the Sergeant turned to me and
said:

“Perhaps you remember me, sir. I was with you in that Hoxton case.”

“I remember you very well,” I said as I held out my hand. The
Superintendent spoke again:

“You understand, Sergeant Daw, that you are put in full charge of this
case.”

“Under you I hope, sir,” he interrupted. The other shook his head and
smiled as he said:

“It seems to me that this is a case that will take all a man’s time and
his brains. I have other work to do; but I shall be more than
interested, and if I can help in any possible way I shall be glad to do
so!”

“All right, sir,” said the other, accepting his responsibility with a
sort of modified salute; straightway he began his investigation.

First he came over to the Doctor and, having learned his name and
address, asked him to write a full report which he could use, and which
he could refer to headquarters if necessary. Doctor Winchester bowed
gravely as he promised. Then the Sergeant approached me and said sotto
voce:

“I like the look of your doctor. I think we can work together!”
Turning to Miss Trelawny he asked:

“Please let me know what you can of your Father; his ways of life, his
history–in fact of anything of whatsoever kind which interests him, or
in which he may be concerned.” I was about to interrupt to tell him
what she had already said of her ignorance in all matters of her father
and his ways, but her warning hand was raised to me pointedly and she
spoke herself.

“Alas! I know little or nothing. Superintendent Dolan and Mr. Ross
know already all I can say.”

“Well, ma’am, we must be content to do what we can,” said the officer
genially. “I’ll begin by making a minute examination. You say that you
were outside the door when you heard the noise?”

“I was in my room when I heard the queer sound–indeed it must have been
the early part of whatever it was which woke me. I came out of my room
at once. Father’s door was shut, and I could see the whole landing and
the upper slopes of the staircase. No one could have left by the door
unknown to me, if that is what you mean!”

“That is just what I do mean, miss. If every one who knows anything
will tell me as well as that, we shall soon get to the bottom of this.”

He then went over to the bed, looked at it carefully, and asked:

“Has the bed been touched?”

“Not to my knowledge,” said Miss Trelawny, “but I shall ask Mrs. Grant–
the housekeeper,” she added as she rang the bell. Mrs. Grant answered
it in person. “Come in,” said Miss Trelawny. “These gentlemen want to
know, Mrs. Grant, if the bed has been touched.”

“Not by me, ma’am.”

“Then,” said Miss Trelawny, turning to Sergeant Daw, “it cannot have
been touched by any one. Either Mrs. Grant or I myself was here all the
time, and I do not think any of the servants who came when I gave the
alarm were near the bed at all. You see, Father lay here just under the
great safe, and every one crowded round him. We sent them all away in a
very short time.” Daw, with a motion of his hand, asked us all to stay
at the other side of the room whilst with a magnifying-glass he examined
the bed, taking care as he moved each fold of the bed-clothes to replace
it in exact position. Then he examined with his magnifying-glass the
floor beside it, taking especial pains where the blood had trickled over
the side of the bed, which was of heavy red wood handsomely carved.
Inch by inch, down on his knees, carefully avoiding any touch with the
stains on the floor, he followed the blood-marks over to the spot, close
under the great safe, where the body had lain. All around and about
this spot he went for a radius of some yards; but seemingly did not meet
with anything to arrest special attention. Then he examined the front
of the safe; round the lock, and along the bottom and top of the double
doors, more especially at the places of their touching in front.

Next he went to the windows, which were fastened down with the hasps.

“Were the shutters closed?” he asked Miss Trelawny in a casual way as
though he expected the negative answer, which came.

All this time Doctor Winchester was attending to his patient; now
dressing the wounds in the wrist or making minute examination all over
the head and throat, and over the heart. More than once he put his nose
to the mouth of the senseless man and sniffed. Each time he did so he
finished up by unconsciously looking round the room, as though in search
of something.

Then we heard the deep strong voice of the Detective:

“So far as I can see, the object was to bring that key to the lock of
the safe. There seems to be some secret in the mechanism that I am
unable to guess at, though I served a year in Chubb’s before I joined
the police. It is a combination lock of seven letters; but there seems
to be a way of locking even the combination. It is one of Chatwood’s; I
shall call at their place and find out something about it.” Then
turning to the Doctor, as though his own work were for the present done,
he said:

“Have you anything you can tell me at once, Doctor, which will not
interfere with your full report? If there is any doubt I can wait, but
the sooner I know something definite the better.” Doctor Winchester
answered at once:

“For my own part I see no reason in waiting. I shall make a full report
of course. But in the meantime I shall tell you all I know–which is
after all not very much, and all I think–which is less definite. There
is no wound on the head which could account for the state of stupor in
which the patient continues. I must, therefore, take it that either he
has been drugged or is under some hypnotic influence. So far as I can
judge, he has not been drugged–at least by means of any drug of whose
qualities I am aware. Of course, there is ordinarily in this room so
much of a mummy smell that it is difficult to be certain about anything
having a delicate aroma. I dare say that you have noticed the peculiar
Egyptians scents, bitumen, nard, aromatic gums and spices, and so forth.
It is quite possible that somewhere in this room, amongst the curios and
hidden by stronger scents, is some substance or liquid which may have
the effect we see. It is possible that the patient has taken some drug,
and that he may in some sleeping phase have injured himself. I do not
think this is likely; and circumstances, other than those which I have
myself been investigating, may prove that this surmise is not correct.
But in the meantime it is possible; and must, till it be disproved, be
kept within our purview.” Here Sergeant Daw interrupted:

“That may be, but if so, we should be able to find the instrument with
which the wrist was injured. There would be marks of blood somewhere.”

“Exactly so!” said the Doctor, fixing his glasses as though preparing
for an argument. “But if it be that the patient has used some strange
drug, it may be one that does not take effect at once. As we are as yet
ignorant of its potentialities–if, indeed, the whole surmise is correct
at all–we must be prepared at all points.”

Here Miss Trelawny joined in the conversation:

“That would be quite right, so far as the action of the drug was
concerned; but according to the second part of your surmise the wound
may have been self-inflicted, and this after the drug had taken
effect.”

“True!” said the Detective and the Doctor simultaneously. She went on:

“As however, Doctor, your guess does not exhaust the possibilities, we
must bear in mind that some other variant of the same root-idea may be
correct. I take it, therefore, that our first search, to be made on
this assumption, must be for the weapon with which the injury was done
to my Father’s wrist.”

“Perhaps he put the weapon in the safe before he became quite
unconscious,” said I, giving voice foolishly to a half-formed thought.

“That could not be,” said the Doctor quickly. “At least I think it
could hardly be,” he added cautiously, with a brief bow to me. “You
see, the left hand is covered with blood; but there is no blood mark
whatever on the safe.”

“Quite right!” I said, and there was a long pause.

The first to break the silence was the Doctor.

“We shall want a nurse here as soon as possible; and I know the very one
to suit. I shall go at once to get her if I can. I must ask that till
I return some of you will remain constantly with the patient. It may be
necessary to remove him to another room later on; but in the meantime he
is best left here. Miss Trelawny, may I take it that either you or Mrs.
Grant will remain her–not merely in the room, but close to the patient
and watchful of him–till I return?”

She bowed in reply, and took a seat beside the sofa. The Doctor gave
her some directions as to what she should do in case her father should
become conscious before his return.

The next to move was Superintendent Dolan, who came close to Sergeant
Daw as he said:

“I had better return now to the station–unless, of course, you should
wish me to remain for a while.”

He answered, “Is Johnny Wright still in your division?”

“Yes! Would you like him to be with you?” The other nodded reply.
“Then I will send him on to you as soon as can be arranged. He shall
then stay with you as long as you wish. I will tell him that he is to
take his instructions entirely from you.”

The Sergeant accompanied him to the door, saying as he went:

“Thank you, sir; you are always thoughtful for men who are working with
you. It is a pleasure to me to be with you again. I shall go back to
Scotland Yard and report to my chief. Then I shall call at Chatwood’s;
and I shall return here as soon as possible. I suppose I may take it,
miss, that I may put up here for a day or two, if required. It may be
some help, or possibly some comfort to you, if I am about, until we
unravel this mystery.”

“I shall be very grateful to you.” He looked keenly at her for a few
seconds before he spoke again.

“Before I go have I permission to look about your Father’s table and
desk? There might be something which would give us a clue–or a lead at
all events.” Her answer was so unequivocal as almost to surprise him.

“You have the fullest possible permission to do anything which may help
us in this dreadful trouble–to discover what it is that is wrong with my
Father, or which may shield him in the future!”

He began at once a systematic search of the dressing-table, and after
that of the writing-table in the room. In one of the drawers he found a
letter sealed; this he brought at once across the room and handed to
Miss Trelawny.

“A letter–directed to me–and in my Father’s hand!” she said as she
eagerly opened it. I watched her face as she began to read; but seeing
at once that Sergeant Daw kept his keen eyes on her face, unflinchingly
watching every flitting expression, I kept my eyes henceforth fixed on
his. When Miss Trelawny had read her letter through, I had in my mind a
conviction, which, however, I kept locked in my own heart. Amongst the
suspicions in the mind of the Detective was one, rather perhaps
potential than definite, of Miss Trelawny herself.

For several minutes Miss Trelawny held the letter in her hand with her
eyes downcast, thinking. Then she read it carefully again; this time
the varying expressions were intensified, and I thought I could easily
follow them. When she had finished the second reading, she paused
again. Then, though with some reluctance, she handed the letter to the
Detective. He read it eagerly but with unchanging face; read it a
second time, and then handed it back with a bow. She paused a little
again, and then handed it to me. As she did so she raised her eyes to
mine for a single moment appealingly; a swift blush spread over her pale
cheeks and forehead.

With mingled feelings I took it, but, all said, I was glad. She did not
show any perturbation in giving the letter to the Detective–she might
not have shown any to anyone else. But to me. . .I feared to follow the
thought further; but read on, conscious that the eyes of both Miss
Trelawny and the Detective were fixed on me.

“MY DEAR DAUGHTER, I want you to take this letter as an instruction–
absolute and imperative, and admitting of no deviation whatever–in case
anything untoward or unexpected by you or by others should happen to me.
If I should be suddenly and mysteriously stricken down–either by
sickness, accident or attack–you must follow these directions
implicitly. If I am not already in my bedroom when you are made
cognisant of my state, I am to be brought there as quickly as possible.
Even should I be dead, my body is to be brought there. Thenceforth,
until I am either conscious and able to give instructions on my own
account, or buried, I am never to be left alone–not for a single
instant. From nightfall to sunrise at least two persons must remain in
the room. It will be well that a trained nurse be in the room from time
to time, and will note any symptoms, either permanent or changing, which
may strike her. My solicitors, Marvin & Jewkes, of 27B Lincoln’s Inn,
have full instructions in case of my death; and Mr. Marvin has himself
undertaken to see personally my wishes carried out. I should advise
you, my dear Daughter, seeing that you have no relative to apply to, to
get some friend whom you can trust to either remain within the house
where instant communication can be made, or to come nightly to aid in
the watching, or to be within call. Such friend may be either male or
female; but, whichever it may be, there should be added one other
watcher or attendant at hand of the opposite sex. Understand, that it
is of the very essence of my wish that there should be, awake and
exercising themselves to my purposes, both masculine and feminine
intelligences. Once more, my dear Margaret, let me impress on you the
need for observation and just reasoning to conclusions, howsoever
strange. If I am taken ill or injured, this will be no ordinary
occasion; and I wish to warn you, so that your guarding may be complete.

“Nothing in my room–I speak of the curios–must be removed or displaced
in any way, or for any cause whatever. I have a special reason and a
special purpose in the placing of each; so that any moving of them would
thwart my plans.

“Should you want money or counsel in anything, Mr. Marvin will carry out
your wishes; to the which he has my full instructions.”

“ABEL TRELAWNY.”

I read the letter a second time before speaking, for I feared to betray
myself. The choice of a friend might be a momentous occasion for me. I
had already ground for hope, that she had asked me to help her in the
first throe of her trouble; but love makes its own doubtings, and I
feared. My thoughts seemed to whirl with lightning rapidity, and in a
few seconds a whole process of reasoning became formulated. I must not
volunteer to be the friend that the father advised his daughter to have
to aid her in her vigil; and yet that one glance had a lesson which I
must not ignore. Also, did not she, when she wanted help, send to me–to
me a stranger, except for one meeting at a dance and one brief afternoon
of companionship on the river? Would it not humiliate her to make her
ask me twice? Humiliate her! No! that pain I could at all events save
her; it is not humiliation to refuse. So, as I handed her back the
letter, I said:

“I know you will forgive me, Miss Trelawny, if I presume too much; but
if you will permit me to aid in the watching I shall be proud. Though
the occasion is a sad one, I shall be so far happy to be allowed the
privilege.”

Despite her manifest and painful effort at self-control, the red tide
swept her face and neck. Even her eyes seemed suffused, and in stern
contrast with her pale cheeks when the tide had rolled back. She
answered in a low voice:

“I shall be very grateful for your help!” Then in an afterthought she
added:

“But you must not let me be selfish in my need! I know you have many
duties to engage you; and though I shall value your help highly–most
highly–it would not be fair to monopolise your time.”

“As to that,” I answered at once, “my time is yours. I can for today
easily arrange my work so that I can come here in the afternoon and stay
till morning. After that, if the occasion still demands it, I can so
arrange my work that I shall have more time still at my disposal.”

She was much moved. I could see the tears gather in her eyes, and she
turned away her head. The Detective spoke:

“I am glad you will be here, Mr. Ross. I shall be in the house myself,
as Miss Trelawny will allow me, if my people in Scotland Yard will
permit. That letter seems to put a different complexion on everything;
though the mystery remains greater than ever. If you can wait here an
hour or two I shall go to headquarters, and then to the safe-makers.
After that I shall return; and you can go away easier in your mind, for
I shall be here.”

When he had gone, we two, Miss Trelawny and I, remained in silence. At
last she raised her eyes and looked at me for a moment; after that I
would not have exchanged places with a king. For a while she busied
herself round the extemporised bedside of her father. Then, asking me
to be sure not to take my eyes off him till she returned, she hurried
out.

In a few minutes she came back with Mrs. Grant and two maids and a
couple of men, who bore the entire frame and furniture of a light iron
bed. This they proceeded to put together and to make. When the work
was completed, and the servants had withdrawn, she said to me:

“It will be well to be all ready when the Doctor returns. He will
surely want to have Father put to bed; and a proper bed will be better
for him than the sofa.” She then got a chair close beside her father,
and sat down watching him.

I went about the room, taking accurate note of all i saw. And truly
there were enough things in the room to evoke the curiosity of any man–
even though the attendant circumstances were less strange. The whole
place, excepting those articles of furniture necessary to a
well-furnished bedroom, was filled with magnificent curios, chiefly
Egyptian. As the room was of immense size there was opportunity for the
placing of a large number of them, even if, as with these, they were of
huge proportions.

Whilst I was still investigating the room there came the sound of wheels
on the gravel outside the house. There was a ring at the hall door, and
a few minutes later, after a preliminary tap at the door and an
answering “Come in!” Doctor Winchester entered, followed by a young
woman in the dark dress of a nurse.

“I have been fortunate!” he said as he came in. “I found her at once
and free. Miss Trelawny, this is Nurse Kennedy!”

Chapter III
The Watchers

I was struck by the way the two young women looked at each other. I
suppose I have been so much in the habit of weighing up in my own mind
the personality of witnesses and of forming judgment by their
unconscious action and mode of bearing themselves, that the habit
extends to my life outside as well as within the court-house. At this
moment of my life anything that interested Miss Trelawny interested me;
and as she had been struck by the newcomer I instinctively weighed her
up also. By comparison of the two I seemed somehow to gain a new
knowledge of Miss Trelawny. Certainly, the two women made a good
contrast. Miss Trelawny was of fine figure; dark, straight-featured.
She had marvellous eyes; great, wide-open, and as black and soft as
velvet, with a mysterious depth. To look in them was like gazing at a
black mirror such as Doctor Dee used in his wizard rites. I heard an
old gentleman at the picnic, a great oriental traveller, describe the
effect of her eyes “as looking at night at the great distant lamps of a
mosque through the open door.” The eyebrows were typical. Finely
arched and rich in long curling hair, they seemed like the proper
architectural environment of the deep, splendid eyes. Her hair was
black also, but was as fine as silk. Generally black hair is a type of
animal strength and seems as if some strong expression of the forces of
a strong nature; but in this case there could be no such thought. There
were refinement and high breeding; and though there was no suggestion of
weakness, any sense of power there was, was rather spiritual than
animal. The whole harmony of her being seemed complete. Carriage,
figure, hair, eyes; the mobile, full mouth, whose scarlet lips and white
teeth seemed to light up the lower part of the face–as the eyes did the
upper; the wide sweep of the jaw from chin to ear; the long, fine
fingers; the hand which seemed to move from the wrist as though it had a
sentience of its own. All these perfections went to make up a
personality that dominated either by its grace, its sweetness, its
beauty, or its charm.

Nurse Kennedy, on the other hand, was rather under than over a woman’s
average height. She was firm and thickset, with full limbs and broad,
strong, capable hands. Her colour was in the general effect that of an
autumn leaf. The yellow-brown hair was thick and long, and the
golden-brown eyes sparkled from the freckled, sunburnt skin. Her rosy
cheeks gave a general idea of rich brown. The red lips and white teeth
did not alter the colour scheme, but only emphasized it. She had a snub
nose–there was no possible doubt about it; but like such noses in
general it showed a nature generous, untiring, and full of good-nature.
Her broad white forehead, which even the freckles had spared, was full
of forceful thought and reason.

Doctor Winchester had on their journey from the hospital, coached her in
the necessary particulars, and without a word she took charge of the
patient and set to work. Having examined the new-made bed and shaken
the pillows, she spoke to the Doctor, who gave instructions; presently
we all four, stepping together, lifted the unconscious man from the
sofa.

Early in the afternoon, when Sergeant Daw had returned, I called at my
rooms in Jermyn Street, and sent out such clothes, books and papers as I
should be likely to want within a few days. Then I went on to keep my
legal engagements.

The Court sat late that day as an important case was ending; it was
striking six as I drove in at the gate of the Kensington Palace Road. I
found myself installed in a large room close to the sick chamber.

That night we were not yet regularly organised for watching, so that the
early part of the evening showed an unevenly balanced guard. Nurse
Kennedy, who had been on duty all day, was lying down, as she had
arranged to come on again by twelve o’clock. Doctor Winchester, who was
dining in the house, remained in the room until dinner was announced;
and went back at once when it was over. During dinner Mrs. Grant
remained in the room, and with her Sergeant Daw, who wished to complete
a minute examination which he had undertaken of everything in the room
and near it. At nine o’clock Miss Trelawny and I went in to relieve the
Doctor. She had lain down for a few hours in the afternoon so as to be
refreshed for her work at night. She told me that she had determined
that for this night at least she would sit up and watch. I did not try
to dissuade her, for I knew that her mind was made up. Then and there I
made up my mind that I would watch with her–unless, of course, I should
see that she really did not wish it. I said nothing of my intentions
for the present. We came in on tiptoe, so silently that the Doctor, who
was bending over the bed, did not hear us, and seemed a little startled
when suddenly looking up he saw our eyes upon him. I felt that the
mystery of the whole thing was getting on his nerves, as it had already
got on the nerves of some others of us. He was, I fancied, a little
annoyed with himself for having been so startled, and at once began to
talk in a hurried manner as though to get over our idea of his
embarrassment:

“I am really and absolutely at my wits” end to find any fit cause for
this stupor. I have made again as accurate an examination as I know
how, and I am satisfied that there is no injury to the brain, that is,
no external injury. Indeed, all his vital organs seem unimpaired. I
have given him, as you know, food several times and it has manifestly
done him good. His breathing is strong and regular, and his pulse is
slower and stronger than it was this morning. I cannot find evidence of
any known drug, and his unconsciousness does not resemble any of the
many cases of hypnotic sleep which I saw in the Charcot Hospital in
Paris. And as to these wounds”–he laid his finger gently on the
bandaged wrist which lay outside the coverlet as he spoke, “I do not
know what to make of them. They might have been made by a
carding-machine; but that supposition is untenable. It is within the
bounds of possibility that they might have been made by a wild animal if
it had taken care to sharpen its claws. That too is, I take it,
impossible. By the way, have you any strange pets here in the house;
anything of an exceptional kind, such as a tiger-cat or anything out of
the common?” Miss Trelawny smiled a sad smile which made my heart ache,
as she made answer:

“Oh no! Father does not like animals about the house, unless they are
dead and mummied.” This was said with a touch of bitterness–or
jealousy, I could hardly tell which. “Even my poor kitten was only
allowed in the house on sufferance; and though he is the dearest and
best-conducted cat in the world, he is now on a sort of parole, and is
not allowed into this room.”

As she was speaking a faint rattling of the door handle was heard.
Instantly Miss Trelawny’s face brightened. She sprang up and went over
to the door, saying as she went:

“There he is! That is my Silvio. He stands on his hind legs and
rattles the door handle when he wants to come into a room.” She opened
the door, speaking to the cat as though he were a baby: “Did him want
his movver? Come then; but he must stay with her!” She lifted the cat,
and came back with him in her arms. He was certainly a magnificent
animal. A chinchilla grey Persian with long silky hair; a really lordly
animal with a haughty bearing despite his gentleness; and with great
paws which spread out as he placed them on the ground. Whilst she was
fondling him, he suddenly gave a wriggle like an eel and slipped out of
her arms. He ran across the room and stood opposite a low table on
which stood the mummy of an animal, and began to mew and snarl. Miss
Trelawny was after him in an instant and lifted him in her arms, kicking
and struggling and wriggling to get away; but not biting or scratching,
for evidently he loved his beautiful mistress. He ceased to make a
noise the moment he was in her arms; in a whisper she admonished him:

“O you naughty Silvio! You have broken your parole that mother gave for
you. Now, say goodnight to the gentlemen, and come away to mother’s
room!” As she was speaking she held out the cat’s paw to me to shake.
As I did so I could not but admire its size and beauty. “Why,” said I,
“his paw seems like a little boxing-glove full of claws.” She smiled:

“So it ought to. Don’t you notice that my Silvio has seven toes, see!”
she opened the paw; and surely enough there were seven separate claws,
each of them sheathed in a delicate, fine, shell-like case. As I gently
stroked the foot the claws emerged and one of them accidentally–there
was no anger now and the cat was purring–stuck into my hand.
Instinctively I said as I drew back:

“Why, his claws are like razors!”

Doctor Winchester had come close to us and was bending over looking at
the cat’s claws; as I spoke he said in a quick, sharp way:

“Eh!” I could hear the quick intake of his breath. Whilst I was
stroking the now quiescent cat, the Doctor went to the table and tore
off a piece of blotting-paper from the writing-pad and came back. He
laid the paper on his palm and, with a simple “pardon me!” to Miss
Trelawny, placed the cat’s paw on it and pressed it down with his other
hand. The haughty cat seemed to resent somewhat the familiarity, and
tried to draw its foot away. This was plainly what the Doctor wanted,
for in the act the cat opened the sheaths of its claws and and made
several reefs in the soft paper. Then Miss Trelawny took her pet away.
She returned in a couple of minutes; as she came in she said:

“It is most odd about that mummy! When Silvio came into the room
first–indeed I took him in as a kitten to show to Father–he went on
just the same way. He jumped up on the table, and tried to scratch and
bite the mummy. That was what made Father so angry, and brought the
decree of banishment on poor Silvio. Only his parole, given through me,
kept him in the house.”

Whilst she had been gone, Doctor Winchester had taken the bandage from
her father’s wrist. The wound was now quite clear, as the separate cuts
showed out in fierce red lines. The Doctor folded the blotting-paper
across the line of punctures made by the cat’s claws, and held it down
close to the wound. As he did so, he looked up triumphantly and
beckoned us over to him.

The cuts in the paper corresponded with the wounds in the wrist! No
explanation was needed, as he said;

“It would have been better if master Silvio had not broken his parole!”

We were all silent for a little while. Suddenly Miss Trelawny said:

“But Silvio was not in here last night!”

“Are you sure? Could you prove that is necessary?” She hesitated
before replying:

“I am certain of it; but I fear it would be difficult to prove. Silvio
sleeps in a basket in my room. I certainly put him to bed last night; I
remember distinctly laying his little blanket over him, and tucking him
in. This morning I took him out of the basket myself. I certainly
never noticed him in here; though, of course, that would not mean much,
for I was too concerned about poor father, and too much occupied with
him, to notice even Silvio.”

The Doctor shook his head as he said with a certain sadness:

“Well, at any rate it is no use trying to prove anything now. Any cat
in the world would have cleaned blood-marks–did any exist–from his paws
in a hundredth part of the time that has elapsed.”

Again we were all silent; and again the silence was broken by Miss
Trelawny:

“But now that I think of it, it could not have been poor Silvio that
injured Father. My door was shut when I first heard the sound; and
Father’s was shut when I listened at it. When I went in, the injury had
been done; so that it must have been before Silvio could possibly have
got in.” This reasoning commended itself, especially to me as a
barrister, for it was proof to satisfy a jury. It gave me a distinct
pleasure to have Silvio acquitted of the crime–possibly because he was
Miss Trelawny’s cat and was loved by her. Happy cat! Silvio’s mistress
was manifestly pleased as I said:

“Verdict, ‘not guilty!'” Doctor Winchester after a pause observed:

“My apologies to master Silvio on this occasion; but I am still puzzled
to know why he is so keen against that mummy. Is he the same toward the
other mummies in the house? There are, I suppose, a lot of them. I saw
three in the hall as I came in.”

“There are lots of them,” she answered. “I sometimes don’t know whether
I am in a private house or the British Museum. But Silvio never
concerns himself about any of them except that particular one. I
suppose it must be because it is of an animal, not a man or a woman.”

“Perhaps it is of a cat!” said the Doctor as he started up and went
across the room to look at the mummy more closely. “Yes,” he went on,
“it is the mummy of a cat; and a very fine one, too. If it hadn’t been
a special favourite of some very special person it would never have
received so much honour. See! A painted case and obsidian eyes-just
like a human mummy. It is an extraordinary thing, that knowledge of
kind to kind. Here is a dead cat–that is all; it is perhaps four or
five thousand years old–and another cat of another breed, in what is
practically another world, is ready to fly at it, just as it would if it
were not dead. I should like to experiment a bit about that cat if you
don’t mind, Miss Trelawny.” She hesitated before replying:

“Of course, do anything you may think necessary or wise; but I hope it
will not be anything to hurt or worry my poor Silvio.” The Doctor
smiled as he answered:

“Oh, Silvio would be all right: it is the other one that my sympathies
would be reserved for.”

“How do you mean?”

“Master Silvio will do the attacking; the other one will do the
suffering.”

“Suffering?” There was a note of pain in her voice. The Doctor smiled
more broadly:

“Oh, please make your mind easy as to that. The other won’t suffer as
we understand it; except perhaps in his structure and outfit.”

“What on earth do you mean?”

“Simply this, my dear young lady, that the antagonist will be a mummy
cat like this one. There are, I take it, plenty of them to be had in
Museum Street. I shall get one and place it here instead of that one–
you won’t think that a temporary exchange will violate your Father’s
instructions, I hope. We shall then find out, to begin with, whether
Silvio objects to all mummy cats, or only to this one in particular.”

“I don’t know,” she said doubtfully. “Father’s instructions seem very
uncompromising.” Then after a pause she went on: “But of course under
the circumstances anything that is to be ultimately for his good must be
done. I suppose there can’t be anything very particular about the mummy
of a cat.”

Doctor Winchester said nothing. He sat rigid, with so grave a look on
his face that his extra gravity passed on to me; and in its enlightening
perturbation I began to realise more than I had yet done the strangeness
of the case in which I was now so deeply concerned. When once this
thought had begun there was no end to it. Indeed it grew, and
blossomed, and reproduced itself in a thousand different ways. The room
and all in it gave grounds for strange thoughts. There were so many
ancient relics that unconsciously one was taken back to strange lands
and strange times. There were so many mummies or mummy objects, round
which there seemed to cling for ever the penetrating odours of bitumen,
and spices and gums–“Nard and Circassia’s balmy smells”–that one was
unable to forget the past. Of course, there was but little light in the
room, and that carefully shaded; so that there was no glare anywhere.
None of that direct light which can manifest itself as a power or an
entity, and so make for companionship. The room was a large one, and
lofty in proportion to its size. In its vastness was place for a
multitude of things not often found in a bedchamber. In far corners
of the room were shadows of uncanny shape. More than once as I thought,
the multitudinous presence of the dead and the past took such hold on me
that I caught myself looking round fearfully as though some strange
personality or influence was present. Even the manifest presence of
Doctor Winchester and Miss Trelawny could not altogether comfort or
satisfy me at such moments. It was with a distinct sense of relief that
I saw a new personality in the room in the shape of Nurse Kennedy.
There was no doubt that that business-like, self-reliant, capable young
woman added an element of security to such wild imaginings as my own.
She had a quality of common sense that seemed to pervade everything
around her, as though it were some kind of emanation. Up to that moment
I had been building fancies around the sick man; so that finally all
about him, including myself, had become involved in them, or enmeshed,
or saturated, or. . .But now that she had come, he relapsed into his
proper perspective as a patient; the room was a sick-room, and the
shadows lost their fearsome quality. The only thing which it could not
altogether abrogate was the strange Egyptian smell. You may put a mummy
in a glass case and hermetically seal it so that no corroding air can
get within; but all the same it will exhale its odour. One might think
that four or five thousand years would exhaust the olfactory qualities
of anything; but experience teaches us that these smells remain, and
that their secrets are unknown to us. Today they are as much mysteries
as they were when the embalmers put the body in the bath of natron. . .

All at once I sat up. I had become lost in an absorbing reverie. The
Egyptian smell had seemed to get on my nerves–on my memory–on my very
will.

At that moment I had a thought which was like an inspiration. If I was
influenced in such a manner by the smell, might it not be that the sick
man, who lived half his life or more in the atmosphere, had gradually
and by slow but sure process taken into his system something which had
permeated him to such degree that it had a new power derived from
quantity–or strength–or. . .

I was becoming lost again in a reverie. This would not do. I must take
such precaution that I could remain awake, or free from such entrancing
thought. I had had but half a night’s sleep last night; and this night
I must remain awake. Without stating my intention, for I feared that I
might add to the trouble and uneasiness of Miss Trelawny, I went
downstairs and out of the house. I soon found a chemist’s shop, and
came away with a respirator. When I got back, it was ten o’clock; the
Doctor was going for the night. The Nurse came with him to the door of
the sick-room, taking her last instructions. Miss Trelawny sat still
beside the bed. Sergeant Daw, who had entered as the Doctor went out,
was some little distance off.

When Nurse Kennedy joined us, we arranged that she should sit up till
two o’clock, when Miss Trelawny would relieve her. Thus, in accordance
with Mr. Trelawny’s instructions, there would always be a man and a
woman in the room; and each one of us would overlap, so that at no time
would a new set of watchers come on duty without some one to tell of
what–if anything–had occurred. I lay down on a sofa in my own room,
having arranged that one of the servants should call me a little before
twelve. In a few moments I was asleep.

When I was waked, it took me several seconds to get back my thoughts so
as to recognise my own identity and surroundings. The short sleep had,
however, done me good, and I could look on things around me in a more
practical light than I had been able to do earlier in the evening. I
bathed my face, and thus refreshed went into the sick-room. I moved
very softly. The Nurse was sitting by the bed, quiet and alert; the
Detective sat in an arm-chair across the room in deep shadow. He did
not move when I crossed, until I got close to him, when he said in a
dull whisper:

“It is all right; I have not been asleep!” An unnecessary thing to say,
I thought–it always is, unless it be untrue in spirit. When I told him
that his watch was over; that he might go to bed till I should call him
at six o’clock, he seemed relieved and went with alacrity. At the door
he turned and, coming back to me, said in a whisper:

“I sleep lightly and I shall have my pistols with me. I won’t feel so
heavy-headed when I get out of this mummy smell.”

He too, then, had shared my experience of drowsiness!

I asked the Nurse if she wanted anything. I noticed that she had a
vinaigrette in her lap. Doubtless she, too, had felt some of the
influence which had so affected me. She said that she had all she
required, but that if she should want anything she would at once let me
know. I wished to keep her from noticing my respirator, so I went to
the chair in the shadow where her back was toward me. Here I quietly
put it on, and made myself comfortable.

For what seemed a long time, I sat and thought and though. It was a
wild medley of thoughts, as might have been expected from the
experiences of the previous day and night. Again I found myself
thinking of the Egyptian smell; and I remember that I felt a delicious
satisfaction that I did not experience it as I had done. The respirator
was doing its work.

It must have been that the passing of this disturbing thought made for
repose of mind, which is the corollary of bodily rest, for, though I
really cannot remember being asleep or waking from it, I saw a vision–I
dreamed a dream, I scarcely know which.

I was still in the room, seated in the chair. I had on my respirator
and knew that I breathed freely. The Nurse sat in her chair with her
back toward me. She sat quite still. The sick man lay as still as the
dead. It was rather like the picture of a scene than the reality; all
were still and silent; and the stillness and silence were continuous.
Outside, in the distance I could hear the sounds of a city, the
occasional roll of wheels, the shout of a reveller, the far-away echo of
whistles and the rumbling of trains. The light was very, very low; the
reflection of it under the green-shaded lamp was a dim relief to the
darkness, rather than light. The green silk fringe of the lamp had
merely the colour of an emerald seen in the moonlight. The room, for all
its darkness, was full of shadows. It seemed in my whirling thoughts as
though all the real things had become shadows–shadows which moved, for
they passed the dim outline of the high windows. Shadows which had
sentience. I even thought there was sound, a faint sound as of the mew
of a cat–the rustle of drapery and a metallic clink as of metal faintly
touching metal. I sat as one entranced. At last I felt, as in
nightmare, that this was sleep, and that in the passing of its portals
all my will had gone.

All at once my senses were full awake. A shriek rang in my ears. The
room was filled suddenly with a blaze of light. There was the sound of
pistol shots–one, two; and a haze of white smoke in the room. When my
waking eyes regained their power, I could have shrieked with horror
myself at what I saw before me.

Chapter IV
The Second Attempt

The sight which met my eyes had the horror of a dream within a dream,
with the certainty of reality added. The room was as I had seen it
last; except that the shadowy look had gone in the glare of the many
lights, and every article in it stood stark and solidly real.

By the empty bed sat Nurse Kennedy, as my eyes had last seen her,
sitting bolt upright in the arm-chair beside the bed. She had placed a
pillow behind her, so that her back might be erect; but her neck was
fixed as that of one in a cataleptic trance. She was, to all intents
and purposes, turned into stone. There was no special expression on her
face–no fear, no horror; nothing such as might be expected of one in
such a condition. Her open eyes showed neither wonder nor interest.
She was simply a negative existence, warm, breathing, placid; but
absolutely unconscious of the world around her. The bedclothes were
disarranged, as though the patient had been drawn from under them
without throwing them back. The corner of the upper sheet hung upon the
floor; close by it lay one of the bandages with which the Doctor had
dressed the wounded wrist. Another and another lay further along the
floor, as though forming a clue to where the sick man now lay. This was
almost exactly where he had been found on the previous night, under the
great safe. Again, the left arm lay toward the safe. But there had
been a new outrage, an attempt had been made to sever the arm close to
the bangle which held the tiny key. A heavy “kukri” knife–one of the
leaf-shaped knives which the Gurkhas and others of the hill tribes of
India use with such effect–had been taken from its place on the wall,
and with it the attempt had been made. It was manifest that just at the
moment of striking, the blow had been arrested, for only the point of
the knife and not the edge of the blade had struck the flesh. As it
was, the outer side of the arm had been cut to the bone and the blood
was pouring out. In addition, the former wound in front of the arm had
been cut or torn about terribly, one of the cuts seemed to jet out blood
as if with each pulsation of the heart. By the side of her father knelt
Miss Trelawny, her white nightdress stained with the blood in which she
knelt. In the middle of the room Sergeant Daw, in his shirt and
trousers and stocking feet, was putting fresh cartridges into his
revolver in a dazed mechanical kind of way. His eyes were red and
heavy, and he seemed only half awake, and less than half conscious of
what was going on around him. Several servants, bearing lights of
various kinds, were clustered round the doorway.

As I rose from my chair and came forward, Miss Trelawny raised her eyes
toward me. When she saw me she shrieked and started to her feet,
pointing towards me. Never shall I forget the strange picture she made,
with her white drapery all smeared with blood which, as she rose from
the pool, ran in streaks toward her bare feet. I believe that I had
only been asleep; that whatever influence had worked on Mr. Trelawny and
Nurse Kennedy–and in less degree on Sergeant Daw–had not touched me.
The respirator had been of some service, though it had not kept off the
tragedy whose dire evidences were before me. I can understand now–I
could understand even then–the fright, added to that which had gone
before, which my appearance must have evoked. I had still on the
respirator, which covered mouth and nose; my hair had been tossed in my
sleep. Coming suddenly forward, thus enwrapped and dishevelled, in that
horrified crowd, I must have had, in the strange mixture of lights, an
extraordinary and terrifying appearance. It was well that I recognised
all this in time to avert another catastrophe; for the half-dazed,
mechanically-acting Detective put in the cartridges and had raised his
revolver to shoot at me when I succeeded in wrenching off the respirator
and shouting to him to hold his hand. In this also he acted
mechanically; the red, half-awake eyes had not in them even then the
intention of conscious action. The danger, however, was averted. The
relief of the situation, strangely enough, came in a simple fashion.
Mrs. Grant, seeing that her young mistress had on only her nightdress,
had gone to fetch a dressing-gown, which she now threw over her. This
simple act brought us all back to the region of fact. With a long
breath, one and all seemed to devote themselves to the most pressing
matter before us, that of staunching the flow of blood from the arm of
the wounded man. Even as the thought of action came, I rejoiced; for
the bleeding was very proof that Mr. Trelawny still lived.

Last night’s lesson was not thrown away. More than one of those present
knew now what to do in such an emergency, and within a few seconds
willing hands were at work on a tourniquet. A man was at once
despatched for the doctor, and several of the servants disappeared to
make themselves respectable. We lifted Mr. Trelawny on to the sofa
where he had lain yesterday; and, having done what we could for him,
turned our attention to the Nurse. In all the turmoil she had not
stirred; she sat there as before, erect and rigid, breathing softly and
naturally and with a placid smile. As it was manifestly of no use to
attempt anything with her till the doctor had come, we began to think of
the general situation.

Mrs. Grant had by this time taken her mistress away and changed her
clothes; for she was back presently in a dressing-gown and slippers, and
with the traces of blood removed from her hands. She was now much
calmer, though she trembled sadly; and her face was ghastly white. When
she had looked at her father’s wrist, I holding the tourniquet, she
turned her eyes round the room, resting them now and again on each one
of us present in turn, but seeming to find no comfort. It was so
apparent to me that she did not know where to begin or whom to trust
that, to reassure her, I said:

“I am all right now; I was only asleep.” Her voice had a gulp in it as
she said in a low voice:

“Asleep! You! and my Father in danger! I thought you were on the
watch!” I felt the sting of justice in the reproach; but I really
wanted to help her, so I answered:

“Only asleep. It is bad enough, I know; but there is something more
than an “only” round us here. Had it not been that I took a definite
precaution I might have been like the Nurse there.” She turned her eyes
swiftly on the weird figure, sitting grimly upright like a painted
statue; and then her face softened. With the action of habitual
courtesy she said:

“Forgive me! I did not mean to be rude. But I am in such distress and
fear that I hardly know what I am saying. Oh, it is dreadful! I fear
for fresh trouble and horror and mystery every moment.” This cut me to
the very heart, and out of the heart’s fulness I spoke:

“Don’t give me a thought! I don’t deserve it. I was on guard, and yet
I slept. All that I can say is that I didn’t mean to, and I tried to
avoid it; but it was over me before I knew it. Anyhow, it is done now;
and can’t be undone. Probably some day we may understand it all; but
now let us try to get at some idea of what has happened. Tell me what
you remember!” The effort to recollect seemed to stimulate her; she
became calmer as she spoke:

“I was asleep, and woke suddenly with the same horrible feeling on me
that Father was in great and immediate danger. I jumped up and ran,
just as I was, into his room. It was nearly pitch dark, but as I opened
the door there was light enough to see Father’s nightdress as he lay on
the floor under the safe, just as on that first awful night. Then I
think I must have gone mad for a moment.” She stopped and shuddered.
My eyes lit on Sergeant Daw, still fiddling in an aimless way with the
revolver. Mindful of my work with the tourniquet, I said calmly:

“Now tell us, Sergeant Daw, what did you fire at?” The policeman seemed
to pull himself together with the habit of obedience. Looking around at
the servants remaining in the room, he said with that air of importance
which, I take it, is the regulation attitude of an official of the law
before strangers:

“Don’t you think, sir, that we can allow the servants to go away? We
can then better go into the matter.” I nodded approval; the servants
took the hint and withdrew, though unwillingly, the last one closing the
door behind him. Then the Detective went on:

“I think I had better tell you my impressions, sir, rather than recount
my actions. That is, so far as I remember them.” There was a mortified
deference now in his manner, which probably arose from his consciousness
of the awkward position in which he found himself. “I went to sleep
half-dressed–as I am now, with a revolver under my pillow. It was the
last thing I remember thinking of. I do not know how long I slept. I
had turned off the electric light, and it was quite dark. I thought I
heard a scream; but I can’t be sure, for I felt thick-headed as a man
does when he is called too soon after an extra long stretch of work.
Not that such was the case this time. Anyhow my thoughts flew to the
pistol. I took it out, and ran on to the landing. Then I heard a sort
of scream, or rather a call for help, and ran into this room. The room
was dark, for the lamp beside the Nurse was out, and the only light was
that from the landing, coming through the open door. Miss Trelawny was
kneeling on the floor beside her father, and was screaming. I thought I
saw something move between me and the window; so, without thinking, and
being half dazed and only half awake, I shot at it. It moved a little
more to the right between the windows, and I shot again. Then you came
up out of the big chair with all that muffling on your face. It seemed
to me, being as I say half dazed and half awake–I know, sir, you will
take this into account–as if it had been you, being in the same
direction as the thing I had fired at. And so I was about to fire again
when you pulled off the wrap.” Here I asked him–I was cross-examining
now and felt at home:

“You say you thought I was the thing you fired at. What thing?” The
man scratched his head, but made no reply.

“Come, sir,” I said, “what thing; what was it like?” The answer came in
a low voice:

“I don’t know, sir. I thought there was something; but what it was, or
what it was like, I haven’t the faintest notion. I suppose it was
because I had been thinking of the pistol before I went to sleep, and
because when I came in here I was half dazed and only half awake–which I
hope you will in future, sir, always remember.” He clung to that
formula of excuse as though it were his sheet-anchor. I did not want to
antagonise the man; on the contrary I wanted to have him with us.
Besides, I had on me at that time myself the shadow of my own default;
so I said as kindly as I knew how:

“Quite right! Sergeant. Your impulse was correct; though of course in
the half-somnolent condition in which you were, and perhaps partly
affected by the same influence–whatever it may be–which made me sleep
and which has put the Nurse in that cataleptic trance, it could not be
expected that you would paused to weigh matters. But now, whilst the
matter is fresh, let me see exactly where you stood and where I sat. We
shall be able to trace the course of your bullets.” The prospect of
action and the exercise of his habitual skill seemed to brace him at
once; he seemed a different man as he set about his work. I asked Mrs.
Grant to hold the tourniquet, and went and stood where he had stood and
looked where, in the darkness, he had pointed. I could not but notice
the mechanical exactness of his mind, as when he showed me where he had
stood, or drew, as a matter of course, the revolver from his pistol
pocket, and pointed with it. The chair from which I had risen still
stood in its place. Then I asked him to point with his hand only, as I
wished to move in the track of his shot.

Just behind my chair, and a little back of it, stood a high buhl
cabinet. The glass door was shattered. I asked:

“Was this the direction of your first shot or your second?” The answer
came promptly.

“The second; the first was over there!”

He turned a little to the left, more toward the wall where the great
safe stood, and pointed. I followed the direction of his hand and came
to the low table whereon rested, amongst other curios, the mummy of the
cat which had raised Silvio’s ire. I got a candle and easily found the
mark of the bullet. It had broken a little glass vase and a tazza of
black basalt, exquisitely engraved with hieroglyphics, the graven lines
being filled with some faint green cement and the whole thing being
polished to an equal surface. The bullet, flattened against the wall,
lay on the table.

I then went to the broken cabinet. It was evidently a receptacle for
valuable curios; for in it were some great scarabs of gold, agate, green
jasper, amethyst, lapis lazuli, opal, granit, and blue-green china.
None of these things happily were touched. The bullet had gone through
the back of the cabinet; but no other damage, save the shattering of the
glass, had been done. I could not but notice the strange arrangement of
the curios on the shelf of the cabinet. All the scarabs, rings,
amulets, &c. were arranged in an uneven oval round an exquisitely-carved
golden miniature figure of a hawk-headed God crowned with a disk and
plumes. I did not wait to look further at present, for my attention was
demanded by more pressing things; but I determined to make a more minute
examination when I should have time. It was evident that some of the
strange Egyptian smell clung to these old curios; through the broken
glass came an added whiff of spice and gum and bitumen, almost stronger
than those I had already noticed as coming from others in the room.

All this had really taken but a few minutes. I was surprised when my
eye met, through the chinks between the dark window blinds and the
window cases, the brighter light of the coming dawn. When I went back
to the sofa and took the tourniquet from Mrs. Grant, she went over and
pulled up the blinds.

It would be hard to imagine anything more ghastly than the appearance of
the room with the faint grey light of early morning coming in upon it.
As the windows faced north, any light that came was a fixed grey light
without any of the rosy possibility of dawn which comes in the eastern
quarter of heaven. The electric lights seemed dull and yet glaring; and
every shadow was of a hard intensity. There was nothing of morning
freshness; nothing of the softness of night. All was hard and cold and
inexpressibly dreary. The face of the senseless man on the sofa seemed
of a ghastly yellow; and the Nurse’s face had taken a suggestion of
green from the shade of the lamp near her. Only Miss Trelawny’s face
looked white; and it was of a pallor which made my heart ache. It
looked as if nothing on God’s earth could ever again bring back to it
the colour of life and happiness.

It was a relief to us all when Doctor Winchester came in, breathless
with running. He only asked one question:

“Can anyone tell me anything of how this wound was gotten?” On seeing
the headshake which went round us under his glance, he said no more, but
applied himself to his surgical work. For an instant he looked up at
the Nurse sitting so still; but then bent himself to his task, a grave
frown contracting his brows. It was not till the arteries were tied and
the wounds completely dressed that he spoke again, except, of course,
when he had asked for anything to be handed to him or to be done for
him. When Mr. Trelawny’s wounds had been thoroughly cared for, he said
to Miss Trelawny:

“What about Nurse Kennedy?” She answered at once:

“I really do not know. I found her when I came into the room at
half-past two o’clock, sitting exactly as she does now. We have not
moved her, or changed her position. She has not wakened since. Even
Sergeant Daw’s pistol-shots did not disturb her.”

“Pistol-shots? Have you then discovered any cause for this new
outrage?” The rest were silent, so I answered:

“We have discovered nothing. I was in the room watching with the Nurse.
Earlier in the evening I fancied that the mummy smells were making me
drowsy, so I went out and got a respirator. I had it on when I came on
duty; but it did not keep me from going to sleep. I awoke to see the
room full of people; that is, Miss Trelawny and Sergeant Daw, being only
half awake and still stupefied by the same scent or influence which had
affected us, fancied that he saw something moving through the shadowy
darkness of the room, and fired twice. When I rose out of my chair,
with my face swathed in the respirator, he took me for the cause of the
trouble. Naturally enough, he was about to fire again, when I was
fortunately in time to manifest my identity. Mr. Trelawny was lying
beside the safe, just as he was found last night; and was bleeding
profusely from the new wound in his wrist. We lifted him on the sofa,
and made a tourniquet. That is, literally and absolutely, all that any
of us know as yet. We have not touched the knife, which you see lies
close by the pool of blood. Look!” I said, going over and lifting it.
“The point is red with the blood which has dried.”

Doctor Winchester stood quite still a few minutes before speaking:

“Then the doings of this night are quite as mysterious as those of last
night?”

“Quite!” I answered. He said nothing in reply, but turning to Miss
Trelawny said:

“We had better take Nurse Kennedy into another room. I suppose there is
nothing to prevent it?”

“Nothing! Please, Mrs. Grant, see that Nurse Kennedy’s room is ready;
and ask two of the men to come and carry her in.” Mrs. Grant went out
immediately; and in a few minutes came back saying:

“The room is quite ready; and the men are here.” By her direction two
footmen came into the room and, lifting up the rigid body of Nurse
Kennedy under the supervision of the Doctor, carried her out of the
room. Miss Trelawny remained with me in the sick chamber, and Mrs.
Grant went with the Doctor into the Nurse’s room.

When we were alone Miss Trelawny came over to me, and taking both my
hands in hers, said:

“I hope you won’t remember what i said. I did not mean it, and I was
distraught.” I did not make reply; but I held her hands and kissed
them. There are different ways of kissing a lady’s hands. This way was
intended as homage and respect; and it was accepted as such in the
high-bred, dignified way which marked Miss Trelawny’s bearing and every
movement. I went over to the sofa and looked down at the senseless man.
The dawn had come much nearer in the last few minutes, and there was
something of the clearness of day in the light. As I looked at the
stern, cold, set face, now as white as a marble monument in the pale
grey light, i could not but feel that there was some deep mystery beyond
all that had happened within the last twenty-six hours. Those beetling
brows screened some massive purpose; that high, broad forehead held some
finished train of reasoning, which the broad chin and massive jaw would
help to carry into effect. As I looked and wondered, there began to
steal over me again that phase of wandering thought which had last night
heralded the approach of sleep. I resisted it, and held myself sternly
to the present. This was easier to do when Miss Trelawny came close to
me, and, leaning her forehead against my shoulder, began to cry
silently. Then all the manhood in me woke, and to present purpose. It
was of little use trying to speak; words were inadequate to thought. But
we understood each other; she did not draw away when I put arm
protectingly over her shoulder as I used to do with my little sister
long ago when in her childish trouble she would come to her big brother
to be comforted. That very act or attitude of protection made me more
resolute in my purpose, and seemed to clear my brain of idle, dreamy
wandering in thought. With an instinct of greater protection, however,
I took away my arm as I heard the Doctor’s footstep outside the door.

When Doctor Winchester came in he looked intently at the patient before
speaking. His brows were set, and his mouth was a thin, hard line.
Presently he said:

“There is much in common between the sleep of your Father and Nurse
Kennedy. Whatever influence has brought it about has probably worked the
same way in both cases. In Kennedy’s case the coma is less marked. I
cannot but feel, however, that with her we may be able to do more and
more quickly than with this patient, as our hands are not tied. I have
placed her in a draught; and already she shows some signs, though very
faint ones, of ordinary unconsciousness. The rigidity of her limbs is
less, and her skin seems more sensitive–or perhaps I should say less
insensitive–to pain.”

“How is it, then,” I asked, “that Mr. Trelawny is still in this state of
insensibility; and yet, so far as we know, his body has not had such
rigidity at all?”

“That I cannot answer. The problem is one which we may solve in a few
hours; or it may need a few days. But it will be a useful lesson in
diagnosis to us all; and perhaps to many and many others after us, who
knows!” he added, with the genuine fire of an enthusiast.

As the morning wore on, he flitted perpetually between the two rooms,
watching anxiously over both patients. He made Mrs. Grant remain with
the Nurse, but either Miss Trelawny or I, generally both of us, remained
with the wounded man. We each managed, however, to get bathed and
dressed; the Doctor and Mrs. Grant remained with Mr. Trelawny whilst we
had breakfast.

Sergeant Daw went off to report at Scotland Yard the progress of the
night; and then to the local station to arrange for the coming of his
comrade, Wright, as fixed with Superintendent Dolan. When he returned I
could not but think that he had been hauled over the coals for shooting
in a sick-room; or perhaps for shooting at all without certain and
proper cause. His remark to me enlightened me in the matter:

“A good character is worth something, sir, in spite of what some of them
say. See! I’ve still got leave to carry my revolver.”

That day was a long and anxious one. Toward nightfall Nurse Kennedy so
far improved that the rigidity of her limbs entirely disappeared. She
still breathed quietly and regularly; but the fixed expression of her
face, though it was a calm enough expression, gave place to fallen
eyelids and the negative look of sleep. Doctor Winchester had, towards
evening, brought two more nurses, one of whom was to remain with Nurse
Kennedy and the other to share in the watching with Miss Trelawny, who
had insisted on remaining up herself. She had, in order to prepare for
the duty, slept for several hours in the afternoon. We had all taken
counsel together, and had arranged thus for the watching in Mr.
Trelawny’s room. Mrs. Grant was to remain beside the patient till
twelve, when Miss Trelawny would relieve her. The new nurse was to sit
in Miss Trelawny’s room, and to visit the sick chamber each quarter of
an hour. The Doctor would remain till twelve; when I was to relieve
him. One or other of the detectives was to remain within hail of the
room all night; and to pay periodical visits to see that all was well.
Thus, the watchers would be watched; and the possibility of such events
as last night, when the watchers were both overcome, would be avoided.

When the sun set, a strange and grave anxiety fell on all of us; and in
our separate ways we prepared for the vigil. Doctor Winchester had
evidently been thinking of my respirator, for he told me he would go out
and get one. Indeed, he took to the idea so kindly that I persuaded
Miss Trelawny also to have one which she could put on when her time for
watching came.

And so the night drew on.

Chapter V
More Strange Instructions

When I came from my room at half-past eleven o’clock I found all well in
the sick-room. The new nurse, prim, neat, and watchfull, sat in the
chair by the bedside where Nurse Kennedy had sat last night. A little
way off, between the bed and the safe, sat Dr. Winchester alert and
wakeful, but looking strange and almost comic with the respirator over
mouth and nose. As I stood in the doorway looking at them I heard a
slight sound; turning round I saw the new detective, who nodded, held up
the finger of silence and withdrew quietly. Hitherto no one of the
watchers was overcome by sleep.

I took a chair outside the door. As yet there was no need for me to
risk coming again under the subtle influence of last night. Naturally
my thoughts went revolving round the main incidents of the last day and
night, and I found myself arriving at strange conclusions, doubts,
conjectures; but I did not lose myself, as on last night, in trains of
thought. The sense of the present was ever with me, and I really felt
as should a sentry on guard. Thinking is not a slow process; and when
it is earnest the time can pass quickly. It seemed a very short time
indeed till the door, usually left ajar, was pulled open and Dr.
Winchester emerged, taking off his respirator as he came. His act, when
he had it off, was demostrative of his keenness. He turned up the
outside of the wrap and smelled it carefully.

“I am going now,” he said. “I shall come early in the morning; unless,
of course, I am sent for before. But all seems well tonight.”

The next to appear was Sergeant Daw, who went quietly into the room and
took the seat vacated by the Doctor. I still remained outside; but
every few minutes looked into the room. This was rather a form than a
matter of utility, for the room was so dark that coming even from the
dimly-lighted corridor it was hard to distinguish anything.

A little before twelve o’clock Miss Trelawny came from her room. Before
coming to her father’s she went into that occupied by Nurse Kennedy.
After a couple of minutes she came out, looking, I thought, a trifle
more cheerful. She had her respirator in her hand, but before putting
it on, asked me if anything special had occurred since she had gone to
lie down. I answered in a whisper–there was no loud talking in the
house tonight–that all was safe, was well. She then put on her
respirator, and I mine; and we entered the room. The Detective and the
Nurse rose up, and we took their places. Sergeant Daw was the last to
go out; he closed the door behind him as we had arranged.

For a while I sat quiet, my heart beating. The place was grimly dark.
The only light was a faint one from the top of the lamp which threw a
white circle on the high ceiling, except the emerald sheen of the shade
as the light took its under edges. Even the light only seemed to
emphasize the blackness of the shadows. These presently began to seem,
as on last night, to have a sentience of their own. I did not myself
feel in the least sleepy; and each time I went softly over to look at
the patient, which I did about every ten minutes, I could see that Miss
Trelawny was keenly alert. Every quarter of an hour one or other of the
policemen looked in through the partly opened door. Each time both Miss
Trelawny and I said through our mufflers, “all right,” and the door was
closed again.

As the time wore on, the silence and the darkness seemed to increase.
The circle of light on the ceiling was still there, but it seemed less
brilliant than at first. The green edging of the lamp-shade became like
Maori greenstone rather than emerald. The sounds of the night without
the house, and the starlight spreading pale lines along the edges of the
window-cases, made the pall of black within more solemn and more
mysterious.

We heard the clock in the corridor chiming the quarters with its silver
bell till two o’clock; and then a strange feeling came over me. I could
see from Miss Trelawny’s movement as she looked round, that she also had
some new sensation. The new detective had just looked in; we two were
alone with the unconscious patient for another quarter of an hour.

My heart began to beat wildly. There was a sense of fear over me. Not
for myself; my fear was impersonal. It seemed as though some new person
had entered the room, and that a strong intelligence was awake close to
me. Something brushed against my leg. I put my hand down hastily and
touched the furry coat of Silvio. With a very faint far-away sound of a
snarl he turned and scratched at me. I felt blood on my hand. I rose
gently and came over to the bedside. Miss Trelawny, too, had stood up
and was looking behind her, as though there was something close to her.
Her eyes were wild, and her breast rose and fell as though she were
fighting for air. When I touched her she did not seem to feel me; she
worked her hands in front of her, as though she was fending off
something.

There was not an instant to lose. I seized her in my arms and rushed
over to the door, threw it open, and strode into the passage, calling
loudly:

“Help! Help!”

In an instant the two Detectives, Mrs. Grant, and the Nurse appeared on
the scene. Close on their heels came several of the servants, both men
and women. Immediately Mrs. Grant came near enough, I placed Miss
Trelawny in her arms, and rushed back into the room, turning up the
electric light as soon as I could lay my hand on it. Sergeant Daw and
the Nurse followed me.

We were just in time. Close under the great safe, where on the two
succesive nights he had been found, lay Mr. Trelawny with his left arm,
bare save for the bandages, stretched out. Close by his side was a
leaf-shaped Egyptian knife which had lain amongst the curios on the
shelf of the broken cabinet. Its point was stuck in the parquet floor,
whence had been removed the blood-stained rug.

But there was no sign of disturbance anywhere; nor any sign of any one
or anything unusual. The Policemen and I searched the room accurately,
whilst the Nurse and two of the servants lifted the wounded man back to
bed; but no sign or clue could we get. Very soon Miss Trelawny returned
to the room. She was pale but collected. When she came close to me she
said in a low voice:

“I felt myself fainting. I did not know why; but I was afraid!”

The only other shock I had was when Miss Trelawny cried out to me, as I
placed my hand on the bed to lean over and look carefully at her father:

“You are wounded. Look! look! your hand is bloody. There is blood on
the sheets!” I had, in the excitement, quite forgotten Silvio’s scratch.
As I looked at it, the recollection came back to me; but before I could
say a word Miss Trelawny had caught hold of my hand and lifted it up.
When she saw the parallel lines of the cuts she cried out again:

“It is the same wound as Father’s!” Then she laid my hand down gently
but quickly, and said to me and to Sergeant Daw:

“Come to my room! Silvio is there in his basket.” We followed her, and
found Silvio sitting in his basket awake. He was licking his paws. The
Detective said:

“He is there sure enough; but why licking his paws?”

Margaret–Miss Trelawny–gave a moan as she bent over and took one of
the forepaws in her hand; but the cat seemed to resent it and snarled.
At that Mrs. Grant came into the room. When she saw that we were
looking at the cat she said:

“The Nurse tells me that Silvio was asleep on Nurse Kennedy’s bed ever
since you went to your Father’s room until a while ago. He came there
just after you had gone to master’s room. Nurse says that Nurse Kennedy
is moaning and muttering in her sleep as though she had a nightmare. I
think we should send for Dr. Winchester.”

“Do so at once, please!” said Miss Trelawny; and we went back to the
room.

For a while Miss Trelawny stood looking at her father, with her brows
wrinkled. Then, turning to me, as though her mind were made up, she
said:

“Don’t you think we should have a consultation on Father? Of course I
have every confidence in Doctor Winchester; he seems an immensely clever
young man. But he is a young man; and there must be men who have
devoted themselves to this branch of science. Such a man would have
more knowledge and more experience; and his knowledge and experience
might help to throw light on poor Father’s case. As it is, Doctor
Winchester seems to be quite in the dark. Oh! I don’t know what to do.
It is all so terrible!” Here she broke down a little and cried; and I
tried to comfort her.

Doctor Winchester arrived quickly. His first thought was for his
patient; but when he found him without further harm, he visited Nurse
Kennedy. When he saw her, a hopeful look came into his eyes. Taking a
towel, he dipped a corner of it in cold water and flicked on the face.
The skin coloured, and she stirred slightly. He said to the new nurse–
Sister Doris he called her:

“She is all right. She will wake in a few hours at latest. She may be
dizzy and distraught at first, or perhaps hysterical. If so, you know
how to treat her.”

“Yes, sir!” answered Sister Doris demurely; and we went back to Mr.
Trelawny’s room. As soon as we had entered, Mrs. Grant and the Nurse
went out so that only Doctor Winchester, Miss Trelawny, and myself
remained in the room. When the door had been closed Doctor Winchester
asked me as to what had occurred. I told him fully, giving exactly
every detail so far as I could remember. Throughout my narrative, which
did not take long, however, he kept asking me questions as to who had
been present and the order in which each one had come into the room. He
asked other things, but nothing of any importance; these were all that
took my attention, or remained in my memory. When our conversation was
finished, he said in a very decided way indeed, to Miss Trelawny:

“I think, Miss Trelawny, that we had better have a consultation on this
case.” She answered at once, seemingly a little to his surprise:

“I am glad you have mentioned it. I quite agree. Who would you
suggest?”

“Have you any choice yourself?” he asked. “Any one to whom your Father
is known? Has he ever consulted any one?”

“Not to my knowledge. But I hope you will choose whoever you think
would be best. My dear Father should have all the help that can be had;
and I shall be deeply obliged by your choosing. Who is the best man in
London–anywhere else–in such a case?”

“There are several good men; but they are scattered all over the world.
Somehow, the brain specialist is born, not made; though a lot of hard
work goes to the completing of him and fitting him for his work. He
comes from no country. The most daring investigator up to the present
is Chiuni, the Japanese; but he is rather a surgical experimentalist
than a practitioner. Then there is Zammerfest of Uppsala, and Fenelon
of the University of Paris, and Morfessi of Naples. These, of course,
are in addition to our own men, Morrison of Aberdeen and Richardson of
Birmingham. But before them all I would put Frere of King’s College. Of
all that I have named he best unites theory and practice. He has no
hobbies–that have been discovered at all events; and his experience is
immense. It is the regret of all of us who admire him that the nerve so
firm and the hand so dexterous must yield to time. For my own part I
would rather have Frere than any one living.”

“Then,” said Miss Trelawny decisively, “let us have Doctor Frere–by the
way, is he ‘Doctor’ or ‘Mister’?–as early as we can get him in the
morning!”

A weight seemed removed from him, and he spoke with greater ease and
geniality than he had yet shown:

“He is Sir James Frere. I shall go to him myself as early as it is
possibly to see him, and shall ask him to come here at once.” Then
turning to me he said:

“You had better let me dress your hand.”

“It is nothing,” I said.

“Nevertheless it should be seen to. A scratch from any animal might
turn out dangerous; there is nothing like being safe.” I submitted;
forthwith he began to dress my hand. He examined with a
magnifying-glass the several parallel wounds, and compared them with the
slip of blotting-paper, marked with Silvio’s claws, which he took from
his pocket-book. He put back the paper, simply remarking:

“It’s a pity that Silvio slips in–and out–just when he shouldn’t.”

The morning wore slowly on. By ten o’clock Nurse Kennedy had so far
recovered that she was able to sit up and talk intelligibly. But she
was still hazy in her thoughts; and could not remember anything that had
happened on the previous night, after her taking her place by the
sick-bed. As yet she seemed neither to know nor care what had happened.

It was nearly eleven o’clock when Doctor Winchester returned with Sir
James Frere. Somehow I felt my heart sink when from the landing I saw
them in the hall below; I knew that Miss Trelawny was to have the pain
of telling yet another stranger of her ignorance of her father’s life.

Sir James Frere was a man who commanded attention followed by respect.
He knew so thoroughly what he wanted himself, that he placed at once on
one side all wishes and ideas of less definite persons. The mere flash
of his piercing eyes, or the set of his resolute mouth, or the lowering
of his great eyebrows, seemed to compel immediate and willing obedience
to his wishes. Somehow, when we had all been introduced and he was well
amongst us, all sense of mystery seemed to melt away. It was with a
hopeful spirit that I saw him pass into the sick-room with Doctor
Winchester.

They remained in the room a long time; once they sent for the Nurse, the
new one, Sister Doris, but she did not remain long. Again they both
went into Nurse Kennedy’s room. He sent out the nurse attendant on her.
Doctor Winchester told me afterward that Nurse Kennedy, though she was
ignorant of later matters, gave full and satisfactory answers to all
Doctor Frere’s questions relating to her patient up to the time she
became unconscious. Then they went to the study, where they remained so
long, and their voices raised in heated discussion seemed in such
determined opposition, that I began to feel uneasy. As for Miss
Trelawny, she was almost in a state of collapse from nervousness before
they joined us. Poor girl! she had had a sadly anxious time of it, and
her nervous strength had almost broken down.

They came out at last, Sir James first, his grave face looking as
unenlightening as that of the sphinx. Doctor Winchester followed him
closely; his face was pale, but with that kind of pallor which looked
like a reaction. It gave me the idea that it had been red not long
before. Sir James asked that Miss Trelawny would come into the study.
He suggested that I should come also. When we had enterd, Sir James
turned to me and said:

“I understand from Doctor Winchester that you are a friend of Miss
Trelawny, and that you have already considerable knowledge of this case.
Perhaps it will be well that you should be with us. I know you already
as a keen lawyer, Mr. Ross, though I never had the pleasure of meeting
you. As Doctor Winchester tells me that there are some strange matters
outside this case which seem to puzzle him–and others–and in which he
thinks you may yet be specially interested, it might be as well that you
should know every phase of the case. For myself I do not take much
account of mysteries–except those of science; and as there seems to be
some idea of an attempt at assassination or robbery, all I can say is
that if assassins were at work they ought to take some elementary
lessons in anatomy before their next job, for they seem thoroughly
ignorant. If robbery were their purpose, they seem to have worked with
marvellous inefficiency. That, however, is not my business.” Here he
took a big pinch of snuff, and turning to to Miss Trelawny, went on:
“Now as to the patient. Leaving out the cause of his illness, all we can
say at present is that he appears to be suffering from a marked attack
of catalepsy. At present nothing can be done, except to sustain his
strength. The treatment of my friend Doctor Winchester is mainly such
as I approve of; and I am confident that should any slight change arise
he will be able to deal with it satisfactorily. It is an interesting
case–most interesting; and should any new or abnormal development arise
I shall be happy to come at any time. There is just one thing to which
I wish to call your attention; and I put it to you, Miss Trelawny,
directly, since it is your responsibility. Doctor Winchester informs me
that you are not yourself free in the matter, but are bound by an
instruction given by your Father in case just such a condition of things
should arise. I would strongly advise that the patient be removed to
another room; or, as an alternative, that those mummies and all such
things should be removed from his chamber. Why, it’s enough to put any
man into an abnormal condition, to have such an assemblage of horrors
round him, and to breathe the atmosphere which they exhale. You have
evidence already of how such mephitic odour may act. That nurse–
Kennedy, I think you said, Doctor–isn’t yet out of her state of
catalepsy; and you, Mr. Ross, have, I am told, experienced something of
the same effects. I know this”–here his eyebrows came down more than
ever, and his mouth hardened–“if I were in charge here I should insist
on the patient having a different atmosphere; or I would throw up the
case. Doctor Winchester already knows that I can only be again
consulted on this condition being fulfilled. But I trust that you will
see your way, as a good daughter to my mind should, to looking to your
Father’s health and sanity rather than to any whim of his–whether
supported or not by a foregoing fear, or by any number of “penny
dreadful” mysteries. The day has hardly come yet, I am glad to say,
when the British Museum and St. Thomas’s Hospital have exchanged their
normal functions. Good-day, Miss Trelawny. I earnestly hope that I may
soon see your Father restored. Remember, that should you fulfil the
elementary condition which I have laid down, I am at your service day or
night. Good-morning, Mr. Ross. I hope you will be able to report to me
soon, Doctor Winchester.”

When he had gone we stood silent, till the rumble of his carriage wheels
died away. The first to speak was Doctor Winchester:

“I think it well to say that to my mind, speaking purely as a physician,
he is quite right. I feel as if I could have assaulted him when he made
it a condition of not giving up the case; but all the same he is right
as to treatment. He does not understand that there is something odd
about this special case; and he will not realise knot that we are all
tied up in by Mr. Trelawny’s instructions. Of course–” He was
interrupted by Miss Trelawny:

“Doctor Winchester, do you, too, wish to give up the case; or are you
willing to continue it under the conditions you know?”

“Give it up! Less now than ever. Miss Trelawny, I shall never give it
up, so long as life is left to him or any of us!” She said nothing, but
held out her hand, which he took warmly.

“Now,” said she, “if Sir James Frere is a type of the cult of
Specialists, I want no more of them. To start with, he does not seem to
know any more than you do about my Father’s condition; and if he were a
hundredth part as much interested in it as you are, he would not stand
on such punctilio. Of course, I am only too anxious about my poor
Father; and if I can see a way to meet either of Sir James Frere’s
conditions, I shall do so. I shall ask Mr. Marvin to come here today,
and advise me as to the limit of Father’s wishes. If he thinks I am
free to act in any way on my own responsibility, I shall not hesitate to
do so.” Then Doctor Winchester took his leave.

Miss Trelawny sat down and wrote a letter to Mr. Marvin, telling him of
the state of affairs, and asking him to come and see her and to bring
with him any papers which might throw any light on the subject. She
sent the letter off with a carriage to bring back the solicitor; we
waited with what patience we could for his coming.

It is not a very long journey for oneself from Kensington Palace Gardens
to Lincoln’s Inn Fields; but it seemed endlessly long when waiting for
someone else to take it. All things, however, are amenable to Time; it
was less than an hour all told when Mr. Marvin was with us.

He recognised Miss Trelawny’s impatience, and when he had learned
sufficient of her father’s illness, he said to her:

“Whenever you are ready I can go with you into particulars regarding
your Father’s wishes.”

“Whenever you like,” she said, with an evident ignorance of his meaning.
“Why not now?” He looked at me, as to a fellow man of business, and
stammered out:

“We are not alone.”

“I have brought Mr. Ross here on purpose,” she answered. “He knows so
much at present, that I want him to know more.” The solicitor was a
little disconcerted, a thing which those knowing him only in courts
would hardly have believed. He answered, however, with some hesitation:

“But, my dear young lady–Your Father’s wishes!–Confidence between father
and child–”

Here she interrupted him; there was a tinge of red in her pale cheeks as
she did so:

“Do you really think that applies to the present circumstances, Mr.
Marvin? My Father never told me anything of his affairs; and I can now,
in this sad extremity, only learn his wishes through a gentleman who is
a stranger to me and of whom I never even heard till I got my Father’s
letter, written to be shown to me only in extremity. Mr. Ross is a new
friend; but he has all my confidence, and I should like him to be
present. Unless, of course,” she added, ‘such a thing is forbidden by
my Father. Oh! forgive me, Mr. Marvin, if I seem rude; but I have been
in such dreadful trouble and anxiety lately, that I have hardly command
of myself.” She covered her eyes with her hand for a few seconds; we
two men looked at each other and waited, trying to appear unmoved. She
went on more firmly; she had recovered herself:

“Please! please do not think I am ungrateful to you for your kindness in
coming here and so quickly. I really am grateful; and I have every
confidence in your judgment. If you wish, or think it best, we can be
alone.” I stood up; but Mr. Marvin made a dissentient gesture. He was
evidently pleased with her attitude; there was geniality in his voice
and manner as he spoke:

“Not at all! Not at all! There is no restriction on your Father’s
part; and on my own I am quite willing. Indeed, all told, it may be
better. From what you have said of Mr. Trelawny’s illness, and the
other–incidental–matters, it will be well in case of any grave
eventuality, that it was understood from the first, that circumstances
were ruled by your Father’s own imperative instructions. For, please
understand me, his instructions are imperative–most imperative. They
are so unyielding that he has given me a Power of Attorney, under which
I have undertaken to act, authorising me to see his written wishes
carried out. Please believe me once for all, that he intended fully
everything mentioned in that letter to you! Whilst he is alive he is to
remain in his own room; and none of his property is to be removed from
it under any circumstances whatever. He has even given an inventory of
the articles which are not to be displaced.”

Miss Trelawny was silent. She looked somewhat distressed; so, thinking
that I understood the immediate cause, I asked:

“May we see the list?” Miss Trelawny’s face at once brightened; but it
fell again as the lawyer answered promptly–he was evidently prepared for
the question:

“Not unless I am compelled to take action on the Power of Attorney. I
have brought that instrument with me. You will recognise, Mr. Ross”–he
said this with a sort of business conviction which I had noticed in his
professional work, as he handed me the deed–“how strongly it is worded,
and how the grantor made his wishes apparent in such a way as to leave
no loophole. It is his own wording, except for certain legal
formalities; and I assure you I have seldom seen a more iron-clad
document. Even I myself have no power to make the slightest relaxation
of the instructions, without committing a distinct breach of faith. And
that, I need not tell you, is impossible.” He evidently added the last
words in order to prevent an appeal to his personal consideration. He
did not like the seeming harshness of his words, however, for he added:

“I do hope, Miss Trelawny, that you understand that I am willing–
frankly and unequivocally willing–to do anything I can, within the
limits of my power, to relieve your distress. But your Father had, in
all his doings, some purpose of his own which he did not disclose to me.
So far as I can see, there is not a word of his instructions that he had
not thought over fully. Whatever idea he had in his mind was the idea
of a lifetime; he had studied it in every possible phase, and was
prepared to guard it at every point.

“Now I fear I have distressed you, and I am truly sorry for it; for I
see you have much–too much–to bear already. But I have no alternative.
If you want to consult me at any time about anything, I promise you I
will come without a moment’s delay, at any hour of the day or night.
There is my private address,” he scribbled in his pocket-book as he
spoke, “and under it the address of my club, where I am generally to be
found in the evening.” He tore out the paper and handed it to her. She
thanked him. He shook hands with her and with me and withdrew.

As soon as the hall door was shut on him, Mrs. Grant tapped at the door
and came in. There was such a look of distress in her face that Miss
Trelawny stood up, deadly white, and asked her:

“What is it, Mrs. Grant? What is it? Any new trouble?”

“I grieve to say, miss, that the servants, all but two, have given
notice and want to leave the house today. They have talked the matter
over among themselves; the butler has spoken for the rest. He says as
how they are willing to forego their wages, and even to pay their legal
obligations instead of notice; but that go today they must.”

“What reason do they give?”

“None, miss. They say as how they’re sorry, but that they’ve nothing to
say. I asked Jane, the upper housemaid, miss, who is not with the rest
but stops on; and she tells me confidential that they’ve got some notion
in their silly heads that the house is haunted!”

We ought to have laughed, but we didn’t. I could not look in Miss
Trelawny’s face and laugh. The pain and horror there showed no sudden
paroxysm of fear; there was a fixed idea of which this was a
confirmation. For myself, it seemed as if my brain had found a voice.
But the voice was not complete; there was some other thought, darker and
deeper, which lay behind it, whose voice had not sounded as yet.

Chapter VI
Suspicions

The first to get full self-command was Miss Trelawny. There was a
haughty dignity in her bearing as she said:

“Very well, Mrs. Grant; let them go! Pay them up to today, and a
month’s wages. They have hitherto been very good servants; and the
occasion of their leaving is not an ordinary one. We must not expect
much faithfulness from any one who is beset with fears. Those who
remain are to have in future double wages; and please send these to me
presently when I send word.” Mrs. Grant bristled with smothered
indignation; all the housekeeper in her was outraged by such generous
treatment of servants who had combined to give notice:

“They don’t deserve it, miss; them to go on so, after the way they have
been treated here. Never in my life have I seen servants so well
treated or anyone so good to them and gracious to them as you have been.
They might be in the household of a King for treatment. And now, just
as there is trouble, to go and act like this. It’s abominable, that’s
what it is!”

Miss Trelawny was very gentle with her, and smothered her ruffled
dignity; so that presently she went away with, in her manner, a lesser
measure of hostility to the undeserving. In quite a different frame of
mind she returned presently to ask if her mistress would like her to
engage a full staff of other servants, or at any rate try to do so.
“For you know, ma’am,” she went on, “when once a scare has been
established in the servants” hall, it’s wellnigh impossible to get rid
of it. Servants may come; but they go away just as quick. There’s no
holding them. They simply won’t stay; or even if they work out their
month’s notice, they lead you that life that you wish every hour of the
day that you hadn’t kept them. The women are bad enough, the huzzies;
but the men are worse!” There was neither anxiety nor indignation in
Miss Trelawny’s voice or manner as she said:

“I think, Mrs. Grant, we had better try to do with those we have.
Whilst my dear Father is ill we shall not be having any company, so that
there will be only three now in the house to attend to. If those
servants who are willing to stay are not enough, I should only get
sufficient to help them to do the work. It will not, I should think, be
difficult to get a few maids; perhaps some that you know already. And
please bear in mind, that those whom you get, and who are suitable and
will stay, are henceforth to have the same wages as those who are
remaining. Of course, Mrs. Grant, you well enough understand that
though I do not group you in any way with the servants, the rule of
double salary applies to you too.” As she spoke she extended her long,
fine-shaped hand, which the other took and then, raising it to her lips,
kissed it impressively with the freedom of an elder woman to a younger.
I could not but admire the generosity of her treatment of her servants.
In my mind I endorsed Mrs. Grant’s sotto voce remark as she left the
room:

“No wonder the house is like a King’s house, when the mistress is a
Princess!”

“A Princess!” That was it. The idea seemed to satisfy my mind, and to
bring back in a wave of light the first moment when she swept across my
vision at the ball in Belgrave Square. A queenly figure! tall and slim,
bending, swaying, undulating as the lily or the lotos. Clad in a
flowing gown of some filmy black material shot with gold. For ornament
in her hair she wore an old Egyptian jewel, a tiny crystal disk, set
between rising plumes carved in lapis lazuli. On her wrist was a broad
bangle or bracelet of antique work, in the shape of a pair of spreading
wings wrought in gold, with the feathers made of coloured gems. For all
her gracious bearing toward me, when our hostess introduced me, I was
then afraid of her. It was only when later, at the picnic on the river,
I had come to realise her sweet and gentle, that my awe changed to
something else.

For a while she sat, making some notes or memoranda. Then putting them
away, she sent for the faithful servants. I thought that she had better
have this interview alone, and so left her. When I came back there were
traces of tears in her eyes.

The next phase in which I had a part was even more disturbing, and
infinitely more painful. Late in the afternoon Sergeant Daw came into
the study where I was sitting. After closing the door carefully and
looking all round the room to make certain that we were alone, he came
close to me.

“What is it?” I asked him. “I see you wish to speak to me privately.”

“Quite so, sir! May I speak in absolute confidence?”

“Of course you may. In anything that is for the good of Miss Trelawny–
and of course Mr. Trelawny–you may be perfectly frank. I take it that
we both want to serve them to the best of our powers.” He hesitated
before replying:

“Of course you know that I have my duty to do; and I think you know me
well enough to know that I will do it. I am a policeman–a detective;
and it is my duty to find out the facts of any case I am put on, without
fear or favour to anyone. I would rather speak to you alone, in
confidence if I may, without reference to any duty of anyone to anyone,
except mine to Scotland Yard.”

“Of course! of course!” I answered mechanically, my heart sinking, I did
not know why. “Be quite frank with me. I assure you of my confidence.”

“Thank you, sir. I take it that what I say is not to pass beyond you–
not to anyone. Not to Miss Trelawny herself, or even to Mr. Trelawny
when he becomes well again.”

“Certainly, if you make it a condition!” I said a little more stiffly.
The man recognised the change in my voice or manner, and said
apologetically:

“Excuse me, sir, but I am going outside my duty in speaking to you at
all on the subject. I know you, however, of old; and I feel that I can
trust you. Not your word, sir, that is all right; but your discretion!”

I bowed. “Go on!” I said. He began at once:

“I have gone over this case, sir, till my brain begins to reel; but I
can’t find any ordinary solution of it. At the time of each attempt no
one has seemingly come into the house; and certainly no one has got out.
What does it strike you is the inference?”

“That the somebody–or the something–was in the house already,” I
answered, smiling in spite of myself.

“That’s just what I think,” he said, with a manifest sigh of relief.
“Very well! Who can be that someone?”

“‘Someone, or something,’ was what I said,” I answered.

“Let us make it ‘someone,’ Mr. Ross! That cat, though he might have
scratched or bit, never pulled the old gentleman out of bed, and tried
to get the bangle with the key off his arm. Such things are all very
well in books where your amateur detectives, who know everything before
it’s done, can fit them into theories; but in Scotland Yard, where the
men aren’t all idiots either, we generally find that when crime is done,
or attempted, it’s people, not things, that are at the bottom of it.”

“Then make it ‘people’ by all means, Sergeant.”

“We were speaking of ‘someone,’ sir.”

“Quite right. Someone, be it!”

“Did it ever strike you, sir, that on each of the three separate
occasions where outrage was effected, or attempted, there was one person
who was the first to be present and to give the alarm?”

“Let me see! Miss Trelawny, I believe, gave the alarm on the first
occasion. I was present myself, if fast asleep, on the second; and so
was Nurse Kennedy. When I woke there were several people in the room;
you were one of them. I understand that on that occasion also Miss
Trelawny was before you. At the last attempt I was Miss Trelawny
fainted. I carried her out and went back. In returning, I was first;
and I think you were close behind me.”

Sergeant Daw thought for a moment before replying:

“She was present, or first, in the room on all the occasions; there was
only damage done in the first and second!”

The inference was one which I, as a lawyer, could not mistake. I
thought the best thing to do was to meet it half-way. I have always
found that the best way to encounter an inference is to cause it to be
turned into a statement.

“You mean,” I said, “that as on the only occasions when actual harm was
done, Miss Trelawny’s being the first to discover it is a proof that she
did it; or was in some way connected with the attempt, as well as the
discovery?”

“I didn’t venture to put it as clear as that; but that is where the
doubt which I had leads.” Sergeant Daw was a man of courage; he
evidently did not shrink from any conclusion of his reasoning on facts.

We were both silent for a while. Fears began crowding in on my own
mind. Not doubts of Miss Trelawny, or of any act of hers; but fears
lest such acts should be misunderstood. There was evidently a mystery
somewhere; and if no solution to it could be found, the doubt would be
cast on someone. In such cases the guesses of the majority are bound to
follow the line of least resistance; and if it could be proved that any
personal gain to anyone could follow Mr. Trelawny’s death, should such
ensue, it might prove a difficult task for anyone to prove innocence in
the face of suspicious facts. I found myself instinctively taking that
deferential course which, until the plan of battle of the prosecution is
unfolded, is so safe an attitude for the defence. It would never do for
me, at this stage, to combar any theories which a detective might form.
I could best help Miss Trelawny by listening and understanding. When
the time should come for the dissipation and obliteration of the
theories, I should be quite willing to use all my militant ardour, and
all the weapons at my command.

“You will of course do your duty, I know,” I said, “and without fear.
What course do you intend to take?”

“I don’t know as yet, sir. You see, up to now it isn’t with me even a
suspicion. If any one else told me that that sweet young lady had a
hand in such a matter, I would think him a fool; but I am bound to
follow my own conclusions. I know well that just as unlikely persons
have been proved guilty, when a whole court–all except the prosecution
who knew the facts, and the judge who had taught his mind to wait–would
have sworn to innocence. I wouldn’t, for all the world, wrong such a
young lady; more especial when she has such a cruel weight to bear. And
you will be sure that I won’t say a word that’ll prompt anyone else to
make such a charge. That’s why I speak to you in confidence, man to
man. You are skilled in proofs; that is your profession. Mine only
gets so far as suspicions, and what we call our own proofs–which are
nothing but ex parte evidence after all. You know Miss Trelawny better
than I do; and though I watch round the sick-room, and go where I like
about the house and in and out of it, I haven’t the same opportunities
as you have of knowing the lady and what her life is, or her means are;
or of anything else which might give me a clue to her actions. If I
were to try to find out from her, it would at once arouse her
suspicions. Then, if she were guilty, all possibility of ultimate proof
would go; for she would easily find a way to baffle discovery. But if
she be innocent, as I hope she is, it would be doing a cruel wrong to
accuse her. I have thought the matter over according to my lights
before I spoke to you; and if I have taken a liberty, sir, I am truly
sorry.”

“No liberty in the world, Daw,” I said warmly, for the man’s courage and
honesty and consideration compelled respect. “I am glad you have spoken
to me so frankly. We both want to find out the truth; and there is so
much about this case that is strange–so strange as to go beyond all
experiences–that to aim at truth is our only chance of making anything
clear in the long-run–no matter what our views are, or what object we
wish to achieve ultimately!” The Sergeant looked pleased as he went on:

“I thought, therefore, that if you had it once in your mind that
somebody else held to such a possibility, you would by degrees get
proof; or at any rate such ideas as would convince yourself, either for
or against it. Then we would come to some conclusion; or at any rate we
should so exhaust all other possibilities that the most likely one would
remain as the nearest thing to proof, or strong suspicion, that we could
get. After that we should have to–”

Just at this moment the door opened and Miss Trelawny entered the room.
The moment she saw us she drew back quickly, saying:

“Oh, I beg pardon! I did not know you were here, and engaged.” By the
time I had stood up, she was about to go back.

“Do come in,” I said; “Sergeant Daw and I were only talking matters
over.”

Whilst she was hesitating, Mrs. Grant appeared, saying as she entered
the room: “Doctor Winchester is come, miss, and is asking for you.”

I obeyed Miss Trelawny’s look; together we left the room.

When the Doctor had made his examination, he told us that there was
seemingly no change. He added that nevertheless he would like to stay
in the house that night is he might. Miss Trelawny looked glad, and
sent word to Mrs. Grant to get a room ready for him. Later in the day,
when he and I happened to be alone together, he said suddenly:

“I have arranged to stay here tonight because I want to have a talk
with you. And as I wish it to be quite private, I thought the least
suspicious way would be to have a cigar together late in the evening
when Miss Trelawny is watching her father.” We still kept to our
arrangement that either the sick man’s daughter or I should be on watch
all night. We were to share the duty at the early hours of the morning.
I was anxious about this, for I knew from our conversation that the
Detective would watch in secret himself, and would be particularly alert
about that time.

The day passed uneventfully. Miss Trelawny slept in the afternoon; and
after dinner went to relieve the Nurse. Mrs. Grant remained with her,
Sergeant Daw being on duty in the corridor. Doctor Winchester and I
took our coffee in the library. When we had lit our cigars he said
quietly:

“Now that we are alone I want to have a confidential talk. We are
’tiled,’ of course; for the present at all events?”

“Quite so!” I said, my heart sinking as I thought of my conversation
with Sergeant Daw in the morning, and of the disturbing and harrowing
fears which it had left in my mind. He went on:

“This case is enough to try the sanity of all of us concerned in it.
The more I think of it, the madder I seem to get; and the two lines,
each continually strengthened, seem to pull harder in opposite
directions.”

“What two lines?” He looked at me keenly for a moment before replying.
Doctor Winchester’s look at such moments was apt to be disconcerting.
It would have been so to me had I had a personal part, other than my
interest in Miss Trelawny, in the matter. As it was, however, I stood
it unruffled. I was now an attorney in the case; an amicus curiae in
one sense, in another retained for the defence. The mere thought that
in this clever man’s mind were two lines, equally strong and opposite,
was in itself so consoling as to neutralise my anxiety as to a new
attack. As he began to speak, the Doctor’s face wore an inscrutable
smile; this, however, gave place to a stern gravity as he proceeded:

“Two lines: Fact and–Fancy! In the first there is this whole thing;
attacks, attempts at robbery and murder; stupefyings; organised
catalepsy which points to either criminal hypnotism and thought
suggestion, or some simple form of poisoning unclassified yet in our
toxicology. In the other there is some influence at work which is not
classified in any book that I know–outside the pages of romance. I
never felt in my life so strongly the truth of Hamlet’s words:

‘There are more things in Heaven and earth…
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.’

“Let us take the ‘Fact’ side first. Here we have a man in his home;
amidst his own household; plenty of servants of different classes in the
house, which forbids the possibility of an organised attempt made from
the servants” hall. He is wealthy, learned, clever. From his
physiognomy there is no doubting that he is a man of iron will and
determined purpose. His daughter–his only child, I take it, a young
girl bright and clever–is sleeping in the very next room to his. There
is seemingly no possible reason for expecting any attack or disturbance
of any kind; and no reasonable opportunity for any outsider to effect
it. And yet we have an attack made; a brutal and remorseless attack,
made in the middle of the night. Discovery is made quickly; made with
that rapidity which in criminal cases generally is found to be not
accidental, but of premeditated intent. The attacker, or attackers, are
manifestly disturbed before the completion of their work, whatever their
ultimate intent may have been. And yet there is no possible sign of
their escape; no clue, no disturbance of anything; no open door or
window; no sound. Nothing whatever to show who had done the deed, or
even that a deed has been done; except the victim, and his surroundings
incidental to the deed!

“The next night a similar attempt is made, though the house is full of
wakeful people; and though there are on watch in the room and around it
a detective officer, a trained nurse, an earnest friend, and the man’s
own daughter. The nurse is thrown into a catalepsy, and the watching
friend–though protected by a respirator–into a deep sleep. Even the
detective is so far overcome with some phase of stupor that he fires off
his pistol in the sick-room, and can’t even tell what he thought he was
firing at. That respirator of yours is the only thing that seems to
have a bearing on the ‘fact’ side of the affair. That you did not lose
your head as the others did–the effect in such case being in proportion
to the amount of time each remained in the room–points to the
probability that the stupefying medium was not hypnotic, whatever else
it may have been. But again, there is a fact which is contradictory.
Miss Trelawny, who was in the room more than any of you–for she was in
and out all the time and did her share of permanent watching also–did
not seem to be affected at all. This would show that the influence,
whatever it is, does not affect generally–unless, of course, it was that
she was in some way inured to it. If it should turn out that it be some
strange exhalation from some of those Egyptian curios, that might
account for it; only, we are then face to face with the fact that Mr.
Trelawny, who was most of all in the room–who, in fact, lived more than
half his life in it–was affected worst of all. What kind of influence
could it be which would account for all these different and
contradictory effects? No! the more I think of this form of the
dilemma, the more I am bewildered! Why, even if it were that the
attack, the physical attack, on Mr. Trelawny had been made by some one
residing in the house and not within the sphere of suspicion, the
oddness of the stupefyings would still remain a mystery. It is not easy
to put anyone into a catalepsy. Indeed, so far as is known yet in
science, there is no way to achieve such an object at will. The crux of
the whole matter is Miss Trelawny, who seems to be subject to none of
the influences, or possibly of the variants of the same influence at
work. Through all she goes unscathed, except for that one slight
semi-faint. It is most strange!”

I listened with a sinking heart; for, though his manner was not
illuminative of distrust, his argument was disturbing. Although it was
not so direct as the suspicion of the Detective, it seemed to single out
Miss Trelawny as different from all others concerned; and in a mystery
to be alone is to be suspected, ultimately if not immediately. I
thought it better not to say anything. In such a case silence is indeed
golden; and if I said nothing now I might have less to defend, or
explain, or take back later. I was, therefore, secretly glad that his
form of putting his argument did not require any answer from me–for the
present, at all events. Doctor Winchester did not seem to expect any
answer–a fact which, when I recognised it, gave my pleasure, I hardly
knew why. He paused for a while, sitting with his chin in his hand, his
eyes staring at vacancy, whilst his brows were fixed. His cigar was
held limp between his fingers; he had apparently forgotten it. In an
even voice, as though commencing exactly where he had left off, he
resumed his argument:

“The other horn of the dilemma is a different affair altogether; and if
we once enter on it we must leave everything in the shape of science and
experience behind us. I confess that it has its fascinations for me;
though at every new thought I find myself romancing in a way that makes
me pull up suddenly and look facts resolutely in the face. I sometimes
wonder whether the influence or emanation from the sick-room at times
affects me as it did the others–the Detective, for instance. Of course
it may be that if it is anything chemical, any drug, for example, in
vaporeal form, its effects may be cumulative. But then, what could
there be that could produce such an effect? The room is, I know, full
of mummy smell; and no wonder, with so many relics from the tomb, let
alone the actual mummy of that animal which Silvio attacked. By the
way, I am going to test him tomorrow; I have been on the trace of a
mummy cat, and am to get possession of it in the morning. Wnen I bring
it here we shall find out if it be a fact that racial instinct can
survive a few thousand years in the grave. However, to get back to the
subject in hand. These very mummy smells arise from the presence of
substances, and combinations of substances, which the Egyptian priests,
who were the learned men and scientists of their time, found by the
experience of centuries to be strong enough to arrest the natural forces
of decay. There must be powerful agencies at work to effect such a
purpose; and it is possible that we may have here some rare substance or
combination whose qualities and powers are not understood in this later
and more prosaic age. I wonder if Mr. Trelawny has any knowledge, or
even suspicion, of such a kind? I only know this for certain, that a
worse atmosphere for a sick chamber could not possibly be imagined; and
I admire the courage of Sir James Frere in refusing to have anything to
do with a case under such conditions. These instructions of Mr.
Trelawny to his daughter, and from what you have told me, the care with
which he has protected his wishes through his solicitor, show that he
suspected something, at any rate. Indeed, it would almost seem as if he
expected something to happen. . . .I wonder if it would be possible to
learn anything about that! Surely his papers would show or suggest
something. . . .It is a difficult matter to tackle; but it might have to
be done. His present condition cannot go on for ever; and if anything
should happen there would have to be an inquest. In such case full
examination would have to be made into everything. . . .As it stands,
the police evidence would show a murderous attack more than once
repeated. As no clue is apparent, it would be necessary to seek one in
a motive.”

He was silent. The last words seemed to come in a lower and lower tone
as he went on. It had the effect of hopelessness. It came to me as a
conviction that now was my time to find out if he had any definite
suspicion; and as if in obedience to some command, I asked:

“Do you suspect anyone?” He seemed in a way startled rather than
surprised as he turned his eyes on me:

“Suspect anyone? Any thing, you mean. I certainly suspect that there
is some influence; but at present my suspicion is held within such
limit. Later on, if there be any sufficiently definite conclusion to my
reasoning, or my thinking-for there are not proper data for reasoning-I
may suspect; at present however-”

He stopped suddenly and looked at the door. There was a faint sound as
the handle turned. My own heart seemed to stand still. There was over
me some grim, vague apprehension. The interruption in the morning, when
I was talking with the Detective, came back upon me with a rush.

The door opened, and Miss Trelawny entered the room.

When she saw us, she started back; and a deep flush swept her face. For
a few seconds she paused; at such a time a few succeeding seconds seem
to lengthen in geometrical progression. The strain upon me, and, as I
could easily see, on the Doctor also, relaxed as she spoke:

“Oh, forgive me, I did not know that you were engaged. I was looking
for you, Doctor Winchester, to ask you if I might go to bed tonight
with safety, as you will be here. I feel so tired and worn-out that I
fear I may break down; and tonight I would certainly not be of any
use.” Doctor Winchester answered heartily:

“Do! Do go to bed by all means, and get a good night’s sleep. God
knows! you want it. I am more than glad you have made the suggestion,
for I feared when I saw you tonight that I might have you on my hands a
patient next.”

She gave a sigh of relief, and the tired look seemed to melt from her
face. Never shall I forget the deep, earnest look in her great,
beautiful black eyes as she said to me:

“You will guard Father tonight, won’t you, with Doctor Winchester? I
am so anxious about him that every second brings new fears. But I am
really worn-out; and if I don’t get a good sleep, I think I shall go
mad. I will change my room for tonight. I’m afraid that if I stay so
close to Father’s room I shall multiply every sound into a new terror.
But, of course, you will have m e waked if there be any cause. I shall
be in the bedroom of the little suite next the boudoir off the hall. I
had those rooms when first I came to live with Father, and I had no care
then. . . .It will be easier to rest there; and perhaps for a few hours
I may forget. I shall be all right in the morning. Good-night!”

When I had closed the door behind her and come back to the little table
at which we had been sitting, Doctor Winchester said:

“That poor girl is overwrought to a terrible degree. I am delighted
that she is to get a rest. It will be life to her; and in the morning
she will be all right. Her nervous system is on the verge of a
breakdown. Did you notice how fearfully disturbed she was, and how red
she got when she came in and found us talking? An ordinary thing like
that, in her own house with her own guests, wouldn’t under normal
circumstances disturb her!”

I was about to tell him, as an explanation in her defence, how her
entrance was a repetition of her finding the Detective and myself alone
together earlier in the day, when I remembered that that conversation
was so private that even an allusion to it might be awkward in evoking
curiosity. So I remained silent.

We stood up to go to the sick-room; but as we took our way through the
dimly-lighted corridor I could not help thinking, again and again, and
again–ay, and for many a day after–how strange it was that she had
interrupted me on two such occasions when touching on such a theme.

There was certainly some strange web of accidents, in whose meshes we
were all involved.

Chapter VII
The Traveller’s Loss

That night everything went well. Knowing that Miss Trelawny herself was
not on guard, Doctor Winchester and I doubled our vigilance. The Nurses
and Mrs. Grant kept watch, and the Detectives made their visit each
quarter of an hour. All night the patient remained in his trance. He
looked healthy, and his chest rose and fell with the easy breathing of a
child. But he never stirred; only for his breathing he might have been
of marble. Doctor Winchester and I wore our respirators, and irksome
they were on that intolerably hot night. Between midnight and three
o’clock I felt anxious, and had once more that creepy feeling to which
these last few nights had accustome me; but the grey of the dawn,
stealing round the edges of the blinds, came with inexpressible relief,
followed by restfulness, went through the household. During the hot
night my ears, strained to every sound, had been almost painfully
troubled; as though my brain or sensoriea were in anxious touch with
them. Every breath of the Nurse or the rustle of her dress; every soft
pat of slippered feet, as the Policeman went his rounds; every moment of
watching life, seemed to be a new impetus to guardianship. Something of
the same feeling must have been abroad in the house; now and again I
could hear upstairs the sound of restless feet, and more than once
downstairs the opening of a window. With the coming of the dawn,
however, all this ceased, and the whole household seemed to rest.
Doctor Winchester went home when Sister Doris came to relieve Mrs.
Grant. He was, I think, a little disappointed or chagrined that nothing
of an exceptional nature had happened during his long night vigil.

At eight o’clock Miss Trelawny joined us, and I was amazed as well as
delighted to see how much good her night’s sleep had done her. She was
fairly radiant; just as I had seen her at our first meeting and at the
picnic. There was even a suggestion of colour in her cheeks, which,
however, looked startlingly white in contrast with her black brows and
scarlet lips. With her restored strength, there seemed to have come a
tenderness even exceeding that which she had at first shown to her sick
father. I could not but be moved by the loving touches as she fixed his
pillows and brushed the hair from his forehead.

I was wearied out myself with my long spell of watching; and now that
she was on guard I started off to be, blinking my tired eyes in the full
light and feeling the weariness of a sleepless night on me all at once.

I had a good sleep, and after lunch I was about to start out to walk to
Jermyn Street, when I noticed an importunate man at the hall door. The
servant in charge was the one called Morris, formerly the “odd man,” but
since the exodus of the servants promoted to be butler pro tem. The
stranger was speaking rather loudly, so that there was no difficulty in
understanding his grievance. The servant man was respectful in both
words and demeanour; but he stood squarely in front of the great double
door, so that the other could not enter. The first words which I heard
from the visitor sufficiently explained the situation:

“That’s all very well, but I tell you I must see Mr. Trelawny! What is
the use of your saying I can’t, when I tell you I must. You put me off,
and off, and off! I came here at nine; you said then tha he was not up,
and that as he was not well he could not be disturbed. I came at
twelve; and you told me again he was not up. I asked then to see any of
his household; you told me that Miss Trelawny was not up. Now I come
again at three, and you tell me he is still in bed, and is not awake
yet. Where is Miss Trelawny? ‘She is occupied and must not be
disturbed!’ Well, she must be disturbed! Or some one must. I am here
about Mr. Trelawny’s special business; and I have come from a place
where servants always begin by saying No. ‘No’ isn’t good enough for me
this time! I’ve had three years of it, waiting outside doors and tents
when it took longer to get in than it did into the tombs; and then you
would think, too, the men inside were as dead as the mummies. I’ve had
about enough of it, I tell you. And when I come home, and find the door
of the man I’ve been working for barred, in just the same way and with
the same old answers, it stirs me up the wrong way. Did Mr. Trelawny
leave orders that he would not see me when I should come?”

He paused and excitedly mopped his forehead. The servant answered very
respectfully:

“I am very sorry, sir, if in doing my duty I have given any offence.
But I have my orders, and must obey them. If you would like to leave
any message, I will give it to Miss Trelawny; and if you will leave your
address, she can communicate with you if she wishes.” The answer came
in such a way that it was easy to see that the speaker was a kind-
hearted man, and a just one.

“My good fellow, I have no fault to find with you personally; and I am
sorry if I have hurt your feelings. I must be just, even if I am angry.
But it is enough to anger any man to find himself in the position I am.
Time is pressing. There is not an hour–not a minute–to lose! And yet
here I am, kicking my heels for six hours; knowing all the time that
your master will be a hundred times angrier than I am, when he hears how
the time has been fooled away. He would rather be waked out of a
thousand sleeps than not see me just at present-and before it is too
late. My God! it’s simply dreadful, after all I’ve gone through, to
have my work spoiled at the last and be foiled in the very doorway by a
stupid flunkey! Is there no one with sense in the house; or with
authority, even if he hasn’t got sense? I could mighty soon convince
him that your master must be awakened; even if he sleeps like the Seven
Sleepers-”

There was no mistaking the man’s sincerity, or the urgency and
importance of his business; from his point of view at any rate. I
stepped forward.

“Morris,” I said, “you had better tell Miss Trelawny that this gentleman
wants to see her particularly. If she is busy, ask Mrs. Grant to tell
her.”

“Very good, sir!” he answered in a tone of relief, and hurried away.

I took the stranger into the little boudoir across the hall. As we went
he asked me:

“Are you the secretary?”

“No! I am a friend of Miss Trelawny’s. My name is Ross.”

“Thank you very much, Mr. Ross, for your kindness!” he said. “My name
is Corbeck. I would give you my card, but they don’t use cards where
I’ve come from. And if I had had any, I suppose they, too, would have
gone last night-”

He stopped suddenly, as though conscious that he had said too much. We
both remained silent; as we waited I took stock of him. A short, sturdy
man, brown as a coffee-berry; possibly inclined to be fat, but now lean
exceedingly. The deep wrinkles in his face and neck were not merely
from time and exposure; there were those unmistakable signs where flesh
or fat has fallen away, and the skin has become loose. The neck was
simply an intricate surface of seams and wrinkles, and sun-scarred with
the burning of the Desert. The Far East, the Tropic Seasons, and the
Desert–each can have its colour mark. But all three are quite
different; and an eye which has once known, can thenceforth easily
distinguish them. The dusky pallor of one; the fierce red-brown of the
other; and of the third, the dark, ingrained burning, as though it had
become a permanent colour. Mr. Corbeck had a big head, massive and
full; with shaggy, dark red-brown hair, but bald on the temples. His
forehead was a fine one, high and broad; with, to use the terms of
physiognomy, the frontal sinus boldly marked. The squareness of it
showed “ratiocination”; and the fulness under the eyes “language”. He
had the short, broad nose that marks energy; the square chin-marked
despite a thick, unkempt beard-and massive jaw that showed great
resolution.

“No bad man for the Desert!” I thought as I looked.

Miss Trelawny came very quickly. When Mr. Corbeck saw her, he seemed
somewhat surprised. But his annoyance and excitement had not
disappeared; quite enough remained to cover up any such secondary and
purely exoteric feeling as surprise. But as she spoke he never took his
eyes off her; and I made a mental note that I would find some early
opportunity of investigating the cause of his surprise. She began with
an apology which quite smoothed down his ruffled feelings:

“Of course, had my Father been well you would not have been kept
waiting. Indeed, had not I been on duty in the sick-room when you
called the first time, I should have seen you at once. Now will you
kindly tell me what is the matter which so presses?” He looked at me and
hesitated. She spoke at once:

“You may say before Mr. Ross anything which you can tell me. He has my
fullest confidence, and is helping me in my trouble. I do not think you
quite understand how serious my Father’s condition is. For three days
he has not waked, or given any sign of consciousness; and I am in
terrible trouble about him. Unhappily I am in great ignorance of my
Father and his life. I only came to live with him a year ago; and I
know nothing whatever of his affairs. I do not even know who you are,
or in what way your business is associated with him.” She said this
with a little deprecating smile, all conventional and altogether
graceful; as though to express in the most genuine way her absurd
ignorance.

He looked steadily at her for perhaps a quarter of a minute; then he
spoke, beginning at once as though his mind were made up and his
confidence established:

“My name is Eugene Corbeck. I am a Master of Arts and Doctor of Laws
and Master of Surgery of Cambridge; Doctor of Letters of Oxford; Doctor
of Science and Doctor of Languages of London University; Doctor of
Philosophy of Berlin; Doctor of Oriental Languages of Paris. I have
some other degrees, honorary and otherwise, but I need not trouble you
with them. Those I have name will show you that I am sufficiently
feathered with diplomas to fly into even a sick-room. Early in life-
fortunately for my interests and pleasures, but unfortunately for my
pocket-I fell in with Egyptology. I must have been bitten by some
powerful scarab, for I took it bad. I went out tomb-hunting; and
managed to get a living of a sort, and to learn some things that you
can’t get out of books. I was in pretty low water when I met your
Father, who was doing some explorations on his own account; and since
then I haven’t found that I have many unsatisfied wants. He is a real
patron of the arts; no mad Egyptologist can ever hope for a better
chief!”

He spoke with feeling; and I was glad to see that Miss Trelawny coloured
up with pleasure at the praise of her father. I could not help
noticing, however, that Mr. Corbeck was, in a measure, speaking as if
against time. I took it that he wished, while speaking, to study his
ground; to see how far he would be justified in taking into confidence
the two strangers before him. As he went on, I could see that his
confidence kept increasing. When I thought of it afterward, and
remembered what he had said, I realised that the measure of the
information which he gave us marked his growing trust.

“i have been several times out on expeditions in Egypt for your Father;
and I have always found it a delight to work for him. Many of his
treasures-and he has some rare ones, I tell you-he has procured through
me, either by my exploration or by purchase-or-or-otherwise. Your
Father, Miss Trelawny, has a rare knowledge. He sometimes makes up his
mind that he wants to find a particular thing, of whose existence-if it
still exists-he has become aware; and he will follow it all over the
world till he gets it. I’ve been on just such a chase now.”

He stopped suddenly, as suddenly as thought his mouth had been shut by
the jerk of a string. We waited; when he went on he spoke with a
caution that was new to him, as though he wished to forestall our asking
any questions:

“I am not at liberty to mentions anything of my mission; where it was
to, what it was for, or anything at all about it. Such matters are in
confidence between Mr. Trelawny and myself; I am pledged to absolute
secrecy.”

He paused, and an embarrassed look crept over his face. Suddenly he
said:

“You are sure, Miss Trelawny, your Father is not well enough to see me
today?”

A look of wonderment was on her face in turn. But it cleared at once;–
she stood up, saying in a tone in which dignity and graciousness were
blended:

“Come and see for yourself!” She moved toward her father’s room; he
followed, and I brought up the rear.

Mr. Corbeck entered the sick-room as though he knew it. There is an
unconscious attitude or bearing to persons in new surroundings which
there is no mistaking. Even in his anxiety to see his powerful friend,
he glanced for a moment round the room, as at a familiar place. Then
all his attention became fixed on the bed. I watched him narrowly, for
somehow I felt that on this man depended much of our enlightenment
regarding the strange matter in which we were involved.

It was not that I doubted him. The man was of transparent honesty; it
was this very quality which we had to dread. He was of that courageous,
fixed trueness to his undertaking, that if he should deem it his duty to
guard a secret he would do it to the last. The case before us was, at
least, an unusual one; and it would, consequently, require more liberal
recognition of bounds of the duty of secrecy than would hold under
ordinary conditions. To us, ignorance was helplessness. If we could
learn anything of the past we might at least form some idea of the
conditions antecedent to the attack; and might, so, achieve some means
of helping the patient to recovery. There were curios whish might be
removed. . . .My thoughts were beginning to whirl once again; I pulled
myself up sharply and watched. There was a look of infinite pity on the
sun-stained, rugged face as he gazed at his friend, lying so helpless.
The sternness of Mr. Trelawny’s face had not relaxed in sleep; but
somehow it made the helplessness more marked. It would not have
troubled one to see a weak or an ordinary face under such conditions;
but this purposeful, masterful man, lying before us wrapped in
impenetrable sleep, had all the pathos of a great ruin. The sight was
not a new one to us; but I could see that Miss Trelawny, like myself,
was moved afresh by it in the presence of the stranger. Mr. Corbeck’s
face grew stern. All the pity died away; and in its stead came a grim,
hard look which boded ill for whoever had been the cause of this mighty
downfall. This look in turn gave place to one of decision; the volcanic
energy of the man was working to some definite purpose. He glanced
around at us; and as his eyes lighted on Nurse Kennedy his eyebrows went
up a trifle. She noted the look, and glanced interrogatively at Miss
Trelawny, who flashed back a reply with a glance. She went quietly from
the room, closing the door behind her. Mr. Corbeck looked first at me,
with a strong man’s natural impulse to learn from a man rather than a
woman; then at Miss Trelawny, with a remembrance of the duty of
courtesy, and said:

“Tell me all about it. How it began and when!” Miss Trelawny looked at
me appeallingly; and forthwith I told him all that I knew. He seemed to
make no motion during the whole time; but insensibly the bronze face
became steel. When, at the end, I told him of Mr. Marvin’s visit and of
the Power of Attorney, his look began to brighten. And when, seeing his
interest in the matter, I went more into detail as to its terms, he
spoke:

“Good! Now I know where my duty lies!”

With a sinking heart I heard him. Such a phrase, coming at such a time,
seemed to close the door to my hopes of enlightenment.

“What do you mean?” I asked, feeling that my question was a feeble one.

His answer emphasized my fears:

“Trelawny knows what he is doing. He had some definite purpose in all
that he did; and we must not thwart him. He evidently expected
something to happen, and guarded himself at all points.”

“Not at all points!” I said impulsively. “There must have been a weak
spot somewhere, or he wouldn’t be lying here like that!” Somehow his
impassiveness surprised me. I had expected that he would find a valid
argument in my phrase; but it did not move him, at least not in the way
I thought. Something like a smile flickered over his swarthy face as he
answered me:

“This is not the end! Trelawny did not guard himself to no purpose.
Doubtless, he expected this too; or at any rate the possibility of it.”

“Do you know what he expected, or from what source?” The questioner was
Miss Trelawny.

The answer came at once: “No! I know nothing of either. I can
guess. . .” He stopped suddenly.

“Guess what?” The suppressed excitement in the girl’s voice was akin to
anguish. The steely look came over the swarthy face again; but there was
tenderness and courtesy in both voice and manner as he replied:

“Believe me, I would do anything I honestly could to relieve you
anxiety. But in this I have a higher duty.”

“What duty?”

“Silence!” As he spoke the word, the strong mouth closed like a steel
trap.

We all remained silent for a few minutes. In the intensity of our
thinking, the silence became a positive thing; the small sounds of life
within and without the house seemed intrusive. The first to break it
was Miss Trelawny. I had seen an idea-a hope-flash in her eyes; but she
steadied herself before speaking:

“What was the urgent subject on which you wanted to see me, knowing that
my Father was-not available?” The pause showed her mastery of her
thoughts.

The instantaneous change in Mr. Corbeck was almost ludicrous. His start
of surprise, coming close upon his iron-clad impassiveness, was like a
pantomimic change. But all idea of comedy was swept away by the tragic
earnestness with which he remembered his original purpose.

“My God!” he said, as he raised his hand from the chair back on which it
rested, and beat it down with a violence which would in itself have
arrested attention. His brows corrugated as he went on: “I quite
forgot! What a loss! Now of all times! Just at the moment of success!
He lying there helpless, and my tongue tied! Not able to raise hand or
foot in my ignorance of his wishes!”

“What is it? Oh, do tell us! I am so anxious about my dear Father! Is
it any new trouble? I hope not! oh, I hope not! I have had such
anxiety and trouble already! It alarms me afresh to hear you speak so!
Won’t you tell me something to allay this terrible anxiety and
uncertainty?”

He drew his sturdy form up to his full height as he said:

“Alas! I cannot, may not, tell you anything. It is his secret.” He
pointed to the bed. “And yet-and yet I came here for his advice, his
counsel, his assistance. And he lies there helpless. . . .And time is
flying by us! It may soon be too late!”

“What is it? what is it?” broke in Miss Trelawny in a sort of passion of
anxiety, her face drawn with pain. “Oh, speak! Say something! This
anxiety, and horror, and mystery are killing me!” Mr. Corbeck calmed
himself by a great effort.

“I may not tell you details; but I have had a great loss. My mission,
in which I have spent three years, was successful. I discovered all
that I sought-and more; and brought them home with me safely.
Treasures, priceless in themselves, but doubly precious to him by whose
wishes and instructions I sought them. I arrived in London only last
night, and when I woke this morning my precious charge was stolen.
Stolen in some mysterious way. Not a soul in London knew that I was
arriving. No one but myself knew what was in the shabby portmanteau
that I carried. My room had but one door, and that I locked and bolted.
The room was high in the house, five stories up, so that no entrance
could have been obtained by the window. Indeed, I had closed the window
myself and shut the hasp, for I wished to be secure in every way. This
morning the hasp was untouched. . . .And yet my portmanteau was empty.
The lamps were gone! . . .There! it is out. I went to Egypt to search
for a set of antique lamps which Mr. Trelawny wished to trace. With
incredible labour, and through many dangers, I followed them. I brought
them safe home. . . .And now!” He turned away much moved. Even his
iron nature was breaking down under the sense of loss.

Miss Trelawny stepped over and laid her hand on his arm. I looked at
her in amazement. All the passion and pain which had so moved her
seemed to have taken the form of resolution. Her form was erect, her
eyes blazed; energy was manifest in every nerve and fibre of her being.
Even her voice was full of nervous power as she spoke. It was apparent
that she was a marvellously strong woman, and that her strength could
answer when called upon.

“We must act at once! My Father’s wishes must be carried out if it is
possible to us. Mr. Ross, you are a lawyer. We have actually in the
house a man whom you consider one of the best detectives in London.
Surely we can do something. We can begin at once!” Mr. Corbeck took
new life from her enthusiasm.

“Good! You are your Father’s daughter!” was all he said. But his
admiration for her energy was manifested by the impulsive way in which
he took her hand. I moved over to the door. I was going to bring
Sergeant Daw; and from her look of approval, I knew that Margaret-Miss
Trelawny-understood. I was at the door when Mr. Corbeck called me back.

“One moment,” he said, “before we bring a stranger on the scene. It
must be borne in mind that he is not to know what you know now, that the
lamps were the objects of a prolonged and difficult and dangerous
search. All I can tell him, all that he must know from any source, is
that some of my property has been stolen. I must describe some of the
lamps, especially one, for it is of gold; and my fear is lest the thief,
ignorant of its historic worth, may, in order to cover up his crime,
have it melted. I would willingly pay ten, twenty, a hundred, a
thousand times its intrinsic value rather than have it destroyed. I
shall tell him only what is necessary. So, please, let me answer any
questions he may ask; unless, of course, I ask you or refer to either of
you for the answer.” We both nodded acquiescence. Then a thought
struck me and I said:

“By the way, if it be necessary to keep this matter quiet it will be
better to have it if possible a private job for the Detective. If once
a thing gets to Scotland Yard it is out of our power to keep it quiet,
and further secrecy may be impossible. I shall sound Sergeant Daw
before he comes up. If I say nothing, it will mean that he accepts the
task and will deal with it privately.” Mr. Corbeck answered at once:

“Secrecy is everything. The one thing I dread is that the lamps, or
some of them, may be destroyed at once.” To my intense astonishment
Miss Trelawny spoke out at once, but quietly, in a decided voice:

“They will not be destroyed; nor any of them!” Mr. Corbeck actually
smiled in amazement.

“How on earth do you know?” he asked. Her answer was still more
incomprehensible:

“I don’t know how I know it; but know it I do. I feel it all through
me; as though it were a conviction which has been with me all my life!”

Chapter VIII
The Finding of the Lamps

Sergeant Daw at first made some demur; but finally agreed to advise
privately on a matter which might be suggested to him. He added that I
was to remember that he only undertook to advise; for if action were
required he might have to refer the matter to headquarters. With this
understanding I left him in the study, and brought Miss Trelawny and Mr.
Corbeck to him. Nurse Kennedy resumed her place at the bedside before
we left the room.

I could not but admire the cautious, cool-headed precision with which
the traveller stated his case. He did not seem to conceal anything, and
yet he gave the least possible description of the objects missing. He
did not enlarge on the mystery of the case; he seemed to look on it as
an ordinary hotel theft. Knowing, as I did, that his one object was to
recover the articles before their identity could be obliterated, I could
see the rare intellectual skill with which he gave the necessary matter
and held back all else, though without seeming to do so. “Truly,”
thought I, “this man has learned the lesson of the Eastern bazaars; and
with Western intellect has improved upon his masters!” He quite
conveyed his idea to the Detective, who, after thinking the matter over
for a few moments, said:

“Pot or scale? that is the question.”

“What does that mean?” asked the other, keenly alert.

“An old thieves phrase from Birmingham. I thought that in these days of
slang everyone knew that. In old times at Brum, which had a lot of
small metal industries, the gold- and silver-smiths used to buy metal
from almost anyone who came along. And as metal in small quantities
could generally be had cheap when they didn’t ask where it came from, it
got to be a custom to ask only one thing-whether the customer wanted the
goods melted, in which case the buyer made the price, and the melting-
pot was always on the fire. If it was to be preserved in its present
state at the buyer’s option, it went into the scale and fetched standard
price for old metal.

“There is a good deal of such work done still, and in other places than
Brum. When we’re looking for stolen watches we often come across the
works, and it’s not possible to identify wheels and springs out of a
heap; but it’s not often that we come across cases that are wanted.
Now, in the present instance much will depend on whether the thief is a
good man-that’s what they call a man who knows his work. A first-class
crook will know whether a thing is of more value than merely the metal
in it; and in such case he would put it with someone who could place it
later on-in America or France, perhaps. By the way, do you think anyone
but yourself could identify your lamps?”

“No one but myself!”

“Are there others like them?”

“Not that I know of,” answered Mr. Corbeck; “though there may be others
that resemble them in many particulars.” The Detective paused before
asking again: “Would any other skilled person-at the British Museum, for
instance, or a dealer, or a collector like Mr. Trelawny, know the value-
the artistic value-of the lamps?”

“Certainly! Anyone with a head on his houlders would see at a glance
that the things were valuable.”

The Detective’s face brightened. “Then there is a chance. If your door
was locked and the window shut, the goods were not stolen by the chance
of a chambermaid or a boots coming along. Whoever did the job went
after it special; and he ain’t going to part with his swag without his
price. This must be a case of notice to the pawnbrokers. There’s one
good thing about it, anyhow, that the hue and cry needn’t be given. We
needn’t tell Scotland Yard unless you like; we can work the thing
privately. If you wish to keep the thing dark, as you told me at the
first, that is our chance.” Mr. Corbeck, after a pause, said quietly:

“I suppose you couldn’t hazard a suggestion as to how the robbery was
effected?” The Policeman smiled the smile of knowledge and experience.

“In a very simple way, I have no doubt, sir. That is how all these
mysterious crimes turn out in the long-run. The criminal knows his work
and all the tricks of it; and he is always on the watch for chances.
Moreover, he knows by experience what these chances are likely to be,
and how they usually come. The other person is only careful; he doesn’t
know all the tricks and pits that may be made for him, and by some
little oversight or other he falls into the trap. When we know all
about this case, you will wonder that you did not see the method of it
all along!” This seemed to annoy Mr. Corbeck a little; there was
decided heat in his manner as he answered:

“Look here, my good friend, there is not anything simple about this
case-except that the things were taken. The window was closed; the
fireplace was bricked up. There is only one door to the room, and that
I locked and bolted. There is no transom; I have heard all about hotel
robberies through the transom. I never left my room in the night. I
looked at the things before going to bed; and I went to look at them
again when I woke up. If you can rig up any kind of simple robbery out
of these facts you are a clever man. That’s all I say; clever enough to
go right away and get my things back.” Miss Trelawny laid her hand upon
his arm in a soothing way, and said quietly:

“Do not distress yourself unnecessarily. I am sure they will turn up.”
Sergeant Daw turned to her so quickly that I could not help remembering
vividly his suspicions of her, already formed, as he said:

“May I ask, miss, on what you base that opinion?”

I dreaded to hear her answer, given to ears already awake to supicion;
but it came to me as a new pain or shock all the same:

“I cannot tell you how I know. But I am sure of it!” The Detective
looked at her for some seconds in silence, and then threw a quick glance
at me.

Presently he had a little more conversation with Mr. Corbeck as to his
own movements, the details of the hotel and the room, and the means of
identifying the goods. Then he went away to commence his inquiries, Mr.
Corbeck impressing on him the necessity for secrecy lest the thief
should get wind of his danger and destroy the lamps. Mr. Corbeck
promised, when going away to attend to various matters of his own
business, to return early in the evening, and to stay in the house.

All that day Miss Trelawny was in better spirits and looked in better
strength than she had yet been, despite the new shock and annoyance of
the theft which must ultimately bring so much disappointment to her
father.

We spent most of the day looking over the curio treasures of Mr.
Trelawny. From what I had heard from Mr. Corbeck I began to have some
idea of the vastness of his enterprise in the world of Egyptian
research; and with this light everything around me began to have a new
interest. As I went on, the interest grew; any lingering doubts which I
might have had changed to wonder and admiration. The house seemed to be
a veritable storehouse of marvels of antique art. In addition to the
curios, big and little, in Mr. Trelawny’s own room-from the great
sarcophagi down to the scarabs of all kinds in the cabinets-the great
hall, the staircase landings, the study, and even the boudoir were full
of antique pieces which would have made a collector’s mouth water.

Miss Trelawny from the first came with me, and looked with growing
interest at everything. After having examined some cabinets of
exquisite amulets she said to me in quite a naive way:

“You will hardly believe that I have of late seldom even looked at any
of these things. It is only since Father has been ill that I seem to
have even any curiosity about them. But now, they grow and grow on me to
quite an absorbing degree. I wonder if it is that the collector’s blood
which I have in my veins is beginning to manifest itself. If so, the
strange thing is that I have not felt the call of it before. Of course
I know most of the big things, and have examined them more or less; but
really, in a sort of way I have always taken them for granted, as though
they had always been there. I have noticed the same thing now and again
with family pictures, and the way they are taken for granted by the
family. If you will let me examine them with you it will be
delightful!”

It was a joy to me to hear her talk in such a way; and her last
suggestion quite thrilled me. Together we went round the various rooms
and passages, examining and admiring the magnificent curios. There was
such a bewildering amount and variety of objects that we could only
glance at most of them; but as we went along we arranged that we should
take them seriatim, day by day, and examine them more closely. In the
hall was a sort of big frame of floriated steel work which Margaret said
her father used for lifting the heavy stone lids of the sarcophagi. It
was not heavy and could be moved about easily enough. By aid of this we
raised the covers in turn and looked at the endless series of
hieroglyphic pictures cut in most of them. In spite of her profession
of ignorance Margaret knew a good deal about them; her year of life with
her father had had unconsciously its daily and hourly lesson. She was a
remarkably clever and acute-minded girl, and with a prodigious memory;
so that her store of knowledge, gathered unthinkingly bit by bit, had
grown to proportions that many a scholar might have envied.

And yet it was all so naive and unconscious; so girlish and simple. She
was so fresh in her views and ideas, and had so little thought of self,
that in her companionship I forgot for the time all the troubles and
mysteries which enmeshed the house; and I felt like a boy again. . . .

The most interesting of the sarcophagi were undoubtedly the three in Mr.
Trelawny’s room. Of these, two were of dark stone, one of porphyry and
the other of a sort of ironstone. These were wrought with some
hieroglyphs. But the third was strikingly different. It was of some
yellow-brown substance of the dominating colour effect of Mexican onyx,
which it resembled in many ways, excepting that the natural pattern of
its convolutions was less marked. Here and there were patches almost
transparent-certainly translucent. The whole chest, cover and all, was
wrought with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of minute hieroglyphics,
seemingly in an endless series. Back, front, sides, edges, bottom, all
had their quota of the dainty pictures, the deep blue of their colouring
showing up fresh and sharply edge in the yellow stone. It was very
long, nearly nine feet; and perhaps a yard wide. The sides undulated,
so that there was no hard line. Even the corners took such excellent
curves that they pleased the eye. “Truly,” I said, “this must have been
made for a giant!”

“Or for a giantess!” said Margaret.

This sarcophagus stood near to one of the windows. It was in one
respect different from all the other sarcophagi in the place. All the
others in the house, of whatever material-granite, porphyry, ironstone,
basalt, slate, or wood-were quite simple in form within. Some of them
were plain of interior surface; others were engraved, in whole or part,
with hieroglyphics. But each and all of them had no protuberances or
uneven surface anywhere. They might have been used for baths; indeed,
they resembled in many ways Roman baths of stone or marble which I had
seen. Inside this, however, was a raised space, outlined like a human
figure. I asked Margaret if she could explain it in any way. For
answer she said:

“Father never wished to speak about this. It attracted my attention
from the first; but when I asked him about it he said: ‘I shall tell
you all about it some day, little girl-if I live! But not yet! The
story is not yet told, as I hope to tell it to you! Some day, perhaps
soon, I shall know all; and then we shall go over it together. And a
mighty interesting story you will find it-from first to last!’ Once
afterward I said, rather lightly I am afraid: ‘Is that story of the
sarcophagus told yet, Father?’ He shook his head, and looked at me
gravely as he said: ‘Not yet, little girl; but it will be-if I live-if
I live!’ His repeating that phrase about his living rather frightened
me; I never ventured to ask him again.”

Somehow this thrilled me. I could not exactly say how or why; but it
seemed like a gleam of light at last. There are, I think, moments when
the mind accepts something as true; though it can account for neither
the course of the thought, nor, if there be more than one thought, the
connection between them. Hitherto we had been in such outer darkness
regarding Mr. Trelawny, and the strange visitation which had fallen on
him, that anything which afforded a clue, even of the faintest and most
shadowy kind, had at the outset the enlightening satisfaction of a
certainty. Here were two lights of our puzzle. The first that Mr.
Trelawny associated with this particular curio a doubt of his own
living. The second that he had some purpose or expectation with regard
to it, which he would not disclose, even to his daughter, till complete.
Again it was to be borne in mind that this sarcophagus differed
internally from all the others. What meant that odd raised place? I
said nothing to Miss Trelawny, for I feared lest I should either
frighten her or buoy her up with future hopes; but I made up my mind
that I would take an early opportunity for further investigation.

Close beside the sarcophagus was a low table of green stone with red
veins in it, like bloodstone. The feet were fashioned like the paws of
a jackal, and round each leg was twined a full-throated snake wrought
exquisitely in pure gold. On it rested a strange and very beautiful
coffer or casket of stone of a peculiar shape. It was something like a
small coffin, except that the longer sides, instead of being cut off
square like the upper or level part were continued to a point. Thus it
was an irregular septahedron, there being two planes on each of the two
sides, one end and a top and bottom. The stone, of one piece of which
it was wrought, was such as I had never seen before. At the base it was
of a full green, the colour of emerald without, of course, its gleam.
It was not by any means dull, however, either in colour or substance,
and was of infinite hardness and fineness of texture. The surface was
almost that of a jewel. The colour grew lighter as it rose, with
gradation so fine as to be imperceptible, changing to a fine yellow
almost of the colour of “mandarin” china. It was quite unlike anything
I had ever seen, and did not resemble any stone or gem that I knew. I
took it to be some unique mother-stone, or matrix of some gem. It was
wrought all over, except in a few spots, with fine hieroglyphics,
exquisitely done and coloured with the same blue-green cement or pigment
that appeared on the sarcophagus. In length it was about two feet and a
half; in breadth about half this, and was nearly a foot high. The
vacant spaces were irregularly distributed about the top running to the
pointed end. These places seemed less opaque than the rest of the
stone. I tried to lift up the lid so that I might see if they were
translucent; but it was securely fixed. It fitted so exactly that the
whole coffer seemed like a single piece of stone mysteriously hollowed
from within. On the sides and edges were some odd-looking protuberances
wrought just as finely as any other portion of the coffer which had been
sculptured by manifest design in the cutting of the stone. They had
queer-shaped holes or hollows, different in each; and, like the rest,
were covered with the hieroglyphic figures, cut finely and filled in
with the same blue-green cement.

On the other side of the great sarcophagus stood another small table of
alabaster, exquisitely chased with symbolic figures of gods and the
signs of the zodiac. On this table stood a case of about a foot square
composed of slabs of rock crystal set in a skeleton of bands of red
gold, beautifully engraved with hieroglyphics, and coloured with a blue
green, very much the tint of the figures on the sarcophagus and the
coffer. The whole work was quite modern.

But if the case was modern what it held was not. Within, on a cushion
of cloth of gold as fine as silk, and with the peculiar softness of old
gold, rested a mummy hand, so perfect that it startled one to see it. A
woman’s hand, fine and long, with slim tapering fingers and nearly as
perfect as when it was given to the embalmer thousands of years before.
In the embalming it had lost nothing of its beautiful shape; even the
wrist seemed to maintain its pliability as the gentle curve lay on the
cushion. The skin was of a rich creamy or old ivory colour; a dusky
fair skin which suggested heat, but heat in shadow. The great
peculiarity of it, as a hand, was that it had in all seven fingers,
there being two middle and two index fingers. The upper end of the
wrist was jagged, as though it had been broken off, and was stained with
a red-brown stain. On the cushion near the hand was a small scarab,
exquisitely wrought of emerald.

“That is another of Father’s mysteries. When I asked him about it he
said that it was perhaps the most valuable thing he had, except one.
When I asked him what that one was, he refused to tell me, and forbade
me to ask him anything concerning it. ‘I will tell you,’ he said, ‘all
about it, too, in good time-if I live!'”

“If I live!” the phrase again. These three things grouped together, the
Sarcophagus, the Coffer, and the Hand, seemed to make a trilogy of
mystery indeed!

At this time Miss Trelawny was sent for on some domestic matter. I
looked at the other curios in the room; but they did not seem to have
anything like the same charm for me, now that she was away. Later on in
the day I was sent for to the boudoir where she was consulting with Mrs.
Grant as to the lodgment of Mr. Corbeck. They were in doubt as to
whether he should have a room close to Mr. Trelawny’s or quite away from
it, and had thought it well to ask my advice on the subject. I came to
the conclusion that he had better not be too near; for the first at all
events, he could easily be moved closer if necessary. When Mrs. Grant
had gone, I asked Miss Trelawny how it came that the furniture of this
room, the boudoir in which we were, was so different from the other
rooms of the house.

“Father’s forethought!” she answered. “When I first came, he thought,
and rightly enough, that I might get frightened with so many records of
death and the tomb everywhere. So he had this room and the little suite
off it-that door opens into the sitting-room-where I slept last night,
furnished with pretty things. You see, they are all beautiful. That
cabinet belonged to the great Napoleon.”

“There is nothing Egyptian in these rooms at all then?” I asked, rather
to show interest in what she had said than anything else, for the
furnishing of the room was apparent. “What a lovely cabinet! May I
look at it?”

“Of course! with the greatest pleasure!” she answered, with a smile.
“Its finishing, within and without, Father says, is absolutely
complete.” I stepped over and looked at it closely. It was made of
tulip wood, inlaid in patterns; and was mounted in ormolu. I pulled
open one of the drawers, a deep one where I could see the work to great
advantage. As I pulled it, something rattled inside as though rolling;
there was a tinkle as of metal on metal.

“Hullo!” I said. “There is something in here. Perhaps I had better not
open it.”

“There is nothing that I know of,” she answered. “Some of the
housemaids may have used it to put something by for the time and
forgotten it. Open it by all means!”

I pulled open the drawer; as I did so, both Miss Trelawny and I started
back in amazement.

There before our eyes lay a number of ancient Egyptian lamps, of various
sizes and of strangely varied shapes.

We leaned over them and looked closely. My own heart was beating like a
trip-hammer; and I could see by the heaving of Margaret’s bosom that
she was strangely excited.

Whilst we looked, afraid to touch and almost afraid to think, there was
a ring at the front door; immediately afterwards Mr. Corbeck, followed
by Sergeant Daw, came into the hall. The door of the boudoir was open,
and when they saw us Mr. Corbeck came running in, followed more slowly
by the Detective. There was a sort of chastened joy in his face and
manner as he said impulsively:

“Rejoice with me, my dear Miss Trelawny, my luggage has come and all my
things are intact!” Then his face fell as he added, “Except the lamps.
The lamps that were worth all the rest a thousand times. . . .” He
stopped, struck by the strange pallor of her face. Then his eyes,
following her look and mine, lit on the cluster of lamps in the drawer.
He gave a sort of cry of surprise and joy as he bent over and touched
them:

“My lamps! My lamps! Then they are safe-safe-safe! . . . But how, in
the name of God-of all the Gods-did they come here?”

We all stood silent. The Detective made a deep sound of in-taking
breath. I looked at him, and as he caught my glance he turned his eyes
on Miss Trelawny whose back was toward him.

There was in them the same look of suspicion which had been there when
he had spoken to me of her being the first to find her father on the
occasions of the attacks.

Chapter IX
The Need of Knowledge

Mr. Corbeck seemed to go almost off his head at the recovery of the
lamps. He took them up one by one and looked them all over tenderly, as
though they were things that he loved. In his delight and excitement he
breathed so hard that it seemed almost like a cat purring. Sergeant Daw
said quietly, his voice breaking the silence like a discord in a melody:

“Are you quite sure those lamps are the ones you had, and that were
stolen?”

His answer was in an indignant tone: “Sure! Of course I’m sure. There
isn’t another set of lamps like these in the world!”

“So far as you know!” The Detective’s words were smooth enough, but his
manner was so exasperating that I was sure he had some motive in it; so
I waited in silence. He went on:

“Of course there may be some in the British Museum; or Mr. Trelawny may
have had these already. There’s nothing new under the sun, you know,
Mr. Corbeck; not even in Egypt. These may be the originals, and yours
may have been the copies. Are there any points by which you can
identify these as yours?”

Mr. Corbeck was really angry by this time. He forgot his reserve; and
in his indignation poured forth a torrent of almost incoherent, but
enlightening, broken sentences:

“Identify! Copies of them! British Museum! Rot! Perhaps they keep a
set in Scotland Yard for teaching idiot policemen Egyptology! Do I know
them? When I have carried them about my body, in the desert, for three
months; and lay awake night after night to watch them! When I have
looked them over with a magnifying-glass, hour after hour, till my eyes
ached; till every tiny blotch, and chip, and dinge became as familiar to
me as his chart to a captain; as familiar as they doubtless have been
all the time to every thick-headed area-prowler within the bounds of
mortality. See here, young man, look at these!” He ranged the lamps in
a row on the top of the cabinet. “Did you ever see a set of lamps of
these shapes-of any one of these shapes? Look at these dominant figures
on them! Did you ever see so complete a set-even in Scotland Yard; even
in Bow Street? Look! one on each, the seven forms of Hathor. Look at
that figure of the Ka of a Princess of the Two Egypts, standing between
Ra and Osiris in the Boat of the Dead, with the Eye of Sleep, supported
on legs, bending before her; and Harmochis rising in the north. Will
you find that in the British Museum-or Bow Street? Or perhaps your
studies in the Gizeh Museum, or the Fitzwilliam, or Paris, or Leyden, or
Berlin, have shown you that the episode is common in hieroglyphics; and
that this is only a copy. Perhaps you can tell me what that figure of
Ptah-Seker-Ausar holding the Tet wrapped in the Sceptre of Papyrus
means? Did you ever see it before; even in the British Museum, or
Gizeh, or Scotland Yard?”

He broke off suddenly; and then went on in quite a different way:

“Look here! it seems to me that the thick-headed idiot is myself! I beg
your pardon, old fellow, for my rudeness. I quite lost my temper at the
suggestion that I do not know these lamps. You don’t mind, do you?”
The Detective answered heartily:

“Lord, sir, not I. I like to see folks angry when I am dealing with
them, whether they are on my side or the other. It is when people are
angry that you learn the truth from them. I keep cool; that is my
trade! Do you know, you have told me more about those lamps in the past
two minutes than when you filled me up with details of how to identify
them.”

Mr. Corbeck grunted; he was not pleased at having given himself away.
All at once he turned to me and said in his natural way:

“Now tell me how you got them back?” I was so surprised that I said
without thinking:

“We didn’t get them back!” The traveller laughed openly.

“What on earth do you mean?” he asked. “You didn’t get them back! Why,
there they are before your eyes! We found you looking at them when we
came in.” By this time I had recovered my surprise and had my wits
about me.

“Why, that’s just it,” I said. “We had only come across them, by
accident, that very moment!”

Mr. Corbeck drew back and looked hard at Miss Trelawny and myself;
turning his eyes from one to the other as he asked:

“Do you mean to tell me that no one brought them here; that you found
them in that drawer? That, so to speak, no one at all brought them
back?”

“I suppose someone must have brought them here; they couldn’t have come
of their own accord. But who it was, or when, or how, neither of us
knows. We shall have to make inquiry, and see if any of the servants
know anything of it.”

We all stood silent for several seconds. It seemed a long time. The
first to speak was the Detective, who said in an unconscious way:

“Well, I’m damned! I beg your pardon, miss!” Then his mouth shut like
a steel trap.

We called up the servants, one by one, and asked them if they knew
anything of some articles placed in a drawer in the boudoir; but none of
them could throw any light on the circumstance. We did not tell them
what the articles were; or let them see them.

Mr. Corbeck packed the lamps in cotton wool, and placed them in a tin
box. This, I may mention incidentally, was then brought up to the
detectives’ room, where one of the men stood guard over them with a
revolver the whole night. Next day we got a small safe into the house,
and placed them in it. There were two different keys. One of them I
kept myself; the other I placed in my drawer in the Safe Deposit vault.
We were all determined that the lamps should not be lost again.

About an hour after we had found the lamps, Doctor Winchester arrived.
He had a large parcel with him, which, when unwrapped, proved to be the
mummy of a cat. With Miss Trelawny’s permission he placed this in the
boudoir; and Silvio was brought close to it. To the surprise of us all,
however, except perhaps Doctor Winchester, he did not manifest the least
annoyance; he took no notice of it whatever. He stood on the table
close beside it, purring loudly. Then, following out his plan, the
Doctor brought him into Mr. Trelawny’s room, we all following. Doctor
Winchester was excited; Miss Trelawny anxious. I was more than
interested myself, for I began to have a glimmering of the Doctor’s
idea. The Detective was calmly and coldly superior; but Mr. Corbeck,
who was an enthusiast, was full of eager curiosity.

The moment Doctor Winchester got into the room, Silvio began to mew and
wriggle; and jumping out of his arms, ran over to the cat mummy and
began to scratch angrily at it. Miss Trelawny had some difficulty in
taking him away; but so soon as he was out of the room he became quiet.
When she came back there was a clamour of comments:

“I thought so!” from the Doctor.

“What can it mean?” from Miss Trelawny.

“That’s a very strange thing!” from Mr. Corbeck.

“Odd! but it doesn’t prove anything!” from the Detective.

“I suspend my judgment!” from myself, thinking it advisable to say
something.

Then by common consent we dropped the theme–for the present.

In my room that evening I was making some notes of what had happened,
when there came a low tap on the door. In obedience to my summons
Sergeant Daw came in, carefully closing the door behind him.

“Well, Sergeant,” said I, ‘sit down. What is it?”

“I wanted to speak to you, sir, about those lamps.” I nodded and
waited: he went on: “You know that that room where they were found
opens directly into the room where Miss Trelawny slept last night?”

“Yes.”

“During the night a window somewhere in that part of the house was
opened, and shut again. I heard it, and took a look round; but I could
see no sign of anything.”

“Yes, I know that!” I said; “I heard a window moved myself.”

“Does nothing strike you as strange about it, sir?”

“Strange!” I said; “Strange! why it’s all the most bewildering,
maddening thing I have ever encountered. It is all so strange that one
seems to wonder, and simply waits for what will happen next. But what
do you mean by strange?”

The Detective paused, as if choosing his words to begin; and then said
deliberately:

“You see, I am not one who believes in magic and such things. I am for
facts all the time; and I always find in the long-run that there is a
reason and a cause for everything. This new gentleman says these things
were stolen out of his room in the hotel. The lamps, I take it from
some things he has said, really belong to Mr. Trelawny. His daughter,
the lady of the house, having left the room she usually occupies, sleeps
that night on the ground floor. A window is heard to open and shut
during the night. When we, who have been during the day trying to find
a clue to the robbery, come to the house, we find the stolen goods in a
room close to where she slept, and opening out of it!”

He stopped. I felt that same sense of pain and apprehension, which I
had experienced when he had spoken to me before, creeping, or rather
rushing, over me again. I had to face the matter out, however. My
relations with her, and the feeling toward her which I now knew full
well meant a very deep love and devotion, demanded so much. I said as
calmly as I could, for I knew the keen eyes of the skilful investigator
were on me:

“And the inference?”

He answered with the cool audacity of conviction:

“The inference to me is that there was no robbery at all. The goods
were taken by someone to this house, where they were received through a
window on the ground floor. They were placed in the cabinet, ready to
be discovered when the proper time should come!”

Somehow I felt relieved; the assumption was too monstrous. I did not
want, however, my relief to be apparent, so I answered as gravely as I
could:

“And who do you suppose brought them to the house?”

“I keep my mind open as to that. Possibly Mr. Corbeck himself; the
matter might be too risky to trust to a third party.”

“Then the natural extension of your inference is that Mr. Corbeck is a
liar and a fraud; and that he is in conspiracy with Miss Trelawny to
deceive someone or other about those lamps.”

“Those are harsh words, Mr. Ross. They’re so plain-spoken that they
bring a man up standing, and make new doubts for him. But I have to go
where my reason points. It may be that there is another party than Miss
Trelawny in it. Indeed, if it hadn’t been for the other matter that set
me thinking and bred doubts of its own about her, I wouldn’t dream of
mixing her up in this. But I’m safe on Corbeck. Whoever else is in it,
he is! The things couldn’t have been taken without his connivance-if
what he says is true. If it isn’t-well! he is a liar anyhow. I would
think it a bad job to have him stay in the house with so many valuables,
only that it will give me and my mate a chance of watching him. we’ll
keep a pretty good look-out, too, I tell you. He’s up in my room now,
guarding those lamps; but Johnny Wright is there too. I go on before he
comes off; so there won’t be much chance of another house-breaking. Of
course, Mr. Ross, all this, too, is between you and me.”

“Quite so! You may depend on my silence!” I said; and he went away to
keep a close eye on the Egyptologist.

It seemed as though all my painful experiences were to go in pairs, and
that the sequence of the previous day was to be repeated; for before
long I had another private visit from Doctor Winchester who had now paid
his nightly visit to his patient and was on his way home. He took the
seat which I proffered and began at once:

“This is a strange affair altogether. Miss Trelawny has just been
telling me about the stolen lamps, and of the finding of them in the
Napoleon cabinet. It would seem to be another complication of the
mystery; and yet, do you know, it is a relief to me. I have exhausted
all human and natural possibilities of the case, and am beginning to
fall back on superhuman and supernatural possibilities. Here are such
strange things that, if I am not going mad, I think we must have a
solution before long. I wonder if I might ask some questions and some
help from Mr. Corbeck, without making further complications and
embarrassing us. He seems to know an amazing amount regarding Egypt and
all relating to it. Perhaps he wouldn’t mind translating a little bit
of hieroglyphic. It is child’s play to him. What do you think?”

When I had thought the matter over a few seconds I spoke. We wanted all
the help we could get. For myself, I had perfect confidence in both
men; and any comparing notes, or mutual assistance, might bring good
results. Such could hardly bring evil.

“By all means I should ask him. He seems an extraordinarily learned man
in Egyptology; and he seems to me a good fellow as well as an
enthusiast. By the way, it will be necessary to be a little guarded as
to whom you speak regarding any information which he may give you.”

“Of course!” he answered. “Indeed I should not dream of saying anything
to anybody, excepting yourself. We have to remember that when Mr.
Trelawny recovers he may not like to think that we have been chattering
unduly over his affairs.”

“Look here!” I said, “why not stay for a while: and I shall ask him to
come and have a pipe with us. We can then talk over things.”

He acquiesced: so I went to the room where Mr. Corbeck was, and brought
him back with me. I thought the detectives were pleased at his going.
On the way to my room he said:

“I don’t half like leaving those things there, with only those men to
guard them. They’re a deal sight too precious to be left to the police!”

From which it would appear that suspicion was not confined to Sergeant
Daw.

Mr. Corbeck and Doctor Winchester, after a quick glance at each other,
became at once on most friendly terms. The traveller professed his
willingness to be of any assistance which he could, provided, he added,
that it was anything about which he was free to speak. This was not
very promising; but Doctor Winchester began at once:

“I want you, if you will, to translate some hieroglyphic for me.”

“Certainly, with the greatest pleasure, so far as I can. For I may tell
you that hieroglyphic writing is not quite mastered yet; though we are
getting at it! We are getting at it! What is the inscription?”

“There are two,” he answered. “One of them I shall bring here.”

He went out, and returned in a minute with the mummy cat which he had
that evening introduced to Silvio. The scholar took it; and, after a
short examination, said:

“There is nothing especial in this. It is an appeal to Bast, the Lady
of Bubastis, to give her good bread and milk in the Elysian Fields.
There may be more inside; and if you will care to unroll it, I will do
my best. I do not think, however, that there is anything special. From
the method of wrapping I should say it is from the Delta; and of a late
period, when such mummy work was common and cheap. What is the other
inscription you wish me to see?”

“The inscription on the mummy cat in Mr. Trelawny’s room.”

Mr. Corbeck’s face fell. “No!” he said, “I cannot do that! I am, for
the present at all events, practically bound to secrecy regarding any of
the things in Mr. Trelawny’s room.”

Doctor Winchester’s comment and my own were made at the same moment. I
said only the one word “Checkmate!” from which I think he may have
gathered that I guessed more of his idea and purpose than perhaps I had
intentionally conveyed to him. He murmured:

“Practically bound to secrecy?”

Mr. Corbeck at once took up the challenge conveyed:

“Do not misunderstand me! I am not bound by any definite pledge of
secrecy; but I am bound in honour to respect Mr. Trelawny’s confidence,
given to me, I may tell you, in a very large measure. Regarding many of
the objects in his room he has a definite purpose in view; and it would
not be either right or becoming for me, his trusted friend and
confidant, to forestall that purpose. Mr. Trelawny, you may know–or
rather you do not know or you would not have so construed my remark–is
a scholar, a very great scholar. He has worked for years toward a
certain end. For this he has spared no labour, no expense, no personal
danger or self-denial. He is on the line of a result which will place
him amongst the foremost discoverers or investigators of his age. And
now, just at the time when any hour might bring him success, he is
stricken down!”

He stopped, seemingly overcome with emotion. After a time he recovered
himself and went on:

“Again, do not misunderstand me as to another point. I have said that
Mr. Trelawny has made much confidence with me; but I do not mean to lead
you to believe that I know all his plans, or his aims or objects. I
know the period which he has been studying; and the definite historical
individual whose life he has been investigating, and whose records he
has been following up one by one with infinite patience. But beyond
this I know nothing. That he has some aim or object in the completion
of this knowledge I am convinced. What it is I may guess; but I must
say nothing. Please to remember, gentlemen, that I have voluntarily
accepted the position of recipient of a partial confidence. I have
respected that; and I must ask any of my friends to do the same.”

He spoke with great dignity; and he grew, moment by moment, in the
respect and esteem of both Doctor Winchester and myself. We understood
that he had not done speaking; so we waited in silence till he
continued:

“I have spoken this much, although I know well that even such a hint as
either of you might gather from my words might jeopardise the success of
his work. But I am convinced that you both wish to help him–and his
daughter,” he said this looking me fairly between the eyes, “to the best
of your power, honestly and unselfishly. He is so stricken down, and
the manner of it is so mysterious that I cannot but think that it is in
some way a result of his own work. That he calculated on some set-back
is manifest to us all. God knows! I am willing to do what I can, and to
use any knowledge I have in his behalf. I arrived in England full of
exultation at the thought that I had fulfilled the mission with which he
had trusted me. I had got what he said were the last objects of his
search; and I felt assured that he would now be able to begin the
experiment of which he had often hinted to me. It is too dreadful that
at just such a time such a calamity should have fallen on him. Doctor
Winchester, you are a physician; and, if your face does not belie you,
you are a clever and a bold one. Is there no way which you can devise
to wake this man from his unnatural stupor?”

There was a pause; then the answer came slowly and deliberately:

“There is no ordinary remedy that I know of. There might possibly be
some extraordinary one. But there would be no use in trying to find it,
except on one condition.”

“And that?”

“Knowledge! I am completely ignorant of Egyptian matters, language,
writing, history, secrets, medicines, poisons, occult powers–all that go
to make up the mystery of that mysterious land. This disease, or
condition, or whatever it may be called, from which Mr. Trelawny is
suffering, is in some way connected with Egypt. I have had a suspicion
of this from the first; and later it grew into a certainty, though
without proof. What you have said tonight confirms my conjecture, and
makes me believe that a proof is to be had. I do not think that you
quite know all that has gone on in this house since the night of the
attack–of the finding of Mr. Trelawny’s body. Now I propose that we
confide in you. If Mr. Ross agrees, I shall ask him to tell you. He is
more skilled than I am in putting facts before other people. He can
speak by his brief; and in this case he has the best of all briefs, the
experience of his own eyes and ears, and the evidence that he has
himself taken on the spot from participators in, or spectators of, what
has happened. When you know all, you will, I hope, be in a position to
judge as to whether you can best help Mr. Trelawny, and further his
secret wishes, by your silence or your speech.”

I nodded approval. Mr. Corbeck jumped up, and in his impulsive way held
out a hand to each.

“Done!” he said. “I acknowledge the honour of your confidence; and on
my part I pledge myself that if I find my duty to Mr. Trelawny’s wishes
will, in his own interest, allow my lips to open on his affairs, I shall
speak so freely as I may.”

Accordingly I began, and told him, as exactly as I could, everything
that had happened from the moment of my waking at the knocking on the
door in Jermyn Street. The only reservations I made were as to my own
feeling toward Miss Trelawny and the matters of small import to the main
subject which followed it; and my conversations with Sergeant Daw, which
were in themselves private, and which would have demanded discretionary
silence in any case. As I spoke, Mr. Corbeck followed with breathless
interest. Sometimes he would stand up and pace about the room in
uncontrollable excitement; and then recover himself suddenly, and sit
down again. Sometimes he would be about to speak, but would, with an
effort, restrain himself. I think the narration helped me to make up my
own mind; for even as I talked, things seemed to appear in a clearer
light. Things big and little, in relation of their importance to the
case, fell into proper perspective. The story up to date became
coherent, except as to its cause, which seemed a greater mystery than
ever. This is the merit of entire, or collected, narrative. Isolated
facts, doubts, suspicions, conjectures, give way to a homogeneity which
is convincing.

That Mr. Corbeck was convinced was evident. He did not go through any
process of explanation or limitation, but spoke right out at once to the
point, and fearlessly like a man:

“That settles me! There is in activity some Force that needs special
care. If we all go on working in the dark we shall get in one another’s
way, and by hampering each other, undo the good that any or each of us,
working in different directions, might do. It seems to me that the
first thing we have to accomplish is to get Mr. Trelawny waked out of
that unnatural sleep. That he can be waked is apparent from the way the
Nurse has recovered; though what additional harm may have been done to
him in the time he has been lying in that room I suppose no one can
tell. We must chance that, however. He has lain there, and whatever
the effect might be, it is there now; and we have, and shall have, to
deal with it as a fact. A day more or less won’t hurt in the long-run.
It is late now; and we shall probably have tomorrow a task before us
that will require our energies afresh. You, Doctor, will want to get to
your sleep; for I suppose you have other work as well as this to do
tomorrow. As for you, Mr. Ross, I understand that you are to have a
spell of watching in the sick-room tonight. I shall get you a book
which will help to pass the time for you. I shall go and look for it in
the library. I know where it was when I was here last; and I don’t
suppose Mr. Trelawny has used it since. He knew long ago all that was
in it which was or might be of interest to him. But it will be
necessary, or at least helpful, to understand other things which I shall
tell you later. You will be able to tell Doctor Winchester all that
would aid him. For I take it that our work will branch out pretty soon.
We shall each have our own end to hold up; and it will take each of us
all our time and understanding to get through his own tasks. It will
not be necessary for you to read the whole book. All that will interest
you–with regard to our matter I mean of course, for the whole book is
interesting as a record of travel in a country then quite unknown–is the
preface, and two or three chapters which I shall mark for you.”

He shook hands warmly with Doctor Winchester who had stood up to go.

Whilst he was away I sat lonely, thinking. As I thought, the world
around me seemed to be illimitably great. The only little spot in which
I was interested seemed like a tiny speck in the midst of a wilderness.
Without and around it were darkness and unknown danger, pressing in from
every side. And the central figure in our little oasis was one of
sweetness and beauty. A figure one could love; could work for; could
die for . . . !

Mr. Corbeck came back in a very short time with the book; he had found
it at once in the spot where he had seen it three years before. Having
placed in it several slips of paper, marking the places where I was to
read, he put it into my hands, saying:

“That is what started Mr. Trelawny; what started me when I read it; and
which will, I have no doubt, be to you an interesting beginning to a
special study–whatever the end may be. If, indeed, any of us here may
ever see the end.”

At the door he paused and said:

“I want to take back one thing. That Detective is a good fellow. What
you have told me of him puts him in a new light. The best proof of it
is that I can go quietly to sleep tonight, and leave the lamps in his
care!”

When he had gone I took the book with me, put on my respirator, and went
to my spell of duty in the sick-room!

Chapter X
The Valley of the Sorcerer

I placed the book on the little table on which the shaded lamp rested
and moved the screen to one side. Thus I could have the light on my
book; and by looking up, see the bed, and the Nurse, and the door. I
cannot say that the conditions were enjoyable, or calculated to allow of
that absorption in the subject which is advisable for effective study.
However, I composed myself to the work as well as I could. The book was
one which, on the very face of it, required special attention. It was a
folio in Dutch, printed in Amsterdam in 1650. Some one had made a
literal translation, writing generally the English word under the Dutch,
so that the grammatical differences between the two tongues made even
the reading of the translation a difficult matter. One had to dodge
backward and forward among the words. This was in addition to the
difficulty of deciphering a strange handwriting of two hundred years
ago. I found, however, that after a short time I got into the habit of
following in conventional English the Dutch construction; and, as I
became more familiar with the writing, my task became easier.

At first the circumstances of the room, and the fear lest Miss Trelawny
should return unexpectedly and find me reading the book, disturbed me
somewhat. For we had arranged amongst us, before Doctor Winchester had
gone home, that she was not to be brought into the range of the coming
investigation. We considered that there might be some shock to a
woman’s mind in matters of apparent mystery; and further, that she,
being Mr. Trelawny’s daughter, might be placed in a difficult position
with him afterward if she took part in, or even had a personal knowledge
of, the disregarding of his expressed wishes. But when I remembered
that she did not come on nursing duty till two o’clock, the fear of
interruption passed away. I had still nearly three house before me.
Nurse Kennedy sat in her chair by the bedside, patient and alert. A
clock ticked on the landing; other clocks in the house ticked; the life
of the city without manifested itself in the distant hum, now and again
swelling into a roar as a breeze floating westward took the concourse of
sounds with it. But still the dominant idea was of silence. The light
on my book, and the soothing fringe of green silk round the shade
intensified, whenever I looked up, the gloom of the sick-room. With
every line I read, this seemed to grow deeper and deeper; so that when
my eyes came back to the page the light seemed to dazzle me. I stuck to
my work, however, and presently began to get sufficiently into the
subject to become interested in it.

The book was by one Nicholas van Huyn of Hoorn. In the preface he told
how, attracted by the work of John Greaves of Merton College,
Pyramidographia, he himself visited Egypt, where he became so interested
in its wonders that he devoted some years of his life to visiting
strange places, and exploring the ruins of many temples and tombs. He
had come across many variants of the story of the building of the
Pyramids as told by the Arabian historian, Ibn Abd Alhokin, some of
which he set down. These I did not stop to read, but went on to the
marked pages.

As soon as I began to read these, however, there grew on me some sense
of a disturbing influence. Once or twice I looked to see if the Nurse
had moved, for there was a feeling as though some one were near me.
Nurse Kennedy sat in her place, as steady and alert as ever; and I came
back to my book again.

The narrative went on to tell how, after passing for several days
through the mountains to the east of Aswan, the explorer came to a
certain place. Here I give his own words, simply putting the
translation into modern English:

“Toward evening we came to the entrance of a narrow, deep valley,
running east and west. I wished to proceed through this; for the sun,
now nearly down on the horizon, showed a wide opening beyond the
narrowing of the cliffs. But the fellaheen absolutely refused to enter
the valley at such a time, alleging that they might be caught by the
night before they could emerge from the other end. At first they would
give no reason for their fear. They had hitherto gone anywhere I
wished, and at any time, without demur. On being pressed, however, they
said that the place was the Valley of the Sorcerer, where none might
come in the night. On being asked to tell of the Sorcerer, they
refused, saying that there was no name, and that they knew nothing. On
the next morning, however, when the sun was up and shining down the
valley, their fears had somewhat passed away. Then they told me that a
great Sorcerer in ancient days–‘millions of millions of years’ was the
term they used–a King or a Queen, they could not say which, was buried
there. They could not give the name, persisting to the last that there
was no name; and that anyone who should name it would waste away in life
so that at death nothing of him would remain to be raised again in the
Other World. In passing through the valley they kept together in a
cluster, hurrying on in front of me. None dared to remain behind. They
gave, as their reason for so proceeding, that the arms of the Sorcerer
were long, and that it was dangerous to be the last. The which was of
little comfort to me who of this necessity took that honourable post.
In the narrowest part of the valley, on the south side, was a great
cliff of rock, rising sheer, of smooth and even surface. Hereon were
graven certain cabalistic signs, and many figures of men and animals,
fishes, reptiles and birds; suns and stars; and many quaint symbols.
Some of these latter were disjointed limbs and features, such as arms
and legs, fingers, eyes, noses, ears, and lips. Mysterious symbols
which will puzzle the Recording Angel to interpret at the Judgment Day.
The cliff faced exactly north. There was something about it so strange,
and so different from the other carved rocks which I had visited, that I
called a halt and spent the day in examining the rock front as well as I
could with my telescope. The Egyptians of my company were terribly
afraid, and used every kind of persuasion to induce me to pass on. I
stayed till late in the afternoon, by which time I had failed to make
out aright the entry of any tomb, for I suspected that such was the
purpose of the sculpture of the rock. By this time the men were
rebellious; and I had to leave the valley if I did not wish my whole
retinue to desert. But I secretly made up my mind to discover the tomb,
and explore it. To this end I went further into the mountains, where I
met with an Arab Sheik who was willing to take service with me. The
Arabs were not bound by the same superstitious fears as the Egyptians;
Sheik Abu Some and his following were willing to take a part in the
explorations.

“When I returned to the valley with these Bedouins, I made effort to
climb the face of the rock, but failed, it being of one impenetrable
smoothness. The stone, generally flat and smooth by nature, had been
chiselled to completeness. That there had been projecting steps was
manifest, for there remained, untouched by the wondrous climate of that
strange land, the marks of saw and chisel and mallet where the steps had
been cut or broken away.

“Being thus baffled of winning the tomb from below, and being unprovided
with ladders to scale, I found a way by much circuitous journeying to
the top of the cliff. Thence I caused myself to be lowered by ropes,
till I had investigated that portion of the rock face wherein I expected
to find the opening. I found that there was an entrance, closed however
by a great stone slab. This was cut in the rock more than a hundred
feet up, being two-thirds the height of the cliff. The hieroglyphic and
cabalistic symbols cut in the rock were so managed as to disguise it.
The cutting was deep, and was continued through the rock and the portals
of the doorway, and through the great slab which formed the door itself.
This was fixed in place with such incredible exactness that no stone
chisel or cutting implement which I had with me could find a lodgment in
the interstices. I used much force, however; and by many heavy strokes
won a way into the tomb, for such I found it to be. The stone door
having fallen into the entrance I passed over it into the tomb, noting
as I went a long iron chain which hung coiled on a bracket close to the
doorway.

“The tomb I found to be complete, after the manner of the finest
Egyptian tombs, with chamber and shaft leading down to the corridor,
ending in the Mummy Pit. It had the table of pictures, which seems some
kind of record–whose meaning is now for ever lost–graven in a wondrous
colour on a wondrous stone.

“All the walls of the chamber and the passage were carved with strange
writings in the uncanny form mentioned. The huge stone coffin or
sarcophagus in the deep pit was marvellously graven throughout with
signs. The Arab chief and two others who ventured into the tomb with
me, and who were evidently used to such grim explorations, managed to
take the cover from the sarcophagus without breaking it. At which they
wondered; for such good fortune, they said, did not usually attend such
efforst. Indeed they seemed not over careful; and did handle the
various furniture of the tomb with such little concern that, only for
its great strength and thickness, even the coffin itself might have been
injured. Which gave me much concern, for it was very beautifully
wrought of rare stone, such as I had no knowledge of. Much I grieved
that it were not possible to carry it away. But time and desert
journeyings forbade such; I could only take with me such small matters
as could be carried on the person.

“Within the sarcophagus was a body, manifestly of a woman, swathed with
many wrappings of linen, as is usual with all mummies. From certain
embroiderings thereon, I gathered that she was of high rank. Across the
breast was one hand, unwrapped. In the mummies which I had seen, the
arms and hands are within the wrappings, and certain adornments of wood,
shaped and painted to resemble arms and hands, lie outside the enwrapped
body.

“But this hand was strange to see, for it was the real hand of her who
lay enwrapped there; the arm projecting from the cerements being of
flesh, seemingly made as like marble in the process of embalming. Arm
and hand were of dusky white, being of the hue of ivory that hath lain
long in air. The skin and the nails were complete and whole, as though
the body had been placed for burial over night. I touched the hand and
moved it, the arm being something flexible as a live arm; though stiff
with long disuse, as are the arms of those faqueers which I have seen in
the Indees. There was, too, an added wonder that on this ancient hand
were no less than seven fingers, the same all being fine and long, and
of great beauty. Sooth to say, it made me shudder and my flesh creep to
touch that hand that had lain there undisturbed for so many thousands of
years, and yet was like unto living flesh. Underneath the hand, as
though guarded by it, lay a huge jewel of ruby; a great stone of
wondrous bigness, for the ruby is in the main a small jewel. This one
was of wondrous colour, being as of fine blood whereon the light
shineth. But its wonder lay not in its size or colour, though these
were, as I have said, of priceless rarity; but in that the light of it
shone from seven stars, each of seven points, as clearly as though the
stars were in reality there imprisoned. When that the hand was lifted,
the sight of that wondrous stone lying there struck me with a shock
almost to momentary paralysis. I stood gazing on it, as did those with
me, as though it were that faded head of the Gorgon Medusa with the
snakes in her hair, whose sight struck into stone those who beheld. So
strong was the feeling that I wanted to hurry away from the place. So,
too, those with me; therefore, taking this rare jewel, together with
certain amulets of strangeness and richness being wrought of
jewel-stones, I made haste to depart. I would have remained longer, and
made further research in the wrappings of the mummy, but that I feared
so to do. For it came to me all at once that I was in a desert place,
with strange men who were with me because they were not over-scrupulous.
That we were in a lone cavern of the dead, an hundred feet above the
ground, where none could find me were ill done to me, nor would any ever
seek. But in secret I determined that I would come again, though with
more secure following. Moreover, was I tempted to seek further, as in
examining the wrappings I saw many things of strange import in that
wondrous tomb; including a casket of eccentric shape made of some
strange stone, which methought might have contained other jewels,
inasmuch as it had secure lodgment in the great sarcophagus itself.
There was in the tomb also another coffer which, though of rare
proportion and adornment, was more simply shaped. It was of ironstone
of great thickness; but the cover was lightly cemented down with what
seemed gum and Paris plaster, as though to insure that no air could
penetrate. The Arabs with me so insisted in its opening, thinking that
from its thickness much treasure was stored therein, that I consented
thereto. But their hope was a false one, as it proved. Within, closely
packed, stood four jars finely wrought and carved with various
adornments. Of these one was the head of a man, another of a dog,
another of a jackal, and another of a hawk. I had before known that
such burial urns as these were used to contain the entrails and other
organs of the mummied dead; but on opening these, for the fastening of
wax, though complete, was thin, and yielded easily, we found that they
held but oil. The Bedouins, spilling most of the oil in the process,
groped with their hands in the jars lest treasure should have been there
concealed. But their searching was of no avail; no treasure was there.
I was warned of my danger by seeing in the eyes of the Arabs certain
covetous glances. Whereon, in order to hasten their departure, I
wrought upon those fears of superstition which even in these callous men
were apparent. The chief of the Bedouins ascended from the Pit to give
the signal to those above to raise us; and I, not caring to remain with
the men whom I mistrusted, followed him immediately. The others did not
come at once; from which I feared that they were rifling the tomb afresh
on their own account. I refrained to speak of it, however, lest worse
should befall. At last they came. One of them, who ascended first, in
landing at the top of the cliff lost his foothold and fell below. He
was instantly killed. The other followed, but in safety. The chief came
next, and I came last. Before coming away I pulled into its place
again, as well as I could, the slab of stone that covered the entrance
to the tomb. I wished, if possible, to preserve it for my own
examination should I come again.

“When we all stood on the hill above the cliff, the burning sun that was
bright and full of glory was good to see after the darkness and strange
mystery of the tomb. Even was I glad that the poor Arab who fell down
the cliff and lay dead below, lay in the sunlight and not in that gloomy
cavern. I would fain have gone with my companions to seek him and give
him sepulture of some kind; but the Sheik made light of it, and sent two
of his men to see to it whilst we went on our way.

“That night as we camped, one of the men only returned, saying that a
lion of the desert had killed his companion after that they had buried
the dead man in a deep sand without the valley, and had covered the spot
where he lay with many great rocks, so that jackals or other preying
beasts might not dig him up again as is their wont.

“Later, in the light of the fire round which the men sat or lay, I saw
him exhibit to his fellows something white which they seemed to regard
with special awe and reverence. So I drew near silently, and saw that
it was none other than the white hand of the mummy which had lain
protecting the Jewel in the great sarcophagus. I heard the Bedouin tell
how he had found it on the body of him who had fallen from the cliff.
There was no mistaking it, for there were the seven fingers which I had
noted before. This man must have wrenched it off the dead body whilst
his chief and I were otherwise engaged; and from the awe of the others I
doubted not that he had hoped to use it as an Amulet, or charm. Whereas
if powers it had, they were not for him who had taken it from the dead;
since his death followed hard upon his theft. Already his Amulet had
had an awesome baptism; for the wrist of the dead hand was stained with
red as though it had been dipped in recent blood.

“That night I was in certain fear lest there should be some violence
done to me; for if the poor dead hand was so valued as a charm, what
must be the worth in such wise of the rare Jewel which it had guarded.
Though only the chief knew of it, my doubt was perhaps even greater; for
he could so order matters as to have me at his mercy when he would. I
guarded myself, therefore, with wakefulness so well as I could,
determined that at my earliest opportunity I should leave this party,
and complete my journeying home, first to the Nile bank, and then down
its course to Alexandria; with other guides who knew not what strange
matters I had with me.

“At last there came over me a disposition of sleep, so potent that I
felt it would be resistless. Fearing attack, or that being searched in
my sleep the Bedouin might find the Star Jewel which he had seen me
place with others in my dress, I took it out unobserved and held it in
my hand. It seemed to give back the light of the flickering fire and
the light of the stars–for there was no moon–with equal fidelity; and I
could note that on its reverse it was graven deeply with certain signs
such as I had seen in the tomb. As I sank into the unconsciousness of
sleep, the graven Star Jewel was hidden in the hollow of my clenched
hand.

“I waked out of sleep with the light of the morning sun on my face. I
sat up and looked around me. The fire was out, and the camp was
desolate; save for one figure which lay prone close to me. It was that
of the Arab chief, who lay on his back, dead. His face was almost
black; and his eyes were open, and staring horribly up at the sky, as
though he saw there some dreadful vision. He had evidently been
strangled; for on looking, I found on his throat the red marks where
fingers had pressed. There seemed so many of these marks that I counted
them. There were seven; and all parallel, except the thumb mark, as
though made with one hand. This thrilled me as I thought of the mummy
hand with the seven fingers.

“Even there, in the open desert, it seemed as if there could be
enchantments!

“In my surprise, as I bent over him, I opened my right hand, which up to
now I had held shut with the feeling, instinctive even in sleep, of
keeping safe that which it held. As I did so, the Star Jewel held there
fell out and struck the dead man on the mouth. Mirabile dictu there
came forth at once from the dead mouth a great gush of blood, in which
the red jewel was for the moment lost. I turned the dead man over to
look for it, and found that he lay with his right hand bent under him as
though he had fallen on it; and in it he held a great knife, keen of
point and edge, such as Arabs carry at the belt. It may have been that
he was about to murder me when vengeance came on him, whether from man
or God, or the Gods of Old, I know not. Suffice it, that when I found
my Ruby Jewel, which shone up as a living star from the mess of blood
wherein it lay, I paused not, but fled from the place. I journeyed on
alone through the hot desert, till, by God’s grace, I came upon an Arab
tribe camping by a well, who gave me salt. With them I rested till they
had set me on my way.

“I know not what became of the mummy hand, or of those who had it. What
strife, or suspicion, or disaster, or greed went with it I know not; but
some such cause there must have been, since those who had it fled with
it. It doubtless is used as a charm of potence by some desert tribe.

“At the earliest opportunity I made examination of the Star Ruby, as I
wished to try to understand what was graven on it. The symbols–whose
meaning, however, I could not understand–were as follows . . .”

Twice, whilst I had been reading this engrossing narrative, I had
thought that I had seen across the page streaks of shade, which the
weirdness of the subject had made to seem like the shadow of a hand. On
the first of these occasions I found that the illusion came from the
fringe of green silk around the lamp; but on the second I had looked up,
and my eyes had lit on the mummy hand across the room on which the
starlight was falling under the edge of the blind. It was of little
wonder that I had connected it with such a narrative; for if my eyes
told me truly, here, in this room with me, was the very hand of which
the traveller Van Huyn had written. I looked over at the bed; and it
comforted me to think that the Nurse still sat there, calm and wakeful.
At such a time, with such surrounds, during such a narrative, it was
well to have assurance of the presence of some living person.

I sat looking at the book on the table before me; and so many strange
thoughts crowded on me that my mind began to whirl. It was almost as if
the light on the white fingers in front of me was beginning to have some
hypnotic effect. All at once, all thoughts seemed to stop; and for an
instant the world and time stood still.

There lay a real hand across the book! What was there to so overcome
me, as was the case? I knew the hand that I saw on the book–and loved
it. Margaret Trelawny’s hand was a joy to me to see–to touch; and yet
at that moment, coming after other marvellous things, it had a strangely
moving effect on me. It was but momentary, however, and had passed even
before her voice had reached me.

“What disturbs you? What are you staring at the book for? I thought
for an instant that you must have been overcome again!” I jumped up.

“I was reading,” I said, “an old book from the library.” As I spoke I
closed it and put it under my arm. “I shall now put it back, as I
understand that your Father wishes all things, especially books, kept in
their proper places.” My words were intentionally misleading; for I did
not wish her to know what I was reading, and thought it best not to wake
her curiosity by leaving the book about. I went away, but not to the
library; I left the book in my room where I could get it when I had had
my sleep in the day. When I returned Nurse Kennedy was ready to go to
bed; so Miss Trelawny watched with me in the room. I did not want any
book whilst she was present. We sat close together and talked in a
whisper whilst the moments flew by. It was with surprise that I noted
the edge of the curtains changing from grey to yellow light. What we
talked of had nothing to do with the sick man, except in so far that all
which concerned his daughter must ultimately concern him. But it had
nothing to say to Egypt, or mummies, or the dead, or caves, or Bedouin
chiefs. I could well take note in the growing light that Margaret’s
hand had not seven fingers, but five; for it lay in mine.

When Doctor Winchester arrived in the morning and had made his visit to
his patient, he came to see me as I sat in the dining-room having a
little meal–breakfast or supper, I hardly knew which it was–before I
went to lie down. Mr. Corbeck came in at the same time; and we resumed
out conversation where we had left it the night before. I told Mr.
Corbeck that I had read the chapter about the finding of the tomb, and
that I thought Doctor Winchester should read it, too. The latter said
that, if he might, he would take it with him; he had that morning to
make a railway journey to Ipswich, and would read it on the train. He
said he would bring it back with him when he came again in the evening.
I went up to my room to bring it down; but I could not find it anywhere.
I had a distinct recollection of having left it on the little table
beside my bed, when I had come up after Miss Trelawny’s going on duty
into the sick-room. It was very strange; for the book was not of a kind
that any of the servants would be likely to take. I had to come back
and explain to the others that I could not find it.

When Doctor Winchester had gone, Mr. Corbeck, who seemed to know the
Dutchman’s work by heart, talked the whole matter over with me. I told
him that I was interrupted by a change of nurses, just as I had come to
the description of the ring. He smiled as he said:

“So far as that is concerned, you need not be disappointed. Not in Van
Huyn’s time, nor for nearly two centuries later, could the meaning of
that engraving have been understood. It was only when the work was
taken up and followed by Young and Champollion, by Birch and Lepsius and
Rosellini and Salvolini, by Mariette Bey and by Wallis Budge and
Flinders Petrie and the other scholars of their times that great results
ensued, and that the true meaning of hieroglyphic was known.

“Later, I shall explain to you, if Mr. Trelawny does not explain it
himself, or if he does not forbid me to, what it means in that
particular place. I think it will be better for you to know what
followed Van Huyn’s narrative; for with the description of the stone,
and the account of his bringing it to Holland at the termination of his
travels, the episode ends. Ends so far as his book is concerned. The
chief thing about the book is that it sets others thinking–and acting.
Amongst them were Mr. Trelawny and myself. Mr. Trelawny is a good
linguist of the Orient, but he does not know Northern tongues. As for
me I have a faculty for learning languages; and when I was pursuing my
studies in Leyden I leaned Dutch so that I might more easily make
references in the library there. Thus it was, that at the very time
when Mr. Trelawny, who, in making his great collection of works on
Egypt, had, through a booksellers’ catalogue, acquired this volume with
the manuscript translation, was studying it, I was reading another copy,
in original Dutch, in Leyden. We were both struck by the description of
the lonely tomb in the rock; cut so high up as to be inaccessible to
ordinary seekers: with all means of reaching it carefully obliterated;
and yet with such an elaborate ornamentation of the smoothed surface of
the cliff as Van Huyn has described. It also struck us both as an odd
thing–for in the years between Van Huyn’s time and our own the general
knowledge of Egyptian curios and records has increased marvellously–that
in the case of such a tomb, made in such a place, and which must have
cost an immense sum of money, there was no seeming record or effigy to
point out who lay within. Moreover, the very name of the place, ‘the
Valley of the Sorcerer’, had, in a prosaid age, attractions of its own.
When we met, which we did through his seeking the assistance of other
Egyptologists in his work, we talked over this as we did over many other
things; and we determined to make search for the mysterious valley.
Whilst we were waiting to start on the travel, for many things were
required which Mr. Trelawny undertook to see to himself, I went to
Holland to try if I could by any traces verify Van Huyn’s narrative. I
went straight to Hoorn, and set patiently to work to find the house of
the traveller and his descendants, if any. I need not trouble you with
details of my seeking–and finding. Hoorn is a place that has not changed
much since Van Huyn’s time, except that it has lost the place which it
held amongst commercial cities. Its externals are such as they had been
then; in such a sleepy old place a century or two does not count for
much. I found the house, and discovered that none of the descendants
were alive. I searched records; but only to one end–death and
extinction. Then I set me to work to find what had become of his
treasures; for that such a traveller must have had great treasures was
apparent. I traced a good many to museums in Leyden, Utrecht, and
Amsterdam; and some few to the private houses of rich collectors. At
last, in the shop of an old watchmaker and jeweller at Hoorn, I found
what he considered his chiefest treasure; a great ruby, carven like a
scarab, with seven stars, and engraven with hieroglyphics. The old man
did not know hieroglyphic character, and in his old-world, sleepy life,
the philological discoveries of recent years had not reached him. He
did not know anything of Van Huyn, except that such a person had been,
and that his name was, during two centuries, venerated in the town as a
great traveller. He valued the jewel as only a rare stone, spoiled in
part by the cutting; and though he was at first loth to part with such
an unique gem, he became amenable ultimately to commercial reason. I
had a full purse, since I bought for Mr. Trelawny, who is, as I suppose
you know, immensely wealthy. I was shortly on my way back to London,
with the Star Ruby safe in my pocket-book; and in my heart a joy and
exultation which knew no bounds.

“For here we were with proof of Van Huyn’s wonderful story. The jewel
was put in security in Mr. Trelawny’s great safe; and we started out on
our journey of exploration in full hope.

“Mr. Trelawny was, at the last, loth to leave his young wife whom he
dearly loved; but she, who loved him equally, knew his longing to
prosecute the search. So keeping to herself, as all good women do, all
her anxieties–which in her case were special–she bade him follow out
his bent.”

 

Tune in tomorrow for the second half of Bram Stoker’s Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb, er, The Jewel of Seven Stars in DM du Jour, your home for classic macabrely from beyond the grave.

blood_from_mummys_tomb

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