Part 5 out of 6
"Then how did the manuscript get into his room?" questioned
"He is trying to learn, and, when he does, will come here to let
us all know, Captain Hervey. But I ask you on what grounds you
accuse him? Oh I know all you said to-day," added Hope
scornfully, waving his hand; "but you can't prove that Random got
"If it's in his room, as you acknowledge, I can," said Hervey,
speaking in a much more cultivated tone. "See here. As I said
before, that copy must have been passed along with the corpse to
the Maltese man. Well, then, the Professor here bought the
corpse, and with it the manuscript."
"No," contradicted the little man, prodigiously excited. "Bolton
wrote to me full particulars of the mummy, but said nothing about
"Well, he wouldn't," replied Hervey calmly, "seeing that he'd
"He did know Latin," admitted Braddock uneasily; "I taught him
myself. But do you mean to say that he got that manuscript and
read it and intended to keep the fact of the emeralds secret?"
Hervey nodded three times, and twisted his cheroot in his mouth.
"How else can you figure the business out?" he demanded quietly,
and with his eyes fixed on the excited Professor. "Bolton must
have got that manuscript, as I can't remember what I did with it,
save pass it along with the corpse. He - as you admit - doesn't
tell you about it when he writes. Well, then, I reckon he
calculated getting this corpse to England, and intended to steal
the emeralds when safely ashore."
"But he could have done that on the boat," said Archie quickly.
"I guess not, with me about," said Hervey coolly. "I'd have
spotted his game and would have howled for shares."
"You dare to say that?" demanded De Gayangos fiercely.
"Keep your hair on. I dare to say anything that comes up my
darned back, you bet. I'm not going to knuckle down to a
yellow-stomach - "
Out flew Don Pedro's long arm, and Hervey slammed against the
wall. He slipped his hand around to his hip pocket with an ugly
smile, but before he could use the revolver he produced, Hope
dashed up his arm, and the ball went through the ceiling.
"Lucy!" cried the young man, knowing that the drawing-room was
overhead, and in a moment was out of the door, racing up the
stairs at top speed. Some sense of shame seemed to overpower
Hervey as he thought that he might have shot the girl, and he
replaced the revolver in his pocket with a shrug.
"I climb down and apologize," he said to Don Pedro, who bowed
"Hang you, sir; you might have shot my daughter," cried Braddock.
"The drawing-room, where she is sitting, is right overhead, and-"
As he spoke the door opened, and Lucy came in on Archie's arm.
She was pale with fright, but had sustained no damage. It seemed
that the revolver bullet had passed through the floor some
distance away from where she was sitting.
"I offer my humble apologies, miss," said the cowed Hervey.
"I'll break your neck, you ruffian!" growled Hope, who looked,
and was, dangerous. "How dare you shoot here and - "
"It's all right," interposed Lucy, not wishing for further
trouble. "I am all safe. But I shall remain here for the rest
of your interview, Captain Hervey, as I am sure you will not
shoot again in the presence of a lady."
"No, miss," muttered the captain, and when again invited by the
angry Professor to speak, resumed his discourse in low tones.
"Wal, as I was saying," he remarked, sitting down with a dogged
look, "Bolton intended to clear with the emeralds, but I guess
Sir Frank got ahead of him and packed him in that blamed case,
while he annexed the emeralds. He then took the manuscript,
which he looted from Bolton's corpse, and hid it among his books,
as you say, while he left the blamed mummy in the garden of the
old lady you talked about. I guess that's what I say."
"It's all theory," said Don Pedro in vexed tones.
"And there isn't a word of truth in it," said Lucy indignantly,
standing up for Frank Random.
"It ain't for me to contradict you, miss," said Hervey, who was
still humble, "but I ask you, if what I say ain't true, how did
that copy of the manuscript come to be in that aristocrat's
There was no reply made to this, and although every one present,
save Hervey, believed in Random's innocence, no one could
explain. The reply came after some further conversation, by the
appearance of the soldier himself in mess kit. He walked
unexpectedly into the room with Donna Inez on his arm, and at
once apologized to De Gayangos.
"I called to see you at the inn, sir," he said, "and as you were
not there, I brought your daughter along with me to explain about
"Ah, yes. We talk of that now. How did it come into your room,
Random pointed to Hervey.
"That rascal placed it there," he said firmly.
At this second insult Archie quite expected to see the skipper
again draw his revolver and shoot. He therefore jumped up
rapidly to once more avert disaster. But perhaps the fiery
American was awed by the presence of a second lady - since men of
the adventurous type are often shy when the fair sex is at hand -
for he meekly sat where he was and did not even contradict. Don
Pedro shook hands with Sir Frank, and then Hervey smiled blandly.
"I see you don't believe in my theory," said he scoffingly.
"What theory is that?" asked Random hastily.
"Hervey declares that you murdered Bolton, stole the manuscript
from him, and concealed it in your room," said Archie succinctly.
"I can't suggest any other reason for its presence in the room,"
observed the American with a grim smile. "If I'm wrong, perhaps
this almighty aristocrat will correct me."
Random was about to do so, and with some pardonable heat, when he
was anticipated by Donna Inez. It has been mentioned before that
this young lady was of the silent order. Usually she simply
ornamented any company in which she found herself without
troubling to entertain with her tongue. But the accusation
against the baronet, whom she apparently loved, changed her into
a voluble virago. Brushing aside the little Professor, who stood
in her way, she launched herself forward and spoke at length.
Hervey, cowering in the chair, thus met with an antagonist
against whom he had no armor. He could not use force; she
dominated him with her eye and when he ventured to open his mouth
his few feeble words were speedily drowned by the torrent of
speech which flowed from the lips of the Peruvian lady. Every
one was as astonished by this outburst as though a dog had
spoken. That the hitherto silent Donna Inez de Gayangos should
speak thus freely and with such power was quite as great a
"You - are a dog and a liar," said Donna Inez with great
distinctness, and speaking English excellently. "What you say
against Sir Frank is madness and foolish talk. In Genoa my
father did not speak of the manuscript, nor did I, who tell you
this. How, then, could Sir Frank kill this poor man, when he had
no reason to slay him - "
"For the emeralds," faltered Hervey weakly.
"For the emeralds!" echoed the lady scornfully. "Sir Frank is
rich. He does not need to steal to have much money. He is a
gentleman, who does not murder, as you have done."
Hervey started to his feet, dismayed but defiant, and saw that he
was ringed with unfriendly faces.
"As I have done. Why, I am - "
Donna Inez interrupted.
"You are a murderer. I truly believe that you - yes, that you"
she pointed a scornful finger at him "killed this poor man who
was bringing the mummy to the Professor. If you were in my own
country, I should have you lashed like the dog you are. Pig of a
Yankee, vile scum of the - "
"That will do, Inez," said De Gayangos imperiously. "We wish to
make this gentleman tell the truth, and this is not the way to go
about the matter."
"Gentleman," echoed the angry Peruvian, "he is none. Truth!
There is no truth in him, the pig of pigs!" and then, her English
failing, she took refuge in Spanish, which is a fairly
comprehensive language for swearing in a polite way. The words
fairly poured from her mouth, and she looked as fierce as
Bellona, the goddess of war.
Archie, listening to her words and watching her beautiful face
distorted out of all loveliness, secretly congratulated himself
upon the fact that he was not her prospective bridegroom. He
wondered how Sir Frank, who was a mild, good-tempered man
himself, could dare to make such a fiery female Lady Random.
Perhaps the young man thought himself that she was going a trifle
too far, for he touched her nervously on the arm. At once the
anger of Donna Inez died down, and she submitted to be led to a
chair, whispering as she went, "It was for your sake, my angel,
that I was angry," she said, and then relapsed into silence,
watching all future proceedings with flashing eyes but compressed
"Wal," muttered Hervey with his invariable drawl, "now that the
lady has eased her mind, I should like to know why this
aristocrat says I placed that manuscript in his room."
"You shall know, and at once," said Random promptly. "Did you
not call to see me a day or so ago ?"
"I did, sir. I wished to tell you what I had discovered, so that
you might pay me to shut my mouth if you felt so inclined. I
asked where your room was, sir, and walked right in, since your
flunky was not at the door."
"Quite so. You were in my room for a few minutes - "
"Say five," interpolated the American imperturbably.
"And then came down. You met my servant, who told you that I
would not be back for five or six hours."
"That's just as you state, sir. I was sorry to miss you, but, my
time being valuable, I had to get back to Pierside. Failing you,
I later came to see the Professor here, and told him what I had
"You merely discovered a mare's nest," said Random
contemptuously; "but this is not the point. I believe that you,
and you only, could have hidden that manuscript among my books,
intending that it should be discovered, so that I might be
implicated in this crime."
"Did your flunky tell you that much?" inquired Hervey coolly.
"My servant told me nothing, save that you had been in my room,
where you had no right to be."
"Then," said the American quietly and decisively, "I can't see,
sir, how you can place the ticket on me."
"You accuse me, so why should I not accuse you?" retorted Random.
"Because you are guilty, and I ain't," snapped the American.
"You join issue: you join issue," murmured Braddock, rubbing his
Random took no notice of the interruption.
"I have heard from Mr. Hope and Professor Braddock of the grounds
upon which you base your accusation, and I have explained to them
how I came to be on board your ship and both in and out of the
"And the explanation is quite satisfactory," said Hope smartly.
"I agree," Donna Inez nodded with very bright eyes. "Sir Frank
has explained to me also. He knew nothing of the manuscript."
"And you, sir," said Don Pedro quietly to Captain Hervey,
"apparently did, since you stole it along with the mummy from
"I confess the theft, but I didn't know what the manuscript
contained," said the skipper dryly, "or I reckon you wouldn't
have to ask who stole the emeralds. No, sir, I should have
"I believe you did, and murdered Bolton," cried Random hotly.
"Shucks!" retorted Hervey, rising with a shrug, "if I had wished
to get rid of Bolton, I'd nave yanked him overboard and then
would have written `accident' in my blamed log-book."
Braddock looked at Don Pedro, and Archie at Sir Frank. What the
skipper said was plausible enough. No man would have been such a
fool as to have murdered Bolton ashore, when he could have done
so without suspicion on board the tramp. Moreover, Hervey spoke
with genuine regret, since he had missed the emeralds and
assuredly would not have hesitated to steal them even at the cost
of Bolton's life, had he known of their whereabouts. So far he
had made a good defense, and, seeing the impression produced, he
strolled to the door. There he halted.
"If you gents want to lynch me," he said leisurely, "I'll be
found at the Sailor's Rest for the next week. Then I'm going as
skipper of The Firefly steamer, Port o' London, to Algiers. You
can send the sheriff along whenever you choose. But I mean to
have my picnic first, and to-morrow I'm going to Inspector Date
with my yarn. Then I guess that almighty aristocrat wilt find
himself in quod."
"Wait a moment," cried Braddock, running to the door. "Let me
talk to you and arrange what is best to be done. If you will - "
He proceeded no further, for without vouchsafing him a reply,
Hervey, now quite master of the situation, passed through the
door, and the Professor hastily followed him. Those who remained
looked at one another, scarcely knowing what to say, or how to
"They will arrest thee, my angel," cried Donna Inez, clasping
"Let them," retorted the young man defiantly. "They can prove
nothing. With all my heart and soul I believe Hervey to be the
guilty person. Hope, what do you say? - and you, Miss Kendal?"
"Hervey has certainly made an excellent defense," said Archie
cautiously. "He wouldn't have been such a fool as to murder
Bolton ashore when he could have done it so easily when on the
"I agree with you there," said Random quickly. "But if he is
innocent; if he did not bring the manuscript into my room, who
"I wonder if Widow Anne herself is guilty?" said Lucy in a musing
All present turned and looked at the girl.
"Who is Widow Anne?" asked Don Pedro with a puzzled air,
"She is the mother of Sidney Bolton, the man who was murdered,"
said Hope quickly. "My dear Lucy, why do you say that?"
Lucy paused before replying and then answered the question by
asking another one.
"Did you ask Sidney to get you some clothes from his mother to
clothe a model?"
"Never in my life," said Hope promptly, and, as Lucy, saw, truly.
"Well, I accidentally met Mrs. Bolton today, and she insisted
that her son had borrowed from her a dark shawl and a dark dress
"That is not true," said Hope hotly. "Why should the woman tell
such a lie?"
"Well," said Lucy slowly, "it struck me that the woman who spoke
with Sidney through the Sailor's Rest window might be Widow Anne
herself, and that she has invented this story of the clothes
being lent to account for their being worn, should she be
"It's certainly odd she should speak like this," said Random
thoughtfully; "but you forget, Miss Kendal, that she proved an
"What of that?" cried Don Pedro hurriedly, "alibis can be
"It will be best to see this woman and question her," suggested
"I shall do so to-morrow. By the way, does she ever come to your
room in the Fort, Random?"
"Oh yes, she is my laundress, you know, and at times brings back
the clothes herself. My servant is usually in, though. I see
what you mean. That she might have received the manuscript from
Bolton, and have left it in my room."
"Yes, I think that," said Archie slowly. "I should not be at all
surprised to learn that a portion of Hervey's theory is correct.
Bolton may have found the manuscript packed up in the mummy,
amongst the graveclothes, in fact. If he read it - as he would
and could, seeing that he was an excellent Latin scholar, thanks
to Professor Braddock's training - he might have formed a design
to steal the emeralds when he was in the Sailor's Rest. Then
someone saved him the trouble, and packed him off to Gartley
instead of the mummy."
"But why should Widow Anne leave the manuscript in my room?"
"Can't you see? Bolton knew that you wanted the mummy for Don
Pedro, and was aware how you had - so to speak - used threats in
the presence of witnesses, since you spoke out aloud on the
"Only to warn Bolton against the Indians," pleaded Random.
"Exactly; but your words were capable of being twisted as Hervey
has twisted them. Well, if Widow Anne really went to see her son
- and from the lie about the borrowed clothes it looks like it -
he may have given her the manuscript, so as to throw the blame on
"No, no," said Archie testily. "Bolton did not expect to be
murdered. But I really believe that he intended to fly with the
emeralds, and hoped that when the manuscript was found in your
room you would be accused. The idea was suggested to him, I
believe, by your visit to The Diver."
"What do you think, Miss Kendal?" asked Random nervously.
"I fancy that it is possible."
Sir Frank turned to the Peruvian.
"Don Pedro," he said proudly, "you have heard what Hervey says;
do you believe that I am guilty?"
For answer De Gayangos took his daughter's hand and placed it in
that of the young soldier.
"That will show you what I think," he said gravely.
"Thank you, sir," said Random, moved, and shook his future
father-in-law heartily by the hand, while Donna Inez, throwing
all restraint to the winds, kissed her lover exultingly on the
check. In the midst of this scene Professor Braddock returned,
looking very pleased.
"I have induced Hervey to hold his tongue for a few days until we
can look into this matter," he said, rubbing his hands "that is,
if you think it wise, all of you. Otherwise, I am quite willing
to go myself to-morrow and tell the police."
"No," said Archie rapidly, "let us thresh out the matter
ourselves. We will save Sir Frank's name from a police court
slur at all events."
"I do not think there is any chance of Sir Frank being arrested,"
said Don Pedro politely; "the evidence is insufficient. And at
the worst he can provide an alibi."
"I am not so sure of that," said Random anxiously. "I went to
London certainly, but I did not go to any place where I am known.
However," he added cheerfully, "I daresay I'll be able to defend
myself. Still, the fact remains that we are no nearer to
learning who killed Bolton than we were."
"I am sending Cockatoo to Pierside to-morrow to stop at the
Sailor's Rest for a time," said Braddock quickly. "He will watch
Hervey, and if there is anything suspicious about his movements,
we shall soon know."
"And I turn amateur detective to-morrow and question Widow Anne,"
said Hope, after which remark he had to explain matters to
Braddock, who had been out of the room when Mrs. Bolton's strange
request had been discussed.
Meanwhile Donna Inez had been whispering to her lover and
pointing to the mummy. Don Pedro followed her thoughts and
guessed what she was saying. Random proved the truth of his
guess by, turning to him.
"Do you really want to take back the mummy to Peru, sir?" he
"Certainly. Inca Caxas was my forefather. I do not wish to
leave him in this place. His body must be restored to its tomb.
All the Indians, who look upon me as their present Inca expect me
to bring the body back. Although," added De Gayangos gravely,
"I did not come to Europe to look for the mummy, as you know."
"Then I shall buy the mummy," said Random impetuously.
"Professor, will you sell it to me?"
"Now that I have examined it thoroughly I shall be delighted,"
said the little man, "say for two thousand pounds."
"Not at all," interposed Don Pedro; "you mean one thousand."
"Of course he does," said Lucy quickly; "and the check must be
paid to Archie, Sir Frank."
"To me! to me!" cried Braddock indignantly. "I insist."
"The money belongs to Archie," said Lucy obstinately. "You have
seen what you desired to see, father and as Archie only lent you
the money, it is only fair that he should have it again."
"Oh, let the Professor have it," said Hope good-naturedly.
"No! no! no!"
"I shall make the check payable to you, Miss Kendal, and you can
give it to whomsoever you choose," he said; "and now, as
everything has been settled so far, I suggest that we should
"Come to my rooms at the inn," said Don Pedro, opening the door.
"I have much to say to you. Good night, Professor; to-morrow let
us go to Pierside and see if we cannot get at the truth."
"And to-morrow," cried Random, "I shall send the check, sir."
When the company departed, Lucy had another wrangle with her
father about the check. As Archie had gone away, she could speak
freely, and pointed out that he was enjoying her mother's income
and was about to marry Mrs. Jasher, who was rich.
"Therefore," argued Lucy, "you certainly do not want to keep poor
"He paid me that sum on condition that I consented to the
"He did nothing of the sort," she cried indignantly. "I am not
going to be bought and sold in this manner. Archie lent you the
money, and it must be returned. Don't force me to think you
The upshot of the argument was that Lucy got her own way, and the
Professor rather unwillingly agreed to part with the mummy and
restore the thousand pounds. But he regretted doing so, as he
wished to get all the money he could to go towards his proposed
Egyptian expedition, and Mrs. Jasher's fortune, as he assured his
step-daughter, was not so large as might be thought. However,
Lucy overruled him, and retired to bed, congratulating herself
that she would soon be able to marry Hope. She was beginning to
grow a trifle weary of the Professor's selfish nature, and
wondered how her mother had put up with it for so long.
Next day Braddock did not go with Don Pedro to Pierside, as he
was very busy in his museum. The Peruvian went alone, and
Archie, after a morning's work at his easel, sought out Widow
Anne to ask questions. Lucy and Donna Inez paid an afternoon
visit to Mrs. Jasher and found her in bed, as she had caught a
mild sort of influenza. They expected to find Sir Frank here,
but it seemed that he had not called. Thinking that he was
detained by military business, the girls thought nothing more of
his absence, although Donna Inez was somewhat downcast.
But Random was detained in his quarters by a letter which had
arrived by the mid-day host, and which surprised him not a
little. The postmark was London, and the writing, evidently a
disguised hand, was almost illegible in its crudeness. The
contents ran as follows, and it will be noticed that there is
neither date nor address, and that it is written in the third
"If Sir Frank Random wants his character to be cleared and all
suspicion of murder to be removed from him, he can be completely
exonerated by the writer, if he will pay the same five thousand
pounds. If Sir Frank Random is willing to do this, let him
appoint a meeting-place in London, and the writer will send a
messenger to receive the money and to hand over the proofs which
will clear Sir Frank Random. If Sir Frank Random plays the
writer false, or communicates with the police, proofs will be
forthcoming which will prove him to be guilty of Sidney Bolton's
death, and which will bring him to the scaffold without any
chance of escape. A couple of lines in the Agony Column of The
Daily Telegraph, signed ` Artillery,' and appointing a
meeting-place, will suffice; but beware of treachery."
A STORY OF THE PAST
Mrs. Jasher's influenza proved to be very mild indeed.
When Donna Inez de Gayangos and Lucy paid a visit to her on the
afternoon of the day succeeding the explanations in the museum,
she was certainly in bed, and explained that she had been there
since the Professor's visit on the previous day. Lucy was
surprised at this, as she had left Mrs. Jasher perfectly well,
and Braddock had not mentioned any ailment of the widow. But
influenza, as Mrs. Jasher observed, was very rapid in its action,
and she was always susceptible to disease from the fact that in
Jamaica she had suffered from malaria. Still, she was feeling
better and intended to rise from her bed on that evening, if only
to lie on the couch in the pink drawing-room. Having thus
detailed her reasons for being ill, the widow asked for news.
As no prohibition had been placed upon Lucy with regard to
Hervey's visit and as Mrs. Jasher would be one of the family when
she married the Professor, Miss Kendal had no hesitation in
reporting all that had taken place. The narrative excited Mrs.
Jasher, and she frequently interrupted with expressions of
wonder. Even Donna Inez grew eloquent, and told the widow how
she had defended Sir Frank against the American skipper.
"What a dreadfully wicked man!" said Mrs. Jasher, when in
possession of all the facts. "I really believe that he did kill
"No," said Lucy decisively, "I don't think that. He would have
murdered him on board had he intended the crime, as he could have
done so with more safety. He is as innocent as Sir Frank."
"And no one dare say a word against him," cried Donna Inez with
"He has a good defender, my dear," said the widow, patting the
"I love him," said Donna Inez, as if that explained everything,
and perhaps it did, so far as she was concerned.
Mrs. Jasher smiled indulgently, then turned for further
information to Lucy.
"Can it be possible," she said, "that Widow Anne is guilty?"
"Oh, I don't think so. She would not murder her own son,
especially when she was so very fond of him. Archie told me,
just before we came here, that he had called to see her. She
still insists that Sidney borrowed the clothes, saying that
Archie wanted them."
"What do you make of that, my dear?"
"Well," said Miss Kendal, pondering, "either Widow Anne herself
was the woman who talked to Sidney through the Sailor's Rest
window, and has invented this story to save herself, or Sidney
did get the clothes and intended to use them as a disguise when
he fled with the emeralds."
"In that case," said Mrs. Jasher, "the woman who talked through
the window still remains a problem. Again, if Sidney Bolton
intended to steal the emeralds, he could have done so in Malta,
or on board the boat."
"No," said Lucy decisively. "The mummy Was taken directly from
the seller's house to the boat, and perhaps Sidney did not find
the manuscript until he looked at the mummy. Then Captain Hervey
kept an eye on Sidney, so that he could not open the mummy to
steal the emeralds."
"Still, according to your own showing, Sidney looked at the
actual mummy - he opened the mummy case, that is, else he could
not have got the manuscript."
"I think so, but of course we cannot be sure. But the packing
case in which the mummy was stowed was placed in the hold of the
steamer, and if Sidney had wished to steal the emeralds, he could
not have done so without exciting Captain Hervey's suspicions."
"Then let us say that Sidney robbed the mummy when in the
Sailor's Rest, and took the clothes he borrowed from his mother
in order to fly in disguise. But what of the woman?"
Lucy shook her head.
"I cannot tell. We may learn more later. Don Pedro has gone to
Pierside to search, and my father says that he will send Cockatoo
there also to search."
"Well," sighed Mrs. Jasher wearily, "I hope that all this
trouble will come to an end. That green mummy has proved most
unlucky. Leave me now, dear girls, as I feel somewhat tired."
"Good-bye," said Lucy, kissing her. "I hope that you will be
better this evening. Don't get up unless you feel quite able."
"Oh, I shall take my ease in the drawing-room."
"I thought you always called it the parlor," laughed the girl.
"Ah," Mrs. Jasher smiled, "you see I am practicing against the
time when I shall be mistress of the Pyramids, You can't call
that large room there a parlor," and she laughed weakly.
Altogether, Mrs. Jasher impressed both Lucy and Donna Inez with
the fact that she was very weak and scarcely able, as she put it,
to draw one leg after the other. Both the girls would have been
surprised to see what a hearty meal Mrs. Jasher made that
evening, when she was up and dressed. Perhaps she felt that her
strength needed keeping up, but she certainly partook largely of
the delicate dinner provided by Jane, who was a most excellent
After dinner, Mrs. Jasher lay on a pink couch in the pink parlor
by a splendid fire, for the night was cold and raw with a promise
of rain. The widow had a small table at her elbow, on which
stood a cup of coffee and a glass of liquor. The rose-colored
curtains were drawn, the rose-shaded lamps were lighted, and the
whole interior of the cottage looked very comfortable indeed.
Mrs. Jasher, in a crocus-yellow tea-gown trimmed with rich black
lace, reclined on her couch like Cleopatra in her barge. In the
pink light she looked very well preserved, although her face wore
an anxious expression. This was due to the fact that the mail
had come in and the three letters brought by the postman had to
do with creditors. Mrs. Jasher was always trying to make both
ends meet, and had a hard struggle to keep her head above water.
Certainly, since she had inherited the money of her brother, the
Pekin merchant, she need not have looked so worried. But she
did, and made no disguise of it, seeing that she was quite alone.
After a time she went to her desk and took out a bundle of bills
and some other letters, also an account book and a bank book.
Over these she pored for quite an hour. The clock struck nine
before she looked up from this unpleasant task, and she found her
financial position anything but satisfactory. With a weary sigh
she rose and stared at herself in the mirror over the fireplace,
frowning as she did so.
"Unless I can marry the Professor at once, I don't know what will
happen to me," she mused gloomily. "I have managed very well so
far, but things are coming to a crisis. These devils," she
alluded to her creditors, "will not keep off much longer, and
then the crash will come. I shall have to leave Gartley as poor
as when I came, and there will be nothing left but the old
nightmare life of despair and horror. I am getting older every
day, and this is my last chance of getting married. I must force
the Professor to have a speedy marriage. I must! I must!" and
she began to pace the tiny room in a frenzy of terror and
As she was trying to calm herself and succeeding very badly, Jane
entered the room with a card. It proved to he that of Sir Frank
"It is rather a late hour for a visit," said Mrs. Jasher to the
servant. "However, I feel so bored, that perhaps he will cheer
me up. Ask him to come in."
When Jane left, she stood still for a moment or so, trying to
think why the young man had called at so untoward an hour. But
when his footsteps were heard approaching the door, she swept the
books and the bills and the letters into the desk and locked it
quickly. When Random appeared at the door, she was just leaving
the desk to greet him, and no one would have taken the smiling,
plump, well-preserved woman for the creature who lately had
looked so haggard and careworn.
"I am glad to see you, Sir Frank," said Mrs. Jasher, nodding in a
familiar manner. "Sit down in this very comfortable chair, and
Jane shall bring you some coffee and kummel."
"No, thank you," said Random in his usual stiff way, but very
politely. "I have just left the mess, where I had a good
Mrs. Jasher nodded, and sank again on the couch, which was
opposite the chair which she had selected for her visitor.
"I see you are in mess kit," she said gayly; "quite a glorified
creature to appear in my poor little parlor. Why are you not
with Donna Inez? I have heard all about your engagement from
Lucy. She was here today with Senorita De Gayangos."
"So I believe," said Random, still stiffly; "but you see I was
anxious to come and see you."
"Ah!" said Mrs. Jasher equably, "you heard that I was ill. Yes;
I have been in bed ever since yesterday afternoon, until a couple
of hours ago. But I am now better. My dinner has done me good.
Pass me that fan, please. The fire is so hot."
Sir Frank did as he was told, and she held the feather fan
between her face and the fire, while he stared at her, wondering
what to say.
"Don't you find this atmosphere very stuffy?" he remarked at
length. "It would be a good thing to have the windows open."
Mrs. Jasher shrieked.
"My dear boy, are you mad? I have a touch of the influenza, and
an open window would bring about my death. Why, this room is
"There is such a strong perfume about it," sniffed Random
"I should think you knew that scent by this time, Sir Frank. I
use no other and never have done. Smell!" and she passed a
flimsy handkerchief of lace.
Random took the handkerchief and placed it to his nostrils. As
he did so a strange expression of triumph crept into his eyes.
I think you told me once that it was a Chinese perfume," he said,
returning the handkerchief.
Mrs. Jasher nodded, well pleased.
"I get it from a friend of my late husband who is in the British
Embassy at Pekin. No one uses it but me."
"But surely some other person uses it?"
"Not in England; and I do not know why you should say so. It is
a specialty of mine. Why," she added playfully, "if you met me
in the dark you should know me, by this scent."
"Can you swear that no one else has ever used this perfume?"
Mrs. Jasher lifted her penciled eyebrows.
"I do not know why you should ask me to swear," she said quietly,
"but I assure you that I keep this perfume which comes from
China to myself. Not even Lucy Kendal has it, although she
greatly desired some. We women are selfish in some things, my
dear man. It's a most delicious perfume."
"Yes," said Sir Frank, staring at her, "and very strong."
"What do you mean by that?"'
"Nothing. Only I should think that such a perfume would be good
for the cold you contracted by going to London last night."
Mrs. Jasher turned suddenly pale under her rouge, and her hand
clenched the fan so tightly as to break the handle.
"I have not been to London for quite a month," she faltered.
"What a strange remark!"
"A true one," said the baronet, fumbling in the pocket of his
jacket. "You went to London last night by the seven o'clock
train to post this," and he held out the anonymous letter.
The widow, now quite pale, and looking years older, sat up on the
couch with' a painful effort, which suggested fold age.
"I don't understand," she said, trying to speak calmly. "I was
not in London, and I did not post any letter. If you came here
to insult me - "
"There can be no insult in asking a few questions," said Random,
throwing aside his stiffness and speaking decisively. "I
received this letter, which bears a London postmark, by the
mid-day post. The handwriting is disguised, and there is neither
address nor signature nor date. You manufactured your
communication very cleverly, Mrs. Jasher, but you forgot that the
Chinese perfume might betray you."
"The perfume! the perfume!" Mrs. Jasher gasped and saw in a
moment how the late conversation had led her to fall into a trap.
"The letter retains traces of the perfume you use," went on the
baronet relentlessly. "I have a remarkably keen sense of smell,
and, as scent is a most powerful aid to memory, I speedily
recollected that you used this especial perfume. You told me a
few moments ago that no one else used it, and so you have proved
the truth of my, statement that this letter" - he tapped it - "is
written by you."
"It's a lie - a mistake," stuttered Mrs. Jasher, now at bay and
looking dangerous. Her society veneer was stripped off, and the
adventuress pure and simple came to the surface.
Indignant at the way in which she had deceived everyone, and
having much at stake, Random did not spare her.
"It is not a mistake," he insisted; "neither is it a lie. When
I became aware that you must have written the letter, I drove at
once to Jessum to see if you had gone to London, as you had
posted it there. I learned from the station master and from a
porter that you went to town by the seven o'clock train and
returned by the midnight."
Mrs. Jasher leaped to her feet.
"They could not recognize me. I wore - " Then she stopped,
confused at having so plainly betrayed herself.
"You wore a veil. All the same, Mrs. Jasher, you are too well
known hereabouts for anyone to fail to recognize you. Besides,
your remark just now proves that I am right. You wrote this
blackmailing letter, and I demand an explanation."
"I have none to give," muttered the woman fiercely, and fighting
"If you refuse to explain to me you shall to the police," said
Sir Frank, rising and making for the door.
Mrs. Jasher flung herself forward and clung to him.
"For God's sake, don't!"
"Then you will explain? You will tell me?"
"Tell you what?"
"Who murdered Sidney Bolton."
"I do not know. I swear I do not know," she cried feverishly.
"That is ridiculous," said Random coldly. "You say in this
letter that you can hang me or save me. As you know that I am
innocent, you must be aware who is guilty."
"It's all bluff. I know nothing," said Mrs. Jasher, releasing
his arm and throwing herself on the couch. "I only wished to get
"Five thousand pounds - eh? Rather a large order," sneered
Random, replacing the letter in his pocket. "You would not ask
that sum for nothing: you must be aware of the truth. I
suspected many people, Mrs. Jasher, but never you."
The woman rose and flung out her arms.
"No," she said in a deep voice, and fighting like a rat in a
corner. "I tricked you all down here. Sir Frank, I will tell
you the truth."
"About the murder?"
"I know nothing of that. About myself."
Random shrugged his shoulders.
"I'll hear about yourself first," he said. "I can learn details
concerning the murder later. Go on."
"I know nothing of the murder or of the theft of the emeralds - "
"Yet you hid the mummy in this house, and afterwards placed it in
your arbor to be found by the Professor, for some reason."
"I know nothing about that either," muttered Mrs. Jasher
doggedly, and with very white lips. "That letter you have traced
to me is all bluff."
"Then you admit having written it?"
"Yes," she said sullenly. "You know too much, and it is useless
for me to deny the truth in the face of the evidence you bring
against me. I would fight though," she added, raising her head
like a snake its crest, "if I was not sick and tired of
"Yes, against trouble and worry and money difficulties and
creditors. Oh," she struck her breast, "what do you know of
life, you rich, easy-going man? I have been in the depths, and
not through my own fault. I had a bad mother, a bad husband. I
was dragged in the mire by those who should have helped me to
rise. I have starved for days; I have wept for year's; in all
God's earth there is no more miserable a creature than I am."
"Kindly talk without so much melodrama," said Random cruelly.
"Ah," Mrs. Jasher sat down and locked her hands together, "you
don't believe me. I daresay you don't understand, for life, real
life, is a sealed book to you. It is useless for me to appeal to
your sympathy, for you are so very ignorant. Let us stick to
facts. What do you wish to know?"
"Who killed Sidney Bolton: who has the emeralds."
"I can't tell you. Listen! With my past life you have nothing
to do. I will commence from the time I came dawn here. I had
just lost my husband, and I managed to scrape together a few
hundred pounds - oh, quite in a respectable way, I assure you,"
she added scoffingly, on seeing her listener wince. "I came here
to try and live quietly, and, if possible, to secure a rich
husband. I knew that the Fort was here and thought that I might
marry an officer. However, the Professor's position attracted
me, and I decided to marry him. I am engaged, and but for your
cleverness in tracing that letter I should be Mrs. Braddock
within a very short time. I have exhausted all my money. I am
deeply, in debt. I cannot hold out longer."
"But the money you inherited - "
"That is all bluff also. I never had a brother. I inherit no
money. I know nothing of Pekin, save that a friend of mine sends
that scent to me as a yearly Christmas present. I am an
adventuress, but perhaps not so bad as you think me. Lucy and
Donna Inez have heard no wickedness from my lips. I have always
been a good woman in one sense - a moral woman, that is - and I
did wish to marry the Professor and live a happy life. Seeing
that I was at the end of my resources, and that Professor
Braddock expected a legacy with me before marriage, I looked
round to, see how I could get the money. I heard that you were
accused by Captain Hervey, and so last night I wrote that letter
and posted it in London, thinking that you would yield to save
yourself from arrest."
Random laughed cynically.
"You must have thought me weak," die muttered.
"I did," said Mrs. Jasher frankly. "To tell you the truth, I
thought that you were a fool. But by tracing that letter and
withstanding my demand, you have proved yourself to be more
clever than I took you to be. Well, that is all. I know nothing
of the murder. My letter is sheer bluff to extort from you five
thousand pounds. Had you paid I should have passed it off to the
Professor as the money left to me by my brother. But now - "
"Now," said Random, rising to go, "I shall tell what you have
told me to the Professor, and - "
"And hand me over to the police," said Mrs. Jasher, shrugging her
plump shoulders, "Well, I expected that. Yet I fancied for old
times' sake that you might have been more lenient."
"We were never anything but acquaintances, Mrs. Jasher," said
Random coldly, "so I fail to see why you should expect mercy
after the way in which you have behaved. You expect to blackmail
me, and yet go free. I must punish you somehow, so I shall tell
Professor Braddock, as you certainly cannot marry him. But I
shall not hand you over to the police."
"You won't?" Mrs. Jasher stared, scarcely able to believe her
"No. Give me a day to think over matters, and I shall arrange
what to do with you. I think there is some good in you, Mrs.
Jasher, and so I shall see if I can't assist you. In the
meantime I shall have your cottage watched, so that you may not
"In that case, you may as well hand me over to the police," she
"Not at all," rejoined Random coolly. "I can trust my servant,
Who is stupid but honest and is devoted to me. I'll see that
everything is kept quiet. But if you attempt to run away I shall
have you arrested for blackmail. You understand?"
"Yes. You are treating me very well," she gasped. "When shall I
"To-morrow evening. I must talk the matter over with Braddock.
To-morrow I shall arrange what to do, and probably I shall give
you a chance of leading a new life in some other part of the
world. What do you say?"
"I accept. Indeed, there is nothing else left for me to do."
"That is an ungrateful speech," said Random severely.
"I daresay. However, we can talk of gratitude tomorrow.
Meanwhile, please leave me."
Sir Frank went to the door and there paused.
"Remember," he said distinctly, "that your cottage is being
watched. Try to escape and I shall have you arrested."
Mrs. Jasher groaned and buried her face in the sofa cushion.
A WEDDING PRESENT
Mrs. Jasher had thought Random exceedingly clever in acting as he
had done to trap her. She would have thought him still more
clever had she known that he trusted to the power of suggestion
to prevent her from trying to escape. Sir Frank had not the
slightest intention of setting his soldier-servant to watch, as
such was not the duty for which such servants are hired. But
having impressed firmly on the adventuress's mind that he would
act in this way, he departed, quite certain that the woman would
not attempt to run away. Although no one was watching the
cottage, Mrs. Jasher, believing what had been told her, would
think that sharp eyes were on her doors and windows day and
night, and would firmly believe that if she tried to get away she
would be captured forthwith by the Pierside police, or perhaps by
the village constable. Like an Eastern enchanter, the baronet
had placed a spell on the cottage, and it acted admirably. Mrs.
Jasher, although longing to escape and hide herself, remained
where she was, cowed by a spy who did not exist.
The next day Random went to the Pyramids as soon as his duties
permitted and saw the Professor. To the prospective bridegroom
he explained all that had happened, and displayed the anonymous
letter, with an account of how he had proved Mrs. Jasher to be
the writer. Braddock's hair could not stand on end, as he had
none, but he lost his temper completely, and raged up and down
the museum in a way which frightened Cockatoo out of his barbaric
wits. When more quiet he sat down to discuss the matter, and
promptly demanded that Mrs. Jasher should be handed over to the
police. But he might have guessed that Sir Frank would refuse to
follow this extreme advice.
"She has acted badly, I admit," said the young man. "All the
same, I think she is a better woman than you may think,
"Think! think! think!" shouted the fiery little man, getting up
once more to trot up and down like an infuriated poodle. "I
think she is a bad woman, a wicked woman. To deceive me into
thinking her rich and - "
"But surely, Professor, you wished to marry her also for love?"
"Nothing of the sort, sir: nothing of the sort. I leave love and
such-like trash to those like yourself and Hope, who have nothing
else to think about."
"But a marriage without love - "
"Pooh! pooh! pooh! Don't argue with me, Random. Love is all
moonshine. I did not love my first wife - Lucy's mother - and
yet we were very happy. Had I made Mrs. Jasher my second, we
should have got on excellently, provided the money was
forthcoming for my Egyptian expedition. What am I to do now, I
ask you, Random? Even the thousand pounds you pay for the mummy
goes back to that infernal Hope because of Lucy's silly ideas. I
have nothing - absolutely nothing, and that tomb is amongst those
Ethiopian hills, I swear, waiting to be opened. Oh, what a
chance I have missed! - what a chance! But I shall see Mrs.
Jasher myself. She knows about this murder."
"She declares that she does not."
"Don't tell me! don't tell me!" vociferated the Professor. "She
would not have written that letter had she known nothing."
"That was bluff. I explained all that."
"Bluff be hanged!" cried Braddock, only he used a more vigorous
word. "I do not believe that she would have dared to act on such
a slight foundation. I shall see her myself this very afternoon
and force her to confess. In one way or another I shall find the
assassin and make him disgorge those emeralds under the penalty
of being hanged. Then I can sell them and finance my Egyptian
"But you forget, Professor, that the emeralds, when found, belong
to Don Pedro."
"They don't," rasped the little man, turning purple with rage.
"I refuse to let him have them. I bought the mummy, and the
contents of the mummy, including those emeralds. They are,
"No," said Random sharply. "I buy the mummy, from you, so they
pass into my possession and belong to De Gayangos. I shall give
them to him."
"You'll have to find them first," said Braddock savagely; "and as
to the mummy, you shan't have it. I decline to sell it. So
"If you don't," said Random very distinctly, "Don Pedro will
bring an action against you, and Captain Hervey will be called as
a witness to prove that the mummy was stolen."
"Don Pedro hasn't the money," said Braddock triumphantly; "he
can't pay lawyer's fees."
"But I can," rejoined the young man very dryly. "As I am going
to marry Donna Inez, it is only just that I should help my future
father-in-law in every way. He has a romantic feeling about this
relic of poor humanity and wishes to take it back to Peru. He
shall do so."
"And what about me? - what about me?"
Well," said Random, speaking slowly with the intention of still
further irritating the little man, whose selfishness annoyed him,
"if I were you I should marry Mrs. Jasher and settle down quietly
in this house to live on what income you have."
Braddock turned purple again and spluttered.
"How dare you make a proposition like that to me, sir?" he
bellowed. "You ask me to marry this low woman, this adventuress,
this - this - this - " Words failed him.
Of course Random had no intention of advising such a marriage,
although he did not think so badly of Mrs. Jasher as did the
Professor. But the little man was so venomous that the young man
took a delight in stirring him up, using the widow's name as a
red rag to this particular bull.
"I do not think Mrs. Jasher is a bad woman," he remarked.
"What! what! what! After what she has done? Blackmail!
"That is bad, I admit, but she has failed to get what she wanted,
and, after all, you indirectly are the cause of her writing that
"I am? - I am? How dare you?"
"You see, she wanted to get five thousand out of me as her
"Yes, and told me lies about her damned brother who was a Pekin
merchant, when after all he never existed."
"Oh, I don't defend that," said Random coolly. "Mrs. Jasher has
behaved badly on the whole. Still, Professor, I think there is
good in her, as I said before. She evidently had bad parents and
a bad husband; but, so far as I can gather, she is not an immoral
woman. The poor wretch only came here to try and drag herself
out of the mire. If she had married you I feel sure that she
would have made you a most excellent wife."
The Professor was in such a rage that he suddenly became calm.
"Of course you talk absolute rubbish," he said caustically. "Had
I my way this woman would be whipped at a cart's tail for the
shameful way in which she has deceived us all. However, I shall
see her to-day and make her confess who murdered Bolton."
"Don Pedro will be greatly obliged if you do. He wants those
"So do I, and if I get them I shall keep them," snapped Braddock;
"and if you haven't anything more to say you can leave me. I'm
As there was nothing more to be done with the choleric little
man, Sir Frank took the hint and departed. He went forthwith to
the Warrior Inn to see Don Pedro and also Donna Inez. But it so
happened that the girl had gone to the Pyramids on a visit to
Miss Kendal, and Random was sorry that he had missed her.
However, it was just as well, as he could now talk freely to De
Gayangos. To him he related the whole story of Mrs. Jasher, and
discovered that the Peruvian also, as Braddock had done, insisted
that Mrs. Jasher knew the truth.
"She would not have written that letter if she did not know it,"
said Don Pedro.
"Then you think that she should be arrested?"
"No. We can deal with this matter ourselves. At present she is
quite safe, as she certainly will not leave her cottage, seeing
that she thinks it is being watched. Let us permit Braddock to
interview her, and see what he can learn. Then we can discuss
the matter and come to a decision."
Random nodded absently.
"I wonder if Mrs. Jasher was the woman who talked to Bolton
through the window?" he remarked.
"It is not impossible. Although that does not explain why Bolton
borrowed a female disguise from this mother."
"Mrs. Jasher might have worn it."
"That would argue some understanding between Bolton and Mrs.
Jasher, and a knowledge of the manuscript before Bolton left for
Malta. We know that he could only have seen the manuscript for
the first time at Malta. It was evidently stowed away in the
swathings of the mummy by my father, who forgot all about it when
he gave me the original."
"Hervey forgot also. I wonder if that is true?"
"I am certain it is," said Don Pedro emphatically, "for, if
Hervey, or Vasa, or whatever you like to call him, had found that
manuscript and had got it translated, he certainly would have
opened the mummy and have secured the emeralds. No, Sir Frank, I
believe that his theory is partly true. Bolton intended to run
away with the emeralds, and send the empty mummy to Professor
Braddock; for, if you remember, he arranged that the landlord of
the Sailor's Rest should forward the case next morning, even if
he happened to be away. Bolton intended to be away - with the
"Then you do not believe that Hervey placed the manuscript in my
"He declared most emphatically that he did not," said Don Pedro,
"when at Pierside yesterday I went to the Sailor's Rest and saw
him. He told Braddock only the other day that he had lost his
chance of a sailing vessel, and, as yet, had not got another one.
But when he returned to Pierside he found a letter waiting him -
so he told me - giving him command of a four thousand ton tramp
steamer called The Firefly. He is to sail at once - to-morrow, I
"Then what is he going to do about this murder business?"
"He can do nothing at present, as, if he remains in Pierside, he
will lose his new command. To-morrow he drops down stream, but
meantime he intends to write out the whole story of the theft of
the mummy. I have promised to give him fifty pounds for doing
so, as I want to get back the mummy, free of charge, from
"I think Braddock will stick to the mummy in any event," said
"Not when Hervey writes out his evidence. He will not have it
completed by the time he sails, as he is very busy. But he has
promised to send off a boat to the jetty near the Fort to-morrow
evening, when he is dropping down stream. I shall be there with
fifty pounds in gold."
"Supposing he fails to stop or send the boat?"
"Then he will not get his fifty pounds," retorted Don Pedro.
"The man is a rascal, and deserves prison rather than reward, but
since the mummy was stolen by him thirty years back, he alone can
prove my ownership."
"But why take all this trouble?" argued the baronet. "I can buy
the mummy from Braddock."
"No," said Don Pedro. "I have a right to my own property."
Random lingered until late in the afternoon and until darkness
fell, as he was anxious to see Donna Inez. But she did not
appear until late. Meanwhile Archie Hope put in an appearance,
having come to see Don Pedro with an account of his interview
with Widow Anne. Before coming to the inn he had called on
Professor Braddock, and from him had heard all about the
wickedness of Mrs. Jasher. His surprise was very great.
"I should not have believed it," he declared. "Poor woman!"
"Ah," said Random, rather pleased, "you are more merciful than
the Professor, Hope. He calls her a bad woman."
"Humph! I don't think that Braddock is so good that he can
afford to throw a stone," said Archie rather sourly. "Mrs.
Jasher has not behaved well, but I should like to hear her
complete story before judging. There must be a lot of good in
her, or Lucy, who has been with her a great deal, would have
found her out long ago. I go by a woman's judgment of a woman.
But Mrs: Jasher must have been anxious to marry."
"She was; as Professor Braddock knows," said Random quickly.
"I am not thinking of that so much as of what Widow Anne told
"Oh," said Don Pedro, looking up from where he was seated, "so
you have seen that old woman? What does she say about the
"She sticks to her story. Sidney, she declares, borrowed the
clothes to give to me for a model. Now, I never asked Bolton to
do this, so I fancy the disguise must have been intended for
himself, or for Mrs. Jasher."
"But what had Mrs. Jasher to do with him?" demanded Random
"Well, it's odd," replied Hope slowly, "but Mrs. Bolton declares
that her son was in love with Mrs. Jasher, and when he returned
from Malta intended to marry her."
"Impossible!" cried Sir Frank. "She engaged herself to Braddock.
"But only after Bolton's death, remember."
Don Pedro nodded.
"That is true. But what you say, Mr. Hope, proves the truth of
"In what way?"
"Mrs. Jasher, as we know from what Random told us, wanted money.
She would not marry a man who was poor. Bolton was poor, but of
course the emeralds would make him wealthy, as they are of
immense value. Probably he intended to steal them in order to
marry this woman. This implicates Mrs. Jasher in the crime."
"Yes," assented Sir Frank, nodding. "But as Bolton did not know
that the emeralds existed before he bought the mummy in Malta, I
do not see why he should borrow a disguise beforehand for Mrs.
Jasher to meet him at the Sailor's Rest."
"The thing is easily settled," said Hope impatiently. "Let us
both go to Mrs. Jasher's this evening, and insist upon the truth
being told. If she confesses about her secret engagement to
Sidney Bolton, she may admit that the clothes were borrowed for
"And she may admit also that she placed the manuscript in my
room," said Sir Frank after a pause. "Hervey did not place it
there, but it is just possible that Mrs. Jasher, having got it
from Bolton when she Talked to him through the window, may have
"Nonsense!" said Hope with vigorous commonsense. "Mrs. Jasher
would be spotted in a moment if she had gone to your quarters.
She had to pass the sentry, remember. Then, again, we have not
yet proved that she was the woman in Mrs. Bolton's clothes who
spoke through the window. That can all be settled if we speak to
her this evening."
"Very good." Random glanced at his watch. "I must get back. Don
Pedro, will you tell Inez that I shall come in this evening? We
can then talk further about these matters. Hope?"
"I shall stop here, as I wish to consult Don Pedro."
Random nodded and took a reluctant departure. He dearly wished,
as an engaged lover should, to remain on the chance that Donna
Inez might return, but duty called him and he was forced to obey.
The night was very dark, although it was not particularly late.
But there was no rain, and Random walked rapidly through the
village and down the road to the Fort. He caught a glimpse of
the lights of Mrs. Jasher's cottage twinkling in the distance,
and smiled grimly as he thought of the invisible spell he had
placed thereon. No doubt Mrs. Jasher was shivering in her Louis
Quinze shoes at the idea of being watched. But then, she
deserved that much punishment at least, as Random truly thought.
When entering the Fort, the sentry saluted as usual, and Random
was about to pass, when the man stepped forward, holding out a
brown paper package.
"Please, sir, I found this in my sentry box," he said, saluting.
Sir Frank took the packet.
"Who placed it there? and why do you give it to me?" he demanded
"Please, sir, it's directed to you, sir, and I don't know who put
it in my box, sir. I was on duty, sir, and I 'spose someone must
have dropped it on the floor of the box, sir, when I was at the
other end of my beat, sir. It was as dark as this, sir, and I
saw nothing and heard nothing. When I come back, sir, I stepped
into the box out of the rain and felt it with my, feet. I struck
a light, sir, and found it was for you."
Sir Frank slipped the package into his pocket and went away after
a grim word or so to the sentry, advising him to be more on the
alert. He was puzzled to think who had left the packet in the
sentry box, and curious to know what it contained. As soon as he
got to his own room, he cut the string which bound loosely the
brown paper. Then, in the lamplight, there rolled out from the
carelessly-tied parcel a glorious sea-green emerald of great
size, radiating light like a sun. A scrap of white paper lay in
the brown wrapping. On it was written, "A wedding gift for Sir
JUST IN TIME
Of all the surprises in connection with the tragedy of the green
mummy, this was surely the greatest. Sidney Bolton had
undoubtedly been murdered for the sake of the emeralds, and the
assassin had escaped with the spoil, for which he had sold his
soul. Yet here was one of the jewels returned anonymously to
Random, who could pass on the same to its rightful owner. In the
midst of his amazement Sir Frank could not help chuckling when he
thought how enraged Professor Braddock would be at Don Pedro's
good fortune. At the eleventh hour, as it were, the Peruvian had
got back his own, or at least a portion of his own.
Placing the emerald in his drawer, Random gave orders to his
servant that the sentry, when off duty, should be brought before
him. Just as Random finished dressing for mess - and he dressed
very early, so as to devote his entire attention to solving this
new problem - the soldier who had been on guard appeared. But he
could tell nothing more than he had already related. When doing
sentry-go immediately outside the gate of the Fort, the packet
had been slipped into the box, while the man was at the far end
of his beat. It was quite dark when this was done, and the
soldier confessed that he had not heard a sound, much less had he
seen anyone. The person who had brought the glorious gem had
watched his opportunity, and, soft-footed as a cat, had stolen
forward in the darkness to drop the precious parcel on the floor
of the sentry-box. There the man had found it by the feel of his
feet, when he stepped in some time later to escape a shower. But
what time had elapsed from the placing of the parcel to its
discovery by the sentry it was impossible to say. It must,
however, as Random calculated, have been within the hour, since,
before then, it would not have been dark enough to hide the
approach of the person, whether male or female, who carried a
king's ransom in the brown paper parcel.
At first Random was inclined to place the sentry under arrest for
having failed so much in his duty as to allow anyone to approach
so near the Fort; but, as he had already reprimanded the man,
and, moreover, wished to keep the fact of the recovered jewel
quiet, he simply dismissed him. When alone, he sat down before
the fire, wondering who could have dared so very greatly, and for
what reason the emerald had been handed to him. If it had been
sent to Don Pedro, or even to Professor Braddock, it would have
been much more reasonable.
It first occurred to him that Mrs. Jasher, out of gratitude for
the way in which he had treated her, had sent him the jewel.
Remembering his former experience, he smelt the parcel, but could
detect no sign of the famous Chinese scent which had proved a
clue to the letter. Of course the direction on the packet and
the inscribed slip of paper were in feigned handwriting, so he
could gather nothing from that. Still, he did not think that
Mrs. Jasher had sent the emerald. She was desperately hard up,
and if she had become possessed of the gem by murder - presuming
her to have been the woman who talked to Bolton through the
window - she assuredly would have sold it to supply her own
needs. Certainly, if guilty, she would still possess the other
emerald, of equal value; but undoubtedly, had she risked her neck
to gain a fortune, she would have kept the entire plunder which
was likely to cost her so dear. No; whomsoever it was who had
repented at the eleventh hour Mrs. Jasher was not the person.
Perhaps Widow Anne was the woman who had talked through the
window, and who had restored the emerald. But that was
impossible, since Mrs. Bolton habitually took more liquor than
was good for her, and would not have the nerve to deliver the
jewel, much less commit the crime, the more especially as the
victim was her own son. Of course she might have found out
Sidney's scheme to run away with the jewels, and so would have
claimed her share. But if she had been in Pierside on that
evening - and her presence in Gartley had been sworn to by three
or four cronies - she would have guessed who had strangled her
boy. If so, not all the jewels in the world would have prevented
her denouncing the criminal. With all her faults - and they were
many - Mrs. Bolton was a good mother, and looked upon Sidney as
the pride and joy of her somewhat dissipated life. Mrs. Bolton
was certainly as innocent as Mrs. Jasher.
There remained Hervey. Random laughed aloud when the name came
into his puzzled head. That buccaneer was the last person to
surrender his plunder or to feel compunction in committing a
crime. Once the skipper got his grip on two jewels, worth
endless money, he would never let them go - not even one of them.
Arguing thus, it seemed that Hervey was out of the running, and
Random could think of no one else. In this dilemma he remembered
that two heads were better than one, and, before going into
dinner, he sent a note to Archie Hope, asking him to come to the
Fort as speedily as possible.
Sir Frank was somewhat dull at dinner on that evening, and
scarcely responded to the joking remarks of his brother officers.
These jocularly put his preoccupation down to love, for it was an
open secret that the baronet admired the fair Peruvian, although
no one as yet knew that Random was legally engaged with Don
Pedro's consent. The young man good-humoredly stood all the
chaff hurled at him, but seized the opportunity to slip away to
his quarters as soon as coffee came on the table and the smoking
began. It was nine o'clock before he returned to his room, and
here he found Hope waiting for him impatiently.
"I see you have been dining at the Pyramids," said Random, seeing
that Hope was in evening dress.
"Yes. I don't put on this kit to have my humble chop at my
lodgings. But the Professor asked me to dinner to talk over
"What does he say?" asked Random, looking for the cigarette box.
"Oh, he is very angry with Mrs. Jasher, and considers that she
has swindled him. He called to see her this afternoon, and - so
he says - had a stormy interview with her."
"I don't wonder at that, if he speaks as he generally does," said
the other grimly, and pushing along the cigarettes, "There you
are! The whisky and soda are on yonder table. Make yourself
comfortable, and tell me what the Professor intends to do."
"Well," said Archie, turning half round from the side table where
he was pouring out the whisky, "he had already started action,
by sending Cockatoo to live at the Sailor's Rest and spy on
"What rubbish! Hervey is, going away to-morrow in The Firefly,
bound for Algiers. Nothing is to be learned from him."
"So I told the Professor," said Hope, returning to the armchair
near the fire, "and I mentioned that Don Pedro had induced the
skipper to write out a full account of the theft of the mummy
from Lima thirty years ago. I also said that the signed paper
would be handed in at the Gartley jetty when The Firefly came
down stream to-morrow night."
"Humph! And what did Braddock say to that?"
"Nothing much. He merely stated that whatever Hervey said toward
proving the ownership of your future father-in-law, that he
intended to stick to the embalmed corpse of Inca Caxas, and also
that he intended to claim the emeralds when they turned up."
Random rose and went to the drawer of his desk.
"I am afraid he has lost one emerald, at all events," he said,
unlocking the drawer.
"What's that?" said Hope sharply. "Why did you - oh, gosh!" He
jumped up with an amazed look as Random held up the magnificent
gem, from which streamed vividly green flames in the mellow
lamplight. "Oh, gosh!" gasped the artist again. "where the
devil did you get that?"
"I sent for you to tell you," said Sir Frank, giving the jewel
into his friend's hand and coming back to his seat. "It was
found in the sentry box."
Hope stared at the great jewel and then at the soldier.
"What do you mean by that?" he demanded. "How the dickens could
it be found in a sentry box? You must be making a mistake."
"Not a bit of it. It was found on the floor of the box by the
sentry, as I tell you, and I have sent to consult with you as to
how the deuce it got there."
"Hervey," muttered Archie, fascinated by the gem.
Random shrugged his square shoulders.
"Catch that Yankee Shylock returning anything he got his grip on,
even as a wedding present."
"A wedding present," said Hope, more at sea than ever. "If you
don't mind giving me details, old chap, my head would buzz less."
"I rather think that it will buzz more," said Random dryly, and,
producing the brown paper in which the gem had been wrapped, and
the inscribed paper found within, he related all that had
Archie listened quietly and did not interrupt, but the puzzled
look on his face grew more pronounced.
"Well," ended Random, seeing that no remark was made when he had
finished, "what do you think?"
"Lord knows! I'll go out of my mind if these sort of things come
along. I am a simple sort of chap, and have no use for mysteries
which beat all the detective stories I have ever read. That sort
of thing is all very well in fiction, but in real life - humph!
What are you going to do?"
"Give back the emerald to Don Pedro."
"Of course, though, it is given to you for a wedding present.
Then" - Random stared into the fire - " I don't know. I asked
you in to assist me."
"Willingly; but how?"
Random pondered for a few moments.
"Who sent that emerald to me, do you think?" he asked, looking
squarely at the artist.
Hope meditatively turned the jewel in his long fingers.
"Why not ask Mrs. Jasher?" he suggested suddenly.
"No!" Sir Frank shook his head. "I fancied it might be her, but
it cannot be. If she is guilty - as she must be, should she have
sent the emerald - she would not part with her plunder when she
is so hard up. I am beginning to believe, Hope, that what she
said was true about the letter."
"How do you mean exactly?"
"That the letter was mere bluff and that she really knows nothing
about the crime. By the way, did Braddock learn anything?"
"Not a thing. He merely said that the two of them fought. I
expect Braddock stormed and Mrs. Jasher retorted. Both of them
have too much tongue-music to come to any understanding. By the
way - to echo, your own phrase - you had better put away this gem
or I shall be strangling you myself in order to gain possession
of it. The mere sight of that gorgeous color tempts me beyond my
Random laughed and locked the jewel in his drawer. Hope
suggested that with such a flimsy lock it was unsafe, but the
baronet shook his head.
"It is safer here than in a woman's jewel case," he asserted.
"No one looks to my drawer, and certainly no one would expect to
find a crown jewel of this description in my quarters. Well," he
came back to his seat, slipping his keys into his trouser
pockets, "the whole thing puzzles me."
"Why not do as I suggest and go to Mrs. Jasher? In any case you
are going there to-night, are you not?"
"Yes. I want to decide what to do about the woman. I had
intended to go alone, but as you are here you may as well come
"I shall be delighted. What do you intend to do?"
"Help her," said Random briefly.
"She doesn't deserve it," replied Hope, lighting a fresh
"Does anyone ever deserve anything?" asked Sir Frank cynically.
"What does Miss Kendal think of the business? I suppose Braddock
told her. He has too long a tongue to keep anything to himself."
"He told her at dinner, when I was present. Lucy is quite on
your side. She says that she had known Mrs. Jasher for months
and that there is good in her, although I am bound to say that
Lucy was a trifle shocked."
"Does she want Mrs. Jasher to marry her father now?"
"Her step-father," corrected Archie immediately. "No, that is
out of the question. But she would like Mrs. Jasher to be helped
out of her difficulties and have a fair start. It was only by
the greatest diplomacy that I prevented Lucy going to see the
wretched :woman this evening."
"Why did you prevent her?"
"I daresay I am a trifle prudish," he replied, "but after what
has happened I do not wish Lucy to associate with Mrs. Jasher.
Do you blame me?"
"No, I don't. All the same, I don't think that Mrs. Jasher is an
immoral woman by any means."
"Perhaps not; but we needn't discuss her character, as we know
precious little of her past, and she no doubt told you the story
that best suited herself. I think it will be best to make her
tell all she knows this evening, and then send her away with a
sum of money, in her pocket to begin a new life."
"I shall help her certainly," said Random, with his eyes on the
fire, "but can't say exactly how. It is my, opinion that the
poor wretch is more sinned against than sinning."
"You are a soldier with a conscience, Random."
The other laughed.
"Why shouldn't a soldier have a conscience? Do you take your
idea of officers from the lady novelist, who makes us out to be
all idle idiots?"
"Not exactly. All the same, many a man would not take the
trouble to behave as you are doing to this unlucky woman."
"Any man, who was a man, whether soldier or civilian, would help
such a poor creature. And I believe, Hope, that you will help
The artist leaped to his feet impulsively.
"Of course. I'm with you right along, as Hervey would say. But
first, before deciding what we shall do to set Mrs. Jasher on her
legs again, let us hear what she has to say."
"She can say nothing more than she has said," remonstrated
"I don't believe that," replied Hope, reaching for his overcoat.
"You may choose to believe that the letter was the outcome of
bluff. But I really and truly think that Mrs. Jasher is in the
know. What is more, I believe that Bolton got her those clothes,
and that she was the woman who talked to him - went there to see
how the little scheme was progressing."
"If I thought that," said Random coldly, "I would not help Mrs.
"Oh, yes, you would. The greater the sinner the more need she or
he has of help, you know, my dear fellow. But get your coat on,
and let us toddle. I don't suppose we need pistols."
Sir Frank laughed, as, aided by the artist, he struggled into his
"I don't suppose that Mrs. Jasher will be dangerous," he
remarked. "We'll get what we can out of her, and then arrange
what is best to be done to recoup her fallen fortunes. Then she
can go where she chooses, and we can, - as the French say -
return to our muttons."
"I think Donna Inez and Lucy would be annoyed to hear themselves
called muttons," laughed Archie, and the two men left the room.
The night was darker than ever, and a fine rain was falling
incessantly. When they left the dimly lighted archway of the
fort through the smaller, gate set in the larger one they stepped
into midnight blackness such as must have been spread over the
land of Egypt. In accordance with the primitive customs of
Gartley inhabitants, one of them at least should have been
furnished with a lantern, as it was no easy task to pick a clean
way through the mud. - However, Archie, knowing the surroundings
better even than Random, led the way, and they walked slowly
through the iron gate on the hard high road which led to the
Fort. Immediately beyond this they turned towards the narrow
cinder path which led through the marshes to Mrs. Jasher's
cottage, and toiled on cautiously through the misty rain, which
fell continuously. The fog was drifting up from the mouth of the
river and was growing so thick that they could not see the
somewhat feeble lights of the cottage. However, Archie's
instincts led him aright, and they blundered finally upon the
wooden gate. Here they paused in shocked surprise, for a woman's
scream rang out wildly and suddenly.
"What, in heaven's name, is that?" asked Hope, aghast.
"We must find out," breathed Random, and raced through the white
cotton-wool of the fog up the path. As he reached the veranda
the door opened and a woman came running out screaming. But
other screams inside the cottage still continued.
"What is the matter?" cried Random, seizing the woman.
She proved to be Jane.
"Oh, sir, my mistress is being murdered - "
Hope plunged past her into the corridor, not waiting to hear
more. The cries had died down to a low moaning, and he dashed
into the pink parlor to find it in smoky darkness. Striking a
match, he held it above his head. It showed Mrs. Jasher prone on
the floor, and a dark figure smashing its way through the flimsy
window. There was a snarl and the figure vanished as the match
Jane was still being held by Sir Frank at the floor, and was
still screaming, fully convinced that her captor was a burglar,
in spite of having recognized him by his voice. Random was so
exasperated by her stupidity that he shook her.
"What is the matter, you fool?" he demanded. "Don't you know
that I am a friend?"
"Y-e-s, s-i-r," gasped Jane, fetching her breath again after the
shaking; "but go for the police. My mistress is being murdered."
"Mr. Hope is looking after that, and the screams have ceased.
Who was with your mistress?"
"I don't know, sir," sobbed the servant. "I didn't know anyone
had called, and then I heard the screaming. I looked into the
parlor to see what was the matter, but the lamp had been thrown
over and had gone out, and there was a dreadful struggle going on
in the darkness, so I screamed and ran out and then I - oh - oh"
Jane showed symptoms of renewed hysteria, and clutched Random
tightly, as a man came cautiously round the corner.
"Are you there, Random?" asked Hope's voice.
"It's so infernally dark and foggy that I have missed him."
"The man who was trying to murder Mrs. Jasher, He got her down
when I entered and struck a match. Then he dashed through the
window before I could catch him or even recognize him. He's
vanished in the mist."
"It's no use looking for him anyhow," said Random, peering into
the dense blackness, which was thick with damp. "We had better
see after Mrs. Jasher."
"Whom have you got there?"
"Jane - who seems to have lost her head."
"It's a mercy I haven't lost my life, sir, with burglars and
murderers all about the place," sobbed the girl, dropping on to
Random promptly hauled her to her feet.
"Go and get a candle, and keep calm if you can," he said in an
abrupt military voice. "This is no time to play the fool."
His sharpness had great effect on the girl, and she became much
more her usual self. Hope lighted another match, and the trio
proceeded through the passage towards the kitchen, where Jane had
left a lamp burning. Seizing this from its bracket, Sir Frank
retraced his way along the passage to the pink parlor, followed
closely by Hope and timorously by Jane. A dreadful scene
presented itself. The dainty little room was literally smashed
to pieces, as though a gigantic bull had been wallowing therein.
The lamp lay on the floor, surrounded by several extinguished
candles. It was a mercy that all the lights had been put out
when overturned, else the gim-crack cottage would have been long
since in a blaze. Chairs and tables and screens were also
overturned, and the one window had its rose-hued curtains torn
down and its glass broken, showing only too clearly the way in
which the murderer had escaped. And that the man who had
attacked Mrs. Jasher was a murderer could be seen from the stream
of blood that ran slowly from Mrs. Jasher's breast. Apparently
she had been stabbed in the lungs, for the wound was on the right
side. There she lay, poor woman, in her tawdry finery, crumpled
up, battered and bruised, dead amongst the ruins of her home.
Jane immediately began to scream again.
"Stop her, Hope," cried Random, who was kneeling by the body and
feeling the heart. "Mrs. Jasher is not dead. Hold your noise,
woman, and go for a doctor." This was to Jane, who, prevented
from screaming, took to whimpering.
"I had better go," said Hope quickly; "and I'll go to the Fort
and alarm the men. Perhaps they may catch the man."
"Can you describe him?"
"Of course not," said Archie indignantly. "I only caught a
glimpse of him by the feeble light of a lucifer match. Then he
leaped through the window and I after him. I made a grab at him,
but lost him in the mist. I don't know in the least what he is
"Then how can anyone arrest him?" snapped Random, raising Mrs.
Jasher's head. "Give what alarm you like, but race for Robinson
up the village. We must save this poor woman's life, if only to
learn who killed her."
"But she isn't dead yet - she isn't dead yet," wailed Jane,
clapping her hands, while Hope, knowing the value of time,
promptly ran out of the house to get further assistance.
"She soon will be," said Sir Frank, whose temper was not of the
best at so critical a moment in dealing with a fool. "Go and
bring me brandy at once, and afterwards linen and hot water. We
must do our best to staunch this wound and revive her."
For the next quarter of an hour the man and the woman labored
hard to save Mrs. Jasher's life. Random bound up the wound in a
rough and ready fashion, and Jane fed the pale lips of her
mistress with sips of brandy. Mrs. Jasher gradually became more
alive, and a faint sigh escaped from her lips, as her wounded
bosom rose and fell with recovered breath. When Sir Frank was in
hopes that she would speak, she suddenly relapsed again into a
comatose state. Luckily at that moment Archie returned with
young Dr. Robinson at his heels, and also was followed by
Painter, the village constable, who had luckily been picked up in
Robinson whistled as he looked at the insensible woman.
"She's had a narrow squeak," he muttered, lifting the body with
the assistance of Random.
"Will she recover?" questioned Hope anxiously.
"I can't tell you yet," answered the doctor; and with Sir Frank
he carried the heavy body of the widow into her bedroom. "How
did it happen?"
"That is my business," said Painter, who had followed, and who
was now filled with importance. "You look after the body, sir,
and I'll question these gentlemen and the servant."
"Servant yourself! Such sauce!" muttered Jane, with an angry
toss of her cap at the daring young policeman. "I know nothing.
I left my mistress in the parlor writing letters, and never heard
anyone come in. The bell didn't sound anyhow. The first thing I
knew that anything was wrong was on hearing the screams. When I
looked into the parlor the candles and the lamp were out, and
there was a struggle going on in the dark. Then I cried out,
very naturally, I'm sure, and ran straight into the arms of these
gentlemen, as soon as I could get the front door open."
After delivering this address, Jane was called away to assist the
doctor in the bedroom, and along with Archie and Random the
constable repaired to the pink parlor to hear what they had to
say. Of course they could tell him even less than Jane had told,
and Archie protested that he was quite unable to describe the man
who had dashed out of the window.
"Ah," said Painter sapiently, "he got out there; but how did he