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首页 » 英文短篇小说 » The Mikado Jewel » CHAPTER X THE NEW-COMER
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Patricia was not a particularly imaginative girl, considering that she was of Irish descent and blood. But there was something in the clean-shaven face of the young naval officer which appealed to her. The clasp of his arms thrilled her, and although, on recovering her senses, she extricated herself from them hurriedly, yet for days she seemed to feel them round her. Basil was so strong and kind-hearted and virile, that all Patricia's femininity went out to him, and he became her ideal of what a man should be. Tall and slim, well-made and wiry, young Dane was as handsome and clean-limbed a man as anyone could meet in a day's march. His hair was brown, his skin was tanned by sea and wind and sun, and his eyes were hazel in colour. He had a firm chin and a well-cut mouth, which Patricia could well imagine could be set firmly at times. And, indeed, when she opened her eyes to find herself in his arms, the mouth was stern enough. It was evident that Basil did not at all approve of his brother's experiments.

Theodore protested that he had intended no experiment. "I simply burnt the incense to dispel the chilly feeling in the atmosphere of the room," he declared, "and the scent was too much for Miss Carrol."

"If that was all," questioned Basil dryly, "why did Mara come out to say that you had put Miss Carrol into a trance?"

"Oh, Mara!" Theodore looked disdainful. "You know what crazy things Mara says when she wakes up to ordinary life."

"Don't talk like that, Theodore."

"Well, then, don't quarrel with me the moment you arrive home," retorted Theodore, and Patricia, drying her wet face with her handkerchief, saw the latent animosity between these two ill-matched brothers leap to life. To throw oil on the troubled waters of fraternal strife, she began to laugh--somewhat artificially, it is true, but still sufficiently naturally to show that she was now entirely herself and not hysterical. "It was silly of me to faint," she said in a matter-of-fact way. "Don't trouble about me, Mr. Dane"--she spoke to Basil. "I am all right. It was my fault, not Mr. Theodore's, that I lost my senses. He was trying no experiments."

"There, you see," said Theodore, with a triumphant glance at his brother.

"You shouldn't burn these strong perfumes," said Basil angrily, and walked away without looking at Patricia. He evidently was annoyed that the girl should champion Theodore's doings in this pronounced way.

"One moment, Miss Carrol," said Theodore, when Patricia was about to depart also, for it was close upon the dinner-hour and she had to dress. "You called my brother Mr. Dane. That is wrong. I am the eldest, and my name is Mr. Dane, whereas he is called simply Mr. Basil."

Patricia heard the venomous tone of his voice and saw the angry look he darted at Basil, as that young gentleman stepped into the house. Her first inclination was to make an angry retort, but when she considered swiftly how wrong it would be to increase the enmity between these brethren, she curbed her temper, and replied deliberately: "You must excuse my mistake. I shall not make it again. When did Mr. Basil arrive?"

"He rushed into the room just when you fainted. Mara told him and he took you up in his arms and carried you out here into the fresh air."

"I did not faint," said Patricia, looking at him searchingly. "And although I defended you to smooth things over, you really did try and experiment on me. Is that not so?"

"You are such a sensible girl that I can admit as much," said Theodore, with an ironical bow. "Yes, I did use the perfume to put you into a trance. I wished you to--to----" He hesitated.

"To look for the danger which Mara said threatened you," she finished.

"Yes. How do you know?"

"Because when I was miles and miles away, bathed in a flood of light, I heard your voice very clearly, telling me to search."

Theodore gazed at her eagerly. "So you can bring back consciously what you see on the other plane. Did you learn what this danger was?"

"No. Some force drew me back."

"Basil." Theodore clenched his hand and his face grew black. "If he had not interfered, you might have found out."

"I doubt it; and, moreover, if I had found out, I should not have told you."

"Why not?" he asked, astonished.

"Because I don't like these experiments."

"But you ought to. Many people's souls depart and see things and can explain them when in a trance. But few like yourself can bring back consciously what they see. Tell me what you----"

"I shall tell you nothing, because I have nothing to tell. But I ask you to explain one thing to me?"

"What is that?"

"Why did Mara dance towards the door. I saw her as I became insensible."

Dane looked worried. "I don't know. When she smells that perfume she always acts like that. It isn't a dance exactly, but it is certainly a measured movement. I don't understand Mara," he confessed candidly. "She has powers which are not under her own control. I could control them, but she will not allow me to."

"She is quite right," said Miss Carrol emphatically, "and never again will I allow you to put me in a trance. It is dangerous," and with a nod she also went into the house.

Theodore Dane, with a lowering face and a savage gleam in his blue eyes, stood where he was, with bowed head, considering what the coming of Basil had cost him. He was greatly attracted to Patricia, not by love for her beauty or sweet nature, but because she possessed certain psychic powers which he wished to control. She could, as he now knew, go and return consciously, and that capability showed an advanced state of spiritual evolution. With such a messenger to send into the Unseen, since he could not go himself and Mara refused to obey him, he could accomplish great things. Had he been left alone with the girl, for a certain period, he might have managed to sap her will power and render her his slave. But the coming of Basil changed all that. Basil was young and handsome and ardent, and with a sailor's keen sense of beauty, would be certain to admire, and perhaps love, Patricia. If this was so, Basil certainly would prevent any more experiments being made, and Theodore's evil heart was filled with black rage at the unexpected thwarting of his aims.

"Curse him!" he muttered, alluding to his brother. "He always crosses my path and puts me wrong." And as he spoke he raised his head to survey the goodly heritage which assuredly Basil would gain in the end. "I shall not be driven from here," raged Theodore furiously. "I shall marry the girl and gain the property by getting Basil out of the way. But how is it to be done with safety to myself? I must think."

This meant that Theodore intended to draw to him certain evil counsellors, who, being supernatural, could guide him in the selfish way which he wished to take. And these powers, being evil, would be only too glad to minister to his wicked passions, since by doing so they secured more control of him, and could use him for their own accursed ends, to sow discord on the earth-plane. But Theodore, not being possessed of psychic powers, could not come directly into contact with these beings so malignant and strong. He was obliged to find a medium, and since Mara would not act in that capacity, and since Patricia was lost to him, or would be, through the influence of Basil, the man's thoughts turned to old Brenda Lee, the grandmother of Isa, to whom Harry Pentreddle was engaged. She was accredited with being a witch, and possessed powers which Theodore knew only too well to be real. He had made use of her before, for there was an evil bond between them, and he now intended to make use of her again. Pending a near visit to her and a consultation of those creatures he intended to summon to his assistance, Theodore smoothed his face to smiles and went in to dinner.

It was a very pleasant meal on this especial evening. Squire Colpster appeared to grow young in the cheery atmosphere of Basil's strong and virile youth. The sailor of twenty-five was so gay and bright, and talked in so interesting a manner of what he had seen and where he had been, that even the dreamy Mara was aroused to unexpected vivacity. And Theodore, with rage in his heart and smiles on his face, behaved so amiably and in such a truly brotherly fashion, that Basil and he were quite hand in glove before the time came to retire to rest. The younger brother, straight, honest-natured and kind-hearted, did not credit Theodore with crooked ways, although he knew that his relative was not so straight as he might be. But Basil, calling him internally a crank, set down his deviation from the normal to his secluded life and uncanny studies.

"You ought to go about the world more, Theo," he said at dinner. "It would do you a lot of good."

"Perhaps I may travel some day," said Mr. Dane, in a would-be genial manner. "Just now I have so much interesting work in hand that I don't want to move."

"Some of your cloudy schemes?"

"They are not so very cloudy, although you may think them to be so," said the elder brother significantly, and there was a look in his blue eyes which made Patricia move uneasily. The girl's instinct, let alone what she had seen when she recovered from her trance, showed her clearly how deadly was the enmity between these brothers. But it is only just to say that the dividing feeling was rather on the part of Theodore than on the part of Basil. The latter only mistrusted his brother as a slippery and unscrupulous man, who was to be avoided, but he did not seek to do him any injury. On the other hand, Theodore hated Basil with cold, calculating malignancy, and was on the watch--as Patricia by her sixth sense perceived--to hurt him in every possible way. But nothing of this was apparent to the eyes of Mr. Colpster as he sat at the head of the table, smiling at his newly-returned nephew.

"Tell me," said Mr. Colpster, when Mara and Patricia had retired to the drawing-room, and the three men were smoking comfortably over their coffee, "tell me exactly what happened about the emerald?"

"I can tell you nothing more than what I set forth in my letter," replied Basil, his frank face clouding over. "I went from Nagasaki to Kitzuki, when I arrived in Japan, and offered to buy the emerald. The priests laughed at me for daring to make such an offer, and then told me that the emerald had been stolen."

"Whom by?"

"They could not say. And yet," added Basil reflectively, "I believe they knew something, although they declined to speak. Indeed, because of my offer for the jewel, they believed that I had something to do with the theft."

"What nonsense!" said Theodore lightly. "The very fact that you offered to buy the jewel openly, showed that you did not take it."

"The priests thought that I did that to throw them off the scent. I was waylaid one night and searched. It might have gone hard with me, as I had a nasty knock on the head. But Akira came along and saved me."


"I should rather say Count Akira," explained the young sailor. "He is in the Japanese Diplomatic Service, so he told me, and is of high rank. His father was a famous daimio over thirty years ago, when Japan was medi?val, and Akira would be a daimio also, if things hadn't changed. As it is, he is high in favour with the Mikado and is very clever. He certainly saved my life, for my assailants would have killed me had he not come along. However, you will hear all about it from his own lips."

The Squire sat up alertly. "Is he coming down here?"

"With your permission, sir. I told him I should ask if you would allow him to come. If you agree, I can write to him; he is at the Japanese Embassy in London, and can come at once."

"Write to him by all means," said Mr. Colpster excitedly. "He may be able to tell me about the emerald."

"I don't think he knows anything about it, save that it was one of the treasures of the Kitzuki Temple, and had been given to the then high-priest centuries ago by Mikado Go Yojo. Akira is too modern to bother about such things. But as a loyal Japanese, he certainly mourned that the emerald should have been lost. I wonder if it will ever be found?"

"It has been found," said Theodore quickly, "and is now on its way to Japan."

Basil let the cigarette fall from his well-cut lips. "What do you say?"

"Oh, that is Theodore's idea, although I don't entirely agree with it," said the Squire impatiently. "It's a long story and has to do with the murder."

"Ah, poor Martha!" said Basil regretfully. "I am so sorry to hear of her terrible death. I was so very fond of her and she of me. I read a lot about the tragedy in the newspapers, but there is still much that I should like to hear. Particularly how Miss Carrol, who was one of the witnesses at the inquest, comes to be here as Mara's companion."

"I met her when I went up to the inquest," said Colpster quietly. "And as I had known her father, Colonel Carrol, at Sandhurst, I invited her to come to Beckleigh as housekeeper and Mara's companion. The poor girl had no money and no friends, so my offer was a godsend to her."

"I am glad you made it, sir," said Basil, heartily. "She is one of the very prettiest and most charming girls I have ever seen."

"Don't fall in love with her, Basil," said his brother, with a disagreeable laugh, "as uncle here wants you to marry Mara and inherit the property."

"Oh, I don't think Mara would marry me," said Basil lightly. "And, in any case, I disbelieve in the marriages of first cousins. Besides, it would be better for you, Theo, to get the property, as I am always away."

"The one who marries Mara, or who recovers the emerald, shall have the estate," said the Squire decidedly. "You both have known that for a long time. But we can talk of that later. Meantime, you ask about the emerald. Well, it was stolen from Patricia on the night Martha was murdered."

"The deuce! What has Miss Carrol to do with it?" Basil sat up quickly, and his hazel eyes brightened. Theodore observed with a thrill of annoyance that any reference to Patricia seemed to stir up his brother, and augured ill from the interest displayed by the sailor.

"Listen," said the Squire in slightly pompous tone, and related all that he knew from the time Patricia had left Mrs. Pentreddle in the drawing-room of The Home of Art, to the time she had returned without the jewel and found the old woman a corpse. Basil, ceasing to smoke, listened in breathless silence, and drew a long breath when the interesting story was ended.

"What a perfectly ripping girl!" he ejaculated, talking of Patricia the moment Mr. Colpster ceased; "so brave and cool-headed."

"Not very cool-headed, seeing she lost the emerald," said Theodore dryly.

Basil nodded absently. "It was a pity she took it out of the box. Of course, that talk of a drawing-power is nonsense."

"Perfect nonsense from your material point of view," said the elder brother with a sneer. "But in my opinion some priest who followed snatched the jewel--stole it, in fact, and now has taken it back to Japan."

Basil shook his head. "I never heard either at Kitzuki or Kamakura that anyone was suspected. And I don't approve of the word stolen. If, indeed, a priest of the Kitzuki Temple followed the thief and recovered the emerald in the way you state, he had a perfect right to do so."

"The emerald is ours," said the Squire, fuming.

"Pardon me, uncle, but you know that I have never agreed with you on that point," said Basil significantly. "Amyas Colpster gave the jewel to Queen Elizabeth for a knighthood, so our family has no right to get the emerald back again. Unless, indeed," added the sailor, with an afterthought, "the jewel is freely given; and I don't think, seeing that store is set by it at Kitzuki, that such a gift will be made. But who could have stolen the emerald?"

"Miss Carrol suspects Harry Pentreddle," said Theodore, lighting a cigar.

"Ah! it might be so. I heard that his ship was touching at Japan. Martha wrote to Hong Kong and told me. But why should he steal it?"

"And why should he wish to give it secretly to his mother?" questioned the Squire. "We wish to learn both those things, Basil, my boy."

"Ask Harry, then?"

"We don't know where he is. He went to Amsterdam, I fancy, when he was last heard of. He can't know that his mother has been murdered, or he would have certainly returned long ago."

"He's sure to turn up sooner or later," said Basil easily, and rising to his feet. "Poor Martha! she was a good friend to me. Where is she buried?"

"In the churchyard on the moors, beside her husband," said Colpster, also getting on his feet. "I am sorry myself, as Martha was such a good housekeeper. But Patricia is succeeding very well."

"And, moreover, is more agreeable to look at," sneered Theodore.

"What beastly things you say!" observed his brother sharply. "I haven't seen you for a year, Theodore, but your manners have not improved."

"I paid Miss Carrol a compliment."

"I think that she can dispense with your compliments," retorted the fiery sailor; "and, in any case, you spoke slightly of the dead. Martha was very dear to me, and should be to you also. When our mother died, Martha stood in her place. Remember that, if you please."

"Boys! boys! Don't quarrel the moment you meet," said the Squire.

"It's Basil's fault."

"It is the fault of your bitter tongue, Theo," said the younger Dane, trying to curb the anger with which his brother always inspired him. "However, I don't wish any ill-feeling. Let us go to the drawing-room and ask Miss Carrol to give us some music."

"Always Miss Carrol," murmured Theodore resentfully, and felt that he hated his brother more than ever. All the same, he threw down his half-smoked cigar and moved with the other two men towards the door.

The Squire placed his hands over the shoulders of his nephews and walked between them proudly. "There are only three of us to represent the family," he said affectionately, "since Mara, being a girl, doesn't count so much as a man. We must stick together and recover the emerald, so that our good fortune may return. And heaven only knows how badly I need good luck! There's that lawsuit over the Hendle water-rights, and a bad hay-season with the continuous rain--not here, but miles away--and--and----"

"If your luck depends upon the emerald," said Theodore crossly, "it will never return. It is on its way to Japan, I tell you."

"Well, we have one piece of good luck," cried Basil gaily. "Miss Carrol is in the house."

"Damn you!" thought the elder brother amiably. "I'd like to wring your neck, you self-satisfied beast."


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