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Chapter VIII The Yellow Eye
 At a few minutes before the popular dining hour, Aaron Rodd, having selected a table, ordered, in consultation with the chief ma?tre d'h?tel, a small dinner, and possessed himself of a theatre guide, sat in the reception lounge of the Carlton Grill-room, awaiting the arrival of Henriette. There was a mirror exactly opposite to him, and as he sipped his cocktail he caught a glimpse of his own face. He set down his glass, momentarily startled. Somehow, it seemed to him like being brought face to face with the ghost of his youth. He rose to his feet and lounged over towards the mirror on the pretext of examining some illustrated papers. In the intervals of glancing at them, he looked furtively at his own reflection, trying to account for the change he saw there. At the poet's earnest solicitation he had visited a first-class tailor, had bought the right shape of collar, had learnt to tie his evening bow with the proper twist. A personally conducted visit to a fashionable hairdresser had followed, and his fine black hair, no longer ragged and unkempt, was brushed back from a face which seemed, even to its owner, to have changed in some marvellous way during the last few months. He was, without a doubt, younger. There was a new expression about his lips, from which the hardness seemed to have gone, and, curiously enough, he was conscious that notwithstanding all his anxieties, never more poignant than at this particular moment, life had taken a sudden and sympathetic turn with him. Since the coming of Harvey Grimm, he had at last been lifted up from that weary rut of depression and ill-being; but since the coming of Henriette, he had been transported bodily into the world where human beings live, where the flowers have a different perfume, and the sun shines always, even if sometimes from behind the clouds.
"But you, then, also are vain!" a rather surprised, very amused voice exclaimed almost in his ears. "Why, you remind me of Mr. Cresswell, standing there preening yourself before the mirror!"
For a moment he felt almost embarrassed. Then he smiled as he bent over Henriette's fingers.
"I was wondering," he confessed, "what could have brought so great a change into my life—and then you came."
Her eyes softened as she looked at him. Her lips parted. She studied him for a moment apprisingly.
"You are changed, you know," she decided. "You look younger. You seem, somehow, to have moved from one world into another. You were looking very melancholy that first day when we met in the Gardens. I do not think that adventures have disagreed with you."
"If one could only stop them now!" he exclaimed eagerly.
She laid her finger upon her lip. The ma?tre d'h?tel stood bowing before them.
"Madame will come this way?"
Henriette approved of the table, approved of the dinner, approved of her companion. As for Aaron Rodd, the shadows which sometimes terrified him seemed to have passed far away into the background. He was deaf and dumb to the voices and glances of their neighbours, attracted by his companion's unanalysable elegance, her aristocratic little face with its flawless complexion, her little air—foreign, perhaps, but all the more attractive—of quaint, individual distinction. She wore no ornaments except the pearls which hung from her neck. Her hair, to his untutored eyes, might have been arranged with her own fingers. Her gown, as always, was black, this time of chiffon, and it was not for him to know that its simplicity represented the last word in fashion. He simply found her adorable, and dinner was almost concluded before she uttered a little cry.
"Why, we have not yet decided what theatre to go to!"
He sent for a messenger.
"Do try," she begged, "and get some seats for the Casino. I want so much to see the revue."
The boy brought them a plan of the theatre, and Aaron secured a small box. Very reluctantly they left their table a short time later.
"I have loved my dinner so," she declared, as they sat together in the taxi. "I think that I am getting greedy, everything tasted so good."
"And I think that I, too, am greedy," her companion whispered, leaning towards her, "because I want so much—even the greatest thing in the world could have to offer."
She suddenly clutched his arm with her white fingers, drew it tightly to her.
"Hold my fingers, please," she begged. "Sit just like this. Don't let us spoil anything. Will you be content, please?"
He leaned a little towards her. Her eyes were half pleading with his, half doubtful.
"I will be content," he promised, "if..."
She drew away from him a moment later.
"I did not mean to let you kiss me," she declared naively.
"I meant to if I could," he confessed.
She laughed a little hysterically, but not unhappily.
"Let us pretend that we have behaved like a couple of bad children," she said, "because we must not just now talk of these things. That was just a slip."
"A slip," he repeated.
"A very wonderful, delightful slip," she murmured. "And here we are."
They found themselves soon in a little box, small even for two people. Henriette settled down, almost from the first, to enjoy the performance. She laughed at the whimsical Frenchman, applauded the versatile leading lady, entered with wonderful facility into the spirit of the place. And then, some half-hour after their entrance, Aaron Rodd felt the fingers which he was holding under cover of a programme suddenly twitch. He glanced up. To his amazement, all the joy and light-heartedness had passed from her face. Her features seemed as though they might have been carved out of a piece of ivory. Her lips were a little parted, her eyes filled with fear. She was gazing with strange intensity upon the figure of a girl who, heralded by much applause, had suddenly bounded on to the stage. He leaned towards her.
"Is anything wrong, Henriette?" he asked softly.
She roused herself a little.
"Yes!" she whispered. "That girl—do you see what she is wearing—around her neck?"
He glanced down on to the stage in puzzled fashion. The girl in question, French and a new-comer, who was singing a little song of the boulevards with a good deal of appropriate action, wore no jewellery except a single rather curious yellow stone, suspended from her neck by a platinum chain.
"You mean that yellow thing?"
She looked at him in surprise.
"But of course you do not know!" she exclaimed. "That is the great yellow diamond. It belongs to——"
"To whom?" he interrupted eagerly.
"To Leopold's—to my brother's collection," she explained hesitatingly.
He was puzzled for a moment. Then the sense of her words, and their import, began to dawn upon him.
"You mean that the stone is amongst those that your brother has acquired?" he continued diffidently—"one of those he has not yet tried to have recut?"
"Yes!" she murmured.
There was a moment's embarrassed silence. Henriette was obviously distraught. She watched the rather fascinating figure upon the stage with strained eyes.
"It isn't," she went on, turning abruptly to her companion, "that I mind if Leopold chooses to amuse himself. He has probably lent the girl the diamond for her first appearance. I see that it is her debut to-night. It is not that. But he is so rash, so daring. That stone is known throughout the world—its history, its description have been published everywhere. Why, if there is anyone in the house who knows anything of the history of gems, they will recognise it. It will be traced—so easily traced to Leopold. Oh, what folly! I must go and see her. I must go at once!"
She rose to her feet. They drew a little into the background of the box.
"I am afraid it will be rather difficult," Aaron Rodd warned her.
"It must be arranged," she insisted. "We will go together and find some one at the box office who will take a message round."
They spent a more or less uncomfortable ten minutes at the box office, where they were assured that, owing to the smallness of the theatre, visits to the artistes were not permitted. The manager at last appeared and began an explanation on similar lines. Henriette interrupted him.
"Monsieur," she begged, "it is a great exception. There is something which Mademoiselle should know, something which it is very important for her to know, and I am the only person who can tell her. You will make an exception, please, this once?"
The manager was quite human and a person of discrimination. He made no further difficulty.
"If you will both please follow me," he invited. "Mademoiselle Larilly has just gone off."
He led them by a tortuous way to the back of the stage and knocked at the door of a room.
"Entrez!" was the shrill response.
Their guide ushered Henriette and Aaron Rodd into a tiny little apartment, prettily furnished notwithstanding the bare floors. Mademoiselle Larilly was standing before a pier-glass, admiring herself. She swept round at their entrance.
"Madame?" she murmured in surprise.
The manager spoke a hasty word or two of explanation, in French, and disappeared. Henriette waited until the door was closed. Then she turned to the girl.
"Mademoiselle," she said, "I owe you, perhaps, an apology for this unusual visit. I come for your sake as well as my own and another's. Will you tell me, please, who lent you the diamond which you wear?"
The girl held it tightly to her bosom:
"It has not been lent to me," she declared. "It is given."
"But that is not possible," Henriette protested. "Do you know that the jewel you are wearing is worth nearly a million francs?"
The girl started but she simply shrugged her shoulders.
"Oh, la, la!" she exclaimed. "What do I care? It was given me by a gentleman, not an Englishman, and no one has any right to ask me questions about it. I do not receive here, mademoiselle. I have but a few minutes to rest. If you would please go."
Henriette made efforts to modify the haughtiness of her tone, the air of aloofness with which she seemed shrouded.
"Mademoiselle Larilly," she said, "I will not believe that you wish evil things to the gentleman who lent or gave you that jewel, yet, believe me, you will bring harm upon him if you wear it in public. You will bring a great—the greatest of all misfortunes."
The girl opened her hands a little and gazed at the gem. She shook her head.
"That I cannot help," she decided. "It is his affair. He must know better than you. I promised him to wear it. He may even be here to-night. I shall keep my word."
"Mademoiselle——" Henriette began.
Then the words died away on her lips. The door of the dressing-room had opened and closed without any knock. Mr. Paul Brodie stood there, suave and with a little smile upon his lips. He bowed politely—a gesture which seemed to include every one. Mademoiselle Larilly glanced at him contemptuously.
"But who allowed you to enter?" she demanded. "I do not receive here. I will send for the manager. It is an impertinence when people come to my room without permission."
Mr. Brodie held out his hand deprecatingly.
"Miss Larilly," he begged, "pray do not disturb yourself. I am one of those who must go anywhere they choose, at any time."
"Indeed!" she exclaimed indignantly. "You are not the owner of the theatre or the author of the revue, and I do not know you. I beg you to leave at once."
"Young lady," Mr. Brodie continued, his eyes fastened upon the gem which hung from her neck, "I have not the good fortune to be either of the gentlemen you mention, but I represent a force which has to be reckoned with by law-abiding people. I am of the police."
She stood quite still. Once more her hands clutched at the jewel which rested on her bosom.
"The police?" she repeated. "But I do not understand! What do you——what do the police want with me in my room?"
"Now come, Miss Larilly," Mr. Brodie went on soothingly, "it's nothing you need worry about. I just want your permission to examine the jewel which you are wearing."
"No!" she refused sharply. "No one shall do that. The jewel has been lent to me, lent to me on one condition—that I permit no one to touch it."
"Look here, young lady," Brodie protested, quietly but forcibly, "I don't want to make any disturbance, and I'd sooner deal with this matter in a friendly fashion. All the same, if you're out for trouble, I can soon bring you plenty of it. Come, it won't take you long to slip that off your neck."
She began to look a little frightened. She glanced towards Henriette as though for guidance. Henriette, however, seemed almost on the point of breaking down herself. She had sunk into the chair which Aaron had fetched.
"Courage," Aaron whispered in her ear. "That brute is watching you."
Brodie had drawn closer to Mademoiselle Larilly. She held her hands tightly against her bosom.
"If you come a step further," she cried, "I will shriek! I will call the artistes to defend me—the manager! You must come to me when I am not playing, if you would ask questions."
"Young lady," the detective said with a new sternness, "you can call the manager, if you will, and I shall repeat to him what I say to you. If you do not suffer me to examine that jewel, I shall stop the performance and have you taken to the police-station."
She was obviously terrified now. The rouge upon her cheeks seemed like a great daub of red. She set her teeth, her hands flew apart.
"It is a miserable country!" she exclaimed passionately. "In France this could not happen. Look, then, at the stone, and go, but remember—I will give it up to no one. If you take it, you must drag it from my neck and I will follow you, shrieking, even on to the stage. I will not be robbed! How do I know that you are of the police? You may be a thief yourself! The stone—I tell you that it is worth a fortune."
"I can well believe it," Brodie assented calmly. "One moment, if you please."
He held the stone in the palm of his hand and fitted a magnifying glass into his eye. There was a moment's silence. Henriette suddenly gripped her companion's hand. Mademoiselle Larilly stood there, panting, her bosom rising and falling quickly. There was murder in her eyes. Presently Brodie let the stone fall, replaced the magnifying glass in his pocket. He stood, for a moment, as though thinking. Then he turned towards the door.
"Miss Larilly," he said, looking back at her, "my apologies. The bauble which you are wearing is a worthless piece of yellow crystal, worth, perhaps, twenty pounds. I was deceived—as was, perhaps, the young lady over yonder," he added with a little ironical bow—"by a wonderful resemblance."
He closed the door quietly behind him. There was a queer silence in the room. Henriette was deathly pale. Relief and bewilderment were struggling in her face. The French girl's expression had become electrically transformed. With a sudden little gesture she leaned towards the closed door. Her hand flashed in front of her face. Her gesture was significant if vulgar.
"It is worth twenty pounds, my bauble, is it?" she mocked. "And he thinks, that big, ugly man, that I would come on to the stage with a bauble round my neck worth twenty pounds! Eh, but he is not a gentleman of France, that——!"
An inner door suddenly opened. Leopold Brinnen appeared, and behind him the tall, slender figure of Monsieur Larkson, the leading French actor in the revue.
"With your permission," Brinnen began, bowing to Mademoiselle Larilly.... "Henriette!"
He stopped short in amazement. Henriette rose to her feet and came towards him.
"Leopold," she exclaimed, talking to him rapidly in French, "what have you done? How dare you, for all our sakes, run these awful risks! If the man Brodie had not been a fool, if he had known anything of jewels, if he had not been blind, where should we have been at this moment? Do you think they would have let mademoiselle go until she had told from whence came the Yellow Eye? Oh, but you are so reckless! Take it away from her quickly! Hide it!"
Leopold listened to her words a little gravely.
"Will you tell me, my sister," he enquired, "what you are doing here?"
"I have dined and am spending the evening with Mr. Aaron Rodd," she explained. "We sit in the box here and I recognise the Yellow Eye. I hurry here. Mademoiselle receives me. I beg her to take it off, not to wear it. I warn her that there is danger. She scoffs at me. And then Brodie comes. But that man—he must be mad! He held the stone in his hand."
The young man smiled quietly. Then he listened at the door which led into the passage and softly turned the key. He glanced towards mademoiselle.
"Ah, but if you all will," she exclaimed, "behold!"
Her hand disappeared for a moment down her back. She threw the platinum chain and stone which she was wearing, on to the dressing-table. In a moment another flashed upon her bosom.
"You see," she went on, "how simple! I obeyed. On the stage I wore that great beautiful stone, and even before I had reached my room, in the passage, the other hung in its place."
Leopold Brinnen smiled amiably. Nevertheless, he was a little apologetic as he turned towards his sister.
"It is that man Brodie," he sighed. "He is so persistent and yet he has not the wits for success. He wearies me with his blunders. This is just a little lesson."
"A little lesson," Henriette repeated reproachfully, with a sob in her throat, "which might have cost us——"
He waved his hand.
"Ah, no, little sister!" he protested. "You take too gloomy a view. Even Paul Brodie," he continued, lowering his voice so that it was inaudible at the other end of the room, "has not yet succeeded in forging the missing link between Jeremiah Sands and Captain Brinnen of the Belgian Artillery. You permit now, madame," he went on, turning back to the others, "that I present to you my sister and Monsieur Aaron Rodd. Mademoiselle Larilly," he explained, "is the wife of Monsieur Larkson here, whom I take the liberty also to present. What do you say? Which stone shall mademoiselle wear when she sings her next song?"
"One may play with fire a little too long," Aaron Rodd observed.
"Leopold!" his sister implored, clasping her hands.
The young man bowed.
"It shall be as you will," he promised, holding out his hand and accepting the stone which Mademoiselle Larilly was eagerly pressing upon him. "Into my pocket with this one, then. Madame shall dance for the first time in her life with a worthless bauble around her throat, but there shall be a recompense. I insist. We will all sup together at Giro's. You agree? And you, Rodd? My sister," he added, "will, I am sure, be delighted to see more of you, madame, and your husband."
"It will give me the greatest pleasure," Henriette assented.
A call boy came shouting down the passage.
"Giro's at eleven-thirty," Brinnen reminded them all.
"It shall be au revoir, then, madame!" Henriette said, as she passed through the door which Aaron was holding open for her.
There was a great relief in Henriette's face as she leaned back in the darkest corner of the box and closed her eyes. The atmosphere of the evening, however, had departed. She was no longer full of that quivering, electrical gaiety. She watched the rest of the performance with interest and talked now and then to Aaron, but their homeward drive afterwards was performed almost in silence. She rested her fingers in his and leaned back.
"Forgive me if I rest," she murmured. "I am terrified. I shake now when I think of that moment."
"It is all over now," he reminded her. "Try and be quiet for a little time."
Presently she sat up.
"Listen," she said, "it will be half an hour at least before they can arrive at Giro's. Madame must change her toilette."
As Madame's last toilette had been one of pink silk, in which there was very much more stocking than skirt, the suggestion seemed probable.
"What would you like to do?" Aaron asked.
"I would like to call back at the Milan," she begged. "I nearly always see my grandfather for a moment before he goes to sleep; and I can rest and bathe my eyes. You will not mind waiting?"
"Of course not!"
He redirected the driver and they drew up, a few minutes later, at the Milan. She descended at the Court entrance and crossed over at once to the lift.
"I will not ask you up," she said. "I shall find you here, perhaps, in—say, ten minutes?"
He assented and bought an evening paper. In less than the time she had stated, the lift stopped and she reappeared. To his surprise she had taken off her hat. She came towards him with a strange look in her face. He could see the tears quivering in her eyes.
"Dear friend," she whispered, "be kind to me. I have had a great blow. My grandfather died this evening while we were away—only an hour ago."
He murmured an eager word or two of sympathy. She laid her hand upon his arm.
"Will you go, please, at once to Giro's," she begged him, "and tell Leopold? Try and prevent him, if you can, entering the supper-room. There are so many things that will happen now," she went on. "Please go quickly. See!"
She raised her fingers to his lips. He caught them and kissed them. Then she turned away and he hurried outside, jumped into a taxi and drove to Giro's. Leopold Brinnen and a little party of guests were standing in the hall. The former frowned as he entered alone.
"Where is my sister?" he demanded.
Aaron took him by the arm.
"Captain Brinnen," he said, "I am sorry, but I am the bearer of bad news. Your grandfather died this evening."
The young man stood perfectly still for a moment.
"Dead!" he muttered. "Poor fellow! ... dead!"
Inside the room the music was crashing, and the hum of conversation was already swelling to a tumult. A couple of early dancers were whirling round the room. Brinnen turned to his guests.
"I am so sorry," he explained, "Mr. Rodd here has brought me bad news. A near relative of mine has died suddenly. You must excuse my joining you. Luigi will serve the supper."
There was a little murmur of sympathy. His Bohemian friends crowded silently around him. One by one they shook his hand—a queer little function. Then he turned away and stood for a moment on the pavement outside, Aaron Rodd by his side.
"Mr. Rodd," he said, "my grandfather's death may make a difference in many ways."
Aaron Rodd straightened himself. He was never sure of the demeanour of this young adventurer, who seemed for the most part to treat life as a jest.
"In what way?" he asked.
Brinnen replied with a question.
"Can you communicate with Mr. Harvey Grimm?"
Aaron shook his head.
"I do not even know where he does his work. Forgive me for reminding you," he added, "that your sister is in great distress."
The young man stepped into a taxi.
"It is necessary that I see Harvey Grimm as soon as possible," he insisted.
"Harvey Grimm won't be hurried over his work," Aaron declared. "For your own sake he is better out of sight until it is concluded. Shall I tell the man to go to the Milan?"
Brinnen nodded. He leaned out of the window for a moment, however, before the cab started.
"Mr. Aaron Rodd," he said, "do you mind if I speak to you for a moment with perfect frankness?"
"Not in the least," Aaron assured him promptly.
"In some respects," Brinnen continued confidentially, "I am inclined to like you, but on the whole I have come to the conclusion that you are a very simple fellow. That is all!"


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