The Jewel of Seven Stars - Page 5

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

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

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

"I shall be very grateful to you." He looked keenly at her for a fewseconds before he spoke again.

"Before I go have I permission to look about your Father's table anddesk? There might be something which would give us a clue--or a leadat all events." Her answer was so unequivocal as almost to surprisehim.

"You have the fullest possible permission to do anything which may helpus in this dreadful trouble--to discover what it is that is wrong withmy Father, or which may shield him in the future!"

He began at once a systematic search of the dressing-table, and afterthat of the writing-table in the room. In one of the drawers he founda letter sealed; this he brought at once across the room and handed toMiss Trelawny.

"A letter--directed to me--and in my Father's hand!" she said as sheeagerly opened it. I watched her face as she began to read; but seeingat once that Sergeant Daw kept his keen eyes on her face, unflinchinglywatching every flitting expression, I kept my eyes henceforth fixed onhis. When Miss Trelawny had read her letter through, I had in my minda conviction, which, however, I kept locked in my own heart. Amongstthe suspicions in the mind of the Detective was one, rather perhapspotential than definite, of Miss Trelawny herself.

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

With mingled feelings I took it, but, all said, I was glad. She didnot show any perturbation in giving the letter to the Detective--shemight not have shown any to anyone else. But to me... I feared tofollow the thought further; but read on, conscious that the eyes ofboth Miss Trelawny and the Detective were fixed on me.

"MY DEAR DAUGHTER, I want you to take this letter as aninstruction--absolute and imperative, and admitting of no deviationwhatever--in case anything untoward or unexpected by you or by othersshould happen to me. If I should be suddenly and mysteriously strickendown--either by sickness, accident or attack--you must follow thesedirections implicitly. If I am not already in my bedroom when you aremade cognisant of my state, I am to be brought there as quickly aspossible. Even should I be dead, my body is to be brought there.Thenceforth, until I am either conscious and able to give instructionson my own account, or buried, I am never to be left alone--not for asingle instant. From nightfall to sunrise at least two persons mustremain in the room. It will be well that a trained nurse be in theroom from time to time, and will note any symptoms, either permanent orchanging, which may strike her. My solicitors, Marvin & Jewkes, of 27BLincoln's Inn, have full instructions in case of my death; and Mr.Marvin has himself undertaken to see personally my wishes carried out.I should advise you, my dear Daughter, seeing that you have no relativeto apply to, to get some friend whom you can trust to either remainwithin the house where instant communication can be made, or to comenightly to aid in the watching, or to be within call. Such friend maybe either male or female; but, whichever it may be, there should beadded one other watcher or attendant at hand of the opposite sex.Understand, that it is of the very essence of my wish that there shouldbe, awake and exercising themselves to my purposes, both masculine andfeminine intelligences. Once more, my dear Margaret, let me impress onyou the need for observation and just reasoning to conclusions,howsoever strange. If I am taken ill or injured, this will be noordinary occasion; and I wish to warn you, so that your guarding may becomplete.

"Nothing in my room--I speak of the curios--must be removed ordisplaced in any way, or for any cause whatever. I have a specialreason and a special purpose in the placing of each; so that any movingof them would thwart my plans.

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


I read the letter a second time before speaking, for I feared to betraymyself. The choice of a friend might be a momentous occasion for me.I had already ground for hope, that she had asked me to help her in thefirst throe of her trouble; but love makes its own doubtings, and Ifeared. My thoughts seemed to whirl with lightning rapidity, and in afew seconds a whole process of reasoning became formulated. I must notvolunteer to be the friend that the father advised his daughter to haveto aid her in her vigil; and yet that one glance had a lesson which Imust not ignore. Also, did not she, when she wanted help, send tome--to me a stranger, except for one meeting at a dance and one briefafternoon of companionship on the river? Would it not humiliate her tomake her ask me twice? Humiliate her! No! that pain I could at allevents save her; it is not humiliation to refuse. So, as I handed herback the letter, I said:

"I know you will forgive me, Miss Trelawny, if I presume too much; butif you will permit me to aid in the watching I shall be proud. Thoughthe occasion is a sad one, I shall be so far happy to be allowed theprivilege."

Despite her manifest and painful effort at self-control, the red tideswept her face and neck. Even her eyes seemed suffuse

d, and in sterncontrast with her pale cheeks when the tide had rolled back. Sheanswered in a low voice:

"I shall be very grateful for your help!" Then in an afterthought sheadded:

"But you must not let me be selfish in my need! I know you have manyduties to engage you; and though I shall value your help highly--mosthighly--it would not be fair to monopolise your time."

"As to that," I answered at once, "my time is yours. I can for todayeasily arrange my work so that I can come here in the afternoon andstay till morning. After that, if the occasion still demands it, I canso arrange my work that I shall have more time still at my disposal."

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

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

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

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

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

I went about the room, taking accurate note of all I saw. And trulythere were enough things in the room to evoke the curiosity of anyman--even though the attendant circumstances were less strange. Thewhole place, excepting those articles of furniture necessary to awell-furnished bedroom, was filled with magnificent curios, chieflyEgyptian. As the room was of immense size there was opportunity for theplacing of a large number of them, even if, as with these, they were ofhuge proportions.

Whilst I was still investigating the room there came the sound ofwheels on the gravel outside the house. There was a ring at the halldoor, and a few minutes later, after a preliminary tap at the door andan answering "Come in!" Doctor Winchester entered, followed by a youngwoman in the dark dress of a nurse.

"I have been fortunate!" he said as he came in. "I found her at onceand free. Miss Trelawny, this is Nurse Kennedy!"

Chapter III

Tags: Bram Stoker Horror
Source: Copyright 2016 - 2023