The Jewel of Seven Stars - Page 20

"I wanted to speak to you, sir, about those lamps." I nodded andwaited: he went on: "You know that that room where they were foundopens directly into the room where Miss Trelawny slept last night?"


"During the night a window somewhere in that part of the house wasopened, and shut again. I heard it, and took a look round; but I couldsee no sign of anything."

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

"Does nothing strike you as strange about it, sir?"

"Strange!" I said; "Strange! why it's all the most bewildering,maddening thing I have ever encountered. It is all so strange that oneseems to wonder, and simply waits for what will happen next. But whatdo you mean by strange?"

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

"You see, I am not one who believes in magic and such things. I am forfacts all the time; and I always find in the long-run that there is areason and a cause for everything. This new gentleman says thesethings w

ere stolen out of his room in the hotel. The lamps, I take itfrom some things he has said, really belong to Mr. Trelawny. Hisdaughter, the lady of the house, having left the room she usuallyoccupies, sleeps that night on the ground floor. A window is heard toopen and shut during the night. When we, who have been during the daytrying to find a clue to the robbery, come to the house, we find thestolen goods in a room close to where she slept, and opening out of it!"

He stopped. I felt that same sense of pain and apprehension, which Ihad experienced when he had spoken to me before, creeping, or ratherrushing, over me again. I had to face the matter out, however. Myrelations with her, and the feeling toward her which I now knew fullwell meant a very deep love and devotion, demanded so much. I said ascalmly as I could, for I knew the keen eyes of the skilful investigatorwere on me:

"And the inference?"

He answered with the cool audacity of conviction:

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

Somehow I felt relieved; the assumption was too monstrous. I did notwant, however, my relief to be apparent, so I answered as gravely as Icould:

"And who do you suppose brought them to the house?"

"I keep my mind open as to that. Possibly Mr. Corbeck himself; thematter might be too risky to trust to a third party."

"Then the natural extension of your inference is that Mr. Corbeck is aliar and a fraud; and that he is in conspiracy with Miss Trelawny todeceive someone or other about those lamps."

"Those are harsh words, Mr. Ross. They're so plain-spoken that theybring a man up standing, and make new doubts for him. But I have to gowhere my reason points. It may be that there is another party thanMiss Trelawny in it. Indeed, if it hadn't been for the other matterthat set me thinking and bred doubts of its own about her, I wouldn'tdream of mixing her up in this. But I'm safe on Corbeck. Whoever elseis in it, he is! The things couldn't have been taken without hisconnivance--if what he says is true. If it isn't--well! he is a liaranyhow. I would think it a bad job to have him stay in the house withso many valuables, only that it will give me and my mate a chance ofwatching him. We'll keep a pretty good look-out, too, I tell you.He's up in my room now, guarding those lamps; but Johnny Wright isthere too. I go on before he comes off; so there won't be much chanceof another house-breaking. Of course, Mr. Ross, all this, too, isbetween you and me."

"Quite so! You may depend on my silence!" I said; and he went away tokeep a close eye on the Egyptologist.

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

"This is a strange affair altogether. Miss Trelawny has just beentelling me about the stolen lamps, and of the finding of them in theNapoleon cabinet. It would seem to be another complication of themystery; and yet, do you know, it is a relief to me. I have exhaustedall human and natural possibilities of the case, and am beginning tofall back on superhuman and supernatural possibilities. Here are suchstrange things that, if I am not going mad, I think we must have asolution before long. I wonder if I might ask some questions and somehelp from Mr. Corbeck, without making further complications andembarrassing us. He seems to know an amazing amount regarding Egyptand all relating to it. Perhaps he wouldn't mind translating a littlebit of hieroglyphic. It is child's play to him. What do you think?"

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

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

"Of course!" he answered. "Indeed I should not dream of sayinganything to anybody, excepting yourself. We have to remember that whenMr. Trelawny recovers he may not like to think that we have beenchattering unduly over his affairs."

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

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

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

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

Mr. Corbeck and Doctor Winchester, after a quick glance at each other,became at once on most friendly terms. The traveller professed hiswillingness to be of any assistance which he could, provided, he added,that it was anything about which he was free to speak. This was notvery promising; but Doctor Winchester began at once:

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

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