The Jewel of Seven Stars - Page 37

Secondly: the disappearance of Van Huyn's book when I had read up tothe description of the Star Ruby.

Thirdly: the finding of the lamps in the boudoir. Tera with herastral body could have unlocked the door of Corbeck's room in thehotel, and have locked it again after her exit with the lamps. Shecould in the same way have opened the window, and put the lamps in theboudoir. It need not have been that Margaret in her own person shouldhave had any hand in this; but--but it was at least strange.

Fourthly: here the suspicions of the Detective and the Doctor cameback to me with renewed force, and with a larger understanding.

Fifthly: there were the occasions on which Margaret foretold withaccuracy the coming occasions of quietude, as though she had someconviction or knowledge of the intentions of the astral-bodied Queen.

Sixthly: there was her suggestion of the finding of the Ruby which herfather had lost. As I thought now afresh over this episode in thelight of suspicion in which her own powers were involved, the onlyconclusion I could come to was--always supposing that the theory of theQueen's astral power was correct--that Queen Tera being anxious thatall should go well in the movement from London to Kyllion had in herown way taken the Jewel from Mr. Trelawny's pocket-book, finding it ofsome use in her supernatural guardianship of the journey. Then in somemysterious way she had, through Margaret, made the suggestion of itsloss and finding.

Seventhly, and lastly, was the strange dual existence which Margaretseemed of late to be leading; and which in some way seemed aconsequence or corollary of all that had gone before.

The dual existence! This was indeed the conclusion which overcame alldifficulties and reconciled opposites. If indeed Margaret were not inall ways a free agent, but could be compelled to speak or act as shemight be instructed; or if her whole being could be changed for anotherwithout the possibility of any one noticing the doing of it, then allthings were possible. All would depend on the spirit of theindividuality by which she could be so compelled. If thisindividuality were just and kind and clean, all might be well. But ifnot! ... The thought was too awful for words. I ground my teeth withfutile rage, as the ideas of horrible possibilities swept through me.

Up to this morning Margaret's lapses into her new self had been few andhardly noticeable, save when once or twice her attitude towards myselfhad been marked by a bearing strange to me. But today the contrary wasthe case; and the change presaged badly. It might be that that otherindividuality was of the lower, not of the better sort! Now that Ithought of it I had reason to fear. In the history of the mummy, fromthe time of Van Huyn's breaking into the tomb, the record of deathsthat we knew of, presumably effected by her will and agency, was astartling one. The Arab who had stolen the hand from the mummy; and theone who had taken it from his body. The Arab chief who had tried tosteal the Jewel from Van Huyn, and whose throat bore the marks of sevenfingers. The two men found dead on the first night of Trelawny's takingaway the sarcophagus; and the three on the return to the tomb. TheArab who had opened the secret serdab. Nine dead men, one of themslain manifestly by the Queen's own hand! And beyond this again theseveral savage attacks on Mr. Trelawny in his own room, in which, aidedby her Familiar, she had tried to open the safe and to extract theTalisman jewel. His device of fastening the key to his wrist by asteel bangle, though successful in the end, had wellnigh cost him hislife.

If then the Queen, intent on her resurrection under her own conditionshad, so to speak, waded to it through blood, what might she not do wereher purpose thwarted? What terrible step might she not take to effecther wishes? Nay, what were her wishes; what was her ultimate purpose?As yet we had had only Margaret's statement of them, given in all theglorious enthusiasm of her lofty soul. In her record there was noexpression of love to be sought or found. All we knew for certain wasthat she had set before her the object of resurrection, and that in itthe North which she had manifestly loved was to have a special part.But that the resurrection was to be accomplished in the lonely tomb inthe Valley of the Sorcerer was apparent. All preparations had beencarefully made for accomplishment from within, and for her ultimateexit in her new and living form. The sarcophagus was unlidded. The oiljars, though hermetically sealed, were to be easily opened by hand; andin them provision was made for shrinkage through a vast period of time.Even flint and steel were provided for the production of flame. TheMummy Pit was left open in violation of usage; and beside the stonedoor on the cliff side was fixed an imperishable chain by which shemight in safety descend to earth. But as to what her after intentionswere we had no clue. If it was that she meant to begin life again as ahumble individual, there was something so noble in the thought that iteven warmed my heart to her and turned my wishes to her success.

The very idea seemed to endorse Margaret's magnificent tribute to herpurpose, and helped to calm my troubled spirit.

Then and there, with this feeling strong upon me, I determined to warnMargaret and her father of dire possibilities; and to await, as wellcontent as I could in my ignorance, the development of things overwhich I had no power.

I returned to the house in a different frame of mind to that in which Ihad left it; and was enchanted to find Margaret--the oldMargaret--waiting for me.

After dinner, when I was alone for a time with the father and daughter,I opened the subject, though with considerable hesitation:

"Would it not be well to take every possible precaution, in case theQueen may not wish what we are doing, with regard to what may occurbefore the Experiment; and at or after her waking, if it comes off?"Margaret's answer came back quickly; so quickly that I was convincedshe must have had it ready for some one:

"But she does approve! Surely it cannot be otherwise. Father isdoing, with all his brains and all his energy and all his greatcourage, just exactly what the great Queen had arranged!"

"But," I answered, "that can hardly be. All that she arranged was in atomb high up in a rock, in a desert solitude, shut away from the worldby every conceivable means. She seems to have depended on thisisolation to insure against accident. Surely, here in another countryand age, with quite different conditions, she may in her anxiety makemistakes and treat any of you--of us--as she did those others in timesgone past. Nine men that we know of have been slain by her own hand orby her

instigation. She can be remorseless if she will." It did notstrike me till afterwards when I was thinking over this conversation,how thoroughly I had accepted the living and conscious condition ofQueen Tera as a fact. Before I spoke, I had feared I might offend Mr.Trelawny; but to my pleasant surprise he smiled quite genially as heanswered me:

"My dear fellow, in a way you are quite right. The Queen didundoubtedly intend isolation; and, all told, it would be best that herexperiment should be made as she arranged it. But just think, thatbecame impossible when once the Dutch explorer had broken into hertomb. That was not my doing. I am innocent of it, though it was thecause of my setting out to rediscover the sepulchre. Mind, I do notsay for a moment that I would not have done just the same as Van Huyn.I went into the tomb from curiosity; and I took away what I did, beingfired with the zeal of acquisitiveness which animates the collector.But, remember also, that at this time I did not know of the Queen'sintention of resurrection; I had no idea of the completeness of herpreparations. All that came long afterwards. But when it did come, Ihave done all that I could to carry out her wishes to the full. Myonly fear is that I may have misinterpreted some of her crypticinstructions, or have omitted or overlooked something. But of this Iam certain; I have left undone nothing that I can imagine right to bedone; and I have done nothing that I know of to clash with Queen Tera'sarrangement. I want her Great Experiment to succeed. To this end Ihave not spared labour or time or money--or myself. I have enduredhardship, and braved danger. All my brains; all my knowledge andlearning, such as they are; all my endeavours such as they can be, havebeen, are, and shall be devoted to this end, till we either win or losethe great stake that we play for."

"The great stake?" I repeated; "the resurrection of the woman, and thewoman's life? The proof that resurrection can be accomplished; bymagical powers; by scientific knowledge; or by use of some force whichat present the world does not know?"

Then Mr. Trelawny spoke out the hopes of his heart which up to now hehad indicated rather than expressed. Once or twice I had heard Corbeckspeak of the fiery energy of his youth; but, save for the noble wordsof Margaret when she had spoken of Queen Tera's hope--which coming fromhis daughter made possible a belief that her power was in some sensedue to heredity--I had seen no marked sign of it. But now his words,sweeping before them like a torrent all antagonistic thought, gave me anew idea of the man.

"'A woman's life!' What is a woman's life in the scale with what wehope for! Why, we are risking already a woman's life; the dearest lifeto me in all the world, and that grows more dear with every hour thatpasses. We are risking as well the lives of four men; yours and myown, as well as those two others who have been won to our confidence.'The proof that resurrection can be accomplished!' That is much. Amarvellous thing in this age of science, and the scepticism thatknowledge makes. But life and resurrection are themselves but items inwhat may be won by the accomplishment of this Great Experiment.Imagine what it will be for the world of thought--the true world ofhuman progress--the veritable road to the Stars, the itur ad astra ofthe Ancients--if there can come back to us out of the unknown past onewho can yield to us the lore stored in the great Library of Alexandria,and lost in its consuming flames. Not only history can be set right,and the teachings of science made veritable from their beginnings; butwe can be placed on the road to the knowledge of lost arts, lostlearning, lost sciences, so that our feet may tread on the indicatedpath to their ultimate and complete restoration. Why, this woman cantell us what the world was like before what is called 'the Flood'; cangive us the origin of that vast astounding myth; can set the mind backto the consideration of things which to us now seem primeval, but whichwere old stories before the days of the Patriarchs. But this is notthe end! No, not even the beginning! If the story of this woman beall that we think--which some of us most firmly believe; if her powersand the restoration of them prove to be what we expect, why, then wemay yet achieve a knowledge beyond what our age has ever known--beyondwhat is believed today possible for the children of men. If indeedthis resurrection can be accomplished, how can we doubt the oldknowledge, the old magic, the old belief! And if this be so, we musttake it that the 'Ka' of this great and learned Queen has won secretsof more than mortal worth from her surroundings amongst the stars. Thiswoman in her life voluntarily went down living to the grave, and cameback again, as we learn from the records in her tomb; she chose to dieher mortal death whilst young, so that at her resurrection in anotherage, beyond a trance of countless magnitude, she might emerge from hertomb in all the fulness and splendour of her youth and power. Alreadywe have evidence that though her body slept in patience through thosemany centuries, her intelligence never passed away, that her resolutionnever flagged, that her will remained supreme; and, most important ofall, that her memory was unimpaired. Oh, what possibilities are therein the coming of such a being into our midst! One whose history beganbefore the concrete teaching of our Bible; whose experiences wereantecedent to the formulation of the Gods of Greece; who can linktogether the Old and the New, Earth and Heaven, and yield to the knownworlds of thought and physical existence the mystery of the Unknown--ofthe Old World in its youth, and of Worlds beyond our ken!"

He paused, almost overcome. Margaret had taken his hand when he spokeof her being so dear to him, and held it hard. As he spoke shecontinued to hold it. But there came over her face that change which Ihad so often seen of late; that mysterious veiling of her ownpersonality which gave me the subtle sense of separation from her. Inhis impassioned vehemence her father did not notice; but when hestopped she seemed all at once to be herself again. In her gloriouseyes came the added brightness of unshed tears; and with a gesture ofpassionate love and admiration, she stooped and kissed her father'shand. Then, turning to me, she too spoke:

"Malcolm, you have spoken of the deaths that came from the poor Queen;or rather that justly came from meddling with her arrangements andthwarting her purpose. Do you not think that, in putting it as you havedone, you have been unjust? Who would not have done just as she did?Remember she was fighting for her life! Ay, and for more than herlife! For life, and love, and all the glorious possibilities of thatdim future in the unknown world of the North which had such enchantinghopes for her! Do you not think that she, with all the learning of hertime, and with all the great and resistless force of her mighty nature,had hopes of spreading in a wider way the lofty aspirations of hersoul! That she hoped to bring to the conquering of unknown worlds, andusing to the advantage of her people, all that she had won from sleepand death and time; all of which might and could have been frustratedby the ruthless hand of an assassin or a thief. Were it you, in suchcase would you not struggle by all means to achieve the object of yourlife and hope; whose possibilities grew and grew in the passing ofthose endless years? Can you think that that active brain was at restduring all those weary centuries, whilst her free soul was flittingfrom world to world amongst the boundless regions of the stars? Hadthese stars in their myriad and varied life no lessons for her; as theyhave had for us since we followed the glorious path which she and herpeople marked for us, when they sent their winged imaginations circlingamongst the lamps of the night!"

Here she paused. She too was overcome, and the welling tears ran downher cheeks. I was myself more moved than I can say. This was indeed myMargaret; and in the consciousness of her presence my heart leapt. Outof my happiness came boldness, and I dared to say now what I had fearedwould be impossible: something which would call the attention of Mr.Trelawny to what I imagined was the dual existence of his daughter. AsI took Margaret's hand in mine and kissed it, I said to her father:

"Why, sir! she couldn't speak more eloquently if the very spirit ofQueen Tera was with her to animate her and suggest thoughts!"

Mr. Trelawny's answer simply overwhelmed me with surprise. Itmanifested to me that he too had gone through just such a process ofthought as my own.

"And what if it was; if it is! I know well that the spirit of hermother

is within her. If in addition there be the spirit of that greatand wondrous Queen, then she would be no less dear to me, but doublydear! Do not have fear for her, Malcolm Ross; at least have no morefear than you may have for the rest of us!" Margaret took up thetheme, speaking so quickly that her words seemed a continuation of herfather's, rather than an interruption of them.

"Have no special fear for me, Malcolm. Queen Tera knows, and willoffer us no harm. I know it! I know it, as surely as I am lost in thedepth of my own love for you!"

There was something in her voice so strange to me that I looked quicklyinto her eyes. They were bright as ever, but veiled to my seeing theinward thought behind them as are the eyes of a caged lion.

Tags: Bram Stoker Horror
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