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[PUBLISHED BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT.] THE KING'S DIAMOND. BY FLORENCE STACPOOLE. [COPYRIGHT.] CHAPTER XI The man who ent^r^d was merely Mr. Robert Greenhough returned from despatching Sti ai^ c s telepiams of instruction for the detection and arrest of Sonia Kourapatkin. To find a clergy- man stepping from behind the folds of his uncle's bed curtains was naturally astonishing, he stood in bewilderment, gazing at Mr. Jadd, who leturned the gaze with calm interro- gation of eye and manner. "This is Inspector Jadd from Scotland Yard, Bob," said Sir Richard. He thinks it impor- tant that the servants should not suspect a de- tective is on the track of the diamond, so he has come in the guis" of a clergyman. This is Mr. Greenhough, my nephew, Inspector." The detective bowed. The baronet's nephew returned the bow with a haughty nod, and then turned to the window and looked out, lie lait-iy showed civility to inferiors. You see, Sir Richard, your curtains are wid enough to conceal a man, or woman either, in their folds. One or other was standing there when you came up last night, I'll lay my life on it." "But how could any man or woman have known the diamond was there?" burst out Sir Ricnard vehemently. "That's the point that I cent make any of you thoroughly under- stand not a soul knew that I had the diamond, and if the whole country side had known I had it hew could they have known the secret, 1 iio double secret, of the case and the clamp, and if they didn't know this how the dickens could they, even supposing they, he or she I had contrived to get behind the curtains, bjvo opened the case, taken out the stone, and the ease behind to" "Yes, that's a, hard nut to crack," remarked Robert GreenliO.igh in a venomous voice. It's a nut I think I can get my teeth through nevertheless," said the detective in something of the same tone. Yrs:" said Mr. Greeniirugh, a supercilious note of interrogation in the drawl with which he pronounced the monosyllable. "Yes," said Mr. Jadd, shortly, "we are not living in the days of black magic, or of white magic either; the stone has gone by the agency of human fingers, and it's the business of us detec- tives to track those fingers." He was nettled, and spoke brusquely. You are not a somnambulist are you, Sir Richard Chesney?" he asked, suddenly stopping in the act of pulling out his note-case. "Somnambulist? No. What on earth do you ask that for ?" Well, 1 didn't suppose you but it's as well to turn every sod, and leave nothing on one'< mind afterwards. It came into my head that people do walk in their sleep sometimes and do strange things without knowing anything about them afterwards, but they generally know that they have the habit—friends have seen them—they find evidences of what they've been up to next day—and so on." Never did such a thing in my life," said the baronet decisively, "never. Somnabulists are always heavy sleepers, I am a very light sleeper indeed, the least thing awakens me; that's the reason I sleep in this rather out of the way part of the house, to be quiet; and I have these dark curtains even in summer because the smallest chink of light wakes me up. No one could have put a hand under my head without rousing me." When they put a hand under your bolster, Sir Richard, your head wasn't on it." How do you mean ?" That the case was opened while you were turning the water into the bath yonder." "Last night?" cried Sir Richard, aghast. Well, it wouldn't have been the night before, would it?" Mr. Jadd had entirely forgotten ceremony, not to say courtesy. He was irritated at his client's rather inept remark—ineptitude of any kind always had an ill effect on the detective's temper. But how could any one have known it was there?" persisted the baronet; "explain that Inspector if you please. And how could the case have been opened ?" Ah, that just what I can't say at present- that's what it's my business to find out." Then you're not sure it was Mademoiselle— Bonia Kourapatkin I mean ?" asked Straight, who had not spoken since they came up stairs. Mr. Jadd took no notice whatever of this question; he treated the eminent barrister on this occasion with as slight ceremony as he treated the rest of the party. He drew oat his note-book, seated himself astride on a chair, and said shortly: "Be good enough to tell me, Sir Richard, the names and occupations of each member of the household, visitors, relatives, friends, servants. I mean everyone under vour roof last night. I must be off then—directly." Back to town?" said Sir Richard, with some dismay, thinking that nothing definite had ret been done towards the remedying of his loss. "Mr. Straight was not here; "e is a visitor in the neighbourhood, I believe," said Jadd, beginning to write and paying no attention to the baronet's query. He was wondering that these people hadn't the sense to know that & ought not to be cross-questioned. "Yes—Mrs. Wilkinsoa can prove an alibi far me." said Straight, laughing. "Mr. Greenhcmgh can prove an alibi, too?" asked Jadd, in a businesslike way, and without looking up. "What the deuce do you mean?" quoth Mr. Greenhough, turning sharply from the window. You were absent last night; can you prove an alibi as well as Mr. Straight?" said Jadd, his pencil suspended over his note-book. I think your manners want considerable mending, fellow!" cried Greenhough, furiously. "What do you mean by such questions?" Merely to have my facts clearly before me," said the Selective-Inspector. stonily. Yes, yes, Bob,' interposed his uncle hastily. He knew his nephew's temper and dreaded an outburst. It's merely a matter of business, everyone in the house, Dora and all of us must be accounted for. In an investigation such as this these sort of questions must be asked of every- one, I suppose, though it's not pleasant—it's necessary, isn't it Mr. Straight?" Certainly." "I shouldn't ask them if they weren't necessary," said the detective. "If I'm called to a case I must do my duty in it, and I don't want Mr. Straight's nor any one else's backing up as to whether I'm doing it rightly." No—no—certainly not," exclaimed Straight and Sir Richard, simultaneously. Certainly not," continued the latter, recognising that his appeal to the barrister had not been judicious, and speaking very fast and apologetically in his eagerness to appease the officer on whom the chance of tracking the missing gem so largely rested. "Certainly not, my dear Mr. Jadd, we have the utmost con- fidence in your ability—the utmost confidence and admiration for your well-known skill. My nephew can prove an alibi of course. Colonel Marche, Royal Engineers, Horsham, can snpply his alibi, as good Mrs. Wilkinson at Naresbrook Farm can for our friend Ir. Straight, ha! ha!" Robert Greenhough looked at his ancle with the utmost contempt, and muttered something very disrespectful concerning his intellectual capacity, but no one was attending sufficiently to catch his words, then he turned back to the window with a disdainful shrug. Sir Richard hastily enumerated the names and occupations of his household staff, so far as he could remember them. I can't answer for all the servants' names," he explained, nor exactly for the women servants' precise occupations; Higgs, and Perkins the steward, and Mrs. Popple, the housekeeper, can give you particulars on those points." I shall apply to them if I find it necessary, sir," said Jadd, rising. "You shall hear from mr-, Sir Richard, as soon as I have anything of importance to communicate," and with a military salute, the detective withdrew. John Straight murmuring something about showing him out, hurried after him. Dora, racked with suspense, was waiting among the hyacinths for the specialist's diagnosis, and Straight burned with impatience to have a definite and hopeful one to take to her, and to take it before her father or cousin could follow him. Do you SN. any hope, Jadd ?" he said, eagerly, keeping pace with the detective's rapid steps as they descended the stairs. Of recovering the diamond ?" asked Jadd. Ye?—of course." Mr. Jadd's only answer was an unintelligible grunt. be extremely obliged to you, Jadd," said Straight earnestly. if you could give me an opinion. I don't ask out of curiosity. I have a particular reason for asking—for wanting to know as soon as possible if you can see any chance—even the smallest—for recovering this diamond." "I can't," said Jadd, grimly, "not the smallest." A sort of icy despair fell upon John Straight. How was he to tell this news to Dora? At the thought of her face, and the look he knew it would wear if she could hear the detective's fiat, liis step positively faltered, ami his face paled. Probably some compunction for his tobaeea came to Mr. Jadd, for he stopped a. IKMMMfMMi 6aid in an. aggrieved voice: H I really wonder, Mr. Straight, that you COttM expect such a thing." As what 7" Why, as that I should be able to give any opinion—any opinion worth having I mean—at this short notice. I'm only just put in posses- sion of the outlines of a very complicated case, which into the bargain you've all done your best to tangle up tight by letting an important card drop out of the pack, and then you ask me for an opinion! What chance can I see, Mr. Straight, until I've had even a few hours to follow up any of the clues I may have got hold of. It's mere foolishness to think such things, or to ask such things," and again he grunted inarticulately. Straight felt considerably relieved. He never thought of resenting Mr. Jadd's grumpiness; he was overjoyed to think the diagnosis was not hopeless, else how should the detective have alluded to "clues." The lly whic had conveyed the Rev. Ambrose Maitland" from Pembridge Station re-conveyed him thither, and he presently took his departure by train, not in the direction of the metropolis, whence he had come, but on another and a local line. He had not claimed a bulky Gladstone bag which he had deposited in the Pembridge parcels office before his visit to Riverdale Court, but he claimed it late in the evening, carried it himself from the precincts of the station and down an unfrequented road until he came to a coppice, which, indeed, was part of the wood where the blue hyacinths grew; into this cop- pice he plunged. When he emerged from it he was certainly not an object who would have attracted the attention of ladies, middle-aged or otherwise; he still retained his spectacles, but he had changed the rest of his costume including his whiskers, which were replaced by a scrubby brown beard, and in his ill-fitting merning coat and bowler hat he looked as he desired to look, like a shabby clerk or shopman. At a leisurely pace he returned to Pembridge village, and pwfc up at the only inn where beds were let out. CHAPTER XII. John Straight got his wish, and hurried away to the hyacinth dell without being followed by Dora's father or cousin. They had, in fact, for the moment forgotten all about her anxiety, and were engaged in a heated altercation on the matter of the deuced insolence," as Mr. Green- hough styled it, of the detective's demeanour. Straight, however, had not forgotten her, and as he strode through the long grass of the meadow towards the wood where he had met her just twenty-four hours before, he gave as much anxious thought to construing Mr. Jadd's meagre encouragement into hopeful words as he had ever given to his most important brief. Before he got fairly into the wood he saw her. She was straying dejectedly over the mossy grass at a little distance, and as she heard the swish- ing of his hastening footsteps she turned. The look of anxiety her face had worn vanished when her eyes met his, and she smiled. "Does he think he can find it?" she ex- claimed eagerly. My dear Miss Chesney, you must give him a. little time—he has only just been put in posses- sion of the facts of the case." But did not papa ask him if he thought there was any chance of tracing and getting back the diamond ?" No—not in so many words. You see he is not an easy person to question; you have no idea. what a tremendous personage Detective Inspector Jadd is in his own eyes. He snubs his clients mercilessly and thinks nothing of leaving their questions unanswered." Did he snub papa ?" Yes—I'm afraid he did." And you ?" Oh, yes—and me also." What a horrid man No, he isn't really; and he doesn't mean to be rude, but when he gets hold of a case that in- terests him he is so much absorbed in it that he forgets everything else." Manners included ?" she said, smiling. "Yes—manners particularly," he answered, laughing; "and I've noticed that the more in- terested he is the more he forgets them; so I think it is a good omen." If he is interested in the case he will take more trouble, I suppose," she said. Of course he will; he is like a mathematician —the harder the problem the more zest he will have in solving it." Oh, then," she said, naively, I'm very glad he was rude to-day. Do you think Mr. Straight, she added, anxiously, that he was rude enough ?" Straight laughed again, congratulating him- self that the conversation was taking a trend that lent itself to laughter. Yes, I really think he was quite as rude as we need desire, and I am sure the symptom is de- cidedly encouraging. It shows he is getting a good grip of the case. Jadd often reminds me of a first-rate bull dog, once it gets its teeth into its prey you know nothing will shake it off. Jadd is just like that when his interest is roused in tracking a mystery." She clasped her hands with a sigh of relief. And," he continued, he as much as admit- ted that he had got hold of clues." Mr. Straight. Did he really?" He did. In spite of his crustiness I worried him into that admission." "How good of you:" She raised her eyes which were beaming with gratitude to his. Isn't papa comforted by hearing that; isn't he relieved?" she said, breathlessly. Then Straight found himself in a rather un- comfortable position. He would have to admit that Sir Richard was still ignorant of the hope that had risen. Er—well—it was on the stairs, just as he was going away that he admitted it to me. Sir Richard wasn't fcnere." Where was her" He stopped behind to talk to Mr. Green* hough, I think." "Robert has returned?" "Yes." Then there was silence, during which Straight remembered with an uneasy twinge the scowl that had wreathed Robert Greenhough's face on one or two occasions that morning. He felt sure jealousy had given it birth. That Dora's cousin was an aspirant for her favour he also felt sure. That an engagement existed between them he would not admit even in thought. Then papa does not Know yet that he has found clues ?" N—no—not just at the moment. You see I followed Jadd down stairs on purpose to extract an opinion from him." And then you did not go back and tell papa!" she exclaimed, and there was so much reproach in her tone that in sheer self-defence he was obliged to say: I was so anxious to come and tell you—I knew you were in suspense; you had not heard what was going on, and I promised to come as soon as possible. I could not bear to delay; I'm afraid I did not even think of delaying." 4*. each little sentence his voice dropped lower, and became more tender. "Y01! will forgive me for not going back te Sir Richard, won't you?** he whispered—after i prolonged pause, and the whisper was full of a significant and tender pleading. He had, in fact, suddenly forgotten the exceeding brevity of their acquaintance; the remembrance of it had, up to this, helped to restrain him from expressing his feelings too openly. He had also entirely for- gotten the diatribes against the follies of love which he had uttered with so much conviction as he sat on the grass under the old apple trees in Mr*. Wilkinson's orchard the previous morning. In excuse for the precipitance of his apostaoy it must be said that never among any of the girls whom he had taken down to dinner had he met one like Dora Chesney. His intimacy with young ladies was limited to those he had met at dinner parties, for he was not a society man, and had neither leisure nor inclination for dances or afternoon crushes," besides, although he had only met her the day before the circum- stances under which their acquaintance had been prosecuted had the effect on it that a. forcing frame has on plants. A day in the frame will do more to forward their growth than a week in the open garden. How many hundreds of times may a man have met a young ladv in ecciety without having the chance of rescuing her from a cold plunge by clasping her to his heart? Dozens of dances could not have conveyed the delightful sense of friendliness that had arisen from their leisurely stroll through the hyacinth wood—and to-day—beginning with the tragic errand that had brought her to the farm, every hour had been filled with incidents which had drawn them together into a confidential familiarity of intercourse such as they would have had no opportunity of arriving at if they had met in the usual conventional way in London society. To his plea for forgiveness Dora made no answer whatever, but she did not repeat her reo proachful question. Instead of continuing the conversation she suddenly interposed a consider- able extent of stra..v hat brim between her face and Mr. Straight's brilliant eyes, by hastily turning aside and bending over a budding bugle whose delicate purple green flower she examined with the minuteness of an ardent botanist. What John Straight may have proceeded to say next can only be conjectured. Further speech was cut short by a voice at a little distance. crying: By Jove, Dora, I've been hunting all over the place for you; we couldn't think where you had gone to!" The voice was Robert Greenhough's. Straight's first impulse was, of course, an ardent desire to strike out and lay Mr. Green- hough on the turf. This interrroptieii waa erven more intolerable than the e&rfar MM it the drawing-rmm. The next msfcaat he alMBBt glad of it. The queetiea of Dora's feeBay; far har coram was, ia htemitd. frttlnd aaft ftlli intense satisfaction. No girl who was in lore with a man would look at him as Dora now looked at Mr. Greenhough. She drew herself up and said coldly, as she dropped the flowering bugle; You can't possibly have been hunting all over the place, Robert, for Mr. Straight has only been here a few nynutes, and he left you in the house." Greenhough's glance at the other man was not pleasant, but he said, sauvely: Well, I've been over a lot of the place, anyway. I left the house just after Mr. Straight." She turned with more haughtiness than Straight would have given her credit for being capable of, and in silence they all walked to the house. Her cousin stopped when they leached the portico, and said curtly: "I'm going over to the Wells; I shan't be back till late—perhaps not to-night," and with the briefest of nods to the visitor he turned on his heel and strode off to the stables. The next instant Sir Richard appeared. "You will tell papa about the clues?" said Dora, hurriedly, and then she ran up the steps into the house. "Clues ?" echoed her father; "what clues ?" And Straight had to conceal as best he might his chagrin at her disappearance, and to tell his host all about the grain of hope he had extracted from the detective. "Sixteen years! It's a lot of difference! Why, I was an undergraduate when she was in bibs. By Jove, I am nearly old enough to be her father. I should think Smith isn't eight and twenty yet, and fair men-confound them- always look younger than their age!" Such—with variations—was Mr. Straight's soliloquy as he returned to the Naresbrook Farm at a late hour. He had dined and spent the evening at the Court, and having got rid of the fear of Robert Greenhough as a rival, he was now devising tortures for himself, by again dwelling on Smith's perfections and his own disadvantages. Nevertheless, under all his self-depreciatiin there glowed a little sense of comfort. Thera had been something in Dora's face once or twice that day, which gave him courage and inspired hope, in spite of Smith's being six or seven yeara his junior, and fair to boot. it Although Straight spent the greater part of next day at Riverdale Court, an urgent note from Sir Richard begging him to come over to breakfast having arrived with his shaving water, no opportunity occurred to resume the blissful tete-a-tete interrupted by Robert Green- hough, and he took his way down the avenue at ten o'clock feeling sulky with fate, and weary of the words" Akbar," and "King's Diamond," on which poor Sir Richard had naturally been harping all day. He had declined horse or trap, aiiii was lighting a cigar, when he heard steps approaching. It was not quite dark on a clear June night at ten o'clock, and even in the shadow of the Avenue he could distinguish the figure coming towards him, it seemed to be that of a farm labourer, it stopped suddenly, then a note was thrust into his hand, and the man turned and made off, pfter saying hurriedly, "For you, Mr. Straight." Whoy! How the dickens did he know me?" thought Straight, as he struck a fusee and read the note. It had neither address nor date, and ran: "Dear sir,— Just a line. Keep it dark for the present, please, but I think I see daylight ahead. You shall hear shortly.—Yours obediently, A. Maitland." "I do believe it was Jadd himself!" and for an instant Straight felt inclined to follow the detective. Then he thought of Dora. He must go back and try to see her and whisper that he hoped to have good news soon. That surely would not be disregarding Jadd's injunctions. He quickly retraced his steps to the house, and there in the portico, looking towards him, he saw her. He could hardly believe his luck. She was alone! When she saw him coming she started, and turned as if to go in, but he was at her side in a moment. Miss Chesney, let me say one word to you!" In his cxcitement he took her hand in his. I came back, just for a minute, to tell you I hope to have some good news soon." She looked up. The swinging lamp in the por- tico lighted her shining eyes, her glowing cheeks. Then her eyes fell and she made a little movement to draw her hand away, but lie held it fast. Positively at the moment the diamond and everything concerning it vanished from his mind-perhaps from hers too. They were alone. The big two-leaved door leading into the hall shut. Outside in the deepening dusk the "wind of the summer night" was sighing through the great trees of the avenue. Straight's heart throbbed furiously. The supreme moment seemed to have come suddenly. The silence, broken only by the solemn sound of the wind rushing in the outer darkness, the gloom of the old stone portico, the very unexpectedness 01 the meeting all combined to make one of those moments that come so rarely, when Truth dares to show her face and is not ashamed because she wears no veil of conventionality. He held Dora's hand in his. She had ceased trying to draw it away. The spell of the moment was on her, too, but she was striving to find some commonplace words to break it. You are very kind," she faltered, to come to tell us. What should we have done if you had not come to the Farm." Then Straight broke out. He could keep silence no longer. What should I have done if I had not come—if I had never met you-if I had gone on living without ever having seen your angelic face Truly fate was brutally cruel to him. At this instant the butler's deep voice sounded in the hall: "M iss Dora's in the porch, Mr. Robert!" and I someone began to unfasten the big door. Dora violently released her hand, but not before John Straight had raised it to his lips, murmuring, I shall come in the morning." The next moment he was gone. » • • • Mr. Straight did not wait for an invitation to the Court in the morning. He surprised Mrs. Wilkinson by asking for his breakfast at eight o'clock, ate it with a rapidity imperilling to his digestion, and set off at a swift stride down the white road to Riverdale. The Diamond—Jadd— and even Smith had retreated into the mists of forgetfulness, he was not thinking of any of them as he covered the ground at a rapid rate, and entered the avenue. Suddenly he stopped. In the green distance he caught sight of a white dress, and bounding over the chain paling he hastened towards it. It was Dora; her face was bent over a letter in which she seemed engrossed. Again, at the swishing of his steps in the grass she raised her head, and turned as she had done yesterday, and looked at him. Then he stopped, and for an instant he felt as if his heart had ceased to beat. Was this Dora—the Dora of yesterday? There was no glad leaping of welcome to her eyes. No sweet blush rushed to her white cheeks, a shud- der seemed to pass over her. Before he could pronounce her name or reach her side she turned and fled. (To be continued.)










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