Destiny works in a most mysterious way, and frequently the evil which
she brings on individuals becomes the parent of good. During the three
years which had passed since the death of her father, Patricia had
faced much trouble for a girl of twenty-two. She had no money, and had
possessed no friends until she met with Mrs. Sellars, so her career
had been a painful one of toil and penury and heart-felt despair. This
last misfortune which connected her with the commission of a crime
seemed to be the greatest blow which had befallen her, and she truly
believed that she was now entirely ruined. For who, as she argued,
would engage as a governess a girl who was mixed up in so shady a
business? Even if she could prove her innocence–and she had no doubt
on that score–the mere fact of her errand to the Park was so
fantastic in the explanation, that many people would believe she had
invented it in order to shield herself from arrest. In nine cases out
of ten this might have happened; but Destiny ordained that Patricia’s
case should be the tenth. Through the darkness of the clouds which
environed her the sun of prosperity broke unexpectedly.

Of course, next day the newspapers contained details of the murder at
The Home of Art, and the mystery fascinated the public. Crook Street
was never so full since it had been a thoroughfare. Motor-cars, hansom
cabs, four-wheelers, taxicabs, carts, bicycles, and conveyances of
every description, came to the curved _cul de sac_. Also, sight-seers
on foot came to survey the house, and Number III appeared in the daily
illustrated papers. When the reporters became more fully acquainted
with what had taken place, the portrait of Patricia appeared also,
together with an account of how the murdered woman had induced her to
leave the house. It was generally considered, notwithstanding that the
errand had been proved to be a genuine one, that Mrs. Pentreddle had
sent the girl away in order that she might see the mysterious person
who had murdered her. If this was not so, argued everybody, how came
it that the man–people were certain that the criminal was a man–had
gained admission into the house? An examination of the snicks to the
windows had proved that they were too stiff to be pressed back from
the outside, and, indeed, that the upper and lower sashes of the
windows were so close together that the blade of a knife could not be
slipped in between. Plainly the man could not have entered in this
way, so the only assumption that was natural appeared to be that the
dead woman had admitted him by the door. The fact that the middle
window was unlatched and slightly open was accounted for by the
presumption that the man had left in that way. But why he should have
chosen this odd means of exit, when he could have more easily have
left by the front door, the theorists did not pretend to explain.

However, the general opinion was that Patricia’s fantastic tale was
true–the finding of the articles on the bench and the evidence of the
two policemen, together with the cabman’s statement, proved this–and
that Mrs. Pentreddle had got rid of her, as an inconvenient witness to
an unpleasant interview. How unpleasant it had proved for Mrs.
Pentreddle herself, could be plainly seen from the fact that she was
now dead, and that a jury and a coroner were about to sit on her
remains. Harkness had gathered together what evidence he could, which
was not much, and the reporters were all on the _qui vive_ for
startling revelations to be made. The whole affair was so out of the
ordinary that the journalists, anxious to fill up the columns of their
respective papers during the dull season, made the most of the very
excellent and unusual copy supplied to them. They added to this, they
took away from that, and so distorted the truth that plain facts
became even more sensational than they truly were. And this painting
of the lily brought Miss Carrol into prominence as the heroine of the

The girl shrank from such sordid publicity, but it was useless to try
and hide, as the searchlight of journalism played fiercely upon her.
That she was so pretty only added to the attractiveness of the
unwholesome episode, and when her portrait was published, Patricia
received at least six offers of marriage. All of these she naturally
refused, and was, indeed, very indignant that they should have been
made. Mrs. Sellars was rather surprised at this indignation, as,
having the instincts of a successful actress, she looked on such
publicity as an excellent advertisement.

“My dear,” she said impressively, two or three days after the murder,
and when The Home of Art was the centre of attraction to all morbid
people, “sorry as I am that Martha, poor darling, met with such a sad
death, there is no denying that the tragedy will do the house good.”

“Oh,” cried Patricia, her highest instincts outraged, “how can you
talk so?”

“I am a sensible woman, and must talk so,” said Ma firmly; “tears and
sorrow won’t bring Martha back again, and perhaps she is better where
she is, as she certainly never enjoyed life in a sensible way. Since
this is the case, let us take good out of evil. I thought, my dear,
that the Home would have been ruined, but instead of that, it has
become famous. I could fill the place twice over, as so many people
wish to come; but I intend to keep my present lodgers at the same
prices. Never shall it be said that I made capital out of my dear
sister’s death. But you, my dear, need not be so particular, since you
are not connected with her in a flesh-and-blood way as I am. Do you

Patricia shivered. “No, Mrs. Sellars, I really don’t see. I am
connected with poor Mrs. Pentreddle in a blood way certainly, for if I
had not gone out she would have been alive now.”

“Well, my dear, you couldn’t help going out, since you had to go on
the errand, and no one knows better than I do how obstinate Martha
was. Well, she’s gone, and as soon as they’ve settled who killed her
we must send her to Devonshire.”

“To Devonshire?” echoed Patricia, surprised.

“Yes. Didn’t I tell you that Squire Colpster, whose housekeeper she
was, has come to London? Well, he is in town now, and called to see me
to-day. He is very shocked at Martha’s death, and intends to take the
body back to lay in Beckleigh churchyard near that of her late
husband–or, perhaps, I should say, its late husband, although I am
not sure that an ‘it’ can have a husband. It’s very kind of the
Squire, but the Colpsters were always kind. He is coming to see you
this afternoon before the inquest takes place.”

“What about?” asked Patricia uneasily.

“He wishes to hear the story from your own lips.”

“It is in all the papers; and much of what the papers say is untrue.”

“All the better advertisement,” said Mrs. Sellars cheerfully. “I’m
quite sure, my dear, that your troubles are over. You can marry when
you choose.”

“I certainly shan’t marry those horrid men who have had the
impertinence to write to me!” declared Patricia indignantly.

“Oh, I should, if you find one of the men is nice and rich. But if you
don’t feel inclined to marry, you are at least sufficiently widely
known to get a good situation.”

Patricia shuddered again and to her soul. “Who would engage a girl
connected with such a horrid crime?”

“Lots of people,” said Mrs. Sellars promptly; “and the crime is not so
horrid as mysterious. Who can have murdered Martha?–and why?”

“Everyone is asking that question, Mrs. Sellars.”

“No one seems to obtain an answer,” observed the good lady mournfully;
“not even Inspector Harkness or the police. Well, my dear, I must go
and see about the dinner. Remember what I said to you. You have a
magnificent boom on just now, and if you take full advantage of it,
you are made for life.”

Miss Carrol did not know whether to laugh or to scold when Ma left
her, but finally took refuge in quiet merriment, notwithstanding her
disgust at finding herself the centre of such a sordid sensation.
Good-natured and kind as Mrs. Sellars undoubtedly was, the idea that
she could urge anyone–as she phrased it–to make capital out of her
sister’s death, revolted Patricia’s finer feelings. Certainly, since
the old actress intended to retain her children even though she could
have obtained more lucrative boarders, she was behaving
extraordinarily well, considering her limitations. But in spite of her
own self-denial, her theatrical instincts were so very strong, that
she had to induce someone to make use of the advertisement, as she
could not bear to see such a chance of gaining a wide publicity
wasted. It quite grieved her that Patricia should so persistently
refuse, especially when she considered that the girl required money.
But Miss Carrol not only declined to entertain the idea, but kept as
much as she could to her own room and refused interviews to several
inquisitive reporters.

“She has no business capabilities,” mourned Ma to the playwright.
“Why, if this had happened to me when I was on the stage, I should
have doubled my salary in a week and trebled it in a month!” which
statement was undoubtedly true, since the majority of people greatly
enjoy the morbid.

Squire Colpster–as Patricia learned the country gentleman was always
called at Beckleigh, and also by Mrs. Sellars, who was a Beckleigh
woman–appeared at The Home of Art immediately before the inquest was
held, and, therefore, had scanty opportunity of talking with the girl,
although he managed to exchange a few words. He turned out to be a
tall, lean, and rather bent man, with a dry, ivory-hued skin and
gold-rimmed spectacles, perched on an aquiline nose. The term “Squire”
suited the John Bull personality of Inspector Harkness better than it
did this quiet student. And Patricia, although she did not learn at
the moment what Mr. Colpster’s particular studies were, gathered that
he passed the greater part of his days in a well-furnished library.
Only the tragic death of an old and valued servant, this gentleman
hinted, would have brought him up to London during the very damp month
of November. He spoke with considerable emotion.

“Poor Martha, how strange it is that she should have come to town to
meet with this terrible doom! I was never so shocked in my life as
when I read the telegram sent by Mrs. Sellars.”

“Do you know why she came to London?” asked Patricia bluntly.

Mr. Colpster shook his head, which was covered with rather long,
iron-grey hair, in true student fashion. “I only know that Martha
wanted to go for a fortnight’s jaunt to London–her own words. And I
rather think, although she did not say so,” added the Squire musingly,
“that she expected to meet her son Harry, who is a sailor.”

“Is he in town now?”

“I believe so. My nephew, Theodore Dane, told me that he had seen him
over a week ago. Harry then said that he had returned from the Far
East, and was going later to Amsterdam for a few days. If he has
carried out his intention I expect that he is ignorant of his mother’s

“When he hears of it will he return?”

“Immediately, I think, as Harry is greatly attached to, his mother. If
anyone can find the assassin, Harry Pentreddle will, as he is smart,
and very tenacious of anything he takes up. I wish I knew where he was
in Amsterdam, Miss Carrol, as I could then send him a telegram.”

Patricia pondered. “I wonder if he can throw any light on the motive
for the commission of the crime?”

“It seems impossible, as Harry, having been on a year’s voyage, has
not seen his mother for twelve months. It is just possible that, as
Martha was a week in town before her murder, she may have seen Harry
in the interval. Of course, I understand that Martha only sprained her
foot on the night previous to her death.”

“She slipped on the stairs,” said Patricia mechanically. “Her son
certainly has not been here, or Mrs. Sellars would have told me. Have
you any idea what caused the crime to be committed?”

Mr. Colpster pondered in his turn. “I rather think I will wait until
the inquest is ended before answering that question,” he said

“But won’t you answer it at the inquest, so that the truth of the
matter may be known,” urged the girl, puzzled by his tone.

“I may not be asked the question at the inquest,” said Mr. Colpster
blandly, and declined to discuss the matter further. Indeed, there was
no time, as they were summoned at this moment to the drawing-room,
where the jurymen, under the control of the coroner, were waiting for
the various witnesses. They had already inspected the body of the
unfortunate woman, which was lying in an upstairs bedroom.

As has been before stated, Inspector Harkness had very little evidence
to lay before those in authority. The criminal, whether man or woman,
had disappeared in what seemed to be a magical manner. All the officer
could do, and did do, was to produce various witnesses to relate
baldly what had taken place; and these could say very little. Nothing
could be proved save that Martha Pentreddle had been murdered, but by
whom, and for what reason, it was impossible to say. The inspector
gave a hurried sketch of all that had happened since he had been
summoned to The Home of Art, and then called his first witness. This
was Mrs. Sellars, who wept a great deal, and spoke volubly, adopting
her best dramatic manner, so as to create a sensation; for she was
always mindful, in spite of her genuine grief, that what she said
would be printed in all the great newspapers. The chance of
advertising herself as a retired star of the drama was too good to be

But in spite of the good lady’s volubility, she had really very little
information to give. Her sister, Mrs. Pentreddle, had come to London
six days previous to her death, from Devonshire, where she was
housekeeper to Squire Colpster, ostensibly on the plea of shopping.
She had gone out a great deal, but nearly always the witness was with
her, and the deceased had not spoken to anyone in particular. She had
certainly mentioned that her son Harry had returned from the Far East,
and that she hoped to see him before she returned to Devonshire. But
Harry had neither written nor had he called. “And I should have been
so pleased to see Harry, who is a very charming nephew to have,” ended
Mrs. Sellars, with doubtful grammar.

“Did the deceased mention that she was expecting anyone on the night
she was murdered?” asked the coroner gravely.

“Oh, dear me, no, sir. Had she done so, I should have forbidden her to
receive a single person, as she was slightly feverish from a sprain
caused by slipping on the stairs, and was not in a condition to see
anyone. In fact, I was most unwilling to leave her, but she implored
me to do so, as she knew how interested I was in the drama of Mr.
Samuel Amersham. But only on the condition that someone remained to
look after her did I agree to go. Miss Carrol kindly promised to
remain, so I departed quite happy. Only to return,” said Mrs. Sellars,
with a burst of emotion, “to find that Martha had gone to that bourne
whence no traveller returns.”

“The deceased never hinted to you that she was in danger of her life?”

“Never! She was quite happy–that is, as happy as she could be with
her religious views, which were extremely dull. She had no idea of
dying, for she told me that she hoped Harry would return with her to

“Did you know of anything in her life which led you to believe that
she had an enemy who desired her death.”

“Certainly not! Martha never made an enemy in her life, although she
certainly was the reverse of agreeable. She was as dull as I am
bright,” said Mrs. Sellars, blushing. “Comedy and Tragedy, Pa called
us,” and this remark ended the examination, as the witness apparently
could throw no light on the darkness which environed the crime.

The doctor who had been called in to examine the body stated that the
deceased had been murdered by some sharp instrument being thrust into
the throat. This had pierced the jugular vein, and the miserable
woman, becoming unconscious almost at once, had slowly bled to death.
Her hair was in disorder, and when discovered, her body was lying half
on and half off the sofa. It was the doctor’s opinion that the
assassin, grasping the hair, had drawn back his victim’s head so that
he could the more easily accomplish his deadly purpose. From the
nature of the wound, it was probably inflicted by a fine and narrow
blade–witness thought that a stiletto might have been used. From the
condition of the body, death had undoubtedly taken place at ten
o’clock, but probably, since the death was caused by hæmorrhage,
deceased must have been struck down some minutes earlier. This was all
the medical evidence obtainable, and although it proved clearly how
Mrs. Pentreddle died, could not show who had committed the crime. But
the use of the word “stiletto” gave the coroner an idea.

“Only a foreigner would use such a weapon,” he remarked.

The witness disagreed. “The word suggests an Italian, because it is
the name of a weapon extensively employed by the _bravi_ of the Middle
Ages. But a murderer of any other nation would use it just as
naturally, if it came to hand. Besides, I only assume from the nature
of the wound–the smallness of the orifice–that a stiletto was used.
I am sure that I am right, however!” and the coroner rather agreed, as
he also was a doctor and had seen the wound himself.

“Could there have been a stiletto in the house?” he asked generally.

“Yes!” cried Mrs. Sellars unexpectedly, from her seat near the door,
and became prodigiously excited.

“What’s that?” asked the coroner, as the doctor stepped away from the
place assigned to witnesses. “What do you say?”

Mrs. Sellars at once occupied the vacated position. “Now I remember,
that only three days before poor, dear Martha met with her death, I
was showing her some of my old stage dresses. There was a page’s
costume I wore in The _Duke’s Motto_, and with it were the jewels and
a stiletto.”

“Pooh! Pooh! A stage weapon!” said the coroner contemptuously.

“Not at all; not at all! A friend of mine, who admired my acting, gave
me a real Italian stiletto to wear in the part: a very dangerous
weapon it was, sharp and pointed. I daresay Martha was killed with

“Have you missed it?”

“No. I put away the dresses and never thought of looking, but Martha
could easily have taken it while my back was turned. Just wait, sir,
and I’ll go and see,” and before the coroner could give permission,
Mrs. Sellars, as active as a young girl, was out of the room.

There was a pause, as it was impossible to continue the examination of
other witnesses until this important point was settled. Everyone
looked at one another, but no one spoke, as it was felt that here, at
least, was a tangible clue. In a very short space of time Mrs. Sellars
returned, red-faced and out of breath, waving an empty sheath. “It’s
not here,” she declared quickly and giving the gold-embroidered sheath
to the coroner; “this is all that I found. Martha must have taken the

“But why should she?” demanded the coroner, doubtfully.

“Ask me another,” said Mrs. Sellars vulgarly, and with a shrug.

There was only one inference to be drawn from the absence of the
weapon: Mrs. Pentreddle knew that she was in danger, and had therefore
armed herself against a possible attempt being made on her life.

Until it came to the examination of Patricia, very little was learned
from the depositions of the various witnesses summoned to give
evidence. All that the boarders and the servants could say was that
Mrs. Pentreddle, although not an extremely sociable person, had
behaved herself quietly in every way. She had kept very much to
herself, and had mentioned her business in coming to London to no one.
And certainly she had never hinted in the slightest degree that she
possessed an enemy who desired to take her life. All who dwelt beneath
the hospitable roof of The Home of Art expressed themselves surprised
at the death of the poor woman. There was nothing apparent on the
surface of things, as one witness observed, to lead up to such a
catastrophe. It was entirely unexpected and unforeseen.

Bunson, the butler, deposed that before leaving the house with his
fellow-servants for the theatre, he had locked the three drawing-room
windows. When the police examined the room afterwards, the middle one
of these had been found unfastened and slightly open. It assuredly
would not have been difficult for the assassin to have come along the
iron balcony to that window and there have tapped for admittance. But
Bunson swore positively that unless the deceased had opened the
window, the man could not have entered. It was this witness who had
found the body, and he stated that he had not touched it until it was
seen by Inspector Harkness and his underlings. It was at this point,
and in answer to the question of a juryman, that the inspector
admitted the absence of the weapon with which the deceased had been
killed. No stiletto had been found, either in the drawing-room or in
any part of the house, so it was presumed that the criminal must have
taken it away with him.

“I wonder that he did not place the stiletto in the hand of the dead
woman, so that it might be supposed she had committed suicide,” said a

“Probably he did not think that it would be proved that the deceased
had taken the stiletto from her sister’s room when the stage costumes
were being displayed,” suggested another juryman.

“We have not yet learned if the murder was committed with that
weapon,” was the coroner’s remark. “Call George Colpster.”

Then came the turn of the Squire to be examined, but he could tell
nothing likely to aid in the discovery of the criminal. Mrs.
Pentreddle, he declared, had been his housekeeper for over twenty
years, and had rarely gone away on a holiday. She had asked him for a
fortnight’s leave, so that she might pay a visit to Mrs. Sellars in
London, and this he had readily granted. She had never told him the
reason why she wished to go to London, but he presumed at the time
that she intended to see her sailor son during her stay.

When this fact, or, rather, this suggested fact, became known, the
coroner recalled Mrs. Sellars, and learned again what he might have
known he had learned before, had he referred to his notes, that Harry
Pentreddle had never been near the house. When Mrs. Sellars stepped
away again from the position allotted to the witnesses, Squire
Colpster finished his evidence by swearing solemnly that his
housekeeper had never hinted that she was in danger of her life.

“Yet she must have thought so,” observed a juryman, “else she would
not have taken the stiletto.”

“We have not yet proved that the murder was committed with that
weapon,” snapped the coroner once more.

Of course, the real interest of the case truly began when Patricia
Carrol was sworn, since she apparently knew more about the matter than
did anyone else, and, moreover, had been the last person to see Mrs.
Pentreddle alive. She gave her evidence quietly and clearly, relating
all that had taken place from the time Mrs. Pentreddle had asked her
to go on the errand to the time she returned to learn that during her
absence the wretched woman had been stabbed. But on this occasion, as
on the other, when Harkness had questioned her, Patricia left out any
confession of her sensations when holding the stolen jewel. She
judged, and very wisely too, that any statement of this kind would be
put down to hysteria.

Both the coroner and the jurymen questioned and cross-questioned the
witness, but in no way could they cause her to deviate from the
details she originally gave. Mrs. Pentreddle had promised to explain
all about the matter when the witness returned, but her unforeseen
death had ended all chance of explanation in that quarter.

“But was the death unforeseen by you?” asked the coroner, catching at
the word used by Patricia.

“Certainly,” she replied readily. “I expected to find Mrs. Pentreddle
ready to receive me when I returned.”

“And expected to receive your five pounds?”

“No, sir. I had failed in the errand she had asked me to do;
therefore, I did not desire to be paid.”

“Can you describe the appearance of the man who placed the box in your
hand and the appearance of the thief?”

“No. I told you so before. Both men came and went in a flash, and even
if they had waited, it would have been impossible for me to have
noticed their dress and looks, as the fog was so thick and the night
was so dark.”

“Did either man speak?”

“No. Each came and went in silence.”

The policemen both in Crook Street and at Hyde Park Corner proved that
they had met Patricia and that she had severally asked them the time.
Also, the cabman deposed to driving the young lady back to The Home of
Art, so, without any difficulty whatsoever, it was proved that Miss
Carrol had been absent from the house when the crime had been
committed. The Crook Street policeman also swore that he had seen no
suspicious people haunting his beat. “And the fog was so thick,” ended
this witness, “that it would have been difficult to see anyone, unless
someone ran into my arms as the young lady did. It was a pea-soup
night, sir.”

This concluded all the evidence which Harkness was able to get, and
after a pause the coroner began his speech. But before he got very
far, the door of the drawing-room was hastily flung open and Sammy
Amersham the playwright dashed in, holding a dagger aloft.

“It’s the stiletto,” he cried triumphantly, and clapped it down on the
table under the coroner’s nose. “When you were asking questions about
it, I remembered the unfastened middle window, and wondered if the
assassin had opened the same to throw the weapon into the area when he
had killed poor Mrs. Pentreddle. I went down and searched, and found
it. He must have thrown it out, as I guessed, and then have stepped in
to close the window and leave by the front door. There’s blood on it,

“Is this your stiletto, Mrs. Sellars?” asked the coroner, passing it

The woman shuddered as she took it. “It’s mine, sure enough,” she
said. “And there’s blood on the handle. Ugh!” she dropped it.
“Martha’s blood!”

Sammy the playwright was sworn and stated again how he had found the
weapon in the area below the iron balcony. “Amongst some rubbish,”
said Mr. Amersham.

“Is the area ever used?” asked the coroner quickly.

“No,” called out Mrs. Sellars; “the tradespeople go round to the back
by the side passage, and the gate in the iron railings round the area
has been locked ever since I have been in this house. No one would
think of looking for the stiletto there.”

“The last witness did,” said the coroner dryly.

“Shows that he’s got the makings of a dramatist,” said Mrs. Sellars
proudly, although no one saw the connection between the coroner’s
assertion and her comment.

One thing was clear from the discovery of the weapon in the area,
namely, that Mrs. Pentreddle must have been afraid of an attack, else
she would never have armed herself by stealing the dagger from her
sister. Also, it was certain that Sammy’s shrewd explanation was
feasible, and that the assassin, after killing the unfortunate woman,
had opened the window to drop the stiletto into the unused area.

“The deceased must have expected a visitor on that night,” said the
coroner musingly, “and probably sent Miss Carrol away so that she
could see him undisturbed.”

“She did not tell me that she expected anyone,” said Patricia quickly.

“No, she would not, seeing that she evidently desired to have a secret
interview. As she was alone in the house, she assuredly must have
admitted him.”

“She could not leave the sofa with her sprained foot,” cried Mrs.

“Perhaps she could not have crawled to the front door,” remarked the
coroner; “but her will evidently enabled her to crawl to the middle
window and open it.”

“Why should the man have come to the middle window?”

“By appointment.”

“Impossible,” said Mrs. Sellars nervously. “In the first place, Martha
would have told me had she intended to see anyone, and—-”

“Pardon me, no, madam,” interrupted the coroner sharply. “The very
fact that the deceased sent away Miss Carrol showed that she desired
the interview to be a secret one.”

“She would not have admitted a man who intended to murder her.”

“But she did. No one else could have admitted him, and the fact of the
open middle window showed how he was admitted.”

“He opened that to throw out the stiletto.”

“Probably he did that, but undoubtedly the window was opened before.
Mrs. Pentreddle could not have crawled to the front door.”

“Martha had so strong a will that she would have crawled to the top of
the house if she had made up her mind to. And I say again she never
would have let in a man–whoever he was–to murder her, poor dear!”

“I don’t believe she expected to be murdered.”

“But the dagger—-”

“Precisely, madam. The criminal did not bring it with him, therefore,
he did not enter this house with the intention of committing a crime.
The deceased was afraid of this man and thus took your stiletto so as
to keep him at his distance. Probably she threatened him with it, and
there was a struggle during which she was murdered. Then the assassin
searched the house.”

“For what?” asked Mrs. Sellars, shaking her head sadly.

“For this strange jewel, described by Miss Carrol.”

“It wasn’t in Martha’s possession when—-”

“Quite so,” interrupted the coroner, dryly; “but the assassin
evidently believed that Mrs. Pentreddle possessed it. He struggled
with her to see if it was concealed upon her, and when she drew forth
the stiletto with which she had provided herself, it was used to kill
her. Then the assassin, as I said before, searched the bedrooms. One
thing I would ask you, Mrs. Sellars, before we close the evidence. Did
anyone know that Mrs. Pentreddle would be alone on the night of her

“She wasn’t alone. Miss Carrol was with her.”

“Yes, I know. But did anyone know that the house would be empty?”

“I can’t say. Of course, Sammy’s play was talked about a lot, and
everyone said they were going. I even let the servants go, and—-”

“Yes, yes! But do you think anyone outside the house knew that there
would be a clear field?”

“I can’t say,” Mrs. Sellars shook her head. “I talked a lot to
everyone, both outside and in, saying that we were going. But I don’t
know anyone who would have murdered poor Martha?”

The coroner’s speech was not very long, as really there was little to
say. Whether Mrs. Pentreddle had really expected someone, and had,
therefore, sent away Miss Carrol so that the interview might be
private, it was quite impossible to prove in any way. That the
deceased anticipated danger was more or less clearly shown by her
theft of the stiletto from her sister. Undoubtedly the assassin–as
the nature of the wound and the presence of blood-stains on the handle
of the weapon suggested–had turned the dead woman’s means of defence
against herself. Finally, the idea that the criminal desired the jewel
stolen from Patricia in the Park was equally impossible of proof. “In
fact!” ended the coroner wearily, for his business had been
exhausting, “beyond the undoubted truth that Mrs. Pentreddle is dead,
we can prove nothing in any way.”

This was also the opinion of the jurymen, which was very natural,
considering the scanty nature of the evidence. Without any hesitation
the ordinary verdict given in doubtful cases was brought in: “Wilful
murder against some person, or persons, unknown,” said the jury, and
all present felt that nothing more and nothing less could be said
under the sad circumstances.

“And I don’t believe that they’ll ever learn who slaughtered poor
Martha,” sighed Mrs. Sellars, over a cup of tea, when everyone save
the boarders had departed. “We’ll just bury her in Devonshire beside
her husband, and try to be cheerful again. Whatever Harry will say
when he learns I don’t know, for he was desperately fond of his
mother. I’m sorry for that murdering villain if Harry ever lays hands
on him. But he never will, bless you, my dears.” And most people
believed that Mrs. Sellars spoke the truth. The whole affair was
mysterious; and it was confidently asserted that the murder of Mrs.
Pentreddle would be relegated to the list of undiscovered crimes.

The immediate result of the inquest was an offer made by a prominent
music-hall manager to Patricia, as the heroine of the Crook Street
crime. It was suggested that she should appear on the stage in a
pretty frock, and relate her experiences in Hyde Park at a salary of
two hundred pounds a week. The magnificence of this chance almost took
away Mrs. Sellars’ breath, and she was greatly disappointed when
Patricia refused to make a show of herself. The girl phrased it in
this way, and indignantly declined.

“Oh, my dear,” cried Mrs. Sellars, almost weeping; “you need money so

“I would sooner need it all my life than degrade myself in this way,”
retorted Miss Carrol, looking prettier than ever with her cheeks
flushed and her eyes sparkling. “How dare the man insult me!”

“Insult, my dear? Two hundred pounds a week an insult?”

“Take it yourself, Mrs. Sellars,” replied Patricia impatiently. “After
all, poor Mrs. Pentreddle was your sister, and you will be just as
great an object of interest to the crowd as I would be.”

“I’m not young and pretty, my dear. It’s those things that tell.”

Patricia shrugged her shoulders. “Well, I refuse, and I have written
to the man saying that I cannot accept his offer.”

“You refuse good money; you refuse to get married. Whatever are you
going to do for a livelihood?” Mrs. Sellars was in despair over this

Patricia shrugged her shoulders once more. “Oh, I daresay I shall
manage to earn my living in some decent way. Perhaps Mr. Colpster may
help me.”

“What makes you think so?”

“He is coming to see me this evening.”

“I know he is coming,” said Mrs. Sellars; “but I thought it was
to see the last of poor Martha’s remains. He takes them to Beckleigh
to-morrow by the afternoon train. I should have gone myself to attend
the funeral, but it is impossible to leave the children.” She looked
at Patricia curiously. “I wonder if he wants to marry you, my dear.”

“I hope not,” said Miss Carrol hastily. “How your thoughts do run on
marriage, Mrs. Sellars!”

“Well, you are too pretty to remain single, Miss Carrol,” said the old
actress frankly. “Sammy would marry you if you would only encourage
him. And I can tell you, Sammy Amersham has a great future.”

“Then I shan’t hamper him with a wife. But what makes you think that
Mr. Colpster wishes to marry me. Isn’t there a Mrs. Colpster?”

“There was, but she died long, long ago. He has one daughter, called
by the odd name of Mara. But she will not inherit the estates, as the
Squire wants a man to manage them. He has two nephews, you know, my
dear: Theodore, who is the eldest, and Basil, who is an officer in the
Royal Navy. I don’t know which of the two Squire Colpster favours as
his heir, but whosoever gets the estates will have to change his

“He ought to give his daughter the estates,” said Patricia decidedly.

“Well, I am not so sure of that, my dear. You see, from what Martha
said, it seems that Mara Colpster is queer.”

“How do you mean ‘queer’?”

“She is–that is, they think her,–Really,” Mrs. Sellars broke off
with a puzzled look, “I hardly know what to say. She’s queer, that’s
all about it, for Martha told me very little. I rather think the
Squire wants her to marry either Basil or Theodore; then justice would
be done all round. But here I am talking,” cried Mrs. Sellars, rising
slowly to her feet, “when there is so much to be done with getting
poor Martha ready for her last journey. I have to see the undertaker
and his men, my dear,” and Mrs. Sellars waddled away in a great hurry.

Patricia wondered what Mr. Colpster wished to see her about, and
wondered also what could be the matter with the girl so oddly termed
Mara. This last piece of curiosity was not gratified for some days,
but she learned the first two hours later when Squire Colpster
interviewed her in Mrs. Sellars’ private sitting-room. What he said to
her took her breath away.

“I return to Beckleigh to-morrow with the corpse of my housekeeper,”
said the Squire in his dry way, “and it struck me that you might be
willing to come with me to Devonshire.”

“Come with you, Mr. Colpster?” gasped Patricia, thunderstruck.

“Yes,” he said, simply and directly. “You see, Martha is dead, and I
want someone both to look after the house and to be a companion to my

“To Mara?” queried Patricia, remembering what Mrs. Sellars had said.

“Ah! you know her name.” The Squire looked up quickly.

“Mrs. Sellars told me.”

Mr. Colpster nodded. “I expect poor Martha has been talking,” he
said in a vexed tone, “and, no doubt, has been making out Mara to be

“Mrs. Sellars said that Miss Colpster was queer,” said Patricia

“She is not queer,” declared the father, with some sharpness. “Mara is
a dreamy girl who wants a brisk companion to arouse her. From what I
have seen of you, Miss Carrol, you are the very person to do Mara
good. So if you like to come for one hundred a year, I shall be
delighted to engage you.”

“Oh!” Patricia coloured, but on this occasion with joy. Of all the
offers that had been made to her, this one pleased her the best of
all. “I accept with the greatest pleasure. But the salary is too

“Not at all. We live very quietly and you will find it somewhat dull.
Also, I shall want you to look after the servants now that Martha has
gone. Mara is incapable of doing so. Well?”

“I accept, as I said before, Mr. Colpster,” said Patricia promptly.

“In that case”–he rose to take his leave–“I shall expect you to come
with me to-morrow. I hope to leave Paddington Station at four

“I shall be there,” said Miss Carrol, with sparkling eyes. “I have
little to pack and no friends save Mrs. Sellars to take leave of.” And
when Squire Colpster went away, she thanked God that she was now
provided with a home. Out of the evil of Mrs. Pentreddle’s death good
had come.

Patricia packed her few belongings that same evening, and next day
took leave of Ma and the children. Mrs. Sellars wept copiously, for
she was sorry to lose the charming girl who made the house so bright.
Also, she could not help lamenting that of all the fortunes offered to
her, Miss Carrol had chosen what seemed to the old actress to be the
meanest. Patricia could have married money and good looks and
position, for all these had been offered to her by various letters,
since her portrait had appeared in the illustrated papers. She could
have been engaged at several music-halls at a lordly salary, getting
twice over in one week what she had elected to receive a year. But the
girl, rejecting wealth and publicity, had chosen obscurity and
comparative poverty. No wonder Mrs. Sellars mourned.

“But I wish you well, my dear,” she said, when the cab was waiting at
the door and Patricia was shaking hands and kissing all round. “I hope
you will be very happy, though from what I remember of Beckleigh, it
is one of the dullest places in the world.”

“I like dullness,” said Miss Carrol, who was weary of argument, “and
I am very thankful to get such a situation at such a good salary.
Good-bye, dear Ma, and keep up your spirits. When I come to town again
I shall see you.”

“And write, my dear, write,” screamed Mrs. Sellars, as the cab rolled

Patricia nodded a promise and leaned back on the cushions with a sigh
of relief, as the vehicle turned the corner of the curved _cul de
sac_. Her last glimpse of The Home of Art showed her Ma surrounded by
her children standing at the front door, waving farewells and blowing
kisses. Miss Carrol sighed. They were all good and kind and simple.
All the same, she was glad to have left that dreary house, which was
connected in her mind with so woful a tragedy. The excitement was now
at an end, since the verdict of the jury had been given, and it was
probable that in a few days the whole affair would be forgotten, for
there seemed to be no chance that interest would be re-awakened by the
capture of the assassin. That evil creature had stolen into the house
out of the mist to kill his victim, and had then departed again into
the darkness. And now Patricia herself was departing from the scene of
the crime, and it seemed to her as though this horrible chapter in her
life was closed for ever. “Thank God for that!” said the girl, putting
her thoughts into speech.

At Paddington Station she found Squire Colpster waiting for her. The
body of his late housekeeper, he informed her, had already gone on to
Devonshire by the early morning train. Patricia was glad of this, as
if the corpse had been in the train she was to travel in, she would
have felt as though she were taking a portion of the disagreeable past
with her into what she hoped would prove a very bright future. She
strove to banish all the unpleasant memories of the past week, and
presented a very smiling face to Mr. Colpster when he placed her in a
first-class compartment. With a look of approval he commented on her
cheerfulness when the train started.

“I am glad to see that your late troubles will not have a lasting
effect on you,” he said, placing a pile of magazines and illustrated
papers beside her. “You look better than when I saw you last.”

“It is because I am leaving all this unpleasantness behind,” replied
Patricia, with a little shiver. “And I am so thankful that you have
taken me away from The Home of Art. I could not have remained there;
it would have always been haunted to my fancy by the ghost of poor
Mrs. Pentreddle. Yet if you had not offered me a home, Mr. Colpster, I
don’t know where I should have gone. In self-defence I might have had
to accept the offer of that horrid music-hall manager. Beggars can’t
be choosers.”

“You will never be a beggar again,” said the Squire, with a kindly
look on his clean-shaven face. “What would Colonel Carrol say if I
allowed his only child to want?”

Patricia bent forward with sudden vivacity. “Did you know my father?”

“Yes. I knew him many years ago, and for this reason, amongst others,
did I ask you to be my daughter’s companion.”

“I wondered why you made such an offer, when you knew nothing about
me,” said Miss Carrol thoughtfully.

“Oh, I know a great deal about you from Mrs. Sellars, who is your
great admirer,” said Mr. Colpster easily. “And then you have the very
look of your father at times. I am asking you to Beckleigh, not so
much as a companion to my daughter, as that you may become one to
myself. You must look upon me as a relative, my dear girl.”

“How good you are!” cried Patricia, taking his lean hand and stroking
it softly. The two had the compartment to themselves, so she was able
to give vent to her feelings in this way. “How can I thank you?”

“By rousing Mara from her dreamy state,” said he quickly. “I want to
see her more practical and take more interest in life. As it is, she
always seems to be in the clouds.”

“Has she ever had a companion of her own age?”

“No. All her young life she had been with older people. Certainly my
nephew Theodore has been with her a great deal; but, like myself, he
is inclined to study and so is much alone. Basil, who is in the Navy,
is nearly always absent with his ship. Beckleigh Hall is isolated
too,” added Mr. Colpster thoughtfully; “so I daresay Mara’s sadness
and dreamy ways are due to her surroundings. All the servants are more
or less old, and we live a very, very quiet life.”

Patricia nodded, and quite comprehended. “I don’t wonder that Mara is
sad,” she said bluntly. “How old is she?”


“And you have kept her more or less surrounded by elderly people all
these years,” cried Patricia reproachfully. “No wonder she is sad, as
I said before. I am glad I am coming to cheer her up. Has she been to

“No. She has always been delicate, and I did not think it wise that
she should leave home. Until last year she had a governess.”

“Also elderly?”

“Yes. Miss Tibbets was nearly fifty,” replied Colpster, with a smile.

“Oh, poor Mara! But does not your nephew try to brighten her life?”

The Squire’s face grew dark, and his heavy grey eyebrows drew down
over his keen eyes. “She does not like Theodore,” he said at length,
and he seemed to weigh his words. “Yet he wishes to marry her.”

“He loves her?”

“So far as a cold-hearted being such as Theodore is can love, I
believe he does love Mara. But he is much taken up with literary work,
and studies for hours all alone in his own room. Basil is quite
different, being gay and light-hearted.”

“Does Mara love Mr. Basil?”

“In a sisterly way she does. The two boys and Mara have been brought
up together, although Theodore and Basil are much older. I don’t think
Mara is earthly enough to love anyone. She always seems to live in a
land of dreams, and looks more like a shadow than a flesh-and-blood

Patricia nodded absently. She felt a strong desire in her heart to
see this strange girl with her fancies and unearthly nature.
Surrounded almost constantly by elderly people and secluded in an old
country-house hidden away in a lonely corner of Devonshire, it was
scarcely to be wondered at that the girl with the weird name should be
unlike those of her own age.

“And Mara means ‘bitter,’ doesn’t it?” asked Miss Carrol, following
her idle thoughts.

Mr. Colpster bowed his head. “Yes. Her mother died in child-birth when
Mara was born, and so I gave her the name. As the sole child of my
house in the direct line, she also deserves it, for we have fallen on
evil days.”

“What do you mean?” asked Patricia, wondering at the strange subdued
excitement of the old man, for his face was red, his eyes sparkled,
and his deep voice shook with emotion.

“What I mean will take some time to tell,” he said, after a pause. “It
is because I had to tell you something and to question you that I
engaged this compartment. We are undisturbed here, and we have some
hours to ourselves before we arrive at Hendle, which is the nearest
station to Beckleigh.” He fixed his fiery eyes on her startled face.
“Are you prepared to believe a strange story, Miss Carrol?”

“Yes,” replied Patricia boldly. “I have experienced such strange
things myself lately that I am prepared to believe anything.”

“Good. I shall tax your credulity to the uttermost. It is strange, as
you will admit, that the daughter of my old friend should be brought
into my life to help the Colpster family to regain what has been

Patricia echoed his words in a puzzled manner: “What has been lost?”

“The emerald snatched from you in the Park is lost, is it not?”

The girl started forward in her seat, almost too amazed to speak. That
the Squire should refer to the incident on the night of the murder was
the very last thing she expected. “What do you mean?” she asked again.

He replied irrelevantly, as it seemed: “Let me tell you a story, Miss
Carrol. I can trace my family back to Amyas Colpster, who lived in the
reign of Henry the Seventh. Who his father was, or where he came from,
there is nothing to show. He was what would be nowadays called an
adventurer, and in that capacity he went to the New World.”

“Was the New World discovered then?” asked Patricia, wondering what
all this was to lead to.

“Yes. Columbus discovered America in Henry’s reign, and, indeed, the
King might have fitted out the expedition had not Ferdinand and
Isabella done so earlier. But I do not refer so much to Columbus as to
those who followed him. It was in the early part of Henry VIII.’s
reign that Cortes conquered Mexico, and it was about 1532 that Pizarro
took possession of Peru.”

“But what has all this to do with the emerald stolen from me in—-”

“You shall hear,” interrupted Mr. Colpster, rather impatiently.
“Amyas, my ancestor, went to Mexico, but had no success there.
Afterwards he went to Peru and there accumulated a fortune, with which
he returned to England. He bought Beckleigh and a great deal of land,
and so built up our family. When in Peru he saved an Inca princess
from death, and out of gratitude she gave him a large emerald.”
Patricia uttered an exclamation. “Yes, the same emerald that was
stolen from you on the night of the murder. It formerly belonged to
the Temple of the Sun at Cuzco, and passed, in the way I have related,
into the possession of Amyas Colpster. Being a sacred stone, it was
reported to have some strange influence, which brought luck to its
possessor, and Amyas believed this, as while it remained in his
possession and in the possession of the son who succeeded him,
everything went well. The family increased in wealth and in favour
with the reigning monarch. It remained for Bevis Colpster, towards the
end of Elizabeth’s reign, to throw away the luck which had been
bestowed on his grandfather by the Inca princess.”

“Do you mean that he gave away the emerald?”

“Yes. To gain a knighthood, he presented it to the Queen. From that
time the fortunes of our family have decreased gradually, and now I
have only about fifty acres of land, the old Hall, and one thousand a
year well invested.”

“That doesn’t seem to be absolute pauperism,” said Patricia, with a

“It is poverty compared to what our family once possessed,” said the
old Squire petulantly. “Once we had wide lands and much money, and
great influence in worldly affairs. All these things Bevis Colpster
threw away for a knighthood which did him no good, for a title which
did not even descend to his children. And our fortunes have dwindled
since then, until we have only what I mention. But unless the emerald
is recovered, what we now possess will also leave us, and our family
will die out. Even as it is,” he ended bitterly, “I have no son to
succeed me.”

Patricia wondered at what she took to be superstition in so clever a
man, but saw that he could not be argued out of his fancies. She
therefore pretended to accept his beliefs as true, and asked a
question. “What became of the emerald?” she inquired eagerly, for the
family legend interested her.

Colpster roused himself and his sunken eyes flashed keenly. “When Will
Adams went to Japan, in 1597, as a pilot of Jacques Mahay’s fleet, the
Queen gave him the emerald to present to some potentate in the East.”

“To the Emperor of Japan?”

“No. Because the fleet which sailed from Amsterdam did not intend to
go to Japan. I was wrong in saying so. It was going to the Indies.
Akbar was reigning then, and the emerald was for him. But Adams was
wrecked on the coast of Japan, and when he became a favourite with the
Shogun Ieyasu, he presented him with the great jewel. Ieyasu gave it
to the Mikado Go Yojo, and he presented it–or one of his successors
did–to the Shinto Temple of Kitzuki. There it remained for hundreds
of years.”

“But how did it come to be in the deal box? And what had Mrs.
Pentreddle to do with it? And why was it snatched from me in—-”

Mr. Colpster threw up his slender hand. “One question at a time,
please,” he said, with a faint smile. “I can’t exactly say. You can
form your own conclusions from what I tell you.”

He paused, as though collecting his thoughts, and Patricia did not
interrupt him again. She also was thinking and recalling that strange
jewel which was set in the centre of the regular circle of stiff
petals. Knowing that the chrysanthemum was the royal badge of Japan,
she felt certain that the whole jewel was meant to represent the same.
It was at this point of her meditations that Mr. Colpster began to
speak again.

“As I told you,” he continued, “I was anxious that we should recover
the emerald, so that our family luck should return. I therefore read
many books of travel, and spoke to many Japanese about the stone. In a
strange way, which I shall tell you some day, I learned that the jewel
was at the Temple of Kitzuki, in the province of Izumo. It was
regarded as very sacred, and how to regain it again I could not tell.”

He paused once more, and then went on quietly: “As you know, I have no
son of my name to carry on the line. But my only sister, whose husband
was already dead, died also and left me her two sons to look after. I
brought them up with my daughter. Basil went into the Navy and
Theodore remained at home to look after the estate.”

“Then is Mr. Theodore your heir?” asked Patricia swiftly.

“At one time I intended him to be, as I desired to marry him to Mara.
He could then, as I decided, take the name of Colpster, and when I was
gone, carry on the family in the female line. But while the emerald
was lost I thought that the luck would not return to the Colpsters. I
therefore told what I have told you to my nephews, and said that the
one who brought back the Mikado Jewel–as I called it–should be my

“What did they say?”

“Theodore scoffed at the idea, and said that he did not want my money.
He declined to go to Japan and run any risk of getting the jewel,
either by stealing or purchase.”

“But surely you did not wish him to steal it?”

“Oh, no,” said Mr. Colpster, so hurriedly that Patricia felt sure he
had once intended to get the jewel fraudulently, if not honestly; “but
I thought that the emerald might be brought back. Will Adams had no
right to give it to the Shogun, as it was intended by Queen Elizabeth
to cement her friendship with Akbar. We–the family, I mean–would be
quite justified in taking it by force. But that was not to be thought
of. I therefore gave Basil a sum of money, which I obtained by
mortgaging all my property, and told him, when his ship touched at
Nagasaki, to try and buy it. I am expecting his ship, H.M.S. _Walrus_,
back in a fortnight.”

“But the emerald is in London.”

“Exactly, and it was brought to be given to Martha Pentreddle. That is
what puzzles me. What do you think, Miss Carrol?”

“I hardly know what to think,” said the girl, in a puzzled voice; then
added, after a few moments of thought: “Perhaps it isn’t the Colpster
emerald after all.”

“Yes, it is,” asserted the Squire positively. “When I read your
description of the jewel I was certain that it was the same stone. It
was made into a sacred jewel by the Shinto priests of the Temple. They
surrounded it with the petals of a chrysanthemum flower carved out of
green jade.”

“Jade!” Patricia recollected the stiff petals. “Oh, is that the kind
of stone?”

“Ah!” said Colpster eagerly and with an air of triumph. “You see, you
remember the Mikado Jewel. Yes, the emerald in the centre is the same
which Amyas Colpster got from the Inca princess and which Bevis parted
with to Elizabeth for a knighthood.”

“But can you be certain?” persisted Patricia, bewildered by the
strangeness of what she took to be a coincidence. “The emerald and the
jade chrysanthemum may be still at Kitzuki, in the province of Izumo.”

The Squire shook his head sadly. “No. Basil wrote me some time ago,
saying that he had gone to Kitzuki to make an offer to buy back the
emerald, but he learned that it had been stolen.”

“Stolen! Who could have stolen it?”

“That is what I wish to find out. But it has been stolen, and now it
appears in London, and was placed in your hands only to be taken away
again by—-” He paused and looked at the girl.

“I don’t know who gave it into my hands, or who snatched it,” she
said, in a regretful tone. “You know all that I know.”

“Didn’t Martha tell you anything?” he asked eagerly.

“Not a word. She said that when I came back with the deal box she
would explain. You know what happened before I reached home.”

Colpster nodded. “She was murdered. Who could have murdered her?

“Unless what?” asked Patricia, quickly.

“Have you read Wilkie Collins’ story of _The Moonstone?_”

“Yes, many years ago.”

“Well, as you know, it is about a sacred diamond taken from the eye of
an idol, and is recovered after various adventures by the priests of
the god.”

“But what has that to do with—-?”

“One moment, Miss Carrol. This emerald also has become a sacred stone;
it also has been stolen. What is more likely but that some Shinto
priest murdered Martha and another priest should snatch it from your

“But why should the emerald come to Mrs. Pentreddle at all?”

“That is what I wish to know,” said the Squire, feverishly and
clenching his hands. “And that,” he added, bending forward, “is what
you and I must find out. We must learn who murdered Martha and recover
our family luck.”

“I don’t see how it is to be done,” sighed Patricia.

“It must be done; it has to be done,” and Colpster smote his knee

“I’ll try,” said the girl and extended her hand. The Squire shook it