The Green Mummy, by Fergus Hume

Chapter 15

An Accusation

Both Don Pedro and Professor Braddock were amazed and angry at the disappearance of the jewels, but Hope did not express much surprise. Considering the facts of the murder, it was just what he expected, although it must be confessed that he was wise after the event.

“I refer you to your own words immediately before the case was opened, Professor,” he remarked, after the first surprise had subsided.

“Words! words!” snapped Braddock, who was anything but pleased. “What words of mine do you mean, Hope?”

“You said that it was not likely that any one would commit a murder for the sake of the mummy only, and then leave it stranded in Mrs. Jasher’s garden. Also, you declared that you had your doubts about the safety of the emeralds, else you would not have consented to sell the mummy again to its rightful owner.”

The Professor nodded.

“Quite so: quite so. And what I say I hold to,” he retorted, “especially as I have proved myself a true prophet. You can both see for yourselves,” he waved his hand towards the rifled case, “that poor Sidney must have been killed for the sake of the emeralds. The question is, who killed him?”

“The person who knew about the jewels,” said Don Pedro promptly.

“Of course: but who did know? I was ignorant until you told me about the manuscript. And you, Hope?” He searched Archie’s face.

“Do you intend to accuse me?” questioned the young man with a slight laugh. “I assure you, Professor, that I was ignorant of what had been buried with the corpse, until Don Pedro related his story the other night to myself and Random, and the ladies.”

Braddock turned impatiently to De Gayangos, as he did not approve of Archie’s apparent flippancy.

“Does any one else know of the contents of this manuscript?” he demanded irritably.

Don Pedro nursed his chin and looked musingly on the ground.

“It is just possible that Vasa may.”

“Vasa? Vasa? Oh yes, the sailor who stole the mummy thirty years ago from your father in Lima. Pooh! pooh! pooh! You tell me that this manuscript is written in Latin, and evidently in monkish Latin at that, which is of the worst. Your sailor could not read it, and would not know the value of the manuscript. If he had, he would have carried it off.”

“Senor,” said the Peruvian politely, “I have an idea that my father made a translation of this manuscript, or at all events a copy.”

“But I understood,” put in Hope, still astride of his chair, “that you did not find the original manuscript until your father died.”

“That is quite true, sir,” assented the other readily, “but I did not tell you everything the other night. My father it was who found the manuscript at Cuzco, and although I cannot state authoritatively, yet I believe I am correct in saying that he had a copy made. But whether the copy was merely a transcript or actually a translation, I cannot tell. I think it was the former, as if Vasa, reading a translation, had learned of the jewels, he undoubtedly would have stolen them before selling this mummy to the Parisian collector.”

“Perhaps he did,” said Braddock, pointing to the rifled corpse. “You see that the emeralds are missing.”

“Your assistant’s assassin stole them,” insisted Don Pedro coldly.

“We cannot be sure of that,” retorted the Professor, “although I admit that no man would jeopardize his neck for the sake of a corpse.”

Archie looked surprised.

“But an enthusiast such as you are, Professor, might risk so much.”

For once in his life Braddock made a good-humored reply.

“No, sir. Not even for this mummy would I place myself in the power of the law. And I do not think that any other scientist would either. We savants may not be worldly, but we are not fools. However, the fact remains that the jewels are gone, and whether they were stolen by Vasa thirty years ago, or by poor Sidney’s assassin the other day, I don’t know, and, what is more, I don’t care. I shall examine the mummy further, and in a couple of days Don Pedro can bring me a check for one thousand and remove his ancestor.”

“No! no!” cried the Peruvian hurriedly; “since the emeralds are missing, I am not in a position to pay you one thousand English pounds, sir. I want to take back the body of Inca Caxas to Lima; as one must show respect to one’s ancestors. But the fact is, I cannot pay the money.”

“You said that you could,” shouted the exasperated Professor in his bullying way.

“I admit it, senor, but I had hoped to do so when I sold the emeralds, which — as you can see — are not available. Therefore the body of my royal ancestor must remain here until I can procure the money. And it may be that Sir Frank Random will help me in this matter.”

“He wouldn’t help me,” snapped Braddock, “so why should he help you?”

Don Pedro, looking more dignified than ever, drew himself up to his tall height.

“Sir Frank,” he said, in a stately way, “has done me the honor of seeking to be my son-inlaw. As my daughter loves him, I am willing to permit the marriage, but now that I have learned the emeralds are lost, I shall not consent until Sir Frank buys the mummy from you, Professor. It is only right that my daughter’s hand should redeem her regal forefather from purely scientific surroundings and that she should take the mummy back to be buried in Lima. At the same time, sir, I must say that I am the rightful owner of the dead, and that you should surrender the mummy to me free of charge.”

“What, and lose a thousand pounds!” cried Braddock furiously. “No, sir, I shall do nothing of the sort. You only wanted the mummy for the sake of the jewels, and now that they are lost, you do not care what becomes of your confounded ancestor, and you —”

The Professor would have gone on still more furiously, but that Hope, seeing Don Pedro was growing angry at the insult, chimed in.

“Let me throw oil on the troubled waters,” he said, smoothly. “Don Pedro is not able to redeem the mummy until the emeralds are found. As such is the case, we must find the emeralds and enable him to do what is necessary.”

“And how are we to find the jewels?” asked Braddock crossly.

“By finding the assassin.”

“How is that to be done?” asked De Gayangos gloomily. “I have been doing my best at Pierside, but I cannot find a single clue. Vasa is not to be found.”

“Vasa!” exclaimed Archie and the Professor, both profoundly astonished.

Don Pedro raised his eyebrows.

“Certainly. Vasa, if anyone, must have killed your assistant, since he alone could have known that the jewels were buried with Inca Caxas.”

“But, my dear sir,” argued Hope good-naturedly, “if Vasa stole the manuscript, whether translated or not, he certainly must have learned the truth long, long ago, since thirty years have elapsed. In that event he must have stolen the jewels, as Professor Braddock remarked lately, before he sold the mummy to the Parisian collector.”

“That may be so,” said Don Pedro obstinately, while the Professor muttered his approval, “but we cannot be certain on that point. No one — I agree with the Professor in this — would have risked his neck to steal a mere mummy, therefore the motive for the committal of the crime must have been the emeralds. Only Vasa knew of their existence outside myself and my dead father. He, therefore, must be the assassin. I shall hunt for him, and, when I find him, I shall have him arrested.”

“But you can’t possibly recognize the man after thirty years?” argued Braddock disbelievingly.

“I have a royal memory for faces,” said Don Pedro imperturbably, “and in the past I saw much of Vasa. He was then a young sailor of twenty.”

“Humph!” muttered Braddock. “He is now fifty, and must have changed in thirty years. You’ll never recognize him.”

“Oh, I think so,” said the Peruvian smoothly. “His eyes were peculiarly blue and full of light. Also, he had a scar on the right temple from a blow which he received in a street riot in which I also was concerned. Finally, gentlemen, Vasa loved a peon girl on my father’s estate, and she induced him to have the sun encircled by a serpent — a Peruvian symbol — tattooed on his left wrist. With all these marks, and with my memory for faces, which never yet has failed me, I have no doubt but what I shall recognize the man.”

“And then?”

“And then I shall have him arrested”

Hope shrugged his square shoulders. He had not much belief in Don Pedro’s boasted royal memory, and did not think that he would recognize a young sailor of twenty in what would certainly be a grizzled old salt of fifty years. However, it was possible that the man might be right in his surmise, since Vasa alone could have known about the emeralds. The only doubt was whether he would have waited for thirty years before looting the mummy. Archie said nothing of these thoughts, as they would only serve to prolong an unprofitable discussion. But he made one suggestion.

“Your best plan,” he said suggestively, “is to write a description of Vasa — who, by the way, has probably changed his name — and hand it to the police, with the promise of a reward if he is found.”

“I am very poor, senor. Surely the Professor here —”

“I can offer nothing,” said Braddock quickly, “as I am quite as poor as you are, if not more so, Sir Frank might help,” he added sarcastically.

“I shall not ask,” said Don Pedro loftily. “If Sir Frank chooses to become my son-inlaw by purchasing back my royal ancestor, to which you have no right, I am willing that it should be so. But, poor as I am, I shall offer a reward myself, since the honor of the De Gayangoses is involved in this matter. What reward do you suggest, Mr. Hope?”

“Five hundred pounds,” said the Professor quickly.

“Too much,” said Hope sharply —“far too much. Make the reward one hundred pounds, Don Pedro. That is enough to tempt many a man.”

The Peruvian bowed and noted down the amount.

“I shall go at once to Pierside and see Inspector Date, who had to do with the inquest,” he remarked. “Meanwhile, Professor, please do not desecrate my royal ancestor’s body more than you can help.”

“I shall certainly not search for any more emeralds,” retorted Braddock dryly. “Now, clear out, both of you, and leave me to examine the mummy. Cockatoo, show these gentlemen out, and let no one else in.”

Don Pedro returned to the Warrior Hotel to inform his daughter of what had taken place, with the intention of going in the afternoon to Pierside. Meanwhile, he wrote out a full description of Vasa, making an allowance for the lapse of years and explaining the scar and the symbol on the left wrist. Hope also sought Lucy and related the latest development of the case. The girl was not surprised, as she likewise believed that the assassin had desired more than the mummy when he murdered Sidney Bolton.

“Mrs. Jasher did not know about the emeralds?” she asked suddenly.

“No,” replied Archie, much surprised. “Surely you do not suspect her of having a hand in the devilment?”

“Certainly not,” was the prompt answer. “Only I cannot understand how the mummy came to be in her garden.”

“It was brought up from the river, I expect.”

“But why to Mrs. Jasher’s garden?”

Hope shook his head.

“I cannot tell that. The whole thing is a mystery, and seems likely to remain so.”

“It seems to me,” said the girl, after a pause, “that it would be best for my father to return this mummy to Don Pedro, and have done with it, since it seems to bring bad luck. Then he can marry Mrs. Jasher, and go to Egypt on her fortune to seek for this tomb.”

“I doubt very much if Mrs. Jasher will marry the Professor now, after what he said last night.”

“Nonsense, my father was in a rage and said what first came into his mind. I daresay she is angry. However, I shall see her this afternoon, and put matters right.”

“You are very anxious that the Professor should marry the lady.”

“I am,” replied Lucy seriously, “as I want to leave my father comfortably settled when I marry you. The sooner he makes Mrs. Jasher his wife, the readier will he be to let me go, and I want to marry you as soon as I possibly can. I am tired of Gartley and of this present life.”

Of course to this speech Archie could make only one answer, and as that took the form of kissing, it was entirely satisfactory to Miss Kendal. Then they discussed the future and also the proposed engagement of Sir Frank Random to the Peruvian lady. But both left the subject of the mummy alone, as they were quite weary of the matter, and neither could suggest a solution of the mystery.

Meanwhile Professor Braddock had passed a very pleasant hour in examining the swathings of the mummy. But his pleasure was destined to be cut short sooner than he desired, as Captain Hiram Hervey unexpectedly arrived. Although Cockatoo — as he had been instructed — did his best to keep him out, the sailor forced his way in, and heralded his appearance by throwing the Kanaka head-foremost into the museum.

“What does this mean?” demanded the fiery Professor, while Cockatoo, with an angry expression, struggled to his feet, and Hervey, smoking his inevitable cheroot, stood on the threshold —“how dare you treat my property in this careless way.”

“Guess your property should behave itself then,” said the captain in careless tones, and sauntered into the room. “D’y think I’m goin’ to be chucked out by a measly nigger and — Great Scott!”— this latter exclamation was extorted by the sight of the mummy.

Braddock motioned to the still angry Cockatoo to move aside, and then nodded triumphantly.

“You didn’t expect to see that, did you?” he asked.

Hervey came to anchor on a chair and turned the cheroot in his mouth with an odd look at the mummy.

“When will he be hanged?”

Braddock stared.

“When will who be hanged?”

“The man as stole that thing.”

“We haven’t found him yet,” Braddock informed him swiftly.

“Then how in creation did you annex the corpse.”

The Professor sat down and explained. The lean, long mariner listened quietly, only nodding at intervals. He did not seem to be surprised when he heard that the corpse of the head Inca had been found in Mrs. Jasher’s garden, especially when Braddock explained the whereabouts of the property.

“Wal,” he drawled, “that don’t make my hair stand on end. I guess the garden was on his way and he used it for a cemetery.”

“What are you talking about?” demanded the perplexed scientist.

“About the man who strangled your help and yanked away the corpse.”

“But I don’t know who he is. Nobody knows.”

“Go slow. I do.”

“You!” Braddock started and flung himself across the room to seize Hervey by the lapels of his reefer coat. “You know. Tell me who he is, so that I can get the emeralds.”

“Emeralds!” Hervey removed Braddock’s plump hands and stared greedily.

“Don’t you know? No, of course you don’t. But two emeralds were buried with the mummy, and they have been stolen.”

“Who by?”

“No doubt by the assassin who murdered poor Sidney.”

Hervey spat on the floor, and his weather-beaten face took on an expression of, profound regret.

“I guess I’m a fool of the best.”

“Why?” asked Braddock, again puzzled.

“To think,” said Hervey, addressing the mummy, “that you were on board my boat, and I never looted you.”

“What!” Braddock stamped. “Would you have committed theft?”

“Theft be hanged!” was the reply. “It ain’t thieving to loot the dead. I guess a corpse hasn’t got any use for jewels. You bet I’d have gummed straightways onto that mummy, when I brought it from Malta in the old Diver, had I known it was a jeweler’s shop of sorts. Huh! Two emeralds, and I never knew. I could kick myself.”

“You are a blackguard,” gasped the astonished Professor.

“Oh, shucks!” was the elegant retort, “give it a rest. I’m no worse than that dandy gentleman who added murder to stealing, anyhow.”

“Ah!” Braddock bounded off his chair like an india-rubber ball, “you said that you knew who had committed the murder.”

“Wal,” drawled Hervey again, “I do and I don’t. That is I suspect, but I can’t swear to the business before a judge.”

“Who killed Bolton?” asked the Professor furiously. “Tell me at once.”

“Not me, unless it’s made worth my while.”

“It will be, by Don Pedro.”

“That yellow-stomach. What’s he got to do with it?”

“I have just told you the mummy belongs to him; he came to Europe to find it. He wants the emeralds, and intends to offer a reward of one hundred pounds for the discovery of the assassin.”

Hervey arose briskly.

“I’m right on the job,” said he, sauntering to the door. “I’ll go to that old inn of yours, where you say the Don’s stopping, and look him up. Guess I’ll trade.”

“But who killed Bolton?” asked Braddock, running to the door and gripping Hervey by his coat.

The mariner looked down on the anxious face of the plump little man with a grim smile.

“I can tell you,” said he, “as you can’t figure out the business, unless I’m on the racket. No, sir; I’m the white boy in thin circus.”

The Professor shook the lean sailor in his anxiety.

“Who is he?”

“That almighty aristocrat that came on board my ship, when I lay in the Thames on the very afternoon I arrived with Bolton.”

“Who do you mean?” demanded Braddock, more and more perplexed.

“Sir Frank Random.”

“What! did he kill Bolton and steal my mummy?”

“And hide it in that garden on his way to the Fort? I guess he did.”

The Professor sat down and closed his eyes with horror. When he opened them again, Hervey was gone.

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Last updated Monday, March 17, 2014 at 16:42