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- The Green Mummy - 40/58 -
guess, though I haven't used it since I traded that blamed mummy in Paris, thirty years ago. There's nothing like owning up."
"Are you not Swedish?" asked Lucy timidly.
"I am a citizen of the world, I guess," replied Hervey with great politeness for him, "and America suits me for headquarters as well as any other nation. I might be Swedish or Danish or a Dago for choice. Vasa may be my name, or Hervey, or anything you like. But I guess I'm a man all through."
"And a thief!" cried Don Pedro, who had resumed his seat, but was keeping quiet with difficulty.
"Not of those emeralds," rejoined the skipper coolly: "Lord, to think of the chance I missed! Thirty years ago I could have looted them, and again the other day. But I never knew--I never knew," cried Hervey regretfully, with his vividly blue eyes on the mummy. "I could jes' kick myself, gentlemen, when I think of the miss."
"Then you didn't steal the manuscript along with the emeralds?"
"Wal, I did," cried Hervey, turning to Archie, who had spoken, "but it was in a furren lingo, to which I didn't catch on. If I'd known I'd have learned about those blamed emeralds."
"What did you do with the copy of the manuscript you stole?" asked Don Pedro sharply. "I know there was a copy, as my father told me so. I have the original myself, but the transcript--and not a translation, as I fancied--appeared in Sir Frank Random's room to-day, hidden behind some books."
Hervey made no move, but smoked steadily, with his eyes on the carpet. However, Archie, who was observing keenly, saw that he was more startled than he would admit. The explanation had taken him by surprise.
"Explain!" cried the Peruvian sharply.
Hervey looked up and fixed a pair of very evil eyes on the Don.
"See here," he remarked, "if the lady wasn't present, I'd show you that I take no orders from any yellow--that is, from any low-down Don."
"Lucy, my dear, leave us," said Braddock, rising, much excited; "we must have this matter sifted to the bottom, and if Hervey can explain better in your absence, I think you should go."
Although Miss Kendal was very anxious to hear all that was to be heard, she saw the advisability of taking this advice, especially as Hope gave her arm a meaning nudge.
"I'll go," she said meekly, and was escorted by her lover to the door. There she paused. "Tell me all that takes place," she whispered, and when Archie nodded, she vanished promptly. The young man closed the door and returned to his seat in time to hear Don Pedro reiterate his request for an explanation.
"And 'spose I can't oblige," said the skipper, now more at his ease since the lady was out of the room.
"Then I shall have you arrested," was the quick reply.
"For the theft of my mummy."
Hervey laughed raucously.
"I guess the law can't worry me about that after thirty years, and in a low-down country like Peru. Your Government has shifted fifty times since I looted the corpse."
This was quite true, and there was absolutely no chance of the skipper being brought to book. Don Pedro looked rather disconsolate, and his gaze dropped under the glare of Hervey's eyes, which seemed unfair, seeing that the Don was as good as the captain was evil.
"You can't expect me to condone the theft," he muttered.
"I reckon I don't expect anything," retorted Hervey coolly "I looted the corpse, I don't deny, and--"
"After my father had treated you like a son," said Don Pedro bitterly. "You were homeless and friendless, and my father took you in, only to find that you robbed him of his most precious possession."
The skipper had the grace to blush, and shifted uneasily in his chair.
"You can't say truer than that," he grumbled, averting his eyes. "I guess I'm a bad lot all through. But a friend of mine wanted the corpse, and offered me a heap of dollars to see the business through."
"Do you mean to say that some one asked you to steal it?"
"No," put in Braddock unexpectedly, "for I was the friend."
"You!" Don Pedro swung round in great astonishment, but the Professor faced him with all the consciousness of innocence.
"Yes," he remarked quietly, "as I told you, I was in Peru thirty years ago. I was then hunting for specimens of Inca mummies. Vasa--this man now called Hervey--told me that he could obtain a splendid specimen of a mummy, and I arranged to give him one hundred pounds to procure what I wanted. But I swear to you, De Gayangos," continued the little man earnestly, "that I did not know he proposed to steal the mummy from you."
"You knew it was the green mummy?" asked Don Pedro sharply.
"No, I only knew that it was a mummy."
"Did Vasa get it for you?"
"I guess not," said the gentleman who confessed to that name. "The Professor went to Cuzco and got into trouble--"
"I was carried off to the mountains by some Indians," interpolated the Professor, "and only escaped after a year's captivity. I did not mind that, as it gave me the opportunity of studying a decaying civilization. But when I returned a free man to Lima, I found that Vasa had left the country with the mummy."
"That's so," assented Hervey, waving his hand. "I got a berth as second mate on a wind-jammer sailing to Europe, and as the country wasn't healthy for me since I'd looted the green mummy, I took it abroad and yanked it to Paris, where I sold it for a couple of hundred pounds. With that, I changed my name and had a high old time. I never heard of the blamed thing again until the Professor here turned up with Mr. Bolton at Pierside, asking me to bring it in The Diver from Malta. It was what you'd call a coincidence, I reckon," added Hervey lazily; "but I did cry small when I heard the Professor here had paid nine hundred for a thing I'd let slip for two hundred. Had I known of those infernal emeralds, I'd have ripped open the case on board and would have recouped myself. But I knew nothing, and Bolton never told me."
"How could he," asked Braddock quietly, "when he did not know that any jewels were buried with the dead? I did not know either. And I have explained why I wanted the mummy. But it never struck me until I hear what you say now, that this mummy," he nodded towards the green case, "was the one which you had stolen at Lima from De Gayangos. But you must do me the justice, Captain Hervey, to tell Don Pedro that I never countenanced the theft."
"No! you were square enough, I guess. The sin is on my own blessed shoulders, and I don't ask it to be shifted."
"What did you do with the copy of the manuscript?" asked Don Pedro.
"I can't think," he mused. "I found a screed of Latin along with the mummy, when I looted it from your Lima house, but it dropped out of my mind as to what became of it. Maybe I passed it along to the Paris man, and he sold it along with the corpse to the Maltese gent."
"But I tell you this copy was found in Sir Frank's room," insisted De Gayangos. "How did it come to be there?"
Captain Hervey rose and took a turn up and down the room. When Cockatoo came in his way he calmly kicked him aside.
"What do you think, Mr. Hope?" he asked, coming to a full stop before Archie, while Cockatoo crept away with a very dark scowl.
"I don't know what to think," replied that young gentleman promptly, "save that Sir Frank is my very good friend, and that I take his word that he knows nothing of how the manuscript came to be hidden in his bookcase."
"Huh!" said Hervey scornfully, and took another turn up and down the room in silence. "I surmise that your friend isn't a white man."
Hope leaped to his feet.
"That's a lie," he said distinctly.
"I'd have shot you for that down Chili way," snapped the skipper.
"Possibly," retorted the artist dryly, "but I happen to be handy with my revolver also. I say again that you lie. Random is not the man to commit so foul a crime."
"Then how did the manuscript get into his room?" questioned Hervey.
"He is trying to learn, and, when he does, will come here to let us all know, Captain Hervey. But I ask you on what grounds you
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