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- The Green Mummy - 58/58 -
"Chuck the mummy and nigger overboard and make for the ship," he yelled, swimming with long strokes towards the boat.
This order was quite to the sailors' minds, as they had not reckoned on such a fight. Half a dozen willing hands clutched both Cockatoo and the case, and, in spite of the Kanaka's cries, both were hurled overboard. As the case swung overside, De Gayangos, balancing himself at the end of the boat, fired at Cockatoo. The shot missed the Kanaka, and pierced the mummy case. Then from it came a piercing yell of agony and rage.
"Great God!" shouted Hope, who was watching the battle, "I believe Braddock is in that damned thing."
The next moment De Gayangos was swung overboard also, and the sailors were lifting Hervey into the boat. It nearly upset, but he managed to get in, and the craft rowed for the vessel, which was again showing a flaring blue light. Random sent a shot after the boat, and then with the policemen ran down to help De Gayangos, who was struggling in the water. He managed to pull him out, and when he had him safe and breathless on shore, he saw that the boat was nearing the ship, and that Date, torn and wet and disheveled, with three policemen, was up to his waist in water, struggling to bring ashore Cockatoo and the mummy case, to which he clung like a limpet. Hope ran down to give a hand, and in a few minutes they had the Kanaka ashore, fighting like the demon he was. Random and De Gayangos joined the breathless group, and Cockatoo was held in the grasp of two strong men--who required all their strength to hold him--while Date, warned by Hope's cry of what was in the case, tore at the lid. It was but lightly fastened and soon came off. Then those present saw in the moonlight the dead face of Professor Braddock, who had been shot through the heart. As they looked at the sight, Cockatoo broke from those who held him, and, throwing himself on his master, howled and wept as though his heart would break. At the same moment there came a derisive whistle from The Firefly, and they saw the great tramp steamer slowly moving down stream, increasing her speed with almost every revolution of the screw. Braddock had been captured, but Hervey had escaped.
At the inquest on the Professor and on the body of Mrs. Jasher, it was proved that Cockatoo had warned his master that the game was up, and had suggested that Braddock should escape by hiding in the mummy case. The corpse of Inca Caxas was placed in an empty Egyptian sarcophagus--in which it was afterwards found-- and Braddock, assisted by his faithful Kanaka, wheeled the case down to the old jetty. Here, in a nook where Cockatoo had formerly kept the boat, the Professor concealed himself all that night and all next day. Cockatoo, having got rid of his boat long since (lest it might be used in evidence against him and his master), ran through the dense mist and the long night up to Pierside, where he saw Captain Hervey and bribed him with a promise of one thousand pounds to save his master. Hervey, having assured himself that the money was safe, since it was banked in a feigned name in Amsterdam, agreed, and arranged to ship the Professor in the mummy case.
Thus it was that Hervey kept the four men talking up the jetty, as he knew that Cockatoo with his own sailors was shipping the Professor in the mummy case underneath, and well out of sight. Cockatoo had come down stream with The Firefly, and in this way had not been discovered. Throughout that long day the miserable Braddock had crouched like a toad in its hole, trembling at every sound of pursuit, as he knew that the whole of the village was looking for him. But Cockatoo had hidden him well in the case, in the lid of which holes had been bored. He had brandy to drink and food to eat, and he knew that he could depend upon the Kanaka. Had Date not been suspicious, the ruse might have been successful, but to save himself Hervey had to sacrifice the wretched Professor, which he did without the slightest hesitation. Then came the unlucky shot from the revolver of De Gayangos, which had ended Braddock's wicked life. It was Fate.
At the inquest a verdict of "wilful murder" was brought against the Kanaka, but a verdict of "justifiable homicide" was given in favor of the Peruvian. Thus Cockatoo was hanged for the double murder and Don Pedro went free. He remained long enough in London to see his daughter married to the man of her choice, and then returned to Lima.
Of course the affair caused more than a nine days' wonder, and the newspapers were filled with accounts of the murder and the projected escape. But Lucy was saved from all this publicity, as, in the first place, her name was kept out of print as much as possible, and, in the second, Archie promptly married her, and within a fortnight of her step-father's death took her to the south of France, and afterwards to Italy. What with his own money and the money she inherited from her mother--in which Braddock had a life interest--the young couple had nearly a thousand a year.
Six months later Sir Frank came into the small San Remo where Mr. and Mrs. Hope lived, with his wife on his arm. Lady Random looked singularly charming and was assuredly more conversational. This was the first time the two sets of lovers had met since the tragedy, and now each girl had married the man she loved. Therefore there was great joy.
"My yacht is over at Monte Carlo," said Random, "and I am, going with Inez to South America. She wants to see her father."
"Yes, I do," said Lady Random; "and we want you to come also, Lucy--you and your dear husband."
Archie and his wife looked at one another, but declined unanimously.
"We would rather stay here in San Remo," said Mrs. Hope, becoming slightly pale. "Don't think me unkind, Inez, but I could not bear to go to Peru. It is associated too much in my own mind with that terrible green mummy."
"Oh, Don Pedro has taken that back to the Andes," explained Sir Frank, "and it is now reposing in the sepulchre in which it was placed, hundreds of years ago, by the Indians, faithful to Inca Caxas. Inez and I are going up to a kind of forbidden city, where Don Pedro reigns as Inca, and I expect we shall have a jolly time. I hear there is some big game shooting there."
"What about your soldiering?" asked Hope, rather, surprised at this extended tour being arranged.
"Oh, my husband has left the army," pouted Inez. "His duties kept him away from me nearly all the day, and I grew weary of being left alone."
"So you see, Mrs. Hope," laughed Random gayly, "that I have had to succumb to my fireside tyrant. We shall go and see this fairy city and then return to my home in Oxfordshire. There Inez will settle down as a real English wife and I'll turn a country squire. So, after all our troubles, peace will come."
"And as you will not come to my country," said Lady Random to her hostess, "you cannot refuse to visit Frank and myself at the Grange. We have had so much trouble together that we cannot lose sight of each other."
"No," said Lucy, kissing her. "We will come to Oxfordshire."
So it was arranged, and the next day Mr. and Mrs. Hope went over to Monte Carlo to see the last of Sir Frank and his wife. They stood on the heights watching the pretty little steamer making for South America. Archie noticed that his wife's face was somewhat sad.
"Are you sorry we did not go, sweetheart?"
"No," she replied, placing her arm within his own. "I only want to be with you."
"That is all right." He patted her hand. "Now that we have sold all the furniture in the Pyramids, and have got rid of the lease, there will be nothing to remind you of the green mummy."
"Yet I can't help thinking of my unfortunate step-father, and of poor Mrs. Jasher, and of Sidney Bolton. Oh, Archie, little as we can afford it, I am glad that we allow Mrs. Bolton a small sum a year. After all, it was through my step-father that her son met with his death."
"I don't quite agree with you, dear. Cockatoo's innate savagery was the cause, as Professor Braddock did not intend or desire murder. But there, dear, do not think any more about these dismal things. Dream of the time when I shall be the president of the Royal Academy, and you my lady."
"I am your lady now. But," added Lucy, perhaps from an association of ideas of color and the Academy, "I shall hate green for the rest of my life."
"That's unlucky, considering it is Nature's color. My dear, in a year or two this tragedy, or rather the three tragedies, will seem like a dream. I won't listen to another word now. The green mummy has passed out of our lives and has taken its bad luck with it."
"Amen, so be it," said Lucy Hope, and the happy couple went home, leaving all their sorrows behind them, while the smoke of the steamer faded on the horizon.
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