The Jewel of Seven Stars - Page 4

"Well, ma'am, we must be content to do what we can," said the officergenially. "I'll begin by making a minute examination. You say that youwere outside the door when you heard the noise?"

"I was in my room when I heard the queer sound--indeed it must havebeen the early part of whatever it was which woke me. I came out of myroom at once. Father's door was shut, and I could see the whole landingand the upper slopes of the staircase. No one could have left by thedoor unknown to me, if that is what you mean!"

"That is just what I do mean, miss. If every one who knows anythingwill tell me as well as that, we shall soon get to the bottom of this."

He then went over to the bed, looked at it carefully, and asked:

"Has the bed been touched?"

"Not to my knowledge," said Miss Trelawny, "but I shall ask Mrs.Grant--the housekeeper," she added as she rang the bell. Mrs. Grantanswered it in person. "Come in," said Miss Trelawny. "These gentlemenwant to know, Mrs. Grant, if the bed has been touched."

"Not by me, ma'am."

"Then," said Miss Trelawny, turning to Sergeant Daw, "it cannot havebeen touched by any one. Either Mrs. Grant or I myself was here allthe time, and I do not think any of the servants who came when I gavethe alarm were near the bed at all. You see, Father lay here justunder the great safe, and every one crowded round him. We sent themall away in a very short time." Daw, with a motion of his hand, askedus all to stay at the other side of the room whilst with amagnifying-glass he examined the bed, taking care as he moved each foldof the bed-clothes to replace it in exact position. Then he examinedwith his magnifying-glass the floor beside it, taking especial painswhere the blood had trickled over the side of the bed, which was ofheavy red wood handsomely carved. Inch by inch, down on his knees,carefully avoiding any touch with the stains on the floor, he followedthe blood-marks over to the spot, close under the great safe, where thebody had lain. All around and about this spot he went for a radius ofsome yards; but seemingly did not meet with anything to arrest specialattention. Then he examined the front of the safe; round the lock, andalong the bottom and top of the double doors, more especially at theplaces of their touching in front.

Next he went to the windows, which were fastened down with the hasps.

"Were the shutters closed?" he asked Miss Trelawny in a casual way asthough he expected the negative answer, which came.

All this time Doctor Winchester was attending to his patient; nowdressing the wounds in the wrist or making minute examination all overthe head and throat, and over the heart. More than once he put hisnose to the mouth of the senseless man and sniffed. Each time he didso he finished up by unconsciously looking round the room, as though insearch of something.

Then we heard the deep strong voice of the Detective:

"So far as I can see, the object was to bring that key to the lock ofthe safe. There seems to be some secret in the mechanism that I amunable to guess at, though I served a year in Chubb's before I joinedthe police. It is a combination lock of seven letters; but there seemsto be a way of locking even the combination. It is one of Chatwood's;I shall call at their place and find out something about it." Thenturning to the Doctor, as though his own work were for the presentdone, he said:

"Have you anything you can tell me at once, Doctor, which will notinterfere with your full report? If there is any doubt I can wait, butthe sooner I know something definite the better." Doctor Winchesteranswered at once:

"For my own part I see no reason in waiting. I shall make a fullreport of course. But in the meantime I shall tell you all Iknow--which is after all not very much, and all I think--which is lessdefinite. There is no wound on the head which could account for thestate of stupor in which the patient continues. I must, therefore,take it that either he has been drugged or is under some hypnoticinfluence. So far as I can judge, he has not been drugged--at least bymeans of any drug of whose qualities I am aware. Of course, there isordinarily in this room so much of a mummy smell that it is difficultto be certain about anything having a delicate aroma. I dare say thatyou have noticed the peculiar Egyptians scents, bitumen, nard, aromaticgums and spices, and so forth. It is quite possible that somewhere inthis room, amongst the curios and hidden by stronger scents, is somesubstance or liquid which may have the effect we see. It is possiblethat the patient has taken some drug, and that he may in some sleepingphase have injured himself. I do not think this is likely; andcircumstances, other than those which I have myself been investigating,may prove that this surmise is not correct. But in the meantime it ispossible; and must, till it be disproved, be kept within our purview."Here Sergeant Daw interrupted:

"That may be, but if so, we should be able to find the instrument withwhich the wrist was injured. There would be marks of blood somewhere."

"Exactly so!" said the Doctor, fixing his glasses as though preparingfor an argument. "But if it be that the patient has used some strangedrug, it may be one that does not take effect at once. As we are asyet ignorant of its potentialities--if, indeed, the whole surmise iscorrect at all--we must be prepared at all points."

Here Miss Trelawny joined in the conversation:

"That would be quite right, so far as the action of the drug wasconcerned; but according to the second part of your surmise the woundmay have been self-inflicted, and this after the drug had taken effect."

"True!" said the Detective and the Doctor simultaneously. She went on:

"As however, Doctor, your guess does not exhaust the possibilities, wemust bear in mind that some other variant of the same root-idea may becorrect. I take it, therefore, that our first search, to be made onthis assumption, must be for the weapon with which the injury was doneto my Father's wrist."

"Perhaps he put the weapon in the safe before he became quiteunconscious," said I, giving voice foolishly to a half-formed thought.

"That could not be," said the Doctor quickly. "At least I think itcould hardly be," he added cautiously, with a brief bow to me. "Yousee, the left hand is covered with blood; but there is no blood markwhatever on the safe."

"Quite right!" I said, and there was a long pause.

The first to break the silence was the Doctor.

"We shall want a nurse here as soon as possible; and I know the veryone to suit. I shall go at once to get her if I can. I must ask thattill I return some of you will remain constantly with the patient. Itmay be necessary to remove him to another room later on; but in themeantime he is best left here. Miss Trelawny, may I take it thateither you or Mrs. Grant will remain here--not merely in the room, butclose to the patient and watchful of him--till I return?"

She bowed in reply, and took a seat beside the sofa. The Doctor gaveher some directions as to what she should do in case her father shouldbecome conscious before his return.

The next to move was Superintendent Dolan, who came close to SergeantDaw as he said:

"I had better return now to the station--unless, of course, you shouldwish me to remain for a while."

He answered, "Is Johnny Wright still in your division?"

Tags: Bram Stoker Horror
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