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Frank as the old servant had apparently


Beatrice cast one look at him, and entered without another word. The room was not large, but furnished with a splendour which startled her when she remembered the exterior of the house. The walls were hung with green silk, and the hangings were drawn back here and there by silver cords to show choice pictures. The ceiling was also painted, the floor was stained and covered with valuable Persian praying mats, and the furniture would have done credit to a West End drawing-room. It really looked rather like a woman's room, as there were plenty of flowers about, and on a tiny table of carved wood stood a tea equipage of silver and delicate egg-shell china.


"I doubt if I have one to turn," muttered Ruck, flushing a brick-red at her words. "However, if you will give me that necklace, I shall try and lead a better life. I have to," he confessed candidly, "as I don't mind telling you that the course of the Black Patch Gang is nearly run. The police have got to know too much, and at any moment may raid us."

"I have not got the necklace," said Beatrice coldly.

"I know that. Maud Carr had it, and told me how her father had found it. But instead of giving it to me, she passed it along to your mother."

"To whom," said Beatrice with emphasis, "it rightfully belongs."

"Well, yes; but also it belongs to me. Lady Watson will not give it to me, but she will to you. And, as a matter of fact, your father the Colonel left you the necklace."

"You contradict yourself, Major: you said it belonged to my mother."

"Possession is nine points of the law," said the big man, with a shrug, "and Lady Watson has the necklace, sure enough. But you can insist on her giving it to you, and then hand it to me. I'll vanish out of your life and trouble you no more. There is a wide field for the exercise of a gentleman's abilities in the States."

"And suppose I decline?" asked Beatrice disdainfully.

"In that case," replied Ruck, regarding her attentively, "I shall be compelled to accuse Mr. Vivian Paslow of having murdered Alpenny."

"That is a lie," cried Beatrice, starting to her feet. "It is the truth," retorted the Major, "the real truth."Beatrice kept her word in spite of all Durban's protestation that her visit to Lady Watson would lead to trouble.  been, Beatrice could not rid herself of the idea than even now he had not told everything. There was some mystery concerning Lady Watson which had a bearing on the other mysteries, and this she was determined to find out. Only by knowing everything would her mind be set at rest.

The girl was sufficiently unhappy in these days. The discovery of the evil by which she was surrounded made her recoil from everyone in terror. All people seemed to have skeletons in their various cupboards, and Beatrice dreaded the chance of becoming friendly with any one else who had a secret.
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