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HOME > Short Stories > The Mikado Jewel > CHAPTER XI HARRY\'S SWEETHEART
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With the arrival of Basil Dane, life became much brighter and more lively at Beckleigh. The young sailor was active-minded and light-hearted, so that he was always glad to provide amusement for himself and others. He took Patricia and Mara out sailing in the fairy bay, and walked with them across the windy spaces of the moors to view various centres of interest. In the evenings, having a sweet tenor voice, he sang to them, while Miss Carrol played his accompaniments, and, of course, he had much to tell them about foreign parts. No one could possibly be dull while Basil was in the house, and even the Squire left his beloved history of the Colpster family to enjoy the breezy humours of his favourite nephew. The old house awoke, as it were, from sleep, to enjoy a brief holiday of innocent amusement.

But although Basil was attentive to Mara, since he greatly wished to arouse her from those dreams which set her apart from others, he gave Patricia most of his company. From the moment he had set eyes on her, he had been attracted by the beauty of her face. Now that he knew her better, and found that she had a heart of gold, he frankly fell in love with such perfections. And very wisely, for Patricia was a rare specimen of her sex. She was not, on her part, averse to his wooing, as, of all the men she had ever met, Basil appeared to be the most trustworthy and fascinating. It was the old story of love at first sight, that miracle at which material-minded people scoff, but which is a veritable truth in spite of such scepticism.

Theodore, needless to say, was not pleased to see the fulfilment of his prophecy. He had known, the moment Basil arrived, that something of this silly sort--so he phrased it--would happen. Knowing nothing of love himself, for his selfishness swallowed up all other qualities in his somewhat narrow nature, he had scanty patience with this folly. He wished to get Patricia entirely to himself, because of her rare psychic qualities, and to do so was even willing to marry her. Of course, by such an act, he would cut himself off from all chance of acquiring the property, since it was very evident that the Mikado Jewel would never be found. Theodore was certain that it had gone back to Japan, and there would be no chance of its being stolen a second time. This being the case, only by marrying his cousin could he secure Beckleigh and carry out his design of forming a school of Occultism. But this ambition--as has before been stated--he was willing to surrender, provided that he could dominate Patricia and her mediumistic powers. With those at his disposal, he felt that he could do much to forward his selfish desires. Moreover--and this was a factor also in his decision--Mara disliked him so intensely that she certainly would never marry him.

But none of Theodore\'s feelings appeared in his looks and manners. To reach his ends he had to play a comedy, and did so with the skill of a clever actor. His face was all smiles, his behaviour most deferential, and he carefully avoided any possible quarrel with his brother. Also, he did not speak of his occult studies, since a discussion of such things was not welcome to others. Theodore, in fact, appeared in quite a social r?le, and seconded his brother in promoting a brighter and more active state of things in the old mansion. He was clever at conjuring, and gave exhibitions in the drawing-room when the girls grew weary of music and conversation. And always he was polite and genial. So much did he impose upon Basil and Mara and the Squire that they believed Theodore had--as the saying is--turned over a new leaf. But Patricia did not credit as genuine this too suave demeanour. She knew, if no one else did, that the leopard could not change his spots, and what is more, that this particular leopard did not wish to.

Beckleigh was certainly the Vale of Avilion, for in spite of the bad weather prevailing in almost every other county in England, this favoured spot preserved, more or less, a serene calm. Of course, it rained at times, but not very long and not very hard. As the Squire had said, his hay-crops at Hendle were completely ruined by the wet, and he anticipated a great loss, which he could ill afford in his straitened circumstances. But the flower gardens round his family seat bloomed in almost constant sunshine. Also, when snows fell--it was now close upon Christmas, and the hard frosts were coming--they spread a mantle of white on the moors above, but did not descend upon Beckleigh. It is true that, owing to the season, many of the trees in the demesne were leafless, but a goodly number, being foreign, were evergreen, and still clothed themselves in leaves. Throughout the winter, when severe conditions prevailed on the high lands, the climate of this little nook by the sea maintained a mildness and warmth little short of miraculous. The place might have been situated on the Riviera.

Patricia thought that these extraordinary circumstances--for an English winter--were due to the great red cliff which sheltered the vale. During the day it drew in much heat into its breast, and breathed it forth at night when the airs grew chilly. It was like being warmed by a good-humoured volcano, she thought, for Patricia, after the manner of Browning, always humanized the forces of Nature. But undoubtedly she was right in her surmise, for the solar fire constantly drawn to the cliff and radiated from the cliff, created an artificial summer, which endured throughout the year. Beckleigh was like the Garden of Eden for climate and fruitfulness and beauty, and Theodore was the intruding snake. But as yet, even to herself, she did not dare to confess that she was a modern Eve to Basil\'s Adam. Or, if a passing thought of this nature did cross her mind, she blushed and did not dwell on it. If she had, she would never, in her maidenly confusion, have been able to meet the eye of her lover. Yes, it had come that far: he was her lover.

Of course, Theodore, always on the watch, saw that the pair were falling deeper in love daily, and savagely felt that he could do nothing to prevent a happy ending to the romance. The Squire might want Basil to marry his cousin, but Mara merely loved the young man in a sisterly fashion, and did not dream of any closer tie. Colpster was not the man to force his daughter\'s affections even for the sake of the family. So it was probable that, if Mara refused Basil, which she assuredly would do if he offered himself, and if Patricia accepted the young sailor, Mr. Colpster would settle the Beckleigh property on his daughter, and give up his fancy of re-establishing the family. Moreover, he was now strangely fond of Patricia, and would be glad to have her for his niece by marriage. Look what way he could and would, Theodore saw that his chances of gaining either Beckleigh or Miss Carrol were very small indeed.

It was then that he determined to seek out Brenda Lee and see what the future had in store for him. After Mara\'s warning, he had always been haunted by a sense of ever-nearing danger, although he could not tell from which quarter it would come. Granny Lee would know, however, as she was a clairvoyant and could look into the seeds of Time as did Macbeth\'s weird women. Of course, in this material age, most people contemptuously dismiss such things as hanky-panky, but that did not matter to Theodore. Sceptics might refuse to shape their course by such a vague chart, but he knew positively from experience that, under certain circumstances, the devil could speak truly. And if Granny Lee, with her malignant disposition and greedy venom, was not the devil, who was? Granny Lee, therefore, was the one to solve riddles, and to Granny Lee Theodore went a few days before Christmas. Yet, so as to impress upon his uncle that he was going on a harmless and friendly errand, the young man sought him out in the seclusion of his library.

"I am going to see Isa Lee, and ask if she has heard anything about Harry since his return to England," said Theodore abruptly.

"You are going to Hendle?"

"No. Isa, so I have been told, is stopping for Christmas with her grandmother in that miserable hut on the moors. I can go and return in three hours."

"I should like to come with you," said the Squire alertly. "I am most anxious to know the whereabouts of Harry Pentreddle. We must question him about the emerald. I wonder if he really knows anything?"

"I am perfectly certain that he does," rejoined Theodore, positively; "if he did not, he would not have stayed away from Isa. But I do not advise you to come with me, Uncle George, as there is deep snow on the moors, and you are not so young as you were. Besides, I can ask all necessary questions."

"Well, do so. If you can recover the emerald, you know what your reward will be," said the Squire, and turned again to decipher an old document, which dealt with the adventures of Amyas Colpster in Peru.

Theodore shrugged his big shoulders and departed with a grimace. Much as he would have liked to secure the emerald, if only to inherit Beckleigh, which was a kind of Naboth\'s vineyard in his greedy eyes, he felt quite sure that Harry Pentreddle could tell him little that would be helpful. Harry undoubtedly had stolen the Jewel, and had given it to Patricia as his mother\'s emissary; but having departed for Amsterdam almost immediately, he would know nothing of its unexpected loss. Apparently he did not even know that his mother had been so barbarously murdered. If he did know, he assuredly would have returned to avenge her, in spite of any danger there might be to him from the guardians of the great gem. And that danger was now, as Theodore fully believed, a thing of the past. The emerald had been recovered, so it was only natural to suppose that the priests of the Kitzuki Temple would leave well alone. With these thoughts in his scheming mind, Theodore, well wrapped up in furs, mounted the winding road which led to the moors.

The vast grassy spaces were covered more or less deeply with snow, but Dane, accustomed to the country since his boyhood, and possessing great strength, made light of the drifts. Far away on the dazzling expanse, brilliantly and blindingly bright in the sunshine, he saw the many dark dots, which marked the village, near the cromlech, where Mrs. Lee had her home. A glance backward over the cliff showed him the verdant acres of Beckleigh, and a flash of colour where late flowers still bloomed. There was no snow below, but only emerald swards and green woods running to the verge of the sapphire bay, where the wavelets lipped the curved streak of the yellow sands. The contrast between the summer he was leaving and the winter he was going into struck Theodore forcibly.

"I wish I could get it all to myself," he groaned. "Basil is out of it if he marries Patricia Carrol, and Mara hasn\'t the sense to look after it. I may secure it, after all. But Patricia," he scowled; "I don\'t want her to become Basil\'s wife!" a s............
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