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CHAPTER XIV THE JEWEL
It was judged best by all concerned to keep the episode of the Miko dance from Mr. Colpster, since he undoubtedly would have been very angry had he known of the strain to which Mara\'s nervous system had been subjected. Not that the girl suffered any ill-effects, but she was extremely tired, and remained in bed for the greater part of the next day. Patricia attended to her tenderly, but could learn little from her as to why she had acted in so strange a way under the influence of the incense and the music. But she intimated vaguely that the dance had re-awakened her recollections of a previous life, when she was not Mara Colpster, but quite another person. Miss Carrol was quite distressed by what she regarded as an hallucination, and privately consulted Basil the next morning after breakfast.

"I am greatly annoyed myself," said Dane, frowning. "Akira should not have acted in the way he did without consulting me."

"You would not have given your consent to the experiment," said Patricia.

"Certainly not. Mara is too highly strung to be subjected to these things, and might easily lose her reason. It is just as well that we have decided not to tell my uncle. He would be furious, and then there would be trouble with Akira, who has not the best of tempers under his cool exterior. But why do you call it an experiment?"

"Can\'t you see?"

"No! I merely think that Akira wished to give us a specimen of Japanese music, and it influenced Mara, as you saw. Perhaps we have been too hard on Akira, and he did not know what she would do."

"If he did not intend something to happen, why did he throw that incense on the fire?" asked Patricia meaningly.

"I can\'t say, unless it was to heighten the dramatic effect of his silly nonsense," retorted Basil, whose temper was still hot.

"It was to revive Mara\'s memory."

"About what?"

"About her past life in Japan."

Basil stared at her. "Surely, Miss Carrol, you don\'t believe in what Akira said last night?" he observed, with some displeasure and stiffly.

"Don\'t you?" Patricia looked at him keenly, and the young sailor grew red.

"Well," he said, at length, "there is no doubt that much common-sense is to be found in the belief of reincarnation. I have been so long in the East that I don\'t scoff at it so much as Western people do. All the same, I do not go so far as to say that I entirely believe in it. But you--you who have never been east of Suez--you can\'t possibly credit the fact that Mara some hundreds of years ago was a priestess in Japan?"

Patricia looked straight out of the window at the azure sea, and the bright line of the distant horizon. "I dislike these weird things," she said, after a pause. "They are uncomfortable to believe, and since I have known your brother Theodore I dislike them more than ever, as he makes bad use of what he knows. I am certain of that."

"Does he really know anything?" asked Basil, sceptically.

"Yes," said Patricia decidedly. "I really believe he has certain powers, although they are not so much on the surface as mine. Everyone--according to him--has these powers latent, but they require to be developed. I don\'t want mine to be brought to the surface, as my own idea is to live a quiet and ordinary life."

Basil\'s eyes had a look in them which asked if she wished to live her ordinary life alone. All he said, however, was: "I quite agree with you."

Patricia nodded absently, being too much taken up with her own thoughts to observe his expression. "As I therefore have a belief in such things," she continued, "and a belief which has been more or less proved to my mind, by the strange feelings I experienced while holding the Mikado Jewel, I see no reason to doubt the doctrine of reincarnation. That seems to me better than anything else to answer the riddle of life. Mara is certainly, as you must admit, a strange girl."

"Very strange indeed," assented Basil readily; "unlike other girls."

"She has always--so she told me," went on Patricia steadily, "been trying to remember her dreams, by which, I think, she means her previous lives. She could never grasp them until last night. Then the music and the incense brought back her memories. They opened the doors, in fact, which, to most people--you and I, for instance--are closed."

"Then you really believe she lived in Japan centuries ago?" asked Basil, in rather an awed tone.

"Yes, I do," replied Miss Carrol firmly; "although I know that many people would laugh if I said so. This morning Mara is staying in bed and will not speak much. But I gather that the past has all returned to her. Remember how she loved to hear Count Akira\'s stories, and how she followed him about. He noticed that, and so acted as he did last night."

"But why did he think of the Miko dance in connection with Mara?"

"Theodore confessed to me--oh"--Patricia blushed--"I should not call him by his Christian name."

The young man suppressed a pang of jealousy. "I dare say you do so because you hear us all calling one another by our Christian names. I often wonder," he added cautiously, "that you do not call me Basil."

Patricia blushed still deeper, and waived the question. "I have to tell you what your brother said," she remarked stiffly. "He related to Count Akira how Mara danced in that weird manner when she smelt certain incense. That gave the Count a hint, and he acted upon it, as you saw." She paused, then turned to face Basil. "What is to be done now?"

The sailor had already made up his mind. "In the first place, my uncle must not be told, as he would make trouble. In the second, I shall take Akira to Hendle to-day sightseeing, so that he may not meet Mara. In the third, I shall hint that it would be as well, seeing the effect his presence has on Mara, that he should terminate his visit. Do you approve?"

"Yes," said Patricia, nodding. "You are taking the most practical way out of the difficulty. There is one thing I am afraid of, however?"

"What is that?"

"Mara may fall in love with Count Akira, if, indeed, she is not in love with him already."

"What! with that Japanese?" cried Basil furiously, and his racial hatred became pronounced at once. "That would never do. She must not see him again."

"He is bound to return here, so she must see him."

"Can\'t you keep her in her room until Akira goes?"

Patricia shook her head. "Mara is difficult to manage. However, although she may love the Count, he may not care for her. Let us hope so. All we can do is to act as you suggest. Now I must go and see after the dinner."

Basil would have liked to detain her, to talk on more absorbing topics. But the question of Mara and her oddities was so very prominent, that he decided against chatting about more personal matters. With a sigh he watched her disappear, and then went away to seek out Akira and take him out of the house for a few hours.

The Japanese, with all his astuteness, did not fathom the reason why he was asked to drive round the country, and willingly assented. He asked a few careless questions about Mara, but did not refer to the scene of the previous night. Basil, on his side, was acute enough to let sleeping dogs lie, so the pair started off about noon for their jaunt in a friendly fashion. They talked of this thing and that, and all round the shop--as the saying is--but neither one referred to the scene of the previous night. Yet a vivid memory of that was uppermost in Basil\'s mind, and--as he very shrewdly suspected--was present also in the thoughts of Akira. But judging from the man\'s composure and conversation he had quite forgotten what had taken place. Basil was pleased with this reticence, as it saved him the unpleasantness of explaining himself too forcibly.

Meanwhile, Patricia drew a long breath of relief when Basil drove away with the Japanese diplomatist, and she went at once to see if Mara was all right. The girl, feeling drowsy, was disinclined to chatter, but lay back with a smile of ecstasy on her pale face. Her lips were moving, although she did not open her eyes, and Patricia bent to hear if she required anything. But all that Mara was saying amounted to a reiteration that she had recalled the past. Doubtless, since the door was now wide open, she was in fancy dwelling again in her Oriental home. However, she was quite happy, so Miss Carrol, seeing that her presence was not necessary to the girl\'s comfort, stole on tip-toe out of the room.

It was when she came downstairs that she chanced upon Theodore in the entrance hall. The big man looked both startled and surprised, and spoke to her in an excited tone.

"Come into my uncle\'s library at once, Miss Carrol," he said, touching her arm. "It has come."

"What has come?" naturally asked Miss Carrol, puzzled by his tone and look.

"It came by post," went on Theodore breathlessly, "and was not even registered. There is not a line with it to show who sent it."

"I don\'t know what you are talking about, Mr. Dane."

"Uncle wants you to hold it again in your hand and see if you can feel the drawing-power you spoke of. Come! Come quickly!"

At last Patricia knew what he meant and her face grew white. "Have you the Mikado Jewel?" she asked, leaning against the wall, faint and sick.

For answer Theodore unceremoniously led her into............
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