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CHAPTER XVI LOVERS
Next morning, it occurred to the Squire that he had dismissed Pentreddle too abruptly, or, rather--since the man wished to go--had given him leave too easily. A thousand and one questions came into his mind, which he desired to ask, and which he should have put to the sailor during their hurried interview. But a recollection that Harry was stopping at Hendle, and was holding himself at the disposal of his feudal chief--modern style--reconciled him to the oversight, and he decided that the second examination would be a longer one. "I shall drive over to Hendle to-day and cross-examine him," thought the Squire; and completing his toilette he descended to breakfast with an excellent appetite.

At the meal he heard news, for Akira stated that he would have to return that day to London, as his Chief wanted him. "But I am coming down again in a few days," said the Japanese, stealing a glance at Mara, who sat opposite to him, rosy-faced and interested, "in my yacht."

"I didn\'t know you had a yacht, Akira," said Basil, with the keen interest of a sailor in his craft.

"Oh, yes," replied the Count, composedly; "a very good yacht, my friend. I have much money, you know, and have taken to your English ways so far as to buy a steam yacht. Later, I propose returning to my own country in her."

Colpster was frankly relieved that Akira intended to leave. He did not for one moment connect him with those who were hunting, or who had been hunting for the Mikado Jewel; but while that curious object was in the house he preferred the Count\'s absence to his presence. There was no doubt that if the little man did learn how the gem had returned to its original possessors, that he would clamour for its restoration to Kitzuki. And that was not to be thought of for one moment. The Squire had not yet solved the problem as to why the jewel had been sent to him, or how the sender had known that its presence was desired at Beckleigh Hall by its master. He would have liked to question Akira, for if a priest, according to Pentreddle, had snatched the emerald from Patricia, Akira, as a Japanese, would best be able to explain that same priest\'s reasons for sending it to Devonshire. But it was obviously impossible to ask such a question, so Colpster contented himself with expressing regret that the Count had been compelled to cut short his stay at the Hall. "I trust when you return in your yacht you will at least complete your interrupted visit by sleeping under my roof," said Colpster.

"Thank you, no, sir," replied the Japanese politely. "I shall remain on my boat for the few days I stay here. And I hope," he added, with a comprehensive bow to all present, "that you will allow me to return your great hospitality, Mr. Colpster, by giving an entertainment on board."

"An entertainment!" cried Mara, and her eyes sparkled.

"Yes! A Japanese entertainment, with Japanese food and drinks and amusements, Miss Colpster. It will be a change for you, and no doubt will give you a great deal of pleasure."

"It will give us all pleasure," said Patricia, smiling, for the black eyes of the little man were fixed on her face.

"Then I ask you all to my entertainment. Even your servants must come, Mr. Colpster. They never see anything unusual down here, so it will amuse them to see how we Japanese live. I presume," added Akira, with an attempt at humour, "that you can allow this house to be empty for one night?"

"Oh, yes," said Theodore, laughing; "there are no robbers about here."

"In that case, I hope my invitation will be accepted."

"Certainly, Count, and thank you for the invitation," observed the Squire in a hearty manner. "On behalf of myself, my family and my household, I accept."

Akira bowed. "That is good, sir, for, as I depart for my own country, after I leave this place in my yacht, I will not see you again for many a long year. I have to remain at Tokio for official business. But I have had a delightful stay here"--he looked round pleasantly--"and you will see, all of you, how I can return your kindness."

"But won\'t you be tired travelling to London to-day?" said Theodore, quickly.

The Count\'s piercing eyes seemed to look the questioner through and through as if inquiring why he asked this particular question. "I retired early last night, as you know, Mr. Dane," he said quietly, "and so I am not at all weary. Dane," he turned sideways to Basil, "you will drive me to Hendle?"

"You must allow me to do that, Count," put in the Squire. "I have to go to Hendle on business to-day."

"Thank you, sir. You show true hospitality."

Basil felt uneasy as he did not know if the guest spoke ironically or not, and resolved to test the matter. "I can come also, Akira."

"Ah, but no, it is not necessary." Akira held up a protesting hand. "I shall enjoy the drive with your uncle. Stay here, and we shall meet again on board the Miko."

Mara started. "The Miko!" she cried eagerly, and with shining eyes.

"The name of my yacht, Miss Colpster. I named her after the Divine Dancer."

The girl looked as though she wished to ask further questions, but a significant glance of Patricia\'s directed towards the Squire, who knew nothing about the Miko Dance, made Mara more prudent. She rose abruptly from the table, and shortly the rest followed her example. Akira went to see that his servant was packing his things properly, and Basil accompanied him. As for Theodore, he followed his uncle into the library and closed the door.

"What did Pentreddle say to you last night?" he asked anxiously.

"It\'s a long story," said Colpster, sitting down to look over his correspondence; "he will tell it to you himself. I am driving over to Hendle, and will bring him back with me. Akira I can drop at the station to catch the afternoon express."

"I should like to come also, uncle, as I am so anxious to hear Harry\'s story."

"There is no room in the brougham for you," said Colpster, coldly, and showed very plainly by this unnecessary lie that he did not wish for his nephew\'s company. Theodore frowned. He knew that he was no favourite.

"At least, uncle, give me a short account of what you heard."

The Squire at first refused, but Theodore was so persistent that in the end he was obliged to yield, and hastily ran through the story. "What do you think?" he asked, when he ended.

"I expect Harry is right, and that the priest with the scar murdered his mother. No doubt the man learned why Harry was hanging round the Home of Art and laid his plans accordingly."

"But Martha did not possess the emerald!" insisted the Squire, doubtfully.

"The priest did not know that at the time," said Dane, grimly; "his accomplice watched Harry, apparently, while the man with the scar watched the Crook Street house. He must have induced Martha to let him in--she might have thought it was her son, you know. Then, when she grew frightened, and threatened him with her stiletto, he used it against her, and having murdered the poor old thing, finally searched the house."

Colpster nodded. He could see no other solution of the mystery. "Curious, though, that the priest did not get caught by the police."

"Oh, according to the evidence the fog was very bad, and one policeman confessed in print that he did not patrol the cul de sac carefully. Pity he did not catch the brute."

"Oh!" said Colpster, with a grim look, "Harry will see that the man is punished. He is going from Amsterdam in a tramp steamer to Japan for that very purpose."

"I can\'t understand," said Theodore, after a pause, and tapping the desk with his long fingers, "why Harry didn\'t give me the emerald when he met me. It would have saved all this trouble."

The Squire coughed in rather an embarrassed manner. He could scarcely tell Theodore that Harry, acting under his mother\'s instructions, wished particularly to prevent him from gaining possession of the jewel. He therefore shrugged his shoulders and evaded the question. "There are many things we cannot understand in connection with this case."

"Quite so," said Theodore, with an uneasy look at the safe; "particularly why the Mikado Jewel should have been sent to you. Uncle," he added, after a pause, "get rid of it. Sell it; pawn it; return it to Akira to take back to Japan, but send it out of the house, I beg of you."

"Why?" demanded Colpster, drawing his brows together; "are you mad?"

Theodore wiped the perspiration from his high, white forehead. "On the contrary, I am particularly sane. You heard what Akira said about the reverse power possibly bringing the cliff down on the house."

"Oh, rubbish," said the Squire, roughly; "Akira doesn\'t know that the gem is in this house."

"All the more reason for believing that he spoke truly," said Dane, with a desperate look. "I am sure the thing is evil. There is now an in-drawing power, as you know. Miss Carrol felt it."

"I don\'t believe in all this rubbish. Patricia is a fanciful girl," said Colpster coldly. "The emerald is in my possession, and I intend to keep it. If you dare to tell Akira about it, Theodore, I shall send you out of the house and will never recognize you again as my nephew."

"I am not so sure but what I would prefer to be out of the house, while that damned thing is in it," said Theodore between his teeth. "You are playing with fire, uncle. See that you don\'t get burnt," and with this warning he departed, leaving the old man looking after his back contemptuously. He was a very material man was the Squire, and considered that his nephew was an ass for believing in things which could not be proved by arithmetic.

Theodore was not happy in his mind when Akira and Colpster departed, for there were many matters which worried him. Basil, as usual, was following Patricia about the house, and that was one grievance. Now that Mara would not marry him he would certainly lose the chance of inheriting, through her, the desirable acres of Beckleigh, and that was another grievance. Finally, the presence of the charmed Mikado Jewel in the house troubled him very much indeed. He felt certain that Granny Lee\'s prophecy concerned it, since Akira had spoken of the occult powers of the stone. And Patricia had felt the reversion of the power, so Theodore uneasily considered that it was just possible that the cliff might be shaken down in ruins on the house.

He went out and looked at its mighty height, almost expecting to see signs of crumbling. But, of course, there were none. The red cliff stood up boldly and gigantically, as it had stood for centuries past. The sight of its massive grandeur rather reassured Theodore.

"It\'s all rubbish," he muttered to himself, coming in out of the rain, for all the morning there had been a downpour. "I daresay I am making a mountain out of a mole-hill. All the same"--his eyes fell on the safe in the library. In it he knew was the jewel safely locked away. To shift the Mikado emerald he would need to shift the safe, and that was impossible. "Oh, it is all rubbish!" he declared again, and then went to his own rooms.

On the way he passed the library, and saw Mara lying on the cushions of the sofa stringing beads: onyx, turquoise, malachite, pink coral and slivers of amethyst. They gleamed like a rainbow as they slid through her deft hands. Theodore wondered where she got them and entered to inquire.

"Count Akira gave them to me," said Mara, gaily, and tried the effect of the glittering chain against her pale golden hair; "aren\'t they lovely?"
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