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HOME > Classical Novels > Red Money > CHAPTER XIV. MISS GREEBY, DETECTIVE.
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 As Miss Greeby had informed Lambert, she intended to remain at the Garvington Arms until the mystery of Pine's death was solved. But her interview with him a rearrangement of plans, since the incriminating letter appeared to be such an important piece of evidence. To obtain it, Miss Greeby had to return to London forthwith, in order to compel its surrender. Silver would show fight, but his mistress was grimly satisfied that she would be able to manage him, and quite counted upon gaining her end by him into . When in possession of the letter she decided to submit it to Agnes and hear what that lady had to say about it as a piece of . Then, on what was said would depend her next move in the complicated game. Meanwhile, since she was on the spot and desired to gather all possible evidence connected with Chaldea's apparent knowledge of the crime, Miss Greeby went straight from Lambert's cottage to the gypsy camp.  
Here she found the community of in the throes of an election, or rather their excitement was connected with the of Gentilla Stanley from the Bohemian throne, and the of Chaldea. Miss Greeby mixed with the , a few shillings and speedily became aware of what was going on. It appeared that Chaldea, being pretty and unscrupulous, and having gained, by cunning, a wonderful influence amongst the younger members of the tribe, was insisting that she should be elected its head. The older men and women, believing wisely that it was better to have an experienced ruler than a pretty figurehead, stood by Mother Cockleshell, therefore the camp was divided into two parties. Tongues were used freely, and occasionally fists came into play, while the gypsies gathered round the tent of the old woman and listened to the duet between her and the younger to this throne of Brentford. Miss Greeby, with crossed legs and leaning on her bludgeon, listened to the voluble speech of Mother Cockleshell, which was occasionally interrupted by Chaldea. The was delivered in Romany, and Miss Greeby only understood such of it as was hastily translated to her by a wild-eyed girl to whom she had given a shilling. Gentilla, less like a sober pew-opener, and more resembling the Hecate of some witch-gathering, screamed objurgations at the pitch of her crocked voice, and waved her skinny arms to emphasize her words, in a most dramatic fashion.
"Oh, ye Romans," she , "are ye not fools to be by a babe with her mother's milk—and curses that it fed her—scarcely dry on her living lips? Who am I who speak, of the common? Gentilla Stanley, whose father was Pharaoh before her, and who can call up the ghosts of dead Egyptian kings, with a tent for a palace, and a cudgel for a sceptre, and the wisdom of our people at the service of all."
"Things have changed," cried out Chaldea with a mocking laugh. "For old wisdom is dead leaves, and I am the tree which puts the green of new truths to make the Gorgios take off their hats to the Romans."
"Oh, of the old devil, but you lie. Truth is truth and changes not. Can you read the hand? can you cheat the Gentile? do you know the law of the Poknees, and can you diddle them as has money? Says you, 'I can!' And in that you lie, like your mother before you. Bless your wisdom"—Mother Cockleshell made an curtsey. "Age must bow before a ."
"Beauty draws money to the Romans, and the Gorgios to part with red gold. Wrinkles you have, mother, and weak wits to—"
"Weak wits, you drab? My weakest wits are your strongest. 'Wrinkles,' says you in your cunning way, and your smoothness. I spit on you for a fool." The old woman suited her action to the word. "Every wrinkle is the mark of lessons learned, and them is wisdom which the Romans take from my mouth."
"Hear the witchly hag," cried Chaldea in her turn. "She and her musty wisdom that puts the Romans under the feet of the Gentiles. Are not three of our brothers in choky? have we not been turned off common and out of field? Isn't the fire low and the pot empty, and every purse without gold? Bad luck she has brought us," the girl, pointing an accusing finger. "And bad luck we Romans will have till she is turned from the camp."
"Like a dog you would send me away," Mother Cockleshell, glancing round and seeing that Chaldea's supporters outnumbered her own. "But I'm dangerous, and go I shall as a queen should, at my own free will. I cast a shoe amongst you,"—she flung one of her own, hastily snatched off her foot—"and curses gather round it. Under its heels shall you lie, ye Romans, till time again and time once more be . I go on my own," she turned and walked to the door of her tent. "Alone I go to cheat the Gentiles and win my food. Take your new queen, and with her sorrow and starvation, prison, and the kicks of the Gorgios. So it is, as I have said, and so it shall be."
She vanished into the tent, and the older members of the tribe, shaking their heads over the ill-omen of her concluding words, withdrew sorrowfully to their various habitations, in order to discuss the situation. But the young men and women bowed down before Chaldea and forthwith elected her their ruler, on her, kissing her hands and on her pretty face, that face which they hoped and believed would bring prosperity to them. And there was no doubt that of late, under Mother Cockleshell's leadership, the tribe had been unfortunate in many ways. It was for this reason that Chaldea had raised the standard of rebellion, and for this reason also she gained her triumph. To celebrate her coronation she gave Kara, who constantly at her elbow, a couple of sovereigns, and told him to buy food and drink. In a high state of the gypsies in order to prepare for the forthcoming festivity, and Chaldea, weary but , stood alone by the steps of the , which was her perambulating home. Seizing her opportunity, Miss Greeby approached.
"My congratulations to your majesty," she said ironically. "I'm sorry not to be able to stay for your coronation, which I presume takes place to-night. But I have to go back to London to see a friend of yours."
"I have no friends, my Gentile lady," retorted Chaldea, with a spark in each eye. "And what do you here amongst the gentle Romany?"
"Gentle," Miss Greeby , "that's a new word for the row that's been going on, my girl. Do you know me?"
"As I know the road and the tent and the art of dukkerhin. You stay at the big house, and you love the rye who lived in the wood."
"Very clever of you to guess that," said Miss Greeby coolly, "but as it happens, you are wrong. The rye is not for me and not for you. He marries the lady he worships on his knees. Forgive me for speaking in this high-flowing manner," ended Miss Greeby apologetically, "but in romantic situations one must speak romantic words."
Chaldea did not pay attention to the greater part of this speech, as only one statement appealed to her. "The rye shall not marry the Gentile lady," she said between her white teeth.
"Oh, I think so, Chaldea. Your plotting has all been in vain."
"My plotting. What do you know of that?"
"A certain portion, my girl, and I'm going to know more when I see Silver."
Chaldea frowned darkly. "I know nothing of him."
"I think you do, since you gave him a certain letter."
"Patchessa tu adove?" asked Chaldea scornfully; then, seeing that her visitor did not understand her, explained: "Do you believe in that?"
"Yes," said Miss Greeby alertly. "You found the letter in Pine's tent when he was camping here as Hearne, and passed it to Silver so that he might ask money for it."
"It's a lie. I swear it's a lie. I ask no money. I told the tiny rye—"
"Silver, I presume," put in Miss Greeby carelessly.
"Aye: Silver is his name, and a good one for him as has no gold."
"He will get gold from Lady Agnes for the letter."
"No. Drodi—ah bah!" broke off Chaldea. "You don't understand Romanes. I speak the Gorgio tongue to such as you. Listen! I found the letter which my brother to his death. The rani wrote that letter, and I gave it to the tiny rye, saying: 'Tell her if she gives up the big rye free she shall go; if not take the letter to those who deal in the law.'"
"The police, I suppose you mean," said Miss Greeby coolly. "A very pretty scheme, my good girl. But it won't do, you know. Lady Agnes never wrote that letter, and had nothing to do with the death of her husband."
"She set a trap for him," cried Chaldea fiercely, "and Hearne walked into it like a rabbit into a . The big rye waited outside and shot—"
"That's a lie," interrupted Miss Greeby just as fiercely, and to defend her friend. "He would not do such a thing."
"Ha! but I can prove it, and will when the time is ripe. He becomes my rom does the big rye, or round his neck goes the rope; and she dances long-side, I swear."
"What a bloodthirsty idea, you devil! And how do you propose to prove that Mr. Lambert shot the man?"
"Aha," Chaldea contemptuously, "you take me for a fool, saying more than I can do. But know this, my precious angel"—she in her pocket and brought out a more or less formless piece of lead—"what's this, may I ask? The bullet which passed through Hearne's heart, and buried itself in a tree-trunk."
Miss Greeby made a snatch at the article, but Chaldea was too quick for her and slipped it again into her pocket. "You can't prove that it is the bullet," snapped Miss Greeby glaring, for she lest its production should incriminate Lambert, innocent though she believed him to be.
"Kara can prove it. He went to where Hearne was shot and saw that there was a big tree by the blue door, and before the shrubbery. A shot fired from behind the bushes would by chance strike the tree. The bullet which killed my brother was not found in the heart. It passed through and was in the tree-trunk. Kara knifed it out and brought it to me. If this," Chaldea held up the bullet again , "fits the pistol of the big rye he will swing for sure. The letter hangs her and the bullet hangs him. I want my price."
"You won't get it, then," said Miss Greeby, eyeing the pocket into which the girl had again dropped the bullet. "Mr. Lambert was absent in London on that night. I heard that by chance."
"Then you heard wrong, my Gentile lady. Avali, quite wrong. The big rye returned on that very night and went to Lundra again in the morning."
"Even if he did," said Miss Greeby , "he did not leave the cottage. His can prove—"
"Nothing," snapped Chaldea . "She was in her bed and the golden rye was in his bed. My brother was killed after midnight, and if the rye took a walk then, who can say where he was?"
"You have to prove all this, you know."
Chaldea snapped her fingers. "First, the letter to shame her; then the bullet to hang him. The rest comes after. My price, you know, my Gorgious artful. I toves my own . It's a good proverb, lady, and true Romany."
"What does it mean?"
"I wash my own shirt," said Chaldea, significantly, and sprang up the steps of her gaily-painted caravan to shut herself in.
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