|Chapter Title||THE SECRET SOCIETY.|
|Newspaper Title||Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)|
|Trove Title||The Red-Headed Man|
CHAPTER XIV—THE SECRET
Frank was amazed by the look on Blake's face. He "was quite livid, and an expres sion of horror was in his eyes. His brow was wet with perspiration, his strong frame trembled, and he seemed to be over come with terror at the sight of the tomb image. Recollecting the behaviour of Vass ana Maria, the novelist began to tlnnk that the Mummy was of the nature of a basilisk and rendered insane all who looked on it. From being gay and com posed, hiake was now terror-stricken and nervous; that fatal image had transformed the bold, confident Irishman into a tremb ling and allied coward. 80 astonished was Barrel that he could not speak; and it was Roderick who broke the sifence.
"You—yon," he said, in a hesitating man ner—"you are not a member of that infer
nal Society ?"
"What Society?" asked Barrel, pretend ing ignorance to learn the more.
The Society of the Emerald Mummy."
"Set your mind at rest, Blake. I know nothing about the Society."
The strain on Roderick's nerves relaxed, ' and he fell back in his chair with an cx I hausted look. "Have you any brandy."
j lie murmured, faintly; the sipdit of that
devilish idol has given me a turn.
Still greatly amazed by Roderick s speech and manner, Darrel hastened to ui
sideboard and brought thence a small glass of cognac. On drinking tins the courage of Blake revived; the blood came back
, his cheeks, the strength to his limbs; and | he sat up briskly, with an apology tor his
mninentarv "weakness. 4
" Put you put the fear of God into me, my dear follow," said he, with a shudder; ni; deed you did. I thought 1 was done for.
"How do von mean—done tor.
"Well, I fancied that you produced tlra. Mummy as a sign of my death."
"Oh, is it usually a sign ot death?
"Invariably. How it came into your pos session, and' you still alive, is more than I can make out." ' ,
"The exxdanation is very simple, replied Darrel. "This .image was found beside the body of Grent.'' . , <>c • Blake opened his eyes and waist led. ?>o that explains the mystery of his dptly
lie said under his breath. "The Society killed him."
"But why—why?" „
"Oh, L don't know the reason," replied Blake. "How can you expect me to? But if he hadn't been killed by that Society the Mummy would not have been left by Ins corpse as a symbol of its vengeance."
"But what is this Society which kills people in so barbarous a way?" <
"I'll tell you all I know," said Roderick gravely, "and you can judge for yourself. One moment."
He looked into Frank's bedroom, glanced out of the sitting-room windows, and opened the outside door to assure himself that 110 one was 011 the stairs. Then he re turned to his seat, and found Frank's eyes fixed on him with an expression of amused contempt.
"Why are you making all this theatrical display," said lie sarcastically. "You are unite safe here, 1 assure you. J suspect this Society of yours is only a bogey to scare wenk-miiitied people."
"Jt did more than scare Grent," retorted Blake significantly.
Barrel shrugged his shoulders. "I shall reserve my oninion until I hoar your story," lie said good-huniouredly. "But. first, where docs this Society you talk of exist?"
"In Peru—in Lima."
"Then liow is it that Grent has fallen a victim in London?"
"1 don't know. Hear my story, and judge for yourself.' But T must tell you, Barrel, that this is 110 fa iry tale I relate, but a stubborn fact. People—yourself, for instance—might not believe it, because it is not 111 the newspapers: but it is true for all that—terribly true, as I have reason to
He glanced, round Hie rooin again, and passed his handkerchief over his dry lips. Then lia began his tale in a hurried, ner vous fashion, as though he half-repented of
his resolution ro tell it.
"I was in Pern some two years ago," he said, "very hard up, and quite alone, without friend or foe iu the whole country.
1 managed to get a billet as clerk in the , office of a Scotch merchant, and although i the pay was not large, still it was sufficient' to keep me alive. In my own way I
managed to en joy .myself, and to gain a fair j knowledge of the Spanish tongue. As you I may guess, I was by no means satisfied 1 with my position, and I wished to improve I it. Hearing much about gold and. silver
mines, and the unexpected nlacds in which ; they were discovered, I used to lurk about
the low quarter's of Lima in the hope*"bf 1 gathering information regarding these dis coveries from stray Indians. I lmd been told that these people frequently knew about mines of great riches, but from de testation of the Spaniards would never re
veal their whereabouts."
"And you fancied you might leaTiTtlie"lo
cality of some rich mine?"
"I 'rci.-isely. For that purpose I haunted 1 the native portion of the town, and, as you may guess, met rvitli many adventures, more or less perilous. One of these bore
on the mystery of the Green Mumiuv." I
"Let us hear your mystery," said Frank;
"it may "explain mine." I
"Possibly it may, Barrel. Well, one night-when I was returning at a late hour, to my poor lodgings Lkad to take my way through some rather lonely streets. The night was dark, few people were about, and the streets were badly lighted; so, re collecting these things, I walked .carefully and vigilantly, lest I should be attacked by footpads. Suddenly, as X was lieax'iiig niy lodgings, I heard a terrible cry for help, and dashed round the corner of a street, to find a man. lying in the middle of it. Two other men ran away at the sound of my footsteps, and I found that their victim was seriously wounded. Ktill, he was sufficiently conscious $o speak, and asked nie in a faint whisper to look for the Green Image.''
"Ah! the two men had left it as a
"Yes; 1 found the image on the ground, and showed it to the wounded man. He gazed at it with terror, and swooned from dread and loss of blooa. I was bent on saving him, if only to learn about the Mummy, for I own that so strange an object piqued my curiosity. As the man was small and light, and I was, as I am still, very strong, 1 picked him up in my arras, and earned him to my lodgings, which were no great distance away. Then I sent for a doctor, who, after an exami nation, told me that the poor devil was dying. And die he did, oil that very nigiit, four hours after I rescued him; but out of gratitude for my interference, he told me the secret of yonder idol."
"Good," said Frank, much excited. "Let
us hear it."
"The main's name," resumed Blake, wip ing the perspiration from ? his forehead, "'was Pablo Mendoza, and he had been a person of some position and wealth. As lie was, therefore, a desirable personage, likely to be useful, he had been induced to join the secret Society of the P.P.'s."
"Who are the P.P.'s?"
"The Society of the Patriotic Peruvians," explained Blake. "So far as 1 can under stand, it is formed mostly of Indians, who desire to restore the Empire of the In eas, and of Spanish adventurers disaf fected towards tnc Republic or Peru. The symbol ot this Society is a tomb image. Kow, these images "
"1 know all about them," interrupted Frank. "They are substitutes for living people, placed in ancient Peruvian tombs."
"Exactly. Well, this Society was shown one of these lnca sepulchres by an old In dian, and found therein over a thousand images placed on shelves round the em balmed body, one for each member of the dead man's household. On this discovery the Society took the Green Mummy as its symbol. Whenever a nian hostile to the Society was to die an image was sent- to him. When a man was killed, an image was placed beside his body."
"In that ease I should think the supply would soon be exhausted."
"Oh, no; for after the image had done its mission, which was to intimate who had slain the victim, it was recovered in some way, and restored to the Society. For in stance, when Mendoza died—by the way, ha had been killed for betraying some secrets of the Society—well, sir," pursued Blake, "when he died I kept the Mummy, and it nearly cost me my life."
"After the death of Mendoza, the Society became aware—I don't know how—that J, J who had rescued him, was possessed of the
symbol of death. Henceforth I was nearly always in danger, and several times I inn the risk of stabbing, drowning, poisoning, and many otber ways of being got rid of. A I friend of mine, who knew about t he Society,
advised me to got rid of the Mummy, so one night I placed it in a niche outside my door. It disappeared -within an hour, anil after that 1 had no further trouble."
'"But what is the ohjeA of this Society?" "To restore native Indian rule; and, like the Anarchists, it works by secret assassina tion, in oi-der to startle and intimidate those in'iower."
"lias the Society any money?"
"Gli, yes; I believe it is well supplied with funds. You see. the Indians know of many buried and hidden treasures, conceal ed a.t the time of the Spanish conquest of ! Peru; so I suppose they devote those riches
to the plots for reconstructing the Empire of the Incas."
"AH this is very clear and plausible so far as Peru is concerned," said Frank, after a pause, "hut I don't see how this system of political plotting and wholesale murder comes to exist in England."
"I can tell you, Hand. About a year ago
the Peruvian Government resolved to put, an end to the Society, and many people were arrested. They tried, to get hold of the money owned by the Society; hut those who had charge of it fled with it to Eng land, and took up their abode in London and other places."
"Is Captain Manuel one of these people?" "I can't say for certain, but I am pretty sure lie is,"
"Has he the funds of Uie Society in his possession?"
• "A portion of them, maybe." replied Blake. "The Society is too clever to put all its eggs into one basket or in one country In France, Italy, Germany, and Span, there are representatives, who look afte\ and have in their liossession a portion of the funds; so if one man proves a traitor and embezzles the money, the others will probably remain stanch. I didn't know much about Captain Manuel, save that I have met him once or twice at Wray House, but it is mv opinion that he is the Treasurer of the Society in London."
"I quite believe that, Blake; and the amount of bis funds is ten thousand pounds." • ,
"Really!" cried Roderick, much as tonished. "But how do you know?"
"Because Captain M,anuel had that amount, and before Crent'fi death' placed it
in bis hands."
"But Grent is dead; so where is the money now?"
"T don't know."
"You don't, know?" echoed Blake, jump ing up. "What do you mean ?"
"What I say," re joined Barrel drily. "The money lias been stolen."
".Stolen! Good Lord! and by whom?"
Frank sbrusrged his shoulders. "T am as ignorant of that as I am of the man's name who killed Grent. Listen. I hare Tony's permission to tell you the case."
"I am all attention," said Blake, resum ing liis scat.
Without preamble Frank began his story, and narrated all details of the affair from the time be met Mr. Grent disguised in Bruvy-lane, down to Vass's announcement of the robbery. For obvious reasons be did not speak of Torry's discovery of the tur quoise ring on Lydia Hargoney finger. Blake listened with jirofound attention, and when the narrative was ended sprang to his feet.
"After what you have told me I see it all," lie cried. "Surely, putting my story and yours together, you can guess who killed^Grent and Julia Brawn?"
"2sTo, I cannot. Who do you think is the
"Who? Why, Captftin Manuel, !to be sure. He murdered them both."