Chapter 97530259

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Chapter NumberI (CONTINUED)
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article97530259
Full Date1895-01-23
Page Number4
Corrections2
Word Count1918
IllustratedN
Last Corrected2016-08-23
Newspaper TitleWestern Star and Roma Advertiser (Toowoomba, Qld. : 1875 - 1948)
Trove TitleThe Great Ruby Robbery: A Detective Story
article text

Choice Stories.

THE

GREAT RUBY ROBBERY

A Detective Story.

(By Grant Allen).

CHAPTER I (continued).

" Oh, yea; 1 think I. do," the young man replied, gazing deeply into her dark eyes. "It isn't that; if it were only that, I wouldn't so much mind it.. But I think you'd .take me." There was moisture in her eye. He went on more boldly: " I,know you'd take me, Persis, and that's why I don't ask you. You're a great deal too rich, and these make it ?impossible."; .

Sir Justin," Persis answered, re moving his hand gently, but with the moisture growing thicker, for she really liked him, it's most unkind of you to say so; either you oughtn't to have told me at all, or else—if you did " She -stopped short. Womanly shame over came her.

The man leaned forward and spoke earnestly.. " Oh, don't say that 1" he cried, ftom his heart. " I couldn't bear to offend you.; . But I couldn't bear, either, to let you so away—well-—without having ever told you. In that case you might have thought I didn't care at all for you, /rad was only flirting with you. But, Persis, 1/ve cared a great deal for you— a great, great deal—and - had hard work many times to prevent myself from asking you. And I'll tell you the plain reason why I haven't asked you. { .I'm a man about town, not much good, I'm afraid, for anybody or. anything-; and everybody Says I'm on the lopk out for an heiress—which happens not to be true ; and if I/married you, everybody'd say, ' Ah, there! I told you so?' Now, I wouldn't mind that for myself; Fm a man, and T could snap my fingers at them ; but I'd .mind it for you, Persis, for I'm enough in love with you to be very, very jealous, indeed, for your honor. 1 couldn't bear to think people ? should say, * There's that pretty American girl, Persis Remanet that was, you know ; she's thrown herself away upon that good for-nothing Irishman, Justin O'Byrne, a regular ;fortune-hunter, who's married her for 'her. money.J So for your sake, Persis, I'd rather not ask you ; Fd rather leave you for some better man to marry."

" But I wouldn't," Persis cried aloud. "Oh, Sir Justin, you must believe me. You .must remember "

At that precise point, Mrs. Harrison put her head out of the carriage window and called out rather loudly—

"Why, Justin, what's keeping you? The horses'il catch their death's of cold ; and they were . clipped this morning. Come back at once, my dear boy. Be sides, you know, les convenances 7"

"All right, Nora," her brother an swered ; " I won't be a minute. We can't get them to answer this precious bell. I believe it don't ring! But Fll try again, anyhow." And half forgetting that his own words weren't strictly true, for he hadn't yet tried, he pressed the knob with a vengeance.

"Is that your room with the light burning, Miss Remanet ?" he went on, in a fairly loud official voice, as the servant came to answer. " The one with • the balcony, I mean ? Quite Venetian, isn't it? Reminds one of Romeo and Juliet. But most convenient for a burglary, too ! Such nice low rails ! Mind you take good

care of the Remanet rubies!"

" I don't want to take care of them," Persis answered, wiping her dim eyes hastily with herlace pocket-handkerchief, " if they make you feel as you say, Sir Justin. I don't mind i£ they go. Let the burglar talce them 1" i

And even as she spoke, the Maclure footman, immutable, sphinx-like, opened

the door for her.

CHAPTER II.

Persis sat long in her own room that night before she began undressing. - Her

head was full of Sir Justin and these mysterious hints of his. At last, however, she took her rubies off, and her pretty

silk'bodice. 111 don't care for them at

all," she thought, with a gulp, if they keep me from the love of the mail I'd like to marry."

It "was late before she fell asleep; and when she did, her rest was troubled. She dreamt a great deal; in her dreams, Sir Justin, ana' dance music, and the'rubies, and burglars were incongruously mingled. To make; up for it, she slept late next morning; and Lady Maslure let her sleep on, thinking she was probably wearied out with much dancing the previous even ing—as though any amount of excitement could ever weary a pretty American! About ten. o'clock sh s woke with a start. A vague feeling oppressed her that some body had come in during the night and stolen her rubies. She rose hastily and went to her dressing-table to look for them. The case was there all right; she opened it and looked at it. Oh, prophetic soul! . the rubies were gone,- and the box was empty1

, How, Persis had honestly said the night before the burglar might take her rubies if he chose, and. she wouldn't -mind the loss of them.. But that was last night, and the rubies hadn't then as yet been taken. This morning, somehow, things seemed finite different. It would be rough on us all (especially on politicians) if we must always be bound by what we 6aid yesterday. Persis was an American, and no American is insensible . to the

charms of precious stones ; 'tis a savage taste which the European immigrants seem to have inherited, obliquely from their Bed Indian predecessors. She rushed over to the bell and rang it with feminine violence. Lady Maclure's maid answered the summons, as usual. She was a clever, demure-looking girl, this maid of Lady Maclure's; and when Persis cried to her wildly, " Send for the police at once, and tell Sir Everard my jewels are stolen!" she answered "Yes, miss." with such sober acquiescence that Persis, who was American, and therefore a bundle of nerves, turned round and stared at her - as an incomprehensible mystery. No Mahatma could have been more unmoved. She seemed quite to ex pect thoss rubies would be stolen, and to take no. more notice of the incident than if Persis had told her she wanted hot

?water.

Lady Maclure, indeed, greatly prided herself on this cultivated imperturbability of Bertha's; she regarded it as the fine flower of English domestic service. But Persis was American, and saw things otherwise ; to her, the. calm repose with which Bertha answered, " Yes, miaa; certainly, miss; I'll go and tell Sir Everard," seemed nothing short of ex asperating.

Bertha went .ofi with the news, closing the door quite softly; and a few minutes i

later Lady Maclure herself appeared in.

| the Californian's room, to console her |

visitor under this severe domestic' afflic- ; tion. She found Pereis sitting up in bed, | in her pretty French dressing jacket (pale ' blue with revers of fawn color),, reading a . book ,'of verses. *' Why, ray jdear !" j Lady Maclure exclaimed, " then you've found them again, I suppose? Bertha told us you'd lost your lovely rubies!"

" So I hare, dear Lady Maclure," Persia answered, wiping her eyes; " they're gone. They've been stolen. I forgot to lock my door when I came home last night, and the window was open ; somebody must have come in, this way or that, and taken them. But whenever I'm in trouble, I try a dose of Browning. He's splendid for the nerves. He's so consoling, you know; he brings one to

anchor."

She breakfasted in bed ; she wouldn't leave the room, she declared, till the police arrived. After breakfast she rose and put on her dainty Parisian morning wrap—Americans have always such pretty bedroom things for these informal recep tions—and sat up in state to await the police officer. Sir Everard himself, much, disturbed that such a mishap should have happened in his house, went round in person to fetch the official. While he was gone, Lafly Maclure made a thorough

search of the room, but couldn't find a trace of the missing rubies. -

" Are you Bure you put them in the case; dear ?", she asked, for the honor of the household.

And Persis answered: "Quite con fident, Lady Maclure ; I always put them there the moment I take them off; and when I came to look for them this morn ing, the case was empty."

"They were very valuable, I believe?" Lsdy Maclure said, inquiringly.

"Six-thousand pounds was the figure in your money, I guess," Persis answered ruefully. " I don't know if you call that a lot of money in England, but we do in

America."

There was a moment's pause, and then Persis spoke again

"Lady Maclure," she said abruptly, " do you consider that maid of yours a

Christian woman 1"

Lady Maclurje was startled. That was hardly the light in which she was accus tomed to regard the lower classes.

"Well, I don't-know about that," she said Blowly ; "that's a great deal, you know, , dear, to assert about anybody, especially one's maid. Brt I should think she was honest, quite decidedly honest,"

"Well, that's the same thing, about, isn't it ?" Persis answered, much relieved. " I'm glad you think that's so ; for I was almost half afraid of her. She's too queit for my taste, somehow ; so silent, you know, and inscrutable."

"Oh, my dear," her hostess cried, " don't blame her for silence ; that's just what I like about her. It's exactly what I chose her for. Such a nice, noiseless girl.; moves about the room like a cat. on tiptoe; knows, her proper place, and never drparus of speaking unless she's spoken to/'

" Well,' you may like them that way in Europe," Persis responded frankly, " but in America we like them a little bit human."

Twenty minutes later the police officer

arrived. He wasn't in uniform. The

inspector, feeling at once the gravity of the case, and recognising that this was a Big Thing, in which there was glory to | be won, and perhaps promotion, sent a detective at once, and advised that if possible nothing should be said to the. household on the subjeet for the present, till the detective had taken a good. look round the premises. That was nseless, Sir Everard feared, for the lady's-maid knew; and the lady's-maid would be sure to go down, all agog with the news, to the servants' hall immediately. How ever they might try; no harm in trying ; and the sooner the detective got round to the house, of course, the better.

The detective accompanied him back— a keen-faced, close shaven, irreproachable looking man, like a vulgarised copy of Mr. John Morley. He was curt and business-like. His first .question was, " Have the servants been told of this ?"

Lady Maclure looked inquiringly across at Bertha. She herself had been sitting all the time with' the bereaved Persis, to console her (with Browning) under this heavy affliction.

" No, my lady," Bertha answered, ever calm (invaluable servant Bertha 1), " I didn't mention it to anybody downatairs on purpose, thinking perhaps it might be

decided to search the servants' boxes."

(To be.continued.)