A Surprise

Rupert was much disappointed that Forge had not been arrested.
Apart from the fact that he thought the old scoundrel should
suffer for his dastardly crime in killing an inoffensive woman,
he wished to learn what Forge could reveal of his father’s
death. The explanation already given, did not satisfy him, and
he suspected that the doctor knew more than he chose to admit.
But under pressure, and standing in danger of his life, he might
be induced to be more explicit. But, as the man, apparently
warned by Clarence, had disappeared, there was no more to be
said. And Forge had taken a large trunk, and all his loose cash,
so there was no doubt that he intended to keep away from
Marport.

Ainsleigh, much disgusted, went to seek Clarence Burgh at the
Bristol Hotel, but learned, that he also, had gone away. Much
perplexed the young man sought out Major Tidman, and laid the
case before him. The Major was much astonished at the recital,
and very angry to learn that Hwei and Tung-yu suspected him of
the murder. “But I guessed they did, from the fact of that
letter asking after the fan,” said Tidman, pacing his room, much
agitated. “I hope Ainsleigh, they don’t think I have it now, or
my life will not be worth a moment’s purchase.”

“No. You needn’t worry. Burgh has fully convinced them, that
Forge has the fan.”

“Then they’ll make for him.”

“No doubt, and perhaps that is why Forge cleared out. But I
don’t understand why our friend Burgh should make himself
scarce.”

“I do,” said Tidman sitting down and wiping his bald forehead,
“he isn’t a man with a clean past, and Forge knows about it.
It’s just on the cards that, to revenge himself on Burgh for
having told Hwei about the fan. Forge has written to the police
giving an account of Master Clarence’s delinquency.”

“But, on the other hand, if Burgh warned Forge that I had
written to Rodgers, the doctor might forgive him.”

“Not he. Forge is a bitter hater, and after all, Clarence would
only be trying to right, what he had put wrong. If he’d held his
tongue about the fan and the murder, there would be no need for
Forge to cut. As it is, I believe the doctor will make it hot
for our mutual friend.”

“When did you see Burgh last?”

“At dinner last night. He said nothing about going away, and I
quite believed he would stop on. He’s in good quarters here and
Miss Pewsey is paying the bill. But he took a small bag with
him, saying he was going up town for a few days, and left by the
nine evening train.”

“Ah! He may come back after all.”

“He may: but I doubt it. He doesn’t want to face an inquiry. You
see he gave the tie to Forge and said nothing about it at the
inquest, so that makes him an accessory after the fact.”

“But Burgh didn’t know Forge’s game.”

“No. All the same he should have spoken out at the inquest.
Well, and what is to be done now?”

“Nothing. I’m sick of the whole business. But Forge told me that
this Mandarin, Lo-Keong, holds eight thousand pounds belonging
to my father. I intend to write for it.”

Tidman looked doubtful. “I don’t think you’ll get it,” said he,
“unless you produce the fan.”

“Oh! I expect Forge has taken that away with him.”

“Well then, Tung-yu and Hwei will be on his track, and I
shouldn’t give much for his life.”

“Wait a bit. He may get the money from Tung-yu.”

“If he chances on Tung-yu’s day. Queer start that,” added the
Major musingly, “the red boy appeared when I just had my big toe
cut off and saved my life. It happened, much the same with you,
and Hwei lost his power, as he was getting ready to kill you. I
wonder these two scoundrels obey the god so slavishly.”

“Oh, they are both afraid of the god,” said Rupert, rising to
take his leave, “but I must get home. There’s nothing more to be
discussed.”

“Nothing,” replied the Major chuckling, “unless it is about that
old cat’s disappointment. I’ll go up to St. Peter’s church and
see how she takes it.”

“Of course,” said Ainsleigh lingering at the door, “it’s her
wedding day. I expect she knows by this time, that Forge has
cut.

“I hope not,” said the Major cruelly. “I wouldn’t lose the fun
for something.”

Rupert didn’t agree with his callous view of the case, as Miss
Pewsey was a woman after all, although a bad one; and it would
be hard that she should suffer, what she would certainly regard
as a public disgrace. So Rupert avoided St. Peter’s Church, and
went home again. Here he found Olivia with a letter.

“This arrived by the early post,” she explained, “but you went
out so quickly, that I could not give it to you. Just look at it
Rupert, such beautiful writing.”

“A foreigner’s evidently,” said her husband, looking at the
really elegant calligraphy. “They take more care than we do of
their pot-hook and hangers. Olivia.” He started.

“What’s the matter?”

Rupert put the envelope under her nose. “Smell it. Don’t you
recognise the scent.”

“No,” said Mrs. Ainsleigh, “it’s a strange scent.”

“Very, and was used to perfume the letter which Tung-yu sent to
Major Tidman. This may have to do with the fan again.”

Olivia looked nervous. “I wish we could hear the last of it,”
she said. “It has caused enough trouble already. Open the
letter, dear.”

Rupert did so and was more astonished than ever. “Here’s an
unexpected development,” he remarked, passing the letter to
Olivia, “Lo-Keong is in England.”

Mrs. Ainsleigh read the few lines which stated that the mandarin
was stopping at a fashionable hotel in Northumberland Avenue,
and would do himself the honour of calling on the son of his old
friend in a few days. “He’s come to see after the fan personally,”
said Olivia returning the letter. “I am glad.”

“So am I,” said Rupert quickly. “I’ll now learn the truth about
my father, and see if I can’t get that eight thousand pounds.”

“Rupert, do you think Lo-Keong killed your father?”

“I can’t say. Forge declared over and over again, that he died
of dysentery, and that Lo-Keong seized the money for the Boxers.
But I’ll demand an explanation from the Mandarin.”

“Will he give it?” asked Mrs. Ainsleigh doubtfully.

“He’ll have to,” replied Rupert grimly, “and he’ll have to give
the money back also. I don’t care for Forge’s cash, as a villain
such as he is, doesn’t deserve any reward. But I want my own
eight thousand, and I’ll have it.”

“I hope so,” sighed Olivia, “we could then pay off Miss Pewsey,
or rather Mrs. Forge, as she no doubt is by this time.”

“No. Forge has bolted.”

“What, on the eve of the wedding?”

“Yes. He cleared out last night. Either he fears being arrested
for the murder of your aunt, or he dreads lest Hwei should come
down to kill him for the sake of the fan. At all events he has
gone, and Miss Pewsey is no doubt waiting at the altar of St.
Peter’s Church, for a bridegroom who will never come. But we
must attend to our own troubles, dear. I’ll write to the
Mandarin to-day and ask him to visit us when it suits him. Or
else I can run up—-”

“No,” interrupted Olivia in a voice of alarm. “I won’t have you
go away again, until this fan business is settled. I’m always
afraid of your falling into the hands of these Chinamen. I shall
ask Mr. Lo-Keong, to stop them searching for the fan.”

“He can stop Hwei,” said Rupert rising, “but Tung-yu is in the
employment of Hop Sing, the Mandarin’s rival. Don’t be afraid,
my dearest, I have been protected by Providence these many days,
and it is not likely that I’ll come to grief. But I fear for
Forge and for Burgh, who has likewise bolted. Those two will
certainly get into trouble.”

“It is wrong to say so,” said Mrs. Ainsleigh with a sigh, “but I
_do_ dislike that man Burgh, and Dr. Forge also.”

“Leave them in God’s hands, dear,” replied her husband gravely,
“if they have sinned, they will be punished. What we have to do,
is to learn if Lo-Keong will restore this money. I’ll write,
asking him to come down to Royabay,” and Rupert went to the
library forthwith.

It was an autumnal day with a promise of rain. Ragged clouds
drifted across a cold blue sky, and the wind was rather high.
Already many trees had shed their leaves, but the pine boughs
still bore their sombre burdens. Everything looked old and
miserable, and there seemed to lurk a premonition of evil
in the air. At least, Olivia thought so, as she stood at the
drawing-room window, looking out on to the terrace and down the
avenue, which could be seen from this point of view. Rupert was
in the library engaged on his letter to the Mandarin, and Olivia
was half inclined to join him. She felt weary, chilly and out of
spirits, and could not account for doing so.

“I’m the happiest girl in the world,” she assured herself, “I
have married the man I love, and he adores me. He rescued me
from a miserable life, and is making me immensely happy. I
should certainly be in the best of spirits, yet—-”

She stopped short at this point and her eyes became fixed, while
a colour flushed her somewhat pale cheeks. And no wonder. Up the
avenue, battling against the force of the wind, came Miss
Pewsey. She wore a bridal dress of white, a lace bonnet trimmed
with orange blossoms, and carried a bouquet of flowers. To see
this figure in such a dress walking under a sombre sky, between
dripping trees, and with the winds blowing furiously against it,
was a strange sight, and gave Olivia what the Scotch call “a
grue.” Then she became indignant. It was insolent, she thought,
that this woman who had insulted her so often, who had made her
life miserable, who had robbed her of her inheritance and who
had tried to defame her character, should thus present herself.
On the impulse of the moment and in spite of wind, and of the
rain, which was beginning to fall, Mrs. Ainsleigh threw open the
French window and stepped out on to the terrace. It was in her
mind, to order Miss Pewsey away. She deserved little mercy at
Olivia’s hands.

The noise made by the opening of the window made Miss Pewsey
raise her head, and then she came straight across the grass. As
she drew near, Olivia was struck with the tragic horror of her
face. She was always old in her looks, but now she seemed at
least a hundred. Her lips were white, her eyes red and with dark
circles under them; a myriad wrinkles ploughed her face, and her
usually bright eyes were dim and blood-shot. To see this weird
face under the bridal bonnet was at once grotesque and pathetic.
Without a word, Miss Pewsey climbed the steps gasping at every
step, and came directly towards Olivia. She passed her and
entered the room. Mrs. Ainsleigh came after in a whirlwind of
passion.

“What do you mean?” she demanded, “this is _my_ house.”

“I am aware of the fact,” said Miss Pewsey dropping into a chair
and shaking out her soiled and sodden bridal dress, “but it may
be mine before the end of the year. But don’t let us quarrel,”
she went on in a piteous way, “I’m in trouble.”

“What is it?” asked Olivia, who could guess.

“Theophilus has left me. Yes! Last night he went away leaving a
cold letter behind him which was to be delivered to me at the
altar. And it was,” wept Miss Pewsey, “that old woman Mrs.
Bressy brought the note. It said that Theophilus has left me for
ever. And all my friends were there, and I was awaiting the
happy hour, then–then”–she broke down sobbing.

Olivia was touched. Miss Pewsey had always been her enemy, yet
there was something about the unhappy creature which called for
sympathy.

“I am sorry for your trouble,” said Mrs. Ainsleigh, in a softer
voice.

“No,” said Miss Pewsey drying her eyes with a very wet
handkerchief, “you can’t be, I never liked you, nor you me.”

“That is perfectly true, and you turned my aunt against me. All
the same I _am_ sorry, and anything I can do shall be done.”

Miss Pewsey threw herself on her knees before her enemy, who was
thus heaping coals of fire on her head. “Then ask your husband
to leave my Theophilus alone,” she whispered. “Clarence, who has
also gone, wrote to me, and said that Mr. Ainsleigh accused
Theophilus of the death of my dearest Sophia.”

“What,” cried Olivia, “does Mr. Burgh dare. Why he accuses Dr.
Forge, himself. Rupert certainly wrote to the detective Mr.
Rodgers, but Mr. Burgh has to substantiate his statement.”

Miss Pewsey jumped up. “What,” she said, much more her own evil
self, “did Clarence accuse my Theophilus? It’s a lie–a lie. I
have kept silence too long–much too long.”

“About what?”

“About the murder,” screamed Miss Pewsey, “it was Clarence who
killed my Sophia–yes–you may look and look Olivia–but it was
Clarence himself. He took the tie from the coat-pocket. I told
him, you had given it to him, and–”

“But he gave it to Dr. Forge.”

“He did not. Clarence took Sophia out on to the steps–at least
he appointed to meet her there, to tell her about the fan. Then
he strangled her, thinking your husband would be accused.
Theophilus came on Clarence when he was picking up the fan.
Sophia held it in her death grip, and it was some time before he
could get it loose. Theophilus came, and hearing steps, Clarence
ran away down to the beach. Then he returned to the ball-room by
the front of the hotel.”

“But the fan?”

“Theophilus Forge has it,” said Miss Pewsey, setting her face,
“and I expect he has taken it with him.”

“Why didn’t you tell this at the inquest.”

“Because I didn’t. Clarence is my own sister’s son. I could not
see him hanged. He had to hold his tongue, although he wanted
the fan back again. But I insisted that Theophilus should make
the money out of it. This is Clarence’s revenge. Because the fan
is kept from him he threatens Theophilus; oh Olivia, _do_ ask
your husband to leave the matter alone, I will give up that
mortgage–”

“I can do nothing,” said Olivia, “it isn’t in my husband’s
power. He has written to Rodgers–”

“But he has not told him anything,” said Miss Pewsey eagerly.

“No. He merely asked him to call.”

“Then he shall see _me_, and I’ll tell him of Clarence’s
wickedness. But the fan–the fan–we’ll get the money and
Theophilus will come back to be loved and respected. I don’t
love him, but I see we can make a lot of money together. The
fan,” said Miss Pewsey counting on her lean fingers, “the money
from Lo-Keong–the money of Sophia and–”

“Oh,” cried Olivia in disgust, “go away you miserable creature,
and think of the hereafter.”

Miss Pewsey gave a shrill laugh. “You can’t help me, and your
husband can’t help me, so I’ll go. But when I come back here, it
shall be as mistress. I hate you Olivia–I have always hated
you–I–I–oh you”–she could utter no more, but gasping, shook
her fist and ran out of the window and down the avenue with an
activity surprising in a women of her years.

After dinner and while they were seated in the library, Olivia
told Rupert of Miss Pewsey’s visit and accusation. He declined
to believe the tale. “If Burgh was guilty he wouldn’t have
brought an accusation against Forge,” he said, “as the doctor,
if this is true, knows the truth. And Forge, if innocent, would
not have cleared–”

While Ainsleigh was thus explaining, the door was burst open and
Mrs. Petley, white as chalk, rushed in. “The ghost–the ghost,”
said she dropping into a chair, “the monk–in the Abbey.”

Anxious to learn if there was any truth in these frequent
apparitions reported by Mrs. Petley, Rupert left the swooning
woman to the care of his wife and departed hastily from the
room. Calling old Petley, he went out of the front door across
the lawn and into the cloisters. Petley, hobbled almost on his
heels with a lantern. The young man stopped at the entrance to
the cloisters, and listened. It was raining hard and the ground
was sopping wet. But beyond the drip of the rain, and the
sighing of the trees, no sound could be heard. Snatching the
lantern from Petley, Rupert advanced boldly into the open, and
swung the light too and fro and round about. He could see no
ghost, nor any dark figure suggestive of Abbot Raoul.

“Try the black square,” piped the feeble voice of Petley,
behind.

With a shrug Rupert did so. He thought that the housekeeper was
mistaken as usual, and that the ghost was the outcome of her too
vivid imagination. Walking deliberately to the black square
where Abbot Raoul had been burnt three hundred years before, he
swung the light over its bare surface. In the centre he saw
something sparkle, and stooped. Then he rose with a cry. It was
a fan. Rupert picked it up, opened it, and looked at it in the
lantern light. There were the four beads and half a bead and the
green jade leaves. The very fan itself.