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2017年10月25日 (水)

Hall intended to give it to his wife

Mrs. Lilly nodded. "I heard of your experience. My dear, you should not run about the woods at night: it isn't ladylike I wonder you didn't faint with horror when you saw the man!"

"I should have, had I known of this theory about Colonel Hall having been killed by such a man. As it was, I felt too worn-out to be startled by anything. Where ignorance is bliss. Go on, Mrs. Lilly; tell me all Mrs. Snow does not know."

"Go on. You have not said a thing about the murder."

"I wonder Durban did not tell you about the matter. He was Colonel Hall's servant, you know."

Beatrice started to her feet, quite amazed by this intelligence. "Do you mean to say that Durban was Colonel Hall's servant?" she asked.

"Didn't you hear me say so?" said Mrs. Lilly tartly.

"Yes; but he never explained that to me."

"There was no need to. Besides, Durban doesn't like to speak of the murder of his master. He was the Colonel's servant, and came with him from the West Indies. Any one can see that Durban has black blood in him."

"It is all very strange," murmured the girl, sitting down again.

"Well, I thought so myself, as Durban never liked Mr. Alpenny. However, when the Colonel was buried, and Mrs. Hall went back to the West Indies with the baby, Durban stopped on, and when Mr. Alpenny married Mrs. Hedge, went to serve at The Camp."

"He has been a good friend to me," said Beatrice ponderingly. "I wonder why?"

"He was a good friend to your mother also, I heard. I asked Durban about your mother's marriage, and about your real father, Mr. Hedge, but he never would tell me anything."

"It is strange,--strange," mused Beatrice, quite perplexed over this tangled story. "And the murder?"

Mrs. Lilly wasted no more time, but plunged at once into the middle of the story, which Beatrice heard to the end without interrupting her more than was absolutely necessary. "Colonel Hall came down here to stop, as I said," resumed the old lady, "being a dear friend of my late master. Durban was with him, and Mr. Alpenny was in the house at the time. Later on, Mrs. Hall came down with the baby and the nurse, and with Mrs. Snow, who was then Miss Duncan; but that was not for a week. Colonel Hall had a necklace of diamonds that he had brought from the West Indies; it was valued at ten thousand pounds, and was called the Obi necklace, as there was some legend attached to it."

"Obi is African witchcraft," said Beatrice.

"Like enough," said Mrs. Lilly indifferently. "Colonel Hall had a lot to do with the black people. My master, Mr. Paslow, warned the Colonel that he might have the necklace stolen; but the Colonel laughed at him. It was in a green box which he kept beside his bed. The box contained official papers, and also the Obi necklace. I understand that Colonel ; but as there was some difference between them, he did not give it to her. But when she came down, she asked him for it. He refused, and was sharp with her, so she went to bed in tears. Colonel Hall also retired at ten o'clock. The next morning he was found dead in his bed with his throat cut, and the Obi necklace was gone."

"What happened, then?" asked Beatrice, breathlessly.

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