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An Artist In Crime

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v - ■ [Copyright, 1896, by G. P. Pntnam'e Sons.J "Kandolph, ycrar repeated allusiong to Miss Remsen in this connection, anc especially your insinuation that I would ask her to be au accomplice in such a piece of duplicity, and that she would consent, are distasteful to me in the extreme. If you will pardon my saying so, it is a "poor entertainment to offer a gnest." "Oh, I meant no offense, old man, ] assureyou! We will drop the subject, of conrse. ' ' This was followed by a silence. Mr. Randolph was at his wits' end to find a way to force Mr. Mitchel to talk. He feit that nothing had been accomplishod. Mr. Barnes, bowever, thought differently, for he had at last come to a positive conclusión. From Mr. Mitchel's tone of voice and the words of his last speech the detective feit certain that whatever part Mr. Mitchel himself may have played in the robbery Miss RernBen was innocent. He also wondered ■whether the conversation would now drift back to thernby. Perhapsit would not have done so had not Mr. Thauret, who, up to (ihis point, had scarcely epoken during the progress of the meal, once more broached the subject. "I beg pardon, Mr. Mitchel," said he, "but your remark just now, that there is something special abotit the lost ruby, has greatly excited my cviriosity. TJnless you have some private reasou for not doing so, I beg that you will teil us the history of the gem, if it has one. " There was a pause, during which Mr. Mitchel looked at his píate and seemed as though studying a problem. Mr. Randolph was delighted that Mr. Thauret had come to his assistance in this unespected way, and as he observed Mr. Mitchel's hesitation it seemed to him that there was a contest going on in his mind between a powerful desire to talk on his hobby ánd some prudential whisper that silence wonld be better. The detective also waited with gome anxiety, a piece of a sweetbread on his fork, carried but half way to his mouth. "Well, gentlemen," at last said Mr. Mitchel, "I will tell yon the story." Mr. Barnes took the tidbit from his fork ■with a smile that showed his teeth as they bit it iucisively. "First join rne in a glass, " confciuued Mr. Mitobel. "Drink this ruby colored wine and pledge me that you will not repeat what I say. This only because I do not wish to attain the uuenviable reputation of beiug a roinancer, as I certainly should if some reporter sbouldhear and publish the story now while the loss of the gem is fresh in the memory of all. " The pledge was given, and Mr. Mitchel continued : "That you might better appreciate this stone, I might begin with a dissertation on rabies, explaining to you the difference between the trae oriental gem, which is rare of any magnitude, and the pooror specimens, known as spinels. However, you wonld only accuse me of ventilating knowledge which has come to me through the studyof rny hobby. I will come at once tothe story of the lost jewel. Just where it was first fouud is not accurately known, and of its earlier history I can only teil you what has been told me. You may believe as much oraslittleas you like. The history then begins with the findiug of Moses in the bulrushes and the subsequent gift to him of this ruby by the daughter of Pharaoh. Thus we hear of it first in the royal house of the Bgyptians. There was another gem, the exact counterpart to it. This Pharaoh had among his treasures andwore upou state occasions. With the exodus of Moses and the Israelites the ruby passed out of Egypt. . From that time for many centuries its history is not marked by any great event, save that we learn that it was kept by the high priests of the synagogue and so passed down from generation to generation. One odd fact I must not forget. The deep red color, as you know, is the most prized. The color oí' this ruby at the present time is the most perfect in existence. Yet, so the story goes, at first the matched pair of goins wereof a palé roso color. ' ' i "Do you mean us to believe, " i rupted Mr. Bandolph, "that the color ; has deepened with time?" ' -I do not ask you to believe any thing. Eut it is not time that is supposed to - bave improved the color. With the i qnost of Jernsalem this jewel fell into the hands of the Romans, and so in time carne into the on öf Caesar. In his courtship of pleopatra lie.soon discovered thab extraorci ;m's passion for resplenöèut jewels, and he was audacious enough to present it to. her. Fearingthat this nii?-,ht be re traced to him when the jov. 1 ed, as it wonld surely bo, he (oid hor secret ly of his puryose and t;r u I - 1 it about the neck of apigeen, whieh liev With i fji-rpTr; _tn__tJiÊ i ' . J patra, wïio air..ited the "arrival of" th bird on the rooftops. The pigeori, whei nearly home, was attacked by a hawk and Cleopatra orde'red one of her archer to slay the larger bird with his arrow This the raau utteuipted, but struck th pigeon, which feil, bleeding and dead at the queen's f eet. She at once remar ed the geni, which was covered with blood and dyed with it a rich red. " "But, Mr. Mitchel," said Mr. Than ret, "surely a ruby could tiot absorb blood?" "It is the history of the gem. " Mr Mitchel spoke in bo odd a tone that one alniost thought that, carried away by his love of precious stones, he had im bibed some of thestiperstition connected with theru. He spoke as thougb he be lieved the tale. Mr. Barnes began to onderstand what Mr. Randolph ba meant when be said that perhaps the desire to possess a rare stoue migh tempt this gentleman to conimit a crime Mr. Mitchel continued : "I need uot follow the story of Cleopatra. It is too well kuown. But there is an incident that has iiot been written in the general history of her career. There was an Egyptian priest who was madly in love with her, and in a moment of impulse he dared to teil her of his attachment one day when alone with her. She seemed slightly amused at his ardor, and asked what he, a poor priest, coiild offer her, who had rich rulers at her feet. In desperation he answered that he could give his life. The queen laughed and said : 'That is mine already. But you priesls claim to be all wise. Find me the mate to my great ruby and perhaps I will listen to your love pleadings. ' To her intense surprise the man replied: 'That I coúld do if I dared. The gem which you have bas bnt returned to its proper place. It was once Pharaoh's. He also had the mate to it, which from him descended through kings to Rameses the Great. It is buried in his coffin.' 'Get it for me,' was the terse reply of Cïcopatra, given now as a command rather iban a request. "In fear thu priest went into the pyramid and istólé the jewel. When he presented it to Cleopatra, she cried out at him : 'What fool's trick is this? Do you think this palé stone a match to mine?' The priest explained that hers had been dyed red in the blood of the pigeon. 'Ah, so!' she replied. 'Then this one shall be also a richer red. You promised me your life once. I claim it, and in your blood this stono shall be steeped till it matches the other in color. ' She carried out her threat, and the two stoues were once inore mates. " "What an absurdity !" exclainied Mr. Randolph. "Do uot say so, " said Mr. Thauret. "We cannot teil what may happen in this world. ' ' "The nest change of owners was when Cleopatra killed herself. One of her handmaidens stole the two rubies, but she herself was taken, a slave, to Rome and sold. Her purchaser discovered the rubies, took them from her, and then stcretly murdered her, lest she might teil that he had them. From this time on they have gone by the name of the 'Egyptian gems. ' I need not give yon the whole list of robberies and murders that have been connected with the two stones, though I have the written record complete, with naines of all the victims. Suffice it to say that for years no one was the gainer by gettiug possession of them. They have always been impossible to sell until I bought this one, which is the first time either ever was offered honestly in the market. Before this each new owner had obtained the jewels either by thef t or murder and dared not admit that he had them. Another curious thing is that no one has ever succeeded in hiding the jewels so that they could not be found. They have been secretee! between the stones of a wall, they have been sewed under the hide of an ass and bidden iu other equally obscure places, yet always the next thief has found and taken them." "Ah, that is interestiug!" said Mr. Thauret. "Bnt teil us frankly, since ■we are pledged not to repeat what we hear, do you suppose there is any power inherent in the stone which attracts persons to their discovery?" "I cannot say, but that is one of the claims. This seems to be susbtantiated by recent events too. " "How so?" "Well, my usual interest in large gems led .me to pólice headquarters when that woruan Rose Mitchel was killed, after having beeu robbed. The jewels, you remember, had been quickly recovered and are still in the hands of the pólice. I was allowed to see them, and the ruby in that lot is undoubtedly the mate to mine." "You think that it was the presence of. tb at stgae which. led. to the. discovery by the pólice of the satchel containing the jewels?" Mr. Thauret seeined much interested, but Mr. Mitchel ruerely shrugged his shoulders for answer, though it seemed plain thathe did hold that opinión. Mr. Barnes woudered whether Mr. Thauret 's interest was due to the fact that, having stolen the jewels, he was astouished to bear of so strange au . explauation of ibeir recovery from the hotel where he aad bidden them. Yet the mau's next words seemed to dispel such au idea. He said: "You may believe im that sort of :hing, Mr. Mitchel, but I, who have )nly modem ideas, cannot accept auy uch thcory. The fact that the stones jave always been discovered wheu hid3en bas led those who know the history ;o mistake a chain of coincidences for ividence of superuatural power within ihe stones themselves. I think I can roadily accomrti for the serios of hidings md findings. ' ' "ï should be "pleased to have you do so," said Mr. Mitchel. "Have yon never read Edgar Poe's tale, the oue where a letter is stolen and bidden? The detectives failed to find it, though it was in plain sight all the time, but another man did lind it. He went npon the correct theory that the thief, knowing that a search would be made, and guessing that all obscure nw.eg_ -yrnuld y escorad first. would nicle it iu sorne commonplace manner. He visited the apartments, and found the letter in the letter rack. Now this is iugenious, but Mr. Poe here gives ns a bit of special pleading and a curions anorualy at the same time. He wished to show that au obscure corner would be a bad hiding place, and so worked out his result. At the same time he draws a skillful thief who baffled expert pólice, and yet who hid his letter where the first man with brains easily found it. This is the anomaly. Where the article is email, as is the case with this lost ruby, there is but one safe place for the thief to hide his stolen property. " " Andthat place is?" asked Mr. Mitchel, hknself betraying interest. "TTpon his own person, where at all times he could be on the alert to thwart the searching committee. " "Ah, you are f orgetting, " said Mr. Mitchel, "that idea was not overlooked by Edgar Poe. In the tale the maa was waylaid by efficers in disguise, who bound him and then searched him. If the letter had been about him, it would have been found." "Not at all. The letter was placed in an envelope, which had been turned, and then mailed so that on the reverse it received the postal imprint. This foiled the detectives when they examined the letter rack. It would havo fooled theru in exploring his pockets if found with other letters similarly addressed. On the other hand, had it been in his pocket the man who finally obtained it could have done so by creating a confusión in the street which attracted the'man to the window. It would have been difflcult for him evento guess that it was in the pocket. Besides with the ruby it would be simple, since it is an article that can be disposed of at a moment 's notice. " "Very true, " said Mr. Mitchel, "but" - Here he pansed for a moment and seemed abstracted. Quickly recovering, he said : " What was I saying? I havelost the thread of our conversation. ' ' "Mr. Thauret suggested that the thief could keep the ruby about him," replied Mr. Randolph. "Ah, exactlyl Now I remember. Well, I should say that it would be a hazardous undertaking. I believe, had I stolen the gem - as, by the way, Randolph, you suggested - I could do better than that." "Ah," said Mr. Bandolph, "this is getting interesting. Come, teil us. How should you hide the jewel, supposing that you had taken it?" "That is a leading question, " said Mr. Mitchel. "I prefer not to answer it. Walls have ears, you know. " He said this in a significant way that made Mr. Randolph uncomfortable for a moment. Mr. Mitchel at once continued, "I will say this, however, that the thief, whoever he is, cannot profifc by histheft." "Why not?" asked Mr. Thauret. "Because there is not another gem in existence save those two which are so absolutely perfect in color. In f act, they are the standards by which rubies are valued. It isclairoed that the expression 'pigeon blood ruby' owes its existence to the staining of one of these gems in the manner described. Dealers sometiines cut a pigeon 's throat to compare the blood with the color of a gem being appraised. The signiflcance of this is that the stolen gem cannot be sold as it is because it would be recognized, and I have notified all thegreat dealers in the world that my 'Egyptiangem' has been stolen. If it veere attempted to have it cut up, the lapidary would at once report the matter, as the reward otfered by me is greater than could be earned by recutting the stone. " "Suppose that the thief himself is a gem cutter?" asked Thauret. "Even then the perfect color would at once teil the first dealer to whom he applied that the 'Egyptian gem' had been recut. ' ' "The thief might be a patiënt man, and all things come to him who waits, " replied Mr. Thauret. "True," said -Mr. Mitchel. "But mark uiy. words,, the 'Egygtian gem' will uot be suld by the péison who Sas it now. " "Especially if tbat person is yourself, " said Mr. Randolph. ".Tust bo," auswered Mr. Mitchel. The conversation now drifted to othei things, and sbortly after, the diuuer beiug over, the tbree men separated. As Mr. Barnes was about to leave the main dining room one of the servants handed him a note. Supposing it to be Mr. Randolph, be opened it at once and was snrprised and chagrined to read : YFhen Mr. Barnes nrxt plays the eavesdropper, hti should be carcful to observe whether a mirror reflects bothsidesof apórtiere whieh tio might suppose would coneea] liim. Mitchel. "The devil take it!" muttered Mr. Barnes. "I wonder at what poiut he diecovered ruy presente. Was that last part - about bis having warned all the dealers - thrown in gratuitously for my benefit and to lead me to suppose that some oue else stole thestone? If so, why does he iiow let me know that he saw me?" CHAPTER Xin. JTR. BAKNES GO ES SOUTH. Mr. Barnes now begau some reeearohes iuto the past history of Mr. Alphouse Thauret. Obtaining the dato of bis first registry at the Hoffman ionse, he found that to be about a montb before the train robbery occnrred. binding the expressruan who had irought his baggage to the hotel, it raiispired that it had been taken from in Euglish steamship, yet the name Thauret flia not apptan isj, u the list of assengers. Aa it was eer ■', however, ;hat the man must have arvived by the hip it was evident that Thauret was an alias. Mr. Barnes copied the ship's ist for future refereuce. A search for he name Rase Mitchel was fruitless, hough extended to the passenger lists of all arriving steamers for two months jrior to. the rnurder. Believiug that Mr. Thauret must have ome communication with foreign riends and hopiug to obtain some clew IV ti& jst?narks of jinv sucb,. Itíiers, Mr. Barnes arranged án espionage of the rúan 's mail. But thöugh the hotel clerk reported to him daily for several weeks there was not one foreign letter. As to nioney, Mr. Thauret appeared to be well supplied, paying his board bilis promptly with checks upon a neighbor ing national bank, in which it was ascertained that he had deposited to his credit several thousand dollars. Thus after a long investigaron Mr. Barnes was chagrined to admit that he had discovered nothing save that Mr. Thauret had come across the ocean nnder an assnmed name, and even this meager knowledge was a mere matter of iuference. Tliongh baffled in this direction Mr. Barnes had been more successful in another effort which he essay ed. This was a line of investigaron which he inaugurated hoping to discover the whereabouts of the child Rose Mitehel, who was so skillfully kept in hiding. He had first instructed Lncette as to the part she was to play, and that young woman, anxious once more to stand well with her employer, had exerted herself to her utmost, entirely succeeding in her mission. This was to obtain some of the writing of the child. "Go to the house again,"Mr. Barnes hadsnggested, "and get into conversation with that same servant who met you at the door on your first visit. Then in some manner obtaiu a specimen of the child's writing. An oíd copybook would be just the thing. " Lucette carried out these instructions to the letter, and by bribing the servant girl at the school obtained exactly wbat the detective had suggested, a eopybook in which little Rose Mitchel had practiced writing. Armed with this, and selecting a specimen which seemed best suited to his purpose, Mr. Barnes next bribed the mailboy at the Fifth Avenue hotel to examine all letters addressed to Mr. Mitchel until he should find one in the same hand. It was not until early in March that this patiënt workresulted in success. Then one day the boy reported to Mr. Barnes that the expected letter had at length arrived. The postmark indicated that it had been mailed at East Orange, N. J. ■ "So that is where the little bird is bidden," said Mr. Barnes to himself wheu this information reached him. Summoning Lucette, he sent her to East Orange with these instructions : "Now, my girl, I'll give you another chance to redeem yourself. You are to go to East Orange and find that child. The most promising plan is through the postoffice. I will give you a note to the postmaster that will aid you. Should a . letter be sent to the child either by Mitchel himself or by Miss Remsen, you will learn of it through the postmaster. The rest of course will be simple. " "But suppose," said Lucette, "that the child's letters are directed under cover to the parties with whoin she is livi""? AVhaLthen" Will be continued.