“Got any of that gold you spoke of about you?” asked the Professor.
I drew a skin bag from the pocket of my coat, and poured some out upon the table, which he examined carefully.
“Ring money,” he said presently, “might be Anglo-Saxon, might be anything; date absolutely uncertain, but from its appearance I should say slightly alloyed with silver; yes, there is a bit which has oxydized—undoubtedly old, that.”
Then he produced the signet from his pocket, and examined the ring and the stone very carefully through a powerful glass.
“Seems all right,” he said, “and although I have been greened in my time, I don’t make many mistakes nowadays. What do you say, Adams? Must have it back? A sacred trust! Only lent to you! All right, take it by all means. I don’t want the thing. Well, it is a risky job, and if any one else had proposed it to me, I’d have told him to go to—Mur. But, Adams, my boy, you saved my life once, and never sent in a bill, because I was hard up, and I haven’t forgotten that. Also things are pretty hot for me here just now over a certain controversy of which I suppose you haven’t heard in Central Africa. I think I’ll go. What do you say, Oliver?”
“Oh!” said Captain Orme, waking up from a reverie, “if you are satisfied, I am. It doesn’t matter to me where I go.”
THE ADVICE OF SERGEANT QUICK
At this moment a fearful hubbub arose without. The front door slammed, a cab drove off furiously, a policeman’s whistle blew, heavy feet were heard trampling; then came an invocation of “In the King’s name,” answered by “Yes, and the Queen’s, and the rest of the Royal Family’s, and if you want it, take it, you chuckle-headed, flat-footed, pot-bellied Peelers.”
Then followed tumult indescribable as of heavy men and things rolling down the stairs, with cries of fear and indignation.
“What the dickens is that?” asked Higgs.
“The voice sounded like that of Samuel—I mean Sergeant Quick,” answered Captain Orme with evident alarm; “what can he be after? Oh, I know, it is something to do with that infernal mummy you unwrapped this afternoon, and asked him to bring round after dinner.”
Just then the door burst open, and a tall, soldier-like form stalked in, carrying in his arms a corpse wrapped in a sheet, which he laid upon the table among the wine glasses.
“I’m sorry, Captain,” he said, addressing Orme, “but I’ve lost the head of the departed. I think it is at the bottom of the stairs with the police. Had nothing else to defend myself with, sir, against their unwarranted attacks, so brought the body to the present and charged, thinking it very stiff and strong, but regret to say neck snapped, and that deceased’s head is now under arrest.”
As Sergeant Quick finished speaking, the door opened again, and through it appeared two very flurried and dishevelled policemen, one of whom held, as far as possible from his person, the grizzly head of a mummy by the long hair which still adhered to the skull.