“Come here,” said Orme, in a low and solemn voice, “I have something to show you,” and he led the way into the priest’s chamber, or sanctuary, whatever it may have been, where he slept upon a rough, native-made bedstead. At the doorway he halted, lowered the lamp he held, and pointed to something dark on the floor to the right of his bedstead, saying, “Look!”
There lay a dead man, and by his side a great knife that evidently had fallen from his hand. At the first glance we recognised the face which, by the way, was singularly peaceful, as though it were that of one plunged in deep sleep. This seemed odd, since the throat below was literally torn out.
“Shadrach!” we said, with one voice.
Shadrach it was; Shadrach, our former guide, who had betrayed us; Shadrach who, to save his own life, had shown us how to rescue Higgs, and for that service been pardoned, as I think I mentioned. Shadrach and no other!
“Pussy seems to have been on the prowl and to have met a dog,” remarked Quick.
“Do you understand what has happened?” asked Oliver, in a dry, hard voice. “Perhaps I had better explain before anything is moved. Shadrach must have crept in here last night—I don’t know at what time, for I slept through it all—for purposes of his own. But he forgot his old enemy Pharaoh, and Pharaoh killed him. See his throat? When Pharaoh bites he doesn’t growl, and, of course, Shadrach could say nothing, or, as he had dropped his knife, for the matter of that, do anything either. When I was woke up about an hour ago by the telephone bell the dog was fast asleep, for he is accustomed to that bell, with his head resting upon the body of Shadrach. Now why did Shadrach come into my room at night with a drawn knife in his hand?”
“Doesn’t seem a difficult question to answer,” replied Higgs, in the high voice which was common to him when excited. “He came here to murder you, and Pharaoh was too quick for him, that’s all. That dog was the cheapest purchase you ever made, friend Oliver.”
“Yes,” answered Orme, “he came here to murder me—you were right about the risk, after all—but what I wonder is, who sent him?”
“And so you may go on wondering for the rest of your life, Captain,” exclaimed Quick. “Still, I think we might guess if we tried.”
Then news of what had happened was sent to the palace, and within little over an hour Maqueda arrived, accompanied by Joshua and several other members of her Council. When she saw and understood everything she was horrified, and sternly asked Joshua what he knew of this business. Of course, he proved to be completely innocent, and had not the slightest idea of who had set the murderer on to work this deed of darkness. Nor had anybody else, the general suggestion being that Shadrach had attempted it out of revenge, and met with the due reward of his crime.
Only that day poor Pharaoh was poisoned. Well, he had done his work, and his memory is blessed.