“Well, we never found any more. The end of it was that the Makalanga caught us trying to get in to the secret stronghold by stealth, and gave us the choice of clearing out or being killed. So we cleared out, for treasure is not of much use to dead men.”
Mr. Clifford ceased speaking, and filled his pipe, while Meyer helped himself to squareface in an absent manner. As for Benita, she stared at the quaint old coin, which had a hole in it, wondering with what scenes of terror and of bloodshed it had been connected.
“Keep it,” said her father. “It will go on that bracelet of yours.”
“Thank you, dear,” she answered. “Though I don’t know why I should take all the Portuguese treasure since we shall never see any more of it.”
“Why not, Miss Clifford?” asked Meyer quickly.
“The story tells you why—because the natives won’t even let you look for it; also, looking and finding are different things.”
“Natives change their minds sometimes, Miss Clifford. That story is not done, it is only begun, and now you shall hear its second chapter. Clifford, may I call in the messengers?” And without waiting for an answer he rose and left the room.
Neither Mr. Clifford nor his daughter said anything after he had gone. Benita appeared to occupy herself in fixing the broad gold coin to a little swivel on her bracelet, but while she did so once more that sixth sense of hers awoke within her. As she had been afraid at the dinner on the doomed steamer, so again she was afraid. Again death and great fear cast their advancing shadows on to her soul. That piece of gold seemed to speak to her, yet, alas! she could not understand its story. Only she knew that her father and Jacob Meyer and—yes, yes, yes—Robert Seymour, had all a part in that tragedy. Oh! how could that be when he was dead? How could this gold link him to her? She knew not—she cared not. All she knew was that she would follow this treasure to the edge of the world, and if need be, over it, if only it brought her back to him again.
The door opened, and through it came Jacob Meyer, followed by three natives. Benita did not see or hear them; her soul was far away. There at the head of the room, clad all in white, for she wore no mourning save in her heart, illuminated by the rays of the lamp that hung above her, she stood still and upright, for she had risen; on the face and in her wide, dark eyes a look that was very strange to see. Jacob Meyer perceived it and stopped; the three natives perceived it also and stopped. There they stood, all four of them, at the end of the long sitting-room, staring at the white Benita and at her haunted eyes.
One of the natives pointed with his thin finger to her face, and whispered to the others. Meyer, who understood their tongue, caught the whisper. It was: