Then he thrust a little linen-wrapped parcel into my hand and with his companion vanished into the darkness.
I returned to the drawing-room where the others were still discussing the remarkable performance of the two native conjurers.
“They have gone,” I said in answer to Lord Ragnall, “to walk to London as they said. But they have sent a wedding-present to Miss Holmes,” and I showed the parcel.
“Open it, Quatermain,” he said again.
“No, George,” interrupted Miss Holmes, laughing, for by now she seemed to have quite recovered herself, “I like to open my own presents.”
He shrugged his shoulders and I handed her the parcel, which was neatly sewn up. Somebody produced scissors and the stitches were cut. Within the linen was a necklace of beautiful red stones, oval-shaped like amber beads and of the size of a robin’s egg. They were roughly polished and threaded on what I recognized at once to be hair from an elephant’s tail. From certain indications I judged these stones, which might have been spinels or carbuncles, or even rubies, to be very ancient. Possibly they had once hung round the neck of some lady in old Egypt. Indeed a beautiful little statuette, also of red stone, which was suspended from the centre of the necklace, suggested that this was so, for it may well have been a likeness of one of the great gods of the Egyptians, the infant Horus, the son of Isis.
“That is the necklace I saw which the Ivory Child gave me in my dream,” said Miss Holmes quietly.
Then with much deliberation she clasped it round her throat.
The sequel to the events of this evening may be told very briefly and of it the reader can form his own judgment. I narrate it as it happened.
That night I did not sleep at all well. It may have been because of the excitement of the great shoot in which I found myself in competition with another man whom I disliked and who had defrauded me in the past, to say nothing of its physical strain in cold and heavy weather. Or it may have been that my imagination was stirred by the arrival of that strange pair, Harut and Marut, apparently in search of myself, seven thousand miles away from any place where they can have known aught of an insignificant individual with a purely local repute. Or it may have been that the pictures which they showed me when under the influence of the fumes of their “tobacco”—or of their hypnotism—took an undue possession of my brain.
Or lastly, the strange coincidence that the beautiful betrothed of my host should have related to me a tale of her childhood of which she declared she had never spoken before, and that within an hour the two principal actors in that tale should have appeared before my eyes and hers (for I may state that from the beginning I had no doubt that they were the same men), moved me and filled me with quite natural foreboding. Or all these things together may have tended to a concomitant effect. At any rate the issue was that I could not sleep.