Smith says she is one of the fastest launches on the river, and that if he had had another man to help him with the engines we should never have caught her. He swears he knew nothing of this Norwood business.
Neither he did, cried our prisonernot a word. I chose his launch because I heard that she was a flier. We told him nothing; but we paid him well, and he was to get something handsome if we reached our vessel, the Esmeralda, at Gravesend, outward bound for the Brazils.
Well, if he has done no wrong we shall see that no wrong comes to him. If we are pretty quick in catching our men, we are not so quick in condemning them. It was amusing to notice how the consequential Jones was already beginning to give himself airs on the strength of the capture. From the slight smile which played over Sherlock Holmess face, I could see that the speech had not been lost upon him.
We will be at Vauxhall Bridge presently, said Jones, and shall land you, Dr. Watson, with the treasure- box. I need hardly tell you that I am taking a very grave responsibility upon myself in doing this. It is most irregular, but of course an agreement is an agreement. I must, however, as a matter of duty, send an inspector with you, since you have so valuable a charge. You will drive, no doubt?
Yes, I shall drive.
It is a pity there is no key, that we may make an inventory first. You will have to break it open. Where is the key, my man?
At the bottom of the river, said Small shortly.
Hum! There was no use your giving this unnecessary trouble. We have had work enough already through you. However, Doctor, I need not warn you to be careful. Bring the box back with you to the Baker Street rooms. You will find us there, on our way to the station.
They landed me at Vauxhall, with my heavy iron box, and with a bluff, genial inspector as my companion. A quarter of an hours drive brought us to Mrs. Cecil Forresters. The servant seemed surprised at so late a visitor. Mrs. Cecil Forrester was out for the evening, she explained, and likely to be very late. Miss Morstan, however, was in the drawing-room; so to the drawing-room I went, box in hand, leaving the obliging inspector in the cab.
She was seated by the open window, dressed in some sort of white diaphanous material, with a little touch of scarlet at the neck and waist. The soft light of a shaded lamp fell upon her as she leaned back in the basket chair, playing over her sweet grave face, and tinting with a dull, metallic sparkle the rich coils of her luxuriant hair. One white arm and hand drooped over the side of the chair, and her whole pose and figure spoke of an absorbing melancholy. At the sound of my footfall she sprang to her feet, however, and a bright flush of surprise and of pleasure coloured her pale cheeks.
I heard a cab drive up, she said. I thought that Mrs. Forrester had come back very early, but I never dreamed that it might be you. What news have you brought me?
I have brought something better than news, said I, putting down the box upon the table and speaking jovially and boisterously, though my heart was heavy within me. I have brought you something which is worth all the news in the world. I have brought you a fortune.
She glanced at the iron box.
Is that the treasure then? she asked, coolly enough.
Yes, this is the great Agra treasure. Half of it is yours and half is Thaddeus Sholtos. You will have a couple of hundred thousand each. Think of that! An annuity of ten thousand pounds. There will be few richer young ladies in England. Is it not glorious?
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