The Enchanted Stone

The Enchanted Stone

By

Lewis Hind

THIS is a true account of the Enchanted Stone, and of the
strange circumstances by which it came into my
possession.

The paper had been running eighteen months, when one
November morning, among the manuscripts that arrived by the
early post, I found one, written in a queer, square handwriting,
and redolent of a pungent Eastern perfume. It was unsigned,
but at the foot of the last page stood a symbol of irregular outline,
about the size of a two-shilling piece. The surface was wrinkled,
like the face of an old woman by Rembrandt, and also bore
three dark markings, in appearance somewhat akin to sun-spots,
seen through a powerful telescope. This disc was pierced by an
arrow an inch long, scrawled over by some mystic letters.
The manuscript, which was written in flowery language, began
with these words—" Om !! Salutation to the Revered and
Sublime White Queen, whose arms encircle the globe," and ended
with this cryptic peroration—" I am not inconsiderate, like the
grass-eating animals. I will repay. The earth and the mountains
may be overthrown, but I, O Queen, will not rest till I regain the
Enchanted Stone."

The body of the manuscript contained, so far as I gathered in a

hurried

116 The Enchanted Stone

hurried perusal, a pious request that a certain gem which was about
to be presented to the Queen by the Raja of Pepperthala, should
be restored to the writer, who proclaimed himself the lineal
descendant of the rightful owner of the gem. The Raja of
Pepperthala, I concluded, was the broken-down ruler of a bank-
rupt feudatory state in Northern India. Further the communica-
tion stated that the writer would call upon me that afternoon at
four o'clock.

I was puzzling over this odd manuscript when the tape machine
that stands in the corner of my room began to tick. As it was
unusual for news to be sent through at such an early hour, I threw
down the anonymous effusion, and hastened toward the instru-
ment. The tape coiled from the machine, and I spelled out the
following :

" 10.30 a.m. Prince of Wales has just left Marlborough House to
call upon the Raja of Pepperthala, who is staying at Buckingham
Palace by Her Majesty's invitation."

That was a remarkable item of news in itself, to say nothing of
the coincidence. Our last Indian visitor, I knew, had lodged in
the Gloucester Road. Why then should the Raja of Pepperthala,
an insignificant chieftain, whose name was not even mentioned in
Griffith's Indian Princes, be staying at Buckingham Palace by
Her Majesty's invitation ? It being Press day, I had not time to
puzzle over the anomaly, so I sent the manuscript and the news
item to Mayfair, my friend and sub-editor, who worked in a room
at the end of the passage, asking him to investigate the affair and
let me know the result before four o'clock. Although Mayfair was
but twenty-one years of age, he was like certain of the children of
Israel, one in whom there was no blemish, well-favoured, and
skilful in all wisdom, cunning in knowledge, understanding many

things,

By Lewis Hind 117

things, who had easily brought himself into my favour and tender
love.

By this time it was eleven o'clock, the hour when the printer
began to send down pages to be passed for press. The strain
lasted well into the afternoon, and the mysterious manuscript had
been quite driven from my mind, when a card was brought to me
bearing nothing but a duplication of the symbol that sprawled at
the foot of the perfumed article. I looked at the clock. The
hands pointed to four.

I told the messenger to show the stranger into the ante-room,
and to ask Mr. Mayfair to come to me at once.

" Hush," I whispered when Mayfair appeared. " He's in there,"
indicating the adjoining chamber. " Will you sit at my desk ?
Pretend to be writing. Listen attentively, but do not speak
unless I address you."

The clock struck four. I threw open the door of the ante-
room.

The man who came forward, lightly and noiselessly, with the
grace of a free animal, was yellow like a Mongolian, but his
features were finely chiselled, and in stature he was tall and slim.
He wore a long, frayed frock-coat buttoned high up around his
neck. The crown of his head resembled a yellow billiard ball. I
have never seen a man with less hair. His eyes were deep-set and
piercing, and, like the slight nostrils, and the thin quivering lips,
alive with intelligence.

" You have read my words ? " he asked eagerly, and in excellent
English.

I nodded an affirmative.

" And you will publish my words in your paper ? "

I shrugged my shoulders. " We are so crowded. Our space
is limited. Besides—"

He

118 The Enchanted Stone

He strode to my side. " I am some judge of character," he
remarked, in a tone quite innocent of egoism, speaking as if he
were stating an incontrovertible fact. " You believe in the good
and wise God ? "

" Really," I began.

" Yet," he swept on, " you will hinder the revelation He has
promised to mankind."

" Do you refer to me, or to the paper ? " I asked gently. It
was clear I had to deal with a religious fanatic.

" Yours is a great journal," he continued, ignoring my question.
" You are the Editor ! You wield power ! You are not rich !
Procure for me the Enchanted Stone, and I will give you two,
three, five thousand pounds."

With that he drew from an outer pocket a bundle of bank
notes, and flung them upon the table. They were for £1000
each, and undoubtedly genuine.

" Replace those, please," I said. " This is not a private enquiry
office. Now let us understand one another. I gather that a poor
old gentleman, the present Raja of Pepperthala, who is now lodging
at Buckingham Palace, by Her Majesty's invitation, has in his
possession a valuable stone which you assert is your property, you
being the lineal descendant of the rightful owners, who centuries
past were Rajas of Pepperthala. You also state that this gem was
stolen some hundreds of years ago by a Mohammedan chief at the
time of the invasion of India ; that the said stone has brought
nothing but trouble and disaster to its various owners ; that the
present possessor has in a moment of generosity determined to
present this ill-omened and unlucky gem to Her Majesty, and that
he has travelled to England for that purpose. Further, you are
so anxious to get possession of the gem as to offer me a bribe of
£5000 if I succeed in restoring it to you. Now, before I move a

step

By Lewis Hind 119

step in this matter, I must ask you first to produce documents
satisfying me that the stone ever belonged to your ancestors, and,
secondly, to show proofs of your own identity ; in a word, make it
clear to me that you are the lineal descendant of the former Rajas
of Pepperthala. For all I know, the stone has been already handed
over to Her Majesty, and is at this moment lodged in the Tower
with the other Regalia. I m afraid I could not consent to steal
the Crown jewels even for a bribe of £5000."

"To restore, not to steal," he interposed, quickly.

I laughed a little contemptuously at the emendation. His
demeanour changed. He drew himself up to his full height, the
long lashes fell across his eyes, his head sunk upon his breast, and
he cried in a broken voice and with hands upraised : " How long,
O Lord, how long ? I am as one standing upon the housetops,
trying to grasp the stars of heaven."

His dejection was so poignant that my heart softened. " Pro-
cure me the proofs," I said, " and I will see what can be done.
In the meantime we will insert a paragraph, non-committal, but
of a nature that may arouse public interest and, possibly, sym-
pathy."

Having thus delivered myself I threw open the door of the
ante-room, as a hint that the interview was ended.

The chamber faced the west. The sky was clear, save for a
bank of heavy clouds along the horizon. The fog which hung
about the streets was of that wreathy, fantastic character that
makes potential mysteries of chimneypots, wayfarers, and telegraph
posts. As I threw open the door, a heavy cloud was just rolling
away from the setting sun. I paused in admiration—I had almost
written adoration—of the spectacle. For one moment the sun
glowed like a great angry eye, with a little feathery wing dancing
impishly over its surface ; then another cloud-bank swept up, like

a puff

120 The Enchanted Stone

a puff of gun-fire from a distant coast. The good, round light
went out, and in its place came gloom and the shadows of night.
Then the cloud rolled away, and for a moment the sun shone
forth upon the world again in a blaze of good-night splendour.

What happened next was begun and ended in the space of three
seconds. A trill of low laughter fell upon my ears ; turning
swiftly, I observed Mayfair trying, with poor success, to preserve
his gravity. Seeking for the cause, I found it in the Yellow Man,
who had fallen upon his knees, with long arms raised reverently
towards the sun, that glowed full upon his ascetic face and head,
which bobbed in unison to a torrent of words, in some unknown
tongue, that broke from his lips. It was the back of the man's
nodding head that moved Mayfair to mirth. Had he seen his face
as I saw it at that moment he would have felt no inclination to
laugh—so sad, so profound, was the look of passionate entreaty
that illumined his countenance. It moved me strangely, and
then, in a flash, my wonder was changed into horror—and I was
rushing across the room to where Mayfair sat still laughing, but
now in a desperate kind of way.

I caught the Yellow Man's arm as the dagger gleamed down-
wards in a sharp, swift stroke, and so lessened the force of the
blow, but I was not in time to save the boy. Then blood spurted
from the wound, and Mayfair fell forward upon his face.

" You devil," I cried, seizing the creature's hand that still
gripped the dagger ; but he slipped from my grasp like an eel and
disappeared from the room, closing the door silently after him. I
let him go, for Mayfair had fainted and needed me. His
pretty white necktie—he always liked dainty clothing—was stained
with blood. I staunched the flow, bound up the wound as well
as I knew how, laid him down full length upon the floor, and
then considered. At all costs the affair must be hushed up. I

wrote

By Lewis Hind 121

wrote a note explaining the nature of the injury, then rang the
bell, and met the messenger outside the room.

" Take this letter to Doctor Eastern," I said. " Bring him
back with you."

Then I locked the door and waited. My fears, I confess, were
selfish, but the dread of losing Mayfair was more than I dared
contemplate. In a little he moved, raising himself upon one
elbow.

" What—where—— ? "

" Be quiet, there's a dear fellow," I whispered.

" Oh, I remember," he said, trembling at the sight of the red
bandages. " I'm peppered, zounds, a dog, a cat, to scratch a man
to death ! a braggart—how does it go ? Oh—h ! " He fainted
again.

By the time the doctor arrived I had decided upon my course
of action. " You know my name," I said. " Well, this gentle-
man has been stabbed. It was a stupid quarrel. I take all
responsibility, you understand. It's an unfortunate business, and
I want it to be kept quiet."

The doctor was young and accommodating, and, after an ex-
amination of the injury, pronounced it to be nothing more than a
flesh-wound.

" Can he be moved ? " I asked.

" Oh, yes."

He dressed the wound and left, promising to call in the evening
at the address I should send.

In half an hour Mayfair was able to converse. I decided to
remove him at once, and, without attracting any particular atten-
tion, succeeded in getting him downstairs, and into a cab. I gave
the driver the address of my rooms.

" No, no," he whispered, " take me home."

" To

122 The Enchanted Stone

" To your mother's house ? " I asked, in astonishment.

" No, no ; take me to my bride."

" Your bride ? " I gasped.

" Yes, my bride," he repeated, petulantly, and called to the
cabman to drive to the Albert Embankment, opposite Lambeth
Palace.

He was very much in earnest, so I let him have his way, and
babbled of our next holiday, and green fields, of anything, in fact,
that might distract his mind. Arrived at our destination he
dismissed the cab, and, clinging to my arm, guided me towards
Lambeth pier. Bearing to the right we descended the steps that
lead down to the water s edge. A boat was waiting. I pushed
off, under his directions, and in another moment collided against
a raft. We landed, and picked our steps over the old boats and
the refuse of half a century scattered there. I heard the oily lap,
lap, of the waves against the raft, but could see little for the fog
that hung motionless in the still air—so wet and chill. With
each step my companion leant heavier upon my arm. A horrible
idea flashed into my mind. By his bride did he—could he mean
this unseen river oozing past in the dark like some huge prehistoric
reptile. I shuddered at the thought, and at that moment we
confronted the outline of a low log-hut at the eastern end of the
raft. Warm welcome light streamed from the little window.
My companion knocked at the door, which was immediately
thrown open by a young girl—pale, work -weary, and wistful, like
a Fillipino Lippi Madonna.

" I'm ill, Mary," he said simply.

She gave a little start, and cried, " Oh, my beloved." The
voice was not the voice of a gentlewoman.

Then warm arms enfolded him, and he was carried within.

The door closed, and friendship s victim was left alone, with

the

By Lewis Hind 123

the fog above and fog around, and below the greasy planks sighing
and soughing as they collided in the movement of the water.

In the hurried journey back to the office, the events of the day
pattered through my brain, and the long fingers of Imagination
stretched before me, pointing to strange and fantastic develop-
ments. I heard nothing, saw nothing as we raced through the
lighted streets, except a nimble paper seller who flashed an eager
hatchet face through the cab window. I bought one, a halfpenny
sheet, I forget which—receiving a contemptuous comment because
I demanded the change from my penny. My eye had caught the
word Pepperthala on the front page.

When I arrived at the office I chipped a dark stain from the
woodwork of the chair in which Mayfair had been sitting, and
then carefully studied the prospect from the window. The
opposite houses were still wrapped in fog. Good ! The blood-
guiltiness of the Yellow Man remained our secret. No human
eye could have penetrated that dense envelope, which had grown
still more opaque since sunset ; I could not even distinguish the
outline of the stone parapet that ran in front of my window,
practically making a promenade round the building.

Turning away, the evening paper I had purchased caught
my eye. The front page contained half a column about
the visit of the Raja of Pepperthala. It was invertebrate
stuff, all pure conjecture, with an imaginative account of the
decay of the State of Pepperthala, and a disquisition on the present
parlous condition of its Chief. As to the reason of the Raja's
visit to England the reporter was silent, but a paragraph and
a portrait at the end of the article roused my interest to the
meridian.

It was to the effect that the Raja had been accompanied to
England by Mr. Edward Kettle, " so well known a few years back

in

124 The Enchanted Stone

in connection with Colonial politics, who is now acting as cicerone
and interpreter to the Raja of Pepperthala."

Now I knew something about Mr. Kettle—something not quite
creditable to that gentleman—in connection with a certain transfer
of Government land, which I had kept close in that sanctuary of
the memory reserved for the bad deeds of others. My forbearance
made me the victim of repeated offers of service from Kettle.
The opportunity had now arrived. I determined to go down at
once to Buckingham Palace, and claim from him a slight fulfil-
ment of his many promises. I remembered Kettle as a particularly
vulgar snob, unprincipled but clever, and always ready with word
or blow.

On presentation of my card with the name of the paper
engraved upon it, I found no difficulty in obtaining admittance
to the Palace. The porter was haughty at first, but I prevailed
over him, and he disappeared with my communication up a wide
staircase, leaving me to wait in a large room, where the furniture
was all covered up in brown holland. In a few minutes he
returned, even haughtier than before. Mr. Kettle was dressing
for dinner and could not see me. I wrote three words on a card,
slipped it into an envelope and induced the Royal emissary to
repeat his journey. . . . This time I was more successful. Mr.
Kettle would see me, and at once.

The Raja of Pepperthala occupied a suite of rooms on the first
floor. The night was too dark for me to locate the apartment
into which I was shown, but I imagine it looked out upon the
Palace gardens that stretch away to Grosvenor Place. Several
minutes passed. I grew impatient. Somebody moved in the
next room, then Kettle's voice reached me giving instructions to
a servant. " A plague on this man," said I, and without more ado
threw open the door that separated us. Mr. Kettle was standing

before

By Lewis Hind 125

before the fire paring his nails. Oiled hair, curled moustache,
liquid eyes, short putty figure, a velvet collar to his dinner coat ;
he was the same hopeless, middle-aged dandy—unchanged,
unregenerate. I knew my man, and so came to the point at once.
" Kettle," I said, " I want to have some conversation with the
Raja of Pepperthala, and I should also be much obliged if you
would let me have a peep at a certain valuable known to fame as
'the Enchanted Gem.' "

He looked up quickly, smiled in an embarrassed kind of way,
and flicked a crumb from his sleeve.

" Such an interview, my dear fellow, is quite ultra vires. I have
already refused some of the very smartest people in London. As
to what you call the Enchanted Gem I don't know what you
mean. It's caviare to me, quite caviare," he repeated, fumbling
nervously with a gold toothpick.

I caught him by the arm (he reeked of patchouli) and whispered
something in his ear. I was not in a mood to bandy words with
the fellow, who rolled his foolish little foreign expressions round
his tongue like a bear with a piece of honeycomb. He shrunk
away from me, spreading his hands between us. " All right,"
he stuttered, breaking back to the accent of other days. " Play
fair ! "

Observing the amusement I made no effort to conceal, he
quickly recovered himself.

" What you require is difficile," he said sententiously. " The old
fellow is mad with rum and disease. Really I daren't present
him to a stranger. Stop ! I have an idea bien trouvé ! He is in
the next room alone. I'll turn down the gas. You sit here on a
line with the door. I open it, inventing an excuse to speak to
him. That is your opportunity, n'cest ce pas ! But don't utter
a sound. And if he catches sight of you make yourself

scarce !

126 The Enchanted Stone

scarce ! Comprenez vous ? He's like a tiger with that confounded
gem."

I promised to remain perfectly still. Then he lowered the gas,
and cautiously opened the door.

I saw a broadly-built man with dusky face, long matted hair,
and a thick neck, upon which the skin folded itself in great
ridges. Over his shoulders a blanket was thrown. He was
fondling and patting a smooth, oval object, the size and shape of
a cocoa-nut, but the colour was the colour of gold. When the
door opened he grabbed the casket to his chest, and, by a rapid
movement of his broad shoulders, concealed the shining object
beneath the blanket. That was all I saw of the Raja of Pepper-
thala, but I never forgot the sight. His ancestors may, or may
not have been, bullies and bastards, but this poor tamed creature
had in his time been king of broad lands, with power to save or
kill, and in his hands the keys of palaces, and temples, and vaults
heaped high with treasure.

Kettle closed the door. He was quite pale.

" You have seen him," he whispered, " and I'm sure you ought
to be infernally obliged to me ; and, my boy, you've also seen the
case which contains the blessed stone. Oh, don't ask me any-
thing further ! This Desire of the Nations, as they call it, is
driving me mad, absit omen. I'll just tell you one thing," he said,
mysteriously, " and you may repeat it to whoever gets hold of the
blooming stone—caveat emptor. That's what I say. Good
night."

The adventures of the day had given me material for quite a
pretty little article. I walked briskly up Constitution Hill,
arranging the paragraphs in my mind, thence into Hyde Park,
and by the time I had travelled as far as the Marble Arch, and
back again to Hyde Park Corner, the article was clamouring to be

written.

By Lewis Hind 127

written. So I hastened down Grosvenor Place, purposing to take
the train at Victoria.

The fog had become so much denser during the last hour, that
I was quite glad to have the friendly wall of Buckingham Palace
Garden as a guide. With my left hand trailing against it, I
slowly and cautiously groped my way, till I drew near the spot
where Grosvenor Place turns sharply round to the left into Little
Grosvenor Place. There an adventure befell me. At this
point, where the pavement narrows, I was crouching under the
lee of the wall, to remove myself as far as possible from a brilliantly
lamped Parcels Post van that came rattling through the fog,
when suddenly a man dropped upon me from the top of the
wall. He doubled himself up as he fell, alighting gracefully
upon my head, enveloping me as if he were an extinguisher, and
I a candle. At the same time a metal vessel, escaping from his
hands by the violence of the shock, clanged upon the pavement,
while a smaller object struck sharply against my foot.

I tumbled incontinently upon the pavement, while my visitor,
recovering himself while I was still blinking, picked up the
metal vessel, which I observed had burst open, and disappeared
into the fog.

For a moment I sat motionless, unhurt, but confused with
amazement. The person who had dropped so indecorously over
the garden wall was my yellow friend of the afternoon, and the
metal object which had burst open as he fell was the case that
the Raja of Pepperthala had concealed beneath the blanket a few
hours before.

As I was considering the bearings of this new development
upon my article there fell upon the hushed air, from the direction
of the Palace, a wail, repeated three times, so eerie, so pregnant
with despair, that I felt almost as if something had cut into a

The Yellow Book—Vol. VIII. H

tissue

128 The Enchanted Stone

tissue of my sensibility. Then I heard shouts in the garden, a
dog's deep bay, and a voice crying : " Quick ! Here's the
ladder."

That narrow slip of pavement, where I sat cross-legged like a
Buddha, was clearly no place for me. Mechanically I picked up
the object that had struck against my foot, slipped across the
road, and was soon out of earshot of the voices.

Upon examination, my find proved to be an oval case made of
very hard wood, similar in shape to the Raja of Pepperthala's
stolen treasure, but smaller. On pressing a little deflection at
the extreme end the case flew open. It contained nothing but
an ordinary stone, in size and shape something like a hen's
egg. When I arrived home I examined the stone minutely, but
although it was unlike other stones one might pick up in
Grosvenor Place, I could discover nothing remarkable about its
appearance. It bristled all over with little corrugations and
spikes. A space of about an inch square had been polished, and
on this shining surface I detected three vague nebulous markings ;
the colour was black, and the thing was moist to the touch.

I wrote the article, and soon after midnight retired to bed,
after emptying, according to habit, the contents of my pockets
upon a table that stands in the centre of my room. When I
awoke, considerably after my usual hour, the sun was shining
through the window, and I observed, in the drowsy, semi-con-
scious way we note things in the first moment of waking, that
soon the broad white beam of sunlight which streamed through
the window would fall upon the heterogeneous collection of
articles that I had thrown upon the table the night before. Then
I fell asleep again. When I re-awoke the articles lay full in the
glare of the sunshine—knife, keys, match-box, and, towering
above them all, the big stone, flanked by its ragged-edged shadow.

I gazed

By Lewis Hind 129

I gazed sleepily at them, too lazy even to turn my head away,
till gradually it dawned upon me that I had been mistaken in
supposing that the stone was black. Its colour was red. I
rubbed my eyes, and sat up in bed. Yes, the stone was certainly
red—a heavy dark red. And yet as I looked it became clear to
me that the stone was by no means a dark red. It was a living
red, the colour of blood. I jumped from my bed, and touched
the stone with my fore-finger. It burnt.

I am not a nervous man, but I confess to feeling startled and
troubled. Was I going blind ? Was I in for a serious illness ?
I had been working and worrying overmuch of late, and Nature,
I knew, sometimes sent her warnings through odd channels.
But then why should the stone burn ? I pulled myself to-
gether, bathed and dressed leisurely, concentrating my mind by a
great effort on other subjects. Half an hour passed. I then
looked again. The stone stood in the shade, and was quite black
—as black as a mourning hat-band.

Could . . . ? Could . . . ? I lifted the stone, it was now
cold and moist to the touch, and again placed it in the centre of
the beam of light, gazing intently with paper and pencil in my
hand to note exactly what happened.

The rays of the sun concentrated themselves upon its surface,
and, as the thing warmed, the deep black of its normal con-
dition gave place to a dull red. Presently the red grew into a
glow like a November sunset, then it hissed to a white heat, the
colour of a furnace fire, and there before me was the thing
palpitating and panting as if it were alive. With the point of my
penknife I pushed it still further into the light, and even as I
looked—it moved.

Methodically and carefully I cut two thin strips of paper, and
placed them upon the table at either side of the stone. Then I

closed

130 The Enchanted Stone

closed my eyes. When I opened them again one of the strips of
paper was untouched. The other was gone—burnt. Its charred
ends were curled up an inch behind the stone.

What did it mean ?—A stone that glowed, and pulsed, and moved
when placed in a beam of light. A stone that the sun had power
to vivify. What did it mean ?

The Sun ! ! The events of yesterday swept back to me—the
Yellow Man—his mysterious words—his anxiety to procure the
gem, his adoration of the setting sun. The sun again ! !

I pressed my hands to my head. The voice of a paper seller in
the streets below struck into my thoughts—" Robbery at Bucking-
ham Palace. Strange Rumours."

I ran to the window. A cab drew up at my door. In another
moment, Mayfair, paler than pallor itself, burst, or rather staggered
into the room.

" Madman," I cried, " to leave your bed."

With a ripple of laughter he placed his hand upon my shoulder,
" I'm. the madman am I ? " he murmured, gazing at me, his blue
eyes shining with merriment and admiration, " and you, what
about you ? Oh, my friend, my friend ! Don't speak. Let me
laugh before you explain. You-you-you Napoleon ! Oh ! Oh !
Oh ! They're after you," he added. " You haven't heard ?
The Raja and Kettle were found gagged and bound, and
the gentle Kettle accuses you of the robbery—protests you were his
only visitor during the evening. It was you, wasn't it ? Say
it was you, do ! "

As the words fell from his lips he reeled against me, and would
have fallen had I not caught him in my arms. He was so weak,
he looked so fragile, the collapse after the excitement of the morn-
ing was so complete and so sudden that I determined to keep him
under my roof, and after a deal of persuasion I induced him to

undress,

By Lewis Hind 131

undress, and get into bed, where I left him in charge of
my housekeeper, promising to telegraph immediately to his wife.
I then dropped the stone, not without a shudder, into my pocket
and started for the office. Before I had gone a hundred yards
it became clear to me that I must be rid of the thing at any cost.
The placard bills of the evening papers blazoned the words
" Robbery—Buckingham Palace—Strange Rumours " from every
street corner. There would be the very devil to pay if the stone
were found in my possession. My head ached with attempts to
devise schemes of getting rid of it. The obvious plan was to
drop it down a sewer or over Westminster Bridge—back staircase
schemes all of them, I decided, and outside consideration.

Restore it to the Raja ! I dare not. Who would believe my
yarn that the thing had fallen at my feet from the clouds on a
foggy night in Grosvenor Place ? If only I could hand it to
the Yellow Man, and earn the £5000 ! Impossible. Oh, quite
impossible.

As I drew near the office I found the lamps lighted, and the
streets enveloped in a fog denser even than that of the
previous day. A furtive look played over the hall porter's face,
and the messenger boys were beaming with suppressed excitement.
When I reached my room I found that every drawer and cupboard
had been ransacked. The hall porter, a faithful creature, entered
the room without knocking, crept timorously towards me, and
whispered in my ear : " 'Scuse me, sir, but two men from Scot-
land Yard have been a searching here. Gone to your house now,
sir, and one of them give me the tip, sir, that they would be back
here soon."

I thanked him, locked the door, turned down the gas, and threw
myself upon the sofa. What on earth was I to do with the stone ?
Some sort of decision must be arrived at immediately. The room

was

132 The Enchanted Stone

was in semi-darkness. Fog lurked in the corners. The leaping
fire threw fantastic reflections upon the windo pane. That was
not the sole illumination.

As I lay there thinking, thinking, a sound came to me through
the darkness like a cat scratching upon glass. Raising myself
upon my elbow, I looked hard at the window whence the noise
proceeded, and as I stared, a face, a thin, ascetic face, yellow, like
a Mongolian's, with deep, searching eyes, and a restless mouth,
shaped itself out of the surrounding gloom.

For a moment we stared at one another, and then an idea leapt
into my mind. Slowly I arose from the sofa, lifted the stone
from my coat pocket, and placed it upon the table within a foot
from the window.

The thin scratch, scratch of a diamond cutting through glass fell
upon my ear, then a pane was softly withdrawn from its frame,
and through the opening a long yellow hand extended itself
towards the stone, seized it, and disappeared back into the fog. I
waited breathlessly for the pane to be replaced, but instead five
bank notes fluttered through the opening, and fell upon the table.
Then the glass returned noislessly into position, and the face
disappeared from behind the window.

*****

The above is a true account of the strange chance that brought
the Enchanted Stone into my possession, and the expedient by
which I got rid of it. What I did with the £5000, together with
the wonderful and fruitful adventures that befell the Enchanted
Stone, and all those who became associated with it, I may
perhaps tell at some future time.





MLA citation: Hind, Lewis. "The Enchanted Stone." The Yellow Book 8 (January 1896): 135-51. The Yellow Nineties Online. Ed. Dennis Denisoff and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra. Ryerson University, 2012. Web. [Date of access]. http://1890s.ca/HTML.aspx?s=YBV8_hind_enchanted.html