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"I'm afraid we've neglected the Senorita a bit, in our efforts to follow up what clues we have in the case," remarked Kennedy, as we rode uptown again. "She needs all the protection we can give her. I think we'd better drop around there, now that she is pretty likely to be left alone."
Accordingly, instead of going back to the laboratory, we dropped off near the apartment of the Mendozas and walked over from the subway.
As we turned the corner, far down the long block I could see the entrance to the apartment.
"There she is now," I said to Kennedy, catching sight of her familiar figure, clad in sombre black, as she came down the steps. "I wonder where she can be going."
She turned at the foot of the steps and, as chance would have it, started in the opposite direction from us.
"Let us see," answered Kennedy, quickening his pace.
She had not gone very far before a man seemed to spring up from nowhere and meet her. He bowed, and walked along beside her.
"De Moche," recognized Kennedy.
Alfonso had evidently been waiting in the shadow of an entrance down the street, perhaps hoping to see her, perhaps as our newspaper friend had seen before, to watch whether Lockwood was among her callers. As we walked along, we could see the little drama with practically no fear of being seen, so earnestly were they talking.
Even during the few minutes that the Senorita was talking with him no one would have needed to be told that she really had a great deal of regard for him, whatever might be her feelings toward Lockwood.
"I should say that she wants to see him, yet does not want to see him," observed Kennedy, as we came closer.
She seemed now to have become restive and impatient, eager to cut the conversation short.
It was quite evident at the same time that Alfonso was deeply in love with her, that though she tried to put him off he was persistent. I wondered whether, after all, some of the trouble had not been that during his lifetime the proud old Castilian Don Luis could never have consented to the marriage of his daughter to one of Indian blood. Had he left a legacy of fear of a love forbidden by race prejudice?
In any event, the manner of Alfonso's actions about the Mendoza apartment was such that one could easily imagine his feelings toward Lockwood, whom he saw carrying off the prize under his very eyes.
As for his mother, the Senora, we had already seen that Peruvians of her caste were also a proud old race. Her son was the apple of her eye. Might not some of her feelings be readily accounted for? Who were these to scorn her race, her family?
We had walked along at a pace that finally brought us up with them. As Kennedy and I bowed, Alfonso seemed at first to resent our intrusion, while Inez seemed rather to welcome it as a diversion.
"Can we not expect you?" the young man repeated. "It will be only for a few minutes this afternoon, and my mother has something of very great importance to tell."
He was half pleading, half apologizing. Inez glanced hastily around at Kennedy, uncertain what to say, and hoping that he might indicate some course. Surreptitiously, Kennedy nodded an affirmative.
"Very well, then," she replied reluctantly, not to seem to change what had been her past refusal too suddenly. "I may ask Professor Kennedy, too?"
He could scarcely refuse before us. "Of course," he agreed, quickly turning to us. "We were speaking about meeting this afternoon at four in the tea room of the Prince Edward. You can come?"
Though the invitation was not over-gracious, Kennedy replied, "We should be delighted to accompany Miss Inez, I am sure. We happened to be passing this way and thought we would stop in to see if anything new had happened. Just as we turned the corner we saw you disappearing down the street, and followed. I trust everything is all right?"
"Nothing more has happened since this morning," she returned, with a look that indicated she understood that Kennedy referred to the anonymous letter. "I had a little shopping to do. If you will excuse me, I think I will take a car. This afternoon--at four."
She nodded brightly as we assisted her into a taxicab and left us three standing there on the curb. For a moment it was rather awkward. To Alfonso her leaving was somewhat as though the sun had passed under a cloud.
"Are you going up toward the University?" inquired Kennedy.
"Yes," responded the young man reluctantly.
"Then suppose we walk. It would take only a few more minutes," suggested Kennedy.
Alfonso could not very well refuse, but started off at a brisk pace.
"I suppose these troubles interfere seriously with your work," pursued Craig, as we fell into his stride.
"Yes," he admitted, "although much of my work just now is only polishing off what I have already learned--getting your American point of view and methods. You see, I have had an idea that the canal will bring both countries into much closer relations than before. And if you will not learn of us, we must learn of you."
"It is too bad we Americans don't take more interest in the countries south of us," admitted Craig. "I think you have the right idea, though. Such men as Mr. Whitney are doing their best to bring the two nations closer together."
I watched the effect of the mention of Whitney's name. It seemed distasteful, only in a lesser degree than Lockwood's.
"We do not need to be exploited," he ventured. "My belief is that we should not attract capital in order to take things out of the country. If we might keep our own earnings and transform them into capital, it would be better. That is why I am doing what I am at the University."
I could not believe that it explained the whole reason for his presence in New York. Without a doubt the girl who had just left us weighed largely in his mind, as well as his and his mother's ambitions, both personal and for Peru.
"Quite reasonable," accepted Kennedy. "Peru for the Peruvians. Yet there seems to be such untold wealth in the country that taking out even quite large sums would not begin to exhaust the natural resources."
"But they are ours, they belong to us," hastened de Moche, then caught the drift of Kennedy's remarks, and was on his guard.
"Buried treasure, like that which you call the Gold of the Gods, is always fascinating," continued Kennedy. "The trouble with such easy money, however, is that it tends to corrupt. In the early days history records its taint. And I doubt whether human nature has changed much under the veneer of modern civilization. The treasure seems to leave its trail even as far away as New York. It has at least one murder to its credit already."
"There has been nothing but murder and robbery from the time that the peje chica was discovered," asserted the young man sadly. "You are quite right."
"Truly it would seem to have been cursed," added Craig. "The spirit of Mansiche must, indeed, watch over it. I suppose you know of the loss of the old Inca dagger from the University Museum and that it was that with which Don Luis was murdered?"
It was the first time Kennedy had broached the subject to de Moche, and I watched closely to see what was its effect.
"Perhaps it was a warning," commented Alfonso, in a solemn tone, that left me in doubt whether it was purely superstitious dread or in the nature of a prophecy of what might be expected from some quarter of which we were ignorant.
"You have known of the existence of the dagger always, I presume," continued Kennedy. "Have you or any one you know ever sought to discover its secret and search it out?"
"I think my mother told you we never dig for treasure," he answered. "It would be sacrilegious. Besides, there is more treasure buried by nature than that dedicated to the gods. There is only one trouble that may hurt our natural resources--the get- rich-quick promoter. I would advise looking out for him. He flourishes in a newly opened country like Peru. That curse, I suppose, is much better understood by Americans than the curse of Mansiche. But as for me, you must remember that the curse is part of my religion, as it were."
We had reached the campus by this time, and parted at the gate, each to go his way.
"You will drop in on me if you hear anything?" invited Craig.
"Yes," promised Alfonso. "We shall see you at four."
With this parting reminder he turned toward the School of Mines while we debouched off toward the Chemistry Building.
"The de Moches are nobody's tools," I remarked. "That young man seems to have a pretty definite idea of what he wants to do."
"At least he puts it so before us," was all that Kennedy would grant. "He seems to be as well informed of what passed at that visit to the Senora as though he had been there too."
We had scarcely opened the laboratory door when the ringing of the telephone told us that some one had been trying to get in touch for some time.
"It was Norton," said Kennedy, hanging up the receiver. "I imagine he wants to know what happened after we left him and went up to see Whitney."
That was, in fact, just what Norton wanted, as well as to make clear to us how he felt on the subject.
"Really, Kennedy," he remarked, "it must be fine to feel that your chair in the University is endowed rather than subsidized. You saw how Whitney acted, you say. Why, he makes me feel as if I were his hired man, instead of head of the University's expedition. I'm glad it's over. Still, if you could find that dagger and have it returned it might look better for me. You have no clue, I suppose?"
"I'm getting closer to one," replied Craig confidently, though on what he could base any optimism I could not see.
The same idea seemed to be in Norton's mind. "You think you will have something tangible soon?" he asked eagerly.
"I've had more slender threads than these to work on," reassured Kennedy. "Besides, I'm getting very little help from any of you. You yourself, Norton, at the start left me a good deal in the dark over the history of the dagger."
"I couldn't do otherwise," he defended. "You understand now, I guess, how I have always been tied, hand and foot, by the Whitney influence. You'll find that I can be of more service, now."
"Just how did you get possession of the dagger?" asked Kennedy, and there flashed over me the recollection of the story told by the Senora, as well as the letter which we had purloined.
"Just picked it up from an Indian who had an abnormal dislike to work. They said he was crazy, and I guess perhaps he was. At any rate, he later drowned himself in the lake, I have heard."
"Could he have been made insane, do you think?" ruminated Craig. "It's possible that he was the victim of somebody, I understand. The insanity might have been real enough without the cause being natural."
"That's an interesting story," returned Norton. "Offhand, I can't seem to recall much about the fellow, although some one else might have known him very well."
Evidently he either did not know the tale as well as the Senora, or was not prepared to take us entirely into his confidence.
"Who is Haggerty?" asked Craig, thinking of the name signed to the letter we had read.
"An agent of Whitney and his associates, who manages things in Lima," explained Norton. "Why?"
"Nothing--only I have heard the name and wondered what his connection might be. I understand better now."
Kennedy seemed to be anxious to get to work on something, and, after a few minutes, Norton left us.
No sooner had the door closed than he took the glass-bell jar off his microscope and drew from a table drawer several scraps of paper on which I recognized the marks left by the carbon sheets. He set to work on another of those painstaking tasks of examination, and I retired to my typewriter, which I had moved into the next room, in order to leave Kennedy without anything that might distract attention from his work.
One after another he examined the sheets which he had marked, starting with a hand-lens and then using one more powerful. At the top of the table lay the specially prepared paper on which he had caught and preserved the marks in the dust of the Egyptian sarcophagus in the Museum.
Besides these things, I noticed that he had innumerable photographs, many of which were labelled with the stamp of the bureau in the Paris Palais de Justice, over which Bertillon had presided.
One after another he looked at the carbon prints, comparing them point by point with the specially prepared copy of the shoe-prints in the sarcophagus. It was, after all, a comparatively simple job. We had the prints of de Moche and Lockwood, as well as Whitney, all of them crossed by steps from Norton.
"Well, what do you think of that?" I heard him mutter.
I quit my typewriter, with a piece of paper still in it, and hurried into the main room.
"Have you found anything?"
"I should say I had," he replied, in a tone that betrayed his own astonishment at the find. "Look at that," he indicated to me, handing over one of the sheets. "Compare it with this Museum foot- print."
With his pencil Kennedy rapidly indicated the tell-tale points of similarity on the two shoe-prints.
I looked up at him, convinced now of some one's identity.
"Who was it?" I asked, unable to restrain myself longer.
Kennedy paused a minute, to let the importance of the surprise be understood.
"The man who entered the Museum and concealed himself in the sarcophagus in the Egyptian section adjoining Norton's treasures," replied Kennedy slowly, "was Lockwood himself!"
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