For a full
minute the two men sat there without moving or speaking. Then the
Tracer laid aside his pencil.
"To sum up," he said,
opening the palm of his left hand and placing the forefinger of
his right across it, "the excavation made by the falling pillar
raised in triumph above the water garden of the deposed king, Meris,
by his rival, was the subterranean house of Meris. The prostrate
figure which crumbled to powder at your touch may have been the
very priest to whom this letter or papyrus was written. Perhaps
the bearer of the scroll was a traitor and stabbed the priest as
he was reading the missive. Who can tell how that priest died? He
either died or betrayed his trust, for he never aroused the little
Samaris from her suspended animation. And the water garden fell
into ruins and she slept; and the Ruler of Upper and Lower Egypt
raised his columns, lotus crowned, above the ruins; and she slept
on. Then—you came."
Burke stared like one stupefied.
"I do not know," said
the Tracer gravely, "what balm there may be in a suspension
of sensation, perhaps of vitality, to protect the human body from
corruption after death. I do not know how soon suspended animation
or the state of hypnotic coma, undisturbed, changes into death—whether
it comes gradually, imperceptibly freeing the soul; whether the
soul hides there, asleep, until suddenly the flame of vitality is
extinguished. I do not know how long she lay there with life in
He leaned back and touched an electric
bell, then, turning to Burke:
"Speaking of pistol range,"
he said, "unstrap those weapons and pass them over, if you
And the young man obeyed as in
"Thank you. There are four
men coming into this room. You will keep your seat, if you please,
After a moment the door opened
noiselessly. Two men handcuffed together entered the room; two men,
hands in their pockets, sauntered carelessly behind the prisoners
and leaned back against the closed door.
"That short, red-haired, lame
man with the cast in his eye—do you recognize him?" asked
the Tracer quietly.
Burke, grasping the arms of his
chair, had started to rise, fury fairly blazing from his eyes; but,
at the sound of the Tracer's calm, even voice, he sank back into
"That is Joram Smiles? You
recognize him?" continued Mr. Keen.
alias Red Jo, alias Big Stick Joram, alias Pinky; swindler, international
confidence man, fence, burglar, gambler; convicted in 1887, and
sent to Sing Sing for forgery; convicted in 1898, and sent to Auburn
for swindling; arrested by my men on board the S. S. Scythian Queen,
at the cabled request of John T. Burke, Esquire, and held to explain
the nature of his luggage, which consisted of the contents of an
Egyptian vault or underground ruin, declared at the customhouse
as a mummy, and passed as such."
The quiet, monotonous voice of
the Tracer halted, then, as he glanced at the second prisoner, grew
"Emanuel Gandon, general international
criminal, with over half a hundred aliases, arrested in company
with Smiles and held until Mr. Burke's arrival."
Turning to Burke, the Tracer continued:
"Fortunately, the Scythian Queen broke down off Brindisi. It
gave us time to act on your cable; we found these men aboard when
she was signaled off the Hook. I went out with the pilot myself,
Smiles shot a wicked look at Burke;
Gandon scowled at the floor.
"Now," said the Tracer
pleasantly, meeting the venomous glare of Smiles, "I'll get
you that warrant you have been demanding to have exhibited to you.
Here it is—charging you and your amiable friend Gandon with
breaking into and robbing the Metropolitan Museum of ancient Egyptian
gold ornaments, in March, 1903, and taking them to France, where
they were sold to collectors. It seems that you found the business
good enough to go prowling about Egypt on a hunt for something to
sell here. A great mistake, my friends—a very great mistake,
because, after the Museum has finished with you, the Egyptian Government
desires to extradite you. And I rather suspect you'll have to go."
He nodded to the two quiet men
leaning against the door.
"Come, Joram," said one
of them pleasantly.
But Smiles turned furiously on
the Tracer. "You lie, you old gray rat!" he cried. "That
ain't no mummy; that's a plain dead girl! And there ain't no extrydition
for body snatchin', so I guess them niggers at Cairo won't get us,
"Perhaps," said the Tracer,
looking at Burke, who had risen, pale and astounded. "Sit down,
Mr. Burke! There is no need to question these men; no need to demand
what they robbed you of. For," he added slowly, "what
they took from the garden grotto of Saïs, and from you, I have
under my own protection."
The Tracer rose, locked the door
through which the prisoners and their escorts had departed; then,
turning gravely on Burke, he continued:
"That panel, there, is a door.
There is a room beyond—a room facing to the south, bright
with sunshine, flowers, soft rugs, and draperies of the East. She
is there—like a child asleep!"
Burke reeled, steadying himself
against the wall; the Tracer stared at space, speaking very slowly:
"Such death I have never before
heard of. From the moment she came under my protection I have dared
to doubt—many things. And an hour ago you brought me a papyrus
scroll confirming my doubts. I doubt still—Heaven knows what!
Who can say how long the flame of life may flicker within suspended
animation? A week? A month? A year? Longer than that? Yes; the Hindoos
have proved it. How long? The span of a normal life? Or longer?
Can the life flame burn indefinitely when the functions are absolutely
suspended—generation after generation, century after century?"
Burke, ghastly white, straightened
up, quivering in every limb; the Tracer, as pale as he, laid his
hand on the secret panel.
"If—if you dare say
it—the phrase is this: 'O Ket Samaris, Nehes!'—'O Little
"I—dare. In Heaven's
name, open that door!"
Then, averting his head, the Tracer
of Lost Persons swung open the panel.
A flood of sunshine flashed on
Burke's face; he entered; and the paneled door closed behind him
without a sound.
Minute after minute passed; the
Tracer stood as though turned to stone, gray head bent.
Then he heard Burke's voice ring
"O Ket Samaris—Samaris!
O Ket Samaris—Nehes!"
And again: "Samaris! Samaris!
O beloved, awake!"
And once more: "Nehes! O Samaris!"
Silence, broken by a strange, sweet,
drowsy plaint—like a child awakened at midnight by a dazzling
Then, through the stillness, a
little laugh, and a softly tremulous voice:
"Ari un aha, O Entuk sen!"