The Mystery of the Clasped Hands
The Mystery of the Clasped Hands
One morning a week or so after the conversation described at the end of the previous chapter, Godfrey Henderson found lying on the table in the studio a long, blue envelope, the writing upon which was of a neat and legal character. He did not own a halfpenny in the world, so what this could mean he was not able to imagine. Animated by a feeling of curiosity he opened the envelope and withdrew the contents. He read the letter through the first time without altogether realizing its meaning; then, with a vague feeling of surprise, he read it again. He had just finished his second perusal of it when Fensden entered the room. He glanced at Godfrey's face, and said, as if in inquiry:
"Anything the matter? You look scared!"
"A most extraordinary thing," returned Godfrey. "You have heard me talk of old Henderson of Detwich?"
"Your father's brother? The old chap who sends you a brace of grouse every season, and asks when you are going to give up being a starving painter and turn your attention to business? What of him?"
"He is dead and buried," answered Godfrey. "This letter is from his lawyer to say that I am his heir, in other words that Detwich passes to me, with fifteen thousand a year on which to keep it up, and that they are awaiting my instructions."
There was a pause which lasted for upward of a quarter of a minute. Then Fensden held out his hand.
"My dear fellow, I am sure I congratulate you most heartily," he said. "I wish you luck with all my heart. The struggling days are over now. For the future you will be able to follow your art as you please. You will also be able to patronize those who are not quite so fortunate. Fifteen thousand a year and a big country place! Whatever will you do with yourself?"
"That is for the Future to decide," Godfrey replied.
That afternoon he paid a visit to the office of the firm of solicitors who had written to him. They corroborated the news contained in their letter, and were both assiduous in their attentions and sincere in their desire to serve him.
Four days later it was arranged that Godfrey and Fensden should start for the Continent. Before doing so, however, the former purchased a neat little gold watch and chain which he presented to Teresina, accompanied by a cheque equivalent to six months' salary, calculated at the rate she had been receiving.
"Don't forget me, Teresina," he said, as he looked round the now dismantled studio. "Let me know how you get on, and remember if ever you want a friend I shall be only too glad to serve you."
At that moment Fensden hailed him from the cab outside, bidding him hurry, or he feared they would miss their train. Godfrey accordingly held out his hand.
"Good-bye," he said, and though he would have given worlds to have prevented it, a lump rose in his throat as he said it, and his voice was so shaky that he felt sure she must notice it.
Then, bidding her give the key to the landlord when she left the studio, he went out into the street, and jumped into a cab, which next moment started off for the station. How was he to know that Teresina was lying in a dead faint upon the studio floor?
When they left England for the Continent Godfrey had only the vaguest notion of what they were going to do after they left Paris. Having spent a fortnight in the French capital they journeyed on to Switzerland, put in a month at Lucerne, three weeks in Rome, and found themselves, in the middle of November, at Luxor, looking upon the rolling waters of the Nile. Their sketch books were surfeited with impressions, and they themselves were filled with a great content. They had both visited the Continent on numerous occasions before, but this was the first time that they had made the acquaintance of the "Land of the Pharaohs." Godfrey was delighted with everything he saw, and already he had