"Then I'll have to call an officer; perhaps he can set us straight." And
he stood up.
"Sit down," she implored. "Let me explain."
"That's the way to talk; you'll find it'll do you good to loosen up,"
and Simpkins sat down, exulting that he was not to miss the most
striking feature of his story. Until it was on the wire for Boston, and
the New York papers had gone to press, he had as little use for officers
as Mrs. Athelstone. "Remember," he added, as he leaned back to listen,
"that I know enough now to pick out any fancy work."
"It's really absurdly simple. The cemented surface of this mummy had
been damaged, as you can see"----Mrs. Athelstone began, but Simpkins
broke in roughly:
"Come, come, there's no use doping out any more of that stuff to me. I
want the facts. Tell me how Doctor Athelstone was killed or the Tombs
for yours." He was on his feet now, shaking his fist at the woman, and
he noticed with satisfaction that she had shrunk back in her chair till
the linen bandages hung loosely across her breast.
"Yes--yes--I'll tell," was the trembling answer; "only do sit down," and
then after a moment's pause, in which she seemed to be striving to
compose herself, she began:
"I, sir, was a queen, Nefruari, whom they called the good and glorious
woman." And she threw back her head proudly and paused.