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The Green Curse
by [?]

The American Medici disappeared into his main library, where Miss White was making a minute examination to determine what damage had been done in the realm over which she presided.

“Apparently every book with a green binding has been mutilated in some way,” resumed Dr. Lith, “but that was only the beginning. Others have suffered, too, and some are even gone. It is impossible that any visitor could have done it. Only a few personal friends of Mr. Spencer are ever admitted here, and they are never alone. No, it is weird, mysterious.”

Just then Spencer returned with Miss White. She was an extremely attractive girl, slight of figure, but with an air about her that all the imported gowns in New York could not have conferred. They were engaged in animated conversation, so much in contrast with the bored air with which Spencer had listened to Dr. Lith that even I noticed that the connoisseur was completely obliterated in the man, whose love of beauty was by no means confined to the inanimate. I wondered if it was merely his interest in her story that impelled Spencer. The more I watched the girl the more I was convinced that she knew that she was interesting to the millionaire.

“For example,” Dr. Lith was saying, “the famous collection of emeralds which has disappeared has always been what you Americans call ‘hoodooed.’ They hare always brought ill luck, and, like many things of the sort to which superstition attaches, they have been ‘banked,’ so to speak, by their successive owners in museums.”

“Are they salable; that is, could any one dispose of the emeralds or the other curios with reasonable safety and at a good price?”

“Oh, yes, yes,” hastened Dr. Lith, “not as collections, but separately. The emeralds alone cost fifty thousand dollars. I believe Mr. Spencer bought them for Mrs. Spencer some years before she died. She did not care to wear them, however, and had them placed here.”

I thought I noticed a shade of annoyance cross the face of the magnate. “Never mind that,” he interrupted. “Let me introduce Miss White. I think you will find her story one of the most uncanny you have ever heard.”

He had placed a chair for her and, still addressing us but looking at her, went on: “It seems that the morning the vandalism was first discovered she and Dr. Lith at once began a thorough search of the building to ascertain the extent of the depredations. The search lasted all day, and well into the night. I believe it was midnight before you finished?”

“It was almost twelve,” began the girl, in a musical voice that was too Parisian to harmonize with her plain Anglo-Saxon name, “when Dr. Lith was down here in his office checking off the objects in the catalogue which were either injured or missing. I had been working in the library. The noise of something like a shade flapping in the wind attracted my attention. I listened. It seemed to come from the art-gallery, a large room up-stairs where some of the greatest masterpieces in this country are hung. I hurried up there.

“Just as I reached the door a strange feeling seemed to come over me that I was not alone in that room. I fumbled for the electric light switch, but in my nervousness could not find it. There was just enough light in the room to make out objects indistinctly. I thought I heard a low, moaning sound from an old Flemish copper ewer near me. I had heard that it was supposed to groan at night.”

She paused and shuddered at her recollection, and looked about as if grateful for the flood of electric light that now illuminated everything. Spencer reached over and touched her arm to encourage her to go on. She did not seem to resent the touch.

“Opposite me, in the middle of the open floor,” she resumed, her eyes dilated and her breath coming and going rapidly, “stood the mummy-case of Ka, an Egyptian priestess of Thebes, I think. The case was empty, but on the lid was painted a picture of the priestess! Such wonderful eyes! They seem to pierce right through your very soul. Often in the daytime I have stolen off to look at them. But at night–remember the hour of night, too–oh, it was awful, terrible. The lid of the mummy-case moved, yes, really moved, and seemed to float to one side. I could see it. And back of that carved and painted face with the piercing eyes was another face, a real face, real eyes, and they looked out at me with such hatred from the place that I knew was empty–“