When Lord Emsworth, sighting Mr. Peters in the group of returned churchgoers, drew him aside and broke the news that the valuable scarab, so kindly presented by him to the castle museum, had been stolen in the night by some person unknown, he thought the millionaire took it exceedingly well. Though the stolen object no longer belonged to him, Mr. Peters no doubt still continued to take an affectionate interest in it and might have been excused had he shown annoyance that his gift had been so carelessly guarded.

Mr. Peters was, however, thoroughly magnanimous about the matter. He deprecated the notion that the earl could possibly have prevented this unfortunate occurrence. He quite understood. He was not in the least hurt. Nobody could have foreseen such a calamity. These things happened and one had to accept them. He himself had once suffered in much the same way, the gem of his collection having been removed almost beneath his eyes in the smoothest possible fashion.

Altogether, he relieved Lord Emsworth’s mind very much; and when he had finished doing so he departed swiftly and rang for Ashe. When Ashe arrived he bubbled over with enthusiasm. He was lyrical in his praise. He went so far as to slap Ashe on the back. It was only when the latter disclaimed all credit for what had occurred that he checked the flow of approbation.

“It wasn’t you who got it? Who was it, then?”

“It was Miss Peters’ maid. It’s a long story; but we were working in partnership. I tried for the thing and failed, and she succeeded.”

It was with mixed feelings that Ashe listened while Mr. Peters transferred his adjectives of commendation to Joan. He admired Joan’s courage, he was relieved that her venture had ended without disaster, and he knew that she deserved whatever anyone could find to say in praise of her enterprise: but, at first, though he tried to crush it down, he could not help feeling a certain amount of chagrin that a girl should have succeeded where he, though having the advantage of first chance, had failed. The terms of his partnership with Joan had jarred on him from the beginning.

A man may be in sympathy with the modern movement for the emancipation of woman and yet feel aggrieved when a mere girl proves herself a more efficient thief than himself. Woman is invading man’s sphere more successfully every day; but there are still certain fields in which man may consider that he is rightfully entitled to a monopoly⁠—and the purloining of scarabs in the watches of the night is surely one of them. Joan, in Ashe’s opinion, should have played a meeker and less active part.

These unworthy emotions did not last long. Whatever his other shortcomings, Ashe possessed a just mind. By the time he had found Joan, after Mr. Peters had said his say, and dispatched him below stairs for that purpose, he had purged himself of petty regrets and was prepared to congratulate her wholeheartedly. He was, however, resolved that nothing should induce him to share in the reward. On that point, he resolved, he would refuse to be shaken.

“I have just left Mr. Peters,” he began. “All is well. His check book lies before him on the table and he is trying to make his fountain pen work long enough to write a check. But there is just one thing I want to say⁠—”

She interrupted him. To his surprise, she was eyeing him coldly and with disapproval.

“And there is just one thing I want to say,” she said; “and that is, if you imagine I shall consent to accept a penny of the reward⁠—”

“Exactly what I was going to say. Of course I couldn’t dream of taking any of it.”

“I don’t understand you. You are certainly going to have it all. I told you when we made our agreement that I should only take my share if you let me do my share of the work. Now that you have broken that agreement, nothing could induce me to take it. I know you meant it kindly, Mr. Marson, but I simply can’t feel grateful. I told you that ours was a business contract and that I wouldn’t have any chivalry; and I thought that after you had given me your promise⁠—”

“One moment,” said Ashe, bewildered. “I can’t follow this. What do you mean?”

“What do I mean? Why, that you went down to the museum last night before me and took the scarab, though you had promised to stay away and give me my chance.”

“But I didn’t do anything of the sort.”

It was Joan’s turn to look bewildered.

“But you have got the scarab, Mr. Marson?”

“Why, you have got it!”


“But⁠—but it has gone!”

“I know. I went down to the museum last night, as we had arranged; and when I got there there was no scarab. It had disappeared.”

They looked at each other in consternation. Ashe was the first to speak.

“It was gone when you got to the museum?”

“There wasn’t a trace of it. I took it for granted that you had been down before me. I was furious!”

“But this is ridiculous!” said Ashe. “Who can have taken it? There was nobody beside ourselves who knew Mr. Peters was offering the reward. What exactly happened last night?”

“I waited until one o’clock. Then I slipped down, got into the museum, struck a match, and looked for the scarab. It wasn’t there. I couldn’t believe it at first. I struck some more matches⁠—quite a number⁠—but it was no good. The scarab was gone; so I went back to bed and thought hard thoughts about you. It was silly of me. I ought to have known you would not break your word; but there didn’t seem any other solution of the thing’s disappearance.

“Well, somebody must have taken it; and the question is, what are we to do?” She laughed. “It seems to me that we were a little premature in quarreling about how we are to divide that reward. It looks as though there wasn’t going to be any reward.”

“Meantime,” said Ashe gloomily, “I suppose I have got to go back and tell Peters. I expect it will break his heart.”