The Ruby In The Smoke
In October 1872, 16-year old Sally Lockhart, daughter of late Mathew Lockhart, who had drowned in the South China Sea, gets a puzzling letter asking her to beware of The Seven Blessings and seek help from Marchbank. Sally, now orphaned, lives with Aunt Caroline who loses no opportunity to show how much she detests her. She asks Mr.Higgs of Lockhart and Selby whether he has heard of The Seven Blessings. Mr. Higgs collapses and dies. A stunned sally befriends the porter Jim Taylor. Reading the news of Mr.Higg?s death in a newspaper, Major Marchbank calls Sally and hands her a packet. He also warns her that her life is in danger and one, Mrs.Holland, is her enemy. Truly, Sally notices an old woman following her. She takes the help of Frederic Garland, a young and kind photographic artist. The two take a liking for each other. Returning in a train, Sally opens the packet. It contains a diary that narrates about the Indian Mutiny, the ruby of Agrapur and the part played by a child Sally Lockhart. When about to disembark the train Sally finds the jauntily dressed man, earlier sitting opposite, gone and the diary stolen. However, she finds a page left lying on the floor.In the meantime, a sailor Mathew Bedwell arrives and lodges at old and sinister Mrs.Holland?s. He is a drug addict. In delirium he blabbers the name of Lockhart, which makes Mrs.Holland very curious. He also tells servant Adelaid that he is on the lookout for Sally, the daughter of Mathew Lockhart. From Adelaid the porter Jim Taylor learns that she has heard of The Seven Blessings and that Mr.Bedwell has some information for Sally Lockhart. He passes on the information to Sally. He also tells her about Bedwell?s twin brother, a parson Rev.Nicholas Bedwell.One night Sally?s room is burgled. When she tells this to Aunt Caroline, the aunt ridicules her. In a huff Sally leaves the house. But where can she go now? The photo-artist Frederic Garland and his beautiful but temperamental sister Rosa,a theatre actress, accommodate Sally not only in their house but also in their lives. While the brother-sister duo help Sally in finding a solution to the mysteries, Sally, in turn, helps them with accounts and running business profitably. Sally finds her new family happy and immensely active. Frederick and Sally locate Rev. Nicholas Bedwell?s address. While Sally visits the Reverent, Frederic stays out taking photos. Rev. Bedwell is happy to learn that his twin brother is still alive. As a twin he had always felt that this was so. He is shocked to know that his brother is now an addict. If anyone can take Mathew Bedwell out of Mrs. Holland?s lodgings, it is Rev. Nicholas. He decides with Sally that he would go to her place the following Friday and they would rescue his opium-addict brother. The Curate asks Sally to procure certain quantity of the drug on his behalf. Back home, Sally tells everyone how the rooms and the space in the house could be put to profitable use and how Frederic can take dramatic pictures that would sell well. All are fired with enthusiasm. On Friday Rev.Nicholas and Frederic take a cab to Mrs. Holland?s lodge to bring his addict twin brother. But Mrs. Holland?s house is locked. While Rev. Nicholas keeps knocking and making noise, Frederic stealthily climbs in and opens the door.The Curate meets his twin brother and becomes emotional. Frederic and the Reverend begin to get Mr. Bedwell ready for accompanying them. The servant girl Adelaid, who was warned not to open the door for anyone, is certain that ?Madam? would kill her if she finds Mr. Bedwell gone. Just then they hear Mrs.Holland arriving. Rev. Nicholas, the look-alike twin, takes the place of his opium addict brother and Frederic takes out Mr. Bedwell and a scared Adelaid through the back. The house of Frederic and Rosa is now full to the brim. Even Rev Nicholas has returned after a good fight with Mrs. Holland?s accomplices. Recovering a little Mr.Bedwell narrates the tale of the schooner?s sinking, Sally?s father dying, the smuggling racket that?s going on and the secret societies that are engaged in evil. Mrs.Holland has meanwhile deciphered the clues given in the last page of the diary stolen from Sally. She locates the box in which the ruby is supposed to be placed. But the box is empty. Mrs.Holland locates Sally?s whereabouts. She comes and forcefully takes away the servant girl Adelaid. However Frederick follows her and manages to rescue Adelaid from the old woman?s clutches, but not without a strong fight. Sally is now desperate.She wants to find the ruby and end the matter once for all. To her surprise the beautiful and temperamental Rosa brings and places the ruby in front of her. The porter Jim Taylor, from his experience of reading mystery books, had guessed the clue and nipped the ruby before Mrs.Holland could reach the box in which it was kept hidden. A well thought out trap from Sally brings her face to face with Mrs.Holland. What happens to the ruby makes the satisfying end of this bewitching novel.