One day – it was in March 1883 – a letter with a foreign stamp arrived for my uncle, the colonel. It was not common for my uncle to get letters. He paid his bills and did not have any friends. He picked the letter up. `From India!’ he said. `A Pondicherry postmark. What is this about, I wonder?’ He opened it quickly. Out of the letter, fell five little orange pips. I began to laugh, but I stopped when I saw the look on his face. His face was as white as a ghost. `K.K.K!’ he cried, `I have been found out.’
`What is it uncle? ` I cried.
‘Death,’ he said and got up from the table and went to his room. I picked up the letter and looked at it. The three letters – K.K.K – were written in red ink on the paper. There was nothing else but the five orange pips. I left the breakfast table and went up stairs. I met my uncle on the way down; he was holding a rusty metal key and a small brass box.
`I will fight back,’ he said, grimly. `Tell Mary I want a fire in my room today. Then get a lawyer.’
I did as I was told. The lawyer arrived, and I set up the room. The fire was burning brightly and in the middle of it were lots of ashes. The brass box sat open beside the fire. I saw that it had the three letters –`K` – printed on its lid. The same three letters were on my uncle’s letter.
`I want you, John,’ said my uncle to me, `to witness my will. I leave my estate, everything, to my brother, your father. Eventually, it will all be yours. If you can enjoy it, that’s good. If you cannot, then take my advice and give it to your worse enemy. I am sorry to do this, but I must. Just sign your name where the lawyer, Mr Fordham, shows you.’
I signed the paper.