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Roden's Corner by Henry Seton Merriman

Part 5 out of 5

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snap. The audit of the malgamite books was over.

"It is a wonderful piece of single-handed bookkeeping," he said to

Cornish was studying the paper set before him by the banker. The
proceedings seemed to have been prearranged, for no word was exchanged.
There was no consultation on either side. Finally, Cornish folded the
paper and tore it into a hundred pieces in scrupulous adherence to Von
Holzen's conditions. Mr. Wade was sitting back in his chair
thoughtfully amusing himself with his gold pencil-case. Cornish looked
at him for a moment, and then spoke, addressing Von Holzen.

"We came here to make a final proposal to you," he said; "to place
before you, in fact, our ultimatum. We do not pretend to conceal from
you the fact that we are anxious to avoid all publicity, all scandal.
But if you drive us to it, we shall unhesitatingly face both in order
to close these works. We do not want the Malgamite scheme to be dragged
as a charity in the mud, because it will inevitably drag other
charities with it. There are certain names connected with the scheme
which we should prefer; moreover, to keep from the clutches of the
cheaper democratic newspapers. We know the weakness of our position.

"And we know the strength of ours," put in Von Holzen, quietly.

"Yes. We recognize that also. You have hitherto slipped in between
international laws, and between the laws of men. Legally, we should
have difficulty in getting at you, but it can be done. Financially----"
He paused, and looked at Mr. Wade.

"Financially," said the banker, without lifting his eyes from his
pencil case, "we shall in the long run inevitably smash you--though the
books are all right."

Roden smiled, with his long white fingers at his moustache.

"From the figures supplied to me by Mr. Wade," continued Cornish, "I
see that there is an enormous profit lying idle--so large a profit that
even between ourselves it is better not mentioned. There are, or there
were yesterday, two hundred and ninety-two malgamite makers in active

Von Holzen made an involuntary movement, and Cornish looked at him over
the pile of books. "Oh!" he said, "I know that. And I know the number
of deaths. Perhaps you have not kept count, but I have. From the
figures supplied by Mr. Wade, I see, therefore, that we have sufficient
to pension off these two hundred and ninety-two men and their
families--giving each man one hundred and twenty pounds a year. We can
also make provision for the widows and orphans out of the sum I propose
to withdraw from the profits. There will then be left a sum
representing two large fortunes--of say between three and four thousand
a year each. Will you and Mr. Roden accept this sum, dividing it as you
think fit, and hand over the works to me? We ask, you to take it--no
questions asked, and go."

"And Lord Ferriby?" suggested Von Holzen.

Major White made a sudden movement, but Cornish laid his hand quickly
upon the soldier's arm.

"I will manage Lord Ferriby. What is your answer?"

"No," replied Von Holzen, instantly, as if he had long known what the
ultimatum would be.

Cornish turned interrogatively to Roden. His eyes urged Roden to

"No," was the reply.

Mr. Wade took out his large gold watch and looked at it.

"Then there is no need," he said composedly, "to detain these gentlemen
any longer."



"The world will not believe a man repents.
And this wise world of ours is mainly right."

"Then you are of opinion, my dear White, that one cannot well refuse to
meet these--er--persons?"

"Not," replied Major White to Lord Ferriby, whose hand rested on his
stout arm as they walked with dignity in the shade of the trees that
border the Vyver--that quaint old fish-pond of The Hague--"not without
running the risk of being called a d----d swindler."

For the major was a lamentably plain-spoken man, who said but little,
and said that little strong. Lord Ferriby's affectionate grasp of the
soldier's arm relaxed imperceptibly. One must, he reflected, be
prepared to meet unpleasantness in the good cause of charity--but there
are words hardly applicable to the peerage, and Major White had made
use of one of these.

"Public opinion," observed the major, after some minutes of deep
thought, "is a difficult thing to deal with--'cos you cannot thump the

"It is notably hard," said his lordship, firing off one of his pet
platform platitudes, "to induce the public to form a correct estimate,
or what one takes to be a correct estimate."

"Especially of one's self," added the major, looking across the water
towards the Binnenhof in his vacant way.

Then they turned and walked back again beneath the heavy shade of the
trees. The conversation, and indeed this dignified promenade on the
Vyverberg, had been brought about by a letter which his lordship had
received that same morning inviting him to attend a meeting of
paper-makers and others interested in the malgamite trade to consider
the position of the malgamite charity, and the advisability of taking
legal proceedings to close the works on the dunes at Scheveningen. The
meeting was to be held at the Hotel des Indes, at three in the
afternoon, and the conveners hinted pretty plainly that the proceedings
would be of a decisive nature. The letter left Lord Ferriby with a
vague feeling of discomfort. His position was somewhat isolated. A
coldness had for some time been in existence between himself and his
nephew, Tony Cornish. Of Mr. Wade, Lord Ferriby was slightly

"These commercial men," he often said, "are apt to hold such narrow

And, indeed, to steer a straight course through life, one must not look
to one side or the other.

There remained Major White, of whom Lord Ferriby had thought more
highly since Fortune had called this plain soldier to take a seat among
the gods of the British public. For no man is proof against the
satisfaction of being able to call a celebrated person by his Christian
name. The major had long admired Joan, in his stupid way from, as one
might say, the other side of the room. But neither Lord nor Lady
Ferriby had encouraged this silent suit. Joan was theoretically one of
those of whom it is said that "she might marry anybody," and who, as
the keen observer may see for himself, often finishes by failing to
marry at all. She was pretty and popular, and had, moreover, the
_entree_ to the best houses. White had been useful to Lord Ferriby ever
since the inauguration of the Malgamite scheme. He was not
uncomfortably clever, like Tony Cornish. He was an excellent buffer at
jarring periods. Since the arrival of Joan and her father at The Hague,
the major had been almost a necessity in their daily life, and now,
quite suddenly, Lord Ferriby found that this was the only person to
whom he could turn for advice or support.

"One cannot suppose," he said, in the full conviction that words will
meet any emergency--"One cannot suppose that Von Holzen will act in
direct opposition to the voice of the majority."

"Von Holzen," replied the major, "plays a doocid good game."

After luncheon they walked across the Toornoifeld to the Hotel des
Indes, and there, in a small _salon_, found a number of gentlemen
seated round a table. Mr. Wade was conspicuous by his absence. They
had, indeed, left him in the hotel garden, sitting at the consumption
of an excellent cigar.

"Join the jocund dance?" the major had inquired, with a jerk of the
head towards the Hotel des Indes. But Mr. Wade was going for a drive
with Marguerite.

Tony Cornish was, however, seated at the table, and the major
recognized two paper-makers whom he had seen before. One was an
aggressive, red-headed man, of square shoulders and a dogged
appearance, who had "radical" written all over him. The other was a
mild-mannered person, with a thin, ash-colored moustache.
The major nodded affably. He distinctly remembered offering to fight
these two gentlemen either together or one after the other on the
landing of the little malgamite office in Westminster. And there was a
faint twinkle behind the major's eyeglass as he saluted them.

"Good morning, Thompson," he said. "How do, MacHewlett?" For he never
forgot a face or a name.

"A'hm thinking----" Mr. MacHewlett was observing, but his thoughts died
a natural death at the sight of a real lord, and he rose and bowed. Mr.
Thompson remained seated and made that posture as aggressive and
obvious as possible. The remainder of the company were of varied
nationality and appearance, while one, a Frenchman of keen dark eyes
and a trim beard--seemed by tacit understanding to be the acknowledged
leader. Even the pushing Mr. Thompson silently deferred to him by a
gesture that served at once to introduce Lord Ferriby and invite the
Frenchman to up and smite him.

Lord Ferriby took the seat that had been left vacant for him at the
head of the table. He looked around upon faces not too friendly.
"We were saying, my lord," said the Frenchman, in perfect English and
with that graceful tact which belongs to France alone, "that we have
all been the victims of an unfortunate chain of misunderstandings.
Had the organizers of this great charity consulted a few paper-makers
before inaugurating the works at Scheveningen, much unpleasantness
might have been averted, many lives might, alas, have been spared.
But--well--such mundane persons as ourselves were probably unknown to
you and unthought-of; the milk is spilt, is it not so? Let us rather
think of the future."

Lord Ferriby bowed graciously, and Mr. Thompson moved impatiently on
his chair. The suave method had no attractions for him.

"A'hm thinking," began Mr. MacHewlett, in his most plaintive voice, and
commanded so sudden and universal an attention as to be obviously
disconcerted, "his lordship'll need plainer speech than that," he
muttered hastily, and subsided, with an uneasy glance in the direction
of that man of action, Major White.

"One misunderstanding has, however, been happily dispelled," said the
Frenchman, "by our friend--if monsieur will permit the word--our friend,
Mr. Cornish. From this gentleman we have learned that the executive of
the Malgamite Charity are not by any means in harmony with the
executive of the malgamite works at Scheveningen; that, indeed, the
charity repudiates the action of its servants in manufacturing
malgamite by a dangerous process tacitly and humanely set aside by
makers up to this time; that the administrators of the fund are no
party to the 'corner' which has been established in the product; do not
desire to secure a monopoly, and disapprove of the sale of malgamite at
a price which has already closed one or two of the smaller mills, and
is paralyzing the paper trade of the world."

The speaker finished with a bow towards Cornish, and resumed his seat.
All were watching Lord Ferriby's face, except Major White, who examined
a quill pen with short-sighted absorption. Lord Ferriby looked across
the table at Cornish.

"Lord Ferriby," said Cornish, without rising from his seat, and meeting
his uncle's glance steadily, "will now no doubt confirm all that
Monsieur Creil has said."

Lord Ferriby had, in truth, come to the meeting with no such intention.
He had, with all his vast experience, no knowledge of a purely
commercial assembly such as this. His public had hitherto been a
drawing-room public. He was accustomed to a flower-decked platform,
from which to deliver his flowing periods to the emotional of both
sexes. There were no flowers in this room at the Hotel des Indes, and
the men before him were not of the emotional school. They were, on the
contrary, plain, hard-headed men of business, who had come from
different parts of the world at Cornish's bidding to meet a crisis in a
plain, hard-headed way. They had only thoughts of their balance-sheets,
and not of the fact that they held in the hollow of their hands the
lives of hundreds, nay, of thousands, of men, women, and children.
Monsieur Creil alone, the keen-eyed Frenchman, had absolute control of
over three thousand employees--married men with children--but he did not
think of mentioning the fact. And it is a weight to carry about with
one--to go to sleep with and to awake with in the morning--the charge
of, say, nine thousand human lives.

For a few moments Lord Ferriby was silent. Cornish watched him across
the table. He knew that his uncle was no fool, although his wisdom
amounted to little more than the wisdom of the worldly. Would Lord
Ferriby recognize the situation in time? There was a wavering look in
the great man's eye that made his nephew suddenly anxious. Then Lord
Ferriby rose slowly, to make the shortest speech that he had ever made
in his life.

"Gentlemen," he said, "I beg to confirm what has just been said."

As he sat down again, Cornish gave a sharp sigh of relief. In a moment
Mr. Thompson was on his feet, his red face alight with democratic anger.

"This won't do," he cried. "Let's have done with palavering and talk.
Let's get to plain speaking."

And it was not Lord Ferriby, but Tony Cornish, who rose to meet the

"If you will sit down," he said, "and keep your temper, you shall have
plain speaking, and we can get to business. But if you do neither, I
shall turn you out of the room."


"Yes," answered Tony. And something which Mr. Thompson did not
understand made him resume his seat in silence. The Frenchman smiled,
and took up his speech where he had left it.

"Mr. Cornish," he said, "speaks with authority. We are, gentlemen, in
the hands of Mr. Cornish, and in good hands. He has this matter at the
tips of his fingers. He has devoted himself to it for many months past,
at considerable risk, as I suspect, to his own safety. We and the
thousands of employees whom we represent cannot do better than entrust
the situation to him, and give him a free hand. For once, capital and
labour have a common interest----"

He was again interrupted by Mr. Thompson, who spoke more quietly now.

"It seems to me," he said, "that we may well consider the past for a
few minutes before passing on to the future. There's more than a
million pounds profit, at the lowest reckoning, on the last few months'
manufacture. Question is, where is that profit? Is this a charity, or
is it not? Mr. Cornish is all very well in his way. But we're not
fools. We're men of business, and as such can only presume that Mr.
Cornish, like the rest of 'em, has had his share. Question is, where
are the profits?"

Major White rose slowly. He was seated beside Mr. Thompson, and,
standing up, towered above him. He looked down at the irate red face
with a calm and wondering eye.

"Question is," he said gravely, "where the deuce you will be in a few
minutes if you don't shut up."

Whereupon Mr. Thompson once more resumed his seat. He had the
satisfaction, however, of perceiving that his shaft had reached its
mark; for Lord Ferriby looked disconcerted and angry. The chairman of
many charities looked, moreover, a little puzzled, as if the situation
was beyond his comprehension. The Frenchman's pleasant voice again
broke in, soothingly and yet authoritatively.

"Mr. Cornish and a certain number of us have, for some time, been in
correspondence," he said. "It is unnecessary for me to suggest to my
present hearers that in dealing with a large industry--in handling, as
it were, the lives of a number of persons--it is impossible to proceed
too cautiously. One must look as far ahead as human foresight may
perceive--one must give grave and serious thought to every possible
outcome of action or inaction. Gentlemen, we have done our best. We
are now in a position to say to the administrators of the Malgamite
Fund, close your works and we will do the rest. And this means that we
shall provide for the survivors of this great commercial catastrophe,
that we shall care for the widows and children of the victims, that we
shall supply ourselves with malgamite of our own manufacture, produced
only by a process which is known to be harmless, that we shall make it
impossible that such a monopoly may again be declared. We have, so far
as lies in our power, provided for every emergency. We have approached
the two men who, from their retreat on the dunes of Scheveningen, have
swayed one of the large industries of the world. We have offered them a
fortune. We have tried threats and money, but we have failed to close
them but one alternative, and that is--war. We are prepared in every way.
We can to-morrow take over the manufacture of malgamite for the whole
world--but we must have the works on the dunes at Scheveningen. We must
have the absolute control of the Malgamite Fund and of the works. We
propose, gentlemen, to seize this control, and invest the supreme
command in the one man who is capable of exercising it--Mr.
Anthony Cornish."

The Frenchman sat down, looked across the table, and shrugged his
shoulders impatiently; for the irrepressible Thompson was already on
his feet. It must be remembered that Mr. Thompson worked on commission,
and had been hard hit.

"Then," he cried, pointing a shaking forefinger into Lord Ferriby's
face, "that man has no business to be sitting there. We're honest
here--if we're nothing else. We all know your history, my fine
gentleman; we know that you cannot wipe out the past, so you're trying
to whitewash it over with good works. That's an old trick, and it won't
go down here. Do you think we don't see through you and your palavering
speeches? Why have you refused to take action against Roden and Von
Holzen? Because they've paid you. Look at him, gentlemen! He has taken
money from those men at Scheveningen--blood money. He has had his
share. I propose that Lord Ferriby explains his position."

Mr. Thompson banged his fist on the table, and at the same moment sat
down with extreme precipitation, urged thereto by Major White's hand on
his collar.

"This is not a vestry meeting," said the major, sternly.

Lord Ferriby had risen to his feet. "My position, gentlemen," he began,
and then faltered, with his hand at his watch-chain. "My position----"
He stopped with a gulp. His face was the colour of ashes. He turned in
a dazed way towards his nephew; for at the beginning and the end of
life blood is thicker than water. "Anthony," said his lordship, and sat
down heavily.

All rose to their feet in confusion. Major White seemed somehow to be
quicker than the rest, and caught Lord Ferriby in his arms--but Lord
Ferriby was dead.



"Some man holdeth his tongue, because he hath not to answer: and
some keepeth silence, knowing his time."

Those who live for themselves alone must at least have the consolatory
thought that when they die the world will soon console itself. For it
has been decreed that he who takes no heed of others shall himself be
taken no heed of. We soon learn to do without those who are indifferent
to us and useless to us. Lord Ferriby had so long and so carefully
studied the _culte_ of self that even those nearest to him had ceased
to give him any thought, knowing that in his own he was in excellent
hands--that he would always ask for what he wanted. It was Lord
Ferriby's business to make the discovery (which all selfish people must
sooner or later achieve) that the best things in this world are
precisely those which may not be given on demand, and for which,
indeed, one may in nowise ask.

When Major White and Cornish were left alone in the private _salon_ of
the Hotel des Indes--when the doctor had come and gone, when the blinds
had been decently lowered, and the great man silently laid upon the
sofa--they looked at each other without speaking. The grimmest silence
is surely that which arises from the thought that of the dead one may
only say what is good.

"Would you like me," said Cornish, "to go across and tell Joan?"

And Major White, whose god was discipline, replied, "She's your cousin.
It is for you to say."

"I shall be glad if you will go," said Cornish, "and leave me to make
the other arrangements. Take her home tomorrow, or tonight if she wants
to, and leave us--me--to follow."

So Major White quitted the Hotel des Indes, and walked slowly down the
length of the Toornoifeld, leaving Cornish alone with Lord Ferriby,
whose death made his nephew suddenly a richer man.

The Wades had gone out for a drive in the wood. Major White knew that
he would find Joan alone at the hotel. Bad news has a strange trick of
clearing the way before it. The major went to the _salon_ on the ground
floor overlooking the corner of the Vyverberg. Joan was writing a
letter at the window.

"Ah!" she said, turning, pen in hand, "you are soon back. Have you

White went stolidly across the room towards her. There was a chair by
the writing-table, and here he sat down. Joan was looking uneasily into
his face. Perhaps she saw more in that immovable countenance than the
world was pleased to perceive.

"Your father was taken suddenly ill," he said, "during the meeting."
Joan half rose from her chair, but the major laid his protecting hand
over hers. It was a large, quiet hand--like himself, somewhat suggestive
of a buffer. And it may, after all, be no mean _role_ to act as a
buffer between one woman and the world all one's life.

"You can do nothing," said White. "Tony is with him."

Joan looked into his face in speechless inquiry.

"Yes," he answered, "your father is dead."

Then he sat there in a silence which may have been intensely stupid or
very wise. For silence is usually cleverer than speech, and always more
interesting. Joan was dry-eyed. Well may the children of the selfish
arise and bless their parents for (albeit unwittingly) alleviating one
of the necessary sorrows of life.

After a silence, Major White told Joan how the calamity had occurred,
in a curt military way, as of one who had rubbed shoulders with death
before, who had gone out, moreover, to meet him with a quiet mind, and
had told others of the dealings of the destroyer. For Major White was
deemed a lucky man by his comrades, who had a habit of giving him
messages for their friends before they went into the field. Perhaps,
moreover, the major was of the opinion of those ancient writers who
seemed to deem it more important to consider how a man lives than how
he dies.

"It was some heart trouble," he concluded, "brought on by worry or
sudden excitement."

"The Malgamite," answered Joan. "It has always been a source of
uneasiness to him. He never quite understood it." "No," answered the
major, very deliberately, "he never quite understood it." And he looked
out of the window with a thoughtful noncommitting face.

"Neither do I--understand it," said Joan, doubtfully.

And the major looked suddenly dense. He had, as usual, no explanation
to offer.

"Was father deceived by some one?" Joan asked, after a pause. "One
hears such strange rumours about the Malgamite Fund. I suppose father
was deceived?"

She spoke of the dead man with that hushed voice which death, with a
singular impartiality to race or creed, seems to demand of the
survivors wheresoever he passes.

White met her earnest gaze with a grave nod. "Yes," he answered. "He
was deceived."

"He said before he went out that he did not want to go to the meeting
at all," went on Joan, in a tone of tender reminiscence, "but that he
had always made a point of sacrificing his inclination to his sense of
duty. Poor father!"

"Yes," said the major, looking out of the window. And he bore Joan's
steady, searching glance like a man.

"Tell me," she said suddenly. "Were you and Tony deceived also?"

Major White reflected for a moment. It is unwise to tell even the
smallest lie in haste.

"No," he answered at length. "Not so entirely as your father."

He uncrossed his legs, and made a feeble attempt to divert her

But Joan was on the trail as it were of a half-formed idea in her own
mind, and she would not have been a woman if she had relinquished the
quest so easily.

"But you were deceived at first?" she inquired, rather anxiously. "I
know Tony was. I am sure of it. Perhaps he found out later; but you--"

She drew her hand from under his rather hastily, having just found out
that it was in that equivocal position.

"You were never deceived," she said, with a suspicion of resentment.

"Well--perhaps not," admitted the major, reluctantly. And he looked
regretfully at the hand she had withdrawn. "Don't know much about
charities," he continued, after a pause. "Don't quite look at them in
the right light, perhaps. Seems to me that you ought to be more
business-like in charities than in anything else; and we're not
business men--not even you."

He looked at her very solemnly and wisely, as if the thoughts in his
mind would be of immense value if he could only express them; but he
was without facilities in that direction. If one cannot be wise, the
next best thing is to have a wise look. He rose, for he had caught
sight of Tony Cornish crossing the Toornoifeld in the shade of the
trees. Perhaps the major had forgotten for the moment that a great man
was dead; that there were letters to be written and telegrams to be
despatched; that the world must know of it, and the insatiable maw of
the public be closed by a few scraps of news. For the public mind must
have its daily food, and the wise are they who tell it only that which
it is expedient for it to know.

Lord Ferriby's life was, moreover, one that needed careful obituary
treatment. Everybody's life may for domestic purposes be described as a
hash; but Lord Ferriby's was a hash which in the hands of a cheap
democratic press might easily be served up so daintily as to be very
savoury in the nostrils of the world. Some of its component parts were
indeed exceedingly ancient, and, so to speak, gamey, while the
Malgamite scheme alone might easily be magnified into a very passable

Tony came into the room, keen and capable. He did not show much
feeling. Perhaps Joan and he understood each other without any such
display. For they had known each other many years, and had understood
other and more subtle matters without verbal explanation. For the world
had been pleased to say that Joan and Tony must in the end inevitably
marry. And they had never explained, never contradicted, and never

While the three were still talking, a carriage rattled up to the door
of the hotel, and then another. There began, in a word, that hushed
confusion--that running to and fro as of ants upon a disturbed
ant-hill--which follows hard upon the footsteps of the grim messenger,
who himself is content to come so quietly and unobtrusively. Roden
arrived to make inquiries, and Mrs. Vansittart, and a messenger from
more than one embassy. Then the Wades came, brought hurriedly back by a
messenger sent after them by Tony Cornish.

Marguerite, with characteristic energy, came into the room first, slim
and bright-eyed. She looked from one face to the other, and then
crossed the room and stood beside Joan without speaking. She was
smiling--a little hard smile with close-set lips, showing the world a
face that meant to take life open-eyed, as it is, and make the best of

Before long the two girls quitted the room, leaving the three men to
their hushed discussion. Tony had already provided himself with pen and
paper. In twelve hours that which the world must know about Lord
Ferriby should be in print. There was just time to cable it to the
_Times_ and the news agencies. And in these hurried days it is the
first word which, after all, goes farthest and carries most weight. A
contradiction is at all times a poor expedient.

"I have silenced the paper-makers," said Cornish, sitting down to
write. "Even that ass Thompson, by striking while the iron was hot."

"And Roden won't open his lips," added Mr. Wade, who, as he drove up,
had seen that brilliant financier uneasily strolling under the trees of
the Toornoifeld, looking towards the hotel, for Lord Ferriby's death
was a link in the crooked malgamite chain which even Von Holzen had
failed to foresee.

Indeed, Lord Ferriby must have been gratified could he have seen the
posthumous pother that he made by dying at this juncture. For in life
he had only been important in his own eyes, and the world had taken
little heed of him. This same keen-sighted world would not regret him
much now and would assuredly mete out to that miserly old screw, his
widow, only as much sympathy as the occasion deserved. Lady Ferriby
would, the world suspected, sell off his lordship's fancy waistcoats,
and proceed to save money to her heart's content. Even the thought of
his club subscriptions, now necessarily to be discontinued, must have
assuaged a large part of the widow's grief. Such, at least, was the
opinion of the clubs themselves, when the news was posted up among the
weather reports and the latest tapes from the House that same evening.

While Lord Ferriby's friends were comfortably endowing him with a few
compensating virtues over their tea and hot buttered toast in Pall Mall
and St. James's Street, Mr. Wade, Tony, and White dined together at the
Hotel of the Old Shooting Gallery at The Hague. The hour was an early
one, and had never been countenanced by Lord Ferriby, but the three men
in whose hands he had literally left his good name did not attach
supreme importance to this matter. Indeed, the banker thought kindly of
six-thirty as an hour at which in earlier days he had been endowed with
a better appetite than he ever possessed now at eight o'clock or later.
While they were at table a telegram was handed to Cornish. It was from
Lord Ferriby's solicitor in London, and contained the advice that Tony
Cornish had been appointed sole executor of his lordship's will.

"Thank God!" said Tony, with a little laugh, as he read the message and
handed it across to Mr. Wade, who looked at it gravely without comment.
"And now," said Cornish, "not even Joan need know."

For Cornish, having perceived Percy Roden under the trees of the
Toornoifeld, had gone out there to speak to him, and in answer to a
plain question had received a plain answer as to the price that Lord
Ferriby had been paid for the use of his name in the Malgamite
Fund transactions.

Joan had elected to remain in her own rooms, with Marguerite to keep
her company, until the evening, when, under White's escort, she was to
set out for England. The major had in a minimum of words expressed
himself ready to do anything at any time, provided that the service did
not require an abnormal conversational effort.

"I shall be home twenty-four hours after you," said Cornish, as he bade
Joan good-bye at the station. "And you need believe no rumours and fear
no gossip. If people ask impertinent questions, refer them to White."

"And I'll thump them," added the major, who indeed looked capable of
rendering that practical service.

They were favoured by a full moon and a perfect night for their passage
from the Hook of Holland to Harwich. Joan expressed a desire to remain
on deck, at all events, until the lights of the Maas had been left
behind. Major White procured two deck chairs, and found a corner of the
upper deck which was free alike from too much wind and too many people.
There they sat in the shadow of a boat, and Joan seemed fully occupied
with her own thoughts, for she did not speak while the steamer ploughed
steadily onwards through the smooth water.

"I wonder if it is my duty to continue to take an active part in the
Malgamite Fund," she said at length.

And the major, who had been permitted to smoke, looked attentively at
the lighted end of his cigar, and said nothing.

"I am afraid it must be," continued Joan, whose earnest endeavours to
find out what was her duty, and do it, occupied the larger part of her
time and attention.

"Why?" asked Major White.

"Because I don't want to."

The major thought about the matter for a long time--almost half through
a cigar. It was wonderful how so much thought could result in so few
words, especially in these days, which are essentially days of many
words and few thoughts. During this period of meditation, Joan sat
looking out to sea, and the moon shining down upon her face showed it
to be puckered with anxiety. Like many of her contemporaries, she was
troubled by an intense desire to do her duty, coupled with an
unfortunate lack of duties to perform.

"I wish you would tell me what you think," she said.

"Seems to me," said White, "that your duty is clear enough."


"Yes. Drop the Malgamiters and the Haberdashers and all that,
and--marry me."

But Joan only shook her head sadly. "That cannot be my duty," she said.

"Why? 'Cos it isn't unpleasant enough?"

"No," answered Joan, after a pause, in the deepest
earnestness--"no--that's just it."

Out of which ambiguous observation the major seemed to gather some
meaning, for he looked up at the moon with one of his most vacant



"Whom the gods mean to destroy, they blind."

Mrs. Vansittart had passed the age of blind love. She had not the
incentive of a healthy competition. She had not that more dangerous
incentive of middle-aged vanity, which draws the finger of derision so
often in the direction of widows. And yet she took a certain pleasure
in playing a half-careless and wholly cynical Juliet to Percy Roden's
_gauche_ Romeo. She had no intention of marrying him, and yet she
continued to encourage him even now that open war was declared between
Cornish and the malgamite makers. Cornish had indeed thanked Mrs.
Vansittart for her assistance in the past in such a manner as to convey
to her that she could hardly be of use to him in the future. He had
magnified her good offices, and had warned her to beware of arousing
Von Holzen's anger. Indeed, her use of Percy Roden was at an end, and
yet she would not let him go. Cornish was puzzled, and so was
Dorothy. Percy Roden was gratified, and read the riddle by the light of
his own vanity. Mrs. Vansittart was not, perhaps, the first woman to
puzzle her neighbours by refusing to relinquish that which she did not
want. She was not the first, perhaps, to nurse a subtle desire to play
some part in the world rather than be left idle in the wings. So she
played the part that came first and easiest to her hand--a woman's
natural part, of stirring up strife between men.

She was, therefore, gratified when Von Holzen made his way slowly towards
her through the crowd on the Kursaal terrace one afternoon on the
occasion of a Thursday concert. She was sitting alone in a far
corner of the terrace, protected by a glass screen from the wind which
ever blows at Scheveningen. She never mingled with the summer visitors
at this popular Dutch resort--indeed, knew none of them. Von Holzen
seemed to be similarly situated; but Mrs. Vansittart knew that he did
not seek her out on that account. He was not a man to do anything--much
less be sociable--out of idleness. He only dealt with his fellow-beings
when he had a use for them.

She returned his grave bow with an almost imperceptible movement of the
head, and for a moment they looked hard at each other.

"Madame still lingers at The Hague," he said.

"As you see."

"And is the game worth the candle?"

He laid his hand tentatively on a chair, and looked towards her with an
interrogative glance. He would not, it appeared, sit down without her
permission. And, womanlike, she gave it, with a shrug of one shoulder.
A woman rarely refuses a challenge. "And is the game worth the candle?"
he repeated.

"One can only tell when it is played out," was the reply; and Herr von
Holzen glanced quickly at the lady who made it.

He turned away and listened to the music. An occasional concert was the
one diversion he allowed himself at this time from his most absorbing
occupation of making a fortune. He had probably a real love of music,
which is not by any means given to the good only, or the virtuous.
Indeed, it is the art most commonly allied to vice.

"By the way," said Von Holzen, after a pause, "that paper which it
pleased madame's fantasy to possess at one time--is destroyed. Its
teaching exists only in my unworthy brain."

He turned and looked at her with his slow smile, his measuring eyes.


"Yes; so madame need give the question no more thought, and may turn
her full attention to her new--fancy."

Mrs. Vansittart was studying her programme, and did not look up or
display the slightest interest in what he was saying.

"Every event seems but to serve to strengthen our position," went on
Von Holzen, still half listening to the music. "Even the untimely death
of Lord Ferriby--which might at first have appeared a _contretemps_.
Cornish takes home the coffin by tonight's mail, I understand. Men may
come, madame, and men may go--but we go on for ever. We are still
prosperous--despite our friends. And Cornish is nonplussed. He does not
know what to do next, and fate seems to be against him. He has no luck.
We are manufacturing--day and night."

"You are interested in Mr. Cornish," observed Mrs. Vansittart, coolly;
and she saw a sudden gleam in Von Holzen's eyes.

After all, the man had a passion over which his control was
insecure--the last, the longest of the passions--hatred. He shrugged
his shoulders.

"He has forced himself upon our notice--unnecessarily as the result has
proved--only to find out that there is no stopping us."

He could scarcely control his voice as he spoke of Cornish, and looked
away as if fearing to show the expression of his eyes.

Mrs. Vansittart watched him with a cool little smile. Von Holzen had
not come here to talk of Cornish. He had come on purpose to say
something which he had not succeeded in saying yet, and she was not
ignorant of this. She was going to make it as difficult as possible for
him, so that when he at last said what he had come to say, she should
know it, and perhaps divine his motives.

"Even now," he continued, "we have succeeded beyond our expectations.
We are rich men, so that madame--need delay no longer." He turned and
looked her straight in the eyes.

"I?" she inquired, with raised eyebrows. "Need delay no longer--in

"In consummating the happiness of my partner, Percy Roden," he was
clever enough to say without being impertinent. "He--and his banking
account--are really worth the attention of any lady."

Mrs. Vansittart laughed, and, before answering, acknowledged stiffly
the stiff salutation of a passer.

"Then it is suggested that I am waiting for Mr. Roden to be rich enough
in order to marry him?"

"It is the talk of gossips and servants."

Mrs. Vansittart looked at him with an amused smile. Did he really know
so little of the world as to take his information from gossips and

"Ah," she said, and that was all. She rose and made a little signal
with her parasol to her coachman, who was waiting in the shadow of the
Kursaal. As she drove home, she wondered why Von Holzen was afraid that
she should marry Percy Roden, who, as it happened, was coming to tea in
Park Straat that evening. Mrs. Vansittart had not exactly invited
him--not, at all events, that he was aware of. He was under the
impression that he had himself proposed the visit.

She remembered that he was coming, but gave no further thought to him.
All her mind was, indeed, absorbed with thoughts of Von Holzen, whom
she hated with the dull and deadly hatred of the helpless. The sight of
him, the sound of his voice, stirred something within her that vibrated
for hours, so that she could think of nothing else--could not even give
her attention to the little incidents of daily life. She pretended to
herself that she sought retribution--that she wished on principle to
check a scoundrel in his successful career. The heart, however, knows
no principles; for these are created by and belong to the mind. Which
explains why many women seem to have no principles and many virtuous
persons no heart.

Mrs. Vansittart went home to make a careful toilet pending the arrival
of Percy Roden. She came down to the drawing-room, and stood idly at
the window.

"The talk of gossips and servants," she repeated bitterly to herself.
One of Von Holzen's shafts had, at all events, gone home. And Percy
Roden came into the room a few minutes afterwards. His manner had more
assurance than when he had first made Mrs. Vansittart's acquaintance.
He had, perhaps, a trifle less respect for the room and its occupant.
Mrs. Vansittart had allowed him to come nearer to her; and
when a woman allows a man of whom she has a low opinion to come near to
her, she trifles with her own self-respect, and does harm which,
perhaps, may never be repaired.

"I was too busy to go to the concert this afternoon," he said, sitting
down in his loose-limbed way.

His assumption that his absence had been noticed rather nettled his

"Ah! Were you not there?" she inquired.

He turned and looked at her with his curt laugh. "If I had been there
you would have known it," he said.

It was just one of those remarks--delivered in the half-mocking voice
assumed in self-protection--which Mrs. Vansittart had hitherto allowed
to pass unchallenged. And now, quite suddenly, she resented the manner
and the speech.

"Indeed," she said, with a subtle inflection of tone which should have
warned him.

But he was engaged in drawing down his cuffs. Many young men would know
more of the world if they had no cuffs or collars to distract them.

"Yes," answered Roden; "if I had gone to the concert it would not have
been for the music."

Percy Roden's method of making love was essentially modern. He threw to
Mrs. Vansittart certain scraps of patronage and admiration, which she
could pick up seriously and keep if she cared to. But he was not going
to risk a wound to his vanity by taking the initiative too earnestly.
Mrs. Vansittart, who was busy at the tea-table, set down a cup which
she had in her hand and crossed the room towards him.

"What do you mean, Mr. Roden?" she asked slowly.

He looked up with wavering eyes, and visibly lost colour under her

"What do I mean?"

"Yes. What do you mean when you say that, if you had gone to the
concert, it would not have been for the music; that if you had been
there, I should have known of your presence, and a hundred

At first Roden thought that the way was being made easy for him as it
is in books, as, indeed, it sometimes is in life, when it happens to be
a way that is not worth the treading; but the last word stung him like
a lash--as it was meant to sting. It was, perhaps, that one word that
made him rise from his chair.

"If you meant to object to anything that I may say, you should have
done so long ago," he said. "Who was the first to speak at the hotel
when I came to The Hague? Which of us was it that kept the friendship
up and cultivated it? I am not blind. I could hardly be anything else,
if I had failed to see what you have meant all along."

"What have I meant all along?" she asked, with a strange little smile.

"Why, you have meant me to say such things as I have said, and perhaps

"More--what can you mean?"

She looked at him still with a smile, which he did not understand. And,
like many men, he allowed his vanity to explain things which his
comprehension failed to elucidate.

"Well," he said, after a moment's hesitation, "will you marry me?

"No, Mr. Roden, I will not," she answered promptly; and then suddenly
her eyes flashed, at some recollection, perhaps--at some thought
connected with her happy past contrasted with this sordid, ignoble

"You!" she cried. "Marry you!"

"Why," he asked, with a bitter little laugh, "what is there wrong with

"I do not know what there is wrong with you. And I am not interested to
inquire. But, so far as I am concerned, there is nothing right."

A woman's answer after all, and one of those reasons which are no
reasons, and yet rule the world.

Roden looked at her, completely puzzled. In a flash of thought he
recalled Dorothy's warning, and her incomprehensible foresight.

"Then," he said, lapsing in his self-forgetfulness into the terse
language of his everyday life and thought, "what on earth have you been
driving at all along?"

"I have been driving at Herr von Holzen and the Malgamite scheme. I
have been helping Tony Cornish," she answered.

So Percy Roden quitted the house at the corner of Park Straat a wiser
man, and perhaps he left a wiser woman in it.

"My dear," said Mrs. Vansittart to Marguerite Wade, long afterwards,
when a sort of friendship had sprung up and ripened between them--"my
dear, never let a man ask you to marry him unless you mean to say yes.
It will do neither of you any good."

And Marguerite, who never allowed another the last word, gave a shrewd
little nod before she answered--"I always say no--before they ask me."



"There's not a crime--
But takes its proper change still out in crime
If once rung on the counter of this world."

Cornish went back to The Hague immediately after Lord Ferriby's funeral
because it has been decreed that for all men, this large world shall
sooner or later narrow down to one city, perhaps, or one village, or a
single house. For a man's life is always centred round a memory or a
hope, and neither of those requires much space wherein to live. Tony
Cornish's world had narrowed to the Villa des Dunes on the sandhills of
Scheveningen, and his mind's eye was always turned in that direction.
His one thought at this time was to protect Dorothy--to keep, if
possible, the name she bore from harm and ill-fame. Each day that
passed meant death to the malgamite workers. He could not delay. He
dared not hurry. He wrote again to Percy Roden from London, amid the
hurried preparations for the funeral, and begged him to sever his
connection with Von Holzen.

"You will not have time," he wrote, "to answer this before I leave for
The Hague. I shall stay on the Toornoifeld as usual, and hope to arrive
about nine o'clock to-morrow evening. I shall leave the hotel about a
quarter-past nine and walk down the right-hand bank of the Koninginne
Gracht, and should like to meet you by the canal, where we can have a
talk. I have many reasons to submit to your consideration why it will
be expedient for you to come over to my side in this difference now,
which I cannot well set down on paper. And remember that between men of
the world, such as I suppose we may take ourselves to be, there is no
question of one of us judging the other. Let me beg of you to consider
your position in regard to the Malgamite scheme--and meet me to-morrow
night between the Malie Veld and the Achter Weg about half-past nine. I
cannot see you at the works, and it would be better for you not to come
to my hotel."

The letter was addressed to the Villa des Dunes, where Roden received
it the next morning. Dorothy saw it, and guessed from whom it was,
though she hardly knew her lover's writing. He had adhered firmly to
his resolution to keep himself in the background until he had finished
the work he had undertaken. He had not written to her; had scarcely
seen her. Roden read the letter, and put it in his pocket without a
word. It had touched his vanity. He had had few dealings with men of
the standing and position of Cornish, and here was this peer's nephew
and peer's grandson appealing to him as to a friend, classing him
together with himself as a man of the world. No man has so little
discretion as a vain man. It is almost impossible for him to keep
silence when speech will make for his glorification. Roden arrived at
the works well pleased with himself, and found Von Holzen in their
little office, put out, ill at ease, domineering. It was unfortunate,
if you will. Percy Roden was always ready to perceive his own
ill-fortune, and looked back later to this as one of his most untoward
hours. Life, however, should surely consist of seizing the fortunate
and fighting through the ill moments--else why should men have heart
and nerve?

In such humours as they found themselves it did not take long for these
two men to discover a question upon which to differ. It was a mere
matter of detail connected with the money at that time passing through
their hands.

"Of course," said Roden, in the course of a useless and trivial
dispute--"of course you think you know best, but you know nothing of
finance--remember that. Everybody knows that it is I who have run that
part of the business. Ask old Wade, or White--or Cornish."

The argument had, in truth, been rather one-sided. For Roden had done
all the talking, while Von Holzen looked at him with a quiet eye and a
silent contempt that made him talk all the more. Von Holzen did not
answer now, though his eye lighted at the mention of Cornish's name. He
merely looked at Roden with a smile, which conveyed as clearly as words
Von Holzen's suggestion that none of the three men named would be
prepared to give Roden a very good character. "I had a letter, by the
way, from Cornish this morning," said Roden, lapsing into his grander
manner, which Von Holzen knew how to turn to account.

"Ah--bah!" he exclaimed sceptically. And that lurking vanity of the
inferior to lessen his own inferiority did the rest.

"If you don't believe me, there you are," said Roden, throwing the
letter upon the table--not ill-pleased, in the heat of the moment, to
show that he was a more important person than his companion seemed to

Von Holzen read the letter slowly and thoughtfully. The fact that it
was evidently intended for Roden's private eye did not seem to affect
one or the other of these two men, who had travelled, with difficulty,
along the road to fortune, only reaching their bourn at last with a
light stock of scruples and a shattered code of honour. Then he folded
it, and handed it back. He was not likely to forget a word of it.

"I suppose you will go," he said. "It will be interesting to hear what
he has to say. That letter is a confession of weakness."

In making which statement Von Holzen showed his own weak point. For,
like many clever men, he utterly failed to give to women their
place--the leading place--in the world's history, as in the little
histories of our daily lives. He never detected Dorothy between every
line of Cornish's letter, and thought that it had only been dictated by
inability to meet the present situation.

"I cannot very well refuse to go since the fellow asks me," said Roden,
grandly. He might as well have displayed his grandeur to a statue. If
love is blind, self-love is surely half-witted as well, for it never
sees nor understands that the world is fooling it. Roden failed to heed
the significant fact that Von Holzen did not even ask him what line of
conduct he intended to follow with regard to Cornish, nor seek in his
autocratic way to instruct him on that point; but turned instead to
other matters and did not again refer to Cornish or the letter he had

So the day wore on while Cornish impatiently walked the deck of the
steamer, ploughing its way across the North Sea, through showers and
thunderstorms and those grey squalls that flit to and fro on the German
Ocean. And some tons of malgamite were made, while a manufacturer or
two of the grim product laid aside his tools forever, while the money
flowed in, and Otto von Holzen thought out his deep silent plans over
his vats and tanks and crucibles. And all the while those who write in
the book of fate had penned the last decree.

Cornish arrived punctually at The Hague. He drove to the hotel, where
he was known, where, indeed, he had never relinquished his room. There
was no letter for him--no message from Percy Roden. But Von Holzen had
unobtrusively noted his arrival at the station from the crowded retreat
of the second-class waiting-room.

The day had been a very hot one, and from canal and dyke arose that
sedgy odour which comes with the cool of night in all Holland. It is
hardly disagreeable, and conveys no sense of unhealthiness.

It seems merely to be the breath of still waters, and, in hot weather,
suggests very pleasantly the relief of northern night. The Hague has
two dominant smells. In winter, when the canals are frozen, the reek of
burning-peat is on the air and in the summer the odour of slow waters.
Cornish knew them both. He knew everything about this old-world city,
where the turning-point of his life had been fixed. It was deserted
now. The great houses, the theatre--the show-places--were closed. The
Toornoifeld was empty.

The hotel porter, aroused by the advent of the traveller from an
after-dinner nap in his little glass box, spread out his hands with a
gesture of surprise.

"The season is over," he said. "We are empty. Why you come to The Hague

Even the sentries at the end of the Korte Voorhout wore a holiday air
of laxness, and swung their rifles idly. Cornish noticed that only half
of the lamps were lighted.

The banks of the Queen's Canal are heavily shaded by trees, which,
indeed, throw out their branches to meet above the weed-sown water.
There is a broad thoroughfare on either side of the canal, though
little traffic passes that way. These are two of the many streets of
The Hague which seem to speak of a bygone day, when Holland played a
greater part in the world's history than she does at present, for the
houses are bigger than the occupants must need, and the streets are too
wide for the traffic passing through them. In the middle the canal--a
gloomy corridor beneath the trees--creeps noiselessly towards the sea.
Cornish was before the appointed hour, and walked leisurely by the
pathway between the trees and the canal. Soon the houses were left
behind, and he passed the great open space called the Malie Veld. He
had met no one since leaving the guard-house. It was a dark night, with
no moon, but the stars were peeping through the riven clouds.

"Unless he stands under a lamp, I shall not see him," he said to
himself, and lighted a cigar to indicate his whereabouts to Roden,
should he elect to keep the appointment. When he had gone a few paces
farther he saw someone coming towards him. There was a lamp halfway
between them, and, as he approached the light, Cornish recognized
Roden. There was no mistaking the long loose stride.

"I wonder," said Cornish, "if this is going to the end?"

And he went forward to meet the financier.

"I was afraid you would not come," he said, in a voice that was
friendly enough, for he was a man of the world, and in that which is
called Society (with a capital letter) had rubbed elbows all his life
with many who had no better reputation than Percy Roden, and some who
deserved a worse.

"Oh, I don't mind coming," answered Roden, "because I did not want to
keep you waiting here in the dark. But it is no good, I tell you that
at the outset."

"And nothing I can say will alter your decision?" "Nothing. A man does
not get two such chances as this in his lifetime. I am not going to
throw this one away for the sake of a sentiment." "Sentiment hardly
describes the case," said Cornish, thoughtfully. "Do you mean to tell
me that you do not care about all these deaths--about these poor devils
of malgamiters?" And he looked hard at his companion beneath the lamp.

"Not a d--n," answered Roden. "I have been poor--you haven't. Why, man!
I have starved inside a good coat. You don't know what that means."

Cornish looked at him, and said nothing. There was no mistaking the
man's sincerity--nor the manner in which his voice suddenly broke when
he spoke of hunger.

"Then there are only two things left for me to do," said Cornish, after
a moment's reflection. "Ask your sister to marry me first, and smash
you up afterwards."

Roden, who was smoking, threw his cigarette away. "You mean to do both
these things?"


Roden looked at him. He opened his lips to speak, but suddenly leapt

"Look out!" he cried, and had barely time to point over Cornish's

Cornish swung round on his heel. He belonged to a school and generation
which, with all its faults, has, at all events, the redeeming quality
of courage. He had long learnt to say the right thing, which
effectually teaches men to do the right thing also. He saw some one
running towards him, noiselessly, in rubber shoes. He had no time to
think, and scarce a moment in which to act, for the man was but two
steps away with an upraised arm, and in the lamplight there flashed the
gleam of steel.

Cornish concentrated his attention on the upraised arm, seizing it with
both hands, and actually swinging his assailant off his legs. He knew
in an instant who it was, without needing to recognize the smell of
malgamite. This was Otto von Holzen, who had not hesitated to state his
opinion--that it is often worth a man's while to kill another.

While his feet were still off the ground, Cornish let him go, and he
staggered away into the darkness of the trees. Cornish, who was lithe
and quick, rather than of great physical force, recovered his balance
in a moment, and turned to face the trees. He knew that Von Holzen
would come back. He distinctly hoped that he would. For man is
essentially the first of the "game" animals and beneath fine clothes
there nearly always beats a heart ready, quite suddenly, to snatch the
fearful joy of battle.

Von Holzen did not disappoint him, but came flying on silent feet, like
some beast of prey, from the darkness. Cornish had played half-back for
his school not so many years before. He collared Von Holzen low, and
let him go, with a cruel skill, heavily on his head and shoulder. Not a
word had been spoken, and, in the stillness of the summer night, each
could hear the other breathing.

Roden stood quite still. He could scarcely distinguish the antagonists.
His own breath came whistling through his teeth. His white face was
ghastly and twitching. His sleepy eyes were awake now, and staring.

Each charge had left Cornish nearer to the canal. He was standing now
quite at the edge. He could smell, but he could not see the water, and
dared not turn his head to look. There is no railing here as there is
nearer the town.

In a moment, Von Holzen was on his feet again. In the dark, mere inches
are much equalized between men--but Von Holzen had a knife. Cornish, who
held nothing in his hands, knew that he was at a fatal disadvantage.

Again, Von Holzen ran at him with his arm outstretched for a swinging
stab. Cornish, in a flash of thought, recognized that he could not meet
this. He stepped neatly aside. Von Holzen attempted to stop stumbled,
half recovered himself, and fell headlong into the canal.

In a moment Cornish and Roden were at the edge, peering into the
darkness. Cornish gave a breathless laugh.

"We shall have to fish him out," he said.

And he knelt down, ready to give a hand to Von Holzen. But the water,
smooth again now, was not stirred by so much as a ripple.

"Suppose he can swim?" muttered Roden, uneasily.

And they waited in a breathless silence. There was something horrifying
in the single splash, and then the stillness.

"Gad!" whispered Cornish. "Where is he?"

Roden struck a match, and held it inside his hat so as to form a sort
of lantern, though the air was still enough. Cornish did the same, and
they held the lights out over the water, throwing the feeble rays right
across the canal.

"He cannot have swum away," he said. "Von Holzen," he cried out
cautiously, after another pause--"Von Holzen--where are you?"

But there was no answer.

The surface of the canal was quite still and glassy in those parts that
were not covered by the close-lying duck-weed. The water crept
stealthily, slimily, towards the sea.

The two men held their breath and waited. Cornish was kneeling at the
edge of the water, peering over.

"Where is he?" he repeated. "Gad! Roden, where is he?"

And Roden, in a hoarse voice, answered at length "He is in the mud at
the bottom--head downwards."



"L'homme s'agite et Dieu le mene."

The two men on the edge of the canal waited and listened again. It
seemed still possible that Von Holzen had swum away in the darkness--had
perhaps landed safely and unperceived on the other side.

"This," said Cornish, at length, "is a police affair. Will you wait here
while I go and fetch them?"

But Roden made no answer, and in the sudden silence Cornish heard the
eerie sound of chattering teeth. Percy Roden had morally collapsed.
His mind had long been t a great tension, and this shock had unstrung
him. Cornish seized him by the arm, and held him while he hook like a
leaf and swayed heavily.

"Come, man," said Cornish, kindly--"come, pull yourself together."

He held him steadily and patiently until the shaking eased.

"I'll go," said Roden, at length. "I couldn't stay ere alone."

And he staggered away towards The Hague. It seemed hours before he came
back. A carriage rattled past Cornish while he waited there, and two
foot-passengers paused for a moment to look at him with some suspicion.

At last Roden returned, accompanied by a police official--a phlegmatic
Dutchman, who listened to the story in silence. He shook his head at
Cornish's suggestion, made in halting Dutch mingled with German, that
Von Holzen had swum away in the darkness.

"No," said the officer, "I know these canals--and this above all others.
They will find him, planted in the mud at the bottom, head downward
like a tulip. The head goes in and the hands are powerless, for they
only grasp soft mud like a fresh junket." He drew his short sword from
its sheath, and scratched a deep mark in the gravel. Then he turned to
the nearest tree, and made a notch on the bark with the blade. "There
is nothing to be done tonight," he said philosophically. "There are men
engaged in dredging the canal. I will set them to work at dawn before
the world is astir. In the mean time"--he paused to return his sword to
its scabbard--"in the meantime I must have the names and residence of
these gentlemen. It is not for me to believe or disbelieve their

"Can you go home alone? Are you all right now?" Cornish asked Roden, as
he walked away with him towards the Villa des Dunes.

"Yes, I can go home alone," he answered, and walked on by himself,

Cornish watched him, and, before he had gone twenty yards, Roden
stopped. "Cornish!" he shouted.


And they walked towards each other.

"I did not know that Von Holzen was there. You will believe that?"

"Yes; I will believe that," answered Cornish.

And they parted a second time. Cornish walked slowly back to the hotel.
He limped a little, for Von Holzen had in the struggle kicked him on
the ankle. He suddenly felt very tired, but was not shaken. On the
contrary, he felt relieved, as if that which he had been attempting so
long had been suddenly taken from his hands and consummated by a higher
power, with whom all responsibility rested. He went to bed with a
mechanical deliberation, and slept instantly. The daylight was
streaming into the window when he awoke. No one sleeps very heavily at
The Hague--no one knows why--and Cornish awoke with all his senses
about him at the opening of his bedroom door. Roden had come in and was
standing by the bedside. His eyes had a sleepless look. He looked,
indeed, as if he had been up all night, and had just had a bath.

"I say," he said, in his hollow voice--"I say, get up. They have found
him--and we are wanted. We have to go and identify him--and all that."

While Cornish was dressing, Roden sat heavily down on a chair near the

"Hope you'll stick by me," he said, and, pausing, stretched out his
hand to the washing-stand to pour himself out a glass of water--"I hope
you'll stick by me. I'm so confoundedly shaky. Don't know what it
is--look at my hand." He held out his hand, which shook like a

"That is only nerves," said Cornish, who was ever optimistic and
cheerful. He was too wise to weigh carefully his reasons for looking at
the best side of events. "That is nothing. You have not slept, I

"No; I've been thinking. I say, Cornish--you must stick by me--I have
been thinking. What am I to do with the malgamiters? I cannot manage
the devils as Von Holzen did. I'm--I'm a bit afraid of them, Cornish."

"Oh, that will be all right. Why, we have Wade, and can send for White
if we want him. Do not worry yourself about that. What you want is
breakfast. Have you had any?"

"No. I left the house before Dorothy was awake or the servants were
down. She knows nothing. Dorothy and I have not hit it off lately."

Cornish made no answer. He was ringing the bell, and ordered coffee
when the waiter came.

"Haven't met any incident in life yet," he said cheerfully, "that
seemed to justify missing out meals."

The incident that awaited them was not, however, a pleasant one, though
the magistrate in attendance afforded a courteous assistance in the
observance of necessary formalities. Both men made a deposition before

"I know something," he said to Cornish, "of this malgamite business. We
have had our eye upon Von Holzen for some time--if only on account of
the death-rate of the city."

They breathed more freely when they were out in the street. Cornish
made some unimportant remark, which the other did not answer. So they
walked on in silence. Presently, Cornish glanced at his companion, and
was startled at the sight of his face, which was grey, and glazed all
over with perspiration, as an actor's face may sometimes be at the end
of a great act. Then he remembered that Roden had not spoken for a long

"What is the matter?" he asked.

"Didn't you see?" gasped Roden.

"See what?"

"The things they had laid on the table beside him. The things they
found in his hands and his pockets."

"The knife, you mean," said Cornish, whose nerves were worthy of the
blood that flowed in his veins, "and some letters?"

"Yes; the knife was mine. Everybody knows it. It is an old dagger that
has always lain on a table in the drawing room at the Villa des Dunes."

"I have never been in the drawing room at the Villa des Dunes, except
once by lamplight," said Cornish, indifferently.

Roden turned and looked at him with eyes still dull with fear.

"And among the letters was the one you wrote to me making the
appointment. He must have stolen it from the pocket of my office coat,
which I never wear while I am working." Cornish was nodding his head
slowly. "I see," he said, at length--"I see. It was a pretty _coup_. To
kill me, and fix the crime on you--and hang you?"

"Yes," said Roden, with a sudden laugh, which neither forgot to his
dying day.

They walked on in silence. For there are times in nearly every man's
life when events seem suddenly to outpace thought, and we can only act
as seems best at the moment; times when the babbler is still and the
busybody at rest; times when the cleverest of us must recognize that
the long and short of it all is that man agitates himself and God leads
him. At the corner of the Vyverberg they parted--Cornish to return to
his hotel, Roden to go back to the works. His carriage was awaiting him
in a shady corner of the Binnenhof. For Roden had his carriage now,
and, like many possessing suddenly such a vehicle, spent much time and
thought in getting his money's worth out of it.

"If you want me, send for me, or come to the hotel," were Cornish's
last words, as he shut the successful financier into his brougham.

At the hotel, Cornish found Mr. Wade and Marguerite lingering over a
late breakfast.

"You look," said Marguerite, "as if you had been up to something." She
glanced at him shrewdly. "Have you smashed Roden's Corner?" she asked.

"Yes," answered Cornish, turning to Mr. Wade; "and if you will come out
into the garden, I will tell you how it has been done. Monsieur Creil
said that the paper-makers could begin supplying themselves with
malgamite at a day's notice. We must give them that notice this

Mr. Wade, who was never hurried and never late, paused at the open
window to light his cigar before following Marguerite.

"Ah," he said placidly, "then fortune must have favored you, or
something has happened to Von Holzen."

Cornish knew that it was useless to attempt to conceal anything
whatsoever from the discerning Marguerite, so--in the quiet garden of
the hotel, where the doves murmur sleepily on the tiles, and the breeze
only stirs the flowers and shrubs sufficiently to disseminate their
scents--he told father and daughter the end of Roden's Corner.

They were still in the garden, an hour later, writing letters and
telegrams, and making arrangements to meet this new turn in events,
when Dorothy Roden came down the iron steps from the verandah.

She hurried towards them and shook hands, without explaining her sudden

"Is Percy here?" she asked Cornish. "Have you seen him this morning?"

"He is not here, but I parted from him a couple of hours ago on the
Vyverberg. He was going down to the works."

"Then he never got there," said Dorothy. "I have had nearly all the
malgamiters at the Villa des Dunes. They are in open rebellion, and if
Percy had been there they would have killed him. They have heard a
report that Herr von Holzen is dead. Is it true?" "Yes. Von Holzen is

"And they broke into the office. They got at the books. They found out
the profits that have been made and they are perfectly wild with fury.
They would have wrecked the Villa des Dunes, but----"

"But they were afraid of you, my dear," said Mr. Wade, filling in the
blank that Dorothy left.

"Yes," she admitted.

"Well played," muttered Marguerite, with shining eyes.

Cornish had risen, and was folding away his papers. "I will go down to
the works," he said.

"But you cannot go there alone," put in Dorothy, quickly.

"He will not need to do that," said Mr. Wade, throwing the end of his
cigar into the bushes, and rising heavily from his chair.

Marguerite looked at her father with a little upward jerk of the head
and a light in her eyes. It was quite evident that she approved of the
old gentleman.

"He's a game old thing," she said, aside to Dorothy, while her father
collected his papers.

"Your brother has probably been warned in time, and will not go near
the works," said Cornish to Dorothy. "He was more than prepared for
such an emergency; for he told me himself that he was half afraid of
the men. He is almost sure to come to me here--in fact, he promised to
do so if he wanted help."

Dorothy looked at him, and said nothing. The world would be a simpler
dwelling-place if those who, for one reason or another, cannot say
exactly what they mean would but keep silence.

Cornish told her, hurriedly, what had happened twelve hours ago on the
bank of the Queen's Canal; and the thought of the misspent, crooked
life that had ended in the black waters of that sluggish tideway made
them all silent for a while. For death is in itself dignified, and
demands respect for all with whom he has dealings. Many attain the
distinction of vice in life, while more only reach the mere mediocrity
of foolishness; but in death all are equally dignified. We may, indeed,
assume that we shall, by dying, at last command the respect of even our
nearest relations and dearest friend--for a week or two, until they
forget us.

"He was a clever man," commented Mr. Wade, shutting up his gold pencil
case and putting it in the pocket of his comfortable waistcoat. "But
clever men are rarely happy----"

"And clever women--never," added Marguerite--that shrewd seeker after
the last word.

While they were still speaking, Percy Roden came hurriedly down the
steps. He was pale and tired, but his eye had a light of resolution in
it. He held his head up, and looked at Cornish with a steady glance.
It seemed that the vague danger which he had anticipated so nervously
had come at last, and that he stood like a man in the presence of it.

"It is all up," he said. "They have found the books; they have
understood them; and they are wrecking the place."

"They are quite welcome to do that," said Cornish. Mr. Wade, who was
always business-like, had reopened his writing-case when he saw Roden,
and now came forward to hand him a written paper.

"That is a copy," he said, "of the telegram we have sent to Creil. He
can come here and select what men he wants--the steady ones and the
skilled workmen. With each man we will hand him a cheque in trust. The
others can take their money--and go."

"And drink themselves to death as expeditiously as they think fit,"
added Cornish, the philanthropist--the fashionable drawing-room
champion of the masses.

"I got back here through the Wood," said Percy Roden, who was still
breathless, as if he had been hurrying. "One of them, a Swede, came to
warn me. They are looking for me in the town--a hundred and twenty of
them, and not one who cares that"--he paused, and gave a snap of the
fingers--"for his life or the law. Both railway stations are watched,
and all the steam-boat stations on the canals; they will kill me if
they catch me."

His eyes wavered, for there is nothing more terrifying than the avowed
hostility of a mass of men, and no law grimmer than lynch-law. Yet he
held up his head with a sort of pride in his danger--some touch of that
subtle sense of personal distinction which seems to reach the heart of
the victim of an accident, or of a prisoner in the dock.

"If I had not met that Swede I should have gone on to the works, and
they would have pulled me to pieces there," continued Roden. "I do not
know how I am to get away from The Hague, or where I shall be safe in
the whole world; but the money is at Hamburg and Antwerp. The money is
safe enough."

He gave a laugh and threw back his head. His hearers looked at him, and
Mr. Wade alone understood his thoughts. For the banker had dealt with
money-makers all his life and knew that to many men, money is a god,
and the mere possession of it dearer to them than life itself.

"If you stay here, in my room upstairs," said Cornish, "I will go down
to the works now. And this evening I will try and get you away from The
Hague--and from Europe."

"And I will go to the Villa des Dunes again," added Dorothy, "and pack
your things."

Marguerite had risen also, and was moving towards the steps.

"Where are you going?" asked her father.

"To the Villa des Dunes," she replied; and, turning to Dorothy, added,
"I shall take some clothes and stay with you there until things
straighten themselves out a bit."


"Because I cannot let you go there alone."

"Why not?" asked Dorothy.

"Because--I am not that sort," said Marguerite; and, turning, she
ascended the iron steps.



"Les heureux ne rient pas; ils sourient."

Soon after Mr. Wade and Cornish had quitted their carriage, on that
which is known as the New Scheveningen Road, and were walking across
the dunes to the malgamite works, they met a policeman running towards

"It is," he answered breathlessly, to their inquiries--"it is the
English Chemical Works on the dunes, which have caught fire. I am
hurrying to the Artillery Station to telegraph for the fire-engines;
but it will be useless. It will all be over in half an hour--by this
wind and after so much dry weather; see the black smoke, excellencies."

And the man pointed towards a column of smoke, blown out over the
sand-hills by the strong wind, characteristic of these flat coasts.
Then, with a hurried salutation, he ran on.

Cornish and Mr. Wade proceeded more leisurely on their way; for the
banker was not of a build to hurry even to a fire. Before they had gone
far they perceived another man coming across the Dunes towards The
Hague. As he approached, Cornish recognized the man known as Uncle Ben.
He was shambling along on unsteady legs, and carried his earthly
belongings in a canvas sack of doubtful cleanliness. The recognition
was apparently mutual; for Uncle Ben deviated from his path to come and
speak to them.

"It's me, mister," he said to Cornish, not disrespectfully. "And I
don't mind tellin' yer that I'm makin' myself scarce. That place is
gettin' a bit too hot for me. They're just pullin' it down and makin' a
bonfire of it. And if you or Mr. Roden goes there, they'll just take
and chuck yer on top of it--and that's God's truth. They're a rough lot
some of them, and they don't distinguish 'tween you and Mr. Roden like
as I do. Soddim and Gomorrer, I say. Soddim and Gomorrer! There won't
be nothin' left of yer in half an hour." And he turned and shook a
dirty fist towards the rising smoke, which was all that remained of the
malgamite works. He hurried on a few paces, then stopped and laid down
his bag. He ran back, calling out "Mister!" as he neared Cornish and
Mr. Wade. "I don't mind tellin' yer," he said to Cornish, with a
ludicrous precautionary look round the deserted dunes to make sure that
he would not be overheard; for he was sober, and consequently
stupid--"I don't mind tellin' yer--seein' as I'm makin' myself scarce,
and for the sake o' Miss Roden, who has always been a good friend to
me--as there's a hundred and twenty of 'em looking for Mr. Roden at this
minute, meanin' to twist his neck; and what's worse, there's
others--men of dedication like myself--who has gone to the
murder, or something. And they'll get it too, with the story they've got
to tell, and them poor devils planted thick as taters in the cheap corner
of the cemetery. I've warned yer, mister." Uncle Ben expectorated with
much emphasis, looked towards the malgamite works with a dubious shake
of the head, and went on his way, muttering, "Soddim and Gomorrer."

His hearers walked on over the sand-hills towards the smoke, of which
the pungent odour, still faintly suggestive of sealing-wax, reached
their nostrils. At the top of a high dune, surmounted with considerable
difficulty, Mr. Wade stopped. Cornish stood beside him, and from that
point of vantage they saw the last of the malgamite works. Amid the
flames and smoke the forms of men flitted hither and thither, adding
fuel to the fire.

"They are, at all events, doing the business thoroughly," said the
banker. "And there is nothing to be gained by our disturbing them at
it--and a good deal to be lost--namely, our lives. They are not burning
the cottages, I see; only the factory. There is nothing heroic about
me, Tony. Let us go back."

But Mr. Wade returned to The Hague alone; for Cornish had matters of
importance requiring his attention. It was now doubly necessary to get
Roden safely away from Holland, and with the necessity increased the
difficulty. For Holland is a small country, well watched, highly
civilized. Cornish knew that it would be next to impossible for Roden
to leave the country by rail or road. There remained, therefore, the
sea. Cornish had, during his sojourn at the humble Swan at
Scheveningen, made certain friends there. And it was to the old village
under the dunes, little known to visitors, and a place apart from the
fashionable bathing resort, that he went in his difficulty. He spent
nearly the whole day in these narrow streets; indeed, he lunched at the
Swan in company of a seafaring gentleman clad in soft blue flannel, and
addicted to the mediaeval coiffure still affected in certain parts of

From this quiet retreat Cornish also wrote a note to Dorothy at the
Villa des Dunes, informing her of Roden's new danger, and warning her
not to attempt to communicate with her brother, or even send him his
baggage. In the afternoon Cornish made a few purchases, which he duly
packed in a sailor's kit-bag, and at nightfall Roden arrived on foot.

The weather was squally, as it often is in August on these coasts;
indeed, the summer seemed to have come to an end before its time.

"It is raining like the deuce," said Roden, "and I am wet through,
though I came under the trees of the Oude Weg."

He spoke with his usual suggestion of a grievance, which made Cornish
answer him rather curtly--"We shall be wetter before we get on board."

It was raining when they quitted the modest Swan, and hurried through
the sparsely lighted, winding streets. Cornish had borrowed two
oil-skin coats and caps, which at once disguised them and protected
them from the rain. Any passer-by would have taken them for a couple of
fishermen going about their business. But there were few in the

"Why are you doing all this for me?" asked Roden, suddenly.
"To avoid a scandal," replied Cornish, truthfully enough; for he had
been brought up in a world where the longevity of scandal is fully

The wide stretch of sand was entirely deserted when they emerged from
the narrow streets and gained the summit of the sea-wall. A
thunderstorm was growling in the distance, and every moment a flash of
thin summer lightning shimmered on the horizon. The wind was strong, as
it nearly always is here, and shallow white surf stretched seaward
across the flats. The sea roared continuously without that rise and
fall of the breakers which marks a deeper coast, and from the face of
the water there arose a filmy mist--part foam, part phosphorescence.

As Roden and Cornish passed the little lighthouse, two policemen
emerged from the shadow of the wall, and watched them, half
suspiciously. "Good evening," said one of them.

"Good evening," answered Cornish, mimicking the sing-song accent of the
Scheveningen streets.

They walked on in silence.
"Whew!" ejaculated Roden, when the danger seemed to be past, and they
could breathe again.

They went down a flight of steps to the beach, and stumbled across the
soft sand towards the sea. One or two boats were lying out in the
surf--heavy Dutch fishing-boats, known technically as "pinks,"
flat-bottomed, round-prowed, keel less, heavy and ungainly vessels, but
strong as wood and iron and workmanship could make them. Some seemed to
be afloat, others bumped heavily and continuously; while a few lay
stolidly on the ground with the waves breaking right over them as over

The noise of the sea was so great that Cornish touched his companion's
arm, and pointed, without speaking, to one of the vessels where a light
twinkled feebly through the spray breaking over her. It seemed to be
the only vessel preparing to go to sea on the high tide, and, in truth,
the weather looked anything but encouraging.

"How are we going to get on board?" shouted Roden, amid the roar of the

"Walk," answered Cornish, and he led the way into the sea.

Hampered as they were by their heavy oil skins, their progress was
slow, although the water barely reached their knees. The _Three
Brothers_ was bumping when they reached her and clambered on board over
the bluff sides, sticky with salt water and tar.

"She'll be afloat in ten minutes," said a man in oil-skins, who helped
them over the low bulwarks. He spoke good English, and seemed to have
learned some of the taciturnity of the seafaring portion of that nation
with their language; for he went aft to the tiller without more words
and took his station there.

Roden seated himself on the rail and looked back towards Scheveningen.
Cornish stood beside him in silence. The spray broke over them
continuously, and the boat rolled and bumped in such a manner that it
was impossible to stand or even sit without holding on to the clumsy

The lights of Scheveningen were stretched out in a line before them;
the lighthouse winked a glaring eye that seemed to stare over their
heads far out to sea. The summer lightning showed the sands to be bare
and deserted. There were no unusual lights on the sea wall. The Kurhaus
and the hotels were illuminated and gay. The shore took no heed of the
sea tonight.

"We've succeeded," said Roden, curtly, and quite suddenly he rolled
over in a faint at Cornish's feet.

The next morning, Dorothy received a letter at the Villa des Dunes,
posted the evening before by Cornish at Scheveningen.

"We hope to get away tonight," he wrote, "in the 'pink,' the _Three
Brothers_. Our intention is to knock about the North Sea until we find
a suitable vessel--either a sailing ship trading between Norway and
Spain on its way south, or a steamer going direct from Hamburg to South
America. When I have seen your brother safely on board one of these
vessels, I shall return in the _Three Brothers_ to Scheveningen. She is
a small boat, and has a large white patch of new canvas at the top of
her mainsail. So if you see her coming in, or waiting for the tide, you
may conclude that your brother is in safety."

Later in the day, Mr. Wade called, having driven from The Hague very
comfortably in an open carriage.

"The house," he said placidly, "is still watched, but I have no doubt
that Tony has outwitted them all. Creil arrived last night, and seems a
capable man. He tells me that half of the malgamiters are in jail at
The Hague for intoxication and uproariousness last night. He is
selecting those he wants, and the rest he will send to their homes. So
we are balancing our affairs very comfortably; and if there is anything
I can do for you, Miss Roden, I am at your command."

"Oh, Dorothy is all right," said Marguerite, rather hurriedly; and when
her father took his leave, she slipped her hand within his solid arm,
and walked with him across the sand towards the carriage. "Haven't you
seen," she asked--"you old stupid!--that Dorothy is all right? Tony is
in love with her."

"No," replied the banker, rather humbly--"no, my dear. I am afraid I
had not noticed it."

Marguerite pressed his arm, not unkindly. "You can't help it," she
explained. "You are only a man, you know."

The following days were quiet enough at the Villa des Dunes, and it is
in quiet days that a friendship ripens best. The two girls left there
scarcely expected to hear of Cornish's return for some days; but they
fell into the habit of walking towards the sea whenever they went
out-of-doors, and spent many afternoon hours on the dunes. During these
hours Dorothy had many confidential and lively conversations with her
new-found friend. Indeed, confidence and gaiety were so bewilderingly
mingled that Dorothy did not always understand her companion.

One afternoon, three days after the departure of Percy Roden, when Von
Holzen was buried, and the authorities had expressed themselves content
with the verdict that he had come accidentally by his death, Marguerite
took occasion to congratulate herself, and all concerned, in the fact
that what she vaguely called "things" were beginning to straighten
themselves out.

"We are round the corner," she said decisively. "And now papa and I
shall go home again, and Miss Williams will come back. Miss
Williams--oh, lord! She is one of those women who have a stick inside
them instead of a heart. And papa will trot out his young men--likely
young men from the city. Papa married the bank, you know. And he wants
me to marry another bank and live gorgeously ever afterwards. Poor old

"I think he would rather you were happy than gorgeous," said Dorothy,
with a laugh, who had seen some of the honest banker's perplexity with
regard to this most delicate financial affair.

"Perhaps he would. At all events, he does his best--his very best. He
has tried at least fifty of these gentle swains since I came back from
Dresden--red hair and a temper, black hair and an excellent opinion of
one's self, fair hair and stupidity. But they wouldn't do--they
wouldn't do, Dorothy!"

Marguerite paused, and made a series of holes in the sand with her

"There was only one," she said quietly, at length. "I suppose there is
always--only one--eh, Dorothy?"

"I suppose so," answered Dorothy, looking straight in front of her.

Marguerite was silent for a while, looking out to sea with a queer
little twist of the lips that made her look older--almost a woman. One
could imagine what she would be like when she was middle-aged, or quite
old, perhaps.

"He would have done," she said. "Quite easily. He was a million times
cleverer than the rest--a million times--well, he was quite different,
I don't know how. But he was paternal. He thought he was much too old,
so he didn't try----"

She broke off with a light laugh, and her confidential manner was gone
in a flash. She stuck her stick firmly into the ground, and threw
herself back on the soft sand.

"So," she cried gaily. _"Vogue la galere_. It's all for the best. That
is the right thing to say when it cannot be helped, and it obviously
isn't for the best. But everybody says it, and it is always wise to
pass in with the crowd, and be conventional--if you swing for it."

She broke off suddenly, looking at her companion's face. A few boats
had been leisurely making for the shore all the afternoon before a
light wind, and Dorothy had been watching them. They were coming closer

"Dorothy, do you see the _Three Brothers_?"

"That is the _Three Brothers_," answered Dorothy, pointing with her

For a time they were silent, until, indeed, the boat with the patched
sail had taken the ground gently, a few yards from the shore. A number
of men landed from her, some of them carrying baskets of fish. One,
walking apart, made for the dunes, in the direction of the New
Scheveningen Road.

"And that is Tony," said Marguerite. "I should know his walk--if I saw
him coming out of the Ark, which, by the way, must have been rather
like the _Three Brothers_ to look at. He has taken your brother safely
away, and now he is coming--to take you."

"He may remember that I am Percy's sister," suggested Dorothy.

"It doesn't matter whose sister you are," was the decisive reply.
"Nothing matters"--Marguerite rose slowly, and shook the sand from her
dress--"nothing matters, except one thing, and that appears to be a
matter of absolute chance."

She climbed slowly to the summit of the dune under which they had been
sitting, and there, pausing, she looked back. She nodded gaily down at
Dorothy. Then suddenly, she held out her hands before her, and Cornish,
looking up, saw her slim young form poised against the sky in a mock
attitude of benediction.

"Bless you, my dears," she cried, and with a short laugh turned and
walked towards the Villa des Dunes.


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