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The House of Whispers by William Le Queux

Part 3 out of 6

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"Yes, I'm certain of it. Remember, Sir Henry, that when one is dealing
with a man who is blind, it is sometimes a great temptation to be

"I know, I know," sighed the other deeply. They were at a bend in the
drive where the big trees met overhead, forming a leafy tunnel. The
ascent was a trifle steep, and the Baronet had paused for a few seconds,
leaning heavily upon the arm of his friend.

"Oh, pardon me!" exclaimed Flockart suddenly, releasing his arm. "Your
watch-chain is hanging down. Let me put it right for you." And for a few
seconds he fumbled at the chain, at the same time holding something in
the palm of his left hand. "There, that's right," he said a few minutes
later. "You caught it somewhere, I expect."

"On one of the knobs of my writing-table perhaps," said the other.
"Thanks. I sometimes inadvertently pull it out of my pocket."

A faint smile of triumph passed across the dark, handsome face of the
man, who again took his arm, as at the same time he replaced something
in his own jacket-pocket. He had in that instant secured what he wanted.

"You were saying with much truth, my dear Flockart, that in dealing with
a man who cannot see there is occasionally a temptation towards
dishonesty. Well, this very day I intend to have a long chat with my
wife, but before I do so will you promise me one thing?"

"And what is that?" asked the man, not without some apprehension.

"That you will remain here, disregard the gossip that you may have
heard, and continue to assist me in my helplessness in making full and
searching inquiry into Macdonald's alleged defalcations."

The man reflected for a few seconds, with knit brows. His quick wits
were instantly at work, for he saw with the utmost satisfaction that he
had been entirely successful in disarming all suspicion; therefore his
next move must be the defeat of that man's devoted defender, Gabrielle,
the one person who stood between his own penniless self and fortune.

"I really cannot at this moment make any promise, Sir Henry," he
remarked at last. "I have decided to go."

"But defer your decision for the present. There is surely no immediate
hurry for your departure! First let me consult my wife," urged the
Baronet, putting out his hand and groping for that of Flockart, which he
pressed warmly as proof of his continued esteem. "Let me talk to
Winifred. She shall decide whether you go or whether you shall stay."



Walter Murie had chosen politics as a profession long ago, even when he
was an undergraduate. He had already eaten his dinners in London, and
had been called to the Bar as the first step towards a political career.
He had a relative in the Foreign Office, while his uncle had held an
Under-Secretaryship in the late Government. Therefore he had influence,
and hoped by its aid to secure some safe seat. Already he had studied
both home and foreign affairs very closely, and had on two occasions
written articles in the _Times_ upon that most vexed and difficult
question, the pacification of Macedonia. He was a very fair speaker,
too, and on several occasions he had seconded resolutions and made quite
clever speeches at political gatherings in his own county, Perthshire.
Indeed, politics was his hobby; and, with money at his command and
influence in high quarters, there was no reason why he should not within
the next few years gain a seat in the House. With Sir Henry Heyburn he
often had long and serious chats. The brilliant politician, whose career
had so suddenly and tragically been cut short, gave him much good
advice, pointing out the special questions he should study in order to
become an authority. This is the age of specialising, and in politics it
is just as essential to be a specialist as it is in the medical, legal,
or any other profession.

In a few days the young man was returning to his dingy chambers in the
Temple, to pore again over those mouldy tomes of law; therefore almost
daily he ran over to Glencardine to chat with the blind Baronet, and to
have quiet walks with the sweet girl who looked so dainty in her fresh
white frocks, and whose warm kisses were so soft and caressing.

Surely no pair, even in the bygone days of knight and dame, the days of
real romance, were more devoted to each other. With satisfaction he saw
that Gabrielle's apparent indifference had now worn off. It had been but
the mask of a woman's whim, and as such he treated it.

One afternoon, after tea out on the lawn, they were walking together by
the bypath to the lodge in order to meet Lady Heyburn, who had gone into
the village to visit a bedridden old lady. Hand-in-hand they were
strolling, for on the morrow he was going south, and would probably be
absent for some months.

The girl had allowed herself to remain in her lover's arms in one long
kiss of perfect ecstasy. Then, with a sigh of regret, she had held his
hand and gone forward again without a word. When Walter had left, the
sun of her young life would have set, for after all it was not exactly
exciting to be the eyes and ears of a man who was blind. And there was
always at her side that man whom she hated, and who, she knew, was her
bitterest foe--James Flockart.

Of late her father seemed to have taken him strangely into his
confidence. Why, she could not tell. A sudden change of front on the
Baronet's part was unusual; but as she watched with sinking heart she
could not conceal from herself the fact that Flockart now exercised
considerable influence over her father--an influence which in some
matters had already proved to be greater than her own.

It was of this man Walter spoke. "I have a regret, dearest--nay, more
than a regret, a fear--in leaving you here alone," he exclaimed in a
low, distinct voice, gazing into the blue, fathomless depths of those
eyes so very dear to him.

"A fear! Why?" she asked in some surprise, returning his look.

"Because of that man--your mother's friend," he said. "Recently I have
heard some curious tales concerning him. I really wonder why Sir Henry
still retains him as his guest."

"Why need we speak of him?" she exclaimed quickly, for the subject was

"Because I wish you to be forewarned," he said in a serious voice. "That
man is no fitting companion for you. His past is too well known to a
certain circle."

"His past!" she echoed. "What have you discovered concerning him?"

Her companion did not answer for a few moments. How could he tell her
all that he had heard? His desire was to warn her, yet he could not
relate to her the allegations made by certain persons against Flockart.

"Gabrielle," he said, "all that I have heard tends to show that his
friendship for you and for your father is false; therefore avoid
him--beware of him."

"I--I know," she faltered, lowering her eyes. "I've felt that was the
case all along, yet I----"

"Yet what?" he asked.

"I mean I want you to promise me one thing, Walter," she said quickly.
"You love me, do you not?"

"Love you, my own darling! How can you ask such a question? You surely
know that I do!"

"Then, if you really love me, you will make me a promise."

"Of what?"

"Only one thing--one little thing," she said in a low, earnest voice,
looking straight into his eyes. "If--if that man ever makes an
allegation against me, you won't believe him?"

"An allegation! Why, darling, what allegation could such a man ever make
against you?"

"He is my enemy," she remarked simply.

"I know that. But what charge could he bring against you? Why, if even
he dared to utter a single word against you, I--I'd wring the ruffian's

"But if he did, Walter, you wouldn't believe him, would you?"

"Of course I wouldn't."

"Not--not if the charge he made against me was a terrible one--a--a
disgraceful one?" she asked in a strained voice after a brief and
painful pause.

"Why, dearest!" he cried, "what is the matter? You are really not
yourself to-day. You seem to be filled with a graver apprehension even
than I am. What does it mean? Tell me."

"It means, Walter, that that man is Lady Heyburn's friend; hence he is
my enemy."

"And what need you fear when you have me as your friend?"

"I do not fear if you will still remain my friend--always--in face of
any allegation he makes."

"I love you, darling. Surely that's sufficient guarantee of my

"Yes," she responded, raising her white, troubled face to his while he
bent and kissed her again on the lips. "I know that I am yours, my own
well-beloved; and, as yours, I will not fear."

"That's right!" he exclaimed, endeavouring to smile. "Cheer up. I don't
like to see you on this last day down-hearted and apprehensive like

"I am not so without cause."

"Then, what is the cause?" he demanded. "Surely you can repose
confidence in me?"

Again she was silent. Above them the wind stirred the leaves, and
through the high bracken a rabbit scuttled at their feet. They were
alone, and she stood again locked in her lover's fond embrace.

"You have told me yourself that man Flockart is my enemy," she said in a
low voice.

"But what action of his can you fear? Surely you should be forearmed
against any evil he may be plotting. Tell me the truth, and I will go
myself to your father and denounce the fellow before his face!"

"Ah, no!" she cried, full of quick apprehension. "Never think of doing
that, Walter!"

"Why? Am I not your friend?"

"Such a course would only bring his wrath down upon my head. He would
retaliate quickly, and I alone would suffer."

"But, my dear Gabrielle," he exclaimed, "you really speak in enigmas.
Whatever can you fear from a man who is known to be a blackguard--whom I
could now, at this very moment, expose in such a manner that he would
never dare to set foot in Perthshire again?"

"Such a course would be most injudicious, I assure you. His ruin would
mean--it would mean--my--own!"

"I don't follow you."

"Ah, because you do not know my secret--you----"

"Your secret!" the young man gasped, staring at her, yet still holding
her trembling form in his strong arms. "Why, what do you mean? What

"I--I cannot tell you!" she exclaimed in a hard, mechanical voice,
looking straight before her.

"But you must," he protested.

"I--I asked you, Walter, to make me a promise," she said, her voice
broken by emotion--"a promise that, for the sake of the love you bear
for me, you will not believe that man, that you will disregard any
allegation against me."

"And I promise, on one condition, darling--that you tell me in
confidence what I, as your future husband, have a just right to
know--the nature of this secret of yours."

"Ah, no!" she cried, unable longer to restrain her tears, and burying
her pale, beautiful face upon his arm. "I--I was foolish to have spoken
of it," she sobbed brokenly: "I ought to have kept it to myself. It
is--it's the one thing that I can never reveal to you--to you of all



"Monsieur Goslin, Sir Henry," Hill announced, entering his master's room
one morning a fortnight later, just as the blind man was about to
descend to breakfast. "He's in the library, sir."

"Goslin!" exclaimed the Baronet, in great surprise. "I'll go to him at
once; and Hill, serve breakfast for two in the library, and tell Miss
Gabrielle that I do not wish to be disturbed this morning."

"Very well, Sir Henry;" and the man bowed and went down the broad oak

"Goslin here, without any announcement!" exclaimed the Baronet, speaking
to himself. "Something must have happened. I wonder what it can be." He
tugged at his collar to render it more comfortable; and then, with a
groping hand on the broad balustrade, he felt his way down the stairs
and along the corridor to the big library, where a stout, grey-haired
Frenchman came forward to greet him warmly, after carefully closing the

"Ah, _mon cher ami_!" he began; and, speaking in French, he inquired
eagerly after the Baronet's health. He was rather long-faced, with beard
worn short and pointed, and his dark, deep-set eyes and his countenance
showed a fund of good humour. "This visit is quite unexpected,"
exclaimed Sir Henry. "You were not due till the 20th."

"No; but circumstances have arisen which made my journey imperative, so
I left the Gare du Nord at four yesterday afternoon, was at Charing
Cross at eleven, had half-an-hour to catch the Scotch express at King's
Cross, and here I am."

"Oh, my dear Goslin, you always move so quickly! You're simply a marvel
of alertness."

The other smiled, and, with a shrug of the shoulders, said, "I really
don't know why I should have earned a reputation as a rapid traveller,
except, perhaps, by that trip I made last year, from Paris to
Constantinople, when I remained exactly thirty-eight minutes in the
Sultan's capital. But I did my business there, nevertheless, even though
I got through quicker than _messieurs les touristes_ of the most
estimable Agence Cook."

"You want a wash, eh?"

"Ah, no, my friend. I washed at the hotel in Perth, where I took my
morning coffee. When I come to Scotland I carry no baggage save my
tooth-brush in my pocket, and a clean collar across my chest, its ends
held by my braces."

The Baronet laughed heartily. His friend was always most resourceful and
ingenious. He was a mystery to all at Glencardine, and to Lady Heyburn
most of all. His visits were always unexpected, while as to who he
really was, or whence he came, nobody--not even Gabrielle herself--knew.
At times the Frenchman would take his meals alone with Sir Henry in the
library, while at others he would lunch with her ladyship and her
guests. On these latter occasions he proved himself a most amusing
cosmopolitan, and at the same time exhibited an extreme courtliness
towards every one. His manner was quite charming, yet his presence there
was always puzzling, and had given rise to considerable speculation.

Hill came in, and after helping the Frenchman to take off his heavy
leather-lined travelling-coat, laid a small table for two and prepared

Then, when he had served it and left, Goslin rose, and, crossing to the
door, pushed the little brass bolt into its socket. Returning to his
chair opposite the blind man (whose food Hill had already cut up for
him), he exclaimed in a very calm, serious voice, speaking in French, "I
want you to hear what I have to say, Sir Henry, without exciting
yourself unduly. Something has occurred--something very strange and

The other dropped his knife, and sat statuesque and expressionless. "Go
on," he said hoarsely. "Tell me the worst at once."

"The worst has not yet happened. It is that which I'm dreading."

"Well, what has happened? Is--is the secret out?"

"The secret is safe--for the present."

The blind man drew a long breath. "Well, that's one thing to be thankful
for," he gasped. "I was afraid you were going to tell me that the facts
were exposed."

"They may yet be exposed," the mysterious visitor exclaimed. "That's
where lies the danger."

"We have been betrayed, eh? You may as well admit the ugly truth at
once, Goslin!"

"I do not conceal it, Sir Henry. We have."

"By whom?"

"By somebody here--in this house."

"Here! What do you mean? Somebody in my own house?"

"Yes. The Greek affair is known. They have been put upon their guard in

"By whom?" cried the Baronet, starting from his chair.

"By somebody whom we cannot trace--somebody who must have had access to
your papers."

"No one has had access to my papers. I always take good care of that,
Goslin--very good care of that. The affair has leaked out at your end,
not at mine."

"At our end we are always circumspect," the Frenchman said calmly. "Rest
assured that nobody but we ourselves are aware of our operations or
intentions. We know only too well that any revelation would assuredly
bring upon us--disaster."

"But a revelation has actually been made!" exclaimed Sir Henry, bending
forward. "Therefore the worst is to be feared."

"Exactly. That is what I am endeavouring to convey."

"The betrayal must have come from your end, I expect; not from here."

"I regret to assert that it came from here--from this very room."

"How do you know that?"

"Because in Athens they have a complete copy of one of the documents
which you showed me on the last occasion I was here, and which we have
never had in our possession."

The blind man was silent. The allegation admitted of no argument.

"My daughter Gabrielle is the only person who has seen it, and she
understands nothing of our affairs, as you know quite well."

"She may have copied it."

"My daughter would never betray me, Goslin," said Sir Henry in a hard,
distinct voice, rising from the table and slowly walking down the long,
book-lined room.

"Has no one else been able to open your safe and examine its contents?"
asked the Frenchman, glancing over to the small steel door let into the
wall close to where he was sitting.

"No one. Though I'm blind, do you consider me a fool? Surely I recognise
only too well how essential is secrecy. Have I not always taken the most
extraordinary precautions?"

"You have, Sir Henry. I quite admit that. Indeed, the precautions you've
taken would, if known to the world, be regarded--well, as simply

"I hope the world will never know the truth."

"It will know the truth. They have the copies in Athens. If there is a
traitor--as we have now proved the existence of one--then we can never
in future rest secure. At any moment another exposure may result, with
its attendant disaster."

The Baronet halted before one of the long windows, the morning sunshine
falling full upon his sad, grey face. He drew a long sigh and said,
"Goslin, do not let us discuss the future. Tell me exactly what is the
present situation."

"The present situation," the Frenchman said in a dry, matter-of-fact
voice, "is one full of peril for us. You have, over there in your safe,
a certain paper--a confidential report which you received direct from
Vienna. It was brought to you by special messenger because its nature
was not such as should be sent through the post. A trusted official of
the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs brought it here. To whom did he
deliver it?"

"To Gabrielle. She signed a receipt."

"And she broke the seals?"

"No. I was present, and she handed it to me. I broke the seals myself.
She read it over to me."

"Ah!" ejaculated the Frenchman suspiciously. "It is unfortunate that you
are compelled to entrust our secrets to a woman."

"My daughter is my best friend; indeed, perhaps my only friend."

"Then you have enemies?"

"Who has not?"

"True. We all of us have enemies," replied the mysterious visitor. "But
in this case, how do you account for that report falling into the hands
of the people in Athens? Who keeps the key of the safe?"

"I do. It is never out of my possession."

"At night what do you do with it?"

"I hide it in a secret place in my room, and I sleep with the door

"Then, as far as you are aware, nobody has ever had possession of your
key--not even mademoiselle your daughter?"

"Not even Gabrielle. I always lock and unlock the safe myself."

"But she has access to its contents when it is open," the visitor
remarked. "Acting as your secretary, she is, of course, aware of a good
deal of your business."

"No; you are mistaken. Have we not arranged a code in order to prevent
her from satisfying her woman's natural inquisitiveness?"

"That's admitted. But the document in question, though somewhat guarded,
is sufficiently plain to any one acquainted with the nature of our

The blind man crossed to the safe, and with the key upon his chain
opened it, and, after fumbling in one of the long iron drawers revealed
within, took out a big oblong envelope, orange-coloured, and secured
with five black seals, now, however, broken.

This he handed to his friend, saying, "Read it again, to refresh your
memory. I know myself what it says pretty well by heart."

Monsieur Goslin drew forth the paper within and read the lines of close,
even writing. It was in German. He stood near the window as he read,
while Sir Henry remained near the open safe.

Hill tapped at the bolted door, but his master replied that he did not
wish to be disturbed. "Yes," the Frenchman said at last, "the copy they
have in Athens is exact--word for word."

"They may have obtained it from Vienna."

"No; it came from here. There are some pencilled comments in your
daughter's handwriting."

"They were dictated by me."

"Exactly. And they appear in the copy now in the hands of the people in
Athens! Thus it is doubly proved that it was this actual document which
was copied. But by whom?"

"Ah!" sighed the helpless man, his face drawn and paler than usual,
"Gabrielle is the only person who has had sight of it."

"Mademoiselle surely could not have copied it," remarked the Frenchman.
"Has she a lover?"

"Yes; the son of a neighbour of mine, a very worthy young fellow."

Goslin grunted dubiously. It was apparent that he suspected her of
trickery. Information such as had been supplied to the Greek Government
would, he knew, be paid for, and at a high price. Had mademoiselle's
lover had a hand in that revelation?

"I would not suggest for a single moment, Sir Henry, that mademoiselle
your daughter would act in any way against your personal interests;

"But what?" demanded the blind man fiercely, turning towards his

"Well, it is peculiar--very peculiar--to say the least."

Sir Henry was silent. Within himself he was compelled to admit that
certain suspicion attached to Gabrielle. And yet was she not his most
devoted--nay, his only--friend? "Some one has copied the report--that's
evident," he said in a low, hard voice, reflecting deeply.

"And by so doing has placed us in a position of grave peril, Sir
Henry--imminent peril," remarked the visitor. "I see in this an attempt
to obtain further knowledge of our affairs. We have a secret enemy, who,
it seems, has found a vulnerable point in our armour."

"Surely my own daughter cannot be my enemy?" cried the blind man in

"You say she has a lover," remarked the Frenchman, speaking slowly and
with deliberation. "May not he be the instigator?"

"Walter Murie is upright and honourable," replied the blind man. "And
yet--" A long-drawn sigh prevented the conclusion of that sentence.

"Ah, I know!" exclaimed the mysterious visitor in a tone of sympathy.
"You are uncertain in your conclusions because of your terrible
affliction. Sometimes, alas! my dear friend, you are imposed upon,
because you are blind."

"Yes," responded the other, bitterly. "That is the truth, Goslin.
Because I cannot see like other men, I have been deceived--foully and
grossly deceived and betrayed! But--but," he cried, "they thought to
ruin me, and I've tricked them, Goslin--yes, tricked them! Have no fear.
For the present our secrets are our own!"



The Twelfth--the glorious Twelfth--had come and gone. "The rush to the
North" had commenced from London. From Euston, St. Pancras, and King's
Cross the night trains for Scotland had run in triplicate, crowded by
men and gun-cases and kit-bags, while gloomy old Perth station was a
scene of unwonted activity each morning.

At Glencardine there were little or no grouse; therefore it was not
until later that Sir Henry invited his usual party.

Gabrielle had been south to visit one of her girlfriends near Durham,
and the week of her absence her afflicted father had spent in dark
loneliness, for Flockart had gone to London, and her ladyship was away
on a fortnight's visit to the Pelhams, down at New Galloway.

On the last day of August, however, Gabrielle returned, being followed a
few hours later by Lady Heyburn, who had travelled up by way of Stirling
and Crieff Junction, while that same night eight men forming the
shooting-party arrived by the day express from the south.

The gathering was a merry one. The guests were the same who came up
there every year, some of them friends of Sir Henry in the days of his
brilliant career, others friends of his wife. The shooting at
Glencardine was always excellent; and Stewart, wise and serious, had
prophesied first-class sport.

Walter Murie was in London. While Gabrielle had been at Durham he had
travelled up there, spent the night at the "Three Tuns," and met her
next morning in that pretty wooded walk they call "the Banks." Devoted
to her as he was, he could not bear any long separation; while she, on
her part, was gratified by this attention. Not without some difficulty
did she succeed in getting away from her friends to meet him, for a
provincial town is not like London, and any stranger is always in the
public eye. But they spent a delightful couple of hours together,
strolling along the footpath through the meadows in the direction of
Finchale Priory. There were no eavesdroppers; and he, with his arm
linked in hers, repeated the story of his all-conquering love.

She listened in silence, then raising her fine clear eyes to his, said,
"I know, Walter--I know that you love me. And I love you also."

"Ah," he sighed, "if you would only be frank with me, dearest--if you
would only be as frank with me as I am with you!"

Sadly she shook her head, but made no reply. He saw that a shadow had
clouded her brow, that she still clung to her strange secret; and at
length, when they retraced their steps back to the city, he reluctantly
took leave of her, and half-an-hour later was speeding south again
towards York and King's Cross.

The opening day of the partridge season proved bright and pleasant. The
men were out early; and the ladies, a gay party, including Gabrielle,
joined them at luncheon spread on a mossy bank about three miles from
the castle. Several of the male guests were particularly attentive to
the dainty, sweet-faced girl whose charming manner and fresh beauty
attracted them. But Gabrielle's heart was with Walter always. She loved
him. Yes, she told herself so a dozen times each day. And yet was not
the barrier between them insurmountable? Ah, if he only knew! If he only

The blind man was left alone nearly the whole of that day. His daughter
had wanted to remain with him, but he would not hear of it. "My dear
child," he had said, "you must go out and lunch. You really must assist
your mother in entertaining the people."

"But, dear dad, I much prefer to remain with you and help you," she
protested. "Yesterday the Professor sent you five more bronze matrices
of ecclesiastical seals. We haven't yet examined them."

"We'll do so to-night, dear," he said. "You go out to-day. I'll amuse
myself all right. Perhaps I'll go for a little walk."

Therefore the girl had, against her inclination, joined the
luncheon-party, where foremost of all to have her little attentions was
a rather foppish young stockbroker named Girdlestone, who had been up
there shooting the previous year, and had on that occasion flirted with
her furiously.

During her absence her father tried to resume his knitting--an
occupation which he had long ago been compelled to resort to in order to
employ his time; but he soon put it down with a sigh, rose, and taking
his soft brown felt-hat and stout stick, tapped his way along through
the great hall and out into the park.

He felt the warmth upon his cheek as he passed slowly along down the
broad drive. "Ah," he murmured to himself, "if only I could once again
see God's sunlight! If I could only see the greenery of nature and the
face of my darling child!" and he sighed brokenly, and went on, his chin
sunk upon his breast, a despairing, hopeless man. Surely no figure more
pathetic than his could be found in the whole of Scotland. Upon him had
been showered honour, great wealth, all indeed that makes life worth
living, and yet, deprived of sight, he existed in that world of
darkness, deceived and plotted against by all about him. His grey
countenance was hard and thoughtful as he passed slowly along tapping
the ground before him, for he was thinking--ever thinking--of the
declaration of his French visitor. He had been betrayed. But by whom?

His thoughts were wandering back to those days when he could see--those
well-remembered days when he had held the House in silence by his
brilliant oratory, and when the papers next day had leading articles
concerning his speeches. He recollected his time-mellowed old club in
St. James's Street--Boodle's--of which he had been so fond. Then came
his affliction. The thought of it all struck him suddenly; and,
clenching his hands, he murmured some inarticulate words through his
teeth. They sounded strangely like a threat. Next instant, however, he
laughed bitterly to himself the dry, harsh laugh of a man into whose
very soul the iron had entered.

In the distance he could hear the shots of his guests, those men who
accepted his hospitality, and who among themselves agreed that he was "a
terrible bore, poor old fellow!" They came up there--with perhaps two
exceptions--to eat his dinners, drink his choice wines, and shoot his
birds, but begrudged him more than ten minutes or so of their company
each day. In the billiard-room of an evening, as he sat upon one of the
long lounges, they would perhaps deign to chat with him; but, alas! he
knew that he was only as a wet blanket to his wife's guests, hence he
kept himself so much to the library--his own domain.

That night he spent half-an-hour in the billiard-room in order to hear
what sport they had had, but very soon escaped, and with Gabrielle
returned again to the library to fulfil his promise and examine the
seal-matrices which the Professor had sent.

To where they sat came bursts of boisterous laughter and of the
waltz-music of the pianola in the hall, for in the shooting season the
echoes of the fine mansion were awakened by the merriment of as gay a
crowd as any who assembled in the Highlands.

Sir Henry heard it. The sounds jarred upon his nerves. Mirth such as
theirs was debarred him for ever, and he had now become gloomy and
misanthropic. He sat fingering those big oval matrices of bronze,
listening to Gabrielle's voice deciphering the inscriptions, and
explaining what was meant and what was possibly their history. One which
Sir Henry declared to be the gem of them all bore the _manus Dei_ for
device, and was the seal of Archbishop Richard (1174-84). Several
documents bearing impressions of this seal were, he said, preserved at
Canterbury and in the British Museum, but here the actual seal itself
had come to light.

With all the enthusiasm of an expert he lingered over the matrice,
feeling it carefully with the tips of his fingers, and tracing the
device with the nail of his forefinger. "Splendid!" he declared. "The
lettering is a most excellent specimen of early Lombardic." And then he
gave the girl the titles of several works, which she got down from the
shelves, and from which she read extracts after some careful search.

The sulphur-casts sent with the matrices she placed carefully with her
father's collection, and during the remainder of the evening they were
occupied in replying to several letters regarding estate matters.

At eleven o'clock she kissed her father good-night and passed out to the
hall, where the pianola was still going, and where the merriment was
still in full swing. For a quarter of an hour she was compelled to
remain with the insipid young ass Bertie Girdlestone, a man who
patronised musical comedy nightly, and afterwards supped regularly at
the "Savoy"; then she escaped at last to her room.

Exchanging her pretty gown of turquoise chiffon for an easy wrap, she
took up a novel, and, switching on her green-shaded reading-lamp, sat
down to enjoy a quiet hour before retiring. Quickly she became engrossed
in the story, and though the stable-chimes sounded each half-hour she
remained undisturbed by them.

It was half-past two before she had reached the happy _denouement_ of
the book, and, closing it, she rose to take off her trinkets. Having
divested herself of bracelets, rings, and necklet, she placed her hands
to her ears. There was only one ear-ring; the other was missing! They
were sapphires, a present from Walter on her last birthday. He had sent
them to her from Yokohama, and she greatly prized them. Therefore, at
risk of being seen in her dressing-gown by any of the male guests who
might still be astir--for she knew they always played billiards until
very late--she took off her little blue satin slippers and stole out
along the corridor and down the broad staircase.

The place was in darkness; but she turned on the light, and again when
she reached the hall.

She must have dropped her ear-ring in the library; of that she felt
sure. Servants were so careless that, if she left it, it might easily be
swept up in the morning and lost for ever. That thought had caused her
to search for it at once.

As she approached the library door she thought she heard the sound as of
some one within. On her opening the door, however, all was in darkness.
She laughed at her apprehension.

In an instant she touched the switch, and the place became flooded by a
soft, mellow light from lamps cunningly concealed behind the bookcases
against the wall. At the same moment, however, she detected a movement
behind one of the bookcases against which she stood. With sudden
resolution and fearlessness, she stepped forward to ascertain its cause.
Her eyes at that instant fell upon a sight which caused her to start and
stand dumb with amazement. Straight before her the door of her father's
safe stood open. Beside it, startled at the sudden interruption, stood a
man in evening-dress, with a small electric lamp in his clenched hand. A
pair of dark, evil eyes met hers in defiance--the eyes of James

"You!" she gasped.

"Yes," he laughed dryly. "Don't be afraid. It's only I. But, by Jove!
how very charming you look in that gown! I'd love to get a snapshot of
you just as you stand now."

"What are you doing there, examining my father's papers?" she demanded
quickly, her small hands clenched.

"My dear girl," he replied with affected unconcern, "that's my own
business. You really ought to have been in bed long ago. It isn't
discreet, you know, to be down here with me at this hour!"

"I demand to know what you are doing here!" she cried firmly.

"And, my dear little girl, I refuse to tell you," was his decisive

"Very well, then I shall alarm the house and explain to my father what I
have discovered."



Gabrielle crossed quickly to one of the long windows, which she unbolted
and flung open, expecting to hear the shrill whir of the burglar-alarm,
which, every night, Hill switched on before retiring.

"My dear little girl!" exclaimed the man, smiling as he strolled
leisurely across to her with a cool, perfect unconcern which showed how
completely he was master, "why create such a beastly draught? Nothing
will happen, for I've already seen to those wires."

"You're a thief!" she cried, drawing herself up angrily. "I shall go
straight to my father and tell him at once."

"You are at perfect liberty to act exactly as you choose," was
Flockart's answer, as he bowed before her with irritating mock
politeness. "But before you go, pray allow me to finish these most
interesting documents, some of which, I believe, are in your very neat

"My father's business is his own alone, and you have no right whatever
to pry into it. I thought you were posing as his friend!" she cried in
bitter protest, as she stood with both her hands clenched.

"I am his friend," he declared. "Some day, Gabrielle, you will know the
truth of how near he is to disaster, and how I am risking much in an
endeavour to save him."

"I don't believe you!" she exclaimed in undisguised disgust. "In your
heart there is not one single spark of sympathy with him in his
affliction or with me in my ghastly position!"

"Your position is only your own seeking, my dear child," was his cold
response. "I gave you full warning long ago. You can't deny that."

"You conspired with Lady Heyburn against me!" she cried. "I have
discovered more about it than you think; and I now openly defy you, Mr.
Flockart. Please understand that."

"Good!" he replied, still unruffled. "I quite understand. You will
pardon my resuming, won't you?" And walking back to the open safe, he
drew forth a small bundle of papers from a drawer. Then he threw himself
into a leather arm-chair, and proceeded to untie the tape and examine
the documents one by one, as though in eager search of something.

"Though Lady Heyburn may be your friend, I am quite sure even she would
never for a moment countenance such a dastardly action as this!" cried
the girl, crimsoning in anger. "You come here, accept my father's
hospitality, and make pretence of being his friend and adviser; yet you
are conspiring against him, as you have done against myself!"

"So far as you yourself are concerned, my dear Gabrielle," he laughed,
without deigning to look up from the papers he was scanning, "I offered
you my friendship, but you refused it."

"Friendship!" she cried, in sarcasm. "Your friendship, Mr. Flockart!
What, pray, is it worth? You surely know what people are saying--the
construction they are placing upon your friendship for Lady Heyburn?"

"The misconstruction, you mean," he exclaimed airily, correcting her.
"Well, to me it matters not a single jot. The world is always
ill-disposed and ill-natured. A woman can surely have a male friend
without being subject to hostile and venomous criticism?"

"When the male friend is an honest man," said the girl meaningly.

He shrugged his shoulders and continued reading, as though utterly
disregarding her presence.

What should she do? How should she act? She knew quite well that from
those papers he could gather no knowledge of her father's affairs,
unless he held some secret knowledge of the true meaning of those
cryptic terms and allusions. To her they were all as Hebrew.

Only that very day Monsieur Goslin had again made one of those
unexpected visits, remaining from eleven in the morning until three;
afterwards taking his leave, and driving back in the car to Auchterarder
Station. She had not seen him; but he had brought from Paris for her a
big box of chocolates tied with violet ribbons, as had been his habit
for quite a couple of years past. She was a particular favourite with
the polite, middle-aged Frenchman.

Her father's demeanour was always more thoughtful and serious after the
stranger's visits. Business matters put before him by his visitor
always, it seemed, required much deep thought and ample consideration.

Some papers brought to her father by Goslin she had placed in the safe
earlier that evening, and these, she recognised, were now in Flockart's
hands. She had not read them herself, and had no idea of their contents.
They were, to her, never interesting.

"Mr. Flockart," she exclaimed very firmly at last, "I ask you to kindly
replace those papers in my father's safe, relock it, and hand me the

"That I certainly refuse to do," was the man's defiant reply, bowing as
he spoke.

"You would prefer, then, that I should go up to my father and explain
all I have seen?"

"I repeat what I have already said. You are perfectly at liberty to tell
whom you like. It makes no difference whatever to me. And, well, I don't
want to be disturbed just now." Rising, he walked across to the
writing-table, and taking a piece of note-paper bearing the Heyburn
crest, rapidly pencilled some memoranda upon it. He was, it seemed,
taking a copy of one of the documents.

Suddenly she sprang towards him, crying, "Give me that paper! Give it to
me at once, I say! It is my father's."

He straightened himself from the table, pulled down his white dress-vest
with its amethyst buttons, and, looking straight into her face, ordered
her to leave the room.

"I shall not go," she answered boldly. "I have discovered a thief in my
father's house; therefore my duty is to remain here."

"No. Surely your duty is to go upstairs and tell him;" and he bent
again, resuming his rapid memoranda. "Well," he asked defiantly, a few
moments later, seeing that she had not moved, "aren't you going?"

"I shall not leave you here alone."

"Don't. I might run away with some of the ornaments."

"Oh, yes!" exclaimed the girl bitterly, "you taunt me because you are
well aware of my helplessness--of what occurred on that
never-to-be-forgotten afternoon--of how completely you have me in your
power! I see it all. You defy me, well knowing that you could, in a
moment, bring upon me a vengeance terrible and complete. It is all
horrible!" she cried, covering her face with her hands. "I know that I
am in your power. And you have no pity, no remorse."

"I gave you full warning," he declared, placing the papers upon the
table and looking at her. "I gave you your choice. You cannot blame me.
You had ample time and opportunity."

"But I still have one man who loves me--a man who will yet stand my
friend and defend me, even against you!"

"Walter Murie!" he laughed, with a quick gesture of disregard. "You
believe him to be your friend? Recollect, my dear Gabrielle, that men
are deceivers ever."

"So it seems in your case," she exclaimed with poignant bitterness. "You
have brought scandalous comment upon my father's name, and yet you are
utterly unconcerned."

"Because, as I have already told you, your father is my friend."

"And it is his money which you spend so freely," she said, in a low,
hard voice of reproach. "It comes from him."

"His money!" he exclaimed quickly. "What do you mean? What do you

"Simply that among my father's accounts a short time back I found two
cheques drawn by Lady Heyburn in your favour."

"And you told your father of them, of course!" he exclaimed with
sarcasm. "A remarkable discovery, eh?"

"I told him nothing," was her bold reply. "Not because I wished to
shield you, but because I did not wish to pain him unduly. He has
worries sufficient, in all conscience."

"Your devotion is really most charming," the man declared calmly,
leaning against the table and examining her critically from head to
foot. "Sir Henry believes in you. You are his dutiful daughter--pure,
good, and all that!" he sneered. "I wonder what he would say if
he--well, if he knew just a little of the truth, of what happened that
day at Chantilly?"

"The truth! Ah, and you would tell him--you!" she gasped in a broken
voice, her sweet, innocent face blanched to the lips in an instant. "You
would drag my good name into the mire, and blast my life for ever with
just as little compunction as you would shoot a rabbit. I know--I know
you only too well, Mr. Flockart! I stand in your way; I am in your way
as well as in Lady Heyburn's. You are only awaiting an opportunity to
wreck my life and crush me! Once I am away from here, my poor father
will be helpless in your hands!"

"Dear me," he sneered, "how very tragic you are becoming! That
dressing-gown really makes you appear quite like a heroine of provincial
melodrama. I ought now to have a revolver and threaten you, and then
this scene would be complete for the stage--wouldn't it? But for
goodness' sake don't remain here in the cold any longer, my dear little
girl. Run off to bed, and forget that to-night you've been walking in
your sleep."

"Not until I see that safe relocked and you give me the false key of
yours. If you will not, then you shall this very night have an
opportunity of telling the truth to my father. I am prepared to bear my
shame and all its consequences----"

The words froze upon her pale lips. On the lawn outside the half-open
glass door there was at that moment a light movement--the tapping of a

"Hush!" cried Flockart. "Remember what I can tell him--if I choose!"

In an instant she saw the fragile figure of her father, in soft felt-hat
and black coat, creeping almost noiselessly past the window. He had been
out for one of his nocturnal walks, for he sometimes went out alone when
suffering from insomnia. He had just returned.

The blind man went forward only a few paces farther; but, finding that
he had proceeded too far, he returned and discovered the open door. Near
it stood the pair, not daring now to move lest the blind man's quick
ears should detect their footsteps.

"Gabrielle! Gabrielle, my dear!" exclaimed the Baronet.

But though her heart beat quickly, the girl did not reply. She knew,
however, that the old man could almost read her innermost thoughts. The
ominous words of Flockart rang in her ears. Yes, he could tell a
terrible and awful truth which must be concealed at all hazards.

"I felt sure I heard Gabrielle's voice. How curious!" murmured the old
man, as his feet fell noiselessly upon the thick Turkey carpet.
"Gabrielle, dear!" he called. But his daughter stood there breathless
and silent, not daring to move a muscle. Plain it was that while passing
across the lawn outside he heard her voice. He had overheard her
declaration that she was prepared to bear the consequences of her

Across the room the blind man groped, his hand held before him, as was
his habit. "Strange! Remarkably strange!" he remarked to himself quite
aloud. "I'm never mistaken in Gabrielle's voice. Gabrielle, dear, where
are you? Why don't you speak? It's too late to-night to play practical

Flockart knew that he had left the safe-door open, yet he dared not move
across the room to close it. The sightless man would detect the
slightest movement in that dead silence of the night. With great care he
left the girl's side, and a single stride brought him to the large
writing-table, where he secured the document, together with the
pencilled memoranda of its purport, both of which he slipped into his
pocket unobserved.

Gabrielle dared not breathe. Her discovery there meant her ruin.

The man who held her in his toils cast her an evil, threatening glance,
raising his clenched fist in menace, as though daring her to make the
slightest movement. In his dark eyes showed a sinister expression, and
his nether lip was hard. She was, alas! utterly and completely in his

The safe was some distance away, and in order to reach and close it he
would be compelled to pass the man in blue spectacles now standing,
puzzled and surprised, in the centre of the great book-lined apartment.
Both of them could escape by the open window, but to do so would be to
court discovery should the Baronet find his safe standing open. In that
case the alarm would be raised, and they would both be found outside the
house, instead of within.

Slowly the old man drew his thin hand across his furrowed brow, and
then, as a sudden recollection dawned upon him, he cried, "Ah, the
window! Why, that's strange! When I went out I closed it! But it was
open--open--as I came in! Some one--some one has entered here in my

With both his thin, wasted hands outstretched, he walked quickly to his
safe, cleverly avoiding the furniture in his course, and next second
discovered that the iron door stood wide open.

"Thieves!" he gasped aloud hoarsely as the truth dawned upon him. "My
papers! Gabrielle's voice! What can all this mean?" And next moment he
opened the door, crying, "Help!" and endeavouring to alarm the

In an instant Flockart dashed forward towards the safe, and, without
being observed by Gabrielle, had slipped the key into his own pocket.

"Gabrielle," cried the blind man, "you are here in the room. I know you
are. You cannot deceive me. I smell that new scent, which your aunt
Annie sent you, upon your handkerchief. Why don't you speak to me?"

"Yes, dad," she answered at last, in a low, strained voice, "I--I am

"Then what is meant by my safe being open?" he asked sternly, as all
that Goslin had told him a little while before flashed across his
memory. "Why have you obtained a key to it?"

"I have no key," was her quick answer.

"Come here," he said. "Let me take your hand."

With great reluctance, her eyes fixed upon Flockart's face, she did as
she was bid, and as her father took her soft hand in his, he said in a
stern, harsh tone, full of suspicion and quite unusual to him, "You are
trembling, Gabrielle--trembling, because--because of my unexpected
appearance, eh?"

The fair girl with the sweet face and dainty figure was silent. What
could she reply?



"What are you doing here at this hour?" Gabrielle's father demanded
slowly, releasing her hand. "Why are you prying into my affairs?" He had
not detected Flockart's presence, and believed himself alone with his

The man's glance again met Gabrielle's, and she saw in his eyes a
desperate look. To tell the truth would, she knew, alas! cause the
exposure of her secret and her disgrace. On both sides had she suddenly
become hemmed in by a deadly peril.

"Dad," she cried suddenly, "do I not know all about your affairs
already? Do I not act as your secretary? With what motive should I open
your safe?"

Without response, the blind man moved back to the open door, and,
placing his hand within, fingered one of the long iron drawers. It was
unlocked, and he drew it forth. Some papers were within--blue,
legal-looking papers which his daughter had never seen. "Yes," he
exclaimed aloud, "just as I thought. This drawer has been opened, and my
private affairs pried into. Tell me, Gabrielle, where is young Murie
just at present?"

"In Paris, I believe. He left London unexpectedly three days ago."

"Paris!" echoed the old man. "Ah," he added, "Goslin was right--quite
right. And so you, my daughter, in whom I placed all my trust--my--my
only friend--have betrayed me!" he added brokenly.

"I have not betrayed you, dear father," was her quick protest. "To whom
do you allege I have exposed your affairs?"

"To your lover, Walter."

To Flockart, whose wits were already at work upon some scheme to
extricate himself, there came at that instant a sudden suggestion. He
spoke, causing the old man to start suddenly and turn in the direction
of the speaker.

As the words left his lips he raised a threatening finger towards
Gabrielle, a sign of silence to her of which the old man was
unfortunately in ignorance.

"I think, Sir Henry, that I ought to speak--to tell you the truth,
painful though it may be. Five minutes ago I came down here in order to
get a telegraph-form, as I wanted to send a wire at the earliest
possible moment to-morrow, when, to my surprise, I saw a light beneath
the door. I----"

"Oh, no, no!" gasped the girl, in horrified protest. "It's a lie!"

"I crept in quietly, and was very surprised to find Gabrielle with the
safe open, and alone. I had expected that she was sitting up late,
working with you. But she seemed to be examining and reading some papers
she took from a drawer. Forgive me for telling you this, but the truth
must now be made plain. I startled her by my sudden presence; and,
pointing out the dishonour of copying her father's papers, no matter for
what purpose, I compelled her to return the documents to their place. I
fold her frankly that it was my duty, as your friend, to inform you of
the incident; but she implored me, for the sake of her lover, to remain

"Mr. Flockart!" cried the girl, "how dare you say such a thing when you
know it to be an untruth; when----"

"Enough!" exclaimed her father bitterly. "I'm ashamed of you, Gabrielle.

"I would beg of you, Sir Henry, not further to distress yourself,"
Flockart interrupted. "Love, as you know, often prompts both men and
women to commit acts of supreme folly."

"Folly!" echoed the blind man. "This is more than folly! Gabrielle and
her lover have conspired to bring about my ruin. I have had suspicions
for several weeks; now, alas! they are confirmed. Walter Murie is in
Paris at this moment in order to make money out of the secret knowledge
which Gabrielle obtains for him. My own daughter is responsible for my
betrayal!" he added, in a voice broken by emotion.

"No, no, Sir Henry!" urged Flockart. "Surely the outlook is not so black
as you foresee. Gabrielle has acted injudiciously; but surely she is
still devoted to you and your interests."

"Yes," cried the girl in desperation, "you know I am, dad. You know that

"It is useless, Flockart, for you to endeavour to seek forgiveness for
Gabrielle," declared her father in a firm, harsh voice, "Quite useless.
She has even endeavoured to deny the statement you have made--tried to
deny it when I actually heard with my own ears her defiant declaration
that she was prepared to bear her shame and all its consequences! Let
her do so, I say. She shall leave Glencardine to-morrow, and have no
further opportunity to conspire against me."

"Oh, father, what are you saying?" she cried in despair, bursting into
tears. "I have not conspired."

"I am saying the truth," went on the blind man. "You and your lover have
formed another clever plot, eh? Because I have not sight to watch you,
you will copy my business reports and send them to Walter Murie, who
hopes to place them in a certain channel where he can receive payment.
This is not the first time my business has leaked out from this room.
Only a short time ago certain confidential documents were offered to the
Greek Government, but fortunately they were false ones prepared on
purpose to trick any one who had designs upon my business secrets."

"I swear I am in ignorance of it all."

"Well, I have now told you plainly," the old man said. "I loved you,
Gabrielle, and until this moment foolishly believed that you were
devoted to me and to my interests. I trusted you implicitly, but you
have betrayed me into the hands of my enemies--betrayed me," he wailed,
"in such a manner that only ruin may face me. I tell you the hard and
bitter truth. I am blind, and ever since your return from school you
have acted as my secretary, and I have looked at the world only through
your eyes. Ah," he sighed, "but I ought to have known! I should never
have trusted a woman, even though she be my own daughter."

The girl stood with her blanched face covered by her hands. To protest,
to declare that Flockart's story was a lie, was, she saw, all to no
purpose. Her father had overheard her bold defiance and had, alas! most
unfortunately taken it as an admission of her guilt.

Flockart stood motionless but watchful; yet by the few words he uttered
he succeeded in impressing the blind man with the genuineness of his
friendship both for father and for daughter. He urged forgiveness, but
Sir Henry disregarded all his appeals.

"No," he declared. "It is fortunate indeed, Flockart, that you made this
discovery, and thus placed me upon my guard." The poor deluded man
little dreamt that on the occasion when Flockart had taken him down the
drive to announce his departure from Glencardine on account of the
gossip, and had drawn Sir Henry's attention to his hanging watch-chain,
he had succeeded in cleverly obtaining two impressions of the safe-key
attached. In his excitement, it had never occurred to him to ask his
daughter by what means she had been able to open that steel door.

"Dad," she faltered, advancing towards him and placing her soft, tender
hand upon his shoulder, "won't you listen to reason? I assure you I am
quite innocent of any attempt or intention to betray you. I know you
have many enemies;" and she glanced quickly in Flockart's direction.
"Have we not often discussed them? Have I not kept eyes and ears open,
and told you of all I have seen and learnt? Have----"

"You have seen and learnt what is to my detriment," he answered. "All
argument is useless. A fortnight or so ago, by your aid, my enemies
secured a copy of a certain document which has never left yonder safe.
To-night Mr. Flockart has discovered you again tampering with my safe,
and with my own ears I heard you utter defiance. You are more devoted to
your lover than to me, and you are supplying him with copies of my

"That is untrue, dad," protested the girl reproachfully.

But her father shook her hand roughly from his shoulder, saying, "I have
already told you my decision, which is irrevocable. To-morrow you shall
leave Glencardine and go to your aunt Emily at Woodnewton. You won't
have much opportunity for mischief in that dull little Northampton
village. I won't allow you to remain under my roof any longer; you are
too ungrateful and deceitful, knowing as you do the misery of my

"But, father----"

"Go to your room," he ordered sternly. "Tomorrow I will speak with your
mother, and we shall then decide what shall be done. Only, understand
one thing: in the future you are not my dear daughter that you have been
in the past. I--I have no daughter," he added in a voice harsh yet
broken by emotion, "for you have now proved yourself an enemy worse even
than those who for so many years have taken advantage of my

"Ah, dad, dad, you are cruel!" she cried, bursting again into a torrent
of tears. "You are too cruel! I have done nothing!"

"Do you call placing me in peril nothing?" he retorted bitterly. "Go to
your room at once. Remain with me, Flockart. I want to speak to you."

The girl saw herself convicted by those unfortunate words she had
used--words meant in defiance of her arch-enemy Flockart, but which had
placed her in ignominy and disgrace. Ah, if she could only stand firm
and speak the ghastly truth! But, alas! she dared not. Flockart, the man
who held her in his power, the man whom she knew to be her father's
bitterest opponent, a cheat and a fraud, stood there triumphant, with a
smile upon his lips; while she, pure, honest, and devoted to that
afflicted man, was denounced and outcast. She raised her voice in one
last word of faint protest.

But her father, angered and grieved, turned fiercely upon her and
ordered her from his presence. "Go," he said, "and do not come near me
again until your boxes are packed and you are ready to leave

"You speak as though I were a servant whom you've discharged," she said

"I am speaking to my enemy, not to my daughter," was his hard response.

She raised her eyes to Flockart, and saw upon his dark face a hard,
sphinx-like look. What hope of salvation could she ever expect from that
man--the man who long ago had sought to estrange her from her father so
that he might work his own ends? It was upon her tongue to turn upon him
and relate the whole infamous truth. Yet so friendly had the two men
become of late that she feared, even if she did so, that her father
would only see in the revelation an attempt at reprisal. Besides, what
if Flockart spoke? What if he told the awful truth? Her own dear father,
whom she loved so well, even though he had misjudged her, would be
dragged into the mire. No, she was the victim of that man, who was a
past-master of the art of subterfuge; the man who, for years, had lived
by his wits and preyed upon society.

"Leave us, and go to your room," again commanded her father.

She looked sadly at the white, bespectacled countenance which she loved
so well. Her soft hand once more sought his; but he cast it from him,
saying, "Enough of your caresses! You are no longer my daughter! Leave
us!" And then, seeing all protest in vain, she sighed, turned very
slowly, and with a last, lingering look upon the helpless man to whom
she had been so devoted, and who now so grossly misjudged her, she
tottered out, closing the door behind her.

"Has she gone?" asked Sir Henry a moment later.

Flockart responded in the affirmative, laying his hand upon the shoulder
of his agitated host, and urging him to remain calm.

"That's all very well, my dear Flockart," he cried; "but you don't know
what she has done. She exposed a week or so ago a most confidential
arrangement with the Greek Government, a revelation which might have
involved me in the loss of over a hundred thousand."

"Then it's fortunate, perhaps, that I discovered her to-night," replied
his guest. "All this must be very painful to you, Sir Henry."

"Very. I shall not give her another opportunity to betray me, Flockart,
depend upon that," the elder man said. "My wife warned me against
Gabrielle long ago. I now see that I was a fool for not taking her

"Certainly it's a curious fact that Walter Murie is in Paris," remarked
the other. "Was the revelation of your financial dealings made in Paris,
do you know?"

"Yes, it was," snapped the blind man. "I believed Walter to be quite a
good young fellow."

"Ah, I knew different, Sir Henry. His life up in London was not--well,
not exactly all that it should be. He's in with a rather shady crowd."

"You never told me so."

"Because you did not believe me to be your friend until quite recently.
I hope I have now proved what I have asserted. If I can do anything to
assist you I am only too ready. I assure you that you have only to
command me."

Sir Henry reflected deeply for a few moments. The discovery that his
daughter was playing him false caused within him a sudden revulsion of
feeling. Unfortunately, he could not see the expression upon the
countenance of his false friend. He was wondering at that moment whether
he might entrust to him a somewhat delicate mission.

"Gabrielle shall not return here," her father said, as though speaking
to himself.

"That is a course which I would most strongly advise. Send the girl
away," urged the other. "Evidently she has grossly betrayed you."

"That I certainly intend doing," was the answer. "But I wonder,
Flockart, if I might take you at your word, and ask you to do me a
favour? I am so helpless, or I would not think of troubling you."

"Only tell me what you wish, and I will do it with pleasure."

"Very well, then," replied the blind man. "Perhaps I shall want you to
go to Paris at once, watch the actions of young Murie, and report to me
from time to time. Would you?"

A look of bright intelligence overspread the man's features as a new
vista opened before him. Sir Henry was about to take him into his
confidence! "Why, with pleasure," he said cheerily. "I'll start
to-morrow, and rest assured that I'll keep a very good eye upon the
young gentleman. You now know the painful truth concerning your
daughter--the truth which Lady Heyburn has told you so often, and which
you have never yet heeded."

"Yes, Flockart," answered the afflicted man, taking his guest's hand in
warm friendship. "I once disliked you--that I admit; but you were quite
frank the other day, and now to-night you have succeeded in making a
discovery that, though it has upset me terribly, may mean my salvation."



Sir Henry refused to speak with his daughter when, on the following
morning, she stole in and laid her hand softly upon his arm. He ordered
her, in a tone quite unusual, to leave the library. Through the morning
hours she had lain awake trying to make a resolve. But, alas! she dared
not tell the truth; she was in deadly fear of Flockart's reprisals.

That morning, at nine o'clock, Lady Heyburn and Flockart had held
hurried consultation in secret, at which he had explained to her what
had occurred.

"Excellent!" she had remarked briefly. "But we must now have a care, my
dear friend. Mind the girl does not throw all prudence to the winds and
turn upon us."

"Bah!" he laughed, "I don't fear that for a single second." And he left
the room again, to salute her in the breakfast-room a quarter of an hour
later as though they had not met before that day.

Gabrielle, on leaving her father, went out for a long walk alone, away
over the heather-clad hills. For hours she went on--Jock, her Aberdeen
terrier, toddling at her side, in her hand a stout ash-stick--regardless
of the muddy roads or the wet weather. It was grey, damp, and dismal,
one of those days which in the Highlands are often so very cheerless and
dispiriting. Yet on, and still on, she went, her mind full of the events
of the previous night; full, also, of the dread secret which prevented
her from exposing her father's false friend. In order to save her
father, should she sacrifice herself--sacrifice her own life? That was
the one problem before her.

She saw nothing; she heeded nothing. Hunger or fatigue troubled her not.
Indeed, she took no notice of where her footsteps led her. Beyond Crieff
she wandered, along the river-bank a short distance, ascending a hill,
where a wild and wonderful view spread before her. There she sat down
upon a big boulder to rest.

Her hair blown by the chill wind, she sat staring straight before her,
thinking--ever thinking. She had not seen Lady Heyburn that day. She had
seen no one.

At six o'clock that morning she had written a long letter to Walter
Murie. She had not mentioned the midnight incident, but she had, with
many expressions of regret, pointed out the futility of any further
affection between them. She had not attempted to excuse herself. She
merely told him that she considered herself unworthy of his love, and
because of that, and that alone, she had decided to break off their

A dozen times she had reread the letter after she had completed it.
Surely it was the letter of a heart-broken and desperate woman. Would he
take it in the spirit in which it was meant, she wondered. She loved
him--ah, loved him better than any one else in all the world! But she
now saw that it was useless to masquerade any longer. The blow had
fallen, and it had crushed her. She was powerless to resist, powerless
to deny the false charge against her, powerless to tell the truth.

That letter, which she knew must come as a cruel blow to Walter, she had
given to the postman with her own hands, and it was now on its way
south. As she sat on the summit of that heather-clad hill she was
wondering what effect her written words would have upon him. He had
loved her so devotedly ever since they had been children together! Well
she knew how strong was his passion for her, how his life was at her
disposal. She knew that on reading those despairing lines of hers he
would be staggered. She recalled the dear face of her soul-mate, his hot
kisses, his soft terms of endearment, and alone there, with none to
witness her bitter grief, she burst into a flood of tears.

The sad greyness of the landscape was in keeping with her own great
sorrow. She had lost all that was dear to her; and, young as she was,
with hardly any experience of the world and its ways, she was already
the victim of grim circumstance, broken by the grief of a self-renounced
love gnawing at her true heart.

The knowledge that Lady Heyburn and Flockart would exult over her
downfall and exile to that tiny house in a sleepy little
Northamptonshire village did not trouble her. Her enemies had triumphed.
She had played the game and lost, just as she might have lost at
billiards or at bridge, for she was a thorough sportswoman. She only
grieved because she saw the grave peril of her dear father, and because
she now foresaw the utter hopelessness of her own happiness.

It was better, she reflected, far better, that she should go into the
dull and dreary exile of an English village, with the unexciting
companionship of Aunt Emily, an ascetic spinster of the mid-Victorian
era, and make pretence of pique with Walter, than to reveal to him the
shameful truth. He would at least in those circumstances retain of her a
recollection fond and tender. He would not despise nor hate her, as he
most certainly would do if he knew the real astounding facts.

How long she remained there, high up, with the chill winds of autumn
tossing her silky, light-brown hair, she knew not. Rainclouds were
gathering, and the rugged hill before her was now hidden behind a bank
of mist. Time had crept on without her heeding it, for what did time now
matter to her? What, indeed, did anything matter? Her young life, though
she was still in her teens, had ended; or, at least, as far as she was
concerned it had. Was she not calmly and coolly contemplating telling
the truth and putting an end to her existence after saving her father's

Her sad, tearful eyes gazed slowly about her as she suddenly awakened to
the fact that she was far--very far--from home. She had been dazed,
unconscious of everything, because of the heavy burden of grief within
her heart. But now she looked forth upon the small, grey loch, with its
dark fringe of trees, the grey and purple hills beyond, the grey sky,
and the grey, filmy mists that hung everywhere. The world was, indeed,
sad and gloomy, and even Jock sat looking up at his young mistress as
though regarding her grief in wonder.

Now and then distant shots came from across the hills. They were
shooting over the Drummond estate, she knew, for she had had an
invitation to join their luncheon-party that day. Lady Heyburn and
Flockart had no doubt gone.

That, she told herself, was her last day in the Highlands, that
picturesque, breezy country she loved so well. It was her last day amid
those familiar places where she and Walter had so often wandered
together, and where he had told her of his passionate devotion. Well,
perhaps it was best, after all. Down south she would not be reminded of
him every moment and at every turn. No, she sighed within herself as she
rose to descend the hill, she must steel herself against her own sad
reflections. She must learn how to forget.

"What will he say?" she murmured aloud as she went down, with Jock
frisking and barking before her. "What will he think of me when he gets
my letter? He will believe me fickle; he will believe that I have
another lover. That is certain. Well, I must allow him to believe it. We
have parted, and we must now, alas! remain apart for ever. Probably he
will seek from my father the truth concerning my disappearance from
Glencardine. Dad will tell him, no doubt. And then--then, what will he
believe? He--he will know that I am unworthy to be his wife. Yet--yet is
it not cruel that I dare not speak the truth and clear myself of this
foul charge of betraying my own dear father? Was ever a girl placed in
such a position as myself, I wonder. Has any girl ever loved a man
better than I love Walter?" Her white lips were set hard, and her fine
eyes became again bedimmed by tears.

It commenced to rain, that fine drizzle so often experienced north of
the Tweed. But she heeded not. She was used to it. To get wet through
was, to her, quite a frequent occurrence when out fishing. Though there
was no path, she knew her way; and, walking through the wet heather, she
came after half-an-hour out upon a muddy byroad which led her into the
town of Crieff, whence her return was easy; though it was already dusk,
and the dressing-bell had gone, before she re-entered the house by the
servants' door and slipped unobserved up to her own room.

Elise found her seated in her blue gown before the welcome fire-log, her
chin upon her breast. Her excuse was that she felt unwell; therefore one
of the maids brought her some dinner on a tray.

Upon the mantelshelf were many photographs, some of them snap-shots of
her schoolfellows and souvenirs of holidays, the odds and ends of
portraits and scenes which every girl unconsciously collects.

Among them, in a plain silver frame, was the picture of Walter Murie
taken in New York only a few weeks before. Upon the frame was engraved,
"Gabrielle, from Walter." She took it in her hand, and stood for a long
time motionless. Never again, alas! would she look upon that face so
dear to her. Her young heart was already broken, because she was held
fettered and powerless.

At last she put down the portrait, and, sinking into her chair, sat
crying bitterly. Now that she was outcast by her father, to whom she had
been always such a close, devoted friend, her life was an absolute
blank. At one blow she had lost both lover and father. Already Elise had
told her that she had received instructions to pack her trunks. The
thin-nosed Frenchwoman was apparently much puzzled at the order which
Lady Heyburn had given her, and had asked the girl whom she intended to
visit. The maid had asked what dresses she would require; but Gabrielle
replied that she might pack what she liked for a long visit. The girl
could hear Elise moving about, shaking out skirts, in the adjoining
room, and making preparations for her departure on the morrow.

Despondent, hopeless, grief-stricken, she sat before the fire for a long
time. She had locked the door and switched off the light, for it
irritated her. She loved the uncertain light of dancing flames, and sat
huddled there in her big chair for the last time.

She was reflecting upon her own brief life. Scarcely out of the
schoolroom, she had lived most of her days up in that dear old place
where every inch of the big estate was so familiar to her. She
remembered all those happy days at school, first in England, and then in
France, with the kind-faced Sisters in their spotless head-dresses, and
the quiet, happy life of the convent. The calm, grave face of Sister
Marguerite looked down upon her from the mantelshelf as if sympathising
with her pretty pupil in those troubles that had so early come to her.
She raised her eyes, and saw the portrait. Its sight aroused within her
a new thought and fresh recollection. Had not Sister Marguerite always
taught her to beseech the Almighty's aid when in doubt or when in
trouble? Those grave, solemn words of the Mother Superior rang in her
ears, and she fell upon her knees beside her narrow bed in the alcove,
and with murmuring lips prayed for divine support and assistance. She
raised her sweet, troubled face to heaven and made confession to her

Then, after a long silence, she struggled again to her feet, more cool
and more collected. She took up Walter's portrait, and, kissing it, put
it away carefully in a drawer. Some of her little treasures she gathered
together and placed with it, preparatory to departure, for she would on
the morrow leave Glencardine perhaps for ever.

The stable-clock had struck ten. To where she stood came the strident
sounds of the mechanical piano-player, for some of the gay party were
waltzing in the hall. Their merry shouts and laughter were discordant to
her ears. What cared any of those friends of her step-mother if she were
in disgrace and an outcast?

Drawing aside the curtain, she saw that the night was bright and
starlit. She preferred the air out in the park to the sounds of gaiety
within that house which was no longer to be her home. Therefore she
slipped on a skirt and blouse, and, throwing her golf-cape across her
shoulders and a shawl over her head, she crept past the room wherein
Elise was packing her belongings, and down the back-stairs to the lawn.

The sound of the laughter of the men and women of the shooting-party
aroused a poignant bitterness within her. As she passed across the drive
she saw a light in the library, where, no doubt, her father was sitting
in his loneliness, feeling and examining his collection of

She turned, and, walking straight on, struck the gravelled path which
took her to the castle ruins.

Not until the black, ponderous walls rose before her did she awaken to a
consciousness of her whereabouts. Then, entering the ruined courtyard,
she halted and listened. All was dark. Above, the stars twinkled
brightly, and in the ivy the night-birds stirred the leaves. Holding her
breath, she strained her ears. Yes, she was not deceived! There were
sounds distinct and undeniable. She was fascinated, listening again to
those shadow-voices that were always precursory of death--the fatal



It was February--not the foggy, muddy February of dear, damp Old
England, but winter beside the bright blue Mediterranean, the winter of
the Cote d'Azur.

At the Villa Heyburn--that big, square, white house with the green
sun-shutters, surrounded by its great garden full of spreading palms,
sweet-smelling mimosa, orange-trees laden with golden fruit, and bright
geraniums, up on the Berigo at San Remo--Lady Heyburn had that afternoon
given a big luncheon-party. The smartest people wintering in that most
sheltered nook of the Italian Riviera had eaten and gossiped and
flirted, and gone back to their villas and hotels. Dull persons found no
place in Lady Heyburn's circle. Most of the people were those she knew
in London or in Paris, including a sprinkling of cosmopolitans, a
Russian prince notorious for his losses over at the new _cercle_ at
Cannes, a divorced Austrian Archduchess, and two or three well-known

"Dear old Henry" remained, of course, at Glencardine, as he always did.
Lady Heyburn looked upon her winter visit to that beautiful villa
overlooking the calm sapphire sea as her annual emancipation. Henry was
a dear old fellow, she openly confided to her friends, but his
affliction made him terribly trying.

But Jimmy Flockart, the good-looking, amusing, well-dressed idler, was
living down at the "Savoy," and was daily in her company, driving,
motoring, picnicking, making excursions in the mountains, or taking
trips over to "Monte" by the _train-de-luxe_. He had left the villa
early in the afternoon, returned to his hotel, changed his smart
flannels for a tweed suit, and, taking a stout stick, had set off alone
for his daily constitutional along the sea-road in the direction of that
pretty but half-deserted little watering-place, Ospedaletti.

Straight before him, into the unruffled, tideless sea, the sun was
sinking in all its blood-red glory as he went at swinging pace along the
white, dusty road, past the _octroi_ barrier, and out into the country
where, on the left, the waves lazily lapped the grey rocks, while upon
the right the fertile slopes were covered with carnations and violets
growing for the markets of Paris and London. In the air was a delightful
perfume, the freshness of the sea in combination with the sweetness of
the flowers.

A big red motor-car dashed suddenly round a corner, raising a cloud of
dust. An American party were on their way from Genoa to the frontier
along the Corniche, one of the most picturesque routes in all the world.

James Flockart had no eyes for beauty. He was too occupied by certain
grave apprehensions. That morning he had walked in the garden with Lady
Heyburn, and had a long chat with her. Her attitude had been peculiar.
He could not make her out. She had begged him to promise to leave San
Remo, and when asked to tell the reason of this sudden demand she had
firmly refused.

"You must leave here, Jimmy," she had said quite calmly. "Go down to
Rome, to Palermo, to Ragusa, or somewhere where you can put in a month
or so in comfort. The Villa Igiea at Palermo would suit you quite
well--lots of smart people, and very decent cooking."

"Well," he laughed, "as far as hotels go, nothing could be worse than
this place. I'd never put my nose into this hole if it were not for the
fact that you come here. There isn't a hotel worth the name. When one
goes to Monte, or Cannes, or even decaying Nice, one can get decent
cooking. But here--ugh!" and he shrugged his shoulders. "Price higher
than the 'Ritz' in Paris, food fourth-rate, rooms cheaply decorated, and
a dullness unequalled."

"My dear Jimmy," laughed her ladyship, "you're such a cosmopolitan that
you're incorrigible. I know you don't like this place. You've been here
six weeks, so go."

"You've had a letter from the old man, eh?"

"Yes, I have," she replied, and he saw that her countenance changed; but
she would say nothing more. She had decided that he must leave San Remo,
and would hear no argument to the contrary.

The southern sun sank slowly into the sea, now grey but waveless. On the
horizon lay the long smoke-trail of a passing steamer eastward bound. He
had rounded the steep, rocky headland, and in the hollow before him
nestled the little village of Ospedaletti, with its closed casino, its
rows of small villas, and its palm-lined _passeggiata_.

A hundred yards farther on he saw the figure of a rather shabby,
middle-aged man, in a faded grey overcoat and grey soft felt-hat of the
mode usual on the Riviera, but discoloured by long wear, leaning upon
the low sea-wall and smoking a cigarette. No other person was in the
vicinity, and it was quickly evident from the manner in which the
wayfarer recognised him and came forward to meet him with outstretched
hand that they had met by appointment. Short of stature as he was, with
fair hair, colourless eyes, and a fair moustache, his slouching
appearance was that of one who had seen better days, even though there
still remained about him a vestige of dandyism. The close observer
would, however, detect that his clothes, shabby though they were, were
of foreign cut, and that his greeting was of that demonstrative
character that betrayed his foreign birth.

"Well, my dear Krail," exclaimed Flockart, after they had shaken hands
and stood together leaning upon the sea-wall, "you got my wire in
Huntingdon? I was uncertain whether you were at the 'George' or at the
'Fountain,' so I sent a message to both."

"I was at the 'George,' and left an hour after receipt of your wire."

"Well, tell me what has happened. How are things up at Glencardine?"

"Goslin is with the old fellow. He has taken the girl's place as his
confidential secretary," was the shabby man's reply, speaking with a
foreign accent. "Walter Murie was at home for Christmas, but went to

"And how are matters in Paris?"

"They are working hard, but it's an uphill pull. The old man is a crafty
old bird. Those papers you got from the safe had been cunningly prepared
for anybody who sought to obtain information. The consequence is that
we've shown our hand, and heavily handicapped ourselves thereby."

"You told me all that when you were down here a month ago," Flockart
said impatiently.

"You didn't believe me then. You do now, I suppose?"

"I've never denied it," Flockart declared, offering the stranger a
Russian cigarette from his gold case. "I was completely misled, and by
the girl also."

"The girl's influence with her father is happily quite at an end,"
remarked the shabby man. "I saw her last week in Woodnewton. The change
from Glencardine to an eight-roomed cottage in a village street must be
rather severe."

"Only what she deserves," snapped Flockart. "She defied us."

"Granted. But I cannot help thinking that we haven't played a very fair
game," said the man. "Remember, she's only a girl."

"But dangerous to us and to our plans, my dear Krail. She knows a lot."

"Because--well, forgive me for saying so, my dear Flockart--because
you've been a fool, and have allowed her to know."

"It wasn't I; it was the woman."

"Lady Heyburn! Why, I always believed her to be the soul of discretion."

"She's been too defiant of consequences. A dozen times I've warned her;
but she will not heed."

"Then she'll land herself in a deep hole if she isn't careful," replied
the foreigner, speaking very fair English. "Does she know I'm here?"

"Of course not. If we're to play the game she must know nothing. She's
already inclined to throw prudence to the winds, and to confess all to
her husband."

"Confess!" gasped the stranger, paling beneath his rather sallow skin.
"_Per Bacco!_ she's not going to be such an idiot, surely?"

"We were run so close, and so narrowly escaped discovery after I got at
those papers at Glencardine, that she seems to have lost heart,"
Flockart remarked.

"But if she acted the fool and told Sir Henry, it would mean ruin for
us, and that would also mean----"

"It would mean exposure for Gabrielle," interrupted Flockart. "The old
man dare not lift his voice for his daughter's sake."

"Ah," exclaimed Krail, "that's just where you've acted injudiciously!
You've set him against her; therefore he wouldn't spare her."

"It was imperative. I couldn't afford to be found prying into the old
man's papers, could I? I got impressions of his key while walking in the
park one day. He's never suspected it."

"Of course not. He believes in you," laughed his friend, "as one of the
few upright men who are his friends! But," he added, "you've done wrong,
my dear fellow, to trust a woman with a secret. Depend upon it, her
ladyship will let you down."

"Well, if she does," remarked Flockart, with a shrug of the shoulders,
"she'll have to suffer with me. You know where we should all find

The man pulled a wry face and puffed at his cigarette in silence.

"What does the girl do?" asked Flockart a few moments later.

"Well, she seems to have a pretty dull time with the old lady. I stayed
at the 'Cardigan Arms' at Woodnewton for two days--a miserable little
place--and watched her pretty closely. She's out a good deal, rambling
alone across the country with a collie belonging to a neighbouring
farmer. She's the very picture of sadness, poor little girl!"

"You seem to sympathise with her, Krail. Why, does she not stand between
us and fortune?"

"She'll stand between us and a court of assize if that woman acts the
fool!" declared the shabby stranger, who moved so rapidly and whose
vigilance seemed unequalled.

"If we go, she shall go also," Flockart declared in a threatening voice.

"But you must prevent such a _contretemps_," Krail urged.

"Ah, it's all very well to talk like that! But you know enough of her
ladyship to be aware that she acts on her own initiative."

"That shows that she's no fool," remarked the foreigner quickly. "You
who hold her in the hollow of your hand must prevent her from opening up
to her husband. The whole future lies with you."

"And what is the future without money? We want a few thousands for
immediate necessities, both of us. The woman's allowance from her
husband is nowadays a mere bagatelle."

"Because he probably knows that some of her money has gone into your
pockets, my dear boy."

"No; he's completely in ignorance of that. How, indeed, could he know?
She takes very good care there's no possibility of his finding out."

"Well," remarked the stranger, "that's what I fear has happened, or may
one day happen. The fact is, _caro mio_, we are in a quandary at the
present moment. You were a bit too confident in dealing with those
documents you found at Glencardine. You should have taken her ladyship
into your confidence and got her to pump her husband concerning them. If
you had, we shouldn't have made the mess of it that we have done."

"I must admit, Krail, that what you say is true," declared the
well-dressed man. "You are such a philosopher always! I asked you to
come here in secret to explain the exact position."

"It is one of peril. We are checkmated. Goslin holds the whole position
in his hands, and will keep it."

"Very fortunately for you he doesn't, though we were very near exposure
when I went out to Athens and made a fool of myself upon the report
furnished by you."

"I believed it to be a genuine one. I had no idea that the old man was
so crafty."

"Exactly. And if he displayed such clever ingenuity and forethought in
laying a trap for the inquisitive, is it not more than likely that there
may be other traps baited with equal craft and cunning?"

"Then how are we to make the _coup_?" Flockart asked, looking into the
colourless eyes of his friend.

"We shall, I fear, never make it, unless----"

"Unless what?" he asked.

"Unless the old man meets with an accident," replied the other, in a
low, distinct voice. "_Blind men sometimes do, you know!_"



Felix Krail, his cigarette held half-way to his lips, stood watching the
effect of his insinuation. He saw a faint smile playing about Flockart's
lips, and knew that it appealed to him. Old Sir Henry Heyburn had laid a
clever trap for him, a trap into which he himself believed that his
daughter had fallen. Why should not Flockart retaliate?

The shabby stranger, whose own ingenuity and double-dealing were little
short of marvellous, and under whose watchful vigilance the Heyburn
household had been ever since her ladyship and her friend Flockart had
gone south, stood silent, but in complete satisfaction.

The well-dressed Riviera-lounger--the man so well known at all the
various gay resorts from Ventimiglia along to Cannes, and who was a
member of the Fetes Committee at San Remo and at Nice--merely exchanged
glances with his friend and smiled. Quickly, however, he changed the
topic of conversation. "And what's occurring in Paris?"

"Ah, there we have the puzzle!" replied the man Krail, his accent being
an unfamiliar one--so unfamiliar, indeed, that those unacquainted with
the truth were always placed in doubt regarding his true nationality.

"But you've made inquiry?" asked his friend quickly.

"Of course; but the business is kept far too close. Every precaution is
taken to prevent anything leaking out," Krail responded.

"The clerks will speak, won't they?" the other said.

"_Mon cher ami_, they know no more of the business of the mysterious
firm of which the blind Baronet is the head than we do ourselves," said

"They make enormous financial deals, that's very certain."

"Not deals--but _coups_ for themselves," he laughed, correcting
Flockart. "Recollect what I discovered in Athens, and the extraordinary
connection you found in Brussels."

"Ah, yes. You mean that clever crowd--four men and two women who were
working the gambling concession from the Dutch Government!" exclaimed
Flockart. "Yes, that was a complete mystery. They sent wires in cipher
to Sir Henry at Glencardine. I managed to get a glance at one of them,
and it was signed 'Metaforos.'"

"That's their Paris cable address," said his companion.

"Surely you, with your network of sources of information, and your own
genius for discovering secrets, ought to be able to reveal the true
nature of Sir Henry's business. Is it an honest one?" asked Flockart.

"I think not."

"Think! Why, my dear Felix, this isn't like you only to think; you
always _know_. You're so certain of your facts that I've always banked
upon them."

The other gave his shoulders a shrug of indecision. "It was not a
judicious move on your part to get rid of the girl from Glencardine," he
said slowly. "While she was there we had a chance of getting at some
clue. But now old Goslin has taken her place we may just as well abandon
investigation at that end."

"You've failed, Krail, and attribute your failure to me," protested his
companion. "How could I risk being ignominiously kicked out of
Glencardine as a spy?"

"Whatever attitude you might have taken would have had the same result.
We used the information, and found ourselves fooled--tricked by a very
crafty old man, who actually prepared those documents in case he was

"Admitted," said Flockart. "But even though we made fools of ourselves
in Athens, and caused the Greek Government to look upon us as rogues and
liars, the girl is suspected; and I for one don't mean to give in before
we've secured a nice, snug little sum."

"How are we to do it?"

"By obtaining knowledge of the game being played in Paris, and working
in an opposite direction," Flockart replied. "We are agreed upon one
point: that for the past few years, ever since Goslin came on the scene,
Sir Henry's business--a big one, there is no doubt--has been of a
mysterious and therefore shady character. By his confidence in
Gabrielle, his care that nobody ever got a chance inside that safe, his
regular consultations with Goslin (who travelled from Paris specially to
see him), his constant telegrams in cipher, and his refusal to allow
even his wife to obtain the slightest inkling into his private affairs,
it is shown that he fears exposure. Do you agree?"

"Most certainly I do."

"Well, any man who is in dread of the truth becoming known must be
carrying on some negotiations the reverse of creditable. He is the
moving spirit of that shady house, without a doubt," declared Flockart,
who had so often grasped the blind man's hand in friendship. "In such
fear that his transactions should become known, and that exposure might
result, he actually had prepared documents on purpose to mislead those
who pried into his affairs. Therefore, the instant we discover the
truth, fortune will be at our hand. We all want money, you, I, and Lady
Heyburn--and money we'll have."

"With these sentiments, my dear friend, I entirely and absolutely
agree," remarked the shabby man, lighting a fresh cigarette. "But one
fact you seem to have entirely overlooked."


"The girl. She stands between you, and she might come back into the old
man's favour, you know."

"And even though she did, that makes no difference," Flockart answered


"Because she dare not say a single word against me."

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