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The Lion's Skin by Rafael Sabatini

Part 3 out of 6

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unheard by any, for in that moment Dorothy Deller - the
younger of the Lady Mary's cousins - gave expression to the
generous and as yet unsullied little heart that was her own.

"Oh, 'tis shameful!" she cried. "Will you not go speak with
her, Molly?"

The Lady Mary stiffened. She looked at the company about her
with an apologetic smile. "I beg that ye'll not heed the
child," said she. "'Tis not that she is without morals - but
without knowledge. An innocent little fool; no worse."

"'Tis bad enough, I vow," laughed an old beau, who sought fame
as a man of a cynical turn of humor.

"But fortunately rare," said Mr. Caryll dryly. "Like charity,
almost unknown in this Babylon."

His tone was not quite nice, although perhaps the Lady Mary
was the only one to perceive the note of challenge in it. But
Mr. Craske, the poet, diverted attention to himself by a
prolonged, malicious chuckle. Rotherby was just moving away
from his mother at that moment.

"They've never a word for each other to-day!" he cried. "Oh,
'Sbud! not so much as the mercy of a glance will the lady
afford him." And he burst into the ballad of King Francis:

"Souvent femme varie,
Bien, fol est qui s'y fie!"

and laughed his prodigious delight at the aptness of his

Mr. Caryll put up his gold-rimmed quizzing-glass, and directed
through that powerful weapon of offence an eye of supreme
displeasure upon the singer. He could not contain his rage,
yet from his languid tone none would have suspected it.
"Sir," said he, "ye've a singular unpleasant voice."

Mr. Craske, thrown out of countenance by so much directness,
could only stare; the same did the others, though some few
tittered, for Mr. Craske, when all was said, was held in no
great esteem by the discriminant.

Mr. Caryll lowered his glass. "I've heard it said by the
uncharitable that ye were a lackey before ye became a
plagiarist. 'Tis a rumor I shall contradict in future; 'tis
plainly a lie, for your voice betrays you to lave been a

"Sir - sir - " spluttered the poetaster, crimson with anger
and mortification. "Is this - is this - seemly - between

"Between gentlemen it would not be seemly," Mr. Caryll agreed.

Mr. Craske, quivering, yet controlling himself, bowed stiffly.
"I have too much respect for myself - " he gasped.

"Ye'll be singular in that, no doubt," said Mr. Caryll, and
turned his shoulder upon him.

Again Mr. Craske appeared to make an effort at self-control;
again he bowed. "I know - I hope - what is due to the Lady
Mary Deller, to - to answer you as - as befits. But you shall
hear from me, sir. You shall hear from me."

He bowed a third time - a bow that took in the entire company
- and withdrew in high dudgeon and with a great show of
dignity. A pause ensued, and then the Lady Mary reproved Mr.

"Oh, 'twas cruel in you, sir," she cried. "Poor Mr. Craske!
And to dub him plagiarist! 'Twas the unkindest cut of all!"

"Truth, madam, is never kind."

"Oh, fie! You make bad worse!" she cried.

"He'll put you in the pillory of his verse for this," laughed
Collis. "Ye'll be most scurvily lampooned for't."

"Poor Mr. Craske!" sighed the Lady Mary again.

"Poor, indeed; but not in the sense to deserve pity. An
upstart impostor such as that to soil a lady with his

Lady Mary's brows went up. "You use a singular severity,
sir," she opined, "and I think it unwise in you to grow so hot
in the defence of a reputation whose owner has so little care
for it herself."

Mr. Caryll looked at her out of his level gray-green eyes; a
hot answer quivered on his tongue, an answer that had crushed
her venom for some time and had probably left him with a
quarrel on his hands. Yet his smile, as he considered her,
was very sweet, so sweet that her ladyship, guessing nothing
of the bitterness it was used to cover, went as near a smirk
as it was possible for one so elegant. He was, she judged,
another victim ripe for immolation on the altar of her
goddessship. And Mr. Caryll, who had taken her measure very
thoroughly, seeing something of how her thoughts were running,
bethought him of a sweeter vengeance.

"Lady Mary," he cried, a soft reproach in his voice, "I have
been sore mistook in you if you are one to be guided by the
rabble." And he waved a hand toward the modish throng.

She knit her fine brows, bewildered.

"Ah!" he cried, interpreting her glance to suit his ends,
"perish the thought, indeed! I knew that I could not be
wrong. I knew that one so peerless in all else must be
peerless, too, in her opinions; judging for herself, and
standing firm upon her judgment in disdain of meaner souls -
mere sheep to follow their bell-wether."

She opened her mouth to speak, but said nothing, being too
intrigued by this sudden and most sweet flattery. Her mere
beauty had oft been praised, and in terms that glowed like
fire. But what was that compared with this fine appreciation
of her less obvious mental parts - and that from one who had
seen the world?

Mr. Caryll was bending over her. "What a chance is here," he
was murmuring, "to mark your lofty detachment - to show how
utter is your indifference to what the common herd may think."

"As - as how?" she asked, blinking up at him.

The others stood at gaze, scarce yet suspecting the drift of
so much talk.

"There is a poor lady yonder, of whose fair name a bubble is
being blown and pricked. I dare swear there's not a woman
here durst speak to her. Yet what a chance for one that
dared! How fine a triumph would be hers!" He sighed.
"Heigho! I almost wish I were a woman, that I might make that
triumph mine and mark my superiority to these painted dolls
that have neither wit nor courage."

The Lady Mary rose, a faint color in her cheeks, a sparkle in
her fine eyes. A great joy flashed into Mr. Caryll's in quick
response; a joy in her - she thought with ready vanity - and a
heightening admiration.

"Will you make it yours, as it should be - as it must ever be
- to lead and not to follow?" he cried, flattering
incredibility trembling in his voice.

"And why not, sir?" she demanded, now thoroughly aroused.

"Why not, indeed - since you are you?" quoth he. "It is what
I had hoped in you, and yet - and yet what I had almost feared
to hope."

She frowned upon him now, so excellently had he done his work.
"Why should you have feared that?"

"Alas! I am a man of little faith - unworthy, indeed, your
good opinion since I entertained a doubt. It was a

She smiled again. "You acknowledge your faults with such a
grace," said she, "that we must needs forgive them. And now
to show you how much you need forgiveness. Come, children,"
she bade her cousins - for whose innocence she had made
apology but a moment back. "Your arm, Harry," she begged her

Sir Harry obeyed her readily, but without eagerness. In his
heart he cursed his friend Caryll for having set her on to

Mr. Caryll himself hung upon her other side, his eyes toward
Lady Ostermore and Hortensia, who, whilst being observed by
all, were being approached by few; and these few confined
themselves to an exchange of greetings with her ladyship,
which constituted a worse offence to Mistress Winthrop than
had they stayed away.

Suddenly, as if drawn by his ardent gaze, Hortensia's eyes
moved at last from their forward fixity. Her glance met Mr.
Caryll's across the intervening space. Instantly he swept off
his hat, and bowed profoundly. The action drew attention to
himself. All eyes were focussed upon him, and between many a
pair there was a frown for one who should dare thus to run
counter to the general attitude.

But there was more to follow. The Lady Mary accepted Mr.
Caryll's salutation of Hortensia as a signal. She led the way
promptly, and the little band swept forward, straight for its
goal, raked by the volleys from a thousand eyes, under which
the Lady Mary already began to giggle excitedly.

Thus they reached the countess, the countess standing very
rigid in her amazement, to receive them.

"I hope I see your ladyship well," said Lady Mary.

"I hope your ladyship does," answered the countess tartly.

Mistress Winthrop's eyes were lowered; her cheeks were
scarlet. Her distress was plain, born of her doubt of the
Lady Mary's purpose, and suspense as to what might follow.

"I have not the honor of your ward's acquaintance, Lady
Ostermore," said Lady Mary, whilst the men were bowing, and
her cousins curtseying to the countess and her companion

The countess gasped, recovered, and eyed the speaker without
any sign of affection. "My husband's ward, ma'am," she
corrected, in a voice that seemed to discourage further
mention of Hortensia.

"'Tis but a distinction," put in Mr. Caryll suggestively.

"Indeed, yes. Will not your ladyship present me?" The
countess' malevolent eyes turned a moment upon Mr. Caryll,
smiling demurely at Lady Mary's elbow. In his face - as well
as in the four words he had uttered - she saw that here was
work of his, and he gained nothing in her favor by it.
Meanwhile there were no grounds - other than such as must have
been wantonly offensive to the Lady Mary, and so not to be
dreamed of - upon which to refuse her request. The countess
braced herself, and with an ill grace performed the brief
ceremony of presentation.

Mistress Winthrop looked up an instant, then down again; it
was a piteous, almost a pleading glance.

Lady Mary, leaving the countess to Sir Harry Stapleton, Caryll
and the others, moved to Hortensia's side for a moment she was
at loss what to say, and took refuge in a commonplace.

"I have long desired the pleasure of your acquaintance," said

"I am honored, madam," replied Hortensia, with downcast eyes.
Then lifting them with almost disconcerting suddenness. "Your
ladyship has chosen an odd season in which to gratify this
desire with which you honor me."

Lady Mary laughed, as much at the remark as for the benefit of
those whose eyes were upon her. She knew there would not be
wanting many who would condemn her; but these should be far
outnumbered by those who would be lost in admiration of her
daring, that she could so fly in the face of public opinion;
and she was grateful to Mr. Caryll for having suggested to her
a course of such distinction.

"I could have chosen no better season," she replied, "to mark
my scorn of evil tongues and backbiters."

Color stained Hortensia's cheek again; gratitude glowed in her
eyes. "You are very noble, madam," she answered with
flattering earnestness.

"La!" said the Lady Mary. "Is nobility, then, so easily
achieved?" And thereafter they talked of inconsequent
trifles, until Mr. Caryll moved towards them, and Lady Mary
turned aside to speak to the countess.

At Mr. Caryll's approach Hortensia's eyes had been lowered
again, and she made no offer to address him as he stood before
her now, hat under arm, leaning easily upon his amber cane.

"Oh, heart of stone!" said he at last. "Am I not yet

She misread his meaning - perhaps already the suspicion she
now voiced had been in her mind. She looked up at him
sharply. "Was it - was it you who fetched the Lady Mary to
me?" she inquired.

"Lo!" said he. "You have a voice! Now Heaven be praised! I
was fearing it was lost for me - that you had made some awful
vow never again to rejoice my ears with the music of it."

"You have not answered my question," she reminded him.

"Nor you mine," said he. "I asked you am I not yet forgiven."

"Forgiven what?"

"For being born an impudent, fleering coxcomb - twas that you
called me, I think."

She flushed deeply. "If you would win forgiveness, you should
not remind me of the offence," she answered low.

"Nay," he rejoined, "that is to confound forgiveness with
forgetfulness. I want you to forgive and yet to remember."

"That were to condone."

"What else? 'Tis nothing less will satisfy me."

"You expect too much," she answered, with a touch that was
almost of sternness.

He shrugged and smiled whimsically. "It is my way," he said
apologetically. "Nature has made me expectant, and life,
whilst showing me the folly of it, has not yet cured me."

She looked at him, and repeated her earlier question. "Was it
at your bidding that Lady Mary came to speak with me?"

"Fie!" he cried. "What insinuations do you make against her?"


"What else? That she should do things at my bidding!"

She smiled understanding. "You have a talent, sir, for
crooked answers."

"'Tis to conceal the rectitude of my behavior."

"It fails of its object, then," said she, "for it deludes no
one." She paused and laughed at his look of assumed
blankness. "I am deeply beholden to you," she whispered
quickly, breathing at once gratitude and confusion.

"Though I don't descry the cause," said he, "'twill be
something to comfort me."

More he might have added then, for the mad mood was upon him,
awakened by those soft brown eyes of hers. But in that moment
the others of that little party crowded upon them to take
their leave of Mistress Winthrop.

Mr. Caryll felt satisfied that enough had been done to curb
the slander concerning Hortensia. But he was not long in
learning how profound was his mistake. On every side he
continued to hear her discussed, and in such terms as made his
ears tingle and his hands itch to be at work in her defence;
for, with smirks and sneers and innuendoes, her escapade with
Lord Rotherby continued to furnish a topic for the town as her
ladyship had sworn it would. Yet by what right could he
espouse her cause with any one of her defamers without
bringing her fair name into still more odious notoriety?

And meanwhile he knew that he was under strict surveillance
from Mr. Green; knew that he was watched wherever he went; and
nothing but his confidence that no evidence could be produced
against him allowed him to remain, as he did, all unconcerned
of this.

Leduc had more than once seen Mr. Green about Old Palace Yard,
besides a couple of his underlings, one or the other of whom
was never absent from the place, no doubt with intent to
observe who came and went at Mr. Caryll's. Once, indeed,
during the absence of master and servant, Mr. Caryll's lodging
was broken into, and on Leduc's return he found a confusion
which told him how thoroughly the place had been ransacked.

If Mr. Caryll had had anything to hide, this would have given
him the hint to take his precautions; but as he had nothing
that was in the least degree in incriminating, he went his
ways in supremest unconcern of the vigilance exerted over him.
He used, however, a greater discretion in the resorts he
frequented. And if upon occasion he visited such Tory
meeting-places as the Bell Tavern in King Street or the
Cocoa-Tree in Pall Mall, he was still more often to be found
at White's, that ultra-Whig resort.

It was at this latter house, one evening three or four days
after his meeting with Hortensia in the park, that the chance
was afforded him at last of vindicating her honor in a manner
that need not add to the scandal that was already abroad, nor
serve to couple his name with hers unduly. And it was Lord
Rotherby himself who afforded him the opportunity.

The thing fell out in this wise: Mr. Caryll was at cards with
Harry Collis and Stapleton and Major Gascoigne, in a room
above-stairs. There were at least a dozen others present,
some also at play, others merely lounging. Of the latter was
his Grace of Wharton. He was a slender, graceful gentleman,
whose face, if slightly effeminate and markedly dissipated,
was nevertheless of considerable beauty. He was very splendid
in a suit of green camlett and silver lace, and he wore a
flaxen periwig without powder.

He was awaiting Rotherby, with whom - as he told the company -
he was for a frolic at Drury Lane, where a ridotto was
following the play. He spoke, as usual, in a loud voice that
all might hear, and his talk was loose and heavily salted as
became the talk of a rake of his exalted rank. It was chiefly
concerned with airing his bitter grievance against Mrs.
Girdlebank, of the Theatre Royal, of whom he announced himself
"devilishly enamoured."

He inveighed against her that she should have the gross
vulgarity to love her husband, and against her husband that he
should have the audacity to play the watchdog over her, and
bark and growl at the duke's approach.

"A plague on all husbands, say I," ended the worthy president
of the Bold Bucks.

"Nay, now, but I'm a husband myself, gad!" protested Mr.
Sidney, who was quite the most delicate, mincing man of
fashion about town, and one of that valetaille that hovered
about his Grace of Wharton's heels.

"'Tis no matter in your case," said the duke, with that
contempt he used towards his followers. "Your wife's too ugly
to be looked at." And Mr. Sidney's fresh protest was drowned
in the roar of laughter that went up to applaud that brutal
frankness. Mr. Caryll turned to the fop, who happened to be
standing at his elbow.

"Never repine, man," said he. "In the company you keep, such
a wife makes for peace of mind. To have that is to have

Wharton resumed his railings at the Girdlebanks, and was still
at them when Rotherby came in.

"At last, Charles!" the duke hailed him, rising. "Another
minute, and I had gone without you."

But Rotherby scarce looked at him, and answered with unwonted
shortness. His eyes had discovered Mr. Caryll. It was the
first time he had run against him since that day, over a week
ago, at Stretton House, and at sight of him now all Rotherby's
spleen was moved. He stood and stared, his dark eyes
narrowing, his cheeks flushing slightly under their tan.
Wharton, who had approached him, observing his sudden halt,
his sudden look of concentration, asked him shortly what might
ail him.

"I have seen someone I did not expect to find in a resort of
gentlemen," said Rotherby, his eyes ever on Mr. Caryll, who -
engrossed in his game - was all unconscious of his lordship's

Wharton followed the direction of his companion's gaze, and
giving now attention himself to Mr. Caryll, he fell to
appraising his genteel appearance, negligent of the
insinuation in what Rotherby had said.

"'Sdeath!" swore the duke. "'Tis a man of taste - a travelled
gentleman by his air. Behold me the grace of that
shoulder-knot, Charles, and the set of that most admirable
coat. Fifty guineas wouldn't buy his Steinkirk. Who is this

"I'll present him to your grace," said Rotherby shortly. He
had pretentions at being a beau himself; but his grace -
supreme arbiter in such matters - had never yet remarked it.

They moved across the room, greetings passing as they went.
At their approach, Mr. Caryll looked up. Rotherby made him a
leg with an excessive show of deference, arguing irony. "'Tis
an unlooked-for pleasure to meet you here, sir," said he in a
tone that drew the attention of all present.

"No pleasures are so sweet as the unexpected," answered Mr.
Caryll, with casual amiability, and since he perceived at once
the errand upon which Lord Rotherby was come to him, he went
half-way to meet him. "Has your lordship been contracting any
marriages of late?" he inquired.

The viscount smiled icily. "You have quick wits, sir," said
he, "which is as it should be in one who lives by them."

"Let your lordship be thankful that such is not your own
case," returned Mr. Caryll, with imperturbable good humor, and
sent a titter round the room.

"A hit! A shrewd hit, 'pon honor!" cried Wharton, tapping his
snuff-box. "I vow to Gad, Ye're undone, Charles. Ye'd better
play at repartee with Gascoigne, there. Ye're more of a

"Your grace," cried Rotherby, suppressing at great cost his
passion, "'tis not to be borne that a fellow of this condition
should sit among men of quality." And with that he swung
round and addressed the company in general. "Gentlemen, do
you know who this fellow is? He has the effrontery to take my
name, and call himself Caryll."

Mr. Caryll looked a moment at his brother in the silence that
followed. Then, as in a flash, he saw his chance of
vindicating Mistress Winthrop, and he seized it.

"And do you know, gentlemen, who this fellow is?" he inquired,
with an air of sly amusement. "He is - Nay, you shall judge
for yourselves. You shall hear the story of how we met; it is
the story of his abduction of a lady whose name need not be
mentioned; the story of his dastardly attempt to cozen her
into a mock-marriage."

"Mock -mock-marriage?" cried the duke and a dozen others with
him, some in surprise, but most in an unbelief that was
already faintly tinged with horror - which argued ill for my
Lord Rotherby when the story should be told.

"You damned rogue - " began his lordship, and would have flung
himself upon Caryll, but that Collis and Stapleton, and
Wharton himself, put forth hands to stay him by main force.

Others, too, had risen. But Mr. Caryll sat quietly in his
chair, idly fingering the cards before him, and smiling
gently, between amusement and irony. He was much mistaken if
he did not make Lord Rotherby bitterly regret the initiative
he had taken in their quarrel.

"Gently, my lord," the duke admonished the viscount. "This -
this gentleman has said that which touches your honor. He
shall say more. He shall make good his words, or eat them.
But the matter cannot rest thus."

"It shall not, by God!" swore Rotherby, purple now. "It shall
not. I'll kill him like a dog for what he has said."

"But before I die, gentlemen," said Mr. Caryll, "it were well
that you should have the full story of that sorry adventure
from an eye-witness."

"An eye-witness? Were ye present?" cried two or three in a

"I desire to lay before you all the story of how we met my
lord there and I. It is so closely enmeshed with the story of
that abduction and mock-marriage that the one is scarce to be
distinguished from the other."

Rotherby writhed to shake off those who held him.

"Will ye listen to this fellow?" he roared. "He's a spy, I
tell you - a Jacobite spy!" He was beside himself with anger
and apprehension, and he never paused to weigh the words he
uttered. It was with him a question of stopping his accuser's
mouth with whatever mud came under his hands. "He has no
right here. It is not to be borne. I know not by what means
he has thrust himself among you, but - "

"That is a knowledge I can afford your lordship," came
Stapleton's steady voice to interrupt the speaker. "Mr.
Caryll is here by my invitation."

"And by mine and Gascoigne's here," added Sir Harry Collis,
"and I will answer for his quality to any man who doubts it."

Rotherby glared at Mr. Caryll's sponsors, struck dumb by this
sudden and unexpected refutation of the charge he had leveled.

Wharton, who had stepped aside, knit his brows and flashed his
quizzing-glass - through sheer force of habit - upon Lord
Rotherby. Then:

"You'll pardon me, Harry," said he, "but you'll see, I hope,
that the question is not impertinent; that I put it to the end
that we may clearly know with whom we have to deal and what
consideration to extend him, what credit to attach to the
communication he is to make us touching my lord here. Under
what circumstances did you become acquainted with Mr. Caryll?"

"I have known him these twelve years," answered Collis
promptly; "so has Stapleton, so has Gascoigne, so have a dozen
other gentlemen who could be produced, and who, like
ourselves, were at Oxford with him. For myself and Stapleton,
I can say that our acquaintance - indeed, I should say our
friendship - with Mr. Caryll has been continuous since then,
and that we have visited him on several occasions at his
estate of Maligny in Normandy. That he habitually inhabits
the country of his birth is the reason why Mr. Caryll has not
hitherto had the advantage of your grace's acquaintance. Need
I say more to efface the false statement made by my Lord

"False? Do you dare give me the lie, sir?" roared Rotherby.

But the duke soothed him. Under his profligate exterior his
Grace of Wharton concealed - indeed, wasted - a deal of
shrewdness, ability and inherent strength. "One thing at a
time, my lord," said the president of the Bold Bucks. "Let us
attend to the matter of Mr. Caryll."

"Dons and the devil! Does your grace take sides with him?"

"I take no sides. But I owe it to myself - we all owe it to
ourselves - that this matter should be cleared."

Rotherby leered at him, his lip trembling with anger. "Does
the president of the Bold Bucks pretend to administrate a
court of honor?" he sneered heavily.

"Your lordship will gain little by this," Wharton admonished
him, so coldly that Rotherby belatedly came to some portion of
his senses again. The duke turned to Caryll. "Mr. Caryll,"
said he, "Sir Harry has given you very handsome credentials,
which would seem to prove you worthy the hospitality of
White's. You have, however, permitted yourself certain
expressions concerning his lordship here, which we cannot
allow to remain where you have left them. You must retract,
sir, or make them good." His gravity, and the preciseness of
his diction now, sorted most oddly with his foppish airs.

Mr. Caryll closed his snuff-box with a snap. A hush fell
instantly upon the company, which by now was all crowding
about the little table at which sat Mr. Caryll and his three
friends. A footman who entered at the moment to snuff the
candles and see what the gentlemen might be requiring, was
dismissed the room. When the door had closed, Mr. Caryll
began to speak.

One more attempt was made by Rotherby to interfere, but this
attempt was disposed of by Wharton, who had constituted
himself entirely master of the proceedings.

"If you will not allow Mr. Caryll to speak, we shall infer
that you fear what he may have to say; you will compel us to
hear him in your absence, and I cannot think that you would
prefer that, my lord."

My lord fell silent. He was breathing heavily, and his face
was pale, his eyes angry beyond words, what time Mr. Caryll,
in amiable, musical voice, with its precise and at moments
slightly foreign enunciation, unfolded the shameful story of
the affair at the "Adam and Eve," at Maidstone. He told a
plain, straightforward tale, making little attempt to
reproduce any of its color, giving his audience purely and
simply the facts that had taken place. He told how he himself
had been chosen as a witness when my lord had heard that there
was a traveller from France in the house, and showed how that
slight circumstance had first awakened his suspicions of foul
play. He provoked some amusement when he dealt with his
detection and exposure of the sham parson. But in the main he
was heard with a stern and ominous attention - ominous for
Lord Rotherby.

Rakes these men admittedly were with but few exceptions. No
ordinary tale of gallantry could have shocked them, or
provoked them to aught but a contemptuous mirth at the expense
of the victim, male or female. They would have thought little
the worse of a man for running off with the wife, say, of one
of his acquaintance; they would have thought nothing of his
running off with a sister or a daughter - so long as it was
not of their own. All these were fair game, and if the
husband, father or brother could not protect the wife, sister
or daughter that was his, the more shame to him. But though
they might be fair game, the game had its rules - anomalous as
it may seem. These rules Lord Rotherby - if the tale Mr.
Caryll told was true - had violated. He had practiced a
cheat, the more dastardly because the poor lady who had so
narrowly escaped being his victim had nether father nor
brother to avenge her. And in every eye that was upon him
Lord Rotherby might have read, had he had the wit to do so,
the very sternest condemnation.

"A pretty story, as I've a soul!" was his grace's comment,
when Mr. Caryll had done. "A pretty story, my Lord Rotherby.
I have a stomach for strong meat myself. But - odds my life!
- this is too nauseous!"

Rotherby glared at him. "'Slife! your grace is grown very
nice on a sudden!" he sneered. "The president of the Bold
Bucks, the master of the Hell Fire Club, is most oddly
squeamish where the diversions of another are concerned."

"Diversions?" said his grace, his eyebrows raised until they
all but vanished under the golden curls of his peruke.
"Diversions? Ha! I observe that you make no attempt to deny
the story. You admit it, then ?"

There was a stir in the group, a drawing back from his
lordship. He observed it, trembling between chagrin and rage.
"What's here?" he cried, and laughed contemptuously. "Oh, ah!
You'll follow where his grace leads you! Ye've followed him
so long in lewdness that now yell follow him in conversion!
But as for you, sir," and he swung fiercely upon Caryll, "you
and your precious story - will you maintain it sword in hand?"

"I can do better," answered Mr. Caryll, "if any doubts my

"As how ?"

"I can prove it categorically, by witnesses."

"Well said, Caryll," Stapleton approved him.

"And if I say that you lie - you and your witnesses ?"

"'T is you will be liar," said Mr. Caryll.

"Besides, it is a little late for that," cut in the duke.

"Your grace," cried Rotherby, "is this affair yours?"

"No, I thank Heaven!" said his grace, and sat down.

Rotherby scowled at the man who until ten minutes ago had been
his friend and boon companion, and there was more of contempt
than anger in his eyes. He turned again to Mr. Caryll, who
was watching 'him with a gleam of amusement - that infernally
irritating amusement of his - in his gray-green eyes.

"Well?" he demanded foolishly, "have you naught to say?"

"I had thought," returned Mr. Caryll, "that I had said
enough." And the duke laughed aloud.

Rotherby's lip was curled. "Ha! You don't think, now, that
you may have said too much?"

Mr. Caryll stifled a yawn. "Do you?" he inquired blandly.

"Ay, by God! Too much for a gentleman to leave unpunished."

"Possibly. But what gentleman is concerned in this?"

"I am!" thundered Rotherby.

"I see. And how do you conceive that you answer the
description ?"

Rotherby swore at him with great choice and variety. "You
shall learn," he promised him. "My friends shall wait on you

"I wonder who will carry his message?" ventured Collis to the
ceiling. Rotherby turned on him, fierce as a rat. "It is a
matter you may discover to your cost, Sir Harry," he snarled.

"I think," put in his grace very languidly, "that you are
troubling the harmony that is wont to reign here."

His lordship stood still a moment. Then, quite suddenly, he
snatched up a candlestick to hurl at Mr. Caryll. But he had
it wrenched from his hands ere he could launch it.

He stood a moment, discomfited, glowering upon his brother.
"My friends shall wait on you to-night," he repeated.

"You said so before," Mr. Caryll replied wearily. "I shall
endeavor to make them welcome."

His lordship nodded stupidly, and strode to the door. His
departure was observed in silence. On every face he read his
sentence. These men - rakes though they were, professedly -
would own him no more for their associate; and what these men
thought to-night not a gentleman in town but would be thinking
the same tomorrow. He had the stupidity to lay it all to the
score of Mr. Caryll, not perceiving that he had brought it
upon himself by his own aggressiveness. He paused, his hand
upon the doorknob, and turned to loose a last shaft at them.

"As for you others, that follow your bell-wether there," and
he indicated his grace, whose shoulder was towards him, "this
matter ends not here."

And with that general threat he passed out, and that snug room
at White's knew him no more.

Major Gascoigne was gathering up the cards that had been flung
down when first the storm arose. Mr. Caryll bent to assist
him. And the last voice Lord Rotherby heard as he departed
was Mr. Caryll's, and the words it uttered were: "Come, Ned;
the deal is with you."

His lordship swore through his teeth, and went downstairs



Before Mr. Caryll left White's - which he did at a
comparatively early hour, that he might be at home to receive
Lord Rotherby's friends - not a man present but had offered
him his services in the affair he had upon his hands.
Wharton, indeed, was not to be denied for one; and for the
other Mr. Caryll desired Gascoigne to do him the honor of
representing him.

It was a fine, dry night, and feeling the need for exercise,
Mr. Caryll set out to walk the short distance from St.
James's Street to his lodging, with a link-boy, preceding him,
for only attendant. Arrived home, he was met by Leduc with
the information that Sir Richard Everard was awaiting him. He
went in, and the next moment he was in the arms of his
adoptive father.

Greetings and minor courtesies disposed of, Sir Richard came
straight to the affair which he had at heart. "Well? How
speeds the matter?"

Mr. Caryll's face became overcast. He sat down, a thought

"So far as Lord Ostermore is concerned, it speeds - as you
would wish it. So far as I am concerned" - he paused and
sighed - "I would that it sped not at all, or that I was out
of it."

Sir Richard looked at him with searching eyes. "How?" he
asked. "What would you have me understand ?"

"That in spite of all that has been said between us, in spite
of all the arguments you have employed, and with which once,
for a little while, you convinced me, this task is loathsome
to me in the last degree. Ostermore is my father, and I can't
forget it."

"And your mother?" Sir Richard's tone was sad, rather than
indignant; it spoke of a bitter disappointment, not at the
events, but at this man whom he loved with all a father's

"It were idle to go over it all again. I know everything that
you would - that you could - say. I have said it all to
myself again and again, in a vain endeavor to steel myself to
the business to which you plighted me. Had Ostermore been
different, perhaps it had been easier. I cannot say. As it
is, I see in him a weakling, a man of inferior intellect, who
does not judge things as you and I judge them, whose life
cannot have been guided by the rules that serve for men of
stronger purpose."

"You find excuses for him? For his deed?" cried Sir Richard,
and his voice was full of horror now; he stared askance at his
adoptive son.

"No, no! Oh, I don't know. On my soul and conscience, I
don't know!" cried Mr. Caryll, like one in pain. He rose and
moved restlessly about the room. "No," he pursued more
calmly, "I don't excuse him. I blame him - more bitterly than
you can think; perhaps more bitterly even than do you, for I
have had a look into his mind and see the exact place held
there by my mother's memory. I can judge and condemn him; but
I can't execute him; I can't betray him. I don't think I
could do it even if he were not my father."

He paused, and leaning his hands upon the table at which Sir
Richard sat, he faced him, and spoke in a voice of earnest
pleading. "Sir Richard, this was not the task to give me; or,
if you had planned to give it me, you should have reared me
differently; you should not have sought to make of me a
gentleman. You have brought me up to principles of honor, and
you ask me now to outrage them, to cast them off, and to
become a very Judas. Is't wonderful I should rebel?"

They were hurtful words to Sir Richard - the poor fanatic
whose mind was all unsound on this one point, who had lived in
contemplation of his vengeance as a fasting monk lives through
Lent in contemplation of the Easter plenty. The lines of
sorrow deepened in his face.

"Justin," he said slowly, "you forget one thing. Honor is to
be used with men of honor; but he who allows his honor to
stand a barrier between himself and the man who has wronged
him by dishonor, is no better than a fool. You speak of
yourself; you think of yourself. And what of me, Justin? The
things you say of yourself apply in a like degree - nay, even
more - to me."

"Ah, but you are not his son. Oh, believe me, I speak not
hastily or lightly. I have been torn this way and that in
these past days, until at moments the burden has been heavier
than I could bear. Once, for a little while, I thought I
could do all and more than you expect of me - the moment,
indeed, in which I took the first step, and delivered him the
letter. But it was a moment of wild heat. I cooled, and
reflection followed, and since then, because so much was done,
I have not known an instant's peace of mind; I have endeavored
to forget the position in which I am placed; but I have
failed. I cannot. And if I go through with this thing, I
shall not know another hour in life that is not poisoned by

"Remorse?" echoed Sir Richard, between consternation and
anger. "Remorse?" He laughed bitterly. "What ails thee, boy?
Do you pretend that Lord Ostermore should go unpunished? Do
you go so far as that?"

"Not so. He has made others suffer, and it is just - as we
understand justice - that he should suffer in his turn.
Though, when all is said, he is but a poor egotist, too
dull-witted to understand the full vileness of his sin. He is
suffering, as it is - cursed in his son; for `the father of a
fool hath no joy.' He hates this son of his, and his son
despises him. His wife is a shrew, a termagant, who embitters
every hour of his existence. Thus he drags out his life,
unloving and unloved, a thing to evoke pity."

"Pity?" cried Sir Richard in a voice of thunder. "Pity? Ha!
As I've a soul, Justin, he shall be more pitiful yet ere I
have done with him."

"Be it so, then. But - if you love me - find some other hand
to do the work."

"If I love you, Justin?" echoed the other, and his voice
softened, his eyes looked reproachfully upon his adoptive
child. "Needs there an `if' to that? Are you not all I have
- my son, indeed?"

He held out his hands, and Justin took them affectionately and
pressed them in his own.

"You'll put these weak notions from your mind, Justin, and
prove worthy the noble lady who was your mother?"

Mr. Caryll moved aside again, hanging his head, his face pale
and troubled. Where Everard's arguments must fail, his own
affection for Everard was like to conquer him. It was very
weak in him, he told himself; but then his love for Everard
was strong, and he would fain spare Everard the pain he knew
he must be occasioning him. Still he did battle, his
repugnance up in arms.

"I would you could see the matter as I see it," he sighed.
"This man grown old, and reaping in his old age the fruits of
the egotism he has sown. I do not believe that in all the
world there is a single soul would weep his lordship's death -
if we except, perhaps, Mistress Winthrop."

"And do you pity him for that?" quoth Sir Richard coldly.
"What right has he to expect aught else? Who sows for
himself, reaps for himself. I marvel, indeed, that there
should be even one to bewail him - to spare him a kind

"And even there," mused Mr. Caryll, "it is perhaps gratitude
rather than affection that inspires the kindness."

"Who is Mistress Winthrop?"

"His ward. As sweet a lady, I think, as I have ever seen,"
said Mr. Caryll, incautious enthusiasm assailing him. Sir
Richard's eyes narrowed.

"You have some acquaintance with her?" he suggested.

Very briefly Mr. Caryll sketched for the second time that
evening the circumstances of his first meeting with Rotherby.

Sir Richard nodded sardonically. "Hum! He is his father's
son, not a doubt of that. 'Twill be a most worthy successor
to my Lord Ostermore. But the lady? Tell me of the lady.
How comes she linked with them?"

"I scarce know, save from the scraps that I have heard. Her
father, it would seem, was Ostermore's friend, and, dying, he
appointed Ostermore her guardian. Her fortune, I take it, is
very slender. Nevertheless, Ostermore, whatever he may have
done by other people, appears in this case to have discharged
his trust with zeal and with affection. But, indeed, who
could have done other where that sweet lady was concerned? You
should see her, Sir Richard!" He was pacing the room now as
he spoke, and as he spoke he warmed to his subject more and
more. "She is middling tall, of a most dainty slenderness,
dark-haired, with a so sweet and saintly beauty of face that
it must be seen to be believed. And eyes - Lord! the glory of
her eyes! They are eyes that would lead a man into hell and
make him believe it heaven

"'Love doth to her eyes repair
To help him of his blindness.'"

Sir Richard watched him, displeasure growing in his face.
"So!" he said at last. "Is that the reason ?"

"The reason of what?" quoth Mr. Caryll, recalled from his
sweet rapture.

"The reason of these fresh qualms of yours. The reason of all
this sympathy for Ostermore; this unwillingness to perform the
sacred duty that is yours."

"Nay - on my soul, you do me wrong!" cried Mr. Caryll
indignantly. "If aught had been needed to spur me on, it had
been my meeting with this lady. It needed that to make me
realize to the bitter full the wrong my Lord Ostermore has
done me in getting me; to make me realize that I am a man
without a name to offer any woman."

But Sir Richard, watching him intently, shook his head and
fetched a sigh of sorrow and disdain. "Pshaw, Justin! How we
befool ourselves! You think it is not so; you try to think it
is not so; but to me it is very plain. A woman has arisen in
your life, and this woman, seen but once or twice, unknown a
week or so ago, suffices to eclipse the memory of your mother
and turns your aim in life - the avenging of her bitter wrongs
- to water. Oh, Justin, Justin! I had thought you stronger."

"Your conclusions are all wrong. I swear they are wrong!"

Sir Richard considered him sombrely. "Are you sure - quite,
quite sure?"

Mr. Caryll's eyes fell, as the doubt now entered his mind for
the first time that it might be indeed as Sir Richard was
suggesting. He was not quite sure.

"Prove it to me, Justin," Everard pleaded. "Prove it by
abandoning this weakness where my Lord Ostermore is concerned.
Remember only the wrong he has done. You are the incarnation
of that wrong, and by your hand must he be destroyed." He
rose, and caught the younger man's hands again in his own,
forced Mr. Caryll to confront him. "He shall know when the
time comes whose hand it was that pulled him down; he shall
know the Nemesis that has lain in wait for him these thirty
years to smite him at the end. And he shall taste hell in
this world before he goes to it in the next. It is God's own
justice, boy! Will you be false to the duty that lies before
you? Will you forget your mother and her sufferings because
you have looked into the eyes of this girl, who - "

"No, no! Say no more!" cried Mr. Caryll, his voice trembling.

"You will do it," said Sir Richard, between question and

"If Heaven lends me strength of purpose. But it asks much,"
was the gloomy answer. "I am to see Lord Ostermore to-morrow
to obtain his answer to King James' letter."

Sir Richard's eyes gleamed. He released the other's hands,
and turned slowly to his chair again. "It is well," he said
slowly. "The thing asks dispatch, or else some of his
majesty's real friends may be involved."

He proceeded to explain his words. "I have talked in vain
with Atterbury. He will not abandon the enterprise even at
King James' commands. He urges that his majesty can have no
conception of how the matter is advanced; that he has been
laboring like Hercules, and that the party is being swelled by
men of weight and substance every day; that it is too late to
go back, and that he will go forward with the king's consent
or without it. Should he or his agents approach Ostermore, in
the meantime, it will be too late for us to take such measures
as we have concerted. For to deliver up Ostermore then would
entail the betrayal of others, which is not to be dreamt of.
So you'll use dispatch."

"If I do the thing at all, it shall be done to-morrow,"
answered Mr. Caryll.

"If at all?" cried Sir Richard, frowning again. "If at all?"

Caryll turned to him. He crossed to the table, and leaning
across it, until his face was quite close to his adoptive
father's. "Sir Richard," he begged, "let us say no more
to-night. My will is all to do the thing. It is my - my
instincts that rebel. I think that the day will be carried by
my will. I shall strive to that end, believe me. But let us
say no more now."

Sir Richard, looking deep into Mr. Caryll's eyes, was touched
by something that he saw. "My poor Justin!" he said gently.
Then, checking the sympathy as swiftly as it rose: "So be it,
then," he said briskly. "You'll come to me to-morrow after
you have seen his lordship?"

"Will you not remain here?"

"You have not the room. Besides, Sir Richard Everard - is too
well known for a Jacobite to be observed sharing your lodging.
I have no right at all in England, and there is always the
chance of my being discovered. I would not pull you down with
me. I am lodged at the corner of Maiden Lane, next door to
the sign of Golden Flitch. Come to me there to-morrow after
you have seen Lord Ostermore." He hesitated a moment. He was
impelled to recapitulate his injunctions; but he forbore. He
put out his hand abruptly. "Good-night, Justin."

Justin took the hand and pressed it. The door opened, and
Leduc entered.

"Captain Mainwaring and Mr. Falgate are here, sir, and would
speak with you," he announced.

Mr. Caryll knit his brows a moment. His acquaintance with
both men was of the slightest, and it was only upon reflection
that he bethought him they would, no doubt, be come in the
matter of his affair with Rotherby, which in the stress of his
interview with Sir Richard had been quite forgotten. He

"Wait upon Sir Richard to the door, Leduc," he bade his man.
"Then introduce these gentlemen."

Sir Richard had drawn back a step. "I trust neither of these
gentlemen knows me," he said. "I would not be seen here by
any that did. It might compromise you."

But Mr. Caryll belittled Sir Richard's fears. "Pooh! 'Tis
very unlike," said he; whereupon Sir Richard, seeing no help
for it, went out quickly, Leduc in attendance.

Lord Rotherby's friends in the ante-room paid little heed to
him as he passed briskly through. Surveillance came rather
from an entirely unsuspected quarter. As he left the house
and crossed the square, a figure detached itself from the
shadow of the wall, and set out to follow. It hung in his
rear through the filthy, labyrinthine streets which Sir
Richard took to Charing Cross, followed him along the Strand
and up Bedford Street, and took note of the house he entered
at the corner of Maiden Lane.



The meeting was appointed by my Lord Rotherby for seven
o'clock next morning in Lincoln's Inn Fields. It is true that
Lincoln's Inn Fields at an early hour of the day was accounted
a convenient spot for the transaction of such business as
this; yet, considering that it was in the immediate
neighborhood of Stretton House, overlooked, indeed, by the
windows of that mansion, it is not easy to rid the mind of a
suspicion that Rotherby appointed that place of purpose set,
and with intent to mark his contempt and defiance of his
father, with whom he supposed Mr. Caryll to be in some league.

Accompanied by the Duke of Wharton and Major Gascoigne, Mr.
Caryll entered the enclosure promptly as seven was striking
from St. Clement Danes. They had come in a coach, which they
had left in waiting at the corner of Portugal Row.

As they penetrated beyond the belt of trees they found that
they were the first in the field, and his grace proceeded with
the major to inspect the ground, so that time might be saved
against the coming of the other party.

Mr. Caryll stood apart, breathing the freshness of the sunlit
morning, but supremely indifferent to its glory. He was
gloomy and preoccupied. He had slept ill that night after his
interview with Sir Richard, tormented by the odious choice
that lay before him of either breaking with the adoptive
father to whom he owed obedience and affection, or betraying
his natural father whom he had every reason to hate, yet who
remained his father. He had been able to arrive at no
solution. Duty seemed to point one way; instinct the other.
Down in his heart he felt that when the moment came it would
be the behests of instinct that he would obey, and, in obeying
them, play false to Sir Richard and to the memory of his
mother. It was the only course that went with honor; and yet
it was a course that must lead to a break with the one friend
he had in the world - the one man who stood to him for family
and kin.

And now, as if that were not enough to plague him, there was
this quarrel with Rotherby which he had upon his hands. That,
too, he had been considering during the wakeful hours of that
summer night. Had he reflected he must have seen that no
other result could have followed his narrative at White's last
night; and yet it was a case in which reflection would not
have stayed him. Hortensia Winthrop's fair name was to be
cleansed of the smirch that had been cast upon it, and Justin
was the only man in whose power it had lain to do it. More
than that - if more were needed - it was Rotherby himself, by
his aggressiveness, who had thrust Mr. Caryll into a position
which almost made it necessary for him to explain himself; and
that he could scarcely have done by any other than the means
which he had adopted. Under ordinary circumstances the matter
would have troubled him not at all; this meeting with such a
man as Rotherby would not have robbed him of a moment's sleep.
But there came the reflection - belatedly - that Rotherby was
his brother, his father's son; and he experienced just the
same degree of repugnance at the prospect of crossing swords
with him as he did at the prospect of betraying Lord
Ostermore. Sir Richard would force upon him a parricide's
task; Fate a fratricide's. Truly, he thought, it was an
enviable position, his.

Pacing the turf, on which the dew still gleamed ant sparkled
diamond-like, he pondered his course, and wondered now, at the
last moment, was there no way to avert this meeting. Could
not the matter be arranged? He was stirred out of his musings
by Gascoigne's voice, raised to curse the tardiness of Lord

"'Slife! Where does the fellow tarry? Was he so drunk last
night that he's not yet slept himself sober?"

"The streets are astir," put in Wharton, helping himself to
snuff. And, indeed, the cries of the morning hawkers reached
them now from the four sides of the square. "If his lordship
does not come soon, I doubt if we may stay for him. We shall
have half the town for spectators."

"Who are these?" quoth Gascoigne, stepping aside and craning
his neck to get a better view. "Ah! Here they come." And he
indicated a group of three that had that moment passed the

Gascoigne and Wharton went to meet the newcomers. Lord
Rotherby was attended by Mainwaring, a militia captain - a
great, burly, scarred bully of a man - and a Mr. Falgate, an
extravagant young buck of his acquaintance. An odder pair of
sponsors he could not have found had he been at pains to
choose them so.

"Adso!" swore Mr. Falgate, in his shrill, affected voice. "I
vow 'tis a most ungenteel hour, this, for men of quality to be
abroad. I had my beauty sleep broke into to be here in time.
Lard! I shall be dozing all day for't!" He took off his hat
and delicately mopped his brow with a square of lace he called
a handkerchief.

"Shall we come to business, gentlemen?" quoth Mainwaring

"With all my heart," answered Wharton. "It is growing late."

"Late! La, my dears!" clucked Mr. Falgate in horror. "Has
your grace not been to bed yet?"

"To save time," said Gascoigne, "we have made an inspection of
the ground, and we think that under the trees yonder is a spot
not to be bettered."

Mainwaring flashed a critical and experienced eye over the
place. "The sun is - So?" he said, looking up. "Yes; it
should serve well enough, I - "

"It will not serve at all," cried Rotherby, who stood a pace
or two apart. "A little to the right, there, the turf is

"But there is no protection," ,put in the duke. "You will be
under observation from that side of the square, including
Stretton House."

"What odds?" quoth Rotherby. "Do I care who overlooks us?"
And he laughed unpleasantly. "Or is your grace ashamed of
being seen in your friend's company?"

Wharton looked him steadily in the face a moment, then turned
to his lordship's seconds. "If Mr. Caryll is of the same mind
as his lordship, we had best get to work at once," he said;
and bowing to them, withdrew with Gascoigne.

"See to the swords, Mainwaring," said Rotherby shortly.
"Here, Fanny!" This to Falgate, whose name was Francis, and
who delighted in the feminine diminutive which his intimates
used toward him. "Come help me with my clothes."

"I vow to Gad," protested Mr. Falgate, advancing to the task.
"I make but an indifferent valet, my dear."

Mr. Caryll stood thoughtful a moment when Rotherby's wishes
had been made known to him. The odd irony of the situation -
the key to which he was the only one to hold - was borne in
upon him. He fetched a sigh of utter weariness.

"I have," said he, "the greatest repugnance to meeting his

"'Tis little wonder," returned his grace contemptuously. "But
since 'tis forced upon you, I hope you'll give him the lesson
in manners that he needs."

"Is it - is it unavoidable?" quoth Mr. Caryll.

"Unavoidable?" Wharton looked at him in stern wonder.

Gascoigne, too, swung round to stare. "Unavoidable? What can
you mean, Caryll?"

"I mean is the matter not to be arranged in any way? Must the
duel take place?"

His Grace of Wharton stroked his chin contemplatively, his eye
ironical, his lip curling never so slightly. "Why," said he,
at length, "you may beg my Lord Rotherby's pardon for having
given him the lie. You may retract, and brand yourself a liar
and your version of the Maidstone affair a silly invention
which ye have not the courage to maintain. You may do that,
Mr. Caryll. For my own sake, let me add, I hope you will not
do it."

"I am not thinking of your grace at all," said Mr. Caryll,
slightly piqued by the tone the other took with him. "But to
relieve your mind of such doubts as I see you entertain, I can
assure you that it is out of no motives of weakness that I
boggle at this combat. Though I confess that I am no
ferrailleur, and that I abhor the duel as a means of settling
a difference just as I abhor all things that are stupid and
insensate, yet I am not the man to shirk an encounter where an
encounter is forced upon me. But in this affair - " he
paused, then ended - "there is more than meets your grace's
eye, or, indeed, anyone's."

He was so calm, so master of himself, that Wharton perceived
how groundless must have been his first notion. Whatever
might be Mr. Caryll's motives, it was plain from his most
perfect composure that they were not motives of fear. His
grace's half-contemptuous smile was dissipated.

"This is mere trifling, Mr. Caryll," he reminded his
principal, "and time is speeding. Your withdrawal now would
not only be damaging to yourself; it would be damaging to the
lady of whose fair name you have made yourself the champion.
You must see that it is too late for doubts on the score of
this meeting."

"Ay - by God!" swore Gascoigne hotly. "What a pox ails you,

Mr. Caryll took off his hat and flung it on the ground behind
him. "We must go on, then," said he. "Gascoigne, see to the
swords with his lordship's friend there."

With a relieved look, the major went forward to make the final
preparations, whilst Mr. Caryll, attended by Wharton, rapidly
divested himself of coat and waistcoat, then kicked off his
light shoes, and stood ready, a slight, lithe, graceful figure
in white Holland shirt and pearl-colored small clothes.

A moment later the adversaries were face to face - Rotherby,
divested of his wig and with a kerchief bound about his
close-cropped head, all a trembling eagerness; Mr. Caryll with
a reluctance lightly masked by a dangerous composure.

There was a perfunctory salute - a mere presenting of arms -
and the blades swept round in a half-circle to their first
meeting. But Rotherby, without so much as allowing his steel
to touch his opponent's, as the laws of courtesy demanded,
swirled it away again into the higher lines and lunged. It
was almost like a foul attempt to take his adversary unawares
and unprepared, and for a second it looked as if it must
succeed. It must have succeeded but for the miraculous
quickness of Mr. Caryll. Swinging round on the ball of his
right foot, lightly and gracefully as a dancing master, and
with no sign of haste or fear in his amazing speed, he let the
other's hard-driven blade glance past him, to meet nothing but
the empty air.

As a result, by the very force of the stroke, Rotherby found
himself over-reached and carried beyond his point of aim;
while Mr. Caryll's sideward movement brought him not only
nearer his opponent, but entirely within his guard.

It was seen by them all, and by none with such panic as
Rotherby himself, that, as a consequence of his quasi-foul
stroke, the viscount was thrown entirely at the mercy of his
opponent thus at the very outset of the encounter, before
their blades had so much as touched each other. A
straightening of the arm on the part of Mr. Caryll, and the
engagement would have been at an end.

Mr. Caryll, however, did not straighten his arm. He was
observed to smile as he broke ground and waited for his
lordship to recover.

Falgate turned pale. Mainwaring swore softly under his
breath, in fear for his principal; Gascoigne did the same in
vexation at the opportunity Mr. Caryll had so wantonly wasted.
Wharton looked on with tight-pressed lips, and wondered.

Rotherby recovered, and for a moment the two men stood apart,
seeming to feel each other with their eyes before resuming.
Then his lordship renewed the attack with vigor.

Mr. Caryll parried lightly and closely, plying a beautiful
weapon in the best manner of the French school, and opposing
to the ponderous force of his antagonist a delicate
frustrating science. Rotherby, a fine swordsman in his way,
soon saw that here was need for all his skill, and he exerted
it. But the prodigious rapidity of his blade broke as upon a
cuirass against the other's light, impenetrable guard.

His lordship broke ground, breathed heavily, and sweated under
the glare of the morning sun, cursing this swordsman who, so
cool and deliberate, husbanded his strength and scarcely
seemed to move, yet by sheer skill and address more than
neutralized his lordship's advantages of greater strength and
length of reach.

"You cursed French dog!" swore the viscount presently, between
his teeth, and as he spoke he made a ringing parade, feinted,
beat the ground with his foot to draw off the other's
attention, and went in again with a full-length lunge. "Parry
that, you damned maitre-d'armesP' he roared.

Mr. Caryll answered nothing; he parried; parried again;
delivered a riposte whenever the opportunity offered, or
whenever his lordship grew too pressing, and it became
expedient to drive him back; but never once did he stretch out
to lunge in his turn. The seconds were so lost in wonder at
the beauty of this close play of his that they paid no heed to
what was taking place in the square about them. They never
observed the opening windows and the spectators gathering at
them - as Wharton had feared. Amongst these, had either of
the combatants looked up, he would have seen his own father on
the balcony of Stretton House. A moment the earl stood there,
Lady Ostermore at his side; then he vanished into the house
again, to reappear almost at once in the street, with a couple
of footmen hurrying after him.

Meanwhile the combat went on. Once Lord Rotherby had
attempted to fall back for a respite, realizing that he was
winded. But Mr. Caryll denied him this, attacking now for the
first time, and the rapidity of his play was such that
Rotherby opined - the end to be at hand, appreciated to the
full his peril. In a last desperate effort, gathering up what
shreds of strength remained him, he repulsed Mr. Caryll by a
vigorous counter attack. He saw an opening, feinted to
enlarge it, and drove in quickly, throwing his last ounce of
strength into the effort. This time it could not be said to
have been parried. Something else happened. His blade,
coming foible on forte against Mr. Caryll's, was suddenly
enveloped. It was as if a tentacle had been thrust out to
seize it. For the barest fraction of a second was it held so
by Mr. Caryll's sword; then, easily but irresistibly, it was
lifted out of Rotherby's hand, and dropped on the turf a
half-yard or so from his lordship's stockinged feet.

A cold sweat of terror broke upon him. He caught his breath
with a half-shuddering sob of fear, his eyes dilating wildly -
for Mr. Caryll's point was coming straight as an arrow at his
throat. On it came and on, until it was within perhaps three
inches of the flesh.

There it was suddenly arrested, and for a long moment it was
held there poised, death itself, menacing and imminent. And
Lord Rotherby, not daring to move, rooted where he stood,
looked with fascinated eyes along that shimmering blade into
two gleaming eyes behind it that seemed to watch him with a
solemnity that was grim to the point of mockery.

Time and the world stood still, or were annihilated in that
moment for the man who waited.

High in the blue overhead a lark was pouring out its song; but
his lordship heard it not. He heard nothing, he was conscious
of nothing but that gleaming sword and those gleaming eyes
behind it.

Then a voice - the voice of his antagonist - broke the
silence. "Is more needed?" it asked, and without waiting for
a reply, Mr. Caryll lowered his blade and drew himself
upright. "Let this suffice," he said. "To take your life
would be to deprive you of the means of profiting by this

It seemed to Rotherby as if he were awaking from a trance.
The world resumed its way. He breathed again, and
straightened himself, too, from the arrested attitude of his
last lunge. Rage welled up from his black soul; a crimson
flood swept into his pallid cheeks; his eyes rolled and blazed
with the fury of the mad.

Mr. Caryll moved away. In that quiet voice of his: "Take up
your sword," he said to the vanquished, over his shoulder.

Wharton and Gascoigne moved towards him, without words to
express the amazement that still held

Rotherby glared an instant longer without moving. Then, doing
as Mr. Caryll had bidden him, he stooped to recover his blade.
A moment he held it, looking after his departing adversary;
then with swift, silent stealth he sprang to follow. His fell
intent was written on his face.

Falgate gasped - a helpless fool - while Mainwaring hurled
himself forward to prevent the thing he saw impended. Too
late. Even as he flung out his hands to grapple with his
lordship, Rotherby's arm drove straight before him and sent
his sword through the undefended back of Mr. Caryll.

All that Mr. Caryll realized at first was that he had been
struck a blow between the shoulder blades; and then, ere he
could turn to inquire into the cause, he was amazed to see
some three inches of steel come through his shirt in front.
The next instant an exquisite, burning, searing pain went
through and through him as the blade was being withdrawn. He
coughed and swayed, then hurtled sideways into the arms of
Major Gascoigne. His senses swam. The turf heaved and rolled
as if an earthquake moved it; the houses fronting the square
and the trees immediately before him leaped and danced as if
suddenly launched into grotesque animation, while about him
swirled a wild, incoherent noise of voices, rising and
falling, now loud, now silent, and reaching him through a
murmuring hum that surged about his ears until it shut out all
else and consciousness deserted him.

Around him, meanwhile, a wild scene was toward.

His Grace of Wharton had wrenched away the sword from
Rotherby, and mastered by an effort his own impulse to use it
upon the murderer. Captain Mainwaring - Rotherby's own
second, a man of quick, fierce passions - utterly unable to
control himself, fell upon his lordship and beat him to the
ground with his hands, cursing him and heaping abuse upon him
with every blow; whilst delicate Mr. Falgate, in the
background, sick to the point of faintness, stood dabbing his
lips with his handkerchief and swearing that he would rot
before he allowed himself again to be dragged into an affair
of honor.

"Ye damned cutthroat!" swore the militia captain, standing
over the man he had felled. "D'ye know what'll be the fruits
of this? Ye'll swing at Tyburn like the dirty thief y' are.
God help me! I'd give a hundred guineas sooner than be mixed
in this filthy business."

"'Tis no matter for that now," said the duke, touching him on
the shoulder and drawing him away from his lordship. "Get up,

Heavily, mechanically, Rotherby got to his feet. Now that the
fit of rage was over, he was himself all stricken at the thing
he had done. He looked at the limp figure on the turf,
huddled against the knee of Major Gascoigne; looked at the
white face, the closed eyes and the stain of blood oozing
farther and farther across the Holland shirt, and, as white
himself as the stricken man, he shuddered and his mouth was
drawn wide with horror.

But pitiful though he looked, he inspired no pity in the Duke
of Wharton, who considered him with an eye of unspeakable
severity. "If Mr. Caryll dies," said he coldly, "I shall see
to it that you hang, my lord. I'll not rest until I bring you
to the gallows."

And then, before more could be said, there came a sound of
running steps and labored breathing, and his grace swore
softly to himself as he beheld no other than Lord Ostermore
advancing rapidly, all out of breath and apoplectic of face, a
couple of footmen pressing close upon his heels, and, behind
these, a score of sightseers who had followed them.

"What's here?" cried the earl, without glancing at his son.
"Is he dead? Is he dead?"

Gascoigne, who was busily endeavoring to stanch the bleeding,
answered without looking up: "It is in God's hands. I think
he is very like to die."

Ostermore swung round upon Rotherby. He had paled suddenly,
and his mouth trembled. He raised his clenched hand, and it
seemed that he was about to strike his son; then he let it
fall again. "You villain!" he panted, breathless from running
and from rage. "I saw it! I saw it all. It was murder, and,
as God's my life, if Mr. Caryll dies, I shall see to it that
you hang - I, your own father."

Thus assailed on every side, some of the cowering, shrinking
manner left the viscount. His antagonism to his father
spurred him to a prouder carriage. He shrugged indifferently.
"So be it," he said. "I have been told that already. I don't
greatly care."

Mainwaring, who had been stooping over Mr. Caryll, and who had
perhaps more knowledge of wounds than any present, shook his
head ominously.

"'Twould be dangerous to move him far," said he. "'Twill
increase the hemorrhage."

"My men shall carry him across to Stretton House," said Lord
Ostermore. "Lend a hand here, you gaping oafs."

The footmen advanced. The crowd, which was growing rapidly
and was watching almost in silence, awed, pressed as close as
it dared upon these gentlemen. Mainwaring procured a couple
of cloaks and improvised a stretcher with them. Of this he
took one corner himself, Gascoigne another, and the footmen
the remaining two. Thus, as gently as might be, they bore the
wounded man from the enclosure, through the crowd that had by
now assembled in the street, and over the threshold of
Stretton House.

A groom had been dispatched for a doctor, and his Grace of
Wharton had compelled Rotherby to accompany them into his
father's house, sternly threatening to hand him over to a
constable at once if he refused.

Within the cool hall of Stretton House they were met by her
ladyship and Mistress Winthrop, both pale, but the eyes of
each wearing a vastly different expression.

"What's this?" demanded her ladyship, as they trooped in.
"Why do you bring him here?"

"Because, madam," answered Ostermore in a voice as hard as
iron, "it imports to save his life; for if he dies, your son
dies as surely - and on the scaffold."

Her ladyship staggered and flung a hand to her breast. But
her recovery was almost immediate. "'Twas a duel - " she
began stoutly.

"'Twas murder," his lordship corrected, interrupting -
"murder, as any of these gentlemen can and will bear witness.
Rotherby ran Mr. Caryll through the back after Mr. Caryll had
spared his life."

"'Tis a lie!" screamed her ladyship, her lips ashen. She
turned to Rotherby, who stood there in shirt and breeches and
shoeless, as he had fought. "Why don't you say that it is a
lie?" she demanded.

Rotherby endeavored to master himself. "Madam," he said,
"here is no place for you."

"But is it true? Is it true what is being said?"

He half-turned from her, with a despairing movement, and
caught the sharp hiss of her indrawn breath. Then she swept
past him to the side of the wounded man, who had been laid on
a settle. "What is his hurt?" she inquired wildly, looking
about her. But no one spoke. Tragedy - more far than the
tragedy of that man's possible death - was in the air, and
struck them all silent. "Will no one answer me?" she
insisted. "Is it mortal? Is it?"

His Grace of Wharton turned to her with an unusual gravity in
his blue eyes. "We hope not, ma'am," he said. "But it is as
God wills."

Her limbs seemed to fail her, and she sank down on her knees
beside the settle. "We must save him," she muttered
fearfully. "We must save his life. Where is the doctor? He
won't die! Oh, he must not die!"

They stood grouped about, looking on in silence, Rotherby in
the background. Behind him again, on the topmost of the three
steps that led up into the inner hall, stood Mistress
Winthrop, white of face, a wild horror in the eyes she riveted
upon the wounded and unconscious man. She realized that he
was like to die. There was an infinite pity in her soul -
and, maybe, something more. Her impulse was to go to him; her
every instinct urged her. But her reason held her back.

Then, as she looked, she saw with a feeling almost of terror
that his eyes were suddenly wide open.

"Wha - what?" came in feeble accents from his lips.

There was a stir about him.

"Never move, Justin," said Gascoigne, who stood by his head.
"You are hurt. Lie still. The doctor has been summoned."

"Ah!" It was a sigh. The wounded man closed his eyes a
moment, then re-opened them. "I remember. I remember," he
said feebly. "It is - it is grave?" he inquired. "It went
right through me. I remember!" He surveyed himself.
"There's been a deal of blood lost. I am like to die, I take

"Nay, sir, we hope not - we hope not!" It was the countess
who spoke.

A wry smile twisted his lips. "Your ladyship is very good,"
said he. "I had not thought you quite so much my well-wisher.
I - I have done you a wrong, madam." He paused for breath,
and it was not plain whether he spoke in sincerity or in
sarcasm. Then with a startling suddenness he broke into a
soft laugh and to those risen, who could not think what had
occasioned it, it sounded more dreadful than any plaint he
could have uttered.

He had bethought him that there was no longer the need for him
to come to a decision in the matter that had brought him to
England, and his laugh was almost of relief. The riddle he
could never have solved for himself in a manner that had not
shattered his future peace of mind, was solved and well solved
if this were death.

"Where - where is Rotherby?" he inquired presently.

There was a stir, and men drew back, leaving an open lane to
the place where Rotherby stood. Mr. Caryll saw him, and
smiled, and his smile held no tinge of mockery. "You are the
best friend I ever had, Rotherby," he startled all by saying.
"Let him approach," he begged.

Rotherby came forward like one who walks in his sleep. "I am
sorry," he said thickly, "cursed sorry."

"There's scarce the need," said Mr. Caryll. "Lift me up,
Tom," he begged Gascoigne. "There's scarce the need. You
have cleared up something that was plaguing me, my lord. I am
your debtor for - for that. It disposes of something I could
never have disposed of had I lived." He turned to the Duke of
Wharton. "It was an accident," he said significantly. "You
all saw that it was an accident."

A denial rang out. "It was no accident!" cried Lord
Ostermore, and swore an oath. "We all saw what it was."

"I'faith, then, your eyes deceived you. It was an accident, I
say - and who should know better than I?" He was smiling in
that whimsical enigmatic way of his. Smiling still he sank
back into Gascoigne's arms.

"You are talking too much," said the Major.

"What odds? I am not like to talk much longer."

The door opened to admit a gentleman in black, wearing a
grizzle wig and carrying a gold-headed cane. Men moved aside
to allow him to approach Mr. Caryll. The latter, not noticing
him, had met at last the gaze of Hortensia's eyes. He
continued to smile, but his smile was now changed to
wistfulness under that pitiful regard of hers.

"It is better so," he was saying. "Better so!"

His glance was upon her, and she understood what none other
there suspected - that those words were for her alone.

He closed his eyes and swooned again, as the doctor stooped to
remove the temporary bandages from his wound.

Hortensia, a sob beating in her throat, turned and fled to her
own room.



Mr. Caryll was almost happy.

He reclined on a long chair, supported by pillows cunningly
set for him by the deft hands of Leduc, and took his ease and
indulged his day-dreams in Lord Ostermore's garden. He sat
within the cool, fragrant shade of a privet arbor, interlaced
with flowering lilac and laburnum, and he looked out upon the
long sweep of emerald lawn and the little patch of ornamental
water where the water-lilies gaped their ivory chalices to the
morning sun.

He looked thinner, paler and more frail than was his habit,
which is not wonderful, considering that he had been four
weeks abed while his wound was mending. He was dressed, again
by the hands of the incomparable Leduc, in a deshabille of
some artistry. A dark-blue dressing-gown of flowered satin
fell open at the waist; disclosing sky-blue breeches and
pearl-colored stockings, elegant shoes of Spanish leather with
red heels and diamond buckles. His chestnut hair had been
dressed with as great care as though he were attending a
levee, and Leduc had insisted upon placing a small round patch
under his left eye, that it might - said Leduc - impart
vivacity to a countenance that looked over-wan from his long

He reclined there, and, as I have said, was almost happy.

The creature of sunshine that was himself at heart, had broken
through the heavy clouds that had been obscuring him. An
oppressive burden was lifted from his mind and conscience.
That sword-thrust through the back a month ago had been
guided, he opined, by the hand of a befriending Providence;
for although he had, as you see, survived it, it had none the
less solved for him that hateful problem he could never have
solved for himself, that problem whose solution ,- no matter
which alternative he had adopted - must have brought him
untold misery afterwards.

As it was, during the weeks that he had lain helpless, his
life attached to him by but the merest thread, the chance of
betraying Lord Ostermore was gone, nor - the circumstances
being such as they were - could Sir Richard Everard blame him
that he had let it pass.

Thus he knew peace; knew it as only those know it who have
sustained unrest and can appreciate relief from it.

Nature had made him a voluptuary, and reclining there in an
ease which the languor born of his long illness rendered the
more delicious, inhaling the tepid summer air that came to him
laden with a most sweet attar from the flowering rose-garden,
he realized that with all its cares life may be sweet to live
in youth and in the month of June.

He sighed, and smiled pensively at the water-lilies; nor was
his happiness entirely and solely the essence of his material
ease. This was his third morning out of doors, and on each of
the two mornings that were gone Hortensia had borne him
company, coming with the charitable intent of lightening his
tedium by reading to him, but remaining to talk instead.

The most perfect friendliness had prevailed between them; a
camaraderie which Mr. Caryll had been careful not to dispel by
any return to such speeches as those which had originally
offended but which seemed now mercifully forgotten.

He was awaiting her, and his expectancy heightened for him the
glory of the morning, increased the meed of happiness that was
his. But there was more besides. Leduc, who stood slightly
behind him, fussily, busy about a little table on which were
books and cordials, flowers and comfits, a pipe and a
tobacco-jar, had just informed him for the first time that
during the more dangerous period of his illness Mistress
Winthrop had watched by his bedside for many hours together
upon many occasions, and once - on the day after he had been
wounded, and while his fever was at its height - Leduc,
entering suddenly and quietly, had surprised her in tears.

All this was most sweet news to Mr. Caryll. He found that
between himself and his half-brother there lay an even deeper
debt that he had at first supposed, and already acknowledged.
In the delicious contemplation of Hortensia in tears beside
him stricken all but to the point of death, he forgot entirely
his erstwhile scruples that being nameless he had no name to
offer her. In imagination he conjured up the scene. It made,
he found, a very pretty picture. He would smoke upon it.

"Leduc, if you were to fill me a pipe of Spanish - "

"Monsieur has smoked one pipe already," Leduc reminded him.

"You are inconsequent, Leduc. It is a sign of advancing age.
Repress it. The pipe!" And he flicked impatient fingers.

"Monsieur is forgetting that the doctor - "

"The devil take the doctor," said Mr. Caryll with finality.

""Parfaitement!" answered the smooth Leduc. "Over the bridge
we laugh at the saint. Now that we are cured, the devil take
the doctor by all means."

A ripple of laughter came to applaud Leduc's excursion into
irony. The arbor had another, narrower entrance, on the left.
Hortensia had approached this, all unheard on the soft turf,
and stood there now, a heavenly apparition in white flimsy
garments, head slightly a-tilt, eyes mocking, lips laughing, a
heavy curl of her dark hair falling caressingly into the
hollow where white neck sprang from whiter shoulder.

"You make too rapid a recovery, sir," said she.

"It comes of learning how well I have been nursed," he
answered, making shift to rise, and he laughed inwardly to see
the red flush of confusion spread over the milk-white skin,
the reproachful shaft her eyes let loose upon Leduc.

She came forward swiftly to check his rising; buff he was
already on his feet, proud of his return to strength, vain to
display it. "Nay," she reproved him. "If you are so
headstrong, I shall leave you."

"If you do, ma'am. I vow here, as I am, I hope, a gentleman,
that I shall go home to-day, and on foot."

"You would kill yourself," she told him.

"I might kill myself for less, and yet be justified."

She looked her despair of him. "What must I do to make you

"Set me the example by being reasonable yourself, and let
there be no more of this wild talk of leaving me the very
moment you are come. Leduc, a chair for Mistress Winthrop!"
he commanded, as though chairs abounded in a garden nook. But
Leduc, the diplomat, had effaced himself.

She laughed at his grand air, and, herself, drew forward the
stool that had been Leduc's, and sat down. Satisfied, Mr.
Caryll made her a bow, and seated himself sideways on his long
chair, so that he faced her. She begged that he would dispose
himself more comfortably; but he scorned the very notion.

"Unaided I walked here from the house," he informed her with a
boastful air. "I had need to begin to feel my feet again.
You are pampering me here, and to pamper an invalid is bad; it
keeps him an invalid. Now I am an invalid no longer."

"But the doctor - " she began.

"The doctor, ma'am, is disposed of already," he assured her.
"Very definitely disposed of. Ask Leduc. He will tell you."

"Not a doubt of that," she answered. "Leduc talks too much."

"You have a spite against him for the information he gave me
on the score of how and by whom I was nursed. So have I.
Because he did not tell me before, and because when he told me
he would not tell me enough. He has no eyes, this Leduc. He
is a dolt, who only sees the half of what happens, and only
remembers the half of what he has seen."

"I am sure of it," said she.

He looked surprised an instant. Then he laughed. "I am glad
that we agree."

"But you have yet to learn the cause. Had this Leduc used his
eyes or his ears to better purpose, he had been able to tell
you something of the extent to which I am in your debt."

"Ah?" said he, mystified. Then: "The news will be none the
less welcome from your lips, ma'am," said he. "Is it that you
are interested in the ravings of delirium, and welcomed the
opportunity of observing them at first hand? I hope I raved
engagingly, if so be that I did rave. Would it, perchance, be
of a lady that I talked in my fevered wanderings? - of a lady
pale as a lenten rose, with soft brown eyes, and lips that - "

"Your guesses are all wild," she checked him. "My debt is of
a more real kind. It concerns my - my reputation."

"Fan me, ye winds!" he ejaculated.

"Those fine ladies and gentlemen of the town had made my name
a by-word," she explained in a low, tense voice, her eyelids
lowered. "My foolishness in running off with my Lord Rotherby
- that I might at all cost escape the tyranny of my Lady
Ostermore" (Mr. Caryll's eyelids flickered suddenly at that
explanation) - "had made me a butt and a jest and an object
for slander. You remember, yourself, sir, the sneers and
oglings, the starings and simperings in the park that day when
you made your first attempt to champion my cause, inducing the
Lady Mary Deller to come and speak to me."

"Nay, nay - think of these things no more. Gnats will sting;
'tis in their nature. I admit 'tis very vexing at the time;
but it soon wears off if the flesh they have stung be healthy.
So think no more on't."

"But you do not know what follows. Her ladyship insisted that
I should drive with her a week after your hurt, when the
doctor first proclaimed you out of danger, and while the town
was still all agog with the affair. No doubt her ladyship
thought to put a fresh and greater humiliation upon me; you
would not be present to blunt the edge of the insult of those
creatures' glances. She carried me to Vauxhall, where a
fuller scope might be given to the pursuit of my shame and
mortification. Instead, what think you happened?"

"Her ladyship, I trust, was disappointed."

"The word is too poor to describe her condition. She broke a
fan, beat her black boy and dismissed a footman, that she
might vent some of the spleen it moved in her. Never was such
respect, never such homage shown to any woman as was shown to
me that evening. We were all but mobbed by the very people
who had earlier slighted me.

"'Twas all so mysterious that I must seek the explanation of
it. And I had it, at length, from his Grace of Wharton, who
was at my side for most of the time we walked in the gardens.
I asked him frankly to what was this change owing. And he
told me, sir."

She looked at him as though no more need be said. But his
brows were knit. "He told you, ma'am?" he questioned. "He
told you what?"

"What you had done at White's. How to all present and to my
Lord Rotherby's own face you had related the true story of
what befell at Maidstone - how I had gone thither, an
innocent, foolish maid, to be married to a villain, whom, like
the silly child I was, I thought I loved; how that villain,
taking advantage of my innocence and ignorance, intended to
hoodwink me with a mock-marriage.

"That was the story that was on every lip; it had gone round
the town like fire; and it says much for the town that what
between that and the foul business of the duel, my Lord
Rotherby was receiving on every hand the condemnation he
deserves, while for me there was once more - and with heavy
interest for the lapse from it - the respect which my
indiscretion had forfeited, and which would have continued to
be denied me but for your noble championing of my cause.

"That, sir, is the extent to which. I am in your debt. Do
you think it small? It is so great that I have no words in
which to attempt to express my thanks."

Mr. Caryll looked at her a moment with eyes that were very
bright. Then he broke into a soft laugh that had a note of

"In my time," said he, "I have seen many attempts to change an
inconvenient topic. Some have been artful; others artless;
others utterly clumsy. But this, I think, is the clumsiest of
them all. Mistress Winthrop, 'tis not worthy in you."

She looked puzzled, intrigued by his mood.

"Mistress Winthrop," he resumed, with an entire change of
voice. "To speak of this trifle is but a subterfuge of yours
to prevent me from expressing my deep gratitude for your care
of me."

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