Part 3 out of 5
"My dear Aynesworth," he said, "you astonish me. I am not interested in this
young man's future or in his matrimonial arrangements. He has gambled with me
and lost. I presume that he would have taken my money if I had been the fool
they all thought me. As it is, I mean to have his--down to the last cent!"
"He isn't like the others," Aynesworth protested doggedly. "He's only a
boy--and it seems such jolly hard luck, doesn't it, only four months married!
New York hasn't much pity for paupers. He looks mad enough to blow his brains
out. Have him up, sir, and see if you can't compromise!"
"Fetch him," Wingrave said curtly.
Aynesworth hurried downstairs. The boy was walking restlessly up and down the
room. The look he turned upon Aynesworth was almost pitiful.
"He'll see you again," Aynesworth said hurriedly. "Come along."
The boy wrung his hand.
"You're a brick!" he declared.
THE HIDDEN HAND
Wingrave glanced up as they entered. He motioned Nesbitt to a chair by his
side, but the young man remained standing.
"My secretary tells me," Wingrave said curtly, "that you cannot pay me what
"It's more than I possess in the world, sir," Nesbitt answered.
"It is not a large amount," Wingrave said. "I do not see how you can carry on
business unless you can command such a sum as this."
Nesbitt moistened his dry lips with his tongue.
"I have only been doing a very small business, sir," he answered, "but quite
enough to make a living. I don't speculate as a rule. Hardwells seemed
perfectly safe, or I wouldn't have touched them. I sold at four. They are not
worth one. I could have bought thousands last week for two dollars."
"That is beside the question," Wingrave answered. "If you do not pay this, you
have cheated me out of my profits for I should have placed the commission with
brokers who could. Why did you wish to see me again?"
"I thought that you might give me time," Nesbitt answered, raising his head
and looking Wingrave straight in the face. "It seems rather a low down thing
to come begging. I'd rather cut my right hand off than do it for myself, but
I've--someone else to think about, and if I'm hammered, I'm done for. Give me
a chance, Mr. Wingrave! I'll pay you in time."
"What do you ask for?" Wingrave said.
"I thought that you might give me time," Nesbitt said, "and I'll pay you the
rest off with the whole of my profits every year."
"A most absurd proposal," Wingrave said coolly. "I will instruct my brokers to
take twenty thousand dollars down, and wait one week for the balance. That is
the best offer I can make you. Good day!"
The young man stood as though he were stunned.
"I--I can't find it," he faltered. "I can't indeed."
"Your resources are not my affair," Wingrave said. "I shall instruct my broker
to do as I have said. If the money is not forthcoming, you know the
"You mean to ruin me, then?" Nesbitt said slowly.
"I mean to exact the payment of what is due to me," Wingrave said curtly. "If
you cannot pay, it seems to me that I am the person to be pitied--not you.
Show Mr. Nesbitt out, Aynesworth."
Nesbitt turned towards the door. He was very pale, but he walked steadily. He
did not speak another word to Wingrave.
"I'm beastly sorry," Aynesworth said to him on the stairs. "I wish I could
"Thank you," Nesbitt answered. "No one can help me. I'm through."
Aynesworth returned to the sitting room. Wingrave had lit a cigarette and
watched him as he arranged some papers.
"Quite a comedy, isn't it?" he remarked grimly.
"It doesn't present itself in that light to me," Aynesworth answered.
Wingrave blew the smoke away from in front of his face. "Ah!" he said, "I
forgot that you were a sentimentalist. I look upon these things from my own
point of view. From yours, I suppose I must seem a very disagreeable person. I
admit frankly that the sufferings of other people do not affect me in the
"I am sorry for you," Aynesworth said shortly. "If there is going to be much
of this sort of thing, though, I must ask you to relieve me of my post. I
can't stand it."
"Whenever you like, my dear fellow," Wingrave answered. "I think that you
would be very foolish to leave me, though. I must be a most interesting
"You are--what the devil made you!" Aynesworth muttered.
Wingrave laid down his cigarette.
"I am what my fellows have made me," he said slowly. "I tasted hell for a good
many years. It has left me, I suppose, with a depraved taste. Ring up my
brokers, Aynesworth! I want to speak to Malcolmson. He had better come round
The day dragged on. Aynesworth hated it all, and was weary long before it was
half over. Everyone who came was angry, and a good many came whom Wingrave
refused to see. Just before five o'clock, young Nesbitt entered the room
unannounced. Aynesworth started towards him with a little exclamation. The
young man's evident excitement terrified him, and he feared a tragedy.
Malcolmson, too, half rose to his feet. Wingrave alone remained unmoved.
Nesbitt walked straight up to the table at which Malcolmson and Wingrave were
sitting. He halted in front of the latter.
"Mr. Wingrave," he said, "you will give me my receipt for those shares for
fifty-seven thousand six hundred dollars."
Wingrave turned to a paper by his side, and ran his forefinger down the list
"Mr. Nesbitt," he said. "Yes! sixty thousand dollars."
The young man laid a slip of paper upon the table.
"That is a certified check for the amount," he said. "Mr. Malcolmson, please
give me my receipt"
"Ah!" Mr. Wingrave remarked. "I thought that you would find the money."
Nesbitt bit his lip, but he said nothing till he had the receipt and had
fastened it up in his pocket. Then he turned suddenly round upon Wingrave.
"Look here!" he said. "You've got your money. I don't owe you a cent. Now I'm
going to tell you what I think of you."
Wingrave rose slowly to his feet. He was as tall as the boy, long, lean, and
hard. His face expressed neither anger nor excitement, but there was a slight,
dangerous glitter in his deep-set eyes.
"If you mean," he said, "that you are going to be impertinent, I would
recommend you to change your mind."
Nesbitt for a moment hesitated. There was something ominous in the cool
courage of the older man. And before he could collect himself, Wingrave
"I presume," he said, "that you chose your own profession. You knew quite well
there was no place in it for men with a sense of the higher morality. It is a
profession of gamblers and thieves. If you'd won, you'd have thought yourself
a smart fellow and pocketed your winnings fast enough. Now that you've
lost--don't whine. You sat down willingly enough to play the game with me.
Don't call me names because you lost. This is no place for children. Pocket
your defeat, and be more careful next time."
Nesbitt was silent for a moment. Wingrave, cool and immovable, dominated him.
He gave a little laugh, and turned towards the door.
"Guess you're right," he declared; "we'll let it go at that."
Aynesworth followed him from the room.
"I'm awfully glad you're out of the scrape," he said.
Nesbitt caught him by the arm.
"Come right along," he said. "I haven't had a drink in the daytime for a year,
but we're going to have a big one now. I say, do you know how I got that
Aynesworth shook his head.
"On easy terms, I hope."
They sat down in the American Bar, and a colored waiter in a white linen suit
brought them whisky and Apollinaris in tall tumblers.
"Listen," Nesbitt said. "My brain is on the reel still. I went back to my
office, and if it hadn't been for the little girl, I should have brought a
revolver by the way. Old Johnny there waiting to see me, no end of a swell,
Phillson, the uptown lawyer. He went straight for me.
"'Been dealing in Hardwells?' he asked.
"'Six hundred shares,' I answered. There was no harm in telling him for the
Street knew well enough.
"'Bad job,' he said. 'How much does Wingrave want?'
"'Shares at par,' I answered. 'It comes to close on fifty-seven thousand six
"'I'm going to find you the money,' he said.
"Then I can tell you the things in my office began to swim. I'd an idea
somehow that he was there as a friend, but nothing like this. I couldn't
"'It's a delicate piece of business,' he went on. 'In fact, the fewer
questions you ask the better. All I can say is there's a chap in Wall Street
got his eye on you. Your old dad once helped him over a much worse place than
this. Anyhow, I've a check here for sixty thousand dollars, and no conditions,
only that you don't talk.'
"'But when am I to pay it back?' I gasped.
"'If my client ever needs it, and you can afford it, he will ask for it.'
Phillson answered. 'That's all.'
"And before I could say another darned word, he was gone, and the check was
there on my desk."
Aynesworth sipped his whisky and Apollinaris, and lit a cigarette.
"And they say," he murmured, "that romance does not exist in Wall Street.
You're a lucky chap, Nesbitt."
"Lucky! Do you think I don't realize it? Of course, I know the old governor
had lots of friends on the Street, but he was never in a big way, and he got
hit awfully hard himself before he died. I can't understand it anyway."
"I wouldn't try," Aynesworth remarked, laughing. "By the bye, your friend,
whoever he was, must have got to know pretty quickly."
"I thought of that," he said. "Of course, Phillsons are lawyers for
Malcolmson, Wingrave's broker, so I daresay it came from him. Say, Aynesworth,
you don't mind if I ask you something?"
"Not at all," Aynesworth answered. "What is it?"
"Why the devil do you stop with a man like Wingrave? He doesn't seem your sort
"Wingrave interests me," he answered. "He has had a curious life, and he is a
man with very strange ideas."
Nesbitt finished his drink, and rose up.
"Well," he said, "he's not a man I should care to be associated with. Not but
what I daresay he was right upstairs. He's strong, too, and he must have a
nerve. But he's a brute for all that!"
Nesbitt went his way, and Aynesworth returned upstairs. Wingrave was alone.
"Have we finished this miserable business?" Aynesworth asked.
"For the present," Wingrave answered. "Mr. Malcolmson will supply you with a
copy of the accounts. See that Hardwell is credited with a quarter share of
the profits. Our dealings are over for the present. Be prepared to start on
Saturday for the West. We are going to look for those bears."
"But the mine?" Aynesworth exclaimed. "It belongs to you now. Aren't you going
out to examine it?"
Wingrave shook his head.
"No," he said, "I know nothing about mines. My visit could not teach me
anything one way or the other. I have sent a commission of experts. I am tired
of cities and money-making. I want a change."
Aynesworth looked at him suddenly. The weariness was there indeed--was it his
fancy, or was it something more than weariness which shone out of the dark,
"MR. WINGRAVE FROM AMERICA"
"Four years ago tonight," Aynesworth said, looking round the club smoking room
thoughtfully, "we bade you farewell in this same room!"
Lovell, wan and hollow-eyed, his arm in a sling, his once burly frame gaunt
and attenuated with disease, nodded.
"And I told you the story," he remarked, "of--the man who had been my friend."
"Don't let us talk of Wingrave tonight!" Aynesworth exclaimed with sudden
"Why not?" Lovell knocked the ashes from his pipe, and commenced leisurely to
refill it. "Why not, indeed? I mean to go and see him as soon as I can get
about a little better."
"If your description of him," Aynesworth said, "was a faithful one, you will
find him changed."
Lovell laughed a little bitterly.
"The years leave their mark," he said, "upon us all--upon all of us, that is,
who step out into the open where the winds of life are blowing. Look at me! I
weighed eighteen stone when I left England. I had the muscles of a prize
fighter and nerves of steel. Today I turn the scale at ten stone and am afraid
to be alone in the dark."
"You will be yourself again in no time," Aynesworth declared cheerfully.
"I shall be better than I am now, I hope," Lovell answered, "but I shall never
be the man I was. I have seen--God grant that I may some day forget what I
have seen! No wonder that my nerves have gone! I saw a Russian correspondent,
a strong brutal-looking man, go off into hysterics; I saw another run amuck
through the camp, shooting right and left, and, finally, blow his own brains
out. Many a night I sobbed myself to sleep. The men who live through
tragedies, Aynesworth, age fast. I expect that I shall find Wingrave changed."
"I would give a good deal," Aynesworth declared, "to have known him when you
"You should be able to judge of the past," he said, "by the present. Four
years of--intimate companionship with any man should be enough!"
"Perhaps!" Aynesworth declared. "And yet I can assure you that I know no more
of Wingrave today than when I was first attracted to him by your story and
became his secretary. It is a humiliating confession, but it is the truth."
"That is why you remain with him," Lovell remarked.
"I suppose so! I have often meant to leave, but somehow, when the time comes,
I stay on. His life seems to be made up of brutalities, small and large. He
ruins a man with as little compunction as one could fancy him, in his younger
days, pulling the legs from a fly. I have never seen him do a kindly action.
And yet, all the time I find myself watching for it. A situation arises, and I
say to myself: Now I am going to see something different.' I never do, and yet
I always expect it. Am I boring you, Lovell?"
"Not in the least!" Go on! Anything concerning Wingrave interests me."
"It is four years ago, you know, since I went to him. My first glimpse of his
character was the cold brutality with which he treated Lady Ruth when she went
to see him. Then we went down to his country place in Cornwall. There was a
small child there, whose father had been the organist of the village, and who
had died penniless. There was no one to look after her, no one to save her
from the charity schools and domestic service afterwards. The church was on
Wingrave's estate, it should have been his duty to augment the ridiculous
salary the dead man had received. Would you believe it, Wingrave refused to do
a single thing for that child! He went down there like a vandal to sell the
heirlooms and pictures which had belonged to his family for generations. He
had no time, he told me coldly, for sentiment."
"It sounds brutal enough," Lovell admitted. "What became of the child?"
"One of her father's relations turned up after all and took care of her,"
Aynesworth said. "Wingrave knew nothing about that, though. Then on the voyage
across the Atlantic, there was a silly, pretty little woman on board who was
piqued by Wingrave's indifference and tried to flirt with him. In a few days
she was his slave. She was going home to her husband, and you would have
thought that any decent fellow would have told her that she was a little fool,
and let her go. But not Wingrave! She was landing with him at New York, but
someone amongst the passengers, who guessed what was up, sent a Marconigram to
her husband, and he met us at the landing stage."
"Nothing came of that, then?"
"No, but it wasn't Wingrave's fault. Then he began dealing with some shares in
a mine--THE mine, you know. They were supposed to be worthless, and one boy,
who was a little young to the game, sold him too many. Wingrave was bleeding
these brokers for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the boy came and asked
to be let off by paying his whole fortune to escape being hammered. Wingrave
refused. I believe if the boy hadn't just been married, he'd have blown his
"I don't envy you your job," he remarked. "Is there nothing to set down on the
credit side of the ledger?"
"Not much," Aynesworth answered. "He is a fine sportsman, and he saved my life
in the Rockies, which makes me feel a bit uncomfortable sometimes. He has a
sense of justice, for he heard of this mine from a man in prison, and he has
kept accounts showing the fellow's share down to the last halfpenny. But I
have never yet known him to speak a kindly word or do a kindly deed. He seems
intent upon carrying out to the letter his own principles--to make as many
people as possible suffer for his own broken life. Now he is back here, a
millionaire, with immense power for good or for evil, I am almost afraid of
him. I wouldn't be Lady Ruth or her husband for something."
Lovell smoked thoughtfully for a time.
"Wingrave was always a little odd," he remarked, "but I never thought that he
was a bad chap."
"Go and see him now!" Aynesworth said. "Tell me if you think he wears a mask
or whether he is indeed what he seems."
The hall porter entered the room and addressed Aynesworth.
"Gentleman called for you, sir," he announced.
"It is Wingrave," Aynesworth declared. "Come and speak to him!"
They descended the stairs together. Outside, Wingrave was leaning back in the
corner of an electric brougham, reading the paper. Aynesworth put his head in
at the window.
"You remember Lovell, Mr. Wingrave?" he said. "We were just talking when your
message came up. I've brought him down to shake hands with you."
Wingrave folded his paper down at the precise place where he had been reading
and extended a very limp hand. His manner betrayed not the slightest interest
"How are you, Lovell?" he asked. "Some time since we met!"
"A good many years," Lovell answered.
"Finished your campaigning?" Wingrave inquired. "Knocked you about a bit,
"They very nearly finished me," Lovell admitted. "I shall pick up all right
over here, though."
There was a moment's silence. Lovell's thoughts had flashed backwards through
the years, back to the time when he had sat within a few feet of this man in
the crowded court of justice and listened through the painful stillness of
that heavy atmosphere, charged with tragedy, to the slow unfolding of the
drama of his life. There had been passion enough then in his voice and blazing
in his eyes, emotion enough in his twitching features and restless gestures to
speak of the fire below. And now, pale and cold, the man who had gripped his
fingers then and held on to them like a vise, seemed to find nothing except a
slight boredom in this unexpected meeting.
"I shall see you again, I hope," Wingrave remarked at last. "By the bye, if we
do meet, I should be glad if you would forget our past acquaintance. Sir
Wingrave Seton does not exist any longer. I prefer to be known only as Mr.
Wingrave from America."
"As you wish, of course," he answered. "I do not think," he added, "that you
need fear recognition. I myself should have passed you in the street."
Wingrave leaned back in the carriage.
"Aynesworth," he said, "if you are ready, will you get in and tell the man to
drive to Cadogan Square? Good night, Mr. Lovell!"
Lovell re-entered the club with a queer little smile at his lips. The brougham
glided up into the Strand, and turned westwards.
"We are going straight to the Barringtons'?" Aynesworth asked.
"Yes," Wingrave answered. "While I think of it, Aynesworth, I wish you to
remember this. Both Lady Ruth and her husband seem to think it part of the
game to try and make a cat's paw of you. I am not suggesting that they are
likely to succeed, but I do think it possible that one of them may ask you
questions concerning certain investments in which I am interested. I rely upon
you to give them no information."
"I know very little about your investments--outside the mine," Aynesworth
answered. "They couldn't very well approach a more ignorant person. Are you
going to help Barrington to make a fortune?"
Wingrave turned his head. There was a slight contraction of the forehead, an
ominous glitter in his steel grey eyes.
"I think," he said, "you know that I am not likely to do that."
The two men did not meet again till late in the evening. Lady Ruth's rooms
were crowded for it was the beginning of the political season, and her parties
were always popular. Nevertheless, she found time to beckon Wingrave to her
before they had been in the room many minutes.
"I want to talk to you," she said a little abruptly. "You might have come this
afternoon as you promised."
Lady Ruth was a wonderful woman. A well-known statesman had just asked a
friend her age.
"I don't know," was the answer, "but whatever it is, she doesn't look it."
Tonight she was almost girlish. Her complexion was delicate and perfectly
natural, the graceful lines of her figure suggested more the immaturity of
youth than any undue slimness. She wore a wonderful collar of pearls around
her long, shapely neck, but very little other jewelry. The touch of her
fingers upon Wingrave's coat sleeve was a carefully calculated thing. If he
had thought of it, he could have felt the slight appealing pressure with which
she led him towards one of the smaller rooms.
"There are two chairs there," she said. "Come and sit down. I have something
to say to you."
THE SHADOW OF A FEAR
For several minutes Lady Ruth said nothing. She was leaning back in the
farthest corner of her chair, her head resting slightly upon her fingers, her
eyes studying with a curious intentness the outline of Wingrave's pale, hard
face. He himself, either unconscious of, or indifferent to her close scrutiny,
had simply the air of a man possessed of an inexhaustible fund of patience.
"Wingrave," she said quietly, "I think that the time has gone by when I was
afraid of you."
He turned slightly towards her, but he did not speak.
"I am possessed," she continued, "at present, of a more womanly sentiment. I
"Ah!" he murmured, "you were always a little inclined that way."
"I am curious about you," she continued. "You are, comparatively speaking,
young, well-looking enough, and strong. Your hand is firmly planted upon the
lever which moves the world. What are you going to do?"
"That," he said, "depends upon many things."
"You may be ambitious," she remarked. "If so, you conceal it admirably. You
may be devoting your powers to the consummation of vengeance against those who
have treated you ill. There are no signs of that, either, at present."
"We have excellent authority," he remarked, "for the statement that a
considerable amount of satisfaction is derivable from the exercise of that
"Perhaps," she answered, "but the pursuit of vengeance for wrongs of the past
is the task of a fool. Now, you are not a fool. You carry your life locked up
within you as a strong man should. But there are always some who may look in
through the windows. I should like to be one."
"An empty cupboard," he declared. "A cupboard swept bare by time and
She shook her head.
"Your life," she said, "is molded towards a purpose. What is it?"
"I must ask myself the question," he declared, "before I can tell you the
"No," she said, "the necessity does not exist. Your reckless pursuit of
wealth, your return here, the use you are making of my husband and me, are all
means towards some end. Why not tell me?"
"Your imagination," he declared, "is running away with you."
"Are you our enemy?" she asked. "Is this seeming friendship of yours a cloak
to hide some scheme of yours to make us suffer? Or--" She drew a little closer
to him, and her eyes drooped.
"Or what?"he repeated.
"Is there a little left," she whispered, "of the old folly?"
"Why not?" he answered quietly. "I was very much in love with you."
"It is dead," she murmured. "I believe that you hate me now!"
Her voice was almost a caress. She was leaning a little towards him; her eyes
were seeking to draw his.
"Hate you!" How impossible!" he said calmly. "You are still a beautiful woman,
you know, Ruth."
He turned and studied her critically. Lady Ruth raised her eyes once, but
dropped them at once. She felt herself growing paler. A spasm of the old fear
was upon her.
"Yes," he continued, "age has not touched you. You can still pour, if you
will, the magic drug into the wine of fools. By the bye, I must not be
selfish. Aren't you rather neglecting your guests?"
"Never mind my guests," she answered. "I have been wanting to talk to you
alone for days. Why have you done this? Why are you here? What is it that you
are seeking for in life?"
"A little amusement only," he declared. "I cannot find it except amongst my
"You have not the appearance of a pleasure seeker," she answered.
"Mine is a passive search," he said. "I have some years to live--and of
solitude, well, I have tasted at once the joys and the depths."
"You are not in love with me any longer, are you?" she asked.
"I am not bold enough to deny it," he answered, "but do not be afraid that I
shall embarrass you with a declaration. To tell you the truth, I have not much
feeling left of any sort."
"You mean to keep your own counsel, then?" she asked.
"It is so little to keep," he murmured, "and I have parted with so much!"
She measured the emotion of his tone, the curious yet perfectly natural
indifference of his manner, and she shivered a little. Always she feared what
she could not understand.
"I had hoped," she said sadly, "that we might at least have been friends."
He shook his head.
"I have no fancy," he declared, "for the cemeteries of affection. You must
remember that I am beginning life anew. I do not know myself yet, or you! Let
us drift into the knowledge of one another, and perhaps--"
"There may be no question of friendship!"
Lady Ruth went back to her guests, and with the effortless ease of long
training, she became once more the gracious and tactful hostess. But in her
heart, the fear had grown a little stronger, and a specter walked by her side.
Once during the evening, her husband looked at her questioningly, and she
breathed a few words to him. He laughed reassuringly.
"Oh! Wingrave's all right, I believe," he said, "it's only his manner that
puts you off a bit. He's just the same with everyone! I don't think he means
anything by it!"
Lady Ruth shivered, but she said nothing. Just then Aynesworth came up, and
with a motion of her fan she called him to her.
"Please take me into the other room," she said "I want a glass of champagne,
and on the way you can tell me all about America."
"One is always making epigrams about America," he protested, smiling. "Won't
you spare me?"
"Tell me, then, how you progress with your great character study!"
"Ah!" he remarked quietly, "you come now to a more interesting subject."
"Frankly, I do not progress at all."
"So far as you have gone?"
"If," he said, "I were to take pen and paper and write down, at this moment,
my conclusions so far as I have been able to form any, I fancy that they would
make evil reading. Permit me!"
They stood for a few minutes before the long sideboard. A footman had poured
champagne into their glasses, and Lady Ruth talked easily enough the jargon of
the moment. But when they turned away, she moved slowly, and her voice was
almost a whisper.
"Tell me this," she said, "is he really as hard and cold as he seems? You have
lived with him now for four years. You should know that, at least."
"I believe that he is," Aynesworth answered. "I can tell you that much, at
least, without breach of faith. So far as one who watches him can tell, he
lives for his own gratification--and his indulgence in it does not, as a rule,
make for the happiness of other people."
"Then what does he want with us?" she asked almost sharply. "I ask myself that
question until--I am terrified."
"It is very possible," he said, "that he is simply making use of you to
re-enter the world. Curiously enough, he has never seemed to care for
solitude. He makes numberless acquaintances. What pleasure he finds in it I do
not know, but he seldom avoids people. He may be simply making use of you."
"What do you think yourself?"
"I cannot tell," Aynesworth answered. "Indeed I cannot tell."
She left him a little impatiently, and Aynesworth joined the outside of the
circle of men who had gathered round Wingrave. He was answering their
questions readily enough, if a little laconically. He was quite aware that he
occupied in society the one unique place to which princes might not even
aspire--there was something of divinity about his millions, something of awe
in the tone of the men with whom he talked. Women pretended to be interested
in him because of the romance of his suddenly acquired wealth--the men did not
trouble to deceive themselves or anyone else. A break up of the group came
when a certain great and much-talked-about lady sent across an imperative
message by her cavalier for the moment. She desired that Mr. Wingrave should
be presented to her.
They passed down the room together a few moments later, the Marchioness
wonderfully dressed in a gown of strange turquoise blue, looking up at her
companion, and talking with somewhat unusual animation. Everyone made remarks,
of course--exchanged significant glances and unlovely smiles. It was so like
the Marchioness to claim, as a matter of course, the best of everything that
was going. Lady Ruth watched them with a curious sense of irritation for which
she could not altogether account. It was impossible that she should be
jealous, and yet it was equally certain that she was annoyed. If Wingrave
resisted his present fair captor, he would enjoy a notability equal to that
which his wealth already conferred upon him. No man as yet had done it. Was it
likely that Wingrave would wear two crowns? Lady Ruth beckoned Aynesworth to
"Tell me," she said, "what is Mr. Wingrave's general attitude towards my sex?"
"Absolute indifference," he declared promptly, "unless--"
He stopped short.
"You must go on," she told him.
"Unless he is possessed of the ability to make them suffer," he answered after
a moment's hesitation.
"Then Emily will never attract him," she declared almost triumphantly, "for
she has no more heart that he has."
"He has yet to discover it," Aynesworth remarked. "When he does, I think you
will find that he will shrug his shoulders--and say farewell."
"All the same," Lady Ruth murmured to herself, "Emily is a cat."
Lady Ruth spoke to one more man that night of Wingrave--and that man was her
husband. Their guests had departed, and Lady Ruth, in a marvelous white
dressing gown, was lying upon the sofa in her room.
"How do you get on with Wingrave?" she asked. "What do you think of him?"
Barrington shrugged his shoulders.
"What can one think of a man," he answered, "who goes about like an animated
mummy? I have done my best; I talked to him for nearly half an hour at a
stretch today when I took him to the club for lunch. He is the incarnation of
indifference. He won't listen to politics; women, or tales about them, at any
rate, seem to bore him to extinction; he drinks only as a matter of form, and
he won't talk finance. By the bye, Ruth, I wish you could get him to give you
a tip. I scarcely see how we are going to get through the season unless
something turns up."
"Is it as bad as that?" she asked.
"Worse!" her husband answered gloomily. "We've been living on our capital for
years. Every acre of Queen's Norton is mortgaged, and I'm shot if I can see
how we're going to pay the interest."
She sighed a little wearily.
"Do you think that it would be wise?" she asked. "Let me tell you something,
Lumley. I have only known what fear was once in my life. I am afraid now. I am
afraid of Wingrave. I have a fancy that he does not mean any good to us."
Barrington frowned and threw his cigarette into the fire with a little jerk.
"Nonsense!" he exclaimed. "The man's not quite so bad as that. We've been
useful to him. We've done exactly what he asked. The other matter's dead and
buried. We don't want his money, but it is perfectly easy for him to help us
make a little."
She looked up at him quietly.
"I think, Lumley, that it is dangerous!" she said.
"Then you're not the clever woman I take you for," he answered, turning to
leave the room. "Just as you please. Only it will be that or the bankruptcy
court before long!"
Lady Ruth lay quite still, looking into the fire. When her maid came, she
moved on tiptoe for it seemed to her that her mistress slept. But Lady Ruth
was wide awake though the thoughts which were flitting through her brain had,
perhaps, some kinship to the land of dreams.
JULIET ASKS QUESTIONS
"Any place," the girl exclaimed as she entered, "more unlike a solicitor's
office, I never saw! Flowers outside and flowers on your desk, Mr. Pengarth!
Don't you have to apologize to your clients for your surroundings? There's
absolutely nothing, except the brass plate outside, to show that this isn't an
old-fashioned farmhouse, stuck down in the middle of a village. Fuchsias in
the window sill, too!"
He placed a chair for her, and laid down the deed which he had been examining,
with a little sigh of relief. It really was very hard work pretending to be
"You see, Miss Juliet," he explained with twinkling eyes, "my clients are all
country folk, and it makes them feel more at home to find a lawyer's office
not very different from their own parlor."
"What would the great man say?" she inquired, pointing to the rows of black
tin boxes which lined the walls.
"Sir Wingrave Seton is never likely to come here again, I am afraid," he
answered. "If he did, I don't think he'd mind. To tell you the truth, I'm
rather proud of my office, young lady!"
She looked around.
"They are nice," she said decidedly, "but unbusinesslike."
"You're going to put up the pony and stay to lunch, of course?" he said. "I'll
ring for the boy."
She stopped him.
"Please don't!" she exclaimed. "I have come to see you--on business!"
Mr. Pengarth, after his first gasp of astonishment, was a different man. He
fumbled about on the desk, and produced a pair of gold spectacles, which he
adjusted with great nicety on the edge of his very short nose.
"On business, my dear!" he repeated. "Well, well! To be sure! Is it Miss
Harrison who has sent you?"
Mr. Pengarth's visitor looked positively annoyed. She leaned across the table
towards him so that the roses in her large hat almost brushed his forehead.
Her wonderful brown eyes were filled with reproach.
"Mr. Pengarth," she said, "do you know how old I am?"
"How old, my dear? Why, let me see!" he exclaimed. "Fourteen and--why, God
bless my soul, you must be eighteen!"
"I am nineteen years old, Mr. Pengarth," the young lady announced with
dignity. "Perhaps you will be kind enough to treat me now--er--with a little
"Nineteen!" he repeated vaguely. God bless my--nineteen years old?"
"I consider myself," she repeated, "of age. I have come to see you about my
"Yes, yes!" he said. "Quite natural."
"For four years," she continued, "I seem to have been supported by some
relative of my father, who has never vouchsafed to send me a single line or
message except through you. I have written letters which I have given to you
to forward. There has been no reply. Have you sent on those letters, Mr.
"Why certainly, my dear, certainly!"
"Can you tell me how it is that I have had no answer?"
Mr. Pengarth coughed. He was not at all comfortable.
"Your guardian, Miss Juliet, is somewhat eccentric," he answered, "and he is a
very busy man."
"Can you tell me, Mr. Pengarth, exactly what relation he is to me?"
There was a dead silence. Mr. Pengarth found the room suddenly warm, and
mopped his forehead with a large silk handkerchief.
"I have no authority," he declared, "to answer any questions."
"Then can you tell me of your own accord," she said, "why there is all this
mystery? Why may I not know who he is, why may I not write to him? Am I
anything to be ashamed of, that he will not trust me even with his name? I am
tired of accepting so much and not being able to offer even my thanks in
return. It is too much like charity! I have made up my mind that if this is to
go on, I will go away and earn my own living! There, Mr. Pengarth!"
"Rubbish!" he exclaimed briskly. "What at?"
"Painting!" she declared triumphantly. "I have had this in my mind for some
time, and I have been trying to see what I can do best. I have quite decided,
now, to be an artist."
"Pictures," he declared sententiously, "don't sell!"
"Mine do," she answered, smiling. "I have had a check for three guineas from a
shop in London for a little sea piece I did in two afternoons!"
He regarded her admiringly.
"You are a wonderful child!" he exclaimed.
"I am not a child at all," she interrupted warmly, "and you can just sit down
and write to your silly client and tell him so."
"I will certainly write to him," he affirmed. "I will do so today. You will
not do anything rash until I have had time to get a reply?"
"No!" she answered graciously. "I will wait for a week. After that--well, I
might do anything!"
"You wouldn't leave Tredowen, Miss Juliet!" he protested.
"It would break my heart, of course," she declared, "but I would do it and
trust to time to heal it up again. Tredowen seems like home to me, but it
isn't really, you know. Some day, Sir Wingrave Seton may want to come back and
live there himself. Are you quite certain, Mr. Pengarth, that he won't be
angry to hear that we have been living at the house all this time?"
"Certain," Mr. Pengarth declared firmly. "He left everything entirely in my
hands. He did not wish me to let it, but he did not care about its being
altogether uninhabited. The arrangement I was able to make with your guardian
was a most satisfactory one."
"But surely he will come back himself some time?" she asked,
The lawyer shook his head sorrowfully.
"I am afraid," he said, "that Sir Wingrave has no affection for the place
"No affection for Tredowen," she repeated wonderingly. "Do you know what I
think, Mr. Pengarth? I think that it is the most beautiful house in the
"And yet you talk of leaving it."
"I don't want to go," she answered, "but I don't want to be accepting things
all my life from someone whose name even I do not know."
"Well, well," he said, "you must wait until I have written my letter. Time
enough to talk about that later on. Now, if you won't stay to lunch, you must
come and see Rachael and have some cake and a glass of wine."
"How sweet of you," she exclaimed. "I'm frightfully hungry. Can I do anything
to stop growing, Mr. Pengarth? I'm getting taller and taller!"
She stood up. She was head and shoulders taller than the little lawyer, slim
as a lath, and yet wonderfully graceful. She laughed down at him and made a
"I'm a giraffe, am I not?" she declared; "and I'm still growing. Do show me
your garden, Mr. Pengarth. I want to see your hollyhocks. Everyone is talking
They were joined in a few minutes by a prim, dignified little lady,
ridiculously like Mr. Pengarth, whom he called sister, and she Miss Rachael.
Juliet walked down the garden between them.
"Sister," Mr. Pengarth said, "Juliet has come today to see me on business. In
effect, she has come to remind me that she is grown up."
"Grown up," Miss Rachael protested vigorously, "rubbish!"
"I am nineteen years old," Juliet declared.
"And what if you are," Miss Rachael replied briskly. "In my young days we were
in the nursery at nineteen."
"Quite so," Mr. Pengarth assented with relief. "You took me by storm just now,
Miss Juliet. After all, you are only a child."
"I am old enough to feel and to mean all that I said to you, Mr. Pengarth,"
she answered gravely. "And that reminds me, too--there was something else I
meant to ask you."
"Sister," Mr. Pengarth said, "have you ordered the wine and the cake?"
"Bless me, no!" Miss Rachael declared. "It shall be ready in five minutes."
She entered the house. Mr. Pengarth stooped to pick some lavender.
"The only time I ever saw Sir Wingrave Seton," she said, "was on the day
before I was told that a relation of my father had been found, who was willing
to take charge of me. There was a younger man with him, someone very, very
different from Sir Wingrave. Do you know who he was?"
"A sort of secretary of Sir Wingrave, I believe, dear. I never met him. I was,
unfortunately, away at the time they came."
"He was very nice and kind to me," the girl continued, "just as nice as Sir
Wingrave was horrid. I suppose it was because they came on that day, but I
have always connected him somehow with this mysterious relation of mine. Mr.
Aynesworth didn't help to find him, did he?"
"Certainly not!" the lawyer answered. "The instructions I had came first from
Mr. Saunders, the vicar of the parish. It was he who appeared to have made the
"Horrid old man!" she declared. "He used to make me feel that I wanted to cry
every time that I saw him."
"Miss Rachael is calling us," the lawyer declared with obvious relief.
"New cake!" Juliet declared, "I can smell it! Delicious!"
LADY RUTH'S LAST CARD
"There are two letters," Aynesworth announced, "which I have not opened. One,
I think, is from the Marchioness of Westhampton, the other from some
solicitors at Truro. They were both marked private."
Wingrave was at breakfast in his flat; Aynesworth had been in an adjoining
room sorting his correspondence. He accepted the two letters, and glanced them
through without remark. But whereas he bestowed scarcely a second's
consideration upon the broad sheet of white paper with the small coronet and
the faint perfume of violets, the second letter apparently caused him some
annoyance. He read it through for a second time with a slight frown upon his
"You must cancel my engagements for two days, Aynesworth," he said. "I have to
go out of town."
"There's nothing very special on," he remarked. "Do you want me to go with
"It is not necessary," Wingrave answered. "I am going," he added, after a
moment's pause, "to Cornwall."
Aynesworth was immediately silent. The one time when Wingrave had spoken to
him as an employer, was in answer to some question of his as to what had
eventually become of the treasures of Tredowen. He had always since
scrupulously avoided the subject.
"Be so good as to look out the trains for me," Wingrave continued. "I cannot
go until the afternoon," he added after a momentary pause. "I have an
engagement for luncheon. Perhaps, if you are not too busy, you will see that
Morrison packs some things for me."
He moved to the writing table, and wrote a few lines to the Marchioness,
regretting that his absence from town would prevent his dining with her on the
following day. Then he studied the money column in several newspapers for half
an hour, and telephoned to his broker. At eleven o'clock, he rode for an hour
in the quietest part of the park, avoiding, so far as possible, anyone he
knew, and galloping whenever he could. It was the only form of exercise in
which he was known to indulge although the knowledge of English games, which
he sometimes displayed, was a little puzzling to some of his acquaintances. On
his return, he made a simple but correct toilet, and at half-past one he met
Lady Ruth at Prince's Restaurant.
Lady Ruth's gown of dove color, with faint touches of blue, was effective, and
she knew it. Nevertheless, she was a little pale, and her manner lacked that
note of quiet languor which generally characterized it. She talked rather more
than usual, chattering idly about the acquaintances to whom she was
continually nodding and bowing. Her face hardened a little as the Marchioness,
on her way through the room with a party of friends, stopped at their table.
The two women exchanged the necessary number of inanities, then the
Marchioness turned to Wingrave.
"You won't forget that you are dining with me tomorrow?"
Wingrave shook his head regretfully.
"I am sorry," he said, "but I have to go out of town. I have just written
"What a bore," she remarked. "Business, of course!"
She nodded and passed on. Her farewell to Lady Ruth was distinctly curt.
Wingrave resumed his seat and his luncheon without remark.
"Hateful woman," Lady Ruth murmured.
"I thought you were friends," Wingrave remarked.
"Yes, we are," Lady Ruth assented, "the sort of friendship you men don't know
much about. You see a good deal of her, don't you?"
Wingrave raised his head and looked at Lady Ruth contemplatively.
"Why do you ask me that?" he asked.
"I do," he remarked; "you should be grateful to her."
"It may save you a similar infliction."
Lady Ruth was silent for several moments.
"Perhaps," she said at last, "I do not choose to be relieved."
Wingrave bowed, his glass in his hand. His lips were curled into the semblance
of a smile, but he did not say a word. Lady Ruth leaned a little across the
table so that the feathers of her hat nearly brushed his forehead.
"Wingrave," she asked, "do you know what fear is? Perhaps not! You are a man,
you see. No one has ever called me a coward. You wouldn't, would you?"
"No!" he said deliberately, "you are not a coward."
"There is only one sort of fear which I know," she continued, "and that is the
fear of what I do not understand. And that is why, Wingrave, I am afraid of
He set down his glass, and his fingers trifled for a moment with its stem. His
expression was inscrutable.
"Surely," he said, "you are not serious!"
"I am serious," she declared, "and you know that I am."
"You are afraid of me," he repeated softly. "I wonder why."
She looked him straight in the eyes.
"Because," she said, "I did you once a very grievous wrong. Because I know
that you have not forgiven me. Because I am very sure that all the good that
was in you lies slain."
"By whose hand?" he asked quietly. "No! You need not answer. You know. So do
I. Yes, I can understand your fear. But I do not understand why you confess it
"Nor I," she answered. "Nor do I understand why I am here--at your bidding,
nor why I keep you always by my side whenever you choose to take your place
there. Are you a vain man, Wingrave? Do you wish to pose as the friend of a
woman whom the world has thought too ambitious to waste time upon such
follies? There is the Marchioness! She would do you more credit still."
"Thank you," he answered. "I like to choose the path myself when I pass into
the maze of follies!"
"You have not yet explained yourself," she reminded him. "Of all people in
world, you have chosen us for your presumptive friends. Why? You hate us both.
You know that you do. Is it part of a scheme? Lumley is investing money on
your advice, I am allowing myself to be seen about with you more than is
prudent--considering all things. Do you want to rake out the ashes of our
domestic hearth--to play the part of--melodramatic villain? You are ingenious
enough, and powerful enough."
"You put strange ideas into my head," he told her lightly. "Why should I not
play the part that you suggest? It might be amusing, and you certainly deserve
all the evil which I could bring upon you."
She leaned a little across the table towards him. Her eyes were soft and
bright, and they looked full into his. The color in her cheeks was natural.
The air around him was faintly fragrant with the perfume of her clothes and
"We couldn't leave off playing at the game--and act it, could we?" she
murmured. "We couldn't really--be friends?"
Lady Ruth had played her trump card. She had touched his fingers with hers,
her eyes shone with the promise of unutterable things. But if Wingrave was
moved, he did not show it.
"I wish," he said, "that I could accept your offer in the spirit with which
you tender it. Unfortunately, I am a maimed person. My sensibilities have
gone. Friendship, in the more intimate sense of the word, I may never hope to
feel again. Enmity--well, that is more comprehensible; even enmity," he
continued slowly, "which might prompt a woman to disguise herself as her own
lady's maid, to seek out a tool to get rid of the man she feared. Pardon me,
Lady Ruth, you are eating nothing."
She pulled down her veil.
"Thank you, I have finished," she said in a low tone.
He called for the bill.
"Pray, don't let my little remark distress you," he said. "I had almost
forgotten the circumstance until something you said brought it into my mind.
It is you yourself, you must remember, who set the example of candor."
"I deserve everything you can say," she murmured, "everything you can do.
There is nothing left, I suppose, but suffering. Will you take me out to my
carriage? You can come back and have your coffee with the Marchioness! She
keeps looking across at you, and it will please her to think that you got rid
He glanced at his watch.
"I am afraid," he said, rising, "that I must deny myself the pleasure of
seeking the Marchioness again today. I have a train to catch in half an hour.
You are ready?"
They made their way through the maze of tables towards the door, Lady Ruth
exchanging greetings right and left with her friends, although the tall,
grave-looking man who followed her was by far the greater object of interest.
"Just like Ruth to keep him in her pocket," remarked her dearest friend,
looking after them; "they say that he has millions."
She sighed a little enviously.
"The Barrington menage needs a little backing up," her companion remarked. "I
should say that he had come just in time. The Marchioness has her eye upon him
too. There may be some fun presently."
Lady Ruth's dearest friend smiled.
"I will back Ruth," she said drily. "Emily is beautiful, but she is too
obvious, and too eager! Ruth's little ways are more subtle. Besides, look at
the start she has. She isn't the sort of woman men tire of."
Lady Ruth held out her hand through the window of her electric coupe.
"Thank you for my luncheon," she said. "When shall we see you again?"
"In a few days," he answered, standing bareheaded upon the pavement. "I shall
call directly I return."
Lady Ruth nodded and leaned back. Wingrave smiled faintly as he turned away.
He had seen the little shudder which she had done her best to hide!
Lady Ruth found her husband at home, writing letters in his study. She sank
wearily into a chair by his side.
"Been lunching out?" he inquired.
"At Prince's, with Wingrave."
He made no remark, but he seemed far from displeased.
"If I'd only had the pluck," he remarked a little disconsolately, "I might
have made thousands by following his advice this week. It was you who put me
"It turned out all right?" she asked.
"Exactly as he said. I made five hundred! I might just as well have made five
"Can you let me have a couple of hundred?" she asked. "The people are all
"You know that I can't," he answered irritably. "I had to send the lot to
Lewis, and then it wasn't a quarter of what he is pressing for. We shall never
get through the season, Ruth, unless--"
She raised her eyes.
"Unless something turns up!"
There was a short, uncomfortable silence. Lady Ruth rose to her feet and stood
facing the fireplace with her back to him.
"Lumley," she said, "let's face it!"
He gave a little start.
"Face what?" he inquired.
"Ruin, the Bankruptcy Court, and all the rest of it!" she declared, a note of
defiance creeping into her tone.
Her husband's face was white with astonishment. He stared across at her
"Are you mad, Ruth?" he exclaimed. "Do you know what you are saying?"
"Quite well," she answered. "I'm a little sick of the whole show. The
tradespeople are getting impertinent. I don't even know where to get flowers
for dinner tonight or where to go for my Ascot gowns. It must come sooner or
"You're talking like a fool," he declared harshly. "Do you know that I should
have to give up my seat and my clubs?"
"We could live quietly in the country."
"Country be--hanged!" he exclaimed savagely. "What use is the country to you
and me? I'd sooner put a bullet through my brain. Ruth, old lady," he added
more gently, "what's gone wrong? You're generally such a well plucked'un! Have
you--had a row with Wingrave?" he asked, looking at her anxiously.
"Then what is it?"
"Nothing! I've lost my nerve, I suppose!"
"You want a change! It isn't so very long to Cowes now and, thank heavens,
that'll cost us nothing. We're going on Wingrave's yacht, aren't we?"
"Yes! We did accept."
Barrington fidgeted for a moment with a paper knife.
"Ruth," he asked, "what's wrong between you and Wingrave?"
"Nothing," she answered; "I'm afraid of him, that's all!"
"Afraid of him! Afraid of Wingrave!" he repeated.
"Yes! I do not think that he has forgotten. I think that he means to make us
Barrington was almost dignified.
"I never heard such nonsense in my life, Ruth!" he exclaimed. "I have watched
Wingrave closely, and I have seen no trace of anything of the sort. Nonsense!
It is worse than nonsense! You must be getting hysterical. You must get all
this rubbish out of your head. To tell you the truth--"
"I was thinking that you might ask Wingrave to help us a bit. I don't believe
he'd hesitate for a moment."
Ruth looked her husband in the face. There was a curious expression in her
"Do you think that it would be wise of me to ask him?" she demanded.
"Why not?" he answered. "You can take care of yourself. I can trust you."
"I told you that I was afraid of Wingrave," she reminded him. "I can take care
of myself as a rule--and I do--as you know. I have elected to be one of the
unfashionables in that respect. But to ask Wingrave for money is more than I
"Then I shall ask him myself," Barrington declared.
She picked up her gloves and turned to leave the room.
"I should prefer even that," she said.
GUARDIAN AND WARD
"Up to the present, then," Wingrave remarked, "the child has no idea as to who
has been responsible for the charge of her?"
"No idea at all, Sir Wingrave," the lawyer declared. "Your wishes have been
strictly carried out, most strictly. She imagines that it is some unknown
connection of her father. But, as I explained to you in my letter, she has
recently exhibited a good deal of curiosity in the matter. She is--er--a young
lady of considerable force of character for her years, and her present
attitude--as I explained in my letter--is a trifle difficult."
Wingrave was sitting in the lawyer's own chair. Mr. Pengarth, who was a trifle
nervous, preferred to stand.
"She shows, I think, a certain amount of ingratitude in forcing this journey
and explanation upon me," Wingrave declared coldly. "It should have been
sufficient for her that her benefactor preferred to remain anonymous."
"I regret, Sir Wingrave, that I must disagree with you," Mr. Pengarth answered
boldly. "Miss Juliet, Miss Lundy I should say, is a young lady of
character--and--er--some originality of disposition. She is a great favorite
with everyone around here."
Wingrave remained silent. He had the air of one not troubling to reply to what
he considered folly. Through the wide open window floated in the various
sounds of the little country town, the rumbling of heavy carts passing along
the cobbled streets, the shrill greetings of neighbors and acquaintances
meeting upon the sidewalk. And then the tinkling bell of a rubber-tired cart
pulling up outside, and a clear girlish voice speaking to some one of the
Wingrave betrayed as much surprise as it was possible for him to show when at
last she stood with outstretched hand before him. He had only an imperfect
recollection of an ill-clad, untidy-looking child, with pale tear-stained
cheeks, and dark unhappy eyes. The march of the years had been a thing whose
effects he had altogether underestimated. The girl who stood now facing him
was slight, and there was something of the child left in her bright eager
face, but she carried herself with all the graceful assurance of an older
woman. Her soft, dark eyes were lit with pleasure and excitement, her
delicately traced eyebrows and delightful smile were somehow suggestive of her
foreign descent. Her clothes were country-made, but perfect as regarded fit
and trimness, her beflowered hat was worn with a touch of coquettish grace, a
trifle un-English, but very delightful. She had not an atom of shyness or
embarrassment. Only there was a great surprise in her face as she held out her
hands to Wingrave.
"I know who you are," she exclaimed. "You are Sir Wingrave Seton. To think
that I never guessed."
"You remember seeing me, then?" he remarked, and his tone sounded all the
colder after the full richness of her young voice.
"I just remember it--only just," she answered. "You see you did not take much
notice of me that time, did you? But I have lived amongst your ancestors too
long to make any mistake. Why have you stayed away from Tredowen so long?"
"I have been abroad," Wingrave answered. "I am not fond of England."
"You had trouble here, I know," she said frankly. "But that is all past and
over. I think that you must forget how beautiful your home is or you would
never bear to live away from it. Now, please, may I ask you a question?"
"Any that you think necessary," Wingrave answered. "Spare me as much as
possible; I am not fond of them."
"Shall I leave you two together for a little time?" Mr. Pengarth suggested,
gathering up some papers.
"Certainly not," Wingrave said shortly. "There is not the slightest necessity
Mr. Pengarth resumed his seat.
"Just as you please," he answered. "But you must sit down, Juliet. There, you
shall have my clients' chair."
The girl accepted it with a little laugh. There was no shadow of embarrassment
about her manner, notwithstanding the cold stiffness of Wingrave's deportment.
He sat where the sunlight fell across his chair, and the lines in his pale
face seemed deeper than usual, the grey hairs more plentiful, the weariness in
his eyes more apparent. Yet she was not in the least afraid of him.
"First of all, then, Sir Wingrave, may I ask you why you have been so
extraordinarily kind to me?"
"There is nothing extraordinary about it at all," he answered. "Your father
died and left you friendless in a parish of which I am Lord of the Manor. He
received a starvation pittance for his labors, which it was my duty to
augment, a duty which, with many others, I neglected. I simply gave orders
that you should be looked after."
She laughed softly.
"Looked after! Why, I have lived at Tredowen. I have had a governess, a pony
to drive. Heaven knows how many luxuries!"
"That," he interrupted hastily, "is nothing. The house is better occupied.
What I have done for you is less in proportion than the sixpence you may
sometimes have given to a beggar for I am a rich, a ridiculously rich man,
with no possible chance of spending one-quarter of my income. You had a
distinct and obvious claim upon me, and, at no cost or inconvenience to
myself, I have endeavored, through others, to recognize it."
"I will accept your view of the situation," the girl said, still smiling, but
with a faint note of disappointment in her tone. "I do not wish to force upon
you expressions of gratitude which you would only find wearisome. But I must
thank you! It is in my heart, and I must speak of it. There, it is over, you
see! I shall say no more."
"You are a sensible young lady," Wingrave said, making a motion as though to
rise. "I have only one request to make to you, and that is that you keep to
yourself the knowledge which Mr. Pengarth informs me that you insisted upon
acquiring. You are nearly enough of age now, and I will make you your own
mistress. That is all, I think."
The smile died away from her lips. Her tone became very earnest.
"Sir Wingrave," she said, "for all that you have done for me, I am, as you
know grateful. I would try to tell you how grateful, only I know that it would
weary you. So we will speak only of the future. I cannot continue to
accept--even such magnificent alms as yours."
"What do you mean, child?" he asked, frowning across at her.
"I mean," she said, "that now I am old enough to work, I cannot accept
everything from one upon whom I have no claim. If you will help me a little
still, I shall be more than grateful. But it must be in my own way."
"You talk about work," he said. "What can you do?"
"I can paint," she answered, "fairly well. I should like to go to London and
have a few lessons. If I cannot make a living at that, I shall try something
"You disappoint me," Wingrave said. "There is no place for you in London.
There are thousands starving there already because they can paint a little, or
sing a little, or fancy they can. Do you find it dull down here?"
"Dull!" she exclaimed wonderingly. "I think that there can be no place on
earth so beautiful as Tredowen."
"You are happy here?"
"Then, for heaven's sake, forget all this folly," Wingrave said hardly.
"London is no place for children. Miss Harrison can take you up for a month
when you choose. You can go abroad if you want to. But for the rest--"
She rose suddenly, and sweeping across the office with one graceful movement,
she leaned over Wingrave's chair. Her hands rested upon his shoulders, her
eyes, soft with gathering tears, pleaded with his. Wingrave sat with all the
outward immobility of a Sphinx.
"Dear Sir Wingrave," she said, "you have been so generous, so kind, and I may
not even speak of my gratitude. Don't please think me unreasonable or
ungracious. I can't tell you how I feel, but I must, I must, I must go away. I
could not live here any longer now that I know. Fancy for a moment that I am
your sister, or your daughter! Don't you believe, really, that she would feel
the same? And I think you would wish her to. Don't be angry with me, please."
Wingrave's face never changed; but his fingers gripped the arms of his chair
so that a signet ring he wore cut deep into his flesh. When he spoke, his tone
sounded almost harsh. The girl turned away to dash the tears from her eyes.
"What do you think of this--folly, Pengarth?"
The lawyer looked his best client squarely in the face. "I do not call it
folly, Sir Wingrave. I think that Miss Lundy is right."
There was a pause. Her eyes were still pleading with him.
"Against the two of you," Wingrave remarked, "I am, of course, powerless.
After all, it is no concern of mine. I shall leave you, Pengarth, to make such
arrangements as Miss Lundy desires!"
He rose to his feet. Juliet now was pale. She dashed the tears from her eyes
and looked at him in amazement mingled with something which was almost like
"You don't mean," she exclaimed, "you are going away without coming to
"Why not?" he asked. "I never had any intention of going there!"
"You are very angry with me," she cried in despair. "I--I--"
Her lip quivered. Wingrave interposed.
"I shall be happy to go and have a look at the place," he said carelessly, "if
you will drive me back. I fancy I have almost forgotten what it is like."
She looked at him as at one who had spoken irreverently. Her eyes were full of
"I think that you must have indeed forgotten," she said, "how very beautiful
it is. It is your home too! There is no one else," she added softly, "who can
live there, amongst all those wonderful things, and call it really--home!"
"I am afraid," he said, "you will find that I have outlived all sentiment; but
I will certainly come to Tredowen with you!"
GHOSTS OF DEAD THINGS
"It was here," she said, as they passed through the walled garden seawards,
"that I saw you first--you and the other gentleman who was so kind to me."
"I believe that I remember it," he said; "you were a mournful-looking object
in a very soiled pinafore and most untidy hair."
"I had been out on the cliffs," she reminded him, "where I am taking you now.
If you are going to make unkind remarks about my hair, I think that I had
better fetch a hat."
"Pray don't leave me," he answered. "I should certainly lose my way. Your hair
in those days was, I fancy, a little more--unkempt!"
"It used to be cut short," she said. "Hideous! There! Isn't that glorious?"
She had opened the postern gate in the wall, and through the narrow opening
was framed a wonderful picture of the Cornish sea, rolling into the
rock-studded bay. Its soft thunder was in their ears; salt and fragrant, the
west wind swept into their faces. She closed the gate behind her, and stepped
"Come!" she cried. "We will climb the cliffs where we left you alone once
Side by side they stood looking over the ocean. Her head was thrown back, her
lips a little parted. He watched her curiously.
"You must have sea blood in your veins," he remarked. "You listen as though
you heard music all the time."
"And what about you?" she asked him, smiling. "You are the grandson of Admiral
Sir Wingrave Seton who commanded a frigate at Trafalgar, and an ancestor of
yours fought in the Armada."
"I am afraid," he said quietly, "that there is a hiatus in my life somewhere.
There are no voices which call to me any more, and my family records are so
much dead parchment."
Trouble passed into her glowing face and clouded her eyes.
"Ah!" she said, "I do not like to hear you talk so. Do you know that when you
do, you make me afraid that something I have always hoped for will never come
"What is it?" he asked.
"I have always hoped," she said, "that some day you would come once more to
Tredowen. I suppose I am rather a fanciful person. This is a country of
superstitions and fancies, you know; but sometimes when I have been alone in
the picture gallery with all that long line of dark faces looking down upon me
from the walls, I have felt like an interloper. Always they seem to be
waiting! Tonight, after dinner, I will take you there. I will try and show you
what I mean."
He shook his head.
"I shall never come back," he said, "and there are no more of my name."
She hesitated. When at last she spoke, the color was coming and going in her
"Sir Wingrave," she said, "I am only an ignorant girl, and I have no right to
talk to you like this. Please be angry with me if you want to. I deserve it. I
know all about--that ten years! Couldn't you forget it, and come back? None of
the country people round here, your own people, believe anything evil about
you. You were struck, and you struck back again. A man would do that. You
could be as lonely as you liked here, or you could have friends if you wished
for them. But this is the place where you ought to live. You would be happier
here, I believe, than in exile. The love of it all would come back, you would
never be lonely. It is the same sea which sang to you when you were a child,
and to your fathers before you. It would bring you forgetfulness when you
wanted it, or--"
Wingrave interrupted her. His tone was cold, but not unkind.
"My dear young lady," he said, "it is very good of you to be so sympathetic,
but I am afraid I am not at all the sort of person you imagine me to be. What
I was before those ten years--well, I have forgotten. What I am now, I
unfortunately know. I am a soured, malevolent being whose only pleasure lies
in the dealing out to others some portion of the unhappiness which was dealt
out to me."
"I do not believe it," she declared briskly.
He shrugged his shoulders.
"Nevertheless, it is true," he declared coolly. "Listen! More or less you
interest me. I will tell you something which I have never yet told to a single
human being. I need not go into particulars. You will probably believe a broad
statement. My ten years' imprisonment was more or less an injustice!"
He checked her. There was not a tremor in his tone. The gesture with which he
had repelled her was stiff and emotionless.
"I went into prison one man, I came out another. While I live, I shall never
be able to think kindly again of a single one of my fellow creatures. It was
not my fault. So far as our affections are concerned, we are machines, all of
us. Well, my mainspring has broken."
"I don't believe it," she declared.
"It is, nevertheless, true," he affirmed calmly. "I am living in exile because
I have no friends, because friends have become an impossibility to me. I shall
not tell you any more of my life because you are young and you would not
believe me if I did. Some day," he added grimly, "you will probably hear for
"I shall never believe anything," she declared, "which I do not choose to
believe. I shall never believe, for instance, that you are quite what you
"We will talk of other things," he said. "Five years ago, you showed
Aynesworth where the seagulls built."
"And now I will show you," she exclaimed, "if you are sure that your head is
steady enough. Come along!" . . .
It was after dinner that she took him into the picture gallery. Miss Harrison,
very much disturbed by the presence of the master of Tredowen, and still more
so by the hint which she had already received as to coming changes, followed
them at a little distance.
"I am so sorry," Juliet said, "that we have no cigars or cigarettes."
"I seldom smoke," Wingrave answered.
"If only we had had the slightest idea of your coming," Miss Harrison said for
the tenth time, "we would have made more adequate preparations. The wine
cellar, at least, could have been opened. I allowed Mr. and Mrs. Tresfarwin to
go for their holiday only yesterday, and the cellars, of course, are never
"Your claret was excellent," Wingrave assured her.
"I am quite sure," Miss Harrison said, "that claret from the local grocer is
not what you are accustomed to--"
"My dear madam," Wingrave protested, "I seldom touch wine. Show me which
picture it is, Juliet, that you--ah!"
She had led him to the end of the gallery and stopped before what seemed to be
a plain oak cupboard surrounded by a massive frame. She looked at him half
"You want to see that picture?" he asked.
"If I might."
He drew a bunch of keys from his pocket and calmly selected one. It was a
little rusty, but the cupboard turned at once on its hinges. A woman's face
smiled down upon them, dark and splendid, from the glowing touch of a great
painter. Juliet studied it eagerly, and then stole a sidelong glance at the
man by her side. He was surveying it critically and without any apparent
"Herkomer's, I think," he remarked. "Quite one of his best."
"It is your mother?" she whispered.
"I'm not great at genealogy," he said, "but I can go as far back as that. She
was by way of being a great lady, the daughter of the Duke of Warminster."
"You were an only son," she said softly. "She must have been very fond of
"Customary thing, I suppose," he remarked. "Lucky for her, under the
circumstances, that she died young."
He closed the oaken door in front of the picture, and locked it.
"I should like to see the armory," he said; "but I really forget--let me see,
it is at the end of the long gallery, isn't it?"
She led him there without a word. She was getting a little afraid of him. They
inspected the library and wandered back into the picture gallery. It was she,
now, who was silent. She had shown him all her favorite treasures without
being able to evoke a single spark of enthusiasm.
"Once," she remarked, "we all had a terrible fright. We were told that
everything was going to be sold."
"I did think of it," he admitted; "but there seemed to be no hurry. All these
things are growing into money year by year. Some day I shall send everything
She looked at him in horror.
"You cannot--oh, you cannot mean it?" she cried.
"Why not? They are no use to me."
"No use?" she faltered.
"Not a bit. I don't suppose I shall see them again for many years. And the
money--well, one can use that."
"But I thought--that you were rich?" she faltered.
"So I am," he answered, "and yet I go on making more and more, and I shall go
on. Money is the whip with which its possessor can scourge humanity. It is
with money that I deal out my--forgive me, I forgot that I was talking aloud,
and to a child," he wound up suddenly.
She looked at him, dry-eyed, but with a strained look of sorrow strangely
altering her girlish face.
"You must be very unhappy," she said.
"Not at all," he assured her. "I am one of those fortunate persons who have
outlived happiness and unhappiness. I have nothing to do but live--and pay off
a few little debts."
He rose directly afterwards, and she walked with him out to the gardens whence
a short cut led to the village.
"I have not tried again to make you change your mind," he said as they stood
for a moment on the terrace. "If my wishes have any weight with you, I trust
that you will do nothing without consulting Mr. Pengarth."
"And you--" she faltered, "are you--never in London? Sha'n't I see you again
"If you care to, by all means," he answered. "Tell Mr. Pengarth to let me have
your address. Goodbye! Thank you for taking care of my treasures so well."
She held his cold hand in hers and suddenly raised it to her lips. Then she
turned away and hurried indoors.
Wingrave stood still for a moment and gazed at his hand through the darkness
as though the ghosts of dead things had flitted out from the dark laurel
shrubs. Then he laughed quietly to himself.
SPREADING THE NETS
"By the bye," the Marchioness asked him, "have you a Christian name?"
"Sorry," Wingrave answered, "if I ever had, I've forgotten it."
"Then I must call you Wingrave," she remarked. "I hate calling anyone I know
decently well Mr. anything."
"Charmed," Wingrave answered; "it isn't a bad name."
"It isn't," she admitted. "By the bye," she continued, looking at him
critically, "you are rather a surprising person, aren't you?"
"Glad you've found it out," Wingrave answered. "I always thought so."
"One associates all sorts of terrible things with millionaires--especially
African and American ones," she remarked. "Now you could pass anywhere for the
ordinary sort of decent person."
"I was told the other day," he remarked reflectively, "that if I would only
cultivate two things, I might almost pass as a member of the English
"What were they?" she asked rashly.
"Ignorance and impertinence," he answered.
The Marchioness was silent for a moment. There was a little more color than
usual in her beautiful cheeks and a dangerous glitter in her eyes.
"You can go home, Mr. Wingrave," she said.
He rose to his feet imperturbably. The Marchioness stretched out a long white
hand and gently forced him back again.
"You mustn't talk like that to me," she said quietly. "I am sensitive."
"A privilege, I believe, of your order," he remarked.
"Of course, if you want to quarrel--" she began.
"I don't," he assured her.
"Then be sensible! I want to talk to you."
"Sensible, alone with you!" he murmured. "I should establish a new record."
"You certainly aren't in the least like a millionaire," she declared, smiling
at him, "you are more like a--"
"Please go on," he begged.
"I daren't," she answered, shaking her head.
"Then you aren't in the least like a marchioness," he declared. "At least, not
like our American ideas of one."
She laughed outright.
"Bring your chair quite close to mine," she ordered, "I really want to talk to
He obeyed, and affected to be absorbed in the contemplation of the rings on
the hand which a great artist had called the most beautiful in England. She
withdrew it a little peevishly, after a moment's pause.
"I want to talk about the Barringtons," she said. "Do you know that they are
"I heard that Barrington had been gambling on the Stock Exchange the last few
days," he answered.
"He has lost a great deal of money," she answered, "and they were almost on
their last legs before. Are you going to set them straight again?"
"No idea," he answered. "I haven't been asked, for one thing."
"Ruth will ask you, of course," the Marchioness said impatiently. "I expect
that she is waiting at your flat by now. I want to know whether you are going
to do it."
The hand was again very close to his. Again Wingrave contemplated the rings.
"I forgot that you were her friend, and are naturally anxious," he remarked.
"I am not her friend," the Marchioness answered, "and--I do not wish you to
Wingrave was silent. The hand was insistent, and he held it for a moment
lightly, and then let it go.
"Well, I don't know," he said doubtfully. "The Barringtons have been very
hospitable to me."
"Rubbish!" the Marchioness answered. "You have done quite enough for them
already. Of course, you are a man--and you must choose. I am sure that you
He rose to his feet.
"I must think this out," he said. "The Barringtons have a sort of claim on me.
I will let you know which way I decide."
She stood close to him, and her hand fell upon his shoulder.
"You are not going!" she exclaimed. "I have told them that I am at home to no
one, and I thought that you would stay and entertain me. Sit down again,
"Sorry," he answered, "I have a lot to do this afternoon. I came directly I
had your note; but I have had to keep some other people waiting."
"You are going to see Lady Ruth!"
"Not that I know of," he declared. "I have heard nothing from her. By the bye,
I lost some money to you at bridge the other evening. How much was it? Do you
She looked at him for a second, and turned away.
"Do you really want to know?" she asked.
"If you please. Put the amount down on a piece of paper, and then I sha'n't
She crossed the room to her desk, and returned with a folded envelope. He
stuffed it into his waistcoat pocket.
"I shall be at the opera tonight," she said. "Will you come there and tell me
what--which you decide?"
"With pleasure," he answered, "if I can get away from a stupid dinner in
She let him go reluctantly. Afterwards she passed into her own room, and stood
looking at herself in the pier glass. Artists and the society papers called
her the most beautiful woman in England; fashion had placed her upon such a
pinnacle that men counted it a distinction to be seen speaking to her. She
dealt out her smiles and favors like Royalty itself; she had never once known
a rebuff. This afternoon she felt that she had received one. Had she been too
cold or too forward? Perhaps she had underestimated the man himself. She rang
for her maid.
"Celeste," she said, "I shall wear my new Paquin gown tonight at the opera,
and my pearls."
"Very good, your ladyship."
"And I am going to lie down for an hour or two now. Don't let me be disturbed.
I want to look my best tonight. You understand?"
"Perfectly, your ladyship."
The Marchioness rested, but she did not sleep. She was thinking of Wingrave!
It was not Lady Ruth, but her husband, who was waiting to see Wingrave on his
return. Aynesworth was talking to him, but at once withdrew. Wingrave nodded
with slightly upraised eyebrows. He never shook hands with Barrington.
"You wanted to see me?" he inquired, carelessly turning over a little pile of
Barrington was ill at ease. He hated himself and he hated his errand.
"Yes, for a moment or two--if you're not busy," he said. "May I smoke? I'm
nervous this morning."
"Help yourself," Wingrave said shortly. "Cigarettes and cigars on the
sideboard. Touch the bell if you'll take anything to drink."
"Thanks--Aynesworth gave me a brandy and soda. Capital fellow, Aynesworth!"
"Have another," Wingrave said shortly.
He crossed the room to the sideboard. Wingrave glanced up from his letters,
and smiled coldly as he saw the shaking fingers.
"I don't often indulge like this," Barrington said, turning away from the
sideboard with a tumbler already empty in his hands. "The fact is, I've had
rather a rude knock, and Ruth thought I'd better come and see you."
Wingrave remained a study of impassivity. His guest's whole demeanor, his
uneasy words and nervous glances were an unspoken appeal to be helped out in
what he had come to say. And Wingrave knew very well what it was.
Nevertheless, he remained silent--politely questioning. Barrington sat down a
little heavily. He was not so carefully dressed as usual; he looked older, his
appearance lacked altogether that air of buoyant prosperity which was wont to
inspire his friends and creditors with confidence.
"I've been a fool, Wingrave," he said. "You showed me how to make a little
money a few weeks ago, and it seemed so easy that I couldn't resist having a
try by myself, only on rather a larger scale. I lost! Then I went in again to
pull myself round, and I lost again. I lost--more than I can easily raise
"I am sorry," Wingrave said politely. "It is very unwise to meddle in things
you know so little about."
For a moment the worm turned. Barrington rose to his feet, and with a deep
flush upon his cheeks moved towards the door. But his spark of genuine feeling
died out almost as soon as it had been kindled. Outside that door was ruin;
within, as he very well knew, lay his only chance of salvation. He set down
his hat, and turned round.
"Wingrave," he said, "will you lend me some money?"
Wingrave looked at him with upraised eyebrows.
"I," he remarked, "lend you money? Why should I?"
"Heaven knows," Barrington answered. "It is you who have chosen to seek us
out. You have forced upon us something which has at least the semblance of
friendship. There is no one else whom I could ask. It isn't only this damned
Stock Exchange transaction. Everything has gone wrong with me for years. If I
could have kept going till next July, I should have been all right. I have
made a little success in the House, and I am promised a place in the next