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The Malefactor

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choose to give the Tredowen estates away, to disappoint my next of kin. That
is how you may regard the transaction. We will go into the house and complete
this deed."

Wingrave rose slowly and walked with some difficulty up the gravel path. He
ignored, however, his companion's timid offer of help, and led the way to the
library. In a few minutes the document was signed and witnessed.

"I have ordered tea in the garden," Wingrave said, as the two servants left
the room; "that is, unless you prefer any other sort of refreshment. I don't
know much about the cellars, but there is some cabinet hock, I believe--"

Mr. Pengarth interposed.

"I am very much obliged," he said, "but I will not intrude upon you further.
If you will allow me, I will ring the bell for my trap."

"You will do nothing of the sort," Wingrave answered testily. "You will stay
here and talk to me."

"I will stay with pleasure if you desire it," the lawyer answered. "I had an
idea that you preferred solitude."

"Then you were wrong," Wingrave answered. "I hate being alone."

They moved out together towards the garden. Tea was set out in a shady corner
of the lawn.

"If you will forgive my remarking it," Mr. Pengarth said, "this seems rather
an extraordinary place for you to come to if you really dislike solitude."

"I come to escape from an intolerable situation, and because I was ill,"
Wingrave said.

"You might have brought friends," the lawyer suggested.

"I have no friends," Wingrave answered.

"Some of the people in the neighborhood would be very glad--" Mr. Pengarth

"I do not wish to see them," Wingrave answered.

Mr. Pengarth took a peach, and held his tongue. Wingrave broke the silence
which followed a little abruptly.

"Tell me, Mr. Pengarth," he said, "do I look like a man likely to fail in
anything he sets out to accomplish?"

The lawyer shook his head vigorously.

"You do not," he declared.

"Nor do I feel like one," Wingrave said, "and yet my record since I commenced,
shall I call it my second life, is one of complete failure! Nothing that I
planned have I been able to accomplish. I look back through the months and
through the years, and I see not a single purpose carried out, not a single
scheme successful.

"Not quite so bad as that, I trust, Sir Wingrave," the lawyer protested.

"It is the precise truth," Wingrave affirmed drily. "I am losing confidence in

"At least," the lawyer declared, "you have been the salvation of our dear Miss
Juliet, if I may call her so. But for you, her life would have been ruined."

"Precisely, " Wingrave agreed. "But I forgot! You don't understand! I have
saved her from heaven knows what! I am going to give her the home she loves!
Benevolence, isn't it? And yet, if I had only the pluck, I might succeed even
now--so far as she is concerned."

The lawyer took off his spectacles and rubbed them with his handkerchief. He
was thoroughly bewildered.

"I might succeed," Wingrave repeated, leaning back in his chair, "if only--"

His face darkened. It seemed to Mr. Pengarth as he sipped his tea under the
cool cedars, drawing in all their wonderful perfume with every puff of breeze,
that he saw two men in the low invalid's chair before him. He saw the breath
and desire of evil things struggling with some wonderful dream vainly seeking
to realize itself.

"Some of us," the lawyer said timidly, "build our ideals too high up in the
clouds, so that to reach them is very difficult. Nevertheless, the effort

Wingrave laughed mockingly.

"It is not like that with me," he declared. "My plans were made down in hell."

"God bless my soul!" the lawyer murmured. "But you are not serious, Sir

"Ay! I'm serious enough," Wingrave answered. "Do you suppose a man, with the
best pages of his life rooted out, is likely to look out upon his fellows from
the point of view of a philanthropist? Do you suppose that the man, into whose
soul the irons of bitterness have gnawed and eaten their way, is likely to
come out with a smirk and look around him for the opportunity of doing good?
Rubbish! My aim is to encourage suffering wherever I see it, to create it
where I can, to make sinners and thieves of honest people."

"God bless my soul!" the lawyer gasped again. "I don't think you can be--as
bad as you think you are. What about Juliet Lundy?"

Fire flashed in Wingrave's eyes. Again, at the mention of her name, he seemed
almost to lose control of himself. It was several moments before he spoke. He
looked Mr. Pengarth in the face, and his tone was unusually deliberate.

"Gifts," he said, "are not always given in friendship. Life may easily become
a more complicated affair for that child with the Tredowen estates hanging
round her neck. And anyhow, I disappoint my next of kin."

Morrison, smooth-footed and silent, appeared upon the lawn. He addressed

"A lady has arrived in a cab from Truro, sir," he announced. "She wishes to
see you as soon as convenient."

A sudden light flashed across Wingrave's face, dying out again almost

"Who is she, Morrison?" he asked.

The man glanced at Mr. Pengarth.

"She did not give her name, sir."

Mr. Pengarth and Wingrave both rose. The former at once made his adieux and
took a short cut to the stables. Wingrave, who leaned heavily upon his stick,
clutched Morrison by the arm.

"Who is it, Morrison?" he demanded.

"It is Lady Ruth Barrington, sir," the man answered.


"Quite alone, sir."


The library at Tredowen was a room of irregular shape, full of angles and
recesses lined with bookcases. It was in one of these, standing motionless
before a small marble statue of some forgotten Greek poet, that Wingrave found
his visitor. She wore a plain serge traveling dress, and the pallor of her
face, from which she had just lifted a voluminous veil, matched almost in
color the gleaming white marble upon which she was gazing. But when she saw
Wingrave, leaning upon his stick, and regarding her with stern surprise,
strange lights seemed to flash in her eyes. There was no longer any
resemblance between the pallor of her cheeks and the pallor of the statue.

"Lady Ruth," Wingrave said quietly, "I do not understand what has procured for
me the pleasure of this unexpected visit."

She swayed a little towards him. Her head was thrown back, all the silent
passion of the inexpressible, the hidden secondary forces of nature, was
blazing out of her eyes, pleading with him in the broken music of her tone.

"You do not understand," she repeated. "Ah, no! But can I make you understand?
Will you listen to me for once as a human being? Will you remember that you
are a man, and I a woman pleading for a little mercy--a little kindness?"

Wingrave moved a step further back.

"Permit me," he said, "to offer you a chair."

She sank into it--speechless for a moment. Wingrave stood over her, leaning
slightly against the corner of the bookcase.

"I trust," he said, "that you will explain what all this means. If it is my
help which you require--"

Her hands flashed out towards him--a gesture almost of horror.

"Don't," she begged, "you know that it is not that! You know very well that it
is not. Why do you torture me?"

"I can only ask you," he said, "to explain."

She commenced talking quickly. Her sentences came in little gasps.

"You wanted revenge--not in the ordinary way. You had brooded over it too
long. You understood too well. Once it was I who sought to revenge myself on
you because you would not listen to me! You hurt my pride. Everything that was
evil in me rebelled--"

"Is this necessary?" he interrupted coldly. "I have never reproached you. You
chose the path of safety for yourself. Many another woman in your place would
doubtless have done the same thing! What I desire to know is why you are here
in Cornwall. What has happened to make this journey seem necessary to you?"

"Listen!" she continued. "I want you to know how thoroughly you have
succeeded. Before you came, Lumley and I were living together decently enough,
and, as hundreds of others live, with outside interests for our chief
distraction. You came, a friend! You were very subtle, very skillful! You
never spoke a word of affection to me, but you managed things so that--people
talked. You encouraged Lumley to speculate--not in actual words, perhaps, but
by suggestion. Then you lent me money. Lumley, my husband, let me borrow from
you. Everyone knew that we were ruined; everyone knew where the money came
from that set us right. So misery has been piled upon misery. Lumley has lost
his self respect, he is losing his ambition, he is deteriorating every day.
I--how can I do anything else but despise him? He let me, his wife, come to
your rooms to borrow money from you. Do you think I can ever forget that? Do
you think that he can? Don't you know that the memory of it is dragging us
apart, must keep us apart always--always?"

Wingrave leaned a little forward. His hands were clasped upon the handle of
his stick.

"All that you tell me," he remarked coldly, "might equally well have been said
in London! I do not wish to seem inhospitable, but I am still waiting to know
why you have taken an eight hours' journey to recite a few fairly obvious
truths. Your relations with your husband, frankly, do not interest me. The
deductions which society may have drawn concerning our friendship need
scarcely trouble you, under the circumstances."

Then again the light was blazing in her eyes.

"Under the circumstances!" she repeated. "I know what you mean. It is true
that you have asked for nothing. It is true that all this time you have never
spoken a single word which all the world might not hear, you have never even
touched my fingers, except as a matter of formality. Once I was the woman you
loved--and I--well you know! Is this part of your scheme of torture, to play
with me as though we were marionettes, you and I, with sawdust in our veins,
dull, lifeless puppets! Well, it is finished--your vengeance! You may reap the
harvest when you will! Publish my letters, prove yourself an injured man. Take
a whip in your hand if you like, and I will never flinch. But, for heaven's
sake, remember that I am a woman! I am willing to be your slave, nurse you,
wait upon you, follow you about! What more can your vengeance need? You have
made me despise my husband, you have made me hate my life with him! You have
forced me into a remembrance of what I have never really forgotten--and oh!
Wingrave," she added, opening her arms to him with a little sob, "if you send
me away, I think that I shall kill myself. Wingrave!"

There was a note of despair in her last cry. Her arms fell to her side.
Wingrave was on his way to the further end of the room. He rang the bell and
turned towards her.

"Listen," he said calmly, "you will return to London tonight. If ever I
require you, I shall send for you--and you will come. At present I do not. You
will return to your husband. Understand!"

"Yes," she gasped, "but--"

He held out his hand. Morrison was at the door.

"Morrison," he said, "you will order the motor to be round in half an hour to
take Lady Ruth to Truro, She has to catch the London express. You will go with
her yourself, and see that she has a reserved carriage. If, by any chance, you
should miss the train, order a special."

"Very good, sir."

"And tell the cook to send in tea and wine, and some sandwiches, in ten

Once more they were alone. Lady Ruth rose slowly to her feet and, trembling in
every limb, she walked down the room and fell on her knees before Wingrave.

"Wingrave," she said, "I will go away. I will do all that you tell me; I will
wear my chains bravely, and hold my peace. But before I go, for heaven's sake,
say a kind word, look at me kindly, kiss me, hold my hands; anything,
anything, anything to prove to me that you are not a dead man. I could bear
unkindness, reproaches, abuse. I can bear anything but this deadly coldness.
It is becoming a horror to me! Do, Wingrave--do!"

She clasped his hand--he drew it calmly away.

"Lady Ruth," he said, "you have spoken the truth. I am a dead man. I have no
affections; I care neither for you nor for any living being. All that goes to
the glory and joy of life perished in that uncountable roll of days, when the
sun went out, and inch by inch the wall rose which will divide me forever from
you and all the world. Frankly, it was not I who once loved you. It was the
man who died in prison. His flesh and bones may have survived--nothing else!"

She rose slowly to her feet. Her eyes seemed to be dilating.

"There is another woman!" she exclaimed softly. Her voice was like velvet, but
the agony in her face was unmistakable.

"There is no other woman," he answered.

She stood quite still.

"She is here with you now," she cried. "Who is it, Wingrave? Tell me the

"The truth is already told," he answered. "Except my cook and her assistants,
there is not a woman in the house!"

Again she listened. She gave a little hoarse cry, and Wingrave started. Out in
the hall a girl's clear laugh rang like a note of music to their ears.

"You lie!" she cried fiercely. "You lie! I will know who she is."

Suddenly the door was thrown open! Juliet stood there, her hands full of
roses, her face flushed and brilliant with smiles.

"How delightful to find you here!" she exclaimed, coming swiftly across to
Wingrave. "I do hope you won't mind my coming. Normandy is off, and I have
nowhere else to go."

She saw Lady Ruth and stopped.

"Oh! I beg your pardon!" she exclaimed. "I did not know."

"This is Lady Ruth Barrington," Wingrave said; "my ward, Miss Juliet Lundy."

"Your--ward?" Lady Ruth said, gazing at her intently.

Juliet nodded.

"Sir Wingrave has been very kind to me since I was a child," she said softly.
"He has let me live here with Mrs. Tresfarwin, and I am afraid I sometimes
forget that it is not really my home. Am I in the way?" she asked, looking
wistfully towards Wingrave.

"By no means!" he exclaimed. "Lady Ruth is just going. Will you see that she
has some tea or something?"

Lady Ruth laughed quietly.

"I think," she said, "that it is I who am in the way! I should love some tea,
if there is time, but whatever happens, I must not miss that train."


It seemed to Wingrave that the days which followed formed a sort of hiatus in
his life--an interlude during which some other man in his place, and in his
image, played the game of life to a long-forgotten tune. He moved through the
hours as a man in a maze, unrecognizable to himself, half unconscious, half
heedless of the fact that the garments of his carefully cultivated antagonism
to the world and to his fellows had slipped very easily from his unresisting
shoulders. The glory of a perfect English midsummer lay like a golden spell
upon the land. The moors were purple with heather, touched here and there with
the fire of the flaming gorse, the wind blew always from the west, the gardens
were ablaze with slowly bursting rhododendrons. Every gleam of coloring, every
breath of perfume, seemed to carry him unresistingly back to the days of his
boyhood. He fished once more in the trout streams; he threw away his stick,
and tramped or rode with Juliet across the moors. At night time she sang or
played with the windows open, Wingrave himself out of sight under the cedar
trees, whose perfume filled with aromatic sweetness the still night air. Piles
of letters came every day, which he left unopened upon his study table.
Telegrams followed, which he threw into the wastepaper basket. Juliet watched
the accumulating heap with amazement.

"Whatever do people write to you so much for?" she asked one morning, watching
the stream of letters flow out of the post bag.

Wingrave was silent for a moment. Her question brought a sudden and sharp
sting of remembrance. Juliet knew him only as Sir Wingrave Seton. She knew
nothing of Mr. Wingrave, millionaire.

"Advertisements, a good many of them," he said. "I must send for Aynesworth
some day to go through them all."

"What fun!" she exclaimed. "Do send for him! He thinks that I am staying with
Miss Pengarth, and I haven't written once since I got here!"

To Wingrave, it seemed that a chill had somehow stolen into the hot summer
morning. His feet were very nearly upon the earth again.

"I forgot," he said, "that Aynesworth was--a friend of yours. He came and saw
you often in London?"

She smiled reflectively.

"He has been very, very kind," she answered. "He was always that, from the
first time I saw you both. Do you remember? It was down in the lower gardens."

"Yes!" he answered, "I remember quite well."

"He was very kind to me then," she continued, "and you--well, I was frightened
of you." She stopped for a moment and laughed. Her eyes were full of amazed
reminiscence. "You were so cold and severe! I never could have dreamed that,
after all, it was you who were going to be the dearest, most generous friend I
could ever have had! Do you know, Walter--I mean Mr. Aynesworth--isn't very
pleased with me just now?"

"Why not?"

"He cannot understand why I will not tell him my guardian's name. I think it
worries him."

"You would like to tell him?" Wingrave asked.

She nodded.

"I think so," she answered.

Wingrave said no more, but after breakfast he went to his study alone. Juliet
found him there an hour later, sitting idly in front of his table. His great
pile of correspondence was still untouched. She came and sat on the edge of
the table.

"What are we going to do this morning, please?" she asked.

Wingrave glanced towards his letters.

"I am afraid," he said, "that I must spend the day here!"

She looked at him blankly.

"Not really!" she exclaimed. "I thought that we were going to walk to Hanging

Wingrave took up a handful of letters and let them fall through his fingers.
He had all the sensations of a man who is awakened from a dream of Paradise to
face the dull tortures of a dreary and eventless life. His eyes were set in a
fixed state. An undernote of despair was in his tone.

"You know we arranged it yesterday," she continued eagerly, "and if you are
going to send for Mr. Aynesworth, you needn't bother about these letters
yourself, need you?

He turned and regarded her deliberately. Her forehead was wrinkled a little
with disappointment, her brown eyes were filled with the soft light of
confident appeal. Tall and elegantly slim, there was yet something in the
graceful lines of her figure which reminded him forcibly that the days of her
womanhood had indeed arrived.

She wore a plain white cambric dress and a simple, but much beflowered hat;
the smaller details of her toilet all indicated the correct taste and
instinctive coquetry of her French descent. And she was beautiful! Wingrave
regarded her critically and realized, perhaps for the first time, how
beautiful. Her eyes were large and clear, and her eyebrows delicately defined.
Her mouth, with its slightly humorous curl, was a little large, but wholly
delightful. The sun of the last few weeks had given to her skin a faint, but
most becoming, duskiness. Under his close scrutiny, a flush of color stole
into her cheeks. She laughed not altogether naturally.

"You look at me," she said, "as though I were someone strange!"

"I was looking," he answered, "for the child, the little black-frocked child,
you know, with the hair down her back, and the tearful eyes. I don't think I
realized that she had vanished so completely."

"Not more completely," she declared gaily, "than the gloomy gentleman who
frowned upon my existence and resented even my gratitude. Although," she
added, leaning a little towards him, "I am very much afraid that I see some
signs of a relapse today. Don't bother about those horrid letters. Let me tell
Mrs. Tresfarwin to pack us up some lunch, and take me to Hanging Tor, please!"

Wingrave laughed a little unsteadily as he rose to his feet. One day more,
then! Why not? The end would be soon enough! . . .

Sooner, perhaps, than even he imagined, for that night Aynesworth came, pale
and travel-stained, with all the volcanic evidences of a great passion blazing
in his eyes, quivering in his tone. The day had passed to Wingrave as a dream,
more beautiful even than any in the roll of its predecessors. They sat
together on low chairs upon the moonlit lawn, in their ears the murmur of the
sea; upon their faces, gathering strength with the darkness, the night wind,
salt and fragrant with all the sweetness of dying flowers. Wingrave had never
realized more completely what still seemed to him this wonderful gap in his
life. Behind it all, he had a subconsciousness that he was but taking a part
in some mystical play; yet with an abandon which, when he stopped to think of
it, astonished him, he gave himself up without effort or scruple to this most
amazing interlude. All day he had talked more than ever before; the flush on
his cheeks was like the flush of wine or the sun which had fired his blood. As
he had talked the more, so had she grown the more silent. She was sitting now
with her hands clasped and her head thrown back, looking up at the stars with
unseeing eyes.

"You do not regret Normandy, then?" he asked.

"No!" she murmured. "I have been happy here. I have been happier than I could
ever have been in Normandy."

He turned and looked at her with curious intentness.

"My experience," he said thoughtfully, "of young ladies of your age is
somewhat limited. But I should have thought that you would have found

"Perhaps I am different, then," she murmured. "I have never been lonely
here--all my life!"

"Except," he reminded her, "when I knew you first."

"Ah! But that was different," she protested. "I had no home in those days, and
I was afraid of being sent away."

It was in his mind then to tell her of the envelope with her name upon it in
his study, but a sudden rush of confusing thoughts kept him silent. It was
while he was laboring in the web of this tangled dream of wild but beautiful
emotions that Aynesworth came. A pale, tragic figure in his travel-stained
clothes, and face furrowed with anxiety, he stood over them almost before they
were aware of his presence.

"Walter!" she cried, and sprang to her feet with extended hands. Wingrave's
face darkened, and the shadow of evil crept into his suddenly altered
expression. It was an abrupt awakening this, and he hated the man who had
brought it about.

Aynesworth held the girl's hands for a moment, but his manner was sufficient
evidence of the spirit in which he had come. He drew a little breath, and he
looked from one to the other anxiously.

"Is this--your mysterious guardian, Juliet?" he asked hoarsely.

She glanced at Wingrave questioningly. His expression was ominous, and the
light faded from her own face. While she hesitated, Wingrave spoke.

"I imagine," he said, "that the fact is fairly obvious. What have you to say
about it?"

"A good deal," Aynesworth answered passionately. "Juliet, please go away. I
must speak to your guardian--alone!"

Again she looked at Wingrave. He pointed to the house.

"I think," he said, "that you had better go."

She hesitated. Something of the impending storm was already manifest.
Aynesworth turned suddenly towards her.

"You shall not enter that house again, Juliet," he declared. "Stay in the
gardens there, and presently you shall know why."


Wingrave had risen to his feet. He was perfectly calm, but there was a look on
his face which Juliet had never seen there before. Instinctively she drew a
little away, and Aynesworth took his place between them.

"Are you mad, Aynesworth?" Wingrave asked coolly.

"Not now," Aynesworth answered. "I have been mad to stay with you for four
years, to look on, however passively, at all the evil you have done. I've had
enough of it now, and of you! I came here to tell you so."

"A letter," Wingrave answered, "would have been equally efficacious. However,
since you have told me--"

"I'll go when I'm ready," Aynesworth answered, "and I've more to say. When I
first entered your service and you told me what your outlook upon life was, I
never dreamed but that the years would make a man of you again, I never
believed that you could be such a brute as to carry out your threats. I saw
you do your best to corrupt a poor, silly little woman, who only escaped ruin
by a miracle; I saw you deal out what might have been irretrievable disaster
to a young man just starting in life. Since your return to London, you have
done as little good, and as much harm, with your millions as any man could."

Wingrave was beginning to look bored.

"This is getting," he remarked, "a little like melodrama. I have no objection
to being abused, even in my own garden, but there are limits to my patience.
Come to the point, if you have one."

"Willingly," Aynesworth answered. "I want you to understand this. I have never
tried to interfere in any of your malicious schemes, although I am ashamed to
think I have watched them without protest. But this one is different. If you
have harmed, if you should ever dare to harm this child, as sure as there is a
God above us, I will kill you!"

"What is she to you?" Wingrave asked calmly.

"She--I love her," Aynesworth answered. "I mean her to be my wife."

"And she?"

"She looks upon me as her greatest friend, her natural protector, and protect
her I will--even against you."

Wingrave shrugged his shoulders.

"It seems to me," he said, "that the young lady is very well off as she is.
She has lived in my house, and been taken care of by my servants. She has been
relieved of all the material cares of life, and she has been her own mistress.
I scarcely see how you, my young friend, could do better for her."

Aynesworth moved a step nearer to him. The veins on his forehead were swollen.
His voice was hoarse with passion.

"Why have you done this for her?" he demanded, "secretly, too, you a man to
whom a good action is a matter for a sneer, who have deliberately proclaimed
yourself an evil-doer by choice and destiny? Why have you constituted yourself
her guardian? Not from kindness for you don't know what it is; not from good
nature for you haven't any. Why, then?"

Wingrave shrugged his shoulders.

"I admit." he remarked coolly, "that it does seem rather a problem; we all do
unaccountable things at times, though."

"For your own sake," Aynesworth said fiercely, "I trust that this is one of
the unaccountable things. For the rest, you shall have no other chance. I
shall take her to Truro tonight."

"Are you sure that she will go?"

"I shall tell her the truth."

"And if she does not believe you?"

"She will! If you interfere, I shall take her by force."

"I interfere!" Wingrave remarked. "You need not be afraid of that. The affair
as it stands is far too interesting. Call her, and make your appeal."

"I shall tell her the truth," Aynesworth declared.

"By all means! I shall remain and listen to my indictment. Quite a novel
sensation! Call the young lady, by all means, and don't spare me."

Aynesworth moved a few steps up the path. He called to her softly, and she
came through the little iron gates from the rose gardens. She was very pale,
and there was a gleam in her eyes which was like fear. Aynesworth took her by
the hand and led her forward.

"You must be brave, dear," he whispered. "I am compelled to say some
disagreeable things. It is for your good. It is because I care for you so

She looked towards Wingrave. He was sitting upon the garden seat, and his face
was absolutely expressionless. He spoke to her, and his cold, precise tone
betrayed not the slightest sign of any emotion.

"Aynesworth," he remarked, "is going to tell you some interesting facts about
myself. Please listen attentively as afterwards you will be called upon to
make a somewhat important decision."

She looked at him a little wistfully and sighed. There was no trace any longer
of her companion of the last few weeks. It was the stern and gloomy stranger
of her earlier recollections who sat there with folded arms.

"Is it really necessary?" she asked.

"Absolutely," Aynesworth answered hurriedly. "It won't take long, but there
are things which you must know."

"Very well," she answered, "I am listening."

Aynesworth inclined his head towards the place where Wingrave sat.

"I will admit," he said, "that the man there, whom I have served for the last
four years and more, never deceived me as to his real character and
intentions. He had been badly treated by a woman, and he told me plainly that
he entered into life again at war with his fellows. Where he could see an
opportunity of doing evil, he meant to do it; where he could bring misery and
suffering upon anyone with whom he came into contact, he meant to grasp the
opportunity. I listened to him, but I never believed. I told myself that it
would be interesting to watch his life, and to see the gradual, inevitable
humanizing of the man. So I entered his service, and have remained in it until

He turned more directly towards Juliet. She was listening breathlessly to
every word.

"Juliet," he said, "he has kept his word. I have been by his side, and I speak
of the things I know. He has sought no one's friendship who has not suffered
for it, there is not a man or woman living who owes him the acknowledgment of
a single act of kindness. I have seen him deliberately scheme to bring about
the ruin of a harmless little woman. I have seen him exact his pound of flesh,
even at the cost of ruin, from a boy. I tell you, Juliet, of my own knowledge,
that he has neither heart nor conscience, and that he glories in the evil that
his hand finds to do. Even you must know something of his reputation--have
heard something of his doings, under the name he is best known by in
London--Mr. Wingrave, millionaire."

She started back as though in terror. Then she turned to Wingrave, who sat
stonily silent.

"It isn't true," she cried. "You are not--that man?"

He raised his eyes and looked at her. It seemed to her that there was
something almost satanic in the smile which alone disturbed the serenity of
his face.

"Certainly I am," he answered; "when I returned from America, it suited me to
change my identity. You must not doubt anything that Mr. Aynesworth says. I
can assure you that he is a most truthful and conscientious young man. I shall
be able to give him a testimonial with a perfectly clear conscience."

Juliet shuddered as she turned away. All the joy of life seemed to have gone
from her face.

"You are Mr. Wingrave--the Mr. Wingrave. Oh! I can't believe it," she broke
off suddenly. "No one could have been so kind, so generous, as you have been
to me."

She looked from one to the other of the two men. Both were silent, but whereas
Aynesworth had turned his head away, Wingrave's position and attitude were
unchanged. She moved suddenly over towards him. One hand fell almost
caressingly upon his shoulder. She looked eagerly into his face.

"Tell me--that it isn't all true," she begged. "Tell me that you kindness to
me, at least, was real--that you did not mean it to be for my unhappiness
afterwards. Please tell me that. I think if you asked me, if you cared to ask
me, that I could forgive everything else."

"Every vice, save one," Wingrave murmured, "Nature has lavished upon me. I am
a poor liar. It is perfectly true that my object in life has been exactly as
Aynesworth has stated it. I may have been more or less successful--Aynesworth
can tell you that, too. As regards yourself--"

"Yes?" she exclaimed.

"I congratulate you upon your escape," Wingrave said. "Aynesworth is right.
Association of any sort with me is for your evil!"

She covered her face with her hands. Even his tone was different. She felt
that this man was a stranger, and a stranger to be feared. Aynesworth came
over to her side and drew her away.

"I have a cart outside," he said. "I am going to take you to Truro--"

Wingrave heard the gate close after them--he heard the rumble of the cart in
the road growing fainter and fainter. He was alone now in the garden, and the
darkness was closing around him. He staggered to his feet. His face was back
in its old set lines. He was once more at war with the world.


At no time during his career did Wingrave appear before the public more
prominently than during the next few months. As London began to fill up again,
during the early part of October, he gave many and magnificent entertainments,
his name figured in all the great social events, he bought a mansion in Park
Lane which had been built for Royalty, and the account of the treasures with
which he filled it read like a chapter from some modern Arabian Nights. In the
city, he was more hated and dreaded than ever. His transactions, huge and
carefully thought out, were for his own aggrandizement only, and left always
in their wake ruin and disaster for the less fortunate and weaker speculators.
He played for his own hand only, the camaraderie of finance he ignored
altogether. In one other respect, too, he occupied a unique position amongst
the financial magnates of the moment. All appeals on behalf of charity he
steadily ignored. He gave nothing away. His name never figured amongst the
hospital lists; suffering and disaster, which drew their humble contributions
from the struggling poor and middle classes, left him unmoved and his check
book unopened. In an age when huge gifts on behalf of charity was the
fashionable road to the peerage, his attitude was all the more noticeable. He
would give a thousand pounds for a piece of Sevres china which took his fancy;
he would not give a thousand farthings to ease the sufferings of his fellows.
Yet there were few found to criticize him. He was called original, a crank;
there were even some who professed to see merit in his attitude. To both
criticism and praise he was alike indifferent. With a cynicism with seemed
only to become more bitter he pursued his undeviating and deliberate way.

One morning he met Lady Ruth on the pavement in Bond Street. She pointed to
the vacant seat in her landau.

"Get in, please, for a few minutes," she said. "I want to talk to you. I will
take you where you like."

They drove off in silence.

"You were not at the Wavertons last night," he remarked.

"No!" she answered quietly. "I was not asked."

He glanced at her questioningly.

"I thought that you were so friendly," he said.

"I was," she answered. "Lady Waverton scarcely knows me now! It is the
beginning of the end, I suppose."

"You are a little enigmatical this morning," he declared.

"Oh, no! You understand me very well," she answered. "Everybody knows that it
is you who keep us going. Lumley has not got quite used to taking your money.
He has lost nearly all his ambition. Soon his day will have gone by. People
shrug their shoulders when they speak of us. Two years ago the Wavertons were
delighted to know me. Society seems big, but it isn't. There are no end of
little sets, one inside the other. Two years ago, I was in the innermost,
today I'm getting towards the outside edge. Look at me! Do you see any

He scrutinized her mercilessly in the cold morning light.

"You look older," he said, "and you have begun to use rouge, which is a pity."

She laughed hardly.

"You think so? Well, I don't want Emily to see my hollow cheeks--or you! Are
you satisfied, Wingrave?"

"I am afraid I don't understand--" he began.

"Don't lie," she interrupted curtly. "You do understand. This is your
vengeance--very subtle and very crafty. Everything has turned out exactly as
you planned. You have broken us, Wingrave! I thought myself a clever woman,
but I might as well have tried to gamble with the angels. Why don't you finish
it off now--make me run away with you?"

"It would bore us both," he answered calmly. "Besides, you wouldn't come!"

"I should, and you know that I would," she answered. "Everyone expects it of
us. I think myself that it would be more decent."

He looked at her thoughtfully.

"You are a strange woman," he said. "I find it hard sometimes to understand

"Then you are a fool," she declared in a fierce little whisper. "You know what
is underneath all my suffering, all my broken pride! You know that I was fool
enough to keep the flame flickering--that I have cared always and for no one

He stopped the carriage.

"You are the most original woman I ever met," he said quietly. "I neither wish
to care nor be cared for by anyone. Go home to your husband, and tell him to
buy Treadwells up to six."

That same afternoon Wingrave met Aynesworth and cut him dead. Something in the
younger man's appearance, though, perplexed him. Aynesworth certainly had not
the air of a successful man. He was pale, carelessly dressed, and apparently
in ill health. Wingrave, after an amount of hesitation, which was rare with
him, turned his car towards Battersea, and found himself, a few minutes later,
mounting the five flights of stone steps. Juliet herself opened the door to
him. She gave a little gasp when she saw who it was, and did not immediately
invite him to enter.

"I am sorry," Wingrave said coldly, "to inflict this visit upon you. If you
are alone, and afraid to ask me in, we can talk here."

Her cheeks became as flushed as a moment before they had been pale. She looked
at him reproachfully, and, standing on one side to let him pass, closed the
door behind him. Then she led the way into her sitting room.

"I am glad that you have come to see me," she said. "Won't you sit down?"

He ignored her invitation, and stood looking around him. There was a
noticeable change in the little room. There were no flowers, some of the
ornaments and the silver trifles from her table were missing. The place seemed
to have been swept bare of everything, except the necessary furniture. Then he
looked at her. She was perceptibly thinner, and there were black rings under
her eyes.

"Where is Mrs. Tresfarwin?" he asked.

"In Cornwall," she answered.


"I could not afford to keep her here any longer."

"What are you doing for a living--painting still?"

She shook her head a little piteously.

"They can't sell any more of my pictures," she said. "I am trying to get a
situation as governess or companion or--anything."

"When did you have anything to eat last?" he asked.

"Yesterday," she answered, and he was just in time to catch her. She had

He laid her upon the sofa, poured some water over her face, and fanned her
with a newspaper. His expression of cold indifference remained unmoved. It was
there in his face when she opened her eyes.

"Are you well enough to walk?" he asked.

"Quite, thank you," she answered. "I am so sorry!"

"Put on your hat," he ordered.

She disappeared for a few minutes, and returned dressed for the street. He
drove her to a restaurant and ordered some dinner. He made her drink some
wine, and while they waited he buried himself in a newspaper. They ate their
meal almost in silence. Afterwards, Wingrave asked her a question.

"Where is Aynesworth?"

"Looking for work, I think," she answered.

"Why did you not stay down in Cornwall?"

"Miss Pengarth was away--and I preferred to return to London," she told him

"When are you going to marry Aynesworth?" he asked.

She looked down into her glass and was silent. He leaned a little towards her.

"Perhaps," he remarked quietly, "you are already married?"

Still she was silent. He saw the tears forced back from her eyes. He heard the
sob break in her throat. Yet he said nothing. He only waited. At last she

"Nothing is settled yet," she said, still without looking at him.

"I see no reason," he said calmly, "why, until that time, you should refuse to
accept your allowance from Mr. Pengarth."

"I cannot take any more of your money," she answered. "It was a mistake from
the first, but I was foolish. I did not understand."

His lip curled with scorn.

"You are one of those," he said, "who, as a child, were wise, but as a young
woman with a little knowledge, become--a prig. What harm is my money likely to
do you? I may be the Devil himself, but my gold is not tainted. For the rest,
granted that I am at war with the world, I do not number children amongst my

She raised her eyes then, and looked him in the face.

"I am not afraid of you," she declared. "It is not that; but I have been
dependent long enough. I will keep myself--or starve."

He shrugged his shoulders and paid the bill.

"My man," he said, "will take you wherever you like. I have a call to make
close here."

They stood upon the pavement. She held out her hand a little timidly. Her eyes
were soft and wistful.

"Goodbye, guardian," she said. "Thank you very much for my lunch."

"Ah!" he said gravely, "if you would let me always call myself that!"

She got into the car without a word. Wingrave walked straight back to his own
house. Several people were waiting in the entrance hall, and the visitors'
book was open upon the porter's desk. He walked through, looking neither to
the right nor the left, crossed the great library, with its curved roof, its
floor of cedar wood, and its wonderful stained-glass windows, and entered a
smaller room beyond--his absolute and impenetrable sanctum. He rang the bell
for his servant.

"Morrison," he said, "if you allow me to be disturbed by any living person, on
any pretense whatever, until I ring, you lose your place. Do you understand?"

"Perfectly, sir."

Wingrave locked the door. The next hour belonged to himself alone . . . .

When at last he rang the bell, he gave Morrison a note.

"This is to be delivered at once," he said.

The man bowed and withdrew. Wingrave, with his hands behind him, strolled out
into the library. In a remote corner, a small spectacled person was busy
writing at a table. Wingrave crossed the room and stood before him.

"Are you my librarian?" he asked.

The man rose at once.

"Certainly, sir," he answered. "My name is Woodall. You may have forgotten it.
I am at work now upon a new catalogue."

Wingrave nodded.

"I have a quarto Shakespeare, I think," he said, "that I marked at Sotheby's,
also a manuscript Thomas a Kempis, and a first edition of Herrick. I should
like to see them."

"By all means," the man answered, hurrying to the shelves. "You have, also, a
wonderful rare collection of manuscripts, purchased from the Abbey St.
Jouvain, and a unique Horace. If you will permit me."

Wingrave spent half an hour examining his treasures, leaving his attendant

"A millionaire who understands!" he exclaimed softly as he resumed his seat.

Wingrave passed into the hall, and summoned his major domo.

"Show me the ballroom," he ordered, "and the winter garden."

The little man in quiet black clothes--Wingrave abhorred liveries--led him
respectfully through rooms probably unequaled for magnificence in England. He
spoke of the exquisite work of French and Italian artists; with a gesture
almost of reverence he pointed out the carving in the wonderful white

Wingrave listened and watched with immovable face. Just as they had completed
their tour, Morrison approached.

"Mr. Lumley and Lady Ruth Barrington are in the library, sir," he announced.

Wingrave nodded.

"I am coming at once," he said.


They awaited his coming in varying moods. Barrington was irritable and
restless, Lady Ruth gave no signs of any emotion whatever. She had the air of
a woman who had no longer fear or hope. Only her eyes were a little weary.

Barrington was walking up and down the room, his hands in his pockets, his
eyes fixed upon his wife. Every now and then he glanced nervously towards her.

"Of course," he said, "if he wants a settlement--well, there's an end of all
things. And I don't see why he shouldn't. He hasn't lent money out of
friendship. He hates me--always has done, and sometimes I wonder whether he
doesn't hate you too!"

Lady Ruth shivered a little. Her husband's words came to her with peculiar
brutality. It was as though he were blaming her for not having proved more
attractive to the man who held them in the hollow of his hand.

"Doesn't it strike you," she murmured, "that a discussion like this is
scarcely in the best possible taste? We cannot surmise what he wants--what he
is going to do. Let us wait!"

The door opened and Wingrave entered. To Barrington, who greeted him with
nervous cordiality, he presented the same cold, impenetrable appearance; Lady
Ruth, with quicker perceptions, noticed at once the change. She sat up in her
chair eagerly. It was what she had prayed for, this--but was it for good or
evil? Her eyes sought his eagerly. So much depended upon his first few words.

Wingrave closed the door behind him. His greetings were laconic as usual. He
addressed Lady Ruth.

"I find myself obliged," he said, "to take a journey which may possibly be a
somewhat protracted one. I wished, before I left, to see you and your husband.
I sent for you together, but I wish to speak to you separately--to your
husband first. You have often expressed a desire to see over my house, Lady
Ruth. My major domo is outside. Will you forgive me if I send you away for a
few minutes?"

Lady Ruth rose slowly to her feet.

"How long do you wish me to keep away?" she asked calmly.

"A few minutes only," he answered. "You will find me here when Parkinson has
shown you round."

He held the door open and she passed out, with a single upward and wondering
glance. Wingrave closed the door, and seated himself close to where Barrington
was standing.

"Barrington," he said, "twenty years ago we were friends. Since then we have
been enemies. Today, so far as I am concerned, we are neither."

Barrington started a little. His lips twitched nervously. He did not quite

"I am sure, Wingrave--" he began.

Wingrave interrupted him ruthlessly.

"I give you credit," he continued, "for understanding that my attitude towards
you since I--er--reappeared, has been inimical. I intended you to speculate,
and you did speculate. I meant you to lose, and you have lost. The money I
lent to your wife was meant to remain a rope around your neck. The fact that I
lent it to her was intended to humiliate you, the attentions which I purposely
paid to her in public were intended to convey a false impression to
society--and in this, too, I fancy that I have been successful."

Barrington drew a thick breath--the dull color was mounting to his cheeks.

Wingrave continued calmly--

"I had possibly in my mind, at one time," he said, "the idea of drawing things
on to a climax--of witnessing the final disappearance of yourself and your
wife from the world--such as we know it. I have, however, ceased to derive
amusement or satisfaction from pursuing what we may call my vengeance.
Consequently, it is finished."

The light of hope leaped into Barrington's dull eyes, but he recognized
Wingrave's desire for silence.

"A few feet to your left, upon my writing table," Wingrave continued, "you
will find an envelope addressed to yourself. It contains a discharge, in full,
for the money I have lent you. I have also ventured to place to your credit,
at your own bank, a sum sufficient to give you a fresh start. When you return
to Cadogan Square, or, at least, this evening, you will receive a
communication from the Prime Minister, inviting you to become one of the
International Board of Arbitration on the Alaskan question. The position, as
you know, is a distinguished one, and if you should be successful, your future
career should be assured."

Barrington broke down. He covered his face with his hands. Great sobs shook
him. Wingrave waited for a few minutes, and then rose to his feet.

"Barrington," he said, "there is one thing more! What the world may say or
think counts for very little. Society reverses its own judgments and eats its
own words every day. A little success will bring it to your feet like a
whipped dog. It is for yourself I say this, for yourself alone. There is no
reason why you should hesitate to accept any service I may be able to render
you. You understand me?"

Barrington's face was like the face of a young man. All the cloud of suspicion
and doubts and fears was suddenly lifted. He looked through new eyes on to a
new world.

"Thank God!" he exclaimed. "Not that I ever doubted it, Wingrave, but--thank
God!" . . .

Barrington left the house radiant,--Lady Ruth and Wingrave were alone. She
watched him close the door and turn towards her, with a new timidity. The
color came and went in her pale cheeks, her eyes were no longer tired. When he
turned towards her, she leaned to him with a little seductive movement of her
body. Her hands stole out towards him.

"Wingrave!" she murmured.

His first action seemed to crush all the desperate joy which was rising fast
in her heart. He took one hand, and he led her to a chair.

"Ruth," he said, "I have been talking to your husband. There are only a few
words I want to say to you."

"There are only three I want to hear from you," she murmured, and her eyes
were pleading with him passionately all the time. "It seems to me that I have
been waiting to hear them all my life. Wingrave, I am so tired--and I am
losing--I want to leave it all!"

"Exactly," he answered cheerfully, "what you are going to do. You are going to
America with your husband."

"What do you mean?" she asked sharply.

He shrugged his shoulders.

"I am rather tired of the game," he said, "that is all. I am like the child
who likes to build up again the house of bricks which he has thrown down. I
have procured for your husband a seat on the Alaskan Board. It is a very
distinguished position, and you will find that it will entail considerable
social obligations in America. When you return, he will be able to claim a
judgeship, or a place in the Government. You will find things go smoothly
enough then."

"But you!" she cried; "I want you!"

He looked at her gravely.

"Dear Lady Ruth," he said, "you may think so at this moment, but you are very
much mistaken. What you really desire is a complete reconciliation with your
husband and a place in the great world which no one shall be able to question.
These things are arranged for you; also--these."

He handed her a little packet. She dropped it idly into her lap. She was
looking steadfastly away from them.

"You are free from me now," he continued. "You will find life run quite
smoothly, and I do not think that you will be troubled with me when you come
back from America. I have other plans."

"There was a slave," she murmured, "who grew to love her gaoler, and when they
came to set her free and take her back to her own people--she prayed only to
be left in her cell! Freedom for her meant a broken heart!"

"But that was fiction," he answered. "For you, freedom will mean other things.
There is work for you to do, honorable work. You must fan the flame of your
husband's ambition, you must see that he does justice to his great
opportunities. You have your own battle to fight with society, but you have
the winning cards for, before you go, you and your husband will be received as
guests--well, by the one person whose decision is absolute."

She looked at him in amazement.

"My word of honor," he said quietly, "was enough for Lord Marendon. You will
find things go smoothly with you."

"You are wonderful," she gasped, "but--you--you spoke of going away."

"I am going to travel," he said quietly, "rather a long journey. I have lived
three lives, I am going to try a fourth!"

"Alone?" she asked.

"Quite alone," he answered.

"Tell me where you are going?" she begged.

"I cannot do that," he answered. "It is my secret."

She rose to her feet. She was very pale. She stood in front of him, and she
laid her hands upon his shoulders.

"Wingrave," she said, "I will obey. I will live the life you have shown me,
and I will live it successfully. But I will know this. Who is it that has
succeeded where I have failed?"

"I do not understand you," he answered.

"You do!" she declared, "and I will know. For years you have been a man with a
shell upon your heart. Every good impulse, every kind thought seemed withered
up. You were absolutely cold, absolutely passionless! I have worn myself out
trying to call you back to your own, to set the blood flowing once more in
your veins, to break for one moment the barriers which you had set up against
Nature herself. Some day, I felt that it must come--and it has! Who has done
it, Wingrave? It is not--Emily?"

"Emily!" he exclaimed. "I have not seen her for months. She has no interest
for me--she never had."

"Then tell me who it is!"

"Nature unaided," he answered carelessly. "Human intervention was not
necessary. It was the swing of the pendulum, Ruth, the eternal law which mocks
our craving for content. I had no sooner succeeded in my new capacity--than
the old man crept out."

"But Nature has her weapons always," she protested. "Wingrave, was it the

He touched the electric bell. Taking her hands, he bent down and kissed them.

"Dear lady," he said, "goodbye--good fortune! Conquer new worlds, and
remember--white is your color, and Paquin your one modiste. Morrison, Lady
Barrington's carriage.


Mr. Pengarth was loth to depart. He felt that all pretext for lingering was
gone, that he had outstayed his welcome. Yet he found himself desperately
striving for some excuse to prolong an interview which was to all effects and
purposes concluded.

"I will do my best, Sir Wingrave," he said, reverting to the subject of their
interview, "to study Miss Lundy's interests in every way. I will also see that
she has the letter you have left for her within eight days from now. But if
you could see you way to leave some sort of address so that I should have a
chance of communicating with you, if necessary, I should assume my
responsibilities with a lighter heart."

Wingrave gave vent to a little gesture of annoyance.

"My dear sir," he said, "surely I have been explicit enough. I have told you
that, within a week from now, I shall be practically dead. I shall never
return to England--you will never see me again. I have given life here a fair
trial, and found it a failure. I am going to make a new experiment--and it is
going to be in an unexplored country. You could not reach me there through the
post. You, I think, would scarcely car to follow me. Let it go at that."

Mr. Pengarth took up his bag with a sigh.

"Sir Wingrave," he said, "I am a simple man, and life with me has always been
a very simple affair. I recognize the fact, of course, that I am not in a
position to judge or to understand the mental attitude of one who, like
yourself, has suffered and passed through great crises. But I cannot help
wishing that you could find it possible to try, for a time, the quiet life of
a countryman in this beautiful home of yours."

Wingrave shrugged his shoulders.

"Mr. Pengarth," he said, "no two men are born alike into this world. Some are
blessed with a contented mind, some are wanderers by destiny. You will forgive
me if I do not discuss the matter with you more fully. My journey, wherever
and whatever it is, is inevitable."

Mr. Pengarth was braver than he had ever been in his life.

"Sir Wingrave," he said, "there is one journey which we must all take in God's
good time. But the man who starts before he is called finds no welcome at the
end. The greatest in life are those who are content to wait!"

"I am not in the least disposed to doubt it, Mr. Pengarth," Wingrave said
calmly. "Now I must really send you away."

So Mr. Pengarth went, but Wingrave was not long destined to remain in
solitude. There was a sound of voices in the hall, Morrison's protesting,
another insistent. Then the door opened, and Wingrave looked up with darkening
face, which did not lighten when he recognized the intruder.

"Aynesworth!" he exclaimed, "what are you doing here? What do you want with

"Five minutes," Aynesworth answered, "and I mean to have it. You may as well
tell your man to take his hand off my shoulder."

Wingrave nodded to Morrison.

"You can go," he said. "Come back when I ring."

They were alone! Aynesworth threw down his hat and crossed the room until he
was within a few feet of Wingrave.

"Well, sir?"

Aynesworth laughed a little unnaturally.

"I had to come," he said. "It is humiliating, but the discipline is good for
me! I was determined to come and see once more the man who has made an utter
and complete fool of me."

Wingrave eyed him coldly.

"If you would be good enough to explain," he began.

"Oh, yes, I'll explain," Aynesworth answered. "I engaged myself to you as
secretary, didn't I, and I told you the reason at the time? I wanted to make a
study of you. I wanted to trace the effect of your long period of isolation
upon your subsequent actions. I entered upon my duties--how you must have
smiled at me behind my back! Never was a man more completely and absolutely
deceived. I lived with you, was always by your side, I was there professedly
to study your actions and the method of them. And yet you found it a perfectly
simple matter to hoodwink me whenever you chose!"

"In what respect?" Wingrave asked calmly.

"Every respect!" Aynesworth answered. "Let me tell you two things which
happened to me yesterday. I met a young New York stockbroker, named Nesbitt,
in London, and in common with all London, I suppose, by this time, I learnt
the secret of all those anonymous contributions to the hospitals and other
charitable causes during the last year."

"Go on," Wingrave said.

"I have come here on purpose to tell you what I think you are," Aynesworth
said. "You are the greatest hypocrite unhanged. You affect to hate your
fellows and to love evil-doers. You deceived the whole world, and you deceived
me. I know you now for what you are. You conceived your evil plans, but when
the time came for carrying them out, you funked it every time. You had that
silly little woman on the steamer in your power, and you yourself, behind your
own back, released her with that Marconigram to her husband, sent by yourself.
You brought the boy Nesbitt face to face with ruin, and to his face you
offered him no mercy. Behind his back you employ a lawyer to advance him your
own money to pay your own debt. You decline to give a single penny away in
charity and, as stealthily as possible, you give away in one year greater sums
than any other man has ever parted with. You decline to help the poor little
orphan child of the village organist, and secretly you have her brought up in
your own home, and stop the sale of your pictures for the sake of the child
whom you had only once contemptuously addressed. Can you deny any one of these

"No!" Wingrave answered quietly, "I cannot."

"And I thought you a strong man," Aynesworth continued, aggrieved and
contemptuous. "I nearly went mad with fear when I heard that it was you who
were the self-appointed guardian of Juliet Lundy. I looked upon this as one
more, the most diabolical of all your schemes!"

Wingrave rose to his feet, still and grave.

"Aynesworth," he said, "this interview does not interest me. Let us bring it
to an end. I admit that I have made a great failure of my life. I admit that I
have failed in realizing the ambitions I once confided to you. I came out from
prison with precisely those intentions, and I was conscious of nothing in
myself or my nature to prevent my carrying them out. It seems that I was
mistaken. I admit all this, but I do not admit your right to force yourself
into my presence and taunt me with my failure. You served me well enough, but
you were easily hoodwinked, and our connection is at an end. I have only one
thing to say to you. I am leaving this part of the world altogether. I shall
not return. That child has some foolish scruples about taking any more of my
money. That arises through your confounded interference. She is poor, almost
in want. If you should fail her now--"

Aynesworth interrupted with a hoarse little laugh.

"Wingrave," he said, "are you playing the simpleton? If Juliet will not take
your money, why should she take mine?"

Wingrave came out from his place. He was standing now between Aynesworth and
the door.

"Aynesworth," he said, "do I understand that you are not going to marry the

"I? Certainly not!" Aynesworth answered.

Wingrave remained quite calm, but there was a terrible light in his eyes.

"Now, for the first time, Aynesworth," he said, "I am glad that you are here.
We are going to have a complete understanding before you leave this room.
Juliet Lundy, as my ward, was, I believe, contented and happy. It suited you
to disturb our relations, and your excuse for doing so was that you loved her.
You took her away from me, and now you say that you do not intend to marry
her. Be so good as to tell me what the devil you do mean!"

Aynesworth laughed a little bitterly.

"You must excuse me," he said, "but a sense of humor was always my undoing,
and this reversal of our positions is a little odd, isn't it? I am not going
to marry Juliet Lundy because she happens not to care for me in that way at
all. My appearance is scarcely that of a joyous lover, is it?"

Wingrave eyed him more closely. Aynesworth had certainly fallen away from the
trim and carefully turned out young man of a few months back. He was paler,
too, and looked older.

"I do not understand this," Wingrave said.

"I do!" Aynesworth answered bitterly. "There is someone else?"

"Someone whom I do not know about?" Wingrave said, frowning heavily. "Who is
he, Aynesworth?"

Aynesworth shrugged his shoulders. He said nothing. Wingrave came a step
nearer to him.

"You may as well tell me." he said quietly, "for I shall postpone my journey
until I know the whole truth."

"It is not my secret," Aynesworth answered. "Ask her yourself!"

"Very well," Wingrave declared, "I will. I shall return to London tonight."

"It is not necessary," Aynesworth remarked.

Wingrave started.

"You mean that she is here?" he exclaimed.

Aynesworth drew him towards the window.

"Come," he said, "you shall ask her now."

Wingrave hesitated for a moment. An odd nervousness seemed to have taken
possession of him.

"I do not understand this, Aynesworth," he said. "Why is she here?"

"Go and ask her your question," Aynesworth said. "Perhaps you will understand

Wingrave went down the path which led to the walled garden and the sea. The
tall hollyhocks brushed against his knees; the air, as mild as springtime, was
fragrant with the perfume of late roses. Wingrave took no note of these
things. Once more he seemed to see coming up the path the little black-frocked
child, with the pale face and the great sad eyes; it was she indeed who rose
so swiftly from the hidden seat. Then Wingrave stopped short for he felt
stirring within him all the long repressed madness of his unlived manhood. It
was the weakness against which he had fought so long and so wearily,
triumphant now, so that his heart beat like a boy's, and the color flamed into
his cheeks. And all the time she was coming nearer, and he saw that the child
had become a woman, and it seemed to him that all the joy of life was alight
in her face, and the one mysterious and wonderful secret of her sex was
shining softly out of her eager eyes. So that, after all, when they met,
Wingrave asked her no questions. She came into his arms with all the graceful
and perfect naturalness of a child who has wandered a little away from home .
. . .

"I am too old for you, dear," he said presently, as they wandered about the
garden, "much too old."

"Age," she answered softly, "what is that? What have we to do with the years
that are past? It is the years to come only which we need consider, and to
think of them makes me almost tremble with happiness. You are much too rich
and too wonderful a personage for a homeless orphan like me; but," she added,
tucking her arm through his with a contented little sigh, "I have you, and I
shall not let you go!"

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