Part 4 out of 6
her brother - the failing, as I think I have told you, was a family
one - and her brother saw this matter only from the point of view of
his own safety.
"A single word to Terence," he had told her, putting his back to
the door of the dressing-room to bar her intended egress, "and you
realise that it will be a court-martial and a firing party for me."
That warning effectively checked her. Yet certain stirrings of
conscience made her think of the man who had imperilled himself for
her sake and her brother's.
"But, Dick, what is to become of Ned? " she had asked him.
"Oh, Ned will be all right. What is the evidence against him after
all? Men are not shot for things they haven't done. Justice will
out, you know. Leave Ned to shift for himself for the present.
Anyhow his danger isn't grave, nor is it immediate, and mine is."
Helplessly distraught, she sank to an ottoman. The night had
been a very trying one for her ladyship. She gave way to tears.
"It is all your fault, Dick," she reproached him.
" Naturally you would blame me," he said with resignation - the
"If only you had been ready at the time, as he told you to be,
there would have been no delays, and you would have got away
before any of this happened."
"Was it my fault that I should have reopened my wound - bad luck to
it! - in attempting to get down that damned ladder?" he asked her.
"Is it my fault that I am neither an ape nor an acrobat? Tremayne
should have come up at once to assist me, instead of waiting until
he had to come up to help me bandage my leg again. Then time would
not have been lost, and very likely my life with it." He came to a
"Your life? What do you mean, Dick?"
"Just that. What are my chances of getting away now?" he asked her.
"Was there ever such infernal luck as mine? The Telemachus will
sail without me, and the only man who could and would have helped
me to get out of this damned country is under arrest. It's clear I
shall have to shift for myself again, and I can't even do that for
a day or two with my leg in this state. I shall have to go back
into that stuffy store-cupboard of yours till God knows when." He
lost all self-control at the prospect and broke into imprecations
of his luck.
She attempted to soothe him. But he wasn't easy to soothe.
"And then," he grumbled on, "you have so little sense that you want
to run straight off to Terence and explain to him what Tremayne
was doing here. You might at least have the grace to wait until I
am off the premises, and give me the mercy of a start before you set
the dogs on my trail."
"Oh, Dick, Dick, you are so cruel!" she protested. "How can you
say such things to me, whose only thought is for you, to save you."
"Then don't talk any more about telling Terence," he replied.
"I won't, Dick. I won't." She drew him down beside her on the
ottoman and her fingers smoothed his rather tumbled red hair, just
as her words attempted to smooth the ruffles in his spirit.
"You know I did didn't realise, or I should not have thought of
it even. I was so concerned for Ned for the moment."
"Don't I tell you there's not the need?" he assured her. "Ned will
be safe enough, devil a doubt. It's for you to keep to what you
told them from the balcony; that you heard a cry, went out to see
what was happening and saw Tremayne there bending over the body.
Not a word more, and not a word less, or it will be all over
With the possible exception of her ladyship, I do not think that
there was much sleep that night at Monsanto for any of the four
chief actors in this tragicomedy. Each had his own preoccupations.
Sylvia's we know. Mr. Butler found his leg troubling him again,
and the pain of the reopened wound must have prevented him from
sleeping even had his anxieties about his immediate future not
sufficed to do so. As for Sir Terence, his was the most deplorable
case of all. This man who had lived a life of simple and downright
honesty in great things and in small, a man who had never stooped
to the slightest prevarication, found himself suddenly launched upon
the most horrible and infamous course of duplicity to encompass the
ruin of another. The offence of that other against himself might
be of the most foul and hideous, a piece of treachery that only
treachery could adequately avenge; yet this consideration was not
enough to appease the clamours of Sir Terence's self-respect.
In the end, however, the primary desire for vengeance and vengeance
of the bitterest kind proved master of his mind. Captain Tremayne
had been led by his villainy into a coil that should presently crush
him, and Sir Terence promised himself an infinite balm for his
outraged honour in the entertainment which the futile struggles of
the victim should provide. With Captain Tremayne lay the cruel
choice of submitting in tortured silence to his fate, or of turning
craven and saving his miserable life by proclaiming himself a
seducer and a betrayer. It should be interesting to observe how
the captain would decide, and his punishment was certain whatever
the decision that he took.
Sir Terence came to breakfast in the open, grey-faced and haggard,
but miraculously composed for a man who had so little studied the
art of concealing his emotions. Voice and glance were calm as he
gave a good-morning to his wife and to Miss Armytage.
"What are you going to do about Ned?" was one of his wife's first
It took him aback. He looked askance at her, marvelling at the
steadiness with which she bore his glance, until it occurred to him
that effrontery was an essential part of the equipment of all
"What am I going to do?" he echoed. "Why, nothing. The matter is
out of my hands. I may be asked to give evidence; I may even be
called to sit upon the court-martial that will try him. My evidence
can hardly assist him. My conclusions will naturally be based upon
the evidence that is laid before the court."
Her teaspoon rattled in her saucer. "I don't understand you,
Terence. Ned has always been your best friend."
"He has certainly shared everything that was mine."
"And you know," she went on, "that he did not kill Samoval."
"Indeed?" His glance quickened a little. "How should I know that?"
"Well . . . I know it, anyway."
He seemed moved by that statement. He leaned forward with an odd
eagerness, behind which there was something terrible that went
unperceived by her.
"Why did you not say so before? How do you know? What do you know?"
"I am sure that he did not."
"Yes, yes. But what makes you so sure? Do you possess some
knowledge that you have not revealed?"
He saw the colour slowly shrinking from her cheeks under his
burning gaze. So she was not quite shameless then, after all.
There were limits to her effrontery.
"What knowledge should I possess?" she filtered.
"That is what I am asking."
She made a good recovery. "I possess the knowledge that you should
possess yourself," she told him. "I know Ned for a man incapable of
such a thing. I am ready to swear that he could not have done it."
"I see: evidence as to character." He sack back into his chair and
thoughtfully stirred his chocolate. "It may weigh with the court.
But I am not the court, and my mere opinions can do nothing for Ned
Her ladyship looked at him wildly. "The court?" she cried. "Do
you mean that I shall have to give evidence?"
"Naturally," he answered. "You will have to say what you saw."
"But - but I saw nothing."
"Something, I think."
"Yes; but nothing that can matter."
"Still the court will wish to hear it and perhaps to examine you
"Oh no, no!" In her alarm shy half rose, then sank again to her
chair. "You must keep me out of this, Terence. I couldn't - I
He laughed with an affectation of indulgence, masking something
"Why," he said, "you would not deprive Tremayne of any of the
advantages to be derived from your testimony? Are you not ready
to bear witness as to his character? To swear that from your
knowledge of the man you are sure he could not have done such a
thing? That he is the very soul of honour, a man incapable of
anything base or treacherous or sly?"
And then at last Sylvia, who had been watching them, and seeking
to apply to what she heard the wild expressions that Sir Terence
had used to herself last night, broke into the conversation.
"Why do you apply these words to Captain Tremayne?" she asked.
He turned sharply to meet the opposition he detected in her. "I
don't apply them. On the contrary, I say that, as Una knows, they
are not applicable."
"Then you make an unnecessary statement, a statement that has
nothing to do with the case. Captain Tremayne has been arrested
for killing Count Samoval in a duel. A duel may be a violation of
the law as recently enacted by Lord Wellington, but it is not an
offence against honour; and to say that a man cannot have fought a
duel because a man is incapable of anything base or treacherous or
sly is just to say a very foolish and meaningless thing."
"Oh, quite so," the adjutant, admitted. "But if Tremayne denies
having fought, if he shelters himself behind a falsehood, and says
that he has not killed Samoval, then I think the statement assumes
"Does Captain Tremayne say that?" she asked him sharply.
"It is what I understood him to say last night when I ordered him
"Then," said Sylvia, with full conviction, "Captain Tremayne did
not do it."
"Perhaps he didn't," Sir Terence admitted. "The court will no doubt
discover the truth. The truth, you know, must prevail," and he
looked at his wife again, marking the fresh signs of agitation she
Mullins coming to set fresh covers, the conversation was allowed to
lapse. Nor was it ever resumed, for at that moment, with no other
announcement save such as was afforded by his quick step and the
click-click of his spurs, a short, slight man entered the quadrangle
from the doorway of the official wing.
The adjutant, turning to look, caught his breath suddenly in an
exclamation of astonishment.
"Lord Wellington!" he cried, and was immediately on his feet.
At the exclamation the new-comer checked and turned. He wore a
plain grey undress frock and white stock, buckskin breeches and
lacquered boots, and he carried a riding-crop tucked under his left
arm. His features were bold and sternly handsome; his fine eyes
singularly piercing and keen in their glance; and the sweep of those
eyes now took in not merely the adjutant, but the spread table and
the ladies seated before it. He halted a moment, then advanced
quickly, swept his cocked hat from a brown head that was but very
slightly touched with grey, and bowed with a mixture of stiffness
and courtliness to the ladies.
"Since I have intruded so unwittingly, I had best remain to make my
apologies," he said. "I was on my way to your residential quarters,
O'Moy, not imagining that I should break in upon your privacy in
O'Moy with a great deference made haste to reassure him on the score
of the intrusion, whilst the ladies themselves rose to greet him.
He bore her ladyship's hand to his lips with perfunctory courtesy,
then insisted upon her resuming her chair. Then he bowed - ever
with that mixture of stiffness and deference - to Miss Armytage
upon her being presented to him by the adjutant.
"Do not suffer me to disturb you," he begged them. "Sit down,
O'Moy. I am not pressed, and I shall be monstrous glad of a few
moments' rest. You are very pleasant here," and he looked about
the luxuriant garden with approving eyes.
Sir Terence placed the hospitality of his table at his lordship's
disposal. But the latter declined graciously.
"A glass of wine and water, if you will. No more. I breakfasted
at Torres Vedras with Fletcher." Then to the look of astonishment
on the faces of the ladies he smiled. "Oh yes," he assured them,
"I was early astir, for time is very precious just at present,
which is why I drop unannounced upon you from the skies, O'Moy."
He took the glass that Mullins proffered on a salver, sipped from
it, and set it down. "There is so much vexation, so much hindrance
from these pestilential intriguers here in Lisbon, that I have
thought it as well to come in person and speak plainly to the
gentlemen of the Council of Regency." He was peeling off his stout
riding-gloves as he spoke. "If this campaign is to go forward at
all, it will go forward as I dispose. Then, too, I wanted to see
Fletcher and the works. By gad, O'Moy, he has performed miracles,
and I am very pleased with him - oh, and with you too. He told me
how ably you have seconded him and counselled him where necessary.
You must have worked night and day, O'Moy." He sighed. "I wish
that I were as well served in every direction." And then he broke
off abruptly. "But this is monstrous tedious for your ladyship,
and for you, Miss Armytage. Forgive me."
Her ladyship protested the contrary, professing a deep interest
in military matters, and inviting his lordship to continue. Lord
Wellington, however, ignoring the invitation, turned the
conversation upon life in Lisbon, inquiring hopefully whether they
found the place afforded them adequate entertainment.
"Indeed yes," Lady O'Moy assured him. "We are very gay at times.
There are private theatricals and dances, occasionally an official
ball, and we are promised picnics and water-parties now that the
summer is here."
"And in the autumn, ma'am, we may find you a little hunting," his
lordship promised them. "Plenty of foxes; a rough country, though;
but what's that to an Irishwoman?" He caught the quickening of
Miss Armytage's eye. "The prospect interests you, I see."
Miss Armytage admitted it, and thus they made conversation for a
while, what time the great soldier sipped his wine and water to
wash the dust of his morning ride from his throat. When at last
he set down an empty glass Sir Terence took this as the intimation
of his readiness to deal with official matters, and, rising, he
announced himself entirely at his lordship's service.
Lord Wellington claimed his attention for a full hour with the
details of several matters that are not immediately concerned with
this narrative. Having done, he rose at last from Sir Terence's
desk, at which he had been sitting, and took up his riding-crop
and cocked hat from the chair where he had placed them.
"And now," he said, "I think I will ride into Lisbon and endeavour
to come to an understanding with Count Redondo and Don Miguel
Sir Terence advanced to open the door. But Wellington checked him
with a sudden sharp inquiry.
"You published my order against duelling, did you not?"
"Immediately upon receiving it, sir."
"Ha! It doesn't seem to have taken long for the order to be
infringed, then." His manner was severe. his eyes stern. Sir
Terence was conscious of a quickening of his pulses. Nevertheless
his answer was calmly regretful:
"I am afraid not."
The great man nodded. "Disgraceful! I heard of it from Fletcher
this morning. Captain What's-his-name had just reported himself
under arrest, I understand, and Fletcher had received a note from
you giving the grounds for this. The deplorable part of these
things is that they always happen in the most troublesome manner
conceivable. In Berkeley's case the victim was a nephew of the
Patriarch's. Samoval, now, was a person of even greater
consequence, a close friend of several members of the Council.
His death will be deeply resented, and may set up fresh
difficulties. It is monstrous vexatious." And abruptly he asked
"What did they quarrel about?"
O'Moy trembled, and his glance avoided the other's gimlet eye.
"The only quarrel that I am aware of between them," he said, "was
concerned with this very enactment of your lordship's. Samoval
proclaimed it infamous, and Tremayne resented the term. Hot words
passed between them, but the altercation was allowed to go no
further at the time by myself and others who were present."
His lordship had raised his brows. "By gad, sir," he ejaculated,
"there almost appears to be some justification for the captain.
He was one of your military secretaries, was he not?"
"Ha! Pity! Pity!" His lordship was thoughtful for a moment.
Then he dismissed the matter. "But then orders are orders, and
soldiers must learn to obey implicitly. British soldiers of all
degrees seem to find the lesson difficult. We must inculcate it
more sternly, that is all."
O'Moy's honest soul was in torturing revolt against the falsehoods
he had implied - and to this man of all men, to this man whom he
reverenced above all others, who stood to him for the very fount
of military honour and lofty principle! He was in such a mood
that one more question on the subject from Wellington and the whole
ghastly truth must have come pouring from his lips. But no other
question came. Instead his lordship turned on the threshold and
held out his hand.
"Not a step farther, O'Moy. I've left you a mass of work, and
you are short of a secretary. So don't waste any of your time on
courtesies. I shall hope still to find the ladies in the garden
so that I may take my leave without inconveniencing them."
And he was gone, stepping briskly with clicking spurs, leaving
O'Moy hunched now in his chair, his body the very expression of the
dejection that filled his soul.
In the garden his lordship came upon Miss Armytage alone, still
seated by the table under the trellis, from which the cloth had by
now been removed. She rose at his approach and in spite of gesture
to her to remain seated.
"I was seeking Lady O'Moy," said he, "to take my leave of her. I
may not have the pleasure of coming to Monsanto again."
"She is on the terrace, I think," said Miss Armytage. "I will
find her for your lordship."
"Let us find her together," he said amiably, and so turned and
went with her towards the archway. "You said your name is
Armytage, I think?" he commented.
"Sir Terence said so."
His eyes twinkled. "You possess an exceptional virtue," said he.
"To be truthful is common; to be accurate rare. Well, then, Sir
Terence said so. Once I had a great friend of the name of Armytage.
I have lost sight of him these many years. We were at school
together in Brussels."
"At Monsieur Goubert's," she surprised him by saying. "That would
be John Armytage, my uncle."
"God bless my soul, ma'am!" he ejaculated. "But I gathered you
were Irish, and Jack Armytage came from Yorkshire."
"My mother is Irish, and we live in Ireland now. I was born there.
But father, none the less, was John Armytage's brother."
He looked at her with increased interest, marking the straight,
supple lines of her, and the handsome, high-bred face. His
lordship, remember, never lacked an appreciative eye for a fine
woman. "So you're Jack Armytage's niece. Give me news of him, my
She did so. Jack Armytage was well and prospering, had made a rich
marriage and retired from the Blues many years ago to live at
Northampton. He listened with interest, and thus out of his boyhood
friendship for her uncle, which of late years he had had no
opportunity to express, sprang there and then a kindness for the
niece. Her own personal charms may have contributed to it, for the
great soldier was intensely responsive to the appeal of beauty.
They reached the terrace. Lady O'Moy was nowhere in sight. But
Lord Wellington was too much engrossed in his discovery to be
"My dear," he said, "if I can serve you at any timer both for Jack's
sake and your own, I hope that you will let me know of it."
She looked at him a moment, and he saw her colour come and go,
arguing a sudden agitation.
"You tempt me, sir," she said, with a wistful smile.
"Then yield to the temptation, child," he urged her kindly, those
keen, penetrating eyes of his perceiving trouble here.
"It isn't for myself," she responded. "Yet there is something I
would ask you if I dare - something I had intended to ask you in
any case if I could find the opportunity. To be frank, that is
why I was waiting there in the garden just now. It was to waylay
you. I hoped for a word with you."
"Well, well," he encouraged her. "It should be the easier now,
since in a sense we find that we are old friends."
He was so kind, so gentle, despite that stern, strong face of his,
that she melted at once to his persuasion.
" It is about Lieutenant Richard Butler," she began.
"Ah," said he lightly, "I feared as much when you said it was
not for yourself you had a favour to ask."
But, looking at him, she instantly perceived how he had
"Mr. Butler," she said, "is the officer who was guilty of the
affair at Tavora."
He knit his brow in thought. "Butler-Tavora?" he muttered
questioningly. Suddenly his memory found what it was seeking.
"Oh yes, the violated nunnery." His thin lips tightened; the
sternness of his ace increased. "Yes?" he inquired, but the
tone was now forbidding.
Nevertheless she was not deterred. "Mr. Butler is Lady O'Moy's
brother," she said.
He stared a moment, taken aback. "Good God! Ye don't say so,
child! Her brother! O'Moy's brother-in-law! And O'Moy never
said a word to me about it.
"What should he say? Sir Terence himself pledged his word to
the Council of Regency that Mr. Butler would be shot when taken."
"Did he, egad!" He was still further surprised out of his
sternness. "Something of a Roman this O'Moy in his conception of
duty! Hum! The Council no doubt demanded this?"
"So I understand, my lord. Lady O'Moy, realising her brother's
grave danger, is very deeply troubled."
"Naturally," he agreed. "But what can I do, Miss Armytage?
What were the actual facts, do you happen to know?"
She recited them, putting the case bravely for the scapegrace Mr.
Butler, dwelling particularly upon the error under which he was
labouring, that he had imagined himself to be knocking at the gates
of a monastery of Dominican friars, that he had broken into the
convent because denied admittance, and because he suspected some
treacherous reason for that denial.
He heard her out, watching her with those keen eyes of his the
"Hum! You make out so good a case for him that one might almost
believe you instructed by the gentleman himself. Yet I gather
that nothing has since been heard of him?"
"Nothing, sir, since he vanished from Tavora, nearly, two months ago.
And I have only repeated to your lordship the tale that was told by
the sergeant and the troopers who reported the matter to Sir Robert
Craufurd on their return."
He was very thoughtful. Leaning on the balustrade, he looked out
across the sunlit valley, turning his boldly chiselled profile to
his companion. At last he spoke slowly, reflectively: "But if this
were really so - a mere blunder - I see no sufficient grounds to
threaten him with capital punishment. His subsequent desertion, if
he has deserted - I mean if nothing has happened to him - is really
the graver matter of the two."
"I gathered, sir, that he was to be sacrificed to the Council of
Regency - a sort of scapegoat."
He swung round sharply, and the sudden blaze of his eyes almost
terrified her. Instantly he was cold again and inscrutable. "Ah!
You are oddly well informed throughout. But of course you would
be," he added, with an appraising look into that intelligent face
in which he now caught a faint likeness of Jack Armytage. "Well,
well, my dear, I am very glad you have told me of this. If Mr.
Butler is ever taken and in danger - there will be a court-martial,
of course - send me word of it, and I will see what I can do, both
for your sake and for the sake of strict justice."
"Oh, not for my sake," she protested, reddening slightly at the
gentle imputation. "Mr. Butler is nothing to me - that is to say,
he is just my cousin. It is for Una's sake that I am asking this."
"Why, then, for Lady O'Moy's sake, since you ask it," he replied
readily. "But," he warned her, "say nothing of it until Mr. Butler
is found." It is possible he believed that Butler never would be
found. "And remember, I promise only to give the matter my
attention. If it is as you represent it, I think you may be sure
that the worst that will befall Mr. Butler will be dismissal from
the service. He deserves that. But I hope I should be the last
man to permit a British officer to be used as a scapegoat or a
burnt-offering to the mob or to any Council of Regency. By the
way, who told you this about a scapegoat?"
"Captain Tremayne? Oh, the man who killed Samoval?"
"He didn't," she cried.
On that almost fierce denial his lordship looked at her, raising
his eyebrows in astonishment.
"But I am told that he did, and he is under arrest for it this
moment - for that, and for breaking my order against duelling."
"You were not told the truth, my lord. Captain Tremayne says that
he didn't, and if he says so it is so."
"Oh, of course, Miss Armytage!" He was a man of unparalleled valour
and boldness, yet so fierce was she in that moment that for the life
of him he dared not have contradicted her.
"Captain Tremayne is the most honourable man I know," she continued,
"and if he had killed Samoval he would never have denied it; he
would have proclaimed it to all the world."
"There is no need for all this heat, my dear," he reassured her.
"The point is not one that can remain in doubt. The seconds of the
duel will be forthcoming; and they will tell us who were the
"There were no seconds," she informed him.
"No seconds!" he cried in horror. "D' ye mean they just fought a
rough and tumble fight?"
"I mean they never fought at all. As for this tale of a duel, I
ask your lordship: Had Captain Tremayne desired a secret meeting
with Count Samoval, would he have chosen this of all places in
which to hold it?"
"This. The fight - whoever fought it - took place in the quadrangle
there at midnight."
He was overcome with astonishment, and he showed it.
"Upon my soul," he said, "I do not appear to have been told any
of the facts. Strange that O'Moy should never have mentioned that,"
he muttered, and then inquired suddenly: "Where was Tremayne
"Here," she informed him.
"Here? He was here, then, at midnight? What was he doing here?"
"I don't know. But whatever he was doing, can your lordship
believe that he would have come here to fight a secret duel?"
"It certainly puts a monstrous strain upon belief," said he. "But
what can he have been doing here?"
"I don't know," she repeated. She wanted to add a warning of O'Moy.
She was tempted to tell his lordship of the odd words that O'Moy
had used to her last night concerning Tremayne. But she hesitated,
and her courage failed her. Lord Wellington was so great a man,
bearing the destinies of nations on his shoulders, and already he
had wasted upon her so much of the time that belonged to the world
and history, that she feared to trespass further; and whilst she
hesitated came Colquhoun Grant clanking across the quadrangle
looking for his lordship. He had come up, he announced, standing
straight and stiff before them, to see O'Moy, but hearing of Lord
Wellington's presence, had preferred to see his lordship in the
"And indeed you arrive very opportunely, Grant," his lordship
He turned to take his leave of Jack Armytage's niece.
"I'll not forget either Mr. Butler or Captain Tremayne," he promised
her, and his stern face softened into a gentle, friendly smile.
"They are very fortunate in their champion."
"A queer, mysterious business this death of Samoval," said Colonel
"So I was beginning to perceive," Wellington agreed, his brow dark.
They were alone together in the quadrangle under the trellis,
through which the sun, already high, was dappling the table at
which his lordship sat.
"It would be easier to read if it were not for the duelling swords.
Those and the nature of Samoval's wound certainly point unanswerably
to a duel. Otherwise there would be considerable evidence that
Samoval was a spy caught in the act and dealt with out of hand as
"How? Count Samoval a spy?"
"In the French interest," answered the colonel without emotion,
"acting upon the instructions of the Souza faction, whose tool he
had become." And Colonel Grant proceeded to relate precisely what
he knew of Samoval.
Lord Wellington sat awhile in silence, cogitating. Then he rose,
and his piercing eyes looked up at the colonel, who stood a good
head taller than himself.
"Is this the evidence of which you spoke?"
"By no means," was the answer. "The evidence I have secured is
much more palpable. I have it here." He produced a little wallet of
red morocco bearing the initial "S " surmounted by a coronet.
Opening it, he selected from it some papers, speaking the while.
"I thought it as well before I left last night to make an examination
of the body. This is what I found, and it contains, among other
lesser documents, these to which I would draw your lordship's
attention. First this." And he placed in Lord Wellington's hand a
holograph note from the Prince of Esslingen introducing the bearer,
M. de la Fleche, his confidential agent, who would consult with the
Count, and thanking the Count for the valuable information already
received from him.
His lordship sat down again to read the letter. "It is a full
confirmation of what you have told me," he said calmly.
"Then this," said Colonel Grant, and he placed upon the table a
note in French of the approximate number and disposition of the
British troops in Portugal at the time. "The handwriting is
Samoval's own, as those who know it will have no difficulty in
discerning. And now this, sir." He unfolded a small sketch map,
bearing the title also in French: Probable position and extent of
the fortifications north of Lisbon.
"The notes at the foot," he added, "are in cipher, and it is the
ordinary cipher employed by the French, which in itself proves how
deeply Samoval was involved. Here is a translation of it." And he
placed before his chief a sheet of paper on which Lord Wellington
"This is based upon my own personal knowledge of the country, odd
scraps of information received from time to time, and my personal
verification of the roads closed to traffic in that region. It is
intended merely as a guide to the actual locale of the
fortifications, an exact plan of which I hope shortly to obtain."
His lordship considered it very attentively, but without betraying
the least discomposure.
"For a man working upon such slight data as he himself confesses,"
was the quiet comment, "he is damnably accurate. It is as well, I
think, that this did not reach Marshal Massena."
"My own assumption is that he put off sending it, intending to
replace it by the actual plan - which he here confesses to the
expectation of obtaining shortly."
"I think he died at the right moment. Anything else?"
"Indeed," said Colonel Grant, "I have kept the best for the last."
And unfolding yet another document, he placed it in the hands of
the Commander-in-Chief. It was Lord Liverpool's note of the troops
to be embarked for Lisbon in June and July - the note abstracted
from the dispatch carried by Captain Garfield.
His lordship's lips tightened as he considered it. "His death was
timely indeed, damned timely; and the man who killed him deserves
to be mentioned in dispatches. Nothing else, I suppose?"
"The rest is of little consequence, sir."
"Very well." He rose. "You will leave these with me, and the
wallet as well, if you please. I am on my way to confer with the
members of the Council of Regency, and I am glad to go armed with
so stout a weapon as this. Whatever may be the ultimate finding of
the court-martial, the present assumption must be that Samoval met
the death of a spy caught in the act, as you suggested. That is
the only conclusion the Portuguese Government can draw when I lay
these papers before it. They will effectively silence all protests."
"Shall I tell O'Moy?" inquired the colonel.
"Oh, certainly," answered his lordship, instantly to change his
mind. "Stay!" He considered, his chin in his hand, his eyes dreamy.
"Better not, perhaps. Better not tell anybody. Let us keep this
to ourselves for the present. It has no direct bearing on the
matter to be tried. By the way, when does the court-martial sit?"
"I have just heard that Marshal Beresford has ordered it to sit on
Thursday here at Monsanto."
His lordship considered. "Perhaps I shall be present. I may be at
Torres Vedras until then. It is a very odd affair. What is your
own impression of it, Grant? Have you formed any?"
Grant smiled darkly. "I have been piecing things together. The
result is rather curious, and still very mystifying, still leaving a
deal to be explained, and somehow this wallet doesn't fit into the
scheme at all."
"You shall tell me about it as we ride into Lisbon. I want you
to come with me. Lady O'Moy must forgive me if I take French
leave, since she is nowhere to be found."
The truth was, that her ladyship had purposely gone into hiding,
after the fashion of suffering animals that are denied expression
of their pain. She had gone off with her load of sorrow and
anxiety into the thicket on the flank of Monsanto, and there Sylvia
found her presently, dejectedly seated by a spring on a bank that
was thick with flowering violets. Her ladyship was in tears, her
mind swollen to bursting-point by the secret which it sought to
contain but felt itself certainly unable to contain much longer.
"Why, Una dear," cried Miss Armytage, kneeling beside her and
putting a motherly arm about that full-grown child, "what is this?"
Her ladyship wept copiously, the springs of her grief gushing forth
in response to that sympathetic touch.
"Oh, my dear, I am so distressed. I shall go mad, I think. I am
sure I have never deserved all this trouble. I have always been
considerate of others. You know I wouldn't give pain to any one.
And - and Dick has always been so thoughtless."
"Dick?" said Miss Armytage, and there was less sympathy in
her voice. "It is Dick you are thinking about at present?"
"Of course. All this trouble has come through Dick. I mean,"
she recovered, "that all my troubles began with this affair of
Dick's. And now there is Ned under arrest and to be
"But what has Captain Tremayne to do with Dick? "
"Nothing, of course," her ladyship agreed, with more than usual
self-restraint. "But it's one trouble on another. Oh, it's more
than I can bear."
"I know, my dear, I know," Miss Armytage said soothingly, and her
own voice was not so steady.
"You don't know! How can you? It isn't your brother or your
friend. It isn't as if you cared very much for either of them.
If you did, if you loved Dick or Ned, you might realise what I am
Miss Armytage's eyes looked straight ahead into the thick green
foliage, and there was an odd smile, half wistful, half scornful,
on her lips.
"Yet I have done what I could," she said presently. "I have
spoken to Lord Wellington about them both."
Lady O'Moy checked her tears to look at her companion, and there was
dread in her eyes.
"You have spoken to Lord Wellington?"
"Yes. The opportunity came, and I took it."
"And whatever did you tell him?" She was all a-tremble now, as she
clutched Miss Armytage's hand.
Miss Armytage related what had passed; how she had explained the
true facts of Dick's case to his lordship; how she had protested
her faith that Tremayne was incapable of lying, and that if he said
he had not killed Samoval it was certain that he had not done so;
and, finally, how his lordship had promised to bear both cases in his
"That doesn't seem very much," her ladyship complained.
"But he said that he would never allow a British officer to be made
a scapegoat, and that if things proved to be as I stated them he
would see that the worst that happened to Dick would be his dismissal
from the army. He asked me to let him know immediately if Dick
More than ever was her ladyship on the very edge of confiding.
A chance word might have broken down the last barrier of her will.
But that word was not spoken, and so she was given the opportunity
of first consulting her brother.
He laughed when he heard the story.
"A trap to take me, that's all," he pronounced it. "My dear girl,
that stiff-necked martinet knows nothing of forgiveness for a
military offence. Discipline is the god at whose shrine he worships."
And he afforded her anecdotes to illustrate and confirm his assertion
of Lord Wellington's ruthlessness. "I tell you," he concluded, "it's
nothing but a trap to catch me. And if you had been fool enough to
yield, and to have blabbed of my presence to Sylvia, you would have
had it proved to you."
She was terrified and of course convinced, for she was easy of
conviction, believing always the last person to whom she spoke. She
sat down on one of the boxes that furnished that cheerless refuge
of Mr. Butler's.
"Then what's to become of Ned?" she cried. "Oh, I had hoped that
we had found a way out at last."
He raised himself on his elbow on the camp-bed they had fitted
up for him.
"Be easy now," he bade her impatiently. "They can't do anything to
Ned until they find him guilty; and how are they going to find him
guilty when he's innocent?"
"Yes; but the appearances!"
"Fiddlesticks!" he answered her - and the expression chosen was a
mere concession to her sex, and not at all what Mr. Butler intended.
"Appearances can't establish guilt. Do be sensible, and remember
that they will have to prove that he killed Samoval. And you can't
prove a thing to be what it isn't. You can't!"
"Are you sure?"
"Certain sure," he replied with emphasis.
"Do you know that I shall have to give evidence before the court?"
she announced resentfully.
It was an announcement that gave him pause. Thoughtfully he stroked
his abominable tuft of red beard. Then he dismissed the matter with
a shrug and a smile.
"Well, and what of it?" he cried. "They are not likely to bully
you or cross-examine you. Just tell them what you saw from the
balcony. Indeed you can't very well say anything else, or they
will see that you are lying, and then heaven alone knows what may
happen to you, as well as to me."
She got up in a pet. "You're callous, Dick - callous!" she told
him. "Oh, I wish you had never come to me for shelter."
He looked at her and sneered. "That's a matter you can soon mend,"
he told her. "Call up Terence and the others and have me shot. I
promise I shall make no resistance. You see, I'm not able to resist
even if I would."
"Oh, how can you think it?" She was indignant.
"Well, what is a poor devil to think? You blow hot and cold all in
a breath. I'm sick and ill and feverish," he continued with
self-pity, "and now even you find me a trouble. I wish to God
they'd shoot me and make an end. I'm sure it would be best for
And now she was on her knees beside him, soothing him; protesting
that he had misunderstood her; that she had meant - oh, she didn't
know what she had meant, she was so distressed on his account.
"And there's never the need to be," he assured her. "Surely you
can be guided by me if you want to help me. As soon as ever my
leg gets well again I'll be after fending for myself, and trouble
you no further. But if you want to shelter me until then, do it
thoroughly, and don't give way to fear at every shadow without
substance that falls across your path."
She promised it, and on that promise left him; and, believing him,
she bore herself more cheerfully for the remainder of the day. But
that evening after they had dined her fears and anxieties drove her
at last to seek her natural and legal protector.
Sir Terence had sauntered off towards the house, gloomy and silent
as he had been throughout the meal. She ran after him now, and came
tripping lightly at his side up the steps. She put her arm through
"Terence dear, you are not going back to work again?" she pleaded.
He stopped, and from his fine height looked down upon her with a
curious smile. Slowly he disengaged his arm from the clasp of her
own. "I am afraid I must," he answered coldly. "I have a great
deal to do, and I am short of a secretary. When this inquiry is
over I shall have more time to myself, perhaps." There was something
so repellent in his voice, in his manner of uttering those last words,
that she stood rebuffed and watched him vanish into the building.
Then she stamped her foot and her pretty mouth trembled.
"Oaf!" she said aloud.
The board of officers convened by Marshal Beresford to form the
court that was to try Captain Tremayne, was presided over by
General Sir Harry Stapleton, who was in command of the British
troops quartered in Lisbon. It included, amongst others, the
adjutant-general, Sir Terence O'Moy; Colonel Fletcher of the
Engineers, who had come in haste from Torres Vedras, having first
desired to be included in the board chiefly on account of his
friendship for Tremayne; and Major Carruthers. The judge-advocate's
task of conducting the case against the prisoner was deputed to the
quartermaster of Tremayne's own regiment, Major Swan.
The court sat in a long, cheerless hall, once the refectory of the
Franciscans, who had been the first tenants of Monsanto. It was
stone-flagged, the windows set at a height of some ten feet from the
ground, the bare, whitewashed walls hung with very wooden portraits
of long-departed kings and princes of Portugal who had been
benefactors of the order.
The court occupied the abbot's table, which was set on a shallow
dais at the end of the room - a table of stone with a covering of
oak, over which a green cloth had been spread; the officers - twelve
in number, besides the president - sat with their backs to the wall,
immediately under the inevitable picture of the Last Supper.
The court being sworn, Captain Tremayne was brought in by the
provost-marshal's guard and given a stool placed immediately before
and a few paces from the table. Perfectly calm and imperturbable,
he saluted the court, and sat down, his guards remaining some paces
He had declined all offers of a friend to represent him, on the
grounds that the court could not possibly afford him a case to
The president, a florid, rather pompous man, who spoke with a
faint lisp, cleared his throat and read the charge against the
prisoner from the sheet with which he had been supplied - the
charge of having violated the recent enactment against duelling made
by the Commander-in-Chief of his Majesty's forces in the Peninsula,
in so far as he had fought: a duel with Count Jeronymo de Samoval,
and of murder in so far as that duel, conducted in an irregular
manner, and without any witnesses, had resulted in the death of the
said Count Jeronymo de Samoval.
"How say you, then, Captain Tremayne?" the judge-advocate
challenged him. "Are you guilty of these charges or not guilty?"
The president sat back and observed the prisoner with an eye that
was officially benign. Tremayne's glance considered the court and
met the concerned and grave regard of his colonel, of his friend
Carruthers and of two other friends of his own regiment, the cold
indifference of three officers of the Fourteenth - then stationed
in Lisbon with whom he was unacquainted, and the utter inscrutability
of O'Moy's rather lowering glance, which profoundly intrigued him,
and, lastly, the official hostility of Major Swan, who was on his
feet setting forth the case against him. Of the remaining members
of the court he took no heed.
>From the opening address it did not seem to Captain Tremayne as if
this case - which had been hurriedly prepared by Major Swan, chiefly
that same morning would amount to very much. Briefly the major
announced his intention of establishing to the satisfaction of the
court how, on the night of the 28th of May, the prisoner, in flagrant
violation of an enactment in a general order of the 26th of that
same month, had engaged in a duel with Count Jeronymo de Samoval, a
peer of the realm of Portugal.
Followed a short statement of the case from the point of view of the
prosecution, an anticipation of the evidence to be called, upon
which the major thought - rather sanguinely, opined Captain Tremayne
- to convict the accused. He concluded with an assurance that the
evidence of the prisoner's guilt was as nearly direct as evidence
could be in a case of murder.
The first witness called was the butler, Mullins. He was introduced
by the sergeant-major stationed by the double doors at the end of
the hall from the ante-room where the witnesses commanded to
be present were in waiting.
Mullins, rather less venerable than usual, as a consequence of
agitation and affliction on behalf of Captain Tremayne, to whom he
was attached, stated nervously the facts within his knowledge. He
was occupied with the silver in his pantry, having remained up in
case Sir Terence, who was working late in his study, should require
anything before going to bed. Sir Terence called him, and -
"At what time did Sir Terence call you?" asked the major.
"It was ten minutes past twelve, sir, by the clock in my pantry."
"You are sure that the clock was right?"
"Quite sure, sir; I had put it right that same evening."
"Very well, then. Sir Terence called you at ten minutes past
twelve. Pray continue."
"He gave me a letter addressed to the Commissary-general. 'Take
that,' says he, 'to the sergeant of the guard at once, and tell him
to be sure that it is forwarded to the Commissary-General first
thing in the morning.' I went out at once, and on the lawn in the
quadrangle I saw a man lying on his back on the grass and another man
kneeling beside him. I ran across to them. It was a bright,
moonlight night - bright as day it was, and you could see quite clear.
The gentleman that was kneeling looks up, at me, and I sees it was
Captain Tremayne, sir. 'What's this, Captain dear?' says I. 'It's
Count Samoval, and he's kilt,' says he, 'for God's sake, go and fetch
somebody.' So I ran back to tell Sir Terence, and Sir Terence he
came out with me, and mighty startled he was at what he found there.
'What's happened ?'says he, and the captain answers him just as he
had answered me: 'It's Count Samoval, and he's kilt. 'But how did
it happen?' says Sir Terence. 'Sure and that's just what I want to
know,' says the captain; 'I found him here.' And then Sir Terence
turns to me, and 'Mullins,' says he, 'just fetch the guard,' and of
course, I went at once."
"Was there any one else present?" asked the prosecutor.
"Not in the quadrangle, sir. But Lady O'Moy was on the balcony of
her room all the time."
"Well, then, you fetched the guard. What happened when you returned?"
"Colonel Grant arrived, sir, and I understood him to say that he
had been following Count Samoval ... "
"Which way did Colonel Grant come?" put in the president.
"By the gate from the terrace."
"Was it open?"
"No, sir. Sir Terence himself went to open the wicket when Colonel
Sir Harry nodded and Major Swan resumed the examination.
"What happened next?"
"Sir Terence ordered the captain under arrest."
"Did Captain Tremayne submit at once?"
"Well, not quite at once, sir. He naturally made some bother.
'Good God!' he says, 'ye'll never be after thinking I kilt him? I
tell you I just found him here like this.' 'What were ye doing here,
then?' says Sir Terence. 'I was coming to see you,' says the
captain. 'What about?' says Sir Terence, and with that the captain
got angry, said he refused to be cross-questioned and went off to
report himself under arrest as he was bid."
That closed the butler's evidence, and the judge-advocate looked
across at the prisoner.
"Have you any questions for the witness?" he inquired.
"None," replied Captain Tremayne. "He has given his evidence very
faithfully and accurately."
Major Swan invited the court to question the witness in any manner
it considered desirable. The only one to avail himself of the
invitation was Carruthers, who, out of his friendship and concern
for Tremayne - and a conviction of Tremayne's innocence begotten
chiefly by that friendship desired to bring out anything that might
tell in his favour.
"What was Captain Tremayne's bearing when he spoke to you and to Sir
"Quite as usual, sir."
"He was quite calm, not at all perturbed?"
"Devil a bit; not until Sir Terence ordered him under arrest, and
then he was a little hot."
"Thank you, Mullins."
Dismissed by the court, Mullins would have departed, but that upon
being told by the sergeant-major that he was at liberty to remain
if he chose he found a seat on one of the benches ranged against the
The next witness was Sir Terence, who gave his evidence quietly from
his place at the board immediately on the president's right. He was
pale, but otherwise composed, and the first part of his evidence was
no more than a confirmation of what Mullins had said, an exact and
strictly truthful statement of the circumstances as he had witnessed
them from the moment when Mullins had summoned him.
"You were present, I believe, Sir Terence," said Major Swan, "at an
altercation that arose on the previous day between Captain Tremayne
and the deceased? "
"Yes. It happened at lunch here at Monsanto."
"What was the nature of it?"
"Count Samoval permitted himself to criticise adversely Lord
Wellington's enactment against duelling, and Captain Tremayne
defended it. They became a little heated, and the fact was
mentioned that Samoval himself was a famous swordsman. Captain
Tremayne made the remark that famous swordsmen were required by
Count Samoval's country to, save it from invasion. The remark was
offensive to the deceased, and although the subject was abandoned
out of regard for the ladies present, it was abandoned on a threat
from Count Samoval to continue it later."
"Was it so continued?"
"Of that I have no knowledge."
Invited to cross-examine the witness, Captain Tremayne again
declined, admitting freely that all that Sir Terence had said was
strictly true. Then Carruthers, who appeared to be intent to act as
the prisoner's friend, took up the examination of his chief.
"It is of course admitted that Captain Tremayne enjoyed free access
to Monsanto practically at all hours in his capacity as your military
secretary, Sir Terence?"
"Admitted," said Sir Terence.
"And it is therefore possible that he might have come upon the body
of the deceased just as Mullins came upon it?"
"It is possible, certainly. The evidence to come will no doubt
determine whether it is a tenable opinion."
"Admitting this, then, the attitude in which Captain Tremayne was
discovered would be a perfectly natural one? It would be natural
that he should investigate the identity and hurt of the man he found
"But it would hardly be natural that he should linger by the body
of a man he had himself slain, thereby incurring the risk of being
"That is a question for the court rather than for me."
"Thank you, Sir Terence." And, as no one else desired to question
him, Sir Terence resumed his seat, and Lady O'Moy was called.
She came in very white and trembling, accompanied by Miss Armytage,
whose admittance was suffered by the court, since she would not be
called upon to give evidence. One of the officers of the Fourteenth
seated on the extreme right of the table made gallant haste to set a
chair for her ladyship, which she accepted gratefully.
The oath administered, she was invited gently by Major Swan to tell
the court what she knew of the case before them.
"But - but I know nothing," she faltered in evident distress, and
Sir Terence, his elbow leaning on the table, covered his mouth with
his hand that its movements might not betray him. His eyes glowered
upon her with a ferocity that was hardly dissembled.
"If you will take the trouble to tell the court what you saw from
your balcony," the major insisted, "the court will be grateful."
Perceiving her agitation, and attributing it to nervousness, moved
also by that delicate loveliness of hers, and by deference to the
adjutant-generates lady, Sir Harry Stapleton intervened.
"Is Lady O'Moy's evidence really necessary?" he asked. "Does it
contribute any fresh fact regarding the discovery of the body?"
"No, sir," Major Swan admitted. "It is merely a corroboration
of what we have already heard from Mullins and Sir Terence."
"Then why unnecessarily distress this lady?"
"Oh, for my own part, sir - " the prosecutor was submitting, when
Sir Terence cut in:
"I think that in the prisoner's interest perhaps Lady O'Moy will
not mind being distressed a little." It was at her he looked, and
for her and Tremayne alone that he intended the cutting lash of
sarcasm concealed from the rest of the court by his smooth accent.
"Mullins has said, I think, that her ladyship was on the balcony
when he came into the quadrangle. Her evidence therefore, takes us
further back in point of time than does Mullins's." Again the
sarcastic double meaning was only for those two. "Considering that
the prisoner is being tried for his life, I do not think we should
miss anything that may, however slightly, affect our judgment."
"Sir Terence is right, I think, sir," the judge-advocate supported.
"Very well, then," said the president. "Proceed, if you please."
"Will you be good enough to tell the court, Lady O'Moy, how you
came to be upon the balcony?"
Her pallor had deepened, and her eyes looked more than ordinarily
large and child-like as they turned this way and that to survey the
members of the court. Nervously she dabbed her lips with a
handkerchief before answering mechanically as she had been schooled:
"I heard a cry, and I ran out - "
"You were in bed at the time, of course?" quoth her husband,
"What on earth has that to do with it, Sir Terence?" the president
rebuked him, out of his earnest desire to cut this examination as
short as possible.
"The question, sir, does not seem to me to be without point,"
replied O'Moy. He was judicially smooth and self-contained. "It is
intended to enable us to form an opinion as to the lapse of time
between her ladyship's hearing the cry and reaching the balcony."
Grudgingly the president admitted the point, and the question was
"Ye-es," came Lady O'Moy's tremulous, faltering answer, "I was in
"But not asleep - or were you asleep?" rapped O'Moy again, and in
answer to the president's impatient glance again explained himself:
"We should know whether perhaps the cry might not have been repeated
several times before her ladyship heard it. That is of value."
"It would be more regular," ventured the judge-advocate, "if Sir
Terence would reserve his examination of the witness until she has
given her evidence."
"Very well," grumbled Sir Terence, and he sat back, foiled for the
moment in his deliberate intent to torture her into admissions that
must betray her if made.
"I was not asleep," she told the court, thus answering her husband's
last question. "I heard the cry, and ran to the balcony at once.
That - that is all."
"But what did you see from the balcony?" asked Major Swan.
"It was night, and of course - it - it was dark," she answered.
"Surely not dark, Lady O'Moy? There was a moon, I think - a
"Yes; but - but - there was a good deal of shadow in the garden,
and - and I couldn't see anything at first."
"But you did eventually?"
"Oh, eventually! Yes, eventually." Her fingers were twisting and
untwisting the handkerchief they held, and her distressed loveliness
was very piteous to see. Yet it seems to have occurred to none of
them that this distress and the minor contradictions into which
it led her were the result of her intent to conceal the truth, of
her terror lest it should nevertheless be wrung from her. Only
O'Moy, watching her and reading in her every word and glance and
gesture the signs of her falsehood, knew the hideous thing she
strove to hide, even, it seemed, at the cost of her lover's life.
To his lacerated soul her torture vas a balm. Gloating, he watched
her, then, and watched her lover, marvelling at the blackguard's
complete self-mastery and impassivity even now.
Major Swan was urging her gently.
"Eventually, then, what was it that you saw?"
"I saw a man lying on the ground, and another kneeling over him,
and then - almost at once - Mullins came out, and - "
"I don't think we need take this any further, Major Swan," the
president again interposed. "We have heard what happened after
Mullins came out."
"Unless the prisoner wishes - " began the judge-advocate.
"By no means," said Tremayne composedly. Although outwardly
impassive, he had been watching her intently, and it was his eyes
that had perturbed her more than anything in that court. It was
she who must determine for him how to proceed; how far to defend
himself. He had hoped that by now Dick Butler might have been got
away, so that it would have been safe to tell the whole truth,
although he began to doubt how far that could avail him, how far,
indeed, it would be believed in the absence of Dick Butler. Her
evidence told him that such hopes as he may have entertained had
been idle, and that he must depend for his life simply upon the
court's inability to bring the guilt home to him. In this he had
some confidence, for, knowing himself innocent, it seemed to him
incredible that he could be proven guilty. Failing that, nothing
short of the discovery of the real slayer of Samoval could save him
- and that was a matter wrapped in the profoundest mystery. The
only man who could conceivably have fought Samoval in such a place
was Sir Terence himself. But then it was utterly inconceivable that
in that case Sir Terence, who was the very soul of honour, should
not only keep silent and allow another man to suffer, but actually
sit there in judgment upon that other; and, besides, there was no
quarrel, nor ever had been, between Sir Terence and Samoval.
"There is," Major Swan was saying, "just one other matter upon
which I should like to question Lady O'Moy." And thereupon he
proceeded to do so: "Your ladyship will remember that on the day
before the event in which Count Samoval met his death he was one
of a small luncheon party at your house here in Monsanto."
"Yes," she replied, wondering fearfully what might be coming now.
"Would your ladyship be good enough to tell the court who were the
other members of that party?"
"It - it was hardly a party, sir," she answered, with her
unconquerable insistence upon trifles. "We were just Sir Terence
and myself, Miss Armytage, Count Samoval, Colonel Grant, Major
Carruthers and Captain Tremayne."
"Can your ladyship recall any words that passed between the
deceased and Captain Tremayne on that occasion - words of
disagreement, I mean?"
She knew that there had been something, but in her benumbed state
of mind she was incapable of remembering what it was. All that
remained in her memory was Sylvia's warning after she and her
cousin had left the table, Sylvia's insistence that she should call
Captain Tremayne away to avoid trouble between himself and the
Count. But, search as she would, the actual subject of disagreement
eluded her. Moreover, it occurred to her suddenly, and sowed fresh
terror in her soul, that, whatever it was, it would tell against
"I - I am afraid I don't remember," she faltered at last.
"Try to think, Lady O'Moy."
" I - I have tried. But I - I can't." Her voice had fallen almost
to a whisper.
"Need we insist?" put in the president compassionately. "There are
sufficient witnesses as to what passed on that occasion without
further harassing her ladyship."
"Quite so, sir," the major agreed in his dry voice. "It only
remains for the prisoner to question the witness if he so wishes."
Tremayne shook his head. "It is quite unnecessary, sir," he assured
the president, and never saw the swift, grim smile that flashed
across Sir Terence's stern face.
Of the court Sir Terence was the only member who could have desired
to prolong the painful examination of her ladyship. But he perceived
from the president's attitude that he could not do so without
betraying the vindictiveness actuating him; and so he remained silent
for the present. He would have gone so far as to suggest that her
ladyship should be invited to remain in court against the possibility
of further evidence being presently required from her but that he
perceived there was no necessity to do so. Her deadly anxiety
concerning the prisoner must in itself be sufficient to determine her
to remain, as indeed it proved. Accompanied and half supported by
Miss Armytage, who was almost as pale as herself, but otherwise very
steady in her bearing, Lady O'Moy made her way, with faltering steps
to the benches ranged against the side wall, and sat there to hear
the remainder of the proceedings.
After the uninteresting and perfunctory evidence of the sergeant of
the guard who had been present when the prisoner was ordered under
arrest, the next witness called was Colonel Grant. His testimony
was strictly in accordance with the facts which we know him to have
witnessed, but when he was in the middle of his statement an
At the extreme right of the dais on which the table stood there
was a small oaken door set in the wall and giving access to a small
ante-room that was known, rightly or wrongly, as the abbot's chamber.
That anteroom communicated directly with what was now the guardroom,
which accounts for the new-comer being ushered in that way by the
corporal at the time.
At the opening of that door the members of the court looked round
in sharp annoyance, suspecting here some impertinent intrusion.
The next moment, however, this was changed to respectful surprise.
There was a scraping of chairs and they were all on their feet in
token of respect for the slight man in the grey undress frock who
entered. It was Lord Wellington.
Saluting the members of the court with two fingers to his cocked
hat, he immediately desired them to sit, peremptorily waving his
hand, and requesting the president not to allow his entrance to
interrupt or interfere with the course of the inquiry.
"A chair here for me, if you please, sergeant," he called and, when
it was fetched, took his seat at the end of the table, with his back
to the door through which he had come and immediately facing the
prosecutor. He retained his hat, but placed his riding-crop on the
table before him; and the only thing he would accept was an officer's
notes of the proceedings as far as they had gone, which that officer
himself was prompt to offer. With a repeated injunction to the
court to proceed, Lord Wellington became instantly absorbed in the
study of these notes.
Colonel Grant, standing very straight and stiff in the originally
red coat which exposure to many weathers had faded to an autumnal
brown, continued and concluded his statement of what he had seen
and heard on the night of the 28th of May in the garden at Monsanto.
The judge-advocate now invited him to turn his memory back to the
luncheon-party at Sir Terence's on the 27th, and to tell the court
of the altercation that had passed on that occasion between Captain
Tremayne and Count Samoval.
"The conversation at table," he replied, "turned, as was perhaps
quite natural, upon the recently published general order prohibiting
duelling and making it a capital offence for officers in his
Majesty's service in the Peninsula. Count Samoval stigmatised the
order as a degrading and arbitrary one, and spoke in defence of
single combat as the only honourable method of settling differences
between gentlemen. Captain Tremayne dissented rather sharply, and
appeared to resent the term 'degrading' applied by the Count to the
enactment. Words followed, and then some one - Lady O'Moy, I think,
and as I imagine with intent to soothe the feelings of Count Samoval,
which appeared to be ruffled - appealed to his vanity by mentioning
the fact that he was himself a famous swordsman. To this Captain
Tremayne's observation was a rather unfortunate one, although I must
confess that I was fully in sympathy with it at the time. He said,
as nearly as I remember, that at the moment Portugal was in urgent
need of famous swords to defend her from invasion and not to
increase the disorders at home."
Lord Wellington looked up from the notes and thoughtfully stroked
his high-bridged nose. His stern, handsome face was coldly
impassive, his fine eyes resting upon the prisoner, but his attention
all to what Colonel Grant was saying.
"It was a remark of which Samoval betrayed the bitterest resentment.
He demanded of Captain Tremayne that he should be more precise, and
Tremayne replied that, whilst he had spoken generally, Samoval was
welcome to the cap if he found it fitted him. To that he added a
suggestion that, as the conversation appeared to be tiresome to the
ladies, it would be better to change its topic. Count Samoval
consented, but with the promise, rather threateningly delivered,
that it should be continued at another time. That, sir, is all,
"Have you any questions for the witness, Captain Tremayne?" inquired
As before, Captain Tremayne's answer was in the negative, coupled
with the now usual admission that Colonel Grant's statement accorded
perfectly with iris own recollection of the facts.
The court, however, desired enlightenment on several subjects. Came
first of all Carruthers's inquiries as to the bearing of the prisoner
when ordered under arrest, eliciting from Colonel Grant a variant of
the usual reply.
"It was not inconsistent with innocence," he said.
It was an answer which appeared to startle the court, and perhaps
Carruthers would have acted best in Tremayne's interest had he left
the question there. But having obtained so much he eagerly sought
"Would you say that it was inconsistent with guilt?" he cried.
Colonel Grant smiled slowly, and slowly shook his head. "I fear I
could not go so far, as that," he answered, thereby plunging poor
Carruthers into despair.
And now Colonel Fletcher voiced a question agitating the minds of
several members of the count.
"Colonel Grant," he said, "you have told us that on the night in
question you had Count Samoval under observation, and that upon word
being brought to you of his movements by one of your agents you
yourself followed him to Monsanto. Would you be good enough to tell
the court why you were watching the deceased's movements at the time?"
Colonel Grant glanced at Lord Wellington. He smiled a little
reflectively and shook his head.
"I am afraid that the public interest will not allow me to answer
your question. Since, however, Lord Wellington himself is present,
I would suggest that you ask his lordship whether I am to give you
the information you require."
"Certainly not," said his lordship crisply, without awaiting further
question. "Indeed, one of my reasons for being present is to ensure
that nothing on that score shall transpire."
There followed a moment's silence. Then the president ventured a
question. "May we ask, sir, at least whether Colonel Grant's
observation of Count Samoval resulted from any knowledge of, or
expectation of, this duel that was impending?"
"Certainly you may ask that," Lord Wellington., consented.
"It did not, sir," said Colonel Grant in answer to the question.
"What grounds had you, Colonel Grant, for assuming that Count Samoval
was going to Monsanto?" the president asked.
"Chiefly the direction taken."
"And nothing else?"
"I think we are upon forbidden ground again," said Colonel Grant,
and again he looked at Lord Wellington for direction.
"I do not see the point of the question," said Lord Wellington,
replying to that glance. "Colonel Grant has quite plainly informed
the court that his observation of Count Samoval had no slightest
connection with this duel, nor was inspired by any knowledge or
suspicion on his part that any such duel was to be fought. With
that I think the court should be content. It has been necessary
for Colonel Grant to explain to the court his own presence at
Monsanto at midnight on the 28th. It would have been better,
perhaps, had he simply stated that it was fortuitous, although I
can understand that the court might have hesitated to accept such
a statement. That, however, is really all that concerns the matter.
Colonel Grant happened to be there. That is all that the court
need remember. Let me add the assurance that it would not in the
least assist the court to know more, so far as the case under
consideration is concerned."
In view of that the president notified that he had nothing further
to ask the witness, and Colonel Grant saluted and withdrew to a
seat near Lady O'Moy.
There followed the evidence of Major Carruthers with regard to the
dispute between Count Samoval and Captain Tremayne, which
substantially bore out what Sir Terence and Colonel Grant had
already said, notwithstanding that it manifested a strong bias in
favour of the prisoner.
"The conversation which Samoval threatened to resume does not appear
to have been resumed," he added in conclusion.
"How can you say that?" Major Swan asked him.
"I may state my opinion, sir," flashed Carruthers, his chubby face
"Indeed, sir, you may not," the president assured him. "You are
upon oath to give evidence of facts directly within your own
"It is directly within my own personal knowledge that Captain
Tremayne was called away from the table by Lady O'Moy, and that he
did not have another opportunity of speaking with Count Samoval that
day. I saw the Count leave shortly after, and at the time Captain
Tremayne was still with her ladyship - as her ladyship can testify
if necessary. He spent the remainder of the afternoon with me at
work, and we went home together in the evening. We share the same
lodging in Alcantara."
"There was still all of the next day," said Sir Harry. "Do you
say that the prisoner was never out of your sight on that day too?"
"I do not; but I can't believe - "
"I am afraid you are going to state opinions again," Major Swan
"Yet it is evidence of a kind," insisted Carruthers, with the
tenacity of a bull-dog. He looked as if he would make it a personal
matter between himself and Major Swan if he were not allowed to
proceed. "I can't believe that Captain Tremayne would have embroiled
himself further with Count Samoval. Captain Tremayne has too high a
regard for discipline and for orders, and he is the least excitable
man I have ever known. Nor do I believe that he would have consented
to meet Samoval without my knowledge."
"Not perhaps unless Captain Tremayne desired to keep the matter
secret, in view of the general order, which is precisely what it is
contended that he did."
"Falsely contended, then," snapped Major Carruthers, to be instantly
rebuked by the president.
He sat down in a huff, and the judge-advocate called Private Bates,
who had been on sentry duty on the night of the 28th, to corroborate
the evidence of the sergeant of the guard as to the hour at which
the prisoner had driven up to Monsanto in his curricle.
Private Bates having been heard, Major Swan announced that he did
not propose to call any further witnesses, and resumed his seat.
Thereupon, to the president's invitation, Captain Tremayne replied
that he had no witnesses to call at all.
"In that case, Major Swan," said Sir Harry, "the court will be glad
to hear you further."
And Major Swan came to his feet again to address the court for the
Major Swan may or may not have been a gifted soldier. History is
silent on the point. But the surviving records of the court-martial
with which we are concerned go to show that he was certainly not a
gifted speaker. His vocabulary was limited, his rhetoric clumsy,
and Major Carruthers denounces his delivery as halting, his very
voice dull and monotonous; also his manner, reflecting his mind on
this occasion, appears to have been perfectly unimpassioned. He had
been saddled with a duty and he must perform it. He would do so
conscientiously to the best of his ability, for he seems to have
been a conscientious man; but he could not be expected to put his
heart into the matter, since he was not inflamed by any zeal born
of conviction, nor had he any of the incentives of a civil advocate
to sway his audience by all possible means.
Nevertheless the facts themselves, properly marshalled, made up a
dangerous case against the prisoner. Major Swan began by dwelling
upon the evidence of motive: there had been a quarrel, or the
beginnings of a quarrel, between the deceased and the accused; the
deceased had shown himself affronted, and had been heard quite
unequivocally to say that the matter could not be left at the stage
at which it was interrupted at Sir Terence's luncheon-table. Major
Swan dwelt for a moment upon the grounds of the quarrel. They were
by no means discreditable to the accused, but it was singularly
unfortunate, ironical almost, that he should have involved himself
in a duel as a result of his out-spoken defence of a wise measure
which made duelling in the British army a capital offence. With
that, however, he did not think that the court was immediately
concerned. By the duel itself the accused had offended against the
recent enactment, and, moreover, the irregular manner in which the
encounter had been conducted, without seconds or witnesses, rendered
the accused answerable to a charge of murder, if it could be proved
that he actually did engage and kill the deceased. Major Swan
thought this could be proved.
The irregularity of the meeting must be assigned to the enactment
against which it offended. A matter which, under other
circumstances, considering the good character borne by Captain
Tremayne, would have been quite incomprehensible, was, he thought,
under existing circumstances, perfectly clear. Because Captain
Tremayne could not have found any friend to act for him, he was
forced to forgo witnesses to the encounter, and because of the
consequences to himself of the encounter's becoming known, he was
forced to contrive that it should be held in secret. They knew,
from the evidence of Colonel Grant and Major Carruthers, that the
meeting was desired by Count Samoval, and they were therefore
entitled to assume that, recognising the conditions arising out of
the recent enactment, the deceased had consented that the meeting
should take place in this irregular fashion, since otherwise it
could not have been held at all, and he would have been compelled
to forgo the satisfaction he desired.
He passed to the consideration of the locality chosen, and there
he confessed that he was confronted with a mystery. Yet the
mystery would have been no less in the case of any other opponent
than Captain Tremayne, since it was clear beyond all doubt that a
duel had been fought and Count Samoval killed, and no less clear
that it was a premeditated combat, and that the deceased had gone
to Monsanto expressly to engage in it, since the duelling swords
found had been identified as his property and must have been
carried by him to the encounter.
The mystery, he repeated, would have been no less in the case of
any other opponent than Captain Tremayne; indeed, in the case of
some other opponent it might even have been deeper. It must be
remembered, after all, that the place was one to which the accused
had free access at all hours.
And it was clearly proven that he availed himself of that access
on the night in question. Evidence had been placed before the court
showing that he had come to Monsanto in a curricle at twenty minutes
to twelve at the latest, and there was abundant evidence to show that
he was found kneeling beside the body of the dead man at ten minutes
past twelve - the body being quite warm at the time and the breath
hardly out of it, proving that he had fallen but an instant before
the arrival of Mullins and the other witnesses who had testified.
Unless Captain Tremayne could account to the satisfaction of the
court for the manner in which he had spent that half-hour, Major
Swan did not perceive, when all the facts of motive and circumstance
were considered, what conclusion the court could reach other than
that Captain Tremayne was guilty of the death of Count Jeronymo de
Samoval in a single combat fought under clandestine and irregular
conditions, transforming the deed into technical murder.
Upon that conclusion the major sat down to mop a brow that was
perspiring freely. From Lady O'MOY in the background came faintly,
the sound of a half-suppressed moan. Terrified, she clutched the
hand of Miss Armytage, - and found that hand to lie like a thing of
ice in her own, yet she suspected nothing of the deep agitation
under her companion's, outward appearance of calm.
Captain Tremayne rose slowly to address the court in reply to the
prosecution. As he faced his, judges now he met the smouldering
eyes of Sir Terence considering him with such malevolence that he was
shocked and bewildered. Was he prejudged already, and by his best
friend? If so, what must be the attitude of the others? But the
kindly, florid countenance of the president was friendly and
encouraging; there was eager anxiety for him in the gaze of his
friend Caruthers. He glanced at Lord Wellington sitting at the
table's end sternly inscrutable, a mere spectator, yet one whose
habit of command gave him an air that was authoritative and judicial.
At length he began to speak. He had considered his defence, and he
had based it mainly upon a falsehood - since the strict truth must
have proved ruinous to Richard Butler.
"My answer, gentlemen" he said, "will be a very brief one as brief,
indeed, as the prosecution merits - for I entertain the hope than
no member of this court is satisfied that the case made out against
me is by any means complete." He spoke easily, fluently, and calmly:
a man supremely self-controlled. "It amounts, indeed, to throwing
upon me the onus of proving myself innocent, and that is a burden
which no British laws, civil or miliary, would ever commit the
injustice of imposing upon an accused.
"That certain words of disagreement passed between Count Samoval and
myself on the eve of the affair in which the Count met his death, as
you have heard from various witnesses, I at once and freely admitted.
Thereby I saved the court time and trouble, and some other witnesses
who might have been caused the distress of having to testify against
me. But that the dispute ever had any sequel, that the further
subsequent discussion threatened at the time by Count Samoval ever
took place, I most solemnly deny. From the moment that I left Sir
Terence's luncheon-table on the Saturday I never set eyes on Count
Samoval again until I discovered him dead or dying in the garden here
at Monsanto on Sunday night. I can call no witnesses to support me
in this, because it is not a matter susceptible to proof by evidence.
Nor have I troubled to call the only witnesses I might have called
- witnesses as to my character and my regard for discipline -
who might have testified that any such encounter as that of which I
am accused would be utterly foreign to my nature. There are officers
in plenty in his Majesty's service who could bear witness that
the practice of duelling is one that I hold in the utmost abhorrence,
since I have frequently avowed it, and since in all my life I have
never fought a single duel. My service in his Majesty's army has
happily afforded me the means of dispensing with any such proof of
courage as the duel is supposed to give. I say I might have called
witnesses to that fact and I have not done so. This is because,
fortunately, there are several among the members of this court to
whom I have been known for many years, and who can themselves, when
this court comes to consider its finding, support my present assertion.
"Let me ask you, then, gentlemen, whether it is conceivable that,
entertaining such feelings as these towards single combat, I should
have been led to depart from them under circumstances that might
very well have afforded me an ample shield for refusing satisfaction
to a too eager and pressing adversary? It was precisely because I
hold the duel in such contempt that I spoke with such asperity to
the deceased when he pronounced Lord Wellington's enactment a
degrading one to men of birth. The very sentiments which I then
expressed proclaimed my antipathy to the practice. How, then,
should I have committed the inconsistency of accepting a challenge
upon such grounds from Count Samoval? There is even more irony than
Major Swan supposes in a situation which himself has called ironical.
"So much, then, for the motives that are alleged to have actuated me.
I hope you will conclude that I have answered the prosecution upon
"Coming to the question of fact, I cannot find that there is
anything to answer, for nothing has been proved against me. True,
it has been proved that I arrived at Monsanto at half-past eleven
or twenty minutes to twelve on the night of the 28th, and it has
been further proved that half-an-hour later I was discovered
kneeling beside the dead body of Count Samoval. But to say that
this proves that I killed him is more, I think, if I understood him
correctly, than Major Swan himself dares to assert.
"Major Swan is quite satisfied that Samoval came to Monsanto for
the purpose of fighting a duel that had been prearranged; and I
admit that the two swords found, which have been proven the property
of Count Samoval, and which, therefore, he must have brought with
him, are a prima-facie proof of such a contention. But if we assume,
gentlemen, that I had accepted a challenge from the Count, let me
ask you, can you think of any place less likely to have been
appointed or agreed to by me for the encounter than the garden of
the adjutant-general's quarters? Secrecy is urged as the reason for
the irregularity of the meeting. What secrecy was ensured in such
a place, where interruption and discovery might come at any moment,
although the duel was held at midnight? And what secrecy did I
observe in my movements, considering that I drove openly to Monsanto
in a curricle, which I left standing at the gates in full view of
the guard, to await my return? Should I have acted thus if I had
been upon such an errand as is alleged? Common sense, I think,
should straightway acquit me on the grounds of the locality alone,
and I cannot think that it should even be necessary for me, so as
to complete my answer to an accusation entirely without support in
fact or in logic, to account for my presence at Monsanto and my
movements during the half-hour in question."
He paused. So far his clear reasoning had held and impressed the
court. This he saw plainly written on the faces of all - with one
single exception. Sir Terence alone the one man from whom he might
have looked for the greatest relief - watched him ever malevolently,
sardonically, with curling lip. It gave him pause now that he stood
upon the threshold of falsehood; and because of that inexplicable but
obvious hostility, that attitude of expectancy to ensnare and destroy
him, Captain Tremayne hesitated to step from the solid ground of
reason, upon which he had confidently walked thus far, on to the
uncertain bogland of mendacity.
"I cannot think," he said, "that the court should consider it
necessary for me to advance an alibi, to make a statement in proof
of my innocence where I contend that no proof has been offered of
"I think it will be better, sir, in your own interests, so that you
may be the more completely cleared," the president replied, and so
compelled him to continue.
"There was," he resumed, then, "a certain matter connected with the
Commissary-General's department which was of the greatest urgency,
yet which, under stress of work, had been postponed until the
morrow. It was concerned with some tents for General Picton's
division at Celorico. It occurred to me that night that it would
be better dealt with at once, so that the documents relating to it
could go forward early on Monday morning to the Commissary-General.
Accordingly, I returned to Monsanto, entered the official quarters,
and was engaged upon that task when a cry from the garden reached my
ears. That cry in the dead of night was sufficiently alarming, and
I ran out at once to see what might have occasioned it. I found
Count Samoval either just dead or just dying, and I had scarcely made
the discovery when Mullins, the butler, came out of the residential
wing, as he has testified.
"That, sirs, is all that I know of the death of Count Samoval, and
I will conclude with my solemn affirmation, on my honour as a
soldier, that I am as innocent of having procured it as I am ignorant
of how it came about.
"I leave myself with confidence in your hands, gentlemen," he ended,
and resumed his seat.
That he had favourably impressed the court was clear. Miss Armytage
whispered it to Lady O'Moy, exultation quivering in her whisper.
"He is safe!" And she added: "He was magnificent."
Lady O'Moy pressed her hand in return. "Thank God! Oh, thank God!"
she murmured under her breath.
"I do," said Miss Armytage.
There was silence, broken only by the rustle of the president's
notes as he briefly looked them over as a preliminary to addressing
the court. And then suddenly, grating harshly upon that silence,
came the voice of O'Moy.
"Might I suggest, Sir Harry, that before we hear you three of the
witnesses be recalled? They are Sergeant Flynn, Private Bates and
The president looked round in surprise, and Carruthers took
advantage of the pause to interpose an objection.
"Is such a course regular, Sir Harry?" He too had become conscious
at last of Sir Terence's relentless hostility to the accused. "The
court has been given an opportunity of examining those witnesses,
the accused has declined to call any on his own behalf, and the
prosecution has already closed its case."
Sir Harry considered a moment. He had never been very clear upon
matters of procedure, which he looked upon as none of a soldier's
real business. Instinctively in this difficulty he looked at Lord
Wellington as if for guidance; but his lordship's face told him
absolutely nothing, the Commander-in-Chief remaining an impassive
spectator. Then, whilst the president coughed and pondered, Major
Swan came to the rescue.
"The court," said the judge-advocate, "is entitled at any time
before the finding to call or recall any witnesses, provided that
the prisoner is afforded an opportunity of answering anything further
that may be elicited in re-examination of these witnesses."
"That is the rule," said Sir Terence, "and rightly so, for, as in
the present instance, the prisoner's own statement may make it
The president gave way, thereby renewing Miss Armytage's terrors
and shaking at last even the prisoner's calm.
Sergeant Flynn was the first of the witnesses recalled at Sir
Terence's request, and it was Sir Terence who took up his
"You said, I think, that you were standing in the guardroom doorway
when Captain Tremayne passed you at twenty minutes to twelve on the
night of the 28th?"
"Yes, sir. I had turned out upon hearing the curricle draw up. I
had come to see who it was."
"Naturally. Well, now, did you observe which way Captain Tremayne
went? - whether he went along the passage leading to the garden or
up the stairs to the offices?"
The sergeant considered for a moment, an Captain Tremayne became
conscious for the first time that morning that his pulses were
throbbing. At last his dreadful suspense came to an end.
"No, sir. Captain Tremayne turned the corner, and was out of
my sight, seeing that I didn't go beyond the guardroom doorway."
Sir Terence's lips parted with a snap of impatience. "But you
must have heard," he insisted. "You must have heard his steps -
whether they went upstairs or straight on."
"I am afraid I didn't take notice, sir."
"But even without taking notice it seems impossible that you should
not have heard the direction of his steps. Steps going up stairs
sound quite differently from steps walking along the level. Try
The sergeant considered again. But the president interposed. The
testiness which Sir Terence had been at no pains to conceal annoyed
Sir Harry, and this insistence offended his sense of fair play.
"The witness has already said that the didn't take notice. I am
afraid it can serve no good purpose to compel him to strain his
memory. The court could hardly rely upon his answer after what he
has said already."
"Very well," said Sir Terence curtly. "We will pass on. After
the body of Count Samoval had been removed from the courtyard, did
Mullins, my butler, come to you?"
"Yes, Sir Terence."
"What was his message? Please tell the court."
"He brought me a letter with instructions that it was to be
forwarded first thing in the morning to the Commissary-General's
"Did he make any statement beyond that when he delivered that