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The Vanished Messenger by E. Phillips Oppenheim

Part 2 out of 6

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return to London. I dare say the old country'll muddle along through
our time."

"Don't be foolish," Hamel begged. "There's no other subject of
conversation could interest me half as much. Have you formed any
idea yourself as to the nature of this conference?"

"We all have an idea," Kinsley replied grimly; "India for Russia; a
large slice of China for Japan, with probably Australia thrown in;
Alsace-Lorraine for France's neutrality. There's bribery for you.
What's to become of poor England then? Our friends are only human,
after all, and it's merely a question of handing over to them
sufficient spoil. They must consider themselves first: that's the
first duty of their politicians towards their country."

"You mean to say," Hamel asked, "that you seriously believe that a
conference is on the point of being held at which France and Russia
are to be invited to consider suggestions like this?"

"I am afraid there's no doubt about it," Kinsley declared. "Their
ambassadors in London profess to know nothing. That, of course,
is their reasonable attitude, but there's no doubt whatever that
the conference has been planned. I should say that to-night we are
nearer war, if we can summon enough spirit to fight, than we have
been since Fashoda."

"Queer if I have returned just in time for the scrap," Hamel remarked
thoughtfully. "I was in the Militia once, so I expect I can get a
job, if there's any fighting."

"I can get you a better job than fighting - one you can start on
to-morrow, too," Kinsley announced abruptly, "that is if you really
want to help?"

"Of course I do," Hamel insisted. "I'm on for anything."

"You say that you are entirely your own master for the next six

"Or as much longer as I like," Hamel assented. "No plans at all,
except that I might drift round to the Norfolk coast and look up
some of the places where the governor used to paint. There's a
queer little house - St. David's Tower, I believe they call it
- which really belongs to me. It was given to my father, or rather
he bought it, from a man who I think must have been some relative
of your friend. I feel sure the name was Fentolin."

Reginald Kinsley set down his wine-glass.

"Is your St. David's Tower anywhere near a place called Salthouse?"
he asked reflectively.

"That's the name of the village," Hamel admitted. "My father used
to spend quite a lot of time in those parts, and painted at least a
dozen pictures down there."

"This is a coincidence," Reginald Kinsley declared, lighting a
cigarette. "I think, if I were you, Dick, I'd go down and claim
my property."

"Tired of me already?" Hamel asked, smiling.

Reginald Kinsley knocked the ash from his cigarette.

"It isn't that. The fact is, that job I was speaking to you about
was simply this. We want some one to go down to Salthouse - not
exactly as a spy, you know, but some one who has his wits about him.
We are all of us very curious about this man Fentolin. There are
o end of rumours which I won't mention to you, for they might only
put you off the scent. But the man seems to be always intriguing.
It wouldn't matter so much if he were our friend, or if he were
simply a financier, but to tell you the truth, we have cause to
suspect him."

"But he's an Englishman, surely?" Hamel asked. "The Fentolin who
was my father's friend was just a very wealthy Norfolk squire - one
of the best, from all I have heard."

"Miles Fentolin is an Englishman," Kinsley admitted. "It is true,
too, that he comes of a very ancient Norfolk family. It doesn't do,
however, to build too much upon that. From all I can learn of him,
he is a sort of Puck, a professional mischief-maker. I don't
suppose there's anything an outsider could find out which would be
really useful to us, but all the same, if I had the time, I should
certainly go down to Norfolk myself."

The conversation drifted away for a while. Mutual acquaintances
entered, there were several introductions, and it was not until
the two found themselves together in Kinsley's rooms for a few
minutes before parting that they were alone again. Hamel returned
then once more to the subject.

"Reggie," he said, "if you think it would be of the slightest use,
I'll go down to Salthouse to-morrow. I am rather keen on going
there, anyway. I am absolutely fed up with life here already."

"It's just what I want you to do," Kinsley said. "I am afraid
Fentolin is a little too clever for you to get on the right side
of him, but if you could only get an idea as to what his game is
down there, it would be a great help. You see, the fellow can't
have gone into all this sort of thing blindfold. We've lost
several very useful agents abroad and two from New York who've
gone into his pay. There must be a method in it somewhere. If
it really ends with his financial operations - why, all right.
That's very likely what it'll come to, but we should like to know.
The merest hint would be useful."

"I'll do my best," Hamel promised. "In any case, it will be just
the few days' holiday I was looking forward to."

Kinsley helped himself to whisky and soda and turned towards his

"Here's luck to you, Dick! Take care of yourself. All sorts of
things may happen, you know. Old man Fentolin may take a fancy to
you and tell you secrets that any statesman in Europe would be glad
to hear. He may tell you why this conference is being held and
what the result will be. You may be the first to hear of our coming
fall. Well, here's to you, anyway! Drop me a line, if you've
anything to report."

"Cheero!" Hamel answered, as he set down his empty tumbler.
"Astonishing how keen I feel about this little adventure. I'm
perfectly sick of the humdrum life I have been leading the last
week, and you do sort of take one back to the Arabian Nights, you
know, Reggie. I am never quite sure whether to take you seriously
or not."

Kinsley smiled as he held his friend's hand for a moment.

"Dick," he said earnestly, "if only you'd believe it, the adventures
in the Arabian Nights were as nothing compared with the present-day
drama of foreign politics. You see, we've learned to conceal things
nowadays - to smooth them over, to play the part of ordinary citizens
to the world while we tug at the underhand levers in our secret
moments. Good night! Good luck!"


Richard Hamel, although he certainly had not the appearance of a
person afflicted with nerves, gave a slight start. For the last
half-hour, during which time the train had made no stop, he had
been alone in his compartment. Yet, to his surprise, he was
suddenly aware that the seat opposite to him had been noiselessly
taken by a girl whose eyes, also, were fixed with curious
intentness upon the broad expanse of marshland and sands across
which the train was slowly making its way. Hamel had spent a great
many years abroad, and his first impulse was to speak with the
unexpected stranger. He forgot for a moment that he was in England,
travelling in a first-class carriage, and pointed with his left hand
towards the sea.

"Queer country this, isn't it?" he remarked pleasantly. "Do you
know, I never heard you come in. It gave me quite a start when I
found that I had a fellow-passenger."

She looked at him with a certain amount of still surprise, a look
which he returned just as steadfastly, because even in those few
seconds he was conscious of that strange selective interest,
certainly unaccounted for by his own impressions of her appearance.
She seemed to him, at that first glance, very far indeed from being
good-looking, according to any of the standards by which he had
measured good looks. She was thin, too thin for his taste, and she
carried herself with an aloofness to which he was unaccustomed.
Her cheeks were quite pale, her hair of a soft shade of brown, her
eyes grey and sad. She gave him altogether an impression of
colourlessness, and he had been living in a land where colour and
vitality meant much. Her speech, too, in its very restraint, fell
strangely upon his ears.

"I have been travelling in an uncomfortable compartment," she
observed. "I happened to notice, when passing along the corridor,
that yours was empty. In any case, I am getting out at the next

"So am I," he replied, still cheerfully. "I suppose the next
station is St. David's?"

She made no answer, but so far as her expression counted for
anything at all, she was a little surprised. Her eyes considered
him for a moment. Hamel was tall, well over six feet, powerfully
made, with good features, clear eyes, and complexion unusually
sunburnt. He wore a flannel collar of unfamiliar shape, and his
clothes, although they were neat enough, were of a pattern and cut
obviously designed to afford the maximum of ease and comfort with
the minimum regard to appearance. He wore, too, very thick boots,
and his hands gave one the impression that they were seldom gloved.
His voice was pleasant, and he had the easy self-confidence of a
person sure of himself in the world. She put him down as a colonial
- perhaps an American - but his rank in life mystified her.

"This seems the queerest stretch of country," he went on; "long
spits of sand jutting right out into the sea, dikes and creeks
- miles and miles of them. Now, I wonder, is it low tide or high?
Low, I should think, because of the sea-shine on the sand there."

She glanced out of the window.

"The tide," she told him, "is almost at its lowest."

"You live in this neighbourhood, perhaps?" he enquired.

"I do," she assented.

"Sort of country one might get very fond of," he ventured.

She glanced at him from the depths of her grey eyes.

"Do you think so?" she rejoined coldly. "For my part, I hate it."

He was surprised at the unexpected emphasis of her tone - the first
time, indeed, that she had shown any signs of interest in the

"Kind of dull I suppose you find it," he remarked pensively, looking
out across the waste of lavender-grown marshes, sand hummocks piled
with seaweed, and a far distant line of pebbled shore. "And yet, I
don't know. I have lived by the sea a good deal, and however
monotonous it may seem at first, there's always plenty of change,
really. Tide and wind do such wonderful work."

She, too, was looking out now towards the sea.

"Oh, it isn't exactly that," she said quietly. "I am quite willing
to admit what all the tourists and chance visitors call the
fascination of these places. I happen to dislike them, that is all.
Perhaps it is because I live here, because I see them day by day;
perhaps because the sight of them and the thought of them have
become woven into my life."

She was talking half to herself. For a moment, even the knowledge
of his presence had escaped her. Hamel, however, did not realise
that fact. He welcomed her confidence as a sign of relaxation from
the frigidity of her earlier demeanour.

"That seems hard," he observed sympathetically. "It seems odd to
hear you talk like that, too. Your life, surely, ought to be
pleasant enough."

She looked away from the sea into his face. Although the genuine
interest which she saw there and the kindly expression of his eyes
disarmed annoyance, she still stiffened slightly.

"Why ought it?"

The question was a little bewildering.

"Why, because you are young and a girl," he replied. "It's natural
to be cheerful, isn't it?"

"Is it?" she answered listlessly. "I cannot tell. I have not had
much experience."

"How old are you?" he asked bluntly.

This time it certainly seemed as though her reply would contain
some rebuke for his curiosity. She glanced once more into his
face, however, and the instinctive desire to administer that
well-deserved snub passed away. He was so obviously interested,
his question was asked so naturally, that its spice of
impertinence was as though it had not existed.

"I am twenty-one," she told him.

"And how long have you lived here?

"Since I left boarding-school, four years ago."

"Anywhere near where I am going to bury myself for a time, I wonder?"
he went on.

"That depends," she replied. "Our only neighbours are the
Lorneybrookes of Market Burnham. Are you going there?"

He shook his head.

"I've got a little shanty of my own," he explained, "quite close to
St. David's Station. I've never even seen it yet."

She vouchsafed some slight show of curiosity.

"Where is this shanty, as you call it?" she asked him.

"I really haven't the faintest idea," he replied. "I am looking
for it now. All I can tell you is that it stands just out of reach
of the full tides, on a piece of rock, dead on the beach and about
a mile from the station. It was built originally for a coastguard
station and meant to hold a lifeboat, but they found they could
never launch the lifeboat when they had it, so the man to whom all
the foreshore and most of the land around here belongs - a Mr.
Fentolin, I believe - sold it to my father. I expect the place has
tumbled to pieces by this time, but I thought I'd have a look at it."

She was gazing at him steadfastly now, with parted lips.

"What is your name?" she demanded.

"Richard Hamel."


She repeated it lingeringly. It seemed quite unfamiliar.

"Was your father a great friend of Mr. Fentolin's, then?" she asked.

"I believe so, in a sort of way," he answered. "My father was Hamel
the artist, you know. They made him an R.A. some time before he
died. He used to come out here and live in a tent. Then Mr.
Fentolin let him use this place and finally sold it to him. My
father used often to speak to me about it before he died."

"Tell me," she enquired, "I do not know much about these matters,
but have you any papers to prove that it was sold to your father
and that you have the right to occupy it now when you choose?"

He smiled.

"Of course I have," he assured her. "As a matter of fact, as none
of us have been here for so long, I thought I'd better bring the
title-deed, or whatever they call it, along with me. It's with the
rest of my traps at Norwich. Oh, the place belongs to me, right
enough!" he went on, smiling. "Don't tell me that any one's pulled
it down, or that it's disappeared from the face of the earth?"

"No," she said, "it still remains there. When we are round the next
curve, I think I can show it to you. But every one has forgotten,
I think, that it doesn't belong to Mr. Fentolin still. He uses it
himself very often."

"What for?"

She looked at her questioner quite steadfastly, quite quietly,
speechlessly. A curious uneasiness crept into his thoughts. There
were mysterious things in her face. He knew from that moment that
she, too, directly or indirectly, was concerned with those strange
happenings at which Kinsley had hinted. He knew that there were
things which she was keeping from him now.

"Mr. Fentolin uses one of the rooms as a studio. He likes to paint
there and be near the sea," she explained. "But for the rest, I do
not know. I never go near the place."

"I am afraid," he remarked, after a few moments of silence, "that I
shall be a little unpopular with Mr. Fentolin. Perhaps I ought to
have written first, but then, of course, I had no idea that any one
was making use of the place."

"I do not understand," she said, "how you can possibly expect to
come down like this and live there, without any preparation."

"Why not?"

"You haven't any servants nor any furniture nor things to cook with."

He laughed.

"Oh! I am an old campaigner," he assured her. "I meant to pick up
a few oddments in the village. I don't suppose I shall stay very
long, anyhow, but I thought I'd like to have a look at the place.
By-the-by, what sort of a man is Mr. Fentolin?"

Again there was that curious expression in her eyes, an expression
almost of secret terror, this time not wholly concealed. He could
have sworn that her hands were cold.

"He met with an accident many years ago," she said slowly. "Both
his legs were amputated. He spends his life in a little carriage
which he wheels about himself."

"Poor fellow!" Hamel exclaimed, with a strong man's ready sympathy
for suffering. "That is just as much as I have heard about him.
Is he a decent sort of fellow in other ways? I suppose, anyhow,
if he has really taken a fancy to my little shanty, I shall have
to give it up."

Then, as it seemed to him, for the first time real life leaped into
her face. She leaned towards him. Her tone was half commanding,
half imploring, her manner entirely confidential.

"Don't!" she begged. "It is yours. Claim it. Live in it. Do
anything you like with it, but take it away from Mr. Fentolin!"

Hamel was speechless. He sat a little forward, a hand on either
knee, his mouth ungracefully open, an expression of blank and
utter bewilderment in his face. For the first time he began to
have vague doubts concerning this young lady. Everything about
her had been so strange: her quiet entrance into the carriage,
her unusual manner of talking, and finally this last passionate,
inexplicable appeal.

"I am afraid," he said at last, "I don't quite understand. You
say the poor fellow has taken a fancy to the place and likes being
there. Well, it isn't much of a catch for me, anyway. I'm rather
a wanderer, and I dare say I shan't be back in these parts again
for years. Why shouldn't I let him have it if he wants it? It's
no loss to me. I'm not a painter, you know, like my father."

She seemed on the point of making a further appeal. Her lips, even,
were parted, her head a little thrown back. And then she stopped.
She said nothing. The silence lasted so long that he became almost

"You will forgive me if I am a little dense, won't you?" he begged.
"To tell you the truth," he went on, smiling, "I've got a sort of
feeling that I'd like to do anything you ask me. Now won't you
just explain a little more clearly what you mean, and I'll blow
up the old place sky high, if it's any pleasure to you."

She seemed suddenly to have reverted to her former self - the cold
and colourless young woman who had first taken the seat opposite
to his.

"Mine was a very foolish request," she admitted quietly. "I am
sorry that I ever made it. It was just an impulse, because the
little building we were speaking of has been connected with one or
two very disagreeable episodes. Nevertheless, it was foolish of
me. How long did you think of staying there - that is," she added,
with a faint smile, "providing that you find it possible to prove
your claim and take up possession?"

"Oh, just for a week or so," he answered lightly, "and as to
regaining possession of it," he went on, a slightly pugnacious
instinct stirring him, "I don't imagine that there'll be any
difficulty about that."

"Really!" she murmured.

"Not that I want to make myself disagreeable," he continued, "but
the Tower is mine, right enough, even if I have let it remain
unoccupied for some time."

She let down the window - a task in which he hastened to assist her.
A rush of salt, cold air swept into the compartment. He sniffed it

"Wonderful!" he exclaimed.

She stretched out a long arm and pointed. Away in the distance, on
the summit of a line of pebbled shore, standing, as it seemed, sheer
over the sea, was a little black speck.

"That," she said, "is the Tower."

He changed his position and leaned out of the window.

"Well, it's a queer little place," he remarked. "It doesn't look
worth quarrelling over, does it?"

"And that," she went on, directing his attention to the hill, "is
Mr. Fentolin's home, St. David's Hall."

For several moments he made no remark at all. There was something
curiously impressive in that sudden sweep up from the sea-line; the
strange, miniature mountain standing in the middle of the marshes,
with its tree-crowned background; and the long, weather-beaten front
of the house turned bravely to the sea.

"I never saw anything like it," he declared. "Why, it's barely a
quarter of a mile from the sea, isn't it?"

"A little more than that. It is a strangely situated abode, isn't

"Wonderful!" he agreed, with emphasis. "I must study the geological
formation of that hill," he continued, with interest. "Why, it looks
almost like an island now."

"That is because of the floods," she told him. "Even at high tide
the creeks never reach so far as the back there. All the water you
see stretching away inland is flood water - the result of the storm,
I suppose. This is where you get out," she concluded, rising to
her feet.

She turned away with the slightest nod. A maid was already
awaiting her at the door of the compartment. Hamel was suddenly
conscious of the fact that he disliked her going immensely.

"We shall, perhaps, meet again during the next few days," he

She half turned her head. Her expression was scarcely encouraging.

"I hope," she said, "that you will not be disappointed in your

Hamel followed her slowly on to the platform, saw her escorted to
a very handsome motor-car by an obsequious station-master, and
watched the former disappear down the stretch of straight road
which led to the hill. Then, with a stick in one hand, and the
handbag which was his sole luggage in the other, he left the
station and turned seaward.


Mr. Fentolin, surrounded by his satellites, was seated in his chair
before the writing-table. There were present in the room most of
the people important to him in his somewhat singular life. A few
feet away, in characteristic attitude, stood Meekins. Doctor Sarson,
with his hands behind him, was looking out of the window. At the
further end of the table stood a confidential telegraph clerk, who
was just departing with a little sheaf of messages. By his side,
with a notebook in her hand, stood Mr. Fentolin's private secretary
- a white-haired woman, with a strangely transparent skin and light
brown eyes, dressed in somber black, a woman who might have been
of any age from thirty to fifty. Behind her was a middle-aged man
whose position in the household no one was quite sure about - a
clean-shaven man whose name was Ryan, and who might very well have
been once an actor or a clergyman.. In the background stood
Henderson, the perfect butler.

"It is perhaps opportune," Mr. Fentolin said quietly, "that you
all whom I trust should be present here together. I wish you to
understand one thing. You have, I believe, in my employ learned
the gift of silence. It is to be exercised with regard to a
certain visitor brought here by my nephew, a visitor whom I regret
to say is now lying seriously ill."

There was absolute silence. Doctor Sarson alone turned from the
window as though about to speak, but met Mr. Fentolin's eye and at
once resumed his position.

"I rely upon you all," Mr. Fentolin continued softly. "Henderson,
you, perhaps, have the most
difficult task, for you have the servants to control. Nevertheless,
I rely upon you, also. If one word of this visitor's presence here
leaks out even so far as the village, out they go, every one of them.
I will not have a servant in the place who does not respect my
wishes. You can give any reason you like for my orders. It is a
whim. I have whims, and I choose to pay for them. You are all
better paid than any man breathing could pay you. In return I ask
only for your implicit obedience."

He stretched out his hand and took a cigarette from a curiously
carved ivory box which stood by his side. He tapped it gently upon
the table and looked up.

"I think, sir," Henderson said respectfully, "that I can answer for
the servants. Being mostly foreigners, they see little or nothing
of the village people."

No one else made any remark. It was strange to see how dominated
they all were by that queer little fragment of humanity, whose head
scarcely reached a foot above the table before which he sat. They
departed silently, almost abjectly, dismissed with a single wave of
the hand. Mr. Fentolin beckoned his secretary to remain. She came
a little nearer.

"Sit down, Lucy," he ordered.

She seated herself a few feet away from him. Mr. Fentolin watched
her for several moments. He himself had his back to the light.
The woman, on the other hand, was facing it. The windows were high,
and the curtains were drawn back to their fullest extent. A cold
stream of northern light fell upon her face. Mr. Fentolin gazed at
her and nodded her head slightly.

"My dear Lucy," he declared, "you are wonderful - a perfect cameo,
a gem. To look at you now, with your delightful white hair and your
flawless skin, one would never believe that you had ever spoken a
single angry word, that you had ever felt the blood flow through
your veins, or that your eyes had ever looked upon the gentle things
of life."

She looked at him, still without speech. The immobility of her
face was indeed a marvellous thing. Mr. Fentolin's expression

"Sometimes," he murmured softly, "I think that if I had strong
fingers - really strong fingers, you know, Lucy - I should want to
take you by the throat and hold you tighter and tighter, until your
breath came fast, and your eyes came out from their shadows."

She turned over a few pages of her notebook. To all appearance
she had not heard a word.

"To-day," she announced, "is the fourth of April. Shall I send out
the various checks to those men in Paris, New York, Frankfort, St.
Petersburg, and Tokio?"

"You can send the checks," he told her. "Be sure that you draw
them, as usual, upon the Credit Lyonaise and in the name you know
of. Say to Lebonaitre of Paris that you consider his last reports
faulty. No mention was made of Monsieur C's visit to the Russian
Embassy, or of the supper party given to the Baron von Erlstein by
a certain Russian gentleman. Warn him, if you please, that reports
with such omissions are useless to me."

She wrote a few words in her book.

"You made a note of that?"

She raised her head.

"I do not make mistakes," she said.

His eyebrows were drawn together. This was his work, he told
himself, this magnificent physical subjection. Yet his
inability to stir her sometimes maddened him.

"You know who is in this house?" he asked. "You know the name of
my unknown guest?"

"I know nothing," she replied. "His presence does not interest me."

"Supposing I desire you to know?" he persisted, leaning a little
forward. "Supposing I tell you that it is your duty to know?"

"Then," she said, "I should tell you that I believe him to be the
special envoy from New York to The Hague, or whatever place on the
Continent this coming conference is to be held at."

"Right, woman!" Mr. Fentolin answered sharply. "Right! It is the
special envoy. He has his mandate with him. I have them both - the
man and his mandate. Can you guess what I am going to do with them?"

"It is not difficult," she replied. "Your methods are scarcely
original. His mandate to the flames, and his body to the sea!"

She raised her eyes as she spoke and looked over Mr. Fentolin's
shoulder, across the marshland to the grey stretch of ocean. Her
eyes became fixed. It was not possible to say that they held any
expression, and yet one felt that she saw beneath the grey waves,
even to the rocks and caverns below.

"It does not terrify you, then," he asked curiously, "to think that
a man under this roof is about to die?"

"Why should it?" she retorted. "Death does not frighten me - my
own or anybody else's. Does it frighten you?"

His face was suddenly livid, his eyes full of fierce anger. His
lips twitched. He struck the table before him.

"Beast of a woman!" he shouted. "You ghoul! How dare you! How
dare you -"

He stopped short. He passed his hand across his forehead. All the
time the woman remained unmoved.

"Do you know," he muttered, his voice still shaking a little, "that
I believe sometimes I am afraid of you? How would you like to see
me there, eh, down at the bottom of that hungry sea? You watch
sometimes so fixedly. You'd miss me, wouldn't you? I am a good
master, you know. I pay well. You've been with me a good many
years. You were a different sort of woman when you first came."

"Yes," she admitted, "I was a different sort of woman."

"You don't remember those days, I suppose," he went on, "the days
when you had brown hair, when you used to carry roses about and
sing to yourself while you beat your work out of that wretched

"No," she answered, "I do not remember those days. They do not
belong to me. It is some other woman you are thinking of."

Their eyes met. Mr. Fentolin turned away first. He struck the
bell at his elbow. She rose at once.

"Be off!" he ordered. "When you look at me like that, you send
shivers through me! You'll have to go; I can see you'll have to go.
I can't keep you any longer. You are the only person on the face
of the earth who dares to say things to me which make me think, the
only person who doesn't shrink at the sound of my voice. You'll
have to go. Send Sarson to me at once. You've upset me!"

She listened to his words in expressionless silence. When he had
finished, carrying her book in her hand, she very quietly moved
towards the door. He watched her, leaning a little forward in his
chair, his lips parted, his eyes threatening. She walked with
steady, even footsteps. She carried herself with almost machine-like
erectness; her skirts were noiseless. She had the trick of turning
the handle of the door in perfect silence. He heard her calm voice
in the hall.

"Doctor Sarson is to go to Mr. Fentolin."

Mr. Fentolin sat quite still, feeling his own pulse.

"That woman," he muttered to himself, "that - woman - some day I
shouldn't be surprised if she really -"

He paused. The doctor had entered the room.

"I am upset, Sarson," he declared. "Come and feel my pulse quickly.
That woman has upset me."

"Miss Price?"

"Miss Price, d-n it! Lucy - yes!"

"It seems unlike her," the doctor remarked. "I have never heard her
utter a useless syllable in my life."

Mr. Fentolin held out his wrist.

"It's what she doesn't say," he muttered.

The doctor produced his watch. In less than a minute he put it

"This is quite unnecessary," he pronounced. "Your pulse is

"Not hurried? No signs of palpitation?"

"You have seven or eight footmen, all young men," Doctor Sarson
replied drily. "I will wager that there isn't one of them has a
pulse so vigorous as yours."

Mr. Fentolin leaned a little back in his chair. An expression of
satisfaction crept over his face.

"You reassure me, my dear Sarson. That is excellent. What of our

"There is no change."

"I am afraid," Mr. Fentolin sighed, "that we shall have trouble
with him. These strong people always give trouble."

"It will be just the same in the long run," the doctor remarked,
shrugging his shoulders.

Mr. Fentolin held up his finger.

"Listen! A motor-car, I believe?"

"It is Miss Fentolin who is just arriving," the doctor announced.
"I saw the car coming as I crossed the hall."

Mr. Fentolin nodded gently.

"Indeed?" he replied. "Indeed? So my dear niece has returned.
Open the door, friend Sarson. Open the door, if you please. She
will be anxious to see me. We must summon her."


Mr. Fentolin raised to his lips the little gold whistle which hung
from his neck and blew it. He seemed to devote very little effort
to the operation, yet the strength of the note was wonderful. As
the echoes died away, he let it fall by his side and waited with
a pleased smile upon his lips. In a few seconds there was the
hurried flutter of skirts and the sound of footsteps. The girl who
had just completed her railway journey entered, followed by her
brother. They were both a little out of breath, they both
approached the chair without a smile, the girl in advance, with a
certain expression of apprehension in her eyes. Mr. Fentolin sighed.
He appeared to notice these things and regret them.

"My child," he said, holding out his hands, "my dear Esther, welcome
home again! I heard the car outside. I am grieved that you did not
at once hurry to my side."

"I have not been in the house two minutes," Esther replied, "and I
haven't seen mother yet. Forgive me."

She had come to a standstill a few yards away. She moved now very
slowly towards the chair, with the air of one fulfilling a hateful
task. The fingers which accepted his hands were extended almost
hesitatingly. He drew her closer to him and held her there.

"Your mother, my dear Esther, is, I regret to say, suffering from
a slight indisposition," he remarked. "She has been confined to
her room for the last few days. Just a trifling affair of the
nerves; nothing more, Doctor Sarson assures me. But my dear child,"
he went on, "your fingers are as cold as ice. You look at me so
strangely, too. Alas! you have not the affectionate disposition
of your dear mother. One would scarcely believe that we have been
parted for more than a week."

"For more than a week," she repeated, under her breath.

"Stoop down, my dear. I must kiss your forehead - there! Now
bring up a chair to my side. You seem frightened - alarmed. Have
you ill news for me?"

"I have no news," she answered, gradually recovering herself.

"The gaieties of London, I fear," he protested gently, "have proved
a little unsettling."

"There were no gaieties for me," the girl replied bitterly. "Mrs.
Sargent obeyed your orders very faithfully. I was not allowed to
move out except with her."

"My dear child, you would not go about London unchaperoned!"

"There is a difference," she retorted, "between a chaperon and a

Mr. Fentolin sighed. He shook his head slowly. He seemed pained.

"I am not sure that you repay my care as it deserves, Esther," he
declared. "There is something in your deportment which disappoints
me. Never mind, your brother has made some atonement. I entrusted
him with a little mission in which I am glad to say that he has
been brilliantly successful."

"I cannot say that I am glad to hear it," Esther replied quietly.

Mr. Fentolin sat back in his chair. His long fingers played
nervously together, he looked at her gravely.

"My dear child," he exclaimed, in a tone of pained surprise, "your
attitude distresses me!"

"I cannot help it. I have told you what I think about Gerald and
the life he is compelled to live here. I don't mind so much for
myself, but for him I think it is abominable."

"The same as ever," Mr. Fentolin sighed. "I fear that this little
change has done you no good, dear niece.

"Change!" she echoed. "It was only a change of prisons."

Mr. Fentolin shook his head slowly - a distressful gesture. Yet
all the time he had somehow the air of a man secretly gratified.

"You are beginning to depress me," he announced. "I think that
you can go away. No, stop for just one moment. Stand there in
the light. Dear me, how unfortunate! Who would have thought that
so beautiful a mother could have so plain a daughter!"

She stood quite still before him, her hands crossed in front of
her, something of the look of the nun from whom the power of
suffering has gone in her still, cold face and steadfast eyes.

"Not a touch of colour," he continued meditatively, "a figure
straight as my walking-stick. What a pity! And all the taste,
nowadays, they tell me, is in the other direction. The lank
damsels have gone completely out. We buried them with Oscar Wilde.
Run along, my dear child. You do not amuse me. You can take Gerald
with you, if you will. I have nothing to say to Gerald just now.
He is in my good books. Is there anything I can do for you, Gerald?
Your allowance, for instance - a trifling increase or an advance?
I am in a generous humour."

"Then grant me what I begged for the other day," the boy answered
quickly. "Let me go to Sandhurst. I could enter my name next week
for the examinations, and I could pass to-morrow."

Mr. Fentolin tapped the table thoughtfully with his forefinger.

"A little ungrateful, my dear boy," he declared, "a little ungrateful
that, I think. Your confidence in yourself pleases me, though. You
think you could pass your examinations?"

"I did a set of papers last week," the boy replied. "On the given
percentages I came out twelfth or better. Mr. Brown assured me
that I could go in for them at any moment. He promised to write
you about it before he left."

Mr. Fentolin nodded gently.

"Now I come to think of it, I did have a letter from Mr. Brown,"
he remarked. "Rather an impertinence for a tutor, I thought it.
He devoted three pages towards impressing upon me the necessity of
your adopting some sort of a career."

"He wrote because he thought it was his duty," the boy said doggedly.

"So you want to be a soldier," Mr. Fentolin continued musingly.
"Well, well, why not? Our picture galleries are full of them.
There has been a Fentolin in every great battle for the last five
hundred years. Sailors, too - plenty of them - and just a few
diplomatists. Brave fellows! Not one, I fancy," he added, "like
me - not one condemned to pass their days in a perambulator. You
are a fine fellow, Gerald - a regular Fentolin. Getting on for
six feet, aren't you?

"Six feet two, sir."

"A very fine fellow," Mr. Fentolin repeated. "I am not so sure
about the army, Gerald. You see, there are some people who say,
like your American friend, that we are even now almost on the brink
of war."

"All the more reason for me to hurry," the boy begged.

Mr. Fentolin closed his eyes.

"Don't!" he insisted. "Have you ever stopped to think what war
means - the war you speak of so lightly? The suffering, the misery
of it! All the pageantry and music and heroism in front; and behind,
a blackened world, a trail of writhing corpses, a world of weeping
women for whom the sun shall never rise again. Ugh! An ugly thing
war, Gerald. I am not sure that you are not better at home here.
Why not practise golf a little more assiduously? I see from the
local paper that you are still playing at two handicap. Now with
your physique, I should have thought you would have been a scratch
player long before now."

"I play cricket, sir," the boy reminded him, a little impatiently,
"and, after all, there are other things in the world besides games."

Mr. Fentolin's long finger shot suddenly out. He was leaning a
little from his chair. His expression of gentle immobility had
passed away. His face was stern, almost stony.

"You have spoken the truth, Gerald," he said. "There are other
things in the world besides games. There is the real, the tragical
side of life, the duties one takes up, the obligations of honour.
You have not forgotten, young man, the burden you carry?"

The boy was paler, but he had drawn himself to his full height.

"I have not forgotten, sir," he answered bitterly. "Do I show any
signs of forgetting? Haven't I done your bidding year by year?
Aren't I here now to do it?"

"Then do it !" Mr. Fentolin retorted sharply. "When I am ready for
you to leave here, you shall leave. Until then, you are mine.
Remember that. Ah! this is Doctor Sarson who comes, I believe.
That must mean that it is five o'clock. Come in, Doctor. I am not
engaged. You see, I am alone with my dear niece and nephew. We
have been having a little pleasant conversation."

Doctor Sarson bowed to Esther, who scarcely glanced at him. He
remained in the background, quietly waiting.

"A very delightful little conversation," Mr. Fentolin concluded.
"I have been congratulating my nephew, Doctor, upon his wisdom in
preferring the quiet country life down here to the wearisome routine
of a profession. He escapes the embarrassing choice of a career by
preferring to devote his life to my comfort. I shall not forget it.
I shall not be ungrateful. I may have my faults, but I am not
ungrateful Run away now, both of you. Dear children you are, but
one wearies, you know, of everything. I am going out. You see,
the twilight is coming. The tide is changing. I am going down to
meet the sea."

His little carriage moved towards the door. The brother and sister
passed out. Esther led Gerald into the great dining-room, and from
there, through the open windows, out on to the terrace. She gripped
his shoulder and pointed down to the Tower.

"Something," she whispered in his ear, "is going to happen there."


The little station at which Hamel alighted was like an oasis in the
middle of a flat stretch of sand and marsh. It consisted only of
a few raised planks and a rude shelter - built, indeed, for the
convenience of St. David's Hall alone, for the nearest village was
two miles away. The station-master, on his return from escorting
the young lady to her car, stared at this other passenger in some

"Which way to the sea?" Hamel asked.

The man pointed to the white gates of the crossing.

"You can take any of those paths you like, sir," he said. "If you
want to get to Salthouse, though, you should have got out at the
next station."

"This will do for me," Hamel replied cheerfully.

"Be careful of the dikes," the station-master advised him. "Some
of them are pretty deep."

Hamel nodded, and passing through the white gates, made his way by
a raised cattle track towards the sea. On either side of him flowed
a narrow dike filled with salt-water. Beyond stretched the flat
marshland, its mossy turf leavened with cracks and creeks of all
widths, filled also with sea-slime and sea-water. A slight grey
mist rested upon the more distant parts of the wilderness which he
was crossing, a mist which seemed to be blown in from the sea in
little puffs, resting for a time upon the earth, and then drifting
up and fading away like soap bubbles.

More than once where the dikes had overflown he was compelled to
change his course, but he arrived at last at the little ridge of
pebbled beach bordering the sea. Straight ahead of him now was
that strange-looking building towards which he had all the time
been directing his footsteps. As he approached it, his forehead
slightly contracted. There was ample confirmation before him of
the truth of his fellow-passenger's words. The place, left to
itself for so many years, without any attention from its actual
owner, was neither deserted nor in ruins. Its solid grey stone
walls were sea-stained and a trifle worn, but the arched wooden
doors leading into the lifeboat shelter, which occupied one side
of the building, had been newly painted, and in the front the window
was hung with a curtain, now closely drawn, of some dark red
material. The lock from the door had been removed altogether, and
in its place was the aperture for a Yale latch-key. The last note
of modernity was supplied by the telephone wire attached to the
roof of the lifeboat shelter. He walked all round the building,
seeking in vain for some other means of ingress. Then he stood for
a few moments in front of the curtained window. He was a man of
somewhat determined disposition, and he found himself vaguely
irritated by the liberties which had been taken with his property.
He hammered gently upon the framework with his fist, and the
windows opened readily inwards, pushing back the curtain with them.
He drew himself up on to the sill, and, squeezing himself through
the opening, landed on his feet and looked around him, a little

He found himself in a simply furnished man's sitting-room. An easel
was standing close to the window. There were reams of drawing paper
and several unfinished sketches leaning against the wall. There
was a small oak table in the middle of the room; against the wall
stood an exquisite chiffonier, on which were resting some cut-glass
decanters and goblets. There was a Turkey carpet upon the floor
which matched the curtains, but to his surprise there was not a
single chair of any sort to be seen. The walls had been distempered
and were hung with one or two engravings which, although he was no
judge, he was quite sure were good. He wandered into the back room,
where he found a stove, a tea-service upon a deal table, and several
other cooking utensils, all spotlessly clean and of the most
expensive description. The walls here were plainly whitewashed,
and the floor was of hard stone. He then tried the door on the
left, which led into the larger portion of the building - the shed
in which the lifeboat had once been kept. Not only was the door
locked, but he saw at once that the lock was modern, and the door
itself was secured with heavy iron clamps. He returned to the

"The girl with the grey eyes was right enough," he remarked to
himself. "Mr. Fentolin has been making himself very much at home
with my property."

He withdrew the curtains, noticing, to his surprise, the heavy
shutters which their folds had partly concealed. Then he made his
way out along the passage to the front door, which from the inside
he was able to open easily enough. Leaving it carefully ajar, he
"went out with the intention of making an examination of the outside
of the place. Instead, however, he paused at the corner of the
building with his face turned landwards. Exactly fronting him now,
about three-quarters of a mile away, on the summit of that strange
hill which stood out like a gigantic rock in the wilderness, was St.
David's Hall. He looked at it steadily and with increasing
admiration. Its long, red brick front with its masses of clustering
chimneys, a little bare and weather-beaten, impressed him with a
sense of dignity due as much to the purity of its architecture as
the singularity of its situation. Behind - a wonderfully effective
background - were the steep gardens from which, even in this
uncertain light, he caught faint glimpses of colouring subdued from
brilliancy by the twilight. These were encircled by a brick wall
of great height, the whole of the southern portion of which was
enclosed with glass. From the fragment of rock upon which he had
seated himself, to the raised stone terrace in front of the house,
was an absolutely straight path, beautifully kept like an avenue,
with white posts on either side, and built up to a considerable
height above the broad tidal way which ran for some distance by its
side. It had almost the appearance of a racing track, and its
state of preservation in the midst of the wilderness was little
short of remarkable.

"This," Hamel said to himself, as he slowly produced a pipe from
his pocket and began to fill it with tobacco from a battered silver
box, "is a queer fix. Looks rather like the inn for me!"

"And who might you be, gentleman?"

He turned abruptly around towards his unseen questioner. A woman
was standing by the side of the rock upon which he was sitting, a
woman from the village, apparently, who must have come with
noiseless footsteps along the sandy way. She was dressed in rusty
black, and in place of a hat she wore a black woolen scarf tied
around her head and underneath her chin. Her face was lined, her
hair of a deep brown plentifully besprinkled with grey. She had a
curious habit of moving her lips, even when she was not speaking.
She stood there smiling at him, but there was something about that
smile and about her look which puzzled him.

"I am just a visitor," he replied. "Who are you?"

She shook her head.

"I saw you come out of the Tower," she said, speaking with a strong
local accent and yet with a certain unusual correctness, "in at the
window and out of the door. You're a brave man."

"Why brave?" he asked.

She turned her head very slowly towards St. David's Hall. A gleam
of sunshine had caught one of the windows, which shone like fire.
She pointed toward it with her head.

"He's looking at you," she muttered. "He don't like strangers
poking around here, that I can tell you."

"And who is he?" Hamel enquired.

"Squire Fentolin," she answered, dropping her voice a little. "He's
a very kind-hearted gentleman, Squire Fentolin, but he don't like
strangers hanging around."

"Well, I am not exactly a stranger, you see," Hamel remarked. "My
father used to stay for months at a time in that little shanty there
and paint pictures. It's a good many years ago."

"I mind him," the woman said slowly. "His name was Hamel."

"I am his son," Hamel announced.

She pointed to the Hall. "Does he know that you are here?"

Hamel shook his head. "Not yet. I have been abroad for so long."

She suddenly relapsed into her curious habit. Her lips moved, but
no words came. She had turned her head a little and was facing
the sea.

"Tell me," Hamel asked gently, "why do you come out here alone, so
far from the village?"

She pointed with her finger to where the waves were breaking in a
thin line of white, about fifty yards from the beach.

"It's the cemetery, that," she said, "the village cemetery, you
know. I have three buried there: George, the eldest; James, the
middle one; and David, the youngest. Three of them - that's why
I come. I can't put flowers on their graves, but I can sit and
watch and look through the sea, down among the rocks where their
bodies are, and wonder."

Hamel looked at her curiously. Her voice had grown lower and lower.

"It's what you land folks don't believe, perhaps," she went on, "but
it's true. It's only us who live near the sea who understand it.
I am not an ignorant body, either. I was schoolmistress here before
I married David Cox. They thought I'd done wrong to marry a
fisherman, but I bore him brave sons, and I lived the life a woman
craves for. No, I am not ignorant. I have fancies, perhaps - the
Lord be praised for them! - and I tell you it's true. You look at
a spot in the sea and you see nothing - a gleam of blue, a fleck of
white foam, one day; a gleam of green with a black line, another;
and a grey little sob, the next, perhaps. But you go on looking.
You look day by day and hour by hour, and the chasms of the sea will
open, and their voices will come to you. Listen!"

She clutched his arm.

"Couldn't you hear that?" she half whispered.

"'The light!' It was David's voice! 'The light!'" Hamel was
speechless. The woman's face was suddenly strangely transformed.
Her mood, however, swiftly changed. She turned once more towards
the hall.

"You'll know him soon," she went on, "the kindest man in these
parts, they say. It's not much that he gives away, but he's a kind
heart. You see that great post at the entrance to the river there?"
she went on, pointing to it. "He had that set up and a lamp hung
from there. Fentolin's light, they call it. It was to save men's
lives. It was burning, they say, the night I lost my lads.
Fentolin's light!"

"They were wrecked?" he asked her gently.

"Wrecked," she answered. "Bad steering it must have been. James
would steer, and they say that he drank a bit. Bad steering! Yes,
you'll meet Squire Fentolin before long. He's queer to look at - a
small body but a great, kind heart. A miserable life, his, but it
will be made up to him. It will be made up to him!"

She turned away. Her lips were moving all the time. She walked
about a dozen steps, and then she returned.

"You're Hamel's son, the painter," she said. "You'll be welcome
down here. He'll have you to stay at the Hall - a brave place.
Don't let him be too kind to you. Sometimes kindness hurts."

She passed on, walking with a curious, shambling gait, and soon she
disappeared on her way to the village. Hamel watched her for a
moment and then turned his head towards St. David's Hall. He felt
somehow that her abrupt departure was due to something which she
had seen in that direction. He rose to his feet. His instinct had
been a true one.


From where Hamel stood a queer object came strangely into sight.
Below the terrace of St. David's Hall - from a spot, in fact, at
the base of the solid wall - it seemed as though a gate had been
opened, and there came towards him what he at first took to be a
tricycle. As it came nearer, it presented even a weirder
appearance. Mr. Fentolin, in a black cape and black skull cap,
sat a little forward in his electric carriage, with his hand upon
the guiding lever. His head came scarcely above the back of the
little vehicle, his hands and body were motionless. He seemed to
be progressing without the slightest effort, personal or mechanical,
as though he rode, in deed, in some ghostly vehicle. From the same
place in the wall had issued, a moment or two later, a man upon a
bicycle, who was also coming towards him. Hamel was scarcely
conscious of this secondary figure. His eyes were fixed upon the
strange personage now rapidly approaching him. There was something
which seemed scarcely human in that shrunken fragment of body, the
pale face with its waving white hair, the strange expression with
which he was being regarded. The little vehicle came to a
standstill only a few feet away. Mr. Fentolin leaned forward. His
features had lost their delicately benevolent aspect; his words
were minatory.

"I am under the impression, sir," he said, "that I saw you with my
glasses from the window attempting to force an entrance into that

Hamel nodded.

"I not only tried but I succeeded," he remarked. "I got in through
the window."

Mr. Fentolin's eyes glittered for a moment. Hamel, who had resumed
his place upon the rock close at hand, had been mixed up during his
lifetime in many wild escapades. Yet at that moment he had a sudden
feeling that there were dangers in life which as yet he had not

"May I ask for your explanation or your excuse?"

"You can call it an explanation or an excuse, whichever you like,"
Hamel replied steadily, "but the fact is that this little building,
which some one else seems to have appropriated, is mine. If I had
not been a good-natured person, I should be engaged, at the present
moment, in turning out its furniture on to the beach."

"What is your name?" Mr. Fentolin asked suddenly.

"My name is Hamel - Richard Hamel."

For several moments there was silence. Mr. Fentolin was still
leaning forward in his strange little vehicle. The colour seemed
to have left even his lips. The hard glitter in his eyes had given
place to an expression almost like fear. He looked at Richard
Hamel as though he were some strange sea-monster come up from
underneath the sands.

"Richard Hamel," he repeated. "Do you mean that you are the son of
Hamel, the R.A., who used to be in these parts so often? He was my
brother's friend."

"I am his son."

"But his son was killed in the San Francisco earthquake. I saw his
name in all the lists. It was copied into the local papers here."

Hamel knocked the ashes from his pipe.

"I take a lot of killing," he observed. "I was in that earthquake,
right enough, and in the hospital afterwards, but it was a man named
Hamel of Philadelphia who died."

Mr. Fentolin sat quite motionless for several moments. He seemed,
if possible, to have shrunken into something smaller still. A few
yards behind, Meekins had alighted from his bicycle and was standing

"So you are Richard Hamel," Mr. Fentolin said at last very softly.
"Welcome back to England, Richard Hamel! I knew your father
slightly, although we were never very friendly."

He stretched out his hand from underneath the coverlet of his little
vehicle - a hand with long, white fingers, slim and white and
shapely as a woman's. A single ring with a dull green stone was on
his fourth finger. Hamel shook bands with him as he would have
shaken hands with a woman. Afterwards he rubbed his fingers slowly
together. There was something about the touch which worried him.

"You have been making use of this little shanty, haven't you?" he
asked bluntly.

Mr. Fentolin nodded. He was apparently beginning to recover

"You must remember," he explained suavely, "that it was built by my
grandfather, and that we have had rights over the whole of the
foreshore here from time immemorial. I know quite well that my
brother gave it to your father - or rather he sold it to him for a
nominal sum. I must tell you that it was a most complicated
transaction. He had the greatest difficulty in getting any lawyer
to draft the deed of sale. There were so many ancient rights and
privileges which it was impossible to deal with. Even now there
are grave doubts as to the validity of the transaction. When nothing
was heard of you, and we all concluded that you were dead, I ventured
to take back what I honestly believed to be my own. Owing," he
continued slowly, "to my unfortunate affliction, I am obliged to
depend for interest in my life upon various hobbies. This little
place, queerly enough, has become one of them. I have furnished it,
in a way; installed the telephone to the house, connected it with
my electric plant, and I come down here when I want to be quite
alone, and paint. I watch the sea - such a sea sometimes, such
storms, such colour! You notice that ridge of sand out yonder? It
forms a sort of natural breakwater. Even on the calmest day you
can trace that white line of foam."

"It is a strange coast," Hamel admitted.

Mr. Fentolin pointed with his forefinger northwards.

"Somewhere about there," he indicated, "is the entrance to the
tidal river which flows up to the village of St. David's yonder.
You see?"

His finger traced its course until it came to a certain point near
the beach, where a tall black pillar stood, surmounted by a globe.

"I have had a light fixed there for the benefit or the fishermen,"
he said, "a light which I work from my own dynamo. Between where
we are sitting now and there - only a little way out to sea - is a
jagged cluster of cruel rocks. You can see them if you care to swim
out in calm weather. Fishermen who tried to come in by night were
often trapped there and, in a rough sea, drowned. That is why I
had that pillar of light built. On stormy nights it shows the exact
entrance to the water causeway."

"Very kind of you indeed," Hamel remarked, "very benevolent."

Mr. Fentolin sighed.

"So few people have any real feeling for sailors," he continued.
"The fishermen around here are certainly rather a casual class. Do
you know that there is scarcely one of them who can swim? There
isn't one of them who isn't too lazy to learn even the simplest
stroke. My brother used to say - dear Gerald - that it served them
right if they were drowned. I have never been able to feel like
that, Mr. Hamel. Life is such a wonderful thing. One night," he
went on, dropping his voice and leaning a little forward in his
carriage - "it was just before, or was it just after I had fixed
that light - I was down here one dark winter night. There was a
great north wind and a huge sea running. It was as black as pitch,
but I heard a boat making for St. David's causeway strike on those
rocks just hidden in front there. I heard those fishermen shriek
as they went under. I heard their shouts for help, I heard their
death cries. Very terrible, Mr. Hamel! Very terrible!"

Hamel looked at the speaker curiously. Mr. Fentolin seemed
absorbed in his subject. He had spoken with relish, as one who
loves the things he speaks about. Quite unaccountably, Hamel
found himself shivering.

"It was their mother," Mr. Fentolin continued, leaning again a
little forward in his chair, "their mother whom I saw pass along
the beach just now - a widow, too, poor thing. She comes here
often - a morbid taste. She spoke to you, I think?"

"She spoke to me strangely," Hamel admitted. "She gave me the
impression of a woman whose brain had been turned with grief."

"Too true," Mr. Fentolin sighed. "The poor creature! I offered her
a small pension, but she would have none of it. A superior woman
in her way once, filled now with queer fancies," he went on, eyeing
Hamel steadily,- "the very strangest fancies. She spends her life
prowling about here. No one in the village even knows how she lives.
Did she speak of me, by-the-by?"

"She spoke of you as being a very kind-hearted man."

Mr. Fentolin sighed.

"The poor creature! Well, well, let us revert to the object of
your coming here. Do you really wish to occupy this little shanty,
Mr. Hamel?"

"That was my idea," Hamel confessed. "I only came back from Mexico
last month, and I very soon got fed up with life in town. I am
going abroad again next year. Till then, I am rather at a loose
end. My father was always very keen indeed about this place, and
very anxious that I should come and stay here for a little time, so
I made up my mind to run down. I've got some things waiting at
Norwich. I thought I might hire a woman to look after me and spend
a few weeks here. They tell me that the early spring is almost the
best time for this coast."

Mr. Fentolin nodded slowly. He moistened his lips for a moment.
One might have imagined that he was anxious.

"Mr. Hamel," he said softly, "you are quite right. It is the best
time to visit this coast. But why make a hermit of yourself? You
are a family friend. Come and stay with us at the Hall for as long
as you like. It will give me the utmost pleasure to welcome you
there," he went on earnestly, "and as for this little place, of what
use is it to you? Let me buy it from you. You are a man of the
world, I can see. You may be rich, yet money has a definite value.
To me it has none. That little place, as it stands, is probably
worth - say a hundred pounds. Your father gave, if I remember
rightly, a five pound note for it. I will give you a thousand for
it sooner than be disturbed."

Hamel frowned slightly.

"I could not possibly think," he said, "of selling what was
practically a gift to my father. You are welcome to occupy the
place during my absence in any way you wish. On the other hand, I
do not think that I care to part with it altogether, and I should
really like to spend just a day or so here. I am used to roughing
it under all sorts of conditions - much more used to roughing it
than I am to staying at country houses."

Mr. Fentolin leaned a little out of his carriage. He reached the
younger man's shoulder with his hand.

"Ah! Mr. Hamel," he pleaded, "don't make up your mind too suddenly.
Am I a little spoilt, I wonder? Well, you see what sort of a
creature I am. I have to go through life as best I may, and people
are kind to me. It is very seldom I am crossed. It is quite
astonishing how often people let me have my own way. Do not make
up your mind too suddenly. I have a niece and a nephew whom you
must meet. There are some treasures, too, at St. David's Hall.
Look at it. There isn't another house quite like it in England.
It is worth looking over."

"It is most impressive," Hamel agreed, "and wonderfully beautiful.
It seems odd," he added, with a laugh, "that you should care about
this little shanty here, with all the beautiful rooms you must have
of your own."

"It's Naboth's vineyard," Mr. Fentolin groaned. "Now, Mr. Hamel,
you are going to be gracious, aren't you? Let us leave the question
of your little habitation here alone for the present. Come back
with me. My niece shall give you some tea, and you shall choose
your room from forty. You can sleep in a haunted chamber, or a
historical chamber, in Queen Elizabeth's room, a Victorian chamber,
or a Louis Quinze room. All my people have spent their substance
in furniture. Don't look at your bag. Clothes are unnecessary. I
can supply you with everything. Or, if you prefer it, I can send a
fast car into Norwich for your own things. Come and be my guest,

Hamel hesitated. He had not the slightest desire to go to St.
David's Hall, and though he strove to ignore it, he was conscious
of an aversion of which he was heartily ashamed for this strange
fragment of humanity. On the other hand, his mission, the actual
mission which had brought him down to these parts, could certainly
best be served by an entree into the Hall itself - and there was
the girl, whom he felt sure belonged there. He had never for a
moment been able to dismiss her from his thoughts. Her still, cold
face, the delicate perfection of her clothes and figure, the grey
eyes which had rested upon his so curiously, haunted him. He was
desperately anxious to see her again. If he refused this invitation,
if he rejected Mr. Fentolin's proffered friendship, it would be all
the more difficult.

"You are really very kind," he began hesitatingly -.

"It is settled," Mr. Fentolin interrupted, "settled. Meekins, you
can ride back again. I shall not paint to-day. Mr. Hamel, you
will walk by my side, will you not? I can run my little machine
quite slowly. You see, I have an electric battery. It needs
charging often, but I have a dynamo of my own. You never saw a
vehicle like this in all your travellings, did you?"

Hamel shook his head.

"An electrical bath-chair," Mr. Fentolin continued. "Practice has
made me remarkably skilful in its manipulation. You see, I can
steer to an inch."

He was already turning around. Hamel rose to his feet.

"You are really very kind," he said. "I should like to come up and
see the Hall, at any rate, but in the meantime, as we are here,
could I just look over the inside of this little place? I found the
large shed where the lifeboat used to be kept, locked up."

Mr. Fentolin was manoeuvring his carriage. His back was towards

"By all means," he declared. "We will go in together. I have had
the entrance widened so that I can ride straight into the
sitting-room. But wait."

He paused suddenly. He felt in all his pockets.

"Dear me," he exclaimed, "I find that I have left the keys! We
will come down a little later, if you do not mind, Mr. Hamel. Or
to-morrow, perhaps. You will not mind? It is very careless of me,
but seeing you about the place and imagining that you were an
intruder, made me angry, and I started off in a hurry. Now walk by
my side up to the house, please, and talk to me. It is so
interesting for me to meet men," he went on, as they started along
the straight path, "who do things in life; who go to foreign
countries, meet strange people, and have new experiences. I have
been a good many years like this, you know."

"It is a great affliction," Hamel murmured sympathetically.

"In my youth I was an athlete," Mr. Fentolin continued. "I played
cricket for the Varsity and for my county. I hunted, too, and shot.
I did all the things a man loves to do. I might still shoot, they
tell me, but my strength has ebbed away. I am too weak to lift a
gun, too weak even to handle a fishing-rod. I have just a few
hobbies in life which keep me alive. Are you a politician, Mr.

"Not in the least," Hamel replied. "I have been out of England too
long to keep in touch with politics."

"Naturally," Mr. Fentolin agreed. "It amuses me to follow the
course of events. I have a good many friends in London and abroad
who are kind to me, who keep me informed, send me odd bits of
information not available for every one, and it amuses me to put
these things together in my mind and to try and play the prophet.
I was in the Foreign Office once, you know. I take up my paper
every morning, and it is one of my chief interests to see how near
my own speculations come to the truth. Just now for example, there
are strange things doing on the Continent."

"In America," Hamel remarked, "they affect to look upon England as
a doomed Power."

"Not altogether supine yet," Mr. Fentolin observed, "yet even this
last generation has seen weakening. We have lost so much
self-reliance. Perhaps it is having these grown-up children who we
think can take care of us - Canada and Australia, and the others.
However, we will not talk of politics. It bores you, I can see.
We will try and find some other subject. Now tell me, don't you
think this is ingenious?"

They had reached the foot of the hill upon which the Hall was
situated. In front of them, underneath the terrace, was a little
iron gate, held open now by Meekins, who had gone on ahead and
dismounted from his bicycle.

"I have a subterranean way from here into the Hall," Mr. Fentolin
explained. "Come with me. You will only have to stoop a little,
and it may amuse you. You need not be afraid. There are electric
lights every ten yards. I turn them on with this switch - see."

Mr. Fentolin touched a button in the wall, and the place was at
once brilliantly illuminated. A little row of lights from the
ceiling and the walls stretched away as far as one could see. They
passed through the iron gates, which shut behind them with a click.
Stooping a little, Hamel was still able to walk by the side of the
man in the chair. They traversed about a hundred yards of
subterranean way. Here and there a fungus hung down from the wall,
otherwise it was beautifully kept and dry. By and by, with a
little turn, they came to an incline and another iron gate, held
open for them by a footman. Mr. Fentolin sped up the last few feet
into the great hail, which seemed more imposing than ever by reason
of this unexpected entrance. Hamel, blinking a little, stepped to
his side.

"Welcome!" Mr. Fentolin cried gaily. "Welcome, my friend Mr. Hamel,
to St. David's Hall!"


During the next half-hour, Hamel was introduced to luxuries to which,
in a general way, he was entirely unaccustomed. One man-servant
was busy preparing his bath in a room leading out of his sleeping
apartment, while another brought him a choice of evening clothes and
superintended his disrobing. Hamel, always observant, studied his
surroundings with keen interest. He found himself in a queerly
mixed atmosphere of luxurious modernity and stately antiquity. His
four-poster, the huge couch at the foot of his bed, and all the
furniture about the room, was of the Queen Anne period. The
bathroom which communicated with his apartment was the latest
triumph of the plumber's art - a room with floor and walls of white
tiles, the bath itself a little sunken and twice the ordinary size.
He dispensed so far as he could with the services of the men and
descended, as soon as he was dressed, into the hall. Meekins was
waiting at the bottom of the stairs, dressed now in somber black.

"Mr. Fentolin will be glad if you will step into his room, sir," he
announced, leading the way.

Mr. Fentolin was seated in his chair, reading the Times in a corner
of his library. Shaped blocks had been placed behind and in front
of the wheels of his little vehicle, to prevent it from moving. A
shaded reading-lamp stood on the table by his side. He did not at
once look up, and Hamel glanced around with genuine admiration.
The shelves which lined the walls and the winged cases which
protruded into the room were filled with books. There was a large
oak table with beautifully carved legs, piled with all sorts of
modern reviews and magazines. A log fire was burning in the big
oaken grate. The perfume from a great bowl of lavender seemed to
mingle curiously yet pleasantly with the half musty odour of the
old leather-hound volumes. The massive chimneypiece was of black
oak, and above it were carved the arms of the House of Fentolin.
The walls were oak-panelled to the ceiling.

"Refreshed, I hope, by your bath and change, my dear visitor?" the
head of the house remarked, as he laid down his paper. "Draw a
chair up here and join me in a glass of vermouth. You need not be
afraid of it. It comes to me from the maker as a special favour."

Hamel accepted a quaintly-cut wine-glass full of the amber liquid.
Mr. Fentolin sipped his with the air of a connoisseur.

"This," he continued, "is one of our informal days. There is no
one in the house save my sister-in-law, niece, and nephew, and a
poor invalid gentleman who, I am sorry to say, is confined to his
bed. My sister-in-law is also, I regret to say, indisposed. She
desired me to present her excuses to you and say how greatly she
is looking forward to making your acquaintance during the next few

Hamel bowed.

"It is very kind of Mrs. Fentolin," he murmured.

"On these occasions," Mr. Fentolin continued, "we do not make use
of a drawing-room. My niece will come in here presently. You are
looking at my books, I see. Are you, by any chance, a bibliophile?
I have a case of manuscripts here which might interest you."

Hamel shook his head.

"Only in the abstract, I fear," he answered. "I have scarcely
opened a serious book since I was at Oxford."

"What was your year?" Mr. Fentolin asked.

"Fourteen years ago I left Magdalen," Hamel replied. "I had made
up my mind to be an engineer, and I went over to the Boston
Institute of Technology."

Mr. Fentolin nodded appreciatively.

"A magnificent profession," he murmured. "A healthy one, too, I
should judge from your appearance. You are a strong man, Mr. Hamel."

"I have had reason to be," Hamel rejoined. "During nearly the whole
of the time I have been abroad, I have been practically pioneering.
Building railways in the far West, with gangs of Chinese and Italians
and Hungarians and scarcely a foreman who isn't terrified of his job,
isn't exactly drawing-room work."

"You are going back there?" Mr. Fentolin asked, with interest.

Hamel shook his head.

"I have no plans," he declared. "I have been fortunate enough, or
shall I some day say unfortunate enough, I wonder, to have inherited
a large legacy."

Mr. Fentolin smiled.

"Don't ever doubt your good fortune," he said earnestly. "The
longer I live - and in my limited way I do see a good deal of life
- the more I appreciate the fact that there isn't anything in this
world that compares with the power of money. I distrust a poor man.
He may mean to be honest, but he is at all times subject to
temptation. Ah! here is my niece."

Mr. Fentolin turned towards the door. Hamel rose at once to his
feet. His surmise, then, had been correct. She was coming towards
them very quietly. In her soft grey dinner-gown, her brown hair
smoothly brushed back, a pearl necklace around her long, delicate
neck, she seemed to him a very exquisite embodiment of those
memories which he had been carrying about throughout the afternoon.

"Here, Mr. Hamel," his host said, "is a member of my family who
has been a deserter for a short time. This is Mr. Richard Hamel,
Esther; my niece, Miss Esther Fentolin."

She held out her hand with the faintest possible smile, which might
have been of greeting or recognition.

"I travelled for some distance in the train with Mr. Hamel this
afternoon, I think," she remarked.

"Indeed?" Mr. Fentolin exclaimed. "Dear me, that is very
interesting - very interesting, indeed! Mr. Hamel, I am sure, did
not tell you of his destination?"

He watched them keenly. Hamel, though he scarcely understood, was
quick to appreciate the possible significance of that tentative

"We did not exchange confidences," he observed. "Miss Fentolin
only changed into my carriage during the last few minutes of her
journey. Besides," he continued, "to tell you the truth, my ideas
as to my destination were a little hazy. To come and look for some
queer sort of building by the side of the sea, which has been
unoccupied for a dozen years or so, scarcely seems a reasonable
quest, does it?"

"Scarcely, indeed," Mr. Fentolin assented. "You may thank me, Mr.
Hamel, for the fact that the place is not in ruins. My blatant
trespassing has saved you from that, at least. After dinner we must
talk further about the Tower. To tell you the truth, I have grown
accustomed to the use of the little place."

The sound of the dinner gong boomed through the house. A moment
later Gerald entered, followed by a butler announcing dinner.

"The only remaining member of my family," Mr. Fentolin remarked,
indicating his nephew. "Gerald, you will be pleased, I know, to
meet Mr. Hamel. Mr. Hamel has been a great traveller. Long before
you can remember, his father used to paint wonderful pictures of
this coast."

Gerald shook hands with his visitor. His face, for a moment,
lighted up. He was looking pale, though, and singularly sullen
and dejected.

"There are two of your father's pictures in the modern side of the
gallery up-stairs," he remarked, a little diffidently. "They are
great favourites with everybody here."

They all went in to dinner together. Meekins, who had appeared
silently, had glided unnoticed behind his master's chair and
wheeled it across the hall.

"A partie carree to-night," Mr. Fentolin declared. "I have a
resident doctor here, a very delightful person, who often dines
with us, but to-night I thought not. Five is an awkward number.
I want to get to know you better, Mr. Hamel, and quickly. I
want you, too, to make friends with my niece and nephew. Mr.
Hamel's father," he went on, addressing the two latter, "and your
father were great friends. By-the-by, have I told you both
exactly why Mr. Hamel is a guest here to-night - why he came to
these parts at all? No? Listen, then. He came to take possession
of the Tower. The worst of it is that it belongs to him, too. His
father bought it from your father more years ago than we should
care to talk about. I have really been a trespasser all this time."

They took their places at a small round table in the middle of the
dining-room. The shaded lights thrown downwards upon the table
seemed to leave most of the rest of the apartment in semi-darkness.
The gloomy faces of the men and women whose pictures hung upon the
walls were almost invisible. The servants themselves, standing a
little outside the halo of light, were like shadows passing swiftly
and noiselessly back and forth. At the far end of the room was an
organ, and to the left a little balcony, built out as though for an
orchestra. Hamel looked about him almost in wonderment. There was
something curiously impressive in the size of the apartment and
its emptiness.

"A trespasser," Mr. Fentolin continued, as he took up the menu and
criticised it through his horn-rimmed eyeglass, "that is what I
have been, without a doubt."

"But for your interest and consequent trespass," Hamel remarked, "I
should probably have found the roof off and the whole place in ruins."

"Instead of which you found the door locked against you," Mr.
Fentolin pointed out. "Well, we shall see. I might, at any rate,
have lost the opportunity of entertaining you here this evening.
I am particularly glad to have an opportunity of making you known
to my niece and nephew. I think you will agree with me that here
are two young people who are highly to be commended. I cannot offer
them a cheerful life here. There is little society, no gaiety, no
sort of excitement. Yet they never leave me. They seem to have no
other interest in life but to be always at my beck and call. A case,
Mr. Hamel, of really touching devotion. If anything could reconcile
me to my miserable condition, it would he the kindness and
consideration of those by whom I am surrounded."

Hamel murmured a few words of cordial agreement. Yet he found
himself, in a sense, embarrassed. Gerald was looking down upon his
plate and his face was hidden. Esther's features had suddenly
become stony and expressionless. Hamel felt instinctively that
something was wrong.

"There are compensations," Mr. Fentolin continued, with the air of
one enjoying speech, "which find their way into even the gloomiest
of lives. As I lie on my back, hour after hour, I feel all the more
conscious of this. The world is a school of compensations, Mr. Hamel.
The interests - the mental interests, I mean - of unfortunate people
like myself, come to possess in time a peculiar significance and to
yield a peculiar pleasure. I have hobbies, Mr. Hamel. I frankly
admit it. Without my hobbies, I shudder to think what might become
of me. I might become a selfish, cruel, misanthropical person.
Hobbies are indeed a great thing."

The brother and sister sat still in stony silence. Hamel, looking
across the little table with its glittering load of cut glass and
silver and scarlet flowers, caught something in Esther's eyes, so
rarely expressive of any emotion whatever, which puzzled him. He
looked swiftly back at his host. Mr. Fentolin's face, at that
moment, was like a beautiful cameo. His expression was one of
gentle benevolence.

"Let me be quite frank with you," Mr. Fentolin murmured. "My
occupation of the Tower is one of these hobbies. I love to sit
there within a few yards of the sea and watch the tide come in.
I catch something of the spirit, I think, which caught your father,
Mr. Hamel, and kept him a prisoner here. In my small way I, too,
paint while I am down there, paint and dream. These things may not
appeal to you, but you must remember that there are few things left
to me in life, and that those, therefore, which I can make use of,
are dear to me. Gerald, you are silent to-night. How is it that
you say nothing?"

"I am tired, sir," the boy answered quietly.

Mr. Fentolin nodded gravely.

"It is inexcusable of me," he declared smoothly, "to have forgotten
even for a moment. My nephew, Mr. Hamel," he went on, "had quite
an exciting experience last night - or rather a series of
experiences. He was first of all in a railway accident, and then,
for the sake of a poor fellow who was with him and who was badly
hurt, he motored back here in the grey hours of the morning and
ran, they tell me, considerable risk of being drowned on the marshes.
A very wonderful and praiseworthy adventure, I consider it. I trust
that our friend up-stairs, when he recovers, will be properly

Gerald rose to his feet precipitately. The service of dinner was
almost concluded, and he muttered something which sounded like an
excuse. Mr. Fentolin, however, stretched out his hand and motioned
him to resume his seat.

"My dear Gerald!" he exclaimed reprovingly. "You would leave us so
abruptly? Before your sister, too! What will Mr. Hamel think of
our country ways? Pray resume your seat."

For a moment the boy stood quite still, then he slowly subsided into
his chair. Mr. Fentolin passed around a decanter of wine which had
been placed upon the table by the butler. The servants had now left
the room.

"You must excuse my nephew, if you please, Mr. Hamel," he begged.
"Gerald has a boy's curious aversion to praise in any form. I am
looking forward to hearing your verdict upon my port. The
collection of wine and pictures was a hobby of my grandfather's, for
which we, his descendants, can never be sufficiently grateful."

Hamel praised his wine, as indeed he had every reason to, but for
a few moments the smooth conversation of his host fell upon deaf
ears. He looked from the boy's face, pale and wrinkled as though
with some sort of suppressed pain, to the girl's still, stony
expression. This was indeed a house of mysteries! There was
something here incomprehensible, some thing about the relations of
these three and their knowledge of one another, utterly baffling.
It was the queerest household, surely, into which any stranger had
ever been precipitated.

"The planting of trees and the laying down of port are two virtues
in our ancestors which have never been properly appreciated," Mr.
Fentolin continued. "Let us, at any rate, free ourselves from the
reproach of ingratitude so far as regards my grandfather - Gerald
Fentolin - to whom I believe we are indebted for this wine. We
will drink -"

Mr. Fentolin broke off in the middle of his sentence. The august
calm of the great house had been suddenly broken. From up-stairs
came the tumult of raised voices, the slamming of a door, the
falling of something heavy upon the floor. Mr. Fentolin listened
with a grim change in his expression. His smile had departed, his
lower lip was thrust out, his eyebrows met. He raised the little
whistle which hung from his chain. At that moment, however, the
door was opened. Doctor Sarson appeared.

"I am sorry to disturb you, Mr. Fentolin," he said, "but our patient
is becoming a little difficult. The concussion has left him, as I
feared it might, in a state of nervous excitability. He insists
upon an interview with you."

Mr. Fentolin backed his little chair from the table. The doctor
came over and laid his hand upon the handle.

"You will, I am sure, excuse me for a few moments, Mr. Hamel,"
his host begged. "My niece and nephew will do their best to
entertain you. Now, Sarson, I am ready."

Mr. Fentolin glided across the dim, empty spaces of the splendid
apartment, followed by the doctor; a ghostly little procession it
seemed. The door was closed behind them. For a few moments a
curious silence ensued. Gerald remained tense and apparently
suffering from some sort of suppressed emotion. Esther for the
first time moved in her place. She leaned towards Hamel. Her lips
were slowly parted, her eyes sought the door as though in terror.
Her voice, although save for themselves there was no one else in
the whole of that great apartment, had sunk to the lowest of

"Are you a brave man, Mr. Hamel?" she asked.

He was staggered but he answered her promptly.

"I believe so."

"Don't give up the Tower - just yet. That is what - he has brought
you here for. He wants you to give it up and go back. Don't!"

The earnestness of her words was unmistakable. Hamel felt the
thrill of coming events.

"Why not?"

"Don't ask me," she begged. "Only if you are brave, if you have
feeling for others, keep the Tower, if it be for only a week.

The door had been noiselessly opened. The doctor appeared and
advanced to the table with a grave little bow.

"Mr. Fentolin," he said, "has been kind enough to suggest that I
take a glass of wine with you. My presence is not needed up-stairs.
Mr. Hamel," he added, "I am glad, sir, to make your acquaintance.
I have for a long time been a great admirer of your father's work."

He took his place at the head of the table and, filling his glass,
bowed towards Hamel. Once more Gerald and his sister relapsed
almost automatically into an indifferent and cultivated silence.
Hamel found civility towards the newcomer difficult. Unconsciously
his attitude became that of the other two. He resented the
intrusion. He found himself regarding the advent of Doctor Sarson
as possessing some secondary significance. It was almost as though
Mr. Fentolin preferred not to leave him alone with his niece and

Nevertheless, his voice, when he spoke, was clear and


Mr. Fentolin, on leaving the dining-room, steered his chair with
great precision through the open, wrought-iron doors of a small
lift at the further end of the hall, which Doctor Sarson, who
stepped in with him, promptly directed to the second floor. Here
they made their way to the room in which Mr. Dunster was lying.
Doctor Sarson opened the door and looked in. Almost immediately
he stood at one side, out of sight of Mr. Dunster, and nodded to Mr.

"If there is any trouble," he whispered, "send for me. I am better
away, for the present. My presence only excites him."

Mr. Fentolin nodded.

"You are right," he said. "Go down into the dining-room. I am not
sure about that fellow Hamel, and Gerald is in a queer temper. Stay
with them. See that they are not alone."

The doctor silently withdrew, and Mr. Fentolin promptly glided past
him into the room. Mr. John P. Dunster, in his night clothes, was
sitting on the side of the bed. Standing within a few feet of him,
watching him all the time with the subtle intentness of a cat
watching a mouse, stood Meekins. Mr. Dunster's head was still bound,
although the bandage had slipped a little, apparently in some
struggle. His face was chalklike, and he was breathing quickly.

"So you've come at last!" he exclaimed, a little truculently. "Are
you Mr. Fentolin?"

Mr. Fentolin gravely admitted his identity. His eyes rested upon
his guest with an air of tender interest. His face was almost

"You are the owner of this house - I am underneath your roof - is
that so?"

"This is certainly St. David's Hall," Mr. Fentolin replied. "It
really appears as though your conclusions were correct."

"Then will you tell me why I am kept a prisoner here?"

Mr. Fentolin's expression was for a moment clouded. He seemed hurt.

"A prisoner," he repeated softly. "My dear Mr. Dunster, you have
surely forgotten the circumstances which procured for me the pleasure
of this visit; the condition in which you arrived here - only, after
all, a very few hours ago?"

"The circumstances," Mr. Dunster declared drily, "are to me still
inexplicable. At Liverpool Street Station I was accosted by a
young man who informed me that his name was Gerald Fentolin, and
that he was on his way to The Hague to play in a golf tournament.
His story seemed entirely probable, and I permitted him a seat in
the special train I had chartered for Harwich. There was an accident
and I received this blow to my head - only a trifling affair, after
all. I come to my senses to find myself here. I do not know exactly
what part of the world you call this, but from the fact that I can
see the sea from my window, it must be some considerable distance
from the scene of the accident. I find that my dressing-case has
been opened, my pocket-book examined, and I am apparently a prisoner.
I ask you, Mr. Fentolin, for an explanation."

Mr. Fentolin smiled reassuringly.

"My dear sir," he said, "my dear Mr. Dunster, I believe I may have
the pleasure of calling you - your conclusions seem to me just a
little melodramatic. My nephew - Gerald Fentolin - did what I
consider the natural thing, under the circumstances. You had been
courteous to him, and he repaid the obligation to the best of his
ability. The accident to your train happened in a dreary part of
the country, some thirty miles from here. My nephew adopted a
course which I think, under the circumstances, was the natural and
hospitable one. He brought you to his home. There was no hospital

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