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Witness For The Defense by A.E.W. Mason

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wouldn't keep it either. "You are going straight back to England," he
said. "Take it with you. When you get home you can hand it to one of the
big-wigs at the India Office, and he'll put it in a pigeon-hole, and some
day an old charwoman cleaning the office will find it, and she'll take it
home to her grandchildren to play with and one of them'll drop it on the
fire, and there'll be an end of it."

"Yes," replied Thresk slowly. "But if I do that, it won't be useful at
Calcutta, will it?"

"Oh," said Ballantyne with a sneer. "You've got a conscience too, eh?
Well, I'll tell you. I don't think that photograph will be needed at

"Are you sure of that?"

"Yes. Salak's friends don't know it, but I do."

Thresk sat still in doubt. Was Ballantyne speaking the truth or did he
speak in fear? He was still standing by the bureau looking down upon
Thresk and behind him, so that Thresk had not the expression of his face
to help him to decide. But he did not turn in his chair to look. For as
he sat there it dawned upon him that the photograph was the very thing
which he himself needed. The scheme which had been growing in his mind
all through this evening, which had begun to grow from the very moment
when he had entered the tent, was now complete in every detail except
one. He wanted an excuse, a good excuse which should explain why he
missed his boat, and here it was on the table in front of him. Almost he
had refused it! Now it seemed to him a Godsend.

"I'll take it," he cried, and Baram Singh silently appeared at the outer
doorway of the tent.

"Huzoor," he said. "Railgharri hai."

Ballantyne turned to Thresk.

"Your train is signalled," and as Thresk started up he reassured him.
"There's no hurry. I have sent word that it is not to start without you."
And while Baram Singh still stood waiting for orders in the doorway of
the tent Ballantyne walked round the table, took up the portrait very
deliberately and handed it to Thresk.

"Thank you," he said. "Button it in your coat pocket."

He waited while Thresk obeyed.

"Thus," said Thresk with a laugh, "did the Rajah of Bakutu," and
Ballantyne replied with a grin.

"Thank you for mentioning that name." He turned to Baram Singh. "The
camel, quick!"

Baram Singh went out to the enclosure within the little village of tents
and Thresk asked curiously:

"Do you distrust him?"

Ballantyne looked steadily at his visitor and said:

"I don't answer such questions. But I'll tell you something. If that man
were dying he would ask for leave. And if he would ask for leave because
he would not die with my scarlet livery on his back. Are you answered?"

"Yes," said Thresk.

"Very well." And with a brisk change of tone Ballantyne added: "I'll see
that your camel is ready." He called aloud to his wife: "Stella! Stella!
Mr. Thresk is going," and he went out through the doorway into the



Thresk, alone in the tent, looked impatiently towards the grass-screen.
He wanted half-a-dozen words with Stella alone. Here was the opportunity,
the unhoped-for opportunity, and it was slipping away. Through the open
doorway of the tent he saw Ballantyne standing by a big fire and men
moving quickly in obedience to his voice. Then he heard the rustle of a
dress in the corridor, and she was in the room. He moved quickly towards
her, but she held up her hand and stopped him.

"Oh, why did you come?" she said, and the pallor of her face reproached
him no less than the regret in her voice.

"I heard of you in Bombay," he replied. "I am glad that I did come."

"And I am sorry."


She looked about the tent as though he might find his answer there.
Thresk did not move. He stood near to her, watching her face intently
with his jaw rather set.

"Oh, I didn't say that to wound you," said Stella, and she sat down on
one of the cushioned basket-chairs. "You mustn't think I wasn't glad to
see you. I was--at the first moment I was very glad;" and she saw his
face lighten as she spoke. "I couldn't help it. All the years rolled
away. I remembered the Sussex Downs and--and--days when we rode there
high up above the weald. Do you remember?"


"How long was that ago?"

"Eight years."

Stella laughed wistfully.

"To me it seems a century." She was silent for a moment, and though he
spoke to her urgently she did not answer. She was carried back to the
high broad hills of grass with the curious clumps of big beech-trees upon
their crests.

"Do you remember Halnaker Gallop?" she asked with a laugh. "We found it
when the chains weren't up and had the whole two miles free. Was there
ever such grass?"

She was looking straight at the bureau, but she was seeing that green
lane of shaven turf in the haze of an August morning. She saw it rise and
dip in the open between long brown grass. There was a tree on the
left-hand side just where the ride dipped for the first time. Then it ran
straight to the big beech-trees and passed between them, a wide glade of
sunlight, and curved out at the upper end by the road and dipped down
again to the two lodges.

"And the ridge at the back of Charlton forest, all the weald to Leith
Hill in view?" She rose suddenly from her chair. "Oh, I am sorry that
you came."

"And I am glad," repeated Thresk.

The stubbornness with which he repeated his words arrested her. She
looked at him--was it with distrust, he asked himself? He could not be
sure. But certainly there was a little hard note in her voice which had
not been there before, when in her turn she asked:


"Because I shouldn't have known," he said in a quick whisper. "I should
have gone back. I should have left you here. I shouldn't have known."

Stella recoiled.

"There is nothing to know," she said sharply, and Thresk pointed at
her throat.


Stella Ballantyne raised her hand to cover the blue marks.

"I--I fell and hurt myself," she stammered.

"It was he--Ballantyne."

"No," she cried and she drew herself erect. But Thresk would not accept
the denial.

"He ill-treats you," he insisted. "He drinks and ill-treats you."

Stella shook her head.

"You asked questions in Bombay where we are known. You were not told
that," she said confidently. There was only one person in Bombay who
knew the truth and Jane Repton, she was very sure, would never have
betrayed her.

"That's true," Thresk conceded. "But why? Because it's only here in camp
that he lets himself go. He told us as much to-night. You were here at
the table. You heard. He let his secret slip: no one to carry tales, no
one to spy. In the towns he sets a guard upon himself. Yes, but he looks
forward to the months of camp when there are no next-door neighbours."

"No, that's not true," she protested and cast about for explanations.
"He--he has had a long day and to-night he was tired--and when you are
tired--Oh, as a rule he's different." And to her relief she heard
Ballantyne's voice outside the tent.

"Thresk! Thresk!"

She came forward and held out her hand.

"There! Your camel's ready," she said. "You must go! Goodbye," and as he
took it the old friendliness transfigured her face. "You are a great man
now. I read of you. You always meant to be, didn't you? Hard work?"

"Very," said Thresk. "Four o'clock in the morning till midnight;" and she
suddenly caught him by the arm.

"But it's worth it." She let him go and clasped her hands together. "Oh,
you have got everything!" she cried in envy.

"No," he answered. But she would not listen.

"Everything you asked for," she said and she added hurriedly, "Do you
still collect miniatures? No time for that now I suppose." Once more
Ballantyne's voice called to them from the camp-fire.

"You must go."

Thresk looked through the opening of the tent. Ballantyne had turned and
was coming back towards them.

"I'll write to you from Bombay," he said, and utter disbelief showed in
her face and sounded in her laugh.

"That letter will never reach me," she said lightly, and she went up to
the door of the tent. Thresk had a moment whilst her back was turned and
he used it. He took his pipe out of his pocket and placed it silently and
quickly on the table. He wanted a word with her when Ballantyne was out
of the way and she was not upon her guard to fence him off. The pipe
might be his friend and give it him. He went up to Stella at the
tent-door and Ballantyne, who was half-way between the camp-fire and the
tent, stopped when he caught sight of him.

"That's right," he said. "You ought to be going;" and he turned again
towards the camel. Thus for another moment they were alone together, but
it was Stella who seized it.

"There go!" she said. "You must go," and in the same breath she added:

"Married yet?"

"No," answered Thresk.

"Still too busy getting on?"

"That's not the reason"--and he lowered his voice to a whisper--"Stella."

Again she laughed in frank and utter disbelief.

"Nor is Stella. That's mere politeness and good manners. We must show the
dear creatures the great part they play in our lives." And upon that all
her fortitude suddenly deserted her. She had played her part so far, she
could play it no longer. An extraordinary change came over her face. The
smiles, the laughter slipped from it like a loosened mask. Thresk saw
such an agony of weariness and hopeless longing in her eyes as he had
never seen even with his experience in the Courts of Law. She drew back
into the shadow of the tent.

"In thirteen days you'll be steaming up the Channel," she whispered, and
with a sob she covered her face with her hands. Thresk saw the tears
trickle between her fingers.

Ballantyne at the fire was looking back towards the tent. Thresk hurried
out to him. The camel was crouching close to the fire saddled and ready.

"You have time," said Ballantyne. "The train's not in yet," and Thresk
walked to the side of the camel, where a couple of steps had been placed
for him to mount. He had a foot on the step when he suddenly clapped his
hand to his pocket.

"I've left my pipe," he cried, "and I've a night's journey in front of
me. I won't be a second."

He ran back with all his speed to the tent. The hangings at the door were
closed. He tore them aside and rushed in.

"Stella!" he said in a whisper, and then he stopped in amazement. He had
left her on the very extremity of distress. He found her, though to be
sure the stains of her tears were still visible upon her face, busy with
one of the evening preparations natural in a camp-life--quietly,
energetically busy. She looked up once when he raised the hanging over
the door, but she dropped her eyes the next instant to her work.

She was standing by the table with a small rook-rifle in her hands. The
breech was open. She looked down the barrel, holding up the weapon so
that the light might shine into the breech.

"Yes?" she said, and with so much indifference that she did not lift her
eyes from her work. "I thought you had gone."

"I left my pipe behind me," said Thresk.

"There it is, on the table."

"Thank you."

He put it in his pocket. Of the two he was disconcerted and at a loss,
she was entirely at her ease.



The Reptons lived upon the Khamballa Hill and the bow-window of their
drawing-room looked down upon the Arabian Sea and southwards along the
coast towards Malabar Point. In this embrasure Mrs. Repton sat through
a morning, denying herself to her friends. A book lay open on her lap
but her eyes were upon the sea. A few minutes after the clock upon her
mantelpiece had struck twelve she saw that for which she watched: the
bowsprit and the black bows of a big ship pushing out from under the
hill and the water boiling under its stem. The whole ship came into
view with its awnings and its saffron funnels and headed to the
north-west for Aden.

Jane Repton rose up from her chair and watched it go. In the sunlight its
black hull was so sharply outlined on the sea, its lines and spars were
so trim that it looked a miniature ship which she could reach out her
hand and snatch. But her eyes grew dim as she watched, so that it became
shapeless and blurred, and long before the liner was out of sight it was
quite lost to her.

"I am foolish," she said as she turned away, and she bit her
handkerchief hard. This was midday of the Friday and ever since that
dinner-party at the Carruthers' on the Monday night she had been
alternating between wild hopes and arguments of prudence. But until this
moment of disappointment she had not realised how completely the hopes
had gained the upper hand with her and how extravagantly she had built
upon Thresk's urgent questioning of her at the dinner-table.

"Very likely he never found the Ballantynes at all," she argued. But he
might have sent her word. All that morning she had been expecting a
telephone message or a telegram or a note scribbled on board the steamer
and sent up the Khamballa Hill by a messenger. But not a token had come
from him and now of the boat which was carrying him to England there was
nothing left but the stain of its smoke upon the sky.

Mrs. Repton put her handkerchief in her pocket and was going about the
business of her house when the butler opened the door.

"I am not in--" Mrs. Repton began and cut short the sentence with a cry
of welcome and surprise, for close upon the heels of the servant Thresk
was standing.

"You!" she cried. "Oh!"

She felt her legs weakening under her and she sat down abruptly on a

"Thank Heaven it was there," she said. "I should have sat on the
floor if it hadn't been." She dismissed the butler and held out her
hand to Thresk. "Oh, my friend," she said, "there's your steamer on
its way to Aden."

Her voice rang with enthusiasm and admiration. Thresk only nodded his
head gloomily.

"I have missed it," he replied. "It's very unfortunate. I have clients
waiting for me in London."

"You missed it on purpose," she declared and Thresk's face relaxed into a
smile. He turned away from the window to her. He seemed suddenly to wear
the look of a boy.

"I have the best of excuses," he replied, "the perfect excuse." But even
he could not foresee how completely that excuse was to serve him.

"Sit down," said Jane Repton, "and tell me. You went to Chitipur, I know.
From your presence here I know too that you found--them--there."

"No," said Thresk, "I didn't." He sat down and looked straight into Jane
Repton's eyes. "I had a stroke of luck. I found them--in camp."

Jane Repton understood all that the last two words implied.

"I should have wished that," she answered, "if I had dared to think it
possible. You talked with Stella?"

"Hardly a word alone. But I saw."

"What did you see?"

"I am here to tell you." And he told her the story of his night at the
camp so far as it concerned Stella Ballantyne, and indeed not quite all
of that. For instance he omitted altogether to relate how he had left his
pipe behind in the tent and had returned for it. That seemed to him
unimportant. Nor did he tell her of his conversation with Ballantyne
about the photograph. "He was in a panic. He had delusions," he said and
left the matter there. Thresk had the lawyer's mind or rather the mind of
a lawyer in big practice. He had the instinct for the essential fact and
the knowledge that it was most lucid when presented in a naked
simplicity. He was at pains to set before Jane Repton what he had seen of
the life which Stella lived with Stephen Ballantyne and nothing else.

"Now," he said when he had finished, "you sent me to Chitipur. I must
know why."

And when she hesitated he overbore her.

"You can be guilty of no disloyalty to your friend," he insisted, "by
being frank with me. After all I have given guarantees. I went to
Chitipur upon your word. I have missed my boat. You bade me go to
Chitipur. That told me too little or too much. I say too little. I have
got to know all now." And he rose up and stood before her. "What do you
know about Stephen Ballantyne?"

"I'll tell you," said Jane Repton. She looked at the clock. "You had
better stay and lunch with us if you will. We shall be alone. I'll tell
you afterwards. Meanwhile--" and in her turn she stood up. The sense of
responsibility was heavy upon her.

She had sent this man upon his errand of knowledge. He had done, in
consequence of it, a stronger, a wilder thing than she had thought, than
she had hoped for. She had a panicky feeling that she had set great
forces at work.

"Meanwhile--" asked Thresk; and she drew a breath of relief. The
steadiness of his eyes and voice comforted her. His quiet insistence gave
her courage. None of her troubles and doubts had any place apparently in
his mind. A nervous horse in the hands of a real horseman--thus she
thought of herself in Thresk's presence.

"Meanwhile I'll give you one reason why I wanted you to go. My husband's
time in India is up. We are leaving for England altogether in a month's
time. We shall not come back at all. And when we have gone Stella will be
left without one intimate friend in the whole country."

"Yes," said Thresk. "That wouldn't do, would it?" and they went in to
their luncheon.

All through that meal, before the servants, they talked what is written
in the newspapers. And of the two she who had fears and hesitations was
still the most impatient to get it done. She had her curiosity and it
was beginning to consume her. What had Thresk known of Stella and she of
him before she had come out to India and become Stella Ballantyne? Had
they been in love? If not why had Thresk gone to Chitipur? Why had he
missed his boat and left all his clients over there in England in the
lurch? If so, why hadn't they married--the idiots? Oh, how she wanted to
know all the answers to all these questions! And what he proposed to do
now! And she would know nothing unless she was frank herself. She had
read his ultimatum in his face.

"We'll have coffee in my sitting-room. You can smoke there," she said and
led the way to it. "A cheroot?"

Thresk smiled with amusement. But the amusement annoyed her for she did
not understand it.

"I have got a Havana cigar here," he said. "May I?"

"Of course."

He lit it and listened. But it was not long before it went out and he did
not stir to light it again. The incident of which Mrs. Repton had been
the witness, and which she related now, invested Ballantyne with horror.
Thresk had left the camp at Chitipur with an angry contempt for him. The
contempt passed out of his feelings altogether as he sat in Mrs. Repton's

"I am not telling you what Stella has confided to me," said Mrs. Repton.
"Stella's loyal even when there's no cause for loyalty; and if loyalty
didn't keep her mouth closed, self-respect would. I tell you what I saw.
We were at Agra at the time. My husband was Collector there. There was
a Durbar held there and the Rajah of Chitipur came to it with his
elephants and his soldiers, and naturally Captain Ballantyne and his wife
came too. They stayed with us. You are to understand that I knew
nothing--absolutely nothing--up to that time. I hadn't a suspicion--until
the afternoon of the finals in the Polo Tournament. Stella and I went
together alone and we came home about six. Stella went upstairs and I--I
walked into the library."

She had found Ballantyne sitting in a high arm-chair, his eyes glittering
under his black thick eyebrows and his face livid. He looked at her as
she entered, but he neither moved nor spoke, and she thought that he was
ill. But the decanter of whisky stood empty on a little table at his side
and she noticed it.

"We have some people coming to dinner to-night, Captain Ballantyne," she
said. "We shall dine at eight, so there's an hour and a half still."

She went over to a book-case and took out a book. When she turned back
into the room a change had taken place in her visitor. Life had flickered
into his face. His eyes were wary and cunning.

"And why do you tell me that?" he asked in a voice which was thick and
formidable. She had a notion that he did not know who she was and then
suddenly she became afraid. She had discovered a secret--his secret. For
once in the towns he had let himself go. She had a hope now that he could
not move and that he knew it; he sat as still as his arm-chair.

"I had forgotten to tell you," she replied. "I thought you might like to
know beforehand."

"Why should I like to know beforehand?"

She had his secret, he plied her with questions to know if she had it.
She must hide her knowledge. Every instinct warned her to hide it.

"The people who are coming are strangers to India," she said, "but I have
told them of you and they will come expectant."

"You are very kind."

She had spoken lightly and with a laugh. Ballantyne replied without irony
or amusement and with his eyes fixed upon her face. Mrs. Repton could not
account for the panic which seized hold upon her. She had dined in
Captain Ballantyne's company before often enough; he had now been for
three days in her house; she had recognised his ability and had neither
particularly liked nor disliked him. Her main impression had been that he
was not good enough for Stella, and it was an impression purely feminine
and instinctive. Now suddenly he had imposed himself upon her as a
creature dangerous, beastlike. She wanted to get out of the room but she
dared not, for she was sure that her careful steps would, despite
herself, change into a run. She sat down, meaning to read for a few
moments, compose herself and then go. But no sooner had she taken her
seat than her terror increased tenfold, for Ballantyne rose swiftly from
his chair and walking in a circle round the room with an extraordinarily
light and noiseless step disappeared behind her. Then he sat down. Mrs.
Repton heard the slight grating of the legs of a chair upon the floor. It
was a chair at a writing-table close by the window and exactly at her
back. He could see every movement which she made, and she could see
nothing, not so much as the tip of one of his fingers. And of his fingers
she was now afraid. He was watching her from his point of vantage; she
seemed to feel his eyes burning upon the nape of her neck. And he said
nothing; and he did not stir. It was broad daylight, she assured herself.
She had but to cross the room to the bell beside the fireplace. Nay, she
had only to scream--and she was very near to screaming--to bring the
servants to her rescue. But she dared not do it. Before she was half-way
to the bell, before the cry was out of her mouth she would feel his
fingers close about her throat.

* * * * *

Mrs. Repton had begun to tell her story with reluctance, dreading lest
Thresk should attribute it to a woman's nerves and laugh. But he did not.
He listened gravely, seriously; and, as she continued, that nightmare of
an evening so lived again in her recollections that she could not but
make it vivid in her words.

"I had more than a mere sense of danger," she said. "I felt besides a
sort of hideous discomfort, almost physical discomfort, which made me
believe that there was something evil in that room beyond the power of
language to describe."

She felt her self-control leaving her. If she stayed she must betray her
alarm. Even now she had swallowed again and again, and she wondered that
he had not detected the working of her throat. She summoned what was left
of her courage and tossing her book aside rose slowly and deliberately.

"I think I shall copy Stella's example and lie down for an hour," she
said without turning her head towards Ballantyne, and even while she
spoke she knew that she had made a mistake in mentioning Stella. He would
follow her to discover whether she went to Stella's room and told what
she had seen to her. But he did not move. She reached the door, turned
the handle, went out and closed the door behind her.

For a moment then her strength failed her; she leaned against the wall by
the side of the door, her heart racing. But the fear that he would follow
urged her on. She crossed the hall and stopped deliberately before a
cabinet of china at the foot of the stairs, which stood against the wall
in which the library door was placed. While she stood there she saw the
door open very slowly and Ballantyne's livid face appear at the opening.
She turned towards the stairs and mounted them without looking back.
Halfway up a turn hid the hall from her, and the moment after she had
passed the turn she heard him crossing the hall after her, again with a
lightness of step which seemed to be uncanny and inhuman in so heavy and
gross a creature.

"I was appalled," she said to Thresk frankly. "He had the step of an
animal. I felt that some great baboon was tracking me stealthily."

Mrs. Repton came to Stella Ballantyne's door and was careful not to stop.
She reached her own room, and once in shot the bolt; and in a moment or
two she heard him breathing just outside the panels.

"And to think that Stella is alone with him in the jungle months at a
time!" she cried, actually wringing her hands. "That thought was in my
mind all the time--a horror of a thought. Oh, I could understand now the
loss of her spirits, her colour, her youth."

Pictures of lonely camps and empty rest-houses, far removed from any
habitation in the silence of Indian nights, rose before her eyes. She
imagined Stella propped up on her elbow in bed, wide-eyed with terror,
listening and listening to the light footsteps of the drunken brute
beyond the partition-wall, shivering when they approached, dropping back
with the dew of her sweat upon her forehead when they retired; and
these pictures she translated in words for Thresk in her house on the
Khamballa Hill.

Thresk was moved and showed that he was moved. He rose and walked to the
window, turning his back to her.

"Why did she marry him?" he exclaimed. "She was poor, but she had a
little money. Why did she marry him?" and he turned back to Mrs. Repton
for an answer.

She gave him one quick look and said:

"That is one of the things she has never told me and I didn't meet her
until after she had married him."

"And why doesn't she leave him?"

Mrs. Repton held up her hands.

"Oh, the easy questions, Mr. Thresk! How many women endure the thing that
is because it is? Even to leave your husband you want a trifle of spirit.
And what if your spirit's broken? What if you are cowed? What if you live
in terror day and night?"

"Yes. I am a fool," said Thresk, and he sat down again. "There are two
more questions I want to ask. Did you ever talk to Stella"--the Christian
name slipped naturally from him and only Jane Repton of the two remarked
that he had used it--"of that incident in the library at Agra?"


"And did she in consequence of what you told her give you any account of
her life with her husband?"

Mrs. Repton hesitated not because she was any longer in doubt as to
whether she would speak the whole truth or not--she had committed herself
already too far--but because the form of the question nettled her. It was
a little too forensic for her taste. She was anxious to know the man; she
could dispense with the barrister altogether.

"Yes, she did," she replied, "and don't cross-examine me, please."

"I beg your pardon," said Thresk with a laugh which made him human on
the instant.

"Well, it's true," said Jane Repton in a rush. "She told me the
truth--what you know and more. He stripped when he was drunk, stripped
to the skin. Think of it! Stella told me that and broke down. Oh, if you
had seen her! For Stella to give way--that alone must alarm her friends.
Oh, but the look of her! She sat by my side on the sofa, wringing her
hands, with the tears pouring down her face ..." Thresk rose quickly
from his chair.

"Thank you," he said, cutting her short. He wanted to hear no more. He
held out his hand to her with a certain abruptness.

Mrs. Repton rose too.

"What are you going to do?" she asked breathlessly. "I must know I have a
right to, I think. I have told you so much. I was in great doubt whether
I should tell you anything. But--" Her voice broke and she ended her
plea lamely enough: "I am very fond of Stella."

"I know that," said Thresk, and his voice was grateful and his face
most friendly.

"Well, what are you going to do?"

"I am going to write to her to ask her to join me in Bombay," he replied.



A long silence followed upon his words. Jane Repton turned to the
mantelshelf and moved an ornament here and another one there. She had
contemplated this very consequence of Thresk's journey to Chitipur. She
had actually worked for it herself. She was frank enough to acknowledge
that. None the less his announcement, quietly as he had made it, was a
shock to her. She did not, however, go back upon her work; and when she
spoke it was rather to make sure that he was not going to act upon an
unconsidered impulse.

"It will damage your career," she said. "Of course you have
thought of that."

"It will alter it," he answered, "if she comes to me. I shall go out of
Parliament, of course."

"And your practice?"

"That will suffer too for a while no doubt. But even if I lost it
altogether I should not be a poor man."

"You have saved money?"

"No. There has not been much time for that, but for a good many years now
I have collected silver and miniatures. I know something about them and
the collection is of value."

"I see."

Mrs. Repton looked at him now. Oh, yes, he had thought his proposal out
during the night journey to Bombay--not a doubt of it.

"Stella, too, will suffer," she said.

"Worse than she does now?" asked Thresk.

"No. But her position will be difficult for awhile at least," and she
came towards Thresk and pleaded.

"You will be thoughtful of her, for her? Oh, if you should play her
false--how I should hate you!" and her eyes flashed fire at him.

"I don't think that you need fear that."

But he was too calm for her, too quiet. She was in the mood to want
heroics. She clamoured for protestations as a drug for her uneasy mind.
And Thresk stood before her without one. She searched his face with
doubtful eyes. Oh, there seemed to her no tenderness in it.

"She will need--love," said Mrs. Repton. "There--that's the word. Can you
give it her?"

"If she comes to me--yes. I have wanted her for eight years," and then
suddenly she got, not heroics, but a glimpse of a real passion. A spasm
of pain convulsed his face. He sat down and beat with his fist upon the
table. "It was horrible to me to ride away from that camp and leave her
there--miles away from any friend. I would have torn her from him by
force if there had been a single hope that way. But his levies would have
barred the road. No, this was the only chance: to come away to Bombay,
to write to her that the first day, the first night she is able to slip
out and travel here she will find me waiting."

Mrs. Repton was satisfied. But while he had been speaking a new fear had
entered into her.

"There's something I should have thought of," she exclaimed.


"Captain Ballantyne is not generous. He is just the sort of man not to
divorce his wife."

Thresk raised his head. Clearly that possibility had no more occurred to
him than it had to Jane Repton. He thought it over now.

"Just the sort of man," he agreed. "But we must take that risk--if
she comes."

"The letter's not yet written," Mrs. Repton suggested.

"But it will be," he replied, and then he stood and confronted her. "Do
you wish me not to write it?"

She avoided his eyes, she looked upon the floor, she began more than one
sentence of evasion; but in the end she took both his hands in hers and
said stoutly:

"No, I don't! Write! Write!"

"Thank you!"

He went to the door, and when he had reached it she called to him in a
low voice.

"Mr. Thresk, what did you mean when you repeated and repeated if
she comes?"

Thresk came slowly back into the room.

"I meant that eight years ago I gave her a very good reason why she
should put no faith in me."

He told her that quite frankly and simply, but he told her no more than
that, and she let him go. He went back to the great hotel on the Apollo
Bund and sent off a number of cablegrams to London saying that he had
missed his steamer and that the work waiting for him must go to other
hands. The letter to Stella Ballantyne he kept to the last. It could not
reach her immediately in any case since she was in camp. For all he knew
it might be weeks before she read it; and he had need to go warily in the
writing of it. Certain words she had used to him were an encouragement;
but there were others which made him doubt whether she would have any
faith in him. Every now and then there had been a savour of bitterness.
Once she had been shamed because of him, on Bignor Hill where Stane
Street runs to Chichester, and a second time in front of him in the tent
at Chitipur. No, it was not an easy letter which he had to write, and he
took the night and the greater part of the next day to decide upon its
wording. It could not in any case go until the night-mail. He had
finished it and directed it by six o'clock in the evening and he went
down with the letter in his hand into the big lounge to post it in the
box there. But it never was posted.

Close to the foot of the staircase stood a tape machine, and as Thresk
descended he heard the clicking of the instrument and saw the usual small
group of visitors about it. They were mostly Americans, and they were
reading out to one another the latest prices of the stock-markets. Some
of the chatter reached to Thresk's inattentive ears, and when he was only
two steps from the floor one carelessly-spoken phrase interjected between
the values of two securities brought him to a stop. The speaker was a
young man with a squarish face and thick hair parted accurately in the
middle. He was dressed in a thin grey suit and he was passing the tape
between his fingers as it ran out. The picture of him was impressed
during that instant upon Thresk's mind, so that he could never afterwards
forget it.

"Copper's up one point," he was saying, "that's fine. Who's Captain
Ballantyne, I wonder? United Steel has dropped seven-eighths. Well, that
doesn't affect me," and so he ran on.

Thresk heard no more of what he said. He stood wondering what news could
have come up on the tape of Captain Ballantyne who was out in camp in the
state of Chitipur, or if there was another Captain Ballantyne. He joined
the little group in front of the machine, and picking up the ribbon from
the floor ran his eyes backwards along it until he came to "United
Steel." The sentence in front of that ran as follows:

"Captain Ballantyne was found dead early yesterday morning outside his
tent close to Jarwhal Junction."

Thresk read the sentence twice and then walked away. The news might be
false, of course, but if it were true here was a revolution in his life.
There was no need for this letter which he held in his hand. The way was
smoothed out for Stella, for him. Not for a moment could he pretend to do
anything but welcome the news, to wish with all his heart that it was
true. And it seemed probable news. There was the matter of that
photograph. Thresk had carried it out to the Governor's house on Malabar
Point on the very morning of his arrival in Bombay. He had driven on to
Mrs. Repton's house after he had left it there. But he had taken it away
from Chitipur at too late a day to save Ballantyne. Ballantyne had, after
all, had good cause to be afraid while he possessed it, and the news had
not yet got to Salak's friends that it had left his possession. Thus he
made out the history of Captain Ballantyne's death.

The tape machine, however, might have ticked out a mere rumour with no
truth in it at all. He went to the office and obtained a copy of _The
Advocate of India_,--the evening newspaper of the city. He looked at the
stop-press telegrams. There was no mention of Ballantyne's death. Nor on
glancing down the columns could he find in any paragraph a statement that
any mishap had befallen him. But on the other hand he read that he
himself, Henry Thresk, having brought his case to a successful
conclusion, had left India yesterday by the mail-steamer Madras, bound
for Marseilles. He threw down the paper and went to the telephone-box. If
the news were true the one person likely to know of it was Mrs. Repton.
Thresk rang up the house on the Khamballa Hill and asked to speak to her.
An answer was returned to him at once that Mrs. Repton had given orders
that she was not to be disturbed. Thresk however insisted:

"Will you please give my name to her--Henry Thresk," and he waited with
his ear to the receiver for a century. At last a voice spoke to him, but
it was again the voice of the servant.

"The Memsahib very sorry, sir, but cannot speak to any one just now;" and
he heard the jar of the instrument as the receiver at the other end was
sharply hung up and the connection broken.

Thresk came out from the telephone-box with a face puzzled and very
grave. Mrs. Repton refused to speak to him!

It was a fact, an inexplicable fact, and it alarmed him. It was
impossible to believe that mere reflection during the last twenty-four
hours had brought about so complete a revolution in her feelings. He to
whom she had passionately cried "Write! Write!" only yesterday could
hardly be barred out from mere speech with her to-day for any fault of
his. He had done nothing, had seen no one. Thresk was certain now that
the news upon the tape was true. But it could not be all the truth. There
was something behind it--something rather grim and terrible.

Thresk walked to the door of the hotel and called up a motor-car. "Tell
him to drive to the Khamballa Hill," he said to the porter. "I'll let him
know when to stop."

The porter translated the order and Thresk stopped him at Mrs.
Repton's door.

"The Memsahib does not receive any one to-day," said the butler.

"I know," replied Thresk. He scribbled on a card and sent it in. There
was a long delay. Thresk stood in the hall looking out through the open
door. Night had come. There were lights upon the roadway, lights a long
way below at the water's edge on Breach Candy, and there was a light
twinkling far out on the Arabian Sea. But in the house behind him all was
dark. He had come to an abode of desolation and mourning; and his heart
sank and he was attacked with forebodings. At last in the passage behind
him there was a shuffling of feet and a gleam of white. The Memsahib
would receive him.

Thresk was shown into the drawing-room. That room too was unlit. But the
blinds had not been lowered and light from a street lamp outside turned
the darkness into twilight. No one came forward to greet him, but the
room was not empty. He saw Repton and his wife huddled close together on
a sofa in a recess by the fireplace.

"I thought that I had better come up from Bombay," said Thresk, as he
stood in the middle of the room. No answer was returned to him for a few
moments and then it was Repton himself who spoke.

"Yes, yes," he said, and he got up from the sofa. "I think we had better
have some light," he added in a strange indifferent voice. He turned the
light on in the central chandelier, leaving the corners of the room in
shadow, like--the parallel forced its way into Thresk's mind--like the
tent in Chitipur. Then very methodically he pulled down the blinds. He
did not look at Thresk and Jane Repton on the couch never stirred.
Thresk's forebodings became a dreadful certainty. Some evil thing had
happened. He might have been in a house of death. He knew that he was
not wanted there, that husband and wife wished to be alone and silently
resented his presence. But he could not go without more knowledge than he

"A message came up on the tape half an hour ago," he said in a low voice.
"It reported that Ballantyne was dead."

"Yes," replied Repton. He was leaning forward over a table and looking up
to the chandelier as if he fancied that its light burnt more dimly than
was usual.

"That's true," and he spoke in the same strange mechanical voice he had
used before.

"That he was found dead outside his tent," Thresk added.

"It's quite true," Repton agreed. "We are very sorry."


The exclamation burst from Thresk's lips.


Repton moved away from the chandelier. He had not looked at Thresk once
since he had entered the room; nor did he look towards his wife. His face
was very pale and he was busy now setting a chair in place, moving a
photograph, doing any one of the little unnecessary things people
restlessly do when there is an importunate visitor in the room who will
not go.

"You see, there's terribly bad news," he added.

"What news?"

"He was shot, you know. That wasn't in the telegram on the tape, of
course. Yes, he was shot--on the same night you dined there--after you
had gone."


Thresk's voice dropped to a whisper.

"Yes," and the dull quiet voice went on, speaking apparently of some
trivial affair in which none of them could have any interest. "He was
shot by a bullet from a little rook-rifle which belonged to Stella, and
which she was in the habit of using."

Thresk's heart stood still. A picture flashed before his eyes. He
saw the inside of that dimly lit tent with its red lining and Stella
standing by the table. He could hear her voice: "This is my little
rook-rifle. I was seeing that it was clean for to-morrow." She had spoken
so carelessly, so indifferently that it wasn't conceivable that what was
in all their minds could be true. Yet she had spoken, after all, no more
indifferently than Repton was speaking now; and he was in a great stress
of grief. Then Thresk's mind leaped to the weak point in all this chain
of presumption.

"But Ballantyne was found outside the tent," he cried with a little note
of triumph. But it had no echo in Repton's reply.

"I know. That makes everything so much worse."

"What do you mean?"

"Ballantyne was found in the morning outside the tent stone-cold. But
no one had heard the shot, and there were sentries on the edge of the
encampment. He had been dragged outside after he was dead or when he
was dying."

A low cry broke from Thresk. The weak point became of a sudden the most
deadly, the most terrible element in the whole case. He could hear the
prosecuting counsel making play with it. He stood for a moment lost in
horror. Repton had no further word to say to him. Mrs. Repton had never
once spoken. They wanted him away, out of the room, out of the house.
Some insight let him into the meaning of her silence. In the presence of
this tragedy remorse had gripped her. She was looking upon herself as one
who had plotted harm for Stella. She would never forgive Thresk for his
share in the plot.

Thresk went out of the room without a word more to either Repton or his
wife. Whatever he did now he must do by himself. He would not be admitted
into that house again. He closed the door of the room behind him, and
hardly had he closed it when he heard the snap of a switch and the line
of light under the door vanished. Once more there was darkness in the
drawing-room. Repton no doubt had returned to his wife's side and they
were huddled again side by side on the sofa. Thresk walked down the hill
with a horrible feeling of isolation and loneliness. But he shook it off
as he neared the lights of Bombay.



Thresk reached his hotel with some words ringing in his head which Jane
Repton had spoken to him at Mrs. Carruthers' dinner-party:

"You can get any single thing in life you want if you want it enough, but
you cannot control the price you will have to pay for it. That you will
only learn afterwards and gradually."

He had got what he had wanted--the career of distinction, and he wondered
whether he was to begin now to learn its price.

He mounted to his sitting-room on the second floor, avoiding the lounge
and the lift and using a small side staircase instead of the great
central one. He had passed no one on the way. In his room he looked upon
the mantelshelf and on the table. No visitor had called on him that day;
no letter awaited him. For the first time since he had landed in India a
day had passed without some resident leaving on him a card or a note of
invitation. The newspapers gave him the reason. He was supposed to have
left on the _Madras_ for England. To make sure he rang for his waiter; no
message of any kind had come.

"Shall I ask at the office?" the waiter asked.

"By no means," answered Thresk, and he added: "I will have dinner served
up here to-night."

There was just a possibility, he thought, that he might after all escape
this particular payment. He took from his pocket his unposted letter to
Stella Ballantyne. There was no longer any use for it and even its
existence was now dangerous to Stella. For let it be discovered, however
she might plead that she knew nothing of its contents, a motive for the
death of Ballantyne might be inferred from it. It would be a false
motive, but just the sort of motive which the man in the street would
immediately accept. Thresk burnt the letter carefully in a plate and
pounded up each black flake of paper until nothing was left but ashes.
Then for the moment his work was done. He had only to wait and he did not
wait long. On the very next morning his newspaper informed him that
Inspector Coulson of the Bombay Police had left for Chitipur.

The Inspector was a young man devoted to his work, but he travelled now
upon a duty which he would gladly have handed to any other of his
colleagues. He had met Stella Ballantyne in Bombay upon one of her rare
visits to Jane Repton. He had sat at the same dinner-table with her, and
he did not find it pleasant to reflect on the tragic destiny which she
must now fulfil. For the facts were fatal.

At daybreak on the morning of the Friday a sentry on the outer edge of
the camp at Jarwhal Junction had noticed something black lying upon the
ground in the open just outside the door of the Agent's big marquee. He
ran across the ground and discovered Captain Ballantyne sprawling, face
downwards, in the smoking-suit which he had worn at dinner the night
before. The sentry shook him gently by the shoulder, but the limpness of
the body frightened him. Then he noticed that there was blood upon the
ground, and calling loudly for help he ran to the guard-room tent. He
returned with others of the native levies and they lifted Ballantyne up.
He was dead and the body was cold. The levies carried him into the tent
and opened his shirt. He had been shot through the heart. They then
roused Mrs. Ballantyne's ayah and bade her wake her mistress. The ayah
went into Mrs. Ballantyne's room and found her mistress sound asleep. She
waked her up and told her what had happened. Stella Ballantyne said not a
word. She got out of bed, and flinging on some clothes went into the
outer tent, where the servants were standing about the body. Stella
Ballantyne went quite close to it and looked down upon the dead man's
face for a long time. She was pale, but there was no shrinking in her
attitude--no apprehension in her eyes.

"He has been killed," she said at length; "telegrams must be sent at
once: to Ajmere for a doctor, to Bombay, and to His Highness the

Baram Singh salaamed.

"It is as your Excellency wills," he said.

"I will write them," said Stella quietly. And she sat down at her own
writing-table there and then.

The doctor from Ajmere arrived during the day, made an examination and
telegraphed a report to the Chief Commissioner at Ajmere. That report
contained the three significant points which Repton had enumerated to
Thresk, but with some still more significant details. The bullet which
pierced Captain Ballantyne's heart had been fired from Mrs. Ballantyne's
small rook-rifle, and the exploded cartridge was still in the breech. The
rifle was standing up against Mrs. Ballantyne's writing-table in a corner
of the tent, when the doctor from Ajmere discovered it. In the second
place, although Ballantyne was found in the open, there was a patch of
blood upon the carpet within the tent and a trail of blood from that spot
to the door. There could be no doubt that Ballantyne was killed inside.
There was the third point to establish that theory. Neither the sentry on
guard nor any one of the servants sleeping in the adjacent tents had
heard the crack of the rifle. It would not be loud in any case, but if
the weapon had been fired in the open it would have been sufficiently
sharp and clear to attract the attention of the men on guard. The heavy
double lining of the tent however was thick enough so to muffle and
deaden the sound that it would pass unnoticed.

The report was considered at Ajmere and forwarded. It now brought
Inspector Coluson of the Police up the railway from Bombay. He found Mrs.
Ballantyne waiting for him at the Residency of Chitipur.

"I must tell you who I am," he said awkwardly.

"There is no need to," she answered, "I know."

He then cautioned her in the usual way, and producing his pocket-book
asked her whether she wished to throw any light upon her husband's death.

"No," she said. "I have nothing to say. I was asleep and in bed when my
ayah came into my room with the news of his death."

"Yes," said the Inspector uncomfortably. That detail, next to the
dragging of the body out of the tent, seemed to him the grimmest part of
the whole tragedy.

He shut up his book.

"I am afraid it is all very unsatisfactory," he said. "I think we must go
back to Bombay."

"It is as your Excellency wills," said Stella in Hindustani, and the
Inspector was startled by the bad taste of the joke. He had not the
knowledge of her life with Ballantyne, which alone would have given him
the key to understand her. But he was not a fool, and a second glance at
her showed to him that she was not speaking in joke at all. He had an
impression that she was so tired that she did not at the moment care what
happened to her at all. The fatigue would wear off, no doubt, when she
realised that she must fight for her life, but now she stood in front of
him indifferent and docile--much as one of the native levies was wont to
stand before her husband. The words which the levies used and the
language in which they spoke them rose naturally to her lips, as the only
words and language suitable to the occasion.

"You see, Mrs. Ballantyne," he said gently, "there is no reason to
suspect a single one of your servants or of your escort."

"And there is reason to suspect me," she added, looking at him quietly
and steadily.

The Inspector for his part looked away. He was a young man--no more than
a year or two older than Stella Ballantyne herself. They both came from
the same kind of stock. Her people and his people might have been friends
in some pleasant country village in one of the English counties. She was
pretty, too, disconcertingly pretty, in spite of the dark circles under
her eyes and the pallor of her face. There was a delicacy in her looks
and in her dress which appealed to him for tenderness. The appeal was all
the stronger because it was only in that way and unconsciously that she
appealed. In her voice, in her bearing, in her eyes there was no request,
no prayer.

"I have been to the Palace," he said, "I have had an audience with the

"Of course," she answered. "I shall put no difficulties in your way."

He was standing in her own drawing-room, noticing with what skill
comfort had been combined with daintiness, and how she had followed the
usual instinct of her kind in trying to create here in this room a piece
of England. Through the window he looked out upon a lawn which was being
watered by a garden-sprinkler, and where a gardener was at work attending
to a bed of bright flowers. There, too, she had been making the usual
pathetic attempt to convert a half-acre of this country of yellow desert
into a green garden of England. Coulson had not a shadow of doubt in his
mind Stella Ballantyne would exchange this room with its restful colours
and its outlook on a green lawn for--at the best--many years of solitary
imprisonment in Poona Gaol. He shut up his book with a snap.

"Will you be ready to go in an hour?" he asked roughly.

"Yes," said she.

"If I leave you unwatched during that hour you will promise to me that
you will be ready to go in an hour?"

Stella Ballantyne nodded her head.

"I shall not kill myself now," she said, and he looked at her quickly,
but she did not trouble to explain her words. She merely added: "I may
take some clothes, I suppose?"

"Whatever you need," said the Inspector. And he took her down to Bombay.

She was formally charged next morning before the stipendiary for the
murder of her husband and remanded for a week.

She was remanded at eleven o'clock in the morning, and five minutes later
the news was ticked off on the tape at the Taj Mahal Hotel. Within
another five minutes the news was brought upstairs to Thresk. He had been
fortunate. He was in a huge hotel, where people flit through its rooms
for a day and are gone the next, and no one is concerned with the doings
of his neighbour, a place of arrival and departure like the platform of a
great railway station. There was no place in all Bombay where Thresk
could so easily pass unnoticed. And he had passed unnoticed. A single
inquiry at the office, it is true, would have revealed his presence, but
no one had inquired, since by this time he should be nearing Aden. He had
kept to his rooms during the day and had only taken the air after it was
dark. This was in the early stages of wireless telegraphy, and the
_Madras_ had no installation. It might be that inquiries would be made
for him at Aden. He could only wait with Jane Repton's words ringing in
his ears: "You cannot control the price you will have to pay."

Stella Ballantyne was brought up again in a week's time and the case then
proceeded from day to day. The character of Ballantyne was revealed, his
brutalities, his cunning. Detail by detail he was built up into a gross
sinister figure secret and violent which lived again in that crowded
court and turned the eyes of the spectators with a shiver of discomfort
upon the young and quiet woman in the dock. And in that character the
prosecution found the motive of the crime. Sympathy at times ran high for
Stella Ballantyne, but there were always the two grim details to keep it
in check: she had been found asleep by her ayah, quietly restfully asleep
within a few hours of Ballantyne's death; and she had, according to the
theory of the Crown, found in some violence of passion the strength to
drag the dying man from the tent and to leave him to gasp out his life
under the stars.

Thresk watched the case from his rooms at the Taj Mahal Hotel. Every fact
which was calculated to arouse sympathy for her was also helping to
condemn her. No one doubted that she had shot Stephen Ballantyne. He
deserved shooting--very well. But that did not give her the right to be
his executioner. What was her defence to be? A sudden intolerable
provocation? How would that square with the dragging of his body across
the carpet to the door? There was the fatal insuperable act.

Thresk read again and again the reports of the proceedings for a hint as
to the line of the defence. He got it the day when Repton appeared in the
witness-box on a subpoena from the Crown to bear testimony to the
violence of Stephen Ballantyne. He had seen Stella with her wrist
bruised so that in public she could not remove her gloves.

"What kind of bruises?" asked the counsel.

"Such bruises as might be made by some one twisting her arms," he
answered, and then Mr. Travers, a young barrister who was enjoying his
first leap into the public eye, rose to cross-examine.

Thresk read through that cross-examination and rose to his feet. "You
cannot control the price you will have to pay," he said to himself. That
day, when Mrs. Ballantyne's solicitor returned to his office after the
rising of the Court, he found Thresk waiting for him.

"I wish to give evidence for Mrs. Ballantyne," said Thresk--"evidence
which will acquit her."

He spoke with so much certainty that the solicitor was fairly startled.

"And with evidence so positive in your possession it is only this
afternoon that you come here with it! Why?"

Thresk was prepared for the question.

"I have a great deal of work waiting for me in London," he returned. "I
hoped that it might not be necessary for me to appear at all. Now I see
that it is."

The solicitor looked straight at Thresk.

"I knew from Mrs. Repton that you dined with the Ballantynes that night,
but she was sure that you knew nothing of the affair. You had left the
tent before it happened."

"That is true," answered Thresk.

"Yet you have evidence which will acquit Mrs. Ballantyne?"

"I think so."

"How is it, then," the lawyer asked, "that we have heard nothing of this
evidence at all from Mrs. Ballantyne herself?"

"Because she knows nothing of it," replied Thresk.

The lawyer pointed to a chair. The two men sat down together in the
office and it was long before they parted.

Within an hour of Thresk's return from the solicitor's office an
Inspector of Police waited on him at his hotel and was instantly shown

"We did not know until to-day," he said, "that you were still in Bombay,
Mr. Thresk. We believed you to be on the Madras, which reached Marseilles
early this morning."

"I missed it," replied Thresk. "Had you wanted me you could have inquired
at Port Said five days ago."

"Five days ago we had no information."

The native servants of Ballantyne had from the first shrouded themselves
in ignorance. They would answer what questions were put to them; they
would not go one inch beyond. The crime was an affair of the Sahibs and
the less they had to do with it the better, until at all events they were
sure which way the wind was setting from Government House. Of their own
initiative they knew nothing. It was thus only by the discovery of
Thresk's letter to Captain Ballantyne, which was found crumpled up in a
waste-paper basket, that his presence that night in the tent was

"It is strange," the Inspector grumbled, "that you did not come to us of
your own accord when you had missed your boat and tell us what you knew."

"I don't think it is strange at all," answered Thresk, "for I am a
witness for the defence. I shall give my evidence when the case for the
defence opens."

The Inspector was disconcerted and went away. Thresk's policy had so far
succeeded. But he had taken a great risk and now that it was past he
realised with an intense relief how serious the risk had been. If the
Inspector had called upon him before he had made known his presence to
Mrs. Ballantyne's solicitor and offered his evidence, his position would
have been difficult. He would have had to discover some other good
reason why he had lain quietly at his hotel during these last days. But
fortune had favoured him. He had to thank, above all, the secrecy of the
native servants.



Thresk's fears were justified. Sympathy for Stella Ballantyne had
already begun to wane. The fact that Ballantyne had been found outside
the door of the tent was already assuming a sinister importance. Mrs.
Ballantyne's counsel slid discreetly over that awkward incident. Very
fortunately, as it was now to prove, he did not cross-examine the doctor
from Ajmere at all. But there are always the few who oppose the general
opinion--the men and women who are in the minority because it is the
minority; those whom the hysterical glorification made of Stella
Ballantyne had offended; the austere, the pedantic, the just, the
jealous, all were quick to seize upon this disconcerting fact: Stella
Ballantyne had dragged her dying husband from the tent. It was either
sheer callousness or blind fury--you might take your choice. In either
case it dulled the glow of martyrdom which for a week or two had been so
radiant upon Stella Ballantyne's forehead; and the few who argued thus
attracted adherents daily. And with the sympathy for Stella Ballantyne
interest in the case began to wane too.

The magisterial inquiry threatened to become tedious. The pictures of
the witnesses and the principals occupied less and less space in the
newspapers. In another week the case would be coldly left with a shrug of
the shoulders to the Law Courts. But unexpectedly curiosity was stirred
again, for the day after Thresk had called upon the lawyer, when the case
for the Crown was at an end, Mrs. Ballantyne's counsel, Mr. Travers,
asked permission to recall Baram Singh. Permission was granted, and Baram
Singh once more took his place in the witness-box.

Mr. Travers leant against the desk behind him and put his questions with
the most significant slowness.

"I wish to ask you, Baram Singh," he said, "about the dinner-table on the
Thursday night. You laid it?"

"Yes," replied Baram Singh.

"For how many?"

"For three."

There was a movement through the whole court.

"Yes," said Mr. Travers, "Captain Ballantyne had a visitor that night."

Baram Singh agreed.

"Look round the court and tell the magistrate if you can see here the man
who dined with Captain Ballantyne and his wife that night."

For a moment the court was filled with the noise of murmuring. The usher
cried "Silence!" and the murmuring ceased. A hush of expectation filled
that crowded room as Baram Singh's eyes travelled slowly round the
walls. He dropped them to the well of the court, and even his
unexpressive face flashed with a look of recognition.

"There," he cried, "there!" and he pointed to a man who was sitting just
underneath the counsel's bench.

Mr. Travers leant forward and in a quiet but particularly clear
voice said:

"Will you kindly stand up, Mr. Thresk?"

Thresk stood up. To many of those present--the idlers, the people of
fashion, the seekers after a thrill of excitement who fill the public
galleries and law-courts--his long conduct of the great Carruthers trial
had made him a familiar figure. To the others his name, at all events,
was known, and as he stood up on the floor of the court a swift and
regular movement like a ripple of water passed through the throng. They
leant forward to get a clearer view of him and for a moment there was a
hiss of excited whispering.

"That is the man who dined with Captain and Mrs. Ballantyne on the night
when Captain Ballantyne was killed?" said Mr. Travers.

"Yes," replied Baram Singh.

No one understood what was coming. People began to ask themselves whether
Thresk was concerned in the murder. Word had been published that he had
already left for England. How was it he was here now? Mr. Travers, for
his part, was enjoying to the full the suspense which his question had
aroused. Not by any intonation did he allow a hint to escape him whether
he looked upon Thresk as an enemy or friend.

"You may sit down, sir, now," he said, and Thresk resumed his seat.

"Will you tell us what you know of Mr. Thresk's visit to the Captain?"
Travers resumed, and Baram Singh told how a camel had been sent to the
dak-house by the station of Jarwhal Junction.

"Yes," said Mr. Travers, "and he dined in the tent. How long did he

"He left the camp at eleven o'clock on the camel to catch the night train
to Bombay. The Captain-sahib saw him off from the edge of the camp."

"Ah," said Mr. Travers, "Captain Ballantyne saw him off?"

"Yes--from the edge of the camp."

"And then went back to the tent?"


"Now I want to take you to another point. You waited at dinner?"


"And towards the close of dinner Mrs. Ballantyne left the room?"


"She did not come back again?"


"No. The two men were then left alone?"


"After dinner was the table cleared?"

"Yes," said Baram Singh, "the Captain-sahib called to me to clear the
table quickly."

"Yes," said Travers. "Now, will you tell me what the Captain-sahib was
doing while you were clearing the table?"

Baram Singh reflected.

"First of all the Captain-sahib offered a box of cheroots to his visitor,
and his visitor refused and took a pipe from his pocket. The
Captain-sahib then lit a cheroot for himself and replaced the box on the
top of the bureau."

"And after that?" asked Travers.

"After that," said Baram Singh, "he stooped down, unlocked the bottom
drawer of his bureau and then turned sharply to me and told me to hurry
and get out."

"And that order you obeyed?"


"Now, Baram Singh, did you enter the room again?"

Baram Singh explained that after he had gone out with the table-cloth he
returned in a few moments with an ash-tray, which he placed beside the

"Yes," said Travers. "Had Captain Ballantyne altered his position?"

Baram Singh then related that Captain Ballantyne was still sitting in
his chair by the bureau, but that the drawer of the bureau was now open,
and that on the ground close to Captain Ballantyne's feet there was a red

"The Captain-sahib," he continued, "turned to me with great anger, and
drove me again out of the room."

"Thank you," said Mr. Travers, and he sat down.

The prosecuting counsel rose at once.

"Now, Baram Singh," he said with severity, "why did you not mention when
you were first put in the witness-box that this gentleman was present in
the camp that night?"

"I was not asked."

"No, that is quite true," he continued, "you were not asked specifically,
but you were asked to tell all that you knew."

"I did not interfere," replied Baram Singh. "I answered what questions
were asked. Besides, when the sahib left the camp the Captain-sahib
was alive."

At this moment Mr. Travers leaned across to the prosecuting counsel and
said: "It will all be made clear when Mr. Thresk goes into the box."

And once more, as Mr. Travers spoke these words, a rustle of expectancy
ran round the court.

Travers opened the case for the defence on the following morning. He had
been originally instructed, he declared, to reserve the defence for the
actual trial before the jury, but upon his own urgent advice that plan
was not to be followed. The case which he had to put before the
stipendiary must so infallibly prove that Mrs. Ballantyne was free from
all complicity in this crime that he felt he would not be doing his duty
to her unless he made it public at the first opportunity. That unhappy
lady had already, as every one who had paid even the most careless
attention to the facts that had been presented by the prosecution must
know, suffered so much distress and sorrow in the course of her married
life that he felt it would not be fair to add to it the strain and
suspense which even the most innocent must suffer when sent for trial
upon such a serious charge. He at once proposed to call Mr. Thresk, and
Thresk rose and went into the witness-box.

Thresk told the story of that dinner-party word for word as it had
occurred, laying some emphasis on the terror which from time to time had
taken possession of Stephen Ballantyne, down to the moment when Baram
Singh had brought the ash-tray and left the two men together, Thresk
sitting by the table in the middle of the room and Ballantyne at his
bureau with the despatch-box on the floor at his feet.

"Then I noticed an extraordinary look of fear disfigure his face," he
continued, "and following the direction of his eyes I saw a lean brown
arm with a thin hand as delicate as a woman's wriggle forward from
beneath the wall of the tent towards the despatch-box."

"You saw that quite clearly?" asked Mr. Travers.

"The tent was not very brightly lit," Thresk explained. "At the first
glance I saw something moving. I was inclined to believe it a snake and
to account in that way for Captain Ballantyne's fear and the sudden
rigidity of his attitude. But I looked again and I was then quite sure
that it was an arm and hand."

The evidence roused those present to such a tension of excitement and to
so loud a burst of murmuring that it was quite a minute before order was
restored and Thresk took up his tale again. He described Ballantyne's
search for the thief.

"And what were you doing," Mr. Travers asked, "whilst the search was
being made?"

"I stood by the table holding the despatch-box firmly in my hands as
Ballantyne had urgently asked me to do."

"Quite so," said Mr. Travers; and the attention of the court was now
directed to that despatch-box and the portrait of Bahadur Salak which it
contained. The history of the photograph, its importance at this moment
when Salak's trial impended, and Ballantyne's conviction of the extreme
danger which its possessor ran--a conviction established by the bold
attempt to steal it made under their very eyes--was laid before the
stipendiary. He sent the case to trial as he was bound to do, but the
verdict in most people's eyes was a foregone conclusion. Thresk had
supplied a story which accounted for the crime, and cross-examination
could not shake him. It was easy to believe that at the very moment when
Thresk was saying goodbye to Captain Ballantyne by the fire on the edge
of the camp the thief slipped into the marquee, and when discovered by
Ballantyne either on his return or later shot him with Mrs. Ballantyne's
rifle. It was clear that no conviction could be obtained while this story
held the field and in due course Mrs. Ballantyne was acquitted. Of
Thresk's return to the tent just before leaving the camp nothing was
said. Thresk himself did not mention it and the counsel for the Crown had
no hint which could help him to elicit it.

Thus the case ended. The popular heroine of a criminal trial loses, as
all observers will have noticed, her crown of romance the moment she is
set free; and that good fortune awaited Stella Ballantyne. Thresk called
the next day upon Jane Repton and was coldly told that Stella had already
gone from Bombay. He betook himself to her solicitor, who was cordial but
uncommunicative. The Reptons, it appeared, were responsible to him for
the conduct of the case. He had not any knowledge of Stella Ballantyne's
destination, and he pointed to a stack of telegrams and letters as
confirmation of his words.

"They will all go up to Khamballa Hill," he said. "I have no
other address."

The next day, however, a little note of gratitude came to Thresk through
the post. It was unsigned and without any address. But it was in Stella
Ballantyne's handwriting and the post-mark was Kurrachee. That she did
not wish to see him he could quite understand; Kurrachee was a port from
which ships sailed to many destinations; he could hardly set out in a
blind search for her across the world. So here, it seemed, was that
chapter closed. He took the next steamer westwards from Bombay, landed at
Brindisi and went back to his work in the Law Courts and in Parliament.



But though she disappeared Stella Ballantyne was not in flight from men
and women. She avoided them because they did not for the moment count in
her thoughts, except as possible hindrances. She was not so much running
away as running to the place of her desires. She yielded to an impulse
with which they had nothing whatever to do, an impulse so overmastering
that even to the Reptons her precipitancy wore a look of ingratitude. She
drove home with Jane Repton as soon as she was released, to the house on
Khamballa Hill, and while she was still in the carriage she said:

"I must go away to-morrow morning."

She was sitting forward with a tense and eager look upon her face and her
hands clenched tightly in her lap.

"There is no need for that. Make your home with us, Stella, for a little
while and hold your head high."

Jane Repton had talked over this proposal with her husband. Both of
them recognised that the acceptance of it would entail on them some
little sacrifice. Prejudice would be difficult. But they had thrust
these considerations aside in the loyalty of their friendship and Jane
Repton was a little hurt that Stella waved away their invitation
without ceremony.

"I can't. I can't," she said irritably. "Don't try to stop me."

Her nerves were quite on edge and she spoke with a greater violence than
she knew. Jane Repton tried to persuade her.

"Wouldn't it be wiser for you to face things here, even though it means
some effort and pain?"

"I don't know," answered Stella, still in the quick peremptory tone of
one who will not be argued with. "I don't care either. I have nothing to
do with wisdom just now. I don't want people at all. I want--oh, how I
want--" She stopped and then she added vaguely: "Something else," and her
voice trailed away into silence. She sat without a word, all tingling
impatience, during the rest of that drive and continued so to sit after
the carriage had stopped. When Jane Repton descended, and she woke up
with a start and looked at the house, it was as though she brought her
eyes down from heaven to earth. Once within the house she went straight
up to Repton. He had left his wife behind with Stella at the Law Courts
and had come home in advance of them. He had not spoken a word to Stella
that day, and he had not the time now, for she began immediately in an
eager voice and a look of fever in her eyes:

"You won't try to stop me, will you? I must go away to-morrow."

Repton used more tact now than his wife had done. He took the troubled
and excited woman's hand and answered her very gently:

"Of course, Stella. You shall go when you like."

"Oh, thank you," she cried, and was freed to remember the debt which she
owed to these good friends of hers. "You must think me a brute, Jane! I
haven't said a word to you about all your kindness. But--oh, you'll
think me ridiculous, when you know"--and she began to laugh and to sob
in one breath. Stella Ballantyne had remained so sunk in apathy through
all that long trial that her friends were relieved at her outburst of
tears. Jane Repton led her upstairs and put her to bed just as if she
had been a child.

"There! You can get up for dinner if you like, Stella, or stay where you
are. And if you'll tell us what you want to do we'll make the
arrangements for you and not ask you a question."

Jane Repton kissed her and left her alone; and it was while Stella was
sleeping upstairs that Henry Thresk called at the house and was told that
there was no news for him.

"No doubt she will write to you, Mr. Thresk, if she wishes you to know
what she is doing. But I should not count upon it if I were you," said
Jane Repton, in a sweet voice and with eyes like pebbles. "She did not
mention you, I am sorry to say, when the trial was over."

She could not forgive him because of her own share in what she now called
his "treachery" towards Stella. She had no more of the logician in her
composition than Thresk had of the hero. He had committed under a great
stress of emotion and sympathy what the whole experience and method of
his life told him was one of the worst of crimes. And now that its object
was achieved, and Stella Ballantyne free, he was in the mood to see only
the harm which he had done to the majesty of the law; he was uneasy; he
was not troubled by the thought that discovery would absolutely ruin him.
That indeed did not enter into his thoughts. But he could not but make a
picture of himself in the robe of a King's Counsel, claiming sternly the
anger of the Law against some other man who should have done just what he
had done, no more and no less. And so when Mrs. Repton's door was finally
closed upon him, and no message was given to him from the woman he had
saved, he was at once human and unheroic enough to visit a little of his
resentment upon her. He had not spoken to her at all since the night at
Chitipur; he had no knowledge of the stupor and the prostration into
which, after her years of misery, she had fallen; he had no insight into
the one compelling passion which now had her, body and soul, in its grip.
He turned away from the door and went back to the Taj Mahal. A steamer
would be starting for Port Said in two days and by that steamer he would
travel. That Stella was in the house on the Khamballa Hill he did not
doubt, but since she had no word or thought to spare for him he could not
but turn his back and go.

Stella herself got up to dinner, and after it was over she told her
friends of the longing which filled her soul.

"All through the trial," she said shyly, with the shrinking of those who
reveal a very secret fancy and are afraid that it will be ridiculed, "in
the heat of the court, in the close captivity of my cell, I was conscious
of just one real unconquerable passion--to feel the wind blowing against
my face upon the Sussex Downs. Can you understand that? Just to see the
broad green hills with the white chalk hollows in their sides and the
forests marching down to the valleys like the Roman soldiers from
Chichester--oh! I was mad for the look and the smell and the sounds of
them! It was all that I thought about. I used to close my eyes in the
dock and I was away in a second riding through Charlton Forest or over
Farm Hill, or looking down to Slindon from Gumber Corner, and over its
woods to the sea. And now that I am free"--she clasped her hands and her
face grew radiant--"oh, I don't want to see people." She reached out a
hand to each of her friends. "I don't call you people, you know. But even
you--you'll understand and forgive and not be hurt--I don't want to see
for a little while."

The beaten look of her took the sting of ingratitude out of her words.
She stood between them, her delicate face worn thin, her eyes unnaturally
big; she had the strange transparent beauty of people who have been lying
for months in a mortal sickness. Jane Repton's eyes filled with tears and
her hand sought for her handkerchief.

"Let's see what can be done," said Repton. "There's a mail-steamer of
course, but you won't want to travel by that."


Repton worked out the sailings from Bombay and the other ports on the
western coast of India while Stella leaned over his shoulder.

"Look!" he said. "This is the best way. There's a steamer going to
Kurrachee to-morrow, and when you reach Kurrachee you'll just have time
to catch a German Lloyd boat which calls at Southampton. You won't be
home in thirteen days to be sure, but on the other hand you won't be
pestered by curious people."

"Yes, yes," cried Stella eagerly. "I can go to-morrow."

"Very well."

Repton looked at the clock. It was still no more than half-past ten. He
saw with what a fever of impatience Stella was consumed.

"I believe I could lay my hand on the local manager of the line to-night
and fix your journey up for you."

"You could?" cried Stella. He might have been offering her a crown, so
brightly her thanks shone in her eyes.

"I think so."

He got up from the table and stood looking at her, and then away from her
with his lips pursed in doubt.

"Yes?" said she.

"I was thinking. Will you travel under another name? I don't suggest it
really, only it might save you--annoyance."

Repton's hesitation was misplaced, for Stella Ballantyne's pride was
quite beaten to the ground.

"Yes," she said at once. "I should wish to do that"; and both he and his
wife understood from that ready answer more completely than they ever had
before how near Stella had come to the big blank wall at the end of life.
For seven years she had held her head high, never so much as whispering a
reproach against her husband, keeping with a perpetual guard the secret
of her misery. Pride had been her mainspring; now even that was broken.
Repton went out of the house and returned at midnight.

"It's all settled," he said. "You will have a cabin on deck in both
steamers. I gave your name in confidence to the manager here and he will
take care that everything possible is done for you. There will be very
few passengers on the German boat. The season is too early for either the
tourists or the people on leave."

Thus Stella Ballantyne crept away from Bombay and in five weeks' time
she landed at Southampton. There she resumed her name. She travelled into
Sussex and stayed for a few nights at the inn whither Henry Thresk had
come years before on his momentous holiday. She had a little money--the
trifling income which her parents had left to her upon their death--and
she began to look about for a house. By a piece of good fortune she
discovered that the cottage in which she had lived at Little Beeding
would be empty in a few months. She took it and before the summer was out
she was once more established there. It was on an afternoon of August
when Stella made her home in it again. She passed along the yellow lane
driven deep between high banks of earth where the roots of great
elm-trees cropped out. Every step was familiar to her. The lane with many
twists under overarching branches ran down a steep hill and came out into
the open by the big house with its pillared portico and its light grey
stone and its wonderful garden of lawn and flowers and cedars. A tiny
church with a narrow graveyard and strange carefully-trimmed square
bushes of yew stood next to the house, and beyond the church the lane
dipped to the river and the cottage.

Stella went from room to room. She had furnished the cottage simply and
daintily; the walls were bright, her servant-girl had gathered flowers
and set them about. Outside the window the sunlight shone on a green
garden. She was alone. It was the home-coming she had wished for.

For three or four months she was left alone; and then one afternoon as
she came into the cottage after a walk she found a little white card upon
the table. It bore the name of Mr. Hazlewood.



In the quiet country town obvious changes had taken place during the
eight years of Stella's absence. They were not changes of importance,
however, and one sentence can symbolize them all--there was now tarmac
upon its roads. But in the cluster of houses a mile away at the end of
the deep lane the case was different. Mr. Harold Hazlewood had come to
Little Beeding. He now lived in the big house to which the village owed
its name and indeed its existence. He lived--and spread consternation
amongst the gentry for miles round.

"Lord, how I wish poor Arthur hadn't died!" old John Chubble used to
cry. He had hunted the West Sussex hounds for thirty years and the very
name of Little Beeding turned his red face purple. "There was a man. But
this fellow! And to think he's got that beautiful house! Do you know
there's hardly a pheasant on the place. And I've hashed them down out of
the sky in the old days there by the dozen. Well, he's got a son in the
Coldstream, Dick Hazlewood, who's not so bad. But Harold! Oh, pass me
the port!"

Harold indeed had inherited Little Beeding by an accident during the
first summer after Stella had gone out to India. Arthur Hazlewood, the
owner and Harold's nephew, had been lost with his yacht in a gale of wind
off the coast of Portugal. Arthur was a bachelor and thus Harold
Hazlewood came quite unexpectedly into the position of a country squire
when he was already well on in middle age. He was a widower and a man of
a noticeable aspect. At the first glance you knew that he was not as
other men; at the second you suspected that he took a pride in his
dissimilarity. He was long, rather shambling in his gait, with a mild
blue eye and fair thin hair now growing grey. But length was the chief
impression left by his physical appearance. His legs, his arms, his face,
even his hair, unless his son in the Coldstream happened to be at home at
the time, were long.

"Is your father mad?" Mr. Chubble once asked of Dick Hazlewood. The two
men had met in the broad street of Great Beeding at midday, and the elder
one, bubbling with indignation, had planted himself in front of Dick.

"Mad?" Dick repeated reflectively. "No, I shouldn't go as far as that. Oh
no! What has he done now?"

"He has paid out of his own pocket the fines of all the people in Great
Beeding who have just been convicted for not having their babies

Dick Hazlewood stared in surprise at his companion's indignant face.

"But of course he'd do that, Mr. Chubble," he answered cheerfully. "He's
anti-everything--everything, I mean, which experience has established or
prudence could suggest."

"In addition he wants to sell the navy for old iron and abolish
the army."

"Yes," said Dick, nodding his head amicably. "He's like that. He
thinks that without an army and a navy we should be less aggressive. I
can't deny it."

"I should think not indeed," cried Mr. Chubble. "Are you walking home?"


"Let us walk together." Mr. Chubble took Dick Hazlewood by the arm and as
they went filled the lane with his plaints.

"I should think you can't deny it. Why, he has actually written a
pamphlet to enforce his views upon the subject."

"You should bless your stars, Mr. Chubble, that there is only one. He
suffers from pamphlets. He writes 'em and prints 'em and every member of
Parliament gets one of 'em for nothing. Pamphlets do for him what the
gout does for other old gentlemen--they carry off from his system a great
number of disquieting ailments. He's at prison reform now," said Dick
with a smile of thorough enjoyment. "Have you heard him on it?"

"No, and I don't want to," Mr. Chubble exploded.

He struck viciously at an overhanging bough, as though it was the head
of Harold Hazlewood, and went on with the catalogue of crimes. "He made a
speech last week in the town-hall," and he jerked his thumb backwards
towards the town they had left. "Intolerable I call it. He actually
denounced his own countrymen as a race of oppressors."

"He would," answered Dick calmly. "What did I say to you a minute ago?
He's advanced, you know."

"Advanced!" sneered Mr. Chubble, and then Dick Hazlewood stopped and
contemplated his companion with a thoughtful eye.

"I really don't think you understand my father, Mr. Chubble," said Dick
with a gentle remonstrance in his voice which Mr. Chubble was at a loss
whether to take seriously or no.

"Can you give me the key to him?" he cried.

"I can."

"Then out with it, my lad."

Mr. Chubble disposed himself to listen but with so bristling an
expression that it was clear no explanation could satisfy him. Dick,
however, took no heed of that. He spoke slowly as one lecturing to an
obtuse class of scholars.

"My father was born predestined to believe that all the people whom he
knows are invariably wrong, and all the people he doesn't know are
invariably right. And when I feel inclined to deplore his abuse of his
own country I console myself with the reflection that he would be the
staunchest friend of England that England ever had--if only he had been
born in Germany."

Mr. Chubble grunted and turned the speech suspiciously over in his mind.
Was Dick poking fun at him or at his father?

"That's bookish," he said.

"I am afraid it is," Dick Hazlewood agreed humbly. "The fact is I am now
an Instructor at the Staff College and much is expected of me."

They had reached the gate of Little Beeding House. It was summer time.
A yellow drive of gravel ran straight between long broad flower-beds
to the door.

"Won't you come in and see my father?" Dick asked innocently.
"He's at home."

"No, my lad, no." Mr. Chubble hastened to add: "I haven't the time. But I
am very glad to have met you. You are here for long?"

"No. Only just for luncheon," said Dick, and he walked along the drive
into the house. He was met in the hall by Hubbard the butler, an old
colourless man of genteel movements which seemed slow and were
astonishingly quick. He spoke in gentle purring tones and was the very
butler for Mr. Harold Hazlewood.

"Your father has been asking for you, sir," said Hubbard. "He seems a
little anxious. He is in the big room."

"Very well," said Dick, and he crossed the hall and the drawing-room,
wondering what new plan for the regeneration of the world was being
hatched in his father's sedulous brains. He had received a telegram at
Camberley the day before urgently calling upon him to arrive at Little
Beeding in time for luncheon. He went into the library as it was called,
but in reality it was the room used by everybody except upon ceremonial
occasions. It was a big room; half of it held a billiard table, the other
half had writing-tables, lounges, comfortable chairs and a table for
bridge. The carpet was laid over a parquet floor so that young people,
when they stayed there, rolled it up and danced. There were windows upon
two sides of the room. Here a row of them looked down the slope of the
lawn to the cedar-trees and the river, the other, a great bay which
opened to the ground, gave a view of a corner of the high churchyard wall
and of a meadow and a thatched cottage beyond. In this bay Mr. Hazlewood
was standing when Dick entered the room.

"I got your telegram, father, and here I am."

Mr. Hazlewood turned back from the window with a smile upon his face.

"It is good of you, Richard. I wanted you to-day."

A very genuine affection existed between these two, dissimilar as they
were in physique and mind. Dick Hazlewood was at this time thirty-four
years old, an officer of hard work and distinction, one of the younger
men to whom the generals look to provide the brains in the next great
war. He had the religion of his type. To keep physically fit for the
hardest campaigning and mentally fit for the highest problems of modern
strategy and to boast about neither the one qualification nor the
other--these were the articles of his creed. In appearance he was a
little younger than his years, lithe, long in the leg, with a thin brown
face and grey eyes which twinkled with humour. Harold Hazlewood was
intensely proud of him, though he professed to detest his profession. And
no doubt he found at times that the mere healthful, well-groomed look of
his son was irritatingly conventional. What was quite wholesome could
never be quite right in the older man's philosophy. To Dick, on the other
hand, his father was an intense enjoyment. Here was a lovable innocent
with the most delightful illusion that he understood the world. Dick
would draw out his father by the hour, but, as he put it, he wouldn't let
the old boy down. He stopped his chaff before it could begin to hurt.

"Well, I am here," he said. "What scrape have you got into now?"

"I am in no scrape, Richard. I don't get into scrapes," replied his
father. He shifted from one foot to the other uneasily. "I was wondering,
Richard--you have been away all this last year, haven't you?--I was
wondering whether you could give me any of your summer."

Dick looked at his father. What in the world was the old boy up to now?
he asked himself.

"Of course I can. I shall get my leave in a day or two. I thought of
playing some polo here and there. There are a few matches arranged. Then
no doubt--" He broke off. "But look here, sir! You didn't send me an
urgent telegram merely to ask me that."

"No, Richard, no." Everybody else called his son Dick, but Harold
Hazlewood never. He was Richard. From Richard you might expect much, the
awakening of a higher nature, a devotion to the regeneration of the
world, humanitarianism, even the cult of all the "antis." From Dick you
could expect nothing but health and cleanliness and robustious
conventionality. Therefore Richard Captain Hazlewood of the Coldstream
and the Staff Corps remained. "No, there was something else."

Mr. Hazlewood took his son by the arm and led him into the bay window. He
pointed across the field to the thatched cottage.

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