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CHAPTER XX III M<»«t;n H«r Kx plats* I WALKED straight le tl»« h«ue». *»<! locked up my papers In the irrwt tafe. I had lioiwd t» ei»cap« without •eelnjf either Hay or Lady Anr»la, liut as I crossed the lisJ' th«y l»u«a from the bill lard -room. Lady Angela turned toward me eagerly. "Mr. Ducaine," ?he exclaimed, "have you seen anything of Lord Blrnavon I shook my head. "1 have not seen him fur Several days. Lady Angela," 1 anewnefl. Ray paid something; to her which I <-uuld nut hear. She noddrd and left u» together. "It "Boems," l;e paid, "that thl« ami able young gentleman J» more or Icm 5n the clutches" of»our »!ren friend at Uraf-ier Grange. I think that you and 1 had better go and dig him out." "Thank you," I answered, "but I had all 1 wanted of Braster Grange latt night." "Pooh!" he answered lightly, "you are not even scratched. They are clumsy conspirators there. I thlr.k that you and 3 are a match for them. Come along: 1 * "Tou mult excuse me, Colonel Ray," 3 said, "but I have no desire to visit Uraster Grange, even with you." Lady Angela, whose crossing the hall hafl been noiseless, suddenly interposed. "You are quite right, Mr. Ducaine," *he said; "but this it* no visit of cour tesy. Is It? I am sure that my brother voiild never ftay there voluntarily, something must have happened to Lira." "We will go and see." Ray declared. •Come along. Ducaine." 1 hesitated, but a glance from Lady .Angela settled th« matter. For an other such I would hare wmiked int« hell. Ray and I started off together. pud I was not long before I spoke of the things which were in my mind. "Colonel Ray," I said, "when I f»w >ou this morning you made two state ments, both of which were false." Ray brought out his pip« and began to fill It in leisurely fashion. "Go on," he said. "What were they?" . , rv _ "The first was that you had come down from London by the newspaper train this morning, and the second was that you had received jour Injuries in a hansom cab accident." His pipe was started and he puffed out dense volumes of smoke with an air of keen enjoyment "Worm of having a woman for >our hostess," he remarked, "one cant Muoke except a sickly cigarette or two. You should take to a P»P«- lJ . uc * ln *' ._ "Will you be good enough to ezp**",,", those two miestateroent*. Colonel Ray. •Lies, both of them:" he answered, with grim cheerfulness. "Rotten lies, and I hate telling 'em. The han^m . ab accident must have pounded a Hit thin." "It did." I assured him. lie removed his pipe i«oni his teeth nml pushed down the tobacco with the vnrt of his finger. •I came down from town by in* same irain that you did." li* said, "and as for my broken head and smashed arm. you did it yourself." "I imagined so," I answered. Per haps you will admit that you owe me some explanation." He laughed, a deep basa laugh, and looked down at me with a gleam «i humor in liis black eyes. "Come," he said, "I thiuk -that the lioot is on the other leg. My head is exceedingly painful and my leg ia very «Mtff. For a young man of your build >ou have a tnoft surprising muscle." "1 am to understand, then, that It was you who committed an unprovoked a*» fiault upon roe — who planned to have me waylaid in that dastardly fashion?" "I>o you think," Ray asked quietly, 'that 1 should be rucU a d *1 fool?" •What am I <o think, then? What \u25a0m 1 to believe?" I asked with anger. • You fouud me starving. »n«l you gave me employment, but ever *inre I started )<iy work life has bwoim> « bag*, u*ly riddle. Are you my friend «v my en ,.iny? I <1o not know. There is- a drama i. ring played out before my very eye?. TJie figure* in it move about me con linually, yet 1 alone am Mi'.idffiMed. I am trusted to almost an incredible, ex tent. Great issues are confided to m*. 1 have been given *uch a po»t a» man mi?ht work for a lifetime to secure. Yet where a little confidence would give jiie zest for my work — would take away this horrible aense of moving aJwaj* In the darknns* — it in withheld from me." Hay araoked on in silence for several moment*. ••Well," he said, "I am not sure that y«.u are altogether unreasonable. But, on the other hand, you must not forget that there ia method, and v. good deal of it. in the very things of which you com plain. There are certain i>ositiont In' which a man may find himself where a measure of ignorance is a blessed thing. Believe me. that if you understood, your Oiffi<-ultie« would increase Instead of diminish." I ahrugced my shoulders. "But between you and me at lesjtt. Colonel Ray," 1 said, "there I* a plain ifFue. "You can explain the events of last night to me." * "1 will do that." lie answered, "«lnc« jou have asked it. Briefly, then. I part ed from you on the steps of my club at a few minutes past 9 last night." •I saw from the moment we appeared that you were being watched. I saw the man who was loitering on the pave ment lean over to hear the address you gave, to the cabman, and you were scarcely away before he was following you. But it was only Just as be drove by, leaning a little forward in Ms han som, that I saw his face. I recognized httn for one of that woman's most dangerous confederates, and I knew then that some villainy waa on foot. To cut a long story short. I came down unobserved in yeur train, fol lowed you to Braster Grange, and was only a yard or .two behind when this fellow, who acts as the woman's chauf • feur, sprang out upon you. I waa un - fortunately a little too quick to the rescue and received a emaah on the head from your Btick. Then you bolted and I found myself engaged with a pair .of them. On the whole I think that they got the worst of it." "The other one— was Lord Blenavon!" 1 exclaimed. , "It was." . 'Then ho in concerned In the plots \u25a0which are going on against us," I con tinued. "I felt certain of it. What a blackguard!" \u0084 "For his sister's sake," Colonel Ray paid softly. "I want to keep him out of it % lf I can. Therefore I hit htm n little? harder than ws« necessary. He should be hors >de combat for some time." "But why didn't you cry out to me?", 1 said. "I should not hare run if I had known that I had an ally there." 'To -run was exactly what I wanted you to do," Ray answered. "You had the dispatch box and I wanted to see you safe away." I glanced at his bandaged head and ;irm. "I suppose I ought to apologize to you." I eald. -j "'Under tb« circttmrtanccs," lit <lt clarod, "we will cry quite." "Then ac w« walked C*stther in the itlltter!ng fprlnif sonshinej !!;!• big. «i!*rit man unJ I. there <»nj<« up«n m** n «wlft, poignant Impulse. Ui« keener p»rhaps< btmUM «f th»* Jwii'lincM ot my <!•?•*, to Implore him tv unravel all the thlnKP which lay »«-tw«<-n v*. I waiitro" the story of that Dlaitf. »>f my concern in it, stripped bare. Already iay lips were opened, when round th« corner of the rough lan« by which Braeter Grange was approached on this side came a doctor'a erltf. Ray •hadad his «ye> and gazed at it> occupant. "1* this Bouricr*. Ducalner he askad. "the man who «hot vrtth us?" "It is Dr. Bourig-g*." I answered. Ray stopped the g\e. and exchanged g-reetlnira with tne bl*T nandy-halred man. who held a rein in each hand as though he were driving a market wagon. They chatted for a moment or two. Idly enough, as it seemed to me. "Any one ill at the Grange, doctor?" Ray asked at length. The doctor looked at him curiously. "1 hare Just come from there," be an«wered. 'There I« nothing very ee riously wrong." '-Can you tell me if Lord Blenavon la there?" Ray aaked. The doctor hesitated. "It was hinted to me. Colonel Ray." he aald. "that my visit to the Grange wa« not to be spokm of. You will understand, of course, that the eti quette of our profession " "Quite right," Ray interrupted. "The fact is. Lady Angela is very anxious about her brother, who did not re turn to Rowchester last night, and sh« has pent us out as a search party. Of course. If you were able to help us she would be very gratified." The doctor hesitated. "The Duke and, in fact, all the fam ily have always been exceedingly kind to me." he remarked, looking straight between his horse's ears. "Under ths circumstance* you mention. If you were to tf*Mrt that Lord Blenavon was at Braster Grange I do not think that I should contradict you." . Ray smiled. "Thank you, doctor," he said. "Good inorning." The doctor drove on and we pursued our way. "It was a very dark niifht." Ray «aid. half to himself, "but if Blenavon was the man I hit he ought to have a cracked skull." After all. our interrogation of the doctor was quite unnecessary. We were admitted at once at the grange by a neatly dressed parlor maid. Mr?. Emith-Lessinr was at hom<*. and the girl did not for a moment t««m to doubt her mistress* willingneiss to re ceive us. As she busied herself puking the fire and opening wider the thick curtains Xt&y asked her another ques tion. . "Do you know if Lord Blenavon Is here?" "Ttr, sir," th»» girl answered prompt ly. "He was brought in last night rath> «r badly hurt, but he is much better this morning. I will l«t ilrs». Smith- L>«esing know that you arc here, sir." She hurried out. with the rustle of stiff starch and the quick light-footed ness of the well-trained servant. Hay and I exchanged glances. "After all, this is not such a home of mystery as we expected," I re marked. "Apparently not," he answered. "The little woman is playing a bold game." Then Mrs. Smith-Leasing came In. CHAPTER XXIV Lord Itlroman'* >urrr»drr ..;\u25a0..»; SHE came in very Quietly; a little pale and \u25a0wan in this cold evening' light. She held out her hand to rae with a srjbdued but charming* smile of welcome. "I am so glad that you Jiavc c-ome to see me," she s«id softly. "You ««» help Die. too, about this unfortunate young man who has been tlirown upun n«y bands. I ~ T.'-"U Then *h*. saw Ray, and tho words seemed to die away upon her lips. I had to steel my heart agalnft her to shut out the pity which I could scarcely help feeling. She wan white to the lij»#. She stood a* one turned to utone. with her distended eye* fixed upon him. It was like a trapped bird, watching its impending fate. She faltered a little on her feet, and — I could not help It — I hurried to her side with a chair. A* she (tank into it she thanked me with a vary plaintive emile. "Thanu you," she «ald. simply. "I am not very strong, and I did not know that man was with you." Hay broke In. Hi* voice sounded harsh; hi* manner. I thought, was ua nee«»searil>* brutaL "I can understand." he *aid. "that you find my presence a little unwel come. I need scarcely *ajr that this i« not a visit of courtesy. Tou know very well that willingly I would never upend a moment under the game roof as you. I am here, to ppeak a few plain words, to which you will do well to listen." She raised her eyes to his. Her cour age itemed to be returning at tho note of battle in his tone. Her small, well shape«l head was thrown back. The hands which grasped the sid« of her chair eeaae'd to tremble. "Go on." ehe said. "We will not play at cheap diplo macy," he said, sneeringly. "I know you by a dozen names, which you alter and adopt to suit the occasion. You are a creature of the French police, one of those parasitical creatures who live by sucking the honesty out of simpler persons. You are here because the more private meetings of the English Council of Defense are being held at Rowchester. It 1« your object by brib ery, or theft, or robbery, or the seduc tive uee of those wonderful charms of yours, to gain possession of copies of any particulars whatever about tho English autumn -maneuvers, which curiously enough, have been arranged a« a aort of addendum to those on your Ride of the Channel. You have «n alh- I regret to say. In the Duke's son; you are seeking to gain for yourself a far more valuable one In the person of this boy. You say to yourself, no doubt. like father like eon. You ruined and diegraced th* one. You think, perhaps the other will be as ea*y." *"= r «*P-. "Stop!" the cried. He looked at her curiously. Her face wa« drawn with pain. In her eyes was the look of being etricken to death. 'It ia, terrible!" she murmured, "that men so coar*e and brutal as you should have the gift of speech. Ido not wish to ask for any mercy from you, but If I am to ftay here and listen, you will pp*ak only of facts."- He shrugged hj s shoulders contemp tuously. . "You should bo hardened by this tlme/'he said, "but I forgot that we bad .an audience. . It Is always worth whil- to play a little to tho callery isn't It? Well, facts, then. The boy is warned againat you. and from today this house Is *-atched by picked de tectives. Blenavon can avail you noth ing, for he knows nothing. Such clum sy schemes as last night's are fore doomed to failure, and will only get you into trouble. Tou will waste your time here. Take my advice, and go." She rose. to her feet. Smaller and frailer than ever she seemed, as she stood before Kay, dark and massive;-' "Jour story is plausible," she said *'lfs terrible," she murmured; "that men so coarse and brutal as you should have the power of speech." coldly. "It may even be true. But apart from that. I had another and a greater reason for coming to England, for coming to Braster. I came to. seek my husband — the father of this boy. I am even now In search' of him." v I held my breath and gazed at Ray. For the moment it eeeined as though , the tables were turned. Xo signs of emotion were present In his face, but he seemed to have no words. He Pimply looked at her. "He left me In January," she. r-*m tinued. "determined at least to have speech with his son. He he.ard then for the first time of the absconding trustee. He came to England,, lf not to implore hi* son's forgiveness, at least to place him above want. And In this country he has ncv«?r been heard of. He has disappeared. I am here to lind him. Perhaps," she added, leaning a little over lowani Ray. and. in a slightly altered tone, "perhaps you can help mer. \ Again it seemed to me that Ray was troubled by a certain speechlessness. When al lart h*. found words; they and his tone were alike harsh, almost violent. "Do you think." he paid, "that I would stretch out the little finger of m-J hand to help you or him? You know very well that f would not. The pair of you. in my opinion, were lonff pinri- outside t'i«* pale: of consideration from any livinc being. If h« is lost, no much the brllrir. If he is dead, so much the b<-?t.r .'-till." '"It if Ue-"i'- I know how you feel toward Mrr.. Ib"«» paid, slowly, "that I w<.'n«J"-r'-.;-~ yi;s. I wondered I" * rweur: - . '•\Vlj'»t!;'»r you could not. If you choose. Kolv»? for me the mystery of his d i sappea ra nee." There was a« much as a ' dozen pcr^onds «jr so of intense silence be tween them. She never once flinched. The cold question seemed to burnrits way into the man's composure. . A fierce exclamation broke from hlsllps. "If he were dead." he said, "and If it were my hand which had removed him, I should count it among the best ac tions of my life." the looked at him curiously— as one might regard a wild beast. "You can apeak like this before his son?" "I'veil my words at uo time and tor no man," he answered. "The truth Is always best." Then the door opened and Blenavon entered. His arm and head were ban daged nnd he walked with a limp. He was deathly pale and apparently .very nervous. He attempted a casual greet ing with Ray. but it was a poor pre tense. Ray, for his part, had evidently no mind to beat about the bunb. "Lord- Blenavon.". he said, "this house is no fit place for your father's son. I have warned you before, but the time for advice is past. Your hostess here is a creature of the French police," and her business here is to suborn you and others whom she can buy or cajole into a treasonable breach of confidence.. It is very possible that you know all thin, and more. But I appeal to you as. an Englishman and tho representative of a great English family. Are you will ing to leave at once with us and to de part altogether from this part of the country, or will you face the conse quences?" : Blenavon was a coward.. He shook and stammered. He was not even mas ter of his voice. 1 , "I do not understand you," he. fal tered. "You have no right to speak to me like this." v "Right or no right. I do," Ray an swered. "If you refute, l shall not spare you. Last night was "only one Incident of many. I break my faith as a soldier by giving you this opportu nity. Will you come?" "'I am waiting now for a carriage," Blenavon answered. "I < have sent to the house for one." : "You will not return to the house," Ray said shortly. "You will leave hero for the station, the station for London,' and London for the Continent. . You do this, and I hold my peace. . You refuse, and I sco Lord Chelsford and your father, tonight." - From the llrst I knew that he would yield, but- ho did it with an 111 grace. /; "I don't sec why" I should" go,"-' he said, sulkily. [ -\u0084--."\u25a0 .-' V:; V: "Either I. alone or you and- I -to gether are. going to catch the,6 s o'clock train to London." Ray. said. . : "If- I-fO alone, you .will be. an; exile' from', Eng-" land for the rest of. your. life,' your name will be', renxoved,; from X«very>; club ;' to which you belong,,' and * you >. will * have brought Irreparable: disgrace upon 'your family. ', The choice Is yours." '* . '^ ; : Blenavon ; turned ; toward j the woman as though! for; aid.; C But she stood with her.backrto him. pale; and *with:a" thin, scornful smile upon her, lips.J^|t^gßgg . "The choice," Ray repeated, glancing at his watch, -"Is yours, but the time. ls short."' * ; ; -\u25a0 \u25a0\u25a0'. ' "I .will i go," Blenavon said." ."I " was off ; in a r day or I two/" anyway. Of what E. Phillips Oppenheim you, suspect me I don't know, and I don't care. But 1 will- go." : Ray put his watch Into his pocket. He. turned to Mr#. Smith-L^sslnar. At f'BetUr come too." he said quietly. "You have no more chance here. Every one ' knows now who and what you are." .': " ' • She looked at him with white, ex presaionless face. "It. does not suit me to leave the neighborhood at present." she said calmly. If *h* had been a tn«ua Ray would :hav»« struck her. I could seahi? wfilte teeth clenched fiercely together. ". "It does not suit me." he said.^ina low tone vibratlnjr with suppressed passion, "to have you hore. Ymi-aro a. l>!pgue spot upon thr place. You h^ve been a, plague spt>t hU your life. What ever you touch you corrupt." . ' '. Sh«» shrank away for a moment. After all. she was a woman, and I hat "id Ray. for hl!< brutality: £,. "t. \u25a0 -'./C* '" ' '-'^f "What a. butcher \u25a0yoir'ar^r'-she^sald, looking athim curiously. i4 If ever/you should marry — God help the woman."' ."There are women and women."-; he answered roughly. '-'A* for you, you do not count in the s"jx at all." • •\u25a0 ' " She turned away from him with a lit-; tie shudder, and for the first time dur- Irlg the interview 'she hid her face in her hands. It was all I could Uo to avoid speech. "Com*." he said, "do you asrree? Will you leave this place? I' promise you that your schemes here at any rate are at an end." She turned to nv>. Perhaps something In my face had spoken th«? sympathy which I could not wholly suppress. "Guy," j»ho Bald. "I v/ant toibe rid of thin man. because every word h«j speaks hurts. But I cannot even look at : him any more. At this war' of words he lias won. I am beaten. \u25a0 I admltit.'' " I .'am crushed. I am not going away. ,^1 spoke truthfully., when I • said that '. I came to- England In search of your father. We may both of us be tho crea tures that man would have you bellere, but we have been husband and wife for eighteen years, and -it is my duty to find out what has. become of him. Therefore T stay." , I could see Ray's black eyes flashing. He almost gripped my. arm as he drew me. away. We three left the house \u25a0 to gether. Atthe bottom of the drive we met a carriage sent down from Row chester.' Ray stopped it "; "Blenavon and I will take this car riage to the station." he said. "Will • yoli.' Ducaine, return to Lady Angela and tell her exactly .what has'hap pened?",- . ;-.\u25a0 \u25a0\u25a0 ... / \u0084-'':' "Oh, come, I'm not going: to have i that," Blenavon exclaimed.: y ; , ' Vlt will not be - unexpected news," Ray said ; sternly. "Your ' sister - *us : pects already." ' "':;'. *Tm not going jto be bundled away and leave you to. concoct any precious story you think fit," Blenavon declared, doggedly. -Vl—" : : : ; , Ray: opened the carriage door and gHpped Blenayon'H arm." \u25a0 ; - ' ;: "Get in,": he said in a low, suppressed : .ton«.>"-.'*?: .' -' : ;.y,- "\u25a0 "..." - - ' .-\u25a0 -' ;.- ; :- "\u25a0"; '.-"-\u25a0 .- There was something. almost animal I n the fury of Ray's ;. voice, j I looked away with a shudder. -.Blenavon stepped quietly Into the carriage. Then "Ray came over to me, and ,*a he looked searchingly Into my face, ho pointed up the carriage drive. . \u25a0 ?; ' " . "Boy," he said, "you are young,' and :I n hell | tsel f "- there :- cannot fbe i many such as she. You think* me '^brutal, vlt is because I remember— your mother!" "-.; He -stepped -into- the -carriage.', I turned.' around and* set out'for Row , Chester. \u25a0 -.;\u25a0 \u25a0\u25a0 \u25a0; \u25a0:\u25a0?\u25a0\u25a0/'-. '-\u25a0:-• :...;*.\u25a0\u25a0; CHAPTER XXV My; Secret THERE I followed .' for me another three 'days } of • unremitting- work. Th#n \u25a0 midway through onn mom,; ', v lng.'-I .* threw. my pen ' f rom nic <*Ti th :a \ grea t '% sense ~o f re 1 1 « f . ' £ They might "come; ori send for me t when i they; chose. 1 ; , I ; had * finished. S! My) eyes ' were : hot' and; my; brain', weary. "I -threw open front' 'door,» and * it seemed?. to ; melthat^the arid <the wind; and sthAlbirds^were' calling/ 1. i" beach,' across the grass-sprinkled:sand ; ; hills : and a the V mud-bottomed marshes} rJ 'walked ' with : my ?cap.? stuffed % In .-.-. my t pocket,* my; bead \ bared .to ' the \ freshen*' '. ing !, wind.- and all J the. way ,l nietno llv s ing creature. ?Aa \u25a0 I .walked my . thoug!: - 1 1 which ; had > been concentrated \ for; t \u25a0 • ; \u25a0las t few :-! days > upon Umy Xwor k; : •« •.. back to^that terrtbUhalf-hour at.Brai-' ', ter. Grange.; It thought r of Ray. '^ I ! real-j laed now that for days past I had been striving hnot "to -think sof-'hlm.X The man's ; sheer;- brutality appalled N me.: I believed In him now wholly: 1 1 believed \u25a0\u25a0; least in '.% his-; honesty,? his 1 vigorous andltrenchant loyalty *;?»But? the '^ways ;,of <the ; man-^were -; surel y^brutalf, to \ torj ture >' even, vermin * caught j; in * the \ trap, andTthat \u25a0 woman,^adventuress ; though she might be, had flinched before Uim in' agony, as though her very nerves were being, hacked out of her body. And Blenavon. too! .Surely he might have remembered that he hor brother.. He might have helped him to retain just a portion of his self-respect. Was he i»o nevere on every measure of wrongdoing? I fancied to myself the meeting on that lonely road between the poor white-faced creature who had looked in upon my window and this strong, merciless man. Warmed .with exercise as I was, I shivered. Hay re minded me of thoso grim figures of tho Old Testament. Mn eye for an eye, a life for a life, were precepts with him. in<le.»ii. Ile.was as inexorable aa Fate itself. I 'feared him. ami I knew why. 1 f<*ur«'d him 'when .I. I "thought ; of An gela, almostyoversensitivc, fo delicate a flower to b« held in his strong, merci- Jess grasp. i, l; walked faster and faster, for thoughts' were crowding in upon inc. i Such ( a tangled web, such bitter sweetness as they held for me. These were the thoughts which in those days it was the struggle of my life to keep from coming to fruition. I knew very well that, if onco I gave way to them, flight alone 'could savo me. For the love of her. was in my nerves, in every beat of my pulse, a wild and beautiful dream, against which I was- lighting alwaj-3 a hopeless battle. Far away. v coming toward me along the. sands, I saw her. I stopped short. For a moment my heart was hot with joy, then I looked wildly around, think ing of flight. It was. not possi ble. Already she had scen'^ me. Who waved- her. hand and In creased her pace, walking with the swift effortless grace of her beau tiful young limbs, her head thrown back, a" welcoming smile already part ing her lips. I. set my teeth and pre pared myself for the meeting. After ward;would come the pain, but for tho present the joy of seeing her. of being with her, was everything! I hastened forward.* "lsCould not stay Indoors," she said. as she turned by my side, "although I have an old aunt and some very unin terestlug visitors to entertain. Besides*. I have news: My father is coming down today, and I : . think tsome of the .oth .ers. We have Just had a telegram." ' ."I am glad," I answered. "I have just finished my work/ and I want some more.". ; „ -„ "You are Insatiable," she -declared, smiling. "You havo written for three days, days and 'nights, too, I believe, and you look liko a ghost. You ought to take a "rest now. You want one, at any rate." ;\u25a0 Then the = smile faded from her lips and the anxiety of a sudden thought possessed her. ''.",'•' "I have not heard a word from Colonel Ray," she said. "It terrifies me to think that he ; may. have told my father^ about Blenavon." "You must insist upon it that he does" not,": I.'. declared. . "Your brother has left England, has he'not?" ">\u25a0 "He, is at Ostend." /:':Then "Colonel: Ray! will keep his word,'! : I assured her. • "Besides, you 'havo written* to him, have "you not?" * i-'ZVl: have written,", sbo answered. ;" Still I am afraid. lie will Uo what: he thinks i right, .whatever. It may -• be." :' '; "He will respect your wishes," I said. ;•\u25a0 She smiled a little bitterly. -. ; "He ; Is not ' an easy person : to , Influ ence," she murmured. "I doubt whether, my iwlehes,' even : my prayers," would : weigh with him a particle against his own Judgment. 'And he is severe— very :'~y. V, \u25a0'' . ';. .>. - .' . \u25a0• ,'\u25a0 \u25a0• I' said nothing,; and we walked for sbnifi time \u25a0 In . silence. , :week,"jBho_said" abruptly. \u25a0 "I niust go; back to London." "One ; season -is; very much- like nn ? other." she said, .'.'but Itls not possible to absent ; oneself, altogether." Then aft erward there is * Cowes and Ilomburpr, and I , always • have a plan'f or at". least 1 three r weeks in* Scotland. ;I bellave we shall< close. :; Rowchester' altogether.? ~ .\u25a0:•-\u25a0:-. rrhe'.DukerVl asked.^^ ;:%"He never \u25a0 spends* the'sunimer here,'* she •: answered. \u25a0 "We ?are* generally jtoi; Igether^after July, so perhaps," she add ed, ' *.*you * may ; have <tp '< endure ; more ; of : my ' company ithan- you 'thtnh." | . She' looked ; at J me rwith'a- faint." pro ypklng': smile. How -dare she?: : Kwas master of imyself now , /and I ' answered her* coldly. ' - ' . "I shall >be very sorry to leave here,'' T. saldr; "I hope If * my ; work: lasts . : so long » that I • shall ' be able -to go on " with it?at >the : \u25a0'\u25a0- She ; made? no r answer ; to -that.', but . in a moment i or! two'; she :f. turned and looked ,at> me.; thoughtfully.:* • V -rV'Tou J are % :[ rather /a : surprising >"pef s son, 1 ', 1 ? she v ; remarked,T r "ln f many ".ways: fAndyou'certalnly. have strange tastes.". . x/'ls it i'&: strange taste . to '? love this ;place?V:;l|askedA-<'.; ".;-.V: -. . '-. ' .; : . ; "Of f course:- not. . But. %on the .other hand^ it •is /strange -that \u25a0 you should Ibe contehtUoVremaln-her, indefinitely:* SolU; tude Is; all? very '.well*at-.timcs. but sat' your, age ; I think : that the Vigorous life" of a great city, should, hay? many at tractions for you. Life hero, after all, must become something of an abstrac tion."' "It contents ri«\" I declared shortly. "Then I am riot «urc that you 'are in an altogether healthy frame of; mind." »he answered; coo'.ljv "'Have you: no ambitions?" "Such as I have." I muttered, "are hopeless. They wore built on eand~~ and they have fallen." "Then reconstruct them." she said. "You are far too young 1 to speak with such a note of finality." * \u25a0 "Some day." I answered. "I suppose I shall. 1 At present I am content to live on- among the fragments. On> needs; only imagination. The things one dreams about arc always more beautiful and perhaps more satisfying than the things one do<?s." \u25a0 . Again our oyes met. and I fancied that this time she was looking a little frightened. lAt any rate she knew. 1 was sure of that. ""What an ineffective sortof proceed ing!" she murmured. A creek separated us for a few min utes.' When we came together again I asked her- a .'question. "There is something, Lady Angela." I. said, "which, if you would forgive the Impertinence of it. I ehould very much like to/ask you." She moved her head, slowly, as though giving a taiit consent. But I do not think that «he wan quite pre pared for what. I asked her. '"When are you going to marry Colo -nel Ray?" " "The dale is not decided yet." she said. "You know there I? some talk of trouble in Egypt, and if so -he might have to leave at a^moment's notice." "It will riot be, at any rate, before the. autumn, then?" I persisted. "Xo!" I drew a little breath of relief. I was reckless whether she heard it or not. Suddenly she paused. "Who is that?" she asked. / I recognised him at onee — a small gray llgur^. standing on the top of a sandhill a Httlft way off. and r??ard ing us steadily. It was the Duke. "Your father:*' I said. ,We quickened our pace. If Lady Aligela was in any way discomposed she showed no signs of it. She waved her hand, and the Duke solemnly re moved his hat. . v . "1 am so Rlad~that h* has comedown brfore the others." she said. , "I am lonstns to have a talk with him. And 1 don't believe he knows anything about Blenavon. No, he's fax too chf«rful." • '*\u25a0'- \u25a0\u25a0\u25a0- She weut straiytit up to him and passed tier arm through his-'He-greet ed mo stlfHy, but not unkindly. "I am so Kind that you have come," she ?aid. "If I had not heard. I should have telegraphed ti> you. I*T« »c«n it in all the jvapcrt.7 J "You approve?" I heard him 'ask quietly. "Approve ix not the word." she de clared eagerly. "It is magnificent." - "I wonder," ho asked, 'if you reallxe what it means'.'" "It simply doesn't matter," she an swered, with a c'elisrlitful smile. "I tan make my own uresascs, if you lik#. Annette is a sho«^Uing nuisance to me." "r am afraid." he remarked, with an otM little smile, "that Blenavon will scarcely regard the matter In the same light."-' "Bother Blenavon:" she answered lightly. "I suppose you know that he's gone- off abroad somewhere?" •-'Iliad a hurried line from him with information to that effect.", the Duke answered. "I think that it would have been more respectful If he had called to sec me on - his way through Lon don." I heard her sigh of relief. "Now, tell, me." she beggwS. "where shall we begin? Cowcs. Horoburg. town house or Annette? I'm ready.", . The Duke looked at her for a mo ment as I had never seen him look at any living person. "You must not exaggerate to yonr self the importanco of this affair, An gela," he said. "I do not think we need interfere for the present . with any existing arrangements." She took his arm and they walked on ahead to the clearing in front of ray cottage, talking earnestly together. I had.no clow to the meaning of those first few sentences which had passed between them. And needles* to say I now lingered far enoutjh behind to be out of earshot When they reached the turn in the path they halted and waited for. me. : \ • . , •"I am anxious for a few minutes* conversation inside with . you. Du caine.v the Duke said. "Angela, you. had better perhaps not wait for me.' "She nodded her j farewell, & brief. Im,* perious little gesture, it seemed to me, with very little of kindliness In it. Then 'the Duke followed me into my s?itting-room. I waited anxiously to hear what he had to say. CnAFTfSB XX^l. "Xoblesae ObU*e* THE . Duke selected^' my most . comfortable easy chair and re mained silent for several min utes, looking thoughtfully ont of tho window. Notwithstanding? the "fresh color, which he seldom lost, and the trim perfection of his dress, >: I v could see at onee .that there wu a change **» him. ; The lines about hi* mouth were deeper," bis eyes " had lost much of their keen" brightness. ; I •found myselfwondering whether, after all. some ' suspicion of Lord Blenavoa'a v dolngs had found its way 'to him. \u25a0\u25a0/. "You are well forward with your work, I trust, Mr. Ducaine?" he said \u25a0 ;at last. ~¥s3ußaS&&BSeKtii "It :is completed, your .Grace,** I an swered.- - - " . '•The proposed subway fortifications - as well as . the new battery 'stations?" \u25a0"' \"Yes, ;' your > Grace." '.'What .about the maps?" "I have done-them' also to the best \of my: 'ability. 1 ' air," I answered. "I am not a very expert ' draughtsman. I . I am afraid, but these are at' leasts ac curate.. It you woufd care ;to look theni over, they, are in the library \u25a0 sa£«." . ;.. , ' '. -\u25a0'\u25a0- .- ' ' "And the code word?'*.: In . accordance with our usual cus tom . I scribbled it ;upon :a \u25a0 piece of paper and held it for a moment 'before . his eyes. ; ' Then I ! carefully destroyed It. '; "Tomorrow." .he -said," "perhaps to- n ight. we have Kome railway men com ;»ingc down to thoroughly discuss the most ; efficient \u25a0 method of moving . troops I frum/Alderstiot and London ;o different points, and to - inaugurate a fresh ; sys- \u25a0 item.' You had better hold yourself In ; readiness to come' up to the house atrany ! moment.; They are business ' nien " and /their time : is valuable. \u25a0\u25a0 They wtll probably: want to" work- from the moment of their: ; arrival until they go." V ;": r .. v ... '/ . . :// ,_- \u25a0 -\u25a0\u25a0\u25a0 "Very good, your Grace,'M answered He turned his head and t looked at me for;a'. moment 3 reflectively. . "You remember > our . conversation at \u25a0 the \u25a0 War • Office." Mr. Ducaine?" ' ' ' "Yes. your Grace." \u0084 • !'I ; do not -wish you to have a false Impression as to ' ray meaning at that time," 'he said coldlyV * "i do not, I have, never, doubted your . trustworthy Iness. My feeling was, • and la, that jou are somewhat ••; young; and/ of aa The San Prancisco Sunday Call. impetuous disposition for a^post of such importance. That feeling was In creased, of course. -by : the fact that I considered your story with reference to -the Prince of Malors improbable to the last degree. In justice to you." he continued more slowly, *'I must now admit the possibility that your description of^ " that incident may after air be in 'accordance with the facts. Certain facts have come to my knowledge which tend somewhat in that direction. I shall consider it a favor, therefore, if you will consider my remarks at that, interview retract ed." --;- \u25a0 • "I thank your grace very much," I answered. , "With reference, to the other mat t,T." he continued, "there my opinion remains unaltered. I 'do not believe that the papers In the safe were touch c-d after you yourself deposited them there, and I consider. your statement to the contrary a most unfortunate one. But* the fact remains that you have done your work faithfully, and the Council Is satisfied with your sen ices. That being so, you may rely upon it that any feeling I may have In tho matter I shall keep to myself-" I would have expressed my gratitude to him, but he checked me. . "There is," hTT said, "one other, a more personal matter concerning which I desire a few words with you. I hay* had a visit from a relative-of yours who Is also an old friend of my own. I refer to Sir Michael Trogoldy." I looked at him in amazement. T was, in fact, so surprised that I said nothing at all. "Sir Michael, it seems, has been mak ing inquiries about you, and learned of your present position," the Duko continued. "He asked me certain ques tions which I was glad to be able to answer In your behalf. He also in trusted me with a note which I havo h»re in my pocket." . He produced it and, laid it upon tha table. I mide no movement to tak* it. •*Th« details of your family history," the Duke said, ''are unknown to me. But If the advice of an old man 1* in any way acceptable to you. I should strongly recommend you to accept any offer of friendship which Sir Michael may make. He id an old man, and he is possessed of considerable wealth. Further, I gather that you are his nearest relative." "Sir Michael was very cruel to my mother, sir." I said slowly. "You have nothing to gain by har boring ancient grievances," the Duke replied. "I have always known Sir Michael as a just if. somewhat stern man. Please, however, do not look upon me In any way as a would-be mediator. My Interest in this matter ceases with the delivery of that latter. " The Duke rose to his feet. I fol lowed him to the door. ! "In any case, sir." I said, "I am very much obliged to you for your advice and for bringing me this letter." "By the by." the Duke said, pausing on the threshold. "I fear that we may lose the help of Colonel Kay upon the Council. There are rumors of serious trouble in the Soudan, and It these are in any way substantiated he will cer tainly be sent there. Good afternoon, Mr. Ducain*." "Good afternoon, your Grace." So he left me. stiff, formal, having satisfied his conscience, though I felt in my heart that his opinion of me. once formed, was -not likely to be changed. As soon as alone I opened my uncle's letter. "127 Grosvenor square, London. TV". . . "Dear Guy: It has been on my mind more than once during the last few years— ever since, in fact, I heard of you at college, to writ" and inform myself aa to your prospects In life. You aro the son of my only sister, although I regret to say that you are the son also of & man who disgraced himself and his profession. You have a. claim upon me which you made no effort to press. Perhaps I did not think the worse of you for that. In any case. I wish you to accept an allowance of which my lawyers will advise you. and If you will call upon me when you are In town I shall be glad to make your acquaint ance. I may say that It was a pleasure to me to learn that you have succeeded In obtaining a responsible and honor able post. "I am. yours sincerely. "MICHAEL TROGOLDT." I took pen and paper and answered this letter at one*. "My Dear Sir Michael: As I am your nepnew, and I understand, almost your nearest relative, I see ho reason why t should. not accept the allowance which you are good enough to offer me. I shall also be glad to come and see you next time J am in London, If it is your wish. "Tours sincerely,* "GUY DUCAINE." Grooton brought In my tea, also a London morning paper, which he had secured In the village. "1 thought that yon might be Inter ested In the news about the Duke, sir." \u25a0\u25a0 ."What news, Grooton?" I asked stretching out my hand for the paper. "You will find a leading article on the second page, sir, and another in tho money news. It reads quite extraordi nary, sir." \u25a0;. I opened the paper eagerly. I read every word of the leading artiole. which was entitled "Noblesse Oblige." and all the paragraphs In the money column. What X read did not surprise me in tho least when once. I had read the cir cumstance. It was Just what I should have expected from the Duke. It seemed that he had lent his name to the \u25a0 prospectus . of a company formed for the purpose of working some worth less patent designed to revolutionize the silk-weaving trade. The Dukc'a reason for soing on the board -was purely philanthropic. He had hoped to restore an ancient Industry in a decay - Ing neighborhood. The whole thing turned out to be a swindle. One angry shareholder stated plainly at the meet ing that he had taken his shares on ac count of the Duke's name upon the prospectus, and hinted ugly things. ' The Duke had risen calmly in his place. He assured them that he fully recognized hU responsibilities in the matter. If the /person who had last spoken was in earnest when he stated that the Duke's name had Induced him to take, shares in this company, then he was prepared to relieve him of thoso shares at the prjee which he had paid for them. Further/ If there was any other persona who were able honestly to say that the name of the Duke of \u25a0Rowchester upon .the prospectus »had Induced them to invest their money in ,thls concern, his offer extended als«» to them. There were roars of applause. wiM enthusiasm. It was magnificent, bui the lowest estimate of what It would cost the Duke was a hundred thousand pounds. . I pat down the paper, and my cheeks were flushed with enthusiasm. I think that if the Duke had been there at that momtfnt I. could, have kissed his hand. I passed with much less inter est to the letter which Grooten had brought in with the paper. It wa* from a firm of solicitors In Lincoln* Inn, and it informed me. In "a few pre .else: sentences.^that they had the au thority of their client. Sir Michael Tro goldy,,to pay me yearly the, sum of flvo hundred pounds. 4To Be Continued.