I bowed. " That is conclusive," I remarked.
"It is remarkably inconclusive to me," Lord
Chelsford remarked grimly. " Whom else save one
of your friends who are all upon the Board could
you possibly wish to shield ? "
" That I even wish to do so," I answered, " is
purely an assumption."
" You are fencing with me, young man," Lord
Chelsford said grimly, " and it is not worth while.
Hush ! "
There was a rap at the door downstairs. We heard
the Duke's measured tones.
" I understood that Lord Chelsford was here,"
" Lord Chelsford has left, your Grace," Grooton
" And Mr. Hill ? "
" He has been at the house all day, your Grace."
The Duke appeared to hesitate for a moment.
" Grooton," he said, " I rely upon you to see that
Lord Chelsford has this note shortly. I am going for
a little walk, and shall probably return this way. I
wish you to understand that this note is for Lord
Chelsford's own hand."
" Certainly, your Grace."
" Not only that, Grooton, but the fact that I called
here and left a communication for Lord Chelsford is
also — to be forgotten."
" I quite understand, your Grace," Grooton
THE TRAITOR. 251
The Duke struck a match, and a moment or two
later we saw him strolHng along the cliff-side, smoking
a cigarette, his hands behind him, prim, carefully
dressed, walking with the measured ease of a man
seeking an appetite for his dinner. He was scarcely out
of sight, and Lord Chelsford was on the point of
descending for his note, when my heart gave a great
leap. Lady Angela emerged from the plantation and
crossed the open space in front of the cottage with
swift footsteps. Her hair was streaming in the
breeze as though she had been running, but there was
not a vestige of colour in her cheeks. Her eyes, too,
were like the eyes of a frightened child.
Lord Chelsford descended the stairs and himself
" Why, Angela," he exclaimed, " you look as
though you had seen a ghost. Is anything the
matter ? "
" Oh, I am afraid so," she answered. " Have you
seen my father ? "
" Why ? " he asked, fingering the note which
Grooton had silently laid upon the table.
" Something has happened ! " she exclaimed. " I
am sure of it. Last night he came to me before
dinner. He told me that Blenavon was in trouble.
It was necessary to send him money by a special
messenger, by the only person who knew his where-
abouts. He gave me a packet, and he told me that
at a quarter-past twelve last night I was to be in my
music-room, and directly the stable clock struck that
I was to open the window and some one would be
there on the terrace and take the packet. I did
exactly as he told me, and there was some one there ;
but I had just held out the packet when a third
person snatched it away and held my hand close to
his eyes as though to try and guess who I was. I
managed to get it away and close the window, but
I think that the wrong person must have taken the
252 THE BETRAYAL.
packet. I told my father to-day, and — you know
that terribly still look of his. I thought that he was
never going to speak again. When I asked him if
there was a good deal of money in it — he only
Up on the top of the stairs I was shaking with
excitement. I heard Lord Chelsford speak, and his
voice was hoarse.
" Since then," he asked, " what ? "
" A man came to see father. He drove from Wells.
He looked like a Frenchman, but he gave no name.
He was in the library for an hour. When he left he
walked straight out of the house and drove away
again. I went into the library, and — you know how
strong father is — he was crouching forward across
the table, muttering to himself. It was like some
sort of a fit. He did not know me when I spoke to
him. Lord Chelsford, what does it all mean ? "
" Go on ! " he answered. " Tell me the rest."
*' There is nothing else," she faltered. " He got
better presently, and he kissed me. I have never
known him to do such a thing before, except at
morning or night. And then he locked himself in the
study and wrote. About an hour afterwards I heard
him asking everywhere for you. The servants thought
that you had come here. I saw him crossing the
park, so I followed."
Lord Chelsford came to the bottom of the stairs
and called me by name. I heard Lad}^ Angela's little
cry of surprise. I was downstairs in a moment, and
she came straight into my arms. Her dear, tear-
stained httle face buried itself upon my shoulder.
" I am so thankful, so thankful that you are here/'
And all the while, with the face of a man forced into
the presence of tragedy, Lord Chelsford was reading
that letter. When he had finished, his hands were
shaking and his face was grey. He moved over to
THE TRAITOR. 253
the fireplace, and, without a moment's hesitation,
he thrust the letter into the flames. Not content
with that, he stood over it, poker in hand, and beat
the ashes into powder. Then he turned to the door.
" Take care of Angela, Ducaine," he exclaimed,
and hurried out.
But Lady Angela had taken alarm. She hastened
after him, dragging me with her. Lord Chelsford was
past middle age, but he was running along the cliff-
path like a boy. We followed. Lady Angela would
have passed him, but I held her back. She did not
speak a word. Some vague prescience of the truth
even then, I think, had dawned upon her.
We must have gone a mile before we came in sight
of him. He was strolling along, only dimly visible
in the gathering twilight, still apparently smoking,
and with the air of a man taking a leisurely
promenade. He was toiling up the side of the highest
cUff in the neighbourhood, and once we saw him turn
seaward and take off his hat as though enjoying the
breeze. Just as he neared the summit he looked
round. Lord Chelsford waved his hand and shouted.
" Rowchester," he cried. " Hi ! Wait for me."
The Duke waved his hand as though in salute,
and turned apparently with the object of coming to
meet us. But at that moment, without any apparent
cause, he lurched over towards the chff-side, and we
saw him fall. Lady Angela's cry of frenzied horror
was the most awful thing I had ever heard. Lord
Chelsford took her into his arms.
" Chmb down, Ducaine," he gasped. " I'm
done ! "
I found the Duke on the shingles, curiously
unmangled. He had the appearance of a man who
had found death restful.
254 THE BETRAYAL.
THE THEORIES OF A NOVELIST.
THE novelist smiled. He had been button-
holed by a very great man, vi^hich pleased
him. He raised his voice a little. There were
others standing around. He fancied himself already
the centre of the group. He forgot the greatness of
the great man.
" In common with many other people, my dear
Marquis," he said, " you labour under a great mistake.
Human character is governed by as exact laws as the
phj/sical world. Give me a man's characteristics,
and I will undertake to tell you exactly how he will
act under any given circumstance. It is a question of
mathematics. We all carry with us, inherited or
acquired, a certain amount of resistance to evil
influence, certain predilections towards good and
vice versa, according as we are decent fellows or
blackguards. Some natures are more complex than
others, of course — that only means that the weighing
up of the good and evil in them is a more difficult
matter. There are experts who can tell you the
weight of a haystack by looking at it, and there are
others who are able at Christmas-time to indulge in
an unquenchable thirst by accurately computing the
weight, down to ounces, of the pig or turkey raffled
for at their favourite public-house. So the trained
student of his fellows can also diagnose his subjects
and anticipate their actions."
The Marquis smiled. " You analytical noveHsts
would destroy for us the whole romance of life,"
he declared. " I vnll not listen to you any longer.
I fear ignorance less than disillusion ! "
He passed on, and the httle group at once dispersed.
The novelist was left alone. He went off in a huff.
Lord Chelsford plucked me by the arm.
" Let us sit down, Ducaine," he said. " What
rubbish these men of letters talk ! "
\^ THE THEORIES OF A NOVELIST. 255
P glanced towards the ballroom, but my companion
^/^ook his head.
" Angela is dancing with the Portuguese
Ambassador," he said, " and he wiU never give up
his ten minutes afterwards. You must pay the
penalty of having married the most beautiful woman
in London, Guy, and sit out with the old fogies.
What rubbigh that fellow did talk ! "
" YoLi are thinking " I murmured.
" Of the Duke ! Yes ! There was a man who to
all appearance was a typical English gentleman, proud,
sensitive of his honour, in every action which came
before the world a right-dealing and a right-doing
man. To do what seemed right to him from one
point of view he stripped himself of lands and
fortune, and when that was not enough he stooped
to unutterable baseness. He was willing to betray his
country to justify his own sense of personal honour."
" In justice to him," I said, " one must remember
that he never for a moment believed in the possibility
of a French invasion."
Lord Chelsford shook his head.
" It is too nice a point," he declared. " We may
hot reckon it in his favour. I wonder how our friends
on the other side felt when they knew that they had
paid fifty thousand pounds for false information ?
We ought to make you a peer, Ducaine. The
Trogoldy money would stand it."
" For heaven's sake, don't ! " I cried. " What
have I done that you should want to banish me into
the pastures ? "
" You talk too much," my companion murmured.
" In the Lords it wouldn't matter, but in the
Commons you are a nuisance. I suppose you want
to be taken into the Cabinet."
" Quite true ! " I admitted. " You want young
men there, and I am ready any time."
" A man with a wife like yours," Lord Chelsford
256 THE BETRAYAL.
remarked thoughtfully, " is bound to go anywhere
he wants. Then he sits down and takes all the
credit to himself."
Angela passed on the arm of the Ambassador. She
waved her hand gaily to us, but her companion drew
her firmly away. We both looked after her
" Guy," Lord Chelsford said, " we have both of us
done some good work in our time, but never anything
better than the way we managed to hoodwink
everybody — even herself, about her father. Amongst
the middle classes he remains a canonised saint, the
man who pauperised himself for their sakes. Ray
was too full of Blenavon's little aberrations to suspect
any one else, and our friends from across the water
who might — I mean the woman — have been inclined
for a little blackmail, were obliging enough to make a
final disappearance in the unlucky Henriette. The
woman was saved, though, by the by."
" The woman is still alive," I told him, " but I will
answer for her silence. I allow her a small pension —
all she would accept. She is living in the south of
" And Blenavon," Lord Chelsford said, with a
smile, " has married an American girl who has made
a different man of him. What character those
women have ! She hasn't a penny, they tell me,
until her father dies, and they work on their ranch
from sunrise. She will be an ornament to our
aristocracy when they do come back."
" They are coming next spring," I remarked, " if
they can do it out of the profits of the ranch — not
unless. Blenavon has carried out his father's wishes
to the letter, and cut off the entail of everything that
" What a silly ass that novelist was ! " Lord
Chelsford declared vigorously.
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