THE CRY IN THE NIGHT.
" \70U'D be having company last night, sir ? "
JL Mrs. Hollings remarked inquisitively.
Mrs. Hollings was an elderly widow, who
devoted two hours of her morning to cleaning my
rooms and preparing my breakfast.
" Some friends did call," I answered, pouring
out the coffee.
" Friends ! Good Samaritans I should call 'em,"
Mrs. Hollings declared, " if so be as they left all
the things I found here this morning. Why, there's
a whole chicken, to say nothing of tongue and biscuits.
There's wine, too, with gold paper round the top,
champagne wine, I do believe."
" Is the tide up this morning ? " I asked.
" None to speak of," Mrs. Hollings answered,
" though the road's been washed diy, and the creeks
are brimming. I've scarcely set foot in the village
this morning, but they're all a-talking about the
soldier gentleman the Duke brought down to the
village hall last night. Might you have seen him,
sir ? "
" Yes, I saw him," I answered.
" A sad shame as it was the night of your lecture,
sir," the woman babbled on, " for they were all
crazy to hear him. My ! the hall was packed."
" Would you mind seeing to my room now, Mrs.
THE CRY IN THE NIGHT. 19
Hollings ? " I asked. " I am going out early this
Mrs. Hollings ascended my frail little staircase.
I finished my breakfast in haste, and catching up
my hat escaped out of doors.
About two hundred yards past my cottage the
road, which from the village ran perfectly straight,
took a sharp turn inland, leaving the coast abruptly
on account of the greater stretch of marshland
beyond. At this bend, in case the turn might be
too sharp for some to see at night, a dozen yards
or so of white posts and railings bordered the marshes.
I leaned over them for a moment, to admire the
strange colours drawn by the sunlight from the sea-
soaked wilderness, the deep brown, the strange
purple, the faint pink of the distant sands. But it
was none of the artist's fervour which turned my
limbs into dead weights, which drew the colour
even from my lips, and set my heart beating with
fierce, quick throbs. Half in the creek and half out,
not a dozen yards from the road, was the figure of
a man. His head and shoulders were beneath the
water, his body and legs and outstretched arms
were upon the marsh.
How long it was before I moved I cannot tell. At
last, however, I climbed the palings, jumped at its
narrowest point a smaller creek, and with slow foot-
steps approached the dead man. Even when I stood
by his side I dared not touch him, I dared not turn
him round to see his face. I saw that he was of
middle size, fairly well dressed, and as some blown
sand had drifted over his boots and ankles I knew
that he had been there for some hours. There was
blood upon his collar, and the fingers of his right
hand were tightly clenched. I told myself that I
was a coward, and I set my teeth. I must lift his
head from the water, and cover him up with my own
coat while I fetched help. But when I stooped down
20 THE BETRAYAL.
a deadly faintness came over me. My fingers were
palsied with horror. I had a sudden irresistible
conviction I could not touch him. It was a sheer
impossibiUty. There was something between us
more potent than the dread of a dead man — some-
thing inimical between us two, the dead and the
living. I staggered away and ran reeling to the
road, plunging blindly through the creek.
About two hundred yards further down the road
was a small lodge at one of the entrances of Row-
chester. It was towards this I turned and ran. The
door was closed, and I beat upon it fiercely with
clenched fists. The woman who answered it stared
at me strangely. I suppose that I was a wild-looking
" It's Mr. Ducaine, isn't it ? " she exclaimed.
" Why, sakes alive ! what's wrong, sir ? "
" A dead man in the marshes," I faltered.
" Lordy me ! whereabouts, sir ? " she inquired.
I pointed with a trembling forefinger. She stood
by my side on the threshold of the cottage and shaded
her eyes with her hand, for the glare of the sun was
" Well, I never did ! " she remarked. " But I
said to John last night that I pitied them at sea.
He's been washed up by the tide, I suppose, and I
count tlicre'll be more before the day's out. Eh,
but it's a cruel thing is the sea."
" Where is your husband ? " I asked.
" Up chopping wood in Femham Spinney," she
answered. " I'd best send one of the children for
him. He'll have a cart with him. Will you step
inside, sir ? "
I shook my head and answered her vaguely. She
sent a boy with a message, and brought me a chair.
" You'd best sit down, sir. You look all struck
of a heap, so to speak. Maybe you came upon it
THE CRY IN THE NIGHT. 21
I was glad enough to sit down, but I answered her
at random. She re-entered the cottage and continued
some household duties. I sat quite still, with my
eyes steadily fixed upon a dark object a little to the
left of those white palings. I was under some sort
of spell. My brain was numb with terror, the fire of
life had left my veins, so that I sat there in the warm
sunshine and shivered until my teeth chattered.
Inside, the woman was singing over her work.
And then the spell developed. A nameless but
loathsome fascination drew me from my seat, drew me
with uneven and reluctant footsteps out of the gate
and down the narrow, straight road. There was stiU
not a soul in sight. I drew nearer and nearer to the
spot. Once more I essayed to move him. It was
utterly in vain. Such nerve as I possessed had left
me wholly and altogether. A sense of repulsion,
nauseating, invincible, made a child of me. I stood
up and looked around wildly. It was then for the
first time I saw what my right foot had trodden into
I picked it up. It was a man's signet ring, thin,
and worn smooth with age. It was quaintly shaped,
and in the centre was set a small jet black stone.
The device was a bird, and underneath the motto
— " Vinco ! "
My hand closed suddenly upon it, and again I
looked searchingly around, There was not a soul
in sight. I slipped the ring into my pocket and
moved back to the white railings. I leaned against
them, and, taking a pipe and tobacco from my pocket,
began to smoke.
Strangely enough, I had now recovered my nerve.
I was able to think and reason calmly. The woman
at the lodge had taken it for granted that this man's
body had been thrown up by the sea. Was that a
possible conclusion ? There was a hne all down the
sands where the tide had reached, a straggling, uneven
22 THE BETRAYAL.
line marked with huge masses of wet seaweeds,
fragments of timber, the flotsam and jetsam of the
sea. The creek where the man's body was lying
was forty yards above this. Yet on such a night
who could say where those great breakers, driven in
by the wind as well as by their own mighty force,
might not have cast their prey ? Within a few yards
of him was a jagged mass of timber. The cause
of those wounds would be obvious enough.
I heard the sound of footsteps. I turned my
head. It was Blanche Moyat, short-skirted, a stick
in her hand, a feather stuck through her Tam-o'-
" Good-morning," she cried out heartily ; "I've
been to call at your cottage."
" V..ry kind of you," I answered, hesitatingly.
Miss Moyat was good-hearted, but a Httle over-
powering — and in certain moods she reminded me
of her father.
" Oh, I had an errand," she explained, laughing.
*' Father said if I saw you I was to say that he has
to call on the Duke this afternoon, and, if you liked,
he would explain about your lecture last night, and
try and get the village hall for you for nothing."
"It is very kind of your father," I answered.
" I do not think that I shall ever give that lecture
" Why not ? " she protested. " I am sure I
thought it a beautiful lecture, and I'm not keen on
churches and ruins myself," she added, with a laugh
which somehow grated upon me. " What are you
doing here ? "
" Watching the dead," I answered grimly.
I pointed to the dark object by the side of the
" Mr. Ducaine ! " she cried. " What is it ? "
" A dead man ! " I answered.
Her face was a strange study. There was fear
THE CRY IN THE NIGHT. 23
mingled with unwholesome curiosity, the heritage of
he*r natural lack of refinement. She leaned over
" Oh, how horrible ! " she exclaimed. " I don't
know whether I want to look or not. I've never
seen any one dead."
"I should advise you," I said, "to go away."
It was apparently the last thing she desired to do.
Of the various emotions which had possessed her,
curiosity was the one which survived.
" You are sure he is dead ? " she asked.
" Quite," I answered.
" Was he drowned, then ? "
" I think," I replied, " that he has been washed
up by the tide. There has probably been a ship-
" Gracious ! " she exclaimed. "It is just a
sailor, then ? "
" I have not looked at his face," I answered, " and
I should not advise you to. He has been tossed about
and injured. His clothes, though, are not a seaman's."
She passed through a gap in the palings.
" I must look just a little closer," she exclaimed.
" Do come with me, Mr. Ducaine. I'm horribly
" Then don't go near him," I advised. " A dead
man is surely not a pleasant spectacle for you. Come
away. Miss Moyat."
But she had advanced to within a couple of yards
of him. Then she stopped short, and a little
exclamation escaped from her lips.
" Why, Mr. Ducaine," she cried out, " this is the
very man who stopped me last night outside our
house, and asked the way to your cottage."
24 THE BETRAYAL.
MISS moyat's promise,
WE stood looking at one another on tlic edge of
the marsh. There was terror in my face,
and she could see it.
" You — you cannot be sure ! " I exclaimed. " It
may not be the same man."
" It is the same man," she answered confidently.
" He stopped me and asked if I could direct him
to your house. It was about half an hour after you
had gone. He spoke like a foreigner. Didn't he
come to you ? "
" No," I answered. " I have never seen him
before in my life."
" Why do you look — so terrified ? " she asked.
" You are as pale as a ghost."
I clutched hold of the railings. She came over
to my side. Up the road I heard in the distance the
crunching of heavy wheels. A wagon was passing
through the lodge gates. John, the woodman, was
walking by the horses' heads, cracking his whip as
he came. I looked into the girl's face by my side.
" Miss Moyat," I said hoarsely, " can't you forget
that you saw this man ? "
" Why ? " she asked, bewildered.
" I don't want to be dragged into it," I answered,
glancing nervously over my shoulder along the road.
" Don't you see that if he is just foiirui here with his
head and shoulders in the creek and nothing is
known about him, they will take it that he has been
washed up by the sea in the storm last night? But
if it is known that he was seen in the village asking for
me — then there will be many things said."
" I don't see as it matters," she answered, puzzled.
" He didn't come, and you don't know anything
MISS MOYAT'S PROMISE. 25
about him. But, of course, if you want me to say-
' She paused. I clutched her arm.
" Miss Moyat ! " I said, " I have strong reasons for
not wishing to be brought into this."
" All right," she said, dropping her voice. " I
will do — as you ask."
There was an absurd meaning in her little side-
glance, which at another time would have put me on
my guard. But just then I was engrossed with my
own vague fears. I forgot even to remove my hand
from her arm. So we were standing, when a moment
later the silence was broken by the sound of a
galloping horse coming fast across the marshes.
We started aside. Lady Angela reined in a great bay
mare a few yards away from us. Her habit was all
bespattered with mud. She had evidently ridden
across country from one of the entrances to the Park.
" What is this terrible story, Mr. Ducaine ? "
she exclaimed. " Is there really a shipwreck ? "
" No shipwreck that I know of, Lady Angela,"
I answered. " There is a dead man here — one only.
I have heard of nothing else."
Her eyes followed my outstretched hand, and she
saw the body half on the sands, half on the marsh.
She shivered a little.
" Poor fellow ! " she exclaimed. "Is it any one
from the village, Mr. Ducaine ? "
" It is a stranger, Lady Angela," I answered. " We
think that his body must have been washed in from
She measured the distance from high-water mark
with a glance, and shook her head.
" Too far away," she declared.
" There was a wild sea last night," I answered,
" and such a tide as I have never seen here before."
" What are you doing with it ? " she asked,
pointing with her whip.
26 THE BETRAYAL.
" John Hefford is bringing a wagon," I answered.
" I suppose he had better take it to the police station."
She wheeled her horse round.
" I am glad that it is no worse," she said. " There
are reports going about of a terrible shipwreck. I
tmst that you are feeling better, Mr. Ducaine ? "
" I am quite recovered — thanks to your kindness
and Colonel Ray's," I answered.
" You will hear from my father during the day,"
she said. " He is quite anxious to come to your
" Good-morning, Lady Angela."
She galloped away. Miss Moyat turned towards
" Why, Mr. Ducaine," she exclaimed, " I had no
idea that you knew Lady Angela."
" Nor do I," I answered shortly. " Our
acquaintance is of the slightest."
" What did she mean about the lecture ? "
I affected not to hear. John the wagoner had
pulled up his team by the side of the palings, and was
touching his hat respectfully. " Another job for the
dead 'ouse, sir, my missis tells me."
" There is the body of a dead man here, John,"
I answered, " washed up by the tide, I suppose.
It isn't an uncommon occurrence here, is it ? "
" Lor bless you, no, sir," the man answered,
stepping over the palings. " If you'll just give me a
hand, sir, we'll take him down to the police station."
I set my teeth and advanced towards the dead man.
John Hefford proved at once that he was superior
to all such trifles as nerves. He lifted the body up
and laid it for the first time flat upon the sands.
" My ! he's had a nasty smash on the head," John
remarked, looking down at him with simple curiosity.
" Quite the gent, too, I should say. Will you give
me a hand, sir, and we'll have him in the wagon."
MISS MOYAT'S PROMISE. 27
So I was forced to touch him after aU. Neverthe-
less I kept my eyes as far as possible from the ghastly
face with the long, hideous wound across it. I saw
now, however, in one swift, unwilling glance, what
manner of man this was. He had thin features, a
high forehead, deep-set eyes, too close together, a
thin, iron-grey moustache. Whatever his station in
life may have been, he was not of the labouring
classes, for his hands were soft and his nails well
cared for. We laid him in the bottom of the wagon,
and covered him over with a couple of sacks. John
cracked the whip and strode along by the side
of the horses. Blanche Moyat and I followed
She was unusually silent, and once or twice I
caught her glancing curiously at me, as though she had
something which it was in her mind to say, but needed
encouragement. As we neared m}^ cottage she
asked me a question.
" Do you know who he is ; what he wanted to see
you about ? "
" I have no idea," I answered. " I am quite sure
that I never saw him before in my life."
" Did you see him last night ? " she asked.
" Not to speak to," I answered. " I did catch
just a glimpse of him, I believe, in rather a strange
way. But that was all."
" What do you mean ? "
" I saw him looking in through my window, but
he came no nearer. Lady Angela and Colonel Ray
were in the room."
" In your room ? "
" Yes. Colonel Ray called to say that he was sorry
to i ave spoilt my lecture."
" And Lady Angela ? "
" She came in too ? "
The girl's open-mouthed curiosity irritated me
28 THE BETRAYAL.
" I happened to be ill when Colonel Ray came.
They were both very kind to me."
" This man, then," she continued, " he looked
in and went away ? "
" I suppose so," I answered. " I saw no more
She turned towards me breathlessly.
" I don't see how a fall could have killed him, or
how he could have wandered off into the marshes
just there. The creek isn't nearly deep enough to
have drowned him unless he had walked deliberately
in and lain down. He was quite sober, too, when
he spoke to me. Mr. Ducaine, how did he die ?
What killed him ? "
I shook my head.
" If I could answer you these questions," I said,
" I should feel much easier in my own mind. But
I cannot. I know no more about it than you do."
We were both silent for a time, but I saw that
there was a new look in her face. It was a welcome
relief when a groom from Rowchester overtook us
and pulled up his horse by our side.
" Are you Mr. Ducaine, sir ? " he asked, touching
" Yes," I answered.
" I have a note for you from his Grace, sir," he
said. " I was to take back an answer if I found
you at home."
He handed it to me, and I tore it open. It
contained only a few lines in a large, sprawling
" Rowchester, Wednesday Morning.
" The Duke of Rowchester presents his
compliments to Mr. Ducaine, and would be obliged
if he could make it convenient to call upon him
at Rowchester about four o'clock this afternoon."
MISS MOYAT'S PROxMISE. 29
I folded the note up and turned to the groom.
" Will you tell his Grace," I said, " that I will
call at the time he mentions ? "
,The man touched his hat and rode away. Blanche
Moyat, who had been standing a few yards off,
" Has the Duke sent for you to go there ? " she
asked, with obvious curiosity.
" Yes. He has offered to lend me the village
hall," I told her. " I expect that is what he wants
to see me about."
She tossed her head.
" You didn't tell me so just now when I told you
that father had offered to speak about it," she
" I am afraid," I said gravely, " my mind was
full of more serious matters."
She said no more until we reached the front of
the Moyats' house. Then she did not offer me her
hand, but she stood quite close to me, and spoke
in an unnaturally low tone.
"You wish me, then," she said, "not to mention
about that man — his asking the way to your cottage ? "
" It seems quite unnecessary," I answered, " and
it would only mean that I should be bothered with
questions which I could not answer."
"Very well," she said. "Good-bye!"
I shuddered to myself as I followed the wagon
down the narrow street towards the police station.
A strange reserve had crept into her manner during
the latter portion of our walk. There was something
in her mind which she shrank from putting into words.
Did she believe that I was responsible for this grim
tragedy which had so suddenly thrown its shadow
over my humdrum little life.
30 THE BETRAYAL.
THE GRACIOUSNESS OF THE DUKE.
AT four that afternoon I was ushered into the
presence of the Duke of Rowchester. I had
never seen him before, and his personaUty
at once interested me. He was a small man, grey-
haired, keen-eyed, clean-shaven. He received me
in a somewhat bare apartment, which he alluded
to as his workroom, and I found him seated before
a desk strewn with papers. He rose immediately
at my entrance.
"You are Mr. Ducaine," he said, holding out his
hand. " I am very glad to see you."
He motioned me to a chair.
" I trust," he said, " that you have quite re-
covered from your last night's indisposition. My
daughter has been telling me about it."
" Quite, thank you," I answered, " Lady Angela
and Colonel Ray were very kind to me."
He nodded, and then glanced at the papers on
" I have been going through several matters
connected with the estate, Mr. Ducaine," he said,
" and I have come across one which concerns you."
" The proposed lease of the Grange," I remarked.
" Exactly. It seems that you arranged a three
years' tenancy with Mr. Hulshaw, my agent, and were
then not prepared to carry it out."
" It was scarcely my own fault," I interposed.
" I explained the circumstances to Mr. Hulshaw. I
was promised two pupils if I took a suitable house
in this neighbourhood, but, after all my plans were
concluded, their father died unexpectedly, and their
new guardian made other arrangements."
" Exactly," the Duke remarked. " The only
reason why I have alluded to the matter is that I
THE GRACIOUSNESS OF THE DUKE. 31
disapprove of the course adopted by my agent, who,
I beheve, enforced the payment of a year's rent
' "He was within his rights, your Grace," I said.
" He may have been," the Duke admitted, " but
I consider his action arbitrarj^ Not only that, but
it was unnecessary, for he has already found another
tenant for the place. I have instructed him, there-
fore, to send you a cheque for the amount you paid
him, less the actual cost of preparing the lease."
Now my entire capital at that moment was some-
thing under three shillings. A gift of fifty pounds,
therefore, which after all was not a gift but only
the just return of my own money, was more than
opportune — it was heaven-sent.
" Your Grace is exceedingly kind/' I told him.
" The money will be invaluable to me just now."
The Duke inclined his head.
" I am only sorry," he said, " that Hulshaw should
have exacted it. Now there is a further matter,
Mr. Ducaine, concerning which I desired to speak
to you. I refer to your projected lecture last night."
" I beg that your Grace will not allude to it," I
said, hastily. " It is really of very little importance."
The Duke had a habit which I began at this time
to observe. He appeared to enter into all discussions
with his mind wholly made up upon the subject,
and any interruptions and interpolations he simply
endured with patience, and then continued on his
way without the slightest reference to them. He sat
during my remark with half-closed eyes, and when
I had finished he went on, wholly ignoring it :
" This is a strange little comer of the world," he
said, " and the minds of the people here are for the
most part like the minds of little children ; they
need forming. I have heard some remarks concerning
the war from one or two of my tenants which have
not pleased me. Accordingly, while Colonel Ray
32 THE BETRAYAL.
was here, I thought it an excellent opportunity to
endeavour to instruct them as to the real facts of
the case. It was not until after the affair was
arranged — not, indeed, until I was actually in the
hall — that I heard of our misfortune in selecting the
evening which you had already reserved for your
own lecture. I trust that you will allow me to offer
you the free use of the hall for any other date which
you may select. My people here, and I myself, shall
esteem it a pleasure to be amongst your audience."
I was quite overwhelmed. I could only murmur
my thanks. The Duke went on to speak for a while
on general matters, and then skilfully brought the
conversation back again to myself and my own affairs.
Before I knew where I was I found myself subjected
to a close and merciless cross-examination.
It Ccime to an end at last. I found myself con-
fronted with a question which, if I had answered it
truthfully, must have disclosed my penniless condition.
I rose instead to my feet.
" Your Grace will excuse me," I said, " but I am
taking up too much of your time. It is not possible
that these small personal details can be of any interest
He waved me back to my chair, which I did not,
however, immediately resume. I was not in the
least offended. The Duke's manner throughout,
and the framing of his questions, had been too tactful
to awaken any resentment. But I had no fancy
for exposing my ill luck and friendless state to any
one. I was democrat enough to feel, too, that a
cross-examination which would have been impertinent
in anybody else was becoming a little too personal
even from the Duke of Rowchester.
" Sit down, Mr. Ducaine," he said. " I do not
blame you for resenting what seems to be curiosity,
but you must take my word for it that it is nothing
of the sort. I can, perhaps, explain myself better by
THE GRACIOUSNESS OF THE DUKE. 33
asking you still another sort of question. Are you
in a position to accept a post of some importance ? "