and taken me for a walk."
His eyes shot dark lightnings at her.
" I did not hear you call," he said.
*' You had the appearance of a man who intended
to hear nothing and see nothing," she remarked
coolly. " Never mind ! There will be no breakfast
for an hour yet. You shall take me on to Braster
Hill. Come ! "
They left me at a turn in the path. I saw their
heads close together in earnest conversation. I
went on towards the house.
I entered by the back, and made my way across
the great hall, which was still invaded by domestics.
Taking a key from my watch-chain, I unfastened
the door of a room almost behind the staircase, and
pushed it open. The curtains were drawn, and the
room itself, therefore, almost in darkness. I carefully
locked myself in, and turned up the electric light.
AN EXPRESSION OF CONFIDENCE. 63
The apartment was a small one, and contained only
a few pieces of heavy antique furniture. Behind
the curtains were iron shutters. In one corner was
a strong safe. I walked to it, and for the first time
I pemiitted myself to think of the combination word.
Slowly I fitted it together, and the great door swung
There were several padlocked despatch-boxes,
and, on a shelf above, a bundle of folded papers. I
took this bundle carefully out and laid if on the
table before me. I was on the point of undoing the
red tape with which it was tied, when my fingers
became suddenly rigid. I stared at the packet with
wide open eyes. I felt my breath come short and
my brain reeling. The papers were there sure enough,
but it was not at them that I was looking. It was
the double knot in the pink tape which fascinated me.
AN EXPRESSION OF CONFIDENCE.
I HAVE no exact recollection of how long I spent
in that little room. After a while I closed the
door of the safe, and reset the combination
lock with trembling fingers. Then I searched all
round, but could find no traces of any recent intruder.
I undid the heavy shutters and let in a stream of
sunshine. Outside, Ray and Lady Angela were
strolling up and down the terrace. I watched the
latter with fascinated eyes. It was from her that
this strange warning had come to me, this warning
which as yet was only imperfectly explained. What
did sh'i know ? Whom did she suspect ? Was it
possible that she, a mere child, had even the
glimmering of a suspicion as to the truth ? My eyes
followed her every movement. She walked with all
the lightsome grace to which her young limbs and
breeding entitled her, her head elegantly poised on
64 THE BETRAYAL.
her slender neck, her face mostly turned towards her
companion, to whom she was talking earnestly. Even
at this distance I seemed to catch the inspiring flash
of her dark eyes, to follow the words which fell from
her lips so gravely. And as I watched, a new idea
came to me. I turned slowly away and went in
search of the Duke.
I found him sitting fully-dressed in an anteroom
leading from his bedroom, with a great pile of letters
before him, and an empty postbag. He was leaning
forward, his elbow upon the table, his head resting
upon his right hand. Engrossed as I was with my own
terrible discovery, I was yet powerfully impressed by
his unfamiliar appearance. In the clear light which
came flooding through the north window he seemed
to me older, and his face more deeply lined than any
of my previous impressions of him had suggested.
His eyes were fixeu upon the mass of correspondence
before him, most of which was as yet unopened, and
his expression was one of absolute aversion. At
my entrance he looked up inquiringly.
" What do you want, Ducaine ? " he asked.
" I am sorry to have disturbed your Grace," I
answered. " I have come to place my resignation
in your hands."
His face was expressive enough in its frowning
contempt, but he said nothing for a moment, during
which his eyes met mine mercilessly.
" So you find the work too hard, eh ? " he asked.
" The work is just what I should have chosen, your
Grace," I answered. " I like hard work, and I
expected it. The trouble is that I have succeeded
no better than Lord Ronald."
My words were evidently a shock to him. He
half opened his lips, but closed them again. I saw the
hand which he raised to his forehead shake.
" What do you mean, Ducaine ? Speak out,
AN EXPRESSION OF CONFIDENCE. 65
*' The safe in the study has been opened during the
night," I said. " Our map of the secret fortifications
on the Surrey downs and plans for a camp at Guild-
ford have been examined."
" How do you know this ? "
*' I tied the red tape round them in a peculiar way.
It has been undone and retied. The papers have
been put back in a different order."
The Duke was without doubt agitated. He rose
from his chair and paced the room restlessly.
" You are sure of what you say, Ducaine ? " he
demanded, turning, and facing me suddenly.
" Absolutely sure, your Grace," I answered.
He turned away from me.
" In my own house, under my own roof," I heard
him mutter. " Good God ! "
I had scarcely believed him capable of so much
feeling. When he resumed his seat and former
attitude I could see that his face was almost grey.
" This is terrible news," he said. " I am not at
all sure, though, Mr. Ducaine, that any blame can
attach itself to you."
" Your Grace," I answered, '* there were three men
only who knew the secret of that combination.
One is yourself, another Colonel Ray, the third myself.
I set the lock last night. I opened it this morning.
I ask you, in the name of common sense, upon whom
the blame is likely to fall ? If I remain this will
happen again. I cannot escape suspicion. It is
" The word was a common one," the Duke said,
half to himself. " Some one may have guessed it."
" Your Grace," I said, " is it likely that any one
would admit the possibihty of such a thing ? "
" It may have been overheard."
" It has never been spoken," I reminded him.
" It was written down, glanced at by aU of us, and
66 THE BETRAYAL.
The Duke nodded.
" You are right," he admitted. " The inference
is positive enough. The sale has been opened between
the hours of ten at night and seven o'clock this
morning by "
" By either myself, Colonel Ray, or your Grace,"
" I am not sure 'that I am prepared to admit that,"
the Duke objected quietly.
" It is inevitable," 1 declared.
" Only the very young use that word," the Duke
" I spoke only of what others must say," I answered.
" It is a cid de sac, I admit," the Duke said.
" Nevertheless. Mr. Ducaine, I am not prepared
without consideration to accept your resignation.
I cannot see that our position would be improved
in any way, and in my own mind I may add that I
hold 3''0u absolved from suspicion."
I held myself a little more upright. The Duke
spoke without enthusiasm, but with conviction.
" Your Grace is very kind," I answ^ered gratefully,
" but there are the others. They know nothing
of me. It is inevitable that I should become an
object of suspicion to them."
The Duke looked thoughtfully for several moments
at the table before him. Then he looked up at me.
" Ducaine," he said, " I will tell you what I propose.
You have done your duty in reporting this thing to
me. Your duty ends there â€” mine begins. The
responsibihty, therefore, for our future course of
actions remains with me. You, I presume, are
prepared to admit this."
Certainly, your Grace," I answered.
*' I see no useful purpose to be gained," the Duke
continued, " in spreading this thing about. I believe
that we shall do better by keeping our own counsel.
You and I can work secretly in the matter. I may
AN EXPRESSION OF CONFIDENCE. 67
have some suggestions to make when I have con-
sidered it more fully ; but for the present I propose
that we treat the matter as a hallucination of yours.
We shall hear in due course if this stolen information
goes across the water. If it does â€” weU, we shall
know how to act."
" You mean this ? " I asked breathlessly.
" Forgive me, your Grace, but it means so much to me.
You believe that we are justified ? "
" Why not ? " the Duke asked coldly. " It is I
who am your employer. It is I who am responsible
to the country for these things. You are responsible
only to me. I choose that you remain. I choose
that you speak of this matter only when I bid you
To me it was relief immeasurable. The Duke's
manner was precise, even cold. Yet I felt that he
believed in me. I scarcely doubted but that he had
suspicions of his own. I, at any rate, was not involved
in them. I could have wrung him by the hand but
for the inappropriateness of such a proceeding. So
far as he was concerned, I could see that the matter
was already done with. His attention was beginning
to wander to the mass of letters before him.
" Would you allow me to help your Grace with
your correspondence ? " I suggested. " I have no
work at present."
The Duke shook his head impatiently.
" I thank you," he said. " My man of business
will be here this morning, and he will attend to them. '
I will not detain you, Mr. Ducaine."
I turned to leave the room, but found myself face
to face with a young man in the act of entering it.
" Blenavon ! " the Duke exclaimed.
" How are you, sir ? " the newcomer answered.
*' Sorry I didn't arrive in time to see you last night.
We motored from King's Lynn, and the whole of
this respectable household was in bed."
68 THE BETRAYAL.
I knew at once who he was. The Duke looked
" Ducaine," he said, " this is my son, Lord
Lord Blenavon's smile was evidently meant to
be friendly, but his expression belied it. He was
slightly taller than his father, and his cast of features
was altogether different. His cheeks were pale,
almost sunken, his eyes were too close together, and
they had the dimness of the roue or the habitual
dyspeptic. His lips were too full, his chin too receding,
and he was almost bald.
" How are you, Mr. Ducaine ? " he said. " Awful
hour to be out of bed, isn't it ? and all for the sla3,ing
of a few fat and innocent birds. Let me see, wasn't
I at Magdalen with you ? "
" I came up in your last year," I reminded him.
" Ah, yes, I remember," he drawled. " Terrible
close worker you were, too. Are you breakfasting
downstairs, sir ? "
" I think that I had better," the Duke said. " I
suppose you brought some men with you ? "
" Half a dozen," Lord Blenavon answered,
" including his Royal Highness."
The Duke thrust all his letters into his drawer,
and locked them up with a little exclamation of
" I will come down with you," he said. " Mr.
Ducaine, you will join us."
I would have excused myself, for indeed I was
weary, and the thought of a bath and a rest at home
was more attractive. But the Duke had a way of
expressing his wishes in a manner which it was
scarcely possible to mistake, and I gathered that he
desired me to accept his invitation. We all descended
the stairs together.
HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS. 69
HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS.
THE long dining-room was almost filled with a
troop of guests who had arrived on the previous
day. Most of the men were gathered round
the huge sideboard, on which was a formidable array
of silver-covered hot-water dishes. Places were laid
along the flower-decked table for thirty or forty.
I stood apart for a few moments whilst the Duke
was greeting some of his guests. Ray, who was sitting
alone, motioned me to a place by him.
" Come and sit here, Ducaine," he said ; " that
is," he added, with a sudden sarcastic gleam in his
dark eyes, " unless you still have what the novelists
call an unconquerable antipathy to me. I don't
want to rob you of your appetite."
" I did not expect to see you down here again so
soon, Colonel Ray," I answered gravely. " I
congratulate you upon your nerves."
Ray laughed softly to himself.
" You would have me go shuddering past the fatal
spot, I suppose, with shaking knees and averted head,
eh ? On the contrary, I have been down on the sands
for more than an hour this morning, and have returned
with an excellent appetite."
I looked at him curiously.
" I saw you returning," I said. " Your boots
looked as though you had been wading in the wet
sand. You were not there without a purpose."
" I was not," he admitted. " I seldom do anything
without a purpose."
For a moment he abandoned the subject. He
proceeded calmly with his breakfast, and addressed a
few remarks to a man across the table, a man with
short cropped hair and beard, and a shooting dress
of sombre bl^ck.
" You are quite right," he said, turning towards
70 THE BETRAYAL.
me suddenly. " I had a purpose in going there. I
thought that the gentleman whose untmiely fate
has enlisted your sympdthies might have dropped
something which would have been useful to me."
For the moment I forgot this man's kindness to
me. I looked at him with a shudder.
" If you are in earnest," I said, " 1 trust that you
were unsuccessful." I fancied there was that in his
glance which suggested the St. Bernard looking
down on the terrier, and I chafed at it.
" It would have been better for you," he said,
grimly, " had my search met with better result."
" For me ? " I repeated.
" For you ! Yes ! The man came to see you.
If he had been alive you might have been in his toils
by now. He was a very cunning person, and those
who sent him were devils."
" How do you know these things ? " I asked,
" From the letters which I ripped from his coat,"
" He came to Braster to see me, then ? " I
" And the letters which you took from him â€” were
they addressed to me ? "
" They were."
I was getting angry, but Ray remained imper-
" I think," I said, " you wiU admit that I have
a right to them."
" Not a shadow of a doubt of it," he answered.
" In fact, it was so obvious that I destroyed them."
" Destroyed my letters ! "
" Precisely I I chose that course rather than
allow them to fall into your hands."
" You admit, then," I said, " that I had a right
HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS. 71
" Indubitably. But they do not exist."
'ou read them, without doubt. You can
acquaint me with their contents."
" Some day/' he said, " I probably shall. But not
yet. Believe me or not, but there are certain positions
in which ignorance is the only possible safe state.
You are in such a position at the present moment."
" Are you," I asked, " my moral guardian ? "
" I have at least," he said, " incurred certain
responsibilities on your behalf. You could no longer
hold your present post and be in communication
with the sender of those letters."
My anger died away despite myself. The man's
strength and honesty of purpose were things which
I could not bring myself to doubt. I continued
my breakfast in silence.
" By the by," he remarked presently, " you,
too, rny young friend, were out early this morning."
" I was writing all night," I answered. " I had
documents to put in the safe."
He shot a quick, searching glance at me.
" You have been to the safe this morning, then ? "
I answered him with a composure at which I
" Certainly. It was the object of my coming here."
" You entered the room with the Duke. Was he
in the study at that hour ? "
" No, I went upstairs to him. I had a question
" And you have met Lord Blenavon. What do
you think of him ? "
" We were at Magdalen together for a term," I
answered. " He was good enough to remember me."
Ray smiled, but he did not speak another word
to me all the breakfast-time. Once I made a remark
to him, and his reply was curt, almost rude. I left
the room a few minutes afterwards and came face
to face in the hall with Lady Angela.
72 THE BETRAYAL.
" I am glad, Mr. Ducaine," she remarked, " that
your early morning labours have given you an
appetite. You have been in to breakfast, have
you not ? "
" Your father was good enough to insist upon it,"
" You have seen him already this morning, then ? "
" For a few minutes only," I explained. '' I
went up to his room."
" I trust so far that everything is going on satis-
factorily ? " she inquired, raising her eyes to mine.
I did not answer her at once. I was engaged in
mai-velling at the wonderful pallor of her cheeks.
" So far as I am concerned, I think so," I said.
'' Forgive me, Lady Angela," I added, " but I think
that you must have walked too far this morning.
You are very pale."
" I am tired," she admitted.
There was a lounge close at hand. She moved
slowly towards it, and sat down. There was no
spoken invitation, but I understood that I was
permitted to remain with her.
" Do you know," she said, looking round to make
sure that we were alone, " I dread these meetings
of the Council. I have always the feeling that some-
thing terrible will happen. I knew Lord Ronald very
well, and his mother was one of my dearest friends.
I am sure that he was perfectly innocent. And
to-day he is in a madhouse. They say that he will
I did not wish to speak about these things, even
with Lady Angela. I tried to lead the conversation
into other channels, but she absolutely ignored my
" There is something about it all so grimly
mysterious," she said. " It seems almost as though
there must be a traitor, if not in the Council itself,
in some special and privileged position."
HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS. 73
She looked up at rne as though asking for con-
firmation of her vi^s. I shook my head.
" Lady Angela," I said, " would you mind if I
abstained from expressing any opinion at all ? It
is a subject which I feel it is scarcely right for me
She looked at me with wide-open eyes, a dash
of insolence mingled with her suiprise. I do not know
what she was about to say, for at that moment the
young man with the sombre shooting suit and closely-
cropped hair paused for a moment on his way out
of the breakfast -room. He glanced at me, and I
received a brief impression of an unwholesome-looking
person with protuberant eyeballs, thin lashes, and
" I trust that the day's entertainment will include
something more than a glimpse of Lady Angela,"
he said, with a low bow.
She raised her eyes. It seemed to me, who was
watching her closely, that she shrank a little back
in her seat. I was sure that she shared my in-
stinctive dislike of the man.
" I think not," she said. " Perhaps you are
expecting me to come down with the lunch and
compliment you all upon your prowess."
" It would be delightful," he murmured.
She shook her head.
" There are too many of you, and I am too few,"
she said lightly. " Besides, shooting is one of the
few sports with which I have no sympathy at all.
I shall try and get somewhere away from the sound
of your guns."
" I myself," he said, " am not what you call a
devotee of the sport. I wonder if part of the day one
might play truant. Would Lady Angela take pity
upon an unentertained guest ? "
*' I should find it a shocking nuisance," she said,
coolly. " Besides, it would not be allowed. You
74 THE BETRAYAL.
will find that when my father has once marshalled you,
escape is a thing not to be dreamed of. Every
one says that he is a perfect martinet where a day's
shooting is concerned."
He smiled enigmatically.
" We shall see," he remarked, as he turned away.
Lady Angela watched him disappear.
" Do you know who that is ? " she asked me.
I shook my head.
" Some one French, very French," I remarked.
" He should be," she remarked. " That is Prince
Henri de Malors. He represents the hopes of the
Royalists in France."
" It is very interesting," I murmured. " May
I ask, is he an old family friend ? "
" Our families have been connected by marriage,"
she answered. " He and Blenavon saw a great
deal of one another in Paris, very much to the dis-
advantage of my brother, I should think. I believe
that there was some trouble at the Foreign Ofhce
" It is very interesting," I repeated.
" Blenavon was very foolish," she declared. " It
was obviously a most indiscreet friendship for him,
and Paris was his first appointment. But I must go
and speak to some of these people."
She rose and left me a little abruptly. I escaped
by one of the side entrances, and hurried back to
THE Prince accepted my most comfortable easy-
chair with an air of graceful condescension.
Lady Angela had already seated herself.
It was late in the afternoon, and Grooton was busy
in the room behind, preparing my tea.
" The Prince did not care to shoot to-day," Lady
AN ACCIDENT. 75
Angela explained, *' and I have been showing him the
neighbourhood. Incidentally, I am dying for some
tea, and the Prince has smoked all his cigarettes."
The Prince raised his hand in polite expostulation,
but he accepted a cigarette with a little sigh of relief.
" You have found a very lonely spot for your
dwelling-house, Mr. Ducaine," he said.
" It suits me very well," I answered, " for just
now I have a great deal of work to do. I am safely
away from all distractions here."
Lady Angela smiled at me.
" Not quite so safe perhaps, Mr. Ducaine, as you
fondly imagined," she remarked. " I am afraid that
we disturbed you. You look awfully busy."
She glanced towards my writing-table. It was
covered with papers, and a map of the southern
counties leaned up against the wall. The Prince
also was glancing curiously in the same direction.
*' I have finished my work for the day," I said,
rising. " If you will permit me, I will put it away."
Grooton brought in tea. The Prince was politely
curious as to the subject matter of those closely-
written sheets of paper.
" You are perhaps interested in literature, Mr.
Ducaine," he remarked.
" Immensely," I answered, waving my hand
towards my bookshelves.
" But you yourself â€” you no doubt write ? "
"Oh, one tries," I answered, pouring out the tea.
" It may be pemiitted then to wish you success,"
he remarked dryly.
" You are very good," I answered.
Lady Angela calmly interposed. The Prince ate
buttered toast and drank tea with a bland affecta-
tion of enjoyment. They rose almost immediately
" You are coming up to the house this evening,
Mr. Ducaine ? " Lady Angela asked.
76 THE BETRAYAL.
" I am due there now," I answered. " If you will
allow me, I will walk back with you."
The Prince touched my arm as Lady Angela passed
out before us.
" I am anxious, Mr. Ducaine," he said, looking
me in the face, " for a few minutes' private con-
versation with you. I shall perhaps be fortunate
enough to find you at home to-morrow."
He did not wait for my answer, for Lady Angela
looked back, and he hastened to her side. He seemed
in no hurry, however, to leave the place. The evening
was cloudy and unusually dark. A north wind
was tearing through the grove of stunted firs, and
the roar of the incoming sea filled the air with
muffled thunder. The Prince looked about him with
a little grimace.
" It is indeed a lonely spot," he remarked. *' One
can imagine anything happening here. Did I not
hear of a tragedy only the other day â€” a man found
dead ? "
" If you have a taste for horrors. Prince," I
remarked, " you can see the spot from the edge of
the cliff here."
The Prince moved eagerly forward.
** I disclaim all such weakness," he said, " but
the little account which I read, or did some one tell
me of it ? â€” ah, I forget ; but it interested me."
I pointed downwards to where the creek-riven
marshes merged into the sands.
" It was there â€” a little to the left of the white
palings," I said. " The man was supposed to have
been cast up from the sea."
He measured the distance with his eye. I
anticipated his remark.
" The tide is only halfway up now," I said, " and
on that particular night there was a terrible gale."
" Nevertheless," he murmured, half to himself,
" it is a long way. Was the man identified ? "
AN ACCIDENT. ^^
" No ! "
" There were no letters or papers found upon him ? "
The Prince looked at me sharply.
*' That," he said softly, " was strange. Does
it not suggest to you that he may have been robbed ? "
" I had not thought of it," I answered. " The
verdict, I believe, was simply Found Drowned."
" Found drowned," the Prince repeated. " Ah !
Found drowned. By the by," he added suddenly,
" who did find him ? "
" I did," I said coolly.
" You ? " The Prince peered at me closely
through the dim light. " That," he said reflectively,