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Title: The Calendar (1930)
Author: Edgar Wallace
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Language: English
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------------------------------------------------------------------------

Title: The Calendar (1930)
Author: Edgar Wallace

* * *



1.


"Do you like me well enough to let me use your name?"

Garry Anson stared at the beautiful woman who put this tremendous
question so casually.

"To use my name? I don't quite know what you mean, darling."

Wenda Panniford shrugged a shoulder impatiently. It was an odd little
trick of hers. The beautiful grey eyes sought his for a moment, and then
fell.

It was a fortnight before Ascot, and the garden of Daneham Lodge was at
the height of its splendour.

They had been pacing the level, shaven lawn, talking of flowers, when the
question of Willie Panniford arose. Willie was a source of worry to Garry
Anson. He liked the big, blustering fool, drunk or sober; had speculated
without profit for a very long time as to what Wenda could see in this
husband of hers, and what charm Willie had had that had induced her to
throw herself away upon an impecunious Scottish baronet.

He had taken a pride in his faith that he knew Wenda till then--she was
almost a complete stranger to him at the moment.

"Honestly, I don't understand, Wenda. What do you mean, use my name...?"

"Willie is jealous of you. He is ready to believe almost anything about
you. If I went to him this moment and told him"--again the jerk of her
shoulder--"you know."

"You mean he would believe it? What a--"

"Don't be stupid, Garry!" Her voice was a little sharp. "Why shouldn't
he? We've known each other since we were children; we've always been
close friends. Willie isn't terribly clever. He believes things now
without any particular reason; why shouldn't he believe--I nearly said
'the worst'?" She smiled faintly. "Would it be the worst?"

Garry Anson was still dazed. The tanned, good-looking face was blank with
amazement.

"You mean that I should let my name be used as co-respondent? My dear, I
like you too much to allow your name to be dragged through the muck and
mire of a divorce case."

She sighed, again impatiently.

"Never mind about my name, Garry--your altruism is sometimes offensive.
Do you like me well enough to make that sacrifice--and all that would be
involved?"

He ran his hands over his crisp, brown hair.

"Of course I like you well enough. The idea is monstrous. Isn't there any
way of patching up--?"

"You're terribly anxious for me to go on with Willie."

There was a tremor in her voice; chagrin, pain, anger--he could not tell
which; never dreamed, indeed, that he had done more than hurt her, and
was panic-stricken at the thought. For Wenda Panniford was to him the one
woman in the world.

"Of course, if you want it. I'll do anything. It would be horrible for
you, but naturally I wouldn't hesitate a moment, and when it is over
possibly you would care to marry me--"

He saw a look of astonishment come into her eyes, and blundered.

"You needn't, of course; that isn't obligatory--I mean, there's no reason
why you should!"

"Of course I'd marry you. Why--" She checked herself. "You love me,
don't you, Garry?"

He loved her very dearly, but realized at that moment with stunning force
that he did not love her quite like that. They had been like brother and
sister all these years, close comrades, sharing one another's secrets--at
least, she had shared his. Perhaps she realized the starkness of his
embarrassment, for she went on quickly:

"Are you going to Hurst Park today? Willie is going with us. I'll see
you there--I expected you would be in Chester; it was a great relief to
find you here."

"But listen, darling." He was recovering something of his balance. "Is
Willie being too frightful? I know he drinks, and that he's an awful lout
in some ways, but there's a lot of good in old Willie--"

"Don't let us discuss Willie," she said shortly. "We're leaving for Italy
on Tuesday. When we come back I want a really serious talk with you."

And then she changed the subject, and talked about the old General who
had died that week.

"Of course, that is why you didn't go to Chester. I had forgotten. Poor
old man! Did he leave a lot of money, Garry?"

"Buckets full," smiled Garry Anson. "There's Molly!"

A girl was waving from the other side of the lawn.

"I'll see you at Hurst Park."

In another moment she was out of sight. Garry continued his restless
pacing of the lawn, his thoughts in turmoil. Wenda--of all people in the
world! He knew things were not going too well in the Panniford household,
but he had not dreamed that they were as bad as Wenda had revealed.

As he walked slowly back to the house he caught a glimpse of Hillcott,
smoking a surreptitious cigarette, on the far side of a heavily laden
lilac bush; but by now he was so accustomed to Hillcott's acts of
indiscipline that he never even thought of calling him to account.
Indeed, Hillcott made no attempt to conceal the fact that he was taking a
quiet loaf at a moment when he should have been engaged in pressing
Garry's trousers. He was butler, valet, had once been cook, to Garry's
establishment; cherished a bitter loathing for all housemaids, and
profound contempt for society at large; for Hillcott had once been a
burglar, had suffered a term of confinement in one of His Majesty's
prisons, and had come to harbour in Garry's service, through the War. He
had been Garry's batman, was now almost the keeper of his conscience.

"Lady Panniford coming to breakfast?" asked Hillcott with that easy
familiarity which Garry had long since ceased to chide.

"No, she isn't."

"Pity," said Hillcott. "We've got mushrooms--picked them meself."

"Which means I shall be dead before nightfall."

"You never know," was Hillcott's only retort.

Hillcott interpreted the news he had read in the morning papers, and kept
up a running fire of comment on men, women and horses, and, requiring no
encouragement, came unexpectedly to the subject of Sir William Panniford.

"Heard about his lordship?" he asked, setting a plate for fruit.

He frequently so referred to Sir William; whether in sarcasm or a
misunderstanding of courtesy titles Garry was never sure.

"What about him?" he asked carelessly.

"Got soused down at the Boar Inn last night with a lot of
clodhoppers--the question is, can a gentleman get drunk on beer? I've
been having an argument with a groom."

Garry eyed him sternly.

"You'll oblige me by not discussing my friends, Hillcott," he said.

"If you don't like my style you'd better get another servant, Captain,"
said Hillcott stiffly. "I'm a human being and I'm entitled to me
opinions."

"I doubt very much if you're human, but you're certainly not entitled to
express your opinions to me about my friends," said Garry furiously, "and
you can leave at the end of the month."

"That'll do me," said Hillcott.

Hillcott either gave notice or received a notice regularly once a week,
but little came of it. He was amiability itself when he brought out
Garry's field-glasses to the car and, uninvited, placed himself by the
side of the driver. Garry gave him up; he spent his life giving up
Hillcott.



2.


PETER HIPPLEWAYNE spotted Garry as he was crossing the course from the
members' motor enclosure, and intercepted him.

"You runnin' your horse?" he asked.

Garry Anson had no great love for this man, found it at times a little
difficult to be civil to him.

"Yes; why?"

Peter fingered his weak mouth and smiled. He was terribly sure of
himself, was self-consciously clever, and therefore was a little
objectionable.

"Just asked you," he said laconically.

He stood for a while, gazing down the wide track.

"I thought of giving Ediphos a run," he said, "but I can't beat yours."

Garry gently released the detaining hand.

"I wonder if I can beat yours?" he asked. "On the book you have an
outstanding chance, and I doubt if I shall win."

The other man looked down at him slyly.

"Then why not row in with me?" he asked. "With your horse out of the way,
mine is a certainty--you'll get three to one to your money, and it will
be a case of putting it down and picking it up."

There was nothing sinister in a suggestion that an owner should not run
his horse but should back another--if that was Peter's suggestion.

"All right--I'll not run him."

Mr Hipplewayne closed his eyes wearily.

"Don't be silly--of course you'll run your old hair-trunk. Otherwise I'll
have to take rotten odds about my own."

Garry's eyes glittered. If Peter's skin had been a little thinner he
would have sensed the gathering storm of wrath.

"What is the idea--that I should run mine and stop him?" he asked.

Peter nodded coolly.

"Why not? It is done every day of the week, old man. Are you pretending
you don't know that?"

Garry turned away.

"We won't discuss it," he said and the other man caught his arm.

"What a righteous fool you are, Garry! All right! You can't get money at
this game if you're too straight."

"There never was a turf crook who didn't die broke," said Garry quietly
and saw the young man frown.

"'Crook' is not a word I like," he snapped, and lagged behind.

An hour later Garry was absorbed in one of those minor problems which
concern the racing man and, momentarily, he was oblivious of the
externals of life. He had watched Rataplan being saddled; now he stopped
at the public entrance of the paddock to see the claret and white hoops
go flying past on the way to the post.

It was not an important race; the value of the plate was less than three
hundred pounds; but his commissioner had gone into the ring with
instructions to put on a monkey at the best price--and five hundred
pounds was a considerable bet for Garry. He assured himself uneasily that
he could afford to lose five hundred--if anybody could afford to lose
that amount. Yet was he not going beyond the limit and margin of safety?

Here was a line of thought, uncomfortable in itself, and yet a pleasing
relief from the more pressing problem of Wenda. Phew! Every time he
recalled that interview of the morning he felt a little chill--but a
chill which made him hot under the collar.

Garry strolled under the veranda outside the weighing room, past the
unsaddling enclosure, and was turning through the iron gates when Wenda
called him. He turned, with unaccustomed embarrassment, to meet her.

Lady Panniford was lovely, had always been lovely as long as Garry could
remember her. About her there were two definite schools of opinion: those
who thought she had the perfect face and those who swore by her more
perfect figure. She was almost as tall as Garry, golden-haired,
blue-eyed, flawless of skin. She gave insignificance to even attractive
women who had the misfortune to be near her. The girl who was with her at
the moment was both conscious and careless of this inequality. She was
doomed by relationship to appear with and to attend her sister-in-law.

"You came, then?"

Garry was conscious of the lameness and futility of the remark.

"I've come to back your horse, darling," Wenda smiled.

But there was a challenge in her smile. It said, as plainly as words:

"There is one subject we will not discuss--today!"

"I've just seen Peter Hipplewayne; he told me to back Ediphos," she went
on. "So dear of Peter to try to make me some money. But it is favourite,
and I hate favourites."

"Then it should win," said Garry, "and if you've backed mine you are
going to be disappointed. Hullo, Molly, darling!"

He became aware of Molly--as one became aware of almost every woman whose
lot it was to appear in Wenda Panniford's company.

"Where's Willie?" he asked, and might have saved himself the trouble.

Willie Panniford was at the members' bar. He generally met somebody who
wanted to go to the bar, a hunting man or a man of his old regiment, or
somebody he had met in Cairo, or anybody else who wanted to go to the
bar.

Wenda took his arm and led him down towards the rails. Molly followed
obediently. She had a sense of humour and a growing consciousness of
advancing age. Twenty-one is more certain of itself than eighteen. Wenda
was finding it increasingly difficult to cope with Molly. Men were taking
an interest in her. Some people thought she was clever. Almost everybody
except Garry realized that she was passing from the stage of girlish
prettiness to the maturer beauty of her years.

Wenda drew him out of the range of Molly's hearing.

"I told you we were going to Rome on Tuesday, Garry," she said, "but I
forgot to ask you something this morning. Do you mind if I delay sending
you a cheque for another week or two?"

Garry laughed:

"Wenda, darling," he said, with a mock seriousness, "if I don't get my
share of it now I will issue a writ. Of course I don't! I wanted you to
keep the whole of the income from that little nest-egg; you know that."

The blue eyes smiled gratefully at him.

"You are good," she said. "Two hundred and fifty pounds doesn't mean
anything to you, but it means an awful lot to me just now."

She held twenty thousand pounds' worth of five per cent stock. Garry's
one provident act, in a moment of financial panic, had been to make her
an official trustee for this sum. His betting was a little too heavy; he
knew the time would come when racing must play a less important part in
his life and when his betting book would be locked away in a drawer. He
had discussed his plan with Wenda. She had agreed to hold the bonds
against his need and for her service receive half their revenue.

"Be an angel and write to me," she said; and then, as a thought occurred
to her: "I wasn't terribly sympathetic about the General, was I?"

This was the second reference she had made to General Anson's death. He
was puzzled to know why. She had known his uncle and had heartily
disliked him.

"He was a fine old man," said Garry, "and I admired him tremendously.
Here's your boy friend."

Henry Lascarne was coming across the lawn in search of her. He was making
one of his rare visits to a racecourse and had probably come under
protest. Certainly nobody but Wenda would have induced this tall,
correctly tailored young man to descend from his Olympian heights to the
vulgarities of Hurst Park.

"Are you seeing the racing down here, Wenda?"

She looked back at the crowded stands; from their post on the sloping
lawn they commanded a fairly good view of the course, could see the horses
lining up at the gate and were almost exactly opposite the winning post.

"Let's stay here. Do you mind, Henry?"

"I'll go on the stand," said Garry, and left them.

"Not exactly polite--" began Henry.

His nose had a queer way of wrinkling up when he was contemptuous--and he
was mainly contemptuous.

"Garry's manners are deplorable," she said gaily. "We will wait here."

She was a little tense, more than a little excited, Molly noticed--Molly
noticed everything.

"They say he's betting like smoke," said Lascarne.

"Who--Garry?" Wenda put down her glasses and turned an amused face to
him.

"Why shouldn't he? He's terribly rich."

"I wonder if he is?"

It was the first doubt she had ever heard expressed concerning Garry's
prosperity, and her eyes opened a little wider.

"Of course he is! He's probably enormously rich. Why don't you bet,
Henry? It would be very human of you."

Henry Lascarne smiled. "Racing is a fool's game and only blind idiots
engage in it," he said.

He had all the assurance of twenty-four.

"I've seen more fellows ruined on the turf than--than--"

"On the Stock Exchange."

It was Molly who spoke.

He did not like Molly, being well aware that his dislike was
reciprocated; and he was all the more irritated because that reference to
the Stock Exchange had struck home. There had been a big Wall Street
slump and Henry Lascarne's securities had depreciated in value by over a
hundred thousand pounds. It was true that he could bear the loss, for
Lascarne had left his son the greater part of two millions, even after
the death duties had been paid. But he hated losing money.

"If I may be allowed to say so--"

"Which you are," said Molly calmly.

"--it is absurd to compare legitimate investment--"

"They're off!"

Henry Lascarne was annoyed. Things were always happening on a racecourse
which interrupted him in his more profound and imposing moments.

He took his glasses from their case and focused them reluctantly upon the
field. The horses were moving swiftly along the back stretch, a compact
bunch of varicoloured jackets. He could not distinguish Garry's colours,
and had only the dimmest idea of what they were, although he had had them
described to him a dozen times.

"Which is Garry's horse? I can't see it."

Wenda's voice was impatient, trembled a little; the hands that held the
glasses were trembling too and her failure to pick out any horse was
understandable.

Molly was not using glasses. Her keen, grey eyes had found the claret and
white hoops as soon as the field had settled down.

"He's on the rails, about third, I think," she said.

"And he'll finish first."

She turned quickly: Garry had come down from the stand and was behind
her.

"Will he, Garry--will he?" asked Wenda eagerly.

Again her shaking hands went up, and again she failed to control her
race-glasses.

"He's won it there," said Garry. "The only danger is Ediphos, but I don't
think--"

He was suddenly silent, nor was his voice raised in the roar which
greeted Rataplan as it cantered past the post two lengths ahead of its
nearest opponent.

"How wonderful! How wonderful, Garry!"

Wenda's eyes were shining. "I had a hundred pounds on it. What was the
price?"

Garry stared at her. Only a few minutes before she had excused herself
paying him two hundred and fifty pounds? "But, darling, you're not betting
in hundreds?"

She shook her head, a little impatiently.

"Don't be silly, Garry. Of course I hadn't a hundred to put but somebody
did it for me. Isn't it wonderful?"


"Very!" Garry's voice was troubled and she misjudged the reason.

"Don't be absurd, Garry. You backed this horse yourself; and when some
nice man told me he'd put a hundred on for me--"

"I'm not worried about that; I shouldn't have won that race--I think
there's going to be a devil of a lot of trouble about it."

"Trouble?" said Wenda quickly. "Do you mean there's a chance that your
horse will be--"

"Disqualified? No. But Ediphos should have won. He wasn't trying. I
didn't realize it till they were nearly home."

"Ediphos?" She frowned. "That was the horse Peter said would win. Of
course it was trying! Peter wouldn't tell me--"

Garry nodded.

"Peter would sell his own aunt! He is rather a tricky young
gentleman--who has tricked once too often. If the stewards didn't see
what happened in the race they're blind--and these stewards are never
blind."

He had seen Ediphos nicely placed as the field turned the bend into the
straight; and then he had seen the horse drawn back and deliberately put
behind the two leaders in such a position that he could not possibly be
extricated at the crucial moment of the race.

The knowledgeable racing folk were discussing it openly as they streamed
into the paddock. Garry heard one pillar of the turf say:

"I've never seen anything more disgraceful..."

At the entrance of the paddock he met the owner of Ediphos and, making an
excuse to Wenda, he took him aside.

"There is going to be a row over this race."

"A row--what sort of a row? You won it, didn't you?" asked Peter
truculently.

"You didn't win it--that's the trouble." said Garry grimly. "You'd better
prepare yourself for an inquiry."

"Oh, nonsense!"

But the pink face had gone white.

"I gave the jockey orders to come away when he could..."

"I'm just telling you that it's absolutely certain the stewards will send
for you."

"Nonsense!" said the other, again.

Later in the afternoon Garry met a Press friend in the paddock and
learned that the running of Ediphos had been the subject of inquiry and
that the matter had been referred to the Stewards of the Jockey Club.

He did not see Wenda again until the last race had been run and then he
met her on the way to her car. Willie Panniford was leading the little
party, a tall, fattish young man, not in the best of tempers.

"Beastly place, this," he complained loudly. "Why the devil I ever come
racing I don't know. What a brute you are, Garry--to have a winner and
tell nobody!"

"I told Wenda--" began Garry, when a warning glance stopped him.

"You told her what? She said you never mentioned the horse."

"Darling, your understanding is rather dull this afternoon," she said
sweetly. "I told you that Garry thought his horse might win. He wasn't
very definite about it, were you, Garry?"

Garry was never definite about his horses winning. He had lost all his
earlier enthusiasm for communicating his good things to the world, as the
result of bitter experience. When an owner confides to a friend that his
horse will win and it doesn't, he is apt to be reminded that the man to
whom he imparted the information would have backed the real winner if he
hadn't been 'put off.'

Willie was in his noisiest mood.

"Nice business, racing, I must say! Did you hear about that fellow
Hipplewayne? Stopped his horse--deliberately stopped him, old boy! A
disgraceful thing to happen--Hipplewayne is no good! By God, they ought
to warn the beggar off right away!"

"Willie, darling"--it was Wenda's urgent voice--"you're talking very
loudly--and very stupidly."

He glared round at her. Willie had found the bar very companionable that
afternoon.

"If I'm not allowed to express my views--"

"Not in public!" she smiled.

Willie went, grumbling, to his car, cursed the chauffeur for keeping him
waiting, swore at the policeman who held him up to let the other traffic
pass. Garry imagined he could still hear his voice when the car was out
of sight.

He found his little Rolls, and the voluble Hillcott discussing something
vital with the chauffeur.

"Well, Hillcott, had a good day?" he asked, handing his glasses and
raincoat to the man.

"Not so bad," said Hillcott. His tone was friendly, his manner more so.
"I backed yours and had a saver on Ediphos--what a ramp!"

"It was very stupid," said Garry.

"I saw old Panniford--"

"When you talk of Sir William Panniford I wish you'd give him his title,
Hillcott."

"How did he get it?" asked that irrepressible little man.

Garry did not argue with him. Hillcott climbed in by the side of the
chauffeur and the bonnet of the car headed for Ascot and Daneham Lodge.



3.


'THE CALENDAR' usually arrived on Monday morning, when Garry was living
in the country. It was addressed to his house in Knightsbridge and his
housekeeper was somewhat dilatory about sending on his correspondence.

He tore open the cover and looked at the first page. There was the
announcement.

'The Stewards of the Jockey Club held an inquiry into the running of
Ediphos at Hurst Park, and, having heard the evidence, warned Mr. P. H. G.
Hipplewayne off Newmarket, Ascot and the courses under the jurisdiction
of the Jockey Club.'

Garry put down The Calendar with a sigh.

"What a fool!"

This meant social death to Peter, resignation from his clubs, ostracism.
It was a final and dreadful pronouncement; there was no appeal against
it.

Wenda was in Italy. He had had a note from Molly that had amused him.
Molly was a shrewd observer, had a quaint knack of description. He was
fond of her--he realized this in moments when the One Woman did not
occupy his thoughts. Sometimes he remembered that it was Molly who had
christened her the One Woman and he wondered if Molly was being friendly
or sarcastic.

With Wenda in Italy he could breathe a little more freely. He hated
himself for his disloyalty. It had been an act of hysteria on her
part--pique at some folly of Willie's. She couldn't have meant it--not
Wenda.

He had never been in love with her; had grown up with her beauty and her
friendship and had not resented her marriage with Willie Panniford.
Willie was one of the catches of the season, by common agreement. Only
his lawyer and his agent knew how little of a catch he was. People who
disliked Wenda, and there were a few, said she was a bitterly
disappointed woman when she discovered that the Scottish baronet had
little more than a few thousands a year and that his many acres were
heavily mortgaged. If she were, she had never expressed her
disappointment.

Garry believed that the marriage was a love match. He did not understand
how anybody could love Willie, but he was enough of a philosopher to
realize that if men and women did not marry until they found mates that
were approved by their mutual friends, there would be few marriages in
this world.

Willie drank a lot, blustered a lot, was a good and amusing fellow in the
club smoking-room, thunderously hearty at a hunt breakfast, a good man to
hounds, a champion player of squash rackets--and a bore. Every morning he
religiously read the leading articles of the Morning Post, and views and
opinions there expressed became his views and opinions for the day and
were delivered as such. He believed that industrial troubles could be
settled if Labour leaders were put against the wall and shot--this was
his infallible solution for all political difficulties. Sometimes it was
hard for Garry to believe that Molly was his sister--she was, in point of
fact, his half sister, for his father had married twice.

Wenda he had placed upon a pedestal; he worshipped her, was dominated by
her views and opinions, and was absurdly hurt if she ever failed to
fulfil his exalted ideas of her.

Many things had happened when Wenda was in Italy. The old general's will
had been read and Garry's forecast as to the distribution of the Anson
property was justified. He had been left two thousand pounds and a small
cottage in Devonshire. The bulk of the property had gone to Garry's
cousin, Jack Anson, a struggling naval officer with a pretty wife and an
astonishing number of small children. It was like Garry that he should be
delighted.

When, a week following the publication of the will, Garry's horse
Rangemore won the Newbury Cup, it was annoying, as well as amusing, that
the newspapers should confuse his name with his cousin's and, in
announcing the victory of Rangemore, should put up the headline: "Luck of
Garry Anson," and make copious references to his mythical inheritance. He
did not even trouble to correct the misconception.

Another rather alarming letter came from Rome. Willie was being even more
trying; matters were 'impossible.' Wenda's letter was written in a fever,
almost indecipherably. It left Garry Anson a very troubled man.

The scandal of the divorce did not worry him at all. The prospect of
being victimized aroused no sense of resentment. He owed something to
Wenda--a life's friendship had its obligations. And he adored her...He
frowned at the thought. He could not see himself her husband. The thing
had to be faced, if Wenda really meant half she had written. It would
mean retirement from England for a year and a revolution in his plans.
Minor matters would have to be readjusted. Hillcott, for example...He
hated the thought of losing Hillcott; hated worse the idea of giving up
Daneham Lodge. Obviously he could not live next door to Willie
Panniford.

He had to talk to somebody. John Dory was in town, but would hardly be
sympathetic. Oddly enough, Hillcott became the recipient of his veiled
confidences. It was whilst that irrepressible Cockney was laying out his
clothes one morning that Garry spoke.

"Hillcott...I suppose you realize that one of these days I shall be
married?"

Hillcott looked at him sideways.

"It happens to the best of us," he said smugly.

He had never confessed to having a wife, but Garry would not have been
shocked to learn that he had several.

"In which case I shall dispense with your invaluable services."

"As soon as you like," said Hillcott, unmoved. And then: "Is it likely to
be soon, sir?"

It was ridiculous, but Garry found it an effort to nod.

"Congratulations!" said Hillcott in his blandest and friendliest tone.
"I've always thought that was a match, if I might be so bold as to say
so."

Garry looked at him stonily.

"I don't know what you're talking about," he said.

"The young lady, sir," said Hillcott patting the crease in a pair of
trousers. "The young lady you're going to marry--Miss Molly."

Garry felt a sudden wrench at his heart and knew something that he had
known for so long without realizing his knowledge. Molly!

Garry Anson was irritated, worried, felt a curiously illogical resentment
towards Molly. He did not dare think of Wenda.

His days were fully occupied in the weeks that followed. Almost every
other morning he left Daneham Lodge before six and was on the Salisbury
downs at eight, watching his horses at exercise. Chief interest now
centred upon Rangemore, a long-striding bay who had two good races to his
credit.

He sat on his hack, watching the horses coming across the downs, and
Wray, his trainer, rode at his side. At one moment the downs were empty;
then, over the crest of a distant rise, four little specks came into
sight, increasing in size as they flew towards where he was sitting. They
thundered past, Rangemore leading. Wray grinned his approval.

"You've got the Ascot Stakes in your pocket, Mr. Anson," he said.

Garry nodded. He had carried other races in his pocket to many
courses--and found his pocket picked by a better horse.

"Isn't there an animal called Silver Queen?" he asked.

The trainer rubbed his nose irritably.

"Silver Queen! She won't see the way this one goes."

Garry smiled.

"You're a little optimistic, aren't you? She's a flier."

Mr. Wray pursed his lips thoughtfully.

"Yes. Anyway, it's not certain that she runs. She's being got ready for a
race in France. Her owner is a Frenchman or Belgian, and he's out of the
country just now and won't be back till Christmas."

"They'll run her at Ascot all right," said Garry.

He turned his hack homeward and cantered over the downs, riding stirrup
to stirrup with Wray, and that shrewd trainer was thoughtful.

"I always try to forget that there is such a horse as Silver Queen," he
confessed, when they were sitting at breakfast in his airy dining-room.
"She's a smasher, there's no doubt. But then, so is Rangemore. I wonder
if she's entered in any races before Ascot?"

He sent for The Calendar and the two men searched the entries together.

The Calendar, or, to give it its full title, The Racing Calendar, is a
sober sheet, which few but racing men ever see. It has the staid
appearance of a church newspaper, its price is a prohibitive and
eccentric one, for it is published weekly at one shilling and ninepence.
To the non-racing man or woman it is a dull publication, containing
column upon column mainly made up of the names of horses and their
owners, and unrelieved by any light speculation. To the follower of the
turf it is the oracle which dominates, guides and records the doings of a
world within a world. Wars may be waged; political parties may rise and
fall; dreadful crimes may be enacted--you search the pages of The
Calendar, year after year, decade after decade and find no reference to
any such unimportant happenings.

Horses have been named; colours have been registered; partnerships have
been entered into; the Jockey Club has amended its rules; entries are
open for races which will be run in three years' time by horses that are
not born. That is the beginning and the end of world events for the
editors and readers of The Calendar.

John Dory came to dine with him that night. Dory was very practical. He
was a bald, severe man, who might have been a Chancery lawyer or a
successful doctor, but was in truth one of the biggest bookmakers on the
turf.

"I hate to see a man betting as you're betting, Garry," he said. "You
can't keep it up. This is the game where even millionaires go broke."

"I'll not go broke," smiled Garry. "When I reach the limit--"

He snapped his fingers.

"You'll get out!"

"Don't sneer, John; it doesn't become your gentle nature! Yes, I'll get
out. I'll hate to, but there you are."

John Dory chose a peach with great care, and peeled it, not raising his
eyes from the plate.

"You're a mug," he said, "and mugs always get into trouble."

"I'm an experienced and knowledgeable owner," said Garry complacently.

"That is the delusion most owners have," replied Dory; "but I won't
depress you. How is Lady Panniford?"

"Wenda is very bright. She is coming home next week."

"For Ascot? Good."

There was no enthusiasm in Dory's tone.

"You don't like Wenda?"

"Your Wenda and I are Mr. John Dory and Lady Panniford to one another--she
has an amazingly effective habit of keeping me in my place."

Garry laughed.

"You don't understand her," he said. "There's nobody in the world like
Wenda! Nobody with her sense of humour, her straight outlook. How she
came to marry Willie, heaven knows!"

Dory raised his eyes.

"Don't you know?"

Garry stared at him.

"I? Why should I know?"

Dory shrugged his broad shoulders and returned his attention to the
peach.

"People wonder why you didn't marry her yourself."

Garry Anson felt himself changing colour. The conversation was drifting
dangerously and for some reason he wished to combat the gossip which
linked his name to Wenda's.

He leaned over the table, his face serious.

"You don't understand friendships of this kind, John. I've known Wenda as
long as I've known anybody. We grew up together, were children together,
played under the same oak. Between her and me there is something
stronger, something greater than the bond of marriage or the bond which
philandering weaves--"

"Poetical," murmured John.

"Don't be a fool! Of course I'm not poetical. That would have spoilt
everything--marriage, I mean. And probably she would never have forgiven
me if I'd asked her."

John Dory said nothing; he had few enthusiasms, and none of them was for
Wenda Panniford.

He finished his peach in silence, went to the and rescued The Calendar
from under a heap of papers. For a long time he studied its pages and
when he did speak it was not of racing.

"Do you know the most beautiful girl I've seen for years?" he asked.

Garry looked up from the book of form he was studying.

"No--have I met her?"

"Molly Panniford," said John, and went back to his Calendar.

Was it a conspiracy--an ill-conceived joke to thrust Molly upon him?

"Why the devil do you say that?"

Hillcott came in at that moment.

"The Pannifords are coming home next week, sir. I've just been over to
their house--Lady Panniford's had a new safe put in the wall."

"How do you know?" asked Garry.

"Seen it," replied Hillcott, as he began to clear the table. "What a
safe!"

"You're an authority, aren't you?" Garry returned to the study of his
book.

"In a way," said Hillcott. Then, after a long pause: "I'll be glad to see
Miss Molly back. That's a nice young lady if you like."

Garry Anson looked up and leaned back in his chair. John was watching him
from out of the corner of his eye.

"Of course she's a nice young lady!"

His tone was a little sharp.



4.


'WE MET young Hipplewayne in Florence. Isn't it dreadful about him? Being
warned off, I mean. And oh, Garry, he has got so much money that there
was no need for him to do anything so awful. He was very nice about you
and told me that you had warned him. He is naturally supremely miserable,
drinks a great deal more than is necessary for him--he and Willie are
quite good friends--and gambles a tremendous lot on cards. Wenda will be
in England by the time you get this letter. I am staying over in Paris
bring her dresses across for Ascot. Willie is staying to look after me!
Isn't that funny? But perhaps you don't see the funny side of it.'

Molly was a good correspondent. She had constituted herself the
chronicler of the family. Garry had an uneasy feeling sometimes that her
very conscientiousness and industry were subtle reproaches.

He had thought a great deal about Molly and was almost shocked when he
met Wenda at Victoria and casually mentioned Molly's name, when:

"Molly? Oh, yes, she's all right. She's so terribly right she gets on my
nerves."

"She's rather a dear--" he began.

Wenda's glance stopped him.

"She's a Panniford." There was a note of bitterness in her voice. "And I
should think they are not particularly adorable as a breed."

And then, quick to realize the impression she made, she went on quickly,
with a smile:

"How is the great Rangemore--the horse of the century? What an
extravagant man you are, darling! You spend your life finding exaltable
subjects!"

"Such as--?"

She shrugged her beautiful shoulders.

"Such as poor me."

He was driving her down to Sunningdale and they were speeding along the
Great West Road when she asked, after a long interregnum of silence:

"John Dory is a friend of yours, isn't he?"

"Yes," he said, in surprise. "Do you know him?"

"In a way." She was vaguely antagonistic.

"But you don't like him?"

She smiled.

"Don't be absurd, Garry! Does one like bookmakers?"

"But John was at a public school--" he began.

"Stuff! The prisons are full of public-school men. Somebody was telling
me so the other day."

Again she relapsed into silence, which she broke as they were breasting
the hill at Egham.

"Henry is coming down to spend the Ascot week with us and I've rather
made a muddle of my invitations. I thought Willie would be back, but he
insists upon staying in Paris with Molly and unfortunately he won't be at
Welbury when Henry comes down--could you put him up?"

Garry scowled and laughed.

"He bores you. I think he's rather amusing. But he can go to an hotel--"

"Of course he can stay at Daneham. I've about six spare bedrooms and
nobody ever accepts my hospitality," said Garry. "I'll send him a
telegram if you like; though why he shouldn't stay at Welbury, with a
house full of servants, heaven only knows!"

Wenda fetched a quick little sigh.

"I don't know...Willie's so difficult. And perhaps I'm a little too
correct. Molly is so prudish, which is an ugly word that I don't very
much like."

Again she looked at him.

"I haven't congratulated you--you're a lucky man."

"You haven't seen my betting book," he laughed.

He had begun the journey in a fever of apprehension. Would she speak
again of the divorce? Every moment he expected her to return to the
subject. For the first time in his life he was relieved to drop her at
the door of Welbury House.

When he got home he gave instructions to Hillcott to prepare a room for
Henry Lascarne and the little man sniffed.

"Him, eh? It'll be a change for old Lascarne to get into good racing
company," he said.

Henry Lascarne, arriving on the following night made the acquaintance of
a new type of manservant and was not impressed.

He was still less so when, strolling into the lounge next morning, he was
an auditor of a sharp exchange between the odd butler and the postman,
who had come to the wrong door with his letters.

"What's the matter with you? What's wrong with the front door?" demanded
Hillcott.

The postman sorted his letters sourly.

"Gone to sleep, all of you?" He handed over the letters. "One
registered--sign for it."

Hillcott took the letters and scrutinized each one deliberately.

"That's no way to talk, my lad," he said, scribbling his name on the
registered receipt.

Conscious that he had been kept waiting for a quarter of an hour, the
postman exploited his grievance.

"Don't these London servants get up in the mornin'? My wife's out in the
garden every morning at five," he said bitterly.

Hillcott looked at him thoughtfully.

"So would I be if I was married to you," he said.

Insult or not, the postman lingered, being human and having certain human
weaknesses.

"Do you know anything?" he asked confidentially.

"Everything." Hillcott was never modest.

"I mean about today. Is the governor's horse goin' to win the Ascot
Stakes?"

The postman asked this anxiously.

"Don't ask questions: buy a paper," said Hillcott in loftiest manner.

The postman went down the garden path, declaim against the nerve of
'handymen.'

Hillcott looked round, saw Henry, and paused in his task of examining
postmarks.

"Clodhoppers," he said tersely, and added: "Nothing for you."

"No. My letters will go to Welbury House. Hillcott, will you send my
things over after breakfast?"

Hillcott did not disguise his relief.

"Leavin' us?" he asked; and when Henry nodded: "That's a pity. Thought we
was goin' to have company." And then, as a thought struck him: "You
needn't go there for breakfast, you know. They always come here on the
first morning of Ascot."

This was news to Henry. "A sort of ritual?"

Hillcott looked at him. "Ritual" was a new word, and he disliked new
words.

"No, 'abit," he said.

An odd fellow--an objectionable fellow. But rather the sort of man one
would have expected Garry to employ.

"Where is Captain Anson?" asked Lascarne.

"Playin' golf on the lawn," said Hillcott. "He's playin' against
himself--he's winnin'. Here you are--do you want a paper?"

He practically threw The Times at the horrified guest.

Molly was coming across the lawn, her arms full of newly cut flowers. If
there was a ritualism at Daneham Lodge this was it. Every year since the
days when she was a little girl and Garry was rather a lank, awkward
youth, she had brought him flowers, at first shyly, in later years as a
matter of course.

She came into the room and stopped for an amused second, watching
them--she could almost sense Henry Lascarne's resentment.

"Good morning, Hillcott!"

"Morning, miss." He turned with a grin.

He jerked his head significantly and a little derisively in the direction
of Henry, picked up the doormat and went out.

Mr. Lascarne greeted her languidly.

"Hullo, Molly! You're an early riser. Did you and Willie get home last
night or this morning?" he asked.

He was more than ordinarily interested in the movements of Willie at that
period.

Molly went over to the desk, took the old flowers out of the vase and
began to replace them with fresh blooms. She had a trick, very irritating
to Henry, of thinking a long time before she answered the simplest
question he asked her.

"This morning--one a.m. We caught the four o'clock from Paris." She looked
at him, a smile in her eyes. "How did you sleep in this house of sin?"

He shrugged.

"Oh, quite well, really."

"How curious!" she mocked.

"It really was very good of Anson to have me here," he said, hastening to
amend a speech which lacked grace.

He came across to her.

"I say, Anson's terribly fond of Wenda, isn't he?"

It was an assertion rather than a question. She felt he was asking for
confirmation.

"Terribly fond of her?" she scoffed. "My dear, she's the world's only
woman!"

He smiled at this; this loosely framed young man rarely smiled.

"I can understand that--"

She looked at him.

"You can understand what?"

"I mean, I think she's most charming." He blundered. "It's a great pity
she's--" He stopped.

"Married to Willie?" she suggested, and left him a little breathless by
the brutal directness of her speech. "Go on, say it!" she laughed. "Don't
spare a sister's feelings. I certainly think it's a pity they're
married. At the same time, it's easier to get rid of a husband than a
boy friend!"

Lascarne looked at her, aghast: it was not the words the surprise that
Molly should use them.

A new Molly--new to him, at any rate. He always thought of her as a
schoolgirl.

"You are not suggesting that Anson--"

"No, I'm not."

He was justifiably annoyed.

"One of these days you will let me finish what I'm trying to say," he
snapped and she laughed at him.

"Henry, you so seldom say anything that's worth finishing."

She heard somebody come into the room and turned quickly.

"Garry!"

Garry Anson was looking at her thoughtfully, gravely. So serious was he
that Molly was surprised into a laugh.

"Why, Garry, you're looking at me as though I was an unwelcome intruder."

She was a stranger to him: he realized this as he looked. A new
individuality, somebody he had never seen as he was seeing her now. She
was lovely; she had not the mature beauty of her sister-in-law, but
something sweeter, something more delicate.

He met her joke with a laugh which was almost artificial.

"Hullo, darling!"

He kissed her gently; he had always kissed her; why did he feel such a
fool now?

"I see you've met our lodger."

He jerked his head towards the slightly amused Henry.

"It was very good of you to put Henry up," she said.

Garry poured out a glass of water from the carafe. His hand was shaking a
little and he wondered why.

"Would you believe it--he wouldn't stay the night in the same house as
Wenda! What is this generation coming to?" he scoffed.

Henry stiffened.

"It was Wenda's idea, and I think a very sensible idea," he said.

He was somewhat prim, and primness, added to a certain latent pomposity,
can be ludicrous. It was so now. Molly had an insane desire to shriek her
laughter, but she restrained herself.

"Shut up!" said Garry scornfully. "You couldn't compromise anybody who
was grown up--and if Wenda's not grown up I am a babe in arms!"

Hillcott came in laboriously with the doormat he had been shaking on the
well-swept garden path. Presently the gardener would come along and voice
his woes and his wrath; but Hillcott lived for the moment.

"Did The Calendar come?" asked Garry.

Hillcott pointed at the table.

"You're looking at it," he said.

Garry picked up the folded Calendar and opened it.

"Go and hurry up breakfast."

Molly was arranging flowers on the writing-table.

"Could you live without The Calendar?"

Henry had heard about The Calendar before. It was a mysterious
publication which interested the oddest kind of people.

"What is it?"

Garry smiled grimly.

"There are only two Calendars, Henry--the Newgate Calendar and The Racing
Calendar--the losers of the past and the losers of the future."

He smoothed out the crumpled pages.

"Are you going to the races?"

Henry inclined his head graciously.

"I hope so."

"Good," said Garry. "I'll give you a winner."

Henry Lascarne's nose went into the air.

"I don't bet."

"Good--I'll give you two."

"In fact," Henry hastened to exculpate himself from an suggestion that he
was attached to this social evil. "I don't know one horse's name from
another."

"You're going to have an interesting week," said Garry.

Lascarne looked round. Hillcott had gone and, remarkably enough, had
closed the door behind him. This was not a weakness of Mr. Hillcott, who
was tremendously interested in all the happenings of the household and
never closed an avenue of information. He did not deliberately eavesdrop,
but he made eavesdropping a possible accident. Nevertheless, in spite of
the closed door, Mr. Lascarne, who was a little uneasy about Garry's
servant, lowered his voice.

"I say, who is that fellow of yours?" he asked.

Garry stared at him.

"That fellow of mine--?"

Molly explained.

"He means Hillcott."

"Oh, Hillcott!" Garry kept a perfectly straight face. He always found it
difficult to be serious when he was discussing Hillcott; he found it more
difficult now that he saw Henry's concern. "Why, what's the matter with
him?"

Lascarne hesitated.

"Well, he's rather unusual, isn't he?"

Garry nodded, and then sympathetically:

"I know what you mean--he's damned impertinent. Have you noticed that,
too?"

"Well--er--yes," hesitated Henry.

"That's right." Garry nodded again. "He's not a good servant--that's why
I keep him. He's a souvenir, a sort of war relic. Other people brought
home odd bits of shell and put 'em on the mantelpiece, and cartridge
cases and turned 'em into dinner gongs. I brought back Hillcott. I'm not
so sure he shouldn't be in the National War Museum."

And then the look of perplexity on Henry's face broke him down and he
laughed.

"A war relic?" repeated Lascarne. "I don't quite--"

"Of course you don't. I mean, he was my batman--my servant. You don't
quite approve of my gambling? It is not my worst habit--he is!"

"Was he a butler before the war?" asked Henry.

Garry shook his head.

"No, a burglar," he said calmly, and Henry jumped, for he was on the
lawful side of life, being an immensely rich young man, to whom all men
who threatened the rights of property were without the pale.

"A burglar?" he gasped.

"Yes. You know the kind of creatures that we racing people associate
with," said Garry. "The lowest of the low! Don't you know that racing is
wicked? Don't you know that any three or four toughs who get together and
start a fight become officially a race gang? We racing people love
burglars. If we can't get a good burglar for a butler, we get a
pick-pocket."

"You're pulling my leg," said Henry.

"Of course he is!" scoffed Molly. "Don't you know Garry better?"

Henry ran his fingers through his long hair.

"Anyway, he's not a very bright--" He hesitated to criticise the servant
to his host, for he was a well brought up young man and a considerable
sum had been spent upon his social education.

"Butler?" suggested Garry. "No, he isn't. But I believe he was a
scintillating burglar."

The object of their conversation came in at that moment. Hillcott had a
distressing habit of drawing attention to his presence with a low,
sibilant hiss. He hissed now and since his eyes were fixed upon Henry, it
was obviously that young gentleman's attention he wished to hold.

"The telephone," he said. "Will you speak here or in the 'all?"

Henry looked round helplessly.

"In the hall," he said, and walked to the door.

"It's Lady Panniford," Hillcott called after him; and now Garry was
really annoyed.

"Hillcott," he said sharply, "how often have I told you not to mention
the name of the person who is calling anybody in this house?"

Hillcott looked round, hurt, a little indignant. Slowly he began to untie
the string of his green baize apron.

"I don't seem to be givin' much satisfaction here, Captain, do I?" he
said truculently. "I think I'll hand in my notice. Nothing I'm doin' is
right."

Garry shot out an accusing finger.

"It's not your turn to give in your notice," he said sternly. "Tie up
your pinny. You'll leave at the end of the month."

Hillcott flamed with indignation.

"You gave me notice last time!" he said.

Garry considered this domestic problem for a little time.

"Did I? I don't remember. Very well, I'll accept your notice."

Molly waited till Hillcott had strutted from the room, and her laughter
followed the annoyed little man.

"What a child you are, Garry!"

But he did not heed her.

"I'm sure he gave me notice. He's so darned unfair, that fellow."

She looked at him, still amused; then the smile died out of her eyes. She
was faced with a much more important problem than the eccentric
relationship between Garry and his servant.

"What do you think of Henry?" she asked.

He looked round at her, startled.

"Does one think of such things?" he asked.

But she was not joking. And then:

"What does he do for a living?"

"Nothing," replied Molly, adding inconsequently: "He's at the War
Office."

It was very difficult for Garry to think of Henry Lascarne. There are
people in the world who have no value to us, however valuable they may be
to themselves, and to others. 'Set' is a glib name for an association of
people with more or less identical interests. It keeps them in separate
compartments, and usually one set is ignorant of the identity, the habits
or the pleasures of the other.

Garry belonged to the racing set, a big brotherhood of men who touched
all manner of interests but were essentially of the turf. To them, racing
was the beginning and the end of all recreation and amusement. They had
no politics, paid only cursory attention to the doings of the outside
world, were conveniently conservative, drank a little, hunted a little,
played around a little at fashionable night clubs, but were immensely
bored with the pleasures which satisfied other men.

Henry's set was distinctive but, as far as Garry was concerned,
unintelligible. Henry read and understood poetry, could play golf, was
interested in amateur theatricals, collected cameos, and was a
pseudo-authority on Russian art.

"He's rather rich, isn't he?"

Molly nodded.

"That worried me--a little," she said.

He frowned.

"Why should Mr. Henry Lascarne's prosperity ruffle the brow of pretty
Molly Panniford?" he said grandiloquently.

Again he saw that odd look in her eyes.

"Pretty, am I?"


"Darling, you're lovely," he smiled, heard the quick intake of her
breath, and:

"You're an odd one, Garry," she said.

"Why? Because I think you're lovely? Darling, I'm sure hundreds of people
think that."

"Thousands," she said sardonically; but when he tried to pursue the
conversation she turned it.

He opened The Calendar, read down column after column, until he came to
the acceptances for the Northumberland Plate, and amongst the
non-acceptors he saw a name that set his heart chortling.

"Good Lord!" he said happily. "Silver Queen hasn't accepted!"

"Has she been asked?" said Molly, busy with her flowers.

"Don't be silly--I mean the horse. She hasn't accepted for the
Northumberland Plate, which means that I shall win it."

He dropped the paper on the writing-table, remembering something he
wished to ask her.

"Why were you so late getting into town last night?"

Molly shrugged.

"We missed the twelve o'clock train," she said. "Willie went to the
buffet."

She hated herself for her disloyalty. There was so much more she could
have told, she might reasonably permit herself this one act of betrayal.
She could have told how near they were to losing the late train, of
Willie staggering up the long quay of the Gare du Nord, assisted by
porters, and being hoisted bodily into the train, of the rather
unpleasant scene on the boat coming over when, in his most quarrelsome
mood, he fell foul of an innocent fellow-passenger and narrowly escaped
a fight. Willie was like that: a genial fellow on the first bottle, a
brute thereafter. Garry only suspected as much. He had never plumbed the
deeps of Willie Panniford's weaknesses.

"What a mug! Can't Wenda do something?"

It was curious that Molly never thought of Wenda with sympathy except
when she thought of Wenda and her brother together.

"Can you stop a man drinking who wants to drink?" she asked.

Garry was puzzled.

"But why the devil should he want to drink? He used to be the most
abstemious fellow. Has anything happened to him lately?"

She shook her head. He walked across to her, caught her by the shoulders
and looked down into her face.

"Molly, you're being mysterious."

"No, I'm not," she said in a low voice.

"He's got the best woman in the world for a wife," said Garry slowly.
"Wenda couldn't make a man unhappy."

He felt a curious sense of insincerity as he said this. Did he believe
all he was saying? Was Wenda such a paragon? All his life he had built up
a mental statue of Wenda Panniford. A radiant, glorious thing,
worshipful, almost unhuman.

She was eyeing him closely.

"You adore her, don't you?"

He came from a reverie which was not too pleasant, at last, guiltily.

"I believe I do."

He remembered at that odd moment a fact he had forgotten for many years.

"I once wrote a poem about her. Did she ever show it to you?"

Molly shook her head.

"No, but I expect she's got it. She's a great hoarder."

He looked his disbelief.

"Well, she does hoard a little," insisted Molly.

"God bless her for it!" said Garry. "And if you ask me why, I won't tell
you."

"You can't expect any woman to be enthusiastic about her sister-in-law,"
said Molly. "Garry, you're a darling, but--" She looked up. "You think
you know Wenda?"

She felt his change of attitude.

"What do you mean?" he asked coldly.

"You think she's everything that's wonderful," said Molly quickly,
breathlessly, as one who was taking a plunge into chilly and unknown
waters. "You think she's big and generous--"

"Generous! What has she got to be generous about, poor darling? Has
Willie got a lot of money?"

Nobody knew better than Molly how little money Willie had.

Willie had never quite forgiven his father for dividing his fortune into
equal parts, one for the son and one for the daughter; forgave him less
when his own patrimony had been squandered and there was nothing left to
him but his bare Scottish acres, the rent from his farms and the other
items which went to make up his meagre income.

"She has--Wenda has, I mean." Molly, realizing she was on the defensive,
grew nervous. "I mean, Wenda has a lot of money."

"Are you sure?"

"She has dividends and things," said Molly defiantly. "I've seen the
warrants. She's always well off on quarter days."

"Are you sure?" he asked again, and her heart sank.

The one thing in the world she did not wish to do at this moment was to
annoy Garry.

"Now you're angry with me. I was an idiot to talk about her."

She was turning away when he caught her hand.

"Darling, you're a cat," he said with a smile.

Perhaps she was. She was prepared to admit as much, and be even worse
than a cat, if she could only--

"Molly, my dear," he went on, "I don't like to hear you I talk about
Wenda in that way. Honestly, it rather hurts me, because I'm very fond of
you. Do you know--terribly fond of you."

She looked at him steadily.

"Are you, Garry?"

He nodded.

"So fond of me that you hate me talking about Wenda?"

"Now you're hurt with me."

He regained the hand she had drawn from his.

"Not really," she said.

She walked over to the table, picked up and examined his letters.

"Yes, you are. I'm lecturing you, and nobody likes being lectured...Yes,
darling, it's a big post--begging letters mainly."

She smiled.

"'The luck of Garry Anson.' I saw it in the newspapers when we were in
Italy."

He frowned.

"Oh, the old general's death? But you knew all about that before you
went."

"How much did he leave?"

He had almost forgotten.

"Five hundred thousand, I think, and the Hereford property. A nice old
boy, but he didn't like me."

She stared at him, open-eyed.

"If he didn't like you why did he leave you his money?"

"Leave me his money? Who told you he left me his money?"

She slid down from the table and faced him. Was that shadow, then, to
lift--the nightmare that had oppressed her since she heard the news to be
dispelled?

"The newspapers said I had the money, but they were all wrong. I thought
you knew?"

She shook her head.

"I don't want that kind of money, anyway," said Garry cheerfully. "Dead
man's money, live man's worry. Give me a horse with twenty-one pounds in
hand--that's my idea of a legacy."

"He didn't leave you anything?" she gasped.

"Not a bob."

Her heart was racing. She had never dared hope for this. She was being
selfish, wickedly selfish. With that money Garry would have been a rich
man. He was not poor now; she salved her conscience with the thought. But
with that money--so many things would have happened that it were better
should not happen.

"But, my dear, everybody believes you came into the money--we read about
it in Florence, 'Luck of Garry Anson'--that was the headline. Wenda sent
you a telegram from us all, congratulating you. Didn't you receive it? Of
course you did, Garry! You answered, 'Thanks, darling.'"

He was trying to remember; and then he found the solution of the mystery.

"Oh, Lord! It was the day after I won the Salisbury Cup with Rangemore. I
thought that was what the telegram was about."

She regarded him with mock pathos.

"Then you aren't half a millionaire? Oh, Garry, and I've been so
respectful to you!"

He had never seen her like this, never realized her peculiar humour. She
was lovely to look upon, altogether a delightful companion. He could wish
to find a subject to carry on this conversation indefinitely. She had a
soft voice, rather musical, a little husky; the most pleasant of grey
eyes. He didn't know Molly, hadn't known her at all until now. The
amusing child of yesterday was a most agreeable woman of today. And then
there flashed into his mind the knowledge of an obligation which had
become suddenly ugly; and at the thought of it his heart went cold.

"Here's Wenda," said Molly.

It seemed to him that she dropped her voice; there was a suggestion of
intimate understanding which made him absurdly happy.



5.


WENDA CAME through the french windows that opened on to the lawn, part of
the garden itself in her flowered dress. She was lovely--there was no
getting away from that fact. Here was temptation to depart from lines of
sanity--and decency, Garry made this mental addition.

It was the very beauty of her that made the scheme all the more revolting
to him. He looked past Wenda to Willie, stumping his way across the lawn,
a scowl on his face, his walking-stick slashing viciously at a flower
which offended him. Willie was the sort who was offended by objects which
expressed placidity.

Garry looked from Wenda to Willie, from the flower to the weed,
red-faced, thick-necked, sour. He stood, looking into the room, his hands
thrust in the pockets of his jacket, his thick lips curled in a sneer, as
he watched the greeting between his wife and Garry Anson.

He was a little afraid of Garry, hated him more than a little. He would
sit up at nights over interminable whiskies-and-sodas and imagine ugly
possibilities, wherein Wenda and Garry were involved; he could see
himself shooting Garry in peculiar circumstances and appealing to a
sympathetic jury for acquittal. Willie's soul was cut to a mean pattern.
He was a great eavesdropper, a listener at doors, a surreptitious opener
of letters and was not above employing a private detective.

He had had the report of one of these agencies in his pocket for the
greater part of three months; could have confronted Wenda at any time,
but lacked the requisite courage. And it required courage to face Wenda
in one of her cold rages. She had a command of language, could hurt
cruelly, knew all his weaknesses and the tender surfaces of his vanity.
So he kept the crushed and soiled letter in his pocket, glowered over it
secretly and let his hate for Garry Anson grow.

He watched them now, saw Garry's lips peck her cheek.

"You might think they were just friends," he growled to himself. "A bit
of camouflage, that!"

All women were actresses. Wenda was talking.

"It was so nice of you to put Henry up last night," she said. "I simply
couldn't cope with him. My maid is down with flu, Mrs. Johnson is away and
I hadn't the slightest idea what time Willie was arriving."

Willie's nose wrinkled unpleasantly. He could have added a cutting
rejoinder, but the moment was not propitious.

"You've got a prudent wife, Willie," said Garry. "I jolly nearly went
over to Welbury and slept there myself."

"Then you jolly nearly had an unpleasant shock," smiled Wenda. "I
shouldn't have opened the door to you."

Willie hunched his shoulders impatiently.

"Can I have a whisky-and-soda?" he asked huskily.

Wenda looked at him and sighed helplessly.

"Before breakfast? Don't be stupid, darling."

"I can do almost anything before breakfast except eat," he snarled.

He picked up and examined one of Garry's putters critically and laid it
on the table. Here was a moment for a gesture or a word of defiance, yet
the awe she inspired in him was such that he could only add a
justification. That was his trouble, he told himself a hundred times: he
treated Wenda too well. When he should be furious with her he was more
often only apologetic.

He was apologetic now.

"I've had a terrible head from that crossing," he said. "I didn't have a
drink all day yesterday--did I, Molly?"

Molly looked at him without reproach.

"Not one," she said, but there was a little too much emphasis on the last
word to encourage him further.

Hillcott came in.

"Get Sir William a drink, will you?"

"A whisky-and-soda, Hillcott," said Willie.

Hillcott nodded.

"I know what you want," he said.

Here again Willie Panniford might have asserted himself. It would at
least have filled up a very awkward gap in the conversation.

Garry was getting very uncomfortable. For the first time in his life he
was not at home with Wenda. Everything was rather awkward. He found
himself trying to make conversation.

"Why did you stop over in Paris?" he asked Molly.

She had had to collect Wenda's clothes and bring them over. Willie (she
did not explain this) had had some mysterious business which made a day
and a night in Paris vitally necessary.

"You're going to be the best-dressed woman, are you, darling?"

Garry turned to Wenda; he was safe on the subject of clothes. She smiled
at this.

"Heaven knows I can't afford to be, Garry."

Hillcott came in and put a silver tray, with bottle and glass, on the
table at Willie's elbow, made that odd hissing noise which he invariably
employed to attract attention and shuffled out.

"In fact," said Wenda, almost gaily, "we're broke--aren't we, Willie?"

"Never mind, my dear." Garry's gaiety was a little artificial. "We'll win
a fortune today, and tomorrow I'll run away with you."

Willie raised his heavy eyes at this.

"Some people don't have to run very far," he said and choked as he said
it.

"That's a very cryptic remark, Willie," said Garry quickly.

"Willie's always cryptic after a bad crossing."

Wenda nodded to Henry Lascarne, who lounged into the room, at that
moment. Sir William Panniford was on his feet, pouring out his drink.

"That isn't terribly clever, Wenda," he said, a little breathlessly,
astounded at his own daring. "I mean, I can stand a joke against myself
if it's clever."

"A joke against you doesn't have to be clever," said Wenda coldly.

He brooded on this, did not speak again except when he heard Henry say
what a relief it was to get away from War Office, army forms and
statistics. The word made Willie shiver. It was what that infernally
unpleasant sergeant at Vine Street had asked him to say on one occasion
when he had been pulled up for driving a car erratically.

Then he heard something which made him prick up his ears. It was about
money and Willie was tremendously interested in money.

"Eh, what's that? You owe Wenda a hundred? What for?"

Garry had taken five twenties about Honeywood at Newbury and he had the
money in his pocket. When he betted for his friends it was invariably in
'ready.'

"The last time you and I went racing you had a fiver on it but it lost,"
he said. "I told you I'd back it the next time out."

"If you want to back horses, back them for me. She's always winning
money."

He picked up the open newspaper.

"Is your horse going to win the Stakes today?" he asked.

Garry nodded. Here he was on a subject which he could discuss without
embarrassment. To his mind, there was no doubt about Rangemore winning
the Ascot Stakes. The trainer's letter he had received that morning was
emphatic, and at that moment he was waiting to see the jockey.

He had not gone down on to the course to see the horse do his canter and
was waiting expectantly for Andy Lynn to make his usual call and report.

"I think he's a certainty--"

The loud booming of the breakfast-gong interrupted him and Hillcott came
in, beckoned him mysteriously, and imparted the information that the
milkman had not called and that there would 'be only one egg apiece.'

Usually Garry had looked forward to this Ascot breakfast of his with the
greatest enthusiasm. He loved to have Wenda at his table, could tolerate
Willie, and find satisfaction in the patronage he extended to Molly the
child. But Molly wasn't a child; was entitled to her share of intelligent
conversation, and for the life of him he could think of nothing to talk
about. It was as embarrassing as carrying a doll to a favourite godchild
and discovering her reading something advanced in the shape of novels.

Willie was truculent; to say that he was unpleasant would be to put it
mildly. Evidently he was emboldened by the success of his first essay in
insubordination and, as almost mechanically his glass was emptied and
filled, he became more and more impossible. Garry was relieved when
Hillcott summoned him into the hall with one of his odd gestures. He was
about to rise when Wenda stopped him.

"Did I hear Hillcott say it was the trainer? Ask him if he heard anything
about today's racing."

He looked at her, startled. "I say, you re not betting, are you?" he
asked.

She laughed, one eye on the glowering Willie.

"What a question to come from you! Why?"

"Well...something Willie said."

She made a little face.

"I really bet very little--and only on your horses, darling."

"Why do you bet at all?"

She shrugged.

"I want money."

"What do you want money for?"

It was a fatuous question. There was a note of acerbity in her voice when
she spoke.

"Don't be a fool. Why does anyone want money. Money is the only kind of
independence a woman knows."

"But Willie gives you--" he began.

"Willie gives me, you give me--" In her irritation she raised her voice.
"How would you like to be a charitable institution? Do you depend on what
people 'give' you?"

Once more he had said the wrong thing. Molly was looking at them
curiously.

"Poverty is a horror to me," she went on. "Never to be able to say I'm
going to do this or that without asking somebody for the money to do it.
I'd rather...I don't know what I wouldn't do!"

"You can't make money betting, my dear," he said lamely enough, but by
now she had recovered her good temper.

"We can't all be interior decorators, or have hat shops, or write for the
Sunday papers. What would you suggest?"

Hillcott was at the door, beckoning urgently. Willie now had gone to the
sideboard and was fumbling with an unopened bottle.

"Do you know, sometimes you give me the impression that you dislike me,
darling," Garry said in a low voice. "I suppose I am rather
exasperating--I'm rather a lecturer--I told Molly so this morning."

"Garry, you're a darling." Her voice was light and her smile gay, but
there was something very hard in her eyes. "Go along and see your
trainer--and tell me all the news."

He found Andy Lynn and the trainer waiting for him in the study. Andy had
done 'riding work' in the morning and was in his jodhpurs and his
high-necked sweater. Ascot or Alexandra Park--they were all one to him
and every race just a race, whether it was a selling plate or the Derby.
He was a jockey who lived a normal jockey's life: in bed by nine every
night, on the downs by seven in the morning and after a meagre breakfast
dashing off by car, sometimes hundreds of miles, to the day's meeting. He
starved himself cheerfully; earned his ten thousand pounds and lived on
dry toast and lean mutton chops. He was a brown-skinned, thin little man
without illusions and without any great respect for the people who
employed him, or the horses he rode. A really good horse only comes once
in a while to a jockey. He spent his life in the unpleasant task of
proving that the swans of his enthusiastic owners were the commonest of
geese. He had learned subtlety and the exercise of that peculiar form of
deception which is half flattery and half truth.

"Good morning, Mr. Wray," he shook hands with the trainer. "Good morning,
Andy. Well, how did the horse go this morning?"

"I never saw him look as well," said Wray. "He strode out like a lion,
didn't he?"

Andy Lynn nodded.

"He certainly went well. He gave me a feel this morning that he could
pull a bus and win. Everybody on the course was talking about him."

He could be enthusiastic without an effort, for he was speaking the
truth.

Garry chuckled.

"That's not too good," he said. "One doesn't want all the world talking
about him."

But Wray was not perturbed.

"I don't know, captain, they'll go six to one the field. There are half a
dozen horses fancied. Mind you, if you bet like you sometimes do--you'll
have to take five to two to your money."

Lynn was examining a copy of Racing Up To Date which he had taken from
his pocket.

Garry nodded.

"Right you are! We'll have a dash. Can you do the eight?"

The jockey grinned.

"I was in the baths all last night--I got off a pound. I'm not having any
breakfast this morning."

"That's one egg saved! All right. It looks like a good thing. You're on
the odds to fifty, Andy, and you too, Mr. Wray. I don't see what is to
beat us. What is it?"

Lynn was shaking his head and examining the form book. "What about the
filly?" he asked and Garry took the book from his hand.

"Which filly?" The jockey's thumb was against the name of a horse.
"Silver Queen? Is she running? She is marked as a doubtful starter in
this morning's papers."

"They think she'll walk it," said Lynn.

Garry was thoughtful.

Silver Queen had come to be one of his nightmares. Rangemore had met her
in several races and they had run consistently to form. With Silver Queen
in the field he could not regard his horse as a certainty. For some
reason he had expected her to be an absentee from the Ascot Stakes and
now he realized why she had not "accepted" for the Northumberland Plate.

It was a more serious problem than it appeared, for Garry had lost a great
deal of money lately and had had warning after warning from John Dory
which both irritated and depressed him. He was not a rich man. He had a
fixed income which enabled him to live comfortably, to this had been
added a legacy which had given him a margin to indulge himself in his
favourite sport, and the margin was rapidly disappearing.

The Ascot Stakes is a valuable race and, garnished with a bet, he might
be relieved of all his immediate trouble. Between him and success loomed
this vision of Silver Queen, one of the best stayers in England.

"That's why they didn't accept for the Northumberland Plate. Are you sure
she's running?"

Wray was certain.

"I was talking with her trainer this morning. He can't get in touch with
the owner but he's running her."

Garry's face was glum.

"Then she'll beat us."

"I don't know--with a bit of luck--" he began, but Garry shook his head.

"When I back horses, I don't bet on my luck but on my judgement. To have
a betting chance I've got to be able to win this race with the luck
against me," he said, and found the wise jockey in agreement with him.

"I don't like it," said Andy. "She looks well, too, that Silver Queen.
I've never seen her so much on her toes. They tried her last week to give
Merry Mite a stone and she won pulling up and wouldn't have blown a
candle out. Harry Dark was riding in the gallop and he told me about it."

The prospect was less rosy and Garry stood undecidedly, fingering the
pages of the form book.

"Please yourself, Captain Anson. If it was my horse, I'd let him take his
chance," suggested Wray.

"If he was my horse," said Andy, "I'd give him an easy race today--finish
fourth or fifth--and win the Northumberland Plate with him. I can't see
him losing it."

The suggestion was a striking one, but it was not unusual. Even the
straightest of men do not ask their horses to attempt the impossible.
The difference between winning and losing is that little extra call
which is made upon a horse and which may ruin him for racing in the near
future. Ahead was the Northumberland Plate and the certainty that, with
Silver Queen out of the way, he would win not only a nice stake, but any
bets he made.

Garry was rather shocked at the bluntness of the suggestion. It had been
hinted to him before. Usually the trainer will take the responsibility
out of the owner's hands by telling him that his horse hasn't an
outstanding chance, but that 'the race will do him good,' and at that
moment there came to him the realization of his powerless condition.

If he wagered a large sum on the horse today he might find it very
difficult to meet the settling on the following Monday morning; he could
not afford to guess. The idea of not trying at Ascot was nauseating, and
yet other owners had not been so squeamish. He thought of the unfortunate
man who had been warned off and who was now loafing about in Italy,
avoided by his old friends and living the life of a social outcast. But
that was ridiculous! That man had pulled his horse. Rangemore would not
be pulled, he would just be--It was difficult to salve his conscience.

"Is there no chance of buying Silver Queen?" he asked.

Wray shook his head.

"Not a chance. The owner is on the Congo shooting; he's a rich Frenchman,
a Mr. Bucelle, and money's no object with him."

Lynn rightly diagnosed the state of his employer's mind.

"I don't know what you're worrying about, captain. You'll get a strong
market for the Northumberland Plate and you could back Rangemore to win a
fortune," he said.

"Of course, I needn't run him today--" began Garry.

"Then you'll have everybody waiting for him at Newcastle," interrupted
Lynn, "and you'll get seven to four to your money--if you're lucky!"

Garry was rattled. He had never felt so uncertain about anything in his
life and was, if the truth be told, more than a little unbalanced by the
suddenness of the problem.

"All right," he said breathlessly. "I'll leave it to you."

Wray heaved a sigh of relief. He had his own doubts, but the business of
a trainer is to be outwardly sure.

"In that case," he said, almost cheerfully, "I should have a good bet on
Silver Queen if I were you," but Garry's expression arrested any further
suggestions.

When they had gone he stood drumming his fingers on the writing-table,
trying to readjust his standards at a moment's notice.


This was the fact beyond any dispute; he had given instructions for
Rangemore to be stopped at Ascot; he was thief, a cheat; no other
description was possible. He--Garry Anson--was no better than the crooked
little owners who battled for a living on the turf. In the eyes of the
world, with his opportunities, he was worse than they.

He heard a step in the passage and turned to meet Wenda. She had come out
alone. Her lips were trembling with anger. He guessed the cause.

"What's the trouble, darling?"

She sighed impatiently, took a cigarette from the box on the table as she
passed, and dropped into the big settee.

"Willie," she said laconically. "He is impossible! He's reduced Molly to
tears--and that takes some doing. No, don't go, Garry." She put out a
detaining hand to stop, him. "Please don't. He would only be rude to you,
too. He was saying the most appalling things."

"About me?" he smiled.

"About everybody. He reached the limit when he talked about young
Hipplewayne."

Garry went suddenly cold.

"What did he say about young Hipplewayne?"

She shrugged one beautiful shoulder.

"He said that all owners of racehorses were as bad as he, that racing was
crooked, and that even you would stop a horse if it paid you to. Can you
imagine anything more horrible than that?"

Garry looked at her for a long time, and then:

"No," he said slowly. "I can't imagine anything more horrible than that."



6.


IT WAS right. Willie, that drunken lout, had said no more in his
uncharity than was true. Garry Anson realized, with a horrible, sick
feeling in his heart, just what he was going to do. He was as bad as
Hipplewayne--worse.

Wenda was looking at him curiously.

"I didn't want a row, but I had to say something when he accused you of
being a thief. I am afraid there was a bit of a scene. I hope Hillcott
was not shocked."

Garry smiled faintly.

"I wish you hadn't," he said.

He was embarrassed, awkward, felt immeasurably a hypocrite.

"People say those things about all sorts of owners," he said, trying to
get a note of lightness into his tone and falling dismally. "I'm afraid
the turf isn't very popular with Willie."

"I'm afraid nothing is very popular with Willie just now, and I the least
of all."

He frowned at her; he was, she noted, genuinely concerned.

"Are you unhappy?"

She shook her head.

"Not particularly. Willie isn't offensive--not often."

"The fool!" he growled. "He's throwing away something a man would give
his head for."

She smiled up at him and took the cigarette from her red lips.

"Me--or am I flattering myself? He's a dear, but he's going through a
phase."

"Another woman?"

She shook her head.

"I don't know and I don't want to know."

He looked at her thoughtfully for a long time without speaking.

"If you knew you wouldn't tell me. He's not jealous of me really?"

She put the cigarette between her lips and puffed steadily.

"No, my dear, I think he's just jealous--of me."

And then a thought struck him, a thought that had been at the back of his
mind for quite a long time.

"Does he know anything about our little financial arrangement?"

"No." Her tone was short, almost brusque.

"I don't mind your telling him," he said.

"No, he needn't be told that. He wouldn't understand."

Garry paced up and down the room, his hands thrust in his pockets. Willie
was a problem, would always remain such, but a different kind of problem
from Wenda; yet in the end he might be a problem so intensified by
Wenda's mad schemes that he would become insuperable. Was Willie jealous
of him? The thought was frightening. Or--

He turned suddenly.

"He isn't jealous of Henry--" he began.

She stared at him.

"That boy is always around, you know." He stopped. "I suppose he's quite
a decent fellow, though he's not the kind of decent fellow that I like."

"Don't be silly," she said scornfully. "That boy! No, curiously enough,
he isn't. If he's jealous of anybody, I suppose it's you."

Garry shook his head.

"It's a pity, isn't it?"

She raised a warning hand.

"Don't tell me for the umpteenth time that it's a pity I haven't
children, or that I ought to be raising a young family to keep Willie's
mind occupied! It would be rather a big price for giving Willie an
occupation--I think I've told you that before. Darling, you're wonderful,
but you're rather old fashioned. You don't know much about women, do
you?"

Garry shook his head.

"Less and less," he said.

She had upset all his ideas of women; he said so. There was a note of
triteness in the assertion; he had said it before.

"My father had funny ideas about 'em. He used to say that women were men
with a different code of honour; that they made their biggest sacrifices
for things that didn't matter--not for their children or their husbands,
but for something that wasn't worth two hoots."

She had thrown away her cigarette; he offered her another, and struck a
match, watching that beautiful face with a puzzled, uneasy
self-consciousness which was strange in him. "Your father was a very
unpleasant old gentleman," she said. "Are you worth two hoots?"

It was coming now. He had avoided so carefully a repetition of that
conversation which had been weighing on him like a thundercloud and now
he had offered her an opening. He cursed himself for his own
tactlessness.

"Why?" he asked lightly. "Would you make remarkable sacrifices for me? I
wonder!"

She nodded slowly.

"You're wondering, are you? Well--" she rose from the sofa and shrugged
her shoulders "--you haven't shown much curiosity, have you?"

"About what?"

Again that odd movement with her shoulder.

"Well, about me and all the marvellous things I think about."

Garry smiled blandly.

"Curiosity brought scandal to the Garden of Eden, darling," he said.

"But it made the Book of Genesis very interesting, Garry."

She sat on the end of the settee and looked at him searchingly. He
chuckled at this.

"What are you offering me?"

"Well, an apple a day, you know--"

"That's what the serpent said," said Garry. "But it didn't keep the
doctor away."

Again that hard, penetrating look.

"I'm beginning to doubt whether prosperity is a good thing for you," she
said.

"I'll tell you some day."

She walked out of the door into the passage and bent her head, listening.
Willie's loud voice still sounded. She closed the door softly.

"I suppose you'll get married--now?"

"Why now?"

"Molly's rather fond of you," she said.

She did not look at him as she said this, but threw the remark away as
though it had no importance. Probably in her mind it was no more than a
piece of banter; but it struck home to him. Was it sarcasm? Did she mean
it?

He felt the blood come into his face. She was ridiculously, childishly
embarrassing. Molly! Of course that was absurd! He was beginning to give
a new importance to Molly, but that she should envisage him as anything
but a middle-aged man, who took an almost paternal and certainly
patronising interest in her career, was unthinkable. He was of that age,
in the neighbourhood of thirty, when people under twenty are the veriest
children.

"Did you hear what I said?"

Then she had meant it!

"Molly is very fond of you."

Garry swallowed.

"Everybody is--my popularity is a public scandal."

"Why don't you marry?" she challenged.

She reached out her hand and he took it.

"The ideal woman is married already."

"Or run away with somebody?"

"You, darling?" He almost scoffed.

He tried to keep the conversation to a frothy level and failed dismally,
and was conscious of his failure.

"Well, how does that idea strike you?" she asked.

He heard the door open, and turned. Molly was standing, regarding them
with grave and understanding eyes. She moved down into the room behind
her lumbered Willie, red of face, rather untidy of hair, chewing at a
cigar which he had lit on one side only.

"Come along, Willie." Wenda walked to the windows that led to the lawn.
"We shall be late."

"What's the hurry?"

When Willie had had a little too much to drink he had a disconcerting
habit of shouting. He shouted now. He walked across to Garry and thrust
his inflamed face almost into his host's.

"I'm going to give you a tip, Anson. You're a bit of a tipster, aren't
you?"

"Why 'Anson'? You're getting very formal of a sudden, Willie."

Willie Panniford's thick lips curled in a smile.

"It's about time we had a little formality, I think," he growled.

It was Molly who made an attempt to turn the conversation.

"Your Mr. Hillcott's been over to Welbury quite a lot lately, hasn't he?"

"Really? What's the attraction?"

Molly smiled.

"The new housemaid's name is Emily."

"You'd better keep your silver locked up, darling."

Willie's guffaw was a prelude to something offensive.

"I don't understand a gentleman employing a burglar. It seems a queer
thing to do."

"But Hillcott's such a nice burglar," said Wenda sweetly, and her husband
turned on her with a sneer.

"Yes, a very useful go-between."

Garry saw her stiffen.

"What do you mean--a go-between?"

"You know what I mean," said Willie offensively. "You understand English,
don't you? There's a lot going on here that I don't understand."

"Naturally," said Garry dryly and, undeterred by his savage look, took
Willie Panniford gently by the arm and led him to the door. "Go home, you
quarrelsome old devil, and dress."

Panniford wrenched his arm free.

"What I mean to say is, I'm not such a fool as I look," was his parting
shot.

It was difficult to believe.

As he stood in the doorway, Wenda brushed past. Molly was waiting for
him, her back against the desk, her hands holding the edge.

"Willie is rather--" he began.

"Isn't he?" She was very cool, very self-possessed. She must have grown
accustomed to Willie; his fury, his absurd boorishness no longer
distressed her apparently. It was difficult to believe that he had
reduced her to tears, that morning. Certainly they had left no trace.

She was looking at him steadily. He grew uncomfortable under her gaze.

"Well, Molly?"

"Garry, some things aren't worth while. Do you realize that?"

If he did not understand her, it was because he did not dare. He had an
insane desire to stand well with this child who was no longer a child; he
was frantically anxious to preserve any good opinion of him she had, or
to establish one more exalted.

"I don't quite--" he began.

She nodded.

"Yes, you do! There are things that aren't worth while, and people who
aren't worth while, Garry. Unfortunately, they are the sort who get
everything."

"Do you mean Willie?" he asked and was hurt by the look of reproach which
she gave him.

"I'm going to change. I'll see you in your box--or possibly we'll come
back and you can have the honour of driving me in your car; and if that
isn't throwing myself at your head, I don't know what is."

He walked with her along the crazy pavement through the garden, and met
John half-way. John Dory was resplendent in his grey topper and his
perfectly fitting morning suit. He was just what a bookmaker doesn't look
like in pictures.

She passed him with a smile and a nod; she rather liked this brusque man,
who could be so uncomfortably frank and never attempted to disguise
either his likes or his dislikes.

"I wanted to see you, Garry."

They watched the girl out of sight, and John, taking the arm of his
friend, paced him towards the house.

"About Rangemore?"

John Dory nodded His round, placid face looked unusually pink that
morning. Garry remarked on it.

"A thick night?" he asked.

The other shook his head.

"No, a thick morning. A little trouble--purely domestic." Garry Anson
had never met the pretty shrew who was Mrs. John Dory, but he had heard
stories of the unenviable state of the Dory household.

"Are you backing Rangemore?"

Garry shook his head.

"No, not for a bob."

John deposited his hat carefully on a side table and stripped his gloves
with maddening deliberation.

"You are not backing your horse--why?"

Henry Lascarne came in at that moment. He did not see the bookmaker, was
possibly too preoccupied with the scene he had witnessed at breakfast.

"Pity, isn't it?" he began. "About Willie, I mean. He has a couple of
drinks and always goes back to the same subject."

"Yes; that is because he always goes back to the same bottle," said Garry
shortly.

He was not anxious to discuss Willie Panniford before his visitor, of
whose presence Henry became suddenly aware.

"Have you ever met a bookmaker?" asked Garry, and introduced him. "He's
never met one before."

John offered his hand.

"Really? Congratulations!"

There was a look of consternation on Henry Lascarne's face. He had seen
bookmakers from a distance; knew that they were noisy people who lived on
the blood of people who backed horses. That he should meet one socially
came rather in the nature of a shock.

"Ask him what's going to win," suggested the amused Garry. "He's an
authority on the thoroughbred racehorse."

John smiled.

"He's pulling your leg. I don't know two horses; apart; they all look
alike to me. I know they are horses and if they've got horns they're
cows."

Garry was wondering how he should get rid of the young man, when Hillcott
arrived and solved his problem.

"I've sent your clothes over to Welbury."

Henry regarded him coldly.

"I'm dressing here," he said.

"You said 'after breakfast,'" said Hillcott loudly. "Your case went over
ten minutes ago by one of the domestic servants."

"Tons of time, Henry," said Garry soothingly. "Five minutes' walk--good
for the figure--or you can have the car."

When he had gone, and Hillcott, who lingered, had been dismissed:

"I don't understand this. Aren't you backing Rangemore?" asked Dory.

Garry shook his head.

"You're running it?"

"Yes, Rangemore's running."

John Dory sat down, and bit off the end of a cigar. He was very
thoughtful.

"I met your girl friend--sorry! The last time I said that you were very
annoyed."

"You don't like Wenda Panniford?"

Dory considered this as he lit his cigar.

"Why do you dislike Wenda?" Garry asked again.

The other carefully laid the match stalk in an ashtray.

"Why does one like or dislike people? Possibly it is that our auras
clash. I am very sensitive to auras. Sounds silly, doesn't it? But I can
tell you that when a man comes up to me and is absolutely confident about
a horse he is backing, I know--"

"A blessed gift for a bookmaker!"

"She is very lovely." It was quite a lot for John Dory to concede. "And
she is one of the best-dressed women I have ever met. She doesn't like
me, but that's nothing to do with it. There are quite a number of decent
people who don't like me."

"Isn't Wenda decent?" asked Garry irritably.

"As far as I know--admirable. I just don't like her--that's the truth of
it. It's a silly conversation--how did it begin? Oh, yes, I met Lady
Panniford and she had fifty pounds on our horse."

"Good Lord!" Garry was concerned. "Is she betting in fifties?"

Dory was annoyed with himself.

"I'm talkative--forget that I told you. No, she seldom has more than a
fiver, and she always wins, anyway."

"You can cancel that bet." Garry went to his desk, picked up the
telephone but put it down again. "No, I'll send a note--I don't want all
the girls at the exchange to know my business."

He took out the one solitary sheet of notepaper from the rack.

"Ring that bell for me, John, will you? One sheet of notepaper, and that
one grimy!"

He scribbled rapidly and read aloud as he wrote.

"'Darling, I've cancelled your bet. My horse isn't trying--'"

John Dory, pacing the floor restlessly, stopped as if he had been shot.

"You're not sending a note like that? Are you mad?"

Garry chuckled.

"Don't be silly--it's to Wenda."

The bookmaker snorted his protest.

"Why send, any note at all? I'll cancel her bet with the greatest of
pleasure."

"She may put some of her friends on to it."

Garry licked down the envelope.

"But you can't write things like that, my dear chap."

Garry scribbled a postscript.

"What have you written?"

"I have asked her to burn this note unless she wants to get me warned
off. Is that all right?"

John Dory could only regard him with pained amazement. Personally, if he
had had to mark down the one person in the world to whom such a note
should not have been written, that person would have been Wenda
Panniford. He felt towards her something more than the antagonism he
reserved for uncongenial souls.

All the years he had known Garry and all the years he had been dimly
acquainted with Wenda, he had disliked her. Yet, strangely enough, in the
early days of their acquaintance she had given him no cause for dislike.
Her attitude had never been worse than one of gentle patronage. But it
was not this he resented; it was no new experience to be treated like a
superior servant. It was part of the convention of his profession that
the impecunious aristocracy, who so often bilked him, should adopt this
attitude towards the bookmaker they shamelessly robbed. There was
something deeper than a pique founded on slights, real or imaginary.

"The trouble with you is mental, Garry. You judge all people by yourself.
I tell you again that you cannot afford to send that sort of note--" He
stopped suddenly.

 Looking round, Garry saw Lascarne and hailed him.

"Be a messenger, Henry; take this note over to Wenda, will you? I presume
you are on your way?"

Henry took the letter. He was peeved; evidently something had annoyed him
and Gerry, who understood the eccentricities of Hillcott, did not inquire
too closely as to the cause.

John's eyes followed the young man across the lawn until he disappeared
round a clump of rhododendrons which hid the road.

"You are what I call a clever mug, Garry," he said. "I have only met two
men like you and they both died broke."

"Thank you for that encouraging remark."

John nodded.

"I am not trying to be encouraging or discouraging. I wouldn't have sent
that letter to my dearest friend."

"Well, Wenda falls into that category," said Garry a little stiffly.

"Do you mind if I am very frank, Garry?"

"Are you going to talk about Wenda?"

"I am not. I am going to talk about that letter you sent, or rather the
contents of that letter."

Garry Anson picked up The Calendar and dropped on to the sofa with a look
of resignation.

"You've been racing for years," said John. "You know the game and how it
is played. There are certain people who'd rather get a crooked bob than
an honest quid."

"You're not complaining?"

Dory shook his head.

"Me? No. I make money out of 'em. I like 'em tricky--they always lose in
the end. It's the mug I'm afraid of; he's sometimes right. Now tell me,
how did you gallop this horse of yours?"

Here was a more congenial topic.

"I galloped him at a stone with Lanceford and Redmoss."

The bookmaker gasped.

"Did he beat Lanceford at a stone?" he asked.

"He lost him!" smiled the other.

"Well, what are you afraid of?"

"The Frenchman," replied Garry emphatically, and John Dory laughed
contemptuously.

"The Frenchman! Your ancestors weren't afraid of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Silver Queen! There can't be a pound in it one way or the other."

Garry threw down the paper and rose.

"But when I bet there are to be no ifs--I can't afford to take a
sporting chance."

"There is never a time when you couldn't afford that, Garry," said the
other sharply. "Are you losing?"

"I'm not going too well."

"I was wondering about that." Dory took a notebook from his pocket. "Do
you know what you've lost to me in the last two months?"

"A lot of money."

"Eight thousand six hundred. And you haven't been betting with me alone."

Garry moved uncomfortably.

"You're trying to depress me."

There was a silence, and then John Dory asked the question that had been
at the back of his mind for a long time.

"Did you ever do what you said you were going to do, years ago--put some
money by that you couldn't touch for betting?"

Garry stared at him.

"Good Lord! You've got a better memory than I! I don't remember telling
you I was going to do that. Yes, I did."

The other man heaved a sigh of relief.

"Thank God for that! You bought a lot of bearer bonds--or you were going
to. You put them in trust, I suppose?"

Garry deliberated this.

"Yes, I put them in trust."

He was reserving something. Dory, was too sensitive to reservations to
overlook this fact.

"You can't touch the money?"

Garry shook his head.

"No, not till I've finished with betting for good--and that's going to be
pretty soon."

The bookmaker's hand fell on his shoulder.

"Well, there's no need to play the fool, Garry, eh? Let the horse run it
out if it's only for the stake."

He could not guess the turmoil of Garry Anson's mind. It was a subject
not to be pursued. Every word was a reproof. Garry's irritation grew with
the knowledge that all this man said was sane and well-founded, that even
by the rough and ready code of the ring he was despicable. Yet he needed
approval very badly, and he was not getting it. Instead, here was a
bookmaker, one of the class regarded as the backer's natural enemy,
sitting in judgement on him. He was very fond of John, but he wished he
could be left alone to fight out this problem and settle it--by himself.

What a lot of fuss about stopping a horse! They were stopped every
day--not perhaps deliberately stopped, but run in races of a higher class
than they could win, sent out on the racecourse with a jockey whose
instructions were "not to knock them about."

"I'm bound to win the Northumberland Plate with him. I couldn't lose my
money in that race."

"Back him today." Dory was inexorable.

"No."

Garry dropped down in a chair, weary of the battle, and John Dory lowered
over him.

"What's the matter with you, Garry? You've never done these monkey tricks
before--why start now?"

"What tricks?"

"You've never stopped a horse. You've run 'em when they haven't been
quite cherry ripe--and you've run 'em when they've been so badly
handicapped that they couldn't win. But you've never stopped one."

Garry snapped round on him.

"I'm not stopping this one. Well...I suppose I am. What about it?"

Dory shook his head wonderingly.

"Garry, you've--well, you've rather shocked me."

The younger man laughed.

"Marvellous! I've shocked a bookmaker!"

If there was scorn in the words John Dory did not notice it.

"You're a pal of mine. Ordinary people couldn't shock me. I've had shocks
on a racecourse--how do you think I lost my hair? But I've never been
shocked by seeing the best man I know thieving."

Garry sprang to his feet.

"Thieving?"

"Sounds a bit ugly, doesn't it? But it's thieving. I've nothing to gain
by telling you this. I can lay your horse and win a lot of money. All the
wise fellows who've been watching the gallops will be falling over
themselves to back it, and the little fellows who come down by charabanc
will be losing their bobs too. You can't send notes to all those birds
and tell them you're not trying!"

He took a newspaper from his pocket, turned the pages quickly and found
the sheet.

"Read that paragraph. It's from the best sporting writer of the day."

Garry took the paper and began reading where John Dory's finger was
pointing.

'And now I come to the horse which above all has claim to our
respect--Rangemore. The public have two great incentives to back this
horse. The first is the knowledge of Rangemore's own sterling
qualities--by Swynford out of Fyne. There is no more honest animal in
training. He deserved his victory, in the Newbury Cup and the two miles
of the Ascot Stakes is his best distance. He should be backed, as he is
the property of that popular owner, Mr. Garry Anson and people who back
his horses know they are on a trier. He is the type of man who is an
acquisition to the turf. The majority of owners are straight, but Garry
Anson could not do a crooked thing...'

Garry put the paper down on the table.

"It shows how little these writing fellows know," he said.

He had weakened on his plan. It was his last gesture of bravado.



7.


LONG LINES of charabancs were crawling with painful slowness through
Windsor Park and the town of Staines was jammed with large cars, going at
snail's pace towards the bridge; where the Ascot Road turns off by
Virginia Water the block was even greater.

All the world was converging upon Ascot. Polished limousines, ancient
Fords, hired cars stood wing to wing in every road and side road leading
to the course. The broad heath was already crowded, the stands black with
sightseers. Every one of the hundreds of boxes held its gay little party.

Garry Anson's house was set on rising ground. He had a view, the merest
slit of a view through high chestnuts, of the road which runs before the
grandstand; and he watched the slow procession for a long time without
speaking. He was not a vain man, but that newspaper paragraph had touched
him on the raw.

"Will you see Lynn?"

He looked round. Hillcott was standing in the doorway, nonchalantly
manicuring his nails with a matchstick.

"Is he here?" he asked, startled, for at that moment the jockey was in
his mind.

"Should I have asked you to see him if he wasn't here?"

"Lynn's riding, of course?" said John.

Garry nodded.

"Show him in."

"Shall I go?"

Garry shook his head.

"No, wait. You're in it, and you may as well see the reformation
completed."

Lynn came in. Hillcott lingered in the doorway, head bent, anxious to
acquire any information which might be going.

"About this horse--" began Garry, saw his servant and jerked a dismissal.
Mr. Hillcott went reluctantly and resentfully.

"About this horse--" began Garry again.

"I came to see you about it, Captain Anson," said Lynn. "I'm a bit
worried--in fact, that's putting it mildly."

He looked suspiciously at John, and Garry smiled.

"All right, you can say what you like in front of Mr. Dory. Why are you
worried?"

Lynn shook his head.

"I don't know how I'm going to ride him. I've been thinking out a dozen
ways, and I can't find one that's satisfactory. Rangemore always pulls
himself to the front before the field has gone half a mile. If I start
trying to hide him up they'll know all about it on the stands. He's a
very difficult horse to drop out."

"Well, don't drop him out," smiled Garry.

Andy Lynn did not quite understand that this was an instruction.

"I couldn't do it, honestly," he said. "You know the horse, Mr. Dory--he
isn't the sort you could put in behind something. The moment some horse
in front of him fell away or laid off, he'd pull himself through and I
couldn't stop him. He always runs his own races, and that's the kind of
race he runs."

"Let him run his own race today," said Garry, and Lynn's eyes opened.

"You're trying with him? That's a load off my mind! I think you're right,
too, I've been working it out, and he'll just about win."

Garry pulled a wry face.

"I don't like that 'just about win'; I like 'em to win with a bit in
hand. All right, tell Mr. Wray that I've changed my plans."

Lynn nodded.

"He's a bit nervous, too. He was saying that you've never done this
before, though he needn't have told me that. And I was a bit worried,
too, because I suggested it. I must be mad--at Ascot..."

Garry slapped him on the shoulder and half pushed him towards the door.
He wanted to be through with his interview; he required neither
commendation nor the implied reproach of Lynn's approval.

"No, I've never done it before, and it's too late to start now. I'm sorry
I ever thought otherwise."

Lynn paused in the doorway.

"I shall win the last race--"

"You said that before," said Garry. "Win the second--that'll amuse me
more. Thank you."

He turned to John when the man had gone and made an extravagant gesture.

"John, you've saved my soul."

"Don't be a fool," growled John Dory. "I've given you a bit of advice
that'll cost me a lot of money. Now what about Lady Panniford?"

Garry stared at him.

"Lady Panniford? What has she--"

"If I remember rightly, you sent her a little epistle a few minutes ago,"
said Dory dryly.

Garry whistled. "So I did. I'd forgotten all about it. I'll send Hillcott
over with a note."

"Ask her to destroy the other," said the cautious John; and Garry
laughed.

"It's burnt already," he said.

He rang the bell and Hillcott came in with suspicious alacrity.

"There's no paper on this desk--notepaper, I mean. Go and get some."

As the man turned, he had an idea and whistled Hillcott back. If the
truth be told, Garry's attitude towards his servant was almost as
unconventional as Hillcott's attitude towards him.

"Wait."

He took out a pocket case, opened it and extracted a banknote. For a
moment he sat, his pen poised, frowning.

"A pen's no good. Where's a pencil?"

Hillcott fumbled in his pocket and produced a greasy stub.

"Here you are."

Garry wrote rapidly on the back of the banknote, folded it into an
envelope and handed it to the servant.

"Rush this over to Lady Panniford," he said. "Don't lose it and don't
pinch it."

Hillcott held out his hand with great dignity.

"Talking about pinching--my pencil!"

Garry watched him across the lawn, and, after he had gone:

"What have you done, Garry?"

"I wrote and told her it was a joke, and that she could back my
horse--for a little."

"What was the paper you wrote on?" asked John curiously. "It looked to me
like a fiver."

"It looked to me like a hundred," said Garry.

John chuckled helplessly.

"You're crazy."

"I owed her that," said Garry. "I won some money for her at Newbury on
Saturday--in fact, I meant to give her the note before she went."

John gathered up his glasses and hat.

"How much do you want on your horse today?"

"Not a shilling. I think Silver Queen will beat me. I may change my
mind--I don't know; I'm just like that about it. I can't afford to lose
money just now."

"Tell me when you can afford to lose money, and I'll come and stay with
you," said the sardonic John.

Hillcott arrived at Welbury in time to hear the rumbling of a passing
domestic storm. Willie was a great shouter; he had no reticence; servants
were non-existent, their opinions did not worry him. He came from a long
line of Scottish lairds to whom servants were part of the furniture.
Wenda, flushed and angry, was in the hall when Hillcott arrived. She
opened the note and read it. The note puzzled her. The printed
inscription on its other face to some extent calmed her fury. She went
upstairs and, without knocking, walked into Willie's room. He was
adjusting his cravat before the glass.

"I suppose you know Hillcott was here just now and heard your big,
bellowing voice?"

"I don't care a damn whether he heard it or if your lover heard it!" he
roared.

She was ice cold.

"To which particular lover do you refer?"

"I'm talking about Anson. You know damned well who I mean. I've got
proof..."

"I wish to God you'd produce it," she said. "What a boor you are,
Willie!"

"You prefer the genteel Garry, I suppose--and he's rich, eh? That'll be a
good match for you, Wenda. By God, you know on which side your bread is
buttered!"

"What is your proof?" she asked again.

"You'll find out in time." He turned again to the glass. "You can get out
of my room. I'm supposed to have a little privacy, aren't I?"

"I'm going over to Garry's."

"Naturally," he snarled. "Go and get him to sympathize with you--brutal
husband and all that sort of thing. You'll go a little too far one of
these days, Wenda, and then you'll know all about it."

Wenda left the room, slammed the door behind her and went downstairs.

Molly was not yet down. She waited for a second in the hall indecisively,
then, crossing the garden, unlatched the little iron gate which led to
Garry's garden. As she came up the flagged path she saw John Dory
disappearing towards the road, heard the whirr of his car as he went on
his way.

Garry was sitting on the end of a sofa, reading a small brown book of
form. He looked up as she came in.

"You've got rid of Dory, thank heaven!" she said. "I do dislike that
man."

He put down the book.

"Why, darling? You don't owe him money, do you?"

"Did he say so?" she asked quickly.

Garry laughed.

"Don't be silly. I was joking. You're looking very beautiful!" And then
he saw the envelope in her hand. "I see you got my expensive note."

She nodded.

"Yes, that's why I came. What was the idea of the first, Garry? Why the
mystery?"

"What mystery?" he asked.

"Why did you say your horse wasn't going to try?"

She slipped the banknote into her bag.

"I was only joking. I changed my mind."

He had not been joking. She looked at him steadily, but this was not the
moment for cross-examination.

"Aren't you dressing? It won't be very long before the first race. I
thought I'd take you with us."

He shook his head.

"You'll be crowded. My little Rolls will just hold me and my thoughts.
Where's Willie?"

Wenda shrugged her shoulders.

"He's picking me up."

She glanced back across the park. There was no sign of Willie, and if the
little time she had was to be utilized she must come straight to her
subject.

She sank down on to the settee and caught Garry's hand

"I want you to be awfully patient with him today, however ungracious he
is," she said. "That's one of the reasons I came over to see you."

Garry shifted uncomfortably.

"Oh, he really is suspicious about me?" he asked awkwardly and when she
nodded: "What a stupid fool!"

"Do you remember what I asked you once before?" She dropped her voice.

Too well he remembered. Instinct told him there would be a repetition of
the question.

"Would you?" she asked.

"Would I what?"

She made a little movement of impatience.

"Would you let your name be used? Don't tell me you don't want to drag my
name through the mud--you've already told me that. Garry, will you?"

He tried to speak, but could not. Something in him inhibited the
agreement which was coming. And why did Molly suddenly appear as an
all-powerful factor in his life? It was absurd, a piece of romantic
sentimentality which was foreign to his nature.

"We could go away somewhere till this was all over, and then settle in
the country, at your place in Hereford."

"But I haven't a place in Hereford," he protested. "I wasn't me who came
into the half million--it was Jack Anson, my cousin."

She took one step back.

"But the papers said--"

"My dear, the papers, as usual, got it all wrong."

She was bewildered. If he had struck her in the face he could not have
given her a greater shock. She had never doubted that the old general
would leave his money to his nephew. The fact that there was a second
nephew she had dismissed as unimportant.

Before she could speak, a shadow fell across the threshold and Willie
blundered in. His face was black with anger; he was breathing heavily,
like a man who had run a long distance.

"How long are you going to keep me waiting?" he demanded roughly. "I say,
old boy, you can come over to Welbury and see Wenda whenever you like;
she needn't spend so much time here, I mean."

He stopped, out of breath, and when he had recovered:

"It's not at all necessary. I don't like this hand-holding sort of
business, Anson--to be perfectly candid with you."

Wenda turned on him in a fury.

"Don't make a fool of yourself," she said, and he laughed bitterly.

"I'm letting other people make a fool of me--that's my role--silly Billy.
I'm not blind or deaf."

"Oh, shut up, Willie!" said Garry wearily.

"It's got to come out, and it might as well come out now." Willie
Panniford almost shouted the words. "Adelphi Hotel, eh? Does that sound
familiar?"

He stepped close to where Garry stood, his fingers working convulsively.

"Not particularly," said Garry coolly.

"You don't happen to know the lady and gentleman who were staying
together as Mr. and Mrs. Sundridge at the Adelphi Hotel?"

Molly had followed him into the room and now she uttered a cry of
protest.

"You keep out of this!" snarled Panniford. "You don't deny it, Anson? You
were with Wenda last March in Liverpool--before you went abroad!"

Garry could only look at him.

"Liverpool! Good God, what a place to commit adultery!"

"You don't deny it--you were the man?"

So the moment had come. Garry Anson's decision had been made for him.
This was what Wenda wished him to say, the moment which Wenda had
planned. There was Molly, looking at him, calm, self-possessed and
apparently unconcerned; watching him with a searching glance in which
there was no suspicion but a great deal of curiosity.

"No, I don't deny it." He found his voice at last.

"That you were the man!" Willie's arm shot out and his fat finger
pointed. "And Wenda was the woman?"

Garry nodded. Then came an interruption which momentarily paralysed him.

"It's a lie!" Wenda's voice was shrill and angry. "It's a lie! How dare
you say that, Garry?"

He could only shake his head and throw out his hands helplessly.

"All right, it's a lie, if you want me to say it's a lie. I don't
care--whichever way you like."

Willie Panniford leapt at him. Garry twisted aside, caught his assailant
and thrust him back.

"Willie, for God's sake don't make a scene!" Wenda almost wailed the words.

She walked swiftly to the garden door and stood waiting.

"Are you coming?"

"All right, I'm coming." Willie Panniford mumbled the words. "I'm through
with you, Anson. I never want to see you again. If you come into my
house, if I ever find you there...by God, I'll kill you!"



8.


GARRY ANSON stood in the pleasant little room long after the party had
gone out of sight. It was Hillcott's voice that roused him to a sense of
reality.

"That's our whisky talking," said Hillcott. "What trousers are you going
to wear?"

As the glittering procession passed up the centre of the course a band
crashed into the National Anthem and every head was bared. Garry,
standing on the steps leading to the box, watched the scarlet outriders,
the gracious figures bowing in the draped landeau, and went slowly up to
his box.

He was a very unhappy man, more unhappy because there were two distinct
causes for distress. He had passed Wenda in the paddock--or would have
passed her, thinking that that episode was all over and done with, but
not caring to risk the direct cut. It was a day of surprises. She called
him to her and was her old amiable, pleasant self.

"Willie's tamer now," she said coolly.

"Did I make a fool of myself, too? It was rather an amusing morning," he
said sardonically.

"You needn't look round," said Wenda. "Molly isn't hiding behind me. I'll
talk to you later. If you see Willie, don't hit him! Honestly, he's very
penitent."

"Where is Molly?" he asked bluntly.

"With her brother," said Wenda sweetly. She never failed to emphasize
that relationship.

He saw Wray in the paddock, and the trainer was looking more cheerful
than he had been when they left.

A pleasant place is Ascot. The Royal Enclosure and the paddock are great
club grounds where friends meet, and, where even the presence of a few
thousand total strangers does not destroy the sense of privacy.

Rangemore came on to the course from his stable, and was put into a box.
Garry looked him over and failed to fault him. There was not a
superfluous ounce of flesh on him, and he had grown big on his work. He
was one of those phlegmatic and kindly dispositioned horses that have
little interest beyond their manger.

"He'll never be any fitter," said Wray. "And if Silver Queen is better
than he is, then she's a smasher."

He saw Willie in the distance and neither approached nor avoided him.
Herein he was wise, for the account which Wenda had given of Willie's
sudden accession of amiability was mainly fictitious, but he was more
mellow than he had been in the morning, so that when she called out of
the box into the narrow corridor behind, he was at least receptive.

"Unless you do what I've asked you I'm going home," she said.

Willie scowled awfully.

"I've done nothing to apologize for, and I won't. And as for lunching
with the blighter--I'll go and eat on the balcony."

Wenda nodded.

"Very well, I shall go home and go straight back to London. And that's
the end of things, Willie, so far as you and I are concerned."

It was a threat often employed, and as often effective. Willie became the
suppliant.

"I only asked for an explanation," he protested. "I mean to say, I'm
human, Wenda. I certainly lost my head a bit, but I'm terribly fond of
you, and I said--well, damn it, I'm jealous. It's a compliment to you,
really."

"I'm not asking you to apologize to me. You've offended me beyond
forgiveness," she said.

He wriggled unhappily. What a fool he had been to tell her that he had
employed a private detective to watch her! That had come out in one of
his ebullitions of temper, and he had been cursing himself ever since. He
was always putting himself in the wrong with Wenda; that was a normal
condition. He was too fond of her--that was his trouble. He told himself
this as often as he told Wenda.

"Well, there was a woman staying in the Adelphi--" he began.

"I won't even discuss it," she said.

Willie went on another tack.

"Anson admitted it. He said 'I was the man and you were the woman.' I
mean to say, Wenda, when a fellow says--"

"You know Garry," she interrupted. "He was just being exasperating.
Probably it was his idea of humour,"

But Willie was not convinced.

"It's a queer thing for a fellow to say. I mean, I wouldn't admit I was
staying with a woman, if I wasn't--or even if I was."

She snapped round at him.

"I don't care what you would say or what you wouldn't say."

Somebody passed within earshot, and she was silent for a moment. Then:

"Where does this ridiculous story about Liverpool come from?"

"Well, a fellow I know said he saw you there going into the hotel; and
then I put two and two together and made inquiries--it's the sort of
thing that one does in a moment of impulse. You know me, Wenda--my cursed
impulses have got me into trouble before. I remember once--"

She was not to be led astray by the red herring of reminiscences.

"You'll see Garry at once--at once, Willie--you understand what I mean?"

"All right."

He was sulky, and when he was sulky he was tractable.

"The last thing I want to do is to make you look cheap. You know what it
is--a couple of drinks on an empty--well, before breakfast--"

"Here he comes," she interrupted quickly. "I'm going to talk to Molly.
Remember, Willie, this is your very last chance."

She slipped into the box as Garry came into view, leaving her husband
standing, a not too attractive or inviting figure. Garry returned his nod
with a grin.

"Hullo, Willie! Are you sober?" he asked.

Willie made a face.

"I say, I'm sorry about that business this morning, Garry."

Garry nodded.

"You are sober! You wicked old devil!"

"I'm terribly fond of Wenda--" began Willie lamely.

"Yes, I've noticed it! I hope she roasted the soul out of you."

"I can't do any more than apologize to you," snapped the other.

"My dear fellow, I don't give a damn what you say about me. You're a
so-and-so to talk like that about Wenda. Forgive if I'm a little bit
emphatic on the point, but I'm very fond of your wife. And take that look
off your wicked old face! You know what I mean."

"All right, I'm sorry," mumbled Willie. "There's no need to rub it in."

He took the offered hand reluctantly.

"Go into the luncheon room and have a soda-and-milk," said Garry. "I'm
going to back my horse."

"Don't put anything on for me, old boy," said Willie.

It was a pathetic attempt to be jovial.

"Here's your friend."

It was John Dory who was hurrying up the narrow corridor, book in hand.
He signalled Garry into an empty box and turned the pages of his book
rapidly.

"I've got you twelve hundred to two five times," he said, "fourteen to
two twice, thirteen hundred to two three times. That's about all you
want. It's more than I thought you wanted--two thousand quid!"

"What is the price of the horse now?"

John lowered his head, listening, and out of the babble of sound that
came from Tattersalls ring his trained ear caught one familiar voice.

"Jackson's offering five to one. That means you could get eleven hundred
to two half a dozen times. It's a very strong market."

Garry jerked his head.

"Go and get it to a thousand pounds," he said, and his companion gaped at
him.

"Garry, that's not you," he said, troubled. "You've never had three
thousand pounds on a horse--it's not a certainty."

"What is?" asked Garry recklessly. "Go along, John; we'll have a
flutter."

Dory hesitated.

"They're backing Silver Queen--she's a strong nine to two chance. Why
don't you save on her?"

Garry shook his head.

"No, this is my swansong," he said.

He heard the thud of hoofs on the turf and swung back to the edge of the
box and watched the horses as they cantered down to the post.

"There they go--Terrace, Waterfield, Silver Queen--she looks well, by
God! I've never seen her look better."

And then he saw his own claret and white hoops.

"There goes mine. What's the matter with Rangemore, eh?"

John looked and admired. He had never seen a horse so full of himself.

"He goes to the post like a winner," he said cautiously.

"Will he come back like a winner?" asked Garry.

He slapped his friend on the back.

"Go and get that money on--you're neglecting your business."

He looked over the narrow partition. Two boxes away he saw Henry Lascarne
and beckoned him. Henry came at his leisure.

"Well, Henry, are you excited?"

"Quite intriguing," said Mr. Lascarne. "But the bookmakers are awfully
noisy!"

"Are they?" said Garry, in mock surprise. "Well, tell them to shut up."

"I don't know any of them," said Lascarne. And then, lowering his voice:
"I say, what's the matter with Willie? He's like a bear with a sore
head."

"That's putting it very nicely," said Garry.

"He said things about Wenda. I wanted to knock him down."

Garry patted him on the shoulder.

"Thank you--for wanting to."

"Wenda, who's the very soul of--" the rhapsodical Lascarne went on.

"Yes, yes. You'll miss the start."

Garry was in no mood to rhapsodize on the subject of Wenda.

Stepping out into the passage, he saw Molly coming towards him. She was
passing with a nod when he stopped her.

"Are you annoyed with me?"

She looked at him thoughtfully.

"Is there anything you wouldn't do for Wenda?" she asked.

"What do you mean?"

She was passing on, but he caught her by the arm and drew her into the
box. There was no privacy here, for the corridor was lively with passing
box-owners.

"Just tell me exactly what you mean by that," he asked.

Looking across the partition he saw Wenda's eye fixed on them.

"What do you mean by 'Is there anything I wouldn't do for Wenda?' What
have I done for her?"

"You know," she said quietly. And then: "Why did you admit you were the
man?"

He scratched his chin.

"I'm blest if I know. I felt that way."

"Because Wenda asked you."

He stared at her.

"No," he said quickly.

"Because she asked you. You're not a good liar, Garry. And then she
changed her mind."

He did not attempt to contradict her now.

"Why did she change her mind?"

Molly shook her head.

"I don't know. What were you talking about before we came?"

He frowned.

"I'm blest if I know. Willie, I think--"

Molly smiled faintly.

"Did you tell her that you didn't come into the Anson money?"

He nodded.

"There's your answer," she said quietly.

His jaw dropped.

"What a horrible thought, Molly, darling!"

She nodded.

"I know; I'm less than the dust. But that is why she changed her mind.
When she came to you she thought you were a millionaire; and if you had
been a millionaire she'd have gone on with it, admitted she was the woman
in the case; there would have been a divorce, and--" She shrugged her
shoulders.

He was horrified at the suggestion.

"You must hate her," he breathed, and her voice was so low that he could
hardly hear her above the babble of sound.

"Yes, I do."

"In the name of heaven, why?"

"You'd hate me if I told you." Her eyes came up to his.

"Have you any personal reason? Is it something to do with Willie?"

"You'll miss the start and I shall too," she said, and turned abruptly
away.

He saw her reappear in Wenda's box a few seconds later.

They were lining up at the post. The grey filly, Silver Queen, was a
little fractious, refused to face the tapes, had to be coaxed and driven
up to her position, only to whip round and lose it again instantly. And
when she was in her place, two other horses had their backs to the tape
and it seemed impossible that they could ever be brought into line. Then,
just as the impossibility became apparent, Silver Queen came round with a
jerk and the tapes flew up. There was a roar from the crowd.

Garry watched the field sweep past towards the bend and heard his name
called.

"One moment. I want to see them round that turn."

He glanced back over his shoulder. It was Wenda.

"Hullo, darling!"

"Sorry to be a nuisance," she said.

"That's all right; they've got two miles to go and nothing much will
happen in the next ninety seconds."

"There was a postscript to your letter on the banknote, saying you wanted
to see me," she said. "In the hullaballoo of Willie's stupidity I forgot
to ask you what it was about."

He had forgotten the postscript.

"Oh, yes. I may want to see you tonight. That'll be awkward, won't it?"

She shook her head.

"Willie's going back to London. He's dining with the Arkwrights."

There was a little pause.

"Why do you want to see me?"

"I'll tell you after the race."

She came into the box and looked over his shoulder.

"What is happening, Garry? I can't tell one horse from another."

"Mine's leading from Lord Kelly's horse," said Garry. "There's a long
interval, then comes Silver Queen, Waterfield, Pathan, that thing of
Basil's, the Belgian horse--what do you call him?--Fleur du Sud...he'll
win nothing."

She watched him in silence, and then:

"Garry, dear, have you backed your horse for much?"

"A modest fortune, darling," he said lightly, and heard her sigh.

"I hope you win."

"I have a little hope in that direction myself," he said. "I say,
Wenda"--she was close to him, her chin against his shoulder. He was still
looking through his glasses as he spoke.

"Yes?"

"Did you really think I'd come into the old general's money?" he asked.

He dared not look at her lest he found confirmation of Molly's theory.

"Well, it was in the papers, Garry."

"Yes, I know; but you weren't awfully disappointed when you found I
hadn't inherited...you know?"

"Of course not." Her voice was a little strained, her intonation forced.
She heard his sigh of relief.

"Of course you weren't--money has never meant anything to us."

"Who said it had?" she asked quickly.

"Nobody, only--naturally you'd be a bit disappointed for my sake."

"He left you nothing...?"

"Not a bob."

"The old beast!"

"Darling, there was no reason why he should."

The field was going into Swinley Bottom. Silver Queen was moving like a
winner. Rangemore was there, but Garry's eyes were for the grey, and for
the jockey who sat motionless on her back. The bell clanged as the field
came into the straight. To Garry's practised eye there could only be one
of two results. The Belgian horse was being driven hard; the whip came up
and fell, and yet he did not quicken.

John had come into the box.

"The Belgian stays for ever," he said.

"The race will be over before then," said Garry.

John Dory's lips were against the ear of his friend.

"There'll be no tax on most of these bets of yours," he said.

"Why not?"

"I've had to do them that way--some of the dodgers lay the best prices."

Garry frowned.

"I don't care very much for the tax, but I'm not very keen on dodging
it..."

The Belgian had dropped back, beaten; 'shut up like a knife,' Garry
described it. Waterfield was going, well, but nothing so well as Silver
Queen. She looked as if she could go to the front whenever she wanted.

He heard the bull roar of Willie's voice.

"What's that horse in front, Garry? I don't see yours anywhere--"

"Mine's the one in front, you fool."

Silver Queen was lying on the inside; Rangemore a length or a half a
length in front of her.

"You're winning, Garry!" It was Molly's shrill, excited voice.

Up the straight they came, neck to neck and head to head, grey and bay
racing side by side. Both jockeys were now at work on their horses.
Nearer and nearer the post and they flashed past, seemingly locked
together.

"You've won it, Garry!" John Dory's voice was hoarse. He knew better than
any man how much depended on the race. "You've won it! It's a hundred to
one on yours."

Garry shook his head slowly.

"I'm beaten," he said. "I know that angle. Just beaten--but eaten."

Molly came flying into the box.

"Garry, you've won it--I'm sure you've won it!"

"I've lost," said Garry quietly. Then the number went up. "Number nine,"
somebody cried. Silver Queen had won by a short head.



9.


GARRY PUT down the glasses that he had turned towards the judge's box. He
saw an official hold up a square signal "SH" intended for the information
of the men on number board.

"Short head, eh? Nearer than I thought. Silver Queen! Good filly that.
But mine ran as game as a pebble."

He did not recognize the sound of his own voice. Dory with difficulty
found his.

"Yes, yours ran gamely enough," he said huskily.

Garry nodded. Rangemore was game. That was the consolation of a
cataclysmic moment.

Wenda came up to him and slipped her arm through his; there was something
mechanical in the movement; he had a sense of unreality, as though they
were both playing a part in which neither believed.

"Oh, Garry, what bad luck!"

"Is it, darling? Poor old Rangemore! She was just good for him. Her dam
never foaled a bad one. All that stock is game."

Every word he uttered was an effort, yet he was sincere enough and she
could only wonder and in her wonder was some contempt, that he could find
praise for the horse that had beaten him.

Willie had had a fiver on the winner; a friend of his told him to back
Silver Queen and he was elated with his success. The possible
consequences to Garry did not give him a moment's uneasiness.

"Run along, Molly." Wenda's voice was very sweet and matronly: she patted
Molly on the shoulder gently, and Molly hated that form of caress at any
time.

"Must I?" She was momentarily rebellious.

"Don't be trying, darling," said Wenda. "I want to talk to Garry."

If the truth be told, she was dreading the interview.

"Is it something that a young girl shouldn't hear?" asked Molly
mockingly.

Wenda's smile was charming; it did not charm the girl.

"Darling, you're getting more like Willie every day!"

Molly laughed.

"Oh, Wenda, how can you! Willie adores you," was her parting shot.

Wenda was apparently amused.

Now they were alone together in the box, and he was even more unhappy
than she.

"Do you want to see me tonight?" she asked.

"I think I may. I'll tell you after the last race," said Garry.

In his heart he was certain that the interview was inevitable, but he
would not let himself believe that his ill-fortune could go unretrieved.

For the moment she was relieved. The postponement of the inevitable clash
was at any rate welcome.

"I'd better come over to you. Will you be alone?"

"Dory will be dining with me," he said.

"About ten o'clock?" she suggested.

"Yes. You're sure it isn't going to make trouble for you, darling?"

"With Willie?" She smiled.

"Anyway, I may not want to see you."

"That isn't very polite." And then, dropping the note of flippancy: "I
was rather hateful this morning, wasn't I?"

"A little incomprehensible, darling," he said.

She drew a long breath.

"I was panic-stricken. I do things like that in a panic. You must have
loathed me...I'll explain some day."

He looked into the next box, where Dory sat, hunched over his book.

"Tonight, perhaps. Can you get rid of that man?"

"John? Yes. He and I are going to have a painful going through my
accounts. Do you want me, Molly?"

Molly had appeared at the entrance of the box.

"Willie's getting rather restless," she said. "I know that doesn't
impress you, Wenda, but he is!"

When the women had gone he called John over to him.

"Come and feed."

John Dory was in his glummest mood.

"I feel responsible for all this," he said.

"What's your name--Silver Queen?" asked Garry scornfully. "I wish I could
buy her--what a game 'un!"

"Your horse ran gamely enough."

"Didn't he?" breathed Garry. "I've never seen a better race or had a
worse one!"

He took John's arm and led him down the corridor.

"Know what's going to win the next? Straight from the horse's mouth!"

For the rest of the day Garry moved amidst a confusion of sound, in a
sort of mental haze, behaving normally, answering those questions that
were put to him intelligently, being sane in all respects save in his
choice of horses. John Dory was afterwards to tell him that he was
betting like a drunken sailor.

He was conscious of a curious aloofness on the part of Wenda, conscious,
too, that Molly always seemed to be near him, anxious, rather repressed.
Once or twice she seemed on the point of speaking to him, but changed her
mind. Between the last two races she led him down into the broad, leafy
square where a band of Guards was playing, and made him sit down.

"Garry, you've lost a lot of money, haven't you?"

He smiled at her. It seemed to him like a foolish grin.

"I'm afraid I have, but what is money when one has good health and the
brightest prospects?"

His triteness jarred on himself. He had lost heavily and at a moment when
he could not afford to lose. But there was something more than financial
loss at the back of the sustained uneasiness of his mind: a sense that
something big was slipping away from him; a sense of lost opportunities.
He felt curiously irritated with Molly; he could not understand himself.

Molly was just being sweet and wonderful and trying hard to bring him
back to normality. Why should he be annoyed with her?

It was after she had left him to join Wenda, who was signalling to her
urgently from the steps leading from the boxes, that he realized with a
shock just the cause of that irritation. It was Molly he was losing. His
consternation was almost laughable; there was nothing to lose. She was
just a nice little girl--no, not a nice little girl, a woman now--and she
was very sweet and altogether adorable, but--well, she was Molly, the
Molly he had known for so many years, and who had suddenly got away from
childhood, ducked under his patronage and could meet him on level, if not
superior, terms.

John, coming in search, found him the solitary occupant of a garden seat
facing the empty bandstand, for a race was in progress and the band were
human.

"Are you betting on this, Garry? It's the race Andy Lynn told you he
would win."

Garry shook his head.

"God knows I don't want to advise you to bet, but this is a certainty.
The price is short, but I have taken fifteen hundred to a thousand about
it for you."

"I don't want it."

"Then I'll stand it myself."

"No, no, I didn't mean that. What does it matter? I'll have it. My bet
will stop the horse winning: the luck is so diabolically out that I
couldn't possibly win."

They walked out on to the lawn. Over the heads of the crowd they saw the
jackets flashing up the straight and Garry stood uncomprehending and
silent amidst the uproar as the field passed the post.

"Well, you've won that anyway! Let's go home. Are you taking anybody with
you?"

Garry shook his head.

They passed slowly through the main entrance on to the road, waited a few
minutes and then Garry's car came up with Hillcott sitting beside the
driver. Other racegoers might wait hours for their cars, but Hillcott was
a great wrangler and a deceiver of the Berkshire police; in many ways he
was invaluable.

As the car went down the hill towards the railway station (they were
obliged to make a wide detour) Garry said.

"I wonder if I asked Molly to come back to tea?"

"You didn't; she is with Lady Panniford. I saw her just before I picked
you up. What is it to be, Garry?"

Garry awoke from an unpleasant reverie with a start.

"What is what to be?"

"Are you through with racing, or are you just temporarily through?"

Garry considered this problem. His mind was now clearer.

"Half an hour ago I should have said I was through with racing, but
that's stupid; it's in my blood, and I can't get it out, and although
I've been bent, I'm not broke, except for immediate ready money. No, I
shall race tomorrow and get some of these cobwebs out of my mind. At the
moment I feel very sorry for myself. I'd burst into tears for tuppence!"

The bald, burly man by his side smiled sardonically.

"Have a good cry, it'll do you good!" he said. "You started wrong today,
Garry, you know that?"

"Started wrong? What do you mean?"

"You started as I started--with a row. I don't know who it was with but
it was a row. Mine was with my lady wife, who was not as much of a lady
as she might have been. Panniford?"

Garry shrugged his shoulders.

"I was a fool to quarrel with Willie."

"So you quarrelled, eh? Well, that's always a bad start for a day's
racing. Racing is like golf--it's a mental exercise. You require perfect
equilibrium, a contented mind, a pleasant outlook. If you haven't that,
you are finished for the day. You cannot win. You'd better stop betting
right there and then until your mind can walk the tight rope again."

It was a warm day and the maid had laid tea in the shady corner of the
lawn, where the shadow of the house fell. Garry sank into the deep basket
chair, took the tea that was handed to him, stirred it absent-mindedly.

"I was talking to one of the Stewards, Lord Forlingham," began John.

"You're getting on, Mr. Dory--you know all the top people!"

"Forlingham is a decent fellow. He was talking about you."

"That doesn't make him decent."

"Nevertheless, he was talking about you," said the patient John. "He was
saying what a pity it was you weren't married."

It was ridiculous, but Garry was annoyed.

"I wish Forlingham would confine himself to his Shorthorns and his
oppressed tenantry," he said rather avidly.

"Don't be silly; he's a really nice fellow. He likes you, Garry. If you
ever come before him you will have a friend at court."

Garry sat bolt upright.

"Why should I come before him?"

Dory put down his cup of tea and shook his head reproachfully.

"Have you lost your sense of humour? That was a joke. I have to explain
most of my jokes, but that one didn't need an explanation." Then, in a
different tone: "Garry, you've got some money, haven't you? Twenty
thousand pounds, isn't it?"

Garry nodded.

"Who has it?"

"A friend," said Garry.

"Lady Panniford?"

"No!"

He wondered why he should deny it. Perhaps it was the knowledge that John
Dory, hated Wenda and that the admission would provoke some comment that
he would resent.

"Exactly how much are you worth, reckoning that twenty thousand pounds,
with all your bills paid and your debt settled?"

Garry considered. He had a villa in Florence, a few outside interests
which added up and made up a little; his stable--he made a rough and
unflattering calculation. Daneham Lodge had a monetary value; there were
some pictures his father had left him, which, for sentimental reasons, he
had never sold. They were stored at the bank.

"I suppose about thirty-five to forty thousand."

"You can live on that--without betting."

Garry looked at him slowly.

"I suppose I could; of course I could! But I could not--"

He stopped suddenly. He was going to say 'I could not marry on that.' Why
on earth should he marry, anyway? There was nobody in the world--

"But you could not marry on it?" John went on as though Garry had spoken
the words. "I'm not sure. I know lots of people who are married on a
hundred pounds a week and live very comfortably. And quite a lot are
married on ten pounds a week and they live very happily. I suppose you
could earn something if you were put to it? If it came to that, I would
give you a partnership."

Garry laughed silently.

"I should always be robbing the firm, or be afraid of robbing the firm.
Honestly, that side of racing has no appeal for me. No, there is nothing
to worry about financially, and happily there is no need for selling
Daneham or cutting out the racing game. What I shall have to do is stop
betting, confine myself to two-pound wagers, keep a horse or two--
certainly old Rangemore--and live as an impecunious gentleman should
live."

There was a long silence. John poured himself out another cup of tea,
stirred it thoughtfully.

"Has Panniford got any money?" he asked abruptly,

"Willie? Good Lord, no! He had a lot some time ago, but he did it all
in."

"Has Molly any?"

Garry looked up sharply.

"Molly Panniford?" He had not considered this. "Yes, I believe she has.
In fact, I know she has. She had her share of her father's fortune and
she had a big legacy from her grandmother. Why do you ask?"

John took out a cigar, bit off the end and lit it carefully.

"I was just curious."

He got up from his chair.

"Come on, show me your flowers and I'll tell you their names. I'll bet
you four hundred pounds to a shirt button that you couldn't do that."

Garry Anson was almost cheerful when the time came to dress for dinner.



10.


THERE WAS little cheer in the gloomy house whose chimneys he could see
above the elms from his window. Wenda had returned from the races snappy
and bad-tempered. There had been a brief but one-sided exchange between
Molly and herself, and then Willie, instead of going to London, had come
home to get his suitcase and he had not made matters any easier. He had
had a fortunate day.

"There is a touch of Midas in me, old boy," he said to Henry Lascarne,
offering him the sixth cocktail. "I haven't backed a loser. I thought Mr.
Garry Anson looked a little green about the gills, didn't he, darling?"

He turned to Wenda who was lying on the couch. She did not answer.

"I think so!" Willie chortled. "It's a joke, isn't it? Here's a fellow
who is so cocksure that he knows all about racing and he comes a mucker,
when a poor old mug like Silly Willie rakes it in! I must have won three
hundred today, darling."

"Then you can pay me back that hundred you borrowed in Paris," said a
quiet voice from the shadows.

There was no sentiment about Molly where her brother was concerned.

"Don't be stupid, darling. Those beastly bookmakers don't pay until
Saturday. What a miser you are, Molly! You are simply rolling in
money--money that should have come to me if that dithering old Maggie
McLeod hadn't gone off her head."

"Oh, shut up, Willie!" snapped Wenda. "We all know Molly is very rich and
you are very poor, but I don't want to be reminded of it too often, and I
am sure Henry doesn't."

Mr. Lascarne moved uncomfortably. This young man also hated to discuss
finances, especially in the presence of his host, who had on three
unhappy occasions borrowed respectable sums of money against mythical
dividends that were shortly accruing.

Willie had changed his clothes and his big Bentley was at the door. He
often went to London to dine with the Arkwrights, "the Arkwrights" being
a pleasant fiction. Colonel Arkwright and his wife had been happily
separated for a number of years and Mrs. Arkwright had a beautiful little
flat near the Albert Hall. She did a little entertaining and generally
her chief and only guest was Willie. An attractive lady, who despite the
passing of years had succeeded in retaining an untroubled face and a mop
of goldish-yellow hair, she had learned at an early age that life was a
comedy to those who think and a tragedy to those who feel; and since she
associated comedy with the red-nosed men on the stage and she abhorred
tragedy of all kind, she had schooled herself steadfastly neither to feel
nor to think, and she was, in consequence, an ideal companion for Willie.

Henry went up to his room to escape another invitation to a cocktail. He
had changed into a dinner jacket but had forgotten to put in his
cigarette case. He was feeling in his morning coat and the suit he had
worn that morning, when he missed something. Rapidly his hands went over
his pockets. It was not there. He turned a shade paler. He remembered
having it that morning, or was it the night before, when he had come down
to Daneham Lodge?

Yes he remembered now, he had put the pocketbook into the inside pocket
of his grey overcoat. That was where he had seen it last. He went
hurriedly down the stairs into the hall, opened the door of the cupboard
where they were hanging and searched both his coats. The pockets were
empty. He could hear Willie's voice booming dogmatically and he walked
softly out into the servants' hall. Willie's valet was also his gardener.
He was drinking a glass of beer and apparently Henry's arrival had
interrupted an intimate and interesting conversation, for silence fell
upon the assembly on his appearance.

"No, sir, there was nothing in your pockets when I brushed your coat. I'm
always careful to feel because sometimes gentlemen leave money. You're
sure you brought it down, sir?"

Henry was perfectly sure he had brought it down.

"Perhaps," said the valet-gardener, "you have left it at Daneham, sir?
I'll call up Hillcott, if you like. I hope there was nothing valuable in
it."

The implied reflection upon Hillcott and his well-known antecedents
passed Henry by.

"No, no, I'll go over there myself a little later," he said hastily.

Panniford's voice sounded in the hall. Mr. Lascarne waited until the door
closed; and his hesitation was food for the humble speculation of his
silent watchers.

When he returned to the drawing-room Wenda was alone, Molly having gone
up to her room.

"Aren't you going to dress?" he asked, and then solicitously: "I hope
your headache is better?"

"Yes," shortly. "Where did you go?"

"I missed something--I went to look for it."

There was something in his tone that arrested her attention.

"Missed something? What was it?"

"A wallet," he started to explain haltingly, and in the end blurted out
the truth.

She looked at him, horrified.

"Henry, you must have been mad! What a stupid thing to do, to carry it
about with you!"

"I know it was senseless of me, but I don't suppose it's far away."

"Are you sure you had it at Daneham?"

Molly's arrival interrupted the conversation and shortly afterwards Wenda
went up to change.

At dinner there was an atmosphere of strain which Molly had noticed
before when she was dining alone with Wenda and this young man. The
conversation was artificial and painfully manufactured. In an effort to
lift it from the banal she talked about Garry, but found her advances in
this direction coldly received.

"Garry is a fool!" said Wenda impatiently. "It was just greed putting all
that money on a horse! He can't afford it and when these wretched
bookmakers send their bills in he is the sort of man who will pay them!"

"Of course he'll pay them, Wenda," said the girl, amazed. "What else
could he do?"

Wenda lifted a white shoulder and turned the talk in desperation to
Willie's fitness to drive a high-powered car.

"Some day he will have a dreadful accident and, of course he will be
certified as drunk, because he is always drunk!"

Wenda put brutal things brutally, but Molly was past wincing.

"What time do you expect him back?" asked Henry.

Usually she answered this polite question politely; tonight she was in no
mood for subterfuge.

"Some time tomorrow. He will probably come down with the Arkwrights, or
at least one of them."

"Why don't you leave him?"

Molly put the question so calmly that Wenda did not realize its
outrageousness.

"Leave him? Willie? What are you talking about?"

"Why don't you leave him?"

"How am I going to live?"

Molly smiled.

"I don't think there would be any difficulty about that, would there?"
she asked. "If Willie would not help--"

"You would, I suppose?"

There were two spots of red on Wenda's cheeks. She was shaking with fury.
She wanted just this excuse to let forth all the anger and resentment she
had kept suppressed.

"Is this an inducement, or a bribe, or what? If you want Willie I will
leave him. When you want to live your own life, Molly, you can go. You
are of age, you can afford it, you can even hire somebody to chaperone
you."

"That isn't very necessary," said Molly quietly. "I was really trying to
be very nice. I think Willie is abominable, almost impossible to live
with."

"Why do you stay here?" snapped Wenda, and Molly smiled.

"You'll never guess," she said.

"To be near Garry?"

"Yes." Molly was not embarrassed. "I like being near Garry--he is such
good fun and so decent. Garry couldn't do any of the low things
that"--she paused--"that I have seen people do. No, that's not the real
reason why I want to stay. I want to be near Willie for a little
while--and near you."

Their eyes met in a long challenge. Wenda was the first to withdraw.

"You are silly, Molly!"

Her laugh was not very convincing.

After dinner she and Henry went into the darkening garden. Molly watched
them from her window. Through the trees she saw the glimmer of light that
told her where Daneham Lodge was. Why did Garry want to see Wenda that
night, she wondered? He had sent a message over. Hillcott had not been
content with delivering the note, but had repeated the substance of it.
There was little that was written at Daneham Lodge that Mr. Hillcott could
not have recited.

She saw Wenda come back by herself, heard her footsteps on the stairs,
and then the door of her bedroom closed.

Wenda, too, had remembered her engagement. She drew the blinds, switched
on the lights and went to the head of her bed. There was a small picture
by the side of it. She pressed a spring and it opened out. Behind was a
circular steel safe. She twisted the combination, pulled open the thick
door and, thrusting her hand inside, took out a bunch of documents which
she threw on to the bed. She stood for a few minutes, sorting them out
and placing them in a neat little heap. One paper had not left her hand:
it was the hundred pound note that Garry had sent to her that morning.
She read the message again. How stupid of Garry to write on the back of a
banknote! Thank heaven it was in pencil and it could be rubbed out before
she paid it into her bank. She opened four imposing certificates from
which a number of coupons had been detached, read them, folded them
carefully and replaced all the papers in the safe.

The one paper she had sought for was not there. She had known before she
made the search that Henry had had it. She wished to heaven that she had
taken the thing and burnt it. She slammed the door of the safe, turned
the combination savagely and replaced the picture.

When she came out on the landing Molly was there. The girl's eyes were
surveying her critically.

"Have you been crying?" she asked.

"Don't be a fool! Of course I haven't."

Wenda brushed down the stairs without another word and went in search of
the gloomy Henry.

It had not been a pleasant meal at Daneham, but it had not been
unpleasant. The shadow of settling day had lain on the table and was not
to be dispelled.

"Have ye cast up yer accoonts?" asked Garry in a pitiable attempt to be
Scottish.

"I will do that after dinner. Nobody will ever sympathize with you,
Garry, because nobody will ever know what you have lost."

"Oh, you mean the tax dodgers?"

At this period the betting tax was in force, a tax which was bitterly
resented by the racing fraternity; and when a law is resented by any
large body of men it is inevitable that there shall be evasion.888

Some of the men who used to bet in Tattersalls to big figures became
suddenly dealers in small amounts. What they did was to reckon pounds as
shillings; a five-pound bet was a thousand. Lynx-eyed inspectors, who
examined every book, were powerless; they could only charge the tax on
the fifty pounds, when they were pretty certain that the taxable in
amount was twenty times as much. It was all very reprehensible and more
or less dishonest but as John said philosophically: "What would you?"

"If ever I had to show those bets--" began Garry.

"What could you have to show them for?" said the other. "Unless you are
writing a book on racing reminiscences. No, Garry, you must take things
as you find them. But it makes book-keeping very complicated!"

The dining-room window was open. Henry, crossing the lawn, saw the two
men at the table and signalled Wenda, and they passed noiselessly to the
iron and glass door, that gave admission to Garry's study. The door was
closed. Henry saw somebody moving about and guessed it was Hillcott. He
tapped gently, motioning Wenda to cover. Hillcott came to the door after
an intolerably long time, opened it and surveyed his visitor without
favour.

"Oh, it's you, is it?"

"Hillcott, I want to see you. Did you pack my things this morning?"

Hillcott brightened visibly. Mr Lascarne had a reputation for nearness.
He had gone that morning without leaving behind him any visible evidence
of his satisfaction with the service that Hillcott had rendered.

"Yes, sir, I looked after you."

"Do you remember seeing a red pocketbook about so big in my room?"

"About so big?"

Hillcott indicated with his grimy forefingers something that was the size
of a portfolio.

"No--smaller."

Hillcott shook his head.

"No."

"You didn't see it in a pocket or somewhere?" asked Henry anxiously.

Hillcott shook his head.

"You couldn't miss it--it's red."

All hope of pecuniary consequence had vanished from Hillcott's mind.

"I'm colour-blind," he said loudly. "I'll tell the guv'nor you're here."

"Wait, wait," said Henry. "The maid didn't find it?"

Hillcott turned with great dignity.

"I'm not on speaking terms with the housemaid, but I'll lower myself to
ask her."

He waited till he was alone, then began a rapid search of the room. He
turned over cushions, felt in the pockets of armchairs, looked carefully
along the window-seat where he had sat and Wenda, who had come to the
door, watched him.

"Have you found it?" she asked in a low voice.

"No."

"How stupid of you, Henry!"

"I'm terribly sorry--" he began.

"Why did you keep a thing like that?"

He turned with a wail.

"I kept it as a memento."

"It was absolutely unpardonable of you--hush!"

There came an interruption from the passageway. It was Garry's voice,
clear and distinct.

"Wenda! Don't be absurd! Wenda couldn't do a mean thing. If an angel from
heaven told me she could, I shouldn't believe it!"



11.


THERE WAS the sound of a closing door. Wenda stepped out of the room into
the garden, and was hardly out of sight before Garry came in.

Lascarne had picked up the first paper he could lay his hand on. It was
The Calendar, and the sight amused Garry.

"Hullo! Improving your mind?"

Lascarne grinned awkwardly.

"The Racing Calendar! An extraordinary paper, isn't it?" He looked at the
headline. "Price one and ninepence. Who edits it?"

"The Recording Angel," said Garry dryly. "I hope your name will never
appear in it." And then, at the other's superior smile: "You don't think
it could? Don't be sure. A lot of people who have no interest in racing
have figured in that interesting publication. It hasn't pleased them, but
it has happened, and nobody is more surprised than themselves."

Henry was turning the pages one by one, looking a little baffled at the
serried columns that confronted him.

"This is all Greek to me," he said.

"I wish it was Greek to me," said Garry ruefully. "I should have a pretty
good knowledge of the classics! Anyway, I won't corrupt your young mind
by attempting to translate. How are all the good people? Have they
recovered from their strenuous day? By the way, Willie made money, they
tell me? What a thing it is to be a mug!"

"Yes, Willie made money."

Henry folded the paper and dropped it back on to the table.

"I knew there was something I wanted to tell you. Wenda asked if you
would excuse her coming over tonight. She has a headache."

"Oh? That's all right. Sorry she's under the weather."

"She said she would come over tomorrow before the horse racing begins,"
went on Henry.

"Not the dog racing? Oh, I see. Poor old girl! Tell her there's no great
hurry. I've got a bit of a headache myself, but it's not the kind that
aspirin can cure. How is Willie?"

Henry hesitated.

"He was rather a brute before he went to town, as a matter of fact."

"Brute, was he?" said Garry. "Quite normal again?"

"He got into one of his sour moods--about you, as a matter of fact. I
don't know that I ought to tell you this; it sounds as if I'm being
rather underhand--"

"Don't let that worry you. Was he very bad--I mean to Wenda?"

Henry hesitated. If he had told the truth, Wenda was more 'bad' to Willie
than he had been to her.

"Not really. He was being rather absurd. He said you were broke and were
selling off your horses. Of course, that's ridiculous--"

"Not so ridiculous as it sounds. He was pretty well informed. I don't
know where he got his information, but I can guess."

Garry turned his head as John Dory came in to collect his glasses and
hat. He nodded curtly to Lascarne.

"I'm going home. I've had rather a strenuous day."

"Don't go yet. You've met my bookmaker, haven't you, Henry? You'd almost
think he was a gentleman, wouldn't you, the way these fellows get
themselves up!"

It had struck Henry, who had a very imperfect knowledge of bookmakers,
that Dory was rather well dressed.

"I always thought that bookmakers wore a sort of--" He moved his hand
vaguely over his coat.

"Oh, quite," said John; "but the moths got into mine, so I sent it to the
cleaners."

"It must be a queer sort of job," said Henry curiously. "I suppose you
meet some odd people?"

John looked at him coldly.

"Only after dinner, old boy."

And then, to Henry's consternation, Hillcott came back.

"She ain't seen it," he announced loudly.

"Who ain't seen what?" asked Garry.

"Oh, it's all right," said Henry hastily. "It's nothing at all."

"But what is it?" asked Garry.

"Oh, something I thought I'd left behind." He was rather agitated.

"A red wallet, about so big," explained Hillcott.

Garry shook his head.

"I haven't seen it."

"It's absolutely unimportant." Henry Lascarne was almost terrified in his
desire that the search should be dropped.

"If it's unimportant you'll find it." said Garry good humouredly. "Where
is Willie now?"

Lascarne wiped his moist brow, and, looking at him with a cold,
discerning eye, John Dory could only wonder at the cause of the
agitation.

"He drove up to town before dinner."

Garry remembered.

"You must be having quite an uneventful evening."

"Everybody's going to bed, I think," said Lascarne. He was standing by
the door. "Terribly dull, this Ascot week. Much more fun coming down for
a game."

"Marbles?" growled John.

Garry was looking at the cushions on the sofa.

"We must find this wallet of yours, though."

"I wish you wouldn't." He almost walled the words. "It's not worth
troubling about, really. There's nothing in it except a few odds and
ends--absolutely valueless. Goodnight."

"Give my love to Wenda," said Garry. "Hullo, darling!"

An unexpected apparition had appeared in the doorway. It was Molly; she
was out of breath, as though she had been running.

"Where's Wenda? Isn't she here?"

"Here? Of course not," said Garry, in surprise.

Molly turned to the young man.

"Where is she?"

"At Welburn, I suppose," said Henry uncomfortably.

"I thought she was with you. I saw you both in the garden."

"I left her there," said Lascarne. "She said she was going to bed."

"Well, she hasn't gone to bed." The tone was unusually sharp for Molly,
"She's been awfully depressed and nervy since she came back from the
races."

"Did she lose a lot of money?" asked Garry.

"No, she won. Usually that cheers her up."

Garry chuckled. He walked over to her and gently shook her.

"You'll probably meet her on the road. You can see in the dark, can't you
pussy?"

"She's probably strolled over to the orchard," said came. "Come on,
Molly. Goodnight."

He went out, but Molly did not follow him.

"Is anything wrong?"

"I don't know," said Molly.

She was obviously worried.

"I wish Willie hadn't gone to London."

"Is it about me, or something to do with me?" asked Garry.

"No," she said softly. "I'll phone back and tell you. I'm probably making
a lot of fuss about nothing."

Garry walked to the door and looked out into the darkness after her.

"I wonder what it's all about."

"Lady Panniford was coming over, wasn't she?" asked Dory.

"Yes," said Garry, "but she's got a headache. Well you've been
quick--what's the total?"

John opened his book and shook his head.

"Four thousand seven hundred pounds. You were betting like a drunken
sailor."

Garry laughed softly.

"Shall I see you tomorrow?"

"I don't know--possibly. Generally speaking, my racing career is
finished."

"Rot!"

"I mean it."

Then John remembered something which he had intended to tell his host
during dinner.

"I met Ferguson, the trainer of Silver Queen, tonight. I met him in the
hotel, just before I came here. He has wired the news to the owner, who's
shooting on the Congo."

John Dory laughed helplessly.

"Fancy a fellow having a big winner, not knowing it and probably not
backing it!"

"Having a big second, knowing it and having backed it is worse," said
Garry dryly.

John paused irresolutely, trying to find topics of conversation,
obviously loath to leave his friend on a despondent note.

"I heard a rumour about your selling your horses," he said.

Garry nodded.

"So did Willie. Yes, I offered them to Harrigan--he's a talkative fellow.
The whole bilin' lot! I want to keep Rangemore if I can; he's too good to
lose--but the rest must go."

John thought it would not be a bad idea to throw up racing for a time,
and said so.

"For all time, John," said Garry.

"That's one of the resolutions you ought to sleep on," said John.

Hillcott came in with a big carton of cigarettes and began to replenish
the silver box. Garry glanced round.

"I see you've got some stationery, Hubert?"

Hillcott nodded complacently.

"What sort of day did you have?" he asked, in his friendly way.

"Rotten," said Garry.

Hillcott looked at his employer and then at John Dory.

"You can't both win, can you?"

"That," said John, "is one of the well-known laws of the Medes, or
possibly the Persians."

"I had a couple of bob on his horse." said Hillcott. "Bless your life, I
never win anything. There's a sort of curse on me, you know. If I have a
winner he's disqualified. I don't believe in horses or jockeys or
anything!"

"You're an atheist," said Garry, intent upon his betting book.

"No," said Hillcott malignantly. "I believe in the totalizator."

"That's what I call an atheist," said John Dory, nodded to Garry, took up
his hat and went out.

Hillcott was busy at the table. Garry thought he had gone, till he heard
the inevitable sound of something being dropped on to the floor; then he
looked round.

"I don't know whether I shall be able to keep, you after this month,
Hubert--I'm broke."

"You don't keep me," said Hillcott indignantly; "I keep myself. You mean
pay my wages?"

Garry nodded.

"That's the worst of the capitalist classes," said Hillcott; "they think
wages is charity!"

"I beg your pardon," said Garry politely.

"Granted," said Hillcott.

He went to the iron door and locked it, looked up at the lights and
yawned.

"I'll put the things away and go to bed if you don't mind. Want me to put
the lights out?"

"You mean, do I want to sit in the dark?" asked Garry "No."

Hillcott went out, wishing him happy dreams. It was his inevitable
goodnight.



12.


TO BE completely ruined is so crashing and so stunning that the very
shock of the blow might destroy all sensation. To be consciously and
nearly ruined is not so pleasant a sensation.

Garry went over his bets for the tenth time, totted up the amount on a
sheet of paper, again mentally reviewed his financial position and gave a
reluctant agreement to his own stability.

It was going to be a very dull life without racing--and without Molly. He
could not do all the things he would like to do now; he was no longer his
own master. For a man is only just as independent as his banker allows
him to be. It is true, there was nobody to say 'Go thither' or 'Come
hither', but there were certain cold-blooded figures in a book which said
as plainly as words: "You won't be able to do this, you can't do that."

It was an ugly, uncomfortable feeling. Garry had sufficient intelligence
to know that tens of thousands of his fellow creatures, no, hundreds of
thousands, had his sensations in a more acute form and his discomfort
without any of the saving factors in his own situation.

He did not hear the first tap at the door, but the second time it was
repeated, more loudly and impatiently, he looked round. Through the blur
of the ground glass he saw a figure, and went to the door and unlocked
it. It was Wenda. She gave one frightened glance behind her and came in.

"Shut the door, please!" she said breathlessly.

He stared at her in wonder; she was so unlike her usual self. She had
lost something of her poise, something of her old command over herself
and over all who came into contact with her. Her face was whiter than he
remembered; she was a little haggard; the mouth was down-drawn.

"My dear, what has happened?" he said, concerned.

And then, for a second, he had a panic sense that she was going to tell
him something he did not want to know and did not wish to hear. He was
relieved when she snapped:

"Nothing--nothing at all."

"You're looking ill," he said.

Truly she had the face of a woman in pain.

"I don't want to discuss myself at all," she said petulantly. "Isn't it
possible to discuss something else for a second, Garry?"

The 'Garry' was forced; the friendliness in it was so completely
artificial that it had no meaning. He could almost hear her mind
dictating the term.

"You've not had a row?" he said.

She dropped her head to the side, a quick, nervous, angry gesture which
he remembered having seen before and having thought rather cute. It was
neither cute nor pretty now.

"Willie's gone to town--you know that."

She walked swiftly to the end of the sofa, and again it was with an
obvious effort that she turned to face him.

"What did you want, Garry?"

"What do I want?" He had almost forgotten that he had asked her to come
over to him.

"Of course! Don't be so tiresome, darling. You know asked to see me...well,
here I am!"

"It'll do some other time," he said. "Henry told me you had a headache.
Did you see him, by the way?"

"No, I didn't." Her voice was sharp, defiant.

He noticed her tone and frowned. He himself was worried.

"My dear, what's the matter? Something has upset you--what is it?"

"Leave me alone." She almost hissed the words, half turned away and came
back to face him with a jerk. "What is all this talk about selling your
horses?" she asked.

He nodded.

"It's true."

"You mean that you're broke?"

"Not dramatically ruined, thanks to you, darling, but broke," said Garry.

He tried to keep his tone light and gay, and failed dismally.

"I lost four and a half thousand today," he said. "That was exactly four
and a half thousand too much!"

She drew a long breath.

"How stupid of you, Garry!" she said, dropping on to the settee and
drumming her long, white fingers impatiently on the end. "If you can't
afford to lose you shouldn't bet."

He opened his mouth in astonishment, and then laughed.

"Where have I heard that dear old phrase before?" he asked. "It's not
very original, is it, darling? I suppose people have been saying that
sort of thing right throughout the ages, from the time the old knights
rode for a purse of ready money--"

"I've lost a lot of money myself," she interrupted, "on the Stock
Exchange. It's awfully unfortunate this should happen now."

She spoke nervously, jerkily, was galloping along to a predetermined
destination and would not stop till she had reached it.

"Naturally I'm sorry, Garry, that you've lost so much...if I can help
you--"

He stared at her blankly.

"If you can help me? What on earth are you talking about, Wenda?"

She did not answer.

"Darling, your manner is extraordinary Was it this wretched affair this
morning? Was I stupid? I mean that stupid row with Willie about the
Adelphi Hotel. I didn't know what you wanted me to say--I thought you
wanted me to pretend it was true, and like a true gentleman I owned up!"

"Don't," she said harshly.

This was a new Wenda, one he had never seen before, who was entirely
novel to him; one of the many new Wendas he had met with and had been
shocked by in the past few weeks.

"Wenda, darling, have you been having a row with Molly? You look
dreadful."

She came up to her feet.

"For God's sake leave my appearance alone!" she breathed. She must have
seen the shocked look in his face, for instantly her manner changed.

"I'm sorry, Garry...give me a cigarette."

As he went to the table to get a box:

"Is anybody here?" she asked.

"No--John Dory's gone back to the hotel," he said.

She lit the cigarette and smoked in silence for a while, her eyes
avoiding his seemingly absorbed in some inner problem which distressed
her. Then:

"Well, what did you want to see me about?"

He noticed, curiously, that from time to, time she glanced back towards
the curtained window and the locked door, and her chin dropped as though
she were listening. He had scarcely formed the sentence which was to
break an embarrassed silence when she raised her hand.

"Listen! Is that somebody in the garden?"

As he walked to the door:

"Wait!" she whispered and vanished into the corridor.

There was nobody outside; the garden was entirely empty. He waited for a
while, heard no sound but the distant melody of a nightingale, then he
closed the door and called her.

"There's nobody there. Who did you think it would be?"

"Lock the door."

He went back and locked it, half amused, considerably worried by her
agitation.

"Willie's gone to London, hasn't he?"

She nodded.

"Yes; you needn't be afraid of Willie."

He laughed at this.

"You know, darling, that's almost offensive."

He waited until she was seated again and had lit another cigarette in
place of that which she had thrown away, and then:

"I'll be businesslike--I'm chucking racing."

She looked up at him quickly.

"So it's true, what he said--what they're saying about you?"

"I don't know what they're saying," said Garry ruefully "but it's true
that I've reached the point where I've got to stop. I knew I should
sooner, or later. I told you so."

There was a little pause.

"So I shall keep the promise I gave you and I shall give up racing for
good."

"I think you're very wise," she said politely. "Well?"

She did not make it easy for him. He had never found an interview so
entirely embarrassing.

"Well, some time this week I'll ask you to arrange with your bank to let
me have back my little nest egg," he said, "and I'll endeavour to find a
more profitable interest than racing."

He stood back with an extravagant gesture. "There's a nice little
speech!"

She nodded.

"It's very nice, but I don't know what you mean."

He did not grasp the significance of her words.

"I mean I shall want my money, darling."

Slowly she turned her head and their eyes met.

"What money?"

The words were metallic; they expressed neither surprise nor complete
ignorance. They were intended to mean just what they did mean, a complete
and defiant denial.

Momentarily he was knocked off his feet, and thought she did not
understand him.

"Darling, the money...you know...the twenty thousand pounds."

He sat down by her.

"You know, I bought four bearer bonds of five thousand each and I asked
you to keep them for me and not to let me have them until I'd finished
with racing and came to you with a solemn promise that I wouldn't bet
again. You remember?"

Her eyes did not waver; they searched his coldly. Then she spoke, slowly
and with the greatest deliberation.

"I remember your handing me bearer bonds for twenty thousand
pounds--yes."

He sighed his relief.

"Well, darling?"

"But that was a gift to me--you know it was."

If she had struck him he could not have been more greatly shocked, more
utterly paralysed.

"Wenda, I don't understand you. I told you to keep half the interest--why,
we've talked about it lots of times in the past five years."

She shook her head.

"I'm terribly sorry, but I've always regarded it as a gift. I still
regard it that way."

He came to his feet like a man in a dream, staring down at her, like
something unreal. And was there anything in the world more unreal than
Wenda at that moment, any object of life so grotesquely conceived or
fashioned as the thing she had created out of herself?

"I'm not dreaming this, am I?" He laughed. "You're trying to pull my
leg."

She shook her head. It was coming to him now; all that blurred sense of
unreality was dispersing like mist that hid the view, and the ugly shape
of her mind was becoming sharply defined.

"You don't mean this?" His voice was tremulous. "It's impossible! Good
God, Wenda. I'd give you the money rather than that you should talk like
this! I'd, lose it a hundred times rather than lose you."

She did not speak. Like a dog throwing the water from himself he shook
his head.

"I don't want to talk about it any more tonight," he said. "You're not
normal, and I'm a bit off my balance, too. Wenda, darling, I'm sorry I
asked you to come over."

Wenda got up, brushed a speck of cigarette ash from her dress.

"I'm not," she said. "It's terribly embarrassing, but evidently it had to
be got over."

Her tone was so cool and matter-of-fact that he could only gape at her.

"You really mean, then," he said slowly, "that the money I handed you
five years ago was a gift--a personal gift to you?"

"That is how I took it," she nodded.

"I said to you: 'Wenda, take charge of this money. When I chuck racing
I'll come to you for it,' and you agreed. And I never had an uneasy
thought about it--why should I?"

"I don't remember your saying that."

His anger was rising now. Angry with Wenda! It didn't seem possible.

"Then why did you send me half the first year's interest?" he demanded,
and saw he had hit her.

"I don't want to discuss it and I'm not going to be cross-examined."

Suddenly he stepped up to her, grasped her by the shoulders and drew her
round so that she faced him.

"Are you in your senses? I want the money, Wenda. Have you lost it? Has
Willie had it?"

"I'm not going to answer any questions." She struggled to escape. "You
gave me the money."

She drew herself free from him. His hands relaxed.

"As a matter of fact I have lost it."

"You can look me in the face and tell me that! It's incredible! Wenda,
who put you up to this?"

Again he had gripped her; and again she wrenched herself free.

"It's none of your damned business! The money was mine and I could do
what I liked with it."

The world was tottering about him. It was unbelievable; and yet, for some
reason, there was in his despair, his fury, is bitter disappointment, one
golden thread of satisfaction. Later this came to him with greater force,
but even in this cataclysmic moment he caught the faint glitter of it.

"Have you lost all sense of right and wrong, Wenda? Give me some line to
get hold of. I'm losing more than money. Tell me something--excuse
yourself. Don't stand there brazen and horrible. I've worshipped you all
these years; you've been the biggest thing in my life. You've been fond
of me, haven't you? It hasn't only been the money, has it? Why, this
morning you practically asked me to take you away! You wanted me to go to
that place in Hereford."

Even as he looked at her, her lips parted in a slow smile.

"The place in Hereford!" Her voice was hard. "I had a narrow escape,
didn't I?"

Now he knew. That was the truth, then--all that Molly had said was true.
Wenda thought he had come into the Anson money and when she found he had
not, she had changed her mind. That was the reason for the sudden volte
face, the amazing and inexplicable change of mind. She made no attempt to
conceal her thoughts; she was frankly unashamed, felt no discomfort at
his discovery of her character.

She had never cared for him; had never even valued his opinion of her,
except that it should be one which might yield her profit.

It was too horrible to be true. He had once read a story about such a
woman, and had tossed the book aside as too fantastic for belief. And
here was the real story, the real woman, the woman who could not be--and
was. Not even unique, so far as he knew, but, if unique, a living
reality, She was not Wenda any more, not the beloved, nor the trusted
friend; just a plain citizen against whom he must ask the law's
protection.

The idea was so monstrous that he could have laughed. Monstrous or not,
it was true. Wenda Panniford was a name which must appear on a printed
statement of claim; a vulgar writ must be issued in the High Courts of
Justice. His mind was working that way when he said:

"I don't know what proof I have that I gave you the money in trust, but
I'm pretty sure I have proof of some kind."

"Surely you're not going to sue me, Garry?" she asked ironically.

"I shall do everything that's possible to get that money."

His voice was shaking; he lacked a few hard qualities essential in a
ruthless creditor.

She threw away the half smoked cigarette and lit another.

"I don't think you'll sue me," she said with a smile.

"Don't you? Then you're going to have a shock."

Her eyes narrowed.

"You'll have a shock yourself if you threaten me."

He swung round on her.

"Good God, Wenda! You're a thief! Don't you understand what you're
doing?"

"You're not so damned honest yourself!" she came back at him. "You were
pulling your horse this morning, only you hadn't the courage to go
through with it!"

Here was a slap in the face that he had not expected; worse because it
was true. He had no answer; he could not even protest that he had changed
his mind to his own confounding.

"I'll ask my lawyers to write to yours tomorrow morning," he said.

He was trying to be businesslike and falling.

"You'll be sorry if you do," she breathed.

"We'll see what you say in court."

It was all very banal and childish, but it was a moment when the best
balanced and sanest of men may be excused their excesses.

"My word is at least as good as yours," said Wenda. "It may be better
than yours."

He realized that he was not quite as sure of himself as he had been and
that the real pain of this interview was the blow to his vanity. He was
hurt beyond anything he had ever imagined. Giving up racing was a wrench;
it was a joke now. Vanity! Nothing more or less. He did not love Wenda,
was relieved to an incalculable degree that he could not now be called
upon to go through with that mad scheme of hers. Vanity--just that.

It was not an idol that had been tottered from its pedestal, but a
pleasant and a flattering mirror that had been taken down.

"I'm sorry you're taking this so badly, Garry. You're not a good loser,
are you?"

"I've never had anything stolen before," he said brutally, and saw a
flush come into her face--it was his first touch.

"You'd better forget that word," she said harshly.

They, had heard the sound of many cars passing along the road outside and
now they heard one that stopped. Then came a tinkle of the door bell. She
gathered up her wrap and moved swiftly to the garden door.

"See who it is," she whispered.

He went out into the hall. Hillcott had gone to bed, and even if he were
awake, he would never dream of coming down, especially as he knew his
master was about. Garry fastened the chain, snapped back the lock of the
door and pulled it open. To his surprise it was John Dory.

"What on earth do you want?"

"I've got a bit of news." John's voice was eager, shaking. He, too, had
been through some phase of exciting discovery. "What do you--what do you
imagine--"

"Wait here, will you? I've got somebody inside," said Garry in a low
voice; and there was no need for his visitor to ask who that somebody
was. "I'll be back in a second."

Garry went wearily to end the interview, but the study was empty; the
open door leading into the garden told him why. Stepping outside, he had
a glimpse of a dim figure melting into the shadows. He came back to the
library, slammed the door and called John.

Mr Dory was not an excitable man; he accepted the most impossible
situations with the greatest equanimity. Nothing rattled him; nothing
visibly pleased him. But now he was in one glow of enthusiasm. He came
bustling into the room.

"I have a great bit of news for you. The most amazing thing has
happened!"

Garry sank wearily into a chair.

"Yes, I know that," he said grimly.

"You've heard about the horse?"

The other looked up.

"The horse?" he said dully. "What horse?"

"The filly--Silver Queen." John's voice was eager. "What's the matter
with you, Garry? Have you lost your senses? The winner of the Ascot
Stakes I'm talking about. Have you heard the news?" And, when Garry shook
his head: "By God, your luck's in!"

Garry Anson smiled wryly.

"Is it?" he asked. "I'm delighted to hear it."

John pulled up a chair; he was brusque and businesslike, and yet there
was in his narrative the dramatic fancy of a romanticist who was building
up his story to a crashing climax.

"The office phoned me through from London tonight. As a matter of fact I
was in bed, and nearly didn't come down. You remember Buselle, the owner
of Silver Queen, the fellow who was shooting in Africa?"

Garry nodded.

"Yes, I remember."

John Dory took a step backward. Here was his drama.

"He died last Thursday--sunstroke."

Garry stared at him.

"Died last Thursday? Well, what's that got to do with me? I'm terribly
sorry, though I didn't know the poor chap."

"Don't you see?" asked John impatiently. "Silver Queen is automatically
disqualified!"

Garry tried hard to grasp what all this meant. Disqualified...and
Buselle was dead, poor chap! What bad luck! He said this aloud.

"Bad luck be damned!" said Dory impatiently. "It makes over twenty
thousand pounds difference to you--twenty-two thousand with the stake."

Garry passed his hand before his eyes.

"Do you mind telling me this all over again?" he asked.

John nodded.

"The nomination of Silver Queen became void on his death. The horse
wasn't qualified to run, and the race goes automatically to Rangemore."

Garry nodded slowly at each sentence. Now it was that Dory became aware
of the change in his friend. His depression, then, was due to some other
cause than loss of money.

"What's the matter?" he asked.

Garry shook his head.

"Has something upset you?"

"Yes, but I don't want to discuss it."

Dory's eyes were fixed on his friend keenly.

"Garry, you've had a smack in the eye from somebody."

"Yes, I think that describes it pretty accurately," said Garry. "I've had
a smack in the eye. Help yourself to a drink, John, and don't ask
questions."

Dory went across to the decanter, poured a little whisky into a glass,
and grew reminiscent.

"I had a facer myself this morning before I came down," he said. "One of
the most unpleasant half hours that has ever disfigured my matrimonial
career."

Garry remembered. There had been a little trouble, "purely domestic'.

"Is it discreet in me to ask what the bother was about?"

"A woman who owes me a lot of money wrote a very unpleasant letter to my
wife about me," said John; "and when I say 'very unpleasant' I am
stretching euphony to its utmost limits."

"Why should she write that way? You must have done her a pretty bad
turn."

John Dory shook his bald head.

"On the contrary, I've done her many good turns. She hates me for quite
another reason--have you ever noticed, when people owe you money, or have
done you a dirty trick, how they loathe you?"

"What?" Garry's startled face came up. "But why?"

"Because of their own meanness," said John. "We don't hate people for
what they are, but for what we are. As a matter of fact, she and I were
quite good friends; before I was married I was rather keen on her. She
sent to my wife a letter I had written to her in these days."

Garry made a face.

"Women do queer things."

"They certainly do," said John.

He brought round two foaming tumblers and handed one to Garry.

"It's a lesson to me--never write letters to people who don't burn them."

He sat down on the sofa and held the glass to the light. Then a thought
struck him.

"By the way, that silly letter you wrote to Lady Panniford--that's burnt,
I suppose?"

Garry said nothing.

"Of course, it's all right with Lady Panniford," said John. "You're a
friend of hers. Suppose you found her out in some mean little trick--I
know you're going to tell me that's impossible, but suppose you did, and
she had a terrible grudge against you for that reason? And suppose she
had a letter, like the fool letter you wrote to her about stopping your
horse..."

"I wonder what she'd do," said Garry, after a long pause.

Dory smiled and raised his glass.

"I've given up wondering," he said. "The ladies--God bless 'em!"

He drank the contents of the glass at a gulp.

Garry did not drink his. Long after John Dory had gone, he sat twiddling
the full glass between his fingers.



13.


HE SLEPT fitfully, was awake enough at dawn. Through the trees he could
see the chimneys of Welbury. What should he do? Pshaw! She would have
burnt it. Wenda had been panic-stricken because she had lost the money.
There was no harm in Wenda. You couldn't imagine her doing anything quite
as beastly as making use of the letter, even supposing it still existed.

The proper thing to do would be to see her and have a talk, make the best
of things...and get back that letter. He winced at this, but he was
wincing at his own cowardice. Why should he compromise with somebody who
had been so incredibly base? Of course he had no intention of suing her.
The matter must end where it was; there must even be a semblance of
friendship between them. He could not betray Wenda; still less could he
betray his own folly.

By an odd coincidence, Fenton, his lawyer, came down that morning. Garry
had been negotiating for the purchase of a nine-acre meadow adjoining his
own property. He had planned a little farm and had already paid a
respectable sum by way of earnest money.

Fenton arrived just before breakfast, a bright man perennially young, who
kept up a running, staccato fire of comments on all phases of human
activity. He was a lover of racing, invariably spent one day at Ascot and
had only two regrets in life; one that he had never smoked, the second
that he was no longer allowed to drink champagne.

They strolled together in the garden whilst Hillcott was laying
breakfast.

"I've been going into the question of this property you're buying," he
said. "A man I know very well says that in wet weather--"

"I'm not completing the purchase," said Garry. "I suppose there's no
chance of getting the deposit money back?"

"Not an earthly," said Fenton. "You can regard that money as well and
truly done in. I think you're wise not to buy the land. What made you
change your mind?"

Garry hesitated.

"I had a bad day yesterday."

"The devil you did! Not really bad?"

Garry nodded.

"Any man who has more than two pounds each way--" began Fenton.

"Oh, shut up!" said Garry. "If you start moralizing before breakfast I
shall be ill."

Fenton glanced towards Welbury.

"I saw the baronet in town last night, so well and truly pickled that he
might have been a mere esquire. How's the beautiful lady?"

Garry remembered that Fenton had never liked Wenda. It was curious how
men of the Fenton and Dory mentality had always shied at this entrancing
woman.

"We're not particularly good friends at the moment."

"Lovers' tiff, eh?"

Fenton was a worldling. Nothing shocked him. He thought the worst of most
people and was generally right. Platonic friendships moved him to
derisive amusement. He had no faith in the philosophy of Plato,
remembering that the philosopher was not without his own little affairs.

Then Garry began to talk about his future and, realizing for the first
time how badly hit he was, Fenton became serious. The strip of lawn they
paced was the one section of Garry's demesne that Wenda could see from
her bedroom window. She had been sitting at the open casement when they
came into view. She recognized Fenton immediately, and stiffened. Garry
had lost no time, then. She was panic-stricken for a moment. Garry must
have proof--he said he had and she did not doubt his word. She had
written to him, and must at some time or other have mentioned the money
he had placed in her care.

He might recover the money; that was very important to her. But more so
was the possibility that the case would go into court, and that she would
stand revealed to hundreds of thousands whose opinion meant nothing to
her, yet from whose tacit approval she drew the very reason for her
existence.

Fenton she knew and disliked as she disliked most of Garry's friends. If
she had stopped to think she would have remembered that Fenton always
came down to Ascot for the second day's racing; and she knew, too, about
the contemplated purchase of the meadow; but she could not take
reasonable views at this moment. All she saw was Garry in the witness
box, testifying against her; the flaming headlines in the evening
newspapers. She could have repaid a portion of the money; some of it was
irretrievably lost. For one wild moment she thought of, going over to him
and throwing herself upon his mercy...But it would be a lot of money
to surrender. Fifteen thousand pounds remained of the twenty, and the
thought of losing it was like a knife stab.

Molly knocked at her door and came in.

"I'm going over to see Garry," she said.

"I think Fenton's with him," said Wenda, steadying her voice.

Molly nodded.

"Yes, I saw him from my window. That's one of the reasons I'm going over.
He's such a jolly little man. Are you coming?"

Wenda shook her head.

"I don't want to see Garry. He was abominably rude to me last night."

Molly opened her eyes wide.

"Last night? Did you see him last night?"

"Yes I did," defiantly. "He asked to see me. He--he wanted to borrow
money."

Molly Panniford's brows met.

"Wanted to barrow money from you? But how stupid, Wenda! He knows you
have no money--and why should he want to borrow it?"

"Because he's broke," said Wenda viciously.

She wanted to hurt the girl, and had the secret satisfaction of knowing
that she had succeeded.

"Broke?" said Molly quickly, "Do you mean to say that he lost so much
money yesterday--oh, no, Wenda, that's impossible. And why should he
borrow money from you? He knows jolly well you haven't any. Why, he's
been helping you!"

"Nonsense!" said Wenda loudly. "Helping me? If that's he impression he's
been giving you..."

And then, as Molly was leaving the room:

"Darling, will you do something for me? I don't often ask you, do I?"

"What is it?" asked Molly.

"Don't go over to Garry's this morning. It will make it rather difficult
for me."

"Stuff!" said Molly unromantically, and was gone.

Afterwards Wenda was glad the girl had disregarded her wish. At least she
would learn what was happening at Daneham. Perhaps Garry would tell
her--no, he wouldn't do hat. Garry would be foolishly loyal, even to his
shattered ideals.

After Molly had gone she went down into the garden, crossed the lawn and
passed into the shade of the orchard. Beyond this lay Garry's grounds,
separated from Welbury only by a shallow dip. As she stood she saw the
two men approaching, and drew back behind the trees. It was one of those
quiet, windless mornings that precede a day of rain, when every sound
seems amplified.

Garry and the lawyer were pacing slowly side by side along the narrow
gravelled path which fringed his lawn. For a little while they were
silent, and then, just as they came abreast of her, she heard Fenton say:

"I doubt if we can get the money back, but at any rate I'll have a good
shot at it...I suppose you have correspondence of some sort..."

Wenda breathed heavily and again she was in a panic. If Garry had
consulted his lawyer there was no sense in trying to resume the old
relationship. She knew him, easy-going and simple--up to a point. In some
respects he was ruthless.

She remembered a feud he had had with a man who had once been his friend.
There was just that touch of hardness about Garry which terrified her
sometimes--she was terrified now.

She went straight back to the house, up to her room and locked the door.
She waited for Molly to return. A quarter of an hour, half an hour passed
and then, acting on an impulse, she unlocked the safe and took out a
letter and a banknote. She must rub that message off the back of the
note, she decided. In the meantime...

She stood, undecided, by her writing-table; and then, suddenly, she
almost tore a sheet of paper from the rack, wrote a brief note and
stuffed that and the letter inside an envelope. She relocked the safe,
went downstairs, and found the gardener. She was trembling violently,
found it difficult to articulate. The man, looking at her curiously,
wondered first if she was ill, then decided she had been drinking. He had
definite views about the drinking habits of the upper classes.

She gave him instructions which dumbfounded and bewildered him. He had
the simple minded confidence about exalted people who lived behind gates
and doors and were protected from approach by uniformed custodians. She
dismissed him at last and he was gone before she realized the full
measure of her perfidy. Not that she regarded the treason of it; it was
the inevitability which gave her a shock. There were no telephones or
places of call at which the man could be stopped and the note retrieved.

She hated Garry--really hated him. She had never realized that before.
All these years she had despised him but had liked him, and now she hated
him. Why? She was afraid of him--afraid of the revelation he could make,
the ignominy which would be hers; but more particularly there was this
concrete consideration--fifteen thousand pounds, a fortune for anybody
who has never owned fifteen thousand pounds.

She searched her desk in the drawing-room for a piece of india-rubber and
went up to the bedroom, locked the door, and again took out the note. But
the words defied erasure.

She was thunderstruck, angry again. The harder she rubbed the more the
writing smudged. There was the rather dreadful alternative of putting it
by indefinitely or burning it. Safer to burn it, said caution--a piece of
sane advice which she instantly rejected. Destroy a hundred pounds with a
match? The idea revolted her.

She threw the rubber down, locked away the banknote and came out of her
room face to face with Molly ascending the stairs.

"Hullo!"

Molly was quite offhanded. There was nothing in he manner of tone that
even suggested that Garry had confide the story of their quarrel.

"I didn't see Garry for more than a minute. He's got Fenton there."

"Is Garry having a lawsuit?"

"I don't know."

Wenda's voice was cold.

"Are you coming to the races?" asked Molly and Wenda started. Ascot was
finished as far as she was concerned; but she had made no other plans for
the day. Willie would meet her at their box.

"Yes; I'll change." She spoke awkwardly.

"Why change? There are hours yet. Are you going over to see Garry this
morning?"

"No."

Molly looked at her oddly.

"Have you had a row?"

"Don't be stupid. Where is Henry?"

"Feeding the chickens," said Molly flippantly. "I don't know. I met him
down the road. He asked me if there wasn't a Saxon church somewhere in
the neighbourhood. What is a Saxon church? I didn't know Henry was
religious."

"Where is he now?"

Suddenly Wenda was boiling with impatience.

"I don't know...I suppose he meant a pre-Norman church. Isn't there
one somewhere on the road to Windsor?"

Wenda brushed past her down the stairs and went out into the garden,
shading her eyes from the white glare of the sun.

Big clouds were rolling up from the west; there was promise of an
unpleasant morning, and possibly a soaking day. Henry she saw at last
ambling through the orchard, and called him to her.

"We're going to the races, Henry. You haven't forgotten?"

"Of course I haven't forgotten," he said, a little dumbfounded. "I say,
must we go into Anson's box?"

"You don't like him?"

He shook his head.

"Not terribly. There's something unpleasant about that fellow, and he's a
Socialist--ugh! I mean, it's odd, isn't it, making a friend of a
bookmaker, for example?"

"I don't want to see Garry today. I've had a little trouble with him and
he's been offensive to say the least. The Willmotts aren't coming, and
they've offered me their box. We'll go there--it's the other end of the
tier."

Henry sighed his relief.

"Nothing will please me better," he said.. "To tell you the truth. Wenda,
I was rather dreading today. It's good fun, Ascot...I mean, one meets a
lot of people...I mean, the racing's a bit of a bore...I mean..."

What he meant she could guess.

Molly accepted the new arrangement with equanimity. Something had
happened, something especially vital. She had the curiosity which is
human and which is peculiar to neither sex, but wedded to this was a
certain blind faith in the omniscience of Garry.

It was not unusual to drive straight to the course without calling at
Daneham Lodge, except on the first day of Ascot. There was little
association between the two houses. What there was had, in the past few
years, been a little strained, due mainly to Willie's growing hostility.

Garry Anson's first intention had been to give racing a miss, to draw a
line there and then under his turf adventures; but the day had opened
fortunately. Fenton, his lawyer, had got into touch with the owner of the
land on which Garry had paid a large deposit and that gentleman was only
too willing to return the money. He had had a better offer.

"Money for jam," said Garry gaily.

His lawyer sniffed.

"And for the bookmakers?"

"They must live," said Garry.

He rang up John and told him to meet him in his box, and drove over to
the course. It was Hunt Cup day, the roads were thick with traffic, and
he progressed at snail's pace. It was annoying for him and immensely
embarrassing for Wenda that their cars moved for a hundred yards almost
side by side, slowly overtaking and passing one another, only in turn to
be passed. This incident amused Molly; it infuriated Mr Lascarne. He
regarded the whole thing as a plot on the part of Garry to annoy him, and
he was relieved when they reached the open road and the tormentor
disappeared.

Garry's intention was not to bet. But on this day of all days he needed
something to hide up ugly memories and to drive away all thoughts of that
poisonous interview of the night before. He met a man in the paddock, an
officer in his old regiment and a brother owner.

"You ought to back mine in the first, Garry. He's never been so well as
he is today."

Ordinarily Garry would have wagered a tenner; today he was in a queerly
exhilarated mood which refused to be analysed. He told himself it was
because he was done with a desperate business, because Silver Queen had
been disqualified; told himself everything except the truth, which was
that the road was clear for Molly. Steadfastly he refused to face the
possibility that Molly might have views of her own that did not run with
his...

He went across the crowded Royal Enclosure to the rails and took fifteen
hundred pounds to three hundred about his friend's horse. A ludicrous
bet, as John told him across the rails a few minutes later.

"I could have got you ten to one."

"Get it to two hundred," said Garry.

John realized it was no moment for argument. He carried out the
commission and had the satisfaction of seeing the horse Garry had backed
win cleverly.

They lunched together, he and John Dory, in his room behind the boxes.

"We're not exactly a festive party, but I don't suppose you mind that."

They dawdled through the lunch, talking of horses and men, of Garry's
future plans, and the possibilities of the horses engaged in the Hunt
Cup. When they parted Garry strolled back to the paddock. He was standing
by the ring watching the Hunt Cup horses being led round, when somebody
touched his shoulder. He turned; it was an attendant.

"Would you come to the weighing-room, sir?"

Garry was puzzled. He had no horse running. Wray had gone home that
morning to Wiltshire.

He followed the man to the one-storeyed building which housed the
officials of the track, and found one of the secretaries waiting for him.

"Oh, Captain Anson"--his voice was a little constrained--"the stewards
would like to see you."

Garry frowned.

"The stewards? What on earth do they want to see me about?"

Then it occurred to him that some question might have arisen over the
disqualification of Silver Queen. He followed the secretary into the
room, where three men were standing. He recognized them as the stewards
of the meeting.

"Sit down, Captain Anson. Close the door, Willoughby."

They seated themselves at a table at one end of the room.

"Rather a serious complaint has been made," said one. "It is to the
effect that your horse Rangemore was not trying in the Ascot Stakes."

Garry stared at them.

"Not trying?" he said incredulously. "You saw the race!"

The senior steward nodded.

"Oh, yes, we saw the race. The point is this, Captain Anson: when you
came to the course yesterday morning was it your intention to win with
Rangemore, or had you some other plan?"

Garry was momentarily staggered.

"I don't quite understand what you mean--" he began.

"Let me put the matter plainly. A complaint has reached us, supported by
evidence which is beyond question, that you told your friends yesterday
morning that your horse was not trying--in fact, you wrote a letter to
that effect."

"To Lady Panniford?" said Garry quickly.

He saw the stewards look at one another.

"Was that the lady's name?"

"There was no signature. After racing today we will hold an inquiry. Is
your trainer here?"

Garry shook his head.

"In that case we'd better have the inquiry tomorrow morning," said the
second of the stewards.

A day of bewilderment followed, a night of futile discussion. John came
over and was told everything.

"She must have sent the letter to the stewards. It seems incredible, but
it's the only explanation. She sent it anonymously."

"Why not ask her?" suggested John.

Garry took up the phone and called Wellbury. He was told that Lady
Panniford had gone to town and had gone with her.

"She couldn't possibly have done it. It's too ridiculous." said Garry,
for the twentieth time. "Wenda's a--well, she's not that kind of a
person."

"It was the letter you wrote?" said John thoughtfully, and whistled. "I
was always afraid of that."

"Afraid!" scoffed Garry. "How could you be afraid? Could any man in his
senses imagine that a woman would do such a thing? Anyway, it'll be easy,
though a little embarrassing, to explain. We backed the horse."

John Dory wriggled uncomfortably in his chair.

"That's the devil of it," he said. "We can't prove we backed the horse.
None of those bets is on record and the books can't be altered, even if
we could get them altered. I hope the stewards will not be sufficiently
intelligent to go into that side of the question. The point is, what made
her do it?"

"Wenda?" Garry shrugged his shoulders. "I've come to the conclusion that
I do not understand women, and Wenda least of all. Anyway, she wouldn't
have sent it--there must be another explanation."

It was twelve o'clock, an hour and a half before racing started, that the
inquiry opened and, like all inquiries of the kind, was conducted
expeditiously. Wray gave evidence; the jockey told his vague story--but
the chief witness did not appear.

The evidence was so scrappy and unconvincing that Garry had no doubt in
his mind that the charge would be disposed of then and there. To his
amazement and consternation he was called into the stewards' room after
the last piece of evidence had been given and was met with grave faces.

"This is a very serious charge, and we do not feel competent to deal with
it summarily," said the senior steward. "We are referring the whole
matter to the Stewards of the Jockey Club, for their action."

Garry went out of the room with a sinking heart. The Stewards of the
Jockey Club were the final turf tribunal; and somehow he had a feeling
that, by the time they heard the case, the evidence would be straightened
out and would weigh heavily against him.



14.


DAYS PASSED, a week, before the fateful summons came. Wenda he could not
reach; she was staying with some friends in the country. He had a wild
idea of taking Molly into his confidence; but why should he burden her
with his troubles?

The next issue of The Racing Calendar contained the ominous item:

'The Stewards of Ascot inquired into the running of Rangemore and, not
being satisfied with Captain Garry Anson's explanation, reported him to
the Stewards of the Jockey Club.'

The announcement was taken over into the evening newspapers, deserved in
one a scare headline.

Molly must know now. He braced himself for her shock, and might have
spared his nerves. Molly had been called away to Italy. She had an old
governess, living in Florence, who had been taken ill, and Molly was
flying off on the Rome express, ignorant of this development.

He was relieved more than he would have imagined when he learned this.

John Dory came over, incoherent with dismay.

"You never told me, Garry, that things were going this, way. I understood
from you that the stewards were satisfied with your explanation."

Garry shook his head.

"Apparently they weren't. There's the answer." He pointed to the
paragraph in the newspaper.

"It's horrible," said John, pacing up and down the room tragically.

"Anyway, you should have been prepared for this. I told you--" began
Garry.

"I know I know," said the other impatiently; "but thought you were in one
of your gloomy moods. I don't what they can do, what proof they can
have--"

"The proof is my letter to Wenda. It wouldn't be sufficient in a court of
law, but it might very easily convince the stewards. It's pretty bad,
because somebody has been making a fuss about the stewards only dropping
on little owners and little trainers."

"Where's the meeting to be held?"

Garry shrugged his shoulders.

"Does the place of execution matter?" he asked. "At Newmarket, I suppose.
The stewards only sit at Newmarket and London, except that they sit at
York and Doncaster during the race meetings--are you interested in the
geography of the situation?" he asked, a little irritably.

John Dory did not answer. Then:

"What does Molly say about it?"

"She has said nothing about it because I gather she hasn't heard--she had
to go off to Italy; an old nurse or governess or something is dying."

"The whole thing is diabolical!" exploded John. "In the first place it's
a lie that you weren't trying--"

"It is and it isn't," said Garry quietly. "You know the line, 'A lie that
is half the truth is ever the blackest of lies.' Unfortunately it is a
fact that I had no intention of letting Rangemore go for the Ascot
Stakes. It is a fact that I intended keeping him for the Northumberland
Plate. That's the A B and C of it. If I were wholly innocent or wholly
guilty, it wouldn't be so difficult; but I'm guilty in intent--I shall
tell the stewards the truth."

"About Rangemore and your not trying?" asked John incredulously.

Garry nodded.

"I've had enough of lies and half lies. I'll tell them exactly what
happened."

Dory went to the sideboard, poured himself out a stiff whisky and soda
and held it up to the light.

"Why did she do it?"

"Wenda?" Garry shrugged again. "Who shall fathom the heart of a woman?"

"You had a row with her, I suppose? In fact, I know you did. Just pique,
eh? It was a pretty big thing to do for spite wasn't it? I don't
understand it."

"Then don't come to me for an explanation," said Garry.

"She'll give evidence, of course," said John thoughtfully. "She'll have
to. They'd hardly convict you on that letter. What about the second one
you wrote, on the back of the hundred-pound note?"

"That's my only hope," said Garry. "I have notified the Bank of England
and they're keeping a look out for it. Unhappily I don't know the number.
There's only one thing John, I want to ask you: if Molly comes back
before this case is on, or even after it is heard, I don't want her to
know that Wenda was responsible."

"Why on earth not?" asked the astonished Dory.

"I just don't wish her to know, that's all," said Garry shortly.

It was not solicitude for Wenda's fine feelings which urged him to this
decision. It was the thought of the conclusions that Molly might draw
from this drastic act of vengeance on Lady Panniford's part that
terrified him. Would Molly believe that his relationship with her
sister-in-law had been innocent? Or would she think, as she was entitled
to think, that only some colossal act of injustice on his part could have
brought about her denunciation?

To the outside world it would seem like the act of a slighted woman, a
woman who had loved too well and who had been brutally affronted by the
man for whom she had made the greatest sacrifices.

And yet there was some consideration for Wenda that prevented him telling
the truth about the money, either to Molly or to John Dory. A man will
more readily admit that he has been wicked than that he has been a fool;
and of his own folly Garry had constant reminders. The tragedy of it all
was that there had been no need for him to ask her for the bonds she held
in trust. He had won heavily an the second day of Ascot and, most
unexpectedly, he had learned that the old general had left him a
substantial sum. A codicil of the old man's will had been overlooked and
had been found amongst his papers. It did not materially affect his
fortunate cousin who had inherited the bulk of the property, since the
legacy took the shape of shares held by a New York bank, of which the
executors had been ignorant until the paper had been found.

He was a fairly rich man, could continue his racing if he wished; and
although the loss of twenty thousand pounds was no flea-bite, it was not
one which would have crippled him financially. And here, with money to
his hand, with all the essentials to the fulfilment of what had once been
a vague but was now a definite dream, the flaming sword of fate barred
him from the paradise he had created in his imagination.

Two or three days later he received a letter from the Secretary to the
Jockey Club, telling him that the inquiry postponed owing to the absence
of an important witness. It was the first intimation he that Wenda had
gone abroad.

She went in something of terror. She had been stampeded by the demand of
the stewards that she should appear before them and support the letter.
She had never dreamed that would be necessary, or even that she would be
identified as the sender of this damning note. It was only then she
realized that she had sent the letter under cover which bore her stamped
address! It was a stupid, unpardonable mistake to make. She was furious
with herself, but the mischief was done. She answered the polite request
of the stewards to appear before them with a hurried note, saying that
she had been called abroad, and left for Paris.

She reached Florence the day Molly had planned to return, persuaded her
to remain at their little villa and was careful to censor all the English
newspapers which came to the house. She hoped that in her absence this
matter of Rangemore would be settled, and was disagreeably surprised to
receive another request unerringly addressed.

"What are these people writing to you about, Wenda?"

Molly picked up an envelope incautiously left on the table.

"Oh," said Wenda, embarrassed, "about my box at Ascot. I forgot to pay
for it before I came away."

"Stuff! You didn't have a box," said Molly scornfully. "And anyway, you
have to pay cash on the nail for it. Garry told me."

Molly was incurious and not at all suspicious. She knew Wenda and her
furtive ways and her peculiar habit of lying when lying saved the trouble
of explanation. Not for a second did she associate Garry with these
communications, which now came at regular intervals. Her own theory was
that Wenda who, she knew, was a notorious bilker of bookmakers, into
serious trouble with one of them and had been reported to the Club. If
that was so, there was no reason to wonder why her sister-in-law was up
early enough to sort the letters before Molly had a chance of seeing
them.

Henry came out to them in August, complaining of the heat and the
mosquitoes. Apparently his duties in Whitehall were not very onerous and
he had a lot of time to himself. He and Wenda used to go up to
Montecattini to drink the waters and Molly had a lot of time to herself;
time she occupied in writing letters to Garry.

'...Tell me if you've won any more races. Wenda is so terribly brusque
when I discuss you that I gather your little feud continues. What is it
all about? Why don't you come out here for a week or two? It is painfully
hot and dull, but there's a lovely swimming pool in the gardens. Wenda is
going to Rome for a few days and you needn't meet her. There's a most
excellent hotel less than a kilometre from here...Henry adds to even
the dullness. He spoke for half an hour without stopping on the iniquity
of prohibiting the sale of plovers' eggs. Apparently, since they have
been absent from the restaurant he has eaten nothing...Willie threatens
to arrive at any moment, but I doubt if he's got past Paris. There's a
lot that's very nice about Willie, but it takes a lot of discovering!...'

Garry wrote a long letter in reply, but made no mention of the cloud that
was hanging over him. The inquiry had been postponed again and again;
there was some talk of dropping it and the matter might have been
shelved, only a small owner was hauled up before the stewards for a
similar offence--a man named Woburn, who had been caught, so to speak,
red-handed. It was a particularly flagrant case, the charge in some
respects resembling that which was hanging over Garry. The man was warned
off and the question of shelving the Rangemore case was now beyond
possibility.

On one point the Jockey Club is especially sensitive, and that is the
suggestion of favouritism in meting out punishment to small people and
overlooking the delinquencies of the great. There was never any hope that
the case would escape examination. An unusual note appeared in The Racing
Calendar.

'Owing to the difficulty in securing the support for documentary evidence
in the case referred to the Stewards of the Jockey Club by the Stewards
of Ascot, the hearing is postponed until a later date.'

Garry had sold several of his horses and had sent Rangemore to the stud.
He was debarred from attending race meetings, but he had no desire either
for the sympathy of his friends or for the curious glances of the outside
racing public.

It was late in August that he heard Wenda was on her way home. He
received a notification from the Club's secretaries, informing him that
the case would be heard on the first day of the Doncaster Autumn Meeting
and that his presence was required at twelve o'clock noon at that venue.



15.


IT WAS a chilly September morning. Garry's car came leisurely along the
Great North Road, crept round the edge of the racecourse and pulled up
before the entrance to the stands. He had timed his arrival accurately;
it was a quarter to twelve when he reported himself to the secretary of
the Club.

Early as he had been, somebody had arrived before him. In spite of the
hasty closing of a door, he caught a glimpse of a woman in the
secretary's office.

"Lady Panniford has arrived, I see."

"Yes, she came back yesterday morning. It's rather a trying time for you,
Captain Anson."

Garry nodded.

"A little trying," he admitted. And then, suddenly: "Is Lady Panniford
alone?"

"Yes," said the secretary, in surprise.

Garry hesitated.

"I was wondering if she had brought her--her sister-in-law. I shouldn't
think she would, though."

The other man shook his head.

"No, I met her at the station. She came alone."

If it was an unpleasant experience for Garry it was no more cheerful for
the stewards. Lord Forlingham, the junior steward, came into the chilly
room where the inquiry was to be held, warmed his hands at the fire,
glanced up at his secretary, who was arranging his papers and could think
of nothing more illuminating to say than that it was very, cold, to which
there was a polite agreement.

"It's a long way from Ascot. Good heavens, it doesn't seem as if it
happened in the same year," said Forlingham.

He was a thin, spare man, with a deep, sepulchral voice; prim, staid,
old-fashioned and a pillar of the church, he had stringent views on the
morality of the time, to which he was never tired of giving expression.

Lord Forlingham lived in a little castle of his own, a righteous area in
a desert of iniquity. He had certain definite views which never varied.
He believed that people who made wars should fight them, that strikers
should be shot, that all women were like his mother, which happily they
weren't, that cars were an abomination and telephones the invention of
the devil.

The senior steward, who joined him, was a worldling who found the world
rather amusing. Sir John Garth believed the best of everybody, without
having any foolish illusions. A man of the world to his fingertips, he
had figured in many discreet affaires and in consequence was
extraordinarily human,

The third of the stewards, a tall, clean-shaven man, shared his humanity
but not his patience. Lord Innsbrook had been intended for the Bar, in
which profession he would have shone, but the war had taken him to his
natural profession. A clean, shrewd man impatient of subterfuge, he and
Garth were the type that Garry would have chosen if he had had to pick
the rulers of the turf.

"I was saying it's a long way from Ascot," said Lord Forlingham, who
seldom said an original thing, and said most things twice, "Good
heavens, it seems like last year."

Garth nodded, hung up his hat, walked to the table, turned over some
papers and looked over the half curtained window at the gathering crowd
in the paddock outside.

"Why has this case been held over?" asked Lord Forlingham.

Sir John shook his head sadly.

"My dear chap, this matter has been referred to at least three times in
the past two months," he said, with some asperity. "The case was held
over because the principal witness was in Italy and showed no urgent
intention of returning."

Forlingham fingered his thin chin.

"You can't expect a lady--" he began.

"You can expect anything of a lady except punctuality," said Garth.

Lord Forlingham pondered this.

"The original communication we received was anonymous, wasn't it?" he
asked.

Garth smiled. He had answered the question identically worded, some half
a dozen times.

"Yes, it was anonymous," he said.--"She didn't put her name to the
covering letter, but we traced it easily enough. Very foolishly, if she
intended to remain anonymous, she had written on her own notepaper. She
was very sick about it when we insisted she must come and give evidence,
and we had a devil of a lot of trouble to get her across. After the
Woburn case we had to go into this thoroughly. She's back now, is she?"

"She's in my office," said Mr Rainby, the secretary, looking up from his
papers.

"Good," said Garth, relieved. "I wondered if she'd turn up. If she hadn't
we should have had to drop the case altogether; there'd have been a great
newspaper hullaballoo, but I don't see what else we could have done."

Forlingham pursed his lips.

"I should have thought the letter would have been sufficient," he said,
though he might have known that it was much too important a case to
decide on a letter.

"A beastly business," said Innsbrook, with some disgust. "There's a lot
behind it we don't know anything about. I can't quite see Lady
Panniford's object."

Garth, with his odd knowledge of men and women, smiled largely.

"I'll bet it's something outside of racing," he said. "There's a little
bit of the needle in it."

Lord Forlingham frowned.

"A little bit of the--" He paused expectantly.

"Needle," said Innsbrook brusquely. "He doesn't understand the vulgar
tongue. He means spite, old man."

Forlingham's mouth opened. He scented a scandal.

"Oh, has she been his...I mean, have they been..."

Garth patted him on the back.

"Keep the party wholesome, old boy," he said. "This is a meeting of the
stewards, not the judges of the Divorce Court. She used to be a great pal
of Garry's." He addressed Innsbrook. "What a stupid fool that fellow has
been!"

"You can't get over the letter," said Forlingham.

He held on to this point of the letter; it was the one aspect of the case
which he perfectly understood.

"I knew Anson's father very well," said Innsbrook.

"So did I," interrupted Forlingham. "Capital man to hounds. Garry has
always been as straight as a die."

Garth stared gloomily out of the window.

"It's very unpleasant."

Forlingham murmured something about the letter, and the senior steward
drew back a chair and sat down.

"You've got the letter, by the way?"

Rainby sorted the telltale note from his correspondence and passed it
over. Garth read it again and swore softly under his breath.

"Well, let's make a start. There's only an hour before racing," he said.

The secretary pressed a bell.

"I suppose we shall have to see Lady Panniford?" protested Forlingham,
but the senior steward frowned at him as the attendant came in.

"Ask Captain Anson to step inside, please," he said, and, when the man
had gone: "Certainly. Lady Panniford is the one person we have to see."

They were doing an unpleasant job and Innsbrook voiced the opinion of the
stewards when he said:

"This sort of thing makes a bad impression on the public. A man as
well-known as Anson. I honestly can't understand it."

Garth, who had long since given up trying to understand why people did
odd things, made an expressive gesture. He had been too long in the
racing game to be surprised at anything, though he would have admitted
that the thought of Garry Anson being crooked had never occurred to him.

"How well off is he?" he asked.

Innsbrook made a face.

"I don't know. You never know how rich people are nowadays, what with
taxation and death duties and heaven knows what. His mother left him a
lot of money, I think his father was fairly well off and he's the only
child. But do people do crooked things because they want the money, or
because they want the fun of catching the other chap out--the other chap
being the bookmaker?"

Garry came in, outwardly calm, inwardly quaking. Garth motioned him to a
chair. His smile gave Garry some encouragement; his attitude was
friendly, almost paternal. But Garry Anson knew his class too well to be
deceived. These men would be polite till the last dread moment, as judges
are polite to prisoners whom they will eventually, consign to death.

Sir John Garth sorted out the various statements before him. One of them
was Garry's. He fixed a pair of pince-nez on his nose, and looked across
them at the waiting young man.

"Now you know why we've called you here?" he said, in a businesslike
tone. "It is a matter that has been reported to us by the Stewards of
Ascot and it concerns the running of Rangemore in the Ascot Stakes--the
race which you eventually won on the disqualification of Silver Queen."

Garry nodded.

"The Stewards of Ascot," Garth went on, "received a complaint on the day
after the Ascot Stakes that your horse wasn't trying, and that was
supported by a letter which you had written, or which it was stated you
had written. I will give you an opportunity of seeing it; possibly you
may wish to deny its authenticity, though I don't notice, from the report
of the Ascot Stewards, that you made any such denial when you were before
them. You know, of course, that there is such a charge?"

Garry nodded again.

"Yes, I knew that," he said. "When the case was before the Stewards of
Ascot, they were a little vague as to who the writer of the letter was.
The witness was not named."

Garth looked at him steadily.

"You don't know who it is?"

Garry hesitated, and was silent.

"You didn't tell anybody you were not trying with your horse?" asked the
senior steward.

"One would hardly do a stupid thing like that if one weren't trying,"
said Garry.

Nobody recognized sooner than Garry how feeble was his evasion. But he
was desperately anxious, more anxious than the unconscious Lord
Forlingham, to keep Wenda's name out of the case unless the matter was
absolutely forced upon him by a direct accusation. Even now, at the
eleventh hour, he hoped that the stewards might accept his explanation,
and that the necessity of calling Wenda might be avoided.

"Now listen to me, Captain Anson," said Sir John quietly. "I have the
letter here, written in your own handwriting on your own paper. It is
addressed to a lady. I don't propose to call that lady unless it is
absolutely necessary--one wants to keep women's names out of these things
if one can."

"Yes," said Garry. His anger was rising. "The lady hasn't kept my name
out of it, I gather."

Lord Forlingham, staring at the ceiling with his hands clasped on the
table before him, moved a little uncomfortably.

"I'll read the letter," Garth went on, and took up the paper.

"Darling, I have cancelled your bet. My horse isn't trying. Love, Garry.
PS--Please burn this note unless you want to get me warned off."

Garry inclined his head.

"Well, what exactly does that mean?" asked Innsbrook.

The young man rose from his chair and came slowly towards the table where
the three stewards were sitting.

"I don't know how far frankness is going to help me," he began
hesitantly. "I don't even want to tell a lie, even a minor lie, if there
is such a thing."

"Frankness will help you a let," said Garth, "the right kind of
frankness. You're not sworn, you know. We don't even put you on your
honour. Well?"

Garry licked his dry lips.

"I wrote that letter. It was a mad sort of thing to write. I wrote it to
a lady who was a dear friend of mine--how shall I put it? I don't quite
know. She was one in whom I had absolute and complete trust."

Garth said nothing for a while, and then:

"What did it mean, that letter? What exactly did you mean when you wrote
it?" he asked.

"Well I meant all I said at the time." Garry found himself getting
breathless. "I'm not going to tell you it was a joke, even a joke in bad
taste. I told her it was, but it wasn't. Honestly, I meant to stop
Rangemore in the Ascot Stakes, and win the Northumberland Plate with him.
As far as my original intentions were concerned I'm guilty. I'm being
perfectly honest with you."

"Well, we appreciate that, Anson," said Garth. "We are not here to
consider your intentions, good or bad, except in so far as they relate to
the act. If we had to go into the question of intentions in racing we
should have our time pretty well occupied. It's not what a man intended
doing, it's what he does on a racecourse that counts."

"Did you change your mind about stopping the horse?" asked Innsbrook.

Garry nodded.

"What made you change your mind?"

"The advice of a great friend of mine." said Garry. "He knew what I was
going to do. When he heard, he was horrified."

"When was this?" asked Forlingham.

"Round about breakfast time on the Tuesday, that is to say the first day
of Ascot," said Garry.

"What procedure did you follow?" asked Garth. "Did you tell your jockey
to stop the horse, or your trainer--"

"No," said Garry quickly.

"On your honour?" asked Forlingham.

Innsbrook turned impatiently to his friend.

"He's not on his honour. I don't think that's a matter we need pursue. If
Captain Anson had told his jockey or trainer to stop the horse, I should
be very much surprised if he incriminated his servants now."

Garth jotted down a note on the pad before him.

"When you changed your mind and decided to run the horse," he said
without looking up, "what did you do to correct the impression you had
given to the lady? You had already told her you weren't trying. You
wouldn't let her go to the races under the impression that she couldn't
back your horse?"

Garry realized that vaguely, in some indefinite way, the senior steward
was trying to provide him with an excuse, with an alibi, with some
channel by which he could retract the more serious charge he had brought
against himself.

"I sent her a message," he said, "a few lines I scribbled on the back of
a hundred-pound note."

Garth stared at him.

"I owed the lady this money; I won it for her at Newbury."

"Why not on a piece of writing paper?" asked Forlingham.

He was the type of man who asked obvious questions, but was none the less
dangerous for that.

"For some reason or other there wasn't any writing paper on my desk that
morning," said Garry; "and even if there had been I should probably have
done the same thing. It was a sort of"--he shrugged--"whimsical impulse,
I suppose you'd call it. It's not the first unusual thing I've done in my
life."

"Did you take or do you know the number of the note?" Garth asked
quickly.

Garry shook his head.

"No, it was paid to me by a bookmaker at Newbury. When I'm betting for my
friends I always bet in ready money."

There was a whispered consultation between the stewards, Garry looked
round the bare room, studied the portrait of the great sportsman above
the fireplace, then his eyes rose along the polished surface of the long
table, striving in a hundred ways to bring his mind to a normal level. He
had never realized how trying this ordeal would be. The hand he brought
up to his mouth shook.

"Well, what did you write on this note?" asked Garth after the conference
had finished.

Garry drew a long breath.

"I said, as far as I can remember, that she wasn't to take any notice of
my previous letter, that she was to back Rangemore. I thought it was
going to win."

Sir John Garth pursed his lips.

"Of course, that would put a different complexion on story."

He did not add 'if it were true' nor, to do him justice, did he mean
that.

"Have we got anything about the second note?" asked Innsbrook.

The secretary shook his head.

"Nothing."

"Oh yes there is," said Garth quickly. "There is a reference to it in the
statement by John Dory."

Rainby, with an apology, searched his papers and produced a foolscap
sheet, which he passed across to the senior steward.

"I'm very sorry. Of course there is." He pointed out the passage, which
Garth read carefully.

"You realize," asked Innsbrook, "this means that we shall have to bring
the lady before us?"

"I'm afraid you must," said Garry curtly.

He walked back to the chair and sat down. There glowed within him a
sudden intense anger directed towards Wenda. For no especial reason the
realization of her perfidy, her sheer wickedness, had come to him. Wenda,
for whom he had done so much, on whom he had spent so much, this trusted
friend of his, had robbed him and now, to cover up her treachery, would
ruin him. And yet, behind his resentment was that odd feeling of relief
he had experienced before. There was no question of divorce, no question
of linking himself for life to a woman of her character. Garth was
reading a typewritten sheet of paper.

"You say, in the statement you made before the Ascot stewards, that you
backed your horse?"

Garry nodded.

"Well, that's a simple matter to prove," said Garth. "If you weren't
trying you wouldn't back it, would you? Who did you back it with?"

Garry was as cold as ice now. This was a key question; and on the way the
stewards received his answer depended his future.

"I backed it with John Dory," he said.

Innsbrook knew Dory; indeed, most of the big men of the turf had had
transactions with John.

"He's not here, but we have a statement from him," he said. "He underwent
an operation for appendicitis yesterday."

"Yes," said Garry, without enthusiasm.

It was lucky for everybody concerned that nobody had seen him dining with
John the previous night in a little restaurant in Soho.

"He's a personal friend of yours, I believe?" said Innsbrook, and
laughed. "We shan't be shocked if you say yes. Some of the best men
racing count bookmakers amongst their friends--in fact, I went to school
with two men who are now standing up in the ring. But he is a personal
friend?"

"Yes, sir," said Garry.

"And the only proof we have that you backed the horse are his books--the
books of a personal friend?"

There was a note of dryness in his voice that Garry did not like.

"I suppose he backed the horse with other people," he said. "I don't know
how he arranges these things."

Garth gently shook the sheet of foolscap that he had been reading.

"You know, I suppose, that Mr Dory states he is unable to tell us the
names of the people with whom he backed the horse?"

Too well Garry knew; it had been the subject of the overnight dinner
discussion.

One in that room had an understanding of the situation.

"I presume that his explanation would be that he was betting with people
who were evading the payment of the betting tax," said Innsbrook. "He
doesn't say so in his statement, but we understand that such things
happen."

Garry did not answer.

"You realize how important it is that you should produce evidence that
you backed the horse?" asked Garth.

"I can produce evidence that I received over eight thousand pounds from
Dory at the end of the Ascot week."

Garth shook his head. "Yes, but that proves nothing except that you won
on that week. You were backing other horses, I suppose?"

Garry assented.

"If you were backing other horses and received money, that proves nothing
except that you were a successful punter in a general way. Dory would be
your agent--I mean, he wouldn't stand the bets himself?"

"Yes, he was in a sense my agent," said Garry after consideration.

Lord Forlingham had at least seen a point which he could exploit.

"It comes to this," he said, in a deep sepulchral voice, "that you can't
give us any detailed and convincing proof that you ever backed
Rangemore?"

"Only the proof that Mr Dory can supply," said Garry quickly.

"And he doesn't come here to give evidence," said Garth with a smile.

Innsbrook leaned forward. He had the quick, incisive style of a
successful counsel; he was the one man at the table of whose justice
Garry had no doubt, but of whose perspicuity he stood in some fear.

"You'll agree, Captain Anson, that if there is anything fishy about this
transaction Mr Dory's appendicitis is rather convenient?" he asked.

Garry smiled.

"It could be put that way."

Very much it could be put that way, he thought ruefully, and wondered if
the indiscreet John had been seen by some friend of the stewards
overnight; by the stewards themselves, since it was likely they had come
up by the early train and had spent the previous evening in London.

"Your story is this," said Garth, "that on the morning of the Ascot
Stakes you intended stopping Rangemore, and afterwards repented and
backed it. You further say that you backed Rangemore with Mr John Dory
and that you are unable to tell us the names of the other bookmakers with
whom his bets were placed; that you had no intention of pulling your
horse when you arrived on the course, although you had previously
informed Lady Panniford that you weren't trying, is that a fair summary
of your evidence?"

Garry nodded. Again that whispered consultation.

"We'll have Mr Wray in," said Garth.

The secretary pushed a bell and an attendant opened the door and received
his instructions. It was no surprise to Garry that Wray was to be called.
He had been before the Ascot stewards and he was in as unhappy a position
as his master. He had been suspended for the best part of a month.
Recognizing the possible injustice of such an act, however, the stewards
had granted him permission to continue training, to Garry's heartfelt
relief. That was the trouble about racing: you could not fall alone, must
drag down with you the partners in your errors and even the confidants to
whom you confided your intentions.

"Mr Wray has trained for you for some years?" asked Garth.

"Yes." said Garry. "He's a very decent fellow, as straight as a die. I
hope the stewards will believe me when I say that Mr Wray had no
knowledge whatever of my intentions."

"Though he would have had if you'd carried them out," said Innsbrook.
"I've known Wray personally for many years; in fact, he used to train for
me. I see you've scratched your horses--you've sold some of them?"

Garry nodded.

"You're giving up racing, whatever the result of this inquiry?"

Garry hesitated.

"No; I hope to go on racing for many years," he said, "but that is a
matter for you gentlemen to decide."

Wray came in, nervous, his florid face a little paler. He nodded to
Garry, smiled at Lord Innsbrook, and, receiving no answering smile,
allowed his features to droop dismally.

"Good morning, Mr Wray," said Garth. "This, as you know, is an inquiry
into the running of Rangemore in the Ascot Stakes. What do you know about
it?"

Wray drew a long breath.

"Nothing, sir, except that the horse did his best but wasn't quite good
enough. I've known horses to do that sort of thing before. You bring 'em
out in the morning fit to run for their lives, and in the afternoon--"

"Yes, yes." said Garth impatiently. "We know something and what they do.
We also know that when the jockey who is riding them receives
instructions--you gave no instructions to the rider except to win?"

"That's right, sir," said Wray.

"Did you hear of any suggestion made by Captain Anson that the horse
should be pulled?" asked Forlingham.

"No, my lord," said Wray loudly.

"Or," added Garth, "that he should be given an easy race at Ascot and go
out for the Northumberland Plate?"

Mr Wray was not a good actor. His amusement at the suggestion convinced
nobody.



"Good gracious, no, sir! I never heard of such a thing. Captain Anson
would never dream of such a thing!" he said scornfully.

But Garth was impressed neither by his heartiness nor by his scorn.

"Now, Mr Wray, are you sure you never heard Captain Anson suggest that
the horse should be pulled in the Ascot Stakes?" he asked sharply.

"No, sir. Captain Anson is incapable of such an action."

Innsbrook leaned over the table, his thin hands clasped.

"Mr Wray, you saw Captain Anson on the morning of the race, didn't you?"
he asked, with the suavity of an examining lawyer.

"Yes, I believe I did, my lord."

"Did you go to his house?"

Wray looked up at the ceiling and considered.

"Yes, now that you mention it, my lord, I did. After the gallop. That's
right, I went in and saw the Captain. He had some people over to
breakfast--"

"Never mind about that, unless you went to breakfast?" said Garth.

"No, sir," Wray shook his head. "I never have breakfast--just a cup of
tea and a bit of toast when I get up. I always find that if you've got a
lot of riding to do in the morning--"

"Well, some time after breakfast," said Innsbrook impatiently. "You saw
him then?"

"After the gallop, my lord," said Wray. "I went in and told him how well
the horse was moving. He was delighted--oh, he was delighted! He said:
'I'm going to have a big bet on that horse, Mr Wray.'"

"Was anything said about the Northumberland Plate?" asked Garth.

Again Mr Wray considered elaborately.

"Why, yes, sir, yes, sir." I said: "He'll win the Northumberland Plate
with his penalty."

"Is that all?" asked Garth. "He said nothing about stopping the horse?"

Mr Wray was amused.

"No, sir--oh, no, sir. Captain Anson said: 'I'm going to have a big bet
on Rangemore and you're on the odds to fifty.' I said: 'You'll win the
Northumberland Plate with him, now they haven't accepted with Silver
Queen.'"

Even as the words left his lips he tried to arrest them and now he
stopped in consternation. He had said the one thing which he should not
have said. Garry recognized this and his heart sank.

Garth leaned back in his chair, his grey, eyebrows met in a frown.

"Oh, I see." His voice was very soft. "You thought Silver Queen might
have beaten you in the Northumberland Plate, and yet you didn't think it
would beat you in the Ascot Stakes? The horses carried exactly the same
weights in both races; the distance was exactly the same. Why should you
be so sure you'd win the Northumberland Plate with Silver Queen out of
the way, and yet be equally sure that you'd win the Ascot Stakes with
Silver Queen running?"

Wray was panic-stricken, incoherent. There was nothing he could say.

"I didn't think of it beating us anywhere." he stammered.

Lord Innsbrook smiled.

"You were afraid of Silver Queen beating your horse in the Northumberland
Plate," he nodded, "and you were rather relieved when you found it wasn't
running--and yet you weren't afraid of it beating you in the Ascot
Stakes?"

There was no answer to this. Mr Wray was not quick witted. He was only
conscious of his terrible error, only desirous of flying from the room
and hiding himself in some place where Garry Anson's reproachful glance
could not follow him. In truth, there was nothing reproachful in Garry's
smile. This was fate, an inevitability. Wray was merely an instrument of
the inscrutable, malignant power which was dragging him down.

Garth heaved a sigh.

"Mr Wray, in your desire to help Captain Anson you've said a little too
much."

"I knew I'd say something," said Wray despairingly. "The Captain is as
good a master as ever I've worked for, and I've trained for you, my lord;
and I'll swear on my oath the horse was trying!"

Garth looked at Garry.

"Do you want to ask any questions?"

When Garry shook his head:

"All right, Mr Wray."

The trainer went hurriedly from the room.

Sir John Garth looked at his watch.

"We'll have the jockey in," he said. "The man's riding in the first race,
but I don't suppose his examination will take long.

"I told him to get himself weighed out in good time," said the secretary
as he called in the attendant.

"Where did you say Lady Panniford was?"

"In my room." And then, to the man who stood in the doorway: "Send in
Lynn, please."

"We'd better see her after," said Garth.

Forlingham rolled his head protestingly.

"It's very painful asking a lady of her position awkward and possibly
embarrassing questions," he said. "Can't it be avoided?"

"I'm afraid not," said Innsbrook, slightly amused.

"The only thing I'd like to say--" began Lord Forlingham, but the arrival
of Andy Lynn cut short the statement he was to have made.

Andy was in breeches and boots, and under his light overcoat he wore the
claret and white hoops of a lady owner. He was nervous, as all jockeys
are nervous who make their appearance before the supreme tribunal. Was
there not an historic occasion when one, on being told he could go,
opened a bookcase and tried to walk into it?

He stood now, his hands behind his back, holding his silken cap, his
fingers nervously twiddling at his whip, his keen eyes searching the
faces of the three men who sat in judgement.

"Lynn, you rode Rangemore in the Ascot Stakes?" asked Innsbrook.

Andy licked his dry lips.

"Yes, my lord," he said.

"What were your orders?"

"My orders, my lord?" Lynn coughed to clear his husky throat. "My orders
were to jump off in front and make the running. If I couldn't do that, to
lie up with the leaders and take a steadier somewhere round Swinley
bottom. I was to keep to the rails if I could and wait on Silver Queen in
the straight and get first run on her."

He spoke rapidly, without punctuation, repeating faultlessly the speech
he had rehearsed.

"You had no other orders?"

"No, my lord," said Lynn.

"Who gave you those orders?" asked Innsbrook.

"Mr Wray, the trainer, my lord."

"You carried them out?"

Again Lynn coughed.

"As best I could, my lord. Silver Queen was always going better than my
horse in the last four furlongs and I had to take up my whip to keep
Rangemore going. He was dying under me in the last furlong, but came on
again under the whip and I was beat a short head--it ought to have been a
length, but Silver Queen pecked a few strides from the stick--the post, I
mean."

All this in one breath. He stopped and breathed heavily.

"Now listen to me," said Garth. "Did you ever receive orders from Captain
Anson or anybody else to stop Rangemore?"

The jockey shook his head.

"No, sir."

"You know what I mean--did you have orders not to win on him at Ascot?"
asked Garth deliberately, spacing each word.

"No, sir, I did everything I could--" began Lynn, but the senior steward
stopped him with a gesture.

"That is not in question," he said. "Both his lordship and I saw the race
when it was run, and we are quite satisfied that as far as you are
concerned you were trying. The horse was running clear of everything
except Silver Queen and was under the whip for the last two furlongs. I
saw where you had hit him when they brought him into the unsaddling
enclosure; the marks were very clear. What I want to ask you is this,
Lynn: was it ever suggested to you that you should stop this horse?"

"No, sir, never."

Garth looked at his friend on the right; and Innsbrook leaned forward,
his long fingers rubbing nervously.

"Did you see Captain Anson before the race?" he asked.

Lynn knew Lord Innsbrook by repute. He had never been before the
stewards, but he had been warned that this was the one steward of all
that demanded caution.

"Yes, my lord, I saw him at his house in the morning. I saw him twice."

"Twice?" said Garth quickly. "Did he send for you the second time?"

"No, sir, I called in," said the jockey.

Lord Forlingham was interested.

"Did he tell you on the second occasion--the second time you called--that
he'd changed his mind and was going to try with the horse?"

Lynn hesitated for a fraction of a second. Forlingham did not observe
this, but the other two men noticed the hesitancy and exchanged glances.

"No, my lord," said the jockey. "He never said anything much either time.
He said that I needn't waste to ride the horse at Gosforth Park, because
I'd have a penalty. I've never known the Captain to stop a horse in my
life--"

Garth raised his hand to arrest the eloquent tribute.

"Do you wish to ask this man any questions, Captain Anson?"

"No, sir," said Garry, and the jockey went hurriedly out as from a place
accursed.



16.


TO WENDA PANNIFORD, sitting in the little office of the secretary, every
minute seemed an hour. One by one she heard the witnesses called, and
waited with some apprehension for the moment when she would be summoned.

She had never dreamed that all this fuss would be made, or that an
inquiry by the Stewards of the Jockey Club carried with it the unpleasant
atmosphere of a law court. It was mean of Garry to demand that she should
give evidence at all. The secretary had told her that there was a
possibility that her presence would be dispensed with. Then he had
dropped in for a second to warn her that Garry wanted her evidence taken
before the Stewards. How like Garry to humiliate her!

She wished she had never sent the letter. She would have given a great
deal to have got it back.

Willie knew only a little of what had happened. He had gathered from the
newspapers that Garry was in some trouble, but as to the part his wife
had taken he was absolutely ignorant. To do him justice, he would have
been horrified if he had known that Garry was to be charged on evidence
she had supplied.

As for Molly--by a miracle she had kept the truth from the girl, had gone
out of her way to deceive her into believing that the inquiry had been
indefinitely postponed. She wondered whether there was a reporter in the
room, and whether her evidence would be given to the world. She asked one
of the minor officials who came in and was relieved to learn that the
proceedings were secret; not even the names of the witnesses were
officially made known.

She hated racecourses; she hated racing; most of all she hated Garry
Anson. Suppose, in revenge, he did sue? So far he had made no move. She
had not even received a letter from his lawyer. Perhaps he was waiting to
discover how the case would go; and if it went against him she would have
another ordeal to face. But would anybody take his word against hers--the
word of a man who had been in trouble for pulling his horses against
Wenda Panniford's?

She was frank enough with herself to admit that there were quite a number
of people who would not hesitate to accept Garry's most extravagant
statement against her own. For Wenda was not especially popular, even in
her own set. She had hated the long journey, wished she had induced Henry
Lascarne to come with her. Though, if the truth be told, he had not
offered to be her companion; had, in fact, anticipated any request on her
part by telling an unconvincing story of a conference at the War Office
where his presence was urgently needed.

Even in that moment of fury and anxiety, Wenda could see the humorous
side of an important conference at which the presence of Mr Henry
Lascarne was desired.

Suppose the worst happened? Suppose Garry sued her? She could represent
his action as a piece of malice born of the service she had rendered to
justice.

She was turning this matter over when she heard the door close behind the
jockey.

"We will have the lady in," sad Garth. "You might explain to her that
she's not on oath."

Garry rose and walked to the table. He was making one last desperate
effort to avoid the presence of Wenda.

"May I ask, sir, how you can reconcile your own observations--you saw the
race and heard the evidence of the jockey--with the suggestion that the
horse was stopped? Naturally, I don't want Lady Panniford to be brought
into this case if it can be avoided, and if it's possible for you to
reach a decision favourable to myself without the necessity of calling
upon her for evidence. You've heard the trainer, you've heard the jockey.
You yourself, sir, said that you saw the horse and he had been marked--"

Garth shook his head.

"We're not trying the horse, Captain Anson, or the jockey. It's quite
conceivable that you may have given instructions which were not carried
out. The offence lies with you. There are such things as betting jockeys
who disobey orders for their own advantage. We are men of the world and
we understand that such things happen and that jockeys do bet."

Garry made a gesture of despair and went back to his seat as the door
opened and Wenda walked slowly into the room. She was wearing a dark
dress that gave a certain spiritual value to her pallid face. She did not
look at Garry, but stood for a moment, waiting, until the Club secretary
put a chair for her; then she sat down, her hands folded primly in her
lap, her eyes meeting the curious scrutiny of Sir John Garth without
faltering.

It was an awkward moment. Lord Forlingham was visibly embarrassed,
avoided looking at the witness throughout the rest of the inquiry with
such persistence as to suggest that to see her would be to commit a
mortal sin.

Garth picked up the letter from the table and held it towards her.

"Do you know this letter?"

She nodded.

"It came into our possession. It was one written by Captain Anson to you.
We will not discuss at this moment how it came to us."

He looked at Garry. It was a challenge and a request, and Garry smiled.

"Captain Anson was a great friend of yours?"

"A very great friend," said Wenda in a low voice.

"This method of address--er--'darling'--it means nothing, of course.
Everybody uses the word nowadays."

He heard a shocked murmur from the worthy Forlingham, smiled to himself
and went on.

"The letter was written to you in confidence?"

"I should like to make this clear," said Garry, "that my relationships
with this lady have been of the most correct nature. We were like brother
and sister. I think it is only fair that this point should be
emphasized."

"That's very generous of you," said Wenda, not looking round.

"Generous to me." said Garry sternly. "I wish to retain just a little
self-respect!"

"Good for you!" said Garth, but said it under his breath.

"About this letter, Lady Panniford," he said aloud. "He wouldn't write
anything like that as a joke--I mean, he never has done such a thing?"

She shook her head.

"No, I was surprised to get it." she said.

"I don't know whether you bet or not--?"

Yes, Wenda betted. She admitted the fact modestly.

"Did you back the horse?"

"I'd already backed it." If her voice was low, it was very clear.
"Captain Anson saw the bookmaker, Mr Dory, and asked him to cancel the
bet."

"It's perfectly true," said Garry. "I did cancel the bet."

"This letter,"--Garth held up the incriminating document--"was brought to
you by a friend? Someone who spent the night at Captain Anson's house and
was going on to Welbury Manor--that is where you live?"

She nodded.

"He brought it across in the morning before the races."

"Did you receive any other letter?"

There was an expectant pause.

"Yes, there was a note from Captain Anson saying that he wanted to see me
that night," said Wenda steadily. "His servant brought this to the house
just before I went over to see him."

"Nothing more than that?" asked, Innsbrook, eyeing her keenly.

She shook her head.

"Lady Panniford," said Garth, "Captain Anson says that he sent you a
message, written in pencil on the back of hundred-pound Bank of England
note--money that he had won for you."

She smiled incredulously.

"You say that isn't true?"

"Yes."

"This letter," Garth pursued, "purporting to be written on a banknote,
said the earlier letter was a joke."

"No." Her voice was a little louder.

"And he told you that you could back the horse?"

She shook her head.

"You didn't receive it--the hundred-pound banknote?"

"No," said Wenda.

Her voice was clear, loud, defiant.

But Garth was not to be shaken off.

"In Mr Dory's statement here," he went on, "he says: 'I was present when
Captain Anson wrote to Lady Panniford telling her to back his horse. This
letter was written on the back of a hundred-pound note with a pencil
which he borrowed from his servant.' You still say that you didn't
receive this banknote?"

Wenda's smile was one of bland amusement.

"Why should he send me a hundred pounds?"

One man was listening to her, amazed; if there had been occasion for
speech he would have been speechless. He could not believe it possible
that Wenda could sit there, with the face of an angel and tell lie after
lie, each designed to drag him deeper into the mire.

"He said he had backed a winner for you at Newbury," said Garth.

Wenda shook her head.

"He never told me anything about it," she said.

Garry found his voice.

"Good God--"

A look from Innsbrook checked him.

"I'm sorry." Garry's voice was shaking. "I don't mind what she says.
Nothing really matters very much. Still, it's incredible that she can sit
there--"

"Captain Anson." Innsbrook stopped him again.

"I'll ask you once more," said Garth. He never took his eyes off the
woman. "And I do wish you to realize that Captain Anson's whole future
probably depends upon your answer. Did he send you a subsequent note,
telling you that the first letter was a joke and that you were to back
his horse?"

"No!"

The answer came like the note of a clarion.

Sir John Garth looked at her in silence, and when he eventually spoke his
voice was very grave.

"Lady Panniford," he said, "it strikes us as rather remarkable that you
should have gone out of your way to denounce Captain Anson to the
Stewards. He was a very old friend of yours. Naturally, we are not
concerned with your motives, but we do like to know, when we are to judge
between two witnesses, what personal bias there is on one side or the
other."

Wenda's chin went up.

"I didn't know you were judging between two witnesses--you have his
letter. We were good friends; I admit I have a personal bias. He behaved
very dishonourably to my husband and myself."

Garry was looking at her in amazement. Here was something new.

"I don't want to say any more than that," she said.

Garth waited, but she said no more.

"Do you wish to ask the lady any questions?" he asked.

"I wish she would say more than that," said Garry with rising passion. "I
would like her to tell you in what way I have behaved dishonourably to
her and her husband, unless, of course, her powers of invention are
exhausted."

"That is hardly a matter for us, is it?" asked Innsbrook coldly.

Wenda was gone, and as the door closed behind her a great weight and the
ugliness of the ordeal seemed to drift away. Garry Anson knew just how
badly the inquiry had gone for him. He was dealing with three men who
would be ruthless in their administration of the racing law. Nothing he
could say could make any difference.

Nevertheless, he clung desperately to one hope, which he voiced when
Garth asked him if he had any witnesses to call.

"No; I've got my servant here," he said, "but he'd only bore you. And
he's not very convincing--I believe he's an ex-convict."

Garth nodded.

"Yes, we knew that," he said significantly, and Garry smiled.

"Of course, she's told you."

Wenda would not have lost that opportunity.

"No, I've no witnesses and no defence beyond the inherent probabilities
of the situation."

They talked together along the table and then Garth asked him to go out.
When the door closed on him, Sir John rose, shook his head, and reached
in his pocket for a cigarette.

"It's a case exactly on all fours with the Woburn case," said Innsbrook,
and Garth was obviously undecided.

"You can't make fish of one and fowl of another," said Forlingham.
"There's the letter."

Innsbrook ran his fingers through his short hair.

"The jockey was probably lying and old Wray certainly was. There's the
letter, as you say. If he'd brought proof that he backed the horse..."

"I don't know," said Innsbrook. "The story of the hundred pound note
almost convinced me. That woman's a--"

"I wonder what she's done to him?" said Garth, speaking more to himself
than to his companions.

Innsbrook threw his cigarette into the fireplace.

"It's the Woburn case all over again," he said, "and on the Woburn case
we must judge."

Garry came back and as soon as he caught sight of Garth's face he knew
all and more than he wanted to know.

"Captain Anson, we are agreed," said Garth harshly. "You have committed a
very serious offence and we must decide on the evidence upon which we can
rely--the letter which you admit you wrote. I'm terribly sorry...you've
been very foolish; but we feel, in the interests of the turf, there
is only one course to be taken."

Garry knew too well that course, and nodded.

"You are warned off Newmarket Heath and all courses under the
jurisdiction of the Jockey Club."

As he turned and walked to the door, Garry Anson heard the sound of the
saddling bell. It was the knell of his hopes, his ambitions and his
faiths.



17.


HE CAME OUT into the paddock like a man in a dream, did not even see the
waiting Hillcott, who followed him through the crowd and out into the
road, where the car was waiting. Hillcott spoke no word; one glance at
Garry's face had told him all he wanted to know. He swung himself up by
the side of the driver; the car turned and made for London.

Warned off! Garry repeated the words a dozen times without fully
realizing what they meant. He had heard them before, but they had applied
to odd and unpleasant people, the Hipplewaynes of life.

Warned off! Social death! Men he knew would cross to the other side of
the street to avoid the embarrassment of meeting him. The secretaries of
his clubs would write politely, asking him to put in his resignation. A
score of hospitable doors would be closed to him. Life, as he understood
life, was ended.

He only dimly sensed at that moment the enormous tragedy by which he had
been overtaken. He was blotted out, as much an outcast as a leper. It
almost seemed as if he had been deprived of his citizenship and was a man
of no country.

He was too shocked even to resent the part which Wenda had played, too
bitterly hurt for resentment. This was the end of things. He was one of
the living dead; must be born again in a new social sphere, create new
friends and keep from them the story of his past; take a new name perhaps
Did Hipplewayne do that?

It was amazing that such a thing could happen, that here: that here in
lawful England three men should have the power to sit down and make him
taboo; and yet that was what had happened. He did not resent this either;
it was part of the game. He knew the rules; they had been broken in
intention and there was nothing for him to do but to stick it.

He hardly noticed the passage of the miles, and was driving through the
suburbs of London almost before, as it seemed, the journey had well
begun.

He drove to an hotel. He had to see his lawyer and he sent Hillcott down
by train to Sunningdale. He learned for the first time that Molly was
back in London; she had returned that morning.

How Hillcott secured these items of information he had never discovered.
Possibly it was servants' gossip. Hillcott was very friendly with the
pretty housemaid at Welbury.

"Where is she staying?" he asked.

"Search me," said Hillcott. And then: "Here, Captain, why didn't they let
me go in and give evidence?"

"What?" said Garry, startled out of unpleasant thoughts "You give
evidence?" He smiled. "Haven't I enough trouble?"

"I could have told them something," said Hillcott.

"They've probably heard it before," said Garry. "Now, off you go to
Daneham. I'll be down late tonight. You'll find Mr Dory there," he said,
as a thought occurred to him. "Ask him to wait."

So Molly was in London! He winced at the thought. The news would have to
be broken to her before she read it in the papers. He called, up Wenda's
flat but had no answer. Then he tried the hotel where the Pannifords
sometimes stayed and learned that Molly had just left for the country. If
the country meant Ascot, he would see her that night.

The room he had overlooked Hyde Park. He looked out over the browning
foliage of the trees and by one of those curious coincidences which are
part of the laws of chance, he saw Wenda and had no difficulty in
recognizing her companion. They were pacing slowly along a gravelled
path, she and Henry Lascarne, talking earnestly and he guessed that he
was the subject of the conversation.

He had a brief and not too pleasant interview with his lawyer, settled up
the question of the land sale and gave him instructions to go on with the
disposal of Daneham Lodge.

"It's disgraceful that you weren't allowed to be represented by counsel,"
said Fenton.

"Stuff!" said Garry. "If you allowed lawyers at these inquiries they'd
never end and the wrong man would always get the verdict."

"What are you going to do?" asked Fenton curiously.

"Get away out of the country grow oranges in California, or cattle in
Alberta."

Fenton considered this soberly.

"I know a man who has a ranch for sale--" he began.

"Don't be silly," interrupted Garry. "I was speaking figuratively. No, I
shall go on to the Continent, and in the years ahead you will meet a
strange, old-looking gentleman in rusty black, babbling about Rangemore
and Ascot, and you'll know it is poor old Garry Anson who has gone off
his head!"

He drove down to Ascot leisurely. There were so many things to do, most
of them unpleasant. He had to see Molly--facing realities, he put his
worst trial first. He had to clear up affairs at Daneham and leave that
pleasant place, never to return.



18.


MOLLY HAD arrived at Welbury half an hour before her sister-in-law. All
that day she had been trying to get in touch with Garry and had called up
the house from London half a dozen times, only to hear that he was out.
She had learned only that morning that there was trouble over the running
of Rangemore; a man she knew had told her on the journey between Paris
and Calais. And she had arrived home in a state of apprehension.

Wenda came back with a face of gloom, pleaded a headache and retired to
her room. Henry, who came down with her, was absolutely uncommunicative.

The girl began to get frightened, rang up Daneham Lodge again and to her
joy was answered by Hillcott.

"Hillcott, where is Captain Anson?" she asked breathlessly.

"In town, miss. He's coming down tonight."

"What is this in the newspapers, about there being an inquiry into the
running of Rangemore?"

Hillcott did not answer for a moment; when he spoke it was with the
directness of his class.

"Yes, that's right, miss--warned off."

She could only stand, speechless.

"Hillcott...it's Miss Molly speaking--what did you say?"

"Warned off, miss."

"Not Captain Anson!" She almost, walled the words.

"Warned off," said Hillcott again, with a choke in his voice and she
heard the click of the receiver as it was hung up.

She could not comprehend, dared not believe. Hillcott might be drunk. He
was especially sober when he came back to the room where John Dory was
sitting, a paper on his knees. He made some rough attempt to tidy up the
table, and then suddenly, flinging down the newspapers in his hand:

"I'd like to have had a word with 'em! They wouldn't let me go
in--blimey, they knew something!"

John Dory looked up from his paper and surveyed the servant gravely.

"I expect they were a bit afraid of you," he said, but Hillcott was
impervious to sarcasm.

"So they ought to have been!" There was a tremulous note of pride in his
voice. "I've had to deal with real judges! And I've got 'em in a trance!"

John nodded, a smile in his eyes.

"I'll bet you did! When they came round I suppose you got the usual?"

Hillcott considered this.

"A bit of time, but it was all me own."

He walked down to where Dory was sitting.

"Do you know what I'd have said to the stewards?"

John put down his paper with a sigh.

"You'd better tell me, or I'll be guessing wrong," he said.

Hillcott struck an attitude designed to be dramatic.

"I'd have said: 'I understand human nature, and if you believe a--'" he
gulped "--'a lady like that before a man like this, you want your 'eads
shaved.'"

John Dory passed his hand over his shining pate and shivered.

"It must be a rather unpleasant sensation," he said. "Anyway, they
wouldn't have given you a medal for that."

He picked up the newspaper, stared at it for a long time without reading
a line, and then:

"Where did you say you left Captain Anson?"

"Hyde Park Hotel," said Hillcott. "He said he'd be down by ten."

Dory frowned, as though it were he who was recalling the unpleasant
memories of the morning.

"How did he take it?" he asked.

Hillcott smiled.

"Like I used to take it--smiling! I used to say to the judge--he came a
little closer and grew confidential--I used to say to the judge, 'You
can't 'ang me.' and that's true--they can't 'ang you."

John chuckled.

"But they can mess you about, eh? That's true."

"Jockey Club?" said Hillcott scornfully. "Why, there ain't a jockey
that's a member of it! They wouldn't join it! They're going about under
false pretences all the time."

He heard the tinkle of the bell and went resentfully forth. It was Molly.

"Hillcott," she quivered, "what you told me just now--it isn't true...is
anybody here?"

"Mr Dory."

She came quickly into the room and there was agony in her eyes.

"Is it true?" she asked in a low voice.

There was no need for her to be more explicit; he knew exactly what she
was talking about.

"I'm afraid it is."

He looked round for Hillcott; but Hillcott had not returned to the room.

"How dreadful! What will it mean?"

John Dory shrugged his shoulders.

"He'll probably go abroad," he said.

She caught a quick breath.

"You mean that he'll have to resign from his clubs and all that sort of
thing?"

The burly bookmaker nodded and patted her gently on the shoulder.

"Well, that's rather dramatizing the situation, but yes. It's desperately
unpleasant and that's putting it mildly. Here, young lady, you sit down."

He caught her by the arm and lowered her gently to the settee. Her face
was white, her lips colourless. But she shook off his hand impatiently.

"But how could they? The horse won--or nearly won."

John nodded.

"Yes, but unfortunately Garry wrote a letter--but anyway, you know all
about that."

She looked up quickly.

"A letter?" she said in surprise. "You mean about the race...but he
didn't write that the horse was not trying to win?"

"I'm afraid he did," said Dory.

"But he must have been mad!" she gasped.

Somebody showed them the letter. That was it, then--some friend of his,
to whom he had written, had betrayed him! It seemed almost impossible
that such a thing could happen, but she knew something of human nature.
Was it Hipplewayne, she wondered? But Hipplewayne had never been a friend
of Garry's, and anyway he was not a man with whom Garry could have had
any confidences.

"To whom did he write?" she asked.

John Dory looked at her in amazement.

"Don't you know?" he asked incredulously.

She shook her head, her confused mind ranging the circle of mutual
acquaintances for the culprit.

"He wrote it to Lady Panniford."

"To Wenda?" Her voice was little above a whisper. "She...she didn't
show the letter?"

Again he nodded.

"Was she there today? Is that where she's been--to Doncaster? She didn't
give evidence?"

She was half crying.

"Oh, she couldn't!"

"Have you spoken to her?" asked John.

The girl shook her head wearily.

"No. She's been in her room, resting, since she came back. I knew she'd
been in the country somewhere--she told me that, or rather, sent a
message to that effect."

"How did you come to know about this?" asked John.

He poured out a glass of port and handed it to her. She sipped it before
she realized what she was doing, then passed the glass back to him.

"No, thank you."

"How did you know about it at all?" he asked.

"I saw a paragraph in the evening paper, saying there was an inquiry into
the running of the winner of the Ascot Stakes," she said. "I'd heard
something about it on the way from Paris. Then, when I got here, I got on
the telephone to Hillcott and he told me. You're absolutely sure about
Wenda?"

He was perfectly sure. He explained that he himself could not go before
the stewards and that he had invented an appendicitis.

"There wasn't much I could have done for him if I had been there--I might
have made the case look a bit blacker."

She sat there, clasping and unclasping her hands, her head shaking
helplessly.

"I can't--I can't believe it! I simply can't believe it. It's like a
horrible dream. What has he done to her that she is so malignant?"

"What has she done to him?"

There was a meaning in his voice. She looked at him quickly.

"What do you mean?"

"That's my experience," said John Dory. "There's no surer way of making
some people hate you than by lending them money or doing them a good
turn. They loathe to be under any obligation."

Too well she knew that Garry had done Wenda many a good turn; but at the
moment she was incapable of logical thought.

She heard the whirr of a car outside and sat up. The front door opened
and closed, and she heard the sound of Garry's voice and went blindly to
meet him. She gripped him by the coat, incapable of speech, her white,
tear-stained face eloquent--too eloquent for Garry's peace of mind. He
caught her in his arms.

"Shut up and don't be silly!" he said tenderly.

Hillcott was behind him, an interested, almost cheerful spectator.

"Get me a drink."

Garry led the girl to the sofa and sat down.

"Dry them blinkin' eyes," he said gaily and with his handkerchief mopped
the tears from her cheeks. "Molly, you ought to be ashamed of yourself."

It was a long time before she could speak coherently.

"Oh, Garry, you won't do anything stupid, will you?"

"Shoot myself or something?" he chuckled. "Not likely."

He looked round at John.

"How's the appendix. Look at him, Molly! He had an operation today. That
was the only laugh I got at the inquiry."

"How could they, Garry?" she quavered.

He held her at arm's length and looked at her. There was a gay tune
whistling in his heart; all the burdens and problems of the day had by
magic smoothed themselves away.

"Now, darling, they were very fair," he said, "very unimaginative and
very English. It was all very dull! They couldn't go behind the letter;
and that was the beginning and the end of it."

"I can't think about Wenda," she said.

"You're a fortunate girl," he said dryly. "I wish I couldn't."

"Garry, what have you done to her?"

"Ach! Don't let's talk about it."

He reached out his hand for the drink which Hillcott ha brought to him.

"What's this, Hubert?"

"The stuff that mother likes," said Hillcott. "If ever a man had an
excuse for a souse, you've got it."

"You haven't," said Garry, and pointed to the door. "I don't want one."

Garry looked round the room curiously. It was as if it were not his own,
a strange room in a strange house.

"Does anybody want to buy a nice cottage, with or without Hillcott?" he
asked.

Molly looked at him in consternation.

"Oh, Garry, you're not going to sell Daneham?"

Garry waved his hand extravagantly in the manner of an auctioneer.

"Pleasantly situated amongst pines, gravel soil, four aces of old-world
garden, etcetera, etcetera."

She would have bought it. It was on the tip of her tongue to say so, and
such was the perfect sympathy between them at that moment that he could
read her thoughts.

"No, you don't want to be saddled with a place like this," he said. "But
I shall have to do something."

"What do you want to do?" asked Dory, lighting a cigar.

"There's only one thing I'd like, and I've never wanted so much to do
it--to be on the top of a stand and watch the field come into the
straight. I'd like to go back on everything I've said and sleep in some
place where I could hear horses kicking at their boxes in the night.
That's what I want to do. What I shall do is to go abroad somewhere--a
villa in Italy--delightful! No horses, no--"

He felt a lump come in his throat and laughed at his own weakness.

"I think I'm being immensely, sorry for myself."

He heard the tinkle of a bell and looked round.

"Who the devil's that?"

Then Molly remembered.

"It's probably Henry Lascarne; he came over with me."

"Good Lord! You shouldn't have left him outside."

Garry flew into the passage. It was the opportunity the girl wanted.

"Mr Dory, do you mind if I see Garry alone for a minute?" she said in a
low voice.

He understood, was foolishly pleased and when Garry returned, holding an
embarrassed Henry Lascarne by the arm, was thinking out a good excuse to
leave.

"What the devil do you mean by staying outside?" demanded Garry.

Lascarne cleared his throat.

"I'm very sorry about this business--" he began, and even Garry's gesture
did not stop him. "Wenda's terribly upset--isn't she, Molly?"

"Why ask me?"

She was showing the nearest approach to anger that Garry had ever seen;
her voice trembled, the colour came back to her face.

"I don't really know what it means," Lascarne ambled on. "Something
pretty awful, isn't it?"

Here was John Dory's excuse. He strolled across to where the lank young
man was standing.

"Do you play rummy?" he asked.

Henry gaped at him.

"Cards? No, I'm not very good at cards."

John sighed patiently.

"Would you like to see Garry's stamp collection?"

Henry considered this. He wasn't really interested in stamps, and said
so.

"Nor in goldfish?" asked John and then, grabbing the alarmed Lascarne by
the arm: "Come along," he said, "I'll show you my appendicitis!"

The door of the dining-room closed on them. The amused Garry turned to
the girl.

"You're not to worry about this business, Molly. I know you can't help
worrying. I can't either. But at any rate make it the minimum of worry.
You mustn't think about it. I'll clear things up, then I'll get out."

She was close to him now, her head sunk.

"Garry, there's something I want to say to you," she said in a low voice.
"I don't want you to go to Italy...or anywhere, amongst strangers...with
nobody to look after you I mean...without taking somebody with you...Not
anybody you love very much, but somebody you like, who can do
things for you and won't bore you...You know...?"

He caught her face gently between his two hands and lifted it.

"I mean...you haven't got to be...in love with them," she went on
breathlessly, "or think you're going to spoil their lives and say no
because of that...What would spoil their lives would be leaving them
to fret and worry. Do you understand?"

He understood; his eyes told her.

"I knew you would. You're probably hating me for this...I've given you
something new to worry about. But I've got an idea, Garry, it isn't the
first time a woman has proposed to you, is it? I'm not being sympathetic,
Garry, or--or noble, or anything like that; I'm being selfish and taking
advantage of...well, you know...to get something I want."

Garry looked at her, and the love in his eyes was balm and stimulant and
everything she wanted at that moment. Without a word he kissed her,
walked with her to the door and stood waiting till she had vanished into
the night.

That would be worth a fight, something worth battling for, something to
give an incentive to the slackest of men.

He heard John come back into the room, but scarcely noticed him, heard
his flippant and wholly imaginary message from Henry.

"What's the matter, Garry?"

"Nothing...only I've just found something worth living for." And
before John could ask the question which he had no intention of asking,
he poured himself out another drink. "Well, it's been a very interesting
day," he said, in a matter-of-fact-voice.

"What decided it? Was my statement any good?"

Garry grinned at this.

"About as good as a pain in the neck! You nearly got me warned off
without Wenda's letter. Why the devil did you back the horse with people
who couldn't show the records of the bets?"

Dory groaned.

"I've explained that so many thousands of times--Garry." Garry, who was
sitting at the writing-table, looked round. "How's the old bank balance?"
asked John carelessly.

"What little there is is good," smiled his friend.

John did not know of the legacy that had come to him. He had found no
opportunity of telling of his good fortune; indeed, the matter had only
been definitely and irrevocably fixed the previous week.

"I suppose you're pretty well squared up on your winnings and the sale of
your horses, with a balance on the right side?"

Garry nodded.

"Thank the Lord for that!" said John. And then, as a thought occurred to
him: "Have you touched the little nest egg?"

Garry looked at him in amazement. He had forgotten all about the money
that Wenda had held.

"The money you put aside," said John.

Garry shook his head.

"No, I haven't touched it."

"Is it all right?" asked John.

"Of course it is," said Garry loudly.

"Who holds it?"

"My dear fellow, I wish you wouldn't ask questions."

Garry's anger surprised himself. The question aroused too many unpleasant
ghosts for his happiness.

"Sorry I asked you," said John soothingly.

There was a long silence.

"Don't forget I owe you five and a half thousand--I took eleven to two to
a thousand pounds for you on the Leger. You remember I told you?"

Garry shook his head.

"You wicked old devil!" he said. "You invented that on the spur of the
moment because you think I'm broke. Well, I'm not. No, I'm not going to
take money from you."

John Dory protested.

"I said if the horse was all right on the day of the race I'd back it for
you."

"You never mentioned any horse," said Garry; "and the winner of the Leger
has been second favourite for a month. No, you're not going to make me a
present of five and a half thousand--God bless you for the thought!"

"Make you a present!" John laughed hollowly. "Don't be silly! Whoever
heard of a bookmaker making presents?"

And then, as Garry continued to smile and shake his head, he threw up his
hands in despair.

"Why did this happen?" he asked irritably.

"Let's forget it," said Garry.

"Is there nothing I can do--"

"There's nothing you can do," said Garry. "I'm warned off. You can't warn
me on again! Warned off! It's like a nightmare. It'll be in The
Calendar--'The Stewards of the Jockey Club held an inquiry into the
running of Rangemore in the Ascot Stakes, and, having heard the evidence,
warned Captain Garry Anson off Newmarket Heath and all the courses--'"

"Shut up, for God's sake!" said John harshly. "It was my fault. I made
you back the darned thing."

"Your fault? You're drunk!" said Garry. "No, it was the letter. Wenda
swore she never had the second note. That settled me. Fine old English
gentlemen, they couldn't disbelieve a lady." He drew a long breath. "I'd
have given something to have had a criminal judge on that inquiry!"

"Do you mind if I ask you something?" said John, after another
interregnum of quiet. "This isn't a case of spite because you're--well,
because you've dropped her?"

Garry shook his head.

"No, that would be easy to understand. But she was never mine to drop. We
have never been anything but the best of friends. No, John, this is a
case similar to the one you told me about--it's hatred because she's
played me a dirty trick, hates herself for doing it and hates me worse
because she hates herself."

Dory stared at him. Suddenly he understood.

"Your money!" he said. "She had it and she's gone back on you!"

"No!" said Garry loudly.

"She had it--she was the person who was holding it, and when you asked
her for it she turned you down!"

"She lost it," said Garry, "Don't let's talk about it; it's very
unpleasant--"

"Lost it!" scoffed Dory. "She never lost anything in her life! When she
loses she doesn't pay--she's on the back of my book for six hundred."

"Your book?" said Garry incredulously. "You mean she owes you six hundred
pounds?"

Six hundred pounds was a modest estimate, as John Dory knew, but it was
sufficient to open Garry Anson's eyes.

"Her name is Mrs Never-pay," he said bluntly. "She's a monkey woman."

Then, seeing his friend's expression.

"You know how they catch monkeys, don't you? They put a bit of fruit in a
gourd with a narrow neck; the monkey puts in his hand--I mean his
paw--grabs the fruit, and his fist is so big that he can't get it out. He
hasn't the sense to drop the fruit, and he's caught. He won't let go--she
won't let go! She's got your money--phew!"

He strode tragically to the table, picked up an empty whisky decanter and
looked at it thoughtfully.

"She must be a remarkable creature." Garry was speaking half to himself.
"The pluck of it--to say: 'I've got your money and I'm not going to give
it to you.' Could you do that?"

John turned with a start.

"No, but I've known backers do it," he said feelingly. "Can I have
another drink?"

"Surely. Ring for it. And all these years to pretend! Well, John, there's
the enemy." He slapped his knees and rose to his feet. "What am I going
to do?"

"What have you done?" asked John.

"I threatened to sue her. Of course I couldn't have done that. But she
probably got into a panic and sent the letter to the stewards. That's the
only explanation I have for her behaviour."

John was looking at him thoughtfully.

"There was nothing--how shall I put it?--between you?" he asked
tentatively.

Garry laughed.

"That's a pretty original phrase! No, she's a--well, whatever she is,
she's a virtuous woman. I don't believe that Liverpool story of Willie's.
If I'd only taken the number of that banknote!"

"Do you think it's gone back to the bank?" asked John.

Garry considered this.

"Why shouldn't it? She could easily have rubbed out the message."

Another possible solution came to Dory, who placed no great value on the
reform of ex-criminals.

"Do you think our friend Hillcott slipped it out of the envelope?"

"Hillcott? Rubbish!" said Garry scornfully. "No, I trust my old burglar
pal. Besides, I saw it in her hand."

That hundred-pound note puzzled him. Knowing Wenda as he did now, he had
been baffled by her attitude. She was a woman to whom money meant so much
more than it meant to any other person he knew. That she should have
burnt it was unthinkable, and he had at the back of his mind a dim
conviction that she had made no attempt to pass it again into
circulation.

"I was probably a fool not to call Hillcott as a witness before the
stewards," he said, sitting down at his desk.

"That's what I say."

It was Hillcott's smug voice. He had come in, as was usual in his case,
without knocking, without making his presence known. Hillcott was not
above acquiring first-hand information on most subjects by any means
which suggested themselves to him.

Garry looked at him for a long time thoughtfully. It was extremely
doubtful if the stewards would have accepted Hillcott's unsupported
statement that he had given the note into Wenda's hands, particularly as
she had already conveyed to the turf authorities the man's doubtful
antecedents. But there was another possibility...

"Hillcott, do you remember my writing a letter on the back of a banknote
on the first day of Ascot?" he asked.

Hillcott nodded. He remembered the circumstances very well, had retailed
the story, not to Garry's housemaid, whom he loathed, but to his cronies
who, curiously enough, comprised the household staff of Welbury Hall.

"Yes. I lent you the pencil," he said.

Garry's eyebrows went up.

"Of course you did!"

Fumbling in his pocket, Hillcott produced two inches of dingy wood.

"Here it is--the very one!"

He held it up for inspection.

"I've had it for years. In fact, I've marked my shirts with that pencil
for four years."

John stared at him.

"Marked your shirts with it?"

"On the collar," explained Hillcott. "You know what happens to a shirt at
the laundry, don't you? You send out a new shirt and get back an old
camisole."

Garry Anson reached out his hand and took the pencil.

"And you mark them with that pencil?" he said slowly. "Let me see it."

"They don't cost much," said the informative Hillcott. "You can buy 'em
for sixpence. I pinched that one from the milkman."

Garry wetted the end of the pencil, rubbed it on his finger and gasped.

"Well, what do you think of that?" he asked breathlessly.

John walked across, examined the blue mark on the finger and was still
unenlightened.

"What about it?"

"A copying pencil," said Garry slowly. "Do you see?"

Hillcott smirked.

"That's right--indelible." he said. "That's why it's lasted so long."

The full significance of the discovery dawned upon John Dory.

"Good Lord! Then the message on the back of the note wouldn't rub out!"

That was the thought that filled Garry's mind. He had neither seen nor
handled a copying pencil since he was a child, but his thoughts flashed
back to a certain incident when le was a schoolboy and had marked a
library book, to his own undoing.

"If she couldn't rub it out," he said slowly, "the note has not gone back
to the bank."

He heard a gasp from Hillcott. The tremendousness of the man's conclusion
had rendered him speechless and he was making ineffectual and grotesque
signs.

"What's the matter with you?" asked Garry, in astonishment.

"If it's not gone back to the bank," Hillcott found his voice, and a very
hollow voice--"I'll bet you it's in that tinpot safe of hers!"

"Safe?"

Garry knew Welbury House very well. He had never seen a safe there and
indeed there was very little that either Willie or his wife had that was
of such value that it could be put behind closed doors.

"What safe?" he asked.

"She's got a safe in her room," said Hillcott, almost tremulously.

"In her bedroom?"

The little man nodded.

"That's right, in her bedroom."

"How do you know?" demanded Garry sternly.

Hillcott was visibly embarrassed.

"I've seen it," he said.

Garry ran his fingers through his hair, bewildered.

"You've seen it? You mean you've been in Lady Panniford's bedroom?"

Hillcott inclined his head gravely. It was, he felt instinctively, not a
moment for jest.

"The 'ousemaid showed me round the 'ouse," he said "Lady Panniford wasn't
there."

"I should hope not!" said Garry indignantly. "Well?"

"I seen it," said Hillcott. "Mind you, I've seen that sort o: thing
before--hundreds of 'em, you might say thousands of 'em--jag jog jig
jug!"

Garry stared at him. John Dory was momentarily suspicious.

"What do you mean by that?" asked Garry.

"Bag beg bog big," said Hillcott.

The two men exchanged glances. John nodded.

"I'm afraid he has looked upon the wine when it was red," he said.

"Are you drunk?" demanded Garry.

Hillcott closed his eyes wearily.

"I wish you meant it," he said. "No; I'm talking about the safe. It's a
Weiler. There's hundreds of 'em in country houses They're fireproof and
rainproof. A burglar doesn't have to open 'em, he just breathes on 'em."

He gave an illustration; it was annoying to John, who stood nearest to
him.

"They're easy, are they?" asked Garry.

"Easy?" said the scornful Hillcott. "They're not easy, they're childish!
They're combination safes. Jag jug jig jag, bag beg bog big, sit sot set
sat--"

A light dawned on Garry.

"I see what you mean--a combination safe of thee letters."

Hillcott nodded.

"You've only got to try thirty combinations and you're bound to get it
open. You can always hear when you've struck the first letter--it makes a
sort of little click. A feller I know used to take a stereoscope--one of
them things doctors have to listen to your chest--"

"A stethoscope," suggested Dory.

"Something like that. You put it against the safe and you can hear when
you've found the first letter. Personally, I can hear it without."

"Did you ever open one of these in your professional career?" asked John.

Hillcott smiled pityingly.

"You might as well ask me if I've ever opened a cupboard door. Yes, I've
opened a dozen, but I never had the luck to find anything in one."

A long silence followed, Garry looking thoughtfully at John.

"That's all right, Hubert," he said. "Bring some more whisky."

Hillcott was visibly disappointed. The conversation had taken a most
interesting turn; he thought events might have developed on fascinating
lines. He picked up the empty decanter and strolled out. He did not close
the door--Hillcott never closed doors or any other avenue of vicarious
information. Garry crossed the room after him, pulled the door shut and
came back to where John was standing.

He knew all that his friend was thinking; there was no need to go into
any elaborate preamble.

"What do you think?" asked Garry.

Dory pursed his lips.

"It's a pretty desperate idea," he said.

"It's a pretty desperate situation," said Garry.

"Is she staying here the night?"

Garry nodded.

"Is Willie here?"

"I don't think so. I have a dim recollection that somebody said he was in
London, or had gone to London. Lascarne, of course, is staying
there--he's the only man in the house, and what a Hercules!"

He dropped into a deep chair. John could almost see his mind working.

"What was it Molly called her?" he mused. "Hoarder! I think I understand
Wenda a little. She could no more destroy that hundred-pound note than I
could smash a looking-glass."

"Do you think it would be there, in the safe--wouldn't she keep it at her
bank?"

Garry shook his head.

"I don't know. I shouldn't imagine she'd take it to the bank--Good Lord,
of course she wouldn't! She's told me half a dozen times that she
wouldn't keep money in a bank vault. She has an idea that the manager has
a duplicate set of keys and goes down and examines the contents of all
the deposit boxes. Wenda has queer ideas about people."

Garry bit his lip thoughtfully.

"I don't know...I don't even know which is her room. But Hillcott
does!"

"Are you sending him to--um--do the job, if you'll excuse the
expression?"

"Good Lord, no!" scoffed Garry. "Send Hillcott? That'd be a dirty trick."

"No more than she deserves," suggested John.

But Garry was not thinking of Wenda's fine feelings: his mind was on
Hubert, who had had two convictions and would certainly get penal
servitude for the next.

"I don't suppose he'd do it, anyway," said John.

"Do it!" Garry laughed. "He'd jump at it. It's any odds that he's spied
out the land already. It would be second nature to him."

"If you don't send Hillcott you'll do it yourself?"

Garry nodded. The idea was already taking definite and exciting shape in
his mind.

John Dory drew a long breath.

"Well, I'm not a very good burglar--" he began.

"You're a bookmaker," said Garry, "which is the next best thing!"

"--but I'm very good at holding ladders."

John Dory was trying to be cheerful and made a dismal failure of it. At a
signal from Garry he rang the bell and Hillcott came back with a full
decanter.

He moved at his leisure, anticipating the demand for information which
was coming to him. He lingered long enough for Garry to make the plunge.

"Hillcott." He called the man over to him. "Which is Lady Panniford's
bedroom?"

There was a mysterious look of scepticism in Mr Hillcott's eyes.

"Don't you know?" he asked. "In the left wing, looking towards the lawn.
It has two casement windows; there's a little dressing-room built out in
front. There's a gardener's ladder hanging against the potting shed--it's
easy!"

"What did I tell you?" breathed Garry. "He's reconnoitred the house from
roof to basement!"

Hillcott purred, then suddenly felt he had to justify himself.

"It's a matter of habit, you see--not that I ever thought of doing
anything wrong, Captain. I'd no more dream of going wrong--"

"Your sentiments do you credit, Hillcott," interrupted Garry. "Where is
the safe located?"

"It's in the wall, between the bed and the window," said Hillcott
eagerly. "You put your hand round the window to open it."

He stepped back and looked at Garry.

"I could work out the combination in five minutes--I used to know 'em by
heart."

He looked at John Dory furtively, then at his employer.

"Do you want me to do a bust?" he asked in a hoarse whisper.

"A bust?"

Hillcott waggled his head impatiently.

"Well, a burglary, to use a more vulgar expression."

Garry chuckled.

"No, Hubert, bless you! I'll do all the busting that's necessary."

He walked quickly to his desk and sat down, pulled out a sheet of paper
and unscrewed a fountain pen.

"Come over here; I want to get this right. Come along, John, you're in
this too. Anyway, now that the totalisator's come you'll have to learn a
new trade."

He drew a rough sketch plan from memory.

"Roughly, here's the front of the house," he said.

Hillcott, leaning over his shoulder, prompted him.

"There's another bedroom there," he pointed. "There's the landing, and
that sticking out bit is the dressing-room or bathroom. There's the
window--there's another one there. There's the bed--a very nice bed, too,
though personally I like a bed to be a bed and not covered with cupids
and whatnots."

Garry sketched the marvellous bed.

"And there's the safe." Hillcott pointed. "Put an 'e' against it for
'easy'. It's about so high from the floor." He indicated his throat. "You
can't see it; there's a little picture that hides the door of the safe."

"A picture of what?" asked Garry.

"Young women," said Hillcott. "It's farcical--they've got no clothes on.
The frame works on a hinge--it opens like that." He waggled his hand to
and fro.

"Supposing she's got a gun?" said John.

"Don't be silly!" said Hillcott outrageously. "If she had a gun she'd
only shoot herself. Women can't use firearms, as all the world knows.
Now, listen, Captain, I could do this job for you sweet."

Garry shook his head.

"No, you're not going near the place."

"It's not a job for an amateur," said Hillcott.

"I'm not an amateur, I'm a professional bad man," said Garry grimly. "Now
tell me where that ladder's kept?"

It was kept, as Hillcott explained, in a potting shed behind the hedge,
and he drew Garry's attention to the fact that he had not drawn the
hedge.

"Now, Hillcott, you know nothing about this."

"Naturally," said Hillcott complacently.

"You're not coming into it at all."

Hillcott smiled.

"Don't worry about me; I know how to talk to a judge."

"I know," agreed Garry. "That's what I'm afraid of. If anybody goes to
prison it will be Mr Dory or me--probably both."

John blinked hard.

"That'll be very interesting."

"You won't go to prison," said Hillcott. "If you do, ask to be sent to
Parkhurst; the food's better."

John Dory lit another cigarette; his hand was shaking slightly.

"What is it like at Brixton? I'd rather be in town."

Hillcott, who had very little sense of humour, accepted the inquiry
literally and was explaining the relative values of prison dietaries when
an idea struck him and he turned to Garry.

"I know what you're going after--that hundred!" And, when Garry nodded:
"I'll go and watch and see when the lights go out," he said.

"Now listen, Hubert! You'll stay here with the housemaid and establish an
alibi. Ask her to sit up with you."

"I'd sooner do six months!" said Hillcott loudly.

"You're out of this, Hubert--you understand?"

"What do we want in the way of clothes?" asked John.

The novelty of the situation was brightening up an otherwise dismal
prospect.

They would want, explained Hillcott, rubber overshoes and gloves,
preferably thin gloves to work in. Gloves were an essential part of the
burglar's equipment: they left no fingermarks. And a small torch was
necessary. There was one upstairs, he remembered. And also a pair of
thick socks.

"To put on your feet?" asked the interested John.

"Put 'em on the top of the ladder, so that you don't make a noise against
the brickwork. But for the Lord's sake don't forget to bring 'em
back--they've got your name on!"

"Do we want a jemmy?"

Hillcott made faces to express his derision.

"A jemmy! Why, a paperknife ain't necessary! I'll go and see if I can
work out the combination--jag jug jog jig, beg big bog bag, din dun don
den..."

"Look at my hand," said Garry, when he had gone. It was trembling.

"That's not too good," said Dory.

"I'll get over that in a minute," said Garry. "It isn't the fear of
burgling a house, it's the thought that I can go tomorrow to Garth and
Innsbrook and stop that notice."

"Tomorrow? When is The Calendar published?"

"In the afternoon."

"The warning-off notice will be there--"

"It won't!" Garry almost shouted the words. "If I have to kill somebody
it won't!"

Then came Hillcott, unbidden, carrying in his hand a little red pocket
book. For a moment Garry thought that it might contain some secret
instrument for the accomplishment of his purpose.

"I forgot all about this," said Hillcott.

"What is it?" asked Garry curiously.

The man was turning the thing over in his hand, rubbing off against his
cuff the dust that covered one side of the book; a reprehensible practice
of Hillcott's, but one which Garry was prepared for the moment to
overlook.

"Do you remember old Lascarne--" he began.

"Mr Lascarne--yes," said Garry. "I don't have to exercise my memory very
hard. He was here tonight."

"Do you remember old--Mr Lascarne losing this, the week he was here at
Ascot?"

Garry frowned.

"Why, of course. You looked for it and couldn't find it. I'll give it to
him tomorrow. Where did you find it?"

"In the cupboard under the stairs."

As Hillcott handed the book across, something fluttered to the floor.

"What's that?"

"A bill," said Hillcott.

Garry looked at him sternly.

"I suppose there's nothing in this pocketbook you haven't read?"

"Nothing at all," said Hillcott. "Otherwise"--this with great
unction--"how was I to know it was old Lascarne's?"

Garry opened the bill and looked at it uncomprehendingly. It was an hotel
bill--a Liverpool hotel--and it was made out to Mr and Mrs Sundridge.
Even then he did not understand. And then dimly he remembered the scene
in that very room on the morning of the first day of Ascot, and Willie's
accusation, and Wenda's indignant denial. Here was the bill...in Henry
Lascarne's pocketbook.

"Well, I'll be--" began Garry.

For the moment he forgot the projected burglary.



19.


FATE HAD given him a tremendously powerful weapon, a weapon he would not
scruple to use if the occasion arose.

Under the direction of Hillcott he equipped himself for the evening's
work. Hillcott refused to be left behind; he, also, was a holder of
ladders and might be--probably would be--invaluable on the field of
action.

The thin gloves were most difficult to come by. Garry ransacked his
bureau to find two pairs. Eventually Hillcott got them from the cook--two
pairs of cotton gloves, one white, one a genteel grey. They had been
bought in Ostend.

"It's funny, you wouldn't think the old girl had ever been out of
England, would you? She went on a two days' excursion--"

"Spare me details of the cook's follies," said Garry.

He tried on the gloves; they were too big but would serve. Hillcott had
found a couple of electric torches and there were rubber goloshes in
plenty. Garry reduced the lights in the study to one and then they crept
out into the garden.

The easiest way would be through the garden itself, which adjoined
Welbury; but Hillcott counselled the road.

"There's nobody about at this time of night," he said. "The village
copper goes home at nine. His wife's expecting a baby. The patrol
sergeant went by a quarter of an hour ago--I saw the light of his
bicycle."

They walked in single file along the dark road. On the right, midway
between the two houses, was a narrow lane; as they passed, Garry threw up
the light of his torch, more to test it than for any other purpose.

"Don't go flashing that about," began Hillcott sharply. "Is there
anything there, sir?"

Garry had stopped. Parked in the lane he had seen a car.

"That's a pretty big fellow," he said. "Come and have a look, John."

It was not only big but new, an Italian car of imposing performance, with
an enormous radiator that glittered in the rays of his torch. It was
brand new; the paintwork shone like lacquer. It could not have come from
the makers' hands more than a few days before. Throwing his torch on the
speedometer, Garry saw that it had covered less than a thousand miles.

"Who on earth leaves a brand new Isotta in a dark lane with all its
lights out?" he asked. "Who's got an Isotta round here, Hillcott?"

Hillcott had never seen, it before, could not even guess its ownership.
Garry was puzzled. He walked round the machine; three large suitcases
were strapped on the roof grid. There was a heavy overcoat on the
driver's seat.

"That's odd," he said, and came back to the main road.

Before he had time to discuss the mystery of the car he saw a figure
walking slowly towards it. He was in the middle of the road, and
recognized the shape and movement of it.

"You two get back and try the garden entrance," he whispered. "I'll go
on. I think he spotted me."

"Who is it?" asked John.

Garry signalled him to get back and he himself went on, lighting a
cigarette. Lascarne stood in the middle of the road, waiting for him. He
wore a light overcoat turned up to his ears, for the night was chilly.

"Hullo! Taking a stroll?" he asked. "I'm just off to Ascot."

"I thought you were spending the night here."

"Don't be absurd, my dear fellow. I couldn't stay the night--Willie's in
town. I'm walking over to collect my car at Ascot. I say, I'm terribly
sorry about this business."

"I think you said that before," said Garry.

For the moment he had forgotten 'this business', and he certainly had no
wish to be reminded of Stewards and Racing Calendars and the consequences
of his Ascot indiscretion.

"Wenda's terribly upset. She's gone to bed."

"Willie's in town, is he?" asked Garry, more to change the subject than
from any interest in Willie's movements.

"Yes; he's coming down tomorrow. What are you doing out so late?"

It was a bold question, coming from Henry. Mr Lascarne was, as a rule,
entirely incurious about other people's business.

"Good for the figure, Henry, a little walk after supper."

He passed on, but Lascarne's voice brought him back.

"I say--" he was awkward and embarrassed "--I hope you don't mind me
saying this...but if things aren't going too well with you--I mean
financially--you can--er--call on me for anything you want--I
mean...money..."

He was so embarrassed, so obviously sincere, that Garry warmed to him.
Henry Lascarne was the last man in the world he expected would offer him
help; it was another of those curiously unexpected things that happen in
real life.

"That's terribly good of you, Henry; but really, I don't want money."

"I know I'm not a friend of yours," Lascarne stumbled on. "I mean, I'm
not exactly--"

"I know what you mean." Garry patted him on the shoulder. "I'm awfully
grateful. But honestly, I'm rolling in wealth."

He would have gone on, but Henry again interrupted him.

"I mean, I'm not giving you something for nothing. I should charge you
interest and all that sort of thing, because it's business."

Garry's laugh stopped him.

"Don't spoil it, Henry. I'm leaving you with a feeling that you're a
generous old soul and you insist on representing yourself as a usurer."

Henry puzzled him; but then he realized that Henry had always puzzled
him.

He was nearing Welbury House when he heard the sound of a car coming
towards him and wondered if it were the new one he had just passed. The
noise it made, however, was familiar. The car slowed as it passed him and
he saw its tall light disappearing into the drive of Welbury House. Here
was a new complication, for he had recognized the car as Willie's.

Going ahead cautiously, he turned into the drive and had another
surprise, for he found the car parked on the grass verge in the shade of
a big chestnut. The radiator was hot. Why had Willie left it here? There
was a big stable yard into which it was usually driven.

Garry went farther along, keeping a sharp look-out for the man, but did
not see him. The house was in darkness. Wenda's room he could now
distinguish, thanks to Hillcott's plan. There was no light in her window
or in the lower part of the house.

Willie had a room in the farther wing, with a private entrance. Garry
moved noiselessly to the far wing, but found no evidence that the owner
of the house had reached his apartment. He went on to the lower garden
and here he found John Dory and Hillcott and held a whispered council of
war.

"It almost looks as if Panniford had come down from London to collect
something and he's going away immediately. He's left his car in the drive
near the gate."

"Everybody's leaving cars about tonight," said Dory irritably. The
adventure was getting on his nerves.

"We've got to take the risk, anyway," said Garry. "Where's that ladder?"

They found it after a brief search. It was chained to the wall, but then,
as Hillcott explained in a whisper, ladders are very often chained to
walls without really bothering the people who needed them. With the aid
of an ingenious instrument he carried, he wrenched out the staples and
the three men lifted the ladder to the ground. Getting it through the
complications of a kitchen garden, through the lych gates, around
peculiarly acute angles of walls, was a difficult and hair-raising
business. Hillcott seemed to have the eyes of a cat. He went ahead, with
one hand steadying the end of the ladder, which the two men carried and,
thanks to his guidance, they were able to reach the lawn without mishap,
though John Dory had twice blundered into a frame, happily without hurt,
for the glass lid of it was raised.

There was still no sound from the house and no sign of life or movement.
Hillcott drew the socks on to the end of the ladder and himself raised it
and placed it gently in position. One of the casement windows was ajar.
Again he repeated to Garry the exact location of every article of
furniture in the room.

"Up you go," he whispered and Garry began the ascent.

His heart was beating wildly; he was almost sick with excitement; his
mouth and throat were dry; the hands that gripped the side of the ladder
were trembling. Worse than this, his legs were curiously powerless; he
could hardly drag his feet from rung to rung.

Half-way up he stopped to get breath and to gain resolution and quietude
of mind, then, he continued to the top, pushed open, the casement, lifted
the catch noiselessly and, with his head whirling, groped one leg into
the room and gently lowered himself to the floor.

There was, in this room of Wenda's, a curiously lovely fragrance that was
so faint as to be almost imperceptible, yet so distinct as to overpower
him. He stood in the shadow of the curtains listening. There was no sound
but the loud thumping of his own heart. At that moment he would have
given all he possessed to be safely in his own study.

And then there came to him a realization of what it would mean to him if
he found what he had set out to find and that thought steadied and nerved
him.

Still no sound. He put out his hand gingerly and groped along the wall.
Presently he found the outline of a picture frame. He pulled at its edge,
as Hillcott had directed. It swung back like a door and beneath he
touched a cold steel knob.

He listened again; there was no sound. Wenda was sleeping heavily. It was
odd to think that she was here, within reach of him, the woman who had
betrayed him, who had lied him to ruin, sleeping peacefully...It was
unbelievable, unrealizable.

He threw a pinpoint of light from his torch on to the dial beneath the
knob of the safe and began working out combinations, listening for the
clicks which would tell him he had found the first letter. Hillcott's
hearing must have been more acute than his, for he heard nothing. He
tried twenty combinations and was growing desperate. Then, suddenly, a
voice said:

"Who's there?"

It was Wenda. He stood still, hardly daring to breathe.

"Who's there?" asked the voice again, and he heard the creak of the bed
as somebody moved.

He edged nearer to the window, when suddenly came a click and a flood of
light. Wenda, her dressing-gown wound round her sat on the other side of
the bed, staring at him.

"Garry!" she gasped. "Garry!"

He saw her eyes go swiftly to the bolted door, then they came back to
him. Then they fell upon a little clock on a shelf near where he stood.
He noticed mechanically that it was an alarm clock and that the alarm
hand was pointing at four. Why did Wenda want to wake at four, he
wondered vaguely.

"Good God! Garry! You! What are you doing here? You've been trying to
open my safe!"

It brought his mind back to his objective and to his own position. He
felt uncomfortably foolish.

"Yes, I've been trying to open your safe."

It was a futile rejoinder, but there was no other that suggested itself
at that moment.

"What do you want?" she asked.

What did he want? Even that important detail had gone out of his mind.

"Money," he said.

Her brows met.

"Money?"

He nodded.

"A certain hundred-pound note."

He was feeling more sure of himself, less of a fool.

"Oh, I see," she nodded. Then the corner of her lips curled. "I never had
it. I'd forgotten that little fiction of yours...how ridiculous!"

"It doesn't make me laugh," said Garry.

There was a little pause; he saw the colour coming back to the pale face.
It was not embarrassment but anger which moved her.

"Get out of here before I call somebody."

She reached for the telephone. Garry could afford to smile.

"It's all right, my dear; you needn't bother to phone--the wires are cut.
I have forgotten nothing." He pointed to the wall. "Open that safe."

"Are you mad?" she gasped.

"No, I'm very sane. I want that safe opened and I want to see what's
inside it," he said.

He was cool enough now. She had lost the first round of the fight, and
knew it.

"If you don't get out of here I'll call Willie," she said. "It is
monstrous--"

"I shouldn't call Willie if I were you. It is much easier to open the
safe. Just think how foolish I shall look if the thing I expect to find
there isn't there at all!"

Again she looked at the door and now her manner changed.

"Oh, Garry. don't be a fool! You're drunk! just imagine how ridiculous
you'd look if I sent for the servants and a policeman. Whatever induced
you to do a stupid thing like this? Come over and see me in the
morning--and talk things over."

Garry shook his head.

"I'll talk things over here and now. By morning that note will be burnt.
It would break your heart, but you'd do it. I want a hundred-pound note
with a message written on the back."

He could speak with assurance, almost with certainty. He knew now that
the note was there, would have wagered his life on it. Wenda would never
have parleyed if the safe had been empty. She was fencing for time, could
even in her rage simulate the old attitude of geniality and friendship.
How much of a simulation it was she showed him immediately, when her tone
changed.

"I'll see you dead before I give it to you!" she breathed, and his heart
leapt.

"A word will open this safe. Give me that word," he said.

She was clasping and unclasping her hands, her bright eyes never leaving
his.

"Oh, Garry, don't be so melodramatic! Now go home and be sensible."

"I want to search that safe," said Garry, "and I'll not go until I do."

"Then you'll stay here until I send for the police," she said furiously.

His answer was to strip his gloves and throw them on the bed.

"Send for them. I'm sorry now I cut the wire."

He looked round the room. It was quite a charming room. Hillcott had said
so, and he was a man of taste. Wenda did not hide her fury now; she
almost sprang towards him.

"You beast...you..."

"Will you open the safe?"

"I'll be damned if I will!" she breathed. "You should have sent Hillcott
to do this work--he wouldn't have wakened me. I should have left it to
the alarm clock--"

"What's happening at four this morning?" he asked.

She drew back as though she had been struck.

"I--I don't know what you mean," she faltered.

"I notice your alarm clock is set at four."

"I never use it...it's been like that since I had it."

He lifted the clock and was about to turn the hands when she snatched it
from him.

"How stupid you are! Garry, you're behaving like a man in a play."

She looked towards the safe.

"You don't imagine you'd find anything here, do you? I paid the note into
the bank."

"Did you rub out the message?" he asked.

"Of course I did."

No simulation now. She was being quite frank to all appearance.

He shook his head.

"The message was written in copying pencil and it couldn't be rubbed
out--I suppose you discovered that for yourself."

"Will you go?" she said. "If Willie knew you were here--"

"Call him," he suggested and she took hold of herself, checked the
exasperation that was near to panic.

"You're blackmailing me!"

"Yes, I'm blackmailing you."

He took from his pocket a little red cover.

"Do you see this?"

She looked at it; for a moment it had no meaning.

"What is it?"

"Something to go into your safe when it is opened." he said slowly and
deliberately. "A pocketbook containing an hotel bill. The Adelphi Hotel,
Liverpool...Mr and Mrs Sundridge. Somebody kept it as a souvenir and lost
it."

Her face had gone a shade paler. Knowing all that he knew a few days
later, he could never understand what she found in that bill so
discreditable that its possession by himself was unbearable to her. Was
there an especial romance in this, or was it that she wished to clear up
the one incident that might bring her into court and disturb the serenity
of the life she had planned?

She walked swiftly past him, turned the knob deftly and surely and he
watched.

"Sin--s-i-n" he repeated. "Hubert didn't think of that."

She was going to put her hand into the deep recess that was revealed when
the circular steel door swung open, but he caught her by the wrist.

"I'll look."

He pulled out paper after paper. Almost the first things he found were
the bearer bonds that she had lost. He stuffed them in his pocket and
continued his search. Then his fingers closed on something crisp and he
drew out a banknote and could have shouted with joy when he saw the
blurred message written on its back.

"What have you got to say?" he breathed."

"Here's the twenty thousand you lost and the message you never received."

He looked at the note again.

"You tried to rub it out, but you couldn't."

"Give me that book." Her voice was hard, unemotional.

His heart was full of sorrow for her in that moment of her humiliation.

"Wenda, how could you do it? How could you do it?"

"Give me the book."

He took the bonds from his pocket and turned them over.

"There's fifteen thousand here. You used the other five. You thought you
might as well hang for a sheep as for a lamb. Wenda, you fool, if you'd
wanted money--"

"If I wanted money!" Her pent fury, burst forth in a torrent. "Who are
you...what are you to sit in judgement on me? I hate you! I've always
hated you! You had no right to give me the money. You knew I was poor,
that I hated poverty, that I'd got a sot of a husband; you tempted me the
only kind of temptation that a man like you could offer me! Now give me
the book and get out!"

He held up his hand suddenly to cheek her. He had heard a sound outside,
the creak of a floorboard.

"Where does Willie sleep?" he said in a low voice.

"He's in London--" she began impatiently.

"He's not in London; his car passed me on the road. I saw it in the drive
as I came up."

Her mouth opened in consternation.

"You're trying to frighten me...you're lying!"

"Don't be absurd."

He caught her by the arm and drew her to the window. From where they
stood he could see the dim lights of the car twinkling through the
overhanging leaves of the trees.

"It's there."

He could hear her quick breathing.

"How long has it been there?"

"Over half an hour. The radiator was hot when I passed."

"But--"

The palm of his hand went over her mouth. His lips went close to her car.

"I saw the door handle turning. Is it locked?"

She nodded.

"Wenda! Open this damned door, will you? You've got a man there--I know
you've got a man there!"

It was the roar of Willie's bull voice.

"Open the door or I'll break it in!"

The door shook furiously. Wenda looked from the door to a small table by
the side of the bed. For the first time Garry noticed that her open
dressing-case was there and that on a chair near by were her folded
clothes.

"What am I to do?"

He thought quickly.

"There's nothing for you to do. It's up to me."

To her horror he walked straight to the door, turned the key, slipped
back the bolt and flung it open. Willie came staggering in. He was in
dishevelled evening dress; his tie had worked round under his ear, his
hair was untidy, his red, inflamed face distorted with fury.

"Ah, Garry!" He almost screamed the words. "Garry Anson, eh...I guessed
it!"

Molly came in, her face as white as death, drawing on her dressing-gown
as she came.

"What is it? Oh, Willie, what is it?"

She stared at Garry, unbelievingly and then at Wenda; and then her eyes
wandered to the open safe; and Garry, watching her, saw her smile and
knew that she understood.

"You want to know what it's all about do you?" quavered Willie. "That's
what it's all about!" He pointed to Garry. "I've known this has been
going on for some time...now I've caught you!"

"Don't make a fool of yourself," said Garry.

"You thought I'd gone to London, eh, didn't you? You thought I was out of
the way--you came to make it up, I suppose?"

He drew near threateningly, but Garry did not move.

"If I had a gun I'd shoot you...you swine!" He glared at his wife. "As
for you, you little brute, you lying, deceitful...!"

He lurched drunkenly towards her. Garry caught him by the lapels of his
coat and swung him round.

"Willie, when you've recovered from your hysteria you will see that a
burglary has been committed." He pointed to the safe.

"Don't tell me a lot of--"

"Shut up! Do you want all the world to know what a fool you are?" said
Garry and pushed him bodily towards the evidence of burglary.

He staggered up, blinked at the open safe door and then at the stockinged
top of the ladder against the window.

"Burglary?" he rubbed his head stupidly and then glowered down at Garry.
"What are you doing here?"

"I'm being a good neighbour," said Garry lightly.

It was here that Wenda found her voice.

"Are you satisfied?" she asked.

"What's he doing here?" Willie pointed a shaking forefinger at the
intruder. "That's what I want to know."

"If it comes to that," said Garry, "what is John Dory doing here?"

He walked to the window and whistled. John Dory, who had stood on the
lawn undecided whether he should fly or stand his ground, came to the
foot of the ladder.

"Just step up and meet a friend of mine, will you, John?"

John came up with visions of prison and solitary cells dangling before
his eyes. His first words when he reached the window level, were:

"Well, I'm in it too! I suppose we'll get ten years for this."

"You saw the burglar, didn't you?" said Garry loudly. "You remember, we
found the ladder against the window and we came over to see what help we
could give."

Willie's fury had died out. He lumbered across the room to where Wenda
was sitting and laid his heavy hand on her shoulder.

"Sorry, old girl," he mumbled.

Garry took Molly by the arm and led her to the door.

"You get to bed. I'll not be seeing you in the morning; I've got a long
journey ahead of me, but you will dine with me tomorrow night and we'll
fix things."

He kissed her and Wenda permitted herself to smile sourly.

"Replenishing your fortunes, Garry?" she asked avidly.

Garry nodded.

"Something like that," he said.

Willie went away, at his suggestion, to interview the police--it had been
Hillcott's idea to cut the telephone wires, on the whole a very excellent
idea. Garry waited until the drone of Willie Panniford's car had died
away and then he held up the little red book. She would have snatched it
from him, but Garry had another request to make--a letter that he had
brought with him, addressed to the stewards. For possibly it needed this
confession to support the evidence of the banknote and with amazing
readiness she signed the document.

"I'm terribly sorry, Garry, that this happened as it has. I think I told
you once before that I get panic-stricken--I'm afraid you'll have to put
it all down to panic and hysteria and all the odd things that women plead
in extenuation of their most desperate deeds!"

She was flippant, almost gay and he wondered why.

"You'll marry Molly, of course? I always thought you would--I hope you'll
be happy. I suppose you don't want me to give you a receipt for this
book?"

There was a touch of the sardonic in her voice. "All you need do is to
say 'thank you'"

"Why 'thank you'?" she asked innocently.

"I've saved your fair name."

She laughed at this. "I'm sorry you haven't got all your money back, but
really my friendship was worth five thousand pounds. I've taught you
something about women that you didn't know before. As for Henry--well,
I'm awfully fond of Henry. By the way, have you seen his new car--that
beautiful Isotta?"

Garry walked to the door and paused.

"Why did you want to be wakened at four?"

She waved him out.

"Curiosity brought trouble to the Garden of Eden, Garry." she said and he
remembered a certain morning at Ascot and shuddered.

They were waiting for him below, Dory, with the socks in his hand,
impatient to be gone, Hillcott a little bored. They went back to Daneham
Lodge through the garden. It was nearly three o'clock before they
finished celebrating the great event and then Garry's chauffeur brought
the Rolls round.

As they moved down towards the road, a car reared past. Garry had a
glimpse of it--a brand new Isotta, with three big cases piled on top. It
was half past four...Wenda had not gone back to bed again and the
alarm that was to call her at four o'clock for an important engagement
was unnecessary.

Garry heard all about it from Molly when he came back from Doncaster. He
stopped in London to collect The Calendar, which was wet from the
printers' hands.

"They must have gone straight to the Continent, she and Henry. Willie was
heartbroken for nearly an hour. There'll be a divorce, of course and then
I hope Mrs Arkwright will make an honest man of him. But I do wish I knew
where Wenda had gone--it would be so embarrassing to meet her when we're
on our honeymoon, Garry."

"Look at this."

He picked up The Calendar from the table and paraded it triumphantly. It
was the same sedate publication she knew, but with a difference. On the
front page was a blank space, where evidently a notice had been expunged
at the last moment.

"The printers had to saw off the tops of the type with a chisel," said
Garry. "It was my warning-off notice. I'm going to have that Calendar
framed!"



THE END



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