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Title: The Man Who Was Nobody
Author: Edgar Wallace
* A Project Gutenberg Australia eBook *
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Language: English
Date first posted: August 2011
Date most recently updated: August 2011

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------------------------------------------------------------------------

Title: The Man Who Was Nobody
Author: Edgar Wallace

*


Chapter 1--AT ALMA'S FLAT


"Well, you've got him! What do you think of him?"

Augustus Javot's thin lips were twisted in a cynical smile as he surveyed
the scene. The small drawing-room was in confusion, the furniture had
been pushed against the wall in order to give the dancers a little more
room. One electric wall bracket had been twisted out of shape by a
drunken hand, and a great bowl of white lilac had been smashed and now
lay upon the floor in a confusion of broken china and wilted blooms. At
one end of the room a mechanical piano tinkled metallically and half a
dozen couples swayed through the motion of a two-step with unsteady feet
amidst a babble of raucous laughter and half-hysterical giggles.

The handsome girl who stood by Javot's side let her eyes wander about the
apartment till they rested upon a flushed youth who was at that moment
endeavouring to stand on his hands against the wall, encouraged thereto
by the ear-piercing cat-calls of one who was scarcely less sober than the
amateur acrobat. Alma Trebizond raised her eyebrows never so slightly and
turned to meet Javot's gaze.

"Beggars can't be choosers," she said complacently "He isn't very
impressive, but he is a baronet of the United Kingdom and has a rent-roll
of forty thousand a year."

"And the Tynewood diamond collar," murmured Javot. "It will be a new
thing to see you with a hundred thousand pounds of diamonds round your
pretty neck, my dear."

The girl fetched a long sigh, the sigh of one who has dared much and has
succeeded beyond her wildest hopes.

"It has turned out better than I expected," she said, and then: "I have
sent an announcement to the papers."

Javot looked at her sharply. He was a thin, hard-faced man, slightly
bald, and there was a hawk-like look in his cold eyes as he surveyed her
unsmilingly "You've sent to the papers?" he said slowly "I think you're a
bit of a fool, Alma!"

"Why?" she asked defiantly "I've nothing to be ashamed of--I'm as good
as he is! Besides, it's not unusual for an actress of my ability to
marry into the peerage." "It's not exactly the peerage," corrected
Javot, "but that's beside the point. He's particularly asked you to keep
the marriage secret." V "Why should I?" she demanded. A little smile
twinkled in his eyes. "There are many reasons," he said significantly
"and I could give you one if it were necessary You're not going to
send the announcement to the papers, Alma." "I've already done it," she
replied sullenly He made a little impatient noise. "You're starting
badly" he said. "Sir James Tynewood was not drunk when he asked you to
keep the marriage a secret for twelve months. He was particularly sober,
Alma, and he had a reason, you may be sure."

With an impatient shrug she turned from him and walked across to the
balancing youth who was now on his feet holding in a shaky hand a
champagne glass which his companion was endeavouring to fill, with
disastrous results to Alma's drawing-room carpet.

"I want you, Jimmie," she said, and linked her arm in the young man's.

He turned a flushed smiling face towards her.

"Wait a minute, darling," he said thickly "I'm just going to have another
glass with dear old Mark."

"You're coming along with me for a moment," she insisted, and with a
chuckle he dropped the glass to the floor, shivering it into a hundred
pieces.

"I'm married now eh?" he chuckled. "Got to obey the wife!"

She led him back to where Javot stood.

"Jimmie," she said suddenly, "I've sent the announcement of our wedding
to the papers."

He stared at her in drunken amazement and a frown gathered on his
forehead.

"Say that again," he repeated. "I've sent the announcement that Alma
Trebizond, the eminent actress, has married Sir James Tynewood, of
Tynewood Chase," she said coolly "I'm not going to have any secrecy about
this business, Jimmie. You're not ashamed of me?"

He had drawn his arm from hers and stood, the frown still upon his face,
his hand rumpling his hair in an effort of thought.

"I told you not to," he said with sudden violence. "Damn it, didn't I
tell you not to, Alma?" And then suddenly his mood changed, and flinging
back his head he roared with laughter.

"Well, that's the best thing I've heard," he gasped, wiping the tears of
merriment from his eyes. "Come and have a drink, Javot."

But Augustus Javot shook his head. "No, thank you, Sir James," he
replied. "If you will take my advice--"

"Pshaw!" scorned the other. "I take nobody's advice in these days. I've
taken Alma and that's all that matters, isn't it, darling?"

Javot watched him as he went across the room and shook his head. "I
wonder what his relations are going to say?" he asked softly.

The girl turned on him. "Does it matter what his relations say?" she
demanded. "Besides, he has no relations except a younger brother who's in
America, and he's only a half-brother, anyway What makes you so gloomy
tonight, Javot?" she said irritably "You're getting on my nerves."

Javot said nothing, but perched on the head of the sofa he watched the
girl as she joined her husband and permitted himself to wonder what
would be the end of the adventure.

The merriment was at its height when a diversion came. Alma's flat was in
a fashionable block overlooking the park and the appearance of a servant
in the doorway meant nothing more to Javot than that one of the tenants
of the flats beneath had sent up complaints about the noise. It was the
usual interruption to the gatherings which met in Alma's flat. This time,
however, the servant's message was important, for Alma signalled the
company to silence, and the voice of Sir James was heard inquiring: "For
me?"

"Yes, sir," said the servant. "She wants to see you."

"Who is it?" asked Alma.

"A young woman, my lady," said the servant, who was training herself to
address Alma in this unfamiliar style.

Alma laughed. "Another of your conquests, Jimmie?" she said, and James
Tynewood grinned sheepishly for vanity was not the least of his vices.

"Bring her in," he said loudly; but the servant hesitated.

"Bring her in," roared Tynewood, and the woman disappeared.

Presently she came back, followed by a girl, and at the sight of her
Javot's eyes lightened.

"That's a pretty girl," he thought, and pretty indeed she was. She looked
round from one to the other of the company and she was obviously far from
comfortable in those surroundings.

"Sir James Tynewood?" she asked in a soft voice.

"I'm Sir James Tynewood."

"I have a letter for you."

"For me?" repeated the other slowly "Who the dickens have you come from?"

"From Vance & Vance," said the girl, and the face of Sir James Tynewood
twitched.

"Oh you have, have you?" he said huskily Javot thought he detected a note
of apprehension in the tone.

"I don't know why Mr Vance wants to bother me at this hour."

He took the letter from the girl reluctantly and turned it over and over
in his hand.

"Open it, Jimmie," said Alma impatiently "You can't keep the girl
waiting."

A thin youth with a mop of red hair lurched forward, and before the
messenger could divine his intention he had clipped her round the waist.

"She's the partner I've been waiting for," he said hilariously. "Start up
the old piano, Billy!"

The girl struggled to escape but found herself pushed and swayed to the
tune that was hammered forth from the piano-player and saw nothing in the
vacuous faces about her but grinning approval.

"Let me go!" she cried. "Please let me go. You ought not to--"

"Dance, old darling, dance!" hiccoughed the youth, and then suddenly he
felt a hand upon his wrist.

"Let that lady go, please, Molton." It was Augustus Javot.

"You mind your own damn business," said the angry young man, but with a
smile Javot gently disengaged the girl.

"I'm sorry" he murmured, and took no further notice of her captor.

James Tynewood was opening the letter and Javot was too intent upon
watching his face to interest himself in the muttered threats at his
elbow. He saw Tynewood blink drunkenly at the letter and read word by
word the brief communication, and then suddenly the colour left the face
of the baronet and his lower lip trembled.

"What is the matter?" asked Alma sharply; for she too had observed the
signs.

Slowly the young man crushed the letter in his hands and a look of
malignity came to his face.

"Curse him, he has come back!" he said thickly.

"Who has come back?"

He did not reply for a moment and then: "The man I hate of all men in the
world!" he said, thrusting the letter into his pocket.

He turned his eyes upon the girl.

"Is there any message?" she asked timidly She was still white and
shaking.

"You can tell Vance that he can go to hell," said Sir James Tynewood.
"Give me some brandy somebody!"


Chapter 2--THE MAN FROM PRETORIA


Marjorie Stedman, confidential stenographer to the firm of Vance & Vance,
left Park Buildings, happy to find herself again in the cool air of a
spring evening. So that was Sir James Tynewood! Hitherto he had been a
name written upon one of the black deed boxes in her employer's office.
Sir James Tynewood! The bearer of an ancient and honoured name, a name
which to her mind recalled the chivalry of ancient days--and he was a
drunkard, a sot, a vulgarian who consorted with that kind of company! She
shivered at the recollection.

She reached the office in Bloomsbury after all the clerks had left. Mr
Vance, grey-haired, was waiting for her in his own office and he looked
at her curiously as she entered.

"Well, Miss Stedman, did you deliver my letter?" he asked.

 "Yes, Mr Vance," she said.

"To Sir James Tynewood?"

She nodded. The lawyer was eyeing her more keenly.

"What is the matter with you? You look a little pale. Have you had an
accident?"

She shook her head. "I had rather an uncomfortable experience," she said,
and related what had happened.

The lawyer bit his lip in annoyance. "I am sorry I did not think you
would be subjected to that kind of treatment or I would have gone
myself," he said. "You quite understand, Miss Stedman, that I could not
send one of the clerks."

"I know the message was confidential," she acknowledged. She did not tell
him that she had wondered why a clerk had not taken that letter, and as
if reading her thoughts the lawyer said:

"One day you will know why I asked you to go to see--Sir James Tynewood,"
he said. "I am very much obliged to you indeed. I suppose Sir James gave
you no answer?"

She hesitated. "He gave me one which I shouldn't care to repeat, for it
was somewhat uncomplimentary to you, Mr Vance," she said with a smile.

The lawyer nodded. "It is a bad business," he said after a pause..
"You're sure Sir James said nothing else?"

"Not to me," replied the girl. "He said--" she hesitated again. "A lady
asked him what the message was about and he replied that the man he hated
had come back."

"The man he hated!" repeated the lawyer with a sad little smile. Then
with a shrug of his shoulders he rose. "It's a bad business," he repeated
as he reached for his coat from the hook on the wall, and then as though
changing the subject--"so we're losing you at the end of the week, Miss
Stedman?"

"Yes, Mr Vance, I'm sorry to go. I've been very happy here."

"From a selfish point of view I'm sorry too," said the lawyer, struggling
into his coat, "but for your sake I am very pleased. Has your uncle found
that gold reef he was looking for?"

The girl smiled. "No, but he has made a lot of money in South Africa, and
he's been awfully good to mother and myself. You did not know Uncle
Solomon, did you?"

"I met him once twenty years ago," said the lawyer. "Your father brought
him to the office one day and he struck me as being rather a character."

He walked to the door and stood as though waiting for her to pass out.

"You've no more work to do?" he said in surprise, as she showed no
intention of following him.

The girl smiled. "I have the statement of claim for James Vesson to type
before I go," she said, and Mr Vance uttered an exclamation of
impatience.

"What a fool I am! Why of course," he said. "I ought not to have sent you
out. But won't it do in the morning, Miss Stedman?" he asked
half-heartedly for he knew that the statement had to be filed early.

She shook her head laughingly. "I really don't mind staying a little
late, Mr Vance," she replied. "I have nothing to do tonight, and the
statement will only take me two hours, and I would much rather do it
tonight than come up early in the morning."

"Very well," said Mr Vance. "Good night, Miss Stedman. I have only just
time to catch my train to Brighton. I will ring you up in the morning and
you can tell me if there is any news of importance."

Left alone, she passed into the little room leading out of the lawyer's
office, and in a few minutes her typewriter was clattering rapidly as she
made an attempt to overtake her arrears of work. She had reached the
fourth folio of a long, dry and monotonous statement of claim, when she
thought she heard a knock at the door of the outer office and paused,
listening. The knock was repeated and she rose, wondering what belated
client had appeared at this late hour of the evening. She opened the
door, expecting to find a telegraph boy but to her surprise the figure of
a man confronted her.

He was a tall man, dressed in a shabby grey flannel suit, and she noted
in that odd, inconsequential way which people have when taking their
first impression of a stranger, that he wore no collar or tie. A soft
white shirt, open at the neck, a battered grey Stetson hat on the back of
his head, completed the mental picture. His lean, good-looking face was
 tanned to a dull mahogany and a pair of grey watchful eyes surveyed her.

"Is Mr Vance in?" he asked curtly; though she noticed he took off his hat
when he spoke to her.

"No, Mr Vance has been gone ten minutes," said the girl.

The stranger licked his lips. "Do you know where I can find him?" he
asked.

She shook her head. "Ordinarily I could tell you," she said with a smile,
"though it isn't customary to give Mr Vance's private address to
visitors. But tonight he has gone to Brighton to stay with a friend over
the weekend, and he did not leave his address." She hesitated. "Perhaps
you would like to give me your name?" she asked and he hesitated.

"Are you likely to get into communication with him?"

She nodded. "He will call me on the 'phone tomorrow morning to discover
if there is anything which requires his attention," she said. "I could
give him your name then."

He still stood in the passage and realizing that this man, in spite of
his unprepossessing attire, might be some client of importance, she
pulled the door wider open.

"Won't you come and sit down for a moment?" she said. "Perhaps you would
like to write a message to Mr Vance?"

He came slowly into the room and stood for a moment looking at the chair
she had drawn forward for him.

"No, I won't write anything," he said after a pause. "But when he calls
up tomorrow will you tell him that Mr Smith has arrived from Pretoria?"

He spoke deliberately and emphatically "You will remember--Mr Smith from
Pretoria. And tell him I want him to get into communication with me at
once."

"Mr Smith from Pretoria," she repeated, scribbling down the name on a
scrap of paper, and wondering how important this Pretoria Smith might be.
 She had a vague feeling that, although he was looking at her steadily he
was not seeing her. A little frown upon his forehead spoke eloquently of
his preoccupation, and she had the sensation of being looked through,
rather than being looked at.

He stared down at the desk again.

"I will write a message," he said. "Can you give me pen and paper?"

"There is pen and paper on the table," she laughed in spite of herself,
and a dull-red flush came into the tanned face.

"I am very sorry" he stammered apologetically, "but I am not seeing
things today"

"I had that impression too," said the girl, and a faint smile showed at
the corner of the man's mouth. She went to the farther end of the room
for fear he thought she might be overlooking him as he wrote; but he
seemed to find some difficulty in framing the words he had to put upon
the paper. He sat for fully five minutes, nibbling the end of his pen.

"No, I won't write," he said, and put the pen down as he got up to his
feet. "Just tell Mr Vance that Mr Smith of Pretoria called. I think that
will be sufficient. He knows where to find me."

There was a footstep in the corridor outside, the handle of the door
turned and it opened. The newcomer was evidently in too much hurry to
knock.

"Where's Vance?" he asked as he came in. It was Sir James Tynewood, a
little dishevelled and red of face..

"Mr Vance has gone," said the girl, but Sir James made no reply He was
staring at the shabby man from Pretoria.

"My God!" he said in a quaking voice. "You--Jot!"

They stood looking at each other, the half-drunken young baronet and the
man from Pretoria, and the latter's face was fixed in an inscrutable
mask. The silence which followed was painful for the girl. She sensed a
tragedy here, and her quick intuitions placed her in a moment upon the
side of the South African visitor.

"Do you know Sir James Tynewood?" she faltered.

Slowly the head of Pretoria Smith turned towards her, and he showed his
white teeth in a mirthless smile.

"I know Sir James Tynewood very well," he said, and then addressing the
other, he said sternly: "You will meet me tomorrow evening at the Chase,
Sir James Tynewood."

The young man stood shaking in every limb, his face a sickly white, his
head bent. "I will see you tomorrow," he mumbled huskily and staggered
from the room.


Chapter 3--THE SURPRISING DEBTS


"I am sure something has upset you, dear. You've never been so snappy
with me before," complained Mrs Stedman. Her whole attitude toward life
was one of complaint, and the girl was inured to this form of
persecution.

They sat at breakfast in a tiny Brixton flat, and Mrs Stedman, who, in
spite of her frequent predictions of an early demise, had managed to eat
a very hearty breakfast, was sitting watching her daughter over her
glasses with a disapproving frown.

"There is nothing the matter with me, mother," said Marjorie Stedman
quietly "I had rather an upsetting day at the office yesterday. Something
extraordinary happened."

"And you won't tell your own mother what it is!" repeated Mrs Stedman for
the third time.

"Don't you understand, mother," said the girl patiently, "that the
business of my employer is, or should be, sacred, and that I cannot talk
about it?"

"Not even to your own mother?" murmured Mrs Stedman, shaking her head.
"Marjorie, I have always given you the greatest confidence, and I have
repeatedly asked you to come to me with all your troubles."

"Well, this isn't one of my troubles really" smiled the girl. "It is
somebody else's trouble which does not concern me and should not concern
you, mother dear."

Mrs Stedman sighed heavily. "I shall be very glad when you're away from
that wretched office," she said. "It is not good for a young girl to be
mixed up in crimes and divorces and all those terrible things one reads
about in the Sunday papers."

Marjorie rested her hand on her mother's shoulder as she walked past her.

"Mother dear, I've told you often that Mr Vance has nothing to do with
crime," she said. "We haven't had a criminal in our office for a hundred
years."

"Don't say 'our office,' my dear," wailed Mrs Stedman. "It sounds so low!
And please, when we get into the country amongst people of our own class,
never talk about your business. If people knew that you were connected
with trade--"

"Oh, mother, what nonsense you talk!" said the girl, losing patience at
last, 'just because Uncle Solomon is sending us enough money to live
comfortably in the country you don't suppose we're going to put on airs
or meet people who will be shocked by my being a typist in a lawyer's
office?"

"Confidential secretary," corrected Mrs Stedman firmly. "I insist upon
your being a confidential secretary. I cannot allow you to call yourself
a typist, my dear. I've told all my friends that you're studying for the
Bar."

The girl groaned. "Oh Heavens!" she said.

"It isn't what we shall be next month," Mrs Stedman went on with
satisfaction. "In a year's time, when your uncle gets rich, we are going
to take the beautiful house in which I was born, my dear--the country
estate of the Stedmans."

The country estate of the Stedmans consisted of three and a half acres of
excellent paddock and garden, and Marjorie had once made a pilgrimage to
Tynewood--Tynewood! Why that must be Sir James Tynewood's estate. She
wondered if it was so, and resolved to ask Mr Vance at the earliest
opportunity.

On her way to town that morning she went over the events of the previous
night. What hold had this stranger from the South over Sir James
Tynewood, she wondered? She would never forget the white face of the
baronet when he had caught sight of the man in shabby grey. There was
terror in one face and condemnation in the other. Was it blackmail? Was
it the knowledge of some indiscretion of Sir James which gave this
strange man power over the other? She found it hard to accept this view.
There was something in Pretoria Smith's face which precluded the
possibility of such an explanation. If ever honesty and steadfast purpose
shone in a man's eyes, they showed in Pretoria Smith's.

She reached the office half an hour earlier than was usual. She did not
wish to miss Mr Vance's telephone call, which came to her at eleven
o'clock.

"Is everything all right, Miss Stedman?" he asked, and then she told him
of the visitor.

"Smith?" said his voice sharply. "From Pretoria? I didn't expect him for
a week. I am coming up to town straight away."

"He left no address," said the girl.

"I know where to find him," said Mr Vance. "Did he say anything?"

"Nothing at all," said the girl, "beyond what I have told you. Sir James
came whilst he was here." She heard his exclamation.

"They met in the office? What happened?" asked the lawyer's voice
anxiously.

"Nothing happened except that Sir James looked awfully worried and ill
and went out immediately."

There was a long pause, and she thought he had hung up the telephone
receiver.

Presently he said: "I am coming up by the eleven-forty-five. I shall be
at the office just before one. Get your lunch early. Have you seen the
newspapers?" he asked.

"No," she said in surprise. It was an unusual inquiry from him. "What has
happened?"

"Nothing, except that Sir James Tynewood is married to Alma Trebizond,
the actress," said the lawyer grimly "There is going to be some bad
trouble in the Tynewood family"

 Surprise was to follow surprise for the girl that day In the course of
 the morning came another stranger to the office--a stout, cheerful man,
 evidently of Hebraic origin. It was the practice of the firm to refer
 new business to the managing clerk; but he also was on a holiday and the
 visitor was shown into the girl.

"I understand you're Mr Vance's confidential secretary?" he said. "Is it
possible to see Mr Vance today?"

She shook her head. "Mr Vance is coming to town on very important
business, but I do not think that he wants to attend to any other," she
said. "Is there anything I can do for you?"

The man put his silk hat carefully on the table and took out a large
pocket-book and extracted a document.

"Well, miss, there's no secret about this," he said. "I've got to see Mr
Vance some time before Monday and if I can't see him I'd like you to tell
him that Mr Hawkes, of Hawkes & Ferguson, financiers, called with
reference to Sir James Tynewood's debts."

"Sir James Tynewood's debts?" she repeated, puzzled, and he nodded.

"The young gentleman owes me twenty-five thousand pounds, borrowed on
note of hand, and I'm getting a bit rattled about it. He keeps on
renewing his bills and borrowing a bit more, and I want to see Mr Vance
before I make any further advances."

"But Sir James Tynewood is a very rich man," said the girl.

 "And I'm a very poor man," said the other with a grin, "and I want a bit
 of my stuff back."

"Have you already seen Mr Vance?"

The visitor shook his head. "No. Sir James has asked me to keep away from
his lawyers, but matters have gone a little bit too far for me, miss. I'm
a business man, and I have no respect for titles, being a democrat. The
only titles that interest me are titles of property. I've kept away from
Vance &Vance as long as I could, but I must have a bit on account. You
see, miss, I'm a moneylender," he went on confidentially "and
moneylenders know one another's business. I happen to know that Sir James
has borrowed a lot of money from Crewe & Jacobsen and from Bedsons Ltd.,
and half a dozen other firms; and what's more, he's been going the pace
in the West End. He's in debt left and right--why he owes the motor-car
people in Bond Street over three thousand pounds for that car he gave to
Alma Trebizond. When I saw the announcement in the paper this morning
that he'd got married, I said to myself? Well, now, this is the time for
me to have a bit of a marriage settlement!"

He chuckled at his feeble jest. Then, lowering his voice: "Now, look
here, miss, I'm a business man and you're a business woman. I'll tell you
frankly I have got scared about this money and if you can put in a word
to Vance so that my claim's settled first, why there's a handsome
commission for you."

"I'm afraid I'm not in the habit of taking commissions," said the girl
coldly, "and I'm not even in a position to accept your confidence. I am
merely Mr Vance's confidential stenographer, and I'm not so sure that he
will be very pleased to hear that you have confided in me."

That ended the interview and Marjorie Stedman's acquaintance with the
firm of Hawkes & Ferguson.

When Vance arrived she told him of the conversation and he was unusually
grave. "Moneylenders, eh?" he said quietly. "I suspected something of
that sort. Telegraph to Mr Herman to come into the office." Mr Herman was
his managing clerk. "I won't bother you with this business, but Herman
must go round and see these moneylenders and find out how much money this
foolish boy owes."

"But Mr Vance, isn't Sir James very rich?"

"Very" said Mr Vance dryly.

That afternoon, although it was Saturday there were many comings and
goings at the office. Mr Herman arrived and apparently went round in a
taxicab interviewing Sir James Tynewood's creditors, or as many as could
be found at that inconvenient period of the week.


Chapter 4--WHAT HAPPENED AT TYNEWOOD CHASE


At Vance's suggestion she had stayed on until late in the afternoon.
There was no work for her to do, but she supposed that sooner or later
her services would be requisitioned, and in this surmise she was right.
At five o'clock her bell rang and she went into Mr Vance's office. He was
sealing a large envelope which evidently contained the results of his
work that afternoon, for he had spent his time writing. He had sealed the
flap and was dipping his pen into the ink preparatory to writing the
address, when he paused irresolutely "H'm!" he said. "That is awkward."
Then he wrote the name. "Sir James Tynewood, Bart.," she read over his
shoulder, with a sense of dismay because she guessed that she was to be
the bearer of this letter, and she had not forgotten her experience of
the previous night. Then, to her surprise, he took from his stationery
rack a still larger envelope and put the first within, sealing it again.
This time he wrote a name which was strange to her--"Dr Fordham, Tynewood
Chase, Tynewood." He sat for a moment deep in thought and then raised his
spectacled face to hers with a little smile.

"Miss Stedman," he said, "I want you to take a journey into the country
Do you know Tynewood?" She nodded.

"It is in Droitshire," he explained. "You can get a train from Paddington
at five-forty--five, and you should be there before eight. The nearest
station is about three miles from Tynewood Chase, but I will telegraph to
the Red Lion Inn to have a fly--I suppose that up-to-date establishment
has motorcars for hire now" he smiled. "At any rate, you'll have no
difficulty in getting to the Chase, and you should be back in town at
eleven o'clock tonight. There is a good train leaving the junction at
nine. You understand, you are to place this letter in the hands of Dr
Fordham?" She nodded.

"There is one more thing I want to say, Miss Stedman," said Vance, a
little uneasily "Since you have been my confidential secretary you have
heard a great many ugly secrets which I am sure are safe with you. But
the secret of Sir James Tynewood is uglier than any" he said. "I can only
hope," he added, "that you will not make any discovery without my
assistance. But if you do, Miss Stedman, I ask you to treat all you see
and hear tonight, and all you saw and heard when I entrusted you with the
previous commission, as a secret inviolable and unbetrayable."

"Of course, Mr Vance," she said. "But--" she hesitated.

"But what?" he asked sharply.

"Oh, it's nothing to do with the business," she said. "I wondered whether
I could get a message to mother telling her that I shall not be home
until late. She expected me at two o'clock."

"I'll send a messenger boy--or why not telegraph?"

The girl laughed. "A telegram always worries mother," she said.

She did not explain that the doleful Mrs Stedman was of such a sanguine
temperament that she expected miracles at every rat-tat of the door, and
was correspondingly depressed when the message which came brought no
roseate news. The journey to Dilmot junction seemed unending, though she
had provided herself with a book and papers, and she stepped out on the
rain--drenched platform at Dilmot relieved to find her journey over. Mr
Vance had evidently telegraphed, for an ancient and wheezy motor car was
waiting for her. Happily it was a closed car, for heavy rain was falling.
As the antiquated machine rattled and coughed through the dark lanes, it
occurred to the girl that it was within a few miles of this place that
she would be living in a month's time. Despite the unwillingness of the
old car to ascend hills, and the alarming rapidity with which it
descended them, it made a good steady progress, and presently it bumped
through the main street of a village. She looked through the
rain--splashed windows, noted half a dozen shops, and then the car ran
into the darkness again. "That must be Tynewood," she thought, and in
this she was correct. Presently the car stopped, and, lowering the window
she saw tall iron gates to which, in response to the furious summons of
the cabman's motor-horn, came a dark figure in a mackintosh.

"Who is there?" it shouted. "I can't let you into the Park."

The girl leant out of the window. "I am from Mr Vance the lawyer, and I
have an important letter for Dr Fordham," she said.

Without further parley the gate was opened and the car sped up a long,
winding drive, flanked on either side by tall trees, and presently
stopped again.

The girl looked out. The big house was in darkness, and the only light
came through a semicircular transom above the wide doorway at which they
had stopped.

She got out of the cab, bidding the man wait, and had to requisition one
of the car's lights to discover the old-fashioned bell-pull. The clang of
the bell came faintly, but it was a long time before anybody answered.
Then she heard quick steps within the stone-flagged hall, there was a
rattle of chains, a click of a lock, and the door opened a foot.

The man who stood there was a stranger to her.

"Who is it?" he asked brusquely.

"I'm from Mr Vance," said Marjorie Stedman. "I have an important letter
liar Dr Fordham."

"I am he," said the man. "Will you come in?"

He closed the door behind her and took the letter from her hand.

"Sit down for a moment, please," he said, and she found a seat on one of
the big oaken chairs which stood on either side of the hall.

"This is for Sir James," he said as he opened the first envelope. "Just
one moment."

He was halfway up the hall when he turned back.

"You don't mind waiting here? It is not very comfortable, but I'm sorry I
can't for the moment do any better for you. I hope you have had your
dinner, because there is nobody here to give you food. None of the
servants are in the house."

Marjorie had not had dinner and was beginning to feel the need for that
meal, but smilingly she shook her head.

"It doesn't matter at all; I'm not hungry" she said untruthfully

"You won't move from here?" he asked again.

"Of course not," said the girl, a little piqued. "I can go back to the
junction now, can't I? I have a cab outside."

"Wait a moment," said Dr Fordham, and hurried along the hall and into a
room which led from it.

He closed the door behind him, but apparently the lock did not catch.
From where she sat she could see the door opening slowly and there came
to her distinctly the sound of voices.

"I'm ruined anyway," said one bitterly and she knew it was Sir James
Tynewood who was speaking. "Oh, my God, what a fool I have been, what a
fool!" "You've a chance to get right," said another voice, and the voice
seemed familiar. "I've given you a chance, and you're a fool if you don't
take it."

"How can I?" almost screamed the voice of Sir James. "Do you think I can
go to London and face that crowd? Do you think I can tell them--"

There was a muttered interruption, evidently that of the doctor. She
heard the tearing of the envelope she had brought and the rustle of
papers. Silence followed, broken only by the crackle of the leaves as
they were turned; and then a voice:

"You madman, you madman!" it said.

There was no reply for a second. "What is it?" asked Sir James in a low
voice and there was another silence.

She guessed that the letter had been handed to the other, for no word was
spoken for fully two minutes. Then it was the drawling voice she heard:

"I'm going to settle with you--"

There was the deafening report of a shot, and the girl sprang to her
feet, white as death. A silence; then the voice said: "My God! I've
killed him!"

She ran to the door and pushed it open. Sir James Tynewood lay upon the
floor in a pool of blood and a man was leaning over him, holding a
revolver in his hand. At the sound of the opening door he sprang to his
feet--it was Pretoria Smith!




Chapter 5--THE MYSTERY


Another second, and Fordham had rushed her from the room, gripping the
girl by the arm, and half led, half dragged her to the door.

"You've got a cab here, haven't you?" he said. "A motor--cab?"

"What--what is wrong?" she stammered.

He made no reply; but, opening the door, he pushed her into the stormy
night, following and closing the door behind him. He gave some direction
to the cabman which she could not overhear.

"Get in," he said impatiently.

"What has happened?" she asked again. "Are you going for the police?"

He did not reply to this inquiry either. They went through the village
again and stopped at the farthermost end, and only then did he speak.

"Young lady" he said, "you must go back to Mr Vance, and until you see
him you are not to speak of what you have seen to a living soul. Do you
understand that?"

The girl was bewildered, half hysterical, and her lips trembled as she
replied. "N-no."

"I will get Mr Vance on the 'phone. He will be at his office, he said so
in his letter."

"Is Sir James dead?"

"I hope not," said the doctor briefly and with these words left her.

She was surprised to find Mr Vance waiting on the platform when the train
drew in to Paddington. Occupied as she was with her thoughts, the
journey had passed in an amazingly short time, and it was not till she
reached London that she realized how famished she was.

"You haven't had any dinner, the doctor tells me," said Mr Vance. "I am
taking you straight away to eat, and then after I can talk to you."

"You have heard from Dr Fordham?" He nodded.

"Is--is Sir James--?"

"Now, you're not to ask questions until you have fed," said Vance with an
attempt at good humour which he was far from feeling. "I am taking you to
my house in Grosvenor Place."

It was not until she had finished her meal at his earnest solicitation,
and had choked down half a glassful of port, that he referred to Sir
James Tynewood and the tragedy which had overtaken him.

"Now, in the first place, let me reassure you on one matter. Sir James
Tynewood is not dead."

"Thank God for that!" said the girl with a sigh of relief. "I was so
awfully afraid--"

"It was just a superficial wound and he has quite recovered. In fact,"
said the lawyer, speaking deliberately and emphatically, "he is well
enough to leave for abroad tomorrow."

The girl stared at him. "Is Sir James going abroad?" He nodded.

"Is his wife, Lady Tynewood, going also?"

"His wife is not going," said Vance.

"But I--I don't understand!"

"There's a great deal that you won't understand for many years about this
matter," said Mr Vance. "But I want you to believe me. He is leaving by
the mail boat Carisbrooke Castle tomorrow afternoon."

She shook her head hopelessly "I'm afraid I'm not good at solving
mysteries," she said and then asked: "Where is Mr Smith of Pretoria? Is
he going too?"

The lawyer took his cigar from his teeth and regarded it critically "Mr
Smith of Pretoria accompanies Sir James," he said slowly. "And now I'm
going to send you home in my car."

If Marjorie Stedman had been in an uncommunicative mood in the morning,
she was sphinx--like that night, and the baffled Mrs Stedman, curious to
know what had kept her daughter so late and what had thrown her into this
unusually agitated mood, gave up her inquiries in exasperation.

The mystery of the events at Tynewood Chase were to deepen for the girl.
She reported for duty on Monday morning as usual, and found Mr Vance
apparently oblivious to all that had happened on the Saturday After the
part she had played in this strange Tynewood drama, she found the routine
of the office dull and uninteresting. She did not see much of the lawyer.
He had a bell-push on his table, and only summoned her when he required
her. Owing to the peculiar nature of the business in which be was
engaged, it was understood that he was not to be interrupted and any
inquiry that had to be put through to him, or any question which had to
be settled, had to be made by telephone after a preliminary inquiry by
telephone whether he was disengaged. But Mr Vance had an absent--minded
trick of pressing the bell when the girl was not required. It happened
almost every day that his idle fingers would rest abstractedly on the
bell-push and the girl would answer the summons to discover that she was
not required.

Late on the Monday afternoon, as she was preparing to go, the bell rang
shrilly and she gathered up her notebook and pencil and opened the door
communicating with Vance's office..

A man was sitting on the opposite side of the table and she recognized
him immediately as Dr Fordham, and stopped dead, guessing that the bell
had been rung by her employer in one of his moments of aberration.
Neither Dr Fordham nor Vance saw her, for they were deeply intent upon
the matter they were discussing, and she was backing out when Vance
spoke.

"So he is dead," he said. "Poor boy; poor boy!"

"Quite dead," said Fordham. "I thought I told you on the 'phone that
there was no possible hope of his recovery."

She stepped back into her room quickly and closed the door softly behind
her and stood with her hand resting on the handle. Dead! Sir James
Tynewood was dead! Why had the lawyer lied? And whose hand had struck
down the husband of Alma Trebizond?




Chapter 6--IN SOUTH AFRICA


There was a discussion at the waterhole on the edge of the Kalahari
Desert. It was between Wilhelm the Fingo and Jan the half-breed bushman,
and it concerned one Solomon Stedman who lay with blue lips, gasping out
his life, within sight of the water that would have saved it. The
discussion was conducted in the taal, which is Dutch as it is spoken by
half-breed kitchen-maids and farm--workers.

"I think the baas will die at sundown," said Wilhelm, "and then we can
take his curious instruments to the resident magistrate at Vrykloof,
keeping his money for ourselves. The little mine he has found we can own
and we shall be rich. Then I shall go back to T'simo and buy cattle and
wives."

"You are a fool," retorted the dispassionate Jan, "for native people are
not allowed to own mines in this land. We will let him die and take his
money."

All this old Solomon heard and his glazing eyes turned malignantly upon
his unfaithful servants.

"I am no fool," said the Fingo man, "for I am a Christian and can write
my name. And I know a poor white man in Mafekin' who will make the claim
for me. He lives with a Matabele woman whom I have known."

Into this debate intruded Pretoria Smith. He knew the location of the
waterhole, having prospected this country before. He had a week's growth
of beard, but he had been tired of life for six months. The sands of the
desert were in his throat and he humped a pack, which was heavy but not
quite as heavy as his heart, for his nights were full of dreams, dreams
of a dead boy lying at his feet in the big hall at Tynewood Chase. At his
belt, in a two-inch holster, hung a long and dangerous weapon, the barrel
of which was polished bright in places. He stood for a second looking at
the group, then his eyes fell upon the dying man.

"Do you let the baas lie there when he is parching for water?" he
demanded hoarsely--you get hoarse in a ten-mile trek through a land which
is mainly salt sand and wacht ein bitje bushes.

Jan was a half-breed, and therefore a coward. Wilhelm was of the Fingo
people and in consequence was born with the soul of a slave. They both
foresaw desperate developments and strove to avert the coming trouble.

"Baas," said Wilhelm, "this man has found a good little reef which shows
gold in the rock so that you can pick it out with the point of a knife.
If he dies we will be all--"

The revolver jerked out and with a squeal in chorus the men ducked and
lifted Solomon Stedman and laid him beside the water, turning him over so
that his dry lips could suck the wonder-fluid.

It was two hours before Solomon Stedman could find the voice and energy
to talk, and then he employed the first few minutes of recovered speech
in cursing all half-breed bushmen, Kaffirs and other aborigines of South
Africa.

Pretoria Smith, who had started a fire and was slicing biltong into a
small cooking-pot, laughed softly.

"If it hadn't been for you, lad," said the old man, "I should have been a
dead 'un, and the Stedman reef would have been staked by some other
prospector--you ain't a prospector, are you?" he asked suspiciously.

"We're all prospectors," said Pretoria Smith easily. "If you mean, am I
prospecting for gold, I can relieve your mind. I am not."

The old man was looking at him keenly.

"No, you ain't a prospector; you're a gentleman, ain't you?" he asked.
"But you're not a new chum, I'll swear."

"Not exactly" replied the other, cutting off the top of a tin of
vegetables and emptying the contents into the pot. "I've shot up and down
this country since I was a boy of seventeen. In fact, when I left Eton."

Pretoria Smith was not usually so communicative, but the old man had a
trick of drawing confidences.

"I was in German West Africa and German East Africa during the war,"
Smith went on.. "In fact, I've not spent six months at a time away from
this infernal continent since I was a kid."

"Where are you going now?" asked the other.

Pretoria Smith shrugged his shoulders.

"Anywhere for a change," he said vaguely.

The old man was very thoughtful through the meal which followed, and sat
by the fire pulling at his pipe, staring hard into the dancing flames.
Presently he knocked the ashes out of his pipe deliberately and asked:

"Do you want to make your fortune?"

Pretoria Smith, deep in his own thoughts, looked up sharply.

"What do you mean?" he asked.

"Well," said the old man slowly "I have found the Kalahari reef."

"The devil you have!" said Pretoria Smith. "I thought that was one of the
legends of Africa. People have always thought there was a reef in the
Kalahari Desert, but it's never been found."

"I've found it," said Solomon Stedman triumphantly "Now, what do you
say?"

"To what?"

"To coming in with me. I want a younger man, and I owe you something for
what you did today."

"Don't be a fool," said Pretoria Smith pleasantly "'Who wouldn't give a
dying man water? I want no decorations for that. And I want no fortunes
either. I've quite enough to get along with."

Solomon Stedman stared at him.

"You're the first lad I've ever met that didn't want money," he chuckled.
"Well, it's not going to be so easy to get, or perhaps I shouldn't offer
you a share. The reef's got to be proved and prospected, and it means a
year's hard work. Then I'll have to get the money to float the mine, and
that'll want some doing."

Pretoria Smith scratched his unshaven chin.

"Work attracts me more than the wealth," he smiled, and Solomon took that
as an acceptance of his offer.

He spoke about his own life and his struggles after a while, though
Pretoria Smith volunteered no further information about himself.

"Mind you," said the old man, "even if I make good on this reef I've
neither kith nor kin to leave my money to. There's a kid in England, the
daughter of my brother--he was a bit of a fool, was Fred--and she's the
only relation I have in the world. Minnie, her name is--no,
Margaret--no--" He fumbled in his pocket and produced a bundle of letters
from which he extracted one. "Marjorie, that's the name," he said,
setting a pair of old pince-nez on his nose. "Marjorie. A regular girl
she is. She's written me since she was a baby."

"Indeed!" said Pretoria Smith politely. He was not particularly
interested in the relatives of Solomon Stedman, and found more pleasure
in watching the incongruous picture of this rough man with the glasses
set askew on his nose.

"A well--educated young lady; she is," nodded Solomon Stedman. "My
brother Fred was well educated too, though he didn't know enough to get
out of the rain and was always spending about ten per cent more than he
earned. Have you ever heard of the Stedmans in England?"

"I can't remember having met one," smiled Pretoria Smith. "But then, of
course, I don't know many people in England, and very few people know
me."

"I've been keeping his widow for years," boasted the old man complacently
"just a few pounds a month to help things along, you understand. I've
been able to send her more lately; and if we get the reef going, my
boy--"

He shook his head at the magnificence of the prospect. Solomon Stedman
had not exaggerated the difficulties or the arduous character of the
undertaking. For six months under a blazing sun the two men trekked and
prospected, dug big cuttings in the sandy soil, sampled quartz which
often had to be carried twenty miles to the nearest water for washing;
and in those six months Pretoria Smith managed to forget a lot of things
he did not wish to remember. The reef was located and proved beyond
doubt. Expert engineers came up from Johannesburg, mining officials
arrived importantly from Cape Town; licences were assessed and paid; and
twelve months after their meeting, the first four--stamp mill was
thundering on the very spot where Solomon Stedman had made his recovery.

But in that time the friendship between the two men had grown in
strength; and although Solomon, who prided himself upon his artfulness,
had failed to discover anything further about his partner, the reticence
of Pretoria Smith rather helped to tighten the bond between them than to
loosen it. The friendship was measured by a year and the fractions of
years. The four--stamp mill had multiplied itself, and the little
township of Stedmanville had come into being. A huge pumping plant to
bring the water, and the installation of an electric power house, had
occupied Pretoria Smith's fullest attentions, and he began to share the
pride of the old man in this great achievement.

Two years had passed when the old man met his younger partner at the head
of the main shaft. "Remember that sister--in--law of mine?" he asked. He
had reached the age when he repeated stories over and over again, and
Pretoria Smith had had little chance of forgetting the unfortunate lady
whom old Solomon invariably described as "a useless kind of woman."

"Well, it appears she's got a nephew she's sending out."

"Fine!" said Pretoria Smith. "Where is she sending him out from?"

"She's sending him out from England, of course," said Solomon. "He's
arriving next week. According to my sister, there's a sort of engagement
between this lad and Lily--Margaret--"

"Marjorie," suggested Pretoria Smith with a little grin. "What a
forgetful old devil you are!"

"Ain't I?" said Solomon, lost in self--admiration. "Well, this young
spark and my niece are mashed on one another."

"Solomon, Solomon," reproved Pretoria Smith, shaking his head, "you're a
vulgar old man! And why shouldn't he be 'mashed' on her, anyway? It's the
way of the young, Solomon. We old gentlemen do not understand such
things."

"Old!" scoffed Solomon. "Why you're only a kid yourself! His name," he
went on, consulting a letter, "is Lance Kelman."

"And a very pretty name too," said Smith, slapping the other on the
shoulder. "Now do you want me to meet the gentleman in the family Ford,
or is he walking?"

Solomon apparently had ideas of his partner going to Kimberley to meet
the visitor, but this suggestion Pretoria Smith vetoed, and was not sorry
he took this stand when Mr Lance Kelman disgorged himself and some half a
dozen large trunks from the Bulawayo mail one spring morning, and stood
gazing disconsolately around the unpromising landscape.

He was a beautifully tailored young man, wearing the kit which he
regarded as being appropriate to travel in the wilds. His tight-kneed,
baggy breeches were of exquisite cut, his white shirt was silk and
stainless, and he wore a coat shaped at the waist. The only person in
sight on the platform when he arrived was Pretoria Smith, who watched the
accumulation of luggage with a feeling of wonder and awe. Presently Mr
Lance Kelman, looking round, caught sight of the tall figure and beckoned
him.

"I say," he said loudly "how can I get to Mr Solomon Stedman's mine? I am
his nephew."

"You can reach the mine on my humble motor car," said Pretoria Smith,
"and I will send an ox--wagon for your baggage."

"Oh, you've come to meet me, have you?" said Mr Lance Kelman
patronizingly "Well, you might tell these fellows what to do with the
baggage until your wagon comes. I shall want to take some things with me,
of course."

"There will be room for your vanity bag," said Pretoria Smith
good-humouredly as he picked up a polished dressing-case and led the way
to the car. "You'll get the rest of your stuff by the evening."

The newcomer looked at him suspiciously.

"I'm Mr Solomon Stedman's nephew," he said again with emphasis.

"So you remarked before," replied Pretoria Smith coolly. "Does that mean
you'd rather come by the ox-wagon?"

"Now, don't be insolent, my friend," said Lance Kelman loudly and Smith
chuckled.

The journey back to the mine was completed in dignified silence as far as
Lance Kelman was concerned. Even when he was introduced to Pretoria Smith
as the partner of the old man, his attitude did not unbend.

"Well, what do you think of my nephew?" asked Solomon when the young man
had been taken to the galvanized-iron hut which was to be his home during
his stay.

"He's very pretty" answered Pretoria Smith cautiously "So that's the
young man your niece is engaged to?"

"Well, I don't know about engaged," hesitated Solomon. "Do you like him?"

"Next to a bad attack of mumps, he's the most popular thing I've been
brought into contact with," said Pretoria Smith.




Chapter 7--SOLOMON'S PLAN




Of Mr Kelman's three months' stay it is not necessary to speak in detail.
He spoke incessantly and superiorly of "the old country" its wonders and
advantages over "this uncivilized hole," and the two men listened in
grave silence.

"I must go to England one of these days," said Pretoria Smith soberly "It
sounds a very interesting place."

"Of course, you'd be a bit lost in England," said the patronizing Mr
Kelman, "but if ever you do come, you must ask me to show you round."

"Do you know him, too?" asked Pretoria Smith in an awe-stricken voice,
and Mr Lance Kelman was pardonably puzzled. He spoke too of Marjorie with
a calm, proprietorial air, which made Pretoria Smith want to take him by
the scruff of the neck and kick him. He referred to her as "Marje" and
"my little girl" in a way which would have made Marjorie Stedman's hair
stand on end.

A month after his arrival he disclosed the object of his visit. He had
hinted that his relationship with old man Solomon entitled him to some
share in his prosperity but the suggestion was received in stony silence.
He was even prepared to be a highly paid official of the company
preferably representing its interests in London. Old Solomon did not
contemplate the same preparation.

Then, crowning horror of the visit, the youth developed a form of German
measles, which demanded hothouse fruits and careful nursing. Pretoria
Smith nursed him, and, in the absence of more delicate fruit, compromised
with ripe bananas.

"Thank God he's gone!" said Solomon Stedman when Pretoria Smith brought
his tiny motor car to the steps of the office after seeing the visitor
off. Pretoria Smith laughed long and quietly but to Solomon Stedman it
was no laughing matter; for a new problem had entered into his
calculations, and for the next few months he was a silent and thoughtful
man.

One bitterly cold day in May which is wintertime in the bush veldt, old
Solomon sat in his frame office, hung about with blue prints and section
maps. His shaggy brows were set lower than usual and his coarse finger
and thumb were pinching his chin. The cause of this visible evidence of
perplexity was the letter he was reading. He put the letter down and
scratched his head. Pretoria Smith lounged into the office at that
moment. The stem of a polished briar was between his strong white teeth,
and the only advertisement of his prosperity was the gold safety pin that
fastened his soil collar.

"'Lo, Smith--come in."

"I'm in," said the other laconically and the old man growled.

"Well, stay in, dam' ye! I've had a letter from my niece."

"I still find it difficult to believe that you have respectable
relations," said Pretoria Smith.

"She's the daughter of my young brother--he's been dead a few years and
better off he is, I'm sure," said the old man philosophically. "And
Margret, Minnie, Maggy--here, what's the name at the bottom of this?"

He handed the letter to his partner and without glancing at it Pretoria
Smith said wearily: "Marjorie," and gave the letter back.

"Well, Marjorie--of course it is Marjorie; she used to write me when she
was a baby almost. Marjorie, yes, of course it's Marjorie."

"Well, I'll admit that," said the patient Pretoria Smith; "what about
it?"

"She's my only relation in the world." Old Solomon scratched his bristly
cheek and opened his mouth to assist in the process. "You remember that
bright boy that came out here last year to find a gold mine?"

Pretoria nodded. He hadn't had time to forget the youth in question. His
arrogance, his attitude of superiority to things colonial, his general
puppishness had stamped him in Smith's memory. He ranked second to a
cattle disease which had carried off ten transport oxen in one week.

"Well, what about the elegant Lance?" demanded Pretoria Smith. "For a man
of your advanced years, you have a hell of a lot of superfluous breath."

"Well, that's him," and Mr Solomon Stedman winked.

Pretoria Smith laughed helplessly and knocked the ashes out of his pipe.
"That's him, is it? May I repeat what about him?"

"You know that she's sweet on him," said old Solomon, "not from what she
said, but from what a fool of a mother wrote--I allow her four thousand a
year, Smith. There's a bit in Maud's last letter about him, 'brave
fellow...dangers...terrible journey across the desert...' and that sort
of stuff."

"He came up by the Bulawayo train de luxe and had strawberries for tea. I
brought him from the station in the new limousine. But I admit," said
Pretoria Smith, "that I didn't put him to bed. Anyway it doesn't matter,
he's home now."

Solomon had an idea, a wonderful idea--Pretoria Smith recognized the
symptoms.

"Pretoria," he said suddenly "you and me have been pretty good pals. I've
never forgotten what you did for me that day at the water-hole."

"Rubbish," said the other; "if I hadn't done what I did, I should have
been a murderer."

"We've been pals," continued Solomon, and Pretoria Smith realized that
this fact was the foundation for whatever would follow. "You're rich and
I'm rich, Pretoria. I've got another winter--two at most--to live if that
Kimberley doctor ain't a liar, and he oughtn't to be considering the
money I paid him to come up here, and I've been worrying about what's
going to happen to my money when I'm dead."

"You wicked old devil," said the other, affectionately gripping the old
man's shoulder. "You ought to be worrying about what would happen to you
when you were dead!"

"I'm all right," said Solomon with appalling complacence, "I guess I'll
get past. No, it's the money. I can leave it to you--I can leave it to
the Kimberley Hospital--but I don't want to. You're worth the better part
of a million pounds. Now, this is where I come to the important bit. Are
you married?"

He had never asked such a question of his partner before and he quaked at
Pretoria's frown.

"No," said the man. "I'm not keen on women and never have been. I've been
waiting to tell you for a long time, Solly, that my name isn't Smith."

"It's such an uncommon one that I thought it might be," said Solomon,
"and I suppose you lived in Pretoria for a time?"

The other nodded. "'Well, what's your proposition?" he asked.

Mr Stedman chewed a large mint candy he had taken from a box and stared
stonily out of the window. "Go home and marry Marjorie," he said, and
there was a dead silence in the little office.

Then: "You match-making old son of a gun!" said Pretoria admiringly, "and
what do I do with Lance, smother him?"

"Lance!" There was such scorn in old Solomon's voice that Pretoria
chuckled.

"Yet another point," said Pretoria Smith, who was not averse to
discussing the matter, since it possessed the element of novelty and
charm. "What about Marjorie?"

Stedman of Stedman's Reef helped himself to another mint before he
replied. "Marjorie will be all right," he evaded. "She'll do anything to
oblige me. I'm writing her."

 Pretoria Smith had seated himself on the draughtsman's high stool and
 was gazing sombrely down upon the old man. "I was afraid it might be for
 my good looks, my youth and other attractive qualities," he said dryly.

"You ain't bad," protested the other.

"Too old to call you uncle," said Pretoria with decision.

"You ain't over thirty--not much over. Don't get troublesome, Pretoria. I
want it--that's all. I've got a feeling in my mind that this is the
things that I've made my money for. It's worth making if you can get the
grand sensation of having what you've tried for. As it is, I'd go out of
the world feeling like a half--circle."

"But, Solly" pleaded the junior partner, "you don't seriously mean all
this? Why the girl would laugh at the idea. I don't care three fingers of
rum whether I marry or not. I'd give her the run of the farm and the
woods beyond and I'd never bother her."

"That ain't my idea." Solomon turned his eyes on the other and his shaggy
brows were bent. "You've got to carry on my--race. That's the word.
You've got to have children."

"Solomon, you're too thorough for me," said Pretoria Smith, "and now let
us discuss No. 3 shaft which has gone punk, as I thought--"

"Damn No. 3 shaft--and No. 1, 2, 5 and 6," said Solomon impartially.
"Keep to this idea of mine. Will you go back home and will you see
Marjorie and put the question to her? If she says 'No,' well, you've done
your share, Smith. I can't let her marry a 'dossie' like that pup of a
boy!"

Pretoria filled his pipe again, lit it and sat for some time fingering
the fine hair of his shaggy yellow beard. "All right," he said resigned,
"but I wish your mind had been set on building an Orphans' Home."

"You'll save her from Lance," said Solomon. "That's one thing I forgot."

"It's almost worth the trip," answered Pretoria. "Besides, I may be
saving Lance from her."

"She's my niece!" snorted Solomon.

"That's what I mean," nodded the other man. "By the way"--he was
strolling out of the office--"where does your incomparable niece live?"

"At Tynewood."

"Great God!" said Pretoria Smith, and went white.

He sat down on the nearest chair and Solomon eyed him anxiously.

"You gave your word, Pretoria," he quavered, and the other man nodded.

After all, Tynewood did not know Pretoria Smith.


Chapter 8--THE ORDER TO MARRY


"I am an old man and have lived a hard life and the end may come at any
moment. I cannot leave my hard-won money to be squandered by some young
fool of a husband. I want you to marry and to marry at once my partner
Pretoria Smith, as we call him. You may find him a bit rough, but he is a
straight 'un. He took a lot of persuading, but because he loves his old
partner he has agreed. He will be on his way when this reaches you. Cable
me your decision. If you say no, Marjorie, then the large allowance I
make to your mother ceases forthwith. I will wash my hands of you. Your
affectionate uncle, SOLOMON STEDMAN"



Marjorie Stedman read the letter again and the words swam before her
eyes. Those big grey eyes were set well apart in a face of delicate
sweetness. Hands and feet were small but not too small for that slight
figure, with its soft curves and its graceful lines. There were few more
beautiful women in the world than Marjorie Stedman, who from the crown of
her golden head to the tips of her dainty shoes would have satisfied the
most exigent requirements of the old Greek sculptors. The virginal purity
of her flawless skin was emphasized by a pair of vivid red lips, inviting
and tantalizing. Now the ivory skin was tinted pink with shame and
indignation and the lovely eyes blazed with hopeless anger.

"How dare he, how dare he!" she cried, and the rise and fall of her bosom
revealed something of the emotion the letter had aroused. She was to be
married by order! She who shrank from the very idea of marriage, who at
most had seen a lover as a nebulous godlike creature without substance or
shape, in a golden haze of dreams, to whom marriage was an ideal rather
than a possibility, was to be married by order to--Pretoria Smith! It was
only then as she repeated the name that the man came back to her mind.
Pretoria Smith! For three and a half years she had by an effort of will
excluded the memory of that terrible night at Tynewood Chase from her
mind; though she lived within riding distance of the old family home of
Tynewoods, though Alma Tynewood by the curious workings of fate was
almost a daily visitor at the house, she had steadfastly kept Pretoria
Smith from recollection. Was it the same man? There were many Smiths in
Pretoria. He might be some wild uncouth lout whom old Solomon Stedman had
picked up in the wilds of Africa. Her uncle had lived a hard life and had
a reputation which her father had been loth to discuss. He had killed men
and in his early days had served a sentence of penal servitude for some
vague crime. She had never seen him, for the old man had lived all his
life in distant lands--America, Australia, South Africa. And yet--When
his luck had turned four years ago, his first thought had been for his
dead brother's child. He had taken her from the drudgery of office work
and her mother from the suburban lodgings and had bought for them their
old family home where she was born. And she had been happy and had almost
forgotten...The county had taken her to its heart and tomorrow was to do
her honour. Old Solomon's money had done this, she remembered, and her
resentment toward him softened. She looked at the letter again. "He took
a lot of persuading," she read, and the hot tears of humiliation filled
her eyes. She was to be bought and sold, bought with Solomon's money and
sold to his partner--and the purchaser had to be "persuaded" to take his
bargain!

She sprang to her feet, flaming with righteous anger, then a sense of
sickness supervened and she sank back again on the stone seat and,
covering her face with her hands, wept silently into her handkerchief.
That was the end of her rosy dream--she must go back to the grind of
office work. To the crowded tubes and the packed buses, to the fogs and
the drizzle, the bleak mornings and the cheerless nights, with a few
hard-earnt days of holiday every year in a seaside boarding--house.

"I wonder what mother will say?" she asked herself and dried her eyes.
For a while she sat, looking across the close-mown lawn toward the dear
house, all gables and angles and drooping wisteria. To the flower-beds
a-riot with colour, to the pond where the ducks swam, serenely ignorant
of the approaching day when the slim girl who fed them, standing on the
crumbling stone edge, her figure reflected in the still water, would go
away and be no more seen.

She rose with a sigh. There was no help for it. The caprice of this old
man who had set them up in a fool's paradise would cast them down again.

As she walked slowly across the lawn, it was of her mother she was
thinking. There would be the difficult task. Her heart ached for the
woman she so dearly loved, and yet whose faults and failings she saw so
clearly And then she brightened up. For over three years they had enjoyed
an income of over 4,000 pounds a year. There would be money saved, and
with that money the fall might be eased.

"Marry Pretoria Smith I will not," she said, as she opened one of the
long French windows that led into the drawing-room. She must have spoken
her thought aloud, for the two women who were in the room turned before
her hand closed upon the catch of the door. It was early in the day for
visitors, and when Marjorie saw who that visitor was, she would have
drawn back and made her escape; but now it was too late, and she walked
in with a smile which she felt was a little forced to the slim, graceful
girl who rose.

"Good morning, Lady Tynewood," she said politely.

Alma Tynewood had never wholly concealed her dislike for Marjorie. But
now there was a special reason for her detestation, and her lips, for the
crimson of which art was to some extent responsible, curled in a
malicious little smile.

Mrs Stedman, a pretty faded woman with rather a weak face, seemed
flustered by the unexpected arrival of her daughter.

"My dear, I thought you had gone riding."

"I'm riding this afternoon," said the girl.

"Lance said you had promised to go this morning."

"Mother, dear, I had so many things to do this morning," replied the girl
patiently. "I am riding this afternoon; if Lance is too busy I shall go
alone."

And Mrs Stedman, with a discontented sigh, subsided.

"I should not have thought that you could have spared the time for
riding," said Lady Tynewood with a disagreeable laugh. "My dear, aren't
you spending all your days preparing the speech you are going to make
tomorrow?"

"I am not making a speech," said Marjorie shortly, "and I'm sure nobody
wants to hear me. I think the Committee are making a great fuss about
nothing and are exaggerating the service I have rendered to the County
Hospital. It is true I have collected fifty thousand pounds in the sense
that I was Secretary to the Fund. But anybody could have done the same."

"Nobody is quite as fascinating as you, Miss Stedman," said Lady Tynewood
unpleasantly. "If I were a man, and a beautiful girl like you came into
my office and started to wheedle a subscription from me, I should
immediately open my chequebook and ask you to name any sum you liked.
Besides, you got a thousand pounds for a kiss, I'm told."

"That is a lie," said the girl steadily, "and nobody knows it better than
you."

"Marjorie!" murmured her mother appealingly.

"My dear, it is a story that is being circulated--"

"And you circulated it," said Marjorie, "well knowing it to be a wicked
invention. Lady Tynewood, I know something of you and your past, and it
is probable that you moved in a circle where kisses were bought and sold,
and nobody thought any worse of the buyer or the seller."

The woman's face went a dull red and her eyes flashed fire. She recovered
control of her voice, however.

"The circle in which I moved," she sneered, "is one which would certainly
be foreign to you, though I admit it is not as exalted as the circle in
which you will move tomorrow night."

The girl bit her lip and said nothing, pretending to busy herself with
some papers on the table, whilst Mrs Stedman looked hopelessly on.

"Was it your idea that the County Hospital dinner should be served
tomorrow night at separate tables?" asked Lady Tynewood, scarcely
disguising her rising wrath. "And that I should be excluded from the
table where His Royal Highness will sit--with you on his right, I
suppose?" she sneered.

"It's very possible," said the girl coolly; "but at any rate I can give
you some comfort by telling you that it was not my idea but Lord
Wadham's. I had nothing to do with the placing of the guests, and the
fact that you are excluded from the prince's table is no affair or action
of mine."

"So you say" said the woman pointedly.

"I can't expect to convince you," said Marjorie, "but I don't remember
having told a lie in my life. I told you, Lady Tynewood, that you were
refused a seat at that table by someone who has greater authority than
I."

"Where am I to sit?" asked the woman wrathfully. "Amongst the country
bumpkins, the doctors and little squires of Billingham?"

The girl shrugged her shoulders.

"My dear, don't you think," asked her mother timidly, "that you could
induce the Committee to let Lady Tynewood sit at the Duke's table? After
all, she is one of the County and the Tynewoods are the greatest of the
great families in Droitshire."

Marjorie made no reply.

"Well," asked Alma Tynewood sharply, "you heard your mother speak to
you?"

"I shall answer my mother in private," said the girl, "and give her very
excellent reasons for your sitting amongst country bumpkins."

The woman's lips took a straight line. "Oh, I see," she said. "It is a
plot, eh?"

"Not a plot of which I have any knowledge," replied Marjorie, her face
flushed and her eyes dangerously bright. "But I tell you this, Lady
Tynewood--that, had they put you at my table, I should not have sat with
you."

The woman drew a long breath, and with a nod to the distressed Mrs
Stedman walked to the door. "One day, my girl, I'll make you sorry for
that," she said between her teeth, and with this parting shot she opened
the door and slammed it behind her.


Chapter 9--MRS STEDMAN'S TROUBLE


Mrs Stedman looked at her daughter irritably. "My dear, you've made an
enemy of Lady Tynewood," she said a little petulantly. She had also the
temper of a weak woman. Mrs Stedman was not designed to be a mother or to
accept responsibility. There are many mothers in the world who are as
utterly unfit, and unsuited to control, to understand or to sympathize
with the finer minds of their children.

"It doesn't really matter," said Marjorie hopelessly. "The enmity of Lady
Tynewood is the least of my troubles."

"She has been a good friend of ours," insisted Mrs Stedman. "I'm sure
your dear uncle would not like to know that you had offended a lady of
title."

"Oh, mother," said the girl near to tears, "what is 'a lady of title' but
a woman who has married a man who has inherited the reward of somebody
else's genius? The only titles that are worth while are the titles that
are earned by those who hold them."

"My dear, that sounds like high treason to me," said her mother severely
"I do wish you wouldn't get these socialistic ideas in your head."

Despite her unhappiness, the girl laughed. "Don't let us talk of titles,
mother," she said. "I have so much that is more important to discuss."
She hardly knew how to begin. "Mother," she said after a pause, "you love
the Priory don't you?" "Yes, my dear," said her mother, thinking she was
trying to change the subject for her own purpose. "But I tell you that
Lady 'Tynewood--"

"Let's leave Lady Tynewood alone for a moment?" said Marjorie
good-humouredly. "But, mother, there are things you like more than the
Priory and this life and the comfort we enjoy?"

"I suppose so," said Mrs Stedman vaguely. "Of course, when one's thoughts
are fixed on heaven--"

"I'm not even thinking about heaven, I'm thinking about the tangible
things of life, the things that count," said the girl. "The honour and
happiness of your daughter, for example."

Mrs Stedman looked up sharply and her under lip drooped pathetically.
"The honour of my child?" she repeated. "Oh, Marjorie, you haven't been
using any of the money which you collected for the hospital, have `you?"

The girl rose with a despairing gesture. "I don't know whether to laugh
or cry," she said, and walked to the window.

"Well, for goodness' sake, laugh," said Mrs Stedman, adjusting her
glasses and picking up a current magazine, "for I am in very low
spirits."

"Mother, suppose we had to leave here?" said Marjorie turning, "and go
back to the old life?"

"Don't suggest anything so horrible," begged Mrs Stedman with a shiver.
"I should not survive a week of it. Thanks to the generosity and kindness
of your dear Uncle Solomon, we need never fear want or hardship again, my
love."

"But suppose we had to," said the girl desperately.

"I won't suppose anything so awful," snapped Mrs Stedman. "Now, Marjorie,
you're being very trying, and my heart is not all it should be. Do you
want to make me ill? I did hope to find you in a sympathetic mood today,"
she wailed. "I've got something I want to tell you."

"To tell me?" said the girl slowly with a sense of apprehension. "But
perhaps I'd better tell you first," she went on. "Mother, how much money
have we saved in the past four years?"

"Saved!" almost screamed the woman. "Saved, Marjorie? Are you mad?"

The girl looked at her aghast.

"Do you mean to say we haven't saved anything?" she demanded. "Out of
four thousand a year--sixteen thousand pounds? We've had no rent to pay
no garden produce to buy nothing but the servants' wages and the meat and
coal. Haven't you saved any money?" she asked, with an awful quaking of
heart.

Mrs Stedman shook her head and two tears rolled down her cheeks. "No, my
dear," she gulped. "I haven't saved any money I am five hundred pounds
overdrawn at the bank, and--and--and--" and she began to sob.

"And?" said the girl relentlessly. "Tell me the worst, mother, please."

Her face was white as death, and the hand she brought to smooth back her
hair shook as with an ague.

"I owe thousands of pounds," blurted Mrs Stedman hysterically Marjorie
dropped into the nearest chair. "Don't look at me like that," her mother
went on. "Oh dear, I wish I'd never had children sometimes! You've never
been a comfort to me, Marjorie, when I need comforting most." At last the
girl found her voice, and a shaky voice it was. "Mother, dear," she
asked, "to whom do you owe thousands of pounds?" "To Lady Tynewood,"
sniffed Mrs Stedman, "and I don't see why you should ask me questions,
Marjorie. I'm your own mother, and it's disrespectful of you. It's
against all the teachings of the Book to cross--examine your own mother
about her money!"

The girl looked out of the window So that was what it meant! Those long
afternoon visits which Mrs Stedman paid to Monk House, Alma Tynewood's
little estate. No wonder Lady Tynewood had sent her car for this much
flattered lady!

"I suppose you have played bridge with Lady Tynewood?" said Marjorie
quietly "And Mr Javot. Who was the fourth?"

"We didn't have a fourth," whimpered Mrs Stedman. "We played
double--dummy: And, Marjorie, I had such luck at first; I won nearly a
thousand pounds. And then the luck steadily began to go against me and I
lost and lost. But dear Alma was most kind, Marjorie. You must never
misjudge her; she has been a very good friend of mine. Never once has she
asked me for repayment, although I know her own income isn't a very great
one."

Marjorie rose and came across to her mother and patted her gently on the
shoulder.

"Mother, you mustn't play again," she said, "because we can't afford it."

"I shall win it all back one of these days," said Mrs Stedman eagerly
"You've no idea what atrocious cards I've been holding--"

"I have some idea," said the girl with a hard smile, "if Alma Tynewood
was playing against you."

Should she tell her mother about the letter that had come? What use would
it be? What help or comfort could she get from this woman who absorbed
help and comfort as sand absorbs water, and gave nothing back? Thousands
of pounds! And her income would stop next week! It would kill her mother,
she knew that. Kill her as assuredly as if she took that Oriental knife
from the wall and plunged it; into her heart. She licked her dry lips and
stood looking down at the shaking figure, huddled up in the big armchair.
"N ever mind, mother dear," she said gently. "After all, I dare say we
can manage somehow The house is worth quite a big sum."

"The house? What utter rubbish you talk!" said Mrs Stedman, forgetting in
her indignation her pose of woe. "You don't imagine we should sell the
house or mortgage it? Anyway I've already mortgaged it," she said
defiantly.

The girl, who thought she was impervious to shock, nearly collapsed.
"You've mortgaged it!" she said faintly "But, dear, it's not yours to
mortgage. It belongs to uncle."

"He gave it to us," snorted Mrs Stedman. "He gave it to me! I've a right
to do what I like with it. You are very, very trying, Marjorie, and just
when I wanted you to write to your dear uncle, who is so fond of you, and
ask him if he could lend us a little. You could easily tell him that you
were going to be married, or something."

"Going to be married!" repeated the girl, laughing hysterically

Then, to Mrs Stedman's amazement, she ran from the room and the mother
heard her feet upon the stairs and the slam of her bedroom door and the
snap of the lock as she turned the key.


Chapter 10--MARJORIE SENDS HER WIRE


The young man waiting at the entrance of the drive in smart riding-kit
was good--looking in an effeminate way. His fair hair was brushed neatly
back over the top of his head, and was brightly brilliantined; his nails
were daintily manicured; and his hands, of which he was inordinately
proud, were white and graceful. One of these rose to lift his hat in a
sweeping salute as Marjorie, dressed for walking, came through the gate.

"Hullo, Marjorie," he said, "I thought you were riding this morning?"

Lance Kelman was her cousin, the son of her mother's brother. He was a
young man who possessed unbounded confidence in himself, a confidence
which he had hoped to impose upon Solomon Stedman, for Lance had taken
his adventurous trip to South Africa hoping for a nice, fat job where the
work was done by somebody else, or preferably a handsome settlement upon
himself by virtue of his distant relationship. In all his expectations he
had been disappointed. His views upon Solomon Stedman, as Marjorie knew,
were neither flattering nor charitable. Marjorie had not intended
discussing the matter with her cousin, but she felt now that she must
talk it over with somebody or she would go mad. She wanted strength, just
a little additional strength, to meet this supreme crisis in her young
life.

"Yes, yes," she said hastily "I am riding this afternoon."

"I thought of taking you over to Tynewood Chase," he said. He had a way
of talking as though he owned the country and was its principal showman;
but today his little conceit did not amuse her, and she made a wry face.

"I don't know that I want to see anything associated with the Tynewoods
today" she said. "You're coming to the dinner tomorrow Lance?"

He nodded, but with a little frown. "I wonder you didn't manage to get me
at the table with you, Marjorie," he said complainingly "I don't want to
hobnob with royalty but I should rather like to have been near you. And
what's the matter with Lady Tynewood?" he asked quickly "You haven't been
quarrelling again?"

"I haven't been quarrelling; she did all that," said Marjorie, "and it
was on the same subject--a place at the high table at tomorrow's dinner.
I wish I wasn't going to the dinner."

"Isn't she there either?" asked Lance.

"No, she's not," snapped the girl, whose nerves were on edge, "and I am
very glad. I have nothing to do with the placing of people at the tables,
high or low." He was ruffled for the same reason as Lady Tynewood, and
made her case his own. "She isn't a bad sort, believe me," he said. "She's
a pretty knowledgeable woman of the world, and I've a great respect for
her. It's nothing like the feeling I've got for you, mark you, dear," he
added.

"I am going to the village now Lance," she said, impatient to be gone.
"Will you be ready at two o'clock? You look so nice in your
riding--suit," she smiled, "that I don't think I should change."

He smiled a little complacently "All right, two o'clock. But can't I go
with you into the village?"

She shook her head. "No, I'm going to the post office to do some
business," she said, "and I'd rather go alone."

She did not wait for him to urge his attendance upon her, but turned with
a nod and walked quickly down the hill to the straggling village of
Tynewood. Tynvwood, Tynewood! How she detested the name! Though she had
had little but happiness in this neighbourhood since she had come. But
somehow Alma Tynewood's presence poisoned the sweetness of life; and now
the woman had her mother in her clutches, and had forced her to a course
against which her soul and her conscience revolted. At that moment she
hated Lady Tynewood most heartily.

Everything conspired against her that morning. The post office lay at the
farther end of the one street, through which she very seldom passed, for
the railway station was two miles away in the direction from whence she
had come. As she hurried through, Perkins, the butcher, slipped out of
his shop and came up to her apologetically touching his cap.

"I'm sorry to bother you, Miss Stedman," he said, "and I have been trying
to see you for a fortnight past."

"Trying to see me?" said Marjorie in surprise. "What do you want no see
me about?"

"Well, miss," said the man uncomfortably, "I never like dunning a
customer like you, especially when you're so highly respected in the
County, but I do wish your lady mother would settle that little account
of mine."

Marjorie's heart sank.

"Does she owe you much?" she asked.

"A hundred and twenty pounds, miss," said the butcher. "It may not be
much to her, but it's quite a lot to a man like me, and with the bills
falling due, I'm rather hard put to it to find ready money just now."

Marjorie bit her lip.

"All right, Mr Perkins," she said, "I will see that your bill is
settled." She had hardly gone a dozen paces before she found little Mr
Grain waiting for her. Mr Grain was the local builder.

"Miss Stedman," he said as awkwardly as the butcher, "would it be asking
you too much to remind your mother that my bill hasn't been settled? It
is nearly twelve months old. You remember I did a lot of repairs to your
house and painted the place inside and out last spring."

"Is it much?" she asked unsteadily.

"About a hundred and eighty pounds, miss. I've written to your mother,
but she has never replied."

"I'll see to it, Mr Grain," said the girl. "Mother has been very busy of
late, and it must have escaped her memory."

She felt sick at the thought that almost every one of these poor little
tradesmen, who had as much as they could do to make both ends meet, were
creditors of her mother. If she needed any stiffening in her purpose, it
was supplied in these sordid details.

She walked into the post office with her head held high and took a yellow
telegraph form from a heap on the counter.

"That's a foreign form, miss," said the postmistress. "I know," replied
Marjorie. Somehow she could not bring herself to write, but presently
with an effort, she dipped the nib in the ink and wrote, addressing the
telegram to "Solomon Stedman, Stedman's Mine, Vrykloof South Africa."
Again she stopped, incapable of proceeding, and then, with a sudden
resolution, she wrote:

"I accept Pretoria Smith," and signed in a bold hand: "Marjorie Stedman."




Chapter 11--MARJORIE TELLS THE NEWS


"What is the matter with Marjorie?" asked Lance Kelman lazily as he
struck a match to light his cigarette.

Mrs Stedman held out her thin hands in a gesture which was intended to
signify her complete ignorance.

"I never can understand Marjorie, and the older she gets the farther she
seems to draw away from me," she complained. "She hasn't sympathy with
me, Lance. She doesn't understand the requirements of my temperament."

"She's very young," said Lance condescendingly; "perhaps if she travelled
a little more, her mind would broaden and she'd understand things
better."

Mrs Stedman never lacked understanding from her nephew and she looked
admiringly at his trim figure.

"I wish Marjorie would settle down, Lance," she said. "I sometimes wish
she would marry. Do you know what I was hoping when you went out to South
Africa to see dear Solomon--it was very brave of you to take that
terrible journey? I was wishing that Solomon would make your fortune and
that you would come back in a position to marry."

"To marry Marjorie, you mean?" said Lance, by no means overwhelmed at the
prospect. "Yes, I had some idea of that myself. She's a dear girl," he
added, "though somewhat narrow in view, auntie."

"Exactly my idea," said Mrs Stedman, glancing nervously at the lock.
"How long will Marjorie be, I wonder?"

"Are you going out this afternoon, auntie?" asked Lance. "I did think of
going," said Mrs Stedman, lowering her voice, "but I beg of you not to
mention the fact to Marjorie. She has an unreasonable prejudice against
Lady Tynewood." "You're going to the Tynewoods', eh?" said her nephew.
"Well, I agree with you. Lady Tynewood is a real good sort. I was telling
her about my troubles the other day and she asked me if I'd ever met her
husband--Sir James Tynewood, you know. He ran away from her, I believe,
though I've never got the story right."

"There is a lot of gossip," began Mrs Stedman, when her discourse was
interrupted by the arrival of Marjorie. The girl looked exquisite in her
riding-suit. A perfectly fitting long grey coat hung to where the tall
polished riding--boots met the knee of the well-cut breeches, and Lance
looked at her admiringly.

"For a prude, Marje, you sometimes dress very daringly."

"I am not a prude, and please don't call me Marje," said Marjorie. "It
sounds like the stuff we used to spread on our bread in Brixton."

"My dear," reproved Mrs Stedman with a shiver, "don't let us refer to
those horrible times." The girl sighed. "Are you ready?" she asked, and
without waiting for a reply walked out to where the horses were waiting.
He hurried to her assistance, but she had put her foot in the stirrup and
had swung herself to the saddle before he could touch her. "You're mighty
independent," he grumbled, and was considerably annoyed because he rather
prided himself on the manner in which he could handle a lady in those
circumstances. They passed through a long, narrow lane with high
hedgerows, and Marjorie did not speak for some time. She intended telling
Lance just what she had done, and she did not doubt what his opinion
would be.

"Your mother was talking about Tynewood," and the girl groaned inwardly.

"I hope she's not going to the Tynewoods' this afternoon," she said
suddenly but Lance did not enlighten her.

"You have never seen the Chase, have you?"

She had been to Tynewood Chase. She recalled the circumstances with a
shiver. "I have never seen the place," she answered truthfully.

"It's a beautiful old Tudor building with a magnificent park. How a man
can be content to leave a lovely wife and an estate of this kind and
wander in the wilderness, heaven only knows!"

"You are speaking of Sir James Tynewood?" she asked slowly, and he
nodded. "Yes. He left his wife, you know, a few days after they were
married. The real story is not known locally Sir James has two estates,
and he spent most of his time on the other. Indeed, there's nobody
attached to the Chase, except the old gatekeeper, who knows him. He
married about four years ago, quite unexpectedly Lady Tynewood had been
on the stage, you know."

"I heard something of that," she said quietly.

"I think he must have been mad," said Lance. "Left her, my dear, without
a minute's warning. He married in London--"

"Who told you all this?" asked the girl. "Well, to be perfectly candid,
Lady Tynewood told me the very sad story of her life, or a portion of it,
when I was taking tea there the other day" said Lance with a show of
indifference.

"I see," said the girl with an inward smile. "Go on, please. I am very
much interested in Sir James Tynewood. In fact, it's the only Tynewood
thing that does interest me."

"He went away" continued Lance, a little proud to know the story at
first hand. "They married suddenly in London, and he was rather a wild
sort of fellow, as far as I can judge, and got into several scrapes
before he met Alma--I mean Lady Tynewood. I remember--I was at Winchester
at the time--the papers were full of it, and one of them happened to
mention the fact that Lady Tynewood would now be the proud wearer of the
famous Tynewood collar--that's a collar of diamonds, you know."

"I didn't think it was a dog's collar," she said without a smile, and he
looked at her suspiciously.

"Well, she insisted on James getting this for her, and he came down here
to Tynewood Chase, and from that moment"--he paused dramatically--"he was
never seen again. The next morning Lady Tynewood received a letter from
his lawyer, saying that, although James was married to her, she must not
under any circumstances enter the doors of the Chase. A sum of money was
settled on her--quite inadequate, my dear, for a woman of her
position--and the next thing she knew was to read an announcement that
James Tynewood had left for South Africa."

"South Africa?" said the girl quickly. "Oh, of course, the Carisbrooke
Castle goes to South Africa, doesn't it?"

"I didn't say anything about the ship," said Lance, satisfied that he had
created a sensation and not troubling to ask (this to the girl's relief)
how she associated the mail boat with the lost Sir James. "But why did
you say 'South Africa' in that curious tone?"

"Because I am interested in South Africa," she said, and her voice was
hard, so hard that he turned and looked at her in surprise. "I am going
to marry Pretoria Smith!"

"Pretoria Smith!" he gasped. "What do you mean?"

"Read this." She took the letter from her pocket and handed it to him,
and he reined in his horse and read the letter through.

"But you're not going to do a thing like this?" he said. "Pretoria
Smith--I know the brute! A bullying, nigger-whacking ruffian. Why I saw
him flog an unfortunate native till I had to interfere. He was in the
courts once for shooting a bushman named--anyway I forget his name,
but he was in the courts. And he drinks! I've seen him reeling about the
town. They say--"

"Oh don't, don't!" she said with a shudder, and covered her eyes with her
hands. "It's not true, Marjorie. You're not going to do it. My dear, I
was hoping and praying for the day when I could ask you myself to be my
wife."

She stopped him with a gesture. "I could never be your wife," she said
quietly "Don't let that complication enter into a business which is
already horribly tangled."

"But it's impossible!" he cried. "It's madness. I will not allow it."

She smiled bitterly "Unfortunately you cannot prevent it," she said. "I
have to do it."

She did not tell him the story of her mother's folly of her own tragic
misery and they rode on, he smouldering with rage and feeling of personal
grievance, she with a feeling of helplessness in face of the inevitable.
And so they came to the gates of the Chase and reined in.

"I don't feel like looking over the place today," said the girl wearily
She could see from where she sat the natural beauty of the park, the
tall, spreading trees, the grey aged building standing in dignity with
its mullioned windows gleaming in the light of the afternoon sun.

"Let us stay here. I want to retain this picture. It is very beautiful,"
she said softly.

And for a while the loveliness of the scene put her own trouble out of
her mind. Whilst they sat they heard the whirr of a motor car, and a
long--bonneted limousine came into view and stopped opposite the gates,
and a lady got out. "Lady Tynewood," whispered Lance, and the girl was
going to turn her horse, but feminine curiosity got the better of her.
Lady Tynewood walked up to the gates and the liveried porter opened them
and stood in the opening.

"Is there anything I can do for your ladyship?" he asked, touching his
hat.

"I want to see over the grounds," said Lady Tynewood, but the man did not
move.

"I'm very sorry my lady, but I have orders that you are not under any
circumstances to be admitted."

"And you have orders from me to stand on one side," she cried in a fury.
"I have been too long obedient to the wishes of your employer. I insist
upon my right to enter the grounds as and when I wish."

For answer he stepped back and gently closed the gates in her face.

"I'm very sorry my lady" he said between the bars. "My orders are strict.
I cannot allow you to enter."

The woman turned away in a towering rage and came face to face with
Marjorie. "You!" she said, and her voice was hoarse. She put her hand to
her throat as though she had some difficulty in breathing, and then:
"This is another humiliation you have witnessed, Marjorie Stedman," she
said, breathing heavily "I have two scores to wipe out with you."

Marjorie said nothing for a moment, then: "You may wipe out any scores
you have, Lady Tynewood," she said softly "but they will never be bridge
scores!" And she turned her horse's head and rode away.




Chapter 12--THE MAN WHO WAS NOBODY


Mr Vance, of that eminent firm of solicitors, Vance & Vance, was in the
midst of a busy day's work when a visitor was announced, and as he read
the card his eyebrows rose. "Show Miss Stedman in, please." He got up and
came halfway across the room to meet her. "Why this is a most unexpected
pleasure, Miss Stedman," he said, closing the door after her. "You
haven't come for legal advice, I hope?" "No, not exactly that," she
replied with a little smile. "I have heard great stories of your progress
in the county" said Mr Vance. "Sit down there, my dear. Why it's good to
see you again. I shall never have another secretary like you. Yes, I hear
great things about you; you raised a lot of money for the County
Hospital, I'm told, .And isn't there a complimentary dinner to you soon,
or has it gone past?" "It is not exactly a complimentary dinner to me,"
she smiled. "I think it is to be a function where everybody congratulates
themselves, and I am to be one of the complacent many. Mr Vance," she
said, her voice striking a more serious note, "did you ever know Uncle
Solomon?"

"I think I told you I'd met him," replied Vance, nodding. "I have only
the dimmest recollection of Mr Stedman."

"You know he has made a very large fortune?" He nodded again.

"You told me that in your letter and I congratulate you all. What is the
matter?" he asked quickly "Has he lost his money?"

She shook her head. "Sometimes I almost wish he had," she said ruefully
"No, he has done no more than"--she hesitated--"attempt to shape my
life."

He looked a little puzzled, then a light dawned upon him. "Has he chosen
a husband for you?" he asked with a twinkle in his eyes.

"You have guessed rightly" she said quietly.

"And who's the lucky man?"

"Somebody you know very well," she answered.

The half smile vanished from the lawyer's face. "Somebody I know? You're
quite mysterious, Miss Stedman. Is it a friend of mine?"

"I don't know whether he's a friend of yours, but he's somebody I have
met in this office--Mr Smith from Pretoria."

He half rose from his seat, a look of incredulity on his face. "Mr Smith
of Pretoria? Impossible!" he replied. "I wish it were," she said, amused
in spite of herself at his evident perturbation, and a little troubled
too. Briefly she related all the circumstances. The arrival of her
uncle's letter, and her conversation with her mother. It was not a time
when she could afford to respect the confidences of the older woman, and
she spoke frankly of Mrs Stedman's weakness.

"You leave me breathless," said the lawyer when she had finished. "I had
no idea that Mr Smith was in England." He pondered a moment, and the girl
watched his face, noting the evident emotion which her announcement had
caused.

"There is one question I want to ask you, Mr Vance, and I beg of you to
answer me truthfully--that sounds very rude, but such great issues are at
stake for me that I must have the truth."

"What is the question you wish to ask?" he demanded quietly.

"I want to know this," she said, speaking with deliberation. "What was
the meaning of that scene I witnessed at Tynewood Chase four years ago?"

He was silent. "I cannot answer that question, Miss Stedman," he said at
last. "I am sorry but to answer that would be to betray the confidence of
a friend. It would mean, too, the disgracing of a very old name."

"The name of Tynewood?" she said quickly and he nodded. "Then perhaps you
will answer another question," said the girl. "If I marry Pretoria Smith,
am I marrying the man who has caused Sir James Tynewood to disappear from
England--I do not say murdered him," she added quickly "that is too
dreadful a possibility Though I know Sir James Tynewood is dead, yet I
have been faithful to my promise to you that I would never speak of the
events I saw at Tynewood Chase."

He nodded. There was a look of quiet respect in his eyes. "I am indeed
grateful to you, Miss Stedman," he said, "and when Sir James returns from
his retirement he also will be grateful."

She looked at him steadily "Sir James Tynewood is dead," she said, and
his eyes narrowed.

"I repeat," he answered evenly, "that when Sir James Tynewood comes back
from his retirement, he will be grateful to you."

The girl came a little nearer to the table and dropped her clasped hands
on the desk. "I'm going to be open and honest with you, Mr Vance," she
said. "I know Sir James Tynewood is dead. By accident I came into your
room when you were discussing his death with Dr Fordham? The old lawyer
rose from his chair and paced the room slowly, his chin upon his breast,
his hands clasped behind him. Suddenly he stopped opposite to her.

"Are you going to marry Pretoria Smith?" he asked.

She shrugged her shoulders. "What else am I to do?"

He rubbed his chin thoughtfully "You might do worse, much worse," he said
with emphasis. "Pretoria Smith is a very decent man and comes of a good
family."

"Is his name Smith?" she asked.

"Is anybody's name Smith?" he answered good-humouredly "Now, now, Miss
Stedman"--he dropped his hand on her shoulder--"won't you take the advice
of an old friend?"

"What is your advice?"

"Marry Pretoria Smith!" was the astonishing answer.

"Marry a drunkard!" she said scornfully.

"A drunkard!" he gaped at her in amazement. "Pretoria Smith a drunkard?"
he said incredulously "Why Miss Stedman, what do you mean?"

"My cousin, Lance Kelman, was in South Africa, and knows the man perhaps
better than you do," she said. "He told me he had often seen Pretoria
Smith staggering about the town the worse for drink."

She was annoyed with her old employer and irritated and shocked at the
suggestion that she should marry Pretoria Smith, and she was dismally
triumphant at the look of blank consternation on the lawyer's face.

"Will you tell me, Mr Vance," she went on, "what is his name? Obviously I
cannot marry a man whose name I do not know."

He hesitated and scratched his chin irresolutely and was obviously
embarrassed. "If I tell you," he said, speaking slowly "I shall extract
from you a promise that you will not tell either Pretoria Smith or any
other person that I have given you this information?"

"I can promise that," she said at once. "His name," he said slowly, "is
Norman Garrick."

"Norman Garrick," she repeated; then, as a sudden inspiration came to
her, "Was he any relation of of the young man who is dead?"

She felt the name of "Tynewood" would choke her at that moment. Again the
lawyer paused.

"He is his half brother," he said in a low voice, "and that is all I can
tell you." Mr Vance spoke of her life in the country and the forthcoming
dinner, and then she took her leave of the lawyer. In the outer office
she stopped to speak to the managing clerk, an old friend of hers, and
went into his room.

"Quite like old times seeing you again, Miss Stedman," he chuckled. "We
haven't had anybody at the office quite as pleasant to work with as
yourself."

"If you're busy," she laughed, "I'll come along and help you."

"I wish to goodness you would," he grumbled. "I have got heaps and heaps
of estate matters to file." In truth his desk was choked with an
accumulation of papers and bundles of papers.

"You always were untidy Mr Herman," she said, and mechanically began to
set them in order as she had done so often. As she stacked the folded
documents on one side of the table her eyes fell upon a little bundle
tied with red tape and this she took up to place it with the others she
was piling. Mechanically she read: "In the matter of Norman Garrick."

She dropped the bundle with a little cry and stared at the managing
clerk. "Who is Norman Garrick?" she asked desperately.

The managing clerk looked at her with an odd expression and reaching out
took the bundle from the heap and dropped it into a drawer. "One of our
clients," he said indifferently, "or at least he was. He's been dead some
time now."

Two minutes later she was walking down the stairs of the office, her
brain in a whirl. Pretoria Smith was Norman Garrick--and Norman Garrick
was dead! Who then was Pretoria Smith? He was a man who was--nobody!




Chapter 13--HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS


It was the night of the great dinner which the Board of Management of the
Droitshire County Hospital were going to celebrate the raising of the
funds which had been necessary for the continuance of the hospital's
work. In reality it was a dinner in honour of the energetic secretary of
the fund, the girl who had worked with unremitting energy to make the
fund a success. Marjorie Stedman had utilized the knowledge she had
gained in a London office, and had engrafted to that a natural sweetness
of appeal and a natural genius for organization which had done so much to
produce the required sum.

His Royal Highness the Duke of Wight, who was President of the hospital,
had come down from London to preside, and was the guest of the Earl of
Wadham, who had his seat in the neighbourhood.

In the excitement and thrill of the brilliant gathering, at which every
county family was represented, Marjorie, looking exquisite in a gown of
silver and white, managed to forget the disturbing events of the previous
day and stood the smiling recipient of congratulations from the guests
which crowded the County Hall. Lord Wadham, white-haired and red-faced,
with a ready smile and a monocle, pushed his way through the throng to
Marjorie's side.

"Oh, here you are," he said loudly He had a voice like a foghorn and his
whispers were audible on the other side of the street. "Come along, Miss
Stedman. I want to present you to His Royal Highness."

He made his way through the press of people to the farther end of the
reception room, where, standing aloof with two or three gentlemen about
him, was the slight, boyish figure of the Duke of Wight, the blue band of
the Garter over his snowy shirt-front.

"Your Royal Highness, may I present Miss Marjorie Stedman, who has done
so much for the Droitshire Hospital?"

The Duke smiled and held out his hand. "I have heard of you, Miss
Stedman," he said, "and I want to thank you personally I have a great
interest in this hospital and in its prosperity and I feel that, but for
your energy and your tireless work, our appeal might have failed."

She curtsied and smiled as she took his hand.

"Your Royal Highness doesn't realize what a pleasure it was to work for
the hospital," she said.

"My Royal Highness recognizes what a pleasure it must be to work with
you, who are working for the hospital," said the Prince good-naturedly
and looked at Lord Wadham and then at his watch. At that moment a footman
announced that dinner was served, and they moved to the big inner room.

Dinner was to be served at separate tables. There were fifty small tables
that covered the whole of the floor space, and at the farther end n
larger table, decorated with greenery and glittering with silver; and it
was to this that Marjorie was led on the royal arm.

"You're on my right," he said, and she sat down, conscious of the curious
and the amused eyes which were cast in her direction. For the old gentry
which had made the county what it was, her elevation to honour was only a
source of gratification and pleasure; it was the little folk, the
successful profiteers, who hated her, and to these might be added Lady
Tynewood, who saw the girl's triumph from a table halfway down the room
and loathed her. She turned to her companion.

"Well, Mr Lance Kelman, what do you think of your cousin?"

"Oh, she's all right," said Lance Kelman, who had learnt that it was
impolitic to speak well of Marjorie before this overawing lady and in
consequence did not consider it disloyal to disparage her.

"She's bound to get a little swollen--headed," he added tolerantly "Young
people always do."

She looked at him with amusement.

"I don't think you're so very old, are you?" she said sarcastically "So
she's going to marry a miner in South Africa, eh? Pretoria Smith."

"A perfect brute," said Lance violently "By Jove, if she could only see
him as I saw him, she'd chuck him up at once! She's a weak fool anyway
and I'd give anything to teach her a lesson."

The girl was not thinking of Pretoria Smith or of anybody. The Prince was
talking to her about the hospital, when suddenly his eyes lighted on
Alma.

"Isn't that Lady Tynewood?" he asked.

"Yes, sir," said the girl. "Do you know her?"

"I knew her husband," said the Prince thoughtfully. "He and I were at
Eton together and we were on a couple of shooting expeditions. A real
good fellow." He shook his head. "I could never understand that
extraordinary marriage."

And then, remembering that scandal and gossip are forbidden to members of
his family he changed the subject.

Lady Tynewood had seen the Prince's eye fall on her, and guessed, with a
woman's quiet instinct, that it was not a friendly gaze.

"Lance," she said familiarly "will you go out into the vestibule? I left
my bag there and I brought a small pair of opera glasses. As I paid for
the dinner, I might as well have a good look at His Royal Nibs."

Lance was only amused at the vulgarity and he obeyed. The hall was
deserted, and the woman in charge of the ladies' cloaks easily found the
bag and handed it to him. He was returning to the room when his attention
was attracted by the sight of a man who stood unsteadily in the middle of
the vestibule. He looked again and his heart stood still for a moment,
and then a great scheme was born to his mind. A malicious scheme, the
consequence of which he could not foresee.

The man in the hall was tall and broad--shouldered; his face,
clean-shaven, was strong and almost expressionless, as though he wore a
mask to hide his inmost feelings. He was dressed in a shabby
reach-me-down suit such as a veldt store might produce at a minute's
notice and he wore a shirt with a soft collar which was open at the
throat. Lance crammed Lady Tynewood's bag in his pocket and stepped up
no the man.

"Hullo!" he said, and the stranger turned slowly to meet his eyes.

"Hullo!" he replied, and his voice was a little husky.

"You're Pretoria Smith, aren't you?" "Thee man swayed to and fro and when
he spoke it was in a lazy drawl.

"'That's my name," was the reply "Who the devil are you?"

"Don't you remember? I'm Mr Solomon Stedman's nephew"

"Oh yes, I remember," said the other, nodding. "Then perhaps you'll tell
me where is the hotel. I've strayed in here, thinking this was II, but
there seems to be some sort of function on."

And then the idea took shape and Lance Kelman forgot discretion, forgot
what would be the consequence of his impertinence, and gripped Pretoria
Smith by the arm.

"Come on," he said eagerly "I know a side way which will bring you quite
close to the person you are seeking?

"Wait a minute," said Pretoria Smith. "'What is the game?"

"You're hungry aren't you?"

"I am," said Pretoria Smith thickly after a little pause, "and I'm not.
I'm more thirsty" He swayed on his feet as he stood.

"Drunk," thought Kelman exultantly "Now Marjorie, I will show you the
kind of man you're going to marry." `"I'll take you where you can get a
drink--anything you want," he said, and took him along the side passage
which ran parallel with the dining-hall.

There were several doors used for exits when entertainments were given
and at the last of these he stopped. He guessed it would be opposite the
high table, and would produce the greatest sensation. He had some
difficulty in unlocking the door, but presently he succeeded; and led the
man in, in full view of every person in the hall.

The Prince looked round with a frown and a little start.

Marjorie gazed with amazement on the man she had not seen for four years
and instinct warned her that he was drunk and she went pale.

A momentary silence had fallen on the hall at the sight of this
extraordinary intruder, and it was Lance Kelman who broke the spell.

"Your Royal Highness, Ladies and Gentlemen," he cried, "permit me to
introduce you to the fianc of Marjorie Stedman--Pretoria Smith!"

The man at his side looked round with half--closed eyes as though he were
dazed, then stumbled and lurched forward toward where the Prince was
standing, and the frightened girl, half-fainting, shrank back in her
chair.

"Drunk, by God!" said Lord Wadham, as Pretoria Smith fell with a crash
against the table, face to face with His Royal Highness.




Chapter 14--THE INTRUDER


All her life Marjorie Stedman would retain in her mind that picture of
horror and humiliation. The great room, lit by hundreds of lights, the
wails draped with Hags, the white tables flashing back the rays of the
lamps, the pink faces turned to hers--and there, near at hand--and she
shivered in a panic of fear--the sprawling figure of Pretoria Smith.

He was talking some weird, outlandish gibberish, talking fiercely as a
drunken man will talk who is half conscious and half bemused; and above
all, the serene figure of the Prince, standing with both his hands on the
table, his head slightly bent, his unwavering eyes fixed upon the wreck
before him.

It was the Prince who made the first move. Slipping round the table
before the attendants could reach him, he had lifted Pretoria Smith to
his feet, and, waving aside the attendants, it was he who half led, half
supported the man into the hall. And then the babble of talk began, and
every face and eye was fixed on the shrinking girl, who sat frozen,
tortured, humiliated to the last degree, not daring to meet any of the
eyes that were turned in her direction. Presently the Prince came back,
calmly leisurely and sat down by the girl's side. He bent over to her and
patted her hand.

 "My dear girl," he said in a low voice, "I am awfully sorry--who was the
 man who brought him in?"

He looked round and his keen eyes sought out the scared face of Lance
Kelman, and he beckoned him forward. The moment Lance Kelman had
accomplished his dramatic introduction, he had fallen into a blue funk;
and as the Prince's finger crooked, he came forward with wobbling knees,
and stood in the place where Pretoria Smith had stood.

"I don't know your name, sir," said the Duke of Wight, fixing his eye
upon the young man, "and I have not asked, for I do not want to know it.
I can only tell you, sir, that your conduct has unfitted you for
association with gentlemen, and I will ask you to retire."

 Lance Kelman went out of the room, looking neither left nor right,
 boiling with rage which was half fear, and wildly apprehensive of what
 might follow He, Lance Kelman, a man of considerable means, and a
 possible candidate for Parliament, had been publicly rebuked. He could
 have cried, and was near to tears of self-pity when he threw himself
 into his car and was whirled away to the house he had rented for the
 summer. Few people had seen him go or realized why he went.

Marjorie had heard the words, and in some way felt the reflected reproach
of them; and the Duke must have realized this, for he turned to her with
a smile.

"Now Miss Stedman, you are eating nothing and you are drinking nothing,"
he said gaily, "and I must insist upon your doing both."

Her hand as she raised the wine-glass to her lips was shaking, and this
he noticed.

"It was very dreadful for you, and I'm very sorry," he said. "That
person I have just sent home is a most unutterable little cad, and I
suppose he had some reason?"

"I can't divine it," said the girl with a shake of her head. "Lance and
I are quite good friends, but he is piqued, I think, by something which
happened."

Very gently and with rare tact the young Duke drew from her the whole of
the story. The letter she had received that morning from her uncle, her
aversion to the match and her horror of it. She did not tell him of
their earlier meeting nor of her mother's indiscretions, but he guessed
there was some vital reason why she should have accepted the nominee of
Solomon Stedman.

"I had no idea that he was in England," she said. "My uncle's letter
merely said that he was on his way. He must have come by the same boat as
the letter."

The Prince nodded.

"What can I do, sir?" she asked helplessly "My own inclination is to go
away back to London and find some work. But there are--there are reasons
why I cannot do this, and why I must accept"--she paused at the
word--"Pretoria Smith and all that Pretoria Smith means."

The young Prince was silent. The room saw the conversation; not one move
escaped the guests. Suddenly they saw the royal Duke rise, and the noise
of talking ceased. Was he going to make some statement which would
explain this most curious interruption to the dinner? Their doubts were
soon to be set at rest.

"Gentlemen," said the Duke of Wight, "I give you the toast of the King!"

So nothing was to be said, and they must draw their own conclusions and
discover, as best they could, what was the meaning of the extraordinary
scene. Marjorie was not engaged to any man, so far as they knew and
certainly she was not the type of girl who would marry an ill-clad
ruffian who was in the habit of making such an exhibition of himself.
There were a dozen men in the county who would have been happy to have
led Marjorie to the altar. She had friends innumerable, and these were
grieved and shocked. Incidentally there were a few young men in that
hall who registered a vow to seek out Mr Lance Kelman at the earliest
opportunity and impress upon him the iniquity of his proceeding.

Presently the memory of the incident passed, the speeches began and
Marjorie listened like a girl in a dream to the praise which was lavished
upon her by the Prince. And then, in face of that great gathering, he
pinned upon her breast the insignia of the Order of the Royal Red Cross.
 The cheers were deafening and spontaneous.

Lady Tynewood did not cheer. Through her little jewelled glasses she was
watching the scene at the table, and her lips curled in scorn.

"The man must be in love with her himself," she said aloud, "to
countenance such a disgraceful scene."

Her neighbour, a stiff-backed squire, looked at her under his beetling
brows.

"That is not a comment I like to hear, madam," he said, and moved farther
away She took no notice of the rebuke. Her busy; scheming mind was
wholly engaged on one matter--how best could she use Pretoria Smith,
whose face she had seen for the first time in her life.




Chapter 15--MRS STEDMAN HEARS THE NEWS


Lord Wadham drove Marjorie home that night. He was full of good cheer
and roared his enthusiasm into her deafened ear.

 "A great chap, the Prince," he shouted. "One of the right sort. When
 you have men like that at the head of affairs, you need not fear
 revolution or anarchy. You behaved splendidly, my girl, splendidly!
 I've never seen a lady in this land who could have kept her face as you
 did in such circumstances. I think you're just wonderful."

The girl smiled faintly and her hand lightly touched the glittering
ornament at her breast. To say that she had not been gratified and had
not experienced a thrill when this honour was paid to her, would be to
say that she was not human. Later, perhaps, in the sleepless hours of
the night, she would think of Pretoria Smith and come to a full
understanding of the insult that had been put upon her. For the moment
she let her mind dwell upon more pleasant things.

"Kelman's a fool," boomed Lord Wadham. "I'm perfectly sure that he
couldn't have done that by himself. That infernal Tynewood woman must
have put him up to it. A bad egg, that, my dear, a damned bad egg!"

There were times when Lord Wadham's language was violent and strong. But
the girl did not resent such expressions at this moment. Rather she was
prepared to endorse them and be thankful to Lord Wadham for expressing
her own inmost thoughts.

The car stopped at the drive and he saw her up to the door and left her.
 Until she got into the drawing-room she carried herself bravely; but
once out of the sight of Wadham, the utter misery of her position
brought a little collapse. She sat down on a settee, weary and hurt and
utterly sick of everything. Mrs Stedman bustled in at the wrong moment,
and was in a chirpy cheerful mood.

"Well, my dear, how did everything go off?" she babbled. "I'm sure you
were a great success in that gown. I wish your poor, dear father could
have seen you. I don't like silver on white; it is a little too
theatrical to please me, but girls have changed extraordinarily since I
was young. And was the Prince nice to you?"

Marjorie roused herself with an effort.

"He gave me this," she said, and indicated the decoration on her bodice.

Mrs Stedman was properly impressed.

"Did he really my dear? How very nice of him!" she said. "Is it made of
gold, or is it just imitation? I always think that decorations that
gentlemen wear are such gilded sepulchres. Your poor dear uncle john, who
was run over by an omnibus, had a decoration from the Shah of Persia; it
was just paste, my dear, paste."

"Mother," said Marjorie, who was unpinning the medal from her gown, "I am
going to be married."

Mrs Stedman looked at her in amazement.

"Going to be married, Marjorie?" she said in a complaining voice. "My
dear, you haven't told me anything about this, you know a girl's best
friend is her mother, and she should be the first to be told of anything
of importance."

"I'm going to be married to Pretoria Smith," said the girl recklessly
"His name isn't Smith and he's nobody! He's a bushranger or a thief or a
road agent or a bank robber or something, he's very rich--and he gets
drunk!"

Mrs Stedman regarded her daughter with an alarmed eye. "You haven't been
drinking too much, dear, have you?" she asked. "It is awfully bad for
young girls to drink. When I was young we had just one glass of port
between three of us, and even that used to make my head go quite whizzy."

Marjorie had left the room and came back very shortly with her uncle's
letter. "I want you to read that, mother," she said.

Mrs Stedman looked at her daughter suspiciously and fumbled for her
glasses. "Are you going to marry Lance?" she asked.

"Lance!" burst forth the girl, in such a tone of scorn that her mother
shrank back open-mouthed.

"But he's a very nice boy a dear boy," she insisted.

"Read that letter, mother," said the girl. "I shall go mad if you say
much more to me."

Mrs Stedman fixed her glasses and read. When she had finished she was
rather pale.

"Of course you're going to do it, darling, aren't you?" she said. "You
don't know this gentleman, but I am perfectly sure your dear uncle would
not recommend a husband unless he was quite a respectable person."

"So respectable that he came to the dinner tonight drunk, looking like a
tramp," said the girl bitterly. "He insulted the Prince and collapsed
over the table! And that brute Lance brought him in!"

"Lance would never do anything ungentlemanly, I'm sure," said Mrs
Stedman. "But, my dear, you are going to marry him, aren't you?"

"I suppose so," said the girl.

"That's all right," said Mrs Stedman complacently folding her glasses and
putting them away. "It may turn out quite well for you. These romantic
marriages sometimes do."

"Romantic!" repeated Marjorie in despair. "Mother, don't you realize
what such a marriage to me means? Do you imagine that I, who must suffer,
am going light--heartedly into this awful arrangement because I think it
is romantic or hope that anything will come out of it but unhappiness?"

"Then, my dear," whimpered Mrs Stedman, "why do you go into it at all? I
don't mind being turned out," she sniffed. "I don't mind starving and
going into the bankruptcy court. If you feel so bitter about it, don't
do it. Never mind me; I'm nobody" And she clucked spasmodically into her
handkerchief.

Happily there was a knock at the door at that moment. The girl heard it,
and Mrs Stedman heard it and forgot to grieve.

"I wonder who it is at this hour?" she said.

The girl had a horrible fear that it was Pretoria Smith, and it required
all her efforts to stand still, and when the maid came in and announced
Lance Kelman she was almost relieved.




Chapter 16--"A MARRIAGE HAS BEEN ARRANGED"


Mr Kelman was in a perturbed condition of mind. He had also had time to
develop a grievance.

"Look here, Marjorie," he said, "I've been treated most shamefully by
that infernal duke. I never did believe in royalties, anyway and he--"

The girl stopped him with a gesture.

"Lance," she said quietly, "you behaved like a blackguard tonight. For
what reason I cannot tell, except that your own miserable little vanity
was hurt when you learnt I was going to marry--somebody else. Now don't
interrupt me," she said, her voice rising. "You humiliated me before the
whole of the county, because you thought that by so doing I would be
disgusted with Pretoria Smith and marry you. I tell you this,
Lance"--her shining eyes were fixed on his, and he quailed before
them--"that I would sooner marry Pretoria Smith, or twenty Pretoria
Smiths, than be married to a man like you. He may be a person of no
education and know no better. You are a public school man and have the
reputation of being a gentleman. To appease your miserable vanity you
have made me the laughing--stock of Droitshire. You have deserved every
word that the Prince said to you--and now get out!"

She pointed to the door, and Lance Kelman, after a few ineffectual
attempts to speak, slunk out, and had not thought of what he ought to
have said under the circumstances till he was home in bed.

It was a restless night for Marjorie Stedman. Sleep would not come, and
the dawn found her sitting in her silk kimono at the window, watching
the stars fade in the western sky. The air was balmy and the heavy scent
of flowers came up to her. She did not feel in the least tired. The calm
of the dawn hour brought comfort and peace to her troubled spirit.

Her room overlooked the road, for one end of the Priory was separated
only by a dozen yards from the high screening hedge which divided the
public thoroughfare from her mother's demesne. The window afforded a
view of that part of the road which led up from Tynewood, and presently
she saw a man walking along in the middle of the road, coming toward her.
 She wondered if it were a labourer thus early afoot on his way to one of
the farms, but somehow or other, from his walk, the easy swing of his
stride, the almost cat-like lightness of tread, knew that he was no
farmer's man. She sat watching until he came near at hand.

He carried his hat in hand and his head was bare. And then with a gasp
she recognized him. It was the man who had staggered into the hall the
night before--Pretoria Smith. He was sober now; and possibly she
thought, he was walking off the effects of his night's debauch.

He looked neither to the right nor to the left, and only when he came
abreast of her did he raise his eyes.

She had intended to go back from the window so that he should not see
her, but that quick uplift of his gaze had caught her by surprise. It
surprised him too, apparently, for he stopped awkwardly and said
something. She heard the word "Sorry" then jumped up and shut the
casement window with a bang. She did not even trouble to see what
happened to him. If she had, she would have seen him turn with a shrug
and continue his walk. Then, as she realized the futility of it all, she
lay down on the bed, her head on her arms, too prostrate in spirit to
weep.

This man was to be her husband, and it was madness to start of as she was
doing, to antagonize him from the start. Her husband! She shuddered and,
feeling cold, pulled the eiderdown over her. So lying she fell asleep
and did not wake until ten o'clock. She had her bath, dressed slowly and
came downstairs. Mrs Stedman was in the drawing--room, a book in her
hand, a cigarette between her lips. It was only since her acquaintance
with Lady Tynewood that she had adopted this dashing practice, and
Marjorie, despite her weariness of heart, was secretly amused, for her
mother only smoked when she had some disagreeable office to perform.

"You're up, my dear?" said Mrs Stedman unnecessarily. "There are some
letters for you."

The girl glanced at them and pushed them aside.

"You haven't had breakfast?"

"I've had some coffee in my room," said Marjorie shortly. Then, knowing
the signs, she asked quietly: "Well, mother, what is the trouble?"

"My dear," said Mrs Stedman nervously "I've had a letter from Alma--quite
a nice letter, but--er--er--"

"But she wants her money eh?" asked Marjorie. Everything was conspiring
against her--everything--everything. If she had wanted to change her
mind, if, after the awful scene of the previous night, she had decided
that under no circumstances could she marry this boor, the fates were
deciding otherwise.

"She wants the money--yes," said Mrs Stedman apologetically. "Of course,
Alma has very heavy expenses, my dear, and just now there's an unexpected
call upon her. I'll read you her letter if you like."

"You needn't trouble, mother. I know all about the unexpected calls that
Lady Tynewood has upon her slender resources," said the girl. "You
mustn't forget that I've been writing to thousands of people for money,
in connection with the hospital, and I know just what they say in certain
circumstances."

"Alma was very generous to your fund," said Mrs Stedman reproachfully
"Very generous indeed, I thought."

"She gave a hundred pounds, and expected a thousand pounds' worth of
advertisement," said the girl curtly "And she'd very gladly take back her
hundred pounds if she could get it. So she wants the money does she? By
when?"

"By next Monday. It is very dreadful that I should have to beg my own
daughter to help me in this matter," said Mrs Stedman tearfully "I
thought I could arrange without asking you to help me, for my luck
yesterday was extraordinarily good."

"You played again?" asked the girl quickly "Oh, mother, mother!"

"Why shouldn't I?" demanded Mrs Stedman, bridling. "Gracious heavens,
girl! One would think that I was not capable of looking after myself."

Marjorie sighed, and walking to the window opened it on to the lawn. She
stood there contemplating the garden for a while, and then turned back to
the other.

"Mother," she said, "how quickly can I be married?"

"How quickly?" repeated Mrs Stedman. "I don't know how long it takes a
dressmaker to prepare--"

"I'm not thinking about dressmakers," said Marjorie quietly. "I'm thinking
about marriage. How long notice does one have to give before the actual
ceremony can be performed?"

"Of course, if you get a special licence--though I don't believe in these
hurried weddings," said her mother--"it can be done in a day or two."

"Hurried!" Marjorie laughed. "Oh yes, it'll be hurried all right. I
wish you would telephone Mr Curtis to fix this licence," she said,
referring to the lawyer of the village. And her mother looked
uncomfortable.

"You don't owe Mr Curtis money too, do you?" she asked quickly.

"Well, my dear," faltered Mrs Stedman, "there's the interest on the
mortgage. I think I told you that the house was mortgaged."

"It hasn't been paid, I suppose." Marjorie shook her head.

"Of course I can arrange it," said Mrs Stedman with dignity. "I will
speak to Mr Curtis and explain to him just what I want."

She walked to her writing desk and took a sheet of paper. Presently:
"Marjorie Mary Stedman" she repeated as she wrote, "daughter of Maud
Stedman and john Francis Stedman, gentleman." She wrote a little more
and then turned.

"What is your fianc's name, dear?" she asked, in the most natural
manner, as though it were the most usual, instead of being the most
fantastic marriage that had ever been arranged.

"My fianc's name?" said Marjorie, and then with a gasp: "I--I don't know
his name!"




Chapter 17--LADY TYNEWOOD MAKES A CALL


Lady Tynewood came down to her panelled dining-room and disturbed Mr
Augustus Javot in his study of the day's racing. He was the same tall
lank man, upon whom the passing of time worked no apparent change.
Though his name was French, he came of an old English family in the
north, though very few members of that family boasted of the fact. He
was supposed to be secretary factotum and bailiff to Lady Tynewood, but
his attitude to her was not that of the hired servant. She swept into
the room, and even in the cruel light of morning her unlined face was
pleasant to look upon.

"Javot," she said. He did not look up. "Javot," she said more sharply;
and he turned his face to hers with a sigh of patient resignation.

"Why do you interrupt me?" he grumbled. "You know I hate it when I am
reading the sporting news."

She had taken a little cigarette from a jewelled case and had lit it.

"Javot, do you remember all I told you last night about what happened at
the County Hall?"

"I remember," he said. "There was a row or something, wasn't there? This
South African gentleman intruded himself and was chucked out."

"He was gracefully escorted from the room by a prince of the blood," said
the woman sardonically. "It was Lance Kelman who was chucked out."

"He's a fool," growled the other.

"But a useful fool," said Alma, Lady Tynewood, quietly. "He's half in
love with that girl and a little judicious prompting will make him wholly
in love. I hate her," she said viciously.

Javot leaned back in his chair, thrust his hands deep into his breeches
pockets, and smiled.

"A pretty girl," he said thoughtfully "a very pretty girl indeed. I
remember--" he stopped himself. Mr Javot was not communicative even to
Lady Tynewood. He had recognized the girl the first time he had seen her
and had been surprised that she had not recalled his face.

"And she's going to marry this--er--miner, eh?" he went on. "One of
nature's noblemen, or just an ordinary rough diamond that wants a bit of
polishing?"

She sat on the edge of the table, swinging her legs and puffing little
rings of smoke into the clear air.

"I went to Tynewood Chase yesterday," she said, "and they wouldn't let me
in."

"You're a fool to go to Tynewood Chase," said the man coolly. "I've told
you a dozen times not to do it. Why aren't you content to sit and wait?
Sooner or later Tynewood will die and the whole of that property will
pass into your possession. Including the famous Tynewood collar," he
added significantly.

She did not make any answer to this, being still engaged in the pursuit
of her thoughts.

"I want to see this Pretoria Smith," she said. "He is one of those
wandering creatures who might have come against James. A strong,
powerful face," she mused. "I am not so sure--" She stopped herself in
time.

"What aren't you so sure about?" he asked suspiciously.

"Nothing," she replied with a light toss of her head. "But he might give
us information, don't you think?"

"It's unlikely" said Javot. "Let James Tynewood alone, I tell you, and
sit tight. You've got a fine income from the estate; you're young enough
to be able to afford to wait a year or two. You're not pretending," he
said sarcastically, "that you are worrying your head about him, whether
he is alive or dead--you're not putting over that madly-in-love still;
are you? You only knew him for a few weeks and he was drunk when he
married you."

 "You're crude, Javot." She jumped down from the table and threw away her
 cigarette, but there was no resentment in her voice. "Just brutally
 crude, Javot. Of course he was drunk when he married me, otherwise he
 would never have made such a fool of himself If you hadn't kept him up
 all night playing cards, dosing him with absinthe and brandy and if you
 hadn't brought him, in a condition near to madness, to the registrar's
 office in the Marylebone Road, I should not have married him, and you
 and I would not have been sitting here living in comfort at Monk House."

He scratched his chin. "I suppose you're right," he admitted. "But
isn't that my argument? Leave well alone."

"Not when there's better," she replied. "I want proof of James
Tynewood's death. You and I have been brought up in a hard school, Javot.
We know how long that kind of man lasts who drinks and plays the fool
game as that boy did. A hot climate would finish him of."

"If we'd only had a photograph of him to circulate, we might have got
news," said Javot thoughtfully "But he never seems to have had a picture
taken. I've tried every big photographer's in London to get a picture of
James Tynewood and had the same story throughout."

"And yet he ought not to be difficult to find," persisted the woman. "He
had lost the little finger of his left hand, you remember."

Javot nodded. "He had it blown off by a gun when he was a boy." Mr Javot
had settled himself down again to his paper and only grunted a reply.

She looked at him and laughed. "I am going out," she said.

"Where are you going?" he asked.

"I'm going over to see dear Maud Stedman," she mimicked.

"What about that money?"

"I've written to her for it--told her I had heavy liabilities to meet."

"Can she pay, do you think?" asked Javot, who always took an interest in
matters of finance.

"She'll pay all right. This daughter of hers is going to marry a rich
man--Lance told me all about it last night. I was a fool to have written
for the money under the circumstances, but the letter was posted before
Lance took me into his confidence. I mustn't create a bad impression, so
I'm going over to tell her that the money can stand over for a hundred
years or so."

She laughed, and Mr Javot's approving grin was her reward.

Mrs Stedman was on the lawn, feeding the birds, when Lady Tynewood came
swinging up the drive in a chic walking costume, twirling her stick as
she came. She kissed the visitor affectionately.

"Oh, Alma, dear," she said nervously "about that money--"

"My dear, sweet woman," said Alma with her sweetest smile, "you're not to
talk about the money again. I have managed to meet all my bills without
troubling my friends, so you can consider my letter as not having been
written. Now give me a nice cup of tea. I love it in the morning."

Mrs Stedman made a mysterious sign and glanced at the house.

"My dear," she said, dropping her voice, though there was no need to, for
she was fully fifty yards from the nearest window, "we cannot go into the
house. He--he is there."

"He?" repeated Alma, mystified. "Which particular 'he' are you talking
about?"

"My daughter's fianc," said Mrs Stedman primly "Mr--er--Mr Pretoria."

 "He's the man I'm dying to see," said Alma, and made her way across the
 lawn.




Chapter 18--THE MEETING


He had come. Marjorie had not expected that he would so soon after his
disgraceful exhibition of the previous night. But apparently he had no
shame. She had watched her mother go out of the room and had settled to
write a letter of thanks t0 Lord Wadham, when there came a tap on the
door and a maid, a little agitated as though she knew some of the
precious secrets of the house--as probably she did--came in.

"Mr Pretoria Smith," she said breathlessly. Then the man came in, and
Marjorie rose to meet him. They stood facing one another for the space
of two seconds. He saw a girl of delicate beauty and the sight of her
took his breath away. It is true that he had not seen her on the
previous night, and had only glimpsed her in the morning, guessing who
she was. But now the revelation of her exquisite sweetness came like a
blow to him. She, for her part, saw a tall man, not so broad of shoulder
as she had imagined he was. His face was tanned brown by the African
sun, his eyes were a deep blue (and bloodshot, she noticed, and guessed
the cause). It was a mask--like face, designed to hide whatever passions
he felt, and in repose was just a little forbidding. He was still
dressed in the shabby suit he had worn on the previous night. It hung
loosely on him, as though it had been made for a larger and shorter man.
 It was a terribly awkward moment for both of them.

"I'm the man your uncle wrote about," he said jerkily. "I am called
Pretoria Smith, but that--that isn't my name."

She never imagined it was his name, but made no comment.

Not even when he added: "I wish to be married in that name. It makes no
difference to the legality of the marriage--I might get into trouble, but
the marriage would be legal," he ended lamely.

To her the matter of names seemed so small and unimportant compared with
the big fact that she had to marry at all.

"I need not introduce myself," she said quietly "I am Marjorie Stedman,
Solomon Stedman's niece. I have seen you before--in Mr Vance's office.
I was his secretary."

He stared at her. "In Vance's office?" he said. "Lord, I remember!"

He frowned a little as though trying to recall her face and she prayed
that he might not associate her with that terrible night at Tynewood
Chase. Apparently he did not.

"Won't you sit down?" she said, and he seated himself; ill at ease, on
the edge of an armchair. And this she noticed, that he kept his eyes
upon her steadily unwaveringly. It might have embarrassed her but for the
fact that she preferred that to the shiftless look she expected.

"You are a friend of my uncle's?" she asked, by way of making polite
conversation.

"A very dear friend," he said, clearing his throat. "We have known each
other for--four years. I saved his life," he said gauchely.

"Indeed?" she asked, with that same polite interest in her voice.

"He was out prospecting," said the man. "He had just located the
Kalahari Reef, which made his fortune and mine, when he lost track of the
waterhole. The two boys--natives, you know, we call them boys there,
whatever their ages are--led them astray I think they wanted to see him
dead so that they could take his belongings. I happened along at the
moment when he was near to death, within a yard or two of the waterhole,
but too weak to reach it."

"And you gave him water?" she asked, and tried to visualize that scene in
the desert.

"Yes," he hesitated. "I made them give him water, and then I took him
back to the nearest township."

"And the 'boys'?" she asked.

He looked around the room. "Oh, I shot one eventually. He gave trouble,"
he said, and she shuddered. "I think I killed him; I am not certain. The
other one was useful, and he didn't show fight, of course."

There followed another long pause, and it was Marjorie Stedman who again
broke the silence.

"Mr Smith," she said quietly "my uncle wishes me to marry you, and I
think you have been--persuaded "--she flushed as she used the hateful
word--"to agree."

He nodded. "I didn't wish to--naturally" he said. "And now least of
all. I owe Solomon a lot, and his heart is set upon this. He is a crazy
old devil," he said, half to himself but there was affection in his tone,
and the girl found herself nearly smiling.

"Why did you want persuading?" she asked.

"Because," he hesitated, "well, because I didn't want to marry any woman,
and certainly not a woman I did not know. That was one reason," he said,
"the other was the woman herself. I realized what a terrible thing it
must be for a girl to have some man thrown at her head."

She looked at him a little wonderingly and he, misunderstanding the
reason, flushed a little.

"I must apologize for this clothing," he said. "I bought it at a store
in a hurry and I only caught the boat by the skin of my teeth and came
straight here. And I want very badly to apologize, Miss Stedman," he
said earnestly "for last night."

"I don't think we'll talk about that," she said gently "But I do hope
that when"--she could not say the words for a while--"when we are married
you will not--drink."

He made no reply to this, and at that moment Lady Tynewood came through
the French windows.

"Now, my dear," she said gaily addressing the girl, murder in her eyes,
"introduce me to your fianc."

Pretoria Smith turned slowly and his hand was outstretched as the girl
said, with a miserable attempt at gaiety:

"I want you to meet Mr Smith, Lady Tynewood."

For a second they stood face to face, the woman looking upon the lull
figure with some admiration. And then Marjorie saw a look of malignity a
look of horror, come into the mans face, and he took a step back, raising
his hand as though to ward off the smiling Alma.

"You--you!" His voice was hoarse and passionate. "My God! I would sooner
shake hands with a leper!"




Chapter 19--A MARRIAGE WAS ARRANGED


For a moment he stared, and Lady Tynewood, shrinking back before the
vengeful hatred in this stranger's face, saw his eyes narrow And then
Pretoria Smith snatched up his hat from the chair, pushed past her, and
walked rapidly across the lawn.

They looked at one another, speechless with amazement. Marjorie, pale as
death, could do no more than stare after the figure with wide-open eyes.
 Lady Tynewood was the first to recover.

"So that is your lover?" she said dryly. "A perfect type of gentleman. I
congratulate you."

Marjorie did not reply. Her mother had come in behind Alma, and had been
a fluttered and agitated spectator of the scene.

"He was very rude," she said feebly. At first Lady Tynewood had been
amused, but now she was angry.

"Did you put him up to that?" she asked, trembling with passion. "Or is
that a specimen of his natural colonial manners?"

The girl was experiencing an extraordinary sensation. She was called
upon to defend a man the very mention of whose name was hateful.

"Mr Smith must have very excellent reasons," she said slowly. "I thought
for one happy moment that it was your long-lost husband returning, Lady
Tynewood.."

She was being unpardonably rude; more--she was being wicked and cruel.
She was talking flippantly of the dead, as she knew, but she did not
care.

"My husband!" scoffed Alma. "My husband was a gentleman--is a
gentleman," she corrected.. "A little bit of a thing like you," she said
contemptuously "without half this man's nerve--"

She bent her brows in an effort of memory. She seemed oblivious of the
company.

"I can't place him," she said, speaking her thoughts aloud. "I wonder
where I've met him." She looked at the girl with a speculative eye.

"My dear, you're going to have a happy married life, I don't think!" she
said, as she went from the room.

Marjorie hardly heard her. Not waiting for lunch, she ordered her horse
to be brought round and rode over to Lord Wadham's big house. She knew
that the Prince had left in the early morning and that the Earl would be
visible. She found him walking in the park and overtook him on the main
drive.

"Hellol" roared Lord Wadham. "'What the devil do you want so early in
the morning?"

"I'm going to be married," she blurted, "to--to rather an awful person."

"The devil, you are!" For once Lord Wadham's voice was quiet and then
suddenly he slapped his leg. "I've got it," he said. "The lad who was
full of wine last night!"

And she flushed. "Yes," she said in a low voice, "that is my fianc."

"Johannesburg Jones or something, or Maritzburg Mike."

"Pretoria Smith," she said. "Gad! You don't say so? What on earth makes
you marry a gentleman of that calibre?" he asked seriously. "I didn't
have a good look at his face, but I'll bet he's a wrong 'un. A man who
would wear a ready--made suit of clothes would commit a murder."

She laughed. "You mustn't judge him harshly," she said. "There--there
may be explanations." Then "Lord Wadham," she asked breathlessly, "I
wonder if you could do something for me?"

"I'll do anything in the world for you, my dear," said the Earl kindly.
"If I hadn't a wife and four children I'd marry you like a shot. But her
ladyship--God bless her!--is hale and hearty She's one of the Wingleys
of Norfolk, and may live to ninety," he added good-humouredly.

"It is something to do with marriage that I wanted to ask your advice
about," she said with a smile.

"You want to be married at once, eh?" he said thoughtfully when she had
finished telling him. "I can manage that for you. But, my dear, aren't
you taking too great a risk? Even for the sake of--" He hesitated. He
had heard stories of the inefficient Mrs Stedman, and knew something,
much more than the girl could guess, about this new passion for gambling.

"Even for the sake of those you love," he said bluntly "There, there, my
dear, I didn't mean to make you feel uncomfortable. Yours is a terrible
situation and I would do anything to help you. What is the man like?"

She smiled a little glumly "He's like--Pretoria Smith," she said, as
lightly as she could.

Lord Wadham was rubbing his chin. "I can fix the marriage certificate.
Let me have the names."

She could not tell him that she was ignorant of her husband's name.

"I will send them," she said. (In sheer desperation when she got back
she sat down at her desk and wrote blindly: "John Smith, son of Henry and
Mary Smith," and described Henry Smith at random as a 'miner' and gave
the date of his birth as thirty--two years before.)

"I will fix this up for you right away" he said. "And if you let me have
the names today I will send you the licence by the first post tomorrow."

"Where could I be married?" she asked.

"Oh, almost anywhere," he said. "My chaplain will come over and marry
you with pleasure. You don't know Stoneham, do you? He's an excellent
fellow--an Oxford blue, as blind as a bat and nearly as deaf as an owl."
He chuckled with joy at his description of the unfortunate clergyman.
"The very fellow for you, my dear," he said. "He'd never know you again
and wouldn't recognize your husband if he wore bells in his ears. But
where? Humph!" He considered again. "I have it," he said, slapping his
hands together. "I'll wire to a friend of mine who's one of the Tynewood
trustees and ask permission for you to be married in the private chapel
of Tynewood Chase. Vance, the lawyer."

"Mr Vance!" she repeated in astonishment. "Why of course! But do you
think he will--he--he is very particular about people even going over the
place."

"I'll fix it, my dear," said Lord Wadham confidently "Now how would it be
if I arranged about the chapel, sent Stoneham over, came along and gave
you away myself?"

Tears filled the girl's eyes. "You are more than kind to me, Lord
Wadham," she said tremulously.

He patted her shoulder in his kind way. "Nonsense!" he said. "I love
marrying people off, though I can't say that I'm very much in love with
this marriage. Will you agree, if I can fix the chapel and the parson?"

She nodded.

"And what date?" he asked.

"I--I will see Mr Smith," she said.

She met Pretoria Smith that afternoon, though she had no idea that she
would see him. She had sent a note down to the one inn which the village
boasted, asking him to come and see her, but evidently this did not reach
him. She was taking a walk in the afternoon, and had covered two quick
miles across the rolling downs, when, coming to a turn in the highway
where the road dipped down into the valley she saw a man sitting on the
grass, his hands clasping his chin, his head bent forward till his chin
touched his knees. At the sound of her footsteps he looked round. It was
Pretoria Smith and he jumped to his feet.

"I'm very sorry about this morning," he said with a certain gruffness.
"I was a fool to lose my temper with that--with the lady."

"You know Lady Tynewood?" asked the girl.

"Know her?" he said bitterly "Yes, I know the lady!"

"She's the wife of Sir James Tynewood, you know who is a big landowner in
these parts, though he has never lived here."

She watched him as she spoke. How would he take the reference to the man
who had died so tragically that night years ago? He did not so much as
wince.

"Doesn't live here? Then he's a fool," said Pretoria Smith brusquely "for
this is the most beautiful country I've seen. Perhaps it is after the
wide spaces and the dry and arid character of a South African landscape
that this is so especially enchanting," he said, "but you can take it
from me that Sir James is a fool."

"Mr Smith,"--she hated saying what she had to say--"I was going to ask
you this morning if you would object to our--our marriage taking place
very quickly?"

"The sooner the better," said he. He had turned his face from her and
was looking across the valley.

"You see," she went on, playing with a bangle and not raising her eyes,
"it is all so unexpected and--and shocking for me. When I say shocking,"
she added quickly, "I do not mean to use that word in the usual sense of
the term."

"I dare say you do, really," he replied, "and I think you're quite right.
 I've been rather shocked too. I think I explained to you that I had no
more idea of getting married than the man in the moon. I wanted to be
left alone quietly on the mine with my pipe and my thoughts, which
weren't always pleasant, but were comparatively cheerful, compared with
the state of my mind at this moment."

She shot a quick glance at him. "That isn't very complimentary; you
know," she said with a little laugh. "But I don't expect compliments. Do
you mind getting married almost at once?"

"You want to get it over," said the other, nodding at a cow that was
browsing down the slope of the hill. "I don't blame you. I feel a
little that way myself and it cannot be too soon."

"Lord Wadham suggests that I should be married by his chaplain," she
said. "Will that suit you?"

"Stoneham?" he asked carelessly "He used to be vicar here--he's nearly
blind."

"Do you know him?" she asked quickly.

He coloured under the tan. "I have been listening to village gossip," he
confessed. "No, I don't know Lord Wadham or his chaplain, but it seems to
me that one chaplain is very much like another."

"And--and I've given your name as john Smith. Is it John?"

"Very nearly" he replied. "You can call me anything you like. Have you
described 1ny illustrious ancestors?"

"I did make an attempt," she confessed. "I said your father was a
miner."

He laughed softly. "That's right," he said. "He dug up things--mostly
weeds on the garden path; he was rather fanatical about weeds, and the
gardeners lived in terror of him."

"And--and" she went on--she wanted to get this out and done with--"Lord
Wadham suggested that, as I do not want a great deal of publicity or you
either, I suppose "--he shook his head--"we could be married very quietly
in the chapel at Tynewood Chase."

He did not reply. "Is there a chapel in Tynewood Chase?" he said after a
very long interval of silence.

She rather despised him for that piece of pretence. "Yes," she nodded,
"a very pretty chapel. I thought of seeing it today. Wouldn't
you--wouldn't you like to come?"

He shook his head. "Not very much," he confessed, and somehow she
expected that answer.

"So it is all right?" she asked. "And what day?"

"Any time." He was still looking away.

"Then I may regard it as settled." She made a move as though to go on.
"Shall I say at eleven o'clock?"

"An excellent hour," said he.

"And--and"--she swallowed something--"where shall we go afterwards?"




Chapter 20--IN THE LANE




He was on his feet now and he turned round.

"I'm sorry," he said, and his voice was gentle. "I'm afraid you think I'm
rather a boor, and I am being one really. I've been so long away with
those thoughts of mine, Miss Stedman, that I've forgotten how to think,
as well as how to talk, in a civilized fashion. Your arrangements will
do splendidly."

She raised her eyes to his and saw in them a kindness that she had never
suspected.

"And afterwards I will arrange for a car." He looked round at his shabby
clothes.

"I have nothing better than these, but I have ordered some clothes from
London. What is your name--Marjorie, isn't it?" he asked. "Yes."
"Marjorie." He repeated the name softly "I shall have to call you
Marjorie. I hope you won't mind."

She laughed in spite of herself. "I believe it is customary amongst
married people to call one another by their Christian names," she said.
She had a feeling that there was something he wanted to say and lingered.

But he did not speak until she definitely bade him goodbye.

"I'll walk a little way with you," he said. "Are you going back?"

She nodded. It was a queer sensation walking with him. He was a head
taller than she, she noted. She had always liked tall men, but she was
not prepared to extend her liking to Pretoria Smith.

"It sounded ungallant to you when I told you that I had come against my
will to marry you," he said unexpectedly. "But it was no more than the
truth. I owe Solomon so much that I couldn't refuse him; and even if I
made the offer which is in my heart, I know I should still be going back
on him and double--crossing him."

"The offer?" she asked in surprise. "What offer?"

"My offer is a very simple one," he said quietly "I realize you are
marrying me because you cannot afford to lose Solomon's income. I only
learnt of that threat he made to you just before I sailed. Solomon's
heart is fixed upon this marriage. He is scared to death lest his money
falls into the hands of"--he nearly said 'Lance Kelman' but changed the
words to 'a man who will marry you because you are wealthy.' "Really Miss
Stedman, I want you to believe that Solomon's first idea is your
happiness. He has spoken to me about you so often. He used to love the
letters you sent to him when you were a child, and has kept every one of
them."

The girl was touched, and tears rose to her eyes. "Poor uncle!" she said
softly "I'm sure he's doing what he thinks is best."

"Bear that in mind," Pretoria Smith went on, "and you will understand my
dilemma. I would willingly give you a quarter of a million pounds to
enable you to decline me, with or without thanks," he added with a little
smile that illuminated his face and made him look ten years younger.

She had stopped and was looking at him in amazement.

"I couldn't do that," she said. "I have given my word to uncle. I
telegraphed to him the day I received his letter."

"I was afraid you would," he said gloomily "But I was afraid too that if
I made the offer you would accept. And that would have been unfair on
Solomon. It wasn't a question of money that distressed him, it was a
question of your safety from the fortune-hunter. And if I'd made you a
rich woman, as I could, for I am as well off as Solomon--in fact,
infinitely better off," he smiled again--"you would have been exposed to
the same danger, though that danger may have been a very slight one."

They had resumed their walk and she was pacing slowly by his side, when
they heard the clatter of two horses and drew closer into the hedge to
allow the riders to pass.

They were Lance Kelman and Lady Tynewood, and at the sight of these two
Kelman's face went dark. Well, indeed, had Alma played upon his
feelings, for he who had before only taken a dilettante interest in his
cousin, now regarded her as the love of his life and himself as the most
injured of men. He did not pass but put his horse squarely in their
path, and Alma watched the scene with malicious amusement.

"So you've got your Pretoria Smith, have you, Marjorie?" cried Kelman
loudly He had lunched very well with Lady Tynewood, and much golden wine
had flowed. Marjorie, pink of face, eyed him steadily but did not reply.

"I suppose, by this time, you're in love with this fellow?" said Lance
Kelman with a raucous laugh. "He's got the money hasn't he? And the dear
old lady is in debt. Well, you're welcome to the drunken brute. You saw
what kind of man he was last night when I brought him in--"

In two strides Pretoria Smith was at his side, his hand resting on the
knee of the horseman.

"You brought him in?" he said softly. "I have heard this morning
something of my behaviour last night, of which I have no particular
memory. Were you the gentleman that introduced me to that company?"

"Take your hand off me, you swine!" roared Kelman, and struck at Pretoria
Smith with his whip.

Marjorie screamed and shrank back, but the whip never touched the man.

Instead, Lance Kelman's wrist was caught in a grip of steel.

"There are certain things you must not do," said Pretoria Smith as softly
as before. "Can you swim?"

"Let go!" yelled Lance, struggling to free himself.

"Can you swim?" asked the other again. And then, before Kelman could
answer, he was jerked violently from his horse. For a moment he was
poised in the air above Pretoria Smith, and then he hurtled like a stone
into a large green--covered pond that flanked the road at this point. He
fell with a splutter and a yell but rose immediately a somewhat ludicrous
object.

"I'll pay you for this, you nigger-murdering dog! Tell her about the men
you've flogged and the niggers you've killed!"

The face of Pretoria Smith was deadly white, and his voice shook.

"I'm sorry I lost my temper," he said in a low voice as Mr Kelman waded
painfully ashore. He did not look up at the woman on the horse.

"You are in bad company my friend."

"I should imagine you are an authority on the subject of bad company."

It was Lady Tynewood who spoke and then he raised his eyes to her face.

"At least I never attended one of your parties, Miss Trebizond," he said,
using her stage name. The woman tried to smile and then her wandering
eyes met Marjorie's and she started. For she recognized in this radiant
girl the little typist who had come to her flat the night of her
marriage.




Chapter 21--THE WEDDING


"It is all mysterious and strange and rather terrible," thought Marjorie,
as she sat in the tiny Norman chapel of Tynewood Chase, waiting for the
arrival of her future husband. She was thinking of Alma and Sir James
Tynewood and of Pretoria Smith. But mostly she was thinking of the
latter. The clergyman had come, and was all that Lord Wadham had
described him. A quiet, scholarly man, near-sighted and a little deaf he
too was waiting in the miniature vestry and Lord Wadham was with him.
Pretoria Smith seemed less terrible to her now, this strange man from the
south. She had not seen him since that day they parted on the road,
leaving behind them a bedraggled Lance Kelman.

It was her wedding day! She could not believe it. The unreality of it was
terrible. It was almost laughable. Her mother had wanted to accompany
her, but her mother would have been the last straw and she had been
persuaded to remain behind. One of the caretakers of the Chase was
showing her round the chapel. The walls were covered with memorial
tablets, and in the six alcoves beneath windows of beautiful design and
colour were the tombs of the ancient Tynewoods. She was really
impressed, though she thought she could not have imagined a queerer way
of spending her wedding morning than by examining the tombs of the dead,
even the illustrious dead.

Suddenly she stopped before a tomb, and as she read the name she reeled.
 NORMAN GARRICK

That was all. No date, no other particular. Norman Garrick! The lawyer
had told her that was the real name of Pretoria Smith. She knew it was a
lie, but for the first time she realized the extent of his deception. Why
had the lawyer deceived her, he the kindliest and most truthful of men?
Her guide did not seem to notice her perturbation and she followed him
dazed and stunned. He showed her the ancient arms carved on one of the
pillars by a Tynewood to whom the chapel was a prison in the days of King
Charles, and who had only emerged to his execution.

"They're a queer lot, the Tynewoods, miss," explained the servitor. "I
don't know the last gentleman, Sir James, but I dare say he's like the
rest of them." Lord Wadham had come from the vestry and the clergyman in
his robes had followed. She turned to the Earl with relief. She must
think of tangible, real things or she would go mad.

"Isn't it time he was here?" asked his lordship, looking at his watch
impatiently "You've got a very dilatory bridegroom, my dear. He's ten
minutes late." A quarter of an hour passed, twenty minutes and half an
hour, and still he did not come, and Lord Wadham was growing apoplectic
when there was a sound of unsteady footsteps in the hall, and Pretoria
Smith staggered in and stood one moment to steady himself; his hand
against a stone pillar. He was unkempt, unshaven, wild of eye and they
saw that he was holding himself up with an effort. Then slowly he walked
down the aisle and took his place by the side of the affrighted girl.
She scarcely dared breathe.

"Drunk, by heaven!" murmured Lord Wadham, and looked at the clergyman.
But the clergyman saw nothing and heard little. He had opened his book
at the proper place, and now the ceremony was proceeding, and all the
time the man at her side was swaying to the left and to the right. That
ceremony was a dream, a bad dream, but presently she heard the
clergyman's voice, like one that came from far away: "...let no man put
asunder." And she knew that for good or ill she was this man's wife, Mrs
Pretoria Smith--Mrs Nobody the wife of a man who claimed the name of one
whose mouldering dust was almost under her feet! The clergyman raised his
hand in benediction and Pretoria Smith stumbled on to his knees, and his
head was bowed. It was over at last. Wadham touched Pretoria Smith on
the shoulder.

"Come on, get up, man," he said, but Pretoria Smith rolled over on his
side, and when Wadham bent down he found him fast asleep. There was a
long and painful silence, which Lord Wadham interrupted.

"I will get the car, my dear," he said in a low voice, and she saw that
he was genuinely distressed and put out her hand to him.

"The car is waiting outside," she said in a stifled voice. "Perhaps the
journey will--help him." But she choked a sob in her throat.

"Where are you going?" he asked.

"To Brightsea," she said. "To a cottage on the common, far away
from--the town, thank heaven! Do you think we could get him into the
car?"

With the assistance of the caretaker, the chauffeur, who was brought in
for the purpose, and Lord Wadham, the sleeping man was wakened and
supported to the limousine and pushed into a corner.

"I think you'd better have the car closed," said Lord Wadham, and the
girl assented silently In her eyes was all the tragedy of all the women
in the world as she turned to thank the Earl.

"Goodbye and good luck!" he said. "I hate to see you go like this, but
God knows I cannot stop you."

She did not speak but entered the limousine, and the chauffeur slammed
the door behind her. Thus did Marjorie Smith go forth upon her
honeymoon.




Chapter 22--LADY TYNEWOOD HAS AN IDEA


Lord Wadham watched the car disappear with a look of sorrow. Then,
dropping a tip into the attendant's hand, he had walked slowly down the
drive and through the iron gates. He knew the wooden--faced old man at
the gates, and replied to his salute.

"Well, Hill, any news of your master?"

"No, my lord," said the man stolidly. "But he'll come back one of these
days."

"A very sad affair, Hill," boomed Lord Wadham.

"Aye, my lord, it was a bad affair, and only them as knows the true story
knows how bad it was."

"Do you know, Hill?"

"No, my lord," said the man, looking past his lordship.

"I believe you're an infernal old liar," said Lord Wadham good-naturedly,
"but if you keep your master's secrets, my boy, you'll live to a ripe old
age! I wish to heaven I had a few like you. By the way what happened to
the brother of Sir James?"

"The half-brother, you mean, my lord," said Hill.

 "Yes, yes, he was the half--brother, of course. He was rather a nice
 boy too."

"He died, my lord, some years ago," said Hill. "Died of fever--typhoid
fever, that's the word."

"How long ago was that?"

"I can't tell you, my lord," said Hill. "It was some time when Sir James
was in London--getting married. Maybe before or maybe after, I can't
quite recall the circumstance. Dr Fordham attended him--that was Sir
James's great friend, who used to go abroad with him a lot,"

"Fordham? Fordham?" said his lordship, knitting his brows. "I don't
remember that doctor."

"He wasn't a native of these parts, my lord. I think he was an Irish
gentleman. I hear he's dead too. He died of influenza or something of
that sort."

Lord Wadham was rolling and unrolling his umbrella.

"Do you ever see Lady Tynewood here?" he asked, and the man smothered his
smile.

"Yes, my lord," he said quietly "My lady comes sometimes but we don't
admit her."

"The order still stands, does it?" said Lord Wadham. "Her ladyship's
over there at this minute," said the gamekeeper, nodding. "She's been
here ever since the wedding party went in, and has been there since the
wedding party went out." He pointed to a side lane where a portion of
the back and one wheel of Lady Tynewood's car was visible.

Lady Tynewood was a clever woman. She had an imagination which enabled
her to anticipate happenings that an ordinary person would not have
dreamt of If Lord Wadham wondered why she had planted herself near the
gates of Tynewood Chase, and, wondering, had come to the conclusion that
she was merely a curious spectator of the wedding, he was altogether
wrong. It was Lord Wadham himself who was the attraction, did he but
know it. He was blessed with a stentorian voice, which carried far, as
Lady Tynewood well knew She was also aware of the fact that Lord Wadham
knew the oldest of the Tynewood servants, the man who kept the gate, and
if there was a talk between the two, she would overhear the gist of it.
It is true that she had made a discovery of greater importance than Lord
Wadham's indiscretion could reveal, but that had been by accident. For
the first time she had learnt of a brother. Who was this brother who had
died? And now she had a clue. The name of Dr Fordham had been used in
connection with the brother's death, and Fordham was a friend of Sir
James, and presumably a friend of the family Lord Wadham had to pass the
end of the lane in order to reach his own machine, which was farther
along the road. He was most anxious to avoid a meeting with Lady
Tynewood; but Lady Tynewood was of another opinion, and planted herself
in his way.

"Good morning, Lord Wadham," she said pleasantly when he took off his
hat. "Good morning, Lady Tynewood," he answered, and added, not without
malice: "Have you been to the wedding?"

She smiled. "Unfortunately I am not admitted into my own house," she
said, "but I've seen the wedding party Mr Pretoria Smith seemed a
little--unwell, didn't he?"

"He has--er--been rather ill," said his lordship handsomely "but I
noticed nothing abnormal in his appearance? The slow cynical smile that
dawned on her face irritated him, and with another flourish of his hat he
was moving on, but again she stopped him.

"Lord Wadham, you're a friend of Miss Stedman's?"

"I am a friend of Mrs Smith's," he said pointedly.

"Call her what you like--I remember her best as a--a sort of messenger
girl for a firm of lawyers in the city" she said with a careless shrug.
"But as you are her friend, you will naturally be glad to see her
released from that man, as very soon she shall be--and in a particularly
disagreeable way" she said deliberately "And if the servant's gossip I
have heard can be crystallized into facts--"

The old peer smiled at her with his eyes. "Marriages are somewhat
difficult to dissolve," he said sweetly "as your ladyship probably knows."

She stared after his retreating figure, then walked back to where the
bored Mr Javot was sitting on a step of the car.

"I wonder what he meant by that?" she asked.

"What does anybody mean by anything?" said Javot irritably. "Are you
going to keep me here all day?"

"Marriages are difficult to dissolve," she repeated. "Well, ain't they?"
asked Javot, and laughed loudly.


Chapter 23--THE HONEYMOON


Marjorie kept her eyes straight ahead of her, sinking back into a corner
of the car, not daring to look at the man she had married in such
extraordinary circumstances. When they had passed the gates of the Chase
and had reached the open country she did look round. The man was asleep,
breathing heavily His fingers, which lay clasped lightly on his lap, were
twitching.

"He may choke," she thought, for though his shirt was collarless except
for the soft collar which was attached to it, it had been buttoned up to
his neck. She bent over and loosened the button with icy fingers and his
breath came against her cheek. She looked at him in amazement. Once she
had been kissed by a man in wine (the memory recalled Lady Tynewood and
the parties she gave) and she had never forgotten the hated smell of that
vinous breath. But there was no such scent here.

She wondered what she could do. Perhaps he had some sobering agent in his
possession; she had heard of such things. She hesitated, then began to
search in his waistcoat pockets. In the first there was a watch which had
stopped apparently the night before; in the upper waistcoat pocket was a
small black case, and she took it out and opened the lid, almost
recoiling in horror at the sight. It was a hypodermic syringe such as
drug-takers use. So that was it! She looked at the thing; it was
brand-new, and she recognized with a start of surprise the name on the
silk lining of Tynewood's one chemist. In the case were a number of small
pellets in a microscopic glass case.

"Strychnine," she mused, and frowned. People do not take strychnine as a
sedative or a narcotic. She put the case into her bag and sat looking at
him for some time. It made very little difference whether she was married
to a drunkard or a drug--taker, she thought, with a shrug. She had a
blank feeling of despair whenever she thought of the future, and the
incidentals to her life were not really of any importance.

The car sped on over hill and down dale, across great plains, skirting
the edge of shady forests, but the girl had no eyes for the beauty of the
scene, no thought for the charm or perfection of the day, for the blue
sky overhead or the gentle wind which brushed her cheeks. The car pulled
up by the side of a wild common, and the chauffeur got down.

"Did you bring any lunch, madam?" he asked, "or would you prefer that I
should call at an inn? There's a town just ahead of us." He looked
significantly at the slumbering figure.

"Thank you," said the girl. "I have a luncheon basket; you will find it
strapped on the carrier."

"Excuse me asking, miss," said the chauffeur--it was Lord Wadham's car
and man--"but has the gentleman any clothes? I haven't a trunk of his."

She gave a start of dismay. He had brought absolutely nothing.

"They are coming on by train," she said.

She had had to lie for him before, and now she must lie again, and she
hated lying; even little lies were abhorrent.

"Will you get me some sandwiches and some coffee? There is a vacuum flask
in the basket." She looked dubiously at her husband. "Do you think I
could wake him?" she asked.

"I'll try if you like, madam," said the chauffeur dryly and shook the
sleeping man. To her surprise Pretoria Smith woke up almost immediately;
blinked round at the chauffeur and Marjorie, and his hand strayed
mechanically to his waistcoat pocket.

"Hullo!" he said. "What has happened?"

He looked at the girl for a long time, and then it seemed to dawn upon
him. "So we're married, are we? I seem to remember it," he said
thoughtfully "Where are we?"

"Will you have some coffee?" she asked. "I don't think you're--very
well."

"Coffee? Capital!" He was quite energetic. "I am afraid you thought I was
rather a brute this morning, but I couldn't use--" his hand strayed again
to his pocket--"what I wanted to use, and I sort of went--funny."

He drank the coffee greedily and seemed almost to recover. Then he passed
his hand over his rough cheeks and murmured an apology. "I'll walk about
for a little while," he said, "and try to get the use of my legs."

He strolled up the road and back, and when he returned he was almost
normal.

"I don't know how to begin to ask you your forgiveness," he said. "But
the fact is, last night--"

"Please don't tell me," she interrupted him. "I--I don't want to know."

He flushed, looked at her queerly then laughed.

"All right," he said, almost stiffly. (She rather liked him when he
smiled.) "We'll let that matter rest."

She gave him some sandwiches but he declined them.

"I can't eat," he said with a shudder. "Perhaps later. What time do we
reach Brightsea? I suppose we're on the way there?"

"In a little over an hour, sir," said the chauffeur, and Smith looked at
his watch and whistled. "It has stopped," he said, holding it to his ear.
"What is the time?"

"Two o'clock," said the chauffeur, and Pretoria Smith seemed satisfied.

The car went on again and now he was talkative, though absurdly conscious
of his unshaven and disreputable condition.

"There ought to be some clothing waiting for me at the cottage," he said.
"I took the liberty of wiring to a tailor in London telling him to direct
my stuff there. Is that all right?"

"Of course it's all right," she replied. "You're entitled to send your
clothes to my house now" she said with a pathetic attempt to be .amusing.

He looked at her. "Then we are married?"

"Very much married," she said, and could not avoid the bitterness in her
voice.

He spent a quarter of an hour apparently absorbed in the passing country.

"I like this place," he said after a while. "I wish I were not going back
to South Africa."

"Are you going back?" she asked a little dismally. "I mean--are we going
back?"

"I am going back," he said gently "after a reasonable time."

He lingered on the last two words, as though he were not sure what was u
reasonable time.

"Do you love South Africa?" she asked. The news he gave her was cheering.

"I love it, in a way" he said. "When--when will you be coming back," she
asked, "after you go this time?"

Again that little smile illuminated his face. "Oh, it may be years," he
said.

"Do you really mean that?"

"Of course I mean it. I tell you, I love the place, and I love old
Solomon. I think he's quite wrong in believing that he has only a short
time to live. He's as hale and as hearty as any man I know. By the way,"
he said, turning to her suddenly, "he does not intend letting you wait
until he dies before you benefit through your marriage."

"What do you mean?" she asked, surprised.

"His lawyers in London are authorized to place two hundred thousand
pounds to your credit on your wedding day," he said, "and I
asked--somebody--" he hesitated--"to send that wire just as soon as the
ceremony was over."

"Two hundred thousand pounds!" she gasped.

He nodded. "You have an account at the local bank, haven't you? That is
where the money will go."

The girl drew a long, quivering sigh of relief. Her mother could settle
with Lady Tynewood. And now for the first time she told her mother's
secret. She wondered afterwards why she had done this, and excused her
betrayal of Mrs Stedman's weakness in the words she introduced the
subject.

"You are my husband now so you ought to know these things. My mother owes
a lot of money Poor mother has only taken to these wild and gambling ways
recently" she said with a little smile, "and I'm awfully sorry for her,
because she's had so little fun in life."

"Gambling?" said Pretoria Smith. "Whom does she gamble with? Not with
Lady Tynewood?" he asked sharply. The girl nodded.

"Oh, indeed?" This time Pretoria Smith's smile was crooked, and it was
not pleasant to look at.

"You hate Lady Tynewood, don't you?" she asked. "You can tell me, because
I hate her too."

"What harm has she done to you?" asked her husband. "She's done enough to
me in all conscience. She ruined--" He checked himself and then with a
shrug went on: "I must give you confidence for confidence--or
half-confidence perhaps would be more correct--she ruined a very dear
friend of mine."

She looked at him quickly "Was it her husband?" she asked, and he
inclined his head.

"It was her husband," he repeated. "Do you know the story of Sir James
Tynewood?"

"It is rather a sad one, isn't it?" asked Marjorie.

"I don't know whether it's sad or whether it's mad," he said. "I know it
very well, and one of these days I will tell you--that I promise you. And
on that day Lady Tynewood will be a very sorry woman."

There was such a menace in his tone that the girl looked at him with a
new interest. But he did not refer again to the subject until they had
reached the cottage.




Chapter 24--THE NIGHT OF THE WEDDING




It was a little bungalow set on the slope of a hill, surrounded by a new
fence, over which the rambler roses were bursting into pink bloom. They
found tea waiting for them, served by the elderly cook-housekeeper, and
the afternoon was not unpleasantly passed. The girl had plenty of time to
think, for Pretoria Smith spoke very little and seemed absorbed in his
thoughts. He spent the greater part of the time before dinner wandering
aimlessly about the garden, which overlooked the sea. They dined
together, and then he was very little more talkative than he had been in
the afternoon.

Marjorie's courage was gradually oozing under the strain; and when the
housekeeper came in to ask if she could spend the night with her son, who
was on leave from the Navy in Brightsea, she gave a revelation of this
panic.

"No, no, no!" she said. "You can't go, you can't go, Mrs Parr! You must
stay here!"

Pretoria Smith, who had been silent, looked up in surprise. "Why of
course she can go, Marjorie," he said. "If the boy is home on leave from
the Navy she will want to see him, and leaves are very scarce in these
days."

"I can't be left alone." Marjorie was almost hysterical. "I can't make
fires and things!"

"There is no need to make fires, except the kitchen fire," he said,
amused, "and I'll make tea in the morning."

"You can't go, Mrs Parr," said the girl doggedly "I want you--I'm not
feeling particularly well and my husband has been ill."

The elderly female looked from one to the other with a long face, and when
she went out into the kitchen, Pretoria Smith followed her. He was gone
about five minutes, and after a while Mrs Parr came in with the coffee
and left them. They were talking about nothing in particular when
Marjorie heard the back door slam.

"What is that?" she asked.

"It's Mrs Parr gone home to see her boy," said Pretoria Smith coolly "It
was absurd of you to be frightened, Marjorie. The poor woman is just
aching to see her son."

The girl felt herself shaking. "All right," she said, mastering her
fear--"as you wish." There was something she wanted to say and now she
felt beyond fear.

"I heard you ask Mrs Parr this afternoon to put a bottle of whisky in
your room," she said.

He nodded, keeping his grave eyes on her.

"Well, I--I wish you wouldn't." She was very earnest.

He frowned. "I'm sorry you've asked that," he said, "but if you would
prefer that I didn't, you can have it in your room."

"I would much rather," she said. "You think I'm a prig, don't you?" and
he laughed.

She endured two hours of agony trying to make some sort of conversation,
trying to interest herself rather than him in anything but this great,
absorbing fact which was now dominating every other thought. She was
married, had been married twelve hours, and this man who sat opposite to
her, in the ill--fitting clothing, was her husband.

At ten o'clock she interrupted the conversation.

"I'm going to bed now," she said, and without a word turned and went up
the stairs. She closed the door behind her and felt for the key but there
was no key and then she remembered that her mother, who had a horror of
fire, never allowed a key to be in any door. She searched frantically in
her bag for her key ring, but there was nothing upon that which would
lock the door, and she sat down on the bed and stared hopelessly at the
floor. She was really tired. The events of the day had shaken her more
than she had imagined. But she could not sleep. She lay on one side,
listening all the time, and presently she heard his feet on the stairs,
and caught her breath. They passed her door, and she heard the door of
his room close gently and breathed again. She waited for half an hour,
for an hour, but no sound came. A clock tower in distant Brightsea struck
one, and still she waited, watchful, restless, sleepless and alert. And
then nature overcame her and she dozed. It was a restless sleep, broken
by unpleasant dreams, but at last she fell into a sound untroubled
slumber and her tired frame relaxed.

She woke with a start, pushed her fair hair from her eyes and sat up in
bed. She had heard a sound. What it was she could not fathom. But her
heart was beating wildly Then she heard it distinctly--the creak of a
board in the passage outside. Somebody was moving. She could hear their
heavy breathing, and, fascinated, watched the door. Presently she saw the
handle turn slowly; for she had left her light burning. Slowly; slowly it
turned, and then the door opened inch by inch, as though the intruder was
fearful of awaking her.

Pretoria Smith crept slowly into the room. He was wearing a dressing-gown
and as he walked he swayed to and fro. He looked stupidly at the bed, and
his eyes travelled slowly up until they rested upon the white face of the
girl.

"What do you want?" she breathed. The bed shook beneath her.

"I want that whisky" he said thickly and she stared at him.

"No, no," she quavered, trying to humour him. "You mustn't have any more,
you really mustn't. You've had so much and I thought you told me you
would send the bottle to my room."

"I want that whisky," he repeated, like a child saying a lesson. "It is
in your room--I put it there this evening."

Her eyes strayed to the wash-stand and to her amazement the bottle was
there.

"It's the only thing that will stop it," he mumbled. He lurched and
would have fallen, but caught the edge of the bed.

She slipped out of bed on the opposite side and drew on her
dressing-gown.

"I will bring it to you," she said. "Please go. I will bring it to your
room."

"It's the only thing now" he said and drew himself up till he lay full
length on the bed. "My God! My head, my head!"

She looked at him with a new wonder. "Are you ill?" she asked, and he
nodded.

"Mother keeps some medicine here."

She walked across the room in her bare feet, and her legs felt dreadfully
weak. There was a little medicine cupboard above the washstand, and she
opened it with shaking fingers.

"But you mustn't have any more drink. What would you like?"

"Have you any quinine?" he asked. She took a little bottle of pellets
from the cupboard and brought them across.

"Yes, here are some."

"Thank God!" he said, snatching at the bottle.

"But you mustn't drink," she repeated.

"Drink? My dear, good soul," he said wearily "I haven't tasted a drink
for eight years."

She could hardly believe her ears. "But you were drunk on the night of
the dinner."

"Drunk?" He chuckled feebly, dropped three pellets in his hand, and,
throwing back his head, swallowed them at a gulp. "Get me some water, can
you, please?"

She brought him a glass and he drank greedily.

"I haven't had a drink for eight years," he repeated. "Drunk at the
Prince's dinner was I, Marjorie? Ask the Prince! Didn't you hear us
talking in the Swahili language? We're old shooting friends, that is why
he was so decent."

She gasped, remembering the gibberish he had talked as he lay across the
Duke's table.

"I had malaria," he went on, "and have had it since I have been in this
country I'm rotten with it, I always am this month."

"Malaria?" she whispered, as the truth of the matter began to dawn on
her. "And you've never--never been drunk? You weren't, not--when you
married me?"

He smiled. "That's fine," he said, and passed his hand over his forehead.
"The headache has gone immediately Drunk at your wedding?" He chuckled
again. "I took almost a fatal dose of strychnine to brace myself up for
that wedding," he said. "Feel my hand."

She took his hand in hers and uttered a cry. It was so hot that it seemed
to burn her.

"I've a temperature of a hundred and five, it will amuse you to know," he
said feebly. "If I had some hot coffee-"

She flew out of the room and down the stairs; and her busy fingers were
lighting a fire before she realized that she had told the absent Mrs Parr
that she hated lighting fires. She brought him back some coffee. He was
still lying on the bed, and she drew the clothes over him.

"You'll rest there till the morning," she said authoritatively. "I
suppose your fever isn't catching?"

He looked at her with that queer smile of his. "No more catching
than--drink," he said, and with this little jest he smiled himself into a
long, deep sleep.

And the girl sat by his side, watching him, as she had sat and seen yet
another dawn come up out of the east. All her doubts were now set at rest
and the last vestige of suspicion had been dissipated. For in her heart
of hearts she had believed that the killer of Sir James Tynewood, whose
body lay under another man's name in the chapel at Tynewood Chase, was
Pretoria Smith.




Chapter 25--LADY TYNEWOOD PURSUES HER ENQUIRIES


"My husband has now quite recovered from his attack of fever. He has been
suffering from malaria ever since he arrived in this country and I am
afraid I am as responsible as anybody for the impression which seems to
prevail, that the poor man drank. I have written to Lord Wadham and to
the Duke, to tell them just what happened on the night of the dinner. We
shall be coming home the day you receive this, so will you please have my
room and the spare room ready My husband wished to stay at the inn, but
of course that is impossible..."

Here Mrs Stedman interrupted her reading with a succession of "H'ms"
which meant that she had reached a portion of the letter which should not
be read aloud. Alma Tynewood, however, had seen her own name, for,
although she sat by the side of the reader, she had excellent eyesight.

"And that is all, my dear," said Mrs Stedman artlessly as she folded the
letter in some haste and put it into her writing--case.

"So the happy pair are coming home and he doesn't drink, or at least his
devoted wife says he doesn't," said Alma Tynewood thoughtfully. "It is
rather touching!"

"I do hope they will be happy" sighed Mrs Stedman, shaking her head
mournfully as though she had no hope at all upon the subject.

"Happy!" Lady Tynewood was amused. "That kind of man could not make any
girl happy" she said with unusual vehemence, "and I'm not so certain
that Marjorie--" She checked herself. "However, we shall see. I am most
anxious to be friendly with Marjorie if she will give me half a chance."

It was true that she was anxious to be friendly with Marjorie, for
Marjorie was a very rich woman and was an inexhaustible reservoir, from
whence Alma Tynewood and her friend could supplement their incomes, if
Mrs Stedman continued upon her speculative career.

"Marjorie is a good girl," said the complacent Mrs Stedman, smoothing her
dress. "Of course, there are times when she's very trying, but I think
that is not unusual in the modern girl."

Lady Tynewood looked across her poised teacup. "Marjorie used to go to
work once, didn't she?" she asked carelessly and Mrs Stedman shivered.

"Yes," she answered, with some reluctance. "Of course, we weren't always
as well off. Before dear Solomon repaid the money which he borrowed from
my husband we were very poor indeed."

It was a fiction of hers that Solomon's generosity was in the nature of a
repayment. Mrs Stedman's pride was of the type which refused to admit her
obligations. Gratitude was incompatible with the maintenance of her
self-respect--she was too proud to be thankful. Therefore had she
invented a loan advanced by her impecunious husband to a man who had
taken nothing and given everything, and she felt in consequence that
comfortable feeling which mean--minded people experience as they
contemplate their "independence."

"Yes, my dear, we had a terrible time," she said, for now she had
disposed of the suggestion that her present affluence was due to anything
but the tardy repentance of a debtor and she could afford to magnify her
own hardships. "Marjorie used to work for a firm of lawyers, Vance
&Vance, a very respectable firm in the city Mr Vance used to be my
husband's solicitor, and Marjorie was quite a favourite of his. Of
course, she never did the menial things that girls in offices usually
do."

"Such as carrying messages?" suggested Lady Tynewood.

"Oh dear no," said the shocked Mrs Stedman. "Mr Vance was very sorry to
lose her, but I was glad when she left. Two nights in succession, my
dear, she came home late, so white and shaking that I thought I should
have to call the doctor in. The last time she had been into the country
on a very important and confidential errand and when she got back to
our--er--little flat she collapsed. I remember it very well," said Mrs
Stedman, turning her head, "because it was that night I received from my
brother--in--law, dear Solomon Stedman, a draft for a large sum of money"

"He had found his mine, eh?" smiled Lady Tynewood.

"No, no, my dear, he didn't find the big mine for months afterwards,"
corrected Mrs Stedman, "but he had found the--what was the word? Leader,
that's the word. He had found the leader which eventually brought him to
his present wonderful discovery:"

Mrs Stedman had the vaguest ideas on gold mining, but she knew enough to
convey to Lady Tynewood just what had happened.

"Did your daughter ever tell you of what she had seen, or what her
experience had been those two days?" asked Lady Tynewood carelessly. "I
mean the days she came home so upset?"

Mrs Stedman shook her head. "Marjorie never tells me things," she said.
"She is a most reticent girl and, remembering that I am her own mother, I
think it is a little hard that I should be kept in the dark. When I was a
girl, I told my dear mother everything."

Lady Tynewood was thinking rapidly. "Was Mr Vance the lawyer a great
friend of Marjorie's?" she asked.

Mrs Stedman nodded. "He was very good to Marjorie, though of course he
couldn't very well be anything but good to the daughter of a lady who was
the wife of an old client-"

"Did he ever communicate with her after she left the office?"

Mrs Stedman looked up in surprise. "Why, Alma," she said with a little
smile, "what a queer question to ask! Why are you so interested in our
struggles?"

Lady Tynewood laughed. "I am interested," she said. "I am curious to know
what relationships continue between an employer and his--" she was at a
loss to find a word which would not offend Mrs Stedman, who would have
bitterly resented the use of the word "servant"--"and his--his former
colleagues after their business relationships have ceased."

"Well, it is rather curious you should have asked that question," said
Mrs Stedman slowly, "because I always had the impression that Mr Vance
and Marjorie had some secret in common. Of course," she said with an
assumption of motherly virtue, "there was no question of Mr Vance being
in love with Marjorie, because he was fifty or more and he had a wife and
six children, which wholly precluded such a possibility."

Drawing from a larger experience of life, Alma did not preclude that
possibility in principle but was willing to concede the point in this
particular case.

"I know that Marjorie was worried," Mrs Stedman went on, "and once when I
let fall a perfectly innocent remark, she turned as pale as death,"

"What was that innocent remark?" asked Lady Tynewood, trying to keep all
traces of eagerness from her tone.

"Now let me see," continued the older woman knitting her forehead. "Oh
yes, I remember--I happened to say that Dr Fordham's housekeeper had
taken a cottage at the other end of the village."

"Dr Fordham's housekeeper?" repeated Lady Tynewood slowly. "Who was Dr
Fordham?"

"I don't know him at all," replied the other, shaking her head, "but he
used to live about here some time ago. He died of influenza and his
housekeeper came to Tynewood to settle down. I believe Sir James gave her
a cottage. My dear, you must know something about that," she said archly.

"I don't know anything at all about it," replied Lady Tynewood, "but
where is this cottage? Is she still living there?"

Mrs Stedman nodded.. "I asked Marjorie what there was about Dr Fordham
which could possibly interest her, but in her secretive way, and, my
dear, there's no other word to describe Marjorie's reticence--she changed
the subject."

"What is the name of Dr Fordham's housekeeper?"

"A Mrs Smith," replied the hostess a little impatiently. "Really Alma,
you are the most persistent person. How can this woman possibly interest
you? Oh yes, of course," she added apologetically "it is one of Sir
James's cottages and naturally--"

Lady Tynewood rose and laid her cool hand on Mrs Stedman's. Though she
was in no apparent haste her car moved all too slowly for her.

She found Mr Augustus Javot wandering in the garden, a very bored man.
Briefly she related her conversation with Mrs Stedman and what she had
learnt.

"Better leave well alone," said Javot warningly. "Why stick your nose
into affairs that don't concern you?"

"Are you mad?" she asked angrily. "Don't you realize what it means to you
and to me if James is dead?"

He scratched his chin. "I realize a good many things," he said
significantly. "Some of 'em seem to have turned your clever little
brain."

She had seated herself on a garden seat and was examining the gravel path
abstractedly.

"If James is dead," she said slowly, "Tynewood belongs to me. And if he
died as I think he died, then this swine, Pretoria Smith, has got to pay
the price!"

"Leave well alone," murmured the peace--loving Augustus Javot. "You're on
a good thing and you've only to sit tight and enjoy life."

"Life!" she scoffed. "Do you call this life? Buried away in a rotten
little country village raising pigs and chickens! I'm sick of all this,
Javot. I want to go back to London, and I want to go back with money for
a town house and cars. I want to give parties like we used to give."

"There's no reason why you shouldn't go back to London and have a little
flat--" began Javot.

"A little flat!" she cried wrathfully, "and be the laughing-stock of the
old crowd! Molly Sinclair and Billie Vane! What do you think they will
say if I come back to London and play the game small? Do you think I'm
staying in this miserable village because I love the life? No, it is only
because I cannot cut the shine which I am entitled to cut and have the
money which is mine by right, that I stay here at all. I had a letter
from Molly the other day asking me why I didn't invite her down to
Tynewood. She thinks I'm at the Chase. So do they all. I'm not going back
to London to be made look a fool."

Again Mr Javot scratched his chin. "You could be made look a pretty bad
fool in Tynewood," he said, and with an angry "Pshaw!" she turned and
left him.

Mr Javot smiled to himself and lifted a dead leaf from a rose--bush.

"This is the life," he said, and honestly meant it.


Chapter 26--THE RETURN FROM BRIGHTSEA


The journey from Brightsea had a charm and a quality which the journey to
Brightsea had not possessed for the girl. And the well-tailored athletic
figure that sat by her side was a different man to the fever-stricken
Pretoria Smith who had slept uneasily in the corner of the limousine on
her wedding day And if Marjorie Smith was not a riotously happy woman she
was at least a peaceful one, for she had faith in this husband of hers,
and faith and confidence are the best, and the only adequate, substitutes
for love. If she had not found a husband, she had at least gained a
friend, and a friend in whom she reposed greater and greater confidence
as the days progressed.

"I am so glad you have agreed to stay at the house," she said, apropos of
nothing. She had broken a long silence, which had followed his
description of the bush-veldt. "If you had gone to the inn, people would
have--talked."

He nodded. "Mother may be a little--trying," she said, loyalty to her
mother and her desire to prepare him, struggling for mastery "She is
really very sweet and kind, but she is a little tactless at times."

"I think I know" he said.

"And then there is Lady Tynewood," she went on, wishing to get it all
over at once. "She is rather a frequent visitor. I hope you won't mind."

He turned to her with a little smile. "I am rather ashamed of my
outburst, that morning," he said. "But in excuse I can bring forward my
young friend, M A Laria, Esquire. He was very active and rampageous that
morning, but I owe Lady Tynewood an apology, at least I did until this
morning," he corrected himself, "when I wrote to her."

"You wrote to her?" she said in surprise, and dropped her hand on his.
"That's good of you," she said with a kindling of her eyes. "I don't like
Lady Tynewood any more than you, but she is mother's friend, and a very
poor friend, I'm afraid," she said with a wry smile. "Mother likes her."

"I shall be most polite to Lady Tynewood," said Pretoria Smith
impressively. "I shall take my coat off and lay it in the puddles that
her dainty feet shall not be wet, and I will meet her at the door on my
knees and tap my head three times on the ground, and every night and
morning I will burn a joss stick."

"You're being silly" she said, but felt happy.

They came to her mother's house and Mrs Stedman, assuming the benevolent
but distant attitude which she felt that the character of mother-in-law
called for, met them at the porch and gave them a polite welcome.

"I have your rooms ready," she said. "I could not think of giving Mr
Smith the spare room which is at the other end of the house, my
dear"--she patted her daughter's cheek--"so I gave him my room, which is
next to yours."

"Oh, mother," said the girl in dismay, "you haven't turned out of your
room!"

"No sacrifice is too great for my daughter," smiled Mrs Stedman, "and
really I'm not at all uncomfortable, though of course I miss my own bed,
or rather shall miss it," she corrected herself.

"You're going straight back, mother," said the girl determinedly. "I will
not allow you to inconvenience yourself. My husband doesn't mind the
spare room, even if it is at the other end of the house, do you--John?"

Pretoria Smith, secretly amused, shook his head.

"I should really prefer a room over the stable," he said gravely. "You
must remember, Mrs Stedman, that I am not used to the luxuries of this
gentle life. Or," he went on, in spite of the girl's appealing and
anguished glance, "a shake-down in the summer house, or a camp bed in the
conservatory amongst the earwigs, would be welcome. I miss the spiders in
the morning and am lost when I fail to find a stray scorpion or two in my
blankets."

Mrs Stedman listened open-mouthed. Pretoria Smith to her was a dour,
silent man. This was the picture she had formed of him and she was most
anxious not to change it. She hated change.

"I shall certainly not go back to my room," she said, the sacrificial
spirit bright within her. "The spare room is a little damp and I could
not think of allowing your husband to occupy a damp room."

"Mother--" began the girl.

"Of course," said Mrs Stedman thoughtfully, "your room is a very big one,
my dear, and when I was a young married woman there was never a question
of two rooms. One large room and a dressing-room, yes, but--"

Pretoria Smith came to the rescue. "Mrs Stedman," he said sombrely, "you
either move back to your own room and give me that damp spare room or I
will go to an inn and scandalize the neighbourhood. Think what people
would say if it is known that we are married, and are parted so soon."

This was an argument not to be dismissed lightly and Mrs Stedman
demurred, but yielded.

"Phew!" said Marjorie, when he met her again in the drawing-room and
they were alone, "you weren't very helpful!"

"I wasn't helpful?" he said indignantly "Well, I like that! But for me,
the customs of the mid-Victorian age would have been revived--without the
dressing-room!"

She looked at him queerly and laughed. "You're a strange man," she said,
"but we shan't be here long, shall we? You talked of going to London."

"I am going to London," he said quietly. "I have a lot of things to buy
to take back with me."

"Take back with you?" she repeated. "You mean to South Africa? When are
you sailing?"

"Next Saturday week," he replied, and there was a silence.

"You didn't tell me you were going back so quickly!"

"I kept that good news as a surprise for you," said Pretoria Smith, and
again there was a long pause.

"Next Saturday week," she said, half to herself and then: "How long will
you be away? Don't read that paper, it's rude when I'm asking you
questions."

He put down the paper with a little laugh.

"It may be for years and it may be for ever," he said lightly.

"Then I'm to be--" She did not finish the sentence.

"You're to be a nice good girl," said Pretoria Smith quietly, "until I
can persuade old Solomon that this marriage was altogether ridiculous and
unnecessary."

"And then?" she asked quietly.

"Then you can divorce me," he said. "I hate that you should do it, or
have the bother of it, but an undefended case attracts very little
publicity."

"And you'll give me cause?"

He nodded.

"It sounds rather horrible, doesn't it," she asked with a little shiver,
"but I don't think I want a divorce. I mean I shall be perfectly content,
for there is nobody I want to marry--but you may want to marry somebody"
she added quickly.

"That is unlikely" said Pretoria Smith, "extremely unlikely."

She strolled to the window and opened it and remembered, oddly enough,
that it was through this window she came uttering her determination that
she would not marry Pretoria Smith, and stepped out into the garden. She
had a curious sense of loss and tried to analyse the feeling. Yes, it was
because Pretoria Smith was going away and because she liked him. He had
been so kind to her and so friendly and she liked his humour and his
clean view of things. She had never had a man friend, except Lance. Her
lips curled, whether at the thought of Lance or at the comparison between
the two men it was hard to judge, harder for her because she did not
pursue her analysis so far.

Pretoria Smith had joined her and was walking by her side.

"Then, after Thursday," she said, "I shan't see you again until you come
to say goodbye."

"Is that necessary?" asked Pretoria Smith lighting a cigarette.

Marjorie shrugged. "If you don't wish to come, you need not," she said.
"There is really no necessity at all, and you'll be very busy."

"I'll come down if you wish," said Pretoria Smith quietly and to this she
made no reply. Something of the colour and harmony of life had gone out,
she felt. Perhaps it was because he made her realize her false position
or revived the unpleasant memory of Solomon Stedman's ultimatum, but
whatever was the cause she felt distressed and unhappy.

"Before you go," she said, "I want to unburden my mind of a secret."

He looked round at her sharply. "Is there anybody else?" he asked
quickly.

"Is there anybody at all?" she corrected, and he flushed.

"I meant that, of course," he replied stiffly. "We have neither harboured
the illusion that there is anything in our friendship or our marriage but
the humouring of an old man's caprice."

"Sit down here," she commanded, and on the very seat where she had
received Solomon Stedman's letter less than a fortnight ago, she told him
something that she had never told to any man or woman before. It was a
long time before she could speak, and when she did she came to the
essence of the matter in a sentence.

"It is about Sir James Tynewood," she said. "I know that he is dead. And
I know that you were with him when he died."


Chapter 27--THE STORY OF SIR JAMES TYNEWOOD


Pretoria Smith made no comment. He lit another cigarette from the glowing
end of the old one, put it on the ground and carefully placed his foot
upon it.

"So Sir James Tynewood is dead," he said slowly, "and it is true that I
have known for some time."

She did not speak and he went on a little bitterly: "Also I know the
woman who killed him." She was at a loss how to go on now and he half
turned to her and his kindly eyes were fixed upon hers.

"I want to hear your story," he said. "You rather startled me."

She began haltingly but as the narrative proceeded she grew more and more
coherent, and the man who sat beside her, staring into the flower beds
before them, interrupted very seldom.

"When we were poor, before Uncle Solomon helped us," she said, "I used to
work in a lawyer's office. I was secretary to Mr George Vance of Vance
& Vance. He knew my father and was very good to me. I did most of the
confidential work for the firm and in that capacity I received you when
you returned from South Africa. You do not recall my face?"

To her surprise he nodded. "Very well," he said, "please go on."

"The day you came back he sent for me, and to my surprise he handed me an
envelope which evidently contained a letter that he had typed himself. It
was addressed to Sir James Tynewood, Baronet, 947 Park Mansions.
'Miss Stedman,' he said, 'I want you to do me a great favour. I hate
using you as a messenger, but in this particular case it is necessary
that somebody should take this letter, somebody whom I can rely upon.'

"He explained to me that the address was a flat belonging to an actress
named Alma Trebizond, who was a member of a very fast theatrical set.

"'You will find Sir James there,' he said, 'and I want you personally to
deliver this letter, and if possible, bring back an answer. I am also
relying upon you to keep secret anything which may happen or anything
which you may see or hear.'

"I was very much surprised. I had never undertaken such a mission before,
but of course I was quite willing to go. It was at half-past five in the
evening when this letter was given to me and it was quite dark when I
arrived at the building, which is a very large block of flats overlooking
Regents Park. I was taken up in the lift to the floor and found the door
without difficulty Even before I rang I could hear that there was an
awful commotion going on inside. A piano was playing and it was some time
before I could make myself heard, and then a servant came and I went into
the hall. There was evidently a party in progress for I could hear two or
three people singing at once. Presently I was shown into the room and Sir
James came forward.

"'What do you want?' he asked. I told him that I came from Vance & Vance
and that I had a letter which had to be delivered personally to him. He
took the letter with a curse, opened it and read it, and then swore. He
had been drinking and had taken too much.

"'You can tell Vance he can go to hell,' he said, 'and you can tell Javot
that he can go to hell too.'

"And then he laughed and before I knew what he was doing a man had clasped
me round the waist and tried to make me dance. That was when I saw Alma
Trebizond for the first time. I don't know how I escaped from that room.
A man helped me get away--I think now it must have been Mr Javot," said
the girl with a shudder. "They wanted me to dance, they wanted me to
drink. The man who held me kissed me and Sir James took no further notice
of my presence. But I did get out eventually and went straight back to
the office where Mr Vance was waiting for me and told him what had
happened. I even delivered the message," she smiled.

"What did Vance say?" asked Pretoria Smith.

"He was very much upset," replied the girl, "and he again asked me not to
mention a word of what I'd seen or heard. I thought that as Sir James was
his client he was anxious that I should not think badly of the young
man."

"And then I came," said Pretoria Smith. "What happened the next day?"

"That afternoon Mr Vance sent for me again and he had typed another
letter," said the girl. "'I hate asking you to carry these messages,
Miss Stedman, he said, 'but I want you to go down to Droitshire to Sir
James Tynewood's house and see Dr Fordham, who is a friend of Sir James,
and give him this letter.'" I reached Dilmot station about eight o'clock
in the evening and Mr Vance had arranged for a car to meet me. I drove up
to Tynewood Chase, and when I told my business I was immediately admitted
through the gates.

"The house was in darkness and seemed to be empty, but I drove up to the
big front door and there was a glimmer of a light showing. I rang the
bell several times before the door was opened by a gentleman whom I
learnt at once was Dr Fordham.

"'What do you want?' he asked sharply; and seemed disinclined to admit me,
even to the hall, but it was raining heavily and he couldn't very well
keep me on the doorstep"--she smiled--"so with some reluctance he let me
come in.

"'I have a letter for Dr Fordham,' I said.

"'I am Dr Fordham,' he replied, and taking the letter, opened it and read
it.

"He uttered an exclamation before he was halfway through.

"'Just sit down here for a moment,' he said, pointing to a chair. 'I will
not keep you very long.'

"He passed through a door, which opened from the hall, and closed it
behind him. Then the door was opened and I heard voices, one of which I
recognized as Sir James Tynewood's. He was talking angrily wildly I
thought, but there is no need to tell you what he was saying. The other
voice was--yours!"

Pretoria Smith said nothing. He threw away his smoked cigarette and
coolly and deliberately took out his case and chose another.

"Go on," he said.

"I wondered what was wrong and was still wondering when suddenly I heard
a shot. I was terrified, but I was curious. I think I also wondered
whether I could be of any assistance. I walked to the door, which was
open, and looked in and there I saw--" Her voice shook.

"There you saw?" repeated Pretoria Smith.

"Sir James Tynewood was lying on the floor in a pool of blood," said the
girl in a low voice. "I saw the glint of a revolver and I saw a man
leaning over him and heard him speak."

There was a silence.

"What did he say?" asked Pretoria Smith in a voice that was scarcely
above a whisper.

"He said: 'My God! I have killed him!'" said the girl slowly, "and then
he turned his head and I saw his face--it was you!"

Pretoria Smith blew a ring of smoke in the air. "Well," he said, "what
happened then?"

She described her drive in the dark with the doctor, and his words.

"That was all," said the girl. "I went back to Mr Vance and I told him.
It was very late when I reached London, but he was waiting for me on the
platform, and when I had described the scene I had witnessed he said that
Sir James was not dead. He begged me not to speak to a living soul about
the tragedy and I have kept my word until now."

Pretoria Smith rose. "So you think I killed Sir James, do you?"

She shook her head. "No, I don't think so now," she said quietly. "Of
course, when I saw in the papers that Sir James had gone abroad and that
it was his younger brother who had died of typhoid, I knew that Dr
Fordham had given a false certificate because Sir James did not have a
brother."

"A half-brother," said Pretoria Smith. "How did you work it out to your
satisfaction? I mean what solution to that mystery did you find?" he
asked, looking at her.

She shook her head. "Not a very satisfactory one, I'm afraid. Rather on
the romantic side. I think Sir James shot himself, and that in order to
save the family from that stigma his brother went abroad and Sir James
was buried in his brother's name."

"Does it occur to you that if that were the case," said Pretoria Smith
after a moment's thought, "that the brother would one of these days turn
up again and claim the estate?"

"I didn't think he could--he was only a half-brother," she replied
quietly "I thought the idea was that he'd pass quietly out of recognition
and knowledge and that the family estate would go to--" she paused.

"To the Lady Tynewood?" he said quietly. "That is hardly likely But who
is that half-brother?"

She looked up at him quickly "If there is a half-brother, it is you," she
said, and he nodded.

"You have shown powers of deduction worthy of the greatest detective," he
mocked.


Chapter 28--THE PHOTOGRAPH


Lady Tynewood had one of those restless and indefatigable natures which
invite opposition in order to overcome the obstacles they call into
being. Mr Javot might be content with an acre of roses and two acres of
kitchen garden, but Alma Tynewood's predilections lay in another
direction.

On the day that Mr and Mrs Pretoria Smith returned, she drove her car
through the village to call upon another Mrs Smith. The housekeeper to
the late Dr Fordham lived in a pretty cottage set back from the road and
was sunning herself in placid contentment when Lady Tynewood knocked at
her door. The woman came through the cottage and curtsied to the visitor,
whom she recognized, and Alma, watching her very closely for some sign of
antagonism, decided that Dr Fordham had not taken his servant into his
confidence to the extent of setting her against the wife of his friend.

Alma followed the obsequious Mrs Smith to the sunny garden in the rear of
the cottage and accepted the Windsor chair which her flustered hostess
carried out.

"I don't often have visitors, my lady," she said.

"I didn't know you were living here, Mrs Smith," smiled Alma, "otherwise
I should certainly have called upon the housekeeper of my old friend, Dr
Fordham."

Alma could lie very graciously and easily, and Mrs Smith accepted this
claim to friendship with her dead master all the more willingly since she
knew very little about the man she had served for ten years. Gently and
with great subtlety Lady Tynewood led the conversation towards Dr
Fordham, and Mrs Smith was ready to talk.

"He was a strange man," she said. "I don't suppose I had a dozen words
with him all the time I was in his service. He used to go abroad a great
deal," she explained.

"Had he any relatives?" asked Alma.

The woman shook her head. "No, ma'am," she said, "not a one."

"But who inherited his property when he died?"

"He hadn't much, my lady" said Mrs Smith, "and he left all that to me on
his death-bed. About 300 pounds and a few odds and ends of furniture. He
didn't own the house we lived in. That belonged to Sir James, but Sir
James kindly presented me with this cottage, at least his lawyers did."

"He must have been a very interesting man," said Alma. "Did he write
books?"

Mrs Smith, who in spite of her employer's generosity had never regarded
him as being particularly interesting, shook her head.

"No, my lady, he left very few papers, and those I've got upstairs.
They're little accounts of travels he's made, a diary or two and a few
other papers like his medical diplomas."

Alma Tynewood was disappointed. She had hoped that Fordham's housekeeper
would have known more about him and would have had something to tell
which would throw a light upon the mystery of Sir James Tynewood's
disappearance. Failing that, she had no expectation of discovering
documentary evidence, for a man in Dr Fordham's position would hardly be
likely to leave papers or other written evidence of the part he had
played.

"I've often thought," Mrs Smith went on, "that I should have sent the
business papers to the lawyer, and again and again I've been going to do
them up in a parcel and post them to Mr Vance--I only came across them
after I'd turned out an old box of his."

Alma hesitated, and was on the point of going. "I suppose that the diary
deals with his trips abroad," she said.

"Yes, my lady. Would you like to see them? I'll show them to you. I know
you will be interested? She bustled off and came back with a faded
plush--covered box and, laying it on her knees, opened it.

"Here's one, my lady." She handed the visitor a small but bulky
pocket-book and Alma glanced through it. It was full of strange names and
unfamiliar places. One entry she saw which interested her.

'Whilst Jot and I were following the trail of a lion we came upon the
track of another sportsman. This proved to be no less than the Duke of
Wight, who we had heard was hunting in this country The duke is a jolly
good sort and Jot and he got on famously.'

Who was Jot? The nickname of some acquaintance, she gathered. She glanced
haphazard through the little volume, skipping the entries but finding
nothing that informed her in the matter she was investigating.

"These are his two medical diplomas, my lady" said Mrs Smith; "they're
all in Latin."

Lady Tynewood shook her head. "Is there nothing else?"

"Only a portrait, my lady. It is interesting because the doctor wrote on
the back of it: 'The only portrait in existence', but I don't know who it
is."

Alma Tynewood took the photograph and read the inscription written in the
crabbed writing. Then she turned it and started to her feet as she looked
upon the pictured face.

"At last!" she said.

It was the portrait of her husband, Sir James Tynewood!


Chapter 29--A MIDNIGHT VISITOR


Mrs Stedman had said that she was taking a long drive through the country
and Marjorie was surprised when her mother came back in no very amiable
frame of mind as she and Pretoria Smith were taking tea on the lawn.

"Why; mother, I thought you were going to be very late," said the girl,
as Pretoria Smith rose to carry a chair to the table.

"I didn't expect to come back so early" said Mrs Stedman petulantly, "and
I do wish, Marjorie, you would get out of the habit of timing me in as
though I were some factory worker. I hate the feeling that I am being
spied upon."

"That's rather strong, mother," smiled the girl. "What has happened? You
seem cross."

"I am not cross, my dear. I am in a perfectly equable frame of mind,"
said Mrs Stedman tartly. "If I am a little put out I hope I am enough of
a lady to hide my feelings. Really Alma is very inconsiderate."

"Did you go to the Tynewoods?" asked the girl quietly.

"Yes, I did go to the Tynewoods," said the defiant Mrs Stedman. "I shall
go just where I like, Marjorie, and I will not have my own daughter
correcting me, and certainly not before strangers!"

"Hardly a stranger, Mrs Stedman," said Pretoria Smith cheerily "I am one
of the family now, you know."

"I beg your pardon, Mr Smith." Mrs Stedman was extremely polite. "I
should not have said 'stranger,' for you are certainly more considerate
to me than is Marjorie at times. I went to the Tynewoods to see Alma on
a purely private matter which had nothing whatever to do with certain
things which Marjorie doesn't like. And Alma was all excited and agitated
as I've never seen her before. She told me she wasn't going to play this
afternoon."

Mrs Stedman forgot for the moment the business--like character of her
visit.

"Naturally I asked her why and she told me that she'd made a great
discovery and that she and Mr Javot were going to be extremely busy In
fact, my dear," said Mrs Stedman, raising her eyebrows and shaking her
head, "Alma was positively rude."

Marjorie said nothing. She could only hope that Alma Tynewood had been
rude to a point beyond forgiveness.

"And what was her great discovery?" bantered Pretoria Smith. "Has she
found a new way of effacing wrinkles? It couldn't have been a new way of
dealing aces from the bottom of the pack," he said, "because Javot taught
her that years ago."

Mrs Stedman looked at him in astonishment.

"Dealing aces from the bottom of the pack?" she said incredulously "Why,
that would be cheating!"

"It would rather," said Smith easily "and it would be clumsy cheating
which could readily be detected, by anybody but a--a novice," he said.

"I'll never believe that of Alma," Mrs Stedman shook her head. "Never,
never! You're prejudiced against Lady Tynewood, Mr Smith, and I deeply
regret that your prejudice is shared by Marjorie, for no earthly reason.
Unless of course," she said with a little self-pitying smile, "it is
because Alma has shown a very marked preference for my society."

"You can believe it or believe it not," said Pretoria Smith, "but if you
wish I'll show you how it is done. Bring me a pack of cards and I will
undertake to deal myself all the aces and kings in the pack--and you
shall shuffle!"

Mrs Stedman was annoyed, because she was ready to be annoyed with anybody
or anything.

 "You may be able to do that, Mr Smith," she said with acerbity, "but I
 do not think that dear Alma has had your training."

"Mother!" reproved the girl, but Pretoria Smith was laughing softly and
his humorous eyes were fixed upon his mother-in-law.

"She hasn't," he said; "but then, of course, she hasn't been frequenting
the worst saloons in South Africa as I have been, gaining my living by my
wits and the sharpness and dexterity of my beautiful hands," he said
complacently looking upon hands which were particularly white and small.
"She has done no more than--" He stopped himself and the hard look which
had come to his face faded out.

"Why do you tease mother?" asked the girl after Mrs Stedman had gone to
her room.

"Do I tease her? I'm sorry," said Pretoria Smith humbly enough, though he
was laughing. "But Alma Trebizond is a crook, you know."

"I can't understand why you say that," said the girl, with a worried
look. "I don't like Alma, but she's not that kind of woman, I should
imagine."

"You don't imagine anything of the kind," said Pretoria Smith. "You know
she cheats!"

The girl was silent, because she had said as much to Alma Tynewood's
face.

Mrs Stedman came back a little more amiable, but her mind still full of
Alma.

"I think she is making a great fuss about nothing, although I suppose it
must have been a shock to her after all these years."

"A shock?" said Pretoria Smith quickly "What do you mean, Mrs Stedman?"

"Finding the portrait of her husband," said the other. "Mrs Smith gave it
to her. You know Mrs Smith was Dr Fordham's housekeeper and apparently
she had the portrait by her and gave it to Alma. It's the only portrait
dear Alma has ever seen--"

The girl was staring at her husband, but Pretoria Smith was on his feet
and his face was deathly white.

"What is she going to do with the portrait?" he asked huskily.

"She is going to put it in the newspapers," said the complacent Mrs
Stedman, conscious of the sensation she had created. "In an advertisement
asking for information of Sir James's present whereabouts."

"Oh, she is, is she?" said Pretoria Smith softly and without a word of
apology left the group and walked rapidly to the house, leaving his wife
and mother-in-law staring after him, open-mouthed.

It had indeed been a busy day for Lady Tynewood. Mr Javot, though
nominally her secretary, was unequal to the fatigue and labour of
literary composition and it had been left to Alma to prepare the
advertisements which were to appear in the London and South African
newspapers. At ten o'clock that night Mr Javot rose and yawned.

"I'll leave you to it, Alma," he said, "I'm going to bed."

She nodded without looking round and again dipped her pen in the ink.

"I'll take that picture with me to my room," said Javot. "I shall be up
before you in the morning and my mind will be rather fresher than it is
at present."

She hesitated. "All right," she said, and handed the picture over her
shoulder.

Mr Javot looked at it and chuckled.

"The portrait of a mug," he said pleasantly "though I oughtn't to speak
ill of the dead."

"Do you think he's dead?" Alma turned in her chair.

"Sure!" said the other calmly "He's not the kind of fellow who suffers in
silence, who can go away and stay away. He's the kind of weakling that
would come back after a few months and cry on your shoulder! Besides,
he's the head of a family. Suppose he did take his brother's advice or
was influenced by his brother, how long would that last?"

She was nibbling the pen-holder. "There's a lot in what you say, Javot.
You have streaks of intelligence."

"Thank you," he said sarcastically. "I'll put this picture under my
pillow and sleep on it."

It was half-past eleven before Lady Tynewood gathered her papers into
order, closed the desk and went up to her room. She shared Javot's
suspicions, but those suspicions had to be proved facts before she could
inherit Tynewood and all that Tynewood Chase meant. She opened her
solid-looking jewel case which stood on her dressing-table and then
remembered that she had given the portrait to Javot, and relocked it.
Half an hour later she was sleeping as soundly as the most virtuous.

At three o'clock she woke suddenly which was unusual in her, turned over
on the other side and was dozing again when she heard the sound again,
the sound that had wakened her although she had not realized the fact.
She sat up in bed, reached out her hand and switched on the light.

The man who was standing by her dressing-table turned quickly and there
was a gleaming pistol in his hand.

"Don't shout," he said, "and don't scream."

She looked past him to the dressing-table. Her jewel-box was open, she
could see the scarlet lining of the lid and a little electric hand-lamp
was still alight in the man's other hand.

"What do you want?" she whispered huskily. "I have no money in the house
and my jewels are at the bank."

She could not see his face. The lower portion was hidden behind a red
silk handkerchief and the man still wore his felt hat and a long
trench-coat which was turned up to his chin. There was a patter of feet
in the corridor without, the door opened and Javot blinked in. At first
he did not see the intruder.

"Are you talking in your sleep?" he began, and then his eyes fell upon
the masked man.

"Put up your hands," said the burglar, and Javot obeyed. "Stand over
there where I can see you."

The man carried the jewel-box to the bed and turned it out, sorting over
the papers.

"Turn your faces the other way both of you," he commanded, "I don't want
you to see what I'm doing." She heard the clink, clink, of trinkets, the
rustle of papers, and once he uttered an exclamation.

Then they heard the creak of a door and looked round. The intruder was
gone.

"Follow him," said the woman, "follow him!"

"Follow him yourself?" said Javot coolly. "I am not in the habit of
following burglars who carry a .38 Smith Wesson. Let him go and then
we'll telephone for the police."

"You're a coward," she said.

"I'm a live coward," he said. "I'd rather be a live coward than a dead
hero any day--or night," he added.

She was replacing the contents of her jewel case that had been spilt upon
the bed.

"He has taken nothing," she said. "My rings are here--"

A door closed softly below. "Now," said Mr Javot, "I'll do a little
following," and presently she heard him speaking on the telephone.


Chapter 30--A CUP OF TEA


That night Marjorie slept very badly. Possibly it was the thought of--no,
it could not be that. The fact that Pretoria Smith was going back to
South Africa ought not to worry her, and yet she could not help thinking
of the curious position she would occupy after he had gone. She would be
another Lady Tynewood, she thought, a wife without a husband. A week ago
that thought would have filled her with happiness and content. Today she
saw only the disadvantages of the position and it worried her a little.
She put on the light and tried to read. Tynewood had an electric light
plant of its own, the gift of a former baronet, and she had fixed a tiny
electric kettle in her bedroom which on cold hunting mornings had proved
a great blessing. She got out of bed, put on her slippers and
dressing-gown and filled the kettle from her water-bottle. She would make
a cup of tea, she thought, and read for a while. She settled herself in
her armchair and tried to concentrate her mind upon The Gentleman of
France. But every minute she found herself straying back to her own
domestic problem. Was she to live here with her mother always, a wife in
name, with a husband who did not wish to see her, and would probably
write her polite letters at long intervals, inquiring after the state of
her health! Here again the prospect was not as alluring as it had been a
week before, or a fortnight, she corrected herself. She had had a wild
idea of suggesting to him that she should go to South Africa with him.
She told herself that the voyage would benefit her, and then again she
wanted to see strange lands. She could stay in Cape Town, or perhaps in
Kimberley and they need see very little of one another. And then, of
course, she was most anxious to meet the relative who had forced this
marriage upon her, old Solomon Stedman. Marjorie Stedman and Marjorie
Smith argued the matter out in her mind.

"My dear," said Marjorie Stedman, "you never wanted to see Uncle Solomon
before, and when it was suggested to you two years ago that you should go
to the Cape you said you hated the idea of a long sea voyage."

"That is true," admitted Marjorie Smith, "but I did not wish to travel
alone, and Uncle Solomon had not made himself so important a factor in my
life then."

On the whole the arguments of Marjorie Smith were extremely sound, but
they did not convince Marjorie Stedman.

She made her tea and poured herself a cup. She thought she heard somebody
in the passage and went to the door in time to see Pretoria Smith
disappear into his room. She looked along at the closed door--it was at
the far end of the corridor--in blank amazement. Perhaps he could not
sleep either. She took another cup from the little cupboard and poured
out a second cup of tea, and carried it along the corridor to his room
and knocked.

"Who's there?" said the voice of Pretoria Smith.

"Marjorie," she answered. She thought she heard him say: "Damn!" but
hoped she was mistaken.

"Thank you very much," he said, opening the door. "Whatever are you doing
at this hour of the morning?"

"What a question to come from you!" she laughed. "Have you been walking?"

"Yes, I have been for a little walk," he said. His trench coat lay on the
bed and her quick eyes noted a long blue sheet of paper on his
dressing-table.

"I hope you'll sleep," she said awkwardly.

"I don't think I shall. Should we disturb your mother if I came and
talked to you?"

"No," she said, her heart giving a little flutter. "I don't think so.
Mother sleeps very soundly," and he followed the slim figure down the
corridor, carrying his cup in his hand, and wondered why she went so
quickly until he reached the room in time to see her straightening her
bed.

 "I'm awfully sorry" he said. "I really forgot that this was a bedroom."

Nevertheless he closed the door behind him and sat down, to rise again
with a little grimace. He put his hand in his hip-pocket and brought out
to the girl's wondering eyes a small revolver which he laid on the carpet
by the side of the chair.

"You needn't worry," he said. "It's not loaded. I never carry loaded
revolvers in this country. There are so many people I want to kill that
it would be a fatal temptation."

"But why ever do you carry it?" she asked. "Have you been committing a
burglary?" Her lips twitched as she asked the question and to her
astonishment he nodded.

"I've been doing a little amateur burgling," he said calmly. "In fact,
this is the second lady's bedroom I've been in tonight."

"You're not serious?" she said wide-eyed.

"I've made a call on Lady Tynewood. Open confession is good for the soul
and a wife can't give evidence against her husband."

"But really?"

"I never tell a lie at three o'clock in the morning. It is the most
truthful hour of the twenty-four for me," he said, stirring his tea. "One
of these days I will tell you why I went there, but it was a visit not
without profit."

She looked at the revolver dubiously "That isn't--"

"No, it isn't," he replied quickly, almost roughly "My dear, of course it
isn't!"

Only for a second had she wondered whether that was the weapon which had
ended Sir James Tynewood's life.

"I've been thinking things over tonight," he said. "As a matter of fact,
on my way back I did my biggest think. And it came to me in a rush that I
have done you a very bad service, Marjorie."

"How?" she asked.

"By marrying you," said Pretoria Smith quietly. "Even to oblige old
Solomon I should not have done it. It is rather terrible for you."

"And for you?" she asked.

He shrugged his broad shoulders. '"What difference does it make to me,
except that I have on my conscience the unpleasant knowledge that I have
probably wrecked your life."

"Then get it off your conscience," she said with a briskness and
brightness which she was far from feeling. "It has tangled things a
little, but then I don't see that it has made much difference to me. In
all probability I should have lived on here until I was quite an old
maiden lady, and I should have kept cats and parrots and an ancient
coachman, and every Christmas I should have distributed blankets and
coals to the poor."

"I don't think so," he said. "I mean," he added hastily. "I know you
would have distributed blankets and coals, but I don't think you would
have remained a maiden lady But I don't want you to think too seriously
of your unhappy position, Marjorie, because, because--because it may not
come to a divorce."

"What do you mean?" she asked, her eyes fixed on his.

"I am going up country; when I return and settle things with Solomon.
Into the Masai country, and probably I shall trek across Barotseland to
the Belgian Congo--I want to have a shot at the Okapi. I'm not going
willingly and knowingly and hopefully to commit suicide," he said with a
faint smile, "but it is a queer country filled with all manner of
pitfalls and dangers, even to the experienced traveller, and a man I met
on the boat told me that twenty-five per cent of the people who go into
that land do not come out again."

"Then you're not going," she said.

"Wait a moment," he was smiling. "It sounds rather as though I'm trying
to harrow your feelings and work up a little cheap sympathy for my lonely
lot. But that isn't the truth," he said seriously "It is ninety chances
in a hundred that I shall be one of the seventy-five who will get through
with no more hurt than a sunburnt nose. I know you well enough to believe
that you would not wish my death, even to secure your freedom, but there
is that chance, and men like myself do not make old bones."

She nodded. "And there is a chance too for you," she said.

"What do you mean?" he asked quickly.

"You know I have a weak heart and that one of my lungs is not all it
should be."

He spilt the tea as he rose. "You don't mean that?" he asked in
agitation. "My dear girl, you shall go straight tomorrow to London and
see a specialist. I know a tip-top man who would give you an opinion, and
you ought to live in high country. Why not go to Switzerland, to Davos or
Caux?"

And now he stopped because she was laughing at him, laughing till the
tears showed in her eyes. "You silly person," she said, "sit down. I'm
the healthiest being in this country! But how do you like your feelings
being harrowed? Of course, I know you would not wish for my death," she
said gravely, "and it's ninety--nine chances in a hundred-"

He leant over and caught her by the ear, very firmly but very gently.

"You little devil!" he said, and that was all he said before he rose,
picked up his gun and went back to his own room, but it left her
tingling.




Chapter 31--THE DENOUNCEMENT


"You know Lady Tynewood," said Mrs Stedman blandly.

This time Pretoria Smith took the outstretched hand.

"I know Lady Tynewood. I am afraid I was very rude to her the last time
we met, and I hope that she's forgiven me," he said.

Alma smiled her sweetest. "You had fever very badly I'm told, Mr Smith,"
she said.

"I had it very badly" said the other with a smile, and Mrs Stedman,
bursting to tell the news, interrupted Alma's conventional expression of
regret.

"Do you know that Lady Tynewood had a burglar in her house last night?"

"A burglar?" said Pretoria Smith. "That sounds thrilling! Did you kill
him?"

"He got away unfortunately" said Lady Tynewood. "Mr Javot, my secretary
went after him."

"And shot him in his tracks?" said Pretoria Smith. "That's fine."

"No, he didn't shoot him." Alma was a little annoyed. "We missed him in
the dark."

"Did you lose anything?" asked Pretoria Smith.

 "Nothing at all," said Alma. '"We disturbed him at his work, I have
 informed the police."

"What sort of man was he?"

"A rough-looking man," said Alma with a shrug. "I didn't see his face,
which was masked, or rather covered with a handkerchief, but I think I
should know his voice anywhere." Her eyes were fixed on Pretoria Smith.
"Anywhere!" she repeated.

 "Or anyhow" said Pretoria Smith. "That is fine. What do you think he was
 after, your jewels?"

Lady Tynewood did not know what the burglar was after. She only half
suspected that the visitor had been Pretoria Smith and had debated this
possibility with the sceptical Javot all the morning.

"It may be a man," she said slowly, "against whom I am collecting
evidence and who thought that that evidence was in my possession."

"In that case," said Pretoria Smith lightly, "he should have broken into
the police station or into Scotland Yard, or into the Church of St Giles,
Camberwell," he added with a faraway look, and the colour left Lady
Tynewood's face.

For a second she had no reply then she turned to Mrs Stedman.

"Well, dear, I am going to the post office," she said. "I want to
register this."

She held a thin parcel in her hand and it was securely bound with red
tape.

"My dear, is that the portrait?" asked Mrs Stedman, all agog.

"That's the portrait," said Alma grimly. "And it is going to bring me to
the position which I am entitled to occupy."

"That sounds romantic," said Smith. "Is it a friend of yours, Lady
Tynewood?"

"My husband," said the woman, and Pretoria Smith raised his eyebrows and
imparted into the movement just that shade of incredulity which was
needed to bring the woman's irritation to a head. Viciously she broke the
tape and seals which bound the package and stripped off the brown paper.

"Do you know that man?" she asked, challenging him, and Pretoria Smith
looked at the portrait for a very long time.

Then, before Alma Tynewood realized what had happened, he had taken it
from her hand and under her eyes was tearing it into small pieces. With a
hoarse cry of rage she leapt forward, but his strong arm pushed her back,
gently but firmly and then he turned and flung the fragments into the
fireplace.

"I know that man," he said calmly "but it is not your husband, Lady
Tynewood."

The girl had watched the scene aghast. The audacity of the action, the
flaming fury in Alma Tynewood's face, the cold smile on her husband's
lips, the look of blank dismay in her mother, she took them all in in a
flash, and they made a picture which was to be added to other
unforgettable memories.

And then Lady Tynewood fell back a pace.

"You shall pay for that, Mr Pretoria Smith," she said harshly.

"I shall pay a million times more than you will ever pay though you
deserve a million times more punishment," he said gravely, and then came
a dramatic interruption.

The door opened quickly and a young man came in. Marjorie had not seen
Lance Kelman since her marriage and she stared at him now, for it seemed
in that short time that his face had coarsened.

"Alma," he said, "I heard you were here and--"

He stopped, feeling the tenseness of the scene.

"What's the matter?" he said. "You got the portrait, didn't you?" She did
not reply and then Lance saw Pretoria Smith.

"And I've got you," he said exultantly and pointed an accusing finger at
the man. "You're Norman Garrick, the half--brother of Sir James Tynewood,
whom you murdered four years ago!"




Chapter 32--TO SILENCE PRETORIA SMITH


It was Pretoria Smith who broke the silence which followed.

"Having said your little piece and created the requisite amount of
sensation you can now make an exit before you're kicked out," he said,
"and you can go with him, my friend," he addressed Lady Tynewood.

She was shaking in every limb, then she muttered: "He's dead. It's true!"

She turned and gripped Lance Kelman's arm. "Come," she said, and they
went out together.

Pretoria Smith walked to the window and watched them disappear down the
drive, then turned with a laugh.

"Well, mother-in-law," he asked, "what do you think of that?"

Mrs Stedman did not know what to think. "It's very dreadful," she said,
and felt it was a safe thing to say.

"Terrible!" said Pretoria Smith, and Mrs Stedman was on her dignity.

"We've never had anything like that in our family" she said.

"That's unfortunate," said Pretoria Smith. "We've had much worse things
than that in our family! Two of my ancestors were hanged and one of them
had his head cut off. So you may say that it runs in the family"

"Dreadful, dreadful!" Mrs Stedman shook her head helplessly "It will be
in all the newspapers."

"I don't mind the newspapers," said Pretoria Smith, "so long as it's not
in the monthly magazines. But, seriously Mrs Stedman, you ought not to
worry because there is nothing to worry about."

"I'm such a close friend of Lady Tynewood's," said Mrs Stedman dismally.
"And it is extremely painful to me--"

"And you shall be a close friend of Lady Tynewood's all your life," said
Pretoria Smith cheerfully. "Now please don't worry!"

But Mrs Stedman was not prepared to forgo her gloom and went up to her
bedroom to collect her thoughts, as she told them.

"Poor lady,'" smiled Pretoria Smith. "They will take a lot of
collecting!"

"What does it mean? Are you Norman Garrick really?"

"No, I'm not Norman Garrick," he said quietly, "and there are times," he
added with a whimsical smile, "when I don't know what I am or where I
am."

He drew a long breath. "I think I'd better get back to South Africa
quick!" he said.

Curiously enough, the possibility of his leaving for South Africa was at
that moment being discussed by a committee of three, of whom Mr Augustus
Javot was the weary third.

"You want to get the warrant before he bolts," said Lance. "I know that
type of bird! We've given him warning and the first thing we shall hear
is that he's skipped."

"Wait a minute," said Javot. "Let's get this thing right. You say he's
Norman Garrick, the half-brother of Sir James. How did you End that out?"

"It was a bit difficult," said Lance Kelman with a languishing glance at
Lady Tynewood who was in no mood at that moment for tender glances. "It
was inspiration, the inspiration I received from this dear lady which
spurred me on, so to speak. It was the knowledge that I was helping her
and putting her right in the eyes of the world that made me labour night
and day-"

"Cut out all that stuff," said Javot calmly "and tell us what you found."

The ruffled Mr Kelman swallowed something. "Well, I'll tell you," he
said. "I've been tracing the movements of Dr Fordham. He arrived in
England the week you were married to Sir James." He addressed the girl.
"I couldn't get the passenger list, but he came with a man who sailed a
couple of days later by the outward steamer. The night before he sailed
this other man stopped at the Grand Western Hotel, Southampton, because
the sailing of the boat had been postponed. He was alone and registered
his name as 'Norman Garrick.' It's written in the visitor's book."

"That was two days after I was married?"

"Well, I won't swear to the day," said Lance, "but it was as near as
makes no difference, and after all a day or two doesn't matter. Anyway he
was registered at the hotel as Mr Norman Garrick and hired a car which
took him to Tynewood Chase the same night. I've been able to trace that
much from the local garage. Well, that was the extent of my discovery
until I came back today and it occurred to me that I would call and see
Mrs Smith, the housekeeper of Dr Fordham. You remember I came here first,
Javot, and you told me that Lady Tynewood had seen this woman." Javot
nodded. "Now, I went about my investigations in quite a different way to
you, Alma," he said with a hint of patronage in his tone. "I didn't ask
for documents, I came straight to the point and asked her if she
remembered anything that happened four years ago and she told me--" he
paused impressively--"that a gentleman had been shot at the Chase!"

"How did she know?" asked Alma quickly

"She remembered that the doctor drove over in a taxi-cab to the house
which was close to Tynewood Chase and got a lot of bandages and cotton
wool and was in a very agitated state of mind. He told her that a
gentleman had been shot, and after he returned and she asked him about
the accident he said it was a slip of his tongue and he meant to say that
the gentleman had died unexpectedly the brother of Sir James. She didn't
even know that Sir James's brother was ill. There were no servants in the
house at Tynewood Chase, except the old lodge--keeper, because it was not
occupied and Sir James seldom went down there."

"That sounds all right," said Javot thoughtfully "But what is this rot
about a warrant being out for Garrick, or whatever his name is?"

"Well," said Kelman a little discomforted, "I suppose the warrant will be
out for him tomorrow when you make a statement to the police, Alma."

"Warrant nothing," said Javot, anticipating Lady Tynewood's reply "There
is going to be no warrant in this business, believe me. Now, what did he
say about St Giles' Church, Camberwell?"

Lady Tynewood repeated the words that Pretoria Smith had uttered and
Javot nodded. "Go up and have a look at that jewel case of yours," he
said significantly; "maybe you'll find something is missing."

She went up and returned in about a quarter of an hour with a drawn face.

"It's gone, has it!" said Javot grimly "Well, my lady I think you are in
almost as bad a position as Pretoria Smith; in fact, if I had to make a
bet about it, I'd back him to get away with all his trouble because the
truth is beginning to dawn upon me."

He looked round at Lance Kelman, a puzzled young man, and added:

"Perhaps you'll come in again this evening, Mr Kelman. I want to discuss
a few private matters with Lady Tynewood."

"Of course, if I'm in the way," said Lance curtly as he rose, "I'll make
myself scarce."

"You are a little in the way" said the other calmly "Don't forget we dine
at half-past seven."

Lance waited for Lady Tynewood to give him some encouragement to stay,
but no encouragement came and he stalked forth, feeling ill-used and
pardonably so.

"Now, Alma," said Javot, when he had gone, "I think we can come down to
bedrock truth and face whatever is coming without illusions."

"What do you mean?" she asked, though she knew well enough all that his
words implied.

"It means that Pretoria Smith has got your marriage certificate," said
Javot, "and unfortunately it is not your marriage certificate to Sir
James Tynewood, because that could be duplicated at the cost of a few
shillings. It is the marriage certificate of a wedding which took place
in St Giles', Camberwell, between one Augustus Javot, and one Alma
Trebizond Johnson--and where you got Trebizond from, the lord knows,
unless your father was an Armenian!"

She licked her dry lips. "He wouldn't dare charge me with bigamy" she
said. "We've got a pull on him now."

Javot shook his head. "My dear wife," he said, "believe me, that kind of
guy is difficult to get a pull on. He's simply made without hooks, and
the best thing you can do is to go up to him in the morning and have a
heart-to-heart talk with him."

"Talk to him!" she flamed. "Do you think I'm mad?"

"I shall think you're mad if you don't," he said. "Personally speaking, I
love this little place, and I shall hate leaving it," he said, "but there
is the fact, he has got us in his hand--or rather you, because I have
committed no offence, unless it is an offence to condone your bigamy."

"I'll not do it," she said again, but she was quieter and calmer than he
had expected. "You must let me think this over, Javot. It means a lot
more to me than to you."

She thought well into the night, and in the morning, to his surprise, she
came early to breakfast wearing a tweed suit.

"You're up early!"

"I'm going out to shoot rabbits," she said.

"What have the rabbits been doing to you?" asked Javot as he sliced off
the top of an egg.

"I want some distraction," she said, "and I'm in a killing mood."

"Good luck to you," said Mr Javot pleasantly.

She avoided the main road and took the path across the fields which
brought her to a lane, running at right angles from the road and
incidentally forming the boundary line of Mrs Stedman's house.

Pretoria Smith saw her from the shade of a big yew tree, where he sat
smoking his after--breakfast pipe, and watched her as she stood the gun
against the wall, before walking through the open window of the
drawing-room.

Then ten minutes later he joined the little party and found Mrs Stedman
beaming, for Alma had come in a penitent mood. She turned to Pretoria
Smith as he entered the room and advanced toward him with a smile and an
outstretched hand.

"I am very sorry I made such a fool of myself yesterday" she said. "I
hope you're going to forget and forgive."

He ignored the hand but smiled into her eyes.

"I owe you an apology surely" he said lightly, and Marjorie watching the
play felt a little chill which sent a shiver down her spine. What it all
meant she could not guess, for her husband was in as genial a mood as
Alma, joked with her, rallied her gently upon her stage career and her
passion for dramatic situations. When they went out in the garden she
followed and saw Lady Tynewood take up her gun.

"Why the lethal weapon?" asked Pretoria Smith.

"Rabbits," she said laconically. "They're rather a nuisance. They get
into the garden and destroy my beautiful borders."

Then the girl saw and curled up with the horror of it. The gun that was
handled so carelessly by Lady Tynewood was pointed straight at Pretoria
Smith's heart and both hammers were raised. If Pretoria Smith saw this he
did not move.

"I don't like rabbits," said Lady Tynewood, and pulled both triggers.
There was a double click and she dropped the gun in her terror.

Pretoria Smith looked at the haggard face and the wild eyes and smiled.

"I took the liberty of extracting both cartridges before I came into the
drawing-room, Lady Tynewood," he said cheerfully. "I don't like to see
loaded guns knocking about."

"It was an accident," she gasped.

"Nearly an accident," Pretoria Smith continued to smile. "And do you know
I am almost sympathizing with you at this moment, for you're in a very
tight corner, Alma Javot."

Her lips were working convulsively. She could not control them.

"No tighter than yours," she said at last in a low voice.

"Talk it over with Javot," said Pretoria Smith as softly and turned on
his heel.

Marjorie followed him back to the drawing-room.

"She tried to shoot you," she said breathlessly. "She came here to do
it!"

"Oh no," said Pretoria Smith as he patted her shoulder gently. "You're
distressing yourself unnecessarily. You grow more and more like your
mother every day."

Her lips twitched. "You said that to annoy me and bring me back to
sanity," she said, "but she tried, didn't she?"

He nodded. "I rather fancy she did, poor woman," he said. "I owed her a
grudge, but really I have no sense of hatred or malice in my mind.
Consider the temptation to her," he said. "I am not talking about the
temptation to shoot me, but the temptation to marry that poor boy."

"You called her Alma Javot! What did you mean?"

"She is Javot's wife, and when she married--my brother, she committed
bigamy" said Pretoria Smith.

"Then--then he was your brother?"

He nodded. "I am prepared to continue her income and I think I had better
send a note over to that effect before she does something desperate."

"You're prepared?" she gasped. "Why what do you mean?"

"I mean I am James Tynewood," he said calmly and she staggered. He
thought she was going to faint and his arm was round her in an instant.

"I think I'll sit down," she said unsteadily. "This has been rather an
exciting day."

"You won't topple over or do anything of that kind, will you?" he asked
anxiously.

"Not--not if you keep your arm round me," she said. He leant over to her.

"If I kissed you," he said quietly "would the blood surge to your head
and would you spring up in indignation, or would you faint?"

"I'm curious to know," she said in a smothered voice. "Won't you please
try?"


Chapter 33--SIR JAMES TYNEWOOD SPEAKS


"I have always been, from my youth up, rather a wanderer," said Pretoria
Smith. "I succeeded to the baronetcy when I was a boy of seventeen and
still at Eton, and I practically le& Eton for Africa and seldom returned.
I was an enthusiastic game shot in those days and I grudged the time I
had to spend at home. My mother married again after my father's death and
she had a son, Norman Garrick, Sir John Garrick being her second husband.

"Norman was always a wild sort of kid, but I was rather fond of him, and
when mother died she made me promise that I would look after him and keep
him out of mischief. Her husband predeceased her by twelve months,"
explained Pretoria Smith, "and the boy was left in my charge. I can't say
that I carried out my mother's wishes to the letter. I suppose it was
selfishness on my part and a desire to satisfy my own fancies and wishes
that took me so much out of England and left the boy practically to his
own devices.

"I don't know how it happened, but Norman, who had a curious streak of
vanity in his composition, must have got mixed up with this fast
theatrical set and must have either been introduced or described himself
as Sir James Tynewood. He could do this more safely because very few
people knew me. I spent such a lot of time abroad, and more people knew
Norman, who had been educated on the continent and was as rarely at home
as I. Poor old Norman went the pace. He spent more than his allowance.
He--he forged my name." Pretoria Smith hesitated. "Yes, I had better tell
the truth. He practically robbed the estate of a hundred thousand pounds,
a great deal of which went into the pocket of that adventuress, Alma
Trebizond as she calls herself but Alma Javot as she really is.

"Mr Vance, my lawyer, discovered this was going on and that Norman was
impersonating me, and sent him a letter by you, which was an
extraordinary coincidence--to tell him that I was returning home on the
morrow and that he had better drop his friends and retire to the country
But Vance had warned him before and he thought that this was another
false alarm.

"What method they employed to induce him to marry Alma Trebizond I do not
know, but he certainly was married at the registry office, and then the
newspapers came out with the story The first thing I knew about the
marriage was when the Balmoral Castle arrived in Southampton. I had been
to South Africa on a hunting trip and had taken with me poor Fordham, who
was my best friend. Fordham brought me the evening paper and pointed out
the item, and we both guessed just what had happened. I hardly knew what
to do. We registered at the Grand Western Hotel. I registered myself in
my brother's name, because obviously with the publicity which the
marriage had received, if I had registered in my own name the story would
have been out and the fraud would have been discovered.

"I came straight to London--you saw me. The next afternoon I went to
Tynewood Chase. In the meantime Alma had read the newspapers and had seen
in one of them a reference to the Tynewood collar, which is a famous
heirloom of ours, and her cupidity being aroused, she demanded from the
boy that he should get that collar without delay. The collar, as a matter
of fact, is at my bankers, but poor Norman was under the impression that
it was in the safe in my study at Tynewood Chase, and he went down
immediately to Tynewood and was in the act of smashing up the panels
which hide the safe when Fordham and I arrived. I had arranged to meet
Norman in London, but he did not keep his appointment. I think he had
some desperate idea of getting the collar and bolting with Alma.

"We had a little argument, which was not heated on my side, I am happy to
think, and then Norman broke down and told the whole grisly truth, the
truth about the defalcations, about his marriage and about his other
follies. Whilst we were talking there was an interruption. Somebody came
to the door--there were no servants in the house to answer the knock and
Fordham went, to admit you.

"When Fordham came back he found me bending over poor Norman, who was
sitting at a table, his head upon his hands. I think the revolver must
have been in his hand at that moment, for before I could realize or
understand what was happening, there was a shot and he collapsed on the
floor.

 "I felt then that my reproaches had driven him to this act--you heard me
 say as much. Fordham was splendid. He jeopardized his professional
 career by giving a certificate that the boy had died a natural death,
 and he was buried in the chapel, as you probably know.

"There was nothing for me to do but to leave at once and do my best to
preserve Norman's secret. From that day I was dead. I saw Vance and
arranged to give the woman an income on condition she was not allowed
inside the Chase, and I left the next day for South Africa. And that's
about the whole of the story," he said, "except that you know how I
wandered around at the Cape and how I came to know your uncle."

She was looking at him, big-eyed, and never once did she interrupt him
until he finished, then she drew a long sigh.

"Sir James Tynewood," she said, "how wonderful! But who was Jot? Do you
remember the name?"

 "I am Jot," he smiled. "Those are my initials. James Oliver Tynewood. I
 was called Jot at Eton and I was always jot to poor Norman. You ought to
 have guessed it too."

"Guessed you were Sir James? How?" she asked in surprise.

"Do you not know that it is a tradition of our family that none marry in
our chapel but a Tynewood?"

She nodded. "It is very, very wonderful," she said, "I can't quite grasp
it yet."

"Your ladyship will grasp it sooner or later," he said, and she coloured.

"My ladyship?" she repeated. "Oh, of course I'm--"

"You're Lady Tynewood," said "Pretoria Smith."

"I'm dazed--dazed--" He chuckled quietly.

"Do you think if I kissed you again it would clear all the cobwebs from
your brain and make you feel and see all things plainly?"

"I don't know," she said faintly "but you can try."




Chapter 34--THE END


Alma Javot received Sir James Tynewood's letter and wept. If she was
repentant, her repentance took a characteristic form.

"It is very decent of him," she said to Javot, "but I'm going to London
and back to the stage. It'll look rather good on the bills, Alma, Lady
Tynewood."

"You'll get yourself pinched yet," said Javot, "and you'll call yourself
Alma Trebizond or I'll come after you."

There was a glint in Mr Javot's eyes which she had seen before.

 "Anyway I'm not going to stay here," she said. "If I can't be Lady
 Tynewood of Tynewood, I'm not going to be Mrs Javot of Tynewood."

"You can be Mrs Javot of Kensington, if you like," said her placid
husband, "and so long as you behave yourself there'll be no kicks coming.
I'm staying here to look after the pigs. You can come down and spend your
weekends respectably."

She looked at him in surprise. "You're getting rather soft in your old
age, aren't you, Javot?"

"Come any of your monkey tricks and you'll find out," said Mr Javot with
a deadly smile. "No, Alma, I've found the life to suit me, looking after
the pork, watching the bees and trimming the roses. This is the life."

"Not the life for me," said Alma.

"It will be from Saturday to Monday" said Mr Javot, and his wife agreed,
but only after a struggle.

Mrs Stedman had a grievance. She had discovered in her son-in-law a
baronet of the United Kingdom and had planned herself a suite in the east
wing of Tynewood Chase.

"There is no east wing, mother dear," said Marjorie. "The place is built
north and south, and besides, dear--" she did not find it easy to say--"I
am not going to live there."

"Not going to live there?" said Mrs Stedman in amazement. "My dear child,
are you mad?"

"My husband is going back to South Africa."

"And leave you? Nonsense," said Mrs Stedman, "I'll talk to him!"

"You'll do nothing of the kind, mother," said the girl quietly. "I will
manage my own domestic affairs without any assistance."

Mrs Stedman's eyes filled with tears.

"I see," she said bitterly "my own child has turned against me. She has
taken the side of her husband!"

"Don't be ridiculous, mother," said the girl with a little laugh. "I'm
not taking his side at all. He's going back to South Africa, and so I
shan't live at the Chase. Shall I, James?"

"Jim sounds better to me," said Sir James Tynewood, who had entered the
room at that moment. "No, we shan't live at the Chase for weeks and
months yet, and I've cancelled my trip to South Africa, You don't mind my
staying on here, Mrs Stedman?"

"I should dearly love you to stay Sir James," said his mother-in-law.

"And perhaps later," said Sir James Tynewood, "you will come along and
stay with us at the Chase. We have an east wing commanding a lovely view
of the country and if we haven't got it, we'll build it," he said, and
Mrs Stedman glanced triumphantly at her daughter.

"You heard," challenged the girl when her mother had left the room.

"Of course I heard. I spend my life listening at doors," said James
Tynewood lazily.

"And you're not going to South Africa?"

"I am going to stay here--right here," said Jim.

There was a pause. "How long will it be before the Chase is ready?" she
asked.

"Weeks and weeks," said Jim cheerfully "You are sure that your mother
doesn't mind my being here?"

"She rather loves having a real baronet in the house," said the girl.
"But isn't your room very damp?"

"No, not noticeably" he said in surprise. "I've never seen the slightest
vestige of damp."

"Isn't it awfully uncomfortable?" she asked.

"Most comfortable," he replied. "I have never complained."

"Don't you sometimes feel as if you'd like to get up and make some tea at
an electric stove?" she asked desperately.

James Tynewood smiled into her eyes and pinched her ear.

"Let's," he said.


THE END



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