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“Now, what comes next?” he asked, and aside her distress and the thought of the Cynthia looked at the paper.
loneliness which awaited her and obeyed “The estancia,” she said.
him. “Yes,” said Daventry, and a smile sud- “I would even be glad”—and the old denly illumined his face and made it man hesitated with the timidity of one askyoung. “The estancia! You have the ing a heavy favor.—“Yes, I would be glad right to dispose of it, Cynthia. For one if you would go back there-oh, not oftennever knows what changes may come. but just once or twice to see that all was But I don't want you to let it go unless there going on well.” is some great necessity. It brings in, gen- Cynthia's hand trembled for a moment. erally, a good income, and now that Walton She looked at him with a sudden terror in looks after it, it gives very little trouble. her eyes. But he was lying now upon his Walton is a good man. I should give him side with his face to the window, and seeing an interest in it, if I were you, and as time things not to be seen through its panes. It goes on increase his interest. Keep him cost Cynthia a great deal to make the promand keep it. I want you very much to do ise he sought from her. She shrank from that. I am proud of the Daventry estancia, a return to the estancia with every fibre for one thing. For another, the best part of her body. But she made it. He beof Joan's life and of mine was spent there. sought her in so wistful a voice. There, too, we first brought you when you “Yes, I will go back, father.” came to us. There's yet another reason,” “Thank you," he said gently. and he stopped, and thought. “Yes, Outside the window the snow lay white there's yet another reason why I care for it and deep upon the slate roofs of the outso much—but,” and he shook his head buildings, and was piled upon the black and gave up the effort to interpret it: "it's branches of the trees. Overhead was a not very clear in my mind just now. I gray sky of winter. But for the glimmer only know it's there—a strong reason.” of the snow it would almost have been dark.
He was speaking with a depth of tender- A smile shone again on the old man's face. ness in his voice for which Cynthia was “Perhaps Walton's cutting the corn tohardly prepared. Always he had seemed day! Think of it!” he said, with a great to her tu look upon the estancia as a busi- longing, and before Cynthia's eyes there ness proposition rather than as the soil in rose immediately the vision of a great gliswhich his heart was rooted. Always, too, tening field of standing wheat and a reaphe had seemed so contented to live in Eng- ing-machine like a black toy outlined land, and he had taken his part with so against it. They remained thus in silence much zest in the local administration of the for a little while. Cynthia was thinking. county. She was as puzzled now by this “After all, he may not be in the Argentine note of yearning—for it was no less than ... I may not meet him. ... He will yearning—as by the reason which he could have no power over me. ... There is no not interpret. It was all made plain to her reason why I should be afraid.” in after years, but by another than Robert And then, as though in answer to these Daventry.
arguments, Robert Daventry said: “I want you very much to keep the estan- “You can go back now, Cynthia, withcia, Cynthia."
out fear.” “Of course I will keep it,” she said, and The girl looked at him with startled eyes. again she made no pretence that the day Had she spoken aloud, she asked herself? was distant when it would be hers to keep. Had she betrayed her secret just at this last Her heart was heavy with grief, it went out moment? But her eyes fell upon the slip in love to this dear friend of hers; she was of paper in her hand, and there she saw young and the cry was loud in her bosom, written plainly under the word “estancia” “What will I do without you?” but her the name “ James Challoner.” lips did not utter it. He would be quite Robert Daventry looked toward a busure of her love without her protests. There reau which stood by the window. was comprehension enough, and to spare, “The little drawer on the left. No, the between them to make her certain of that. one above that. There's a cutting from a And, since he wanted her to listen, she put newspaper.”
Cynthia found in the drawer half a col- at night. I used to hear him in the umn of a Spanish newspaper. The name house." was on the top of the column. It was a And with every word she spoke, the compaper published in Buenos Ayres. She punction and distress deepened in Davenbrought the cutting back to the bed and try's mind. placed it between his fingers.
“What a pity!” he said. “Neither of us “Yes, that's it,” he said, and he lay back guessed, not even Joan, who was quicker upon his pillows, and gathered his strength. than I to notice things. And we thought “I have got to tell you now something which we knew all about you, Cynthia!” A faint we have always kept a secret from you.” smile lit up his face. “How little, after all,
“There is no need to tell it,” said Cynthia. we did know! For we could have spared Robert Daventry stared at her.
you all this trouble. Read.” And open“If you do know it,” he said slowly, “we ing his hand he let her take from it the have made the cruellest mistake we could newspaper slip. She uttered a cry as she possibly have made. But you can't know it!" read the first lines.
“It's about James Challoner?” asked “It's true," said Daventry, from the bed. Cynthia, and Robert Daventry shut his eyes Cynthia carried the cutting over to the with a look of great distress upon his face. window and read by the fading light. It
“How long have you known?” he asked. gave the account of an inquest held at a
"From the night when he came to the small town twenty-five miles up the line estancia,” she answered. And she told from the Daventry estancia on the body how she had slipped into the smoking- of an Englishman who had been stabbed to room and how, huddled in the great chair, the heart by a Gaucho in a drunken quarshe had heard all that James Challoner pro- rel at a tavern. There was a witness who posed for her. The shadow deepened upon had worked with the Englishman, and Daventry's face as he listened, and when could identify him. He called himself she had ended he asked with deep regret: James Challoner, and, when he was drunk,
“Why didn't you tell us this, Cynthia ?” he would boast of his family. Cynthia let
“Because, just outside the smoking- the slip of paper fall from her fingers, and room door in the hall, you both decided not stood by the window until Robert Davento tell me—not to breathe a word of-of try called her to his side. my father's visit. You thought the knowl- “You held your tongue so as not to disedge would trouble and frighten me. You tress us,” he whispered. “We held ours thought it would hurt. Well, I was as cer- so as not to frighten you. And so because tain that you would be greatly distressed to we were careful of your happiness, and you know that already I had the knowledge. of ours, you have gone through years of So I held my tongue."
anxiety and terror. Needless anxiety! “And it did trouble you?”
Terror without a cause! I am so sorry. “Yes."
It seems so pitiful. It seems rather grim “A great deal?”
to me, Cynthia.” “Yes,” Cynthia admitted. “I was Cynthia answered quietly: frightened. I did not know what power he “That's the way things happen.” And might have. I knew you had fled from when she had spoken, Robert Daventry, him for my sake.”
with an effort, raised himself upon his el"And since you have been here-during bow and peered into her face. these three years—you have still been “You oughtn't to be able to say that, troubled, still frightened lest he should come Cynthia,” he said remorsefully. “You and claim you with the law at his side?” oughtn't to be able to tnink it. It's not
Though the old man could hardly speak the proper philosophy for twenty. I am above a whisper, he was strangely insistent in afraid, my dear, that trouble has gone his questioning. The words came unevenly, deep.” He fell back and in a moment a with breaks between, and now and then a little whimsical smile flickered upon his weak gasp for breath. Cynthia replied face. “I don't think I'll tell Joan about quite simply:
this," he said. “She wouldn't like it. “Yes, here, too, I have thought that She wouldn't forgive herself for not having he might come. I used to be frightened noticed that you were troubled.”
“After all, it was my fault,” said Cyn- marked Captain Rames's place, and smiled thia. “For I hid in the room. However, sympathetically. it's all over now.”
“I can quite understand," he returned But Daventry was not prepared to accept with a pleasant pomposity, "that to a sailor her word. Some flash of insight forbade him, who has been three years in the Antarctic
“It has left its mark, my dear," he in- the deficiency is a very lamentable business. sisted, and in broken sentences he dwelt up- But there are some elements of consolation. on his theme. His mind began to wander Amongst the twelve men seated at this after a little, but through his wanderings round table of mahogany, you will hardly there ran the thread of this idea:
see one who has not made some stir in the “Joan was always so careful. ... Even world. Upon your right, for instance, you when you were quite a little girl . . . we will see Mr. Winthrop, that long and salwere never to laugh at you. ... 'Children low person. He is a political resident in and dogs' she used to say, 'you must never one of the native States of Rajputana, and laugh at them. Little things warp chil- his work, in six volumes, on the Indian dren.' . .. Do you remember when you bangle, is, I believe, supposed to be the last used to write plays and perform them to us word upon the subject. A little nearer to at Christmas, in a toy theatre, with little you you will see a youth, though he is not figures in tin slides? . . . Joan was always so young as he looks. He is M. Poileaux, careful that we should take them seriously, and the only aviator who has not yet fallen and not laugh at the wrong place. I never into the sea. When he does, he will come did want to laugh at the wrong place. I here no more. I myself am a surgeon whose thought you wrote very good plays, Cyn- name, I believe, is not unknown.” thia. I used to say you were a genius. And with a large white hand the famous But Joan wouldn't have it. “No!' she Sir James Burrell discreetly pointed out said, "All children are born dramatists, others of note to his companion. but they forget the trick of it afterward.' Captain Rames glanced indifferently ... I suppose she knew. She was a round the table. A few of the twelve were very clever woman—"and so he drifted off in black coats, and amongst those few was gradually into sleep. Cynthia stayed by Mr. Benoliel. It was the night of a court his side while the twilight faded and the ball, and most of the guests were in some darkness came; and the light of the fire uniform or another, or shone in the gold of danced ever more brightly upon the ceiling the privy councillor. of the room. The wind set from the west “They are, no doubt, men of vast imand as the hours passed, the chimes from portance," replied Captain Rames bluntly. the great clock in Ludsey Church tower“But leaving you out of account, Sir James, came softly and faintly into the room. But I could dispense with the lot of them. they did not disturb the old man's rest. He When I dine in Grosvenor Square, in June, went floating out on a calm tide of sleep I do ask that there should be a petticoat on to his death, and Cynthia sat by his side one side of me, at all events.” wondering in the intervals of her grief at The surgeon laughed good-humoredly. the strange arrangement of life which or- He studied his neighbor with a quick, obdained that the efforts of people to secure servant eye. Captain Rames was of the the happiness of others should only cause middle height, with a squareness of build, needless terrors and vain miseries.
which his gold epaulets exaggerated at this moment, and he was square too of face. His hair was thick and curved over from
the side, parting in a dark, turbulent comb, MR. BENOLIEL
his forehead was broad, his eyes keen and
very steady. Vigor rather than refinement “THERE are no ladies," Captain Rames was the mark of him; he had more characsaid indignantly, as he took his seat in Mr. ter than intellect, more capacity than Benoliel's dining-room.
knowledge; thus Sir James Burrell defined His neighbor, a florid and handsome him. man, a little past the prime of life, glanced “I have played the comforter," he said, at the name on the visiting-card which "at so many bedsides that I should feel my
vanity touched if I failed to console you," of asceticism has been a great asset to him he returned. “Let me bring to your atten- in his career. But the public has quite tion the menu. I am confident that it will misjudged him. He is a voluptuary, with appeal to you.”
the face of a monk—the most useful com“Yes, that's all right,” Rames admitted, bination for public life in this country as he leaned forward and glanced at the which you could possibly imagine. If he card. “But why should it particularly ap- dines alone at his club, he will not dine peal to me?"
under a guinea; and he has the animal Sir James Burrell shrugged his shoulders. weaknesses up to the brim of him. For
“My profession brings me into touch instance, he is as jealous as a dog. Filch with interesting people. I take my pleas- from him the smallest of his prerogatives ure in observing them. And I have al- and, like the good democrat he is, he will ways noticed that the men who cheerfully turn upon you bitterly. Yet he has done endure the greatest hardships are also the great things, and initiated bold policies. first to demand the best of the luxuries, Why? Because he has enough of the anwhen they are within reach.”
imal in him to do great things.” And upon “Well, it's true,” said Captain Rames. that Sir James broke off. “I can make a shift with pemmican, but The butler was standing at the elbow I honestly like a good dinner. It's the of Captain Rames, with a jug of chamcontrast, I suppose."
pagne in one hand, and a decanter of red Sir James shook his head.
wine in the other. He bent down and “It goes deeper than that,” said he. offered Captain Rames his choice. Sir “Your pale saints are no doubt profitable James Burrell intervened. to the painters of glass windows, but I "By the way,” he said, "have you any doubt if the world owes so very much to them. wish to stand particularly well with your The great things are really done by the people host?” who have a good deal of the animal in them; “I am now beginning to think that I and animals like good dinners.”
have," replied Captain Rames. Captain Rames was mollified, and his “Then I should choose his Burgundy. face took on a jovial look.
He has his fancies, like the rest of us, and “I am animal enough,” he said, “to purr to prefer his Nuits-St.-George to champagne when my back is scratched.”
is one way to his esteem.” But Sir James Burrell was mounted on a Captain Rames took the hint, and, as he hobby and hardly heeded the interruption. raised his glass to his lips, Mr. Benoliel
“I could quote historical instances, but smiled to him across the table. I need go no further than this room. Do “I will ask your opinion upon that wine, you see the man sitting next to our host, and Captain Rames,” he said, and so turned upon his right?”
again to Henry Smale. Captain Rames saw a small thin man in "You see, he noticed at once,” said Sir the dress of a privy councillor, a man with James. a peaked, fleshless face, in which a pair of Captain Rames had noticed something small eyes twinkled alertly. A scanty crop too. At the mention of his name, Henry of gray hair covered the back of his skull, Smale had looked up with interest. He and left markedly visible the height and was even now obviously asking a question the narrowness of his forehead. Captain of Mr. Benoliel about him. Rames beRames leaned forward with a new interest. gan to take more careful stock of his host.
“Yes, and I recognize his face," he said. Mr. Benoliel was a tall, high-shouldered “Surely that is Henry Smale."
man, with a dark thin face in which delica"Exactly," returned Sir James. "He cy seemed to predominate over strength. is in the cabinet, and, quite apart from His hair was black, and a little black muspolitics, he is, upon scientific grounds, a tache drew a pencil line along bis upper lip. man of great distinction.”
His fingers were long and extraordinarily “But, surely, he disproves your theory. restless. It was difficult to make a guess He looks an ascetic.”
at his age. A first glance would put him “And is nothing of the kind," inter- in the forties. But when Mr. Benoliel rupted Sir James. “I admit that his look showed his eyes—which was not always,
for he had a trick of looking out between “I do not think that matters," said the lids half-closed-it seemed that he must surgeon. “He likes to pose as Providence, have lived for centuries; so much of fatigue and the posture will be more dramatic if it and so much of patience were suddenly is assumed toward an acquaintance rather revealed.
than a friend.” “I wonder why he asked me to dine “He is a sham, then,” said Rames here," said Harry Rames.
bluntly. “You were certain to dine here,” replied “By no means," Sir James replied suaveSir James.
ly. “Let us say, rather, that he is an "I met him but the once by the purest artist.” accident."
Captain Rames turned with a furrowed “You were certain to meet him," said brow to his companion. Sir James. “All famous people meet him. “I am no great hand at subtleties,” he All famous people dine here once. But he said. “Will you tell me what you know is not really a snob. For, quite a number of Mr. Benoliel? I am a beginner in the of them are never invited twice.”
world, and he may be of importance to me." “He can be a good friend?”
Sir James Burrell smiled. He was in his “Of that I cannot speak,” said Sir element. To supply a character much as James.
some author of the seventeenth century The courses followed one after the other, might have done, was a foible which conand Harry Rames found his eyes contin- tinually tempted him. He was not always ually wandering back across the silver successful. Paradox allured him into difand bright flowers to the exotic figure of his ficulties, cheap epigrams at times blazed host. He took his share in the conversa- before him, and would not be quiet until tion about him, but a movement of Mr. he had uttered them. But often he manBenoliel would check him in his speech aged to hit off, with some happiness, at all or cause him to listen with an absent ear. events, the externals of the person whom he He watched the play of his delicate fingers described. He drank his wine now slowly upon the table-cloth, the continual restless- and set down his glass. Then, twisting the ness of his body. Mr. Benoliel was of his delicate stem with the finger-tips of his race; there was in his aspect a queer mixt- large and handsome hand, he began: ure of the financier and the dilettante, the “He is a Jew, of course, and an Oriental. shrewd business man and the sensuous But from what quarter of the Orient, who appreciator of art. There was a touch, too, shall say? You may give him any birthof the feminine in him.
place, from the Levant to Casa Blanca, and “I told you that you would not be no one will contradict you. Some hold him bored," said Sir James Burrell toward the to be a charlatan, as you are inclined to do. end of the dinner. “You are not the first But he is an accepted personage, not blown man who has fallen under the spell of Mr. into notice and out of it by the favor of a Benoliel."
season, but a permanency. How he beHarry Rames laughed.
came so, I cannot tell you. He is very “I am under no spell, I assure you,” he busy all day, although when the darkness said frankly. “I was wondering whether comes it would be difficult to point to any he was likely to be of use to me."
one thing which he had done. He is al"It is very likely," returned Sir James. ways at the top table at public dinners, “He has been of use to many. He plays and very near to the chairman. But he at omniscience. To anticipate a wish be- never proposes a toast or responds to one. fore it is expressed, to serve an ambition If he writes a letter to the Times, it appears before it has been revealed--that is one of in leaded type. If you want secret informaour host's little vanities. He may have tion on any subject, he can get it for you. asked you here with no other object than If you want help, he will find the man who to gratify it."
can give it. He is a power in the city. Harry Rames glanced quickly at his He is a power in politics, and the motorcompanion.
cars of prime-ministers stand at his door “Is that so?” he asked eagerly. Then his at ten o'clock in the morning. Yet he was face fell. “But I am not even a friend of his." never in the House, and has never made a