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Title: A Blot on the Scutcheon
Author: Knowles, Mabel Winifred, 1875-1949
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Transcriber's note: the leaf containing pages 175 and 176 was missing
from the source book.  Should you happen to have access to a complete
copy of this book, please send scans of the missing pages to Project


A BLOT ON THE SCUTCHEON


BY

MAY WYNNE


AUTHOR OF "HENRY OF NAVARRE," "A MAID OF BRITTANY," "FOR CHURCH AND
CHIEFTAIN," ETC.



SECOND EDITION



MILLS & BOON, LIMITED

49 WHITCOMB STREET

LONDON W.C.



TO MY MOTHER



Published, January 12, 1910

Second Edition, February, 1910



CONTENTS


CHAP.

      I.  SIR HENRY'S HEIR
     II.  SWEETHEARTS TRUE
    III.  A TRAITOR'S SON
     IV.  ON THE COACH FROM OXFORD
      V.  A LEGACY
     VI.  MISTRESS GABRIELLE GOES PRIMROSING
    VII.  THE PRODIGAL'S RETURN
   VIII.  AT LANGTON HALL
     IX.  "WHEN TWO'S COMPANY AND THREE NONE"
      X.  THE COUSIN FROM BRITTANY
     XI.  THE ADVANTAGES OF A KEYHOLE
    XII.  AN UNPRINCELY JEST
   XIII.  A WOMAN'S WILL
    XIV.  ON BRETON SOIL
     XV.  CÉCILE DE QUERNAIS
    XVI.  A MORNING ADVENTURE
   XVII.  FAITH AND UNFAITH
  XVIII.  MY LORD AWAITS HIS HOST
    XIX.  AND WELCOMES A HOSTESS
     XX.  MORRY EXPLAINS
    XXI.  A STRANGE DISAPPEARANCE
   XXII.  COUNT JÉHAN IS NOT CONVINCED
  XXIII.  THE MEETING IN THE FOREST
   XXIV.  THE HUT OF NANETTE LEROC
    XXV.  BERTRAND TELLS A TALE
   XXVI.  A BLIND ATONEMENT
  XXVII.  WHO MICHAEL MET ON THE ROAD TO VARENAC
 XXVIII.  LORD DENNINGHAM FIGHTS
   XXIX.  "I AM THE MARQUIS DE VARENAC"
    XXX.  THE TERROR COMES TO KÉRNAK
   XXXI.  THE CALVARY ON THE MOORS
  XXXII.  "MICHAEL!  MICHAEL!"
 XXXIII.  THE CAVE OF LOST SOULS



A Blot on the Scutcheon


CHAPTER I

SIR HENRY'S HEIR

The evening sunshine fell athwart the pleasant gardens of Berrington
Manor, glorifying all.  Stray beams of light stole through the
mullioned windows of the old grey building, peeping unbidden into dusty
corners and dim recesses.  They shone, too, on the figure of an old
man, seated near an open casement, in the wainscotted library.

But Sir Henry Berrington was heedless of the dancing shafts of glory
which played daringly amongst the powdered hairs of his wig and shone
on the gold buttons adorning his blue coat.

He was busy adjusting his lace cravat, as though it choked him, whilst
he addressed his friend, Squire Poynder, who sat opposite, sipping his
port and puffing smoke from a long and blackened pipe.

"My heir, indeed," Sir Henry was crying, with much heat, and a twisted
frown of displeasure on his fine old face, "that gawk of a lad! with
the brains of a mouse, I'll be sworn, and a name which any honest
Englishman would be ashamed of.  Michael!  _Michael_!  Faith, Hugh, you
laugh at me, but it's sober truth I'm telling you.  Heir of mine he is,
I'll not deny it.  And the son of his father, too, unless I'm mistaken.
Thus more shame and dishonour to the name I'm proud--or was proud--to
bear.  Lord grant I may be in my grave before the boy proves my words."

Squire Poynder puffed at his pipe in silence.  It was not often that
his friend ever alluded--even indirectly--to his son.

It was time to change the conversation.

The Squire gulped an inspiring draught of wine, pulled his pipe
reluctantly from his lips, and, remarking hastily that the lad was
young, turned his host's attention to the points of a certain black
mare which a neighbour had for sale.

And, meantime, in the garden, perched on the bough of a chestnut-tree,
overhanging a sunken wall, sat the object of Sir Henry's dislike and
choler, one Michael Berrington, sole heir to Berrington Manor, its wide
estates--and something more, of which, as yet, he was in pleasant
ignorance.

A well-grown lad of fifteen, his clothes the shabbier for rough usage
rather than long wear, curly brown hair caught back by a black ribbon,
a long face which gave the impression of being one of many points,
accentuated by the long, thin nose; lean cheeks, fine grey eyes, and a
mouth which showed sensitiveness and a love of humour, closing, too,
with the resoluteness of a strong will.

An expressive, if not a handsome, face, with possibilities of
improvement when the owner reached maturity; above all, the desire for
laughter and mischief dominant.  And what wonder, since his mother was
Irish and a pretty little wit to boot before she married Stephen
Berrington?

Michael's mother had not been sorry when Death's call had dried her
tears shed for a worthless husband.  Yet she had laughed for her boy's
sake, laughed with a breaking heart, and Michael had grown up laughing
till that mother of his died.

He had wept then.

And afterwards his grandfather had sent for him, and he had come to
Berrington Manor, in the county of Kent, in that year of grace, 1780.

Once there he had quickly discovered two things.  First, that his
grandfather hated him; secondly, that, with no soft eyes to utter mute
reproaches, he could let that spirit of dare-devilry within him run
riot.  He did not fear canings.

So he sat, swinging long, lean legs over the sunken wall, and then,
heedless of a rent in his plum-coloured coat, gave a quick leap to the
ground and set off at a swinging pace across the meadow.

He was going with Jake Williams to see a cock-fight at Dunley Town that
evening, regardless of certain injunctions anent late hours.

The road was rough after the soft springiness of the meadow, and
Michael paused once to shake out a stone which had slipped sideways
into his buckled shoe.

As he did so, the unexpected trifle, which was to change his whole
life, happened.

Bounce!

Only the falling of a soft ball from over a high wall near.

An absurdly trivial thing!

It would have been so easy to throw it back, especially as he had
caught the sound of a childish cry of dismay from the other side.  But
Michael did not throw it back.  Instead, he climbed like a monkey up
the wall, hanging on to sturdy strands of ivy till he had swung himself
to the top.

"Ah!"

It was a mutual exclamation.

The boy, looking down, saw a vision of the daintiest of seven-year-old
maidens,--a study in brown, from her little, brown, flowered-cotton
dress with its quaint fichu, to the brown curls, partly hidden by a
muslin cap, whilst great brown eyes, soft as velvet, and coy under
their long lashes, were raised shyly to his.

And the brown eyes saw a broad-shouldered lad, lean of limb and face,
with pointed nose, high cheek-bones, laughing mouth, and grey eyes,
which made her own rosy cheeks dimple in amusement.

"Ah, I thank you," cried the Brown Fairy, dropping the demurest of
curtsies; "I cried for my ball."

"Fie!" he laughed; "you are no baby.  See!  I mean to give you the ball
myself, and you shall give me something too."

She watched him breathlessly, as he clambered down the old, gnarled
medlar-tree which grew against the wall, and clapped her hands when he
offered her the ball with the grandest and most courtly of bows.

"I like you, boy," she said.  "You shall stay here and play ball with
me."

"With pleasure, little mistress," he made gay answer.  "But you must
give me a kiss first for bringing you your plaything."

At this, child though she was, she made a fine show of indignation.

"I am no village wench to be kissed at will, sir," she declared, with a
faintly foreign accent which was very fascinating.  "I am Gabrielle de
Varenac Conyers, and one day I shall be a grand lady."

And she nodded her brown curls at him.

"Gabrielle? 'tis a nice name," responded Michael critically, "and you
are a very pretty Gabrielle.  So instead of being a grand lady you
shall be my little sweetheart, and one day we will be married, and I
will love you and share all that I have.  So kiss me now, Gabrielle,
and promise."

But the Brown Fairy only dimpled afresh and shook her curls.

"Bah!" she retorted.  "I tell you I am going to be a _very_ grand lady.
Perhaps I shall have to go away, however, from this dear garden and
home, and be Madame la Marquise, far off over the sea.  I do not want
to go away.  So, if you will let me stay here _always_ and have my
white rabbits and dear old Nurse Bond, why, then I perhaps will be your
little sweetheart."

She announced this with much deliberation, so that Michael's eyes
twinkled merrily.

"You shall certainly stay here," he said.  "For I am Michael
Berrington, and one day the old Manor yonder will be mine, and then I
shall come for you, Gabrielle, and you shall be _my_ lady."

She nodded, dancing first on one foot then on the other.

"It is better than playing ball all alone," she cried gleefully.  "I am
glad I threw it over the wall and that you brought it back, for now you
will have to be my brave knight, such as Nurse has told me of, and I
will be your sweet lady."

Michael bowed.  "Yes," he promised, "I will be your knight, and you
shall give me kisses when I ask for them."

Again she clapped her hands, then paused, a pink finger pressed against
her lips.

"And will you fight the dragons when they come?" she asked, "and save
me from being devoured?"

"Of course," he replied, thinking that never before had he seen so
pretty a baby-maid or listened to so sweet a voice.

Her eyes were bright as stars as she came a step nearer.

"Then you may kiss me, my knight," she said with quaint gravity.  "And
I will be your true love for ever and ever, like the princesses and
queens in old Nurse's tales."

And Michael bent his dark head to the level of pouting lips.



CHAPTER II

SWEETHEARTS TRUE

So Michael found the way to Langton Hall and to little Mistress
Gabrielle Conyers's heart.  But never a word said he of his discovery,
not even when Jake Williams upbraided him with being late for the first
round with the cocks.

And they were mettled birds too.

So summer days glided past, and Sir Henry, hearing first of one
mischievous prank, then another, swore again and again that the devil
himself must be in his grandson, and urged on Master Timothy Parblett
to spare not the rod.

But Master Timothy, though he talked boastfully before Sir Henry, was a
very lamb in the presence of his pupil, for Michael had muscle in his
long arms, and a breadth of chest which made the worthy tutor tremble
as he viewed it.

But the devil had gone out of the lad, it seemed, when he scaled the
wall of Langton Hall and greeted the little Brown Fairy who waited
there for him.

There was no one to love Gawky Mike, with his impish pranks, at
Berrington Manor; and so dewy kisses from sweet, childish lips were the
more cherished, and the very thought of them stirred unknown depths in
the boy's soul.

And Gabrielle--little coquette--knew her power.  The sauciness of the
pretty baby!  What a tyrant she was, refusing him any grace till he had
done her will--sometimes treating him with disdain, at others with a
friendliness which was enchanting; Michael, great booby, taking it all
in deadliest earnest.

Then, one day, her lips pouted in earnest.  "Morice is coming to-day,"
she confided to her loyal knight.  "Bah!  I am not glad, although
Nursie says it is wicked, seeing that he is my only brother.  But then
he should not pull my hair and call me Mistress Mouse.  I do not like
it; and he is very rough.  He is not like you, Michael."

And Michael, rough, dare-devil Michael, smiled triumphantly into
approving brown eyes.  He had ever been gentle knight on this side of
the old wall.

The next day found Gabrielle in tears, nursing a black bruise on a
dimpled arm.

It is true the tears had been squeezed into evidence as soon as she
heard a certain voice humming a merry tune in the road yonder.

But sympathy is welcome balm in trouble.  The Brown Fairy told a
harrowing tale of how Morry had caught her arm because she stole his
peach at breakfast.

Michael vowed vengeance hot and strong.

The opportunity came sooner than they expected, for, at this moment,
who should come down the path but Morry himself!  A fine young
cockerel, this, of nearly seventeen summers, attired according to the
latest mode, and flicking, with a little ebony cane, at the heads of
yellow marigolds.  'Twas a flaunting flower he should have cherished.

Full gape he stood at sight of Gabrielle being comforted by a
dust-begrimed youth in plum-coloured coat and breeches, and with a face
grim set at sight of him.

"An' who the devil are you, sir?" he cried, with a mighty fashionable
oath to set seal to his aping manhood.  "Be off on the instant if you
don't want my cane about your shoulders."

But Michael did not waste time in words.  Two soft brown eyes had been
swimming in tears as a round, white wrist was raised for his inspection
of a certain ugly mark on it.

With a wild snort he leapt across the marigolds and snatched the dainty
cane out of its owner's clasp.

"Now fight me like a man," he roared, bull-like in his rage, "or else
sure you'll take the soundest thrashing you've tasted yet, for a coward
born."

Mr. Morice St. Just Conyers was not accustomed to such a challenge.  It
shocked his delicate sensibilities, yet, after all, he had fight in him.

Little Gabrielle watched them from the shelter of the old medlar-tree,
sobbing in very terror as she saw the raining of hard blows and the
blood on Michael's face.

But the lads paid no heed to her sobs and prayers, for their blood was
up, and they were as hard set to their work as game cockerels in the
pit.

And Michael was the winner, though he panted vigorously as he stood
over his fallen adversary.

"And if ye want more at any time, sir," quoth he, with immense dignity,
"you'll find Michael Berrington ready enough to teach you another
lesson."

Young Conyers' face had not been pretty before, but, at sound of his
enemy's name, it became uglier still.

"Michael Berrington," he screamed.  "What! the son of that foul coward,
Stephen Berrington?  Faugh!  I would have sent the lackeys to beat you
from the place had I known it."

The colour crept up in a dull flush under Michael's tan.  "I can't hit
a man who is down," he growled; "but be careful of your words, sir, or
I'll cram them down your throat another day."

But Morice Conyers had risen slowly to his feet, white of cheek,
swollen of feature, but scornful-eyed.

"I'll not waste words with the son of a traitor and murderer," said he
slowly, and beckoned to his little sister.

"Come, Gay," he said; "there will be a talking for you when we reach
home, an' a whipping into the bargain if you do not promise amendment
of such ways.  Fie on you for a naughty chit."

But Gabrielle's eyes were glowing as she looked from her brother to the
blood-stained countenance of her true knight.

Had he not fought for her?

With a defiant toss of brown curls she had flown to Michael's side.

"I hate Morry," she cried, flinging warm arms around his neck.  "And
... and I love you, Michael."

The words rang in the boy's ears as he stood alone amongst trampled
marigolds long after an indignant brother had dragged off to summary
justice a sobbing and rebellious sister.



CHAPTER III

A TRAITOR'S SON

"So you fought Morice Conyers?"

Michael nodded.

He had found that the shorter his answers the better pleased his
grandfather was.

The old man's hand, resting idly on his knee, clenched and unclenched.

Outside the birds were singing carols of love to the roses after the
joy of a summer shower.  The scent of wet, brown earth was alluring to
Michael, yet he sat still, knowing that something momentous stirred in
the evening air.

The lines round Sir Henry's mouth were hardening.

"Who won?"

"I, sir."

"Ah!"

It was an enigmatical sound.

Michael plucked up courage and met the stare of cold blue eyes steadily.

"He had used his little sister roughly."

"What was that to you?"

"She is a playmate of mine, sir."

"_Playmate of yours!_"

"Yes, sir."

"A Conyers playmate to your father's son?  What do you mean, boy?"

Michael drew himself up stiffly and told the tale in brief.  He had
played with little Gabrielle Conyers--and fought for her.  He did not
say how he was for ever and ever her true knight.

Yet when he had finished, the old man opposite was sneering.

"It was well for you her father knew nought of such play," said he
sourly, "or I might have had to look farther for an heir."

Michael's eyes blazed.

"May I speak, sir?" he asked huskily, and never waited even for the
curt nod of acquiescence.

"I would know about my father," he said slowly and very steadily.  "My
mother wept when I spoke of him, but she would say no word save that I
should know well enough one day.  Neither would she tell me whether he
were alive or dead.  But I am a child no longer, and will be at the
mercy of no man who dares call my father foul names, whilst I have no
knowledge to enable me to slit their tongues for such lies."

Silence in the wainscotted room.

How the bird-song without jarred.

"So you would know?" said Sir Henry dully.  "Then I will tell you."

The proud, aristocratic old face was very hard and set.

"Your father," he said monotonously, "was my only son.  He was
handsome--you shall see his portrait presently.  And I was proud of
him.  So was his mother.  But she should not have hidden his faults
from me.  It is so with women: they weaken with their pampering where
discipline should strengthen.  I knew nothing of his gambling at
Oxford, or his reputation later on at Arthur's and White's, where
Stephen Berrington became, I believe, a notable figure--as a pigeon
ready for plucking.

"I remained here and knew nothing, only picturing my son according to
my fancy.  Then the inevitable happened.  He got mixed up in one of
those bubble Jacobite plots which were for ever being blown by the
friends of poor Prince Charlie.  He and his bosom companion, Ralph
Conyers, were burning, it seemed, with zeal for the royal exile.  I do
not say that I altogether disapproved, though warning them of the
penalties of rashness.

"They did not listen--I hardly expected them to, though I warned them
again before they set out on that fatal day to Ireland, where, in due
course, their hero was to land.

"I need not tell you the story in detail.  They failed.  The cracking
of an egg-shell was no harder than the quashing of such a plot, though
there were brave gentlemen concerned in it.  Too much heart and too
little brain is a bad mixture for success in such enterprises.  Stephen
was imprisoned at Dublin Castle with Ralph Conyers and others."

A long pause.  Sir Henry's face was ashen, his old lips twitching
nervously.

Michael's dark head was bent eagerly forward, but there was fear in his
grey eyes.

"Yes," he muttered.  "He was imprisoned?"

"For treason.  When I heard the news I wept for my son, yet I honoured
him, thinking he was giving his life for a gallant cause."

"He escaped?"

The old man's lips were twisted into that bitterly sarcastic smile of
his.

"Ay," he replied.  "Stephen Berrington escaped scot free by betraying
his comrades."

Tick, tick, tick.

The solemn, monotonous chant of the great clock in the corner was the
only sound in the room.

Michael sat, white and rigid as the stern old man opposite.

"Betrayed!"

"Betrayed.  I learnt that the son I mourned as dead was alive--free;
but the price was dishonour.  I cursed him then, as I curse him now."

It was very terrible, the concentrated and undying fury in those quiet,
even tones.

Michael shuddered, covering his face with his hands.

"The son of a traitor," he moaned--"a traitor!  And he was right."

"Who?"

"Morice Conyers.  Yet I would have killed him for calling me a
traitor's son."

"He spoke truth.  His father was one of those who suffered even more,
perhaps, than those whom my son's words helped to send to the scaffold.
Ralph Conyers was imprisoned for ten years and came back a cripple,
whose limbs were twisted and bent with rheumatism and ague.  Do you
wonder if he too curses the name of Berrington?"

"My father!  And such an act!"

"You do well to tremble.  It is an ill heritage for you, lad,--a
stained and blotted scutcheon, with coward and traitor written across
an unsullied sheet."

"And he--is still alive?"

"I do not know.  Yet I pray Heaven he is not.  I have never seen him
since.  And he knew better than to come whining to me.  I would have
had him whipped from the doors.  His mother saw him by stealth once,
and he told her a tale.  I did not listen to it.  She died soon after;
I think of a broken heart.  It did not help me to love my son better.
He wrote once to tell me of his marriage to an Irishwoman and of your
birth.  I did not answer.  He has not written again."

"My mother wept," said Michael slowly, "whenever I asked concerning
him.  Yet I do not think he is dead."

"And why not?"

"A letter came once, not long since.  The messenger who brought it was
from abroad.  My mother did not welcome him very warmly, and afterwards
she cried.  The messenger went away laughing, and that maddened me.  I
ran after him, demanding that he should fight, but he caught me by the
wrist, looking down for a long time into my face.

"'Your father's son?  Impossible!' he mocked.  'Impossible save for
that big nose of yours and the set of your shoulders.  Ha, ha!  So you
would not run away in face of an enemy?  Morbleu!  A game cockerel, I
protest.'

"So, making me a very mocking bow, he went away.  And my mother wept
again very sorely and very often, till the day she died."

"Saying nought of him?"

"As I knelt beside her, at the last, she put her arms around me closely.

"'Pray God you may not meet him!' she moaned, 'or, if you do, pray God
you may save him from----'  But she died before she finished her words."

Sir Henry's chin was sunk on his breast.  The reopening of an
unhealable wound is sore enough work.

Let it be closed henceforth.

Yet, being open, he would tell the lad all now, before forbidding
mention of such subject again.  "Come," he said, rising, clutching at
his ebony stick with the sudden weakness of age.  "You shall see his
likeness, and then--well, it is good that the dead past buries its
dead."

Sir Henry Berrington did not believe in ghosts.  Yet they haunted the
picture-gallery up there.  Ah yes!  Curse he might and did, yet the
ghosts laughed and sang with merry, boyish voices, shouting in glee as
they romped with Chieftain and Bride, the great deerhounds, crying
aloud to tell father or mother of some youthful sport, carolling out
some brave, rollicking ditty of gallant deeds.

Ah, yes!  It was not the old mother alone who had wept on the neck of
these ghosts, holding out wide, empty arms to embrace shadows, and
turning away--alone.

But the old man's step was firmer now as he trod the gallery floor,
head erect and shoulders set as he passed between rows of smiling or
frowning ancestors, followed by a lean, dark-browed boy, whose head was
a trifle bent and his eyes deprecating as they met the fixed stare of
painted ones around.

Was it _his_ fault that the scutcheon they left so fair was stained and
blotted by a foul and treacherous deed?

The setting sun sent a flare of light through the great window, with
its blazonment of arms and rich colouring, at the end of the gallery.
It shone strangely on the dusty curtain which hung there over the last
picture on the wall.

Force himself though he would, Sir Henry's hand trembled as he drew
back the velvet folds.

And Michael, looking, saw the picture of a young man, dressed in the
extravagant fashion of a period twenty years earlier.  Rich setting to
rich beauty.

Stephen Berrington, aged twenty-two, was a son any mother might have
been proud of.

Surely it was no traitor's face, but rather that of a very pretty
gentleman.  Weak?  Yes; chin and mouth proved that--a youth to be led
rather than born to rule.  And Satan had led him to his own
destruction.  So Sir Henry said, even whilst Stephen's mother wept for
her son on her knees.  A woman puts love before honour where a brave
man makes the latter his deity.

Thus Michael looked on his father's face and found scorn overcoming the
pity.

A traitor--and his father!

No wonder Morice Conyers had mocked him.  Yet he would prove that a man
can be a traitor's son, and yet no traitor himself.  The blood drummed
in his head and through his pulses at the thought.

Yes, he would prove that, and, by his own deeds, wipe out the stain
which seemed ready to tear his shrinking soul.

The curtain fell back into its place.  Sir Henry turned to his grandson.

They did not speak, but stood there in the dying sunlight, whilst grey
eyes alone spoke their promise to sunken blue ones.

Then the old, withered hand fell on the lad's shoulder.

"You understand?" he said simply.

Michael understood.



CHAPTER IV

ON THE COACH FROM OXFORD

A rough night, cold and wet, with a thin sleet falling and the wind
blowing from the north-east full against the great coach which lumbered
on its way from Oxford to London.

Passengers inside huddled together, stamping benumbed feet and wishing
for the journey's end.  Passengers outside poured anathemas against the
weather and the slowness of the horses into the depths of fur-lined
coats, wherein their faces were buried.

Only two or three of the younger men perched near the driver were able
to crack occasional jokes, whilst one alone strove huskily to troll a
stanza of some popular ditty.

Insulting!  Positively insulting to sing of drinking and being jolly,
or drowning melancholy either, in face of such a gale, and the coach an
hour behind time!  Even his comrades upbraided him, whilst one
beetroot-nosed individual near looked positively murderous.

But Michael Berrington was made that way, and--so an Oxford wag
declared--would have found food for laughter with a noose around his
neck.

"Hi, there!  Hi! hi.  For Heaven's sake, my masters!  Hey----"

Michael leant over the side of the coach and called aloud to the driver
to pull up.

A man, in holland smock, and face as white as chalk, had burst through
the hedge on their left and was running frantically after them.

"Hey, hi, for Heaven's----"

He was breathless before he reached them, and the anathemas of the
beetroot-nosed passenger rose high above his fur collar.

But Michael--nimble now as when, ten years before, he had scaled a high
garden wall with a child's ball--had swung himself down on to the
ground beside the man.

"Come," he cried gaily; "you've been running.  Have a drink, my friend,
and tell us the merry news afterwards.  I'll wager it's worth the
hearing."

The man gulped down the contents of the extended flask readily enough,
and proceeded to tell his tale in crescendo tones.

He had been working yonder with the mangels for Farmer Benton's sheep,
and had just stepped into the copse near, when he heard voices on the
other side of it, and the jingling of bits.

Gentlemen of the road they were,--three of them, black-masked, and
dainty in their dress as any lords.  How they laughed too, little
dreaming of the mangel-digger, as they discussed how they and the rest
of their band meant to rob the Oxford coach at Craven's Hollow, not far
from Reading.  Seven was the hour, and the prey secure.  A lonely
place, my masters, and rich booty.  They had news of a certain
gentleman whose valise was worth risking their necks for.

The man told his tale in the broad Berkshire dialect, but the outline
of it was enough for those who rode on the Oxford coach.

Marry!  What a to-do there was!  Gabbling, crying, cursing,--one urging
this thing, one the other, whilst the excitement of the beetroot-nosed
passenger caused more than one to wonder what his valise contained.

And above all the cackling and hysterical shrieks of the women, rose a
rollicking voice.

"The hour of seven," cried Michael Berrington, with gusty laughter.
"And it's not six of the clock yet.  Why, troth, we'll be miles away
past Craven's Hollow and through Reading itself before then, so you
give me leave to handle the ribbons."

More clamour at this you may be sure, more cursings too, and cries that
to be robbed by highwaymen was better than to have their necks broken
by a mad young blood from Oxford University.

But Michael's friends were nearest the driver, and the beetroot-nosed
passenger stood their champion, so that, before more could be said, the
driver of the "Red Reindeer" was whisked from his seat and stowed
struggling away in the custody of two chuckling Oxonians, whilst
Michael gathered up the reins with a cry of encouragement to the
horses, which were growing restive with long standing in the cold.

It was Tom Blakeley who wound the horn, and he of the beetroot nose who
cried "Well played," as the greys leapt forward under the light touch
of the lash, leaving the mangel-digger--richer by many a coin of the
realm--to pass the time of night with a certain bearded traveller who
swore, with mighty pretty oaths and hectorings, that he would rather
tramp it through the slush to Reading than trust his neck to any
devil-may-care Oxford scholar.

And meantime Michael Berrington drove as surely those four sleek but
sweating greys had never been driven before.

Those within the coach vowed that their last hour had come, and clung
together, the women in hysterics, and the men swearing as a sudden jolt
would fling them one against the other, whilst shrieks and groans told
of bumps and bruises manifold.

Outside, however, things wore a merrier aspect.

The Oxford grads were enjoying themselves, trolling out jocular songs
as though they sat to see the finish of the punch-bowl at a College
wine, rather than a likely finish in a neighbouring ditch with a broken
neck or two thrown in.

But the stranger with the nose and valise neither sang nor swore, but
sat behind Michael, urging him to quicken his steeds' pace again and
again, in tones which were inflected with growing anxiety.

But Michael needed no urging.

He was at least half an Irishman and was bred for a sportsman;
moreover, he meant winning that race.

Faith! those inside might split, slit, and confound themselves and
others till they were hoarse, the coachman, pinioned firmly by Nat and
Horace Goulden, might entreat and implore for pity on horses and
passengers, but Michael heeded nothing of them all.

High above the shrieking wind and creaking of tossing boughs overhead
rose his strong, young voice, whooping on the straining, panting steeds
as they dashed downhill at a gallop.

It was Providence that looked to the wheels of the coach.

A yell from Tom Blakeley, perched behind, set hearts a-thumping lustily.

Cross roads and a stretch of common land had shown keen eyes the sight
of a group of horsemen riding with loose rein to meet them.

Half a mile lower was Craven's Hollow, and our merry gentlemen of the
road were on their way for their tryst.

But the Oxford coach was half an hour before her time.

"Hola!  Hola!  Hola!"

It was a wonder those chanting grads did not fling themselves from the
coach-top in their excitement.

They were ahead of their pursuers.

Blunderbusses and pistols had been handed up from the arm-chest below,
but it was agreed that a fight was to be avoided.

These gentry of the black mask were straight shooters and might let
more hot blood than was desirable.

"Hola!  Hola! gallant greys!  The best feed Reading can provide, and no
more journeyings to-night if you do it."

Michael's voice, coaxing at first, rose to shrill command, as the long
whip cracked, and the great coach swung round a corner at such an angle
as nearly sent Tom Blakeley spinning after his horn.

But the men behind quite understood the game now, and were ready enough
to play it out.  One does not see a rich prize disappearing round the
corner without giving chase.

And their horses were fresh.

Yet the coach had a good start.

Craven's Hollow at last!

"Steady there, Michael, steady!  Bad going, and a rickety old bridge
which wants treating with respect."

But Michael was deaf to caution.  To steady down meant capture, and one
must risk something for success.

So down the hollow rattled the great, clumsy vehicle, and even the
youngsters grouped round the box-seat forgot to sing and shout now, but
clung on in silence--wondering----

Over!

A positive gasp of relief went up as the greys, galloping across the
wooden bridge, went sturdily up the hill, whilst the coach swayed and
rocked from side to side of the rough lane.

"Huzza, huzza!" cried Blakeley, waving his hat; and the shout was taken
up with growing fervour as the passengers, looking back, saw half a
dozen horsemen come down the Hollow pell-pell.

La! what a crash and what a yell of triumph from the hill-top.

The bridge, strained to its last plank by the coach, had split and
broken as the pursuers set horse-hoof on it, thus precipitating two of
the foremost riders into the stream.

It was highly regrettable that they could not wait to see the end of
the adventure; but the greys were already half-way down the hill, and
yonder twinkled the lights of Reading.

It was unlikely that the gentry behind would leave their comrades to
drown in a swollen torrent, since there is considerable honour amongst
thieves; so the Oxford coach proceeded at a more respectable rate
towards the town, thus enabling those within to right and congratulate
themselves on being alive.

On the outside a merry chorus was being sung, and one Michael
Berrington, much patted on the back, urged to write himself down hero
as he drove his panting horses up to the sign of the "Blue Boar."

Even the beetroot-nosed traveller asked leave to shake hands and
congratulate the finest young whip he had ever driven behind.

Michael, being no swaggerer, laughed, and passed off the honours with a
jest.

But it was good to know that the name of Berrington was being toasted
that night in the little inn-parlour of a Reading posting-house.

One day--ah well!  Youth must have its dreams, and we all figure as
heroes to ourselves in them some time in our lives.



CHAPTER V

A LEGACY

Oxford to London, London to Berrington.  And arriving there to be
greeted with the news that old Sir Henry was dying.

Shock enough for the young man to whom Sir Henry meant everything of
affection in life.  Ten years had passed since he had come, a raw,
uncouth lad fresh from the little Irish village and his mother's
death-bed.

Sir Henry had been as much bogey to him then as he had been thorn in
flesh to Sir Henry.  But the years had altered that,--years, and the
story of his father.

That story had changed young Michael Berrington from a scapegrace lad
into something of sterner, more manlike, mould; though, at twenty-four,
he was known at Oxford as Hotspur Mike by reason of the devilry of his
pranks.  Yet it was a Hotspur who had won himself a certain honour, and
there was no mud thrown against the name.

And Sir Henry had come to love this big, stalwart grandson of his,
finding him true stuff, with Berrington honour to stiffen his backbone
for all his wild Irish blood.

Michael's pranks were not those of a coward, and his grey eyes looked
straight and fearless in owning a fault, punishment or no.

So the ten years had passed in strengthening fibres which grew down
into native soil, and the old man and young one had been drawn very
near to each other.

And now Sir Henry was dying.

Michael's hand fell listless on the great head of Comrade, the
deerhound, as he sat opposite to the little, black-coated doctor who
took his snuff and ran nervous fingers through his wig, as his manner
was in breaking ill news.

This young man, with the white, set face and enigmatical grey eyes,
disturbed him far more than the vapourings and hysterical screaming
with which my lady received the news of the passing of my lord.

"He is dying?"

"I regret very greatly to say--yes, Mr. Michael.  It is a case of
inflammation around the heart.  I fear----"

"May I go to him?"

"As I was about to say, Mr. Michael, Sir Henry has asked to see you.
Any moment----"

"Any moment?"

"May be his last.  The valves of the heart being----"

But Michael did not want explanations.

His grandfather was dying and had asked for him.  That was enough.

Instinct and canine sympathy brought Comrade with drooping tail and
ears at his heels.

In the great, wainscotted bedroom, with its huge, four-poster bed and
dark hangings, Sir Henry Berrington lay dying.

It was very gloomy, that room, and though lights flared in the silver
candlesticks on the table and mantel-shelf, yet there were
shadows--heavy shadows.

Shadows too under the tired old eyes; but there was no fear in the
latter.

A true Berrington feared only one thing--dishonour.

Poor Sir Henry.  Was it that ghost which haunted him even now!

A strong, lean hand was gently drawing back the bed curtain.

"Ah, Michael."

The tremulous voice spoke a hundred unuttered welcomes in the brief
sentence.

"Grandfather."

It was not weakness which shook the other tones.

Sir Henry smiled.  How good the touch and clasp of warm young fingers
is on those that grow cold and chill!

For a moment the shadows have gone, as blue eyes look into the clear
depths of grey.  This is a Berrington who will hold honour high--a
Berrington whom he can trust to remember all that is due to the name.

The old man's heart throbbed quickly, whilst mute lips thanked God for
such an heir.  Then, once more, the shadow fell.  Bending low, Michael
listened to the faintly gasping breaths.

"He ... may be ... alive.  If so ... he ... will come back ... when he
hears.  He ... was always afraid ... of me.  That was how ... it began.
My boy ... Stephen ... I ... have cursed him ... but his mother ...
loved him.  If he comes ... back ... I leave the ... honour of ...
Berrington in your hands, ... Michael.  Swear you will ... watch over
it ... always?"

"I swear."

A smile broke over the tired lips, as though a burden had been dropped
from weary arms into the safe clasp of stronger ones.

"Michael," whispered the old man.  "Yes ... can trust ... Michael.  He
... has not failed me....  Would ... God he had ... been my son.  Yet
Mary ... loved Stephen....  Poor lad ... afraid of me ... and then ...
a traitor....  May God ... forgive----"

One long sigh, and Sir Henry had gone to finish his plea for pardon in
the presence of Heaven itself.

      *      *      *      *      *

But Michael sat pondering long by the dead man's side, pondering on
many things, till the candles guttered and went out with a final flare,
leaving him alone in the darkness with Death.

Yet he was not afraid, even though the sigh which broke from his lips
presently was half a sob.

Supposing his father were yet alive?

"I swear."

It was the mute reiteration of an oath.



CHAPTER VI

MISTRESS GABRIELLE GOES PRIMROSING

"I vow that I would sooner be a nun than live here all my life alone."

And Beauty in a passion stamped her little foot, scolded her dog, and
then ran upstairs to put her hat on.

At seventeen one's own company is apt to be wearisome; but then, as
Morice said, there was no pleasing his sister.  She refused to come to
London under the chaperonage of my Lady Helmington, and as often as not
she stayed upstairs in her chamber when he drove his friends down from
London.

It is true that the friends were of a convivial spirit, and had on one
occasion treated Mistress Gabrielle de Varenac Conyers as if she were
Betty the serving-wench at some ale-house, instead of a very haughty
young lady.

And Gabrielle, being of a high spirit, had greatly resented the
treatment, and vowed, many times over, that she would never again put
in an appearance at her brother's orgies, or run risk of such insults.

Morice, however, had only laughed and driven away.  A gay buck was he,
such as a man in the Prince of Wales's set need be.  Ah! the tales he
could have told of Carlton House and the goings on there!

Of course Gabrielle, little fool, wouldn't listen to a word of them,
and was scathing in her remarks when he told the story of how the
Prince himself had driven Richmond, the black boxer, down to Moulsey,
and held his coat for him when he beat Dutch Sam, or how that merry
Princeling another time dressed a second champion of the gloves up as a
bishop, and took him with him thus attired to a fête.

Miss Gabrielle, a disdainful maiden of sweet seventeen, tilted a very
pretty nose, and declared His Royal Highness to be nothing better than
a buffoon.

Perhaps she was right.  At any rate no wonder she sighed, picturing the
absent Morry at the dicing-board, or under the table snoring away in
drunken slumbers till the morning.

In those halcyon days of youth "Prince Florizel's" set was more
notorious for riotous living than for respectability.

And, in the meantime, pretty Gabrielle lived virtually alone at the
dull old Hall in Surrey.

Her father was dead.  Poor, rheumatic, growling old man--prematurely
old--cursing against Fate and the friend who had betrayed him.  Cursing
at a Government, too, which had given him the name of rebel, and a King
who was little better than usurper--a stodgy German--half madman--whom
an English people chose for their liege Sovereign.

But Gabrielle did not trouble about politics, and, though she shed a
few filial tears for a cantankerous parent they had soon been dried.

If only Morry had been different they two might have been very happy
together.

But Morry was a natural product of the times, and not likely to change
so long as he and his boon comrades had money to spend at the
gaming-table, or a bottle of good wine to get drunk on, not omitting
other delights such as boxing, racing, the smiles of French
ballet-dancers, and the latest fantasies of the mode.

Poor little Gabrielle!  It was a good thing for her that she had a will
and virtue of her own, and shrank from the blustering offers of an
introduction into London society, under the painted wing of my Lady
Helmington.

Still, seventeen is not apt to be prosaic, and therefore small wonder
that a tear stole down a pink cheek as a slim little maiden wandered
aimlessly down a garden path and through a wicket-gate.  What was the
use of being pretty and sweet as a May morning, as old Nurse Bond had
just called her, when there was no one to see her but a set of drunken
young jackanapes?

What use that the brimming laughter of fun and coquetry rose to her
lips when there was no lover to be enthralled?

Ah! a lover!  Blush as she might at such forward desires, yet that was
what she wanted.

Such a lover as one read of in the romances.  A Romeo to whom she might
play Juliet.  The picture was a fitting one for springtide.  But where
was he?

Not here, alas! though the setting would have been ideal,--a wood
carpeted with primrose blossoms, birds warbling their prettiest and
gayest amongst larches and slender ash, all dressed in the freshest of
green robes, and, in the centre, herself,--a Queen amongst her
feathered subjects, with sunshine to crown her tumbled curls, and a
hat, turned basket, half filled with flowers.

Eden and the most seductive Eve, all waiting for an errant Adam!

He came.  Of course he came!  She knew he would at last, and smiled a
welcome which set the dimples in her cheek playing at hide-and-seek in
the most bewitching way.

After all she was but a child, tired of her own company, and she knew
the name of her Adam though she had not seen him for three years, nor
spoken to him for ten.

So she dropped him the merriest of curtsies, laughing as she watched
the colour creep up under his skin at sight of her.

His own bow was formal enough, but he raised his hat with grace.

"Sure, sir, you have been long in coming," she cried, swinging her hat
by its blue ribbon, and eyeing him with some show of admonition.

She was quite aware that he did not know her.

"Your pardon, mistress," stammered Michael Berrington, shame-faced as a
girl.  "I almost--forget----"

She checked him, clapping her hands.

"Fie, sir, but that is what a man of honour should never do, though,
certes, it is many a long year since you vowed to be my true knight for
ever and ever."

She blushed rosy-red over the last words, only afterwards realising
their meaning.

But the blush became her, rendering her more enchanting than ever.

Michael, however, had paled, for he knew now that this was the little
Brown Fairy of other days, grown into lovelier girlhood.

Yet was not her name Gabrielle Conyers, daughter to the man whom his
father had betrayed?

Instinct and impulse ofttimes help a woman better than long training in
worldly wisdom.  Gabrielle had heard the story of Stephen Berrington.
But she held out friendly hands to his son.

"I am all alone," she murmured plaintively, "and very dull.  Come and
help me gather my primroses."

Half-conquered by a flash from hazel eyes, the young man took a step
forward.

"But----" he answered with an effort.  "Perhaps, madam, you do not know
my name is Berrington."

An adorable dimple completed the conquest.

"Michael, not Stephen," she retorted boldly.  "Old stories and memories
should have no place in the present, sir, so forget, pray, your name,
if it displeases you, and remember only your ancient vow.  I hold you
to it."

She would not have coquetted thus with any of the fops and lordlings
whom Morry brought from town, but that same woman's instinct of hers
told her that this stalwart young man with the lean face of many
angles, and steadfast grey eyes, was to be trusted.

He yielded, tossing aside misgivings with one of those sudden changes
of mood which characterized him, and knelt beside her on the mossy bank
to gather the sweet-scented blossoms with which her hands were already
half-filled.

Spring-time and youth, sunshine, bird-song, the seductive spell of a
woodland glade, all helped to cast their glamour, and, before him, the
slim, girlish figure in its simple gown of white, with a bunch of blue
ribbons loosely knotted in the fichu at her breast, and a face which
Greuze would have loved to paint, framed in a mass of tumbled curls.

No wonder that Michael Berrington's blood quickened in his veins and
his grey eyes kindled.

Love is like the dawn which, slow of coming in northern skies, yet
breaks through the trammels of night to swift and glorious radiance in
the south.

So, in passionate, impulsive natures, love sometimes dawns, with no
warning murmurs, no slowly stirring desire, but swift and warm as the
King of Day himself.

Thus surely came love to Michael Berrington, as he gathered
primrose-posies in the sunshine of a spring day, and looked long into a
young maid's laughing eyes.  Yet he did not call this strange new
sweetness, love, but was content to feel it thrilling and animating his
whole being.  So lonely he had been since old Sir Henry's death,
haunted with ghosts as the old Manor seemed,--ghosts of living and
dead, which remorselessly pursued him.

But winter blackness had rolled suddenly aside as a girl's rippling
laugh broke on his ear.

"Dreaming, Sir Knight.  Fie on you again!  You should be minding your
devoir.  I asked you to gather me primroses."

He was awake once more, and dreams put aside for a more profitable
moment.

"Sweet flowers for sweeter wearer," he said.  "Would I were indeed your
knight, little mistress, so should you ever walk on primrose paths."

She looked at him from over the great posy she held in her hands.

"Nay," she replied, "I think the primrose path would soon be left if
you were no more faithful than you have been these ten years.  Alas!  I
remember now the tears I shed watching vainly day by day under the
shadow of the old wall for my playmate."

"You watched?"

"And wept."

"I thought----"

"And so did I--that you had vowed to be my true knight."

"It was before you knew my name--or understood."

"Understood what?"

She was plucking at green leaves and would not spare him.

"That your father would not have had you speak to a traitor's son."

"Bah!  But my father died four years ago."

"The traitor's son remains."

"We cannot answer for our fathers' sins.  As long as _you_ are not a
traitor, what matter?"

For answer he silently raised her little hand to his lips.

She was smiling as presently she withdrew it.  So, after all, the lover
had come.

"You will be my friend?" she asked simply; but her eyes, under veiled
lashes, flashed with coquetry.

"To death if you will have me."

"In life I should prefer it.  I need a friend, sir."

"I am sure so fair a lady must have many."

"Not one."

"Not one?  But you have a brother?"

"Morry!  There!  I must not be scornful, for I love him devoutly--when
he's sober.  But the Prince of Wales has admitted him into his most
select circle.  You understand, sir?"

Understand!  The Prince of Wales's debts, extravagances, follies, and
empty-headed good-nature were the gossip of every ale-house throughout
England!

Yes, Michael Berrington understood.

"There is only old Nurse Bond," sighed Gabrielle.  "My father had no
kin and my mother's are in Brittany.  Sometimes I vow that I will go
out to them for protection."

"You forget the Revolution in France.  Ere long, methinks, these
friends of yours are like to seek protection from you."

"Perhaps; but I would rather go out there.  As for the Revolution,
Morry says it is a good thing, and Mr. Fox and Mr. Sheridan say the
same."

"And every young rake in the Prince of Wales's set to boot.  Yet I will
not believe that they think it, mistress.  It is a party question, and
they air their opinions to annoy Burke and Pitt.  But it is too fair a
day for politics, and I am no politician.  Where shall I bestow my
posies?"

She laughed, ready enough to change from grave to gay.

"My hat is full.  You must lend me yours."  And she pointed to the
flat, three-cornered hat on the bank.  "Or, stay--my apron!"

She spread out a miniature muslin apron to hold a sweet burden of
blossoms.

"You have been most diligent, sir."

"My name is Michael."

"You should be a saint then."

"Alas!  Only a poor sinner, I fear, though I claim company with the
angels."

"The angels?"

"One, gathering primroses, is enough for me.  Do you come here every
day?"

"My name is Gabrielle."

"Gabrielle."

How she blushed as he said it very slowly, dwelling tenderly on each
syllable.

But it was vain to shake her curls, for she had given him permission.

"I must be returning to the Hall," she said primly, "or my brother and
his friends will be there before me."

"And you are alone?"

A swift pity stirred him.  Poor little child!  How sorely she must need
a protector.

But she drew herself up with quaint pride.

"There is Nurse Bond," she replied.  "I sup with her when Morry's
friends are not to my liking."

He held soft little fingers in both his strong hands, little guessing
how the power in them comforted her.

"You call me your knight," said he.  "Pray God I may ever be your true
and faithful one; that you will let me be such."

She could not laugh or mock him with empty coquetry as she looked into
his eyes, for here was no longer the merry, careless youth who tossed
yellow blossoms into her apron, but a man who was ready to be lover,
too.

And she had sighed so long for one--ever since Lady Helmington promised
last autumn to take her to London.

"Thank you," she answered, quite simply in return.  "I--I do not think
I shall be afraid of Morry's friends again."

Michael's eyes flashed.

"If they give you reason to be so," quoth he, "I pray you tell me their
names.  They shall learn a lesson in manners at least--from a traitor's
son."

The last words revealed--in part--to the girl a latent bitterness in
this man's life.  Yet she smiled as she ran home, through the wicket
and over the lawns, leaving a trail of primrose blooms behind her, for
she knew that thus unexpectedly on a May day she had reached
womanhood's first goal.



CHAPTER VII

THE PRODIGAL'S RETURN

Michael Berrington walked home alone, but he was no longer lonely.

In his hand he held a tiny bunch of primroses, in his heart was already
enshrined a small oval face with hazel stars for eyes, and alluring
dimples which might well have tempted St. Anthony's self.

He was dreaming of dimples, eyes, and all the pretty foolishness of a
youthful lover's first great passion as he entered his home.

Comrade, the faithful deerhound, met him at the entrance.

"There is news, yonder, master, but I cannot quite understand it," the
great animal tried dumbly to explain, and restlessly led the way back
towards the library.

Lights were burning, the door open, and old Bates the butler coming
nervously forward, when a voice, rich, sweet, and powerful, though
broken once and again by an explanatory hiccough, broke the silence:

  "The jolly Muse, her wings to try,
    No frolic flights need take,
  But round the bowl would dip and fly
    Like swallows round a lake.
  And that I think's a reason fair
    To drink and fill again."


"Mr. Michael, Mr. Michael," faltered Bates, in nervous agitation.

But Michael Berrington put him aside with commanding hand.

He knew he was going in to greet his father for the first time in his
life.

Stephen Berrington lolled back in the wide armchair.  Before him on a
table was placed a large bowl of punch, in his mouth was a long pipe.

He was very much at home.

He rose, smiling, at sight of the tall figure on the threshold.  If he
had been drinking he was by no means drunken, and his appearance was
that of a very handsome but somewhat dissipated man of fifty, dressed
in the height of fashion, his powdered wig a little awry, but his eyes
bright and wonderfully amused at the present moment.  His manner was
perfectly friendly.

"Why, Michael!" he cried.  "Demn it all, lad, if the first sight of you
doesn't make me feel an old man.  Come, you'll shake hands with a
prodigal father?  You're not your poor mother's son, else."

He held out a welcoming hand as he spoke, but Michael ignored it,
dropping into a chair.

In all his visions and pictures of his father's return he had never
imagined this.

Stephen Berrington did not appear to take offence at his son's refusal
of greeting, but sank back into his chair, refilling his glass with
punch.

"Old Bates hasn't forgotten his mixture," he observed drily, "though
it's nearly thirty years since I tasted it.  Thirty years!  Well!
you'll have heard the story, Mike, and I suppose have long since
written me down as a black-hearted devil who's no fit company for
honest men."

He passed his hand wearily over his brow as he spoke.

Michael flushed.  Though he had expected his father's return
eventually, the shock of this unlooked-for home-coming had thrown him
off his balance.

"I was with my mother and grandfather on their death-beds," said he,
shortly.

His father sighed.

"Yes," he said.  "I don't wonder you refused my hand, lad; yet there's
more excuse than you know of.  I can't tell you all now, but I
will--one day."

Michael was twisting the stems of a little bunch of primroses between
nervous fingers.

"Ralph Conyers is dead also," he replied unsteadily.

Stephen Berrington looked up sharply.

"I know," he answered.  "Ah yes!  Of course _that_ story has been
drummed well into you.  A moment's weakness, and a man's whole lifetime
to be cursed for it."

"It cost his friends more."

"Oh, aye; I know.  But what of it?  If I had not spoken we should have
all been strung up in a row.  I could not have saved Pryor and
Farquhar.  No, nor Conyers either, for that matter.  As it was I saved
my own skin, and never really hurt theirs.  What blame?"

"Need a gentleman ask that question?"

"Tra, la, la!  Sir Henry always was a good schoolmaster there.  A
trifle out of date, though, my son, as you will find.  Why, even Morry
himself took my word for it and shook hands afterwards."

"Morry?"

"Morice Conyers--poor old Ralph's son.  A buck worth having for a son,
too.  Why! we're the best of friends."

"Morice Conyers your friend?"

"You look unbelieving, my Bayard, but it is true that I drove down here
on friend Morry's coach, and, had it not been for my ardent longing to
embrace you and see again these ancestral halls, I should now be
toasting the prettiest eyes in the kingdom, and drinking to the august
health of our liege lord Prince Florizel, who is at present between the
sheets in his royal residence at Carlton House, suffering from an
attack of indigestion."

Then, suddenly dropping his lighter tone of badinage, the speaker leant
forward.

"Look here, Michael," he said,--and there lacked not a certain wistful
pleading in his tones,--"others have agreed to let the past be
forgotten; can't my own son join them there?  It's true my crop of wild
oats was plentiful enough.  As for that Jacobite affair, I--well--I've
often wished that I'd been in Pryor's place, and written finis on a
jumble of mistakes and a life which was not then quite such a wretched
failure."

"If it had been only----"

"Roast me, sir!  Are you my Lord High Inquisitor to ask what else I've
been doing through these years, and call me blackguard for everything
not explained?"

"You forget my mother."

Stephen Berrington's hand dropped, whilst his blue eyes wavered and
fell before the stern gaze of the younger man.

"Aye," he muttered, "I'll cry 'Mea culpa' there.  My poor little Norah.
Yes, I'll admit I was to blame."

"You broke her heart."

"Slit me if I would, had she ever won mine!  The marriage was a
mistake.  But come, lad, I've had enough of platitudes and
fault-finding.  I come to make merry, and find a dour face as ill to
meet as Calvin's own,--and, as for drink, the bowl is empty.  Ha, ha!
I'm for Langton Hall and a night of it with my merry friends.  Tra
lal-de-lal!  You may come, too; an' you list, son Michael.  You'll
remember your filial duties an' fall on my neck in welcome after a
stoop or so of punch and some of Conyers' boasted port.  Rare bucks
those, and the devil of a time awaiting us.  Cast glum looks to the
dogs, boy, and join me.  You'll be welcome.  I'll stake my head on
that.  Steenie Berrington's son needn't fear the cold shoulder."

He rose, staggering slightly, and laying a hand on his son's arm to
steady himself.

Something in the touch sent a thrill--half shudder--through Michael.

_His father_.  Yes!  _His father_.

Old Sir Henry's dying words came back to him vividly enough.

"If he returns I leave the honour of Berrington in your hands.  Swear
you will watch over it always."

Yes, he had sworn that he would hold the honour even when it lay in
another's power to trample it under foot; and swiftly it came to him
that he could not keep that oath and stand against this newly-found
parent.  For the honour of his house he must be his father's friend and
companion.

Perhaps he found it less hard to yield, feeling that helpless touch on
his arm, and seeing that half-pleading, half-defiant look on the
handsome but weak face.

"Yes," he replied.  "I will come."

Sir Stephen greeted the decision with a roar of laughter.

"Well done, Mike," he cried.  "Split me, but I don't believe you're so
sour after all, in spite of those straight looks.  We'll be comrades,
eh, boy? and drown the ghosts in the flowing bowl.  They'll need
drowning," he added, leaning against his son's broad shoulder and
speaking in a whisper.  "That's why I didn't come before.  Not that I
care for Sir Henry; he may frown an' curse at me till he rots, I'll but
drink the deeper.  But the little mother is different; she looks sad,
and I see her crying over there by her tambour frame, and I know the
tears are for me.  That's what I can't stand, Mike, d'you hear?  It
makes me--there, there, I'm a drunken fool or yet not drunk enough,

  'And that I think's a reason fair
    To drink and fill again.'"


He flung back his head with a rollicking laugh over the refrain.
Ghosts there should not be at Berrington Manor.

"Let's to the Hall," he cried, with an oath.  "There's good wine, good
company, and pretty faces there, if Phil Berkeley's to be believed.  He
vows Morry's sister's a jewel fit for a king's crown.  You'll be your
father's son where a pair of pretty eyes are to be toasted, eh, boy?
Ha! ha!"

But Michael did not reply, though his own eyes were grim for those of a
youth who went a-wooing.



CHAPTER VIII

AT LANGTON HALL

"I protest, Mistress Gabrielle, it is wanton cruelty of you to bury
yourself alive in this dreary hole when all London is in darkness
awaiting its sun of beauty to shine on it."  Gabrielle laughed, a
clear, little contemptuous laugh, which cut crisply through Lord
Denningham's languorous tones.

"Of a truth I'm sorry for London, my lord," said she shortly, "since it
must be a small place for one such light to be sufficient for its
illumination, but I'd be sorrier for myself if I were there."

"You've never tried, my sweet princess," he retorted, with lazy ardour
and a bold stare at the charms which the simplicity of a white gown and
posy of primroses, nestling in the soft laces at her breast, set off to
advantage.  "You don't know the delights of conquest.  Why, every beau
in town would be at your feet, and every belle would be wanting to
scratch your pretty eyes out.  What could woman want more?"

"I can scarce be woman yet," she answered, laughing in spite of obvious
annoyance at his glances, "for I should need much more.  My woods and
my primroses for instance."

Her eyes grew dreamy over a memory.  Lord Denningham grinned as he
slowly took a pinch of snuff.

"Even Arcadia needs the shepherd's flute--or the lover's whisper," said
he.  "You must show me your woods to-morrow, and teach me that
primrose-plucking is more entertaining than rout or race-course.  I vow
I'm ready to learn--and be convinced--by such a mistress."

The note of passion running through the thinly-veiled sarcasm sent the
rosy blushes to her cheeks, but her white brow was set in a wrinkle of
frowns.

"Nay, my lord," she returned coldly.  "You're past conversion, and my
woods are no more for you than I am for your gay London.  I want
neither lovers nor racketings."

Her eyes strayed to where, at the other end of the great saloon, Lady
Helmington's fat shoulders were shaking with excitement as she dealt
the cards.

Her ladyship was as fond of gambling as her lord was of rum punch.

But Lord Denningham was smiling as he toyed with the gilt inlaid
snuff-box in his hand.

"Not lovers then, for such a little lady," quoth he, persisting.  "But
a lover--or husband--the most devoted, on the soul of----"

She interrupted him, more rosy red with anger than maiden coyness.

"No, nor lover neither, I thank you, my lord," she replied hastily.
"I'll not need or wish to go to town for such."

He opened languid blue eyes in surprise.

"What!  Do primrose woods supply those too?" said he.  "Fie! madam, I
shall tell Morry."

She rose, scarlet with temper, and prettier than ever for her passion,
sweeping past her insolent admirer with the air of an angry queen.

Half way up the great room she stopped to speak--and this time with
smiling graciousness--to a grey-wigged gentleman in a suit of sober
green, with fine lace ruffles and jabot,--a gentleman somewhat old,
somewhat bent, and more than somewhat rubicund about the nose.  Yet his
face was kindly and his bearing paternal towards pretty little Mistress
Gabrielle.

Jack Denningham, roué, gambler, and very fine gentleman--in his own
eyes--turned away with a chuckle.  He had quite determined that this
country chit should have the inestimable honour of being Lady
Denningham.  In the meantime her tantrums and graces amused him.

A jolly shout of welcome from a young man dressed in the height of
fashion, from spangled satin waistcoat to buckled shoes, made him turn
his head towards the opening door, to which his host was already
hastening.

"Come, Steenie, we were waiting for you; ha! ha!" cried Morice Conyers,
slapping Sir Stephen Berrington heartily on the back.

"Dice and cards had lost their savour without the salt of your company;
as for the punch bowl, it was awaiting its master."

Sir Stephen, surrounded at once by a merry throng of youths, laughed
gaily.  He was steady now on his legs, and there were no ghosts at
Langton Hall--or he forgot them amidst boon comrades.

But Michael, standing in the background, remembered the man whose life
had rotted for years in a dungeon, and wondered very greatly how Morice
Conyers could touch the hand that had sent his father to a living death.

But Morice had no such thought, though his brow knit slightly at sight
of Michael, remembering, perhaps, a more recent event under the shadow
of a high wall, where a dainty stripling had been sent sprawling by a
sturdy, black-browed boy.

Sir Stephen's merry voice broke through an unpleasant memory.

"Another name for our Florizel's train, Morry," he cried gaily.  "My
son Michael--a rare buck I'll prophesy."

Morice Conyers bowed--a trifle formally.  The tall, broad-shouldered
figure in its plain but handsome dress, with dark head held proudly,
and a quiet look of steady doggedness in the grey eyes, did not promise
a boon companion of the Carlton House order.

A voice from behind broke a moment's pause.

It was that of the green-clad stranger to whom Mistress Gabrielle had
been talking.

"Present me, Conyers," he demanded.  "Though I'm thinking we have met
before."

Michael bowed gravely, but without recognition.

Mr. Guy Barton's twinkling blue eyes surveyed him with friendly
interest.

"You may better recall, sir," he observed, "the Oxford coach which you
drove with exceeding profit to my pocket last November."

Michael smiled as he held out his hand.  He remembered now the
beetroot-nosed gentleman with the valise who had been the special
subject of interest to Dandy Dick and his followers.

And meantime, whilst Mr. Barton told the tale amidst shouts of
approving laughter, the hero of it crossed boldly to where a little
figure sat solitary in a big, crimson satin-covered chair with dark
head drooping rather wearily.

"Mistress Gabrielle."

Oh! she was awake now, and the blushes were not those of anger.

It was the lover of the primrose woods come to her thus unexpectedly,
and all the handsomer in his rich suit and silken hose.  For a woman
notices these things, though Michael could only have told that it was
the same sweet face which had shone suddenly through the grey gloom of
his young life and set it a-flood with undreamt-of glory.

He was no courtier, this Michael Berrington.  And had no pretty
compliments of sparkling frothiness and emptiness to bestow on his
lady.  Yet she had no fault to find with him for that, though she was
quick to note the furrow on his brow which had not been there when they
plucked primroses together.

"You are sad?" she asked him.  "Tell me what it is."

The child's frankness was no less sweet than the woman's sympathy
behind it.

"My father has returned," he replied.  "That is how I found entrance
here.  He is your brother's friend."

She paled a little at the words, and her soft brown eyes took a harder
look as she glanced across the room to where Morice hung on the arm of
Sir Stephen Berrington in merriest mood.

"Your father?" she whispered, and Michael drew back his breath sharply.

The faint contempt and anger in the two words struck him the cruellest
blow he had ever felt.

Perhaps she knew it and repented, for she laid a soft little hand on
his clenched one.

"Forgive me," she whispered.  "Only--for the moment--I thought of _my_
father."

Michael's face was stern.

"And I also, mistress," he replied.  "We have no right here.  It shames
me----"

He faltered, and she checked further speech by her own contrition.

"Hush," she implored.  "See, we are friends.  It was our primrose bond,
or, rather, an older one still--of ten years since."  She smiled with a
flash of coquetry to give meaning to her words.  "And as you are my
knight I lay command upon you never to speak word of that again.  The
past is dead, quite dead.  Your father is Morry's friend--and you are
mine."

"Till death, if you will have it so," he whispered, and would have
added more but that a clamour rose from the card-table where Lady
Helmington, having won her rubber and being in a vastly good humour,
declared that she was positively dying with hunger, and hoped that
supper was served.

Mistress Conyers, youthful and very unwilling hostess, rose to reassure
her famished guest that an ample meal awaited them in the dining-room,
bidding Morice escort her ladyship thither, whilst--after an instant's
hesitation and a faint rising of colour--she demanded the arm of Sir
Stephen Berrington.

With ladies in such a minority, and Lady Helmington willing enough, for
one, to join in the revelry, supper at Langton Hall was a noisy repast.

Yet Michael noted with pleasure that his father lacked nothing in
respect to his young hostess, whilst on her left hand was seated Mr.
Guy Barton, a silent and imperturbable gentleman who ate with relish
paying no heed to my Lord Denningham's anger at being ousted from a
coveted position.

Those were hard-drinking days, when intoxication was considered no
disgrace, and rather the exception if a gentleman did not need his
valet or butler to escort him to bed; and Sir Stephen's punch-brewing
was proverbial, even at Carlton House.

Lady Helmington might fume and fuss in vain, waiting for her whist in
the saloon after supper, tête-à-tête with a little prude who turned a
deaf and obviously disapproving ear to all the scandal and gossip of
town, declaring that the very idea of London depressed her.

It was useless to think that the merry-makers in the dining-room would
be in the mood for more card-playing that night.  Her ladyship, tired
of waiting, declared at last that she was nearly dead of fatigue, and
departed in a huff to bed--or, rather, to the rating of her French
maid, whilst Gabrielle, after a few minutes' wistful lingering,
followed her unwelcome guest, not daring to remain alone, unchaperoned,
yet longing--she did not tell herself for what, though she kissed the
half-withered posy of primroses ere she laid them aside.  Primroses and
spring sunshine made pleasant memories, and--and how well he had looked
in his Court suit of satin; so different from those popinjay friends of
Morry's.  She hated them all, in especial that Lord Denningham, with
his nasty eyes and familiar speeches.

Show _him_ her woods, indeed!  Faugh!  A likely tale.  She hated blue
eyes that looked--so----.  Grey eyes for her--grey eyes that could gaze
straight down and down till they found--her heart?

Nay!  Sweet seventeen would not say so unbidden, yet still--perhaps--if
she dreamt that night, grey eyes would be there with the sunshine and
the primroses.

Mistress Gabrielle was smiling as she stood for a moment at the window,
her dark curls falling over her white night-rail, before she turned
with a blush and sigh, which latter was half laugh of soft content, to
climb into the big four-poster bed with its quaint carvings of griffin
and goblin, which might have scared the fancy of a maid less healthy
and pure-hearted.

As for Michael Berrington, he was finding that the honour of the
highest names in the land was like as not to find a common
resting-place at the bottom of a punch-bowl; and, try as he might, he
was little likely to do good by fishing therein.

The punch of his father's brewing and the port of bygone generations of
Conyers were playing havoc with tongues and limbs of the younger beaux
of that merry company.

Disgusted with drunken jests, which suited ill with his present mood,
the young man took the first opportunity to slip away unseen.

He was hoping to find some one awaiting him in the saloon.

But, as I have said, the little lady he wanted had already retired,
less from desire than modesty, and he was left to wander alone the
length of the great room pondering philosophically on the strange trick
of fate that brought him here.  Surely the ghost of Ralph Conyers,
bent, twisted Ralph, who had carried a life-grudge to the grave, would
be peeping at him from the shadows, shaking a crippled fist at the son
of the man who first betrayed and then outraged his memory?

His father the friend of Morice Conyers!  His father the traitor who
had sent Ralph Conyers to his grave!

Lord! what a world!

And a third note,--be it added beneath his breath,--he himself the man
who would woo Ralph Conyers's pretty daughter and win her--if the world
could hold so much happiness for a sinner--as his wife.

The very thought, mingling with a vision of hazel eyes and the soft
roundness of a white throat, set his pulses galloping.

He opened the casement window, stepping out on to the terrace to cool
the fever in his veins.  Old Ben Jonson's song rang in his ears:

  "Drink to me only with thine eyes
    And I will pledge with mine.
  Or leave a kiss within the cup
  And I'll not ask for wine."


A kiss!

The very thought seemed to bewilder him,--lips meeting his, eyes to
dream the same dream into his, the soft clasp of yielding arms, the
caress of a velvet cheek against his burning one.

Fool and idiot!  Away with such fantasies!  Was it likely that such an
angel would look at him so?  Would--love--_him_?

He became fierce in his self-contempt, even though the hot blood of
youth surged wildly in his veins, ready to beat down all barriers.  She
love him.  Absurd!

Yet stay!  Think of those golden hours in Barham woods only that
afternoon.

Cupid had been in frolicsome mood then, and yet he could shoot his
arrows straight.  Standing there in the moonlight alone he was
picturing the scene, lingering over the memory of how one bolder
sunbeam had been made willing captive in the coils of an errant curl,
whilst dimples had danced riotously in smooth cheeks.

Love! love!  Golden in the glamour of youth, and none less sweet and
true because it was born and matured in the fleeting hours of a single
spring day.

A hand touching his arm, and a deep voice in his ear, broke the fairy
spell which Queen Mab had been busy to weave around him.

Guy Barton knew better than most how to measure his punch--and his man.

"You are no songster then, my hero of the road?" quoth he in kindly
tones.  "Well, well, so much the better.  I confess I don't care for
all their tunes in there.  Besides, I wanted a chat with Sir Henry's
grandson."

"Sir Henry?  You knew my grandfather?"

The very suggestion was passport already to the younger man's favour.

"Why, yes!  An old friend of mine and a dear one to boot.  You'd not
heard him talk of Guy Barton?"

"Of a truth I'm recalling the name.  There was some tale of a main of
cocks----"

"Ha, ha! the old story.  Yes, the hero of the cock-pit.  Though I'll
not be vaunting before the man who handled the ribbons through Craven's
Hollow.  You did me good service then, Mr. Berrington."

"'Twas nothing.  Yet I'm glad to have served my grandfather's friend."

"Your own too, boy, if you'll have it.  I see your father's back at
Berrington."

"He returned to-day."

"Returned to-day.  H'm!  And a night of it at Langton Hall to celebrate
the occasion.  But he's your father.  I'll not say more."

"I thank you, sir.  Perhaps you knew him when younger?"

"I knew his mother, too.  Poor lady! she's not the first to die of
heart-break for a bad son.  No, I'm no friend to Steenie Berrington,
but I'll stand yours, as I say,--if you'll have me.  I think I read
grandfather before sire in your face."

"Sir Henry was both to me."

"Ah, yes; I believe it.  Well, lad, I don't take friends from every
bylane as a rule, yet I'll trust you with three-fold reason."

He tapped his snuff-box significantly.

"The Oxford coach, your grandfather, and your own eyes.  I am a reader
of character rather than books."

Michael bowed.

The elderly gentleman with the loquacious tongue and beetroot nose was
already more to his liking than the gay friends of Prince Florizel.

Mr. Barton had taken his arm in a most confidential manner.

"I'm the friend of little Gabrielle Conyers, too," he observed
shrewdly.  "She needs one, poor maid.  You know her brother?"

"I fought him once as a boy, and I meet him for the second time here
to-night."

"Are you, too, a discerner of men?"

"Nay.  I'm apt to be too hasty in my judgments, sir."

"Ah yes!  Your mother was Irish, I remember.  Hot blood for a fight,
warm heart for a friend, true love for a wife.  So you do not admire
our friend's French-embroidered waistcoats?"

"I am no beau, and am little likely to choose my friends from the
Carlton House set."

"Yet poor Morice has his finer qualities.  Given adversity and a good
sword he'd make a fighter and a gentleman."

"At present he is doubtless a pretty fool in the eyes of his
tailor--and Lady Helmington."

"If the latter can raise her gaze from the whist-table, which is
doubtful.  But I still look for the day when Ralph Conyers' son will
forget his follies and become a man.  Still, I confess that I do not
like _French_ waistcoats."

"The Prince, I believe, admires them."

"Yes, so it is said.  But he wears them with more discretion.  Did you
happen to notice a gentleman who sat on our host's left hand at supper!"

"A little under-sized fellow with black eyes and moustachios?"

"Monsieur Marcel Trouet, accredited agent of the French Republic."

"Of the French Republic!  You mean that Morice Conyers----

"Is in sympathy with the glorious Revolution across the Channel,"
replied Mr. Barton, taking a pinch of snuff with great deliberation.
"You may have heard of the London Corresponding Society, Mr.
Berrington?"

"Since my grandfather's death I have remained in Surrey.  I fear the
news of the towns has not sufficiently interested me."

"Ah!  You think it might interest you now?"

"I am convinced of it."

"A secret society is scarcely a concern for men of honour to interest
themselves in," went on Mr. Barton calmly.  "Yet it appears that many
calling themselves such have joined these absurd, and, to my way of
thinking, pernicious bodies of sympathisers with a Revolution which
should have for its motto 'Murder, plunder, and rapine' instead of
'Liberty, equality, and fraternity.'  Yet, when the Society of the
Friends of the People numbers such names as Grey, Sheridan, Erskine,
and even Lord John Russell on its lists, small wonder that more
virulent types of seditionary bands, such as this London Corresponding
Society, should spring up."

"And its object is--sympathy----?"

"Pah!  Sympathy!  _Sedition_, lad, sedition, brewed and stirred here
for English palates by French cooks like Marcel Trouet.  Pamphlets,
such as ought to bring the writers to the gallows, are sown broadcast
amongst the people, army, and navy, urging them on to follow Johnny
Crapaud's example, and drag down all law and existing order.  Yes, and
this fine Society of which I am speaking is the worst of all, because
it works in the dark.  No one knows the five names of the governing
committee, though there are over seven thousand enrolled in the ranks.
And, as I have said, the French Republicans do something more than
smile on their English friends.  That is why such men as Monsieur
Trouet sit at English tables as honoured guests.  Do you understand?"

Michael's face was very white.

"And my father?"

Guy Barton shrugged his shoulders.

"I have not Sir Stephen Berrington's personal acquaintance _now_," he
observed.  "But he and Morice Conyers are excellent comrades."  He laid
his hand on his companion's shoulder.

"I have told you this," he said gently, "for two reasons.  Firstly,
because Sir Henry was my very dear friend--and your father is his son,
and a Berrington.  Secondly, because little Gabrielle Conyers holds a
daughter's place in my heart, and--well--I saw the child greet you.
You understand?  If her brother goes mixing himself up with seditious
societies and the like, she will need a strong arm and more than one
honest friend.  Morice should have more respect for his sister than to
bring home his John Denninghams and Marcel Trouets."

Hand gripped hand there in the moonlight, but, before Michael had time
to answer, a burst of song and an opening casement interrupted him.

  "Let's drink and be jolly and drown melancholy,
  So merrily let us rejoice, too, and sing.
  So fill up your bowls, all ye loyal souls,
  And toast a good health, to great George our King."


A roar of laughter and stamping followed the chorus, whilst out on to
the terrace came lurching a trio of half-drunken revellers, their wigs
awry, waistcoats wine-stained, faces flushed and excited.

"A good health to great G-George our K-King," hiccoughed one, and fell
flat on the lawn.

Guy Barton turned with a frown of disgust to his new friend.

"Come," said he shortly.  "'Tis time for gentlemen to be returning
home.  They'll be singing the Marseillaise next."

And Michael followed readily enough.  He had seen his father on the
steps talking and jesting with Marcel Trouet.

Even a drunkard should be more discriminating in his company.



CHAPTER IX

"WHEN TWO'S COMPANY AND THREE NONE"

"Lack-a-day, if the old master could see it," groaned Bates to himself,
as he ran hurrying across the hall, carrying the great silver
loving-cup, which had been so carefully hoarded away for twenty years
and more, towards the supper-room.

"But times are changed since Sir Stephen came home.  Ah! it's Mr.
Michael should ha' been master here instead o' him.  What with
junketings an' drunkenness, gamblin' an' boxin', with balls an' such
like now to top all--no wonder the timber in Barham woods wants
a-fellin', an' the tenants grumblin' at skinflint ways.  Love-a-daisy!
say I--'Old ways is best--old ways is best.'"

But old Bates's lamentations, echoed though they might be by the
household and dependants of Berrington, found no place in the hearts of
the merrymakers, who crowded the supper-room and great saloon, which,
for the nonce, served as ballroom.

A gay scene, surely.--Fair faces and handsome figures, sparkle of
jewels, and sheen of satin and silk, vivid colouring with stately
setting, long mirrors reflecting the bright throng of dancers with
their powdered wigs and rich clothing.

Sir Stephen himself, growing younger, though perhaps more portly, in
prosperity, was life and soul to his entertainment.  A gallant figure,
too, in coat of mauve velvet with white satin knee-breeches and buckled
shoes, broidered waistcoat and fine lace ruffles.  It was easy to
forget the brand which had marked him, in former days, as one outside
the pale of honourable company.

Fair lips were ready to smile now on the owner of Berrington Manor.
Roguish eyes looked coy as he bowed before their dainty owners, and
tongues which, under other circumstances, might have been caustic,
became honeyed in their phrases when addressing him.

As for company, the countryside was there as well as the party from
town.  Persons of fashion, these latter, at whom the country misses,
whose style was as ancient as their lineage, stared agape.

But in the embrasure of a window Gabrielle Conyers looked up
reproachfully into the dark, lean face of Michael Berrington.

"You're quite a stranger, sir," said she, with some asperity.

"I have been in town, Mistress Conyers."

"Ah yes!  I know what that means."  The child assumed an air of worldly
wisdom.  "Gambling, drinking, duelling, and playing all sorts of
foolish pranks to amuse your master."

"My master?"

"The Prince, of course.  You're in his set now, I suppose, like Morry
and Lord Denningham.  No wonder the country palls."

He looked wistfully down into the up-turned face.  In her gown of
flowered silk, with its soft pink kerchief and laces, Gabrielle looked
like some dainty fairy from dreamland--in his eyes at least.

"Pardon me, mistress.  I love the country.  It could never weary me."

"Yet you go to town?"

"It was--necessary."

"Necessary?"

She intended to have an explanation and not be baulked of her scolding,
since past weeks had been sadly long and monotonous.

"My father went to town."

She shook her dark curls in disdain.

"And are you so tied to Sir Stephen's apron-strings that you must
follow against your will?  I'll not believe it."

"It is true."

He bent forward a little, her soft hazel eyes impelling him.

"Shall I tell you," he said softly, "what I mean?  Nay!  I think you
know already."

"I do not," she persisted.

"My father's honour went to town too."

"Ah!"

She was remembering.

"And you?"

"The honour of Berrington was the idol my grandfather worshipped.  I
took it--as a trust."

"You loved him--old Sir Henry?"

Her eyes were dewy.

"I loved him--and promised."

She rose, touching his arm as the band struck up a fresh measure.

"You will lead me through the minuet?"

He bowed.

She did not meet his glance just then.  A stately dance--too stately
for some of the younger beaux who leant back, lolling against the walls.

Lord Denningham, side by side with Marcel Trouet, was looking vicious.

That dark-faced fellow--the younger Berrington--was as handsome as he
was sour and strait-laced; a suit of peach-coloured velvet suited him
to perfection.

Yet Lord Denningham's glance was not one of admiration.

The young devil--his rival--could smile too on occasion, it seemed,
whilst Gabrielle was dimpling with happy smiles.

The minuet was over at last, and the ballroom insufferably hot.  At
least so Gabrielle declared, as her partner led her down the wide
staircase and out through the open window on to the lawns.

A lake, surrounded by choice shrubs, and a seat under shelter of the
rockery near, proved an ideal halting-place, whilst moonlight was good
for dreams and fairy visions.  Michael half lay on the grass at her
feet.

"My primroses are faded," she said suddenly, coming back from dreamland
to look into the dark face upturned to meet her gaze.  "You did not
come again to help me gather them."

"And now it is too late?"

The passion vibrating through the whisper stirred her pulses as the
moonlight had failed to do.

"Spring is over."

"And summer is here."

"My roses have thorns.  I do not gather many alone.  See how one tore
my finger but yesterday."

He took the little hand in his, and, growing bolder, or more desperate,
held the scarred finger to his lips.

She drew it away, laughing.

"If you had been there----"

"Ah, mistress, if I might be always there to pluck the thorns away, so
that for you life might have only roses."

"Nay, you might hurt your own hands, and I would not have that.  But
you shall come with me to Barham woods to gather the honeysuckle that
grows there.  It is sweet, without cruel prickings, yet sometimes it
twines out of reach.  You shall help me."

He did not answer, for very fear of saying too much, and thus
frightening her with the passion which he needs must hold in check as a
strong man reins back restive steed.

But perhaps she guessed what he might say, and, woman-like, tempted him
on.

"Do you hear the ripple of the water among the sedges?" she whispered.
"It sets me dreaming; and you--do you ever dream, Michael?"

The soft cadences of her words stole like soothing music to his
throbbing heart.

"One dream I have," he answered huskily, "and only one.  Yet when I
dream it I pray never to awake."

"Tell it to me," she demanded, smiling as she turned her face half from
him.

"I dare not."

"I thought you brave.  But is it so ill a fancy, then, that comes to
you in your sleep?"

"Rather so fair that I would never look away."

"Then I would see it too.  Tell me of it."

"'Twere easier for you to look in your mirror, mistress, for tongue of
mine could never tell half the charms of which I dare to dream."

She laughed again, laying her hand on his shoulder very lightly.

"I am glad you are my knight," she said, with the whimsical frankness
of a child.  "For when you say your pretty speeches they sound true,
and not hollow, like those of the others."

Vaguely jealous, he was yet grateful.

"Your knight," he answered, in that deep, low voice of his which rang
with suppressed feeling, "to pluck aside the thorns and shield my lady
with my life."

Her lips were parted, smiling at a picture his words conveyed.

Yet her eyes challenged his.

"But you have other work to do, that takes you away from your lady's
side."

He drew a sharp breath.

"Aye," he answered more sternly.  "Pray God I may not forget."

"Forget?"

"That of which you reminded me yourself, my lady."

She flushed a little over the two last words.

"Your other work?"

"The honour of Berrington."

Her little foot tapped the gravel path impatiently.

"Must honour ever come first?"

"Would my lady have her knight place it second?"

"Nay, love should have first place," she declared boldly; and now her
eyes were tender.

"Twin sisters to go hand in hand rather," he said softly, "as you and I
would have them."

"But it is lonely at Langton Hall," she replied piteously, as a spoilt
child.

"Less lonely than London town, I warrant.  Yet my father remains at
Berrington now."

"And my brother's friends stay at the Hall.  It does not please me."

"You will not forget the honeysuckle?"

"I do not forget what I want."

"Nor I--even in dreams," he whispered, raising the white hand which lay
against his sleeve and kissing it reverently.

A step on the path behind startled them, for it had seemed before that
the world was empty save for they two.  But no Paradise lacks its
serpent.

Lord Denningham might have been conscious of the simile.

"A moonlight rhapsody," he sneered.  "But I fear, madam, your brother
grows impatient."

She rose with immense dignity.

"You will give me your hand to my coach, sir?" she asked of Michael.

Lord Denningham laughed shortly beneath his breath.

"The squire of dames is a pleasant role to fill--and a safe one," he
observed with another sneer.

Michael drew himself up proudly.

"Lord Denningham will find me ready enough to fill another, anon," he
retorted.

The young nobleman toyed with a ribbon about his neck.

"And that?" he scoffed.

"A teacher of manners to blatant puppy-dogs."

"You forget, sir, that puppy-dogs bite sometimes, and I have heard that
a Berrington is afraid of a cracked skin."

"It is dangerous to listen to too many tales, my lord."

The voices of both were rising higher, whilst Michael's eyes were
ablaze at his adversary's last insult.

Swords half drawn and hotter words to follow were intercepted by
Gabrielle herself.

"I have already requested the favour of your hand to my coach, Mr.
Berrington," she said, with a calmness and severity which were, alas!
betrayed by a tremulous catch in the young voice.  "A--a lady does not
ask a gentleman twice."

He bowed gravely, offering her his arm, which she took, demurely
curtseying.

"We shall meet again, my lord," he muttered behind his hand to Lord
Denningham.

The latter grinned sardonically.

"I have heard of a Berrington hiding behind a woman's petticoats
before," he drawled aloud; but in a low tone, "I'll tell you the tale,
sir, at my own leisure."

"Come, Michael," cried Gabrielle sharply; "my brother waits."

Lord Denningham, left alone to moonlight reflection, took snuff with a
scowl.  He had thought the winning of a country mouse like to be easy
work, since past experience had told him that the worse a man is the
more probable that he takes the fancy of an innocent maid.

Little Gabrielle Conyers evidently had other tastes; and my lord, half
in love by reason of her flouting, swore tremendous oaths.

Thus he was found, later, by Marcel Trouet, whose business in life was
to act as a political firebrand, but who did not find his good friends
the English of the most inflammable material.

But to-night Marcel was smiling.

"We drink good healths in ze house," he observed, taking Denningham's
arm familiarly.  "Come, come.  We drink well, we sing very well, but we
do need your voice to lead the rest.  They are sheep who bleat for ze
shephaird."

His lordship yawned.

"Why leave them then?" he retorted.

Trouet chuckled.

"Hélas," he murmured.  "I am no shephaird, but only what you call the
sheep-dog that barks, barks, always barks.  But the shephaird of this
noble Société de Correspondance----"  He bowed with exaggerated
politeness.

"I do behold him now," he said suavely.  And Denningham followed slowly
towards the house, from which the last coach had rolled away, leaving
only a little knot of men around--and beneath--the supper-table.

They were toasting one Robespierre, a shining light upon the path of
liberty.

Michael Berrington was not amongst them.



CHAPTER X

THE COUSIN FROM BRITTANY

Gabrielle was singing softly as she bent over her tambour frame.

She could sing now that she was alone in her own little boudoir, with
no fear of Morry's intrusions and his wearisome lectures.

The idea of Morry daring to lecture her!

A white chin was tilted upwards at the very thought.  And because,
forsooth, she chose to reject the suitor he would have had her take for
husband.

Marry Lord Denningham indeed!  The very thought sent the angry blood
racing through her veins.

Why, she would rather be an old maid like Miss Tabitha Mainwaring, or a
nun in the Convent of the Sacred Heart, and wear ugly black robes all
her life, than be wife to a wretch like that!

The silk snapped short under too hasty fingers, and the song ended in a
gasp of indignation, as she recalled the insolently apprising glance of
half-closed blue eyes.

She hated Lord Denningham.

How tiresome this work was!  She had pricked her finger, and stained
the green satin.  It was most annoying, but no wonder things went wrong
when she thought of that man.

And he might have killed that poor Mr. Berrington when they fought
together.  The colour was rising to her cheeks now, and the silk she
tugged at in such desperation was becoming woefully knotted.

They had fought, of course, because--well--because Lord Denningham had
insulted Mr. Berrington's honour.

But her woman's vanity--in spite of repression--brought a flickering
dimple to her cheek as she told herself quite silently that she had
been at the root of the quarrel.  Not that she cared for the husks of
affection which Lord Denningham offered her.

Lady Helmington, in loquacious mood, had given her an insight as to how
much his so-called love was worth.  The memory of that lady's
conversation brought the blush to her cheek.

But Michael!

Ah! he was so different.

The tambour frame lay in her lap, with her fingers idle a-top of it,
having given up the battle with frayed silks.

She was dreaming of grey eyes.

Michael!  Michael!

The birds at the lattice window were singing the sweet refrain of his
name.

Michael!  Michael!

Yes, he was her lover--the only one for her in the wide world.

He had come to her in childhood, a lean, untidy lad, with laughing eyes
and hair all awry; but, as he knelt on one knee at her feet, she had
chosen him there and then as her true knight for ever and ever.

Then the long years rolled between till the day when she stood alone,
sighing for a lover, jealous, perhaps, of the songs of mating birds in
the spring woods around.

And he had come to her again.

Even now, in the autumn twilight, she seemed to smell the subtle
sweetness of primrose-blooms and to be looking through a vista of young
foliage to see the tall figure which came striding up the glade with
masterful steps and had looked long into her eyes.

He was her knight for ever and ever, and she had known it then as they
gathered their spring flowers together and laughed like happy children
who share a common joy.  But she had not dared to dream too tangibly of
that vague, intuitive knowledge till they stood together in the
moonlight and listened to the faint lapping of water amongst the
sedges.  Then, as hand touched hand, heart had gone out to heart, and
the crown of youth had come to both in the first dream of love.

Dimples played merrily in the flushed cheeks, and Gabrielle was smiling
as she looked from the window where westwards a golden sunset flung a
halo of glory over the drowsing landscape.

Russet wood, green meadow, silver stream, all transformed by that
wondrous hour and light into a beauty which touched the girl's heart as
the chords of a perfect melody might have done.

It was the time to dream of love.

And then came a jarring note.

The sparrow-hawk, wheeling high in mid-air, fell with one deadly swoop
upon its little feathered victim, and a faint twitter of pain told of
death in life.

Gabrielle shuddered.

Ah! supposing Denningham had killed him!  What then?

She dared not think, only vaguely wondered whether poor Miss Tabitha
had ever had a lover.  If so, she would never smile or scoff again at
her quaint, old-maidish ways; for the lover might have died, been
killed in some wicked duel.  Who could say?

But Michael had not been killed, and the duel was over, with some
blood-letting on both sides, but nothing of serious consequence.  And
now--well, she was glad that Morry and that hateful lordling were in
town, but she wished Sir Stephen Berrington would be content with the
Manor, or even be laid up with gout for a time, for the blackberries
were ripe in Barham woods, and she cared nothing for plucking them
alone, since the brambles would tear her hands and gown.

A step without broke through her reverie.  A visitor?  Nay!  Who could
it be?

Giles, the butler, stood aside with perplexed face.  "Moosoo
Yay--Yay--Yay-harn de Quernais," he announced, with dignity which
battled with difficulty.

Gabrielle rose hastily, and her eyes were as brightly curious as her
cheeks flushed.

"Monsieur Jéhan de Quernais!" she cried.  "Why, then, you are my
cousin."

And she held out both hands, with a gesture of childish welcome to the
young man in the green travelling-suit who stood bowing before her.

Not an ill-looking youth either, this unexpected visitor, but tall and
straight, combining grace with that pride of carriage inherent in
Breton blood.

Mud-splashed, it is true, even to his sleeves, and the costly lace at
his wrists frayed and torn, whilst his dark locks were matted and
tumbled.  But the face beneath was handsome enough, set in a delicate
mould, but strong too, with its oval contour and firmly-compressed
lips, whilst the long, thin nose and broad forehead told of a sensitive
and intellectual mind.

He smiled in answer to such a welcome, and black eyes flashed a look of
admiration and pleasure into the girl's face ere he bent to kiss the
extended hands.

"Yes, mademoiselle," he replied, "I believe I have that honour.  A
slender reason, perhaps, to excuse my presence here, and my claim on
your hospitality."

He spoke English perfectly, with only sufficient accent to make it more
charming.

Gabrielle laughed, the light-hearted gaiety of a bird in her voice.

"Good, good; I welcome you, cousin.  You do not know how bored and
weary I was becoming all alone here.  And I never guessed how my ennui
would be relieved."

She leant forward so that a shaft of sunshine set a halo about her head.

"And you come from France?"

The smiling face opposite clouded instantly.

"From Brittany, mademoiselle."

"My name is Gabrielle.  We are cousins.  You must not call me
mademoiselle, and I shall call you Jéhan."

If he was surprised at the freedom of her speech he was too courtly a
gentleman to show it, and merely bowed, accepting her words.

"From Brittany?" Gabrielle continued.  "Then you have escaped from----"

A frown from him checked her.

"My mother and sister are still at the Château Kérnak," he said
abruptly.

"Your mother and sister?  My aunt and another cousin?  I know so little
of my Breton relations, and I have always wanted to know so much.  Will
you tell me--Jéhan?"

His ruffled humour was soothed instantly.

"Mademoiselle--pardon--Cousin Gabrielle, there is so much to say that I
fear from the beginning I weary you.  Your brother----"

It was evident that he required a larger audience than this pretty
little cousin who, doubtless, had small comprehension of serious
matters.

But Gabrielle knitted her white brows.

"Morry is in town; I am alone here."

"Alone!"

His surprise was manifest.

The girl flushed a little.

"Nurse Bond is here too.  I have my meals with her.  But you see,
monsieur, my mother died before I could toddle, and now that my father
is dead there is only Morry, and he so soon wearies of the country."

"And you, Cousin Gabrielle?  Do you not weary too?"

She smiled, fingering the long ends of her fichu.

"If I do it is not for town.  I will not go, and that makes Morry
angry.  But--but--I could not breathe there if they are all like
Morry's friends and Lady Helmington.  However, it is of you I want to
talk now, Jéhan.  I want to hear of madame my aunt, and your sister,
and why you have come, and, well--if you do not mind relating it--about
the terrible Revolution which some in England say is good and right,
but which makes me sick with horror."

De Quernais looked grim--an expression which ill-suited a face made for
laughter.

"I do not think even your Pitt will hold back for long now," he
replied.  "You have heard of Paris, and the prisons?"

She shuddered.

"The September massacres?  Oh, yes!  The poor, poor Queen, and oh! that
poor Princess."

"De Lamballe?  A heroine, mademoiselle!"

"Yes.  How brave, how brave!  But why do your mother and sister stay in
a country where such things are done?"

"Brittany is not France, as the Marquis de la Rouerie shows them."

"La Rouerie?  What a hero!  Mr. Barton told me all about him and the
Chouannerie.  It made me so glad to think that I was partly Breton too."

"That is why I have come, ma cousine.  I am a follower of the Marquis."

"And you have come on some dangerous errand?  Of course, I see it now.
And perhaps we can help you?  Is it so, Jéhan?"

"You are wonderful, Gabrielle.  Yes, you can help us; or, rather, it is
your brother who can do so.  I will explain."

He was looking at her eagerly as they sat opposite to one another near
the window.  She was an angel, this beautiful English cousin who was
yet kith and kin to him, and his errand would prosper.

"Yes, explain," she cried, holding out her hand impulsively, "and we
will help."

So in the twilight he told his story, and neither heeded the length of
the shadows or the dusk which stole grey-footed across the meadows;
wrapping the peaceful landscape in its trailing shroud.

"Near the Château Kérnak," said Jéhan softly, "stands the Manor of
Varenac.  It was there that your uncle, our mother's brother, lived,
and the peasants, his tenants, adored him.  Whilst Comte Gilles lived
there never could have been talk of the Terror coming to the
neighbourhood.  But a month ago he died.  Hélas! we all mourned the
good old man, and he died at a bad moment for Brittany.  There have
been agents from Paris around Varenac and Kérnak since, poisoning the
simple minds of the villagers.  The Terror, they say, means not only
liberty, fraternity, and equality, but riches and soft living for the
poor.  Also power.  It is that which appeals most.  And yet the
influence of Comte Gilles lives.  The men of Varenac have not obeyed
the voices of these agents.  They wait."

"Wait?"

"For their seigneur's commands."

"And he?"

"Is in England, probably unconscious of his inheritance."

"You mean that Morry----?"

"Is also Monsieur le Marquis de Varenac."

"Ah!  And his people await him?"

"As men watch for the dawn.  He is to decide."

"Decide?"

"Whether Varenac plants the tree of liberty in her streets and starts
on the path of murder, bloodshed, and terrorism, or whether she
welcomes the coming of de Rouerie and his avengers."

For a few moments there was silence in the darkening room.  Then
Gabrielle spoke.

"And Morry must decide!"

"The peasants of three villages await his coming."

She rose, her hand resting against the knot of the fichu at her breast.

"Oh, I would it were I," she cried, "instead of he."

"Yet surely, cousin, you think alike?"

Her voice sounded heavy and lifeless in answer.

"I--do--not--know.  Morry has bad friends."

Although she had scarcely addressed Marcel Trouet her suspicions were
keen.

But Gabrielle possessed that power which is, perhaps, the best--though
ofttimes fatal--prerogative of youth.  She could put aside forebodings
and doubts to dwell in the pleasanter atmosphere of the present.  After
all, Morry was half Breton too, and Monsieur le Marquis now, into the
bargain.  Surely he would not fail to respond to this appeal to his
honour?

At any rate she would believe so.

"And when you and Morry return to Varenac I shall come too," she
declared, nodding her pretty head.  "And learn to know my aunt and
cousin.  You see how lonely I am here, so I shall come."

"Impossible!"

"Not at all, if you both go."

"Men may go, chère cousine, where maids may not."

"Yes, yes; I have heard that before.  But do you know, Jéhan, I have
_always_ had my own way and done what I willed since I first toddled."

He smiled, well believing it, and wondering what his stately mother,
with her old-fashioned ideas of what was convenable for demoiselles of
birth, would say to this wayward child, who knew no restrictions and
was good comrade before grand lady.

"I shall come," she added determinedly.  "It is no use smiling up your
sleeve in that way.  And so let us go now and find Giles and tell him
we are ready to sup.  I am hungry, although I have only been sitting
here for hours day-dreaming, so you must be famished.  I am so sorry,
monsieur.  I fear I lack virtue as a hostess."

She dropped him a curtsey, apologetic yet half laughing, and led the
way downstairs, he following, wondering at her freedom from
bashfulness, yet admiring too, for it was done with all the charm and
frankness of a child, and lacked any spice of forwardness.

So tête-à-tête they supped, lingering over dessert of grapes and plums,
whilst Jéhan de Quernais told of the tempest-lashed old château, not
far from St. Malo, where he had lived from babyhood.

A thousand questions had Gabrielle to ask of madame his mother,
white-haired, gentle Madame de Quernais, who, Breton of the Breton,
looked in wondering horror at the doings and deeds that racked France,
and refused to believe it possible that her Breton peasants could ever
forget the gulf which separated noble and simple, or what was due to
the houses of Varenac and Quernais in respect and honour.

And then there was Cécile--Cousin Cécile, who was just one year her
senior.  It was clear that Jéhan adored his sister almost as much as
his mother.  She was perfection in his eyes, and Gabrielle could
picture the slim little figure with dark tresses piled high and the
pretty baby face beneath, with its big black eyes and arched brows.
She had courage and determination too, this Cécile de Quernais, and was
no doll who cared only for dress and compliments.

Brittany bred daughters of better stuff than that.

Gabrielle listened and asked questions till she would have wearied a
less interested speaker.  But Jéhan could not weary when he talked of
home.

When at last his young hostess rose, her hazel eyes were determined and
red lips positive.

"I shall certainly return with you to Brittany," she declared.  "Ah!
you do not know how lonely it is here, and how I have
always--always--longed for a sister."

Then suddenly the colour flooded her cheeks.

"I shall love Cécile," she said.  "But perhaps ... yes, perhaps ... it
would be better if she and Madame your mother came ... here."

De Quernais bowed to hide a smile.

"If it is impossible now for you to come to Brittany, my cousin," he
murmured, "I shall pray the saints that one day I may have the felicity
of taking you there."

But Gabrielle, remembering--for the first time, perhaps, that day--that
a cousin is not the same as a brother by many degrees, did not answer.

She was thinking of some one else who was neither kith nor kin, but
vastly dearer all the same.  If ever she went to Brittany she hoped
that Michael Berrington would be beside her.  Cousin Jéhan was but a
boy!

She did not, however, press the latter to remain at Langton when he
suggested--half hesitatingly--that he might ride to town that night in
quest of Morry.  Certainly no time should be lost on such an errand.



CHAPTER XI

THE ADVANTAGES OF A KEYHOLE

The buxom daughter of mine host at the Goat and Compasses, not
half-a-mile from Carlton House, had her own opinions.  They were
decided, and showed an unusual power of discernment.

Mr. Conyers was a very pretty gentleman, in spite of a reprehensible
habit of kissing too freely when rosy lips were near and tempting; but
he was not to be compared--so Mollie told herself--with Mr. Michael
Berrington, who was not pretty at all, and had not even a glance for
Mollie, let alone a kiss, but was all eyes and ears for that handsome
and lavish gentleman his father, who clung to him one moment and
flouted him the next.

Mollie had met a good many Sir Stephens before!  Then there was that
Frenchman, who talked so much and seemed so fond of making fun of King
George--bless him!  Mollie did not like foreigners, and was as loyal as
she was plump and pretty.

With her ear to the keyhole she was trying hard to hear more of what
Moosoo Trouet was saying to Mr. Conyers and that sleepy-eyed Lord
Denningham, who had made her blush with the freedom of his remarks as
to her charms.

Mollie frowned, and glued her ear closer.

Lack-a-day!  She could hear little, and was so intent on courting
better success that she fell back with a squeal when a hand caught her
shoulder.

Sir Stephen Berrington was laughing.

"Come, chick," he gibed.  "We'll have to dub you Mistress of the
Keyhole, instead of honest men's hearts.  There! don't change colour.
I'll not betray you if you run straight away, and cook me an omelette
of chickens' livers for a snack before I start for Brighton.  And, hark
ye, my pretty, a bottle of port as crusty as your father's temper to
drink your health in."

Mollie needed no second bidding, for, sure, that Lord Denningham would
not have spared her had he known of her curiosity, and Peter Cooling
had a strap which he was not too tender a parent to use across an
erring daughter's fair shoulders.

Nevertheless, Mollie's cheeks were aflame and her brown eyes sparkling
with truly righteous indignation.

Morice Conyers had not thought of eavesdroppers when he made that last
speech of his.  Loyalty to conviction as well as King makes great
demands on one at times.  Mollie, the innkeeper's daughter, was
something near a lady by instinct just now, and ready to make a mighty
sacrifice at the call of honour.

Her reputation as the best omelette maker in England might be at stake,
yet she never hesitated more than a second at the kitchen door before
she thrust her head inside, bidding the serving-wench put aside
kettle-scrubbing, and see to the execution of Sir Stephen's order.

La! there would be some swearing upstairs unless Jenny could rise to
the occasion beyond expectations.  But what signified a burnt omelette
compared with the business in hand?

Mollie, rosier than ever with haste, stood at the parlour door.

Was her father inside?  If so, it would be a case of fibbing to get
that sober gentleman, Mr. Berrington, outside.

But old Peter was not within.  He was discoursing to the ostler in the
yard.  A broad-shouldered figure in a blue, many-caped coat, adorned by
brass buttons, with legs stretched well before him, and hands thrust
deeply in his pockets, sat alone.

Mollie advanced, bashful, but brimming with self-importance.

"Mr. Berrington, sir," she cried breathlessly.

Michael turned, half rising as he saw her standing there, for, if he
had neither kisses nor smiles for pretty barmaids, he treated every
woman he met with a deference which they found vastly pleasing.

"Why, yes, Mollie," quoth he.  "The coach is never ready to start yet?"

"No, indeed!" she answered at a gabble.  "Sir Stephen has but now
ordered an omelette, which that slut Jenny is sure to burn, but I had
to leave her, having news of moment for your ear."

Her air of self-importance was amusing.

Michael's grey eyes twinkled.

"News of moment!  Now you must not complain to me, child, if Mr.
Conyers kisses you too often."

She pouted at that, with the air of a spoilt little coquette.

"Kisses indeed!  I'll teach Mr. Conyers!  No, no, Mr. Berrington, sir.
It's news I bring you.  You remember the young gentleman from France
who rode up from the country a day since to see that same Mr. Conyers?"

"Jéhan de Quernais?  His pardon!  Monsieur le Comte.  Oh yes, I recall
him very well, since he only left yesterday."

"He was cousin to Mr. Conyers, and had a favour to crave from him?"

"Fie, Mollie, you should not interest yourself with the affairs of
gentlemen."

"There's no harm done if I have, this time, Mr. Berrington, sir.
Perhaps you know, as well as I, that Mr. Conyers sent him back to his
country-house, bidding him wait there a few days for him, and promising
to do afterwards all he asked."

Michael nodded, recollecting an annoyance that Morry should send this
dainty Breton gentleman back to Langton, where Mistress Gabrielle dwelt
alone, save for the chaperonage of old Nurse Bond.

"They sent him away," nodded Mollie.  "But, poor gentleman, they mean
to play a scurvy trick on him from what Mr. Conyers cried, laughing, to
that ugly Frenchman just now.  They'll play him false, and leave him in
the country, whilst they go back to Brittany to do what Moosoo Trouet
and the black Revolution want, and from what the pretty young gentleman
begged Mr. Conyers to save them."

Michael was frowning now, his cheeks pale and grey eyes stern.

"Where learnt you this, girl?" he rapped out imperiously.

Mollie flushed, hanging her head.

"I ... I learnt it b--but now, sir," she stammered.

"Ah, I see.  At the keyhole.  Fie, Mollie; it was not well done!"

Yet his tone was more absent than upbraiding, for he was trying to fit
the key to the tale.

"I ... I did it to p-pleasure you, sir, and because my father says the
Revolution in France is a bloody and wicked thing.  And ... and I am
sure Moosoo Trouet would be ready to murder us all in our beds as they
have been doing in Paris.  So, for sake of it all, and the pretty young
gentleman from France, I came to tell you.  An' it's certain Jenny's
burnt the omelette, which if father knew he'd beat me sorely."

A tear in a pretty eye is a wonderful softener to men's hearts.

Michael Berrington took Mollie's hand and tried to express at the same
moment his gratitude for her good intent and the wrongness of deceit
and eavesdropping.

Mollie sobbed a little, smiled a little, found coquetry vain, and a
golden guinea consoling.

Michael's conscience pricked him at the thought that this last might be
termed bribery and corruption.

Yet Mollie's news was startling even if incoherent.

What did it mean?

The cousin from Brittany had found more in common with Michael
Berrington than with Morice Conyers, though the latter had been
constrainedly affable.

Monsieur Marcel Trouet had been confined to his room through illness
during the young Count's stay, but Morry had visited him.

Monsieur Jéhan de Quernais had been pressing and enthusiastic in the
cause of his mission.  At first Morice, with a round oath, had declared
that nothing should take him to Brittany.  He had his own pies to bake,
and had not the least wish for the embrace of the "widow."*


* The guillotine.


But this hectoring decision, mark you, was before he visited Monsieur
Trouet--poor Monsieur Trouet, who lay groaning in bed with that kind
Lord Denningham to act as sick nurse!

Afterwards Morry climbed down; that is, he began to feel the bonds of
kinship and the great responsibility due to him as Monsieur le Marquis
de Varenac.

Yes, he would come and guide his waiting people in the right way.

He and the overjoyed Jéhan talked long into the night over the matter,
till Morice felt that he was indeed Breton too, and almost ready to
join the ranks of la Rouerie's desperate band, which meant to sweep
Robespierre, the guillotine, and the whole Revolution itself into the
sea.

But Jéhan must not be impatient.

It was absolutely impossible for his cousin to be whirled off on the
instant to Varenac.

He must arrange his affairs.  An appointment of the utmost importance,
nay, the command of the Prince of Wales himself, took him the next day
to Brighton.

Three days, and then he would be at the disposal of Brittany, the
Royalists, and, finally, of Jéhan de Quernais.  But for those three
days he asked his good cousin to accept the hospitality of Langton
Hall.  He himself would not be there, though he regretted it a thousand
times.  However, he would find many interests and amusements, as well
as the society of his little sister Gabrielle.

Monsieur Jéhan, even though he disliked delay, was ready to admit that
he should find Langton Hall charming.

He had seen la belle Cousine Gabrielle.

It was that last speech which had so ruffled poor Michael's humour.

Morry had no right to make it possible that even the breath of a
sullying whisper should spread about young Mistress Conyers
entertaining a handsome foreigner alone.

Morry--whose ideas of propriety were as elastic as London morals--would
have laughed at such a suggestion.

So, perforce, Michael, having no right to interfere, had to swallow his
vexation.

He was glad to see in Monsieur Jéhan a discreet and pleasant gentleman.

Yet his own heart-strings tugged him homewards, whilst that fetish,
honour, held him bound at the Goat and Compasses.

The power of a strong will over a weak had already given him some
influence with Sir Stephen, and he would not leave him alone in the
company of such men as Denningham and Trouet.

Mollie's story had convinced him that the honour of more than one house
was at stake.  And Morice Conyers was Gabrielle's brother.

There was little of the dare-devil, racketing youth left in the
sober-eyed man who sat pondering over the fire, whilst without, in the
yard, the ostlers called to each other, laughing and joking, as they
led out the roan horses which my Lord Denningham was driving to
Brighton, comparing them with the blacks which Mr. Berrington handled
with such skill.

And upstairs a group of finely-clothed gentlemen lounged over their
wine, which they found soothing enough after shouting themselves hoarse
in anathemas on Mollie's devoted head for the foulest omelette ever
beaten.

But Mollie, escaping in good time to her chamber, laughed softly as she
tucked away her guinea in a silken pouch, and reflected how truly angry
that hateful little Moosoo would be if he knew how she had tried to
foil his nasty, creepy ways.

Faugh!  The snake!  How she hated him, although he called her "Ze
pretty, pretty Mollee."

Mollie indeed!  The impertinence!



CHAPTER XII

AN UNPRINCELY JEST

The Prince of Wales was in hilarious mood.  And with reason too.

At his Brighton Pavilion he had enjoyed full many a carouse with
convivial spirits, and this was to be the merriest of all.

Clarence and York were there, besides many another well-known figure
which haunted Carlton House,--good drinkers, good gamblers, good
comrades all; boon and fitting companions for such a master.

What bursts of merriment went up from the throng gathered around the
royal chair!

Florizel had an idea, and the throats of laughing satellites were
hoarse with crying: "Excellent!" "Excellent!"

"He'll dine and sleep with us here, at the Pavilion," chuckled the
Prince.  "A wager that he'll sleep sound."

As he spoke a grand equipage was driving into the courtyard--that
gilded coach and famous team of greys were long remembered in
Sussex--and from the coach descended an old, grey-headed man.  It was
His Grace the great Duke of Norfolk, known to his friends as "Jockey of
Norfolk," who had driven over from his castle of Arundel at the
Prince's invitation.

They had been friends and then quarrelled, as most of the Whigs
quarrelled with George, and this visit was to proclaim a kind of
reconciliation between them.

Thus the old noble entered the Pavilion and was greeted uproariously by
an uproarious host.

Dignity and our Prince were unknown to each other, and there were some
who saw the wink which passed between him and his brother of York.

But the Duke was not thinking of plots or traps in the presence of the
First Gentleman of Europe.  He was delighted with his reception and the
banquet which followed.

An honoured guest indeed!  As his age and station demanded.

Jockey of Norfolk smiled, bowing over his glass at the ring of familiar
faces, whilst George, grinning, winked again at his portly brother.

So many friends! and all of one mind.  Drink must each one with His
Grace.  He did not refuse, though, from under bushy brows, the still
piercing eyes looked round, noting the snigger on this face and the
scoff on that.

It was a conspiracy then.

Honour was to be dishonour for the Howard.  Yet he did not refuse the
challenges, his reputation with the bottle being almost as great as his
standing.

Many a less seasoned head lay low round that merry table.  Last toasts
had been drunk here and there along the line, but Jockey of Norfolk sat
erect, his lips smiling, his face stern.

Bumpers of brandy were suggested at last by that gallant Florizel, that
First Gentleman himself,--bumpers of brandy to seal a plot as degrading
as it was contemptible.  York, with unsteady hand, filled a great glass
with the spirits and gave it to his brother's guest.

The Duke stood up, and, raising the goblet, tossed off the contents at
a draught.

A brave old toper! with something pathetic in this last defiance, for
all its sordidness.

"And now," quoth he, aloud and very sternly, "I'll have my carriage and
go home."

The Prince of Wales laid a detaining hand on the velvet sleeve of his
outraged guest.

"No, no," he cried thickly.  "I vow we'll make a night of it.  You've
promised to sleep here, Jockey.  You'll not go against your
Prin--Prince's commands.  You can't complain ... entertainment."

But the old man shook off the fat hand.

"I'll go," he growled, with an oath.  "I see through such hospitality,
Your Highness."

The thought of the trap made his blood boil.  But the Howard honour was
at stake.  He would not sleep beneath the roof of the man who had
wished to stain it.

Alas! they called the carriage, but, before it could drive to the
Pavilion doors, the hoary head of England's premier Duke lay helpless
on the table, with that chuckling, mocking throng around, glorying in
their successful wit, and finding the sight of shamed grey hairs hugely
entertaining.

It was the sort of jest Florizel delighted in, though historians clack
so much of his good-nature and kindly heart.

Poor old Jockey of Norfolk!  He managed somehow to stumble to his
carriage, bidding the postillions drive him to Arundel.  But the Prince
was loath to part with his fun, and gave other orders.

So, for half an hour, they drove him round the Pavilion lawn, whilst in
the porch stood a crowd of revellers laughing and mocking at the
helpless old figure inside.

Presently they lifted him out and put him to bed in the Pavilion.  He
awoke to find himself there in the morning, and the bitterness of that
awakening stayed with him to his dying day.

A goodly jest, indeed, for a Prince and gentleman!  Yet Florizel,
debauchee, gambler, libertine, has his admirers to this day.  A rare,
merry fellow indeed, this German princeling!  A noble ruler for old
England later on.

So thought Michael Berrington, bitterly enough, as he sat grim and
disapproving at the table till he could bear the spectacle no longer.

Sir Stephen already lay half insensible on the floor--excuse enough for
the son to carry an erring father home.

Lord Denningham had his sneers there.  As for Morice Conyers and
Monsieur Trouet, they were not present, though they had driven to
Brighton on Denningham's coach.

Vaguely uneasy was Michael at the absence of those two, coupled with
Mollie Cooling's story.

Some plot was stirring beneath the depths, and he remembered that Guy
Barton, the kindly friend of his grandfather and now of his own, had
told him how Morice Conyers had allowed himself to be mixed up with
dangerous and seditious societies.

It is true that every right-minded Englishman cried out in horror when
the terrible news of the September massacres in the Parisian prisons
reached them.  But yet Michael had heard also of the decision of these
so-called sympathisers of freedom--the London Corresponding Society and
others--to send deputies to the leaders of the Revolution, bearing
their congratulations on deeds which were as brutal as they were
inhuman.

And not only Morice Conyers, but his own father, were members of this
Society.

Michael's eyes grew grimmer at the thought, recalling the solemn vow to
his grandfather that he would do his best to save the Berrington honour
from further stain, and wipe out--if possible--that dark debt which a
Berrington owed a Conyers.

Yes, for that reason, as well as the knowledge that he was Gabrielle's
brother, he had sought to win Morice's friendship.  But ever between
them loomed the dark figures of John Denningham and Marcel Trouet.

That both the latter hated him he was aware, returning their animosity
with interest.

Left to himself, Morice Conyers had the making of an honourable
gentleman, but a fatal weakness and vanity had drawn him down into dark
paths of vice and intrigue.

It does not do to look deep into the lives of the town-bred beaux and
bucks of that vicious period; but Michael, made of stronger and better
stuff, had turned with loathing and disgust from the enjoyments and
pastimes into which the necessary shadowing of his father led him.

After many years of privation Sir Stephen was tasting greedily of the
pleasures of life.

And Marcel Trouet took care that these should not lack the delicate
spice of political intrigue.  There are men who court notoriety, clean
or unclean.  There are others who love their flatterers so much that
they allow themselves to be drawn into affairs for which they have no
taste, and against which their better instincts cry out lustily enough.

Of such were Sir Stephen Berrington and Morice Conyers.

No wonder Michael found his task a hard one, for the two, pitted
against him in his work of rescue, were no fools.

The leaders of the glorious Revolution had the greatest confidence in
Marcel Trouet.

Lord Denningham might lack morals, but brains he had in plenty.

Without scruples the latter gift is dangerous.

So Michael felt the uneasiness growing in him as he helped his father
up the stairs of the lodging they had taken.

  "Lesh drink an' b' jolly, an' drownsh melancholy,"

warbled Sir Stephen, rousing himself.  "Ha, ha, Mike, boy, drownsh it,
drownsh it."

Michael did not reply.  He was thinking.

Sir Stephen sank back in an easy-chair, his handsome face flushed, his
satin suit crumpled and stained with wine splashes, his wig awry.  And
over him stood his son, stern and commanding.

"Where is Morice Conyers?" he asked gravely and very slowly, whilst
grey eyes dominated wavering blue ones.

Sir Stephen began chuckling.

"Morry!  Wantsh to know where Morry is?  Why, you knowsh better'n I.
He's with Moosoo.  Ha, ha! a pretty joke, split me if it ain't.  We'll
make them laugh at Almack's over it.  Ha, ha! good old Morry.  Fancy
him turningsh politics!  Red capsh, Marshellaise, too funny."

"He has gone with Marcel Trouet to France," said Michael, in even,
quiet tones.

Sir Stephen looked slily up.

"Marcel Trouet?  Ha! ha!  He's the birdsh for Paris.  Paris!  I knowsh
Paris.  Course I do!  Not going there now, though.  Marcel may go
alone.  No redsh caps for me.  Mightn't leave head to wear it on.  No,
no.  I'm goingsh, Morry."

"And Morry is going to----?"

"Brittany.  Thatsh it!  Brittany.  Never, never will be slaves.  No,
no, thatsh wrong.  Morry's a Marquish.  Gran' thing Marquish, but
Morry's not proud.  Red capsh for Morry, Marshellaise.  Send all the
demsh arist'crats to the guillotine.  That's what Trouet wants.  Goodsh
fellow, Trouet.  Those demsh Bretons such fools.  Don't know where
breadsh buttered.  Morry'll teach 'em, an' the little Count can sit an'
shing to Gabrielle.  Pretty girl, Gabrielle, Morry's shishter.  The
little Count'll be waitingsh, an' waitingsh.  Ha, ha!  'Have to wait,'
says Marcel.  Bumpers on that.  Morry'll dosh own work to ownsh tune.
Won't be dictated to by whipper-shnappers.  I'm with Morry--Denningham
an' I'sh with Morry.  All goin' together.  Good joke that.  Right side
too.  No danger there.  Quality, libertysh, fraternitish."

His head fell forward as he spoke, though he lay chuckling still.

And Michael, standing there in that mean room, with the helpless,
drunken figure in a bunch before him, felt his pulses stir with
something more wild and despairing than mere loathing.

The tale, which would have been incomprehensible enough but for Mollie
Cooling, was plain now.

Urged to it by the subtle arguments of Marcel Trouet, Morice Conyers
was evidently allowing himself to betray not only his own order, but
his own kith and kin.

The simple Breton peasants, who awaited the word of their seigneur,
were to hear it as young de Quernais had asked that they should.

But, alas! how different a word would it be to what was anticipated.
Instead of sealing the hopes of that gallant enterprise led by la
Rouerie and other noble gentlemen of Brittany, the doom of the
Chouannerie would be pronounced, and the Republic would again triumph.
The balances, trembling and uncertain, would sink under the weight of a
traitor's blow.

All an Englishman's notions of honour and fair play rose in revolt
against the hideous baldness of the facts.

Yet what could he do?

Doubtless, both Trouet and Conyers were already on their way, and the
latter would soon be joined by his evil genii, Lord Denningham and Sir
Stephen.

Against these what weight would his unsupported word carry?

A laugh, threats, _failure_--yes, that was all he minded,--that last;
and it would be inevitable, seeing that he could not fight his own
father,--and Trouet was no duellist.

What should he do?  What should he do?

The question drummed ceaselessly in his ear, whilst honour's mournful
ghost seemed to rise to his side, looking at him with Sir Henry's
reproachful eyes.

Could he not, by some means, save them both,--these two, weak
backsliders, from this same honour's roll,--and thus redeem his vow and
wipe that dimmer blot from the scutcheon of his house?

Save Morice Conyers and his father!  Pray Heaven to find a way for that!

An idea came to him, a swift flash, which carried but a half-germ of
hope to his heart, as he stood listening to Sir Stephen's heavy
breathing.

At least he could ride to Langton Hall and warn Count Jéhan that he was
betrayed.

He shrank from proclaiming Gabrielle's brother traitor, yet better
first than last, since truth and proof must out.

Yes, he would warn de Quernais, and then, perchance, Providence would
show him the fashion of his next step.

With head erect, and pulses on fire, he turned, striding down the
narrow stairway and out into the street below.

Their horses were at the inn-stable opposite, though mine host of the
Flying Fish had had no accommodation for more guests.

On his way Michael passed merry bands of revellers, for the Prince had
brought Brighton into considerable fashion; he also passed one solitary
figure, wrapped in a long driving-coat over a rich suit of silk and
satin.  It was Lord Denningham, hurrying from the Pavilion to the
lodging of Sir Stephen Berrington.

Sir Stephen's son set his jaw grimly.  There was to be a fight of sorts
between them, even though, at present, his sword lay idle in its
scabbard.



CHAPTER XIII

A WOMAN'S WILL

Riding through the darkness of an autumn night with loose rein--a weary
journey and dangerous too for the solitary traveller; but Michael
Berrington recked nothing then of such danger, seeing he was set to
fight a much greater.

A fetish, this honour, say many; but the few who guard her as a
possession dearer than life smile, knowing that she is precious, with
her songs of inspiration and lofty ideals.

So Michael rode, and found his heart first beating high with that
fighting hope which deems failure impossible and the age of miracles
not passed, and again enveloped in the pall of shame and doubt.

He spared neither spur nor whip that night.  Thrice he changed horses
and thrice felt the weary beasts stumbling beneath him ere he reached
his destination, and by then the dawn was widening and spreading into
the glory of morning light.

They were early risers at Langton Hall, and there was small delay in
gaining admittance, whilst Giles, grinning a sly welcome, made haste to
usher him into the sunny morning-room.

Count Jéhan was finding English customs as extraordinary as they were
agreeable.  French breakfasts of roll and chocolate were as little
understood here as French pruderies and proprieties.

During the last two days he had found himself wondering what his mother
would say could she see him sitting tête-à-tête at meals with this
pretty and adorable little cousin.  He had not altogether grasped the
fact that Gabrielle, motherless and alone, had been brought up with a
freedom wholly unknown to other English maidens.

A cousin--to Gabrielle--seemed to be a vastly superior sort of brother,
one who never flouted, but was always kind and most considerate.

During those two days she had heard so much too of Madame her Aunt, and
Cécile, that she was longing more than ever for the day to come when
she might welcome them to England.  And of course they would come--they
would _have_ to come.

Morry would bring them back with him, and Cousin Jéhan would follow
when he and his hero Marquis had finally driven the Revolution into the
sea.

In the intervals of such planning Gabrielle showed the new cousin her
favourite haunts in the garden and orchard, whilst he taught her
charming chansonettes to sing to the accompaniment of her guitar.

But she did not take him to the woods where the blackberries hung ripe
and luscious amongst the brambles, for those were sacred to herself,
and one other--the other who was no sort of a brother, but her dear
knight for ever and ever.

She was telling Count Jéhan that they would walk to Berrington village
that morning, when the door opened and the man of whom she thought
stood before her.

And for the first moment Michael himself had no eyes save for the
slender figure in its dainty morning wrapper of flowered chintz, with
dark, unpowdered curls caught back by a pink ribbon, and cheeks
flushing rosily as the sun-kissed clouds of dawn, as she smiled her
welcome.

Count Jéhan had risen too, and the eyes of the two men met.

"You bring news, Monsieur?"

De Quernais' anxious tones were broken through by Gabrielle's glad cry.

"Of course Morry has come with you, Michael?"

But to her amaze he shook his head, scarcely turning towards her.

"I have come alone to see Monsieur le Comte," he replied with some
emphasis.

But Gabrielle was in no mood to take the hint.

"Then it is about Morry," she said, leaping, woman-like, at a
conclusion.  "Tell it us quickly, Mr. Berrington."

She knew how to command.

And Michael, sore at heart, but desperate in his need, obeyed, telling
the story without garnishings or surmisals, but with a blunt directness
which left no shadow of doubt behind.

One little sob was the only answer he received at first, though, in the
silence, a robin's cheerful song at the open window jarred almost as
much as the glory of October sunshine flooding the room.

Count Jéhan's face was whiter than Gabrielle's, and his black eyes
blazed.

It was a cruel wound--even more so than Michael could understand, for
the young Breton's whole soul and enthusiasm had been kindled to
fever-heat by the fascination of leader and cause.

La Rouerie and the Chouannerie were names written in letters of fire on
his heart.  And this visit to England was to have done so much for both.

Now he knew himself betrayed.

Worse!  Instead of bringing a friend to raise men for the Royalist
Cause, he had sent a firebrand to kindle the threatening blaze against
it.

When Morice Conyers--Marquis de Varenac--sang the song of blood-stained
liberty, there would be many voices to echo it as blindly as sheep
which follow the tinkling of their leader's bell.

Ruined!  Ruined!  What would la Rouerie say?  He had sworn to succeed
in his mission, and had, till the last moment, deemed it an easy one.

And now?

Why!  now the chasm yawned for those who pressed forward with such
confidence.

A groan burst from his lips, whilst beads of perspiration stood on his
brow.

It was Gabrielle who broke the silence.

"Thus Morry plays traitor," said she, very quietly and steadily.  "But,
gentlemen, it is not my brother that does it, but those whose influence
has been his ruin--Lord Denningham and Marcel Trouet."

She was quivering with passion as she spoke, for the shame of such
treachery was very bitter.

"Marcel Trouet," cried de Quernais sharply.  "Trouet, the friend of
Robespierre?--the----"

"Same," answered Michael.  "And an agent from Republic France to stir
up sedition in Royalist England, so that her hands being full, she will
have neither time nor power to put straight or avenge the wrongs of
French aristocrats."

"A--ah!"

"Morry!  Morry!" moaned Gabrielle, her white hands knotted in agony.

Then slowly the girl's bowed head was raised.  Erect she faced the two
men opposite.

"The Marquis de Varenac rides home," said she.  "Then his sister will
join him.  If I cannot persuade him ... and he listens sometimes when
he has not been drinking or gambling heavily ... then I myself will
speak to the men of Varenac.  Yes, I think I know how to speak and make
them listen."

"You, Mademoiselle?"

De Quernais had taken a step forward.

She faced him, pitying, reassuring, perfectly confident.

"Yes, I," she replied--"Mademoiselle de Varenac.  You will see they
will listen to me as well as to Morice, and if the worst came, and they
made mock of a woman's command, I would don man's dress and proclaim
myself the Marquis."

Wild words, but daring spirit.

How different to gentle, shy Cécile!

Yet the young Count had nothing but reverence and admiration in his
heart as he looked into the beautiful face animated with that kindred
courage which made of her sweet comrade as well as fair lady.  But
Michael Berrington's brow was knit in a frown of perplexity.

"It is impossible, Mistress Gabrielle," he said.  "How could you
journey thither alone and unattended, even if there were not a hundred
other dangers?"

"Dangers!" she scoffed, flushing.  "How can one talk of dangers after
the news you bring?"

Her eyes challenged him.

"Did you not yourself tell me that honour is above everything?" she
demanded.

"A man's honour----"

"You are scarcely complimentary, Mr. Berrington.  I see you find that
of a woman poor stuff which needs no defending."

"Mistress, indeed you wholly mistake----"

"Besides, I shall not go alone," she added, with a smile succeeding the
frown.  "You will both be with me."

She held out her hands.

It was here that her cousin interposed.

"Nay, Gabrielle," he said--and Michael, with a jealous pang, noted how
his voice lingered over her name--"you yourself know well that we are
not proper escort for you without another----"

"Chaperon?" she asked quickly.  "Oh, if that is all, I will take Nurse
Bond.  But go I _shall_, and at once."

"Mistress Gabrielle, think----"

She paused, her dark eyes raised to Michael's perplexed and shadowed
face.

"I do think," she replied softly.  "And that is why I am going.  I may
save Varenac, I may save a very noble cause; still, it is true I may
fail in all that, yet I vow to succeed in one thing--I will save my
brother."

Long he looked into the sweet, childish face, which had grown so
inexpressibly dear to him, and, reading there the purpose of high
resolve, bowed low and stood aside.

At least she had bidden him ride with her, and he would be at hand to
protect her with his life against those dangers which before had been
without reality.

But de Quernais, claiming the right of cousinship, must needs have the
last word.

"Ma cousine," he whispered, catching at her hand, and raising it to his
lips, "what shall I say?  From despair springs hope, and you are the
angel who brings it.  Yes, yes.  They will listen to you.  My heart
tells me so.  They will listen to you, and Brittany will save not only
herself but all France.  We will save the King and our fair Queen too.
Ah, ciel! could I think otherwise I should go mad.  And la Rouerie will
thank you himself for the noble part you play."

He spoke as though that last were reward enough for all.

But Gabrielle cared nothing for la Rouerie.  It was her brother, her
only brother, whom she went to save,--his honour which he, too weak to
hold it, must give into her keeping.

Thus she would act as Michael himself acted, and he would approve.

Seeing that, shining through the trouble in his face, she herself could
afford to smile.

They would save Morry together, save Varenac too, and come home as the
heroes and heroines of gilded romance ever did, to live happily ever
after.

No wonder that sweet seventeen, seeing dangers and difficulties
_couleur de rose_ under love's glamour, ran singing softly upstairs to
acquaint Nurse Bond of the journey before her.



CHAPTER XIV

ON BRETON SOIL

A solitary traveller along a bleak and desolate road--solitary, that
is, to all intents and purposes, since he could comprehend scarcely a
word spoken by the sturdy Breton peasant who jogged along on foot by
his horse's side.

Morice Conyers was in anything but good humour.

Away from the merry throng at Almack's and Arthur's, things in general
presented a vastly different complexion.

In a certain set it had been fashionable to talk glibly of liberty,
equality, and fraternity, and to drink bumpers to the health of those
who strove for them across the Channel.  The young bloods of the
coffee-houses--though only that particular coterie, mind you--found it
easy and amusing to toast such an upheaval of law and order.

And the Marseillaise was a demned catchy tune.  Thus the pigeons
prepared themselves for roasting.

And French chefs were not lacking.

That was how Morry Conyers became a member of the London Corresponding
Society, a membership which consisted in talking very largely on a
score of subjects of which he knew nothing, and vowing, by tremendous
oaths, to assist the French Republic as far as lay in his power.

Empty phrases, emptier oaths.  But the day of reckoning had most
unexpectedly come.  Marcel Trouet knew to a hair how to play his mouse.

Flattery and high-sounding jargon of binding vows had succeeded
admirably, and Morice, reluctant at first, had begun to look upon
himself as a fine hero, whose name would be spoken in every London
coffee-house and club before history--and Marcel Trouet--had done with
him.  Twinges of conscience had been sternly repressed, drowned in the
"flowing bowl," to whose honour every wit and poet sang.

But ghosts will rise at night, and they were rising now on every
side--impalpable, shadowy creatures, less tangible than the brooding
mists which floated over the desolate lande before him, like the
fleeing spirits of a phantom army.--Ghosts of memories, ghost of
honour, ghost of his better self, ghost of little Gabrielle, whom he
loved well enough in his crooked, careless way,--all ready to taunt him
and upbraid him as he rode onwards to Varenac.

How oppressive the silence was!  How wild and dreary the scene around
him!

Half Breton himself by birth, his mother's native land was calling to
him with that strange, mysterious voice which can be heard only by
Celtic ears.

A strange, indefinable longing had stirred within him as he strode
through the narrow streets of St. Malo; it was quickening now into
stronger life as he listened to the moaning of the wind as it swept
across from the coast and over the purple moorland.

A minor note it struck; yet who shall deny that truest sweetness
lingers in that key?

Nature calling to her child, not through the beautiful but the
sorrowful.

Grey crags, heather-crowned landes, lines of yellow sand-dunes, the
fading light of an autumn evening, and through all, above all, the
melancholy charm which allures rather than repels, crying aloud of
sorrow, yet singing its wild music as melodiously as any Lorelei on
charmed rock.

Not that Morice Conyers heard it all; only vaguely it struck his heart,
reproaching him in that he, a son of Brittany, came, as a thief in the
night, to betray his land and add to her burden of lament.

And he was alone.

That was the reason why such foolish ghosts pursued him.  Jack
Denningham would have killed them with a sneer, Trouet would have
stabbed them with a mocking witticism, Berrington have drowned them
with a jolly laugh and long pull at his brandy-flask.

Wise fellows, those comrades of his; but why had they left him thus in
the lurch?

True, Denningham and Sir Stephen had promised to follow, after the
former had had time to deal with a little private business of his which
concerned a lady and needed delicate handling.

Ha, ha!  A bit of a rake, old Jack, but a demned good fellow!  Not such
a convivial spirit as Steenie, though.

Good old Steenie!  He was the chap needed on such an occasion as the
present, to troll out a song, and brew a bowl of punch when they
arrived at this confounded Manor of his, which was probably as mouldy
and rat-run as it was aristocratic.

And little Marcel?  What in the world did he want tearing off to Paris
instead of accompanying him?

Going to bring a horde of red-caps with him, was he?

The tune of "Ça ira" would sound strangely foreign to English lips, but
they were good fellows, these, from all accounts.  Rough, perhaps, in
their pulling down, but equally ready to build up that new altar to
liberty and fraternity.

All the same a picture of these same shouting, sweating Parisians with
red hands, red hearts, red death as well as caps to be brought along
with them, was scarcely to the taste of a gentleman.

Marcel should not have gone to Paris.  There would be men enough to
sing to Goddess Liberty in Brittany after the Marquis de Varenac had
given the lead.

The Marquis de Varenac!

A vastly imposing title.

Plain Morice Conyers grew by proportion--in his own estimation.  A
leader of men!  Good that!  A leader of men!  And Jack Denningham to
stand in the background and cry "Well done."

It was a pleasant reverie.

But the ghosts would rise again.

One stern of face, too, at last.

His father!

Twisted, crippled Ralph Conyers, the man who had been ready to give all
for a lost cause.  What would he say to his son now?

Ralph Conyers' son preferred not to think, remembering that boon
companion of his, Steenie Berrington, whose name his father had cursed
to his dying day.

The Breton guide had paused, panting, and stood with one lean, bared
arm, pointing towards the coast.  Over the horizon had gathered a pall
too black to be mistaken for the shadows of approaching night--a
sinister cloud where storm-furies brooded loweringly over a sinister
land.

The shrill cries of the ospreys mingled with the weary sighing of waves
which beat restlessly against the barren coast-line of white, angular
rocks, tossing hither and thither in their rising anger the fetid
shoals of rotting seaweed which bordered the narrow strip of shingle.

The storm was coming, not stealthily, with warning couriers of shadowed
gloom, but swift as those vultures which winged their way across the
low ridges of sand-dunes, where the golden heads of the sea-poppies lay
low.

The sturdy little Breton horse which Morice bestrode, snorted, shaking
its head as it faced the purple moor before it.

Purple heather, purple heather!  Surely those grim dwellers of a grim
land should thank thee for thy touch of softening splendour and beauty
amidst grey barrenness,--the carpet of a king amongst briers and rock,
thistle and waste.

On came the storm, sweeping inland with a fury which gathered force
with every moment.

The mist-clouds had disappeared, rent and twisted by the gale which
struck the travellers with sharp buffetings.

Not a hut nor a cottage near for shelter, nothing to protect them
against the rising blast.

A flash of lightning, a deafening crash of thunder, and down came the
rain, tempest-driven and stinging, like the lash of a thousand fairy
whips.

The man, Pierre Dusac, was talking.

It was unfortunate, but the noble Marquis de Varenac understood not a
single word.  It was evident, however, that the guide was anxious to
end the journey as speedily as possible, and, finding it no easy task
to run in face of a hurricane, was demanding to ride on Morice's steed.

It is no use quarrelling with one's bread-and-butter.

If the worthy Pierre forsook him the forlorn Englishman would find
himself in an evil plight.  Yet he acquiesced with sorry grace,
surprised, however, to find that the sturdy beast made nothing of the
double weight, but went steadily on, encouraged by the familiar cries
of her new rider.

Oh, for Almack's!  Oh, for Arthur's, or White's!  Oh, for the comfort
of warm fire and pleasant punch-bowl!

Again and again the champion of Revolutionary enthusiasm cursed himself
for a fool, and vowed that he would return to England with all speed,
heedless of renown.

Wet to the skin, cold and wretched in every sense of the word, he rode
on, whilst overhead the storm raged in full force.

Crash after crash of thunder deafened him as it broke, rolling away
like the roar of a mighty battle towards the distant forests.  Flash
after flash showed the same desolate scene which evening light had
displayed--nothing but that dreary stretch of barren lande, with its
scattered rocks and clumps of gorse here and there amongst the heather,
whilst the dark fringe of forest-trees bound the landscape to westwards.

"Òla!  Òla!" screamed the guide in his ear.  "Kérnak, Kérnak."

Morice growled out an oath.  Wet, cold, and anxious as to his probable
fate, his usually easy temper was sour and crabbed.

"Kérnak, Kérnak!" cried the man again, pointing to a slope to their
right, on the top of which stood outlined a dark mass.

Kérnak?  A habitation of sorts, at any rate, as the next blue flash
told Morice.

A château of considerable size, with a fringe of forest-trees clustered
round the foot of the hill, like rows of guarding sentinels.  Through
the blinding mist of rain the travellers could see lights burning.
Refuge at last!

Morice did not even stop to inquire as to whether Varenac were far or
near.  Escape from the battle of striving elements was all he asked.

Pierre was plainly of the same mind, for, seizing the rough bridle, he
sprang to the ground, urging the pony on at a fresh trot towards their
goal.

Morice drew a deep sigh of relief as they reached the shelter of the
trees and hastened up the narrow road which led, through an avenue of
wind-swept oaks, to the château gates.



CHAPTER XV

CÉCILE DE QUERNAIS

A low hall heavily raftered with black oak, and walls hung with
tapestry and armour; a huge fire blazing on the open hearth, and two
ladies seated near, in carved oaken seats, one busy with her
embroidery, the other with the spinning-wheel.

An old-fashioned, stereotyped picture enough, yet that was what Morice
Conyers saw as he stood, dripping and bedraggled, in the doorway,
demanding, somewhat peremptorily at first, for a night's lodging of the
old major-domo who had opened the gate.

But the masterful key was lowered as, from her seat by the fire, the
elder lady arose.

"Welcome, Monsieur," she said--speaking with that clear enunciation and
purity of accent which proclaimed the aristocrat--"as any stranger
would be, on such a night, in the home of Louise de Quernais."

It was the graceful introduction which showed that, for all his sodden
garments and dishevelled appearance, she had recognised an equal in the
suppliant whom Guillaume eyed so dubiously.

Morice stepped hastily forward, bowing as well as he might under the
circumstances, but with a shamed flush on his cheeks.

"I thank you, Madame," he replied in French, "and a kindly Fate
which--which has guided me to your doors.  My name is Morice Conyers,
and, if I mistake not, it was Count Jéhan, your son, who, but a few
days since, announced to me that I am now Marquis de Varenac as well."

He spoke haltingly, aware that his night's lodging would be hardly
earned without the aid of some lying, yet thinking--on the spur of the
moment--that it was best to assume the role of frankness.

She would, in any case, know him by his title soon, and, in the
meantime, he could use it now by way of introduction.

It made all the difference to the present, and Morice Conyers was not
the man to look much farther than the ease of the moment.

At any rate if they scorned and loathed him to-morrow these hostesses
would make him very welcome to-night.

There was no doubt of that, for, at his words, Madame's face lighted up
with a smile of rare sweetness, whilst the girl, who had remained near
the fire, sprang to her feet, heedless of fallen embroidery.

"Ah!  Madame Maman," she cried eagerly, "it is the good English cousin."

Morice turned at the cry, looking beyond the stately figure of the
elder lady towards the dainty little maiden in her white gown, with
crimson ribbons knotted at breast and throat and nestling amidst the
dark coils of her hair.

For all her eighteen years Cécile de Quernais looked nothing more than
a child, possessing a slim, round figure, tiny, delicate features, with
great black eyes which seemed almost out of proportion in that small
baby-face.

A child to love and protect, appealing mutely to the manhood of a man,
and showing nothing of a resolute will and courage hidden away in the
young heart.

Somehow, as he looked at her, Morice Conyers felt ashamed and guilty.

He had come to Brittany to cry "Death to the aristocrats!"

The thought was as ugly as it was persistent, so that he only half
heard the cordial welcome of Madame de Quernais herself.

Madame was of the old régime, yet, if her language savoured of a bygone
generation, the sentiments were none the less sincere.

She was glad, most glad, to welcome her nephew--the son of her dear
sister, Marie.  But it is not wise for a man to stand, even to receive
a welcome--if it be a long one--in dripping clothes.

Monsieur le Marquis de Varenac was conducted in all haste to the room
of Count Jéhan, whither Guillaume accompanied him to offer his services
as valet.

A suit of the young Count's fitted the new-comer admirably.  He looked
a different being, when, an hour later, he descended the grand
staircase into the salon.

In the picturesque costume of the eighteenth century a man must needs
be singularly unendowed to appear ugly.

Nature had been kind to Morice Conyers.  If there were lines of
weakness about the sensitive mouth, and a wavering expression in the
fine blue eyes, he nevertheless presented a handsome figure as he bowed
over the hands of his aunt and cousin.

He could talk, too, for that was an accomplishment necessitous to the
friends and satellites of Prince Florizel, who hated nothing so much as
being bored.

And it was no hard matter to talk to such gracious hostesses.

Madame was ready to smile, and be interested in everything he said,
whilst little Cécile, seated demurely in the background with her
embroidery, raised great eyes of wondering admiration to his again and
again, though she would drop them quickly, with a dawning blush, when
she found his gaze ever fixed upon her.  As for Morice, he was living
in a new world for the moment, and could hardly have fathomed his own
feelings had he tried.

Were there two personalities within--one of which had but newly sprung
to life?

He did not deem it possible at present, though he was vaguely conscious
of the desire to be indeed Monsieur le Marquis de Varenac, and not
Morice Conyers, member of a certain London Corresponding Society,
friend of one Marcel Trouet, and burning advocate of the glorious and
blood-thirsty Revolution.

Perhaps this faint stabbing of a drugged conscience was what made him
so eager to talk of everything but the object that brought him to
Brittany.

It was of England that he talked, of Gabrielle, of the long-dead
mother, whom he but vaguely remembered.  Of everything, indeed,
excepting Breton woes and Breton hopes.

It was not till later, when the hour for retiring drew near, that
Madame leant forward a little in her chair, laying a gentle, almost
motherly, touch on his twitching fingers.

"Tell me, my nephew," she asked, "why is it that Jéhan did not return
with you?"

A brief silence followed, in which Morice could hear the faint click of
the needle drawn through the stiff satin of Mademoiselle Cécile's work.

"Why Jéhan did not return?" he answered vaguely.  "He was indisposed,
Madame--nothing of consequence, but he was obliged to remain at Langton
for a day or two longer."

"And you could not delay?  Ah, my nephew, you are Breton at heart.  You
have enthusiasm in our cause.  Brittany will thank you one day,--not
far distant,--I pray the Holy Virgin.  But Jéhan?  It is not like him
to remain behind for a trifling ailment."

Maternal concern rose to the fore at the moment.  Jéhan was her only
son.

"It was not serious, Madame, but the fever would have been increased by
travelling.  He will not be long."

She smiled, yet wistfully, being more anxious than she liked to admit
in face of his assurances.

"He will not take sufficient care of himself," she said.  "He has a
delicacy of the throat.  But he laughs at me.  With him it is all la
Rouerie, la Rouerie.  He has doubtless told you of our Marquis, my
nephew?"

"Yes, Madame.  A very noble gentleman."

The words seemed to stick in the speaker's throat as he looked once
more across into Mademoiselle's black eyes and saw them ashine with
enthusiasm and devotion.

What would she say when she knew his real opinion of this great Chouan
leader who dominated the hearts of every one of his followers?

"A very noble gentleman," repeated Madame, nodding her head.  "He will
thank you, my nephew, for your prompt response to our appeal.  There
was always the fear that you might have forgotten the good Breton blood
in you, and refused to accept your obligations as Seigneur de Varenac."

"I have come with as small delay as possible," he replied shortly; and
this time he dared not look towards Cécile.

"And you have come in time," she smiled.  "The Terror has not arrived
here yet.  We have no tree of liberty planted at Kérnak or Varenac,
though we hear that at St. Malo----"

She shuddered, crossing herself.

"But the Marquis de la Rouerie will save us--and France too," she
added.  "You, who are a Varenac at heart, will adore him like the rest
of us.  As for your tenants----"

She smiled, thoughtfully.

"They await your coming," said she softly.

But Maurice Conyers did not reply; he was thinking how Marcel Trouet
would be already marching from Paris with his red-capped murderers,
singing the song he himself had been so ready to join in over the
wine-cups as they toasted the Red Revolution and the cause of Liberty
at club and coffee-house.

Somehow things were beginning to wear a different complexion on this
side of the Channel, and fear crept knocking vaguely at his heart when
he thought of the part a certain noble Marquis had come to play in his
mother's land and amongst his mother's kin.

But Cécile sang softly to herself that night as she stood, later on,
looking out towards the wild coast-line.

The storm had passed, the stars were shining, and, as she watched the
glittering lights so far above her, it seemed to the young girl that
they were eyes looking down and down and down into her heart.

And she blushed rosy red with a thought but half-conceived, turning
away lest those twinkling stars should read it--yet unformed.



CHAPTER XVI

A MORNING ADVENTURE

A morning of sunshine, Nature's atonement for past cruelties.

And Morice Conyers was ready enough to accept it, seeing that the storm
itself had been something less than an enemy in bringing him to Kérnak.

However, he must leave to-day and ride for Varenac.  Steenie would be
on his way there, and Denningham too, not to mention Marcel Trouet,
whose coming would not be delayed more than a week at most.  And yet he
could do nothing till Trouet came.  The temper of his people was too
uncertain to dare announce his policy with none to back him up.

"Ça ira" might possibly stick in Breton throats, and then what would
happen if Marcel were not by to teach them another tune?

All this was food for thought as Morice strode moodily along the uneven
path bordered by heather and gorse.

He had risen early, and, being in restless mood, had gone out.

It would be easier to think with the morning sunshine around, and the
cool autumn breezes to clear his brain.

Yet he walked aimlessly, filled with doubts which tore him first one
way and then another.

He must go to Varenac.  He could not fail his friends.

As member of the London Corresponding Society, and sympathizer with
these leaders of the great cause of Liberty, he had his part to play.

Of course all revolutions had their black side.

Yet they were necessities.

The cry of the people must be heard.

It was justice, not revenge, they took in their hands.

All the old claptraps which he had heard so often of late, and which he
took care to rehearse over and over again!

But somehow they seemed strangely hollow now as he paced between the
purple and the gold of this new land of his, and heard that dumb,
mysterious voice of Nature crying to him in strange, alluring chant,
reminding him that he was something more than Morice Conyers the
Englishman--namely, a Varenac of Varenac, a noble of this Brittany
which already fascinated as much as it repelled him.

Marquis of Varenac, scion of an ancient race, noble of the noble, as
well as Breton of the Breton.

Was he to cast aside these newly forged bonds of honour as though they
were useless shackles?

He had been ready enough to do so twenty-four hours ago; but that was
before he had seen Cécile de Quernais.

A pair of lustrous black eyes, a small, innocent face, sweet and pure
as child's or nun's, and a heart which, shining through those wonderful
eyes, proclaimed her trust and admiration in this cousin who had come
to save Brittany.

Many a fair lady had smiled upon Morice Conyers at St. James's, many a
woman, far more beautiful than this little Bretonne girl, had shown him
her favour.  Yet they had never stirred his heart as this simple child
had done.

They had known him for what he was, being ready to accept him at his
current valuation and ask no more.

But Cécile did not know him.  He knew that as well as the fact that she
was quite ready to regard him as some new knight, willing to give his
life for country and honour.

It is no easy task to tumble off a pedestal of one's own accord, even
when one has not put oneself there.

Should he?  Should he?----

Pish!  Of course he must go to Varenac.  He would go at once.  He would
not return to the Château of Kérnak.  He would reach Varenac and forget
the episode of a night's lodging.

A wooded knoll, bordering on the forest he had noted the night before,
stood on his left.  Surely that was a hut amongst the trees?  That of a
woodsman perhaps.

At any rate, he would go and make inquiries as to the road to Varenac.

But, half-way there, a strange interruption befell--a girl's scream and
a burst of rough laughter.

"Hola! hola! my pretty one.  You had forgotten Bertrand.  Malédiction;
but I had not forgotten you.  Madame was hard.  Ha, ha!  It does not do
for the seigneurs to be too hard nowadays.  By the bones of St. Efflam!
How she can struggle!  But I will explain, Mademoiselle.  Bertrand has
a grudge.  V'là! v'là!  It shall be repaid.  Come, a kiss, my little
cabbage.  You are so pretty that I shall steal many, and then it may be
that I shall take you with me to St. Quinton, where they have ideas
about the aristos.  Yes, ideas more sensible than the thickheads about
here can conceive.  And from St. Quinton to Paris is a pleasant
journey.  Té!  Té! it is then that Bertrand will be amused.  Click,
click go the _tricoteuses_.  Click, click, answers the 'widow.'  And
Sanson makes his bow to perfection.  Mille diables! but it is a little
fiend."

The high-pitched, chanting voice broke into a snarl over the last words.

It was evident that Mademoiselle did not allow herself to be easily
captured.

But, alas!  One may struggle, one may even bite in extremis, but a
man's strength must surely conquer in the end.

Thus Cécile de Quernais, crying aloud in terror, had given herself up
as lost, when, through the trees, came a figure, racing up the slope in
hot haste.

"Ah! ah!"

"Ah! ah!"

They were pitched in different keys, those simple exclamations.

As for Bertrand, he had breath for no more, since the oaths which rose
hot to his lips were choked back by that firm grip on his throat.

Morice Conyers had learnt boxing in England from Richmond himself.

Cécile de Quernais sat on a mossy bank close by, sobbing piteously,
from sheer exhaustion and the shock of that desperate struggle.

The sounds of her distress tempted Morice to choke not only oaths, but
life too, out of his fallen adversary.

But to murder one of the people might lead to consequences now, though
five years ago it would have been no matter at all.  So Bertrand was
allowed to live.

Mademoiselle Cécile, wiping pretty eyes with a tiny piece of cambric,
implored this between gasping breaths.

It was more than he deserved, however, Morice explained in a few words
of execrable Breton, enforcing each syllable with a kick.

Bertrand crouched, whining as cur under the whip.  But his eyes were
vicious.

"Go to your kennel, dog and pig," commanded his opponent, with a last
blow.  "And next time you use ugly words about your masters, your
tongue shall be cut out."

Bertrand rose, groaning.  He was very sore; but the inward bruises were
the worst, though he rubbed the outer ones dolefully as he limped away.

Morice did not catch the glint in his eyes as he went, or hear the vows
and curses growled low in the husky throat.

He was bending over Cécile.

"My poor little cousin, he has hurt you--the brute.  You should have
let me kill him.  Such vermin are dangerous."

"To--to their slayers, Monsieur."

Her English was almost as adorable as her eyes, over which tear-laden
lashes drooped piteously.

A sudden desire to kiss away those heavy drops seized the man beside
her.

Yet he forbore, fearing to frighten her afresh; but his pulses were
throbbing as he made answer:

"They need an example.  I did not know such dangers were so near you
here, Mademoiselle."

"Nor I, Monsieur.  Till now our people have been so good and kind.  We
owe much to the influence of our good curé, Père Mouet.  They love him
as he deserves, and it is he who keeps the Terror from our villages as
much as the memory of my uncle the Marquis."

"They loved him!"

"As they will love you, Monsieur."

He had succeeded in drawing her thoughts from Bertrand, and the tears
were drying on her cheeks.

But he lacked tact.

"And this fellow?"

Her eyes grew troubled again, whilst she shuddered a little.

"He was our gardener.  Madame Maman dismissed him because he stole, and
sang the Marseillaise.  He has a brother in Paris who has a bad
influence over him."

She spoke with the air of a matron.

"It would have been better to kill him."

"Oh no, no.  I ... I do not think he will come near again.  Our people
would have no sympathy with him."

"He deserves none--the brute!  See how he has hurt you."

The blue weals were clearly visible on the slender wrists which Morice
raised for inspection.

"I was afraid," she confessed, her eyes filling again.  "But, Monsieur,
you saved me."

"I would that I had come sooner.  I did not guess who I should meet on
my walk."

"I often come here," she said simply, "to visit old Nanette Leroc, who
used to be our nurse.  She is blind, and lonely too, although her niece
lives with her.  But Marie cannot read, and that is what Nanette likes."

She stooped, as she spoke, to pick up the little velvet-covered Book of
Hours which had fallen from her grasp in the struggle.

"You, too, were up early, Monsieur," she added shyly.

"Yes."

His voice was hesitant.

"We should be returning to the château," she continued, not noticing
his confusion.  "Madame Maman will be wondering what has become of us.
She--she does not altogether approve of my journeys to Nanette's
cottage all alone.  But what would you?  Guillaume could not always be
spared to come with me, and till to-day I had trusted in our people."

"They are not to be trusted, Mademoiselle."

A tiny furrow wrinkled her white brow and she shuddered.

"Oh yes, yes," she whispered.  "I will not believe that the Terror can
come to Kérnak and Varenac."

"It is already at St. Malo."

He did not mean to frighten her, and noted with self-reproach and
admiration how, whilst her cheeks paled, her eyes shone bravely.

"Yes," she replied, "Louise told me.  They have a guillotine there
which they call the 'widow,' and make terrible jests.  Oh yes!  I know
that the Terror has come to St. Malo and to our dear Brittany--but not
to us.  Our people love us, and we are so safely hidden away here, with
the forest on one side and the landes on the other.  We are not near a
town, and, excepting for Bertrand, the people of the villages are
loyal.  And you yourself, Monsieur, will strengthen their loyalty."

She held out her hands as she spoke, smiling gladly.

"Yes," she added, "that is what la Rouerie says.  The spark is
needed--an example.  In the towns the men listen to the Revolutionaries
from Paris.  They are ready to cry 'À bas' to everything.  But those
are not the heart of Brittany; that waits--it wants impulse,
quickening.  Yet the inspiration cannot come from the nobles.  Just now
they will not listen to them--so Jéhan tells me.  It must be the cry of
the people to the people.  It will be the cry of Varenac to Brittany.
You smile, Monsieur Cousin?  Ah! you do not know like Jéhan and our
Marquis.  True, our villages may be very small, very secluded; but see
how a spark caught by a strong wind may become a great blaze.

"That will be the work of the nobles, of the Marquis, of Jéhan, of you
too, Monsieur.  You will let the voice of Varenac echo over the landes
till others hear and listen.  It is then the true heart of Brittany
will awake and beat with life till her people rise to save themselves
and France,--from the monster who devours her."

Her words, rehearsed from the lips of enthusiasts, were spoken with a
conviction and spirit which stirred the listener's wavering pulses.

What would she have said had she known that he had been on the road to
Varenac with a vastly different purpose in his heart?

But an hour had changed his resolves.  The brief struggle with the cur
who would wreak a paltry revenge on an innocent girl had helped to show
him what underlay the gaudy picture which Marcel Trouet had painted so
often for him and his comrades in England.

He could read the writing on the wall in another language this side of
the Channel.

With a low bow he offered the little Royalist champion his hand.

"As you say, Mademoiselle," he answered softly, "we must return to
Kérnak.  Afterwards I will go to my people."

"Yes," she smiled, "when Jéhan comes.  I think he would bid us wait for
him, Monsieur.  He knows the men of Varenac, and it would be easier did
you go together."

But Morice Conyers was thinking too deeply to reply to those last words.

Was it that the shadow of the "widow" was already on his heart?--the
cry of the Terror's victims already ringing in his ears?



CHAPTER XVII

FAITH AND UNFAITH

The next day found Morice Conyers at the Château de Kérnak--and the
next.

He was learning Breton.

That, of course, was necessary, especially as Jéhan delayed his coming.
When would the latter be here?

There were two at Kérnak who declared they longed for his arrival, and
yet secretly prayed for his delay.

Mademoiselle Cécile found the role of instructress to her new cousin
decidedly attractive, although the countless proprieties hedging in a
high-born demoiselle of Brittany somewhat spoilt the amusement.

But there were compensations, begotten of that unlooked-for attack near
old Nanette's cottage.

Madame de Quernais had become liable to nerves.  Cécile could no longer
be permitted to roam at will over the country.

St. Malo was too near, and tales were afloat of the work that the
"widow" was busy with there.  It was as though some terrible wolf
prowled in the forests around.

However, Cécile could not remain indoors all the time: she would pine
after the freedom of her life.

It was therefore agreed that the stricter proprieties should be laid
aside a little, and Mademoiselle de Quernais be allowed to accept the
escort of Monsieur le Marquis de Varenac on her walks.

Morice was quite ready to accept the task of acting cavalier to such a
dainty little lady.  As I have said, he was one to live in the present.

For those two days life was bounded only by a pair of black eyes, which
looked deeper and deeper into his heart every moment.

Past and future were banished.  He was dreaming, and the dream was
sweet.

He put the moment of awakening from him with the resolution of an
epicure.

As for Cécile, the English cousin continued to be the hero come to save
her country.  And the black eyes caught the trick of dreaming with
wonderful rapidity.

If Madame de Quernais noticed, she stifled old-fashioned
self-reprovings with the thought that the days were evil, and that her
little Cécile needed a stronger and closer protector than herself or
Jéhan, who was too bound up in his work to think much or seriously even
of the welfare of a dearly-loved sister.

And the Marquis de Varenac would be in every way a suitable protector.

Her dear Marie's boy!  Of course that was a link already between them.

Thus Morice Conyers, instead of riding to Varenac to welcome Steenie
Berrington and Jack Denningham, sat on a rocky ledge with a slim,
little grey-clad figure beside him, listening to her chatter of Jéhan
and la Rouerie, of the Terror and her dear Brittany.

The last was the subject Cécile lingered over longest.  It was
necessary that the English cousin should understand the meaning of his
Breton birthright.

"If you were a sailor, Monsieur," she was saying now, pointing across
the bay, "you might see strange things."

"Strange things?" he echoed.  "Nay, cousin, what kind of things mean
you?"

She crossed herself devoutly.

"One does not speak of them, but they are there--the spirits of those
whom the sea has taken.  On winter nights we may hear them wailing and
imploring for Christian burial; but only a sailor may see their forms."

"Then I am glad to be no sailor.  I confess the sea has no attractions
for me."

"It is cruel, cruel," she answered, gazing wistfully out over the grey
waste of waters.  "Sometimes it makes me afraid, when I see the great
waves dashing and roaring over the rocks.  Jéhan laughs at me and says
I am no Bretonne to feel so, for we are a people of the sea.  Yet I
cannot help it, sometimes, when I think of those poor women and
children who have waited and waited in vain for the husbands who never
came back."

"And yet you come here to watch the waves you fear?"

Morice's smile was faintly quizzical.

"Oh yes," she replied naïvely, "I come here often to make my dreams.  I
like to picture what it must have been like long, long ago before the
cruel sea swallowed up so much of our Brittany."

"The sea?"

"But certainly.  Yonder, do you not see in the sand, those ruins?  Ah!
there is not much left to-day, but many, many years ago those were
happy villages, with green fields stretching beyond, and the oak-trees
of Scissy sheltering the valleys."

"Is it a fairy story you are telling me, Mademoiselle Cécile?"

She did not heed his raillery, but replied with sober earnestness:

"No, no; it is quite true.  That was before the Deluge."

"Before the Deluge?"

He could hardly hide his laughter.

"It is so called in Armorica, Monsieur.  It was a terrible flood.
There is a legend about it which some say is quite true."

"Tell it to me."'

He was not greatly interested--this trifler who was in danger of being
in such deadly earnest himself; but he liked to see the animation on
the pretty, childish face and the quaint seriousness with which she
told her story.

"It is the tale of Amel and Penhor," she said gravely.  "They lived at
Sant Vinol, and Amel was a shepherd.  He was also a brave man.  In the
forest near, wandered the striped wolf of Cheza.  It was a fearful
animal, and the terror of the whole land.  It was bigger than a
six-weeks' foal, and no arrow could pierce its hide.  As for fear of
man, it had none.  It was Amel who vowed to kill this creature, which
had devoured his nephew.

"Before he went to the conflict he hung a distaff of fine linen by the
altar of the Virgin.  Afterwards he fought and strangled the striped
wolf.

"Amel and Penhor had no children, but now the Virgin was pleased with
them, and gave them their hearts' desire.  Their little son they called
Paol, and dedicated him to the Holy Mother of God.  In her honour he
always wore a blue dress.

"Then one night the river Couesnon rose rapidly, the wind howled, and
the earth shook.  In the morning the sea had risen over the barriers.

"All the inhabitants of the land fled to the church, which stood on a
hill; but Amel and Penhor came too late.

"Then Amel lifted Penhor high in his arms, and she in turn raised her
child above the cruel waves.  It was at this moment that the Virgin
left her niche in the church to fly heavenwards, and, in passing, she
saw Paol's blue frock, and remembered he was hers.

"So she raised him in her arms, but found he was very heavy.  Then, as
she lifted him higher to her breast, she saw his mother held him, and
that Amel, the father, held both; so, with a smile, she gathered them
all in her arms, and they awoke in heaven."

"A pretty legend," said Morice absently, for he had heard but little of
the tale, his eyes being on the speaker's face.

"It is the land of legend," she replied--"the land of romance and
poetry."

"And of sorrow, too."

"Ah! you feel that?  It is because you are also Breton.  Yes, we have
our sorrow--it is in the voice of the sea.  Not only the lament of the
crierien,* but the warning that always at our doors there waits an
enemy as cruel as it is remorseless.  Yet to-day----"


* Unburied dead, drowned at sea.


"To-day we will not think of the sighings of ghosts or the weepings of
widows to be.  I prefer your romance."

"And I.  But the sorrow is there, and now----"

She was thinking of the tales Louise had told her that morning.

The shadow of the Terror eclipsed the possible sunshine of the present.

But Morice was not one to see coming shadows.  The present for him; and
his pulses were stirring as they never had before.

"You are teaching me," he said suddenly.

She smiled.

"Yes; and you are clever.  But Père Mouet would do it better than I."

"I was not speaking of your Breton lessons."

"No!"

She looked up in surprise, and, meeting his gaze, felt the warm blood
surge in her cheeks.

"I would like to teach you of our Brittany," she said falteringly,
"because--well--is it not your country too?"

"I never counted it such till I knew you."

"You have never been here before?"

"I vow I shall never wish to leave it, _if_----"

"If----"

Her face was half turned from him, so that he should not see the
blushes which might betray the fact that she had read a secret in his
eyes.

But he was leaning forward, half across the rocky ledge on which they
sat, his blue eyes aflame with sudden passion.

"If you will go on teaching me--always--always--Cécile."

She was no coquette, this child of a grim and yet tender land, where
all are in earnest with the battle and stress of life.

And yet her lashes drooped over her eyes as though she dared not meet
his glance.

"Teach you, Monsieur, I who know nothing?  What could I teach, save
only----"

"Save only what love is," quoth he, with new-born boldness, for the
magic of the moment was with him, transforming him into something
stronger, deeper, truer than his old self.

No need for veiling lashes now.  He had caught her two little hands,
slender, sun-burnt hands which seemed too soft for resistance, and bent
his face to the level of hers.

It was a new mode of wooing, as startling as bewildering; yet there was
sweetness in it, too.

"Love?" she whispered, and drew one long, wondering breath as she
looked into those blue eyes so near her own.

"_My_ love.  _Our_ love, Cécile--Cécile."

His voice was hoarse with suppressed emotion.  She was trembling, too,
but a smile broke on her lips.

"Morice," she whispered, and her heart beat in echo of the name as he
bent to kiss her.

Over the grey waters came the sighing of the autumn breeze, presaging a
storm.  Aloft, circling round broken crags and high, gaunt rocks,
wheeled the ospreys, uttering their shrill, weird cries.

But dirge of rolling waves and wailing winds mattered nothing to those
two who sat sheltered in the rocky cleft, for they were dreaming the
golden dream of youth, which may come but once in a lifetime, yet
leaves a trail of glory on its path for ever.

Side by side they sat, man and maid, with never a thought of anything
beyond that dream, and the knowledge that love had bound them thus
together.

But what Eden is long without its serpent?  Morice Conyers, basking in
present sunshine, suddenly felt a quick chill strike his heart.  It was
the Marquis de Varenac, noble of Brittany, come purposely to save his
country, whom the little Cécile loved.

And the day of reckoning drew near.

But Love is nothing if he be not at his purest and best a reformer.

All the latent manhood, all the better feelings, which ill-training and
ill comrades had kept dormant, were stirred to life by this innocent
child, whose great eyes shone into his with an expression of perfect
trust and love.  She called for the highest in him, and that highest,
neglected, scarcely acknowledged before, rose in response to the appeal.

He would be what she thought him to be, whatever the cost.

In presence of that dominant passion now stirring and animating him,
the past shrank into pitiful insignificance.

What were Marcel Trouet and the London Corresponding Society to him now
but traps to rob him of that newly cherished honour and love?

As for Steenie Berrington and Jack Denningham, he should tell them his
mind plainly, and if they would not stomach his change of opinion, they
might go to the devil for all he cared.

Of one thing he was resolved, and that was to ride to Varenac at once
and proclaim himself for what he was--the Marquis--not
citizen--Varenac, who had come to bid his people cry "Vive le roi
Bourbon" rather than "À bas les aristocrats."

Fire ran in his veins, urging him to be up and doing.  No time should
be lost.  When Jéhan came he should not be able to point to him as
traitor.

The last thought caused him a perfect fever of anxiety.  He must waste
no time.  Proof must come first ere denunciation.

But Cécile was loath to go.  Might they not dream a little longer?

That was the question she would have asked, but shy diffidence withheld
her.

Besides, the shadows fell, and she was no peasant lass--to be courted
as Marie or Yvette might be,--but a demoiselle of Brittany.

Even as it was she feared her mother's disapproval, recalling the
oft-told story of how demoiselles of thirty years ago very often never
saw their future husbands till the day of _fiançailles_.  Truly the
world was going topsy-turvy now; but, in this particular respect,
Cécile felt that the change was for the better.

Through the twilight they walked home together, whispering, from time
to time, those foolish absurdities which make old grey-beards smile.
Yet who, thus smiling, has not sighed too, remembering days when they
themselves found foolishness the sweetest thing on earth!

Under the leafy shade of sheltering oaks Morice paused, holding the
little hands which lay so warm and passive in his own.

"You love me, Cécile?" he asked wistfully; "you love me?"

He lingered over the repetition.

Stars could have shone no less brightly than the eyes she raised to his.

"I love you, Morice," she answered, and then, blushing rosy-red at such
temerity, hid her small face against his shoulder.

For a long moment they stood thus, his arm around her slender little
figure, holding her closely, as though he could not bear the thought of
letting her go.

"Cécile, Cécile," he groaned, his voice sounding odd and strangled with
conflicting fears and love, "pray Heaven you may say it always--always."

She smiled, looking up at him with the boldness bred by the knowledge
that he needed all that love and sympathy.

"Always--always, Morice, my dearly-loved," she whispered back.

And the night-wind, sweeping up from the coast, seemed to catch the
words and bear them mockingly across the barren landes.

Always--always--always.



CHAPTER XVIII

MY LORD AWAITS HIS HOST

"A fine host," sneered my Lord Denningham, with an oath,--"a right
jovial and noble host, eh, Steenie?  Demme it, man!  I didn't come to
this old rat-trap to look at you, and be poisoned with ragouts au
Bourbon and cold shoulders à Varenac.  What in the world is friend
Morice up to?"

"Split me if I know," growled Sir Stephen, who was far from being in
the most amiable of moods himself.

"He and Marcel started the day before we did, and we should have found
him here on arrival.  Something must have befallen him."

"The devil flown away with him en route?  Hardly likely, my friend,
when you consider everything."

"He may have gone to Paris with Trouet."

"That's not Trouet's game--no, no, no.  More likely a saucy pair of
eyes or a neat waist.  Some of these little Bretonnes are worth
kissing; I've honoured more than one already.  But kissing should not
be taken seriously when there is work on hand, and the orders of the
London Corresponding Society should be obeyed."

"Orders?"

"What you will, Steenie!  We've taken the hand of Madame Republic, and
we've got to grip hard--mutual obligations, you know.  They may be able
to serve us in the same way, later on, when our own business is
advanced."

Sir Stephen yawned.

"England ain't France.  You'll find that 'à la lanterne' won't fit
English throats, any more than 'Ça ira.'  Besides, Pitt has his eye on
us."

"And we have our eye on Pitt.  Rot me, Steenie, you've not got the
heart of a mouse.  The Society is spreading its nets _and_ papers
pretty far afield.  However, to return to our baa-lambs--or rather that
woolly-headed sheep, friend Morice.  What the deuce is _he_ doing,
hiding away and never turning up at the ancestral mansion?  Old Goaty
seemed to know nothing at all, but gabbled on about Monsieur le Marquis
Gilles de Varenac.  We ain't come to dig up corpses."

"Or look for them, either, eh, Jack?  Stap me, but I've had enough
serious conversation.  Swearin' won't bring Morry along a step quicker.
Let's have a turn with the dice to kill time."

The suggestion was agreed on, and soon nothing was heard but the rattle
of the dice-box, and an occasional lusty oath over an unlucky throw.

The Manor of Varenac was an ancient building surrounded by trees and
built in a hollow.  The rooms were low and dark, the passages
innumerable, with many an intricate winding and turn, sufficient to
confuse any new-comer.

The salon, in which the two uninvited guests sat playing, was
exceptionally low, with heavy beams of black oak across the ceiling,
and a deep wainscotting, which added to the gloom of the long, narrow
apartment.  Candles in heavy silver and brass sconces had been lighted
by the ancient major-domo, Pierre Koustak, who had eyed the strange
Messieurs with strongly disapproving eye.

It was true that M'nsieur Jéhan had told him that the new M'nsieur le
Marquis was more English than Breton, although he was the son of
Mademoiselle Marie.  Pierre's ideas of the English were vague and a
good deal prejudiced.  His opinion of the new master had not been
raised when these English friends put in an appearance before M'nsieur
le Marquis himself, and announced that they were here by his invitation.

You may be sure that Pierre Koustak paid many a visit to the keyhole to
be assured that the strangers were still there, and did not appear to
have any burglarious intentions on the treasures of the Manor of
Varenac.

Sir Stephen's luck was in that evening.  The pile of gold crowns grew
by his side.  The wine in these dusty cellars, too, was excellent,
though old Goaty evidently found it a difficult task to bring bottle
after bottle in.

Sir Stephen, therefore, considering all things, was merry.

My Lord Denningham, on the other hand, considering all things, was very
sour of mood.

To begin with, the latter's luck was abominable.  The dice were
certainly bewitched--or cursed.  To go on with, he was angry at not
finding Morice Conyers here.

He had come to France to win for himself a name for zeal in the cause
of liberty, which would raise him to prominence amongst his
fellow-members in that London Corresponding Society which had for its
object the stirring up of the English people into a sister Revolution.

This zeal fell decidedly flat in a tête-à-tête gamble with Sir Stephen
Berrington.

The latter's fatuous laugh irritated him, as did his noisy triumph over
his winnings.  The jingling of lost gold jarred on my lord's delicate
nerves.

[Transcriber's note: page 175 was missing from source book]

[Transcriber's note: page 176 was missing from source book]

... carriage without in the avenue; it stops.  Our friend Morice, no
doubt."

He turned, with a sneer, to meet the expected host whom they had
forestalled.

But it was not Morice Conyers who stood in the doorway, but his sister
Gabrielle, her hood flung back from her dark hair, cheeks flushed, and
hazel eyes defiant.

She scarcely deigned to bestow a glance at the man before her, but
looked past him eagerly.

"Morice!" she cried.  "Morice!"

Then swiftly she turned to Denningham.

"Where is my brother?" she asked peremptorily.



CHAPTER XIX

AND WELCOMES A HOSTESS

Perhaps for the first time in his life Lord Denningham was taken aback.

The vision was so wholly unexpected, so welcome, and yet most
unwelcome, for behind the slim, girlish figure, muffled in its long
travelling-coat, stood Michael Berrington and the young Breton, de
Quernais, whom Denningham had met and strongly disapproved at that
jolly hostel the Goat and Compasses.

Behind this triple apparition lurked a mystery calling for explanation.

However, at the moment, an impatient lady awaited an answer.

"Where is Morice?" she repeated, glancing from Denningham to Sir
Stephen, who stood leaning against the wall laughing softly to himself
in maudlin enjoyment.

"I fear, Mistress Gabrielle, that that is the question we have been
asking ourselves for the last thirty-six hours."

My lord's tones were slightly mocking, and his glance into the pretty,
flushed face over-bold.

Michael made a step forward.

"Mr. Conyers is here," he said quietly.

"Indeed, Mr. Berrington, you are vastly astute.  On my honour, I am
glad, however, to hear your news.  Your father and I came here at Mr.
Conyers' own invitation, but at present he appears to be
absent--perhaps a Breton fashion of treating guests."

Lord Denningham's bow included de Quernais deftly enough in the gibe;
but, to his surprise, the young Breton noble paid no heed to the sly
hint.

"My brother not here?" echoed Gabrielle, in perplexity.  "But he must
have been here?"

A shrug of the shoulders was her only answer.

"You appear to have doubts as to my word, Mistress.  Would it not be
better to apply to old grey-beard without!  He will tell you that, till
you came, we have been the only guests beneath this ancestral roof."

She took no heed of his sneer, but turned instinctively to Michael.

"What does it mean?" she asked.  "What shall I do?"

It was indeed a perplexing situation,--after so hot a chase, and then
to draw a blank.

But the news, which so discomfited her, was well enough to the taste of
Count Jéhan.

"The saints be praised, ma cousine," he cried, taking her cold hand.
"It is evident that he has been delayed.  We are in time to save
Varenac from dishonour."

Her face lighted with answering enthusiasm.

"Yes," she said; "what you say is true, Jéhan.  If Morice is not here,
his ill-work is yet to do and I"--she nodded her head emphatically--"I
can do something, seeing that I am as much Varenac as he."

"Bravely spoken, Gabrielle.  You are an angel.  Ciel! and a heroine
too.  But----"

Even boyish enthusiasm perceived difficulties ahead, as he thought of
this young girl here, unattended, save for an old nurse, at the Manor
of Varenac with these others.

"Perhaps," he added slowly, "as your brother is not here, it were
better did I take you to Kérnak.  The post-chaise is still at the door."

But this suggestion did not find favour in the sight of little Mistress
Gabrielle.

"My place is at Varenac," she observed, with an air of amusing
self-importance.  "I thank you, cousin, but I must stay here."

"Alone?"

His faintly murmured expostulation met with wide-eyed surprise.

"Certainly not.  These gentlemen will be here to ... to protect me.
And I have Nurse Bond."

He dared say no more, though conscious that his mother would regard
such an arrangement with horror.

"Perhaps to-morrow my sister Cécile will ride over with me," he said,
"to stay with you as companion."

"Yes, yes.  Do bring her, Cousin Jéhan.  I am longing to see her.
There, I shall be looking forward so eagerly now for the morrow.  And
you are returning to Kérnak to-night?"

"Unless I can be of service to you here?"

"I thank you heartily; but there is nothing to be done at present.  I
am very weary and shall go to bed.  To-morrow----"

To-morrow!  How each heart echoed the word with strangely mingled
anticipation.

"To-morrow," replied Count Jéhan, gravely bowing over his cousin's
outstretched hand, "I will bring Cécile to Varenac."

"I shall welcome her gladly.  And Morice will be here to-morrow?"

"Most probably."

"And then we will persuade him.  Yes, I am sure we shall do
that--persuade him that he is the Marquis de Varenac."

Her voice rang proudly over those last words.  But Michael Berrington
was watching the face of Lord Denningham as he stood, with folded arms,
surveying the little champion of Royalty, whilst she spoke her happy,
confident words.

Would Morice listen if he came?  And, if he came not, where was he?

Michael alone remembered--at that moment--Marcel Trouet, the astute
exponent of liberty, equality, and fraternity on both sides of the
Channel.



CHAPTER XX

MORRY EXPLAINS

"I had thought it too late for roses, fair mistress.  Permit me to
compliment you upon my mistake."

Gabrielle started, blushing, as Lord Denningham, in a morning-suit of
brown cloth, embroidered with gold thread, and with rich lace ruffles
at neck and wrists, stood bowing before her, having approached unseen
from behind a clump of bushes.

Her curtsey was severely formal as she made her reply.

"I see no roses, sir, nor did I come to look for them, but rather to
make a first acquaintance with my mother's native land."

He did not take the hint that she would prefer her own company, but
turned to pace slowly down the garden path by her side.

"A bleak and doleful country," he observed, pointing to the long vista
of moors stretching northwards.  "No wonder its people are sour of face
and surly of temper."

"You speak from experience, I doubt not?" she retorted, quickening her
steps.

"Nay, this also is my first visit."

"I should have thought that you needed some strong attraction then, my
lord, to remain, seeing that you find Brittany so little to your taste."

"I have found the attraction already, fair mistress."

A low bow pointed the compliment and further ruffled her temper.

But discretion bade her ignore his words.

"You have friends in Brittany, sir?" she asked, and wished that she had
not come so far on a morning ramble.

"If I could count one fair lady such, I should ask no more of life," he
replied, with exaggerated humility.

Again she crimsoned, not from coyness but hot anger.

"I prefer straight answers," she said coldly.

"Alas!  Mistress, I should offend did I speak more plainly."

He had contrived to move a little in advance, so that he could look
back into the pretty face only half concealed by the lace hood she had
flung over her curls.

Her eyes certainly did not invite tender speeches.

"You mock me, my lord," she retorted, her chin tilted aggressively.
"Your purpose in coming to Brittany concerned--concerned----"

He did not attempt to help her, but watched, with insolently admiring
gaze, the hotly flushed cheeks and sparkling eyes.

"Concerned?"

"My brother Morice."

"Indeed!"

Passion brought her to a halt for all her haste to reach the house.

"Do you think I know _nothing_, sir, of your wicked plots?"

"You wrong me, fairest.  Of what plots can I think but how to steal the
citadel of your heart?"

"You may try to turn aside my thoughts with empty phrases, but I have
heard of your fine Corresponding Society, and of your proposed
deputation to the liberty-loving _heroes_ of Paris after their
wholesale massacre of defenceless men and women."

"Your pardon, most gracious lady.  But, an' I dared, I would warn you
that pretty ears are made to listen only to pretty speeches and not to
harken to matters of which they know nothing."

He spoke as one might to a petulant child, so that she could have cried
for very chagrin and anger.

It was bitter after the heroics of that mad journey.  But she would
teach him that women are to be reckoned with.

"We shall see when Morice comes," she retorted.  "He will listen to his
true friends, and--and his conscience."

The last words forced the smile to mocking lips.  It was humorous
indeed to associate a conscience with one of the gayest young bucks of
Carlton House.

What lengths the argument might have led to is uncertain.  My Lord
Denningham, I fear, was finding that beauty in a passion bade fair to
be irresistible, and rosy lips the more tempting in a pout, when a
diversion was called by Mistress Gabrielle herself.

Wide-eyed she stood, turning from her tormentor, whilst anger died away
into pleased welcome on her face.

"Morry!" she cried, and pushed past the man who would have hindered
her, running lightly down the path and across a tangled stretch of
neglected lawn, straight into the arms of her brother, who came at
great strides to meet her.

"Gabrielle!"

"Oh, Morry!  I am so glad."

He bent to kiss her with an affection that augured well for his temper,
whilst she smiled up at him, half-curious, half-defiant, wondering when
the scolding would begin.

Morice seemed in no hurry to commence, though he looked down doubtfully
into his sister's eager face.

"Did the good fairies bring you, Gay?" he asked, giving her the pet
name of long years ago, with a wistfulness she did not fail to note.
"Tell me, child, what brought you hither?"

She faced him straightly, with a tiny wrinkle now between her brows.

"The honour of Varenac and Conyers," she replied, with the air of some
grizzled veteran rather than a maid in her teens.  "It seems that these
poor, ignorant peasants, who are now to call you Seigneur, wanted a
leader in crying 'Vive le roi.'  And so I came to help them, hearing
that you had forgotten how to be a leader of men, and were ready to
echo new tunes with foul meaning."

She paused, out of breath, and fully expecting a torrent of angry words
in reply.

To her surprise there was silence for one of those long minutes in
which one hears the twittering of birds and the drowsy hum of Nature's
myriad voices.

Then Morice spoke, not angrily, but with humility and steadfast purpose.

"It is true, Gay," he said.  "I had forgotten many things, of which you
do well and bravely to remind me.  Yet Brittany had taught me those
neglected lessons already.  I came from Kérnak hither to meet my people
and cry with them 'Vive le roi'."

"You?"

She was too amazed to speak another word.

"Yes, I.  Do not fear that I lie to you, child.  I come _now_ as
Marquis, not citizen, to my own."

Still she was incredulous.

"But Michael said you had come to bid the peasants of your villages
join the patriots--become Revolutionaries."

"I did so come."

"With Marcel Trouet!"

"He went first to Paris; but he will be coming to Varenac."

"And he----"

"Will meet a different reception to what he anticipated."

"I don't understand."

Her cry was one of perplexity.

"I cannot tell you all, Gay; only see, sister mine, I found a teacher
in Brittany worth a hundred Trouets and Denninghams."

The last word took her mind momentarily from the vital subject.

"Lord Denningham!" she echoed.  "Did you know he was here, and Sir
Stephen Berrington too?  Lord Denningham was with me but now----"

She turned from her brother, as she spoke, to glance behind.

But the garden path was empty.  There was no sign of the tall figure
which had stood barring her way ten minutes previously.

"He must have returned to the house," she went on.  "They were angry
that you were not here."

"When did you arrive?"

"Last night.  Mr. Berrington and Cousin Jéhan brought me, with Nurse
Bond for chaperon.  Poor nurse!  She's a mighty poor traveller, and
cried 'lack-a-day' every moment she could spare from her groanings."

But Morice had no thought for the sufferings of Nurse Bond.

"De Quernais!" he repeated.  "He is here?"

"Oh, no.  He returned to Kérnak last night.  He wanted me to go too,
but I waited for you.  He promised to ride over this morning with
Cécile."

The colour burned suddenly in Morice's cheeks.

"Cécile?"

The speaking of a name may betray one.

Gabrielle, looking up sharply, understood at once who the teacher of
Varenac honour had been.

A dimple deepened in her cheeks.

"You have met Cousin Cécile?"

"Yes."

"Jéhan tells me she is pretty."

"It ... it is true."

"You do not appear very certain, sir."

"It is because I am too certain.  She is as lovely as she is good."

"Then it is she who called you M. le Marquis?"

What woman could have resisted the touch of raillery?

But Morice was very serious in his reply.

"It is for that reason that I _am_ Marquis de Varenac, and cry 'Vive le
roi,'" he answered.  "She showed me what loyalty meant.  I have been
fool and knave, Gay, but pray Heaven she may not know it, till I have
proved my honour."

Another pause.

"Jéhan!" whispered Gabrielle.  "Oh! if only he had not returned last
night to Kérnak!  But how did you miss him?"

"I should have been here myself ere midnight, but lost my way in the
stretch of forest which lies between.  I should have had a sorry night
had it not been for the hospitality of a charcoal burner, who allowed
me to sleep in his hut."

"And now----"

"We must not delay, sister.  There is work to be done, and at once,
though ... though I fear that Cécile will not come over to-day."

Instinct of sympathy bade Gabrielle put loving arms about his neck.

"But to-morrow we will go to her," she whispered.  "And Jéhan will see
then that you are indeed the Marquis."

"I would that Jéhan were here now," he answered.  "I tell you, Gay, we
should not wait an instant.  Trouet and his red-cap orators from Paris
may be here at any time now to do their devil's work.  Let's to the
house and see what steps we must take first to make sure of our
hearing; my Breton is too halting to face an assembly of tenants
unaided."

"There is Pierre," Gabrielle replied.  "He was butler and valet for
forty years to the old Marquis Gilles.  Last night he wept for joy to
see me.  His daughter Olérie told me he would do anything for a
Varenac.  If all are like him our task is easy."

"Good.  But did you not say that Denningham and Steenie were here?"

"Yes, they are both here."

"If I could see Pierre first, it would be better."

Gabrielle nodded brightly.

"Stay here," she commanded, "and I will bring both him and Michael.
Then we can arrange."

"Michael Berrington?  What is he doing here?"

She frowned and blushed at the same time.

"I told you--he accompanied Jéhan and me."

Their eyes met, and it was Morice's turn to smile.  It appeared that
little Cécile had taught him how to be observant, amongst other things.

"So, so, my Gay.  Is that the reason you flout my lord?"

The lashes drooped over tell-tale eyes, but rosy lips were scornful.

"I _hate_ Lord Denningham."

"And you do not hate Michael?  Aha!  Gay, though I will not tease you
now, but only wish you happiness when you seek it.  Now run away and
bring those two to me.  We'll hold a Royalist Council between us which
shall quash the designs of Trouet and his brood for ever."

So spoke Morice, lightly enough, yet with a deeper note vibrating in
his voice--a note that had not been there before Cécile touched and set
it throbbing with her little hand.

Gabrielle was laughing softly to herself as she sped away back over the
lawns, and across the pretty rustic bridge, which led by way of the
avenue to the house.

She did not notice how a man stood crouching amongst the shrubs to her
left as she passed--so near that the hem of her white gown touched his
foot.

But Lord Denningham smiled.



CHAPTER XXI

A STRANGE DISAPPEARANCE

"He has gone!"

Gabrielle looked round in wondering perplexity, repeating the words
again.

"He has gone!"

Old Pierre's eager face lengthened.

"Mademoiselle?" he faltered.

Gabrielle stood still, her hands clasped together, eyes deepening with
anxiety.

"I can't understand it," she cried.  "It was _here_, just here; and he
promised to await your coming."

"Perhaps he wearied at the delay," suggested Michael Berrington, "and
has wandered farther down the path."

"I do not think he would, and we have not been very long.  Still, we
can look.  Where does the path lead, Pierre?"

"Only to the wicket, Mamselle, and then out on to the moor."

"We can go to the wicket then.  He would not have strayed beyond."

Together they hurried down the path, Gabrielle calling her brother's
name again and again.

No answer.

And the wicket-gate was closed.

Nothing was to be seen beyond saving a narrow stretch of moorland
broken by forest growth, which bordered a valley.

"Morice!  Morice!  Oh, Michael, where can he be?"

She had called him Mr. Berrington yesterday, and the man's heart
stirred with quick throbbing at the sound of his name, and the appeal
in her tones.

"Do not be afraid," he replied.  "No harm can have befallen him; none
knew of his coming."

"Excepting my Lord Denningham."

"But he had no speech with him.  You say he went away at once."

"At once."

"Probably to tell my father of his coming.  You remember it was
arranged that they should meet."

"Yes, yes; and of course they do not know that he--has changed."

"Impossible.  Do not be afraid.  Your brother will join us in a few
minutes."

"He may have gone towards the house by some other way."

"Of course.  Shall I send Pierre in to see?"

She nodded.

At the moment Pierre was certainly a superfluity.

Pierre, disappointment written large on his face, trotted off
obediently.  He was more than eager to welcome his new master, the
nephew of his adored Monsieur Gilles de Varenac.

"You think he will return with him?" asked Gabrielle anxiously, as the
old man's steps died away in the distance.

Michael smiled.

"Certainly.  These are not the days of fairies and hobgoblins.  He
can't have been spirited away."

She gave a little sigh of relief.

"I hope he will be here soon.  Oh, Michael, I am so happy now that _he_
has learnt his lesson before it is too late, and will break with all
those wicked friends."

A pause.  Gabrielle, with a swift side-glance, suddenly coloured hotly.

"I--I meant Lord Denningham and Marcel Trouet," she faltered.

Michael sighed heavily.

"Yes," he muttered, "and--my father."

"Your father is different.  He is not bad, only weak, like Morice."

"Weakness, such as his, is wickedness.  See how it has marred his life
and ruined his friends."

She laid her hand on his where it gripped the topmost bar of the
wicket-gate.

"Do not talk so," she answered.  "Sir Stephen has a--a kind heart; and
I think--one day--he will atone."

Michael did not reply, only he raised the comforting hand, kissing it
reverently.

With woman's wisdom, she made haste to change a painful subject.

"I should be so afraid if you were not here," she said, with child-like
frankness--"so very afraid."

"Of what, little one?"

He still held her hand very closely.

"Lord Denningham.  Oh!  I hate him, and yet he frightens me.  His eyes
are horrible."

Her cheeks flushed as she remembered the insolent boldness of my lord's
stare when he met her not two hours since in the garden.

"He shall not hurt you, Gabrielle."

She smiled at the assurance in happy trustfulness.

"I know he would not if you were near.  Only, when I am alone----"

"Would God you never were alone."

She looked up with shy, startled eyes, for the cry had come from a
man's heart.

"I am used to being alone at Langton," she answered simply.

"Alone!" he answered, bending his dark head closer to hers.  "Why
should you be, my darling, my darling, when I need you so sorely at
Berrington?"

The blushes on her cheeks were not angry ones this time, and her eyes
were smiling into his.

"You ... need ... me?"

"Always and for ever, Gabrielle."

"And I need you," she answered, with a happy sigh, as she allowed him
to take her in his strong arms, laying her head on his shoulder with
the content of a child who is tired of battling alone with life.

Autumn winds may moan, and shadows of coming sorrows may lie deep
across life's pathway, but where love's glory sheds its golden light
the eyes are too dazzled to look beyond.

So they dreamt of love, finding it the sweeter after past loneliness
and troubles, and strengthener, too, for those that lay before.  And
the melancholy of that grey land touched them not at all, though Celtic
blood ran in the veins of both.

But it was the romance of youth's fairest dream, the springtime of
love, that was with them now, and they were blind to falling leaves and
the dirge of coming gloom after summer sunshine.

It was Pierre who broke the spell of an enchanted hour,--Pierre, who
came hurrying back along the path with furrowed brow and anxious eyes.

Monsieur le Marquis was not at the Manor.  No one had seen him.  In
fact, the two Messieurs, who said before that they were his friends,
had laughed at him.

But now M'nsieur le Comte had ridden over from Kérnak, and desired to
see both M. le Marquis and Mademoiselle.  He was in haste, M'nsieur le
Comte.

The sunshine was fading in Gabrielle's eyes.  Shadows were stealing
back into hazel depths as she looked up at Michael Berrington.

"What does it mean?" she asked, and turned quickly to Pierre.

"He has not brought Mademoiselle Cécile?"

"No, Mademoiselle; Monsieur le Comte is alone.  His business seems to
be very urgent.  He is eager to see M'nsieur le Marquis and you."

"I will come.  But--but----"

Her lips trembled for all her bravery as she looked again at Michael.

"What _has_ happened to Morice?" she whispered piteously.

But Michael, much as he longed to comfort her, could find no answer to
the question.



CHAPTER XXII

COUNT JEHAN IS NOT CONVINCED

Monsieur de Quernais was certainly in a hurry; so much so that he had
lost his temper, and been in too great a haste to recover it again.

There had been reasons enough to disturb a less irritable nature.

To begin with, the failure of his mission had been bitter.  Most bitter
of all, seeing the trickery played on him by his own cousin, a Varenac
and a traitor!

The English blood must be held accountable, of course, but even then he
could not bear to think of it.

During that headlong journey from Langton Hall to the Manor of Varenac
he had been brooding over it.

What would la Rouerie say?  A last hope gone through the betrayal of
one who should have been heart and soul on their side.

The collapse of a golden castle in the air had caused Monsieur le Comte
to despair.

He was very young and very enthusiastic.  Besides, his adoration of la
Rouerie amounted almost to an absurdity.  The Chouan leader had
inspired such affection a score of times in man and woman.

And la Rouerie must be told, not only of failure on his follower's
part, but the shame of a noble Breton name.  It was terrible.

But Monsieur le Comte could not feel as murderous as he chose since
Morice Conyers' sister had so nobly stepped into the breach.

Here was a kindred spirit, here a true Varenac with Breton blood
running unsullied in her veins.

Love for the sister almost counterbalanced hatred for the brother in
the heart of Jéhan de Quernais.

In such a turmoil of emotion he had ridden to Varenac and found that
the new Marquis had failed to arrive.

The news inspired that hope which is twin comrade to youth.

He rode to Kérnak building fresh castles, and reached his home to find
that the man who had been so much in his thoughts had but now left it.

The story was told by Madame his mother, with Cécile standing by, a
smile hovering around her pretty lips.

But, alas! the smile had died all too soon, frozen out of being by her
brother's answering words.

A traitor, double-dyed in hue,--a traitor to his country, to his
people, to his own kith and kin!

Liar and dishonoured he seemed to stand before her, as Jéhan poured
forth his tale in the first fury of his wrath.

What!  Had the vaurien hound _dared_ shelter under his roof? _dared_ to
tell his lying tale to them?

The young Count paced the hall to and fro in his anger.

He would have forgotten that Morice Conyers was Gabrielle's brother had
he met him at that moment.

It ended by Cécile suddenly bursting into a tempest of tears, and
running out of the room.  This had been the last straw to an overfull
cup.

Mother and son looked at each other for a full minute, and then Madame
de Quernais held out trembling hands.

"Do nothing rash," she faltered.  "Remember he is my sister's son."

Had he been less a gentleman Jéhan would have thundered out an oath and
ridden forth, hot-haste, in search of his enemy.  As it was, a higher
instinct prevailed.  He bowed, with old-fashioned formality, over his
mother's hand, though his lips were livid and his eyes ablaze.

"I will remember, Madame," he replied, and dared not trust himself to
say more.

      *      *      *      *      *

A sleepless night for those at Kérnak, and now, with morning, Count
Jéhan had ridden over to Varenac.

But still Monsieur le Marquis was absent.  It was inexplicable.

Was the fellow such a coward that he trumped up this excuse not to see
him?

De Quernais felt his fingers itching at his sword-hilt; though what use
to storm when one's foe is absent?

And if Morice were not here Gabrielle was.  The door opened suddenly on
the Count's meditations, and she stood there on the threshold.

"Oh, Jéhan!" she cried, running to him eagerly, "I am so glad you have
come, so glad."

And, at sight of her fair face, the young noble felt his bitterness
vanish as the grey shadows must before the sunshine.

How he had learnt to love her, this brave little cousin, who was Breton
to her finger-tips!

When the emotions are stirred in a hot, impetuous nature it is a quick
leap from love to hate.

Yet he did not blind himself with the belief that love here was
returned.

He had seen the light grow in hazel eyes on a day when Michael
Berrington appeared suddenly in the morning-room at Langton Hall.

Since then he had known that Cousin Jéhan meant brother Jéhan to
Gabrielle.  And, being a man of honour as well as Breton noble, he
accepted Fate's decree without murmur or strife.  But it could not kill
love, since that was of immortal birth, and so he hid his eyes from
hers, lingering, as he bent over her hand, till he should regain the
mastery over himself which he had been in danger of losing.

But Gabrielle had no thought for possible embarrassment.  From the
first moment she had accepted the new cousin as brother, and never
dreamt of shyness or diffidence.

"I am so glad you have come," she repeated.  "You will help us to find
Morice."

"To find Morice?"

The echo of her words reminded him of past anger, of la Rouerie, of
Cécile; and his mouth hardened.

"He came hither this morning," Gabrielle continued,--and told her tale.

De Quernais listened, with knitted brow and incredulity in his eyes.

"And he has gone again?" he concluded, when Gabrielle had finished.

"Yes.  We have searched everywhere."

"And Marcel Trouet comes from Paris with his Revolutionaries?"

"Yes, yes.  That is what makes me afraid.  If they meet----"

"They will probably meet."

"And Morice may be--killed."

"I do not think you need alarm yourself."

She was quick to catch the note of sarcasm, and faced him, a little
indignantly.

"You do not believe that--that he is changed?"

"To be honest, ma cousine, I find it difficult."

Gabrielle turned impulsively towards the man who had entered and stood
apart near the window behind her.

"Michael believes me," she cried.

The eyes of Breton and Englishman met.

"Does Monsieur Berrington believe in him?" asked Jéhan slowly.

"In Morice Conyers?" demanded Michael quietly.  "Yes, Monsieur le
Comte, I do--until he disproves such belief."

De Quernais shrugged his shoulders, spreading out his hands with an
impatient gesture.

"I ask your reasons, Monsieur," he said.  "I too am ready to believe,
if possible, but you see the case.  My cousin is a friend of the
Revolution, a member of the Society which congratulates murderers.  He
is so enthusiastic in their cause that he plays a trick, which,--your
pardon, Gabrielle,--is not in accordance with honour, and comes to
Brittany for the purpose of stirring up his people to join what he is
pleased to call the Cause of Liberty.

"He comes--with Marcel Trouet, a spy, Revolutionary, murderer,
liar,--and arrives at Kérnak, where he--again your pardon, ma
cousine--continues the policy of his friends, and calls himself a
Royalist and _my friend_.  Then, suddenly leaving Kérnak, he comes to
Varenac, where comrades of his and Trouet's already await him.  He sees
his sister, tells her a tale--a wonderful tale of conversion--and
disappears.  What do you think of this story?"

Michael leant his dark head against the window-frame, facing the
flushed and trembling Count Jéhan, whose eyes were ablaze with hot
anger and excitement.

"It sounds as though Morice Conyers were a traitor," quoth he.  "Yet
I'll still believe in the miraculous.  You have a sister, Monsieur, and
a fair woman has been known to make as many conversions as a saint."

"Yes, yes, that is it," cried Gabrielle eagerly.  "Jéhan, you don't
know Morry.  He--he is not wicked as you think.  It is true that he has
been very foolish, and done many things that are wrong--very wrong.
But he has had bad friends, and he has been weak and vain, allowing
himself to be led by them.  Oh!  I do not excuse him, but I
believe--yes, I do believe--that he might change and be a very
honourable gentleman.  He told me that in Brittany he had found a
teacher worth a hundred Marcel Trouets."

"But why did he disappear?" demanded the Count fiercely.  "Ciel! if he
had not, and he had his eyes opened indeed to his duty, we should yet
win Varenac, aye, and Brittany too, for la Rouerie and the Cause.  But
where is he?"

It was the question on the lips of each.  Where could he be?  What
could he be doing if ha were not on the road to meet Marcel Trouet?

Gabrielle covered her face with her hands, moaning.  "Oh, Morry,
Morry," she sobbed, "where are you?  If only----"

An opening door made her break off sharply, whilst tear-dimmed, eager
eyes watched for the entering figure.  But it was only my Lord
Denningham, smiling, debonair, handsome as ever, who stood looking in
on the little trio.

He paid not the least attention to Monsieur le Comte, who drew himself
up stiffly at sight of him, but made his bow to Gabrielle with the
exaggerated homage he so well knew annoyed her.

"Ah, Mistress," he murmured plaintively, "you have punished me cruelly.
Isn't it enough that Morry's left Steenie and me in the lurch without
you scorning us into the bargain?  Lud', me lady, it's hardly the work
of so dainty a hostess.  You'd not treat us so at Langton.  You'll be
merciful now, and join us at the card-table, or sing us a song of
Brittany to your guitar?--though, stap me!  I believe I'd rather it
were an English one.  I've no love for this cheerless land."

He accentuated the last words with a grimace.

"I have no taste for cards, and no humour for song," retorted
Gabrielle, her eyes alight with the indignation Lord Denningham ever
kindled within her.  "And, if I had, my song would scarcely please
_your_ ears, my lord, since it would be loyal and royal both."

Her overstrained nerves showed in a gusty little fit of passion, which
brought a wider smile to Jack Denningham's mocking lips.

"Loyal and royal," he murmured.  "And you are Morry's sister!"

The last words beneath his breath had bitter sting in them.

It goaded Gabrielle to indiscretion.

"Yes," she replied hotly, "I am Morry's sister,--sister to the Marquis
de Varenac, I would have you remember, and mistress here in his
absence."

A low bow was her answer, but Lord Denningham's eyes were malicious.

"I congratulate you, with all my heart," he said softly, "on your new
mistress-ship."   And he smiled as he glanced towards Michael
Berrington.

The latter was standing erect, and his eyes were ready to flash their
reply and challenge.

But Gabrielle interrupted--she had not caught the drift of his subtle
insult.

"Ere the day is over Morry will be here himself," she cried.  "I think
you will find the room cramped at the Manor of Varenac when he returns."

The smile broadened on the sneering features.

"I am prepared to remain _till then_," retorted my lord suavely.  "I do
not think I need look for another lodging at present."

Count Jéhan stepped suddenly forward.

"Your lace is soiled, Monsieur," he observed, with meaning in his
tones, whilst, stretching out his hand, he touched the ruffle of
Mechlin lace which fell back from Lord Denningham's wrist.

"Soiled?"

The owner of the ruffle looked down with a careless laugh.

The whole of the under-portion of the lace was stiff with blood.

Gabrielle gave a low cry.

"What is it?" she gasped.  "What is it?"

Lord Denningham forced another laugh, not quite so careless and mocking
as the first.

"A mere scratch," he replied, with would-be lightness--"nothing of any
consequence."

But impulse had already brought Gabrielle to his side.

"If you are hurt," she said, very gravely, "you shall let me bind it
for you.  I--I have some slight skill in such work.  Nurse Bond taught
me."

She made as though to touch the wounded wrist, but he drew it back
sharply.

"Tush! a scratch!" he growled.  "Half healed already.  I want no
bandages."

Count Jéhan was yawning, as he helped himself to snuff.

"An excellent flavour," he murmured, half to himself.  "Bought from a
friend who has traded much in the East.  Permit me, Monsieur."

He offered the dainty little box with a graceful bow.

Lord Denningham stretched out a ready hand.  In doing so the lace
ruffle fell back, disclosing an arm too white for manhood, though
muscular and hardened by sword-play.  Count Jéhan looked from arm to
owner.

His glance was significant.

"Have you by chance met my cousin, the Marquis de Varenac, this
morning, Monsieur?" he questioned smoothly.

Lord Denningham forgot to inhale the delicate aroma of the snuff as he
turned scowling away--a curse on his lips.



CHAPTER XXIII

THE MEETING IN THE FOREST

Morice Conyers stood leaning against the gnarled trunk of a
mulberry-tree.

It mattered nothing to him that his view was bounded by a cluster of
shrubs and a stone wall; he was gazing at neither.

What was Cécile thinking of him now?  What was she saying?  What doing?

Each question was a torture.

Jéhan had returned to Kérnak.

If only he could have seen the young Count first, if only there had
been time to prove that repentance had come in time to save his honour!

And now _she_ would believe in neither the one nor the other.

He groaned at the thought, passing a trembling hand across his
forehead.  Oh! he must prove himself--must prove himself, even if he
died in doing it.

"Cécile, Cécile, Cécile."

The breeze overhead chanted the name again and again, now sadly, now
sweetly, alluringly, distractingly.

"Cécile, Cécile, Cécile."

His heart echoed the cry, going out with wild longing to her who had
won it and transformed it at one magic touch.

"Slit me! if it's not Morry himself.  You sly dog!  What demned
mischief have you been up to now, my friend, leaving Steenie and me to
cool our heels in that old rat-trap of yours?"

Jack Denningham's voice broke in sharply on a day-dream of love.  It
was no more welcome interruption than the sight of my lord himself,
cool, suave, smiling, with a hearty clap on the shoulder to add to his
upbraiding words of welcome.

But there was no response in Morice Conyers' eyes.

Since Denningham was here he might as well understand at once that
there was a vast difference between the Marquis de Varenac and Beau
Conyers of Carlton House fame.

"I have been attending to business," he replied coldly, "and there's
more that needs looking after badly.  If you take my advice,
Denningham, you and Steenie will be returning to England without asking
too many questions."

Seeing that a certain laurel-clump was well within earshot of the
mulberry-tree, my lord was singularly obtuse.

"Business?  Return to England?" he cried, with a merry chuckle.  "Why,
we've all come on business, and when we're tired of teaching these
surly beggars of yours their Marseillaise, I'll warrant we'll all be
ready enough for town, and some good jests for our Florizel, to boot.
Ha! ha!  Yes, we'll all return together _afterwards_."

But Morice was facing him squarely, and there were no signs of
irresolution round the corners of his mouth now.

"As for returning to England, that depends on events," he retorted.
"But one thing is certain, Jack,--I'll not be teaching my tenants any
of your demned songs of liberty or murder either.  I've come to cry:
'God save King Louis, and confound the Red Revolution and all its
leaders.'"

He drew himself to his fullest height as he spoke, and looked his
quondam friend in the face.

Lord Denningham was neither smiling nor sneering now, but his blue eyes
had an ugly expression in them.

"Brittany has evidently had a depressing effect on you," he observed
drily.  "Come, don't be a fool, Morry.  Let's to the house.  Steenie is
brewing a bowl of punch which will clear your addle-pate.  We haven't
come here to listen to any demned heroics, but to do business as
members of the Corresponding Society."

The words were fuel to smouldering flame.

Morice Conyers forgot caution and wisdom both.

With a curse he sprang forward, dashing his hand into the other's face.

"Fools for the punch-bowl," he shouted.  "You may drown your coward
whines in it if you're afraid to be a man.  But I tell you I've done
with your traitor Societies, and the rest of 'em.  I've been knave and
villain long enough.  Heaven knows I was both, with my fool's eyes shut
to what I was doing.  You brought me here to whistle to your tunes;
you'll find I have one of my own to sing--a song that won't sully the
lips of a Marquis de Varenac, nor those of an honest Englishman."

Denningham's face was very white--save where the mark of Morice's
fingers had brought a red patch to his cheek.

"Honest Englishman!" he gibed.  "Mongrel cur is the better title.
Where have you been hiding, noble night-bird?  Too-whoo--too-whoo,--the
owl should keep to forest-shade in the daylight, lest the hunter might
shoot her as too noisy a pest."

"You shall give me----"

"Satisfaction?  Come, come, Mr. Forest-skulker, be not too valiant; it
is dangerous.  Still, if you will,--what time like the present?"

"I'll not wait longer."

Morice's fury was at fever-pitch, his passion blinding him to all
discretion.

He did not realize that he had fallen at once into the trap my lord had
prepared for him.

"Come, then," observed his smiling adversary, helping himself to a
pinch of snuff with a languid air.  "If you _will_ have it so, your
forest lair will be the best scene for your lesson.  You will be more
at home there; though, if you prefer it, nearer to your Manor, and
within call of your servants----."

"I am ready," broke in Morice, sternly.  "Let it be where you will, and
with what weapons you will, so it be at once."

Lord Denningham did not hesitate.

"The forest, by all means, then," he yawned.  "and pistols will be more
appropriate than swords.  Stap me!  It's the first time I'll have been
owl-shooting since I was a boy."

Morice did not reply, though he strode quickly enough on the heels of
the other as he led the way down the path, through the wicket, and
across the heather-crowned strip of moorland towards the outskirts of
the forest.

The cool breeze blowing in his face seemed to restore the young man to
his senses.  He was going to fight a duel with Lord Denningham.

Honour demanded it now.

But he was remembering tales which had often been the subject of
Carlton House gossip--tales of this man's skill with the pistols, his
unerring aim, his callous disregard of life.

"You are going to death, you are going to death," moaned the autumn
wind in his ear; and the voice seemed like the voice of Cécile crying
its sad farewell.

Yet he could not go back; it was too late.  If death awaited him, there
in the grim forest, he must meet the grisly foe as a man, not a puling
coward.

A man!  Yes, a man whom Cécile, in years to come, might think of not
wholly in shame, but with a great pity, as of one who, after many sins,
many failures, many mistakes, had tried to redeem the past and expiate
his faults--for her sake.  If only he could have sent a message!

But that, too, was impossible.

"I think, with your permission, we have gone far enough," observed Lord
Denningham affably, as he halted near a small clearing in the wood.

Morice nodded.

He knew not if he had walked one mile or ten, so deep had been his
reverie.

And now death stood at his side.

"It is a matter of regret that there is no time to procure seconds,"
smiled my lord, as he proceeded to divest himself of his coat and walk
slowly across the clearing, carefully measuring his paces.

"But I do not think there will be any dispute--afterwards."

"No," replied Morice dully.

He understood the gist of the remark.

"The light might be worse," went on Denningham.  "If we are careful
where we stand,--so--there is too deep a shadow there.  You have a good
weapon, sir?  If not, permit me to offer you the choice of mine."

He opened a leather case as he spoke, holding it towards Morice with a
mocking bow.

A pair of gold-mounted pistols lay within.

But Morice shook his head.

"I thank you, my lord, but I prefer using my own," he replied shortly.

Lord Denningham raised his eyebrows.

"As you like.  But you will surely remove your coat?"

"Thank you.  No."

"Again--as you will, though I warn you those gilt buttons of yours make
a pretty target."

"I am ready."

They were facing each other--Morice Conyers grim and pale, yet with
eyes stern of purpose and undaunted enough, though he knew death looked
him in the face.

Denningham was white too, but his blue eyes were scornful, and his thin
lips twisted in a cold smile.

He never doubted for a second the issue of that duel.

And his pistol was levelled point-blank at the other's heart.

It was by far the simplest method of dealing with a crazy fool.

Two shots rang out in the silent wood.  A dull thud, a faint cracking
of dried twigs, as a heavy body fell backward; then silence again.

Lord Denningham was carefully replacing a smoking pistol within its
case, wiping it first with his silk handkerchief.

Inwardly he was experiencing that acute satisfaction of having
fulfilled his purpose neatly and expeditiously.

A pistol was far more satisfactory in every way than a sword.  The
latter bungled at times, the former, never.

A wounded opponent would have been a demned difficulty.

Having put on his coat, and replaced his case of weapons, he approached
the figure which lay, half hidden, amongst the dense undergrowth.

He would make certain of his work.

Faugh!

In haste he withdrew a searching hand.  It was dripping with blood.

The contact was distasteful.  It even went so far as to shake his
nerves.

Wiping the red stains again and again on the grass, he rose to his feet.

He would wash his hand in the stream they had passed on their way, and
then no time must be lost in returning to the Manor and seeking Sir
Stephen.

It must not be suspected that he had ever left the card-table that
morning.

Steenie would be too fuddled to contradict if questions were asked.

Besides, it was unlikely there _would_ be questions.

Murder was too everyday an occurrence just now.  And, though the Terror
had not yet come to Varenac, it would be no great matter of surprise
that a noble landlord returning to his own should be found with a
bullet in his heart in the woods near his home.

So Jack Denningham argued as he hurried back along the forest path,
only stopping to wash the blood once more from his hand, and with
scarcely a thought to bestow on a quondam friend who lay with eyes fast
closed and white face upturned to greet the sunbeams which stole down,
half shyly, through leafy shade, to peep, as it were, at that which lay
so still amongst the fading bracken.



CHAPTER XXIV

THE HUT OF NANETTE LEROC

But my Lord Denningham had for once been out-witted by a fate more
merciful than himself.

A strangely perverse fate, too, for here she had changed destruction to
salvation.  The bullet, winging its way straight to the heart of Morice
Conyers, had glanced aside on the brass button of his heavy
travelling-coat and entered the body several inches to the right of the
spot intended.  True, the victim had fallen instantly, his own shot
having gone wide of its mark amongst the trees, and there he lay,
bleeding and unconscious.

But Death had stepped aside--its grey form slipping away through the
misty shadows to pursue other prey.

And thus, in time, Morice opened his eyes once more and found himself,
not in Paradise or Purgatory, but lying still on his bracken couch, his
white shirt stiff with blood, and a feeling of cold faintness which
kept his thoughts slipping from him like ghosts of a fleeting vision.
But presently the misty haze swimming before his eyes cleared a little,
and he became conscious that some one was talking near him.

The voice was as unfamiliar as the little dark face that peered into
his, yet he smiled, muttering faintly that all was well--or would be if
he might have a draught of brandy.

His request evidently fell on deaf ears.  But presently a flask was put
to his lips.  Not brandy, or anything like it, yet the long drink of
milk, which he swallowed thirstily, revived him, and he sat up.

A little peasant-girl, in picturesque Breton dress, stood by his side,
surveying him with mingled curiosity and awe.

Cécile's lessons might have stood him in good stead had his brain been
less confused.  As it was, he was content to let this sympathetic
friend guide him along the path.

Feeble, staggering steps, with frequent halts when the giddiness
overpowered him; but the girl, though small, was stronger than might
have been expected, and helped him bravely, till together they reached
a little hut close to the pathway.

What followed was but a confused dream to Morice Conyers.  He
remembered vaguely that an old, white-capped woman came to his side,
and that somehow he reached a bed.  Then the dream darkened till all
became a blank, in which surging waves and roaring winds alone were
heard, whilst he drifted helpless and feeble before the tempest.

But morning light told a different tale.  Youth, a vigorous
constitution, old Nanette's balsam of herbs, or Providence,--_which_ it
was Morice did not trouble to consider.  All he knew was that he was
alive, and thanked God for it, remembering Cécile.  Afterwards he
recollected that he was hungry.

The white-capped old woman, who had been but a wraith figure the night
before, came to his side with a bowl of chestnut soup and black bread.

Coarse fare--but our dainty beau had never tasted a more delicious meal.

Ah!  It was good to be alive.

In halting Breton he thanked the good mother, and vainly tried to
follow an avalanche of chatter.

All he could gather was that this was the hut of Nanette Leroc, and
that the little one, who found him, was her niece, Marie, who had been
returning from a fête.

Of course the good saints had directed her feet that way, and had shown
her where he lay.

Marie, busy shelling chestnuts in the background, must have blushed at
this last, seeing that the saints had apparently less to do with the
direction of her steps than a certain Meloir Duvaine, who had promised
to meet her on her return from Cervenais, but who had failed to keep
tryst.

But Morice cared little whether saint or lover, or both, had had finger
in the pie.  It was sufficient that Marie _had_ found him, and that he
lay here with the warm life-blood flowing freely in his veins.

He would have risen from his humble couch had not Nanette and common
sense withheld him.

Loss of blood had weakened him, even though the wound was not serious
in itself.

The brass button on his coat was twisted and bent beyond recognition.

When he saw it, Morice Conyers thanked God again.

The sight sobered him.

Nanette and Marie chattered incessantly when they were in the hut.
Fortunately their work kept them a good deal without.

Later, Morice fell asleep to the whirring of the spinning-wheel.  It
was more soothing than unintelligible Breton.

For two days he remained in the hut of old Nanette.  On the third he
was strong enough to rise.  Weak though he was, he could return now to
Varenac.

He still had his work to do; and what might not be happening if the
story of his death had got abroad?

At first Nanette refused the gold he offered her with halting but
heartfelt thanks.

It was le bon Dieu who had sent him, she said.  But the sight of the
glittering coins was too much for her thrifty soul to withstand; and
folk said the winter was likely to be a hard one.

So she took money and thanks, bidding her patient a voluble farewell,
and invoking many blessings on his head.

Morice was already half across a forest glade before she had come to
the end of them.

It was past mid-day, but, though the autumn sunshine warmed the purple
landes beyond, it was chilly in the shade.  More than once Morice
paused, shivering a little; but whether from cold, weakness, or the
excitement of what he knew must lie before him, he could not tell.

A step on the path, a bend in the road, the flutter of a crimson
cloak--and there before him stood Cécile herself.

For a moment trees, path, figure, swam giddily before the young man's
eyes.  Then, as the mists cleared, he looked into a face pale as his
own.

The basket she carried had slipped from her grasp, and she stood, hands
clasped together, leaning against a tree.

"Morice!"

It was a faint whisper coming from white lips, but he heard it.

"Cécile!"

Did the pinched cheeks and hollow eyes tell their own tale?

It must have been so, for she was at his side the next moment.

"You are not dead?" she faltered, and touched his hand, half fearfully,
as though she fancied the apparition would slip out of sight as she
approached.

But he caught and held her fingers in no ghost-like touch.

"You are not dead?"

A hundred questions were in her eyes.

"No, I am not dead, dear love, dear love."

He spoke the last words hungrily, wistfully, longing for response, yet
scarcely daring to hope for it.

The colour had not come to her cheeks at his words; she was still
staring up in that same wonder.

Yet he saw another thought dawning behind it.

"If you are alive, what does it mean?" she asked, then shuddered
violently.  "They told me you were a traitor," she said.

"A traitor?  And so I was, Cécile--a black and dishonoured traitor.
But I repented."

"Repented!"

Her voice rang harshly.

"Ay.  God grant before too late."

"When--when you rode to Varenac----"

"I went as its Marquis, to cry 'Long live the King.'"

"And yet----"

"I never reached Varenac."

"You--turned back?"

How her eyes accused him.

"Cécile!  Cécile!  Yet I deserve it.  No, I did not turn back.  I met
my sister----"

"She has told me all that, and how you disappeared before she could
return."

"Lord Denningham found me awaiting her.  A quarrel was forced.  He
sneered at me for a Chouan.  I lost my temper, and gave him his desire.
We fought near here, and I think he left me for dead.  Old Nanette
nursed me back to life--it was a miracle that saved me.  I am on my way
to Varenac."

He spoke breathlessly, almost incoherently.  Yet each word carried
truth with it.  And she believed him, though, by reason of her very
love and fear, she hesitated.

"You go to Varenac?"

"At once, Mademoiselle."

"Your enemies are there."

"They will be kinder than my friends--or those I dared to hope might be
my friends.  But I understand----"

"You understand?"

"That it is too late--there is no forgiveness for sin meditated."

"No forgiveness?"

Her lips were quivering, her eyes full of tears.  All the hardness had
gone from the little face which was raised to his.

Morice was trembling, less from weakness now than the hope with which
those eyes inspired him.

"You believe me?"

"I do."

"Cécile!"

She was in his arms, sobbing out all the despair and horror of those
three days.  His shame had been hers, and more bitter to hear of than
his death.  But Gabrielle's story had helped to clear a name she held
so dear, yet left her doubtful, and utterly miserable.

Dead without proof that penitence had been sincere!  Mother of God! it
had seemed to break her heart.

And now, why! now she wept--wept tears of joy and thankfulness which
swept aside despair.

He was alive--alive, and on his way to Varenac.

That last thought sent a chill through throbbing pulses.

To Varenac!

She remembered how Jéhan had brought Gabrielle to Kérnak, and how grim
he had looked when rumours of the approaching Terror reached them.  It
was not only at St. Malo that the "widow" claimed her victims.

And at Varenac Lord Denningham, the avowed friend of Marcel Trouet,
still remained.  She shivered at the thought.

Gabrielle had told her much of this man, and her belief that he could,
if he chose, explain the reason of Morice's disappearance.

Yes, she feared Lord Denningham almost as much as the Terror.

Yet it was true that Morice must go to Varenac.

It might not be too late even now to do something for the Cause.

But he should not go alone.

"You must return with me to Kérnak," she whispered.  "Jéhan is there.
He will go with you.  You--you must prove to him, too, that you are
Monsieur le Marquis."

The faintest smile parted her trembling lips.

"Prove it--to Jéhan?"

"Yes."

Morice raised his head proudly.

"I will prove it to the whole world," said he.

"And you will come to Kérnak?"

"If you will.  But my heart burns to reach Varenac.  You--you do not
know all, perhaps.  I tell you every moment is precious, the danger
nearer."

He spoke feverishly, thinking of Marcel Trouet.

But she could bring reasons for her importunity.

"You may fail if you go alone.  The people do not know you.  They might
refuse to believe that you are their Marquis; but they will believe
Jéhan."

He saw that the argument was good.

"Then let us go to Kérnak," he cried, turning back along the path, with
a sudden gesture of impatience.

Cécile smiled.

"Yes, to Kérnak," she echoed, with a happy sob.

Even their love, born in autumn sunlight, and wellnigh killed by autumn
blasts, took no first place at that moment in their hearts, when a
man's honour and a country's hopes were at stake; though Cécile, being
a woman, felt her heart beat gladly when she remembered that she had
turned her lover from the road to Varenac--and death.



CHAPTER XXV

BERTRAND TELLS A TALE

The wine at the sign of Le Bon Camarade was abominable.

Marcel Trouet, trusted servant and officer of the Committee of Public
Safety in Paris, evinced his disapprobation by flinging the contents of
his glass on the floor and bellowing for the landlord.

Jean Gouicket came in haste.  He knew who were the great ones now, this
burly Breton.  Aha! the cunning one!  At the first whisper of Liberty,
Equality, and Fraternity, he had taken down his signboard, and the
Duchesse Anne, with its ermines and arms, had been quickly painted out
and replaced by a fine red cap and the name of Le Bon Camarade.

But just in time!  Ohé!  Jean Gouicket could only gasp out a
thanksgiving and promise of many candles to Monseigneur St.
Jean--beneath his breath, of course--when Trouet and his party arrived.

That party!  It was a grim one enough at first sight--a rabble of
idlers with four or five of those other great ones whom Marcel Trouet
had brought from Paris.

Not that they were Parisians--nothing of the sort: they were Bretons,
every one--dark-skinned, gloomy-faced fellows, with crafty, downcast
eyes and scowling lips.

These were men, though, who had seen life beyond the dreary landes, and
faced more than the fierce, monotonous battling between sea and shore,
such as engrossed their fellows.

And they had learnt to talk in Paris.

Loud, snarling talk of their precious liberty and the way in which they
meant to earn it.

Ha, ha!  They were beginning to find that out in Brittany too.

They had heard, even in Paris, how the aristocrats of St. Malo and
Vannes--ay, and Nantes too--were learning that their day was done.  And
so, being Bretons themselves, they had come home to join in the fun,
and teach their comrades and brothers how the work went in Paris.

Click! click! click!  But there were plenty of ways to exterminate
vermin besides taking them to the arms of the "widow."

Jean Gouicket and his friends listened agape, not sure whether to
applaud or shiver, the former sweating in sudden fear when the great
Trouet bellowed for more wine of a better flavour.

A threat underlay the command, and the trembling Gouicket made haste to
obey, though it was gall and wormwood to the worthy man to bring to
these vaurien comrades the wine which Monsieur le Comte, or M'nsieur
l'Abbé would pay a big price for.

Before he returned Marcel had been joined by a stranger--a heavy-faced,
ill-looking fellow with a tangle of rough hair, and wearing the
sleeveless coat and plaited trousers of a Breton peasant.

But Marcel evidently found him amusing, for he did not even fill his
glass with the wine Gouicket placed, with reverent fingers and very
great reluctance, by his side.

"Your name, my friend?" he was asking.

"Bertrand Manseau.  A good Republican."

"Ça, ça.  And you come from Kérnak?"

The man spat and cursed the name before acquiescing.

"It is the place of aristos?"

"Yes, citoyen.  But not for long I hope."

His cunning little black eyes blinked with satisfaction.

"All in good time, all in good time.  You know Varenac?"

"Si.  How could it be otherwise?  I have lived between Kérnak and
Varenac all my life."

"And what have you to say of Varenac?"

"It is a place of fools."

"Ha, ha!  Does that mean also of aristos?"

"There is one; that is sufficient."

"But the old aristo died.  He who has now come is a good citizen."

Bertrand's face was livid with rage.

"A good citizen!  Mille diables!  A _good citizen_.  What! the new
Marquis who came last week from England?  Nom d'un chien, Citoyen
Marcel, he is the worst of the lot--a cursed aristo to his finger-tips."

It was Trouet's turn to stare.

"Bah! comrade, you do not know him.  I tell you he is my friend.  It is
I who brought him from England on purpose to teach those fools at
Varenac to cry 'Vive la Revolution.'"

"I do not care what you say.  He is a cursed aristo; I have seen him."

Bertrand rubbed his back, scowling darkly over a sore memory.

"You have seen him?"

Marcel poured out a glass of wine and tossed it down at a gulp,
indifferent just now as to flavour.  He was getting excited.

"Yes, certainly.  He would have killed me if it had not been for the
girl.  I tell you he is the most cursed aristo of them all."

"Where was this?  What girl?  Quickly then, idiot!  I will know what
you say."

Bertrand told his story.  Alas! it was not only the story of
Mademoiselle Cécile's rescue, but more also that he had learnt by
spying and close tracking of his enemy.

All was soon clear to Monsieur Trouet.

This fool of an Englishman had fallen in love--with an aristo.  He was
judge enough of men to guess the rest.

"And he has gone to Varenac?"

"Certainly!"

"And the people?"

"Will be as ready to cry 'Vive le roi,' as 'Vive la nation,' when he
bids them."

"He has already----"

"No, no!  There has been some delay.  I do not altogether understand,
for old Pierre Koustak at the Manor is a fool too; but I believe
M'nsieur le Marquis is there alone.  He waits for a friend."

"Nom d'un chien! a friend will arrive.  Mille diables! a friend will
arrive."

Marcel tossed off another glass of wine thirstily--it might have been
the commonest vintage--and Jean Gouicket, watching, was filled with
exquisite pain at the sight.

"En avant!" screamed Marcel, springing to his feet.

Instantly the parlour of Le Bon Camarade was in confusion.

All talked at once, and none knew what they talked of, saving that it
was in the cause of liberty, equality, and fraternity.

Poor Jean Gouicket wished devoutly that there would be less of the
latter and more honesty in payment; but he dared not ask for his money,
recalling the fate of a parsimonious landlord at Vannes.

All things, especially wine, were common in this great bond of
brotherhood.

At last Marcel made himself heard.

His good comrades and friends were to divide into five sections, and
hasten at once to Varenac, Kérnak, and other villages around.

In all these villages the tree of liberty was to be planted, and death
to the aristos proclaimed.

For himself he had a little business of importance to undertake, but
would join them at Varenac shortly.

They would soon have plenty of amusement.

A burst of enthusiasm greeted these orders.  The Marseillaise, started
in a shrill falsetto, was echoed by fifty lusty throats.

It was in the midst of the din that Marcel Trouet, with Bertrand at his
side, hurried off in the direction of the Manor of Varenac.

The trusted agent of the Committee of Public Safety had something to
say to a ci-devant Marquis and member of a certain London Corresponding
Club.

The thought of the meeting appeared to cause the little man the
liveliest excitement and anger.

But never mind! never mind!

The Terror was coming to Varenac in spite of turncoats.

"Ça ira!"



CHAPTER XXVI

A BLIND ATONEMENT

Sir Stephen Berrington sat alone in the library at the Manor of Varenac.

Not that he was fond of his own company.  Peste!  He hated it.  But
there was no alternative just now.

Morry's sister had gone to Kérnak with that young fool Michael to keep
her company, and Morry himself had not arrived.

Too bad that!  If it had not been for Morry's over-persuasion he would
never have left town.

He was none too fond of my Lord Denningham's company.  The fellow was
all right at the card-table, but otherwise he was a demned wet blanket.

Yes; a demned wet blanket!

Sir Stephen yawned, helped himself to another glass of punch from the
bowl at his elbow, and continued to bewail his lot.

Where was Denningham?  Wet blanket or no, even he would be better than
no one in this old barn.

It was beginning to grow dusk, and Steenie was not fond of moping in
the twilight.

Memory and he were ill friends.

Yet memory, unbidden, came and perched herself beside him.

A small fire of logs crackled on the hearth.  Autumn winds were cold,
and he was not so young as he used to be.

It is wonderful how old a fit of loneliness can make one.

At that moment the light-hearted Steenie Berrington of Carlton House
was an old man.

The hand that carried the glass to trembling lips shook.

An old man!

It must be so since he had taken to looking back.

He had been young once.

Lost youth stood mocking him in the shadows.  Laughter, love, hope, and
strength,--all had been his.

A mother's hand seemed stretching out from the past years to smooth the
fair hair from his forehead, whilst mother-eyes looked into his own
laughing ones.

Those mother eyes!  Had they ever looked anything but tenderly into
his, though they had often been tear-dimmed in pain?

Pain he had inflicted carelessly enough, and, as carelessly, turned
away.

Memory had bitter stabs for an old man sitting alone in the twilight.

Sir Stephen gulped down his punch and tried to hum a line of his
favourite rhyme.

  "Let's drink and be jolly, and drown melancholy;
  So merrily, then, let us joy, too, and sing,
  So fill up your bowls, all ye loyal----"


The song broke off, snapped by another of memory's shafts.

Where had he heard that song first?

At Dublin town.

Ah!  Dublin held memories too.

A gay ballroom.  A girl's sweet face.  A kiss, passionate and long.

Norah, Norah--smiling, merry Norah.

He had loved her, too, for a short time--all too short for Norah.

And the boy?

Well! he had not been cut out for domesticity, and after a time Norah's
tears bored him far more than Norah's smiles had ever charmed him.

Yet he had felt a pang of remorse when he heard she was dead.  He might
even have sought out his son had not the old man, his father, adopted
him.  It was better for Michael to be brought up at Berrington.

And, meantime, Steenie was finding that when one has a handsome face
and jolly humour, it is easy to live by one's wits, even though honour
be in the mire.

So the years rolled by.  He watched them go as the wood spattered and
burnt on the hearth, spurting out little jets of flame or leaping up
the chimney in long, red tongues of fiery heat.

Michael, his son!  _His son_.  His father, it seemed at times, for here
was Sir Henry over again, save for sudden fits of wild, rollicking
devilry, which came of an Irish birthright, and delighted Sir Stephen
hugely.

Mike and he might have been the jolliest of comrades were it not for
the young fool's absurd ideas of honour.

Again Sir Stephen filled up his glass.  He would at least drown
melancholy and memory too.

After all, he hoped spoil-sport Mike would stay at Kérnak.  The lad
took life like an old man, and left his father behind in the merry
ranks of youth.

Yes! of youth.  He was not old--_would_ not be old.  He was
young--merry.  Laughter on his lips--in his heart, now the ghosts of
the past were laid.

Confusion to memory!  Con----

How darkly the shadows fell.

And behind him one was moving forward, nearer--nearer--nearer.

A stooping shadow, with a cap--blood-red in the dying light--on its
head, and a face twisted and mocking.

But Sir Stephen was looking into the embers and seeing long years of
laughter and song therein.

Oh, that stooping shadow!  How stealthily it advanced.

Confusion to memory!  Con----

An arm raised swiftly, and as swiftly descending.

Confusion----!

What followed?  What followed?

A sudden, terrible pain, a suffocating sense of agony, a blinding rush
of memories, of fear, of terror; and then a figure lurched forward,
slipping sideways from the chair across the hearth, overturning a
half-filled bowl of punch in its fall.

But Marcel Trouet stood cursing volubly in hot anger and dismay, for
the features, upturned to his, were not those of Morice Conyers after
all.

      *      *      *      *      *

The moments crept by leaden-footed.  But Marcel Trouet stood
still--very still--looking down at that white face, those stiffening
lips.

He had killed the wrong man.

It was a matter of regret.

Hardened in crime though he was, murder in cold blood had never come
his way before, and the horror of a useless deed held him there,
actually trembling a little as he watched the slowly oozing blood
trickle across the white hearth.

And the twilight was deepening in the silent room.

The hasty opening of a door startled the watcher into uttering a low
cry of terror.  But the terror passed at sight of Lord Denningham.

These two understood each other.

"Ah!"

"Unluckily I made a little mistake, mon ami.  It was Morice
Conyers--the citizen Varenac--I came to find."

"Aha!  I understand.  A little unfortunate for Steenie!  Poor devil!
But how go the affairs of State, friend Trouet?"

"It is I who should ask that.  I hear that our good Moreece has become
indeed a Marquis."

"One born out of time then, though it is true that Conyers was ready to
play the fool.  However, there is no reason to be anxious; I have
already settled matters with him."

"You----?"

"He will not trouble us again any more than poor Steenie here."

Lord Denningham was smiling, but Marcel Trouet wiped the sweat from his
forehead.

"Bon, bon.  You are a patriot, my friend."

"And now----?"

"Well, it will be clear sailing, as you call it in England.  The men of
Varenac did not see the dear Moreece?"

"Not a glimpse.  They are waiting still."

"Excellent.  Ah, ciel! what an idea!  We shall have no trouble with
these blockheads, who are sometimes difficult.  You, my dear milord,
will be Marquis, or--still better--the Citizen Varenac."

Jack Denningham stared for a moment.  But he was not slow to catch the
drift of the other's meaning.

"The Citizen Varenac?" he echoed.  "A charming idea, Marcel, only a
trifle difficult to practise."

"Difficult?"

"You forget I have been living here as Lord Denningham.  The old
curmudgeon, Pierre Koustak, would give me away.  He is Royalist and
Varenac to the backbone, and a gentleman of influence in these parts,
if I mistake not."

Trouet shrugged his shoulders.

"Ah, my friend, that is all easy enough.  Where is this Pierre Koustak?"

"Below, no doubt, in the pantry, or poking his nose where it is not
wanted."

"Let him come here.  We will deal with him according to justice."

"Justice!"

"Eh bien!  There is a man lying murdered in the library of the Manor of
Varenac.  We find him here, you and I.  Who can be suspected but the
only man in the house?  It is without doubt the work of a villain.  We
will name that villain Pierre Koustak.  You understand?"

"Perfectly.  I will fetch him."

Pierre Koustak was not far away.

The last few days had made him anxious--very anxious.  There were
things happening he could not understand, and Monsieur le Marquis had
not arrived at Varenac.

So he was ready enough to obey the summons to the library, even though
he did not like the fair-haired milord with the blue eyes which were
cold and hard as granite stones.

Yet perhaps he would hear something.

The worthy Pierre was not mistaken.  He did hear something,--but not at
all what he expected.

Murder!  Ah! how terrible.

The sight of the huddled figure on the hearth made his knees tremble in
very horror.  But he knew nothing of it, had heard nothing.  What did
it mean?

In utter bewilderment, he stared from one grim-faced accuser to the
other.

_He_ murdered the Englishman who laughed and drank all day?

Mother of Heaven! such a thought, such a suggestion, was impossible,
absurd.

But, where the prisoner is prejudged, argument is useless.

They refused to listen to the poor man's protestations, cries, and vows
of innocency.  Sir Stephen Berrington lay here, lately murdered; he,
Pierre Koustak, was the only man in the Manor at the time, therefore
Pierre must have done the deed.

That was the summing up.  Afterwards Pierre, still pleading and
imploring against such injustice, was bound, gagged, and carried to a
little room at the back of the house.

"He will be safe there," observed Jack Denningham, with a grin, as he
withdrew the key from the lock, placing it in his pocket.  "And now for
the comedy, Citizen Marcel, since tragedy is done with--for the
present."

Marcel Trouet seemed thoroughly to appreciate the jest, for his sly
face--a little paler perhaps than usual--was twisted into a satisfied
grimace.

"You will wait here now, milord," he observed with a grand bow, "and I
will bring your obedient and altogether adoring people to listen to the
fatherly advice and counsel of the Citoyen Morice Varenac, ci-devant
Marquis and aristocrat, but now the friend of liberty and the great and
glorious Revolution."

He waved his red cap excitedly over his head as he spoke, laughing
uproariously.

One is merry when one's plans succeed beyond--if contrary
to--expectation.  But it might have been observed that the
Revolutionary leader took care to avoid re-entering the library where a
dead man lay by a dying fire.



CHAPTER XXVII

WHO MICHAEL MET ON THE ROAD TO VARENAC

Michael Berrington rode to Varenac.

Grey gloom around suited well with his mood, for therein strove counter
forces as fiercely as storm-lashed waves against the jagged rocks of a
forbidding coast.

Behind lay Kérnak--and love.  Before him was Varenac--and duty.

He dared not leave his father in the unscrupulous hands of such men as
Denningham and Trouet.

Had he not promised his grandfather to preserve Berrington honour with
his life?

So he set his face sternly, never once glancing back, though his heart
cried aloud, bidding him return to the woman he loved.

Gabrielle might be in danger, for already rumour was busy, telling of
the ferment in the towns around, and the growing cries of "Vive la
nation," "À bas les aristocrats!"  Yet he must go on--on--on, leaving
Gabrielle behind.

It was getting dark; purple moorland and purple sky blending together
in a misty haze.  Hooting of owl and barking of fox came from the
forest on his right, whilst far away to the left the waves broke dully
against the cliffs.

A ghost?  Was it a ghost?

Surely something akin to it.

A flutter of white, a shadowy figure looming large in the mist, then
gradually resolving itself into a woman's form.

A woman, alone on the moorland, at this hour--in these times?

A peasant girl come to meet her lover, perhaps, but brave even then,
since Breton superstitions are manifold concerning these bleak landes
at the witching hour of twilight.

But this woman came in haste.  Surely it was to no love-tryst!

Michael was soon convinced of that.

Stumbling, panting, tripping, over the rough, uneven ground she came,
pausing, with a shrill cry, half-fear, half-welcome, at sight of the
man who had leapt from his horse and stood ready to greet her.

It was Olérie Koustak, the fair-haired daughter of the old major-domo
at Varenac.  Michael had recognised her at once, and guessed that she
ran thus for some purpose.

"M'nsieur, M'nsieur," she cried, even before she reached his side.
"Oh, M'nsieur, help!"

"Olérie," he exclaimed, catching her hand as she swayed, white to the
lips with a sudden faintness.  "Why! what has chanced?  Has the Terror
come already to Varenac?"

She looked at him, her great blue eyes beseeching him dumbly, even
before she could regain breath for speech.

But presently she told her tale.

Murder at Varenac?

Murder of one of the English m'nsieurs who said they were friends of
M'nsieur le Marquis who never came?

Michael found it difficult to put the next question, and it came short
and harsh enough at last.

"Which one?"

"The elder, M'nsieur--the one who laughed all day, and who sang and
drank much wine!"

"And he is dead?"

Was it Michael's own voice that asked the question?  He could hardly
believe it.

"Yes, yes.  He is dead--murdered.  But it was not my father who did it.
By all the blessed saints I swear it, M'nsieur.  It was impossible.
Only two minutes had he left me to go to the pantry when the English
milord called him."

"And then?"

Olérie clasped her hands tightly.

"Oh, M'sieur, I was afraid, and--and I hid--whilst I listened.
I--heard all.  They told my father it--it was he who committed the
murder, and locked him in an upper room.  Afterwards they--they laughed
and talked together.  I--I do not altogether--comprehend, for it was
not Breton tongue they talked; but it seemed that the--English milord
will stay and--call himself M'nsieur le Marquis, whilst the other
goes--to tell our people."

"And how know you this if they did not speak the Breton tongue?"

"M'nsieur, I went to an aunt in Paris when I was little.  I stayed
three--four years.  I talked French."

"And it was French these others talked?  How many were there?"

"Two, M'nsieur.  One was the English milord.  I did not see the face of
the other."

"But he was French?"

"Yes, M'nsieur.  Oh, M'nsieur, they will kill my father."

Her tears flowed fast at the thought.

"They have already killed mine."

Michael's face was very stern.

Olérie looked up in startled wonder.

"_Your_ father, M'nsieur?--the English M'nsieur who laughed and sang
always?"

"Yes."

He turned his face away, afraid to read pity in her eyes.  It was not
pity he needed just then.

His father was dead.

The thought filled him with infinite horror and infinite relief.

The Berrington honour was safe.

Yet filial affection was not wholly dead.  Weak, vacillating, utterly
unscrupulous though he was, Steenie Berrington had not been without a
certain lovableness--a kindly, merry humour which, even if insincere
and selfish, was fascinating after its kind.

And now he was dead!

Heaven have mercy on his soul!

But there were the living to think of--and justice to be done.

Michael was not one to lose opportunity in vain reveries and regrets.

He must ride with the hotter haste to Varenac, even though only his
enemies awaited him there.

He told Olérie this briefly, promising that, if the dealing of justice
lay in his hands, the innocent should not suffer for the guilty.

She thanked him tearfully, allowing him to lift her upon his horse; and
thus, together, the strange companions rode, as quickly as they might
in the gathering dusk, to Varenac.



CHAPTER XXVIII

LORD DENNINGHAM FIGHTS ONCE TOO OFTEN

Lord Denningham was waiting, not patiently--that virtue had never been
his--but with a growing irritation.

After all this was a fool's game.

Notoriety was cheap, and he could--if he had willed--have sought and
found it in far more amusing paths than those of political intrigue.

He had a good mind to throw up the whole business and return to England
by the next boat.

A fit of indigestion--or was it spleen?  Perhaps the latter, for he was
thinking of pretty Gabrielle Conyers.

If he went to England she should go with him.  Yes! he had sworn that,
and she might think herself a lucky woman that he would take her as
Lady Denningham.  He smiled over the thought, and then set his lips in
a thin, tight line.

My Lady Denningham!  Yes; he would teach the chit who was master, and
she would love him the more for it.

As for this business of Trouet's, it was the means to an end.

He would masquerade as a converted marquis, teach a crowd of loutish
peasants the tune of the Marseillaise, consign a few of these
mock-heroic aristos to the devil, and take home his bride by way of
reward, with the substantial thanks of the Committee of Public Safety
and France in general.

It was a perfectly satisfactory picture.  In the meantime he was more
than ready for the first act of the little comedy wherein the ci-devant
Marquis de Varenac would make his bow to good patriots as the Citizen
Morice.

Involuntarily he chuckled as he thought of one morning, a few days
since, when he had put a superfluous Morice de Varenac safely out of
the way.

Confound that fellow Trouet! was he never coming?

My lord was getting restless.

A passing curiosity led him to the library.

Pity old Steenie had met such a paltry fate; he might have helped wile
away a heavy hour with the cards.

Poor Steenie!

Jack Denningham slowly took a pinch of snuff as he looked down at the
still figure at his feet.

A sight to point a moral.

The handsome but bloated face, the rich dress, helpless hands, and the
broken bowl, with the sickening smell of punch-fumes mingling with the
close atmosphere of the room.

Faugh!  My lord turned to throw open a window, and came face to face
with the dead man's son.

It might have been an embarrassing situation for most, but Jack
Denningham was noted for his sang-froid.

"In good time," quoth he.  "My condolences and congratulations, Sir
Michael.  The loss of a father is not always a bereavement his heir
finds it hard to bear."

One swift glance towards the hearth, then back at the sneering, smiling
face before him.

"I await explanations," said Michael sternly.

Denningham burst into a loud laugh.

"Stap me, sir, but you take it coolly," quoth he.  "One would almost
have thought you were prepared for the blow."

"As I am to find the striker," replied Michael coldly.

"Ha, ha!  You do me the honour of suspecting my hand in the matter?  A
pretty compliment, my young friend.  May I repay it?"

The speaker's tone was yet more insolent.  Michael looked his adversary
full in the face.  Perhaps he guessed why my lord was so ready to pick
a quarrel.

Denningham was still smiling mockingly.

"Berrington Manor needed a new master--_and mistress_!" he questioned.
"But you must be careful, my friend, in your daydreams, or there will
be an unexpected awakening."

"You will explain your words, my lord, or give me satisfaction."

"Ha, ha!  You have been a frequenter of the King's Theatre.  I grant
you John Parkington is superb; but I prefer melodrama _only_ on the
stage.  I am too prosaic for you, Sir Michael."

"Your prose should be readable then."

"Have I not made it so already?  But I assure you, sir, that you must
be careful which way you look.  Mistress Gabrielle will have the honour
of being Lady Denningham one day soon."

"You lie!"

"Tut, tut! ugly words, ugly words, my Irish mongrel.  You will do well
to be discreet, seeing----"

He nodded towards the hearth.

"You dare----"

Lord Denningham had succeeded admirably; his adversary was ablaze with
unrestrainable anger.

"Ah! you will prove your innocence.  Of course, of course.  Do not lose
your temper, I implore you, sir.  Only you will not deny that your
father's murder was a matter of no surprise to you.  And as your
father's heir----"

"You will answer me for your insults, my lord--and at once."

"I am always at the service of a gentleman.  Would you prefer swords or
pistols?"

"Swords.  On guard, my lord."

"As hot at fighting as in love-making.  Aha! this mongrel blood!  Come,
if you will have it so; but I shall teach you a lesson, my friend.
Afterwards----"

"Afterwards----?"

"I shall marry pretty Gabrielle Conyers and take to writing poems."

Mockery and laughter, meant to goad on his adversary to mad
indiscretion.

But Michael Berrington was sobered already.

If he fell in the duel, Gabrielle would be at this man's mercy.

Fool that he had been to be so trapped!

But it was too late now, and there was murder sure enough in
Denningham's half-veiled blue eyes.

A duel a l'outrance.

They did not speak after the swords had once crossed.

It was for a woman they fought, and each knew it, whatever the reason
given.

A mad fight in a dying light, traitor shadows to baulk each thrust.

Yes, it would be more luck than skill which should proclaim the winner.

Not a flicker of an eyelid, not a smile to part stern lips.  A cruel
fight, with Death to guide the quick thrusts which each parried in turn.

To and fro, to and fro.  As near the window as possible to gain the
advantage of every glimmer of light.

And by the hearth the gloom deepened into darkness.

The breathing of the antagonists was getting more laboured now.  But
the eyes were hard and unflinching as ever beneath sweating brows.

To and fro, to and fro, till they were shadows amongst shadows.

And then, whilst victory hung in the balance, and Death stood back to
await his victim, the door opened.

It was Denningham who faced it--Denningham who, for the briefest
second, looked up and saw a figure standing there, watching the scene
with curious, wondering eyes.

A brief second and yet it was enough.

A look of horror swept over the mocking face, which became ghastly in
its pallor.  With a scream of fear, he lurched forward, almost falling
upon Michael Berrington's sword.

"Conyers!  My God!  Conyers!" he sobbed, sinking to the ground--and
never spoke again.

It had all been the work of an instant, too brief for realization.  No
time for Michael, indeed, to have lowered his sword before that fatal
stagger.

And the duel was over.

Not skill, not luck, but fate itself decided it, and Jack Denningham
lay dead.  It was a fate he had so often meted out to others, and the
day of reckoning must come at last.

It had come now.

But it was no ghost who knelt by the dead man's side, looking down into
the grey, horror-stricken face, but Morice Conyers in the flesh--a
little paler, a little thinner, but himself for all that.

"He is dead," he said, looking up into Michael's face.  "It was just
that he should die.  The fellow was rogue and villain."

"Rogue and villain I grant," replied Michael slowly, "but I would that
the duel had ended before you entered."

Morice shrugged his shoulders.

"Witnesses are always useful," he said.  "And there was no shadow of
blame to you."

"Even so, I would----"

"Tush, tush! there's no time for discussing the nicety of a thrust now,
as de Quernais will tell you."

"De Quernais?"

Michael looked with surprise towards the young Count, who stood beside
his cousin.

It was bewildering to find these two together after the happenings of
the past three days.

"What mean you?"' he asked briefly.

Morice Conyers straightened himself.

"I come hither as Marquis de Varenac," he replied.

"As Marquis de Varenac?  And Trouet----"

The latter question was involuntary.

"Is as much my enemy as that of my cousin here."

His eyes sought Count Jéhan's.

"Yes, yes," answered the latter quickly.  "All is explained.  My good
friend and cousin is here with me to do what he can to save his people
from themselves--and Marcel Trouet."

"If it be not too late," murmured Morice bitterly.

Michael held out his hand.

"At least we are comrades together," he replied, with one of those
winning smiles which transformed the dark grimness of his face.  "And
Trouet is not here yet."

"But he is on his way."

"Yes, and I do not think he is far off.  Denningham"--he glanced down
at the dead man--"was to have played the Marquis."

"Was that his own idea?"

"Ah!  I wonder.  It did not occur to me.  Perhaps----"

"It is possible that Trouet has already been here."

"The girl Olérie told me there were two."

"Denningham--and Sir Stephen."

"Nay; _after_ my father had--had been murdered."

Both listeners started.

"Murdered!"

They had not seen what lay in the shadows beyond the window.

"Yes," said Michael grimly, "murdered."  And he pointed to where a dim
outline was visible, huddled together on the hearth.

Morice sprang forward with a cry of dismay.  He had been fond of
Steenie Berrington.

"How did it happen?  Who did it?  Ah!  Steenie, poor Steenie!"

It was pitiful sight enough on which he gazed down.

"That is what I asked Denningham here.  He suggested that it was a case
of parricide."

"He would have picked a quarrel.  But had he done it himself?"

"I hardly think so.  My father was no one's enemy but his own.  And it
was foul murder."

It was Count Jéhan who spoke next.

"Did you not say a girl brought the news?" he questioned abruptly.

Michael nodded.

"Olérie Koustak.  I was forgetting.  She told me some tale of her
father being in danger of his life--accused of the deed."

He flung open the door as he spoke, stepping out into the passage.

"Olérie, Olérie," he cried.

The girl was not long in responding.  Crouched in a corner behind the
salon door, she had been awaiting developments in an agony of fear.

"Where is your father, child?" rapped out Morice peremptorily.

"Ah!  Monsieur, in the room above."

"He is locked in?"

"Si, si!  The English milord has the key."

She crossed herself as though speaking of the devil.

"The English lord?  I will bring it."

Count Jéhan spoke quietly.  He had no fear or passing pity for the dead
in that darkened room behind them.

He was not long absent.  But Olérie was the only one who smiled on his
return.

Together they hastened to the room above.

On their way Michael found tongue to ask what happened at Kérnak.

Again it was the Count who answered.

"They are safe," he said.  "Our servants are faithful, and Père Mouet
is with them.  They know that danger threatens.  If it draws too near
they will not await us, but escape across the landes to the coast."

"To the coast?"

"Yes, yes.  There is a cave.  It has the name of the Cave of Lost
Souls.  Our peasants are superstitious, Monsieur Berrington.  They
declare that the souls of unshriven mariners lodge there, and that to
hear their wailing cries strikes madness into the hearts of listeners.
They would not enter it after sundown if they thought that King Louis
himself were hidden there."

"And then----"

"There are boats there.  It will be easy to escape to Jersey and thence
to England."

The last words were warm with comfort.

But, alas!  England was some way from the Manor of Varenac, and
evidently the Terror was near.

It was an affecting sight to see the joy of old Pierre Koustak when
they liberated him, telling him that at last M'nsieur le Marquis had
come to his own.

He wept and sobbed over Morice's hand, kissing it again and again,
calling him his dear, dear master.

But it was not the moment for sentiment.  The tale of poor Pierre's
false accusation and imprisonment was told with some preamble, mingled
with many explanations of his whereabouts prior to the crime.

"There were two men in the library," interrupted Michael shortly.
"Describe the one who was not the English lord."

"A little man, M'nsieur, with a villainous face and villainous red cap.
He had the air of a Republican leader, and there was a scar, very red,
across his forehead."

"Marcel Trouet!"

The three looked at each other.

Michael's face was very grim.

"It was he who murdered my father."

"But why?"

Morice's voice faltered a little over the question.

"I cannot tell.  But there can be no second possibility.  He may have
mistaken him for another."

"For----"

Count Jéhan shrugged his shoulders.

"For you yourself, my cousin.  He may have heard too much talk of the
Marquis and too little of the Citizen.  It is wonderful how news
spreads.  Meantime----"

"Meantime," Michael replied slowly, "the men of Varenac will come
hither to greet their new lord."

"Their new lord?"

"Denningham told me of a proposed masquerade."

"Ah!"

They were understanding now.

It was time.

A scream from Olérie, who stood at the window, was echoed by a dull
roar from without as she threw the casement open.  Instinctively the
four men ran to her side.  Up the avenue of stately oaks--the pride of
many a generation of Varenacs--came a crowd of men and women.
Uncertainly at first, but with growing strength, rose the sounds of the
familiar tune:

  "Aux armes, citoyens!
  Le jour de gloire est arrivé."


Then a pause.

"Citoyen Varenac!  Citoyen Varenac!  Citoyen!"

The cry went up from hundreds of throats, a deep, exultant roar of
welcome and anticipation.

Morice moved forward.

A tiny balcony without would give him the opportunity he desired.

"Citoyen Varenac!  Citoyen!"

Bareheaded he stepped out.

"I am the Marquis de Varenac," he cried.



CHAPTER XXIX

"I AM THE MARQUIS DE VARENAC"

A moment's hush, then again the mighty cry:

"Citoyen Varenac!  Citoyen!"

Morice leant forward into the darkness.  Behind him lights gleamed,
from below a few torches lit up the surrounding gloom.

Yellow light flaring on pale, eager faces, turning curiously upwards.

"No, my people," he cried in clear, ringing tones, that could be heard
even on the outskirts of the crowd.  "I am no Citoyen, but your
Marquis, the heir of your well-loved Marquis Gilles de Varenac, come to
you from England with Breton blood in my veins, Breton love in my
heart, to cry 'Vive le roi.  Vive la reine.  Vive Bretagne.'"

A murmur broke his words, a murmur which grew, battling as it were with
two elements, uncertain and faltering.

That last cry had stirred their blood--and yet the poison, so cunningly
distilled amongst them, was busy at work.

And, whilst they still wavered, some crying one thing, and some
another, a shrill voice rose, dominating and stilling the growing
outcry.

"À bas les aristos," it yelled.  "Down with traitors and liars.  Hein!
men of Brittany, are you such fools?  That is no Citoyen Varenac, he is
an impostor.  The Citoyen has another voice.  He cries 'Vive la
nation,' 'Vive liberté.'  As for that fellow, he is no Varenac but a
liar.  Come, let us find the Citoyen before his enemies murder him.
Let us----"

"I am the Marquis de Varenac," cried Morice, "as Heaven is above.  Men
of Varenac, listen to me.  Will you believe one who knows?  Pierre
Koustak will tell you I speak truth."

But the temper of the mob was uncertain.

"Vive la nation," cried many voices, and a woman in shrill tones began
once more screaming out the first lines of the Marseillaise.

"Vive la nation.  Death to the aristos.  Where is the Citoyen Varenac?"

The cries were threatening.

A shot was fired towards the balcony, but Morice stood unmoved whilst
old Koustak stepped from the window to his side.

"Friends, friends," he shouted.  "Ah! you are all mad.  It is Monsieur
le Marquis, our M'nsieur le Marquis."

But the words, which would have been magic a week ago, fell now on deaf
ears.

"Le jour de gloire est arrivé."

The echo of the song rang out from the crowd.

They were in no listening and obedient mood just now.

Marcel Trouet's friends knew how to speak--and fever is infectious.

"Friends--ah! ah! foolish ones, listen----"

It was once more the piteous voice of old Koustak, but none heeded it.

They were crowding around the outer door.

"If they will but listen," groaned Jéhan de Quernais--"if only for a
minute."

Michael nodded.

"They may do so yet."

"Not if they succeed in entering the Manor.  Their mood is
dangerous--and--if Trouet declares that Denningham is Varenac----"

"We shall not live long to prove the contrary."

"And there are the women."

Michael's eyes flashed.

"I had not forgotten."

"If they will but listen.  Hark!  Morice is trying again.  With Koustak
beside him it is possible that they may be persuaded."

"If he has time."

"We must make time.  There is the courtyard."

"And the outer gate is strong.  The Manor was not built yesterday."

"Shall we come?"

"Immediately."

Without another word the two young men turned and hurried downstairs.

There was a chance still for the Cause.

It was Gabrielle's brother who stood in peril; also Gabrielle herself.

Thus each thought, and drew their pistols as they ran.

The men of Varenac had not expected resistance.

The firing of pistols as two of the most enthusiastic of their number
scaled the wall was something of a shock.  Who were these new enemies?

Marcel Trouet did not answer the question, but, from a safer distance,
screamed to good citizens to advance.

Once more the double report of firearms rang out from behind the ivy.

There was some heavy cursing amongst the crowd.

Aha!  They were cunning, those two on the other side, but they did not
know Varenac as Meldroc Tirais did.  That crumbling corner near where
the wood was stacked was unknown to them.

"Aux armes, citoyens."

But the shout of triumph came too soon.  Back from the gate ran Michael
Berrington, swift as sleuth-hound on its prey, with sword drawn.

There was fighting now, at gate and breach, rare fighting too, enough
to warm the heart of any man.

And Michael was in fighting vein--the Irish blood in him saw to
that--and the grimmer the work the merrier grew his mood.

Hotspur Mike he had been called at college, and Hotspur Mike was he, in
very truth, that night.

A Breton peasant is no coward when the humour is on him, and his temper
roused for the combat, so work there was in plenty for Michael's blade.

Surely the fairies must have kissed his eyelids--so his enemies swore,
as they drew back for a moment--for this man seemed to see as well in
the darkness as by day.

But the breach in the wall was growing--and Gabrielle was at Kérnak.

It was therefore no time for throwing away life, just because the fire
of the fight ran lustily in his veins.

"Back! back!" cried Michael, in English, and, sword in hand, ran back
himself across the courtyard, even as a dozen sturdy peasants flung
themselves at a scramble over the wall.

Count Jéhan was not slow to obey the command, though he too had fought
as la Rouerie's follower should fight.

"Fire! fire!" screamed Marcel Trouet, emptying his barrels into the
darkness.

"Kill them--kill the vermin, before they run to ground.  Mille diables!
Kill them, vile aristos."

But pistols were few amongst his followers, and, though men started
quickly enough in pursuit, Michael and his companion had reached the
porch first, and made haste to slip heavy bars across the oaken door
before their adversaries flung themselves, cursing and yelling, against
it from without.  The situation promised to be a desperate one.

All hope that the mob would listen to their new lord was gone.

Monsieur le Marquis had come too late.  What therefore remained?

Little enough, save to die, crying, "Vive le roi," "Vive Bretagne" in
the face of these murderers of king and country.  So Count Jéhan
thought.

But Michael found not the smallest consolation in such a prospect.

Life was strong in his veins,--life and love.  It was not only for his
own sake that that life was precious.

Gabrielle must be saved--and those other poor ladies of Kérnak.

But how could they be reached?  How were they to save themselves?

Already the great crowd was surging about the door.  Ere long they
would be in the Manor itself,--and after that----?  Michael did not
look further.

He was half way up the stairs when he met Morice hurrying down with
Pierre Koustak at his side.

The old man was crying bitterly, but Morice was calm.  The reckless
idler of Carlton House, with head crammed by fopperies and vanities,
had been transformed into a man--and a Marquis de Varenac.

"We must escape," he said, pausing for a moment.  "They will not
listen.  And ... and we should reach Kérnak without delay."

"But how?"  Michael's voice sounded harsh enough.

A roar from without and the sound of cracking timber answered him.

"Dieu de Dieu!" moaned Koustak.  "Hasten, Messieurs, or it will be too
late."

He clung to Morice's hand as he spoke.

"Koustak knows of a secret passage which leads to the stables,"
explained Morice hurriedly.  "We can ride to Kérnak."

"To Kérnak."

The relief in Michael's voice rang high.

"They will be in before we can reach it," muttered Count Jéhan.
"Already----"

A crash completed the sentence.

But they were running now, all together.

"This way--this way, Messieurs," sobbed their guide, and tore aside a
curtain.

A panel in the wall slipped back easily enough--one did not allow
hinges to rust in the Brittany of those days--and soon they were
groping their way down a dark, narrow passage.

Morice's heart beat fast.  He was returning to Kérnak without shame.
Even failure could not keep him from exulting over that thought.

He would be able to look little Cécile in the eyes,--to take her
brother's hand.

Above them rose shouts and cries.  The mob was searching the Manor.
Afterwards they would swarm out again into the gardens--the stables.

At present they were occupied.

Click.  Click.

A trap-door creaked, and the restless stamping of horse-hoofs proved
welcome sound enough.

They had reached the stables of Varenac.  But no moment must be lost,
for they had a Trouet to reckon with besides these addle-pated peasants.

Already they were leading out the horses.  Three of them,--for Koustak
had declared that he must remain--his daughter Olérie was here, and he
could never leave Varenac.

Shouts and yells told of fury and disappointment in the Manor close by.

Had they found their Citoyen yet?

A faint moonlight showed the fugitives a wild stretch of desolate moor
and forest.  Yonder lay Kérnak.

What was happening there?

It was the fearful question of each heart.

"Le jour de gloire est arrivé."

Dark forms were already seen hurrying from the house.  Trouet had
bethought himself of the stables.

It was time to be going.

Pierre Koustak was the first to urge it, even whilst he clung to the
hand of a master whom he had been so ready to serve and love even
before he knew him.  But the Terror had come to Varenac, and there was
no room there now for noble Marquises.

"Farewell--farewell."

It was a sad leave-taking for all; but those who rode away had less
regret than he who stayed.

A flame of fire rose, leaping high in the air from an upper window of
the old building.

Pierre Koustak's arms were around his daughter, but it was she who
upheld him.

He had vowed never to leave Varenac, and soon there would be no Varenac
left.  Then it was time for him to be going too.

"Jesu, Maria, mercy!  Monsieur le Marquis--farewell.  Ah! he is already
gone.  Jesu!  Maria!"

The grey head sank forward.

It was too heavy for Olérie to support.  Gently she laid him on the
ground, close to a clump of laurels.  Trembling and weeping, she knelt
over him.

Yes, she might well weep, but the tears should all be for herself.

The old man was smiling, his eyes closed; but no breath issued through
the parted lips.  Pierre Koustak would never leave Varenac now.



CHAPTER XXX

THE TERROR COMES TO KÉRNAK

"I love him.  Oh, Gabrielle, I love him.  And--and yet I bade him go to
Varenac."

"You love Morice?"

Gabrielle's arm was round her cousin's slender waist as they sat
together in the deep embrasure of a window overlooking the clustering
heads of the oak-trees, which grew around the foot of the hillock on
which the château stood, and away over the purple landes where the
mist-wraiths of evening gathered.

"You love Morice?"

A pair of big, troubled eyes were raised to hers at the repetition of
the words.

"Oh, yes, I love him, with all my heart, Gabrielle."

"With all your heart?  But you have only known him these few short
days."

Cécile sighed.

"Yet it is there," she whispered, laying her little hand over her
heart.  "I do not understand, for I have never loved before, but I
think I loved him from the first moment he stood in the hall and told
us that he was my cousin."

"And then you found----"

"Ah, yes--yes, the great cloud came, just when the sun was beginning to
shine.  But, though I despaired, love did not die, Gabrielle."

"Love cannot die, little cousin.  It is for always."

"But it became bitter.  Mother of Heaven! how bitter!  You do not know
the tears I shed--and the shame, when Jéhan told the story."

"And yet you loved him, even though he were a traitor?"

"Yes.  But after all, he is no traitor, Gabrielle.  He has gone to
Varenac to prove it."

"Thank God for that."

"Thank God.  Yes, that is easy to say; but supposing--supposing----"

"I will suppose nothing, dear Cécile.  We are asking all the time that
the good God will take care of those we love, and He will hear us."

"Holy Virgin, grant He may.  Let us go on praying all the time.  But
you, Gabrielle, for you it is different.  A brother----"

"He is my only one."

"So is Jéhan to me, and yet I do not think of him now."

The colour came rosily to Gabrielle's cheeks.

"There is one at Varenac who is more than brother to me," she
whispered, plucking at the end of her fichu.

"A--a lover?  Oh, Gabrielle, forgive me.  I understand.  It is the tall
Monsieur with the dark face and grey eyes, which can look two things at
once.  And he----"

"He is at Varenac.  Cécile, Cécile, God grant they may all come back in
safety.  I am afraid."

The two girls clung to each other, finding comfort in this new bond of
sympathy.

"We will not be afraid," Cécile murmured in her cousin's ear.  "We will
ask le bon Dieu to guard them.  See, it is getting dark--perhaps they
will soon be back now.  It is certain that the men of Varenac will
listen to Morice and cry, 'Vive le roi,' and then others will take
example and do the same, and Monsieur de la Rouerie will march at the
head of his army into France to save the poor King and Queen, and put
an end to the dreadful Revolution.  Afterwards we shall all be happy."

It was the summing up of a child who knows nothing of the world, and
even Gabrielle smiled at such a rose-coloured picture.

"That is a very charming dream," she replied, "and I would that we
could see Michael and Morice riding over the heath to tell us that the
first part is accomplished."

"Yes, and Jéhan.  Poor Jéhan!  I fear we forget him."

Gabrielle sighed.

"Poor Jéhan!  Yes, and yet I think he will be quite happy if he can
carry good news to this great hero of yours, the Marquis de la Rouerie."

"Ciel!  It is true he is a hero.  And so handsome.  All the demoiselles
of Brittany are in love with him; but Jéhan says his head is too full
of the Royalist cause to think of women.  Ah, Gabrielle, look!  I
believe it is a messenger."

As she spoke Cécile pushed open the casement, peering out into the
gathering darkness.

Certainly it was some one who came in haste.  Clattering steps in the
courtyard and a panting cry told that.

"It is----?" murmured Gabrielle.

The two girls looked at each other.

"Jean Marie, one of the shepherds.  He is a good boy, and--and promised
to bring warning."

"Warning?"

"Of danger."

They were standing now, the cool evening air blowing in on them,
setting stray curls fluttering.

Perhaps it was the snap of autumn chill that sent a shudder through
Cécile's slender frame.

"Come," she said, holding out an impulsive hand to her cousin.  "Let us
go down and see what Madame Maman and the good father are talking
about."

Lights were already kindled in the salon below.  Madame de Quernais,
seated near the fire, was conversing gravely with a little man in the
brown habit of a Benedictine.

A little man with a round and kindly face, which reminded one of a
russet apple long gathered.

He nodded smilingly to the two girls as they curtsied, whilst Madame
bade them come nearer the fire, as they looked cold.

"It is certainly chilly," replied Père Mouet.  "Henri Joustoc says it
will be a winter of great severity.  But I do not heed the croakers.
Always take the days as they come, and leave the future to the bon
Dieu.  That is the secret of happiness."

The salon door was flung open most unceremoniously as he spoke, and in
rushed Guillaume, the butler.

It was evident that the poor man was too excited to remember the
ceremonies, on which both he and his mistress set such store.

"Ah! ah!  M'd'me," he gasped.  "Ah! ah!  It is Jean Marie who brings
news."

Madame de Quernais had risen--not hurriedly, but with all the grave
dignity which was her birthright.

As for Père Mouet, he had already advanced to Guillaume's side.

"Peace, my son," he commanded gently.  "You will alarm Mesdames.  If
there is news, it will be told more quickly if you compose yourself."

The quiet words certainly had a soothing effect on poor Guillaume,
though his eyes continued to roll wildly.

"It is the Terror," he groaned.  "Jean M'rie brought the news.  There
are men from Paris, men of Brittany, who come with evil tongues to bid
our people rise and murder their masters.  Ohé, they are very clever,
clever as Monsieur Satan himself, and the fools listen to them.
Already they cry, 'Vive la nation,' 'Vive la guillotine!' 'Vive
liberté!'"

"Tsch, tsch," smiled Père Mouet, "their throats will soon get hoarse,
and then they will drink and go to sleep.  To-morrow, when they awake,
I will talk to them."

"Ah, mon père," cried Guillaume, "they will not wait till to-morrow.
That is why Jean M'rie came running at once with the news.  Already
they cry, 'À Varenac!  À Kérnak!'  They will be here to-night and will
do the same as they did at Baud and Villerais."

Père Mouet glanced across towards Madame de Quernais.

If indeed the Terror were here it would be wise not to delay.

Madame still stood erect, her hand clasping the back of the chair, her
powdered head held high.

If she had been alone she would certainly have defied these canaille
with her last breath.

But there were the children.

Her proud lips quivered a little as she looked at Cécile, who stood
near, with Gabrielle's hand locked in her own.

Yes, there must be no defiance.

"Take Jean Marie to the kitchen, Guillaume," she said, speaking very
slowly and decidedly.  "Give him some supper; also"--she drew a ring
from her finger--"this souvenir of his mistress, with her best thanks.
Perhaps one day I shall have opportunity of thanking and rewarding him
more befittingly."

The old butler bowed, took the ring in silence, and withdrew.

Instantly Madame turned to the others.

"We must lose no time; is that what you would say, father?" she asked
abruptly.

Père Mouet nodded.

"Not a moment more than necessary, Madame," he replied.  "It is quite
likely that Count Jéhan may be at the cave before us.  We must
certainly not delay--for sake of these children."

He murmured the last words in a lower key.

"Make haste and put your cloaks on, mes enfants," Madame de Quernais
said.  "And the little bags are packed as I ordered?  That is good.  As
we cannot take the servants we must be content with few things."

She stifled a sigh as she spoke, whilst only Père Mouet noted how her
hands clenched and unclenched.

"There are many, daughter," he replied gently, "who can never
sufficiently thank the good God if they escape with nothing but their
lives."

"It is true, father.  I will do penance for such rebellion.  Nor will I
tempt Providence with my complainings.  Thank you, Cécile.  At any rate
I shall be warm.  Come, we are all ready now."

She drew more closely round her the heavy, fur-lined cloak Cécile had
brought, and herself opened the casement which led to the terrace and
avenue.

In silence Père Mouet and the two girls followed her.

At that moment danger was too pressing--for Cécile at least--to feel
acute pain at leaving her home.

The darkness without would have been intense had it not been for the
moonlight, which but partially succeeded in piercing the misty gloom of
the lande which stretched before them.

A long, weary walk it must be, though not one of the four who set out
on it lacked courage.  But what was happening at Varenac?

Who would they find awaiting them in the Cave of Lost Souls?

Those were the questions which stirred their pulses with growing dread.

It was well they had their cloaks, for it was cold enough here, facing
the night wind across the bleak moors.

But they did not complain.

Keeping close together, they tramped on, Madame de Quernais walking out
as bravely as any of them, disdaining proffered help over the uneven
ground.

Presently a low exclamation from the priest brought them to a halt.

"Listen," he said in a whisper.  "What is that?"

It was a question which grew easier to answer every second.  There
could be no mistaking the tramp, tramp of many feet, the shouts and
cries of many voices.

The mob was on its way to the château.

    "Allons, enfants de la patrie,
    Le jour de gloire est arrivé,
    Centre nous de la tyrannie
    L'étendard sanglant est levé....
  Aux armes, citoyens, formez vos bataillons;
        Marchons, marchons!
    Qu'un sang impur abreuve nos sillons."


Nearer and clearer came the sounds, each word distinct as the song rose
from many throats in growing tumult.

They learnt their lesson easily, after all, these Breton peasants.

"They are coming this way," said Madame de Quernais quietly.

"Alas!  I fear it is true; but they may not see us.  The mists protect
us."

The wind is rising; it will blow the mists aside."

"Peace, my daughter.  Have we not sought the protection of God?  Have
no fear."

"It is not for myself, father."

Madame's voice trembled a little.

"The lambs of the flock are in His special care.  See, let us go
forward--yonder."

As he spoke Père Mouet pointed to where, on a low hillock, a Calvary
had been placed.

Over the head of the rugged rock, which had been hewn into a rough
cross, hung a blackened crown of thorns.

Nearer and nearer came the trampling of feet, the sound of singing and
shouting.  The men of Kérnak had been drinking at the Golden Merman on
their way hither.

It was the wine, quite as much as the words of Jean Floessel, which had
made them red republicans that night.

Around the foot of the Calvary knelt the little group of
fugitives--waiting.

"Aux armes, citoyens."

Torches flared, killing the white charm of the moonlight with their
sickly rays.

"Aux armes----"

A burst of laughter, followed by fierce shouting, checked the song.

The men of Kérnak had come in sight of the Calvary, and those who now
stood awaiting them there.



CHAPTER XXXI

THE CALVARY ON THE MOORS

"A cold night, Mesdames, for a walk.  Your blood needs warming."

The mocking voice of their leader evoked another roar of laughter from
the rest.

They were new to their role, those others, and Madame de Quernais had
always been one to command much respect and awe as the great lady of
the place.  Now it was strange, and a little awe-inspiring, too, to see
her standing there, facing them so quietly.

She did not seem afraid of the Terror, this Madame of theirs.

It was disappointing.

But Jean Floessel knew how to deal with vile aristos.  He advanced with
a swagger.

"Come," he jeered.  "We're on our way to pay you a visit.  It's a large
party, but there's room enough at the château for all.  It's absurd for
three people to occupy so many apartments when we herd by the dozen in
one.  But there's an end to that now.  Come, Citoyenne, you'll return
with us, and we'll have a pleasant evening.  If I mistake not, the
little one there has a fine pair of eyes and a pretty mouth.  Aha! we
shall have amusement.  And you'll be kind, my friends, if you're wise,
or there's a citoyenne at St. Malo whose embrace is closer and colder
than that of Jean Floessel, and less to your taste, I'll swear."

A hoarse shout of laughter greeted the sally.

After all, it was their day now, and, as Jean said, they would amuse
themselves.  There would be wine as well as dancing at the château.

It was at this moment that Père Mouet stepped forward.

A familiar little figure in brown habit, with a brown, kindly old face.

But, just now, the memories of the men of Kérnak were short.

"My children," he cried, raising his arm, "what is this?  You would be
led by this man into sin?  I will not believe it of you.  This is not
Paris--it is not even France.  It is Brittany--our Brittany.  We of a
good and noble land will not join hands with murderers; or what will le
bon Dieu say to us,--He who guards and protects us in storm and gale,
and who brings love and joy to our homes?  Go back to those homes now,
my children, and thank the blessed saints that you have been saved from
crime."

A low murmur died away into silence.

Père Mouet spoke to his people's hearts.

A harsh laugh interrupted him.

"Be silent, old fool," shouted Jean Floessel, "or I will throttle your
whinings in your throat.  Malédiction! it's always the way of you
priests to be greedy; but since there are three of them we can all have
our share of the kisses."

He looked round, expecting the coarse jest to meet with applause.  But
none came.  The men of Kérnak were thinking.

"Silence!" cried Père Mouet sternly, raising his hand again.  "See you
not where we stand, fellow?  Beware lest Heaven shrivel your foul
tongue in your throat in punishment.  Repent you of your evil ways ere
it is too late, and the fires of Purgatory chastise you for your sins."

Again the murmur rose from the crowd.

Religion and superstition were too deeply imbedded in these Breton
peasants to be easily up-rooted.  Already fear of the Church's anathema
was at work in their hearts.

But Jean Floessel had been in Paris.  He had learnt things
there--amongst others how to forget the early lessons his mother had
taught him.

He was not afraid of curse or Purgatory.  With a scream of rage he
flung himself forward with hand outstretched to strike the old man
standing there so fearlessly before him.

But one of the peasants--a brawny fisherman of the coast, caught him by
the collar, dragging him back.

Père Mouet was ready to follow up his advantage.

"My children," he cried.  "Ah, my children, you will listen to me.  You
will return to your homes and pray God and His dear saints to keep you
in peace from all the madness and evil of these terrible days."

His voice broke off, quavering with emotion, but the crowd answered by
a sigh--a long sigh as of waves receding from impregnable cliffs back
into the deep.

Here and there a woman sobbed and a man muttered prayer or oath.  They
were remembering how this Père Mouet had indeed a right to call them
his children; for had he not been a father to them these forty years
and more?

One recalled how he sat up three nights with little Gaston when he had
the fever, another of the prayers he offered without payment for the
soul of the poor Louis who died unshriven last autumn.  Then how good
he had been when bad days came during the winter.  Père Mouet had been
the only one who had a cheery word then, always cheery, always helpful,
always ready to nurse a sick one, or get food for a hungry one.  As for
the children, there was not one in Kérnak who did not adore him.

And now what were they doing?

That was the question many put to themselves, and hung their heads in
very shame for answer.  But Jean Floessel was quick to see the way in
which the wind was blowing.

Nom d'un chien!  Was he to have all his eloquence and exertions wasted
because these fools were ready to listen to one old man?

Bah! they had also learnt how to deal with priests in Paris.

In an instant he had thrust his hand within his blouse.

Ah, ah!  It was so sudden that not even great Gourmel Tenoit, who had
him by the coat, could see what he was about.

A click, a flash, a loud report, followed by a shriek from the women.

But Père Mouet did not cry out, though the bullet winged its way
straight enough to its mark.  Only he staggered a little, threw up both
arms, and then sank back upon the ground, at the very foot of the
Calvary, his head resting against the rough rock.

It was a terrible silence that followed pistol-shot and screams.

Madame de Quernais was on her knees beside the fallen man; all eyes
were upon her.

Presently she rose.

"He is dead," she said, and her voice, low and dull at first, became
shrill as she repeated the words "He is dead."

A picture to be remembered, that, by more than one who stood there.

The desolate stretch of moor with its tangle of briar, thistle, and
patches of purple heather; the mists broken and fleeing before the
rising wind; the smoking glare of torches on the outskirts of the
crowd, and the pale glory of moonlight streaming down unmarred upon the
great rough-hewn cross, emblem of suffering and death, with its
blackened crown of thorns telling its tale of love and victory
immortal; whilst below, gathered round the little hillock, the three
women, two girls clinging together, yet erect and dauntless, whilst the
third knelt by the prostrate figure of the dead man.

Moonbeams fell on Madame's silver hair, from which the heavy wrap had
slipped back; they fell too, on the wrinkled, kindly face of Père Mouet.

So small, so helpless he looked lying there, yet never had he been so
powerful.  No wonder that he was smiling--the glad, sweet smile of one
who had gone straight from his life-task to meet the Bridegroom.

But the life-work was not over, even though the worn old hands, which
had always been so ready for any labour of love, were stiffening now in
death.

The great crowd, gathered round, was swaying first one way, then
another.  Père Mouet was dead!  Père Mouet was dead!  Yonder stood his
murderer.

They were honest men, after all, these humble peasants of Brittany.

Père Mouet, and the relentless antagonism of the sea, had taught them
to fear God.  If they had forgotten, in a sudden burst of mad
excitement and intoxication, they were remembering with quick and
sharpened stabs of conscience.

And Père Mouet was dead!

Madame was telling them so, even now, whilst she stood like some
accusing spirit before them.  Alone, but fearless, telling them this
dread news.

Père Mouet dead!  They were realizing it--to the cost of Jean Floessel.

With a yell they would have flung themselves upon him, but Jean had
already seen his danger.

If fools must be fools, it was time for wise men to escape.

Wrenching himself free from Gourmel's slackened grasp, he dived under
the big man's arm and set off at full speed across the lande.

He must reach Varenac and Marcel Trouet.  But the men of Kérnak were of
another mind.

The tide had turned.

It was no longer "À bas les aristocrats," "Vive la nation!" but the
howl of men who seek vengeance.

Floessel heard the howl, and it added wings to his feet.

The blockheads! the fools!  All this outcry because one insignificant
priest had been killed!  Why! they died like flies in Paris.  He
himself had been a cursed idiot ever to leave that glorious city.

And behind him came the avengers of Père Mouet.

He ran well---that Jean Floessel--for over a mile, stumbling, sweating,
cursing, whilst anger gave way to growing fear.

And he had reason to fear, for behind him ran Gourmel Tenoit, whose
little lad had been nursed back to life by the good priest of Kérnak,
and beside him was Blaise Fermat, who owed wife and happiness to the
same kindly influence.

They caught Jean Floessel just by the great rock where three brave
Breton soldiers lie buried, and where the fairies visit the dead on
moonlit nights and talk to them.  Yes, they caught him there, and he
had not even time to cry "Vive la nation!" ...

Those two were happier as they walked home together, leaving behind
them a limp and hideous thing, face downwards amongst the heather.

But many wept that night in Kérnak as they whispered Père Mouet's name
in their prayers.



CHAPTER XXXII

"MICHAEL!  MICHAEL!"

They were alone.

Those three helpless women standing together under the shadow of the
Calvary beside their dead.  The crowd had gone.  Some in pursuit of
Floessel, others drifting away, shamed and frightened, as you have seen
whipped curs creep back to their kennels.

Here and there a woman had stolen near to the little group, sobbing out
a petition for pardon; but most of them had gone silently, with doubt
and fear in their hearts.

Père Mouet had bidden them return to their homes, and, at this moment,
Père Mouet's commands were powerful.

So they went--regretfully, perhaps,--when they thought of the château,
and the fine night's plunder and amusement they had promised
themselves, but hurriedly when they remembered the woman who stood,
crying, scornfully and accusingly, to them that their good priest was
dead--murdered.

But it was possible they would come back.  Cowed they might be, but
they were dangerous still.

None knew that better than Madame.

They had tasted the sweets of momentary power.  They had cried "Vive la
nation!"

They would cry it again at the bidding of another Floessel.

"We must not delay," she said, speaking very quietly, yet with a great
effort; "it is still far to the cave."

"To the cave!  You will leave the good father, Madame Maman?"

Cécile's voice was reproachful.

"He needs no more of our care, my child," replied her mother gravely.
"Nor could we leave him in a more fitting resting-place."

She crossed herself reverently as she spoke, bending over the little
figure in its brown habit; such a little shrunken figure it looked, but
the smile transfigured a wrinkled, care-worn old face into a strangely
majestic beauty.

Yes, Père Mouet would sleep well under the shadow of the cross.

They left him there, resting so peacefully after a very hard and lonely
life, and the moonbeams, falling softly on his closed eyelids, seemed
to kiss away the deep lines of care and sorrow, which he had borne so
bravely, and leave only beauty behind.  The night-wind sang his requiem
as it swept wailing over the moors.  It might rather have been the
lament of many in Kérnak, who that night had lost a friend.

      *      *      *      *      *

It was, indeed, a long and weary walk to the coast.

Yet none of the three travellers who wended their way across the moor
complained.

It was the inevitable, which must be conquered by resignation.

Yet at last they paused to look around them and wonder, in but
half-framed whispers, whether they were coming the right way.

Père Mouet was an unerring guide; without him difficulties presented
themselves more forcibly every moment.

It was no easy task, indeed, to keep to a right track across that
almost trackless lande.

Gorse-bushes made but poor landmarks, and there were neither trees nor
hillocks near to guide them.

It was true that the coast lay before them, but this cave would be hard
to find if they had gone out of their path in approaching it.

Had it not been for the moonlight they would have despaired.  As it
was, they gazed around in bewilderment and anxiety.  Behind them lay
the forest.  Beyond that--Varenac.

Ah! what was happening at Varenac?  Another question to torment them!

Again, it was possible that the others had already reached the cave.
If so, in what apprehension they would be waiting!

At any rate they must press forward.  Enemies might overtake them at
any moment.  The persuasions of Floessel or his fellows might again
incite the peasants to pursue them, and they had walked but slowly.

Hark!  Listen!  The muffled thud, thud, of horse-hoofs coming from the
left.

The wind had dropped and mists were gathering again.  They could not
pierce those dark shadows, strain their eyes as they might.

Yet horsemen were coming towards them across the moors.

Could it be those who had gone to Varenac?

It seemed impossible, since they came from the direction of Kérnak.

Who could it be then?

Marcel Trouet and Lord Denningham.

That was Gabrielle's instant thought as she clung to Cécile's hand.

Yes, it would be those two.  They were pursuing them, they would find
them.

Instinct had long since told Gabrielle what Lord Denningham's feelings
towards her were.  She already vaguely guessed his intentions.

But she would die sooner than marry him.  Oh! it would be easy to die,
rather than that.

And he had ridden to, and from, Kérnak now to find her.

She was convinced of it.

But what should they do?

Where hide?

Not even a gorse-bush near, and the horse-hoofs were approaching
quickly.  Through the mists she would soon see her enemy appear, and
then what escape would be possible?

Her fears were the fears of her companions, though theirs were vaguer,
wrought more from strained nerves than knowledge.  Yet what could they
do?

A block of granite rocks, leaning one against the other, formed the
only shelter within sight.

It was thither they fled, Madame leaning heavily against them, for
exhaustion had well-nigh conquered courage.

So they crouched, whilst Cécile whispered to Gabrielle that, if those
who came were Breton born, they might be safe enough.

"Safe?" murmured Gabrielle, cowering low.  "Nay, a little search and
they must find us."

"They will not think of searching.  These are the haunted stones of the
Breton landes.  Have you never heard?  The fairies and dwarfs hide
their treasures here--so the ignorant say--and if any approach they are
destroyed.  But hush, these--these perhaps are----"

"From Varenac."

"Nay, nay! not from Varenac."

"Not those we need?  But I have enemies there."

"You----?"

Cécile broke off, slipping her arm round her mother.  Madame de
Quernais, weak with exhaustion, was battling against growing faintness.

"Mother of Heaven, pity," prayed the girl.

"Merciful God, hear us," moaned Gabrielle.

Through the mists loomed the outline of three horses and their riders.

Gigantic shadows at first, indefinable to those cowering behind the
boulders.  But they were plainer now; the moonlight, though waning,
showed them more than mere outline.

The sound of voices, crying to each other, struck sharply on listening
ears, and were answered in glad echoes.

"Michael, Michael!"

"Morice!  Ah, ciel! it is they! it is they!"



CHAPTER XXXIII

THE CAVE OF LOST SOULS

If the riders paused to ask whence the cries came it was only for an
instant.  The next they were on the ground beside those who stood,
laughing, sobbing, thanking Heaven, and crying welcome in a breath.

Was it possible?  All safe.  _All_.

Thank God for that!  Again and again thank God.

At first it was Madame who required all their attention.

Joy, following the cruel strain of those past hours, had been too much
for her, and she fainted with Jéhan's strong arms around her.  But she
revived shortly, for the hour of weakness must be put off yet again.

The danger was not over.

Marcel Trouet would see to that.  By this time, doubtless, he had
joined forces with some of his other friends from Paris, perhaps with
Jean Floessel himself.

There had been delay in their ride from Varenac, since they had gone
first to Kérnak, where Guillaume had kept them with a long-winded story
of the flight.

And then they had passed the Calvary.

Michael's arm was close around Gabrielle, whilst Jéhan de Quernais'
voice faltered as he spoke of their great fear and dread when they
found the body of Père Mouet.

They had hesitated, indeed, as to whether they should not return to
Kérnak at once, convinced that those they sought had been made
prisoners.

Finally, however, they decided to ride quickly to the cave and return
to the château if their search were in vain.

But it had not been in vain.

God be thanked for that!

It was a moment of emotion, not of convention.

That was why Cécile clung to Morice with no thought but that the man
she loved had come back to her from the shadow of death.

And he could look down into her eyes without shame.

After all, Morice Conyers owed something to the Red Revolution.  It had
made a man of him.

The moment of a man's reward is sweet.

Yet he took it humbly, bending to kiss the small, upturned face with a
reverence which no woman had ever inspired in him before.

And she smiled into his eyes with a frank avowal of love returned,
unmarred by any veiled doubt.

In times less perilous he might have found his wooing as long by months
as it had been short by days.  But fear and danger had swept aside the
hundred and one conventions which clustered burr-like around a
demoiselle of the old school.

And Gabrielle?

She, too, had her lover, the lover she had chosen from childhood, her
loyal knight for ever and ever.

Thus she had claimed and held him.

They belonged to each other, these two.  She did not even question so
old a fact.  And her fears for him made her kinder even than she might
have been, for Gabrielle was more woman than babe, and not averse--at
times--to the kindling of jealous flame for the sake of listening to
fresh vows of love.

But this was no time for jest.  Love in such garb as theirs was too
sacred a thing for sport or coquetry, though she could smile as she
looked up at him.

"We are safe now," she whispered contentedly.  "But, oh, Michael, I
feared it was Lord Denningham."

"No," he answered gravely.  "_He_ at least will trouble you no more."

"Dead?"

Her tone was awe-struck.

"Yes.  It was a duel.  I killed him."

She drew a deep breath.

Even though she hated Lord Denningham she knew he had loved her--and a
woman's hatred of a lover is ever a partial one.

"Yes, I was afraid of him," she mused, and shuddered.  "I am afraid
altogether," she cried piteously.  "Oh, Michael, let us go home."

She stretched out her hands to him, and he took her tenderly enough in
his arms.  But it was a moment to be more practical than sentimental.

"They may reach the coast before us," he said, looking from her to
Jéhan de Quernais.  "We should not delay."

The Count nodded.

"It is true," said he.  "We must not delay."

The waning moonlight was playing them false, even as he spoke.

Shadows, deepening around, would have confused clearer heads than
theirs.

Yes, it was time they reached the coast.  Had they not left it all too
late already?

Shouts from the right, where Varenac village lay hidden by a downward
sweep of the moor, told them that Marcel Trouet was not minded to be
outwitted.

Trackers or spies might have guessed where they rode.  At any rate, it
was certain that the pursuit was being persevered in,--would be
persevered in to the last.

But the shouts gave them warning.

A warning not to be disregarded.

Those who hastened towards the Cave of Lost Souls did not waste time in
conversation.

A desolate and gloomy shelter.  Well-named, indeed.  Moaning winds
whistled and sobbed through crevices in the great rocks which hemmed in
the cave on each side.

No wonder that the peasantry, steeped in superstition, believed that
this was fitting place for lost and wandering souls.

How vividly they could picture dead faces peering from out of the dark
clefts, dead mouths uttering their unceasing cries against the fate
which had closed for ever the gates of Paradise, dead eyes staring into
each other's depths in startled horror, or away over the grey waste of
waters ever roaring hungrily for more victims.

Even Cécile shuddered, crossing herself as she stood on the sandy
shore, listening to the eerie sobbing of wind and waves, and watched
how dying moonbeams shed ghostly patches of light in dark, deserted
corners.

But Morice's arm still encircled her, and there was no wavering or
weakness in the blue eyes which looked down into hers.

She had cried to him for protection, and manhood, ready armed, had
sprung to lusty life within him at the appeal.

"You will trust me, sweetheart?" he asked her, and his voice shook a
little over the question in humble self-distrust.

Her smile destroyed all doubt.

What matter that she left home and country behind in the mists of
night?  Before her lay love and the dawn of a new day.

"With my life, Morice," she whispered, nestling close to his side with
the confidence of a trustful child.

But Gabrielle stood nearer to the shore, the waves almost lapping her
feet, whilst flaky fragments of spume fluttered against her cloak.

The boats rocked softly to and fro as the waters rose and fell beneath
them.  Madame de Quernais was already seated in the prow of the larger
craft.

It was time to go.

Michael had taken the girl's hand in his, and, though it lay warm and
restful there, she was stretching out the other to Count Jéhan, who
stood apart.

"You are coming too, my cousin?" she said gently, for instinct told her
of a lonely heart beating near hers that night.

The light fell on her fair face and uncovered head.  Stray curls lay in
pretty disorder in the arch of her neck and across a white forehead.
Hazel eyes, sweet and true, looked kindly into the pale face opposite
her own.

Count Jéhan drew himself up proudly.

None should ever know the pain which racked him as he looked at her.

She was not his--never would be his.  Did not Michael Berrington hold
her hand--her heart?

So love must be buried at birth, and, if he must rise again, it should
be only as some tender, shadowy ghost, which, though sweet to gaze at,
could never be held in mortal arms.

Yes, love must hide from sight.

But Brittany remained.

So Count Jéhan held his head high as he made answer, sternly and
quietly, thinking--poor fool--that none guessed his secret, least of
all the woman who looked so wistfully into his eyes.

"La Rouerie calls me his friend," said he, "and Brittany her son.  As
friend and son I remain on Breton soil.

"As for the Cause, it will never die till la Rouerie breathes his last.
And so Heaven bless and hold you all in its fair keeping till we meet
in happier times."

He smiled, making light of the parting as though he went to some merry
fête.

Nor would he let his mother weep, or Cécile cling around his neck.

"For Brittany and the Cause," he cried, laughing gaily as the boats
glided out at last into the deepest waters of the bay.

"For Brittany and the Cause--we'll cry that in Paris ere long."

He waved his handkerchief as he spoke, and, though the shadows fell
around him, they could hear the glad ring of triumph in his voice.

But only Gabrielle, as she clung to Michael's side, in the great joy of
reunion and hope, knew that Count Jéhan de Quernais went back with
empty, aching heart to a lost cause.

Yet youth is selfish, and love is sweet.

"My true knight for ever and ever," she whispered, and laid a happy
head on Michael's shoulder.

There was no room in her heart just then for aught but sweet content.



_Printed by Hazell, Watson & Viney, Ld., London and Aylesbury._



A Catalogue of Books

published by

Mills & Boon Ltd.

49, RUPERT STREET, LONDON, W.

(Close to Piccadilly Circus Tube Station.)

Telephone: 5878 Central.  Telegrams:  "Millsator, London."


This Catalogue is divided into two sections; the first (pages 1-14)
contains the most recent books and announcements, and the second (pages
15-32) contains the books previously published.

Colonial Editions are issued of all Mills & Boon's Novels, and of most
of their books in General Literature.  In the case of forthcoming books
the approximate prices at which they will be published are given.
These may be altered before publication.


SPRING ANNOUNCEMENTS.

Twenty-four Years of Cricket.

By ARTHUR A. LILLEY.  With a Portrait in Photogravure and 16
Illustrations.  Demy 8vo.  7s. 6d. net.

Surely there is not a better-known cricketer all the world over than
Arthur A. Lilley.  For the last twenty-four years he has been one of
the greatest players the fine old game has ever produced.  Popular
alike on and off the field, and gifted with a remarkable personality,
Arthur Lilley has made such a name in the history of the game that no
surprise will be felt at the present book.  Indeed, the literature of
cricket would be incomplete without it.  It would be interesting to
know how many games have been turned at the critical stage by the
astute judgment and practical ability of England's famous wicket
keeper.  Arthur Lilley's career has been one long-continued success,
and in the breezy pages of his delightful book he tells his fascinating
story of great games, great cricketers, and great globe-trotting
adventures, with many a good tale in each chapter.  "Twenty-four Years
of Cricket" also contains the author's advice on cricket, which will be
found invaluable by youthful cricketers in every clime.  The book is
well illustrated and will be one of the most interesting volumes of
1912.


My Irish Year.

By PADRAIC COLUM.  With 12 full-page Illustrations.  Demy 8vo.  10s.
6d. net.

"My Irish Year" is the third of a series of books which MILLS & BOON
initiated with that brilliant study by Miss I. A. R. Wylie, entitled
"My German Year." This was followed by another fine volume in Mr.
Richard Bagot's "My Italian Year."

"My Irish Year," like the previous books, deals with almost every phase
of Irish life.  Its author, Mr. Padraic Colum, is one of a band of
brilliant Irish writers who are rapidly becoming a force in the
literary and dramatic world.  Mr. Colum aims at giving his readers a
faithful portrait of Irish life, and does not occupy himself with its
history, except in so far as it bears directly upon the subject to
which he has confined himself.  He takes us through the length and
breadth of Ireland and introduces us to all phases of its social life
from the highest to the lowest.  "My Irish Year" is a sympathetic
impression of Irish life, and contains much curious information
regarding the manners and customs both of town and country life.


A Remarkable Book.

Involution.

By LORD ERNEST HAMILTON.  Demy 8vo.  7s. 6d. net.

"Involution" is a book which sets forth in a popular and readable form
the most recent views of the scientific and philosophic world as to the
great problem of existence.  It dwells especially on the remarkable
tendency of the moment to favour the once-ridiculed doctrine of
vitalism.  In pursuing this line of research it goes closely into the
question of religion in all its aspects, ancient and modern; Eastern
and Western, and while frankly critical of orthodoxy, brings at the
same time to light many little-known points with regard to bibliology
which cannot fail to change for the better the point of view of many to
whom current Christianity is a perplexity.


A Queen's Knight: The Life of Count Axel de Fersen.

By MILDRED CARNEGY, Author of "Kings and Queens of France."  With 12
Illustrations.  Demy 8vo.  7s. 6d. net.

"A Queen's Knight" is the life-story of Count de Fersen, the devoted
friend of Marie Antoinette, and cannot fail to be of interest to the
general public.  Living as Fersen did in one of the most stirring
periods of European history, his story brings before us, the great
French Revolution, the American War of Independence, and glimpses of
the Swedish Court under that erratic genius, Gustavus III.


Tramps through Tyrol.

By F. W. STODDARD ("Dolomite").  With 20 Illustrations.  Demy 8vo.  7s.
6d. net.


St. Clare and her Order: A Story of Seven Centuries.

By THE AUTHOR OF "THE ENCLOSED NUN." With about 20 Illustrations.  Demy
8vo.  7s. 6d. net.


The Italians of To-day.

By RICHARD BAGOT, Author of "My Italian Year." Crown 8vo.  2s. 6d. net.

Mr. Richard Bagot has been for many years a resident in Italy.  This
volume deals with Italy in war time and is chiefly a defence of the
Italian soldier who has in the author's opinion been seriously
maligned.  It is certain to create much discussion.


An Actor's Hamlet.

With full notes by LOUIS CALVERT.  Crown 8vo.  2s. 6d. net.

Mr. Louis Calvert's remarkable Shakespearean studies have been
universally recognised, and as a producer his work has probably been
second to none.

Mr. Louis Calvert has studied the character of Hamlet for over twenty
years, and this book is the fruit of his labour.  The volume contains
the text of "Hamlet," and the play is exhaustively treated with notes
which mark the editor as a man of striking originality.


The Enclosed Nun.

Fcap.  8vo.  New Edition.  Cloth 2s. 6d. net.  Paper 1s. net.

_Pall Mall Gazette_.--"A remarkably beautiful piece of devotional
writing."


A Little Girls' Cookery Book.

By C. F. BENTON and MARY F. HODGE.  Crown 8vo.  2s. 6d. net.  Paper,
1s. net.

_Daily Telegraph_.--"A capital idea.  Hitherto the manufacture of toffy
has represented the limit of nursery art in the direction indicated,
but this volume contains excellent recipes for dishes which children
will find quite easy to make, and their elders to eat without
misgivings.  Every father, mother, uncle, and aunt should make a point
of presenting their child friends with a copy of this useful and
practical book."



MILLS & BOON'S RAMBLES SERIES.


Rambles Around French Châteaux.

By FRANCES M. GOSTLING, Author of "The Bretons at Home."  With 5
Illustrations in Colour, 33 from Photographs, and a Map.  Crown 8vo.
6s.


Rambles in the Black Forest.

By I. A. R. WYLIE, Author of "My German Year," "Dividing Waters."  With
5 Illustrations in Colour and 24 from Photographs.  Crown 8vo.  6s.


Rambles with an American in Great Britain.

By CHRISTIAN TEARLE, Author of "Holborn Hill." With 21 Illustrations.
Crown 8vo.  6s.


Rambles in Irish Ways.

By ROBERT LYND, Author of "Home Life in Ireland." Fully Illustrated.
Crown 8vo.  6s.

"Rambles in Irish Ways" is a personal book of travel, a volume of
descriptions, conversations, notions, memoirs, mostly concerning the
southern half of Ireland.  Dublin, Galway (at the time of the races),
Cong, Lisdoonvarna, Killorglin (while Puck Fair is going on), Kinsale,
Cashel, Kilkenny, Enniscorthy, and Glendalough are among the places in
which the author wandered, and about which he has something to say.
The book also contains a Donegal chapter.


Rambles in Norway.

By HAROLD SIMPSON.  With 8 Illustrations in Colour, and 32 from
Photographs.  Crown 8vo.  6s.

A ramble through Norway is one of the most delightful ways imaginable
of spending a holiday.  The most jaded body or the most overworked
brain cannot fail to find new health and strength in that land of
invigorating air and almost perpetual sunshine.  For the sight-seeing
traveller it possesses attractions which can hardly be surpassed
anywhere, for Norway can boast of a scenery which is unlike that of any
other country in the world.  In many of its features, it is true, it
resembles Switzerland, but it has an advantage over the latter in the
fact of its infinite variety.  Lake, mountain, fjord, and forest
succeed one another with wonderful rapidity, so that the eye is for
ever feasting on new beauties.  For the rambler in search of rest and
quiet it has a peculiar charm, since it abounds in out-of-the-world
nooks and peaceful corners, little dream-places in which one may forget
for a while the busy world and its cares.  Both these classes of
traveller have been catered for in the present book--those who desire
to follow the beaten track as well as those whose ambition is to linger
"far from the madding crowd," and enjoy the wonderful beauties of
nature undisturbed.



MILLS & BOON'S COMPANION SERIES.

The Actor's Companion.

By CECIL F. ARMSTRONG, Author of "The Dramatic Author's Companion."
With an Introduction by ARTHUR BOURCHIER, M.A.  Crown 8vo.  2s. 6d. net.

This is a companion book to, and is by the author of, "The Dramatic
Author's Companion," published in the early part of last year.  Its
scope is much the same, and whilst having no pretensions to teaching
the difficult art of acting, it is hoped that it may contain many
practical and useful hints to the young actor.  The author, associated
as he has been for many years with one of the larger West End theatres,
has had exceptionally good opportunities of studying the inner workings
of a theatre, the technical requirements of the actor, and the many
considerations besides that of mere talent necessary to ensure success
on the stage.

Two special chapters, one dealing with Scientific Voice Production, and
the other with the Art of Gesture, are contributed by well-known
experts.  There is a chapter for amateurs.



MILLS & BOON'S SPRING NOVELS.


By the Author of "The Veil"

The Lure.

By E. S. STEVENS, Author of "The Mountain of God." Crown 8vo.  6s.

The lure of adventure, the lure of a strong and unscrupulous
personality, and the lure of the Dark Continent, play their parts in
this story.  Anne, the woman of the book, comes under the influence of
all three, to learn at the last that they have only enchained her
imagination and not her heart.  A great part of this notable novel
takes place in the less-known parts of the Soudan, where the main
actors in the drama meet and work out their destinies.  The background
is that vast land of the elephant, the crocodile, and the hippopotamus,
where solitary Englishmen are loyally serving their country and
civilisation without vainglory or hope of reward.  "The Lure" will be
one of the most remarkable novels of 1912.


By the Author of "The Rajah's People."

The Daughter of Brahma.

By I. A. R. WYLIE, Author of "Dividing Waters." Crown 8vo.  6s.

In "The Daughter of Brahma" we are transported back to the mysterious
atmosphere and brilliant Oriental colourings which marked the author's
first novel, "The Rajah's People."  But here the complications of race
and religion in India are faced from another standpoint--that of the
woman.  With profound sympathy we follow the wonderful moral and
spiritual growth of the daughter of Brahma, whose fate becomes so
strangely linked with that of the hero.  With an equal interest,
moreover, the reader is led step by step through an absorbing plot, in
which all the hidden religious and political life of India is revealed
in striking colours, until the final crisis is reached.  The crisis,
indeed, is an intensely dramatic and tragic one; but it satisfies not
only by its truth, but by the promise of future happiness which it
brings with it.  The story draws into it many minor characters, who,
like the two chief figures, win both interest and sympathy by their
originality and lifelike portraiture.


By the Author of "Sheaves."

The Room in the Tower.

By E. F. BENSON.  Crown 8vo.  6s.

These stories have been written in the hope of giving some pleasant
qualms to their reader, so that, if by chance, anyone may be occupying
a leisure half-hour before he goes to bed in their perusal at home when
the house is still, he may perhaps cast an occasional glance into the
corners and dark places of the room where he sits, to make sure that
nothing unusual lurks in the shadow.  For this is the avowed object of
ghost-stories and such tales as deal with the dim unseen forces which
occasionally and perturbingly make themselves manifest.  The author
therefore fervently wishes his readers a few uncomfortable moments.


By the Author of "The Sword Maker."

The Palace of Logs.

By ROBERT BARR.  Crown 8vo.  6s.

A fine romantic novel of Canadian life.


By the Author of "Down Our Street"

A Bachelor's Comedy.

By J. E. BUCKROSE.  Crown 8vo.  6s.

An entrancing new novel of provincial life.


The Frontier.

By MAURICE LEBLANC, Author of "813," "Arsène Lupin."  Crown 8vo.  6s.

Readers all over the world have been enchanted with the fascinating
adventures of that dashing adventurer "Arsène Lupin," and its author,
M. Maurice Leblanc, is probably known in every country where books are
sold, translated and produced.  In "The Frontier," Maurice Leblanc has
treated a remarkable present-day study of war.  It will interest
thousands of readers by reason of its clever character-drawing and the
special interest in the position of France and Germany of to-day.


When God Laughs.

By JACK LONDON, Author of "White Fang."  Crown 8vo.  6s.

A volume of stories.


Ashes of Incense.

By the AUTHOR OF "MASTERING FLAME."  Crown 8vo.  6s.

"Ashes of Incense" is a brilliant novel of modern life.  "Mastering
Flame" was one of the great successes of last year, and the new novel
is certain to repeat that success.


The Battle.

From the French of CLAUDE FARRÈRE.  Translated by E. DE CLAREMONT
TONNÈRE.  With 9 Illustrations.  Crown 8vo.  6s.

"The Battle" is an extraordinarily fine novel of Japanese life and the
period the time of the Japanese-Russian war.  Published in France about
two years ago, it has during this period run through the remarkable
sale of half a million copies.  "The Battle" has for its chief
characters a Japanese commander, a brilliant young English naval
officer, a Frenchman of original talent, and a Japanese heroine.  It
might be called a novel of intrigue.  There is one chapter in the book
describing a battle which took place during the recent war that is told
with such remarkable distinction that the reader will not find it easy
to forget.  "The Battle" is undoubtedly one of the best books MILLS &
BOON will publish during 1912.


The Written Law.

By FRANCES G. KNOWLES-FOSTER, Author of "Jehanne of the Golden Lips."
Crown 8vo.  6s.

There was published nearly two years ago a remarkable first novel,
entitled "Jehanne of the Golden Lips," which won praise and distinction
in one bound.  In "The Written Law" Miss Frances-Knowles Foster has
written a modern novel dealing chiefly with Burmese life.  It is a
powerful and dramatic story of intense interest, and it clearly stamps
its author as one who has to be counted in the fiction writers of the
moment.


Nights and Days.

By MAUDE ANNESLEY, Author of "All Awry."  Crown 8vo.  6s.

A volume of stories.


The Thornbush near the Door.

By SOPHIE COLE, Author of "A Wardour Street Idyll."  Crown 8vo.  6s.


Sons of State.

By WINIFRED GRAHAM, Author of "Mary."  Crown 8vo.  6s.


The Girl with the Blue Eyes.

By LADY TROUBRIDGE, Author of "Body and Soul."  Crown 8vo.  6s.


Enter Bridget.

By THOMAS COBB, Author of "The Choice of Theodora."  Crown 8vo.  6s.


The Prince and Betty.

By P. G. WODEHOUSE, Author of "Love Among the Chickens," Crown 8vo.  6s.


The Silver Medallion.

By PERCY J. BREBNER, Author of "A Gentleman of Virginia."  Crown 8vo.
6s.


Men and Dreams.

By MARY E. MANN.  Crown 8vo.  6s.

A volume of stories.


Ruth of the Rowldrich.

By MRS. STANLEY WRENCH, Author of "Burnt Wings."  Crown 8vo.  6s.

The book hovers irresolute between Arcady and Alsatia, for it is a
story of a woman divided between her love of the country with the folk
to whom she belongs, and the fascination of the "life literary" into
which she is drawn.  The call of London and the spell wielded by the
countryside alternate, and our heroine, Ruth, is a very woman, swayed
by impulse at whiles, so that whilst we are certain in one chapter that
the witchery of the Rowldrich country will claim her, in the next we
know that "the street of adventure" has for her a magic all its own.

Wallace Benham, the Bohemian painter, fans the restless spirit in her,
encourages her literary tendencies, and flatters her vanity, so that,
leaving David her faithful lover behind, Ruth comes up to the great
city, and we get glimpses of Fleet Street life, peeps at literary
Bohemia, with here and there shy returnings to the Rowldrich and its
spell.  Very soon a dual struggle begins.  Ruth finds comrades amongst
the men with whom she works ... there are some who would fain be
lovers, and there is one man, a Robert Forbes, to whom Ruth is strongly
attached, and possibly were he free Ruth's story would have another
ending.  How his destiny is mingled with hers, with that of Essie her
half-sister, and with Benham the painter, would be too long to relate
here; so, too, Ruth's alternating fits of despair and hope over the
books she writes.  It is not until the last chapter that we can be sure
whether Love or Ambition will claim her, and it would not be fair to
give away the secret here, though it may be safe to say the book ends
with a happy note.


His First Offence.

By J. STORER CLOUSTON, Author of "The Prodigal Father, "The Peer's
Progress."  Crown 8vo.  6s.

"His First Offence" is a new, laughter-making novel by the author of
"The Lunatic at Large" and "The Prodigal Father," two of the most
popular humorous stories that have ever been published.  "His First
Offence" deals with a farcical situation in the shape of a detective
story, which from first to last is written with extraordinary high
spirits and delightful humour.  "His First Offence" should be read by
all who like hearty laughter, and is a certain cure for the blues.


The Mark.

By MRS. PHILIP CHAMPION DE CRESPIGNY, Author of "The Valley of Achor."
Crown 8vo.  6s.


The Prelude to Adventure.

By HUGH WALPOLE, Author of "Mr. Perrin and Mr. Traill."  Crown 8vo.  6s.


The Prince.

By THOMAS METCALFE (late the Leinster Regiment Royal Canadians).  Crown
8vo.  6s.

The Author, writing to his publishers, says:

"Reading it over, it seems a strange work for these days, when almost
every novelist poses as a professor in ethics and the claim is made
that the novel should become the public's Bible.  It is because my view
is so utterly opposed to this tendency; because I believe that the
showman's booth is still possessed of more attraction for the many,
than the village institute, with its lecturer; that I have deliberately
written such a work, and so venture to test my theory.

"If there be any signs of problems in the book (and I am not aware that
there are) they are no more than bare figures, drawn in tears and
lettered with laughter upon the great universal blackboard, before
which we poor schoolboys stand, hopeless as ever of finding
solutions....  The work, after all, is but the outcome of the varied
jumble of a life of some few sorrows and many great joys!"


Stories Without Tears.

By BARRY PAIN.  Crown 8vo.  6s.


Aliens Near of Kin.

By N. VERNON.  Crown 8vo.  6s.

"Aliens Near of Kin" is a charming story of Austrian life, and a first
novel by a youthful author of decided promise.  It has charm and
simplicity, and can be cordially recommended.



MILLS & BOON'S SHILLING NET NOVELS.

New Volumes.

  The Sins of the Children.  HORACE W. C. NEWTE
  The Rajah's People.  I. A. R. WYLIE
  The Peer's Progress.  J. STORER CLOUSTON
  The Love Story of a Mormon.  WINIFRED GRAHAM
  Down our Street.  J. E. BUCKROSE
  Body and Soul.  LADY TROUBRIDGE
  The Mountain of God.  E. S. STEVENS
  Dividing Waters.  I. A. R. WYLIE
  The Needlewoman.  WINIFRED GRAHAM
  Letters of a Modern Golfer to His Grandfather.  HENRY LEACH


EDUCATIONAL ANNOUNCEMENTS

Problems in Practical Chemistry for Advanced Students.

By G. F. HOOD, M.A. (Oxon.), B.Sc. (Lend.)  With 21 Diagrams.  Crown
8vo.  5s.

The object of this book is to provide a course of practical exercises
suitable for candidates for the Higher Certificate Examination, for
University Scholarships, and for the Inter-Science Examination.  It
aims at developing both the reasoning powers and the technical skill of
the student.  Throughout the book, simplicity combined with the
necessary accuracy is insisted on.

It is hoped that the arrangement of the problems first, and the
description and full solution in the appendix, will be of especial
service in laboratories, where a large amount of personal attention by
the demonstrator is difficult to obtain.


Exercises in French Free Composition for Upper Classes.

By R. R. N. BARON, M.A.  Author of "French Prose Composition" and
"Junior French Prose."  Crown 8vo.  1s. 6d.

_Il n'y a que le premier pas qui coûte_ applies largely to the writing
of free composition, in which a pupil is confronted with four
considerations: subject-matter, logical order, vocabulary, and style.
The method adopted in this book provides something in each of these
directions, and will be found to give stimulus to the imagination and
confidence in dealing with the subject.  A large portion of the
material has been already submitted to the test of the classroom.


Graphs in Arithmetic, Algebra, and Trigonometry.

By W. J. STAINER, B.A., Headmaster of the Municipal Secondary School,
Brighton.  With many diagrams.  Crown 8vo.  1s. 6d.



BOOKS PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED

GENERAL LITERATURE

_These Books are arranged in order of price._


The English Court in Exile: James II. at St. Germain.

By MARION and EDWIN SHARPE GREW, Authors of "The Court of William III."
With 16 Illustrations.  15s. net.

_Spectator_.--"A work which should certainly be read by all students of
the revolution; an exceedingly interesting and readable book."

_Athenæum_.--"Not a single uninteresting page; where all is so good it
is difficult to discriminate, but we think the account of the hopeless
misery of the Irish campaign will be first in the judgment of most
readers.  We had no idea so good a book could be written on such a
story."

_Truth_.--" Excellent ... picturesque and impartial."

_Times_.--"The work of Mr. and Mrs. Grew cannot be neglected.  They are
popular and yet sincere historians."

_Daily Graphic_.--"Intimate and picturesque."

_Field_.--"A scholarly and original production based on sound research,
skilfully presented and well written ... an absorbing book."

_Daily Mail_.--"Told in a delightfully readable style."

_C. K. S. in The Sphere_.--"Admirable ... a very genuine contribution
to our historical libraries."


The Court of William III.

By EDWIN and MARION SHARPE GREW.  With 16 Illustrations.  Demy 8vo.
15s. net.

_Morning Post_.--"Done with fairness and thoroughness....  The book has
many conspicuous merits."


The Story of the British Navy.

By E. KEBLE CHATTERTON, Author of "Sailing Ships."  With a Frontispiece
in Colour and 50 Illustrations from Photographs.  Demy 8vo.  10s. 6d.
net.

_Naval and Military Record_.--"Contains practically everything which
the average individual wishes to know about the Navy."

_Western Morning News_.--"A popular story which all Englishmen cannot
but read with enthusiasm."


Royal Love-Letters: A Batch of Human Documents.

Collected and Edited by E. KEBLE CHATTERTON, Author of "The Story of
the British Navy."  With 12 Illustrations.  Demy 8vo.  10s. 6d. net.

_Pall Mall Gazette_.--"Full of interest and entertainment."

_Manchester Courier_.--"One of the most interesting comments on human
nature that one can recall.  It is well arranged, and the introductions
to the various collections are well written and useful."


The Wonderful Weald and the Quest of the Crock of Gold.

By ARTHUR BECKETT, Author of "The Spirit of the Downs," "Emancipation,"
etc.  With 20 Illustrations in colour and 43 Initials by ERNEST
MARILLIER.  Demy 8vo.  10s. 6d. net.

_Daily Telegraph_.--"A charmingly discursive, gossipy volume."

_Daily Chronicle_.--"A vast store of legends, facts, anecdotes, and
customs of the Weald."

_Observer_.--"This buoyant and charming book."

_Sunday Times_.--" He adopts the quest in the Stevensonian manner, and
creates the right atmosphere for the vivid presentment of the history
and romance of the Weald.  He knows the Weald so well, and can chat
about it with such unobtrusive communicativeness, such a charm of
literary allusion, and such whimsical humour, that we journey with him
delightedly, and come to its end with regret."


Sixty-Eight Years on the Stage.

By MRS. CHARLES CALVERT.  With a Photogravure and 17 Illustrations.
Demy 8vo.  10s. 6d. net.

_Pall Mall Gazette_.--"Charming."

_Morning Post_.--"Agreeable and amusing."

_Westminster Gazette_.--"One of the most interesting works issued for
some time."


Forty Years of Song.

By EMMA ALBANI.  With a Frontispiece in Photogravure and 16
Illustrations.  Demy 8vo.  10s. 6d. net.

_Spectator_.--"Her pleasant volume disarms criticism by its unfailing
charity, goodwill, and cheerfulness."

_Westminster Gazette_.--"A very readable account of a very remarkable
career."

_Standard_.--"Most interesting reading."


My Italian Year.

By RICHARD BAGOT, Author of "Casting of Nets," "A Roman Mystery,"
"Donna Diana," "The Lakes of Northern Italy," "The House of
Serravalle," etc.  With 25 Illustrations.  Demy 8vo.  10s. 6d. net.

_The Observer_.--"'My Italian Year' will tell the reader more about the
real present-day go-ahead Italy than any other book that has come to
our notice."

_Daily Telegraph_.--"A thoughtful, knowledgeful book, and one that
intending visitors to Italy will do well to read and ponder over."

_Daily Mail_.--"Absorbingly interesting."

_Daily Graphic_.--"Mr. Bagot knows the Italians better perhaps than any
other English writer."

_Evening Standard_.--"No one can read this book without feeling
convinced that they have facts before them."


Turkey and the Turks.

By Z. D. FERRIMAN, Author of "Home Life in Hellas." With 16
Illustrations.  Demy 8vo.  10s. 6d. net.

_Pall Mall Gazette_.--"This extremely fascinating and instructive
volume is peculiarly welcome just now."

_Birmingham Daily Post_.--"An attractive book which helps us to see the
Turk as he is, with occasional glimpses of the Turk's wife and
children."


The Parson's Pleasance.

By P. H. DITCHFIELD, M.A., F.S.A., F.R.S.L., F.R.Hist.S., Author of
"The Old-time Parson," etc.  With 27 Illustrations.  Demy 8vo.  10s.
6d. net.

_Daily Telegraph_.--"All lovers of the leisurely essay will here find a
book after their own hearts."


Wagner at Home.

Fully translated from the French of Judith Gautier by EFFIE DUNREITH
MASSIE.  With 9 Illustrations.  Demy 8vo.  10s. 6d. net.

_Tatler_.--"The whole book is very interesting indeed."

_Sketch_.--"None will have anything but praise for her most
illuminating book."


Yvette Guilbert: Struggles and Victories.

By YVETTE GUILBERT and HAROLD SIMPSON.  Profusely illustrated with
Caricatures, Portraits, Facsimiles of letters, etc.  Demy 8vo.  10s.
6d. net.

_Daily Telegraph_.--"The volume is a real delight all through."


Sporting Stories.

By THORMANBY.  Fully illustrated.  Demy 8vo.  10s. 6d. net.

_Daily Express_.--"Contains the best collection of anecdotes of this
generation.  It is a perfect mine of good things."


My German Year.

By I. A. R. WYLIE, Author of "The Rajah's People." With 2 Illustrations
in Colour and 18 from Photographs.  Demy 8vo.  10s. 6d. net.

_Evening Standard_.--"Should be read by every household in the land."

_Westminster Gazette_.--"A wise, well-informed, and very readable book."


Forty Years of a Sportsman's Life.

By SIR CLAUDE CHAMPION DE CRESPIGNY, Bart.  With 18 Illustrations.
Demy 8vo.  10s. 6d. net.

_Daily Mail_.--"From cover to cover there is not a dull page."

_Sporting Life_.--"More enthralling than the most romantic novel."


A Century of Ballads (1810-1910), Their Composers and Singers.

By HAROLD SIMPSON.  With 49 Illustrations.  Demy 8vo.  10s. 6d. net.

_Daily Express_.--"Deals brightly with a most fascinating subject."


Rambles with an American.

By CHRISTIAN TEARLE, Author of "Holborn Hill."

With 21 Illustrations.  Demy 8vo.  10s. 6d. net.

_Spectator_.--"The idea is good, and is well carried out, and a reader,
if he is of the right sort, will be greatly charmed with it."


An Art Student's Reminiscences of Paris in the Eighties.

By SHIRLEY FOX, R.B.A.  With Illustrations by JOHN CAMERON.  Demy 8vo.
10s. 6d. net.


Home Life in Hellas: Greece and the Greeks.

By Z. DUCKETT FERRIMAN.  With 19 Illustrations.  Demy 8vo.  8s. net.

_Morning Post_.--"Possesses the great merit of being written by an
author who not only knows but also sympathises with the people whose
life he describes."

_British Weekly_.--"Full of up-to-date information.  It is good as a
tourist's handbook, and still better for fireside reading."


My Thirty Years in India.

By EDMUND C. COX, Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Bombay
Presidency.  With 6 Illustrations.  Demy 8vo.  8s. net.

_Truth_.--"As opportune as it is interesting."


British Mountain Climbs.

By GEORGE D. ABRAHAM, Author of "The Complete Mountaineer."  With 18
Illustrations and 21 Outline Drawings of the principal routes.  Pocket
size.  Waterproof cloth.  7s. 6d. net.

_Sportsman_.--"Eminently a practical manual."


Swiss Mountain Climbs.

By GEORGE D. ABRAHAM.  With 24 Illustrations and 22 Outline Drawings of
the principal peaks and their routes.  Pocket size.  Waterproof cloth.
7s. 6d. net.

_Country Life_.--"Mr. Abraham's book should become as essential as good
climbing boots."


Home Life in Ireland.

By ROBERT LYND.  With 18 Illustrations.  Third and Popular Edition,
with a New Preface.  Crown 8vo.  6s.

_Spectator_.--"An entertaining and informing book, the work of a close
and interested observer."


The Town of Morality: or, The Narrative of One who Lived Here for a
Time.

By C. H. R.  Crown 8vo.  6s.

_Daily Graphic_.--"In short C. H. R. has written a new "Pilgrim's
Progress," a passionate, a profound and stirring satire on the
self-satisfied morality of Church and of Chapel."

_Liverpool Courier_.--"One of the most thoughtful and best written
books that has appeared in recent years."

_Scotsman_.--"An able book, both on its theological and literary sides."


Out of the Ivory Palaces.

By P. H. DITCHFIELD, M.A., F.S.A., F.R.S.L., F.R.Hist.S., Author of
"The Parson's Pleasance."  With 12 Illustrations.  Crown 8vo.  6s.

_Globe_.--"The author gives much curious and out-of-the-way information
in these very readable pages."

_Glasgow Herald_.--"A most interesting book."


The Romance of the Oxford Colleges.

By FRANCIS GRIBBLE.  With a Photogravure and 16 full-page
Illustrations.  Crown 8vo.  6s.

_Westminster Gazette_.--"Does not contain a dull page."


The Bolster Book.  A Book for the Bedside.

By HARRY GRAHAM, Author of "Deportmental Ditties."  With an illustrated
cover by LEWIS BAUMER.  Third Edition.  Crown 8vo.  6s.

_Daily Graphic_.--"Most refreshing and delightfully funny."

_Sunday Times_.--"This is a very amusing book."

_Observer_.--"Light, effervescent, witty, irresponsible, irrelevant,
and clever."


Letters of a Modern Golfer to his Grandfather.

Being the correspondence of Richard Allingham, Esq., arranged by HENRY
LEACH.  Crown 8vo.  Cloth 6s.  Picture cover, 1s. net.

_Outlook_.--"A book in which the human interest is as marked as the
practical instruction."


Nerves and the Nervous.

By EDWIN ASH, M.D. (Lond.), Assistant Physician Italian Hospital,
London; Physician for Nervous Diseases to the Kensington and Fulham
General Hospital.  Author of "Mind and Health."  Crown 8vo.  5s. net.

_Daily Express_.--"One of the most refreshing books that has been
published for some time.  Dr. Ash not only probes into exactly what one
feels when one is nervous or worried, but the treatment is so free from
fads that it does an unnervy person good to read it."

_Medical Officer_.--"His directions are sound and wise.  Undoubtedly on
the subject of treatment Dr. Ash's book is most suggestive and
original."

_Athenæum_.--"Dr. Ash writes with knowledge and judgment....  His
advice about sleeplessness is essentially sound."

_Standard_.--"Displays a wonderful knowledge of child life."


The Zoo Conversation Book.

By EDMUND SELOUS, Author of "Tommy Smith's Animals."  With 12 Full-Page
Illustrations by J. A. SHEPHERD.  Crown 8vo.  5s. net.  School Edition,
1s.

_Country Life_.--"A fascinating idea."


The Golfer's Pocket Tip Book.

By the Authors of "The Six Handicap Golfer's Companion."  Fully
Illustrated.  Pott 8vo.  Leather.  5s. net.

Harry Vardon says:--"It is a very handy little book."

_Morning Post_.--"Concise, clear, crisp, brief, and business-like,
worth as a teacher half-a-dozen ordinary books."

_Manchester Daily Dispatch_.--"The golfer has certain human qualities,
delighting in receiving presents.  And I have found the very thing!  It
is called 'The Golfer's Pocket Tip Book.'"

_World of Golf_.--"The text book de luxe."

_Sporting Life_.--"One of the very best golfing volumes yet published."


The Motorist's Pocket Tip Book.

By GEOFFREY OSBORN.  With 13 full-page Illustrations.  Fcap.  8vo.
Leather.  5s. net.

_Scottish Field_.--"Contains in the clearest, most condensed, and most
practical form just the information one wants."


Stories from Italian History Re-told for Children.

By G. E. TROUTBECK, Author of "The Children's Story of Westminster
Abbey."  With 22 Illustrations from Photographs.  Crown 8vo.  5s. net.

_Spectator_.--"Well put together and handsomely illustrated."

_Tatler_.--"These stories are so vivid and so interesting that they
should be in every schoolroom."

_Nation_.--"Miss Troutbeck tells the stories in a clear and simple
fashion and her book makes a pleasant introduction to the history of
Italy."


The Children's Story of Westminster Abbey.

By G. E. TROUTBECK, Author of "Westminster Abbey" (Little Guides).
With 4 Photogravure Plates, and 21 Illustrations from Photographs.
Crown 8vo.  5s. net.  Popular Edition, 1s. net.  School Edition, 1s.


The Children's Story of the Bee.

By S. L. BENSUSAN, Author of "Wild Life Stories." Illustrated by C.
MOORE PARK.  Crown 8vo.  5s. net.

_Standard_.--"It seems to us that we have all along wanted just
precisely the sort of book that Mr. Bensusan has now given us."


Egypt as We Knew It.

By E. L. BUTCHER, Author of "The Story of the Church of Egypt."  With
16 Illustrations.  Crown 8vo.  5s. net.

_Spectator_.--"A most entertaining book and not a little instructive
too."


Auction Bridge.

By ARCHIBALD DUNN.  Containing the Revised Rules of the game.  Crown
8vo.  5s. net.  Popular Edition, 3s. net.

_Sportsman_.--"A study of this manual will profit them in knowledge and
in pocket."


Club Bridge.

By ARCHIBALD DUNN, Author of "Bridge and How to Play it."  Crown 8vo.
1s. net.  Popular Edition, 3s. net.

_Evening Standard_.--"This is, in fact, 'THE BOOK.'"

_Manchester Guardian_.--"A masterly and exhaustive treatise."


The German Spy System in France.

Translated from the French of PAUL LANOIR.  Crown 8vo.  5s. net.

_Standard_.--"Ought to engage the serious attention of those
responsible for the national security."


Canned Classics, and Other Verses.

By HARRY GRAHAM, Author of "Deportmental Ditties," "The Bolster Book,"
etc., etc.  Profusely Illustrated by LEWIS BAUMER.  Crown 4to.  3s. 6d.
net.

_Times_.--"As fresh as ever."

_Evening Standard_.--"One long delight."


Deportmental Ditties.

By HARRY GRAHAM.  Profusely Illustrated by LEWIS BAUMER.  Fcap.  8vo.
Third Edition.  3s. 6d. net.

_Daily Graphic_.--"Harry Graham certainly has the knack."

_Daily Chronicle_.--"All clever, generally flippant, invariably
amusing."


Queery Leary Nonsense.

Being a Lear Nonsense Book, with a long Introduction and Notes by the
EARL OF CROMER, and edited by LADY STRACHEY of Sutton Court.  With
about 50 Illustrations in colour and line.  Crown 4to.  3s. 6d. net.

_Daily Telegraph_.--"A book full of fascinating absurdity, and the true
spirit of the King of Nonsense."

_Spectator_.--"Lovers of true and sound nonsense owe a debt of
gratitude to Lady Strachey and Lord Cromer for their respective shares
in putting together a volume of hitherto unpublished matter (both
letterpress and illustrations), from the pen and pencil of Edward Lear."

_Observer_.--"Adds a few more verses and a great many inimitable
pictures to the treasure heap of Lear's work."


Child-Nurture.

A Handbook for Parents and Teachers.  By HONNOR MORTEN, Author of "The
Nursery Nurse's Companion," "The Nurse's Dictionary."  With a
frontispiece in photogravure.  Crown 8vo.  3s. 6d. net.

_Athenæum_.--"Deals clearly and sensibly with the upbringing of
children."

_Standard_.--"Admirably practical ... full of useful knowledge."

_Yorkshire Post_.--"Thoroughly sound."


Ships and Sealing Wax.

By HANSARD WATT.  With 40 Illustrations by L. R. BRIGHTWELL.  Crown
4to.  3s. 6d. net.

_Daily Mail_.--"Very clever and amusing, the humour enhanced by quaint
illustrations."


A Manual for Nurses.

By SYDNEY WELHAM, M.R.C.S. (Resident Medical Officer, Charing Cross
Hospital).  With Diagrams.  Crown 8vo.  3s. 6d. net.

_British Medical Journal_.--Answers to Correspondents, 22nd October
1910.--L. M. writes: "In answer to 'Lecturer' re up-to-date book on
Medical Nursing, I have found that Mr. Welham's book 'A Manual for
Nurses' a most excellent volume.  It is very readable, quite
up-to-date, and efficient."

_Nursing Times_.--"Clear and concise, with a good glossary and index."

_British Medical Journal_.--"A useful reference work for nurses both
early and late in their career."


Through the Loopholes of Retreat.

By HANSARD WATT.  With a Portrait of COWPER in Photogravure.  Fcap.
8vo.  3s. 6d. net.


Kings and Queens of France.

A Concise History of France.

By MILDRED CARNEGY.  With a Preface by the BISHOP OF HEREFORD.  With a
Map and four full-page Illustrations.  Crown 8vo.  3s. 6d.


Peter Pan: The Fairy Story of the Play.

By G. D. DRENNAN.  With a Photogravure of Miss PAULINE CHASE as Peter
Pan.  Fcap.  8vo.  Leather, 2s. 6d. net.  Theatre Edition, Paper, 1s.
net.


The Garden of Song.

Edited by HAROLD SIMPSON.

Fcap.  8vo.  2s. 6d. net.

_Scotsman_.--"An excellent anthology of lyrics that have been set to
music.  They are, for the most part, songs that have enjoyed a wide
popularity, and this collection of lyrical gems forms a very desirable
little volume."


The Pocket Gladstone: Selections from the Writings and Speeches of
William Ewart Gladstone.

Compiled by J. AUBREY REES (National League of Young Liberals), with an
Introduction by the Rt. Hon. Sir ALGERNON WEST, P.C., G.C.B.  Fcap.
8vo.  Cloth, 2s. net.  Paper, 1s. net.

_Westminster Gazette_.--"All admirers of the Grand Old Man will be glad
to have a copy."

_Birmingham Post_.--"Many will welcome this handy book of quotations."


Pure Folly: The Story of "THE FOLLIES."

Told by FITZROY GARDNER.  With many illustrations.  Crown 4to.  Popular
Edition, 1s. net.


Popular Edition.  Fifteenth Thousand.

The New Theology.

By the REV. R. J. CAMPBELL.  Fully revised and with a New Preface.
Crown 8vo.  1s. net.


Votes for Women.  A Play in Three Acts.

By ELIZABETH ROBINS.  Crown 8vo.  1s.



MILLS & BOON'S COMPANION SERIES

This series of practical handbooks is confidently recommended to the
public by MILLS & BOON, for, as every book is by an expert, and all are
written in simple and untechnical language, they are confident that
they will appeal to that large class who want an easily read and
instructive book written by a person who thoroughly understands his
subject.  Each book is crown 8vo.


THE NURSERY NURSE'S COMPANION.
  By HONNOR MORTEN.  Cloth, 1s. 6d. net; paper, 1s. net.

THE FOOD REFORMER'S COMPANION.
  By EUSTACE MILES, M.A.  2s. 6d. net.

THE MOTHER'S COMPANION.
  By Mrs. M. A. CLOUDESLEY-BRERETON (Officier d'Académie).  With
  an Introduction by Sir LAUDER BRUNTON, M.D., F.R.S.  2s. 6d. net.

THE CHAUFFEUR'S COMPANION.
  By "A FOUR-INCH DRIVER."  With 4 Plates and 5 Diagrams.
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  All Awry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Maude Annesley.
  Some Experiences of a Political Agent  . . . . . Anon.
  Mastering Flame  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Anon.
  Orpheus in Mayfair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Maurice Baring.
  Two Men and Gwenda . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . M. Barnes-Grundy.
  Cardillac  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Robert Barr.
  The Sword Maker  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Robert Barr.
  The Glen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mary Stuart Boyd.
  A Golden Straw . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . J. E. Buckrose.
  The Pilgrimage of a Fool . . . . . . . . . . . . J. E. Buckrose.
  Down Our Street  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . J. E. Buckrose.
  Love in a Little Town  . . . . . . . . . . . . . J. E. Buckrose.
  Render unto Caesar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mrs. Vere Campbell
  The Bill-Topper  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . André Castaigne.
  The Vanishing Smuggler . . . . . . . . . . . . . Stephen Chalmers.
  The Prodigal Father  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . J. Storer Clouston.
  The Anger of Olivia  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Thomas Cobb.
  Mr. Burnside's Responsibility  . . . . . . . . . Thomas Cobb.
  Margaret Rutland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Thomas Cobb.
  Phillida . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Thomas Cobb.
  The Choice of Theodora . . . . . . . . . . . . . Thomas Cobb.
  Blue Grey Magic  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sophie Cole.
  A Wardour Street Idyll . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sophie Cole.
  Arrows from the Dark . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sophie Cole.
  The Valley of Achor  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mrs. P. Champion de
                                                       Crespigny.
  Fame . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . B. M. Croker.
  Rebecca Drew . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Edith Dart.
  Likeness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Edith Dart.
  The Education of Jacqueline  . . . . . . . . . . Claire de Pratz.
  Elisabeth Davenay  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Claire de Pratz.
  Children of the Cloven Hoof  . . . . . . . . . . Albert Dorrington.
  Our Lady of the Leopards . . . . . . . . . . . . Albert Dorrington.
  The Lady Calphurnia Royal  . . . . . . . . . . . Albert Dorrington and
                                                       A. G. Stephens.
  My Lady Wentworth  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Allan Fea.
  A Tropical Tangle  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Louise Gerard.
  The Leech  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mrs. Harold E. Gorst.
  The Enemy of Woman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Winifred Graham.
  Mary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Winifred Graham.
  The Needlewoman  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Winifred Graham.
  The Love Story of a Mormon . . . . . . . . . . . Winifred Graham.
  When the Red Gods Call . . . . . . . . . . . . . Beatrice Grimshaw.
  The End and the Beginning  . . . . . . . . . . . Cosmo Hamilton.
  Brummell Again . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cosmo Hamilton.
  A Sereshan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . M. Hartley.
  By Force of Circumstances  . . . . . . . . . . . Gordon Holmes.
  Margot Munro . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . M. E. Hughes.
  No. 19 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Edgar Jepson.
  Captain Sentimental  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Edgar Jepson.
  Pollyooly  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Edgar Jepson.
  Arsène Lupin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Edgar Jepson and
                                                       Maurice Leblanc.
  Jehanne of the Golden Lips . . . . . . . . . . . F. G. Knowles-Foster.
  813  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Maurice Leblanc.
  The Phantom of the Opera . . . . . . . . . . . . Gaston Leroux.
  Bound Together . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mary E. Mann.
  The Last Lord Avanley  . . . . . . . . . . . . . Gerald Maxwell.
  The Yoke of Silence (5s.)  . . . . . . . . . . . Amy McLaren.
  The Cost . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . L. G. Moberly.
  Mary up at Gaffries  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . S. C. Nethersole.
  Ripe Corn  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . S. C. Nethersole.
  Calico Jack  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Horace W. C. Newte.
  The Sins of the Children . . . . . . . . . . . . Horace W. C. Newte.
  The Socialist Countess . . . . . . . . . . . . . Horace W. C. Newte.
  The Ealing Miracle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Horace W. C. Newte.
  With Poison and Sword  . . . . . . . . . . . . . W. M. O'Kane.
  Draw in Your Stool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Oliver Onions.
  Harm's Way . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lloyd Osbourne.
  The Adventures of Captain Jack . . . . . . . . . Max Pemberton.
  The Summer Book  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Max Pemberton.
  The Stairway of Honour . . . . . . . . . . . . . Maud Stepney Rawson.
  The Year's Round . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Maud Stepney Rawson.
  The Queen's Hand . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mrs. Baillie Reynolds.
  Nigel Ferrard  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mrs. Baillie Reynolds.
  The Sea-Lion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Patrick Rushden.
  Sport of Gods  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . H. Vaughan-Sawyer.
  Miss Pilsbury's Fortune  . . . . . . . . . . . . Christine R. Shand.
  Odd Come Shorts  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mrs. Alfred Sidgwick.
  Isabel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dorothy V. Horace Smith.
  When Love Knocks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Gilbert Stanhope.
  The Veil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . E. S. Stevens.
  The Mountain of God  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . E. S. Stevens.
  The Earthen Drum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . E. S. Stevens.
  Holborn Hill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Christian Tearle.
  Written in the Rain  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . John Trevena.
  The Woman who Forgot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lady Troubridge
  The First Law  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lady Troubridge
  The Cheat  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lady Troubridge
  Body and Soul  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lady Troubridge
  A Creature of Circumstance . . . . . . . . . . . Lady Troubridge
  The Fool of Faery  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . M. Urquhart.
  The Island of Souls  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . M. Urquhart.
  Royal Lovers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Hélène Vacaresco.
  The Two Faces  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Marie van Vorst.
  First Love . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Marie van Vorst.
  The Girl from His Town . . . . . . . . . . . . . Marie van Vorst.
  Mr. Perrin and Mr. Traill  . . . . . . . . . . . Hugh Walpole.
  Toddie . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Gilbert Watson.
  The King's Highway . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . H. B. Marriott Watson.
  The Captain's Daughter . . . . . . . . . . . . . Helen H. Watson.
  Tess of Ithaca . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Grace Miller White.
  An Averted Marriage  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Percy White.
  Memoirs of a Buccaneer . . . . . . . . . . . . . Robert Williams.
  The Honourable Derek . . . . . . . . . . . . . . R. A. Wood-Seys.
  The Device of the Black Fox  . . . . . . . . . . R. A. Wood-Seys.
  The Rajah's People . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I. A. R. Wylie.
  Dividing Waters  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I. A. R. Wylie.
  In Different Keys  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I. A. R. Wylie.
  A Blot on the Scutcheon  . . . . . . . . . . . . May Wynne.
  For Church and Chieftain . . . . . . . . . . . . May Wynne.



MILLS & BOON'S SHILLING NOVELS


Picture Covers.  Crown 8vo.  1s. net.

  SPARROWS: The Story of an Unprotected Girl . . . HORACE W. C. NEWTE
  THE LONELY LOVERS  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . HORACE W. C. NEWTE
  CALICO JACK  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . HORACE W. C. NEWTE
  CARDILLAC  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ROBERT BARR
  813 (a New Arsène Lupin Adventure) . . . . . . . MAURICE LEBLANC
  THE END AND THE BEGINNING  . . . . . . . . . . . COSMO HAMILTON
  THE VEIL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . E. S. STEVENS
  CUMNER'S SON (Cloth) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . GILBERT PARKER
  THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN JACK . . . . . . . . . MAX PEMBERTON
  BEWARE OF THE DOG  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MRS. BAILLIE REYNOLDS
  THE WOMAN WHO FORGOT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . LADY TROUBRIDGE
  THE PRODIGAL FATHER  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . J. STORER CLOUSTON
  TALES OF KING FIDO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . J. STORER CLOUSTON
  THE ENEMY OF WOMAN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . WINIFRED GRAHAM
  MARY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . WINIFRED GRAHAM
  MARY UP AT GAFFRIES  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . S. C. NETHERSOLE
  THE GOLDFISH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . LILA FIELD
  FOR CHURCH AND CHIEFTAIN . . . . . . . . . . . . MAY WYNNE
  WEE MACGREEGOR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . J. J. B.
  PROOFS BEFORE PULPING  . . . . . . . . . . . . . BARRY PAIN
  THE DIARY OF A BABY  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . BARRY PAIN
  THOMAS HENRY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . W. PETTRIDQE
  THE DOLLAR PRINCESS  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . HAROLD SIMPSON
  *THE QUAKER GIRL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . HAROLD SIMPSON
  *THE COUNT OF LUXEMBOURG . . . . . . . . . . . . HAROLD SIMPSON
  *D'ARCY OF THE GUARDS  . . . . . . . . . . . . . L. E. SHIPMAN
  *ARSÈNE LUPIN  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . EDGAR JEPSON &
                                                       MAURICE LEBLANC
  *THE BILL-TOPPERS  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ANDRE CASTAIONR
  *PETER PAN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . G. D. DRENNAN

* Novels of the Play.



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