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er a Mrs. De Stancy existed: if there were one; he would probably see her to-night. He had an irrepressible hope that there might be such a lady. On entering the drawing-room only the father, son, and daughter were assembled. Somerset fell into talk with Charlotte during the few minutes before dinner, and his thought found its way out. “There is no Mrs. De Stancy?” he said, in an under-tone. “None,” she said; “my brother is a bachelor.” The dinner having been fixed at an early hour to suit Somerset, they had returned to the drawing-room at eight o'clock. About nine he was aiming to get away. “You are not off yet?” said the captain. “There would have been no hurry,” said Somerset, “had I not just remembered that I have left one thing undone which I want to attend to before my departure. I want to see the chief constable to-night.” “Cunningham Haze?—he is the very man I too want to see. But he went out of town this afternoon, and I hardly think you will see him to-night. His return has been delayed.” “Then the matter must wait.” “I have left word at his house, asking him to call here if he gets home before half past ten; but at any rate I shall see him to-morrow morning. Can I do anything for you, since you are leaving early 3” Somerset replied that the business was of no great importance, and briefly explained the suspected intrusion into his studio ; that he had with him a photograph of the suspected young man. “If it is a mistake,” added Somerset, “I should regret putting my draughtsman's portrait into the hands of the police, since it might injure his character; indeed, it would be unfair to him. So I wish to keep the likeness in my own hands, and merely to show it to Mr. Haze: that's why I prefer not to send it.” “My matter is that the barrack furniture does not correspond with the inventories. If you like, I'll ask your question at the same time with pleasure.” Thereupon Somerset gave Captain De Stancy an unfastened envelope containing the portrait, asking him to destroy it if the constable should declare it not to
correspond with the face that met his eye at the window. Soon after, Somerset took his leave of the household. He had not been absent ten minutes when other wheels were heard on the gravel without, and the servant announced Mr. Cunningham Haze, who had returned earlier than he had expected, and had called as requested. They went into the dining-room to discuss their business. When the barrack matter had been arranged, De Stancy said: “I have a little commission to execute for my friend Mr. Somerset. I am to ask you if this portrait of the person he suspects of unlawfully entering his room is like the man you saw there ('' The speaker was seated on one side of the dining-table, and Mr. Haze on the other. As he spoke, De Stancy pulled the envelope from his pocket, and half drew out the photograph, which he had not as yet looked at, to hand it over to the constable. In the act his eye fell upon the portrait, with its uncertain expression of age, assured look, and hair worn in a fringe like a girl's. Captain De Stancy grew ghastly pale, and fell back gasping in his chair, having previously had sufficient power over himself to close the envelope and return it to his pocket. “Good heavens' you are ill, Captain De Stancy,” said the chief constable. “It was only momentary,” said De Stancy, faintly; “better in a minute; a glass of water will put me right.” Mr. Haze got him a glass of water from the sideboard. “These spasms occasionally overtake me,” said De Stancy, when he had drunk. “I am already better. What were we saying : Oh, this affair of Mr. Somerset's. I find that this envelope is not the right one.” He ostensibly searched his pocket again. “I must have mislaid it,” he continued, rising. “I’ll be with you again in a moment.” De Stancy went into the room adjoining, opened an album of portraits that lay on the table, and selected one of a young man quite unknown to him, whose age was somewhat akin to Dare's, but who in no other attribute resembled him. De Stancy placed this picture in the original envelope, and returned with it to the chief constable, saying he had found it at last. “Thank you, thank you,” said Cun
ningham Haze, looking it over. “Ah!— I perceive it is not what I expected to see. Mr. Somerset was mistaken.”
When the chief constable had left the house, Captain De Stancy shut the door, and drew out the original photograph. As he looked at the transcript of Dare's features, he was moved by a painful agitation, till, recalling himself to the present, he carefully put the portrait into the fire.
During the following days Captain De Stancy's manner, on the roads, in the streets, and at barracks, was that of Crusoe after seeing the print of a man's foot on the sand.
ANYBODY who had closely considered Dare at this time would have discovered that shortly after the arrival of the Royal Horse Artillery at Markton Barracks he gave up his room at the inn at Sleeping Green, and took permanent lodgings over a broker's shop at the upper end of the town above mentioned. The peculiarity of the rooms was that they commanded a view lengthwise of the barrack road along which any soldier, in the natural course of things, would pass, either to enter the town, to call at Myrtle Villa, or to go to Stancy Castle. Dare seemed to act as if there were plenty of time for his business. Some few days had slipped by when, perceiving Captain De Stancy walk past his window and down the town, Dare took his hat and cane, and followed in the same direction. When he was about fifty yards short of Myrtle Villa, on the other side of the town, he saw De Stancy enter its gate. f)are mounted a stile beside the highway and patiently waited. In about twenty minutes De Stancy came out again, and turned back in the direction of the town, till Dare was revealed to him on his left hand. When De Stancy recognized the youth, he was visibly agitated, though apparently not surprised. Standing still a moment, he dropped his glance upon the ground, and then came forward to Dare, who, having alighted from the stile, stood before the captain with a smile. “My dear lad!” said De Stancy, much moved by recollections. He held Dare's
hand for a moment in both his own, and turned askance. “You are not surprised,” said Dare, still retaining his smile, as if to his mind there were something comic in the situation. “I knew you were somewhere near. Where do you come from ?” “From going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it, as Satan said to his Maker. Southampton last, in common speech.” “Have you come here to see me?” “Entirely. I divined that your next quarters would be Markton, the previous batteries that were at your station having come on here. I have wanted to see you badly.” “You have 2" “I am rather out of cash. I have been knocking about a good deal since you last heard from me.” “I will do what I can again.” “Thanks, Captain.” “But, Willy, I am afraid it will not be much at present. You know I am as poor as a mouse.” “But such as it is, could you write a check for it now Ż" “I will send it to you from the barracks.” “I have a better plan. By getting over this stile we could go round at the back of the villas to Sleeping Green church. There is always a pen and ink in the vestry, and we can have a nice talk on the way. It would be unwise for me to appear at the barracks just now.” “That's true.” De Stancy sighed, and they were about to walk across the fields together. “No,” said Dare, suddenly stopping. “My plans make it imperative that we should not run the risk of being seen in each other's company for long. Walk on, and I will follow. You can stroll into the church-yard, and move about as if you were ruminating on the epitaphs. There are some with excellent morals. I'll enter by the other gate, and we can meet easily in the vestry-room.” De Stancy looked gloomy, and was on the point of acquiescing, when he turned back and said, “Why should your photograph be shown to the chief constable?” “By whom 7” “Somerset, the architect. He suspects your having broken into his office, or something of the sort.” De Stancy briefly related what Somerset had explained to him at the dinner table. “It was merely diamond cut diamond between us on an architectural matter,” murmured Dare. “Ho! and he suspects, and that's his remedy! I must be on my guard.” He took from his pocket an artificial mustache, and affixed it to his lip in the twinkling of an eye. “I hope this is nothing serious?” asked De Stancy, gravely. “I peeped at his drawing—that's all. But since he chooses to make that use of my photograph, which I gave him in friendship, I’ll make use of his in a way he little dreams of. Well, now, let's on.” A quarter of an hour later they met in the vestry of the church at Sleeping Green. “I have only just transferred my account to the bank here,” said De Stancy, as he took out his check-book, “and it will be more convenient to me at present to draw but a small sum. I will make up the balance afterward.” When he had written it, Dare glanced over the paper, and said, ruefully, “It is small, dad. Well, there is all the more reason why I should broach my scheme, with a view to making such documents larger in the future.” “I shall be glad to hear of any such scheme,” answered De Stancy, with a languid attempt at jocularity. “Then here it is. The plan I have arranged for you is of the nature of a marriage.” “You are very kind,” said De Stancy, agape. “The lady's name is Miss Paula Power,
who, as you may have heard since your
arrival, is in absolute possession of her father's property and estates, including Stancy Castle. As soon as I heard of her I saw what a marvellous match it would be for you and your family; it would make a man of you, in short, and I have set my mind upon your putting no objection in the way of its accomplishment.” “But, Willy, it seems to me that, of us two, it is you who exercise paternal authority ?” . “True. It is for your good. Let me do it.” “Well, one must be indulgent under the circumstances, I suppose. . . . But,” added De Stancy, simply, “Willy, I— don't want to marry, you know. I have lately thought that some day we may be
able to live together, you and I : go off to America or New Zealand, where we are not known, and there lead a quiet, pastoral life, defying social rules and troublesome observances.” “I can't hear of it, Captain,” replied Dare, reprovingly. “I am what events have made me, and having fixed my mind upon getting you settled in life by this marriage, I have put things in train for it at an immense trouble to myself. If you had thought over it o' nights as much as I have, you would not say nay.” “But I ought to have married your mother, if anybody. And as I have not married her, the least I can do in respect to her is to marry no other woman.” “You have some sort of duty to me, have you not, Captain De Stancy?” “Yes, Willy, I admit that I have,” the other replied, reflectively. “And I don't think I have failed in it thus far?” “This will be the crowning proof. Paternal affection, family pride, the noble instinct to re-instate yourself in the castle of your ancestors, all demand the step. And when you have seen the lady! She has the figure and motions of a sylph, the face of an angel, the eye of love itself. What a sight she is crossing the lawn on a sunny afternoon, or gliding airily along the corridors of the old place the De Stancys knew so well! Her lips are the softest, reddest, most distracting things you ever saw. Her hair is as soft as silk, and of the rarest, tenderest brown.” The captain moved uneasily. “Don’t take the trouble to say more, Willy,” he observed. “You know how I am. My cursed susceptibility to these matters has already wasted years of my life, and I don't want to make myself a fool about her too.” “You must see her.” “No, don't let me see her,” De Stancy expostulated. “If she is only half so good-looking as you say, she will drag me at her heels like a blind Samson. You are a mere youth as yet, but I may tell you that the misfortune of never having been my own master where a beautiful face was concerned obliges me to be cautious, if I would preserve my peace of mind.” “Well, to my mind, Captain De Stancy, your objections seem trivial. Are those all?” “They are all I care to mention just now to you.”
“Captain can there be secrets between uS 7" De Stancy paused, and looked at the lad as if his heart wished to confess what his judgment feared to tell. “There should not be—on this point,” he murmured. “Then tell me—why do you so much object to her ?” “I once vowed a vow.” “A vow !” said Dare, rather disconcerted. “A vow of infinite solemnity. I must tell you from the beginning; perhaps you are old enough to hear it now, though you have been too young before. Your mother's life ended in much sorrow, and it was occasioned entirely by me. In my regret for the wrong done her, I swore to her that though she had not been my wife, no other woman should stand in that relationship to me; and this to her was a sort of comfort. When she was dead, my knowledge of my own plaguy impressibility, which seemed to be ineradicable—as it seems still—led me to think what safeguards I could set over myself, with a view to keeping my promise to live a life of celibacy; and among other things I determined to forswear the society, and if possible the sight, of women young and attractive, as far as I had the power to do.” “It is not so easy to avoid the sight of a beautiful woman if she crosses your path, I should think 7" “It is not easy, but it is possible.” & 4 How q" “By directing your attention another way.” “But do you mean to say, Captain, that you can be in a room with a pretty woman who speaks to you, and not look at her?” “I do: though mere looking has less to do with it than mental attentiveness—allowing your thoughts to flow out in her direction—to comprehend her image.” “But it would be considered very impolite not to look at the woman or comprehend her image * “It would, and is. I am considered the most impolite officer in the service. I have been nicknamed the man with the averted eyes, the man with the detestable habit, the man who greets you with his shoulder, and so on. Ninety-and-nine fair women at the present moment hate me like poison and death for having per
sistently refused to plumb the depths of their offered eyes.” “How can you bear it, who are by nature courteous #" “Recollection holds me to it, my lad; dread of a lapse. Nothing is so potent as fear well maintained.” De Stancy narrated these details in a grave, meditative tone, with his eyes on the wall, as if he were scarcely conscious of a listener. “But haven't you ever careless moments, Captain—when you have taken a little more wine than usual, for instance #" “I don't take wine.” “Oh, you are a teetotaller 7" “Not a pledged one; but I don't touch alcohol unless I get wet, or anything of that sort.” “Don’t you sometimes forget this vow of yours to my mother ?” “No : I wear a reminder.” “What is that like 3" De Stancy held up his left hand, on the third finger of which appeared an iron ring. Dare surveyed it, saying: “Yes, I have seen that before, though I never knew why you wore it. Well, I wear a reminder also, but of a different sort.” He threw open his shirt front, and revealed tattooed on his breast the letters DE STANCY, the same marks which Havill had seen in the bedroom by the light of the moon. The captain rather winced at the sight. “Well, well,” he said, hastily, “that's enough . . . . Now, at any rate, you understand my objection to know Miss Power.” “But, daddy,” said the lad, coaxingly, as he pulled down his sleeve, “you forget . me and the good you may do me by marrying. Surely that's a sufficient reason for a change of sentiment. This inexperienced sweet creature owns the castle and estate which bears your name, even to the furniture and pictures. She is the possessor of at least forty thousand a year—how much more I can not say— while she lives at the rate of eight hundred in her simplicity.” “It is very good of you to set this before me. But I prefer to go on as I am going.” “Well, I won't bore you any more with her to-day.” Dare arose, and was about to open the door, when, looking through the window, Captain De Stancy said, “Stop.” He had perceived his fa