Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 4/The silver cord - Part 18

THE SILVER CORD.

BY SHIRLEY BROOKS.



CHAPTER XXXVII.

The account that Henderson had given to Mrs. Lygon of the apparent restoration of amicable relations between Urquhart and Bertha was perfectly true. Mrs. Urquhart, relieved by the departure of Laura, and by the manner of Robert, from the immediate pressure and terror, had rallied, as such natures are mercifully permitted to do, and in another hour had smiles on her face, and even playfulness in her tongue. She had attained to the point of laughing at her husband’s rough hair. Some among us consider those natures happy which can so rapidly undergo a transition from depression to levity, but some among us have their own standard of happiness. Yet Robert Urquhart was not dissatisfied with this facile nature. Himself a man of deep feeling, he was content with its absence in his wife, and though his admiration for the charming woman whom he had wedded never clouded his clear intellect with any haze of impression that she was far cleverer than she seemed—a delusion which many estimable husbands are proud to proclaim as a belief—he had contrived to find in the shallowness of her nature a reason for believing in its transparency. He fully recognised the intellect of Mrs. Lygon, and without hesitation pronounced Bertha to have been her dupe. Having delivered his wife from the snares of her superior sister, Urquhart was quite ready to turn to Bertha as to a child whom he had rescued from a scrape, and to whom, after the mildest scolding for her being led astray, he opened his great arms, and petted as before. Are we to blame a wife who tries to fulfil her satisfied husband’s ideal of her character? Bertha became as cheerful, lively, riante, that afternoon, as if the little back chamber, the wrenched door, and two women in terror had been a morning dream, instead of a morning reality.

“I don’t much care to talk about her anymore, at present, my woman,” said Robert Urquhart, in the course of the day, “but I would like to know whether she has plenty of means for travelling. I might have thought of that when I was sending her off.”

“Laura? Oh yes, plenty,” said Bertha. “She is a woman of business, and not like poor me. She would never travel without all that she wanted. Don’t let us talk about her any more, you great cross old thing.”

“Nay, I am not cross,” said Urquhart, taking one of her blond tresses in his large fingers. “I make a distinction, as my old schoolmaster used to say, between the child that has gone wrong and the child that has been led wrong, though when the old fellow came down on us with the taws I incline to believe that the delicate distinction vanished from his mind, or else his mind was not on terms with his old hand.”

“Were you beaten much at school, Robert?”

“Not half enough,” said her husband, in the tone of one who records a grievance. “I’d be a better man, if old Macfarlane had done his duty by me, but his conscience got seared in later life, and he only licked the small boys whom it was no trouble to fustigate; not that they didn’t deserve all they got, though.”

“You could not be a better man than you are, Robert dear.”

“Eh, my woman, but that’s a heathenish doctrine,” said her husband, laughing. “I’m afraid your religious education was what might be expected from that prelatical church of yours. You hav’n’t got much soundness of views out of what Sir Walter calls the ‘lethargy’ of the Church of England. However, I’ll not say that I’m much worse than other people. I’ll leave it to my wife to say that, behind my back.”

“As if she would,” said Bertha.

“Eh? He’ll be a bold man that would like to hear all his wife says of him to other folks, Bertha. I’ve no such false courage, my dear woman.”

“I am sure you might hear all I say of you, dear, though I know that I do not say half enough of your goodness. Don’t, Robert dear—you’ll pull my hair out. Let me go. I must talk to Angelique about your dinner, for I am afraid she has made no preparation for you.”

“Well, go along, and then come back and soothe my savage breast with some music, for I’m not in the mood to work.”

“Ah, you will keep thinking about Laura, and it is not right in you after we have made it all up,” pouted Bertha.

“No, I’m thinking about her husband.”

“Oh, it will be all right. He is very fond of her, and he will soon forgive her foolishness. He is not a stern hard man like somebody else’s husband, who makes his poor little wife afraid to speak to him.”

And the poor little wife left the room, to hurry off the note to her sister. And then she returned, and made herself perfectly agreeable to Robert, and sung him Scottish songs, into which she infused that pathos which has deceived so many a wise man into believing that a throat has some connection with the heart, and which, doubtless, suggested to the wisest of Englishmen the hint given by Kent, “not so young, sir, as to love a woman for her singing.” Bertha not only sang tears into the eyes of her husband, but even into her own, as she warbled the songs of his country—and while she was doing this, far other tears stood in the eyes of the sister to whom she had transmitted the note received in the garden.

It was not until the exigencies of the toilette sent her to her own room, that Bertha thought it necessary to summon her lady’s-maid, and Henderson had, to her indignation, been permitted to make some progress in her duties before her mistress inquired whether she had delivered that letter. Then, of course, the answer was monosyllabic.

“Did Mrs. Lygon send any message?”

“None, Madame.”

“Gently, Henderson, you are tearing my hair, I am certain.”

The lady’s-maid brushed, and divided, and intersected, and plaited, and folded, and pinned, and performed all the rest of the capillary operations in a dogged silence. Such a manifestation of displeasure would have been utterly lost upon Mrs. Lygon, but was one of the things which it was in Bertha’s nature to notice.

"You have lost your tongue to-day, Henderson, I think.”

Henderson, delighted at having gained her little victory, did not abuse it by petulance, but said,

“Mrs. Lygon said that you had a headache, Madame, so I did not care to speak.”

“Headache! had I a headache?” said Bertha, in her vacant way, and fixing her eyes on the window, yet not looking through it. “Oh! I dare say I had, but it has gone off.”

“Mrs. Lygon was looking very pale aud ill . Madame.”

“Was she? I did not observe it, Henderson. Bring the braids lower down.”

“I’ll make you answer more feelingly than that, Madame,” thought Henderson, as she disarranged her work, and flattened out a braid into a new shape. “But it was not to be wondered at, Madame,” she said, aloud.

“No, perhaps not.”

“I mean, Madame, that when I got into the garden, I saw a certain person part from Mrs. Lygon?”

“What!” said Bertha, suddenly turning. The gesture snatched her hair from the hands of Henderson, to the detriment of the pending operation, but without causing the least impatient expression upon the face of the lady’s-maid—on the contrary, she looked pleased.

“He had been speaking to her.”

“And how did they seem—I mean were they quarrelling—at high words?”

Perhaps it was only into the mind of a person like Henderson that such a thought could have passed, as then darted across that curious repertory.

“Oh, dear, no, Madame.”

“They seemed on good terms?”

“The best, Madame.”

“What do you mean by the best?”

“He was smiling, Madame, as he spoke—of course I could not hear what he said, but he seemed very much pleased at something Mrs. Lygon was saying, and he kissed his hand.”

His hand!” repeated Bertha, hastily.

“Madame?” replied Henderson, who had heard perfectly what her mistress said.

“You say that he kissed his hand as he went away.”

“No, Madame, he did not go away then.”

“Not until they saw you coming?”

“Yes, Madame. Then I suppose Mrs. Lygon desired him to go, but I was too far off to hear her.”

There came a flush over Bertha’s fair face. The lady’s-maid of course observed it—interpreted it, no doubt, in her own way, and no doubt wrongly, but she was not one of those who are content to allow any riddle to remain without a reading.

“Henderson,” said Bertha, after a pause, “Mrs. Lygon has had a good deal of conversation with you upon certain matters—she has told me so.”

Mary Henderson could see here no cue for reply.

“Don’t you hear what I say to you?” said her mistress, impatiently.

“Certainly, Madame.”

“Well, I preferred that she should speak direct to you, because my sister is a woman of business, and two are better than three in business matters. But everything that concerns her concerns me equally; you quite understand that?”

“Quite, Madame.”

“You say that she sent me no message.”

“If she had, Madame, I should have delivered it at once,” said Henderson, rather pertly. “Madame has not found that I neglect to deliver messages, I hope.”

The rebuke that should have followed such a speech to one’s mistress was not given. Both mistress and servant well knew why. The latter, however, if not the first to feel ashamed of the situation, was the first to express herself so.

“I beg your pardon, Madame, I am sure. I did not mean to say that, and I ought not to have said it, but knowing that it was very important for you to hear anything Mrs. Lygon had to send, I felt hurt that you should think me capable of neglecting. But Mrs. Lygon had no message to send, only I think—but perhaps I have no business to think, leastways not to talk.”

“We both trust you, as you know,” said Bertha, covering her retreat with a piece of unreal dignity, which, of course, did not for a second deceive her attendant.

“And I hope I am trustworthy, Madame. Mrs. Lygon is good enough to think so, Madame.”

“And you know what I think, Henderson. What were you going to say?”

“Madame was saying that Mrs. Lygon had talked to me a good deal. I hope that it was quite right in me to listen to her. Being your sister, Madame, I supposed that it must be quite right, but if I have made a mistake, I hope you will overlook it, as I had no intention to offend, quite the contrary.”

Perfectly well as Mrs. Urquhart knew this to be said only for the purpose of provocation, or, at the best, as a means of discharging the speaker’s ill-humour, she made the gentlest reply:—

“I wished you to obey my sister as you would obey myself.”

“And I was too happy to do it, Madame; not in regard of being turned over from one mistress to another, which is not what I understood was in my place and my duty, but quite the contrary, but because Mrs. Lygon is a lady every inch of her, and if she is proud, which I am not saying she is not, a lady without pride is not the lady for me, and she knows her place and station, and I know mine. But if I might speak, Madame——

The permission did not seem exactly needful, but Bertha gave it.

“Well, then, Madame, I think it is right for me to say that it would be a pity if any bad feelings, if you will excuse the word, should grow up between two ladies who are sisters.”

“Bad feelings, Henderson!”

“Yes, Madame, that is my word, and it might be out of my place to look in a lady’s face when she is reading another lady’s letter, but as I could not help looking in Mrs. Lygon’s face, my eyes told me that something was going wrong.”

“My note appeared to displease my sister?”

“Quite that, Madame.”

“But she had no right to be displeased at it,” said Bertha, in a reproachful tone. “How could I help what happened?”

“No, Madame, only I thought it right to let you know.”

“She shall go and see her, now then,” was the girl’s muttered speech, as she was rectifying the orbit of a wreath which had been favourably noticed by Mr. Urquhart, and which his affectionate wife had therefore desired her servant to select from her well-stocked wreathery.

“Of course it was right to let me know, but I can do nothing. Mrs. Lygon is going back to England, and I will write to her when she gets there. In the meantime she must get over her displeasure.”

“Yes, Madame, and though Mr. Adair is a very bad man, he is no fool, and I dare say that he will give her the best advice.”

“What has Mrs. Lygon to do with taking advice from him?”

“I am only a servant, Madame, and it is not for me to know more than I am told.”

“After what has happened in this house, Henderson,” said Bertha, angrily, and surprised out of her ordinary tone of almost deference towards one who knew so much, “it is ridiculous in you to speak in that manner. There, I did not mean to speak unkindly, but you ought not to provoke me—you would not speak in that way to Mrs. Lygon.”

“I don’t think Mrs. Lygon would fly out at me, Madame, when I was only trying to speak for her good in my humble way.”

“Well, well, speak for my good. I know you mean it. What made you say that about Mr. Adair giving advice to my sister?”

“I suppose, Madame, that they had made friends, they seemed to be upon such good terms in the garden, and when I left Mrs. Lygon she walked off in the path which he had taken, so I thought that she might be going to show him your letter.”

“Absurd!”

“Very likely, Madame, and you must know best. It was only my guess.”

“Why, she hates him.”

“I do, Madame, with all my heart and soul and mind and strength, and hope to be forgiven for saying my Catechism backwards like a witch; but what a lady may do is not for me to say. Only they seemed very good friends, and I think that Mrs. Lygon went after him, when she had read your letter, which, as I said, made her angry. When we are angry, Madame, it stands to reason that we like to make a confidence to somebody.”

“But not to people we hate,” urged Bertha.

“But I have heard, Madame, that the easiest time to make up a quarrel with one person is when we are just beginning a quarrel with another.”

“You don’t know what you are talking about,” said Mrs. Urquhart, impatiently. “Mrs. Lygon can have no friendship with that person, and she goes back to England directly.”

“No, Madame, I think not.”

“But I tell you that it is so. Mr. Urquhart advised her to do so, and I wrote her the same.”

“Everybody does not always take advice, Madame, more’s the pity! Mrs. Lygon is not going back to England, quite the contrary.”

“How do you know?”

“I have no right to know anybody’s secrets except my own, Madame, but if things are told me I can’t help hearing them, and it has come to my knowledge that Mrs. Lygon has taken a lodging in Versailles, Madame.”

“It cannot be.”

“Well, Madame, perhaps not,” said Henderson, wilfully miscomprehending, “and perhaps Mr. Adair has taken it for her, which would be more becoming than a lady’s having to search about in a foreign town for a place for herself.”

“How did you hear this, Henderson? through Silvain, I suppose?”

“If it was through him, Madame, it is not the less true. He is not in the habit of speaking the thing which is not the truth, Madame.”

“And did he tell you where Mrs. Lygon had taken a lodging?”

“No, he did not, Madame,” said Henderson, who was quite above the ambition of deserving the kind of praise she had just assigned to her lover.

“Find out for me, then, Henderson, as quickly as you possibly can,” said Bertha. “I shall not wear that dress again,” she added, in order to prevent any further petulance from her domineering menial.

“Oh, Madame!” said Henderson, with a curtsey of real gratitude. And, indeed, it was a dress which her mistress had no business to give away, but, when one pays black mail, the best way is to pay it as handsomely and cheerfully as if it were a subscription to a charity, and going to be advertised.

CHAPTER XXXVIII.

About the appointed hour, Ernest Adair presented himself at the house of his friend, M. Silvain. The latter was superintending the closing of the neat little shop, and he expressed much pleasure at the punctuality of Adair, and con- |ducted him into a small room, well known to the latter, and in the rear of the establishment. This apartment was Silvain’s pride and joy, and in the hope that it would one day be honoured by becoming the home of Madame Silvain, née Henderson, the affectionate perfumer had done his best to adorn it, and render it worthy such a distinction. The alcove, in which was M. Silvain’s bed, was shut off with pretty rose-coloured curtains, festooned with divers carefully chosen flowers which, in the mind of the enamoured owner, symbolised love, truth, and beauty, though it must be revealed that he had hopelessly failed in an attempt to make Mademoiselle’s matter-of-fact nature recognise the poetical value of the device. An elegant clock, of curious contrivance, showed the figure of Pleasure, who was trying to conceal the Hours with her scanty drapery, whence one hour, that of the time then passing, always peeped forth, and M. Silvain’s whispered hope that his exertions to make all Mademoiselle’s hours those of pleasure, had been more fortunate than his floral poetry; and had elicited a small slap on the cheek, and a request from his mistress that he would not talk such ridiculous nonsense. A variety of highly-coloured prints, selected with due regard to the extreme propriety of the British character, hung upon the walls, and there were two or three charming little mirrors, with china Cupids and nymphs inviting the beholder to look into the glass they surrounded. Need it be said that the eternal artificial flowers, in vases, were there under their crystal covers, or that a lamp, with a shade covered with the most unobjectionable diablerie, stood upon a gilded bracket? The apartment would not hold much furniture, but what there was had been chosen with taste. The small carpet was of English manufacture, and rather vulgar and flaring, but the homage was in its parentage, not its beauty, as M. Silvain had also explained to Matilde. Altogether the room was as dainty as the lover could make it, and its contiguity to the perfumery in the shop filled it with a composite and delectable aroma, and completed its bower-like character.

The appearance of the only occupant of the pretty room was scarcely in keeping with its attractions. This was a coarsely built man, with a face reddened, it might be, by constant exposure to sun and wind, and whose ear-rings were not seen to much advantage amid the mass of long, black hair that tangled around his head. The expression of his features was not exactly ferocious, but it was stern and forbidding, and a smile which disclosed an array of formidably strong white teeth did not extend itself to his keen dark eyes. His hands were red and muscular, and a coloured shirt, secured at the throat by a ribbon and ring, was surmounted by no collar, and showed a powerful bull neck, one that might have belonged to a gladiator of the old days. The guest’s figure was broad, and, as far as could be seen, for he did not rise from his lounging position on a low chair, he appeared to be under the middle height, a disadvantage apparently more than compensated for in his large and powerful limbs. Coarsely, rather than carelessly dressed, it would have been hard to assign him a profession, though perhaps his general bearing, and some mystic signs that had been traced with gunpowder on the back of his hands, might suggest the impression that he had some connection with sea-service.

“This is my friend, Cesar Haureau,” said Silvain, as they entered. “This, my friend Cesar, is Monsieur Adair, an Englishman, and now you have only to become friends for life.”

The process by which the two visitors to M. Silvain initiated the amiable effort suggested by their host was perhaps but slightly in accordance with the affectionate sentiment. Their keen eyes instantly met, and each attempted a searching estimate of his new acquaintance. M. Cesar Haureau uttered a salutation, of which the most that can be said is that it was as cordial as the brief nod that accompanied it, and Adair, taking little pains to repress a curl of his lip, muttered something about the excess of his happiness, deposited himself in a couch on the opposite corner of the room from that in which his new friend for life was seated, and kindled his cigarette without further speech. The action seemed to hint a similar course to M. Haureau, who drew of a tin case a short black pipe, and in a few moments there was little reason to complain of the effeminate presence of perfumery in that desecrated bower.

M. Silvain made no complaint, but produced a bottle of cognac, and the usual adjuncts, shouted an order or two to his servant, and closing the door, sat down at the table, between his guests.

It is difficult to be silent, whether you are sulky or not, when a lively Frenchman resolves that you shall speak, and is not content with being the sole orator of a party; and although at first neither Adair nor the stranger seemed to evince the least inclination to sociability, M. Silvain’s determined exertions gradually acted as a solvent, and he dexterously entangled first the one and then the other in conversation with himself, finally managing to link them together in a discussion which they approached reluctantly, but in which they at length engaged with some spirit. A few exchanges of the courtesies of the table aided to thaw the guests of M. Silvain, and in half an hour the three were as good friends as tobacco, brandy, and unrighteous talk can make three men, of whom no two would care one farthing if the third were taken out of the group and incontinently hanged. Indeed, such réunions are held by some folks to be pleasanter and healthier than society in which the interlocutors stoop to the weakness of feeling friendly interest in one another, and bore themselves to convince, to advise, or to sympathise.

It might not be exactly profitable to relate the matter of their talk, but those who have had the advantage of joining in such debates—it is false to say that they are sometimes held nearer Pall Mall than is Versailles—will not have much difficulty in comprehending the staple of the discussion. There is one topic which never fails to supply ample theme on such occasions. There are men, of the class that loves such meetings, who have had the good fortune to meet with women in every way worthy of such biographers, and to have obtained, in the course of life, a large amount of anecdotal information bearing upon the general habits, or individual peculiarities, of that portion of the gentler creation. In France, that department of natural history is extensively cultivated, and upon this occasion the two Frenchmen, each in his way, vindicated the honour of his country by parading the results of much observation, and much original and acquired knowledge in regard to the other sex, but it would be doing Ernest Adair an injustice, and making a conventional sacrifice to popular prejudice, were it inferred that for every sly jest from M. Silvain, and every coarse story from M. Haureau, Mr. Adair was not quite prepared with repayment, or that his higher education did not enable him charmingly to vary his immoralities with the additional flavour of a profanity which was Voltairean in everything except wit. Could Matilde have had a reporter in that room but for ten minutes, she would never have again spoken to its owner, and yet he was far the least communicative of the party. How happy ought Englishwomen to be in the thought that those to whom they have given their pure hearts, never, when the wine goes round, or the club smoking-room is merry at midnight, approach discussions, or introduce anecdotes, which only befit profligate Frenchmen, or Englishmen like Mr. Ernest Adair!

But conversation, be it never so curiously flavoured, palls after a time; and unless, as in the Scandinavian theory of the destiny of the world, the end of all things is to be Silence, some new excitement must be found. M. Silvain was not a Scandinavian, and he produced cards. Not caring to take part in the game himself, he found in his duty as a host a graceful excuse for abstaining; and having set his friends at the table, and provided them with ample store of stimulant, he promised them supper, and departed to prepare it.

M. Haureau and Mr. Adair had cemented the new friendship that was to last for life by a lavish interchange of the frankest communications on subjects of the nature that has been indicated; but the confidence which is implied by revelations of one’s affairs of the heart, and one’s views of theology, does not invariably extend itself into similar trustfulness in regard to mundane matters. The keen glance that marked the introduction of the two friends had been exchanged, with increased earnestness, as they drew near to the table, and while they were performing the prefatory operations with the cards. These have been unkindly called the Devil’s picture-books; but had a sketching imp been seated between the curtains of that alcove, he would have probably enriched his patron’s portrait-gallery with the aid of some recollections of the faces of those who were handling the picture-books, and were striving by sidelong and stealthy looks to ascertain the principle on which the play was to be conducted.

Before cutting, Adair filled himself a glass of cognac, and tossed it off to the health of his antagonist. The latter, who had been partaking somewhat more freely of the liquor than Adair, acknowledged the compliment, but did not imitate his friend for life.

“You are quite right to be timid and sober,” said Adair. “I am a terrible player. Keep your eye on me.”

“I shall do that,” replied M. Haureau, almost rudely, looking his man straight in the face, and bringing down his cards on the table with a noise never heard where gentlemen cheat one another.

“Spare our friend’s furniture,” said Ernest, with a sneer, “unless you intend to present him with your winnings.”

“They will not be much,” replied the other, “according to what I hear.”

“Of my play?” asked Adair, gaily.

“Of your means, on the contrary,” said M. Haureau, with a coarse laugh. “But we won’t ruin you, if we can help it.”

“How good you are!” said Ernest Adair, blandly. And with these amiable preludes they got to work.

They played slowly at first, afterwards more rapidly, for each had perceived, from indications well known to the professors of the art, that any vulgar cheating would be instantly detected by his friend. And they played in a vicious silence.

“Well, I have not hurt you much, M. the Englishman,” said Haureau, after about an hour had passed. Ernest, in fact, was a slight winner.

“Not in my pocket,” replied Adair. “But your nervousness and vigilance are not complimentary. I thought that you sailors had more dash.”

“Who told you I was a sailor?” demanded Haureau, fiercely.

“I can smell the tar on your hands from where I sit,” replied Adair. “But, as you would say, that proves nothing—at least it would prove nothing in England.”

“What do you mean?”

“Nothing. Only that in England the same odour is often found in hands that never handled a rope—except to pick it to pieces.”

He, in his turn, looked steadily at his friend for life, but whether the full insolence of the speech was not comprehended by the latter, or whether his self-command was considerable, he only replied,

“Are you afraid to go on?”

“No, but it is hardly worth while, for such stakes. I wish Silvain would bring us some supper.”

“Play away, and perhaps you’ll be rich enough to dine to-morrow better than I suppose you did to-day.”

Adair smiled, and proposed to treble the stakes.

“Oh, if that will suit your finances, it will suit mine,” said Haureau, rattling money in his pocket.

“If I am unfortunate, my dear friend Silvain will be delighted to help me,” said Adair.

“I make no doubt of it,” said Haureau, drily. And they played again, and the sketching imp might have noticed, with admiration, Adair’s distended nostril and the rapid manipulations of his cards. His antagonist, on the contrary, seemed to take the work more easily, and once or twice refreshed himself at the cognac bottle.

When they next stopped, Adair was a considerable winner. He counted and pouched the gold, looking pleasantly at Haureau.

“I shall dine well to-morrow,” said Ernest.

“I hope so,” said his companion. “But I must have my revenge.”

“The sentiment is unworthy of a Christian,” said Adair, yawning, and rising. “Where the devil is that Silvain and his supper?” And he was going to open the door, when M. Haureau laid a hand of iron on his arm.

“Sit down,” he said, pressing Adair back towards his seat. “I’ll have my revenge, I tell you.”

And strong as was Adair, he found that he was no match for the Frenchman. He yielded to the ungentle suasion, and resumed his seat.

“Luck is against you,” he said. “Don’t blame me, if I double my winnings.”

“That depends,” said Haureau, significantly. “Do not play too fast.”

Ernest Adair’s eyes shone savagely, but he did not answer. He took another glass of brandy, and then, seizing the cards, shuffled them slowly. Then they got to work for the third time, but not for long. Some ten minutes might have elapsed, and the luck was still with Adair, when, as he was putting a card on the table, Haureau brought his mighty hand down upon the delicate hand of Adair, which the blow seemed actually to flatten on the board.

“Hold it there, and give me the card from your lap,” shouted Haureau, keeping Adair’s hand down, as in a vice.

Ernest uttered a fierce oath, and had there been a candlestick beside him, would have dashed it on the head of the other; but the table was lighted by a small swinging lamp, and the bottle at which he next glanced was just beyond his reach.

“Let go, scoundrel!” he cried.

“You are the scoundrel. That card,” demanded Haureau, in a voice of thunder.

The sketching imp will not, until he returns home, see such a fire as sprang up in the eyes of the infuriated gambler. Maddened with shame, pain, and rage, he started to his feet, and suddenly thrust the disengaged hand into his bosom. The next instant steel glittered, and a small poniard was driven deep into the ponderous arm that fastened him down to the table.

Haureau’s angry roar was answered by the door being thrown open, and by the appearance of a couple of gendarmes. They were accompanied by M. Silvain, and appeared completely to understand the situation.

“I assured them that you were not quarrelling,” said Silvain, with much earnestness, “and that you were the best friends in the world—friends for life, in fact; but there is no making an official understand anything but what he sees.”

What they saw was an exasperated man holding a poniard, and another with a grin of rage and pain trying to staunch the blood that was flowing his wounded arm. In the presence of these facts it was not remarkable that the officers were deaf to argument, or that in five minutes Ernest Adair was on his way to prison.

“You did not tell me he would stab,” said Haureau, reproachfully. “This business is in excess of our bargain.”

“It shall be counted, my best friend,” said Silvain, radiantly. “It shall be counted. But lose no time—hasten to a surgeon.”

And it was with a smiling lip, and with occasional bursts of song, that M. Silvain addressed himself to the work of restoring order in the desecrated bower.