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BELLA-DEMONIA., Issue 7982, 10 August 1889, Supplement
[Bv Selina Dolako.]
CHAPTER IV. A GAME OF ECAKTG.
It was broken by the sound of a boyish voice exclaiming behind them ; “Hullo, Goddard ! you back again? I heard my governor say you were going to Afghanistan. Is it true ? I wish I could go with you.” Charlie Middleton had just entered the room.
“I hope it’s true, replied Goddard, pleasantly. “ I think so. Are you going into the service ? ”
“No. The mater always begins to cry when anyone says ‘ soldier,’ and a fellow can’t make his mother cry, can ho ’—beastly bad form. Where’s my beastly sister ? She's always in the way when one doesn’t want her. The other day I was talking to Mrs Ashton, and —well, catch Kitty giving a fellow a chance!— Not she. Deuced fine woman, Mrs Dashton, ain’t she ? I say, has sho got any Mr Dashton ? ”
“ The memory of man runneth not to the contrary,” quoted Goddard, a quaint look coming into his eyes, “You take my advice, Charlie, and give Mrs Dashton a wide berth.”
“ Well, I think a good many people are a good deal too hard on her. She’s a woman not easily understood. Now, I do understand her,” said Charlie, with the superiority of his seventeen years.
“Come and talk to your May Queen, Charlie,” called Kitty from the door of the billiard room at this point. “Oh you! vulgar beggar,'’ ejaculated Charlie, coloring helplessly. “There’s a sister for a man to have ! ”
“Cometo its May Queen, mother’s darling,” reiterated Kitty, laughing herself into the room. “ You didn’t know Charlie was his mother’s darling, did you ? His mother ought to have heard him calling Mrs Dashton the May Queen,” At this point Charlie Middleton’s overtaxed forbearance became too much for him; he made a wild rush for his escaping sister which took them both out of the room.
“What a good girl that is,” said Lady Arlingford, “ in spite of her wild tongue ! I don’t know what I should do without her."
“Is it true that she’s to marry Dick Saville?”
“ Yes ; they were made for each other; but I shall miss her sadly. She is always ready with a cheery word to dispel the very worst attack of blues. My life would be much worse without her.” “Worse?”
“ I —l meant—l meant to say I don’t make friends quickly ; you know I am not what the French call ‘ expansive,’ and as one gets older ” Goddard had been watching her color come and go as she strove to retrieve her slip of tho tongue, and now he interrupted her gravely. “Alice,” said he, "what does all this mean ? You are not like your old self. We were boy and girl together for as long as we can remember; friendship and affection like ours do not fade with tho years that pass us by—no, dear—and my affection for you tells me more than I dreaded to hear. I have kept silent long enough—too long, it maybe. Vague rumors have reached mo, which I have not heeded, thinking that you would speak if there was aught to say. Tell me, what is your trouble ? ’’ “ Trouble ? Why what an alarmist you are ! ”
“That is no answer. Look here, Alice; I am going away to-night, possibly for months, and I must como straight to the point. We will speak plainly. It is no use pretending not to know what the world says of Arlingford. The world is not always —or often—right; but what is Mrs Bradley Dashton doing hero ? why do you admit her?”
“ I—my dear Aubyn, you know very little of Jack Arlingford, to ask me such a question. He invites his own friends, and Mrs Dashton is one of them. Let us talk of something else.” “ No, we will talk of nothing else, I want to hear something of your life since your marriage. In all your letters you have been strangely reticent on this subject. Lots of gossip, but not a word of yourself. I believe I am the only man whose relationship to you gives him a right to question your husband.”
“ A right! My clear boy, you are so impetuous. If I do not complain, why should you ? Why insist on pursuing an unpleasant subject ? Do you not see 1 am content ? I made a mistake, that’s all. ’ “That’s all! When I heard of your marriage—l was in Calcutta at the time—l wondered how your puritanical mother’s consent had been won. Everybody know Jack Arlingford’s past. It would not have been telling tales out of school, in his case, and I wished that at that time I could have been in London. When I came home soon after, you seemed happy, and—and—l think I must have been a fool not to look deeper into my old playfellow’s heart." “ And if there was no heart to search '! ”
“Ah! but how you are changed! You will not complain, you arc too brave, and I was wrong to ask what you desire should remain unasked. Forgive me; I’m a blundering soldier; but remember, dear, I’m always your friend, and if you can ever break the ice that binds your confidence, count on me. Count on me, dear, to tho last.”
For an instant Lady Arlingford’s lips trembled; then, breaking down, she hid her face in her hands.
“Oh, why has God so punished me?” she murmured. “ I thought I was stronger.” “ Now I have made you cry ! Don’t give way,” said Goddard, helplessly. “ What have I said ?”
“ Not you—not you,” answered the woman. “ I thought I was hardened ; but —if you only knew what my life has been,” “ Won’t you tell me ? Perhaps you think things are worse than they really are.” “ Think! There is nothing worse than my life. God never condemned a creature to misery more deep than mine. But come ! forget what I have said. Don’t be frightened ; you see lam unstrung. I am not ill, but I think it is good t > unburden my heart; it is not so hard to confide in you. But I had made up my mind never to speak of my trouble; I have no patience with women who have but one idea of relief—the divorce court. I would sooner die than show the world my sorrow.” “ You may carry that reticence too far. I would stake my life you are not to blame.” “You might hold me blameless. You know me, have known me all my life. But can you say to the world, ‘ Here is a girl, brought up by a good simple mother in the simple faith of marry, love, and obey your husband—an honest, uninteresting creed that thousands of women live up to. This girl is married to “a man of the world.” She is full of belief in the holy bond ; her illusions are unbroken, and her faith is supreme. One by one they snap, as all in her finds no response in him. .She fades and withers. The world asks “ What is his crime?” It seeks a crime punishable by law, as if the atmosphere of bis presence were not crime enough ! ’ Oh, the curse of our false, worldly society, which demands position at any coat, which admits a man with any past, nor inquires further than his title! ‘Her ladyship’ makes up for all shortcomings. Of this is the world created by Fashion, but it is not the world created by God.” “Poorgirl! poor girl! what can I say? How can I advise you ? ”
“There is no advice I could take—for the child’s sake. My poor little girl would be the worst sufferer. How can I brand the father without branding the child ? For her sake I will endure; but it is almost beyond endurance, I have told you so much that I may as well tell you the last infamy. 1 missed my pearl necklace some clays ago. The same'evening, that woman, who was going to the theatre with us, was standing in front of that glass as I came into the room. As she saw me she hastily unclasped something from her neck. My heart stood still ; I cannot tell why, but I am convinced she had my necklace ! ” “ Yon do not think she stole it! ” “ Not for a moment. He gave it to her.”
“ I cannot believe that any man, no matter how bad, could be so lost to shame as to offer any woman such an insult! ” In the excitement under which they both labored, neither had heard a slight move-
ment beyond the curtains of the billiard room. Unperceived by them, Mrs Dashton had been about to enter the room, when the instinct of her class made her listen. She was eagerly drinking in the whole conversation.
“I am not mistaken,” resumed the countess. “My shame comes to mo a thousand times overaslspeakof it. How have I endured that w’oman’a presence so long I do not know. Do you think because I look passionless that I do not feel, that I cannot see, the scarce concealed sneers of the women, the open, half-proffered pity of the men around me '! 1 have borne it all till now ; but the end has come, and if my suspicion about the necklace should prove correct ” “ Yes, yes,” interrupted Goddard, eagerly, “ sometimes a momentary impulse may determine what has been a long and weary struggle; and should such an impulse come to you, do not hesitate to command me. There is nothing I would not sacrifice for you ! ” “ Boooh ! ”
“Goodness ! how you startled me ! ” The speakers were Kitty Middleton and Mrs Dashton. The former had come running in through the billiard room, and had seized the latter round the waist as sho came.
“I’ll lay an even tenner,” said the girl, cheerily, as they entered together, “that Mrs Dashtou’s been listening. You know the proverb ? How do you come out, Mrs Dashton ? ” , “Kitty, you’re too bad!” expostulated Lady Ailiagfunl. “I hope Mrs Dashton will excuse you.” “Of course she will,” returned Kitty, “ I’ve got a capital story to tell her while we put our hair straight and powder our noses. It’s mildly improper. Come along, The men arc coming in.” And before Mrs Dashton could say a word, she had been whisked out of the room again. At this moment there entered from the dining room, laughing and talking together, Lord Arlingford, Major Carteret, and Mr Cmcinnatus Q. Briggs. “Ah, Goddard! glad to see you again,” said his lordship, shaking Goddard by the hand. “ Sorry you were detained. Major Carteret, Captain Goddard—Mr Briggs. Mr Briggs will he ’glad to ask yon some questions about Berlin that I couldn’t answer. I know you can. Ho is doing Europe, and I tell him no one is better able than yon to give him the information he seeks.” “Only too happy,” replied Goddard, bowing. “ I fancy I knew a brother of yours, Mr Briggs. He was painting at Leipsic—Horace I think his name was. Am I right ? ” “ Perfectly,” replied Briggs, “He often spoke of you, and he gave me a letter of introduction which your absence from London has prevented my using.” “I need not say, command me. lam, unfortunately, obliged to leave town to-night on urgent business ; hut I hope to ho hack in about a fortnight. Come and have a chat then and toll mo what I can do.” “ Thank you. I shall come with pleasure.” Mr Cincinnatns Q. Briggs was a most disappointing American—that is, from the English point of view of Kitty Middleton. His clcar-cut face was innocent of goatee, his clothes, though of Gothamite origin, fitted him with a precision worthy of Saville row or Conduit street, his full deep voice was guiltless of the least suspicion of twang, he neither hazarded “guesses’ ou subjects under discussion nor spent his time in vain “ calculations” concerning the affairs of life. He never ‘beckoned,’ nor did he “enthuse.” He ate with nf- k in the regulation manner, and, whilst justly proud of the Yellowstone Park and tho Yosernite Valley, did not dismiss Vesuvius with tho reflection that his country boasted a waterfall that could extinguish it in two minutes. In fact, instead of being an American gentleman, ho was a gentlemanly American ; and Kitty Middleton, who watched to sea him put his feet on tho table and wave a handkerchief embroidered with the stars and stripes, was disappointed and annoyed. As he turned to Lady Arlingford, the master of the house remarked to Goddard :
“You go to-uight, I understand. Things seem pretty lively at the Foreign (Hike. ‘ What’s to lie the end of it all?’ is the only question one hears nowadays, and no one seems able to answer it. By the way,” continued ho, lowering hie voice, "Mrs Dashton tells me you knew her iu India.” " Yes ; most of our fellows can claim that —honor. I scarcely expected to meet her here—or in the same house as any man’s Wifi',.” The words were spoken with bitter emphasis, and the speaker turned on his heel, to be immediately tackled by Charlie Middleton, who had entered with the men, Arlingford looked after him and muttered between his teeth : “ You shall pay for that, you puppy ! ” Mrs Dashton, entering the room at that moment, caught Ids expression, and came up to him with a mischievous smile on her face. “ Tt-tt-tt! ” said she. “ Has he been scolded by his wife’s friend—naughty boy ? Goddard’s affeetkn for Alice is really quite touching, isn’t it ? ” “ Don’t play the fool ! ” was the courteous rejoinder. “ What did Schouloff say ? Can he let us have the money ? ” “ Yc-es.” “ What does he want for it ? ” “ More than I can do.” “Nonsense! you must do anything ho says. I must have it.” “ He wants Goddard detained to-night. He must be delayed at any cost. This is the price of the loan.” “Oh !” “ Exactly. What do you think about it ? ” “ How can he be detained ? ” “ I think I know a way, if you will consent.” "If! when you know I must have the ten thousand by Monday or bo posted ? ” “ Very well. Let mo wear the pearl necklace to-night, I brought it with mo.” “Tiie necklace? Why—how ?” “ Ask no questions, ies or no ? ” “ No—not that.” “ All right; manage for yourself.” “ Hang it, Emily ! don’t be angry with me.” “ Then don’t be a fool! ” “ I’ll—l’ll decide in ten minutes.” And Arlingford turned and walked into tho billiard room.
Left alone, Mrs Dashton’a face was crossed by a look of triumph. “ So, my lady,” said she to herself, “ pure and passionless as you pretend to be, you can feel! So can I, when lam unwelcome. You have sneered at me long enough. What did you say ? If your suspicions about the necklace were true, your patience would not last. We shall sec! and you, Captain Goddard, will have an opportunity of making your sacrifice for friendship.” Then she joined the group at the fireplace. “ That’s right; go on—pitch into me,” Kitty was saying from her position on the floor by Lady Arlingford’s side, “but all my escapades are knocked into fits by BellaDemonia’s. Mrs Dashton has been telling me about her. Who knows her ? ”
“By reputation, everybody,” said Major Carteret. “ Everybody but the Wild Westerner,’ put in Briggs ; and then, as they looked at him for an explanation—it being prior to Buffalo Bill’s visit to London—he went on : “Miss Middleton told me I should have appeared in my native costume—that is to says, beads, feathers, wampum and a tomahawk—and wanted to know if we hunted buffaloes on Broadway and Wall st<eet> I revenged myself by treating her to the dear old stand-by al out bears] being the indigenous animals of those jungles. She didn’t know what I meant.” “ Didn’t I! ” said Kitty indignantly. “ Hut I knew you were making an old stock joke, c,r I’d have said I was Irish, jud to get in the bull.” “|Mr Briggs,” said Lady Arlingford, as the American was about to reply, “as an old friend of Kitty’s let me tell you it is hopeless trying to ‘sit on’ her. She will not bo sat upon.” “I am patient,” replied Bi " But may I not know more of Miss Middleton’s latest shock, Bella-Doinonia ? ” “ I did not suppose,” said Carteret, “that there was a man who had not heard of her. To tell all her adventures would fill another ‘Arabian Nights.’ Strange that her name should be unknown to you ? No woman is more talked about, and personally less known; she is more abused and praised than any living creature; I never heard her name spoken in any society that her
defenders were not as earnest as her abusers One thing is sure enough, she must be a very remarkably intelligent woman, for she certainly puzzles both friends and enemies alike.”
“ Did you never meet her ? ” asked Briggs. “No. I believe sho has never been known to recc-ivo anyone on simply social grounds. Politics are her sphere, and it is remarkable that sho never makes a mistake. A man may bo admitted to her circle who has apparently no more value as a politician than I have as a milliner, but it always turns out that ho was the one man who was vitally necessary to this or that plot. Volumes could bo with stories about her.” “But the stories <’> about her are generally untrue,” put in 1 Dashtm. “I know her well. She is o > of the most generous creatures imaginable. If anyone in distress wants anything, oft' they go to Bella Demoiiia.”
As she said this, Arlingford entered the room unpcrceivecl, accompanied by Prince Sehouloff', and remained in conversation with him in the background. The prince’s tall figure was clad in evening dress, the black-and-red-ribbon of St. Vladimir across his wai-tooat, and the jewel of the order hanging below his cravat, “ She must be rich, to live as she does,” resumed Briggs. “Fabulously,” replied Mrs Dashton. “I must confess, I envy her. A woman with unlimited money and brains is rare enough to excite that feeling in anyone. But wc are boring Lady Arlingford horribly. You do iu>t caro to hoar of interesting people, do you, Lady Arlingford?” “ When they are not reputable—no,” replied her ladyship, quietly. “I am sorry to say I cannot so far live up to the times as to admit those people to be interesting.” “ What do you say, Captain Goddard said Mrs Dashton, “ Don't you think BellaDcinonia interesting? ” “ Yes, and no,” replied he. “My principal feeling is one of pity—of sorrow. I cannot forget that she is a woman, and a woman who lights against the world must at best he the loser.”
“ The sentiment I should expect to find expressed by so brave a soldier as Captain Goddard,” said Prince Schouloff, “whom,” ho continued, as Lady Arlingford presented them, “I have long hoped to meet, and am charmed to know.” The two men shook hands. “ May I add to your information,” pursued the Priuce. “Much has been said, and much lias been written, of Bclla-Demonia. She is relentless in her hate as she is gentle in her love. Revenge is her life—revenge for her wrongs. Onoe hear her speak of them, and the name she is known by suits her to perfection.” “But what is her real name?” asked Briggs. “No one knows,” replied Carteret. “ Or no one who knows tells,” put in Mrs Dashton. “ Bells-ikmonia never lets anyone know what she wishes to remain unknown,” concluded Prince Sohouloll'; then, turning to Goddard, he added, “ I have just come from the Duke’s, where I heard of your probable promotion—from General Saville, Let me congratulate you.” “ Thanks,” “ Will you call on me to-movrow ? ” “ Very sorry I can’t. I leave London to-night.” “ Wei), it is a pleasure deferred, A soldier is always the slave of his duty. If I were a woman I would never have a soldier lover. I am sorry we cannot improve our acquaintance now; however, call on me when you return—or iu Berlin. I shall bo there in a week, and I will present you to BcllaDemonia. Goddard 1 owed and rejoined the others. Thu Prince looked after him. “ Perhaps you will not go,” said ho to liiy.self; and, taking a telegram from his pocket, he read, “ ‘ The despatches carried by Captain Goddard contain ultimatum; tiieir detention imy crative. Explanation and further instruction by messenger,’ Well, well, life ia uncertain; the young mau thinks he will start to-uight on hia mission—- / think ho will not. Which of us ii right, I wonder?” And he seated himself by a bookcase and began idly turning over tho leaves of an album. “I say, Mrs Dashton,” cried Charlie Middleton to that lady, who was conversing with Lord Arlingford, “ you promised to play me a game of billiards. Come now, while they rc not looking, and we’ll study the game.” “ Will yon he very good if I do? ” “ Awfully ! ’’ replied the boy, and started for the billiard room, “ Will you spare me to this bad child ! ” sad she to Arlingford, as she rose. “I wioli I were the bad child !” returned he, and as he spoke he took the hand that hung by her side and pressed it. The action was not lost upon Lady Arlingford, who happened to look in their direction, and Goddard, noticing her change of color, followed the direction of her eyes and grasped the situation. Lord Arlingford walked over to Prince Schouloff. “ I am afraid, Prince,” said he, “ that you will find it dull. “ Oh, no,” replied Schouloff, looking him straight in the eyes. “We shall all be much amused, I hope, presently. When one has an object to servo, all tilings are amusing. Er —Captain Goddard must soon go, So will I.” And ho returned to the study of the album. , ; What did Emily mean, I wonder ? ” reflected Arlingford, recalled to actualities by the prince s words and manner. “ Can it bo that if she wears the necklace Goddard will resent the affront and delay his departure? Ah?”—and a new light broke in upon him—“ She’s right, as usual. We shall see ; we shall see.” “ It seems as though when you go,” Lady Arlingford was saying to Goddard, “ I shall bo at the mercy of that creature.” “Cheer up, little woman,” he answered. “ Don’t give way. Pretend you don’t care : it’s the worst punishment you could inflict.” “ Como and see a catastrophe,” broke in Kitty. “ I’m going to spoil sport. I want to show you how Mrs Dashton teaches Charlie billiards. Nice game, billiards. Listen ! not a sound. .Follow me.” She started towards the billiard room, accompanied by Carteret and Briggs, and Lady Arlingford pursued her to prevent the accomplishment of her vile purpose. Goddard was following, when Arlingford, who had been watching for the opportunity, stopped him, “Look here, Goddard,” said he, “you are an old friend of Alice’s. I wish you’d advise her to be more civil to Mrs Dashton,” “Yon must do your own dirty work,” replied Goddard, hotly : “ and, my God, sir, that’s not the advice I would give your wife, even if I had less regard for her than I have ! You ought to send that woman away.”
“Really, Goddard,” answered Arlingford, haughtily, “ upon my word I don’t understand you.” “Yes, you do! and you make my posi tion doubly difficult by evading the question.”
“ By what right do you dan question ray actions?”
“ By the rights of blood and friendship !” “ For my wife ! I fail to recognise the right. Now look here : I’ve been patient long enough. I’m sorry you’re in love with my wife ” “In love ! Stop ” “ But she in my wife,” continued Arlingford, imperturbably, “and I forbid you to see her any more. Do you hear ?” “You hound!” cried Goddard, “if I didn’t respect her feelings, I’d thrash you in your own house.” Then, as the others, ottracted by his tone, re-entered from the billiard room, he added : “ For her sake, no scene now ; but later on you and I will settle.”
“ What is the matter?” said Lady Arlingford, anxiously, as she came between them, “You are quarrelling ?” “No, no,” said Goddard; “only argu-
ing.” “A trifle warmly, perhaps,” added Arlingford. “We were disputing a point at dearth. We will settle it now, if you like. Goddard. I’ll bet you one hundred pounds I’m right,” “So be it; we shall see.”
Kitty Middleton, who saw that something was amiss, busied herself with Charlie getting the card table ready, whilst Arlingford rapidly sorted out the unnecessary cards from the pack and threw them on a side table. Throughout the above scene Prince Schouloff had sat apparently absorbed in the album he had taken up, Arlingford
and Goddard seated themselves at the table and began to play, Carteret and Briggs were standing in the bow-window, discussing American finance, Lady Arlingford was alone by the fire, and Kitty sat at the piano close beside her, running her fingers lightly over the keys, As tho game began, Mrs Dashton strolled in from the billiard room. As she did so, the Prince looked at his watch. It was eleven. In a quarter of an hour Goddard must be gone, Mrs Dashton came to Arlingford’s side, and whispered : “ Well? Tho Prince grows impatient. Am I to aid you ?” “Wear tiro necklace!” said he, desper ately. “ The despatches will be detained: you will get the money,” she whispered, and adding to herself as she left tho room, “Goddard will be ruined, and ‘ Dashey ’ will have scored one !”
As she went out, Prince Sehouloff strolled over to Lady Arlingford’s side. “ Lady Arlingford,” said he, “I do not see you much in society now, and you look pale. I hope you are not suffering? You should go abroad for a time. Lord Arlingford must bring you to Nice, and you, Miss Middleton, must come also.” “ Kitty will not bo Miss Middleton for long, prince,” answered Lady Arlingford for her.
“ Then I shall look forward to welcoming Mr and Mrs Saville wherever I may be,” answered Sehouloff, with a bow to Kitty,
At this moment Mrs Dashton entered the room, wearing a row of magnificent pearls round her neck. Lady Arlingford, catching sight of thorn, started violently, and Prince Sehouloff said, in the quiet careful tone that alone betrayed the fact that he was a foreigner: “ What beautiful pearls you have, Mrs Dashton! Excuse me, but I had not noticed them before.”
“Yes,” answered she, carelessly, “they are pretty. A present.” Goddard turned his head, and his eyes fell on to the necklace. Lady Arlingford was steadying herself with difficulty against her chair.
“You cowardly blackguard!” he hissed across the table at Arlingford. “ You arc my wife’s champion, it would seem,” sneered lie. “ Defend her !” “Come and see the game, Prince,” said Mrs Dashton, moving over to the card table, where she was joined by Mr Briggs and Major Carteret. Meanwhile Lady Arlingford had crossed to the table where the useless cards had been thrown down, and taking up one of them—a two of clubs—wrote on it hurriedly in pencil: “ I will not slay another hour in this home. Igo with you ” Mrs Dashton had watched her closely. “Much on the game?” she asked, carelessly. “For so much excitement,” said the prince, “ (here should be at least ten thousand poundi!” Lady Arlingford came over to Goddard’s side. There she dropped her handkerchief, and as she stooped to pick it up slipped the card on which she hud written into Goddard’s lap. Ho took it stealthily, unconscious that Mrs Dushtou had followed every movement. Suddenly the latter stooped and whispered in Arlingford’s car, “ What is that you have hidden?” cries ho to Goddard. “ I—l do not understand,” stammered Goddard. “ You have a card there, and I demand that it be shown ! ” “ I cannot show it!” “I did not suppose you could,” sneered Arlingford, slipping a card from his hand unobserved into that of Mrs Dashton, and flinging the rest on the table. “ You sec I do not hold the Icing." “What do you mean?” cried Goddard, growing deathly pale. “ 1 mean that I do not play cards with a man who cheats!” howled Arlingford. Goddard started to his feet. “ My God !” he exclaimed, pressing his hands to his head. As he rose an elderly military-looking man had entered the room. It was General Savillc, “ Wei), how are you all ?” he exclaimed, comprehensively. “Aubyn, I bring you good news, my boy. To-night’s mission will be your last. I have gained my point with the Duke, and lie has confirmed your staT appointmont.” Then, observing for the first time the dead silence and the dismayed faces round him he continued ; “What is the matter? Why don’t you speak, some of you ? ” “I repeat,” said Alingford, with deadly distinctness, “your methods are not such as to permit gentlemen to play cards with you, and I must desire that you leave this house at once.” “Arlingford,” cried General Saville, “ bow dare you ! You must be mad. I demand an explanation.” “ Captain Goddard holds a card that was not dealt to him, which he refuses to show, and which, I assert, is the king of club?.” “Good heavens ! Deny it, Aubyn; tell him he lies !” “ Mrs Dashton and Prince Schouloff also saw him take a card from his lap,” contiuued Arlingford, calmly. “ Answer!” thundered the general, growing purple. “ It is a lie,” said Goddard, quietly. “ Then show the card.” said Arlingford. “ Yea; show the card,” cried the General. “I cannot.” A dead silence fell in the room. It was broken by the sound of a fall. Unobserved, during the above scene Lady Arlingford had been struggling to apeak. An iron grip seemed to be upon her throat, and she struggled in vain. As Goddard spoke she fell senseless to the floor.
“ Captain Goddard,” said General Saville, stiflly, “ it will be obvious to you that there is only one course for you to pursue. I will save’ you the trouble of resigning your commission, and your diplomatic post is vacant. You will take your name from your Club lists to-morrow, and—God ! boy,” concluded the old gentleman, all but breaking down, “ I’d sooner you’d been a murderer than a black-leg.” General Saville turned, and, seeing Schouloff, went towards him, Goddard looked round him a moment, and, seeing oven Kitty’s face averted as she bent over Lady Arlingford, exclaimed : “ Ruined ! God help me !” And he rushed from the room. * # # * *
An hour later, in the little Mayfair drawing room Prince Schouloff paid over to Mrs Bradley Dashton LIO,OOO in Bank of England notes. Not a word was said on either side. (To be continued.)
BELLA-DEMONIA., Issue 7982, 10 August 1889, Supplement
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