AN INNOCENT JUDAS.
[By Cbasios Puocxob.] (Continued from Saturday’s Issue.) CELS3*TER XXIT. BELATED TOKTUNE. -You •were a littlo girl in short frocks when I saw you last, Marion," said Coventry Lancaster. “You know who 1 am, don’t youT Your father’s brother.” “My lather often spoke of you," said Marion, as he gripped her hand. “And, of course, your aunt and uncle here told you I was coming home, and how it concerned you?” queried the big man. “Of course, Coventry,” began Mrs Mostytt 5 but he paid no need to her interruption. , , “You know about your fortune? he naked of Marion, and her look of bewilderment told him the truth before Manon answered “No, I’m afraid I don't understand,” Marion said, and wondered at the moment at the tense silence that prevailed as she spoke. “Your name has never been mentioned, to my knowledge, and I had no idea you were coming home. As for a fortune—hut what does all this mean?” She glanced inquiringly from Coventry Lancaster to the Captain, who was tugging agitatedly at his drooping moustache ana glaring oat of the window; at her aunt, who was twisting her plump hands nervously together and gazing at _her in mingled anger and appeal; and at Bernard, who was still seated at the table, staring at pellets of bread which he was rolling between his fingers.
"YHiat does it all mean?” she asked again. Coventry Lancaster shot a glance at Captain Mostyn, and again his bronzed, rugged face wrinkled into a grim smile. “Perhaps Captain Mostyn will explain, Marian,” he remarked, with a note of Irony in his voice. Captain Mostyn swung round upon him instantly, very red and very angry. “You needn’t be so infernally melodramatic, Lancaster,” he almost snarled, “ What the deuce are you trying to insinuate? What does it matter to you?” " Rowland!” interpolated Mrs Mostyn, m warning tones, silencing him with a lignificant glance, and taking command. “We did not tell Marion, simply because wo wished to give her a pleasant surprise,” she said, turning to her half-brother. " Yon need not try to be unpleasant about It, Coventry. Marion herself will tell you that we have entertained her royally, and —and- ——” “And without any ulterior motive?” commented Coventry, as she paused. “Perhaps someone will be good enough to explain what all this means?" interposed Marion, firmly. “Will you please explain. Uncle Coventry?” " Certainly, my dear,” said Coventry Lancaster, calmly seating himself. “ When I was last in England, about eight years ego, I spent some time in Manchester with your father, who was then in poor health and poorer spirits.” "Eight years ago?” said Marion, inquiringly. “I don't remember your visit, uncle. Did I see you!” “Yon were away at a boarding-school at the time,” answered her uncle, shaking his head. “Your mother had died only a few months prior to my visit, and your father, fearing that he had not long to live, was anxious to make some provision for your future. “lie consulted me regarding profitable investments, and I advised him to buy shores in the company —a gold mine—in which I was interested, and in connection with the flotation of which I had come to England. Well, after some discussion, Marion, your father handed me five thousand pounds, to pay for five thousand shares in Bandfontein Deeps, my company, appointed me a sort of trustee, and made me promise to act as your guardian in the event of his death before you came of age.” "So I suppose I am entitled to five thousand pounds 1” exclaimed Marion, in surprised inquiry, “ Bub—but how is t it that Mr Atherley —fa-tlrcr'a lawyer—said nothing to me about this arrangement? How is it that 1 only hear of the money now, eighteen months after my father’s death?” “I do not know why your father did not tell his lawyer of the arrangement, Marion,” answered her uncle. “Perhaps he thought it was sufficient when he instructed hia lawyer to communicate with me in the event of his death. Atherley, the lawyer, certainly did so, hut he sent his letter to an address which I left ten years ago, and it reached me only about three mouths ago, when I was in Northern Rhodesia. “I at once cabled to my lawyers instructing them to find you, and I wrote fully to your aunt here, explaining matters and asking her to communicate your address to my solicitors if she knew it. 1 could nob leave South Africa immediately, or I should have done so, and I did nob expect to get home until next month. However, I managed to get away sooner than I expected, arrived in London yesterday, went at once to my solicitors, and found they could toll me little or nothing further than that Captain and Mrs Mostyn had been to see them on several occasions, so I went on to Manchester and
called oa Mx Atherky. Ho, to my surpriee, informed me that you had been gdopted by your aunt and uncle here, and that nothing had been said by them about there being any money in the case.” “We didn’t think it advisable to say anything to the man about the money,’’ grunted Captain Mostyn, defiantly. “We —we thought he would try to get the affair into his bands, and make outrageous charge*.” “Very considerate, Mostyp,” said Lancaster, gravely. "That, no doubt, was also your reason for refraining from mentioning to my lawyers that you had taken charge of Marion—eh?” “Yes, in a way, Coventry.” It was Mib ilostyp who answered. “ We thought it would be best to take care of Marion for the time lieing, and leave everything until you came home.” “No donbt you were wise,” remarked her half-brother, in the same grave, halfironic tone, and turned again to Marion. “Well, to resume, my dear,” he continued. “The five thousand pounds your father entrusted to my keeping was duly invested in Randfontein Deeps. I deposited the script with my lawyers, and made a will ‘n your favor—that was at your father’s request, lest by some chance if should predecease him. I trust I am making myself quite clear, Marion?" “ Quite,” .=aid kkrion, who was still feeling a little dazed and bewildered. • “Father told mo more than once that ho had made provision for me, but he never explained how, and I concluded that Mr Athexley knew all about it. But when Mr Atherley settled up the eetato there was very Jitle money, and I wondered—l didn't understand why father ” “Naturally,” interposed her uncle. “It waa characteristic of your father, my dear, to forget to give the essential details. His mind was always so full of great schemes that he was apt to forget mundane matters. However, as I have told you, he did provide for you—provided bettor than ho knew, perhaps, for Rand fontefn Deeps turned up trumps and made your five thousand pounds into a fortune.” “Do you mean that the shares are worth more than fivo thousand pounds now!” asked Marion, and Coventry Lancaster laughed. ” Deeps, my dear, are mooted to-day at 7|, which means that shares for which 1 paid £1 each are now worth £7 2s 6d each, and the last dividend was 35 per cent.,’’ ho answered. ‘‘The average dividend for the last 10 years has been 25 per cent.—roughly, £1.250 per annum on your shares—and part of that amount I have reinvested each year on your behalf.” “ Good Lord!” ejaculated Captain Mostyn, involuntarily, and turned away ah”Anasbg, isn't it!” continued Coven* try Lancaster, darting a glance at him »nd turning again to Marion. “I can tell you exactly how you stand, ray dear niece.” He produced a notebook as he •poke and consulted it “ Your Hand* . feabin Degßjfaues at to* day’S jpuotatlon
are worth £35,685; other shares which I have purchased on your behalf out of dividends are worth roughly £B,OOO, and you have £7,750 in cash standing to your credit at the bank—in all you are worth something over £50,000.” “Fifty thousand pounds 1” ejaculated Marion, in a dazed voice. “ Oh, it can't be true!" “ I assure you, my dear, that it is perfectly true, and my lawyers will prove It to you,” said her uncle, smilingly. “ I flatter myself that I can render a good account of my stewardship. To increase , £5,000 to £50,000 in a little less than 15 years is good business, and 1 feel like a —er —like- a fairy godfather. Now, my dear, what do you propose to do?” “Fifty thousand pounds!” said Marion again, as if trying to grasp the significance of the words, and sat down' limply. For a few moments she stared ot her uncle’s grimly smiling face, then her gaze wandered to Bernard, who had been watching her face, and who suddenly resumed his rolling of bread pellets as he caught her eye; to Captain Mostyn, who was very red at the back of the neck, and who was still glowering out of the window and .gnawing viciously at his moustache; and then to Mrs Mostyn, who was making a brave attempt to smile and appear quite at her ease. “ I feel quite sure, Marion dear, that you won’t allow your good fortune to make any difference,” said Mrs Mostyn, as she met Marion’s glance. “ You are not cross with me, are you, darling, for keeping you in the dark and springing such a pleasant surprise on you!” Marion's brain was acting quickly now that the first shock of surprise was over, and in an instant the meaning of it all flashed upon her—the meaning of the dismay which Coventry Lancaster’s unexpected arrival had caused, and Bernard’s obvious embarrassment. A little gust ot passion shook her, and eho rose quickly to her feet, her eyes kindling and her cheeks flushing. “ If you can assure me that it was not because of my fortune that you begged me to make my home here, aunt,” sue said, quickly, but incisively—“if you can assure me that the story you told me was true—l moan about my father having begged you to act as my guardian, and paid you to do so ”
“What’s that?” interrupted Coventry Lancaster, sitting up suddenly and fixing his piercing eyes on his half-sister. “ It is quite true,” said Mrs Mostyn, defiantly, whit© to the lips. “Do you think that I ” “Stuff and nonsense!” ejaculated Lancaster, brusquely. “You know very well that you quarrelled bitterly with Geoff when he went to Manchester, and in your letter to me you wrote that you had neither seen nor spoken to him for nearly 20 years. You may as well admit that it was not until you learned that Marion was an heiress that you were seized with a desire to act as her guardian.” " What the deuce do you mean by insinuating that my wife has told a falsehood?” blared Captain Mcetyn, suddenly wheeling rcund from the window and looking very fierce. “How dare you?” “I have no doubt that the idea woe to persuade Marion to pay your debts,” retorted Coventry Lancaster, with biting emphasis, “but I seem to have arrived in time to spoil the game. I don’t know how you proposed to manage it, Mostyn, but I do not doubt that your plan was ingenious.” “ Get out of rr.y house, you insulting blackguard!” shouted Mostyn, glaring horribly, and flinging out his hand towards the door. “Do you imagine that your mor.ey gives you tho right to insult me with impunity?” He turned to Marion, who was looking somewhat scared now. “Marion, I assure you on my word of honor,” he resumed in altered tones, but Marion held up her hand in protest. “Please don’t sav any more,” she said, rather shakily. “ I have heard enough. Bernard will assure me next that it was not because ho knew of ray fortune that he urged mo to marry him—that it was not because of the money car because Undo
Coventry wa-s coming home in January that he was so eager to have tho marriage before Chrhtmas!” “ Marion—l—l ” Bernard rose, gasping like a fish out of water, his big red hands opening and closing "spasmodically. “You—er—l assure you—oh, hang it all. mater! What the deuce am I to say’ I’m—l'm—burst!” . “ Precisely 1” said Coventry Lancaster, grimly. “ Yon are, as you eo expressively put it, burst! So the idea was that you should rush Marion into a marriage prior to my arrival—eh? Then, as her husband, you might perhaps have reluctantly consented to share the fortune? Selfsacrificing to a degree, young man! But that plan, thanks to my premature arrival, is burst, too. Bernard looked despairingly at his mother, who suddenly turned and rushed from the room, but he did not dare again to meet Marion’s eyes. “Will you leave my house, or must I have you thrown out’” cried Captain Mostjrri again, pointing dramatically to the door. “ Begone!’’ “Delighted,” said Lancaster, calmly “ Marion, my dear, might I suggest that it would he advisable for you to accompany me?- I want you to come with mo to my lawvers, so that we can have everything fixed up in proper form, then afterwards wo can discuss your future. I
hardly think you would be comfortable here now that—er—-there has boon a burst.” “Marion, I warn you ” began Ber nard, in flustered tones, but Mr Lancaster paid not the slightest attention to the interruption. “I have a cab waiting outside, Marion,” he continued. “ Vou can bring a few necessities, and wo can send for your luggage later.” '* I will come,” said Marion, quietly, and went out quickly to don her hat and coat. When one descended the stairs a few minutes later, after having hastily thrown a low things into a handbag, she found Coventry Lancaster waiting in tho hall, hat in hand. Without a word he relieved Marion of hev bag, opened the door, and a few moments later handed her into tho waiting taxicab. "The Savoy Hotel," he called to tho driver, as he stepped in. . . , And there was tho end of Marion's life- at the Cedars. There was a long silence while the. taxicab sped London wards through Kew, then Coventry Lancaster laid his hand on Marion’s arm. '• I am afraid you will have formed rather a poor opinion of your relatives, my dear,” he said, very quietly. “It would seem that I arrived only Just in time —eh? I scanted mischief as soon as I learned that you were staying with the Mostyna, for Captain Mostyn has been living on his wits—and on credit—ever since he gambled away his fortune and his wife’s fortune on the Stock Exchange. It would seem that you came near being victimised.”
“Yes.” Marion’s voice was tremulous as she answered. “Almost lam beginning to lose faith in human nature; almost I begin to believe that there is no truth, or sincerity, or charity, or love in the world. lam so tired of it all!” Her uncle regarded her keenly, marvelling greatly. Hero was a girl of one-and-twenty, who had learned within the last half-hour that she was heiress to a fortune of fifty thousand pounds, at least, talking as if she were a misanthrope. She had beauty, too—Coventry Lancaster had an eye for beauty, and had been greatly attracted by Marion’s appearance at first sight—yes, beauty of a rare type, red-gold hair, grey eyes, regular features, and pure complexion. “What she needs i* sparkle—joy, life, happiness, vivacity—and she would be tho most beautiful woman in London,” he said to himself. Aloud he said : “ Tired of it all at twenty-one! Nonsense, my dear! I am going to set myself tho task of altering your outlook, chasing away those sad lines, and bringing roses to those cheeks. I have brought yon a fortune, Marion, and 1 am going to throw in happiness as overweight.” CHAPTER XXV. “ roBTSAIT 0» A lABT,” **Academy Sunday” Is essentially a society function. Some misguided or unsophisticated people there may be who are under the impression that the object of tha-tunctlonJMft.
the pictures on show, but to the wise folk “Academy Sunday” is simply an excuse for meetings hosts of acquaintances, for wearing, criticising, and admiring tho very latest thing in frocks and hats, and exchanging tho latest tit-bits of scandal. True, one may occasionally catch a glimpse of some of tho pictures when by j chance the crowd parts for a few moments, and now and again one may get wedged in *ba crush facing a picture, and so be compelled to contemplate it until the pressure relaxes again, but that is about nil. Raeburn Chesterton, escorting his fiancee—a tall, dark, handsome girl with aquiline features—had been wandering idly through the rooms, continually raising his hat and bowing to acquaintances, now and again exchanging a few words en passant with friends, and occasionally, when opportunity presented itself, pausing to glance at a picture. “Phew I What a crush!” exclaimed Raeburn, as they reached the main gallery again. “Shall we go and have some tea, Vi?” There was a weary note in his voice which his companion was not slow to notice, and she glanced round at him quickly. “I think I shall go straight home, Raeburn,” she responded. 11 Wo have some people coming this evening, and I want to have a rest before dinner. Let’s go now. You are looking quite worn out, poor thing!” “ I feel a littlo seedy,’ Vi,” admitted Raeburn, pushing Ins hat back from his brow. “ I—er—haven’t been sleeping well, and am out of condition. I wonder if I could cry off this evening?” He was certainly looking far from well, and seemed to have aged considerably during the. short space of five months. The lines round his mouth had deepened, his cheeks were hollow, and he appeared to have lost his youthful buoyancy. He looked, thought Lady Violet suddenly, about as unlike a happy man as one could imagine. “ Why, of course, Raeburn, it isn’t, of any importance, and I cun make excuses for you. You look quite ill.” They had come to a pause in a corner
of the great room, and, as it happened, a little knot of people moved away > at the moment, leaving them a dear view' of one or two pictures which had been hung “on the line.” And Raeburn’s hand went convulsively to his _ brow as he found himself looking straight into tho eyes of Marion Lancaster. Just for a moment lie fancied that he was suffering from delusions, and drew' in his breath sharply, but almost in tho same instant ho realised that he was looking at a portrait—a portrait limned by a. master hand. “What’s wrong, Raeburn?” asked Lady Violet anxiously. She had observed his convulsive start, his sharp intake of breath, and his pallor, and feared that he was going to faint. “Are vou ill? Shall I ?” “ Nothing—nothing !” said Raeburn hastily. "Just a—a surprise.” His face flushed in confusion as he spoke. “ I am quite all right, Vi. Just a moment! I fancy I know tho original of this portrait.” Lady Violet followed his glance and uttered a little exclamation of surprise. “Why, it is Miss Lancaster!” she exclaimed, taking a half step forward, then hastily referring to her catalogue. “ How strange!” she added, looking up when she found the number of the picture. “It merely says ‘ Portrait of a Lady, by Leslie Breakspear.’ I am sure it is Miss Lancaster, and it is a splendid portrait, only she looks so sad. Do you know Miss Lancaster, Raeburn?” “Yes; I used to know her very well.'' Raeburn had completely recovered himself now, and his face betrayed nothing more than interest in the portrait. “ I knew her father very well, too, and often visited him when I was a member for one of the Manchester districts. Yes, that is certainly Miss Lancaster. Where did you meet her!” “Didn’t I tell you? She and her uncle dined with us at Downing street on Friday evening. Her undo is a big South African financier, you know—Coventry Lancaster—owns gold mines, and is enormously rich, hut is quite a delightful man. Yon heard, of course, about Miss Lancaster having inherited £50,000?” “Yes, I read something about it in the newspapers a few months ago,” answered Raeburn, his gaze still fixed on the lovely face with the sorrow-haunted eyes portrayed by Breakspear. “ It was quite a romance,” continued Lady Violet. “ Miss Lancaster and T became quite confidential, and she told me e.ll about it. Her father had ap-
pointed his brother trustee, giving him money to invest, and Miss Lancaster knew nothing about it. She had actually been working as a typist or something, and all the time she was an heiress! You sec, her uncle was somewhere in the wilds of Africa, and didn’t know her father was dead. Then some relatives who knew about the money got hold of her, and tried to jockey her into a marriage with their sou. But Mr Lancaster arrived in time, and the engagement was broken off instantly.” “ Indeed!” Raeburn glanced round at her quickly, and his expression puzzled her. “ When —er —yes, quite a romance, as you say." “She is very beautiful, and so interesting to talk to,” resumed Lady Violet. “ How strange that she never mentioned having met you! She must have known, surely, that we arc engaged ? Perhaps we shall meet her again. She is staying in London for the rest of the season; then she is going to Africa with Mr Lancaster.” “Indeed!” said Raeburn again, after another quick glance at Marion’s portrait. “Khali we- go now, Vi?” “Yes. How silly of me to el-ond chattering when you are feeling unwell! Don’t trouble about—ah! here’s Bobby Bakeman!'’ She turned quickly with a- smile of radiant greeting as a well-groomed, mili-tary-looking young man detached himself suddenly from the crush and made towards them. “ I want you to take me homo, Bobby.” she called, when she had shaken hands. “Raeburn isn’t feeling 'well.” “Delighted, Vi,” said Lord “Bobby” Bateman. “Sorry, Chesterton, old chap,” he added, turning to Raeburn. “You do look dicky. Just you toddle of! home, my boy, and leave Vi to me.” ‘“Thanks, Bateman).” said Raeburn. “You don’t mind? I’ll ’phone you in the morning, Vi." Mechanically ho raised his hat and
moved away, "joining the crowd that was drifting towards the main exit. Ho felt strangely shaken and disturbed, hie head was throbbing, and his brain was in a turmoil. For many weeks he had been trying to convince himself that his love for Marion was dead, and that he had put her out of his thoughts for ever, but the unexpected sight of Breakspear’s ‘ Portrait of a Lady ’ had, in a moment, proved to him that his self-deception was futile, and Lady Violet’s item of news had upset him completely. “On, God! If I had only known!” ho muttered, beneath his breath, as he turned his steps homewarus. “If only 1 had known that day that I went to .Manchester that Marion was the niece of Coventry Lancaster; if only I had had the courage to overrule her objections then and made her mv wife, how different everything would have been! Oh, what in the name of heaven, induced her to betray me? 1 wonder—l wonder if she ever thinks of me?” Head bent, and with hands clasped tightly behind his back, he strode along, thinking, thinking bitterly of the “might have been,” going over in Ids mind all the events of the past year. He recalled Breakspears passionate attack upon him, iha artist’s burning words which had seemed to eear his very soui, recalled his conversation with Mark, and his interview with Marion at the Cedars. “ God alone knows the truth of it all,” he breathed at last. ‘'A3 T know_ is Urnt whatever fortune fate may have in store for me, I shall never again be happy or contented. That face Wffich Breakspear has painted will haunt me as long as X live.” Ho paused abruptly as an idea occurred to him. “I wonder if the picture is (or sale?” he thought. If Marion has not bought it perhaps Breakspear would sell it to mo.” He had almost reached his chambers, but, acting on the impulse of the moment,
“ Albany Studio,?, Chelsea,” lie ordered as he opened the door. “As quick as you can!” He lay back in his seat and resumed his gloomy reverie ns he was_ whirled rapidly westward, and when he alighted at Albany Studios he was in a curiously nervous state. Ho knocked loudly at the door of ' Leslie Breakspear’s studio, however, knocked several times, but failed to elicit any response. “Cut,. 1 suppose," h© muttered, and ascended tho stairs to Mark Sampson’s cliambers—to find Mark alone and busily engaged in toasting muffins for tea. ” Chesterton ! By Jove!” ejaculated Mark, springing up and shaking hands heartily. “Strange—l was just thinking of you, old chap. Sit down. I’ll have tea. ready in a jiffy.” Ho busied himself with the teapot, toasted ■ another muffin, chatting meanwhile, asking questions, and regarding Raeburn covertly. “You’re not looking well, Rae,” ho commented, as he poured out tho tea a few minutes later. “ Been working too hard—eh? You look well, horribly tired.” “ I am horribly tired, Mark,” Raeburn answered, abstractedly stirring his tea, “horribly tired of everything. But ! think it’s my soul —it I have one—that is more tired than my body." “Overwork and insomnia,” commented Mark, laconically. “Drink your tea, old man, and tell me about it afterwards.” “ I really came down to see Breakspear,”
explained Raeburn, pushing bank his cup aftei - a few minutes of silence. “He has a picture in the Academy that I should like to buy, if possible—the ‘Portrait of a Lady.’ ” “What?” Mark’s eyes opened wide, and ho glanced at him sharply. ‘‘bou want—but why?” “ Whv ?" repeated Raeburn. “ I don’t know. 'I am rather afraid to probe my motive. Call it a whim. Perhaps I want to remind myself that I am .a fool.” There was silence for a few seconds; then Mark pushed his chair back from the table ana groped in his pocket for his pipe. “The picture is already sold,” he said, quietly • “To Marion or her uncle, I suppose? “Xo; to me,” Mark answered, and his tanned face flushed. “ I—well—l wanted something to keep, in case—but perhaps you understand. I hinted, to Breakspear how things were, and ho agreed to let mo havo the picture." Raeburn looked at him steaduy and rn silence for a little time, drew a deep breath, and nodded. “I congratulate you, Mark, on your good fortune,” ho said very slowly, and lit a cigarette. “The picture is a masterpiece.” “ 1 agree,” Mark responded ; “ but that, my dear Rao, was hardly your reason for wanting to purchase. We may as well be frank with each other. The truth of the matter is, I suppose, that you arc, still in love with Marion.” “ 1 suppose so,” Raeburn answered, after another long pause, throwing away fTis newly-lighted cigarette, as if he had lost tasto for it. “If you get down to the root of the matter, I suppose that is the true explanation.” “Yet you believe she fooled yon, betrayed your secret, believe her to be heartless—and you are engaged to be married to another woman?” “ All true—that is what makes the situation so ironically grotesque, .Mark. There is just one tiling that niiikes mo doubt—that is Broakspear’s portrait.” “I don’t quite follow you.” “ Breakspear is a man gifted with rare insight—a reader of souls almost—and he has painted Marion as a girl with a secret sorrow, a girl with a broken heart, if you will. Yet you know ehe proved to you and to me that she despised me, and you know, too, that she engaged herself to her cousin a few days after 1 made mv appeal to her." ‘“■Say the day after your engagement to Lady Violet was announced,” remarked Mark, dryly. “ Marion had not the slightest regard for the man to whom she engaged herself, but you had taken pains to demonstrate that you did not care, and she merely retaliated, as it were.” “ How do you know this?” demanded Raeburn. “ Marion has been here,” answered Mark, simply. “■She felt, she said, that some explanation was duo to me, feared that I might foel myself snubbed and affronted. It was your action that forced her to take the step she did —and, incidentally, came near to making her the prey of a fortune-hunter.” “ What do you mean?” asked Raeburn, a little breathlessly. “Do you think she still cares?” “ She did not say so, and I do not say so,” responded Mark. “ I merely relate the facts. But what is it to you, in ' any case ? What if she does care? You are pledged to Lady Violet, who is supposed to bo the cause of your political conversion. Your marriage to her will help you in your career —is part of your plan for your own advancement —and you arc to be married next month. What is it to you, I ask, whether Marion cares or not?’’ His deep voice was very stern as he snapped out the question, and instinctively ho rose from his chair. “ You’ve got to play the game, Chesterton,” ho added, as Raeburn did not at once respond. “ I am going to play the game, Mark,” said Raeburn, with a wan smile and a gesture of infinite weariness. “ All that troubles mo now is to decide what best will constitute playing the game. It Breakspear and you are right, I havo broken Marion’s heart, sacrificed her for the sake of my career. You may be right—you generally are !” Ho got up, moved restlessly to the window and back again, took another cigarette from his case, and absently threw it in the five. “To secure advancement, to explain my change of party, and to help me in my career—aa yon havo said—l have deliberately deceived the daughter of my chief into thinking that I care for her, and wo are to bo married next month.. I have already acknowledged, to my shame, tiiat I am still in Jove with Marion Lancaster, and now comes the grim part of all!”
He paused, unconsciously giving dramatic weight to the words that followed. “ Everything has been sacrificed for the sake of my career, and now suddenly—how it has happened I cannot explain—suddenly I find that my career no longer interests me, that I am sick to death of the wretched grind of party politics, that I have no settled convictions, and that politics seem purposeless. Ambition seems to have died, and I find myself tired of everything. 1 have sacrificed love, honor, honesty—everything—for the sake of something which now suddenly appears worthless! Ironic, isn’t it?” Mark did not answer; indeed, ho found himself completely at a loss for words, and Raeburn, with a queer laugh, continued. “ I have been wondering whether it would be playing the game to put a bullet through my brain. It isn’t fair to Lady Violet, you see, to marry her under false pretences, but it would bo a dastardly thing to tell her now that she has been used merely ns a piece in the game, and that I care nothing for her.” “Raeburn!” exclaimed .Mark, hoarsely, and again Raeburn laughed bitterly. “ It's all right, old chap ; I won't choose the coward’s way out,” he said, steadily. “ I’ve brought it on myself, and I’ve got to see it through. It is my—my punishment—and it may be my salvation. But if old King Heath should come along now he would find me waiting with open arms to welcome him.” (To be continued-!
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AN INNOCENT JUDAS., Evening Star, Issue 15660, 26 November 1914
AN INNOCENT JUDAS. Evening Star, Issue 15660, 26 November 1914
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