“Miss Egerton?” asked Arbuthnot, his eyes still blinded by the lights of the room he had left. “Is she here? Oh, is that you?” he said, as he saw the movement of the white dress. “I was sent to look for you,” he said. “They were afraid something was wrong.” He turned to Gordon, as if in explanation of his lover-like solicitude. “It has been rather a hard week, and it has kept one pretty well on the go all the time, and I thought Miss Egerton looked tired at dinner.”
The moment he had spoken, the girl came towards him quickly, and put her arm inside of his, and took his hand.
He looked down at her wonderingly at this show of affection, and then drew her nearer, and said, gently, “You are tired, aren’t you? I came to tell you that Lady Arbuthnot is going. She is waiting for you.”
It struck Gordon, as they stood there, how handsome they were and how well suited. They took a step towards the window, and then the young nobleman turned and looked out at the pretty garden and up at the sky, where the moon was struggling against the glare of the city.
“It is very pretty and peaceful out here,” he said, “is it not? It seems a pity to leave it. Good-night, Gordon, and thank you for your story.” He stopped, with one foot on the threshold, and smiled. “And yet, do you know,” he said, “I cannot help thinking you were guilty of doing just what you accused Phillips of doing. I somehow thought you helped the true story out a little. Now didn’t you? Was it all just as you told it? Or am I wrong?”
“No,” Gordon answered; “you are right. I did change it a little, in one particular.”
“And what was that, may I ask?” said Arbuthnot.
“The man did not die,” Gordon answered.
Arbuthnot gave a quick little sigh of sympathy. “Poor devil!” he said, softly; “poor chap!” He moved his left hand over and touched the hand of the girl, as though to reassure himself of his own good fortune. Then he raised his eyes to Gordon’s with a curious, puzzled look in them. “But then,” he said, doubtfully, “if he is not dead, how did you come to get the chain?”
The girl’s arm within his own moved slightly, and her fingers tightened their hold upon his hand.
“Oh,” said Gordon, indifferently, “it did not mean anything to him, you see, when he found he had lost her, and it could not mean anything to her. It is of no value. It means nothing to any one—except, perhaps, to me.”