“Of course, it’s innocent!” whispered Drusilla fiercely.
“You know, my dear girl, I—I don’t hate your husband. You may have a feeling that I do, but——”
“I suppose you think that I hate your wife. Well, I don’t! I’m very fond of her.”
“It’s utter nonsense for us to suspect them of—Pray don’t be so upset, Drusilla. It’s all right——”
“If you think I am worrying over your wife’s harmless affair with my husband, you are very much mistaken.”
Deppingham was silent for a long time.
“I don’t sleep at all these night,” he said at last, miserably. She could not feel sorry for him. She could only feel for herself and her sleepless nights. “Drusilla, do—do you think they want to get rid of us? We’re the obstacles, you know. We can’t help it, but we are. Somebody put that pill in my tea to-day. It must have been a servant. It couldn’t have been—er——”
“My husband, sir?”
“No; my wife. You know, Drusilla, she’s not that sort. She has a horror of death and—” he stopped and wiped his brow pathetically.
“If the servants are trying to poison any of us, Lord Deppingham, it is reasonable to suspect that your wife and my husband are the ones they want to dispose of, not you and me. I don’t believe it was poison you found in your tea. But if it was, it was intended for one of the heirs.”
“Well, there’s some consolation in that,” said Deppy, smiling for the first time. “It’s annoying, however, to go about feeling all the time that one is likely to pass away because some stupid ass of an assassin makes a blunder in giving—”
The sharp rattle of firearms in the distance brought a sudden stop to his lugubrious reflections. Five, a dozen—a score of shots were heard. The blood turned cold in the veins of every one in the garden; faces blanched suddenly and all voices were hushed; a form of paralysis seized and held them for a full minute.
Then the voice of Britt below broke harshly upon the tense, still air: “Good God! Look! It is the bungalow!”
A bright glow lighted the dark mountain side, a vivid red painted the trees; the smell of burning wood came down with the breezes. Two or three sporadic shots were borne to the ears of those who looked toward the blazing bungalow.
“They’ve killed Chase!” burst from the stiff lips of Bobby Browne.
“Damn them!” came up from below in Britt’s hoarse voice.
CHASE COMES FROM THE CLOUDS
For many minutes, the watchers in the chateau stared at the burning bungalow, fascinated, petrified. Through the mind of each man ran the sudden, sharp dread that Chase had met death at the hands of his enemies, and yet their stunned sensibilities refused at once to grasp the full horror of the tragedy.