Meanwhile Edward Cossey and Mr. Quest, who were walking up the garden, had separated, Mr. Quest going to the right across the lawn to pick up a glove which had dropped upon the grass, while Edward Cossey slowly sauntered towards them. When he was about nine paces off he too halted and, stooping a little, looked abstractedly at a white Japanese chrysanthemum which was still in bloom. Mrs. Quest turned, as the Colonel thought, to put the gun back against the wall. He would have offered to take it from her but at the moment both his hands were occupied in extracting one of the “painters” from a snipe. The next thing he was aware of was a loud explosion, followed by an exclamation or rather a cry from Mrs. Quest. He dropped the snipe and looked up, just in time to see the gun, which had leapt from her hands with the recoil, strike against the wall of the house and fall to the ground. Instantly, whether by instinct or by chance he never knew, he glanced towards the place where Edward Cossey stood, and saw that his face was streaming with blood and that his right arm hung helpless by his side. Even as he looked, he saw him put his uninjured hand to his head, and, without a word or a sound, sink down on the gravel path.
For a second there was silence, and the blue smoke from the gun hung heavily upon the damp autumn air. In the midst of it stood Belle Quest like one transfixed, her lips apart, her blue eyes opened wide, and the stamp of terror—or was it guilt?—upon her pallid face.
All this he saw in a flash, and then ran to the bleeding heap upon the gravel.
He reached it almost simultaneously with Mr. Quest, and together they turned the body over. But still Belle stood there enveloped in the heavy smoke.
Presently, however, her trance left her and she ran up, flung herself upon her knees, and looked at her former lover, whose face and head were now a mass of blood.
“He is dead,” she wailed; “he is dead, and I have killed him! Oh, Edward! Edward!”
Mr. Quest turned on her savagely; so savagely that one might almost have thought he feared lest in her agony she should say something further.
“Stop that,” he said, seizing her arm, “and go for the doctor, for if he is not dead he will soon bleed to death.”
With an effort she rose, put her hand to her forehead, and then ran like the wind down the garden and through the little door.
HAROLD TAKES THE NEWS
Mr. Quest and Harold bore the bleeding man—whether he was senseless or dead they knew not—into the house and laid him on the sofa. Then, having despatched a servant to seek a second doctor in case the one already gone for was out, they set to work to cut the clothes from his neck and arm, and do what they could, and that was little enough, towards staunching the bleeding. It soon, however, became evident