He locked the door behind him and in the wake of his men presently wended his way down the tortuous staircase.
Once more the measured tramp was heard reverberating through the house, the cry of “Attention!” of “Quick march!” echoed beneath the passage and the tumble-down archway, and anon the last of these ominous sounds died away down the dismal street in the direction of the river.
And in one of the attics at the top of the now silent and lonely house in Bath Street—lately the scene of so much gayety and joy, of such turmoil of passions and intensity of despair—two figures, a man and a woman, crouched together in a dark corner, listening for the last dying echo of that measured tramp.
IN THE MEANWHILE
The news of the police raid on a secret gambling club in London, together with the fracas which it entailed, had of necessity reached even as far as sea-girt Thanet. Squire Boatfield had been the first to hear of it; he spread the news as fast as he could, for he was overfond of gossip, and Dame Harrison over at St. Lawrence had lent him able assistance.
Sir Marmaduke had, of course, the fullest details concerning the affair, for he himself owned to having been present in the very house where the disturbance had occurred. He was not averse to his neighbors knowing that he was a frequenter of those exclusive and smart gambling clubs, which were avowedly the resort of the most elegant cavaliers of the day, and his account of some of the events of that memorable night had been as entertaining as it was highly-colored.
He avowed, however, that, disgusted at Richard Lambert’s shameful conduct, he had quitted the place early, some little while before my Lord Protector’s police had made a descent upon the gamblers. As for Mistress de Chavasse, her name was never mentioned in connection with the affair. She had been in London at the time certainly, staying with a friend, who was helping her in the choice of a new gown for the coming autumn.
She returned to Acol Court with her brother-in-law, apparently as horrified as he was at the disgrace which she vowed Richard Lambert had heaped upon them all.
The story of the young man being caught in the very act of cheating at cards lost nothing in the telling. He had been convicted before Judge Parry of obtaining money by lying and other illicit means, had been condemned to fine and imprisonment and as he refused to pay the former—most obstinately declaring that he was penniless—he was made to stand for two hours in the pillory, and was finally dragged through the streets in a rickety cart in full sight of a jeering crowd, sitting with his back to the nag in company of the public hangman, and attired in shameful and humiliating clothes.
What happened to him after undergoing this wonderfully lenient sentence—for many there were who thought he should have been publicly whipped and branded as a cheat—nobody knew or cared.