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Ethel May Dell
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 342 pages of information about The Knave of Diamonds.

Nap stooped over her and chafed her icy hands.  He did not look at her or speak.  When Dot came back, he took the glass from her and held it very quietly to the quivering lips.

She drank, responsive to his unspoken insistence, and as she did so, for a single instant she met his eyes.  They were darkly inscrutable and gave her no message of any sort.  She might have been accepting help from a total stranger.

“No more, please!” she whispered, and he took the glass away.

The front door was still open.  He drew it wider, and the evening air blew in across her face.  Somewhere away in the darkness a thrush was warbling softly.  Nap stood against the door and waited.  Dot knelt beside her, holding her hand very tightly.

“I am better,” Anne said at last.  “Forgive me, dear child.  I suppose it has been—­too much for me.”

“My dear, dear Anne!” said Dot impulsively.  “Would you like to come into the drawing-room?  There is tea there.  But of course we will have it here if you prefer it.”

“No,” Anne said.  “No.  We will go to the drawing-room.”

She prepared to rise, and instantly Nap stepped forward.  But he did not offer to touch her.  He only stood ready.

When he saw that she had so far recovered herself as to be able to move with Dot’s assistance, he dropped back.

“I am going, Dot,” he said.  “You will do better without me.  I will look in again later.”

And before Dot could agree or protest he had stepped out into the deepening twilight and was gone.

CHAPTER VIII

THE HEART OF A SAVAGE

It had certainly been a successful afternoon.  Mrs. Errol smiled to herself as she drove back to Baronmead.  Everything had gone well.  Dear Anne had looked lovely, and she for one was thankful that she had discarded her widow’s weeds.  Had not her husband been virtually dead to her for nearly a year?  Besides—­here Mrs. Errol’s thoughts merged into a smile again—­dear Anne was young, not much more than a girl in years.  Doubtless she would marry again ere long.

At this point Mrs. Errol floated happily away upon a voyage of day-dreams that lasted till the car stopped.  So engrossed was she that she did not move for a moment even then.  Not until the door was opened from outside did she bestir herself.  Then, still smiling, she prepared to descend.

But the next instant she checked herself with a violent start that nearly threw her backwards.  The man at the step who stood waiting to assist her was no servant.

“My!” she gasped.  “Is it you, Nap, or your ghost?”

“It’s me,” said Nap.

Very coolly he reached out a hand and helped her to descend.  “We have arrived at the same moment,” he said.  “I’ve just walked across the park.  How are you, alma mater?”

She did not answer him or make response of any sort to his greeting.  She walked up the steps and into the house with leaden feet.  The smile had died utterly from her face.  She looked suddenly old.

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