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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.

So side by side in silence they went back to the house.

The evening was very still; passing in from the terrace they seemed to enter an enchanted palace wherein nothing stirred.

“He may be asleep,” Nap said.  “Shall I go first?”

She assented without speaking.  Somehow the spell of silence seemed to hold her also.

Tawny Hudson was on guard as usual in the outer room.  He looked up with resentful eyes as they entered, but he said nothing.  The door into his master’s room stood half open.  Nap paused at it a moment to listen.  He turned to Anne, and she fancied just for a second that there was a shade of anxiety on his face.  But it was gone instantly, if indeed it had been there.

“Follow me in a minute,” he said, “if I don’t come back.”

And with that he glided through the narrow space and passed from sight.

A minute later, absolute silence reigning, Anne softly pushed back the door and entered.

She found Nap crouched motionless with outflung arms across the foot of the bed.

And drawing nearer, she saw that Lucas Errol was lying asleep with his face to the sky, all the lines of pain smoothed utterly away, and on his lips that smile which some call the Stamp of Death, and others the shining reflection of the Resurrection Glory which the passing soul has left behind.

CHAPTER XVII

THE TRANSFORMING MAGIC

No clamour of mourning broke the spell of silence that lay upon Baronmead.  Those who wept hid their grief behind closed doors.  But those to whom Lucas was dearest shed the fewest tears.  His mother went about with a calmness of aspect that never faltered.  She and Anne were very close to each other in those days though but few words passed between them.  A hush that was like a benediction brooded upon the silent house.  They could not weep.

Once, standing in the hallowed stillness beside her dead, Mrs. Errol turned to Anne, saying softly:  “The dear Lord knows best, dear.  We wouldn’t call him back.  He wouldn’t want to come.”

And later she told her gently that she had known ever since the operation that the end was near.

“It was in his eyes,” she said.  “I know that look so well.  Dr. Capper knew it too.  And so, I’m sure, did the dear boy himself.  That waiting, far-off look as if the soul were listening, didn’t you see it, dear?  I only wondered that he stayed so long.”

Yes, Anne had seen it.  She knew it now.  Though he had smiled upon her, though he had held her hand, she knew that all human longing had died in Lucas Errol’s soul on the night that he had gone down to the Gate of Death and Nap had drawn him back.  He had slackened his hold upon things earthly that night, and though he had come back a little way, it had been as a spectator only that he lingered, no more as one who took an active part in the drama of mortal life.  His role was played; she realised now that he must have known it, and that he had not wished it otherwise.  He had not died with that kingly smile upon his lips if he had not been content to die.  That was why grief seemed to her impossible.  That was why the peace in which he lay, wrapped tenderly around her tired heart also and gave her rest.

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