The Knave of Diamonds eBook

Ethel May Dell
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 461 pages of information about The Knave of Diamonds.

Of Nap during those days of silence she saw nothing whatever.  He had risen from his brother’s death-bed with a face of stony aloofness, and had gone swiftly out, she knew not whither.  Since that moment she had scarcely seen him.  He spent his time out of the house, somewhere away in the woods she believed, out of reach of any human observation, not even returning at night.  Once only in the early morning she saw him cross the stretch of lawn in front of the lake and enter by a side door.  But her glimpse of him was of the briefest.  She did not see his face.

Upon Bertie devolved all the duties of the head of the household, but his mother was ready at every turn to help him.  She was more to him during those few days than she had ever been before.  Capper also, remaining for the funeral, placed himself at his disposal and did much to lighten the burden.

Capper indeed helped everyone, and Anne always remembered with gratitude a few moments that she had alone with him on the evening before the funeral, when he laid a fatherly hand upon her shoulder to say:  “My dear, I don’t know if you’re fretting any, but you’ve no cause to fret.  I know now that it couldn’t have been otherwise.  If you’d been his wife you couldn’t have kept him.”

She thanked him with a look.  She believed that Capper understood, and she was glad that it should be so.  She fancied also that his opinion regarding Nap had undergone a change, but she hesitated to touch upon the subject, and the moment passed.

Up to the last minute she was doubtful as to whether Nap would attend his brother’s funeral.  She herself went because Mrs. Errol desired to go.  She walked with Capper immediately behind Bertie and his mother.  Neither of them seemed to expect Nap, or even to think of him.  His movements were always sudden and generally unaccountable.  But she knew that his absence would cause comment in the neighbourhood, and though she also knew that Nap would care nothing for that, she earnestly hoped that he would not give occasion for it.

Nevertheless the procession started without him, and she had almost ceased to hope when he suddenly appeared from nowhere as it seemed to her, and walked on her other side.

She heard Capper give a grunt, whether of approval or otherwise she did not know, but not a word was said.  She glanced once at Nap, but his face was sphinx-like, utterly unresponsive.  He stared straight ahead, with eyes that never varied, at the coffin that was being borne upon men’s shoulders to its quiet resting-place in the village churchyard, and throughout the journey thither his expression remained unaltered.

At the gate Bertie suddenly turned and motioned him forward, and they entered the church together.  Later, by the open grave, Anne saw that Bertie was leaning on Nap’s shoulder, while his mother stood apart with her face to the sky; and she knew that the feud between them had been laid at last and for ever by the man who had ruled supreme in the hearts of all who knew him.

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The Knave of Diamonds from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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