Juliet shuddered as she turned away. All the joy of life seemed to have gone from her face.
“You are Mr. Wingrave—the Mr. Wingrave. Oh! I can’t believe it,” she broke off suddenly. “No one could have been so kind, so generous, as you have been to me.”
She looked from one to the other of the two men. Both were silent, but whereas Aynesworth had turned his head away, Wingrave’s position and attitude were unchanged. She moved suddenly over towards him. One hand fell almost caressingly upon his shoulder. She looked eagerly into his face.
“Tell me—that it isn’t all true,” she begged. “Tell me that your kindness to me, at least, was real—that you did not mean it to be for my unhappiness afterwards. Please tell me that. I think if you asked me, if you cared to ask me, that I could forgive everything else.”
“Every vice, save one,” Wingrave murmured, “Nature has lavished upon me. I am a poor liar. It is perfectly true that my object in life has been exactly as Aynesworth has stated it. I may have been more or less successful—Aynesworth can tell you that, too. As regards yourself—”
“Yes?” she exclaimed.
“I congratulate you upon your escape,” Wingrave said. “Aynesworth is right. Association of any sort with me is for your evil!”
She covered her face with her hands. Even his tone was different. She felt that this man was a stranger, and a stranger to be feared. Aynesworth came over to her side and drew her away.
“I have a cart outside,” he said. “I am going to take you to Truro—”
Wingrave heard the gate close after them—he heard the rumble of the cart in the road growing fainter and fainter. He was alone now in the garden, and the darkness was closing around him. He staggered to his feet. His face was back in its old set lines. He was once more at war with the world.
At no time during his career did Wingrave appear before the public more prominently than during the next few months. As London began to fill up again, during the early part of October, he gave many and magnificent entertainments, his name figured in all the great social events, he bought a mansion in Park Lane which had been built for Royalty, and the account of the treasures with which he filled it read like a chapter from some modern Arabian Nights. In the city, he was more hated and dreaded than ever. His transactions, huge and carefully thought out, were for his own aggrandizement only, and left always in their wake ruin and disaster for the less fortunate and weaker speculators. He played for his own hand only, the camaraderie of finance he ignored altogether. In one other respect, too, he occupied a unique position amongst the financial magnates of the moment. All appeals on behalf of charity he steadily ignored. He gave nothing away. His name never figured amongst the hospital