Now all the sweet spring morning came on apace, and from the fields and little gardens came the breath of flowers. The sky was blue. The languor of springtime pulsed through the veins of those young creatures, those engines of life, of passion and desire. Neither of the two women saw the torn garb of the man before them. They saw but the curve of the strong chest beneath. They heard, and the one heard and felt as keenly as the other, the voice of the young man, musical and rich, touching some deep-seated and vibrating heart-string. So in the merry month of May, with the birds singing in the trees, and the scent of the flowers wafted coolly to their senses, they came on apace to the throng at Sadler’s Wells. There it was that John Law, finding in a pocket a coin that had been overlooked, reached out to a vender and bought a rose. He offered his flower with a deep inclination of the body to the Lady Catharine.
It was at this moment that Mary Connynge first began to hate her friend, the Lady Catharine Knollys.
THE POINT OF HONOR
“Tell me, friend Castleton,” said Pembroke, banteringly, “art still adhering to thy country drink of lamb’s-wool? Methinks burnt ale and toasted apple might better be replaced in thy case by a beaker of stronger waters. You lose, and still you lose.”
“May a plague take it!” cried Castleton. “I’ve had no luck these four days. ’Tis that cursed lap-dog of the duchess. Ugh! I saw it in my dreams last night.”
“Gad! your own fortune in love must be ill enough, Sir Arthur,” said Beau Wilson, as he pushed back his chair during this little lull in the play of the evening.
“And tell me why, Beau?”
“Because of us all who have met here at the Green Lion these last months, not one hath ever had so steady a run of luck. Sure some fairy hath befriended thee. Sept et le va, sept et le va—I’ll hear it in my ears to-night, even as Castleton sees the lap-dog. Man, you play as though you read the pack quite through.”
“Ah, then, you admit that there is some such thing as a talisman. I’ll not deny that I have had one these last three evenings, but I feared to tell ye all, lest I might be waylaid and robbed of my good-luck charm.”
“Tell us, tell us, man, what it is!” cried Castleton. “Sept et le va has not been made in this room before for many a month, yet here thou comest with the run of sept et le va thrice in as many hours.”
“Well, then,” continued Pembroke, still smiling, “I’ll make a small confession. Here is my charm. Salute it!”
He cast on the table the Indian moccasin which had been shown the same party at the Green Lion a few evenings before. Eager hands reached for it.
“Treachery!” cried Castleton. “I bid Du Mesne four pounds for the shoe myself.”