“Now, go away,” she then had said to him. “Go your own way. Drink, dice, game, and waste the talents God hath given you. You have made ruin enough for all of us. I would only that it may not run so far as to another generation.”
So both had kept their promises; and now the two years were done, years spent by Law more manfully than any of his life. His fortune he had gathered together, amounting to more than a million livres. He had sent once more for his brother Will, and thus the two had lived for some time in company in lower Europe, the elder brother still curious as ever in his abstruse theories of banking and finance—theories then new, now outlived in great part, though fit to be called a portion of the great foundation of the commercial system of the world. It was a wiser and soberer and riper John Law, this man who had but recently received a summons from Philippe of Orleans to be present in Paris, for that the king was dying, and that all France, France the bankrupt and distracted, was on the brink of sudden and perhaps fateful change.
With a quick revival of all his Highland superstition, Law hailed now as happy harbinger the fact that, upon his entry into Paris, the city once more of his hopes, he had met in such fashion this lady of his dreams, even at such time as the seal of silence was lifted from his lips. It was no wonder that his eye gleamed, that his voice took on the old vibrant tone, that every gesture, in thought or in spite of thought, assumed the tender deference of the lover.
It was a fair woman, this chance guest of the highway whom he now accosted—bronze-haired, blue-eyed, soft of voice, queenly of mien, gentle, calm and truly lovable. Oh, what waste that those arms should hold nothing, that lips such as those should know no kisses, that eyes like those should never swim in love! What robbery! What crime! And this man, thief of this woman’s life, felt his heart pinch again in the old, sharp anguish of remorse, bitterest because unavailing.
For the Lady Catharine herself there had been also many changes. The death of her brother, the Earl of Banbury, had wrought many shifts in the circumstances of a house apparently pursued by unkind fate. Left practically alone and caring little for the life of London, even after there had worn away the chill of suspicion which followed upon the popular knowledge of her connection with the escape of Law from London, Lady Catharine Knollys turned to a life and world suddenly grown vague and empty. Travel upon the continent with friends, occasional visits to the old family house in England, long sojourns in this or the other city—such had been her life, quiet, sweet, reproachless and unreproaching. For the present she had taken an hotel in the older part of Paris, in connection with her friend, the Countess of Warrington, sometime connected with the embassy of that Lord Stair who was later to act as spy for England in Paris,