“Why should Miss Martin’s engagement be of such interest to Mr. Davenport?”
Miss Templeton thought for a moment. “Because,” she said at last, “he is in love with her.”
“Are you sure of it?”
“Do you think she cares for him, even as much as that?” and she snapped her fingers.
“I think she may care for him a very great deal some day—she has begun to care for him already!”
“But she would never dream of marrying any one as badly off as Mr. Davenport. He is practically starving.”
“He was—but he’s not now. He’s come into money.” And she explained about the fifty thousand pounds.
“I see!” Lilian Rosenberg said after a prolonged pause, “that accounts for her having just begun to care for him. Supposing there was some one who had been fond of him all along—in the days when he hadn’t a halfpenny to his name, and every one else shunned him!”
“I should feel very sorry for that person,” Miss Templeton said, “but setting aside the sacrifice of his happiness—it would be wrong for him to marry her if his heart was fixed elsewhere.”
“Which you say it is.”
“Which I am sure it is!”
“Well, supposing it is—what does it concern me? Why tell me all this?”
“Because it lies in your power to put an end to the Compact and bring about the catastrophe the Unknown threatened.”
“I think you credit me with rather too much. I do not quite see how I can accomplish all this?”
“But I do,” Miss Templeton said, briskly. “I believe I am right in saying Mr. Kelson is in love with you—that you can make him do pretty well anything you please. Well, all you have to do is to lead him on to propose and insist on his marrying you at once—or at all events before the expiration of the Compact. If you succeed in doing this the Compact will be broken!”
“That may be,” Lilian Rosenberg exclaimed, “but where, pray, should I come in? Why on earth should I marry a man I don’t care a snap for?”
“Why!” Miss Templeton replied, slowly, “why, because by marrying a man you don’t care a snap for, you would save the life of a man—I am quite sure, you care a very great deal for.”
THE END AND “THE BEYOND”
It took Lilian Rosenberg some time to make up her mind.
“It’s extraordinary,” she said to herself, “how fond I am of Shiel. I used to think it an impossibility for me to be really fond of anyone.... The question is, however, am I sufficiently in love with him, to give him up to that soft little cat—Gladys Martin! If it weren’t for this illness—if I could only persuade myself that he isn’t as ill as Miss Whatever-her-name-is—said, I shouldn’t think twice—I should let things be—but as I feel sure he is really ill—dangerously ill—and the only chance of his recovery