“It is not here,” said Sybilla. “Let us go further down——”
She paused at a sudden gesture of her companion.
“Hush!” he said. “There is some one talking in the Beech Walk.”
Both paused and stood stock still. Borne unmistakably on the night wind, voices came to them—the soft voice of a woman, the deeper tones of a man.
“One of the maids, I dare say,” Sybilla said, carelessly, “holding tryst with her lover.”
“No,” said the valet; “not one of the maids would set foot hinside this walk hafter nightfall for a kingdom! They say it’s ’aunted. Come forward a little, and let’s see if we can’t ’ave a look at the talkers. Whoever it is, he’s hup to no good, I’ll be bound!”
Very softly, stealing on tiptoe, the twain approached the entrance of the avenue. The watery moonlight breaking through a rift in the clouds, shone out for an instant above the trees, and showed them a man and a woman, standing face to face, earnestly talking. Mr. Edwards barely repressed a cry of consternation.
“Good Lord!” he gasped; “it’s my lady!”
“Hush!” cried Sybilla. “Who is the man?”
As if some inward prescience told him they were there, the man lifted his hat at that very instant, and plainly showed his face.
“The Hamerican, by Jove!” gasped the horrified valet. Sybilla Silver’s eyes blazed like coals of fire, and the demoniac smile, that made her brilliant beauty hideous, gleamed on her lips.
She grasped the man’s arm with slender fingers of iron, and stood gloating over the scene.
Not one word could they hear—the distance was too great—but they could see my lady’s passionate gestures; they could see the white hands clasp and cover her face; they could see her wildly excited, even in that dim light. And once they saw her take from her pocket her purse, and pour a handful of shining sovereigns into Mr. Parmalee’s extended hand.
Nearly an hour they had stood, petrified gazers, when they were aroused as by a thunder-clap. A horse came galloping furiously up the avenue, as only one rider ever galloped there. Sybilla Silver just repressed a scream of exultation—no more.
“It is Sir Everard Kingsland!” she cried, in a whisper of fierce delight, “in time to catch his sick wife in the Beech Walk with the man he hates!”
MY LADY’S SECRET.
It was quite dark before prudent Mr. Parmalee, notwithstanding Sybilla’s assurance that the baronet was away from home, ventured within the great entrance gates of the park. He was not, as he said himself, a coward altogether; but he had a lively recollection of the pummeling he had already received, and a wholesome dread of the scientific hitting of this strong-fisted young aristocrat. When he did venture, his coat-collar was so pulled up that recognition was next to impossible.