“I said—intermittent disrespect,” reminded Tregar. “Moreover,” he continued, stroking his beard and selecting his words with the precision of the careful linguist that he was, “this secretary of mine, after an interview of most disconcerting candor, took to the road and a hay-cart in a dudgeon, constituting himself, in a characteristic outburst of suspicion, quixotism, chivalry and protection, a sentinel to whom lack of sleep, the discomforts of a hay-camp—and—er—spying black-and-tans were nothing. I have reason for suspecting that he may have been misrepresented and misjudged—”
“Excellency,” said Philip shortly, “my camp lies yonder. And Mrs. Westfall will doubtless rejoice when her niece’s camp is quiet.”
Diane met the Baron’s glance with a bright flush.
“Excellency,” she said, “I thank you.”
The two men disappeared among the trees.
THE GYPSY BLOOD
It was a curious puzzle which, through the quiet of the afternoon that followed, Diane sought desperately to assemble from the chaos of highly-colored segments which the morning had supplied. There were intervals when she rejected the result, with its maddening gaps and imperfections, with a laugh of utter derision—it was so preposterous! There were quieter intervals when she pieced the impossible segments all together again and stared aghast at the result. No matter how incredulous her attitude, however, when the scattered angles slipped into unity, riveted together by a painful concentration, the result, with its consequent light upon the wooing of Ronador, though more and more startling, was in the main convincing.
Days back in Arcadia Diane remembered the Baron had suavely spoken of his kingdom, and Philip had told her much. There was a mad king without issue upon the throne. There were two brothers of the mad king, each of whom had a son. Theodomir, then, had been the son of the elder, Ronador of the younger. Theodomir had fled at the death of his father, unwilling to take up the regency under a mad king. So Ronador’s father had come to the regency of the kingdom and Ronador himself and his little son had stood in the direct line of succession until the ghost arose from the candlestick and mocked them all. And she—Diane—was the child of Theodomir.
Diane was still dazedly sorting the pieces of the puzzle when the sun set in a red glory beyond the lake, matching the flame of Philip’s fire by which he and the Baron sat in earnest discussion.
The west was faintly yellow, the forest dark, when from the tent to which she had retired at noon, quite distraught and incoherent. Aunt Agatha begged plaintively for a cup of tea.
“Diane,” she said, when the girl herself appeared with it, “I—I can’t forget his face. I—I never shall. Twice now I’ve tried to get up, but I thought of his eyes and the revolver, and my knees folded up. It—it was just so this morning. What with the ringing in my ears—and the dizziness—and his face so dark with anger—and digging my heels in the ground to keep my knees from folding up under me—I—I thought I should go quite mad, quite mad, my dear. He—he meant to kill Mr. Poynter?”