She would peep in. Let her see how she would look when they found her. Would they clap a grey wig upon her, or expose her humiliation even in death?
“A-a-a-h!” A long scream tore her lips apart. There, behind the glass, in terrible waxen peace, a gash on her forehead, lay the “Princess,” so uncanny-looking without any wig at all, that she would not have recognised her but for that moment of measurement at the hairdresser’s. She fell sobbing before the cold glass wall of the death-chamber. Ah, God! Her first fear had been right; her brooch had but added to the murderer’s temptation. And she had just traduced this martyred saint to the police.
“Forgive me, ma cherie, forgive me,” she moaned, not even conscious that the attendant was lifting her to her feet with professional interest.
For in that instant everything passed from her but the great yearning for love and reconciliation, and for the first time a grey wig seemed a petty and futile aspiration.
* * * * *
SET TO PARTNERS
“Oh, look, dear, there’s that poor Walter Bassett.”
Amber Roan looked down from the roof of the drag at the crossing restless shuttles, weaving with feminine woof and masculine warp the multi-coloured web of Society in London’s cricket Coliseum.
“Where?” she murmured, her eye wandering over the little tract of sunlit green between the coaches with their rival Eton and Harrow favours. Before Lady Chelmer had time to bend her pink parasol a little more definitely, a thunder of applause turned Amber Roan’s face back towards the wickets, with a piqued expression.
“It’s real mean,” she said. “What have I missed now?”
“Only a good catch,” said the Hon. Tolshunt Darcy, whose eyes had never faltered from her face.
“My, that’s just the one thing I’ve been dying for,” she pouted self-mockingly.
“Poor Walter Bassett,” Lady Chelmer repeated. “I knew his mother.”
“Where?” Amber asked again.
“In Huntingdonshire, before the property went to Algy—”
“No, no, Lady Chelmer; I mean, where is poor Walter Whatsaname now?”
“Why, right here,” said Lady Chelmer, involuntarily borrowing from the vocabulary of her young American protegee.
“Walter Bassett!” said the Hon. Tolshunt, languidly. “Isn’t that the chap that’s always getting chucked out of Parliament?”
“But his name doesn’t sound Irish?” queried Amber.
“What are you talking about, Amber!” cried Lady Chelmer. “Why, he comes of a good old Huntingdon family. If he had been his own elder brother, he’d have got in long ago.”
“Oh, you mean he never gets into Parliament,” said Amber.
“Serve him right. I believe he’s one of those independent nuisances,” said the old Marquis of Woodham. “How is one ever to govern the country, if every man is a party unto himself?” He said “one,” but only out of modesty; for having once accepted a minor post in a Ministry that the Premier in posse had not succeeded in forming, he had retained a Cabinet air ever since.