“Yes, I know. But I should like to see.” Father Murray started to raise the cloth, but again Mark stopped him.
“Please do not look, Father.”
The deep sadness in Mark’s voice caused the priest to stare at him with widely opened eyes. A look of fear came into them as he glanced at the covered body. For the first time he seemed afraid, and Saunders drew near to catch him. But he did not fall.
“I think—Mark—that I will look. I can drink of the chalice—if it must be—I am sure I can. Don’t be afraid for me, my friend. Draw the blanket back.”
But Mark could not.
Father Murray pushed him gently aside and lifted the covering reverently and slowly. He dropped it with a faint gasp as the face stood revealed. Then he leaned over the dead girl and searched the features for a full half minute, that seemed an age to Mark. The priest’s lips moved, but Mark caught only a few words: “I thank Thee for sparing me, Lord.”
He caught the end of the blanket and once more covered the dead face. Then he turned and faced Mark and Saunders.
“God rest her. It is not Ruth.”
[Illustration: “God rest her,” Father Murray said after what seemed an age to Mark; “it is not Ruth!”]
Mark stared bewildered. Had the priest’s, mind been affected by the blow, and the subsequent excitement? Father Murray sensed what was going on in Mark’s mind.
“Can’t you trust me, Mark? I know that the likeness is marvelous—”
“Likeness?” gasped Mark. But there was a whole world of hope in his voice.
“Yes, my friend—likeness. I—” the priest hesitated—“I knew her well. It is not Ruth.”
“I AM NOT THE DUCHESS!”
A long, low-built limousine kept passing and repassing the Ministry, and taking excursions to the parks, in an evident effort to kill time. At last, the street being well clear of pedestrians and vehicles, the car drew up in front of the house, the door of which was quickly thrown open. The chauffeur descended and opened the door of the car, but said nothing. A man stepped out backward.
“We have arrived, Your Highness,” he said to someone within. “Will you walk across the path to the door, or will you force us again to be disrespectful in carrying out our orders?”
From within a girl’s voice answered:
“You need not fear; I shall make no outcry.”
“The word of Your Highness is given. It would be painful for us to be disrespectful again. Come.”
The girl who stepped out of the car was unmistakably
Behind her came a raw-boned, muscular woman, and a powerful-looking man.