The other letter was from Lady Caroom.
“My dear ‘Mr. Brooks,’
“I want to be the first to tell you of Sybil’s engagement to the Duke of Atherstone, which took place this afternoon. He has been a very persistent suitor, and he is a great favourite, I think, deservedly, with every one. He will, I am sure, make her very happy.
“I understand that you are still in London. You must find this weather very oppressive. Take my advice and don’t overwork yourself. No cause in the world, however good, is worth the sacrifice of one’s health.
“I hope that my news will not distress you. You realized, of course, that your decision to remain known, or rather unknown, as Kingston Brooks, made it at some time or other inevitable, and I hope to see a good deal of you when we return to town, and that you will always believe that I am your most sincere friend,
Brooks laid the two letters down with a curious mixture of sensations. He knew that a very short time ago he might have considered himself brokenhearted, and he knew that as a matter of fact he was nothing of the sort. He answered Lady Caroom’s letter first.
“27, Jermyn street, W.
“Dear lady Caroom,
“It was very kind of you to write to me, and to send me the news of Sybil’s engagement so promptly. I wish her most heartily every happiness. After all, it is the most suitable thing which could have happened.
“You are right in your surmise. After our conversation I realized quite plainly that under my present identity I could not possibly think of Lady Sybil except as a very charming and a very valued friend. I was, therefore, quite prepared for the news which you have sent me.
“I am going for a few days’ golf and sea-bathing into Devonshire, so don’t waste too much sympathy upon me. My best regards to Lady Sybil. Just now I imagine that she is overwhelmed with good wishes, but if she will add mine to the number, I can assure you and her that I offer them most heartily.
“Yours most sincerely,
“P.S.—Have you heard that your friend the Bishop is going to bring a Bill before the House of Lords which is to exterminate me altogether?”
Lady Caroom sighed for a moment as she read the letter, but immediately afterwards her face cleared.
“After all, I think it is best,” she murmured, “and Atherstone is such a dear.”
THE PRINCE OF SINNERS SPEAKS OUT
The bishop sat down amidst a little murmur of applause. He glanced up and saw that his wife had heard his speech, and he noted with satisfaction the long line of reporters, for whose sake he had spoken with such deliberation and with occasional pauses. He felt that his indictment of this new charitable departure had been scathing and logical. He was not altogether displeased to see Brooks himself in the Strangers’ Gallery. That young man would be better able to understand now the mighty power of the Church which he had so wantonly disregarded.