Lord Chelsford came to the bottom of the stairs and called me by name. I heard Lady Angela’s little cry of surprise. I was downstairs in a moment, and she came straight into my arms. Her dear tear-stained little face buried itself upon my shoulder.
“I am so thankful, so thankful that you are here,” she murmured.
And all the while, with the face of a man forced into the presence of tragedy, Lord Chelsford was reading that letter. When he had finished his hands were shaking and his face was grey. He moved over to the fireplace, and, without a moment’s hesitation, he thrust the letter into the flames. Not content with that, he stood over it, poker in hand, and beat the ashes into powder. Then he turned to the door.
“Take care of Angela, Ducaine,” he exclaimed, and hurried out.
But Lady Angela had taken alarm. She hastened after him, dragging me with her. Lord Cheisford was past middle age, but he was running along the cliff path like a boy. We followed. Lady Angela would have passed him, but I held her back. She did not speak a word. Some vague prescience of the truth even then, I think, had dawned upon her.
We must have gone a mile before we came in sight of him. He was strolling along, only dimly visible in the gathering twilight, still apparently smoking, and with the air of a man taking a leisurely promenade. He was toiling up the side of the highest cliff in the neighbourhood, and once we saw him turn seaward and take off his hat as though enjoying the breeze. Just as he neared the summit he looked round. Lord Chelsford waved his hand and shouted.
“Rowchester,” he cried. “Hi! Wait for me.”
The Duke waved his hand as though in salute, and turned apparently with the object of coming to meet us. But at that moment, without any apparent cause, he lurched over towards the cliff side, and we saw him fall. Lady Angela’s cry of frenzied horror was the most awful thing I had ever heard. Lord Chelsford took her into his arms.
“Climb down, Ducaine,” he gasped. “I’m done!”
I found the Duke on the shingles, curiously unmangled. He had the appearance of a man who had found death restful.
THE THEORIES OF A NOVELIST
The novelist smiled. He had been buttonholed by a very great man, which pleased him. He raised his voice a little. There were others standing around. He fancied himself already the centre of the group. He forgot the greatness of the great man.
“In common with many other people, my dear Marquis,” he said, “you labour under a great mistake. Human character is governed by as exact laws as the physical world. Give me a man’s characteristics, and I will undertake to tell you exactly how he will act under any given circumstances. It is a question of mathematics. We all carry with us, inherited or acquired, a certain amount of resistance to evil