“Thank you,” I answered, “it is of no consequence.”
There was a moment’s silence. It seemed to me that the Duke was watching me with peculiar intentness.
“Ray stayed with you late last night,” he remarked.
“Colonel Ray was very kind,” I answered.
“By-the-bye,” he said, “I hear that some stranger lost his life in the storm last night. You found the body, did you not?”
“Yes,” I answered. “There was a great deal of wreckage on the shore this morning.”
The Duke nodded.
“It was no one belonging to the neighbourhood, I understand?” he asked.
“The man was a stranger to all of us,” I answered.
The Duke stood with knitted brows. He seemed on the point of asking me some other question, but apparently he abandoned the idea. He nodded again and rang the bell. I was dismissed.
LADY ANGELA GIVES ME SOME ADVICE
Rowchester was a curious medley of a house, a mixture of farmhouse, mansion, and castle, added to apparently in every generation by men with varying ideas of architecture. The front was low and irregular, and a grey stone terrace ran the entire length, with several rows of steps leading down into the garden. On one of these, as I emerged from the house, Lady Angela was standing talking to a gardener. She turned round at the sound of my footsteps, and came at once towards me.
She was bareheaded, and looked as straight and slim as a dart. I fancied that she could be no more than eighteen, her figure and face were so girlish. The quiet composure of her manner, however, and the subdued yet graceful ease of her movements, were so suggestive of the “great lady,” that it was hard to believe that she was indeed little more than a schoolgirl.
“I hope that you are better, Mr. Ducaine,” she said.
“Thank you, Lady Angela, I have quite recovered,” I answered.
She looked at me critically.
“I can assure you,” she said, “that you look a very different person. You gave us quite a fright last night.”
“I am ashamed to have been so much trouble,” I answered. “Such a thing has never happened to me before.”
“You must take more care of yourself,” she said gravely. “I hope that my father has expressed himself properly about the lecture.”
“His Grace has been very kind,” I answered. “He has promised me the free use of the hall at any time.”
“Of course,” she said. “I hope that you will give your lecture soon. I am looking forward very much to hearing it. This always seems to me such a quaint, fascinating corner of the world that I love to read and hear all that people have to say about it.”
“You are very kind,” I said; “but if you come I am afraid you will be bored. The notes which I have put together are prepared for the comprehension of the village people.”