The Betrayal eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 243 pages of information about The Betrayal.

“How are you, Mr. Ducaine?” he said.  “Awful hour to be out of bed, isn’t it? and all for the slaying of a few fat and innocent birds.  Let me see, wasn’t I at Magdalen with you?”

“I came up in your last year,” I reminded him.

“Ah, yes, I remember,” he drawled.  “Terrible close worker you were, too.  Are you breakfasting down stairs, sir?”

“I think that I had better,” the Duke said.  “I suppose you brought some men with you?”

“Half a dozen,” Lord Blenavon answered, “including his Royal Highness.”

The Duke thrust all his letters into his drawer, and locked them up with a little exclamation of relief.

“I will come down with you,” he said.  “Mr. Ducaine, you will join us.”

I would have excused myself, for indeed I was weary, and the thought of a bath and rest at home was more attractive.  But the Duke had a way of expressing his wishes in a manner which it was scarcely possible to mistake, and I gathered that he desired me to accept his invitation.  We all descended the stairs together.

CHAPTER XI

HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS

The long dining-room was almost filled with a troop of guests who had arrived on the previous day.  Most of the men were gathered round the huge sideboard, on which was a formidable array of silver-covered hot-water dishes.  Places were laid along the flower-decked table for thirty or forty.  I stood apart for a few moments whilst the Duke was greeting some of his guests.  Ray, who was sitting alone, motioned me to a place by him.

“Come and sit here, Ducaine,” he said; “that is,” he added, with a sudden sarcastic gleam in his dark eyes, “unless you still have what the novelists call an unconquerable antipathy to me.  I don’t want to rob you of your appetite.”

“I did not expect to see you down here again so soon, Colonel Ray,” I answered gravely.  “I congratulate you upon your nerves.”

Ray laughed softly to himself.

“You would have me go shuddering past the fatal spot, I suppose, with shaking knees and averted head, eh?  On the contrary, I have been down on the sands for more than an hour this morning, and have returned with an excellent appetite.”

I looked at him curiously.

“I saw you returning,” I said.  “Your boots looked as though you had been wading in the wet sand.  You were not there without a purpose.”

“I was not,” he admitted.  “I seldom do anything without a purpose.”

For a moment he abandoned the subject.  He proceeded calmly with his breakfast, and addressed a few remarks to a man across the table, a man with short cropped hair and beard, and a shooting dress of sombre black.

“You are quite right,” he said, turning towards me suddenly.  “I had a purpose in going there.  I thought that the gentleman whose untimely fate has enlisted your sympathies might have dropped something which would have been useful to me.”

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The Betrayal from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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