“Greta!” gasped Miss Naylor.
Mrs. Decie put up her hand.
“Ah!” she said, “if it is so, we must be very nice to him for Christian’s sake.”
Miss Naylor’s face grew soft.
“Ah, yes!” she said; “of course.”
“Bah!” muttered Herr Paul, “that recommences.’
“Paul!” murmured Mrs. Decie, “you lack the elements of wisdom.”
Herr Paul glared at the approaching stranger.
Mrs. Decie had risen, and smilingly held out her hand.
“We are so glad to know you; you are an artist too, perhaps? I take a great interest in art, and especially in that school which Mr. Harz represents.”
The stranger smiled.
“He is the genuine article, ma’am,” he said. “He represents no school, he is one of that kind whose corpses make schools.”
“Ah!” murmured Mrs. Decie, “you are an American. That is so nice. Do sit down! My niece will soon be here.”
Greta came running back.
“Will you come, please?” she said. “Chris is ready.”
Gulping down his coffee, the stranger included them all in a single bow, and followed her.
“Ach!” said Herr Paul, “garcon tres chic, celui-la!”
Christian was standing by her little table. The stranger began.
“I am sending Mr. Harz’s things to England; there are some pictures here. He would be glad to have them.”
A flood of crimson swept over her face.
“I am sending them to London,” the stranger repeated; “perhaps you could give them to me to-day.”
“They are ready; my sister will show you.”
Her eyes seemed to dart into his soul, and try to drag something from it. The words rushed from her lips:
“Is there any message for me?”
The stranger regarded her curiously.
“No,” he stammered, “no! I guess not. He is well.... I wish....” He stopped; her white face seemed to flash scorn, despair, and entreaty on him all at once. And turning, she left him standing there.
When Christian went that evening to her uncle’s room he was sitting up in bed, and at once began to talk. “Chris,” he said, “I can’t stand this dying by inches. I’m going to try what a journey’ll do for me. I want to get back to the old country. The doctor’s promised. There’s a shot in the locker yet! I believe in that young chap; he’s stuck to me like a man.... It’ll be your birthday, on Tuesday, old girl, and you’ll be twenty. Seventeen years since your father died. You’ve been a lot to me.... A parson came here today. That’s a bad sign. Thought it his duty! Very civil of him! I wouldn’t see him, though. If there’s anything in what they tell you, I’m not going to sneak in at this time o’ day. There’s one thing that’s rather badly on my mind. I took advantage of Mr. Harz with this damned pitifulness of mine. You’ve