“Go to the Stephanien and inquire for Mr. Cecil. Be quick; and request him, wherever he be, to be so good as to come to me instantly—here.”
The servant bowed and withdrew; a perfect silence followed between these two so strangely assorted companions; the Seraph stood with his back against the mantelpiece, with every sense on the watch to catch every movement of the Jew’s, and to hear the first sound of Cecil’s approach. The minutes dragged on; the Seraph was in an agony of probation and impatience. Once the attendants entered to light the chandeliers and candelabra; the full light fell on the dark, slight form of the Hebrew, and on the superb attitude and the fair, frank, proud face of the standing Guardsman; neither moved—once more they were left alone.
The moments ticked slowly away one by one, audible in the silence. Now and then the quarter chimed from the clock; it was the only sound in the chamber.
For A woman’s sake.
The door opened—Cecil entered.
The Seraph crossed the room, with his hand held out; not for his life in that moment would he have omitted that gesture of friendship. Involuntarily he started and stood still one instant in amaze; the next, he flung thought away and dashed into swift, inconsequent words.
“Cecil, my dear fellow! I’m ashamed to send for you on such a blackguard errand. Never heard of such a swindler’s trick in all my life; couldn’t pitch the fellow into the street because of the look of the thing, and can’t take any other measure without you, you know. I only sent for you to expose the whole abominable business, never because I believe——Hang it! Beauty, I can’t bring myself to say it even! If a sound thrashing would have settled the matter, I wouldn’t have bothered you about it, nor told you a syllable. Only you are sure, Bertie, aren’t you, that I never listened to this miserable outrage on us both with a second’s thought there could be truth in it? You know me? you trust me too well not to be certain of that?”
The incoherent address poured out from his lips in a breathless torrent; he had never been so excited in his life; and he pleaded with as imploring an earnestness as though he had been the suspected criminal, not to be accused with having one shadow of shameful doubt against his friend. His words would have told nothing except bewilderment to one who should have been a stranger to the subject on which he spoke; yet Cecil never asked even what he meant. There was no surprise upon his face, no flush of anger, no expression of amaze or indignation; only the look which had paralyzed Rock on his entrance; he stood still and mute.
The Seraph looked at him, a great dread seizing him lest he should have seemed himself to cast this foul thing on his brother-in-arms; and in that dread all the fierce fire of his freshly-loosened passion broke its bounds.