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Our Friend the Charlatan By George Gissing Characters: 30551

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:05


Piqued by the uneventfulness of the preceding day, May Tomalin stole forth this morning in a decidedly adventurous frame of mind. She scorned danger; she desired excitement. Duplicity on her part was no more than Lord Dymchurch merited after that deliberate neglect of opportunity under the great tree. Of course nothing irrevocable must come to pass; it was the duty of man to commit himself, the privilege of woman to guard an ambiguous freedom. But, within certain limits, she counted on dramatic incidents. A brisk answer to her tap on the door in the park wall made her nerves thrill delightfully. No sooner had she turned the key than the door was impatiently pushed open from without.

"Quick!" sounded Lashmar's voice. "I hear wheels on the road.-Ha! Just in time! It might be someone who would recognise me."

He had grasped May's hand. He was gazing eagerly, amorously into her face. His emotions had matured since the meeting two days ago.

"Tell me all the news," he went on. "Is Dymchurch here?"

"Yes. And the others. You come to lunch to-day, of course? You will see them."

She recovered her hand, though not without a little struggle, which pleased her. For all her academic modernism, May belonged to the class which has primitive traditions, unsophisticated instincts.

"And what has happened?" asked Dyce, advancing as she stepped back. He spoke like one who has a right to the fullest information.

"Happened? Nothing particular. What could have happened?"

"I have been tormenting myself. Of course I know why Dymchurch has come, and so do you. I can't go away in a horrible uncertainty. If I do, I shall betray myself when I come to luncheon, so I give you warning."

"What do you mean!" exclaimed the girl, with an air of dignity surprised.

"Tell me the truth. Has Dymchurch spoken?"

"Many times," answered May; smiling with excessive ingenuousness. "He is not very talkative, but he doesn't keep absolute silence-I hear that you have been to see Mrs. Gallantry."

"What do I care about Mrs. Gallantry! I've seen no end of people, but all the time I was thinking of you. Yesterday morning, I all but wrote to you."

"What about?"

"All sorts of things. Of course I should have disguised my handwriting in the address."

May avoided his look, and shaped her lips to severity. "If you had done such a thing-I should have been greatly displeased. I'm very glad you didn't so far forget yourself."

"So am I, now. Won't you tell me if anything has happened. Won't you put my mind at ease?"

"I can stay only for a few minutes. There's really nothing to tell-nothing. But you must have plenty of news. How are things going on?"

Lashmar hurriedly told of two or three circumstances which seemed to favour him in the opening campaign. There was now no doubt that Butterworth would be the Conservative candidate, and, on the whole, his name appeared to excite but moderate enthusiasm. He broke off with an impatient gesture.

"I can't talk about that stuff! It's waste of time, whilst I am with you."

"But it interests me very much," said May, who seemed to grow calmer as Dyce yielded to agitation. "Lord Dymchurch says he would gladly help you, if it were in his power. Don't you think he might be of some use?"

"No, I don't. Dymchurch is a dreaming nobody."

"What a strange way to speak of him!" said May, as if slightly offended. "You used to have quite a different opinion."

"Perhaps so. I didn't know him so well. There's nothing whatever in the man, and he'll never do anything as long as he lives. You know that as well as I do."

"I think you are mistaken," May answered, in an absent voice, her look betraying some travail of the mind, as if she were really debating with herself the question of Dymchurch's prospects.

"Do you mean that?" cried Lashmar, with annoyance.

"I certainly shouldn't call him a 'dreaming nobody,'" replied May, in the tone of dignified reproof. "Lord Dymchurch is very thoughtful, and very well-informed, and has very high principles."

"One may admit all that. All I meant was that there is no career before him. Would anyone dream of comparing him, for instance, with me? You needn't smile. You remember the talk we had at Mrs. Toplady's, that evening. I know my own qualities, and see no use in pretending that I don't.-But what are we talking about! Of course you care nothing for Dymchurch. I know that very well. If you did, you wouldn't be here."

He ended on a little laugh of triumph, and therewith, catching hold of both her hands, he drew her gently forward, looked close into her face, murmured "May! My beautiful May!" In that moment there came the strangest look upon May's countenance, a look of alarm, almost of terror. Her eyes were turned to a spot among the trees, some ten yards away. Dyce, seeing the sudden change of her expression, turned in the direction of her gaze. He was just in time to perceive the back of a retreating figure, which disappeared behind bushes.

"Who was that?" he asked in a startled voice.

May could only whisper.

"It was Lord Dymchurch."

"I thought so. Confound that fellow! What is he doing here at this time of the morning?"

"He saw us," said May, her cheeks burning. "Oh, who could have expected-! He saw us distinctly. I shouldn't wonder if he heard what you were saying Why," she added, angrily, "did you speak so loud?"

"Nonsense! He couldn't hear at that distance."

"But he had been nearer."

"Then the fellow is a sneak! What right has he to steal upon us?"

"He didn't!" cried the girl. "I saw him as he stopped. I saw his face, and how astonished he looked. He turned away instantly."

"Well, what does it matter?" exclaimed Dyce, who was quivering with excitement. "What do I care? What need you care? Haven't we perfect liberty to meet? After all, what does it matter?"

"But you forget," said May, "that he knows of your engagement."

"My engagement! Let him know, and let him think what he likes! My engagement, indeed! Why, I haven't once thought of it since I left London-not once! There'll have to be an end to this intolerable state of things. Dymchurch isn't likely to tell anyone what he sees; he's a gentleman."

"I must go in at once," cried May, losing her head. "Somebody else may come. Go away, please! Don't stay another minute."

"But it's impossible. We have to come to an understanding. Listen to me, May!"

He grasped her hand, passed his other arm around her. There was resistance, but Dyce used his strength in earnest. The girl's beauty fired him; he became the fervid lover, leaving her no choice between high resentment and frank surrender. Indignation was dying out of May's look. She ceased to struggle, she bent her head to his shoulder.

"Isn't that much better?" he whispered, laughingly. "Isn't that the way out of our difficulties?"

May allowed him to breathe a few more such soothing sentences, then spoke with troubled accent.

"But you don't understand. What must Lord Dymchurch think of me-believing that you are engaged?"

"I'll tell him the truth. I'll go and tell him at once."

"But still you don't understand. My aunt wants me to marry him."

"I know she does, and know she'll be disappointed," cried Dyce, exultantly.

"But do you suppose that Lord Dymchurch will stay here any longer? He will leave this very morning, I'm sure he will. My aunt will want to know what it means. There'll be dreadful explanations."

"Keep calm, May. If we lose our courage, it's all over with us. We have to deal boldly with Lady Ogram. Remember that she is very old and weak; I'm perfectly sure she can't resist you and me if we speak to her in the proper way-quietly and reasonably and firmly. We have made up our minds, haven't we? You are mine, dearest May! There's no more doubt about that!"

"Miss Bride will be our deadly enemy," said May, again yielding to his caresses.

"Enemy!" Dyce exclaimed. "Why?"

"Surely you don't need to be told. She dislikes me already (as I do her), and now she will hate me. She'll do her best to injure us with Lady Ogram."

"You're mistaken. I have only to see her and talk to her-as I will, this morning. Before luncheon, she shall be firmly on our side, I promise you! Don't have the least anxiety about her. The only serious difficulty is with Lady Ogram."

"You mean to tell Miss Bride the truth?" exclaimed May. "You mean to tell her what has happened this morning? I forbid you to do so! I forbid you!"

"I didn't mean anything of the kind," replied Lashmar. "To Dymchurch of course I shall speak quite freely: there's no choice. To Miss Bride I shall only say that I want our sham engagement to come to an end, because I am in love with you. The presence of Dymchurch here will be quite enough to explain my sudden action don't you see? I assure you, she must be made our friend, and I can do it."

"If you do, it'll be a miracle," said May, with a face of utter misgiving.

"It would be, perhaps, for any other man. Now, we have no time to lose. I must see Dymchurch immediately. I shall hurry round inside the park wall, and come up to the front of the house, like an ordinary visitor. Election business will account for the early hour, if Lady Ogram hears about it; but she isn't likely to be down before eleven, is she? Don't let us lose any more time, darling. Go back quietly, and let no one see that anything has happened. Don't worry; in a quarter of an hour, Dymchurch shall know that there's not a shadow of blame upon you."

"He won't believe that story. If he does, he'll think it very dishonourable."

Dyce checked the words in amorous fashion, but they conveyed an unpleasant truth, which he turned about in his mind as he hastened towards the interview with Dymchurch. For once in his life, however, he saw a clear course of action before him, indicated alike by interest and by honour. He was roused by supreme impulse and necessity; seeing him as he strode along, you might have supposed him bent on some very high purpose, so gallantly did he hold his head, and so radiant was his visage. There are men capable of viewing themselves as heroes in very unheroic situations, and Lashmar was one of them. Because his business with Dymchurch and with Constance would be distinctly disagreeable, and yet he was facing it without hesitation, his conscience praised him aloud. Nothing less than brilliant issue could be the reward of such noble energy.

Meanwhile, May had begun to retrace her steps through the little wood. She wished to go quickly, but was afraid, if she did so, of overtaking Lord Dymchurch. In her, too, the self-approving mind was active; she applauded herself for having given the preference to love over ambition. With the choice of becoming a peeress, she had bestowed her beauty, intellect, wealth upon a man who had nothing to offer but his hopes. Was not this nobler than any nobility of rank? The sentimentality of a hundred novels surged within her; verses of Browning chanted in her brain. "Love is best!" She walked a heroine of passion. All obstacles would fall before her burning resolve. This was living in high romance!

She passed from among the trees into the open park and there before her stood the man she least wished to see. He had evidently been waiting; he began to move towards her. A score of more or less ingenious lies rose to her tongue, instinctively; but she remembered that deceit was not called for. Lord Dymchurch had raised his hat. He looked very grave, but not at all ill-tempered. May did not offer her hand. After the "good-morning," he walked beside her, and at once began to speak.

"I find I must leave Rivenoak, Miss Tomalin." His voice was low, gentle, not unkind.

"Must you indeed, Lord Dymchurch?"

"I'm afraid I must," he answered quietly.

"I am so sorry. But you will be able to see Lady Ogram?"

"I fear not. I wish to leave almost at once."

They were drawing near to the garden. Dymchurch paused, glanced at his companion with sad eyes, and, his look cast down, again spoke.

"Miss Tomalin, I came here wishing to ask you to be my wife. Only a foolish shyness prevented me from doing so yesterday. This morning, I know that it would be too late. Pray forgive me for speaking of the matter at all. I feel obliged to explain myself. Perhaps I had better make the explanation complete by saying that I saw you go through the garden, and followed in the same direction, hoping for an opportunity of speaking with you alone."

May felt that a man in this position could not well have conducted himself more kindly and delicately. No hint in look or voice that he thought her behaviour extraordinary; he had been defeated by a rival, that was all; his tone begged excuse for unwilling intrusion upon her privacy. But for the hopelessly compromising moment at which he had arrived, probably he would have given her all benefit of the doubt, and in one way or another, would still have prosecuted his wooing. Very nervous and confused, she made what seemed to her an appropriate answer.

"Thank you very much, Lord Dymchurch. I had so hoped we could be friends-simply friends. Do let me think of you still in that way."

"Will you give me a proof of friendship," said the other, smiling kindly, "by permitting me to tell Lady Ogram, in a note I shall leave for her, that you have declined my offer of marriage?"

This, thought May, was indeed a smoothing of her difficulties. She glanced at the speaker with gratitude.

"You will really do that? How generous of you, Lord Dymchurch!"

"Allow me to leave you now, Miss Tomalin. I must prepare for my journey."

May offered her hand. Dymchurch just perceptibly pressed it, saluted with the gravest politeness, and walked away.

On the terrace before the house, he encountered Lashmar, who came up to him with a glowing countenance.

"I hoped I should find you here. Nothing could be better. Just a moment's talk."

Dyce had thrust out a hand, but as the other appeared not to see it, he drew it hack again as naturally as he could. Dymchurch stood waiting in an attitude of cold civility.

"It's rather a delicate matter. Accident has obliged me to speak; otherwise, I shouldn't, of course, have troubled you with my private affairs. I wish to tell you that the engagement which once existed between Miss Bride and myself is at an end."

"I presumed so," was the reply, spoken with unmoved features.

"Also, that Miss Tomalin has for some days been aware of this state of things."

"I took it for granted."

"So that," Dyce continued, in a stumbling way, "you won't retain any disagreeable impression from this morning's incident? I am very glad indeed to have been able to see you at once. It puts an end to a natural uneasiness on both sides."

"I am obliged to you," said Dymchurch.

With a bow and a look past his interlocutor, he turned to enter the house.

As soon as he had disappeared, Lashmar followed, and rang the door bell. Of the servant who came, he asked whether Miss Bride was down yet. The domestic went to inquire. Waiting in the hall, Dyce heard a footstep behind him; he turned and saw May, who, with features discomposed, just met his eyes and hurried away u

p the staircase. When the servant returned, it was with a request that Mr. Lashmar would step into the library. There, in a few minutes, Constance joined him.

"You are early!" she exclaimed. "No bad news, I hope?"

"No. But I want a little quiet talk with you. Of course it's absurd to come at this hour. You know I lunch here to-day, and I couldn't have gone through with it without seeing you in private. I'm in a queer state of mind; very much upset; in fact, I never felt such need of a true friend to consult."

Constance kept her eyes fixed upon him. She had been up for a couple of hours, reading in the French book which had reached her yesterday. The same volume had occupied her till long after midnight. Her face showed the effects of over-study.

"Tell me all about it," she said, with voice subdued to the note of intimacy, and look in which there shone an indulgent kindliness.

"You have often said that you wished me well, that you desired to help me in my career."

"Have I not done more than say it?" returned the other, softly.

"Indeed you have! Few women would have been capable of such self-sacrifice on a friend's behalf. You know the law of human nature; we always make old kindness a reason for demanding new. Again I am come to ask your help, and again it involves heroism on your part."

The listener's face grew troubled; her lips lost their suavity. Lashmar's eyes fell before her look.

"I feel ashamed," he went on, with an uneasy movement of his hands. "It's too bad to expect so much of you. You have more pride than most people, yet I behave to you as if you didn't know the meaning of the word. Do, I beg, believe me when I say that I am downright ashamed, and that I hardly know how to tell you what has happened."

Constance did not open her lips; they were sternly compressed.

"I want you," Dyce continued, "first of all to consent to the termination of our formal engagement. Of course," he hastened to add, "that step in itself is nothing to you. Indeed, you will be rather glad of it than otherwise; it relieves you from an annoying and embarrassing situation, which only your great good-nature induced you to accept. But I ask more than that. I want it to be understood that our engagement had ended when I last left Rivenoak. Can you consent to this? Will you bear me out when I break the news to Lady Ogram?"

"You propose to do that yourself?" asked Constance, with frigid sarcasm.

"Yes, I shall do it myself. I am alone responsible for what has happened, and I must face the consequences."

"Up to a certain point, you mean," remarked the same pungent voice.

"It's true, I ask your help in that one particular."

"You say that something has happened. Is it within my privilege to ask what, or must I be content to know nothing more?"

"Constance, don't speak like that?" pleaded Dyce. "Be generous to the end! Haven't I behaved very frankly all along? Haven't we talked with perfect openness of all I did? Don't spoil it all, now at the critical moment of my career. Be yourself, generous and large-minded!"

"Give me the opportunity," she answered, with an acid smile. "Tell what you have to tell."

"But this is not like yourself," he remonstrated. "It's a new spirit. I have never known you like this."

Constance moved her foot, and spoke sharply.

"Say what you have to say, and never mind anything else."

Lashmar bent his brows.

"After all, Constance, I am a perfectly free man. If you are annoyed because I wish to put an end to what you yourself recognise as a mere pretence, it's very unreasonable, and quite unworthy of you."

"You are right," answered the other, with sudden change to ostentatious indifference. "It's time the farce stopped. I, for one, have had enough of it. If you like, I will tell Lady Ogram myself, this morning."

"No!" exclaimed Dyce, with decision. "That I certainly do not wish. Are you resolved, all at once, to do me as much harm as you can?"

"Not at all, I thought I should relieve you of a disagreeable business."

"If you really mean that, I am very grateful. I wanted to tell you everything, and talk it over, and see what you thought best to be done. But of course I shouldn't dream of forcing my confidence upon you. It's a delicate matter and only because we were such intimate friends."-

"If you will have done with all this preamble," Constance interrupted, with forced calm, "and tell me what there is to be told, I am quite willing to listen."

"Well, I will do so. It's this. I am in love with May Tomalin, and I want to marry her."

Their eyes met, Dyce was smiling, an uneasy, abashed smile. Constance wore an expression of cold curiosity, and spoke in a corresponding voice.

"Have you asked her to do so?"

"Not yet," Lashmar replied.

For a moment, Constance gazed at him; then she said, quietly:

"I don't believe you."

"That's rather emphatic," cried Dyce, affecting a laugh. "It conveys my meaning. I don't believe you, for several reasons. One of them is-" She broke off, and rose from her chair. "Please wait; I will be back in a moment."

Lashmar sat looking about the room. He began to be aware that he had not breakfasted,-a physical uneasiness added to the various forms of disquiet from which his mind was suffering. When Constance re-entered, he saw she had a book in her hand, a book which by its outward appearance he at once recognised.

"Do you know this?" she asked, holding the volume to him. "I received it yesterday, and have already gone through most of it. I find it very interesting."

"Ah, I know it quite well," Dyce answered, fingering the pages. "A most suggestive book. But-what has it to do with our present conversation?"

Constance viewed him wonderingly. If he felt at all disconcerted, nothing of the kind appeared in his face, which wore, indeed, a look of genuine puzzlement.

"Have you so poor an opinion of my intelligence?" she asked, with subdued anger. "Do you suppose me incapable of perceiving that all the political and social views you have been living upon were taken directly from this book? I admire your audacity. Few educated men, nowadays, would have ventured on so bold a-we call it plagiarism."

Dyce stared at her.

"You are very severe," he exclaimed, on the note of deprecation. "Views I have been 'living upon?' It's quite possible that now and then something I had read there chanced to come into my talk; but who gives chapter and verse for every conversational allusion? You astound me. I see that, so far from wishing me well, you have somehow come to regard me with positive ill-feeling. How has it come about, Constance?"

"You dare to talk to me in this way!" cried Constance, passionately. "You dare to treat me as an imbecile! This is going too far! If you had shown ever so little shame I would have thrown the book aside, and never again have spoken of it. But to insult me by supposing that force of impudence can overcome the testimony of my own reason! Very well. The question shall be decided by others. All who have heard you expatiate on your-your 'bio-sociological' theory shall be made acquainted with this French writer, and form their own opinion as to your originality."

Lashmar drew himself up.

"By all means." His voice was perfectly controlled. "I have my doubts whether you will persuade anyone to read it-people don't take very eagerly to philosophical works in a foreign language-and I think it very unlikely that anyone but yourself has troubled to keep in mind the theories and arguments which you are so kind as to say I stole. What's more, will it be very dignified behaviour to go about proclaiming that you have quarrelled with me, and that you are bent on giving me a bad character? Isn't it likely to cause a smile?"

As she listened, Constance shook with passion.

"Are you so utterly base," she cried, "as to stand there and deny the truth of what I say?"

"I never argue with anyone in a rage. Why such a thing as this-a purely intellectual matter-a question for quiet reasoning-should infuriate you, I am at a loss to understand. We had better talk no more for the present. I must hope for another opportunity."

He moved as though to withdraw, but by no means with the intention of doing so, for he durst not have left Constance in this mood of violent hostility. Her outbreak had astonished him; he knew not of what she might be capable. There flashed through his mind the easy assurance he had given to May-that Constance Bride should be persuaded to friendly offices on their behalf, and he had much ado to disguise his consternation. For a moment he thought of flattering her pride by unconditional surrender, by submissive appeal, but to that he could not bring himself. Her discovery, her contempt and menaces, had deeply offended him; the indeterminate and shifting sentiments with which he had regarded her crystallised into dislike-that hard dislike which commonly results, whether in man or woman, from trifling with sacred relations. That Constance had been-perhaps still was tenderly disposed to him, served merely to heighten his repugnance. To stand in fear of this woman was a more humiliating and exasperating sensation than he had ever known.

"Do as you think fit," he added in a stern voice, pausing at a little distance. "It is indifferent to me. In any case, Lady Ogram will soon know how things stand, and the result must be what it will. I have chosen my course."

Constance was regarding him steadily. Her wrath had Leased to flare, but it glowed through her countenance.

"You mean," she said, "that just at the critical moment of your career you are bent on doing the rashest thing you possibly could? And you ask me to believe that you are acting in this way before you even know whether you have a chance of gaining anything by it?"

"It had occurred to me," Lashmar replied, "that, when you understood the state of things, you might be willing to exert yourself to help me. But that was before I learnt that you regarded me with contempt, if not with hatred. How the change has come about in you, I am unable to understand. I have behaved to you with perfect frankness-"

"When, for instance, you wished me to admire you as a sociologist?"

"It's incredible," cried Dyce, "that you should harp on that paltry matter! Who, in our time, is an original thinker? Ideas are in the air. Every man uses his mind-if he has any-on any suggestion which recommends itself to him. If it were worth while, I could point out most important differences between the bio-sociological theory as matured by me and its crude presentment in that book you have got hold of.-By the bye, how did it come into your hands?"

After an instant's reflection, Constance told him of Mrs. Toplady's letter and the American magazine.

"And," he asked, "does Mrs. Toplady regard me as a contemptible plagiarist?"

"It is probable that she has formed conclusions."

Lashmar's eyes fell. He saw that Constance was watching him. In the turmoil of his feelings all he could do was to jerk out an impatient laugh.

"It's no use," he exclaimed. "You and I have come to a deadlock. We no longer understand each other. I thought you were the kind of woman whom a man can treat as his equal, without fear of ridiculous misconceptions and hysterical scenes. One more disillusion!"

"Don't you think?" asked Constance, with a bitter smile, "that you are preparing a good many others for yourself?"

"Of course I know what you mean. There are certain things it wouldn't be easy to discuss with you at any time; you can't expect me to speak of them at present. Suppose it an illusion. I came to you, in all honesty, to tell you what had happened. I thought of you as my friend, as one who cared about my happiness."

"Why this morning?"

"For the reason I began by explaining. I have to come here to lunch."

"Would it surprise you, when you do come, to be met with the news that Lord Dymchurch has proposed to Miss Tomalin and been accepted?"

"Indeed," Dyce answered, smiling, "it would surprise me very much."

"Which is as much as to say that I was right, just now, in refusing to believe you. Do you know," Constance added, with fresh acerbity, "that you cut a very poor figure? As a diplomatist, you will not go very far. As an ordinary politician, I doubt whether you can make your way with such inadequate substitutes for common honesty. Perhaps you do represent the coming man. In that case, we must look anxiously for the coming woman, to keep the world from collapse.-Be so good, now, as to answer a plain question. You will do so, simply because you know that I have but to speak half-a-dozen words to Lady Ogram, and you would be spared the trouble of coming here to lunch. What is your scheme? If I had been so pliant as you expected, what would you have asked of me?"

"Merely to use your influence with Lady Ogram when she is vexed by learning that May Tomalin is not to marry Dymchurch. What could be simpler and more straightforward? Scheme there is none. I have done with that kind of thing. I wish to marry this girl, for her own sake, but if I can keep Lady Ogram's good-will at the same time, I suppose there's nothing very base in wishing to do so?"

"You speak of 'vexation.' Do you really imagine that that word will describe Lady Ogram's state of mind if she learns that Lord Dymchurch is rejected?"

"Of course there will be a scene. We can't help that. We must face it, and hope in Lady Ogram's commonsense."

"Answer another question. How do you know that May Tomalin will refuse Lord Dymchurch?"

"I had better refuse to answer. You talk much of honour. If you know what it means, you will accept my refusal as the only thing possible under the circumstances."

Constance stood in hesitation. It seemed as if she might concede this point, but at the critical moment jealous wrath again seized her, extinguishing the better motive.

"You will answer my question. You will tell me what has passed."

She glared at him, and it was Lashmar's turn to betray indecision.

"You are at my mercy," Constance exclaimed, "and you will do as I bid you."

Lashmar yielded to exasperation.

"I have enough of this," he cried angrily. "Go and do as you please! Take your silly feminine revenge, and much good may it do you! I have no more time to waste."

He caught up his hat, and left the room.

Passing the foot of the staircase, he saw someone descending. It was May. Involuntarily he stopped; the girl's gesture of alarm, bidding him be off, was disregarded. He waved to her, and she joined him.

"I've seen them both. It's all right. Keep up your courage!"

"Go! Go!" whispered May in fright. "Someone will see us."

"At lunch!"

He pressed her hand, smiled like a general in the thick of battle, and hurried away. Scarcely had he vanished through the portal, when Constance, issuing from the library, encountered Miss Tomalin. May uttered an unnaturally suave "good-morning!" The other looked her in the eye, and said in a voice of satisfaction:

"Mr. Lashmar has just been here. Didn't you see him?"

"Mr. Lashmar?-No."

Gazing full at the confused face, Constance smiled, and passed on.

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