"Well, rather that than be your cat's-paw longer, Mr. Flockart!" she cried, her face flushing with indignation. "Oh, oh!" he laughed, still quite imperturbed. "Come, come! This is scarcely a wise reply, my dear little girl!" "I wish you to leave me. You have insulted my intelligence enough this evening, surely you, who only a moment ago declared yourself my friend!"
Flockart. Please understand that." "Good!" he replied, still unruffled. "I quite understand. You will pardon my resuming, won't you?" And walking back to the open safe, he drew forth a small bundle of papers from a drawer. Then he threw himself into a leather arm-chair, and proceeded to untie the tape and examine the documents one by one, as though in eager search of something.
"But, depend upon it, it's the only way. She wouldn't, at any rate, have had an opportunity of telling the truth." Flockart pulled a wry face, and after a silence of a few moments said, "Don't let us discuss that. We fully considered all the pros and cons, at the time." "Her ladyship is growing scrupulously honest of late," sneered his companion. "She'll try to get rid of you very soon, I expect."
"And what about Walter?" "Oh, as soon as he finds out the truth he'll drop her, never fear. He's already rather fond of that tall, dark girl of Dundas's. You saw her at the ball. You recollect her?" Flockart grunted. He was assisting this woman at his side to play a desperate game.
If you will not, then you shall this very night have an opportunity of telling the truth to my father. I am prepared to bear my shame and all its consequences " The words froze upon her pale lips. On the lawn outside the half-open glass door there was at that moment a light movement the tapping of a walking-stick! "Hush!" cried Flockart. "Remember what I can tell him if I choose!"
The present affair was, however, not much to Krail's liking, and this he had more than once told his friend. It was quite possible that if they could discover the mysterious source of this blind man's wealth they might, by judiciously levying blackmail through a third party, secure a very handsome income which he was to share with Flockart and her ladyship.
"I think, Gabrielle," he said, "that you should put an end to this deceit towards your poor blind father." "What do you mean?" cried Walter in a fury, advancing towards Flockart. "What has this question whatever it is to do with you? Is it your place to stand between father and daughter?" "Yes," answered the other in cool defiance, "it is. I am Sir Henry's friend." "His friend! His enemy!"
From that day I have lived in constant fear, until on the night of the ball at Connachan you remember the evening, dad? on that night Mr. Flockart returned in secret, beckoned me out upon the lawn, and showed me something which held me petrified in fear.
"I really cannot at this moment make any promise, Sir Henry," he remarked at last. "I have decided to go." "But defer your decision for the present. There is surely no immediate hurry for your departure! First let me consult my wife," urged the Baronet, putting out his hand and groping for that of Flockart, which he pressed warmly as proof of his continued esteem. "Let me talk to Winifred.
The stables were now empty, but the garage adjoining, whence came the odour of petrol, contained the two Glencardine cars, besides three others belonging to members of that merry, irresponsible house-party. The inspection of the pointers was a mere excuse on her ladyship's part to be alone with Flockart.