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When it came to the dinners and lunches, which the Hilary kinship and friendship made in honor of her engagement, she found that Maxwell actually thought she could make excuse of his work to go without him, and she had to be painfully explicit before she could persuade him that this would not do at all.

There were moments when Hilary saw his mistake so clearly that it seemed to him nothing less than the repayment of Northwick's thefts from his own pocket would satisfy the claims of justice to his fellow-losers if Northwick ran away; and then again, it looked like the act of wise mercy which it had appeared to him when he was urging the Board to give the man a chance as the only thing which they could hopefully do in the circumstances, as common sense, as business.

He began to cut a piece of Honey Dew, but his hand shook. It was difficult, as we know, for him to give expression to his feelings. "All right," he said. Half an hour later Victoria, from under the awning of the little balcony in front of her mother's sitting room, saw her father come out bareheaded into the sun and escort the Honourable Hilary Vane to his buggy. This was an unwonted proceeding.

The ascending steps were heard plainly enough, and the light reappeared, shining feebly beneath the door; and, going softly across, Hilary looked through the great keyhole, and could see the ill-looking man Allstone with a candle in one hand and a little keg that might have contained gunpowder or spirit upon his shoulder. "Here," he whispered to his companion, "lay hold while I lock up."

He was reading an article called "Osele." Hilary glanced at it, with the slight nervous frown frequent with him. "What have you got hold of?... Oh, that." His frown seemed to relax a little. "I really don't recommend the thing for your entertainment, Peter. It'll bore you. I have to provide two things food for the interested visitor, and guidance for Lord Evelyn's mania for purchasing."

Earthmen all, with here and there the grotesque huge bulk of a Mercutian who had failed to hear the warning signal. The bodies were scorched, blackened. Raw agony appeared on contorted desperate faces. It was not good to look upon. "Wh what has happened?" Grim gasped, his breath coming heavily. "Just a little pleasantry of the Mercutians," Hilary said bitterly. He looked upward.

"I try to take account of that," said the Honourable Hilary. Austen laughed. "I'll drop in to-morrow morning," he said. But the Honourable Hilary pointed to a chair on the other side of the desk. "Sit down. To-day's as good as to-morrow," he remarked, with sententious significance, characteristically throwing the burden of explanation on the visitor.

"Don't make a move," he warned, "the guard is coming." "What guard?" "You'll see fast enough. Appear unconcerned if you value your life. Don't look back." Hilary complied. His face became an expressionless mask as he lounged in his chair, but his thoughts seethed and boiled. What terrible mystery had enveloped the Earth during his absence?

But listen to Flora, Nan. See, Nan, I haven't opened Steve's letter yet. Wounded and what, Flora, something worse? Ah, if worse you couldn't have left him." "I know," sighed Anna, relaxing her arms to a caress and turning her gaze to Flora. "I see. Your brother, our dear Charlie, has come back to life, but wounded and alone. Alone. Hilary is still missing. Isn't that it? That's all, isn't it?"

"Why, did you know about it before, then?" said Hilary, eyeing her two brothers in surprise. "When did you hear about it? Have you seen Tommy this morning?" "No, we have not seen Tommy to-day, and how could we have heard about it?" said Noel promptly. "What Jack meant to say was, has there really been another burglary already?"

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