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- The Evil Shepherd - 51/51 -

"I am within a few weeks of my fiftieth birthday," Sir Timothy reminded her, "and you, I believe, are twenty-nine."

"My dear man," Lady Cynthia assured him fervently, "you are the only person in the world who can keep me from feeling forty-nine."

"And your people--"

"Heavens! My people, for the first time in their lives, will count me a brilliant success," Lady Cynthia declared. "You'll probably have to lend dad money, and I shall be looked upon as the fairy child who has restored the family fortunes."

Sir Timothy leaned a little towards her.

"Last of all," he said, and this time his voice was not quite so steady, "are you really sure that you care for me, dear, because I have loved you so long, and I have wanted love so badly, and it is so hard to believe--"

It was the moment, it seemed to her, for which she had prayed. She was in his arms, tired no longer, with all the splendid fire of life in her love-lit eyes and throbbing pulses. Around them the bees were humming, and a soft summer breeze shook the roses and brought little wafts of perfume from the carnation bed.

"There is nothing in life," Lady Cynthia murmured brokenly, "so wonderful as this."

Francis and Margaret came out from the house, the former carrying a silver tray. They had spent a considerable time over their task, but Lady Cynthia and Sir Timothy were still absent. Hedges followed them, a little worried.

"Shall I ring the gong, madam?" he asked Margaret. "Cook has taken such pains with her omelette."

"I think you had better, Hedges," Margaret assented.

The gong rang out--and rang again. Presently Lady Cynthia and Sir Timothy appeared upon the bridge and crossed the lawn. They were walking a little apart. Lady Cynthia was looking down at some roses which she had gathered. Sir Timothy's unconcern seemed a trifle overdone. Margaret laughed very softly.

"A stepmother, Francis!" she whispered. "Just fancy Cynthia as a stepmother!"

The Evil Shepherd - 51/51

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