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- Castle Craneycrow - 40/48 -

felt grateful to him.

"I have a confession to make," she said, after the story was finished and the others had deliberately charged Ugo with the crime. "That poor woman came to me in Brussels and implored me to give up the prince. She told me, Phil, that she loved him and warned me to beware of him. And she said that he would kill her if he knew that she had come to me."

"That settles it!" exclaimed he, excitedly, the fever of joy in his eyes. "He killed her when he found that she had been to you. Perhaps, goaded to desperation, she confessed to him. Imagine the devilish delight he took in sniffing out her life after that! We have him now! Dorothy, you know as well as I that he and he alone had an object in killing her. You have only to tell the story of her visit to you and we'll hang the miserable coward." He was standing before her, eager-eyed and intense.

"You forget that I am not and do not for some time expect to be in a position to expose him. I am inclined to believe that the law will first require me to testify against you, Philip Quentin," she said, looking fairly into his eyes, the old resentment returning like a flash. Afterward she knew that the look of pain in his face touched her heart, but she did not know it then. She saw the beaten joy go out of his eyes, and she rejoiced in the victory.

"True," he said, softly. "I have saved the woman I love, while he has merely killed one who loved him." It angered her unreasonably when, as he turned to enter the house, Lady Saxondale put her arm through his and whispered something in his ear. A moment or two later Lady Jane, as if unable to master the emotion which impelled, hurried into the castle after them. Dickey strolled away, and she was left with Lord Bob. It would have been a relief had he expressed the slightest sign of surprise or regret, but he was as imperturbable as the wall against which he leaned. His mild blue eyes gazed carelessly at the coils of smoke that blew from his lips.

"Oh," she wailed to herself, in the impotence of anger, "they all love him, they all hate me! Why does he not mistreat me, insult me, taunt me--anything that will cost him their respect, their devotion! How bitterly they feel toward me for that remark! It will kill me to stay here and see them turn to him as if he were some god and I the defiler!"

That night there was a battle between the desire to escape and the reluctance she felt in exposing her captors to danger. In the end she admitted to herself that she would not have Philip Quentin seized by the officers: she would give them all an equal chance to escape, he with the others. Her heart softened when she saw him, in her imagination, alone and beaten, in the hands of the police, led away to ignominy and death, the others perhaps safe through his loyalty. She would refuse absolutely, irrevocably, to divulge the names of her captors and would go so far as to perjure herself to save them if need be. With that charitable resolution in her heart she went to sleep.

When she arose the next morning, Baker told her that Mr. Quentin was ill. His cold had settled on his lungs and he had a fever. Lady Saxondale seemed worried over the rather lugubrious report from Dickey Savage, who came downstairs early with Phil's apologies for not presenting himself at the breakfast table.

While Quentin cheerfully declared that he would be himself before night, Dickey was in a doleful state of mind and ventured the opinion that he was "in for a rough spell of sickness." What distresed the Saxondales most was the dismal certainty that a doctor could not be called to the castle. If Quentin were to become seriously ill, the situation would develop into something extremely embarrassing.

He insisted on coming downstairs about noon, and laughed at the remonstrances of Lord Bob and Dickey, who urged him to remain in bed for a day or two, at least. His cough was a cruel one, and his eyes were bright with the fever that raced through his system. The medicine chest offered its quinine and its plasters for his benefit, and there was in the air the tense anxiety that is felt when a child is ill and the outcome is in doubt. The friends of this strong, stubborn and all-important sick man could not conceal the fact that they were nervous and that they dreaded the probability of disaster in the shape of serious illness. His croaking laugh, his tearing cough and that flushed face caused Dorothy more pain than she was willing to admit, even to herself.

As night drew near she quivered with excitement. Was she to leave the castle? Would the priest come for her? Above all, would he be accompanied by a force of officers large enough to storm the castle and overpower its inmates? What would the night bring forth? And what would be the stand, the course, taken by this defiant sick man, this man with two fevers in his blood?

She had not seen or spoken to him during the day, but she had frequently passed by the door of the library in which he sat and talked with the other men. An irresistible longing to speak to him, to tell him how much she regretted his illness, came over her. There was in her heart a strange tenderness, a hungry desire to comfort him just the least bit before she took the flight that was to destroy the hope his daring and skillfully executed scheme had inspired.

Three times she hesitated in front of the library door, but her courage was not as strong as her desire. Were he alone she could have gone in and told him frankly that she would not expose him to the law in the event that she ever had the opportunity. But the other men were with him. Besides, his cough was so distressing that natural pity for one suffering physical pain would have made it impossible to talk to him with the essential show of indifference.

At last, in despair, she left Lady Saxondale and her companion in the courtyard and started up the stairs, resolved to be as far as possible from the sound of that cough. Quentin met her at the foot of the steps.

"I'm going to lie down awhile," he said, wearily. "They seem to be worried about this confounded cold, and I'll satisfy them by packing myself away in bed."

"You should be very careful, Phil," she said, a suffocating feeling in her throat. "Your cough is frightful, and they say you have a fever. Do be reasonable."

"Dorothy," he said, pausing before her at the steps, his voice full of entreaty, "tell me you don't despise me. Oh! I long to have you say one tender word to me, to have one gentle look from your eyes."

"I am very sorry you are suffering, Philip," she said, steeling her heart against the weakness that threatened.

"Won't you believe I have done all this because I love you and----" he was saying, passionately, but she interposed.

"Don't! Don't, Phil! I was forgetting a little--yes, I was forgetting a little, but you bring back all the ugly thoughts. I cannot forget and I will not forgive. You love me, I know, and you have been a kind jailer, but you must not expect to regain my respect and love--yes, it was love up to the morning I saw you in the dining-room of this castle."

"I'll create a new love in your heart, Dorothy," he cried. "The old love may be dead, but a new one shall grow up in its place. You do not feel toward me to-day as you did a week ago. I have made some headway against the force of your hatred. It will take time to win completely; I would not have you succumb too soon. But, just as sure as there is a God, you will love me some day for the love that made me a criminal in the eyes of the world. I love you, Dorothy; I love you!"

"It is too late. You have destroyed the power to love. Phil, I cannot forgive you. Could I love you unless full forgiveness paved the way?"

"There is nothing to forgive, as you will some day confess. You will thank and forgive me for what I have done." A fit of coughing caused him to lean against the stair rail, a paroxysm of pain crossing his face as he sought to temper the violence of the spell.

"You should have a doctor," she cried, in alarm. He smiled cheerlessly.

"Send for the court physician," he said, derisively, "The king of evil-doers has the chills and fever, they say. Is my face hot Dorothy?"

She hesitated for a moment, then impulsively placed her cool hand against his flushed forehead. Despite her will, there was a caress in the simple act, and his bright eyes gleamed with gladness. His hand met hers as it was lowered from the hot brow, and his lips touched the fingers softly.

"Ah, the fever, the fever!" he exclaimed, passionately.

"You should have a doctor," she muttered, as if powerless to frame other words.



Eleven o'clock that night found Castle Craneycrow wrapped in the stillness of death. Its inmates were awake, but they were petrified, paralyzed by the discovery that Dorothy Garrison was gone. Scared eyes looked upon white faces, and there was upon the heart of each the clutch of an icy hand. So appalling was the sensation that the five conspirators breathed not nor spoke, but listened for the heartbeats that had stopped when fears finally gave way to complete conviction. They were as if recovering from the fright of seeing a ghost; spirits seemed to have swept past them with cold wings, carrying off the prisoner they thought secure; only supernatural forces could be charged with the penetration of their impregnable wall.

The discovery of the prisoner's flight was not made until Baker

Castle Craneycrow - 40/48

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