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- Castle Craneycrow - 48/48 -


behind them.

"Dorothy!" cried Ugo. "Thank heaven, I have found you!"

She stopped on the bottom step, within arm's length of Philip Quentin. There was a moment of indecision, a vivid flush leaped into her lovely cheek, and then her hand went quickly forth and rested on Quentin's shoulder. He started and looked at her for the first time.

"I am sorry, Ugo, for the wrong I have done you," she said, steadily, but her hand trembled convulsively on Phil's shoulder. Mechanically he reached up and took the slim fingers in his broad, strong hand and rose to the step beside her.

"The wrong?" murmured the prince, mechanically.

"In running away from you as I did," she said, hurriedly, as if doubting her power to proceed. "It was heartless of me, and it subjected you to the crudest pain and humiliation. I cannot ask you to forgive me. You should despise me."

"Despise you?" he gasped, slowly. The truth began to dawn on two men at the same time. Ugo's heart sank like a stone and Quentin's leaped as if stung by an electric shock. His figure straightened, his chin was lifted, and the blood surged from all parts of his body to his turbulent heart.

"I loved him, Prince Ravorelli, better than all the world. It was a shameless way to leave you, but it was the only way," she said, her voice full. Then she lifted her eyes to Quentin's and for the moment all else was forgotten.

"My God, you--you did not leave Brussels of your own free will!" cried the prince, his eyes blazing, Sallaconi and Laselli moved toward the door, and the police officer's face was a study.

"I ran away with the man I love," she answered, bravely.

"It is a lie!" shrieked the Italian. Saxondale seized his hand in time to prevent the drawing of a revolver from his coat pocket. "'Damn you! This is a trick!"

"You have Miss Garrison's word for it, your excellency. She was not abducted, and your search has been for naught," said the big Englishman. "There are no abductors here. The famous abduction was a part of the game and it was abetted by the supposed victim."

"But there is a reward for her return to Brussels," interrupted the Luxemburg official, speaking for the first time. "I must insist that she come with me."

"The reward is for Dorothy Garrison, is it not?" demanded Saxondale.

"Yes, my lord."

"Well, as you cannot get out of the castle and your friends cannot get into it until we open the doors, there is absolutely no possibility of your taking Dorothy Garrison to Brussels."

"Do you mean to oppose the law?" cried Ugo, panting with rage.

"Gentlemen, as the host in Castle Craneycrow, I invite you to witness the marriage ceremony which is to make it impossible for you to take Dorothy Garrison to Brussels. You have come, gentlemen--a trifle noisily and unkindly, I admit--just in time to witness the wedding of my two very good friends who eloped with the sound of wedding bells in their ears. Father Bivot, the bride and groom await you."

"Dorothy, my darling," whispered Quentin. She turned her burning face away.

"It is my way, Phil. I love you," she murmured.

THE END


Castle Craneycrow - 48/48

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