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- Her Weight in Gold - 20/40 -
"I should like to have known Godfrey Gloame."
"You would have admired him. He was the best pistol shot, the bravest man in all Virginia. Three times he fought duels, coming off victorious each time. He would have been an ideal husband if he had not been so indolent, so dissipated, and so absurdly jealous of Harry Heminway. I shall never forgive him for killing me on account of poor Harry."
"Is that why he killed you?" asked Gates eagerly.
"He said so at the time, but he was sorry for it afterward. That is usually the way with jealous men."
"Whew!" exclaimed the man, starting up. "There's another draft, didn't you feel it?"
"It is my husband coming, I know his footstep," she said delightedly, looking toward the door.
"Holy smoke!" cried Gates, in alarm.
"Don't let him hear you speak of smoke. He is very touchy about it just now. Ah, come in, Godfrey, dear."
She crossed to the door to meet the tall, grey young man in the eighteenth century costume, Garrison looking on with open mouth, and rising hair.
Godfrey Gloame was a handsome fellow, albeit he was as transparent as glass. His hair was powdered with all the care of a dandy and his garments hung properly upon his frame. He kissed his wife and then glared at young Mr. Garrison.
"Who is this man, Beatrice?" he demanded, his hand going to his sword hilt. Mrs. Gloame caught the hand and there was passionate entreaty in her eyes. "Speak, woman! What are you doing here with him at this time of night?"
"Now, don't he cross, Godfrey," she pleaded. "It's only Mr. Garrison."
"And who the devil is Mr. Garrison?"
"What a very disagreeable ghost," muttered Gates, remembering that ghosts are harmless.
Mrs. Gloame led the unruly Godfrey up to the table and, in a delightfully old-fashioned way, introduced the two gentlemen.
"Mr. Garrison is the brother of my successor, the present mistress of Gloaming," she said.
"And a devilish pretty woman, too. I've seen her frequently. By the way, I stopped in her bedchamber as I came through. But that's neither here or there. What are you doing here with this young whipper- snapper, Beatrice?"
"Let me explain, Mr. Gloame," began Gates hastily.
"I desire no explanation from you, sah," interposed Godfrey, towering with dignity. "You would explain just as all men do under like circumstances. Beatrice, I demand satisfaction."
"Be rational, Godfrey, for once in your life. It is beneath my dignity to respond to your insult," said Mrs. Gloame proudly.
"Good for you, Mrs. Gloame," cried Garrison approvingly. "You would be a bully actress."
"Sah, you insult my wife by that remark," roared Godfrey Gloame, and this time the sword was unsheathed.
"Oh, I'm not afraid of you, old chap," said Gates bravely. "You're nothing but wind, you know. Be calm and have a chair by the fire. Your wife says you have chills."
"I do not require an invitation to sit down in my own house, sah. I am Godfrey Gloame, sah, of Gloaming, sah."
"You mean you were--you are now his shade," said Gates. "Ah, that's the word I've been trying to think of--shade! You are shades--that's it--shades, not ghosts. Yes, Mr. Gloame, I've heard all about your taking off and I am sure that you were a bit too hasty. You had no license to be jealous of your wife--she assures me of it, and from what I've seen of her I'd be willing to believe anything she says."
"Ah, too true, too true! I always was and always will be a fool. It was she who should have slain me. Will you ever forgive me, Beatrice, forgive me fully?" said Godfrey, in deep penitence.
"I can forgive everything but the fact that you were so shockingly drunk the night you killed us," said she, taking his hands in hers.
"Oh, that was an awful spree! My head aches to think of it."
"It was not the murder I condemn so much as the condition you were in when you did it," she complained. "Mr. Garrison, you do not know how humiliating it is to be killed by a man who is too drunk to know where the jugular vein is located. My neck was slashed--oh, shockingly!"
"Yes, my dear sah, if I must admit it, I did it in a most bungling mannah," admitted her husband. "Usually I am very careful in matters of importance, and I am only able to attribute the really indecent butchery to the last few sups I took from General Bannard's demijohn. My hand was very unsteady, wasn't it, dearest?"
"Miserably so. See, Mr. Garrison, on my neck you can see the five scars, indications of his ruthlessness. One stroke should have been sufficient, a doctor told me afterwards. This one, the last,--do you see it? Well, it was the only capable stroke of them all. Just think of having to go through eternity with these awful scars on my neck. And it was beautiful, too, wasn't it, Godfrey?"
Garrison thought it must have been the prettiest neck ever given to woman.
"Divine!" cried Mr. Gloame warmly. "My dear sah, there never lived a woman who had the arms, the neck, and shoulders that my wife possessed. I speak reservedly, too, sah, for since my demise I have seen thousands. A shade has some privileges, you know."
"Godfrey Gloame!" cried his wife, suspiciously. "What have you been doing? Have you been snooping into the privacy of--"
"Now, my dear girl, do not be too hasty in your conclusions. You'll observe, Mr. Garrison, that I am not the only jealous one. I have merely seen some shoulders. Very ordinary ones, too, I'll say. Oh, I am again reminded that I want an explanation for your damnably improper conduct tonight, madam. This thing of meeting a man here at twelve o'clock is--"
"Goodness!" cried Mrs. Gloame anxiously. "It is not twelve, is it! I must hasten away by a quarter after twelve."
"It lacks considerable of that hour," said Gates. Turning to Godfrey Gloame, who was leaning against the mantel, he went on to explain: "You see, sir, I was reading here and your wife dropped in--blew in, I might say--all without my knowledge, very much as you did. She had had no invitation, we had made no date--I mean arrangement--and I was paralysed at first. Your wife is a perfect stranger to me. There is a disparity in our ages that ought to protect her. I am twenty-four and she is at least a hundred and fifty."
"Sir! I am but twenty-five!" exclaimed Mrs. Gloame indignantly.
"Madam, I must remind you that you have a great-great-grandson in Colonel Gloame the present, who, by the way, is very proud of his ancestry. But pardon my jesting, please. Would you like a little brandy or a glass of wine? It is a cold night, even for shades. Let me prepare a toddy--it won't take a minute, and I know how to get up a cracker-jack. New thing in all of the New York clubs."
After a moment of indecision the two Gloames sank into chairs beside the table. Godfrey waved his hand pleasantly, courteously, to the young New Yorker.
"My dear sah," he said, "your explanation of this rather unaccountable situation is entirely acceptable. I see the position clearly, just as it is, and I humbly apologise for afflicting you with an insinuation. Beatrice, I crave your forgiveness again. Your proffer of the toddy, Mr. Garrison, is timely and I should be happy to place my approval upon your particular concoction."
"Godfrey," cried his wife in distress, "you swore you would never drink another drop."
"But this shall be the last," he pleaded, "so help me--so help me-- Moses."
Garrison set to work with the Colonel's decanters, concocting a brew over the spirit lamp, the two wraiths looking on in silent admiration.
"How like you Mr. Garrison is, Godfrey," said Mrs. Gloame.
"Except the water, my dear," agreed Godfrey, taking it for granted that she referred to his ability to mix drinks. "Do you use the water to cleanse the goblet, Mr. Garrison?"
"Chief ingredient, Mr. Gloame," explained Gates, and Godfrey's heart sank heavily.
"By the way, have a cigarette while I am busy with this."
He tossed his cigarette case to Godfrey, who inspected it and the contents curiously.
"Are they to smoke, sah?"
"Certainly, light up, if Mrs. Gloame doesn't object."
"It used to be we had nothing but tobacco to smoke," said Godfrey Gloame, lighting a cigarette from a coal in the grate.
"Will it make him ill?" asked Mrs. Gloame. "He has a very frail stomach."
"I think the smoke will mix very nicely with his stomach," said Gates. "For want of something better to say, I'll ask you how you spent the summer."
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