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smoking at the other end, to accompany me on a twilight stroll. Half-way down I met Major Halkit.
“That friend of yours," he said, indicating the unconscious figure at the further end of the house, seems to be a queer sort of a Dick. He told me that he was out of business, and just looking round for a chance to invest his capital. And I've been telling him what an everlasting big show he had to take stock in the Capitoline Trust Company-starts next month—four million capital ; I told you all about it. ‘Oh, well,' he says, 'let's wait and think about it.' 'Wait!' says I; "the Capitoline Trust Company won't wait for you, my boy. This is letting you in on the ground floor,' says I; 'and it's now or never.' 'Oh, let it wait,' says he.
I don't know what's in-to the man.” “I don't know how well he knows his own business, Major,” I said as I started again for Brede's end of the verandah. But I was troubled none the less. The Major could not have influenced the sale of one share of stock in the Capitoline Company. But that stock was a great investment; a rare chance for a purchaser with a few thousand dollars. Perhaps it was no more remarkable that Brede should not invest than that I should not; and yet it seemed to add one circumstance more to the other suspicious circumstances.
When I went upstairs that evening, I found my wife putting her hair to bed—I don't know how I can better describe an operation familiar to every married man. I waited until the last tress was coiled up, and then I spoke.
“I've talked with Brede," I said, "and I didn't have to catechise him. He seemed to feel that some sort of explanation was looked for, and he was very outspoken. You were right about the children—that is, I must have misunderstood him. There are only two; but the Matterhorn
episode was simple enough. He didn't realise how dangerous it was until he had got so far into it that he couldn't back out; and he didn't tell her, because he'd left her here, you see; and under the circumstances
“Left her here !” cried my wife. “I've been sitting with her the whole afternoon, sewing, and she told me that he left her at Geneva, and came back and took her to Basle, and the baby was born there. Now I'm sure, dear, because I asked her.”
"Perhaps I was mistaken when I thought he said she was on this side of the water,” I suggested with bitter, biting irony.
“You poor dear, did I abuse you?” said my wife. “But do you know Mrs. Tabb said that she didn't know how many lumps of sugar he took in his coffee. Now that seems queer, doesn't it?”
It did. It was a small thing; but it looked queer, very queer.
The next morning it was clear that war was declared against the Bredes. They came down to breakfast somewhat late, and as soon as they arrived the Biggles swooped up the last fragments that remained on their plates, and made a stately march out of the dining-room. Then Miss Hoogencamp arose and departed, leaving a whole fish-ball on her plate. Even as Atalanta might have dropped an apple behind her to tempt her pursuer to check his speed, so Miss Hoogencamp left that fish-ball behind her, and between her maiden self and Contamination.
We had finished our breakfast, my wife and I, before the Bredes appeared. We talked it over, and agreed that we were glad that we had not been obliged to take sides upon such insufficient testimony.
After breakfast it was the custom of the male half of the Jacobus household to go around the corner of the building
and smoke their pipes and cigars, where they would not annoy the ladies. We sat under a trellis covered with a grape vine that had borne no grapes in the memory
of This vine, however, bore leaves, and these, on that pleasant summer morning, shielded from us two persons who were in earnest conversation in the straggling, half-dead flowergárden at the side of the house.
“I don't want,” we heard Mr. Jacobus say, “to enter in no man's pry-vacy; but I do want to know who it may be, like, that I hev in my house. Now what I ask of you—and I don't want you to take it as in no ways personal—is, hev you your merridge-licence with you?”
“No,” we heard the voice of Mr. Brede reply. “Have you yours?"
I think it was a chance shot, but it told all the same. The Major (he was a widower), and Mr. Biggle and I looked at each other; and Mr. Jacobus, on the other side of the grape-trellis, looked at– I don't know what—and was as silent as we were.
Where is your marriage-licence, married reader? Do you know? Four men, not including Mr. Brede, stood or sate on one side or the other of that grape-trellis, and not one of them knew where his marriage-licence was.
Each of us had had one-the Major had had three. But where were they? Where is yours?
Tucked in your best-man's pocket; deposited in his desk, or washed to a pulp in his white waistcoat (if white waistcoats be the fashion of the hour), washed out of existence—can you tell where it is? Can you—unless you are one of those people who frame that interesting document and hang it upon their drawing-room walls ?
Mr. Brede's voice arose, after an awful stillness of what seemed like five minutes, and was, probably, thirty seconds
“Mr. Jacobus, will you make out your bill at once, and
let me pay it? I shall leave by the six o'clock train. And will you also send the
trunks?" “I hain't said I wanted to hev
began Mr. Jacobus; but Brede cut him short.
“Bring me your bill."
My wife and I went out for our morning's walk. But it seemed to us, when we looked at our view," as if we could only see those invisible villages of which Brede had told us—that other side of the ridges and rises of which we catch no glimpse from lofty hills or from the heights of human self-esteem. We meant to stay out until the Bredes had taken their departure; but we returned just in time to see Pete, the Jacobus darkey, the blacker of boots, the brusher of coats, the general handy-man of the house, loading the Bredes' trunks on the Jacobus waggon.
And, as we stepped upon the verandah, down came Mrs. Brede, leaning on Mr. Brede's arm as though she were ill; and it was clear that she had been crying—there were heavy rings about her pretty black eyes.
My wife took a step towards her.
“Look at that dress, dear,” she whispered ; "she never thought anything like this was going to happen when she put that on."
It was a pretty, delicate, dainty dress, a graceful, narrowstriped affair. Her hat was trimmed with a narrow-striped silk of the same colour—maroon and white; and in her hand she held a parasol that matched her dress.
“She's had a new dress on twice a day,” said my wife; “but that's the prettiest yet. Oh, somehow—I'm awfully sorry they're going !”
But going they were. They moved towards the steps. Mrs. Brede looked towards my wife, and my wife moved towards Mrs. Brede. But the ostracised woman, as though she felt the deep humiliation of her position, turned sharply away, and opened her parasol to shield her eyes from the