Part 3 out of 6
that very room some six weeks ago, when Butler's escapade had first
been heard of, it was from avowed concern for Una that Tremayne had
urged him to befriend and rescue his rascally brother-in-law. He
remembered, too, with increasing bitterness that it was Una herself
had induced him to appoint Tremayne to his staff.
There were moments when the conviction of Tremayne's honesty, the
thought of Tremayne's unswerving friendship for himself, would surge
up to combat and abate the fires of his devastating jealousy.
But evidence would kindle those fires anew until they flamed up to
scorch his soul with shame and anger. He had been a fool in that he
had married a woman of half his years; a fool in that he had suffered
her former lover to be thrown into close association with her.
Thus he assured himself. But he would abide by his folly, and so
must she. And he would see to it that whatever fruits that folly
yielded, dishonour should not be one of them. Through all his
darkening rage there beat the light of reason. To avert, he
bethought him, was better than to avenge. Nor were such stains to
be wiped out by vengeance. A cuckold remains a cuckold though he
take the life of the man who has reduced him to that ignominy.
Tremayne must go before the evil transcended reparation. Let him
return to his regiment and do his work of sapping and mining
elsewhere than in O'Moy's household.
Eased by that resolve he rose, a tall, martial figure, youth and
energy in every line of it for all his six and forty years. Awhile
he paced the room in thought. Then, suddenly, with hands clenched
behind his back, he checked by the window, checked on a horrible
question that had flashed upon his tortured mind. What if already
the evil should be irreparable? What proof had he that it was not so?
The door opened, and Tremayne himself came in quickly.
"Here's the very devil to pay, sir," he announced, with that odd
mixture of familiarity towards his friend and deference to his chief.
O'Moy looked at him in silence with smouldering, questioning eyes,
thinking of anything but the trouble which the captain's air and
"Captain Stanhope has just arrived from headquarters with messages
for you. A terrible thing has happened, sir. The dispatches from
home by the Thunderbolt which we forwarded from here three weeks ago
reached Lord Wellington only the day before yesterday."
Sir Terence became instantly alert.
"Garfield, who carried them, came into collision at Penalva with an
officer of Anson's Brigade. There was a meeting, and Garfield was
shot through the lung. He lay between life and death for a fortnight,
with the result that the dispatches were delayed until he recovered
sufficiently to remember them and to have them forwarded by other
hands. But you had better see Stanhope himself."
The aide-de-camp came in. He was splashed from head to foot in
witness of the fury with which he had ridden, his hair was caked
with dust and his face haggard. But he carried himself with
soldierly uprightness, and his speech was brisk. He repeated what
Tremayne had already stated, with some few additional details.
"This wretched fellow sent Lord Wellington a letter dictated from
his bed, in which he swore that the duel was forced upon him, and
that his honour allowed him no alternative. I don't think any
feature of the case has so deeply angered Lord Wellington as this
stupid plea. He mentioned that when Sir John Moore was at Herrerias,
in the course of his retreat upon Corunna, he sent forward
instructions for the leading division to halt at Lugo, where he
designed to deliver battle if the enemy would accept it. That
dispatch was carried to Sir David Baird by one of Sir John's aides,
but Sir David forwarded it by the hand of a trooper who got drunk
and lost it. That, says Lord Wellington, is the only parallel, so
far as he is aware, of the present case, with this difference, that
whilst a common trooper might so far fail to appreciate the
importance of his mission, no such lack of appreciation can excuse
"I am glad of that," said Sir Terence, who had been bristling.
"For a moment I imagined that it was to be implied I had been as
indiscreet in my choice of a messenger as Sir David Baird."
"No, no, Sir Terence. I merely repeated Lord Wellington's words
that you may realise how deeply angered he is. If Garfield recovers
from his wound he will be tried by court-martial. He is under open
arrest meanwhile, as is his opponent in the duel - a Major Sykes of
the 23rd Dragoons. That they will both be broke is beyond doubt.
But that is not all. This affair, which might have had such grave
consequences, coming so soon upon the heels of Major Berkeley's
business, has driven Lord Wellington to a step regarding which this
letter will instruct you."
Sir Terence broke the seal. The letter, penned by a secretary, but
bearing Wellington's own signature, ran as follows:
"The bearer, Captain Stanhope, will inform you of the particulars
of this disgraceful business of Captain Garfield's. The affair
following so soon upon that of Major Berkeley has determined me to
make it clearly understood to the officers in his Majesty's service
that they have been sent to the Peninsula to fight the French and
not each other or members of the civilian population. While this
campaign continues, and as long as I am in charge of it, I am
determined not to suffer upon any plea whatever the abominable
practice of duelling among those under my command. I desire you to
publish this immediately in general orders, enjoining upon officers
of all ranks without exception the necessity to postpone the
settlement of private quarrels at least until the close of this
campaign. And to add force to this injunction you will make it
known that any infringement of this order will be considered as a
capital offence; that any officer hereafter either sending or
accepting a challenge will, if found guilty by a general
court-martial, be immediately shot."
Sir Terence nodded slowly.
"Very well," he said. "The measure is most wise, although I doubt
if it will be popular. But, then, unpopularity is the fate of wise
measures. I am glad the matter has not ended more seriously. The
dispatches in question, so far as I can recollect, were not of great
"There is something more," said Captain Stanhope. "The dispatches
bore signs of having been tampered with."
"Tampered with?" It was a question from Tremayne, charged with
incredulity. "But who would have tampered with them?"
"There were signs, that is all. Garfield was taken to the house of
the parish priest, where he lay lost until he recovered sufficiently
to realise his position for himself. No doubt you will have a
schedule of the contents of the dispatch, Sir Terence?"
"Certainly. It is in your possession, I think, Tremayne."
Tremayne turned to his desk, and a brief search in one of its
well-ordered drawers brought to light an oblong strip of paper
folded and endorsed. He unfolded and spread it on Sir Terence's
table, whilst Captain Stanhope, producing a note with which he
came equipped, stooped to check off the items. Suddenly he
stopped, frowned, and finally placed his finger under one of the
lines of Tremayne's schedule, carefully studying his own note for
"Ha!" he said quietly at last. "What's this?" And he read: "'Note
from Lord Liverpool of reinforcements to be embarked for Lisbon in
June or July.'" He looked at the adjutant and the adjutant's
secretary. "That would appear to be the most important document of
all - indeed the only document of any vital importance. And it was
not included in the dispatch as it reached Lord Wellington."
The three looked gravely at one another in silence.
"Have you a copy of the note, sir?" inquired the aide-de-camp.
"Not a copy - but a summary of its contents, the figures it
contained, are pencilled there on the margin," Tremayne answered.
"Allow me, sir," said Stanhope, and taking up a quill from the
adjutant's table he rapidly copied the figures. "Lord Wellington
must have this memorandum as soon as possible. The rest, Sir
Terence, is of course a matter for yourself. You will know what
to do. Meanwhile I shall report to his lordship what has occurred.
I had best set out at once."
"If you will rest for an hour, and give my wife the pleasure of
your company at luncheon, I shall have a letter ready for Lord
Wellington," replied Sir Terence. "Perhaps you'll see to it,
Tremayne," he added, without waiting for Captain Stanhope's answer
to an invitation which amounted to a command.
Thus Stanhope was led away, and Sir Terence, all other matters
forgotten for the moment, sat down to write his letter.
Later in the day, after Captain Stanhope had taken his departure,
the duty fell to Tremayne of framing the general order and seeing
to the dispatch of a copy to each division.
"I wonder," he said to Sir Terence, "who will be the first to break
"Why, the fool who's most anxious to be broke himself," answered Sir
There appeared to be reservations about it in Tremayne's mind.
"It's a devilish stringent regulation," he criticised.
"But very salutary and very necessary."
"Oh, quite." Tremayne's agreement was unhesitating. "But I shouldn't
care to feel the restraint of it, and I thank heaven I have no enemy
thirsting for my blood."
Sir Terence's brow darkened. His face was turned away from his
secretary. "How can a man be confident of that?" he wondered.
"Oh, a clean conscience, I suppose," laughed Tremayne, and he gave
his attention to his papers.
Frankness, honesty and light-heartedness rang so clear in the words
that they sowed in Sir Terence's mind fresh doubts of the galling
suspicion he had been harbouring.
"Do you boast a clean conscience, eh, Ned?" he asked, not without a
lurking shame at this deliberate sly searching of the other's mind.
Yet he strained his ears for the answer.
"Almost clean," said Tremayne. "Temptation doesn't stain when it's
resisted, does it?"
Sir Terence trembled. But he controlled himself.
"Nay, now, that's a question for the casuists. They right answer
you that it depends upon the temptation." And he asked point-blank:
"What's tempting you?"
Tremayne was in a mood for confidences, and Sir Terence was his
friend. But he hesitated. His answer to the question was an
"It's just hell to be poor, O'Moy," he said.
The adjutant turned to stare at him. Tremayne was sitting with his
head resting on one hand, the fingers thrusting through the crisp
fair hair, and there was gloom in his clear-cut face, a dullness in
the usually keen grey eyes.
"Is there anything on your mind?" quoth Sir Terence.
"Temptation," was the answer. "It's an unpleasant thing to struggle
"But you spoke of poverty?"
"To be sure. If I weren't poor I could put my fortunes to the test,
and make an end of the matter one way or the other."
There was a pause. "Sure I hope I am the last man to force a
confidence, Ned," said O'Moy. "But you certainly seem as if it
would do you good to confide."
Tremayne shook himself mentally. "I think we had better deal with
the matter of this dispatch that was tampered with at Penalva."
"So we will, to be sure. But it can wait a minute." Sir Terence
pushed back his chair, and rose. He crossed slowly to his
secretary's side. "What's on your mind, Ned?" he asked with abrupt
solicitude, and Ned could not suspect that it was the matter on Sir
Terence's own mind that was urging him - but urging him hopefully.
Captain Tremayne looked up with a rueful smile. "I thought you
boasted that you never forced a confidence." And then he looked
away. "Sylvia Armytage tells me that she is thinking of returning to
For a moment the words seemed to Sir Terence a fresh irrelevance;
another attempt to change the subject. Then quite suddenly a light
broke upon his mind, shedding a relief so great and joyous that he
sought to check it almost in fear.
"It is more than she has told me," he answered steadily. "But then,
no doubt, you enjoy her confidence."
Tremayne flashed him a wry glance and looked away again.
"Alas!" he said, and fetched a sigh.
"And is Sylvia the temptation, Ned?"
Tremayne was silent for a while, little dreaming how Sir Terence
hung upon his answer, how impatiently he awaited it.
"Of course," he said at last. "Isn't it obvious to any one?" And
he grew rhapsodical: "How can a man be daily in her company without
succumbing to her loveliness, to her matchless grace of body and of
mind, without perceiving that she is incomparable, peerless, as much
above other women as an angel perhaps might be above herself?"
Before his glum solemnity, and before something else that Tremayne
could not suspect, Sir Terence exploded into laughter. Of the
immense and joyous relief in it his secretary caught no hint; all
he heard was its sheer amusement, and this galled and shamed him.
For no man cares to be laughed at for such feelings as Tremayne
had been led into betraying.
"You think it something to laugh at?" he said tartly.
"Laugh, is it?" spluttered Sir Terence. "God grant I don't burst a
Tremayne reddened. "When you've indulged your humour, sir," he
said stiffly, "perhaps you'll consider the matter of this dispatch."
But Sir Terence laughed more uproariously than ever. He came to
stand beside Tremayne, and slapped him heartily on the shoulder.
"Ye'll kill me, Ned!" he protested. "For God's sake, not so glum.
It's that makes ye ridiculous."
"I am sorry you find me ridiculous."
"Nay, then, it's glad ye ought to be. By my soul, if Sylvia tempts
you, man, why the devil don't ye just succumb and have done with it?
She's handsome enough and well set up with her air of an Amazon, and
she rides uncommon straight, begad! Indeed it's a broth of a girl
she is in the hunting-field, the ballroom, or at the breakfast-table,
although riper acquaintance may discover her not to be quite all that
you imagine her at present. Let your temptation lead you then,
entirely, and good luck to you, my boy."
"Didn't I tell you, O'Moy," answered the captain, mollified a little
by the sympathy and good feeling peeping through the adjutant's
boisterousness, "that poverty is just hell. It's my poverty that's
in the way."
"And is that all? Then it's thankful you should be that Sylvia
Armytage has got enough for two."
"That's just it."
"The obstacle. I could marry a poor woman. But Sylvia - "
"Have you spoken to her?"
Tremayne was indignant. "How do you suppose I could?"
"It'll not have occurred to you that the lady may have feelings
which having aroused you ought to be considering?"
A wry smile and a shake of the head was Tremayne only answer; and
then Carruthers came in fresh from Lisbon, where he had been upon
business connected with the commissariat, and to Tremayne's relief
the subject was perforce abandoned.
Yet he marvelled several times that day that the hilarity he should
have awakened in Sir Terence continued to cling to the adjutant, and
that despite the many vexatious matters claiming attention he should
preserve an irrepressible and almost boyish gaiety.
Meanwhile, however, the coming of Carruthers had brought the
adjutant a moment's seriousness, and he reverted to the business of
Captain Garfield. When he had mentioned the missing note, Carruthers
very properly became grave. He was a short, stiffly built man with
a round, good-humoured, rather florid face.
"The matter must be probed at once, sir," he ventured. "We know
that we move in a tangle of intrigues and espionage. But such a
thing as this has never happened before. Have you anything to go
"Captain Stanhope gave us nothing," said the adjutant.
"It would be best perhaps to get Grant to look into it," said
"If he is still in Lisbon," said Sir Terence.
"I passed him in the street an hour ago," replied Carruthers.
"Then by all means let a note be sent to him asking him if he will
step up to Monsanto as soon as he conveniently can. You might see
to it, Tremayne."
THE STIFLED QUARREL
It was noon of the next day before Colonel Grant came to the house
at Monsanto from whose balcony floated the British flag, and before
whose portals stood a sentry in the tall bearskin of the grenadiers.
He found the adjutant alone in his room, and apologised for the
delay in responding to his invitation, pleading the urgency of other
matters that he had in hand.
"A wise enactment this of Lord Wellington's," was his next comment.
"I mean this prohibition of duelling. It may be resented by some
of our young bloods as an unwarrantable interference with their
privileges, but it will do a deal of good, and no one can deny that
there is ample cause for the measure."
"It is on the subject of the cause that I'm wanting to consult you,"
said Sir Terence, offering his visitor a chair. "Have you been
informed of the details? No? Let me give you them." And he related
how the dispatch bore signs of having been tampered with, and how
the only document of any real importance came to be missing from it.
Colonel Grant, sitting with his sabre across his knees, listened
gravely and thoughtfully. In the end he shrugged his shoulders, the
keen hawk face unmoved.
"The harm is done, and cannot very well be repaired. The information
obtained, no doubt on behalf of Massena, will by now be on its way to
him. Let us be thankful that the matter is not more grave, and
thankful, too, that you were able to supply a copy of Lord Liverpool's
figures. What do you want me to do?"
"Take steps to discover the spy whose existence is disclosed by this
Colquhoun Grant smiled. "That is precisely the matter which has
brought me to Lisbon."
"How?" Sir Terence was amazed. "You knew?"
"Oh, not that this had happened. But that the spy - or rather a
network of espionage - existed. We move here in a web of intrigue
wrought by ill-will, self-interest, vindictiveness and every form
of malice. Whilst the great bulk of the Portuguese people and
their leaders are loyally co-operating with us, there is a strong
party opposing us which would prefer even to see the French prevail.
Of course you are aware of this. The heart and brain of all this
is - as I gather the Principal Souza. Wellington has compelled his
retirement from the Government. But if by doing so he has restricted
the man's power for evil, he has certainly increased his will fo
evil and his activities.
"You tell me that Garfield was cared for by the parish priest at
Penalva. There you are. Half the priesthood of the country are on
Souza's side, since the Patriarch of Lisbon himself is little more
than a tool of Souza's. What happens? This priest discovers that
the British officer whom he has so charitably put to bed in his
house is the bearer of dispatches. A loyal man would instantly
have communicated with Marshal Beresford at Thomar. This fellow,
instead, advises the intriguers in Lisbon. The captain's dispatches
are examined and the only document of real value is abstracted. Of
course it would be difficult to establish a case against the priest,
and it is always vexatious and troublesome to have dealings with
that class, as it generally means trouble with the peasantry. But
the case is as clear as crystal."
"But the intriguers here? Can you not deal with them?"
"I have them under observation," replied the colonel. "I already
knew the leaders, Souza's lieutenants in Lisbon, and I can put my
hand upon them at any moment. If I have not already done so it is
because I find it more profitable to leave them at large; it is
possible, indeed, that I may never proceed to extremes against them.
Conceive that they have enabled me to seize La Fleche, the most
dangerous, insidious and skilful of all Napoleon's agents. I found
him at Redondo's ball last week in the uniform of a Portuguese major,
and through him I was able to track down Souza's chief instrument -
I discovered them closeted with him in one of the card-rooms."
"And you didn't arrest them?"
"Arrest them! I apologised for my intrusion, and withdrew. La
Fleche took his leave of them. He was to have left Lisbon at dawn
equipped with a passport countersigned by yourself, my dear
"A passport for Major Vieira of the Portuguese Cacadores. Do you
"Major Vieira!" Sir Terence frowned thoughtfully. Suddenly he
recollected. "But that was countersigned by me at the request of
Count Samoval, who represented himself a personal friend of the
"So indeed he is. But the major in question was La Fleche
"And Samoval knew this?"
Sir Terence was incredulous.
Colonel Grant did not immediately answer the question. He preferred
to continue his narrative. "That night I had the false major
arrested very quietly. I have caused him to disappear for the
present. His Lisbon friends believe him to be on his way to
Massena with the information they no doubt supplied him. Massena
awaits his return at Salamanca, and will continue to wait. Thus
when he fails to be seen or heard of there will be a good deal of
mystification on all sides, which is the proper state of mind in
which to place your opponents. Lord Liverpool's figures, let me
add, were not among the interesting notes found upon him - possibly
because at that date they had not yet been obtained."
"And you say that Samoval was aware of the man's real identity?"
insisted Sir Terence, still incredulous. "Aware of it?" Colonel
Grant laughed shortly. "Samoval is Souza's principal agent - the
most dangerous man in Lisbon and the most subtle. His sympathies
are French through and through."
Sir Terence stared at him in frank amazement, in utter unbelief.
"Oh, impossible!" he ejaculated at last.
"I saw Samoval for the first time," said Colonel Grant by way of
answer, "in Oporto at the time of Soult's occupation. He did not
call himself Samoval just then, any more than I called myself
Colquhoun Grant. He was very active therein the French interest;
I should indeed be more precise and say in Bonaparte's interest,
for he was the man instrumental in disclosing to Soult the Bourbon
conspiracy which was undermining the marshal's army. You do not
know, perhaps, that French sympathy runs in Samoval's family. You
may not be aware that the Portuguese Marquis of Alorna, who holds
a command in the Emperor's army, and is at present with Massena at
Salamanca, is Samoval's cousin."
"But," faltered Sir Terence, "Count Samoval has been a regular
visitor here for the past three months."
"So I understand," said Grant coolly. "If I had known of it before
I should have warned you. But, as you are aware, I have been in
Spain on other business. You realise the danger of having such a
man about the place. Scraps of information - "
"Oh, as to that," Sir Terence interrupted, "I can assure you that
none have fallen from my official table."
"Never be too sure, Sir Terence. Matters here must ever be under
discussion. There are your secretaries and the ladies - and Samoval
has a great way with the women. What they know you may wager that
"They know nothing."
"That is a great deal to say. Little odds and ends now; a hint at
one time; a word dropped at another; these things picked up
naturally by feminine curiosity and retailed thoughtlessly under
Samoval's charming suasion and display of Britannic sympathies. And
Samoval has the devil's own talent for bringing together the pieces
of a puzzle. Take the lines now: you may have parted with no details.
But mention of them will surely have been made in this household.
However," he broke off abruptly, "that is all past and done with. I
am as sure as you are that any real indiscretions in this household
are unimaginable, and so we may be confident that no harm has yet
been done. But you will gather from what I have now told you that
Samoval's visits here are not a mere social waste of time. That he
comes, acquires familiarity and makes himself the friend of the
family with a very definite aim in view."
"He does not come again," said Sir Terence, rising.
"That is more than I should have ventured to suggest. But it is a
very wise resolve. It will need tact to carry it out, for Samoval
is a man to be handled carefully."
"I'll handle him carefully, devil a fear," said Sir Terence. "You
can depend upon my tact."
Colonel Grant rose. "In this matter of Penalva, I will consider
further. But I do not think there is anything to be done now. The
main thing is to stop up the outlets through which information
reaches the French, and that is my chief concern. How is the
stripping of the country proceeding now?"
"It was more active immediately after Souza left the Government.
But the last reports announce a slackening again."
"They are at work in that, too, you see. Souza will not slumber
while there's vengeance and self-interest to keep him awake." And
he held out his hand to take his leave.
"You'll stay to luncheon?" said Sir Terence. "It is about to be
"You are very kind, Sir Terence."
They descended, to find luncheon served already in the open under
the trellis vine, and the party consisted of Lady O'Moy, Miss
Armytage, Captain Tremayne, Major Carruthers, and Count Samoval,
of whose presence this was the adjutant's first intimation.
As a matter of fact the Count had been at Monsanto for the past
hour, the first half of which he had spent most agreeably on the
terrace with the ladies. He had spoken so eulogistically of the
genius of Lord Wellington and the valour of the British soldier,
and, particularly-of the Irish soldier, that even Sylvia's
instinctive distrust and dislike of him had been lulled a little
for the moment.
"And they must prevail," he had exclaimed in a glow of enthusiasm,
his dark eyes flashing. "It is inconceivable that they should ever
yield to the French, although the odds of numbers may lie so
heavily against them."
"Are the odds of numbers so heavy?" said Lady O'Moy in surprise,
opening wide those almost childish eyes of hers.
"Alas! anything from three to five to one. Ah, but why should we
despond on that account?" And his voice vibrated with renewed
confidence. "The country is a difficult one, easy to defend, and
Lord Wellington's genius will have made the best of it. There are,
for example, the fortifications at Torres Vedras."
"Ah yes! I have heard of them. Tell me about them, Count."
"Tell you about them, dear lady? Shall I carry perfumes to the
rose? What can I tell you that you do not know so much better than
"Indeed, I know nothing. Sir Terence is ridiculously secretive,"
she assured him, with a little frown of petulance. She realised
that her husband did not treat her as an intelligent being to be
consulted upon these matters. She was his wife, and he had no right
to keep secrets from her. In fact she said so.
"Indeed no," Samoval agreed. "And I find it hard to credit that it
should be so."
"Then you forget," said Sylvia, "that these secrets are not Sir
Terence's own. They are the secrets of his office."
"Perhaps so," said the unabashed Samoval. "But if I were Sir
Terence I should desire above all to allay my wife's natural anxiety.
For I am sure you must be anxious, dear Lady O'Moy."'
"Naturally," she agreed, whose anxieties never transcended the fit
of her gowns or the suitability of a coiffure. "But Terence is like
"Incredible!" the Count protested, and raised his dark eyes to
heaven as if invoking its punishment upon so unnatural a husband.
"Do you tell me that you have never so much as seen the plans of
these fortifications? "
"The plans, Count!" She almost laughed.
"Ah!" he said. "I dare swear then that you do not even know of
their existence." He was jocular now.
"I am sure that she does not," said Sylvia, who instinctively felt
that the conversation was following an undesirable course.
"Then you are wrong," she was assured. "I saw them once, a week
ago, in Sir Terence's room."
"Why, how would you know them if you saw them?" quoth Sylvia,
seeking to cover what might be an indiscretion.
"Because they bore the name: 'Lines of Torres Vedras.' I remember."
"And this unsympathetic Sir Terence did not explain them to you?"
"Indeed, he did not."
"In fact, I could swear that he locked them away from you at once?"
the Count continued on a jocular note.
"Not at once. But he certainly locked them away soon after, and
whilst I was still there."
"In your place, then," said Samoval, ever on the same note of
banter, "I should have been tempted to steal the key."
"Not so easily done," she assured him. "It never leaves his person.
He wears it on a gold chain round his neck."
"Always, I assure you."
"Too bad," protested Samoval. "Too bad, indeed. What, then, should
you have done, Miss Armytage?"
It was difficult to imagine that he was drawing information from
them, so bantering and frivolous was his manner; more difficult
still to conceive that he had obtained any. Yet you will observe
that he had been placed in possession of two facts: that the plans
of the lines of Torres Vedras were kept locked up in Sir Terence's
own room - in the strong-box, no doubt - and that Sir Terence
always carried the key on a gold chain worn round his neck.
Miss Armytage laughed. "Whatever I might do, I should not be
guilty of prying into matters that my husband kept hidden."
"Then you admit a husband's right to keep matters hidden from his
"Madam," Samoval bowed to her, "your future husband is to be envied
on yet another count."
And thus the conversation drifted, Samoval conceiving that he had
obtained all the information of which Lady O'Moy was possessed, and
satisfied that he had obtained all that for the moment he required.
How to proceed now was a more difficult matter, to be very seriously
considered - how to obtain from Sir Terence the key in question, and
reach the plans so essential to Marshal Massena.
He was at table with them, as you know, when Sip Terence and Colonel
Grant arrived. He and the colonel were presented to each other, and
bowed with a gravity quite cordial on the part of Samoval, who was
by far the more subtle dissembler of the two. Each knew the other
perfectly for what he was; yet each was in complete ignorance of
the extent of the other's knowledge of himself; and certainly neither
betrayed anything by his manner.
At table the conversation was led naturally enough by Tremayne to
Wellington's general order against duelling. This was inevitable
when you consider that it was a topic of conversation that morning
at every table to which British officers sat down. Tremayne spoke
of the measure in terms of warm commendation, thereby provoking a
sharp disagreement from Samoval. The deep and almost instinctive
hostility between these two men, which had often been revealed in
momentary flashes, was such that it must invariably lead them to
take opposing sides in any matter admitting of contention.
"In my opinion it is a most arbitrary and degrading enactment," said
Samoval. "I say so without hesitation, notwithstanding my profound
admiration and respect for Lord Wellington and all his measures."
"Degrading?" echoed Grant, looking across at him. "In what can it
be degrading, Count?"
"In that it reduces a gentleman to the level of the clod," was the
prompt answer. "A gentleman must have his quarrels, however sweet
his disposition, and a means must be afforded him of settling them."
"Ye can always thrash an impudent fellow," opined the adjutant.
"Thrash?" echoed Samoval. His sensitive lip curled in disdain.
"To use your hands upon a man!" He shuddered in sheer disgust.
"To one of my temperament it would be impossible, and men of my
temperament are plentiful, I think."
"But if you were thrashed yourself?" Tremayne asked him, and the
light in his grey eyes almost hinted at a dark desire to be himself
Samoval's dark, handsome eyes considered the captain steadily. "To
be thrashed myself?" he questioned. "My dear Captain, the idea of
having hands laid upon me, soiling me, brutalising me, is so
nauseating, so repugnant, that I assure you I should not hesitate to
shoot the man who did it just as I should shoot any other wild beast
that attacked me. Indeed the two instances are exactly parallel,
and my country's courts would uphold in such a case the justice of
"Then you may thank God," said O'Moy, "that you are not under
"I do," snapped Samoval, to make an instant recovery: "at least so
far as the matter is concerned." And he elaborated: "I assure you,
sirs, it will be an evil day for the nobility of any country when
its Government enacts against the satisfaction that one gentleman
has the right to demand from another who offends him."
"Isn't the conversation rather too bloodthirsty for a luncheon-table?"
wondered Lady O'Moy. And tactlessly she added, thinking with
flattery to mollify Samoval and cool his obvious heat: "You are
yourself such a famous swordsman, Count."
And then Tremayne's dislike of the man betrayed him into his
"At the present time Portugal is in urgent need of her famous
swordsmen to go against the French and not to increase the
disorders at home."
A silence complete and ominous followed the rash words, and Samoval,
white to the lips, pondered the imperturbable captain with a baleful
"I think," he said at last, speaking slowly and softly, and picking
his words with care, "I think that is innuendo. I should be
relieved, Captain Tremayne, to hear you say that it is not."
Tremayne was prompt to give him the assurance. "No innuendo at all.
A plain statement of fact."
"The innuendo I suggested lay in the application of the phrase. Do
you make it personal to myself?"
"Of course not," said Sir Terence, cutting in and speaking sharply.
"What an assumption!"
"I am asking Captain Tremayne," the Count insisted, with grim
firmness, notwithstanding his deferential smile to Sir Terence.
"I spoke quite generally, sir," Tremayne assured him, partly under
the suasion of Sir Terence's interposition, partly out of
consideration for the ladies, who were looking scared. "Of course,
if you choose to take it to yourself, sir, that is a matter for your
own discretion. I think," he added, also with a smile, "that the
ladies find the topic tiresome."
"Perhaps we may have the pleasure of continuing it when they are no
"Oh, as you please," was the indifferent answer. "Carruthers, may
I trouble you to pass the salt? Lady O'Callaghan was complaining
the other night of the abuse of salt in Portuguese cookery. It is
an abuse I have never yet detected."
"I can't conceive Lady O'Callaghan complaining of too much salt in
anything, begad," quoth O'Moy, with a laugh. "If you had heard the
story she told me about - "
"Terence, my dear!" his wife checked him, her fine brows raised, her
"Faith, we go from bad to worse," said Carruthers. "Will you try
to improve the tone of the conversation, Miss Armytage? It stands
in urgent need of it."
With a general laugh, breaking the ice of the restraint that was in
danger of settling about the table, a semblance of ease was restored,
and this was maintained until the end of the repast. At last the
ladies rose, and, leaving the men at table, they sauntered off
towards the terrace. But under the archway Sylvia checked her
"Una," she said gravely, "you had better call Captain Tremayne and
take him away for the present."
Una's eyes opened wide. "Why?" she inquired.
Miss Armytage was almost impatient with her. "Didn't you see?
Resentment is only slumbering between those men. It will break
out again now that we have left them unless you can get Captain
Una continued to look at her cousin, and then, her mind fastening
ever upon the trivial to the exclusion of the important, her glance
became arch. "For whom is your concern? For Count Samoval or Ned?"
she inquired, and added with a laugh: "You needn't answer me. It
is Ned you are afraid for."
"I am certainly not afraid for him," was the reply on a faint note
of indignation. She had reddened slightly. "But I should not like
to see Captain Tremayne or any other British officer embroiled in
a duel. You forget Lord Wellington's order which they were
discussing, and the consequences of infringing it."
Lady O'Moy became scared.
"You don't imagine - "
Sylvia spoke quickly: "I am certain that unless you take Captain
Tremayne away, and at once, there will! be serious trouble."
And now behold Lady O'Moy thrown into a state of alarm that bordered
upon terror. She had more reason than Sylvia could dream, more
reason she conceived than Sylvia herself, to wish to keep Captain
Tremayne out of trouble just at present. Instantly, agitatedly,
she turned and called to him.
"Ned!" floated her silvery voice across the enclosed garden. And
again: "Ned! I want you at once, please."
Captain Tremayne rose. Grant was talking briskly at the time, his
intention being to cover Tremayne's retreat, which he himself
desired. Count Samoval's smouldering eyes were upon the captain,
and full of menace. But he could not be guilty of the rudeness of
interrupting Grant or of detaining Captain Tremayne when a lady
Rebuke awaited Captain Tremayne at the hands of Lady O'Moy, and
it came as soon as they were alone together sauntering in the
thicket of pine and cork-oak on the slope of the hill below the
"How thoughtless of you, Ned, to provoke Count Samoval at such a
time as this!"
"Did I provoke him? I thought it was the Count himself who was
provoking." Tremayne spoke lightly.
"But suppose anything were to happen to you? You know the man's
Tremayne looked at her kindly. This apparent concern for himself
touched him. "My dear Una, I hope I can take care of myself, even
against so formidable a fellow; and after all a man must take his
chances a soldier especially."
"But what of Dick?" she cried. "Do you forget that he is depending
entirely upon you - that if you should fail him he will be lost?"
And there was something akin to indignation in the protesting eyes
she turned upon him.
For a moment Tremayne was so amazed that he was at a loss for an
answer. Then he smiled. Indeed his inclination was to laugh
outright. The frank admission that her concern which he had fondly
imagined to be for himself was all for Dick betrayed a state of
mind that was entirely typical of Una. Never had she been able to
command more than one point of view of any question, and that point
of view invariably of her own interest. All her life she had been
accustomed to sacrifices great and small made by others on heir own
behalf, until she had come to look upon such sacrifices her absolute
"I am glad you reminded me," he said with an irony that never
touched her. "You may depend upon me to be discreetness itself, at
least until after Dick has been safely shipped."
"Thank you, Ned. You are very good to me." They sauntered a little
way in silence. Then: "When does Captain Glennie sail?" she asked
him. "Is it decided yet?"
"Yes. I have just heard from him that the Telemachus will put to
sea on Sunday morning at two o'clock."
"At two o'clock in the morning! What an uncomfortable hour!"
"Tides, as King Canute discovered, are beyond mortal control. The
Telemachus goes out with the ebb. And, after all, for our purposes
surely no hour could be more suitable. If I come for Dick at
midnight tomorrow that will just give us time to get him snugly
aboard before she sails. I have made all arrangements with Glennie.
He believes Dick to be what he has represented himself - one of
Bearsley's overseers named Jenkinson, who is a friend of mine and
who must be got out of the country quietly. Dick should thank his
luck for a good deal. My chief anxiety was lest his presence here
should be discovered by any one."
"Beyond Bridget not a soul knows that he is here not even Sylvia."
"You have been the soul of discreetness."
"Haven't I?" she purred, delighted to have him discover a virtue so
unusual in her.
Thereafter they discussed details; or, rather, Tremayne discussed
them. He would come up to Monsanto at twelve o'clock to-morrow
night in a curricle in which he would drive Dick down to the river
at a point where a boat would be waiting to take him out to the
Telemachus. She must see that Dick was ready in time. The rest
she could safely leave to him. He would come in through the
official wing of the building. The guard would admit him without
question, accustomed to seeing him come and go at all hours, nor
would it be remarked that he was accompanied by a man in civilian
dress when he departed. Dick was to be let; down from her ladyship's
balcony to the quadrangle by a rope ladder with which Tremayne
would come equipped, having procured it for the purpose from the
She hung upon his arm, overwhelming him now with her gratitude,
her parasol sheltering them both from the rays of the sun as they
emerged from the thicket intro the meadowland in full view of the
terrace where Count Samoval and Sir Terence were at that moment
talking earnestly together.
You will remember that O'Moy had undertaken to provide that Count
Samoval's visits to Monsanto should be discontinued. About this
task he had gone with all the tact of which he had boasted himself
master to Colquhoun Grant. You shall judge of the tact for yourself.
No sooner had the colonel left for Lisbon, and Carruthers to return
to his work, than, finding himself alone with the Count, Sir Terence
considered the moment a choice one in which to broach the matter.
"I take it ye're fond of walking, Count," had been his singular
opening move. They had left the table by now, and were sauntering
together on the terrace.
"Walking?" said Samoval. "I detest it."
"And is that so? Well, well! Of course it's not so very far from
your place at Bispo."
"Not more than half-a-league, I should say."
"Just so," said O'Moy. "Half-a-league there, and half-a-league back:
a league. It's nothing at all, of course; yet for a gentleman who
detests walking it's a devilish long tramp for nothing."
"For nothing?" Samoval checked and looked at his host in faint
surprise. Then he smiled very affably. "But you must not say that,
Sir Terence. I assure you that the pleasure of seeing yourself and
Lady O'Moy cannot be spoken of as nothing."
"You are very good." Sir Terence was the very quintessence of
courtliness, of concern for the other. "But if there were not that
"Then, of course, it would be different." Samoval was beginning to
be slightly intrigued.
"That's it," said Sir Terence. "That's just what I'm meaning."
"Just what you're meaning? But, my dear General, you are assuming
circumstances which fortunately do not exist."
"Not at present, perhaps. But they might."
Again Samoval stood still and looked at O'Moy. He found something
in the bronzed, rugged face that was unusually sardonic. The blue
eyes seemed to have become hard, and yet there were wrinkles about
their corners suggestive of humour that might be mockery. The Count
stiffened; but beyond that he preserved his outward calm whilst
confessing that he did not understand Sir Terence's meaning.
"It's this way," said Sir Terence. "I've noticed that ye're not
looking so very well lately, Count."
"Really? You think that?" The words were mechanical. The dark
eyes continued to scrutinise that bronzed face suspiciously.
"I do, and it's sorry I am to see it. But I know what it is. It's
this walking backwards and forwards between here and Bispo that's
doing the mischief. Better give it up, Count. Better not come
toiling up here any more. It's not good for your health. Why, man,
ye're as white as a ghost this minute."
He was indeed, having perceived at last the insult intended. To be
denied the house at such a time was to checkmate his designs, to set
a term upon his crafty and subtle espionage, precisely in the season
when he hoped to reap its harvest. But his chagrin sprang not at
all from that. His cold anger was purely personal. He was a
gentleman - of the fine flower, as he would have described himself -
of the nobility of Portugal; and that a probably upstart Irish
soldier - himself, from Samoval's point of view, a guest in that
country - should deny him his house, and choose such terms of
ill-considered jocularity in which to do it, was an affront beyond
For a moment passion blinded him, and it was only by an effort that
he recovered and kept his self-control. But keep it he did. You
may trust your practised duellist for that when he comes face to
face with the necessity to demand satisfaction. And soon the mist
of passion clearing from his keen wits, he sought swiftly for a
means to fasten the quarrel upon Sir Terence in Sir Terence's own
coin of galling mockery. Instantly he found it. Indeed it was not
very far to seek. O'Moy's jealousy, which was almost a byword, as
we know, had been apparent more than once to Samoval. Remembering
it now, it discovered to him at once Sir Terence's most vulnerable
spot, and cunningly Samoval proceeded to gall him there.
A smile spread gradually over his white face - a smile of
"I am having a very interesting and instructive morning in this
atmosphere of Irish boorishness," said he. "First Captain
Tremayne - "
"Now don't be after blaming old Ireland for Tremayne's shortcomings.
Tremayne's just a clumsy mannered Englishman."
"I am glad to know there is a distinction. Indeed I might have
perceived it for myself. In motives, of course, that distinction
is great indeed, and I hope that I am not slow to discover it, and
in your case to excuse it. I quite understand and even sympathise
with your feelings, General."
"I am glad of that now," said Sir Terence, who had understood
nothing of all this.
"Naturally," the Count pursued on a smooth, level note of amiability,
"when a man, himself no longer young, commits the folly of taking a
young and charming wife, he is to be forgiven when a natural anxiety
drives him to lengths which in another might be resented." He bowed
before the empurpling Sir Terence.
"Ye're a damned coxcomb, it seems," was the answering roar.
"Of course you would assume it. It was to be expected. I condone
it with the rest. And because I condone it, because I sympathise
with what in a man of your age and temperament must amount to an
affliction, I hasten to assure you upon my honour that so far as
I am concerned there are no grounds for your anxiety."
"And who the devil asks for your assurances? It's stark mad ye are
to suppose that I ever needed them."
"Of course you must say that," Samoval insisted, with a confident
and superior smile. He shook his head, his expression one of
amused sorrow. "Sir Terence, you have knocked at the wrong door.
You are youthful at least in your impulsiveness, but you are surely
as blind as old Pantaloon in the comedy or you would see where your
industry would be better employed in shielding your wife's honour
and your own."
Goaded to fury, his blue eyes aflame now with passion, Sir Terence
considered the sleek and subtle gentleman before him, and it was in
that moment that the Count's subtlety soared to its finest heights.
In a flash of inspiration he perceived the advantages to be drawn by
himself from conducting this quarrel to extremes.
This is not mere idle speculation. Knowledge of the real motives
actuating him rests upon the evidence of a letter which Samoval was
to write that same evening to La Fleche - afterwards to be
discovered - wherein he related what had passed, how deliberately
he had steered the matter, and what he meant to do. His object was
no longer the punishing of an affront. That would happen as a mere
incident, a thing done, as it were, in passing. His real aim now
was to obtain the keys of the adjutant's strong-box, which never
left Sir Terence's person, and so become possessed of the plans of
the lines of Torres Vedras. When you consider in the light of this
the manner in which Samoval proceeded now you will admire with me
at once the opportunism and the subtlety of the man.
"You'll be after telling me exactly what you mean," Sir Terence
It was in that moment that Tremayne and Lady O'Moy came arm in arm
into the open on the hill-side, half-a-mile away - very close and
confidential. They came most opportunely to the Count's need, and
he flung out a hand to indicate them to Sir Terence, a smile of
pity on his lips.
"You need but to look to take the answer for yourself," said he.
Sir Terence looked, and laughed. He knew the sect of Ned Tremayne's
heart and could laugh now with relish at that which hitherto had
left him darkly suspicious.
"And who shall blame Lady O'Moy?" Count Samoval pursued. "A
lady so charming and so courted must seek her consolation for the
almost unnatural union Fate has imposed upon her. Captain Tremayne
is of her own age, convenient to her hand, and for an Englishman
He smiled at O'Moy with insolent compassion, and O'Moy, losing all
his self-control, struck him slapped him resoundingly upon the cheek.
"Ye're a dirty liar, Samoval, a muck-rake," said he.
Samoval stepped back, breathing hard, one cheek red, the other
white. Yet by a miracle he still preserved his self-control.
"I have proved my courage too often," he said, "to be under the
necessity of killing you for this blow. Since my honour is safe I
will not take advantage of your overwrought condition."
"Ye'll take advantage of it whether ye like it or not," blazed Sir
Terence at him. "I mean you to take advantage of it. D' ye think
I'll suffer any man to cast a slur upon Lady O'Moy? I'll be
sending my friends to wait on you to-day, Count; and - by God! -
Tremayne himself shall be one of them."
Thus did the hot-headed fellow deliver himself into the hands of
his enemy. Nor was he warned when he saw the sudden gleam in
Samoval's dark eyes.
"Ha!" said the Count. It was a little exclamation of wicked
satisfaction. "You are offering me a challenge, then?"
"If I may make so bold. And as I've a mind to shoot you dead - "
"Shoot, did you say?" Samoval interrupted gently.
"I said 'shoot' -and it shall be at ten paces, or across a
handkerchief, or any damned distance you please."
The Count shook his head. He sneered. "I think not - not shoot."
And he waved the notion aside with a hand white and slender as a
woman's. "That is too English, or too Irish. The pistol, I mean
- appropriately a fool's weapon." And he explained himself,
explained at last his extraordinary forbearance under a blow. "If
you think I have practised the small-sword every day of my life for
ten years to suffer myself to be shot at like a rabbit in the end
- ho, really!" He laughed aloud. "You have challenged me, I
think, Sir Terence. Because I feared the predilection you have
discovered, I was careful to wait until the challenge came from you.
The choice of weapons lies, I think, with me. I shall instruct my
friends to ask for swords."
"Sorry a difference will it make to me," said Sir Terence. "Anything
from a horsewhip to a howitzer." And then recollection descending
like a cold hand upon him chilled his hot rage, struck the fine Irish
arrogance all out of him, and left him suddenly limp. "My God!" he
said, and it was almost a groan. He detained Samoval, who had
already turned to depart. "A moment, Count," he cried. "I - I had
forgotten. There is the general order - Lord Wellington's enactment."
"Awkward, of course," said Samoval, who had never for a moment been
oblivious of that enactment, and who had been carefully building
upon it. "But you should have considered it before committing
yourself so irrevocably."
Sir Terence steadied himself. He recovered his truculence.
"Irrevocable or not, it will just have to be revocable. The
"I do not see the impossibility. I am not surprised you should
shelter yourself behind an enactment; but you will remember this
enactment does not apply to me, who am not a soldier."
"But it applies to me, who am not only a soldier, but the
Adjutant-General here, the man chiefly responsible for seeing the
order carried out. It would be a fine thing if I were the first
to disregard it."
"I am afraid it is too late. You have disregarded it already,
"The letter of the law is against sending or receiving a challenge,
O'Moy was distracted. "Samoval," he said, drawing himself up, "I
will admit that I have been a fool. I will apologise to you for
the blow and for the word that accompanied it."
"The apology would imply that my statement was a true one and that
you recognised it. If you mean that - "
"I mean nothing of the kind. Damme! I've a mind to horsewhip you,
and leave it at that. D' ye think I want to face a firing party on
"I don't think there is the remotest likelihood of any such
contingency," replied Samoval.
But O'Moy went headlong on. "And another thing. Where will I be
finding a friend to meet your friends? Who will dare to act for me
in view of that enactment?"
The Count considered. He was grave now. "Of course that is a
difficulty," he admitted, as if he perceived it now for the first
time. "Under the circumstances, Sir Terence, and entirely to
accommodate you, I might consent to dispense with seconds."
"Dispense with seconds?" Sir Terence was horrified at the suggestion.
"You know that that is irregular - that a charge of murder would lie
against the survivor."
"Oh, quite so. But it is for your own convenience that I suggest
it, though I appreciate your considerate concern on the score of
what may happen to me afterwards should it come to be known that I
was your opponent."
"Afterwards? After what?"
"After I have killed you."
"And is it like that?" cried O'Moy, his countenance inflaming again,
his mind casting all prudence to the winds.
It followed, of course, that without further thought for anything
but the satisfaction of his rage Sir Terence became as wax in the
hands of Samoval's desires.
"Where do you suggest that we meet?" he asked.
"There is my place at Bispo. We should be private in the gardens
there. As for time, the sooner the better, though for secrecy's
sake we had better meet at night. Shall we say at midnight?"
But Sir Terence would agree to none of this.
"To-night is out of the question for me. I have an engagement
that will keep me until late. To-morrow night, if you will, I
shall be at your service." And because he did not trust Samoval
he added, as Samoval himself had almost reckoned: "But I should
prefer not to come to Bispo. I might be seen going or returning."
"Since there are no such scruples on my side, I am ready to come
to you here if you prefer it."
"It would suit me better."
"Then expect me promptly at midnight to-morrow, provided that you
can arrange to admit me without my being seen. You will perceive
"Those gates will be closed," said O'Moy, indicating the now gaping
massive doors that closed the archway at night. "But if you knock
I shall be waiting for you, and I will admit you by the wicket."
"Excellent," said Samoval suavely. "Then - until to-morrow night,
General." He bowed with almost extravagant submission, and turning
walked sharply away, energy and suppleness in every line of his
slight figure, leaving Sir Terence to the unpleasant, almost
desperate, thoughts that reflection must usher in as his anger
It was a time of stress and even of temptation for Sir Terence.
Honour and pride demanded that he should keep the appointment made
with Samoval; common sense urged him at all costs to avoid it. His
frame of mind, you see, was not at all enviable. At moments he
would consider his position as adjutant-general, the enactment
against duelling, the irregularity of the meeting arranged, and,
consequently, the danger in which he stood on every score; at others
he could think of nothing but the unpardonable affront that had been
offered him and the venomously insulting manner in which it had been
offered, and his rage welled up to blot out every consideration
other than that of punishing Samoval.
For two days and a night he was a sort of shuttlecock tossed between
these alternating moods, and he was still the same when he paced the
quadrangle with bowed head and hands clasped behind him awaiting
Samoval at a few minutes before twelve of the following night. The
windows that looked down from the four sides of that enclosed garden
were all in darkness. The members of the household had withdrawn
over an hour ago and were asleep by now. The official quarters were
closed. The rising moon had just mounted above the eastern wing and
its white light fell upon the upper half of the facade of the
residential site. The quadrangle itself remained plunged in gloom.
Sir Terence, pacing there, was considering the only definite
conclusion he had reached. If there were no way even now of avoiding
this duel, at least it must remain secret. Therefore it could not
take place here in the enclosed garden of his own quarters, as he
had so rashly consented. It should be fought upon neutral ground,
where the presence of the body of the slain would not call for
explanations by the survivor.
>From distant Lisbon on the still air came softly the chimes of
midnight, and immediately there was a sharp rap upon the little
door set in one of the massive gates that closed the archway.
Sir Terence went to open the wicket, and Samoval stepped quickly
over the sill. He was wrapped in a dark cloak, a broad-brimmed
hat obscured his face. Sir Terence closed the door again. The
two men bowed to each other in silence, and as Samoval's cloak fell
open he produced a pair of duelling-swords swathed together in a
skin of leather.
"You are very punctual, sir," said O'Moy.
"I hope I shall never be so discourteous as to keep an opponent
waiting. It is a thing of which I have never yet been guilty,"
replied Samoval, with deadly smoothness in that reminder of his
victorious past. He stepped forward and looked about the
quadrangle. "I am afraid the moon will occasion us some delay,"
he said. "It were perhaps better to wait some five or ten
minutes, by then the light in here should have improved."
"We can avoid the delay by stepping out into the open," said Sir
Terence. "Indeed it is what I had to suggest in any case. There
are inconveniences here which you may have overlooked."
But Samoval, who had purposes to serve of which this duel was but
a preliminary, was of a very different mind.
"We are quite private here, your household being abed," he answered,
"whilst outside one can never be sure even at this hour of avoiding
witnesses and interruption. Then, again, the turf is smooth as a
table on that patch of lawn, and the ground well known to both of
us; that, I can assure you, is a very necessary condition in the
dark and one not to be found haphazard in the open."
"But there is yet another consideration, sir. I prefer that we
engage on neutral ground, so that the survivor shall not be called
upon for explanations that might be demanded if we fought here."
Even in the gloom Sir Terence caught the flash of Samoval's
white teeth as he smiled.
"You trouble yourself unnecessarily on my account," was the smoothly
ironic answer. "No one has seen me come, and no one is likely to
see me depart."
"You may be sure that no one shall, by God," snapped O'Moy, stung
by the sly insolence of the other's assurance.
"Shall we get to work, then?" Samoval invited.
"If you're set on dying here, I suppose I must be after humouring
you, and make the best of it. As soon as you please, then." O'Moy
was very fierce.
They stepped to the patch of lawn in the middle of the quadrangle,
and there Samoval threw off altogether his cloak and hat. He was
closely dressed in black, which in that light rendered him almost
invisible. Sir Terence, less practised and less calculating in
these matters, wore an undress uniform, the red coat of which showed
greyish. Samoval observed this rather with contempt than with
satisfaction in the advantage it afforded him. Then he removed the
swathing from the swords, and, crossing them, presented the hilts to
Sir Terence. The adjutant took one and the Count retained the other,
which he tested, thrashing the air with it so that it hummed like a
whip. That done, however, he did not immediately fall on.
"In a few minutes the moon will be more obliging," he suggested.
"If you would prefer to wait - "
But it occurred to Sir Terence that in the gloom the advantage might
lie slightly with himself, since the other's superior sword-play
would perhaps be partly neutralised. He cast a last look round at
the dark windows.
"I find it light enough," he answered.
Samoval's reply was instantaneous. "On guard, then," he cried,
and on the words, without giving Sir Terence so much as time to
comply with the invitation, he whirled his point straight and
deadly at the greyish outline of his opponent's body. But a ray
of moonlight caught the blade and its livid flash gave Sir Terence
warning of the thrust so treacherously delivered. He saved himself
by leaping backwards - just saved himself with not an inch to spare
- and threw up his blade to meet the thrust.
"Ye murderous villain," he snarled under his breath, as steel ground
on steel, and he flung forward to the attack.
But from the gloom came a little laugh to answer him, and his angry
lunge was foiled by an enveloping movement that ended in a ripost.
With that they settled down to it, Sir Terence in a rage upon which
that assassin stroke had been fresh fuel; the Count cool and
unhurried, delaying until the moonlight should have crept a little
farther, so as to enable him to make quite sure that his stroke when
delivered should be final.
Meanwhile he pressed Sir Terence towards the side where the
moonlight would strike first, until they were fighting close under
the windows of the residential wing, Sir Terence with his back to
them, Samoval facing them. It was Fate that placed them so, the
Fate that watched over Sir Terence even now when he felt his
strength failing him, his sword arm turning to lead under the strain
of an unwonted exercise. He knew himself beaten, realised the
dexterous ease, the masterly economy of vigour and the deadly
sureness of his opponent's play. He knew that he was at the mercy
of Samoval; he was even beginning to wonder why the Count should
delay to make an end of a situation of which he was so completely
master. And then, quite suddenly, even as he was returning thanks
that he had taken the precaution of putting all his affairs in order,
A light showed; it flared up suddenly, to be as suddenly extinguished,
and it had its source in the window of Lady O'Moy's dressing-room,
which Samoval was facing.
That flash drawing off the Count's eyes for one instant, and leaving
them blinded for another, had revealed him clearly at the same time
to Sir Terence. Sir Terence's blade darted in, driven by all that
was left of his spent strength, and Samoval, his eyes unseeing, in
that moment had fumbled widely and failed to find the other's steel
until he felt it sinking through his body, searing him from breast
His arms sank to his sides quite nervelessly. He uttered a faint
exclamation of astonishment, almost instantly interrupted by a cough.
He swayed there a moment, the cough increasing until it choked him.
Then, suddenly limp, he pitched forward upon his face, and lay
clawing and twitching at Sir Terence's feet.
Sir Terence himself, scarcely realising what had taken place, for
the whole thing had happened within the time of a couple of
heart-beats, stood quite still, amazed and awed, in a half-crouching
attitude, looking down at the body of the fallen man. And then from
above, ringing upon the deathly stillness, he caught a sibilant
"What was that? 'Sh!"
He stepped back softly, and flattened himself instinctively against
the wall; thence profoundly intrigued and vaguely alarmed on several
scores he peered up at the windows of his wife's room whence the
sound had come, whence the sudden light had come which - as he now
realised - had given him the victory in that unequal contest.
Looking up at the balcony in whose shadow he stood concealed, he
saw two figures there - his wife's and another's - and at the same
time he caught sight of something black that dangled from the narrow
balcony, and peered more closely to discover a rope ladder.
He felt his skin roughening, bristling like a dog's; he was conscious
of being cold from head to foot, as if the flow of his blood had
been suddenly arrested; and a sense of sickness overcame him. And
then to turn that horrible doubt of his into still more horrible
certainty came a man's voice, subdued, yet not so subdued but that
he recognised it for Ned Tremayne's.
"There's some one lying there. I can make out the figure."
"Don't go down! For pity's sake, come back. Come back and wait,
Ned. If any one should come and find you we shall be ruined."
Thus hoarsely whispering, vibrating with terror, the voice of his
wife reached O'Moy, to confirm him the unsuspecting blind cuckold
that Samoval had dubbed him to his face, for which Samoval - warning
the guilty pair with his last breath even as he had earlier so
mockingly warned Sir Terence - had coughed up his soul on the turf
of that enclosed garden.
Crouching there for a moment longer, a man bereft of movement and
of reason, stood O'Moy, conscious only of pain, in an agony of mind
and heart that at one and the same time froze his blood and drew
the sweat from his brow.
Then he was for stepping out into the open, and, giving flow to the
rage and surging violence that followed, calling down the man who
had dishonoured him and slaying him there under the eyes of that
trull who had brought him to this shame. But he controlled the
impulse, or else Satan controlled it for him. That way, whispered
the Tempter, was too straight and simple. He must think. He must
have time to readjust his mind to the horrible circumstances so
Very soft and silently, keeping well within the shadow of the wall,
he sidled to the door which he had left ajar. Soundlessly he pushed
it open, passed in and as soundlessly closed it again. For a moment
he stood leaning heavily against its timbers, his breath coming in
short panting sobs. Then he steadied himself and turning, made his
way down the corridor to the little study which had been fitted up
for him in the residential wing, and where sometimes he worked at
night. He had been writing there that evening ever since dinner,
and he had quitted the room only to go to his assignation with
Samoval, leaving the lamp burning on his open desk.
He opened the door, but before passing in he paused a moment,
straining his ears to listen for sounds overhead. His eyes,
glancing up and down, were arrested by a thin blade of light under
a door at the end of the corridor. It was the door of the butler's
pantry, and the line of light announced that Mullins had not yet
gone to bed. At once Sir Terence understood that, knowing him to
be at work, the old servant had himself remained below in case his
master should want anything before retiring.
Continuing to move without noise, Sir Terence entered his study,
closed the door and crossed to his desk. Wearily he dropped into
the chair that stood before it, his face drawn and ghastly, his
smouldering eyes staring vacantly ahead. On the desk before him
lay the letters that he had spent the past hours in writing - one
to his wife; another to Tremayne; another to his brother in Ireland;
and several others connected with his official duties, making
provision for their uninterrupted continuance in the event of his
not surviving the encounter.
Now it happened that amongst the latter there was one that was
destined hereafter to play a considerable part; it was a note for
the Commissary-General upon a matter that demanded immediate
attention, and the only one of all those letters that need now
survive. It was marked "Most Urgent," and had been left by him
for delivery first thing in the morning. He pulled open a drawer
and swept into it all the letters he had written save that one.
He locked that drawer; then unlocked another, and took thence a
case of pistols. With shaking hands he lifted out one of the
weapons to examine it, and all the while, of course, his thoughts
were upon his wife and Tremayne. He was considering how
well-founded had been his every twinge of jealousy; how wasted, how
senseless the reactions of shame that had followed them; how
insensate his trust in Tremayne's honesty, and, above all, with
what crafty, treacherous subtlety Tremayne had drawn a red herring
across the trail of his suspicions by pretending to an unutterable
passion for Sylvia Armytage. It was perhaps that piece of duplicity,
worthy, he thought, of the Iscariot himself, that galled Sir
Terence now most sorely; that and the memory of his own silly
credulity. He had been such a ready dupe. How those two together
must have laughed at him! Oh, Tremayne had been very subtle! He
had been the friend, the quasi-brother, parading his affection for
the Butler family to excuse the familiarities with Lady O'Moy which
he had permitted himself under Sir Terence's very eyes. O'Moy
thought of them as he had seen them in the garden on the night of
Redondo's ball, remembered the air of transparent honesty by which
that damned hypocrite when discovered had deflected his just
Oh, there was no doubt that the treacherous blackguard had been
subtle. But - by God! - subtlety should be repaid with subtlety!
He would deal with Tremayne as cruelly as Tremayne had dealt with
him; and his wanton wife, too, should be repaid in kind. He beheld
the way clear, in a flash of wicked inspiration. He put back the
pistol, slapped down the lid of the box and replaced it in its
He rose, took up the letter to the Commissary-general, stepped
briskly to the door and pulled it open.
"Mullins!" he called sharply. "Are you there? Mullins?"
Came the sound of a scraping chair, and instantly that door at the
end of the corridor was thrown open, and Mullins stood silhouetted
against the light behind him. A moment he stood there, then came
"You called, Sir Terence?"
"Yes." Sir Terence's voice was miraculously calm. His back was to
the light and his face in shadow, so that its drawn, haggard look
was not perceptible to the butler. "I am going to bed. But first
I want you to step across to the sergeant of the guard with this
letter for the Commissary-General. Tell him that it is of the
utmost importance, and ask him to arrange to have it taken into
Lisbon first thing in the morning."
Mullins bowed, venerable as an archdeacon in aspect and bearing, as
he received the letter from his master: "Certainly, Sir Terence."
As he departed Sir Terence turned and slowly paced back to his desk,
leaving the door open. His eyes had narrowed; there was a cruel,
an almost evil smile on his lips. Of the generous, good-humoured
nature imprinted upon his face every sign had vanished. His
countenance was a mask of ferocity restrained by intelligence, cold
Oh, he would pay the score that lay between himself and those two
who had betrayed him. They should receive treachery for treachery,
mockery for mockery, and for dishonour death. They had deemed him
an old fool! What was the expression that Samoval had used -
Pantaloon in the comedy? Well, well! He had been Pantaloon in the
comedy so far. But now they should find him Pantaloon in the tragedy
- nay, not Pantaloon at all, but Polichinelle, the sinister jester,
the cynical clown, who laughs in murdering. And in anguished
silence should they bear the punishment he would mete out to them,
or else in no less anguished speech themselves proclaim their own
dastardy to the world.
His wife he beheld now in a new light. It was out of vanity and
greed that she had married him, because of the position in the world
that he could give her. Having done so, at least she might have
kept faith; she might have been honest, and abided by the bargain.
If she had not done so, it was because honesty was beyond her
shallow nature. He should have seen before what he now saw so
clearly. He should have known her for a lovely, empty husk; a
silly, fluttering butterfly; a toy; a thing of vanities, emotions,
and nothing else.
Thus Sir Terence, cursing the day when he had mated with a fool.
Thus Sir Terence whilst he stood there waiting for the outcry
from Mullins that should proclaim the discovery of the body, and
afford him a pretext for having the house searched for the slayer.
Nor had he long to wait.
"Sir Terence! Sir Terence! For God's sake, Sir Terence!" he
heard the voice of his old servant. Came the loud crash of the
door thrust back until it struck the wall and quick steps along the
Sir Terence stepped out to meet him.
"Why, what the devil - " he was beginning in his bluff, normal tones,
when the servant, showing a white, scared face, cut him short.
"A terrible thing, Sir Terence! Oh, the saints protect us, a
dreadful thing! This way, sir! There's a man killed - Count Samoval,
I think it is!"
"Out yonder, in the quadrangle, sir."
"But - " Sir Terence checked. "Count Samoval, did ye say?
Impossible!" and he went out quickly, followed by the butler.
In the quadrangle he checked. In the few minutes that were sped
since he had left the place the moon had overtopped the roof of
the opposite wing, so that full upon the enclosed garden fell now
its white light, illumining and revealing.
There lay the black still form of Samoval supine, his white face
staring up into the heavens, and beside him knelt Tremayne, whilst
in the balcony above leaned her ladyship. The rope ladder, Sir
Terence's swift glance observed, had disappeared.
He halted in his advance, standing at gaze a moment. He had hardly
expected so much. He had conceived the plan of causing the house
to be searched immediately upon Mullins's discovery of the body.
But Tremayne's rashness in adventuring down in this fashion spared
him even that necessity. True, it set up other difficulties. But
he was not sure that the matter would not be infinitely more
He stepped forward, and came to a standstill beside the two - his
dead enemy and his living one.
"Why, Ned," he asked gravely, "what has happened?"
"It is Samoval," was Tremayne's quiet answer. "He is quite dead."
He stood up as he spoke, and Sir Terence observed with terrible
inward mirth that his tone had the frank and honest ring, his
bearing the imperturbable ease which more than once before had
imposed upon him as the outward signs of an easy conscience. This
secretary of his was a cool scoundrel.
"Samoval, is it?" said Sir Terence, and went down on one knee
beside the body to make a perfunctory examination. Then he looked
up at the captain.
"And how did this happen?"
"Happen?" echoed Tremayne, realising that the question was being
addressed particularly to himself. "That is what I am wondering.
I found him here in this condition."
"You found him here? Oh, you found him here in this condition!
Curious!" Over his shoulder he spoke to the butler: "Mullins, you
had better call the guard." He picked up the slender weapon that
lay beside Samoval. "A duelling sword!" Then he looked searchingly
about him until his eyes caught the gleam of the other blade near
the wall, where himself he had dropped it. "Ah!" he said, and went
to pick it up. "Very odd!" He looked up at the balcony, over the
parapet of which his wife was leaning. "Did you see anything, my
dear?" he asked, and neither Tremayne nor she detected the faint
note of wicked mockery in the question.
There was a moment's pause before she answered him, faltering:
"N-no. I saw nothing." Sir Terence's straining ears caught no
faintest sound of the voice that had prompted her urgently from
behind the curtained windows.
"How long have you been there?" he asked her.
"A - a moment only," she replied, again after a pause. "I - I
thought I heard a cry, and - and I came to see what had happened."
Her voice shook with terror; but what she beheld would have been
quite enough to account for that.
The guard filed in through the doors from the official quarters,
a sergeant with a halbert in one hand and a lantern in the other,
followed by four men, and lastly by Mullins. They halted and came
to attention before Sir Terence. And almost at the same moment
there was a sharp rattling knock on the wicket in the great closed
gates through which Samoval had entered. Startled, but without
showing any signs of it, Sir Terence bade Mullins go open, and in
a general silence all waited to see who it was that came.
A tall man, bowing his shoulders to pass under the low lintel of
that narrow door, stepped over the sill and into the courtyard. He
wore a cocked hat, and as his great cavalry cloak fell open the
yellow rays of the sergeant's lantern gleamed faintly on a British
uniform. Presently, as he advanced into the quadrangle, he
disclosed the aquiline features of Colquhoun Grant.
"Good-evening, General. Good-evening, Tremayne," he greeted one
and the other. Then his eyes fell upon the body lying between
them. "Samoval, eh? So I am not mistaken in seeking him here. I
have had him under very close observation during the past day or
two, and when one of my men brought me word tonight that he had
left his place at Bispo on foot and alone, going along the upper
Alcantara road, If had a notion that he might be coming to Monsanto
and I followed. But I hardly expected to find this. How has it
"That is what I was just asking Tremayne," replied Sir Terence.
"Mullins discovered him here quite by chance with the body."
"Oh!" said Grant, and turned to the captain. "Was it you then - "
"I?" interrupted Tremayne with sudden violence. He seemed now to
become aware for the first time of the gravity of his position.
"Certainly not, Colonel Grant. I heard a cry, and I came out to see
what it was. I found Samoval here, already dead."
"I see," said Grant. "You were with Sir Terence, then, when this - "
"Nay," Sir Terence interrupted. "I have been alone since dinner,
clearing up some arrears of work. I was in my study there when
Mullins called me to tell me what he had discovered. It looks as
if there had been a duel. Look at these swords." Then he turned
to his secretary. "I think, Captain Tremayne," he said gravely,
"that you had better report yourself under arrest to your colonel."
Tremayne stiffened suddenly. "Report myself under arrest?" he
cried. "My God, Sir Terence, you don't believe that I - "
Sir Terence interrupted him. The voice in which he spoke was
stern, almost sad; but his eyes gleamed with fiendish mockery the
while. It was Polichinelle that spoke - Polichinelle that mocks
what time he slays. "What were you doing here?" he asked, and it
was like moving the checkmating piece.
Tremayne stood stricken and silent. He cast a desperate upward
glance at the balcony overhead. The answer was so easy, but it
would entail delivering Richard Butler to his death. Colonel Grant,
following his upward glance, beheld Lady O'Moy for the first time.
He bowed, swept off his cocked hat, and "Perhaps her ladyship," he
suggested to Sir Terence, "may have seen something."
"I have already asked her," replied O'Moy.
And then she herself was feverishly assuring Colonel Grant that she
had seen nothing at all, that she had heard a cry and had come
out on to the balcony to see what was happening.
"And was Captain Tremayne here when you came out?" asked O'Moy, the
"Ye-es," she faltered. "I was only a moment or two before yourself."
"You see?" said Sir Terence heavily to Grant, and Grant, with pursed
lips, nodded, his eyes moving from O'Moy to Tremayne.
"But, Sir Terence," cried Tremayne, "I give you my word - I swear to
you - that I know absolutely nothing of how Samoval met his death."
"What were you doing here?" O'Moy asked again, and this time the
sinister, menacing note of derision vibrated clearly in the question.
Tremayne for the first time in his honest, upright life found himself
deliberately choosing between truth and falsehood. The truth would
clear him - since with that truth he would produce witnesses to it,
establishing his movements completely. But the truth would send a
man to his death; and so for the sake of that man's life he was
driven into falsehood.
"I was on my way to see you," he said.
"At midnight?" cried Sir Terence on a note of grim doubt. "To what
"Really, Sir Terence, if my word is not sufficient, I refuse to
submit to cross-examination."
Sir Terence turned to the sergeant of the guard, "How long is it
since Captain Tremayne arrived?" he asked.
The sergeant stood to attention. "Captain Tremayne, sir, arrived
rather more than half-an-hour ago. He came in a curricle, which
is still waiting at the gates."
"Half-an-hour ago, eh?" said Sir Terence, and from Colquhoun Grant
there was a sharp and audible intake of breath, expressive either
of understanding, or surprise, or both. The adjutant looked at
Tremayne again. "As my questions seem only to entangle you further,"
he said, "I think you had better do as I suggest without more
protests: report yourself under arrest to Colonel Fletcher in the
Still Tremayne hesitated for a moment. Then drawing himself up, he
saluted curtly. "Very well, sir," he replied.
"But, Terence - " cried her ladyship from above.
"Ah?" said Sir Terence, and he looked up. "You would say - ?" he
encouraged her, for she had broken off abruptly, checked again -
although none below could guess it - by the one behind who prompted
"Couldn't you - couldn't you wait?" she was faltering, compelled to
it by his question.
"Certainly. But for what?" quoth he, grimly sardonic.
"Wait until you have some explanation," she concluded lamely.
"That will be the business of the court-martial," he answered.
"My duty is quite clear and simple; I think. You needn't wait,
And so, without another word, Tremayne turned and departed. The
soldiers, in compliance with the short command issued by Sir Terence,
took up the body and bore it away to a room in the official quarters;
and in their wake went Colonel Grant, after taking his leave of Sir
Terence. Her ladyship vanished from the balcony and closed her
windows, and finally Sir Terence, followed by Mullins, slowly,
with bowed head and dragging steps, reentered the house. In the
quadrangle, flooded now by the cold, white light of the moon, all
was peace once more. Sir Terence turned into his study, sank into
the chair by his desk and sat there awhile staring into vacancy, a
diabolical smile upon his handsome, mobile mouth. Gradually the
smile faded and horror overspread his face. Finally he flung
himself forward and buried his head in his arms.
There were steps in the hall outside, a quick mutter of voices,
and then the door of his study was flung open, and Miss Armytage
came sharply to rouse him.
"Terence! What has happened to Captain Tremayne?"
He sat up stiffly, as she sped across the room to him. She was
wrapped in a blue quilted bed-gown, her dark hair hung in two heavy
plaits, and her bare feet had been hastily thrust into slippers.
Sir Terence looked at her with eyes that were dull and heavy and
that yet seemed to search her white, startled face.
She set a hand on his shoulder, and looked down into his ravaged,
haggard countenance. He seemed suddenly to have been stricken into
an old man.
"Mullins has just told me that Captain Tremayne has been ordered
under arrest for - for killing Count Samoval. Is it true? Is it
true?" she demanded wildly.
"It is true," he answered her, and there was a heavy, sneering
curl on his upper lip.
"But - " She stopped, and put a hand to her throat; she looked as
if she would stifle. She sank to her knees beside him, and caught
his hand in both her own that were trembling. "Oh, you can't
believe it! Captain Tremayne is not the man to do a murder."
"The evidence points to a duel," he answered dully.
"A duel!" She looked at him, and then, remembering what had passed
that morning between Tremayne and Samoval, remembering, too, Lord
Wellington's edict, "Oh, God!" she gasped. "Why did you let them
"They didn't take him. I ordered him under arrest. He will
report himself to Colonel Fletcher in the morning."
"You ordered him? You! You, his friend!" Anger, scorn, reproach
and sorrow all blending in her voice bore him a clear message.
He looked down at her most closely, and gradually compassion crept
into his face. He set his hands on her shoulders, she suffering it
"You care for him, Sylvia?" he said, between inquiry and wonder.
"Well, well! We are both fools together, child. The man is a
dastard, a blackguard, a Judas, to be repaid with betrayal for
betrayal. Forget him, girl. Believe me, he isn't worth a thought."
"Terence!" She looked in her turn into that distorted face. "Are
you mad?" she asked him.
"Very nearly," he answered, with a laugh that was horrible to hear.
She drew back and away from him, bewildered and horrified. Slowly
she rose to her feet. She controlled with difficulty the deep
emotion swaying her. "Tell me," she said slowly, speaking with
obvious effort, "what will they do to Captain Tremayne?"
"What will they do to him?" He looked at her. He was smiling.
"They will shoot him, of course."
"And you wish it!" she denounced him in a whisper of horror.
"Above all things," he answered. "A more poetic justice never
overtook a blackguard."
"Why do you call him that? What do you mean?"
"I will tell you - afterwards, after they have shot him; unless
the truth comes out before."
"What truth do you mean? The truth of how Samoval came by his
"Oh, no. That matter is quite clear, the evidence complete. I
mean - oh, I will tell you afterwards what I mean. It may help
you to bear your trouble, thankfully."
She approached him again. "Won't you tell me now?" she begged him.
"No," he answered, rising, and speaking with finality. "Afterwards
if necessary, afterwards. And now get back to bed, child, and
forget the fellow. I swear to you that he isn't worth a thought.
Later I shall hope to prove it to you."
"That you never will," she told him fiercely.
He laughed, and again his laugh was harsh and terrible in its bitter
mockery. "Yet another trusting fool," he cried. "The world is full
of them - it is made up of them, with just a sprinkling of knaves to
batten on their folly. Go to bed, Sylvia, and pray for understanding
of men. It is a possession beyond riches."
"I think you are more in need of it than I am," she told him, standing
by the door.
"Of course you do. You trust, which is why you are a fool. Trust,"
he said, speaking the very language of Polichinelle, "is the livery
She went without answering him and toiled upstairs with dragging
feet. She paused a moment in the corridor above, outside Una's
door. She was in such need of communion with some one that for a
moment she thought of going in. But she knew beforehand the
greeting that would await her; the empty platitudes, the obvious
small change of verbiage which her ladyship would dole out. The
very thought of it restrained her, and so she passed on to her own
room and a sleepless night in which to piece together the puzzle
which the situation offered her, the amazing enigma of Sir Terence's
seeming access of insanity.
And the only conclusion that she reached was that intertwined with
the death of Samoval there was some other circumstance which had
aroused in the adjutant an unreasoning hatred of his friend,
converting him into Tremayne's bitterest enemy, intent - as he had
confessed - upon seeing him shot for that night's work. And because
she knew them both for men of honour above all, the enigma was
Had she but obeyed the transient impulse to seek Lady O'Moy she
might have discovered all the truth at once. For she would have
come upon her ladyship in a frame of mind almost as distraught as
her own; and she might - had she penetrated to the dressing-room
where her ladyship was - have come upon Richard Butler at the same
Now, in view of what had happened, her ladyship, ever impulsive,
was all for going there and then to her husband to confess the whole
truth, without pausing to reflect upon the consequences to others
than Ned Tremayne. As you know, it was beyond her to see a thing
from two points of view at one and the same time. It was also beyond
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