LONDON'S LATEST LION.

AN EMPIRE MAKER'S LOVE STORY.

By Gilbert Dayle.

 

It was dusk on a summer evening, as a tall broad-shouldered man made his way down a path that led through the Vicarage garden at Winchmere.

Reaching the roadway, he turned and, with one arm resting on the gate, gazed at the rambling house with its clustering ivy and old-fashioned windows.

"To all appearances just the same," he said, musingly, "yet how different it is—strange faces, strange voices! A short eight years, and I return to find my old friend dead, almost forgotten, and She vanished—swallowed up by the world!"

He sighed heavily, then turned and set out down the country road in the direction of the railway station.

"It's the bitterest disappointment I could have met with!" he went on; "but—I shall find her. Yes, I shall find her!" And as he spoke the step of the tall bronzed man quickened into a resolute stride.


Halton Towers, the country residence of Earl Kenwell, was a magnificent place, situated in the heart of Berkshire. On a certain morning in July, a governess and her two charges were sitting at a table in the schoolroom. The governess, a pretty girl of about twenty-four, was attempting to instil some elementary ideas of geography into the head of her eldest pupil, a boy some six years old.

Presently the door opened, and a party of people trooped into the room. Their leader, Lady Dorothy Kenwell, looked smilingly at the governess. She was young, and considered to be one of the most beautiful women in the country.

"You don't mind us coming in just for a minute, Miss Grahame?" she asked. "These absurd people declared that nothing would satisfy them but seeing the children."

Lord Scaife (to his intimates he was known as "Bobbie") stepped forward and laid a hand on the boy's shoulder, whilst his cousin, Miss Julia Crofton, put her arm round the little girl's neck and kissed her impulsively. A few feet away in the background stood the remaining member of the party, Count Morlot. He was a slimly built man of foreign appearance. A slight smile hovered round his lips as he watched the scene.

 "'NOTHING WOULD SATISFY THESE ABSURD PEOPLE BUT SEEING THE CHILDREN,' SAID LADY DOROTHY."

"Well, Jim, my lad," began Lord Bobbie, cheerfully, "what has Miss Grahame been driving into your precious young head this morning?"

"Jogruffy," replied Master Jim.

Lord Bobbie bent down over the atlas that was open on the table.

"Africa, eh? Well, it's a great country, particularly the southern part of it. It's where the millionaires come from."

Lady Dorothy took hold of Jim's hand and guided it to a certain part of the map.

"Look, Jim, dear, this map is not up to date, and this piece I'm showing you should be coloured red—British, you know. The country is now——"

"British Kafangaland!" put in little Jim, eagerly.

"Bravo, youngster! Who told you that?" asked Bobbie.

"Miss Grahame," answered Jim, "and she said that it had nearly all been done by one man—a very good man."

Lady Dorothy shot a smile at Miss Grahame, then bent over her little cousin again.

"Yes, Jim, and he is coming here, this very morning. What do you think of that?"

Jim turned open-mouthed in his chair.

"Shall I see him," he gasped, "the man who has turned this big patch red?"

"Yes, my boy," laughed Lord Bobbie, "you'll see him, our most modern Empire-maker, the uncrowned King of British Kafangaland—London's latest lion——" He paused.

"Anything more, Bobbie?" queried Julia Crofton.

"No, I don't think so. I was wondering what qualities he possessed to have put him so far ahead of the other pioneers out there."

Count Morlot drew a little nearer to the group.

"In buccaneering circles," he remarked, with a smile, "the man who is most unscrupulous is the man who wins. Probably this fact accounts for Mr. Winn's marvellous successes."

Lady Dorothy drew herself up, and, swinging round, faced the Count. There was a touch of crimson on her cheeks.

"You have evidently never met Alan Winn, Count Morlot," she said, with flashing eyes. "He is the soul of honesty—and a true man!"

Without waiting for any reply, she moved quickly towards the door, and swept out of the room. There was a dead silence. All eyes were fixed on the Count. He gave a barely perceptible shrug of the shoulders, as he glanced at the door through which Lady Dorothy had made her retreat.

Julia Crofton was the first to speak.

"Come along, Bobbie," she said, "you promised to take me to see the fruit-garden."

"Certainly," replied Lord Bobbie, with alacrity. He crossed the room and opened the door.

"See you presently, Count," he said. "Good morning, Miss Grahame; ta-ta, Jim, don't be too much of a nuisance."

The Count waited a few seconds after the couple had disappeared, then bowed to the governess and took his departure.

Olive Grahame did not immediately return to the children. She stood staring absently into the middle of the room. There was still a picture before her, of a woman supremely beautiful, standing with lifted head, her glorious eyes flashing indignantly, as she defended the character of Alan Winn. She sighed softly.

"He cannot help loving her!" she whispered to herself. "It is better for him not to see me!"

She was roused from her reflections by a touch on the hand. Master Jim had slipped down from his seat and crossed to her.

"Miss Grahame," he said, pleadingly, "may I get my paint-box and put in that piece of red on the map. I shouldn't like the man who did it all to see my atlas, and then find it not there. May I?"

Olive Grahame bent down and kissed the eager young face.

"Yes, dear," she said, softly.

Meanwhile Julia Crofton and Lord Bobbie had found a pleasant seat in the garden. They were two young people who found enjoyment in discussing together the affairs of others, and incidentally their own. They did not love one another, and had not the slightest intention of doing so. They were simply, as Julia put it, "good pals." Lord Bobbie described his cousin, who was sportively inclined, not at all pretty, and addicted to the occasional use of slang, as a "brick"; and Julia returned the compliment by declaring that Bobbie was an "awfully good sort, with no nonsense to speak of about him."

Lord Bobbie lighted a cigarette.

"I'm hanged if I like that Frenchman!" he exclaimed. "Who is he, and how on earth did he get into Kenwell's house?"

"He is a protégé of old Lady Steele, and she had him invited here. She says that he has such charming manners, and she trots him about everywhere with her."

"Wouldn't mind betting he's an adventurer," growled Bobbie. "He has got the cut of a Monte Carlo sharp. Didn't Dolly look fine as she snubbed him? If ever there was a case of a woman openly showing her admiration for a man, this is one. She positively adores Winn. Confound him!" he added, with an air of disgust.

"Poor old Bobbie!" said Julia, sympathetically. "It's a bit rough on you."

"And I was getting on so well with her," he continued, with a sigh. "I believe that in another week I should have won her. And then this Winn must needs turn up. I ought to hate him as a rival; I should like to, but, 'pon my word, I can't. He's such a good sort.

"Jove! how these fellows get on! Here we have a man, I don't believe he's touched thirty yet, been working like a nigger in some place or other, starts a new country, becomes the right-hand man of the company formed to run it, and in a few years he returns to his native land, pleasantly near to being a millionaire. I don't know how they do it!" he finished, despairingly.

 "'WOULDN'T GERMANY GIVE SOMETHING FOR THE CONTENTS OF THAT WALLET!'"

Miss Crofton glanced at her cousin's good-natured though somewhat indolent-looking face.

"I believe," she said, calmly, "the possession of a quality termed 'grit' frequently explains the mystery."

"And now," went on Bobbie, concernedly, "the beggar has the chance of marrying the loveliest girl in society. Anyone can see that Dolly idolises him, and that he has but to say the word, and she is his. Oh! it's disgusting!"

"Perhaps he won't say it," said Miss Crofton.

"Of course he will," replied Bobbie, warmly. "There is no man on earth who could possibly be such a fool as to refuse the chance. Why, Kenwell is Chairman of the Chartered Company of Kafangaland, and is dead set on the match himself. Oh! he couldn't be such a fool!" he added, shaking his head with an air of conviction.

Miss Crofton rose to her feet.

"Have you noticed, Bobbie, that a man never prizes that which he can have for the asking?" She paused. "I'll tell you what I'll do: I'll bet you a hundred cigarettes that Winn doesn't make this easy conquest."

"You're throwing your money away," said Bobbie, warningly.

"Are you taking it?" asked Miss Crofton, coolly.

"Oh," said Bobbie, with a shrug, "if you're set on it, certainly."

She glanced at the watch on her wrist.

"The Lion will be here by now. We had better be going in to see him. By the way, old man, you remember my preference for Turkish?"

"Oh, yes," replied Bobbie, smiling grimly; "but there will be no occasion to tax my memory, I assure you. It's a 'cert' for me, worse luck!" he added, mournfully.

He rose from the seat, and together they strolled towards the house.

Alan Winn had arrived half an hour ago, and was now strolling on the terrace with Earl Kenwell, engaged in talking over business matters. A casual observer would have taken the pair for father and son. The Earl, although approaching his fifty-third year, was still erect, his complexion fresh, his eyes keen. Winn was perhaps a trifle the taller of the two; he had well-cut features, a determined-looking chin, and a pair of grey eyes that gazed steadily from their depths. From the other end of the terrace, Lady Dorothy, who was reading a newspaper to old Lady Steele, paused now and again to shoot a glance at the broad-shouldered man walking by her father's side.

"My dear," she heard Lady Steele's voice say, "I am deeply interested in what you are reading, but might I suggest that we proceed to the next paragraph? You have read that one three times."

Lady Dorothy blushed, and hurriedly turned her attention to the paper.

"I beg your pardon," she said, with an air of confusion, "I was——"

"In a day dream, I fancy, in which admiration for another person figured prominently," retorted the old lady. "I think I shall have to get the dear Count to read to me; he has such a charming voice. By the way, where can he be? I haven't seen him since breakfast time."

At the present moment, the Count was comfortably ensconced in a chair behind the library windows, and intent on perusing a recently arrived copy of the Figaro.

The library faced the terrace, and as the Earl passed with Winn he glanced casually into the long dark room. It appeared to be empty, for the window curtains effectually concealed the Count from view. The Earl caught hold of two chairs, and placed them in the shade.

"So you really think the scheme has a good chance?" he asked, anxiously.

Winn puffed a cloud of smoke from his cigar, as he dropped into a chair.

"Yes," he said at length, "I am confident that we shall succeed. I do not think it possible that anyone can have the least suspicion of my discoveries in the Vaarg Valley, or of what we contemplate doing there. We shall be first in the field."

Behind the curtains, the Figaro dropped slowly in the Count's hands. An alert look came into his eyes, and he moved his head nearer to the window.

"It's going to be the biggest coup ever effected in South Africa," continued the calm, confident voice. "I believe that in the Vaarg Valley we have another Kafangaland, although, of course, on a smaller scale."

"As good as that!" exclaimed the Earl.

"Yes, I believe so. I spent the whole of yesterday at the Colonial Office; the railway concessions have been granted, and practically everything is settled. Not one of our rivals dreams that we are making any move. Like myself, they are now all holiday-making. Even old Vorenbeck is in London staying at the Victoria."

"And what have you arranged?"

"Forster will leave on Saturday in the Tantallon Castle, with full authority to act on our behalf. In this wallet are all the plans, complete to the minutest detail, and also his instructions as to how to proceed."

"By Jove!" put in the Earl, "wouldn't old Vorenbeck, or rather Germany, give something for the contents of that wallet!"

"Vorenbeck, the old scoundrel," replied Winn, with a laugh, "would give anything up to twenty thousand pounds for the contents of that wallet, provided they were in his hands by to-morrow evening. But that contingency need not be entertained, for it will not leave my person until I hand it myself to Forster on Saturday."

Inside the library, the Figaro had slipped quietly to the ground, and the Count was staring hard in front of him, a curious expression in his eyes, as he pulled thoughtfully with one hand at his moustache.

There was a clatter of feet on the terrace, and the children ran up to their uncle. They were followed by Lady Dorothy, who shot a playfully reproachful glance at Winn. She had been dismissed by old Lady Steele as an incompetent reader.

"Kafanga, toujours Kafanga!" she said, with a smile.

"But it was really necessary," he replied; "there shall be no more of it to-day, on my word of honour."

She stooped and laid a hand on Jim's curly head.

"This is my little cousin, Jim," she said.

Master Jim was staring open-mouthed at Winn. Under his arm he held a book of some kind.

"Jim," continued Lady Dorothy, "this gentleman is——"

"I know," blurted out Jim, without waiting for the introduction to be finished. He hastily opened the book and turned over the leaves with feverish impatience. Finally he selected a page and held it out for Winn's inspection.

"I know," he went on, his finger pointing to a red daub at the bottom, "you're the man who did this."

Winn looked, and saw that a map of South Africa was before his eyes. He laughed as he grasped the compliment.

"Yes, it's British now, right enough," he said.

Jim nodded. His gaze was fixed wonderingly on the bronzed face of the tall man. Then a sudden eager look spread over his face.

"Well," asked Winn, with a smile, as he noticed the pleading glance, "what is it?"

Jim hesitated shyly for a moment, then burst out in his childish treble—

"I want to know how you did it?"

Winn laughed again, and caught the boy up and placed him on his shoulder.

"Come, that's not a fair question," he said; "it's a State secret."

"And, like most State secrets, everyone knows it, and is proud of it," put in Lady Dorothy, with a smile at Winn.

Her glance drifted up to Master Jim, who looked supremely happy in his lofty position.

"You'll understand one day, Jim," she added, "how these things are done, when you're grown up."

"When I'm grown up," retorted Master Jim, confidently, "I'm going to do the same myself."

"If we go on at our present rate, there won't be any of South Africa left for him by that time," said the Earl. "We shall have to discover a new field for him to operate upon. But there is no immediate hurry. What do you say to our visiting the kennels in the meantime?"

"Delighted," said Winn, and the whole party moved off slowly down the terrace.

 "MISS GRAHAME BURIED HER FACE IN HER HANDS—SHE WAS CRYING."

As soon as they were out of earshot, the Count got up leisurely from his seat. Producing his case, he lighted a cigarette. He puffed at it reflectively.

"Twenty thousand pounds," he said, softly; "yes, Vorenbeck would certainly give that for the Vaarg Valley plans—" he paused—"and it happens that I am a poor man."

He moved across the room towards a heavily-curtained doorway.

"But how," he muttered, "how is it to be done?"

He pulled the drapery aside, then started back in surprise. Miss Grahame was standing in the space between the curtains and the door. In one hand she was holding a book.

He looked at her suspiciously. He noticed that the door was closed behind her. How long had she been there? What had she heard?

She returned his gaze almost defiantly.

"I came to replace this book," she said, simply, then stepped forward.

He bowed to her in silence, and passed out of the room. She stood for a moment with her eyes fixed on the door through which he had disappeared.

"Oh!" she exclaimed, "if I could only warn him!"

She stood for some minutes staring absently out of the window. Suddenly the sound of voices caught her ear, and she turned her head. She drew back quickly behind the curtain, as round the corner of the terrace Lady Dorothy appeared with Winn. He was smiling, and she was laughing happily into his face. It would have been difficult to picture a more perfect pair.

Olive Grahame stood for a few moments immovable, her eyes fixed on Winn. Then, as they came to within a few feet of the library window, she turned with a quick movement and hurried away. She made her way upstairs, and, gaining her room, shut the door. On the opposite side by the window stood a table, on which was an old-fashioned leather-covered desk. She crossed to this, and, unlocking it, began to turn over some papers. Presently she came upon a photograph. She held this before her and gazed at it steadily for some seconds. Suddenly it dropped from her grasp, and, sinking into a chair by the table, she leant forward and buried her face between her hands. Miss Grahame was crying.


The day passed pleasantly enough for Earl Kenwell's guests. They lunched, played tennis, drove, and after dinner there had been some music. Lady Dorothy sang, and Julia Crofton whistled—she was an accomplished amateur siffleuse. The ladies having retired, Lord Bobbie volunteered to play billiards with the Count. After one game, however, Bobbie, who had been yawning a good deal, remarked that he was extremely tired, and suggested that they should go to bed. The Count assented, and together they made their way upstairs.

Winn and the Earl had repaired to the latter's study with the intention of talking business. For an hour they discussed the Vaarg Valley scheme in all its bearings.

"Well, we have done everything we can," said the Earl, as a concluding remark, "the rest we must leave to Providence."

There was silence for a few moments. Winn puffed at his cigar, his eyes idly following the rings of smoke. From the other side of the room the Earl was subjecting him to a close and critical observation. He had no son of his own; as he noted Winn's splendid proportions, the look of indomitable resolution in his face, he felt that had he been blessed with one, he would have wished him to be like this man.

Then he thought of his daughter, Dorothy. He was not blind, and had been quick to observe the state of her feelings. He loved his daughter, he liked Winn. He had given the matter his close consideration, and had arrived at a decision. It was this decision which prompted him to speak now. He intended to hint to Winn that his engagement with Lady Dorothy would be entirely to his satisfaction.

"You say you will be returning to Kafanga in September?" he began.

Winn roused himself from his reverie.

"That was my intention," he replied; "but I have something to accomplish first, something——" He paused.

The Earl had his keen eyes fixed on him.

"Forgive me, Winn," he said, quietly, "I am not asking out of sheer curiosity, but the 'something'—is it a question of marriage?"

Winn looked straight across at the Earl.

"Yes," he said, simply.

The Earl rose from his seat and stood with his back to the mantelpiece.

"My dear Winn," he said, "I think I am right in saying that there is no one who wishes more to see you happily married than myself." The Earl paused. "And surely," he added, "with your reputation there should be no difficulty in achieving this end."

Winn shook his head slowly. The Earl glanced across at him, and for a moment their eyes met.

"Why not tell me?" said the Earl, gently.

Winn appeared to hesitate for a moment.

"You are very kind," he said at length. "It began when we were boy and girl——" He stopped, for the Earl's cigar dropped through his fingers to the ground, and he stooped to pick it up.

"Yes?" said the Earl, in a low tone. He was thinking of the disappointment in store for his daughter.

"She was the daughter of a country vicar under whose care I had been placed," continued Winn. "Then, I was suddenly thrown on my own resources, and there came the chance of my going to South Africa. We parted, and I vowed that I would come back to claim her.

"The day after I returned," he went on, speaking slowly, "I made my way down to the old place. I found the vicar dead—and she gone. I have searched everywhere, but can find no trace of her."

He rose to his feet.

"But I shall find her, I shall find her!" he said, and his voice had the same confident ring as when he uttered the words that night at Winchmere.

The Earl did not speak for a moment or so; then he stepped forward and held out his hand.

"I sincerely hope you will," he said; "if ever a man deserved a good wife, you are he."

 THE COUNT HELD A HEAVY STICK IN HIS HAND, BUT THE WALLET SLIPPED TO THE GROUND.

Winn grasped the proffered hand.

"Thank you," he replied, simply.

"By Jove," continued the Earl, with a glance at the clock, "I didn't notice that it was so late! Shall we be going to bed?"

Winn had turned to the window and drawn aside the curtains. He passed a hand restlessly over his forehead.

"I think, if you don't mind, I will smoke a last cigar on the terrace. I don't feel sleepy, and the air will do me good. But please go on yourself. I know my way about perfectly."

The Earl demurred.

"I insist," said Winn, smilingly. "If you do not go, I shall have to give up my stroll."

"Well, if you're determined, that settles it," said the Earl, with a good-humoured laugh. "I have my recollections of the firmness of your decisions. Good-night."

Left alone, Winn lighted another cigar, then unfastened the French windows and stepped on to the terrace. He walked to the end, and stood at the top of the steps leading to the front entrance. He descended these, and started to stroll down the avenue of trees that stretched for half a mile to the park gates.

He did not know that from a window he was being watched by a pair of eyes—eyes that were shining with the eagerness that proclaims but one feeling in a woman. Olive Grahame, fully dressed—she had not the slightest inclination for sleep—was sitting at an open window, her gaze riveted on the tall figure that was fast disappearing from her view. Suddenly she gave a slight start, then strained eagerly forward. There was a brilliant moon, and across a small piece of turf she had seen a dark shadow move quickly. She looked intently. There was no mistake. She saw the shadow move again, then finally vanish into the blackness of the trees.

She got up quickly, her hand trembling with excitement. Someone was following Winn, hiding from him behind the trees! She stood for a moment in the middle of the room, thinking. One fact was clear before her: Alan Winn was in danger, and she was the only person who knew of it. Without a second's hesitation, she crossed her room, opened the door, and crept along the passage until she reached a staircase. She was well acquainted with the house, and knew a way by which she could gain the terrace. She reached the library, and found the window half open. Someone else had evidently used this means of exit. She guessed who.

In another minute, she had crossed the terrace, run down the steps, and was speeding quickly down the avenue. She had gone barely a dozen paces when her eye caught sight of a tiny patch of white ahead of her. It grew bigger, and she realised that it was coming towards her. A few yards more and she almost ran into the arms of the Count. He was in evening dress, and in one hand held a short, heavy-looking stick. With the other he was attempting to slip something into his pocket as he ran. As he met Olive, he drew back with a nervous start, and it slipped through his fingers to the ground. She pounced on it; it was a leather wallet.

Recovering from his surprise, he caught hold of her wrist. His face grew livid with rage.

"Give that to me, you little fool," he said, breathing heavily.

"What have you done to Mr. Winn?" she panted; "tell me, else I'll scream for help."

He glared at her savagely. Then, letting go her wrist, he drew back a step and raised the stick, as if about to strike her.

"Will you give that——?" he began, threateningly, then broke off with an oath.

Olive had seen her opportunity, and darted off down the avenue. He did not dare to follow her. She ran on for some fifty yards, then caught sight of a dark heap lying on the ground. In a moment she was kneeling by his side, peering eagerly into his face.

Winn uttered a groan, then slowly opened his eyes. His head was tough, and it took a heavier blow than the one which the Count had dealt him to effectually lay him low.

"Where am I?" he said, in a dazed tone, raising himself on one elbow. His hand flew to his pocket. "The wallet?" he cried.

She pressed it into his hand. He clasped it, and his eyes travelled up to her face. For a moment he stared at her in absolute wonderment.

"Olive!" he gasped, "is it really you, my darling?"

She was trembling, but looked into his face with smiling eyes.

"Really me," she said.

Slowly and unsteadily he rose to his feet.

"It is bewildering," he said. "I am knocked on the head in some mysterious fashion, and the plans are stolen. I regain consciousness, and find you by my side with the wallet. What does it all mean?"

She told him what had happened.

"Wonderful!" he cried at the conclusion, catching hold of her hand, "to think that you, of all people, should come to my aid in this fashion! Do you know, Olive, I have thought of you every day during the last eight years; and now——" He paused and looked into her face.

"Ah! now," she said, falteringly, "our positions are so different. Remember, I am only a gov——"

"You are the woman I love," he interrupted; "and do you think I can let you go—after this? Olive, you cannot—you must not ask it of me! My dearest, you——?"

He stopped and looked into her eyes for the answer. Then, satisfied by what he saw there, he drew her gently to him.


At the breakfast table the next morning there was one absentee. The Count had been suddenly called away and had left by the early train.

"Extraordinary!" remarked Bobbie Scaife. "I wonder what was the reason?" he added, looking across at Winn.

Winn gave no reply. His thoughts at that moment were centred on a young person who, in the schoolroom, was continuing her lesson with Master Jim.

Jim had found something wanting in his lesson that morning. He looked up at his governess with a troubled expression.

"You don't seem to be thinking about my jogruffy at all, Miss Grahame," he said, at last, in rather an aggrieved tone.

Jim was a keen observer. Her thoughts had been far away from the consideration of the natural products of Canada. She turned to him now with a smile.

"We'll have to make up for it to-morrow, dear," she said. "See, it is your time for going out."

 AN AWKWARD MOMENT—WINN TELLS LADY DOROTHY THAT OLIVE IS TO BE HIS WIFE.

A few moments afterwards a servant appeared and took charge of the children.

As the door closed behind them, Olive Grahame strolled to the window and looked out across the park. The sun was shining and everything was tinged with its gold.

"It's wonderful," she murmured, "after all these years!"

There was a tap at the door. She turned and saw Earl Kenwell entering the room; with him was Winn.

The Earl crossed to the window and held out his hand.

"Miss Grahame," he said, with a smile, "will you please accept my congratulations? My friend Winn has been telling me how he has been hunting the country for you, and found you at last under my roof. He has also told me how you pluckily saved the Vaarg Valley plans from our rivals; and after hearing the story, I took the liberty of telling him that he is an exceptionally lucky man to have gained such a woman for his wife."

"You are very kind," murmured Olive, with a blush.

The Earl pushed open the French windows and led the way on to the terrace. Winn linked his arm within Olive's and followed.

"If ever I meet that scoundrel Morlot," remarked the Earl, "I'll——"

There was a rustle of a dress on the terrace, and a second afterwards Lady Dorothy appeared in view. The Earl shot a half-nervous glance at Winn, then turned to meet his daughter.

"Dolly," he said, and his voice was more affectionate than usual, "we have some surprising news for you."

Lady Dorothy had come to a sudden stop, and her eyes were fixed on Olive and Winn, whose arms were still linked.

"It appears," continued the Earl, and his voice grew even softer, "that Miss Grahame and Mr. Winn are old friends—very old friends—" he paused awkwardly, "that is, they knew one another before he went to Africa." Again the Earl paused.

Lady Dorothy was still standing with her gaze riveted on the pair. She saw the whole affair at a glance, and her heart seemed to grow cold within her.

"Yes, Lady Dorothy," said Winn, coming to the Earl's rescue, "Olive and I have loved one another for ten years, although separated most of the time. We have met again, and she has promised to be my wife."

There was a moment's dead silence. Olive glanced up timidly, and her gaze met that of Lady Dorothy. Both women knew that the other loved Alan Winn; but one counted her love by years, the other by days. One had dreamed, hoped, counted on being his wife, and she had lost. The other knew all this, and her heart went out in sympathy to her rival.

Lady Dorothy looked at the pretty flushed face; the grey eyes seemed almost pleading in their wistfulness. She felt she could not hate this girl. With a sudden movement she stepped forward and held out her hands. Olive grasped them eagerly.

"I hope," said Lady Dorothy, and her voice had a slight tremor in it—"I hope you'll be very, very happy."

Then she released her hold of Olive, and, without another word, hurried away. The Earl turned his head and watched his daughter disappear. There was a suspicious moisture about his eyes as he faced Winn again.

"You two would perhaps like to be alone," he said, forcing a smile, "so I'll wish you au revoir for the present," and he too hastened away.

The pair stood silent for a moment. Then she touched him lightly on the arm. He bent his head and looked at her inquiringly.

"What is it, dearest?" he asked.

"I hope," she said, softly, "that some day she will marry someone worthy of her—someone whom she will love as much—" she paused, and looked into his face—"as much as I love you."

He pressed her gently to him and kissed her lips.

"I hope so, too," he said; "she is a good woman."

Events happened as they wished; for, a year later, the engagement of Lady Dorothy to Lord Scaife was announced.

"Awfully glad, old chap," remarked Julia Crofton, as she tendered her congratulations; "you didn't go particularly strong at the start, but you picked up splendidly at the finish. I didn't think you had it in you," she added, candidly.

"Oh," replied Bobbie, with a happy laugh, "as with those successful fellows from South Africa, it's the 'grit' that tells."