OF A GAME OF CHANCE

Jasper Carew appeared but seldom in public, and then with a moody brow
and a preoccupied air. For the most part he kept to his own chamber,
attended only by Swartz, who was as silent and reserved as his master.
In the daily incidents of the siege he appeared to take no interest
whatever, seeming regardless of his own safety and wholly careless of
the safety of his friends. He seldom saw his sister, and then only in
the most casual way. It was in vain that she endeavoured to break
through the icy barrier that had grown up between them. He repelled her
efforts and frequently left her in tears. It is true he had seldom
troubled himself with any display of affection, but latterly his entire
character seemed to have undergone a change. Between himself and De
Laprade a close intimacy had sprung up. They were closeted together for
hours, and it not unfrequently happened that their evening sitting was
prolonged far into the morning following.

Sitting in her lonely room when the household had retired for the night,
Dorothy would hear the gay laugh of the Vicomte breaking at times on the
quiet of the house, the rattling of the dice box, and the muttered oaths
of her brother as fortune went against him. To her high spirit the shame
of it was intolerable; she did not dare to speak and she could not be
silent. With De Laprade she knew that she had much influence, but she
had now reasons of her own for declining to make him her confidant–with
her brother she was long since aware that entreaties would prove
unavailing. But the fact could not be denied. A fatal passion for play
had seized upon his heart; it had completely absorbed and overmastered
him; he was entirely its slave. Night after night and day after day, the
two–De Laprade and himself–were closeted together, and the cloud upon
her brother´s brow grew blacker and his speech harsher and more abrupt.
In De Laprade there had been no change perceptible. He carried himself
with an easy _insouciance_ and treated her with tender deference.

* * * * *

On the day in which De Rosen had executed his barbarous threat they had
spent many hours together in the little chamber in the basement. The
roar of the cannon that had been sounding all day, the marching of men,
and the tumult of the crowded street, had been hushed to a still and
almost unnatural quiet. Swartz had carried away the remains of the
supper that had been served to them here, and had lighted the candles in
the tall silver candlesticks that stood upon the table. They had both
already drunk more than enough, but this was perceptibly the case with
Jasper. His face was flushed, his eyes were bloodshot, and his hands
shook upon the dice-box: he had loosened his lace cravat from his throat
and it lay on the floor beside him. He frowned heavily and flung down
the dice-box with an oath.

“Seven´s the main,” said the Vicomte, gaily rattling the box. “We who
woo fortune should court her lovingly. Ah, _grace de Dieu_! I told you
so!”

Carew pushing back his chair and walking to the window, threw it wide
open. The cool air blowing freshly through the lattice, caused the
candles to flicker where they stood. The night was cold and the sky was
full of stars. All the while the Vicomte sat watching him with a faint
smile on his face and balancing the dice in his hand. The other after a
moment turned round and looked at him. His face was now deadly pale.
Neither spoke a word. Only the distant challenging of the sentinels
broke the silence of the chamber.

The Vicomte pushed back his chair and gently snuffed the candles. His
face displayed no emotion. Then after a while he said, “That completes
the play. Your revenge has been a costly one, my friend.”

“My revenge has been a costly one,” answered Carew; “there remains but
one thing more.”

“And that?”

“To send my life after my houses and lands. There is nothing more left.”

“Bah! you are but a fool; I have gone the same way myself. With a light
heart I have lost more in a night than would buy your barren acres three
times over. I, who was already a pauper, have staked my mistress, my
buckles, my rings, nay, my very peruke itself and lost them too. And I
did not complain. I had my sword and my honour, and could wait on
fortune with a cheerful mind. I laughed at misfortune.”

“Oh! ´tis very well for you to talk thus,” cried Carew moodily, “with
the first estate in the country in your pocket–a rare exchange for your
castles in Spain.”

“Monsieur Carew will remember that I did not press him to play. He who
tempts the fortunes of the hazard should learn to bear his loss with
equanimity. One should bear misfortune like a gentleman.”

“I will have no sermons, my lord; ´tis enough that you should have
stripped me of every rood of my land and every doit that I could raise,
without presuming to lecture me on deportment. I would have you know
that I will follow my own manner. I find no fault with you–´tis my own
accursed folly that has made my heirship of the briefest, and left me a
beggar before I had entered on my inheritance.”

“Play is an admirable moralist,” said De Laprade, altering the position
of the candlesticks, “and preaches excellent homilies. You have had
three weeks in the society of the coyest mistress in the world, and now
you grudge the tavern charges.

‘Je crois Jeanneton,
Aussi douce que belle;
Je crois Jeanneton
Plus douce qu‘un–mouton.´”

“You are mocking me, my lord.”

“In good faith I do not think I am. Sit down, Carew, and let us look the
matter in the face as sensible men should. I have no wish to put your
money in my pocket or act the country squire on your beggarly paternal
fields, but my ears are for ever itching for the pleasant rattle of the
dice-board, and I thirst for the sight of a royal hand at cards.
Fortune, which hath hitherto treated me so scurvily, hath taken a turn
at last, and I am richer by some thousands than when I landed in your
island with nothing in the world but a sword and two portmanteaux. For
that, I am wholly indifferent, and will stake my new possessions as
readily as I threw away my old. I am sorry for you, but I do not think
you would take back what you have lost as a gift, even if I offered it
now.”

“Would I not?” said Carew, with a hoarse laugh, throwing up his hand.

“I do not think you would,” answered the Vicomte gravely, but with a
certain elevation of his eyebrows. “Your sense of honour would forbid.
But there is a matter for which I have some concern–how will this
affect your sister?”

“Leave my sister out of the question. I am her protector and allow no
man to question me on that head.”

The two looked at one another steadily–the one frowning, the other
coldly impassive, but there was that look in De Laprade´s eyes that made
Carew shift his gaze. To carry off his confusion, he poured himself out
a full glass and drank it at a breath.

“There need be no secrets between us, my good cousin. I have never
doubted that you have already staked your sister´s fortune and that it
has gone after the rest into my pocket. I have known even honourable men
tempted to do such things, but for my own part, I do not care to lend
myself to aid them. The question still remains–how does this affect
your sister?”

“In the name of God, do you purpose driving me mad?” cried Carew,
flinging his empty glass into the fireplace, and leaping to his feet in
the access of ungoverned passion. “You have stripped me bare as a bone
and brought me to shame and dishonour; now you sit laughing at your
handiwork.”

“Your own, sir,” said the Vicomte sternly. “These heroics will not serve
their purpose; the question still remains unanswered. I would not
willingly take on my shoulders any portion of your disgrace, though
indeed I think you would not be loath to let me bear it all. In fine,
what do you purpose doing?”

“Oh! you are a rare moralist.”

“There is not a better in the world. From the pulpit of my own
transgressions I shall read you an excellent sermon. But, again, this is
not to the purpose. I would have you know, my excellent cousin, I love
your sister and would willingly make her my wife.”

“Before that I will see you—-”

“You may spare yourself the trouble. Were the lady willing, I think not
that I should ask your favour. But she is not willing. I fear she loves
a better man who deserves her better–for which I do not find fault with
her taste.”

“You appear to have studied my family affairs to some purpose, sir.”

“Mr. Orme is a better man than I, nor would I willingly do him an
injury,” continued De Laprade softly, “but all things are fair in love,
and I think I must ask your help.”

“What hath Mr. Orme to do with the matter? You put more, sir, on me than
I can bear, and by heaven, I will put up with your gibes no longer. I am
not a schoolboy to be lectured by a bully.”

“I have told you that we will not quarrel. I ask not your friendship but
your help, and it may be also much to your own advantage. Therefore
listen to me with all the patience you can command. I am mad enough to
love Miss Carew–I, the prodigal, the spendthrift, whose career was run
before I was a man, but so it is! She is much under your influence–the
wise and prudent elder brother. Lend me your assistance, not to coerce
her affections or thwart her will, for by heaven, I would not wrong her
tender heart! but to bring her with all kindness to think favourably of
her poor kinsman, and in the end it may be to return his passion. Hear
me to the conclusion. I would not buy your help–you would not sell your
aid. We both love the rattle of the dice-box. On the one side I place my
gains, the rich lands, the fair demesnes, the ancestral house, the broad
pieces–and on the other you will stake your persuasive speeches and
fraternal affection. Let chance decide the fate: I would not do
dishonour to your sister even by a thought. I do not think the stakes
unequal; why should you?”

Carew stared at the speaker, unable to gather his meaning, and said
never a word.

“Why, my friend, there is your chance of redemption,” said the Vicomte,
taking up the box and rattling it gaily, “three is the number of the
Graces; three throws for fortune and love; three throws for honour,
riches, and reputation. Ah! there is a royal stake, and heaven send me
favour.”

“This is but a piece of midsummer fooling; you do not mean this?”

“Truly I am in a sad and serious vein. Your barren acres grow heavy on
my back and I would be rid of them.”

“Then have with you,” cried the other eagerly.

But hardly had he spoken than the sound of footsteps was heard on the
stone passage, and an importunate knocking upon the door. Carew rose to
his feet, pushing back his chair with an oath. The Vicomte did not stir.

“It is best to see your impatient visitor,” he said. “Do not hurry
fortune.”

Carew went to the door and threw it open. “Well, sir, what is your
errand at this unseasonable hour?” he said, peering out into the
darkness which screened the intruder.

“My errand is with Vicomte de Laprade,” said a voice, “and is of the
most urgent. I must see him immediately.”

“Ah! that is the true Israelite, Mr. Orme,” said the Vicomte, in his
usual nonchalant tone, without turning in his chair. “You are arrived
most opportunely. This is the Temple of Fortune and here are her
worshippers.”

“This is no time for jesting, my lord,” said Gervase, gravely. “I have
come to carry you to the guardhouse, where I can promise you no
favourable reception. Our hearts have been sadly stirred; your life even
is in danger.”

“So much the more reason that we should decide this matter now. Look
you, Mr. Orme, my friend and I have a difference, the nature of which I
cannot now make clear to you, though it may also concern you nearly, and
we have agreed to leave it to the arbitrament of chance. A few minutes
more or less will not imperil the safety of the city. Pray be seated,
and see how fortune deals her favours.”

“Oh! this is past a jest,” cried Gervase, “I tell you, my lord, you are
in deadly peril.”

“And I tell you, sir, this is a matter of more importance. Nay, my good
friend”–and here he held out his hand, “my mind is set on this, and I
pray you to indulge me.”

Though his eyes and lips laughed, there was a serious undertone in his
voice, and after hesitating for a moment, Gervase finally said, “Ten
minutes you may have, my lord, but with your pardon, I shall wait
without. My mind is full of care and my heart is heavy as a stone. I can
take no part in this. I have seen this day that which I shall not forget
did I live a thousand years. Good night, Mr. Carew. My lord, you will
not keep me waiting.”

His steps rang along the stone pavement; then there was the sound of an
opening door and the whispering of voices in the basement hall.

“‘Jacob was a plain man and dwelt in tents,´” murmured De Laprade.
“Come, Carew, we who tempt the fickle goddess must not sleep. Jacob
yonder would filch my birthright, and I will not lose the lovely
Rachel.”

Carew, who had been as one bewildered and suddenly awakened out of a
dream with the terror of it still upon him, drew a chair to the table
and caught up the dice-box with a trembling hand. As his fingers closed
upon the box, his face grew deadly pale; his heart stood still in his
breast in an overmastering agony of fear and hope and hate. To him this
meant everything in the world. The man opposite to him had stripped him
naked–the man whose smile stabbed him like a knife, and whom he hated
with a bitterness of hatred that he had no language to measure. Should
he retrieve his fortune, and on how little that depended, not all the
powers on earth would again tempt him to such unspeakable folly. A mere
gull who had flung away his inheritance before he had possessed it! The
happy chance of redemption had come to him unexpectedly. What had moved
De Laprade to make this strange and curious proposal, he did not stop to
ask, he did not care to know. It was enough for him that it had been
made. He knew that he could exert no influence on his sister´s mind;
that his intercession would rather injure than advance the cause he
advocated. That was the Vicomte´s business. He was a gambler and
accustomed to take the chances, and it was he who had proposed the
stakes. He passed his hand across his eyes to clear away the mists; the
room seemed full of moving haze through which the candles burned with a
feeble and uncertain light. He drew a deep breath.

The first throw Carew won; the second fell to the Vicomte. Then there
happened a curious thing–when Carew was about to throw for the third
time, the Vicomte stooped down to lift his handkerchief from the floor
where it had fallen a moment before. While he did this somewhat clumsily
for one in general so dexterous, the dice rattled on the table. Making a
slight motion with his fingers Carew, hardly pausing, cried “Sixes.”

The Vicomte slowly raised his head. “Your play improves, sir,” he said
drily; “that was a lucky throw. Come, sir, you are not yet out of the
wood, and perhaps I shall yet see you through.” Then he threw himself.
“By all the saints, the Venus! This grows interesting. We must have one
more cast for fortune.”

“The devil´s in them,” cries Carew, his eyes fairly aglow and his lips
twitching like one in a fit.

This time the Vicomte won. “I knew how it would be,” he said, with an
air of pensive sadness; “I have no luck, I can do no more.”

Carew laughed loudly, almost as if this last stroke had touched his
brain. “Luck, what more would you have? Here have I been sitting for
three weeks while you plucked me like a hen feather by feather, with a
smile on your face, and I know not what devil´s craft in your fingers.”

“These are foolish words, sir, for which I will not ask you to account.
To talk of craft comes but ill from one who himself—-” Here he stopped
and looked at Carew steadily. “God knows I am but a pitiful fellow
myself, and yet I would I had never seen your face.”

The words were spoken slowly, with an emphasis that carried home their
hidden meaning; they struck home like a knife. Then without warning
Carew reached suddenly across the table, and struck the Vicomte a blow
with his closed hand fairly on the lips.




“You are a liar and a cheat,” he said, “and I will kill you like a dog.”

For a moment or more the Vicomte did not stir; apparently he was afraid
to trust himself to speak; only with his handkerchief, which he all the
time carried in his hand, he wiped the thin trickle of blood from his
lips. Then he rose to his feet and going over to the door, turned the
key in the lock. Thereafter he whipped out his sword and advanced into
the middle of the room. There was a high colour in his cheeks and his
eyes shone with a fine glow in them. Otherwise his manner was perfectly
calm, and his voice came slowly and with distinct utterance. “Mr.
Carew,” he said, “no man living will dare to do what you have done
to-night and live to tell it. I would have borne with much for your
sister´s sake; here not even she can save you. And yet it is almost a
dishonour to cross swords with you and treat you as a gentleman–you,
whom I have myself seen to cheat and cozen like a common tavern-brawler.
And you have dared to use these opprobrious words to me–to me who did
my best to return your losses without offending your nice sense of
honour. Now, sir, draw your sword and say your prayers, for I think you
are going to die.”

Carew was not wanting in physical courage, nor backward at any time in a
quarrel. But at this moment it was his own vehement and overmastering
desire–a desire too deep for any mere speech–to find an outlet for his
passion of hate and shame in a struggle with the man who held his
fortune and good name in his hand. To hold him at his mercy was at this
time his dearest wish on earth. He drew his sword, and taking his ground
lowered the point sullenly as the Vicomte saluted with his weapon.

Then their blades were crossed. The light was faint and low, for the
candles had nearly burnt themselves out, and as the spacious chamber
rang with the clash of the sword blades, the deep shadows came and went
with a grotesque and everchanging motion. Carew had the advantage in the
length of reach and once he touched his opponent in the arm, but after a
few passes he saw he had met his superior, and a feeling of great dread
overtook him. How he hated the man with the cold, impassive face and
disdainful smile! But for that bit of glittering steel that guarded him
like a wall, how gladly he would have taken him by the throat and
glutted himself with vengeance. And he saw that the Vicomte played with
him as if unwilling to strike him down too soon, and that, too, added to
his passion of fury and hate.

The Vicomte still stood on the defensive and parried his thrusts with
the greatest ease in the world. Again and again he tried to enter upon
his guard, but always with the same result. Then there came a violent
knocking upon the door and the sound of voices raised in alarm and
expostulation.

“We must end this,” cries the Vicomte deliberately parrying a thrust in
tierce, and almost at the same time Carew passaged rapidly, and catching
the Vicomte´s sword in his left hand, buried his own sword to the hilt
in the Vicomte. The stricken man swung round, threw up his hands, and
fell in a heap to the floor without uttering a sound.

Gervase had left the room with contempt and indignation strongly present
in his mind. It had seemed incredible to him that men should become
absorbed in these trifles, surrounded by the horrors that he daily
witnessed, and lose themselves wholly in this degrading passion. No
doubt it was none of his business–so he told himself–but his sense of
fitness revolted at it. He had reached the outer door and his hand was
on the lock to open it, when he heard a door open on the staircase
above, and a voice calling in low tones, “Is that Mr. Orme?”

“It is I, Miss Carew,” Gervase answered, feeling that the hope of this
rencontre was the real reason why he had left the Vicomte to decide his
matter of importance by himself.

Dorothy came down the stairs holding a taper in her hand–Gervase could
see the traces of tears on her cheeks, and he was greatly struck by the
change that the last week had made in her looks. Not that her beauty was
in any way dimmed or diminished, but sorrow and care had set their seal
upon it.

“Swartz has told me the news,” she said, “and the horror of it gives me
no rest. Will they not bring them into the City?”

“God knows it is what we all desire,” Gervase answered, “but it is not
possible. To bring them in would mean that we have fought and you have
suffered for nothing; it would but make their fate ours. Londonderry
must not fall.”

He continued in a sad constrained tone, “I think I shall never forget
till I die what I have seen today. There are children there, and babies
at the breast, and tender women, and, Miss Carew, we must let them die.
We dare not take them in. There is hardly food for a fortnight longer
and then—-”

“Then,” said Dorothy, “we can die. I almost think I shall be glad to
die.”

“Nay,” said Gervase taking her hand, “if all were as brave and strong as
you are! Macpherson says that yours is the boldest heart in the city.”

“He does not know me,” Dorothy answered, withdrawing her hand with a
faint gleam of her old humour kindling in her eyes; “he does not
understand women. I am a poor coward. But why should I talk of myself?
Will nothing be attempted to save the poor wretches who are now below
the walls?”

“Ay,” said Gervase pausing, “it is proposed to make use of the prisoners
we have taken, and, indeed, that is the reason I am here to-night. The
Vicomte must quit your house and take up his abode in the guard-house,
but I trust not for long.”

“They will not injure him?”

“I hope not, and I do not think you need fear for him. My lord
Netterville hath writ to De Rosen, who is surely a devil, to tell him
how it stands with himself and the other prisoners, and I do not doubt
his letter will move him more than the voice of humanity, assisted as it
is by the gallows we have now erected.”

“There is nothing but horror on horror,” said Dorothy. “It is just, but
it is hard to bear. And I think I could bear it all but for the great
trouble I told you of–but why should I thrust my own private griefs on
a stranger?”

“Nay, no stranger; your troubles are all mine. You know that I love you
better than my life.”

A moment before he would not have ventured to make this speech, but
something in her voice had for the first time awakened a wild hope in
his breast. She looked at him with a frank and honest look. “Yes,” she
answered, “I think you love me better than I deserve, but this is no
time to talk or think of such things.”

“But, Dorothy–”

“Nay, I will not have a word. Listen! Oh God! what is that? They have
quarrelled, and that is the sound of swords.”

The clash of steel could be heard plainly, and the sound of feet moving
rapidly.

“Remain where you are,” said Gervase, hastening down the passage; “I
shall prevent this.”

Dorothy stood at the foot of the passage, her hands held tightly against
her breast; the taper had fallen to the floor, and she was in darkness.
Then she heard the voice of Gervase at the door.

“Out of my way or I will run you through; I must enter.”

“By your leave you shall not. My master must fight this out; I´ve taught
him to fence, and I´ll see that he gets fair play.”

It was the voice of Swartz. Gervase had found the man at the door
listening to the sound of the strife within.

“Out of my way,” said Gervase, losing his temper.

“Damn you! I tell you I shall not stir. The Frenchman hath robbed my
master and he´ll pay dearly for it to-night. No man in Londonderry will
pass the door till he hath settled with that thief.”

Gervase was in no humour for temporizing at this moment. He caught the
old servant by the throat and with a quick movement hurled him to the
other side of the passage. Then placing his shoulder against the door
and exerting all his strength, the strong framework fell in with a
crash. The room was in complete darkness and he stood to listen. There
was not a sound. Then Dorothy came down the passage with a light.

“You must not come any further, Miss Carew,” said Gervase, advancing to
meet her, with a white face. “I am sure something has happened.” He took
the light from her and entered the room, Swartz who had picked himself
up muttering a malediction, following close on his heels. Lying in the
middle of the room in a dark pool of blood was De Laprade, while Jasper
Carew stood over the body, with the point of his rapier on the ground
and his hands resting on the handle.

“I killed him in fair fight,” he said as Gervase came into the room, and
running over, knelt down by the fallen man. Gervase opened the Vicomte´s
coat and placed his hand on his heart; it was still beating feebly.

“He is not dead yet. For God´s sake run for the surgeon; he may yet be
saved,” he cried, turning to Swartz who stood behind him.

“I´ll not stir a step to save his life,” the old man answered doggedly.

“Do as you are bidden, sir,” said Jasper, without moving, “and make what
haste you can.” Then he went over and sat down by the table, looking on
coldly as the man went out and Gervase tried to stop the bleeding with
his handkerchief. Dorothy had crept into the room, pale and frightened,
and knelt down beside Gervase.

“Is he dead?” she said with a gasp.

“No, he still lives. I can hear his heart beating.”

“I would give my own life a hundred times over to save his. He must not
die; I say, he must not die.”

“It is as God wills,” answered Gervase gravely. “I think he is coming
round.”

The Vicomte opened his eyes and smiled a faint smile of recognition as
his eyes fell on Dorothy; she lifted his hand and pressed it within her
own; then she shuddered at the touch–it was clammy with blood. No one
spoke or stirred–only the feeble tide of life appeared to be slowly
returning. The minutes seemed to drag themselves into hours while they
waited for the coming of the surgeon. Dorothy had placed her hand under
De Laprade´s head, and anxiously watched the deathlike pallor
disappearing from his cheeks. Her heart leapt joyfully as she saw him
attempting to speak.

“´Twas a fair fight but–but,” and he spoke as if communing with
himself, “he should not have caught my sword.”

Gervase looked suddenly up at Carew where he sat by the table looking on
sullenly, and he was filled with horror at the awful likeness that he
bore to the old man, his grandfather, whose frowning face he had seen in
its death agony. It was the same face, the same dark passionate look,
transformed from age to youth. He had never noticed the likeness before
and he wondered at it now.

Jasper rose and coming over looked down at the Vicomte with a look of
bitter hate. “The man is a liar,” he said; “a liar while he lived and a
liar now that he is dying, for I hope that I have killed him. I fought
him fairly, and I should have stabbed him where he sat. I shall answer
the world for what I have done.”

He turned on his heel and left the room, as Swartz and the surgeon
entered it. The latter, a tall, gaunt Scotchman with an exasperating
precision and judicial slowness of manner, began to examine his patient
carefully; it seemed as if he never would have done. Then he turned to
Gervase and spoke almost for the first time since he had entered the
room.

“Wherefore did you drive the puir laddie sae hard? Less would have done.
You young callants have no sense.”

“Will he die?” said Gervase eagerly.

“How can I tell you that? I´m no´ a prophet, but I´m thinking his vitals
have not been touched. These small swords make clean work; they´re no´
effectual like the pike or the broad sword–and he was a likely lad. I
think we may even bring him round yet, but he must not be stirred. Have
ye not unco´ guid sport outside that ye must begin to throttle ither
within?”

“God knows that is true, but you do not understand.”

“Nae doubt, nae doubt,” answered the other drily, “but I understand the
lad has gotten a whinger through his body, and that is a fact anybody
can understand. Howsoever the care of the body is my concern, and my two
hands are full enough. I´m tell´t you´re mighty quick with your weapon,
Mr. Orme.”

“This is none of my work,” said Gervase. “I would have given my right
hand to prevent it.”

The surgeon looked doubtfully at Swartz who stood near with his hands
behind his back. “Why! that body there–but it is none of my business.
We´ll even make him comfortable now and we can talk more about it in the
morn, for I´m thinking they must hear of this work outside. This bonny
lassie will be my care next,” he continued, turning to Dorothy. “This is
no place for you, my dear,” he said, laying his large hand with a rough
sympathy on her shoulder.

“Indeed I could rest nowhere else in the world. Do you think he will
live?”

“I´m sure he´ll no´ die if your sweet heart will save him. He´s a gay,
likely lad and he´ll give a deal of trouble in the world yet before he
leaves it, if he keeps clear of small swords in the future.”

“Thank God for that!” cried Dorothy, bursting into tears for the first
time.

Saunderson looked at her with a grim smile on his homely features.

“Women sometimes thank God for unco´ little. But he´ll do for the now,
and I´ll be back in an hour. Come, Mr. Orme, you´ll see me to the door,
for I have some directions to give you and my time is precious.”

Gervase went out with him to the door and they stood on the great stone
steps together. Then the surgeon laid his two broad hands on Gervase´s
shoulders and looked at him steadily. “Look ye here,” he said, “I learnt
the practice of medicine in the University of Glasgow, but there´s ane
thing I learnt since. I´m no sure I´ve got to the bottom of this
devildum, but I´m sure o´ this, that if yon chiel dies, the lassie will
even break her bonnie heart and the same small sword will have killed
them both. Swartz says the deed was yours, but he´s a fause loon to look
at, and I ken now it´s a lee. I ken you love her too well–I´ve learnt
that too–to do her scaith, and I leave him in your hands till the
morning. When a woman´s in love she´s no´ to be trusted. I´ll send you a
draught and ye´ll see to it that he gets it.”

He left Gervase hardly understanding the speech he had heard. Then its
full meaning dawned on him. Till now it had not occurred to him that
Dorothy had cared for De Laprade, but the mere suggestion awoke a
thousand trivial recollections that lent colour to the thought. He had
believed that her great distress was only due to the fact that her guest
and kinsman had fallen by her brother´s hand. But if it was
otherwise–if she loved De Laprade and looked on himself only as a
friend–it took the strength out of his heart to think of it. This great
passion, the first that he had known, had transformed his life and
inspired him in the midst of all the dangers and privations he was
passing through. And now it seemed to him that his hopes had fallen like
a house of cards. He was a fool to think that she should care for
him–and yet who could tell? So with hope that was not altogether dead,
and doubt, and a touch of jealousy, as has been since love came first
into the world, he went back to help his stricken rival.