REVENGE

Sir Joseph Branwin and Miss Rosy Pearl duly arrived at
Weed-on-the-Sands, and proceeded to the Three Fishers. Here the
millionaire, who had quite a Bourbon dislike to be kept waiting, found
a note from his daughter, which greatly annoyed him. Mrs. Shawe wrote
that with her husband she had gone to town on business–she did not
mention what the business was–and would return by the six o’clock
train, which was timed to arrive at Weed-on-the-Sands at eight. There
was nothing for it but to await the return of the newly-married couple
or return to London.

“And I have a good mind to do so,” fumed Sir Joseph, furiously,
tearing up the letter. “How dare Audrey treat me in this way, when I
have taken the trouble to come down and see her–the minx!”

“I must say,” remarked Miss Pearl, with her most virtuous air, “that
your daughter shows little consideration for my feelings.”

“For your feelings?”

“Certainly. I came down here only on the understanding that Mrs. Shawe
would be present to play the part of my chaperon.”

“Pooh! Pooh! Audrey is much younger than you are, Rosy.”

Miss Pearl coloured. “She is a married woman, Sir Joseph, and as such
is able by her mere presence to protect my character. And I beg that
you will not call me by my Christian name in public. I do not know,”
went on Miss Pearl, in her heavy, rich voice, “whether it would not be
better for me to return to London by the next train.”

“Nonsense! Nonsense!”

“Pardon me, Sir Joseph, but it is not nonsense. I have accompanied you
here to witness a family reconciliation, and to show Mrs. Shawe that I
am not an undesirable relative. But I have come down with you alone in
the hope that Mrs. Shawe would be present. As she is not, I doubt the
propriety of remaining here. In my profession one cannot be too
careful. What is to be done?”

“We can wait here until Audrey and her confounded husband return at
eight o’clock. Then everything will be all right.”

“Mrs. Shawe may miss the train.”

“Well, well,” said Branwin, impatiently, “there is another at eight
o’clock from London, which gets here at ten.”

“At that hour it would be too late for me to return,” Miss Pearl
reflected. “I shall wait for the eight o’clock train, and if Mrs.
Shawe does not return I shall go back to London by the nine o’clock.”

“Oh! I thought you were going to remain here for the night?”

“If Mrs. Shawe were here I should not do otherwise. What can you be
thinking of, Sir Joseph, to suggest such a thing. Even the fact that
your portmanteau and my trunk have arrived together, as we have, is a
reflection on my character, now that we have learnt the absence of
Mrs. Shawe. However, I shall put the matter right. Permit me.”

Then Miss Pearl sought out the landlady, and pointed out with many
words that she had come to Weed-on-the-Sands as the guest of Mrs.
Shawe, along with Mrs. Shawe’s father. As Mrs. Shawe was not in the
hotel, Miss Pearl expressed her determination to return to London by
the nine o’clock train if the young lady did not come back with her
husband. “Therefore,” ended the dancer, with an excessively virtuous
air, “you will be pleased to see that my trunk is taken to the railway
station if by eight o’clock my friend does not come.”

The landlady quite understood, and promised to comply with the
request, so Miss Pearl, having defended her character, graciously
consented to partake of dinner: in the company of Sir Joseph at six
o’clock. As the pair had arrived somewhat late in the afternoon the
meal was served almost immediately, and during its preparation Miss
Pearl chatted on select subjects with her companion. When the dinner
was over and they had indulged in coffee, Sir Joseph proposed that
Miss Pearl should accompany him for a stroll on the smooth sands.

“It is a lovely night,” said Branwin, looking out of the window at the
full moon, “and quite a change after the fogs in London. You’ll enjoy
it.”

“Not on the sands,” said Miss Pearl, majestically. “People would talk
if I went with you on the sands at this hour without a chaperon. But I
do not mind walking to the pier, which I notice is directly in front
of this hotel. There we shall be in evidence, and–”

“I don’t want to be in evidence. I wish to have you all to myself.’

“You are getting me all to yourself,” said the dancer, coldly; “but it
does not do for a professional artist, such as I am, to invite
ill-natured criticism. My mother, who is a consistent Baptist, always
told me to be careful.”

As they strolled across the road to the rude little pier Sir Joseph
reflected how handsome she would look when the Branwin diamonds were
round her white throat and the Branwin tiara was on her graceful head.
She was rather a prude, he considered, but she was also extremely
beautiful, so he had little to complain of. Beauty and a passionless
nature so rarely go together.

With the gait of a Juno Miss Pearl walked on to the pier. It was now
close upon eight o’clock, as they had lingered for some time over
their coffee. The pier ran some little distance out into smooth water,
and at the end were several seats. But there was no parapet round the
verge of the jetty, and Miss Pearl chose to consider this somewhat
dangerous.

“Anyone might fall in with ease,” she said. “Bring the bench into the
very middle, Sir Joseph, and we can then sit in safety.”

The obedient millionaire did as he was told, although he would have
laughed the former Lady Branwin to scorn had she proposed such a
thing. But he was under the impression that his old uncomely wife was
dead, and that he was free to marry this lovely and imperial creature,
who ordered him about so freely. In fact, having always had his own
way, he found a certain amount of delight in obeying her slightest
whim. So the two took their seat on the bench, which was placed at the
end of the pier, in the very centre, and well away from the dangerous
water on either side.

The night was extremely lovely, being very still. The round moon
floated like a golden bubble in a starry sky, and the Channel waters
were spread out for miles like a carpet of silver tissues gleaming
with tiny points of glittering light. The sands stretched for a long
distance towards a bold headland, which jutted into the gleaming sea,
and along the front of the shore gleamed the many lights of the town.
People were moving up and down to enjoy the beauty of the night, and
there was the murmur of many voices and the sound of laughter. After
the fogs and chill of the great city, the scene was ideal. Miss Pearl
so far forgot her uneasy virtue in the presence of this calm beauty
that she actually leant her head on Sir Joseph’s shoulder and
permitted him to slip a fond arm round her substantial waist. And
this, with many people walking and talking only a stone’s-throw away,
although it must be admitted that they had the entire pier to
themselves.

“Did you do what I asked you to do, Joseph?” demanded Miss Pearl,
gently.

Her use of his Christian name informed the millionaire that he was
entitled to the same privilege. “Yes, Rosy, my dearest,” he whispered
softly–that is, as softly as such a domineering bully could whisper.
“You mean the allowance to Audrey?”

“Of course. She is your daughter, and, however badly she may have
behaved, she should be looked after. If you cut her off with a
shilling, as you said you would do, people would blame me, and I do
not care about beginning my married life with the reputation of being
cruel to my step-daughter. One can never be too particular, as my
mother, who is a consistent–”

“Yes, yes,” interrupted Branwin, who was rather weary of Miss Pearl’s
constant reference to her mother; “I quite understand. I have told my
lawyer to write to Audrey informing her that she shall have two
thousand a year during my life, and I have to-day made a codicil to my
will leaving her the same amount should I die. Had she obeyed me in
the matter of marrying Lord Anvers she would have had more; but I
altered my will and reduced what I intended to leave her to that
amount.”

“It is quite enough,” said Miss Pearl, after a pause, and rather
nervously. “I hope everything is arranged legally?”

“Yes, I have signed the codicil, and the letter will be sent to Audrey
at the Three Fishers to-morrow. Why do you ask if I have arranged
things legally?”

“Because,” said Rosy Pearl, still nervously, and leaning her head more
fondly on her elderly lover’s shoulder, “I have a confession to make
to you. On the night poor Lady Branwin was murdered I was sleeping at
the Pink Shop.”

“I know, I know,” said Sir Joseph, impatiently. “I heard from Audrey
that my wife intended to stay there also, and for that reason I came
round to Walpole Lane. I thought that you might meet, and that there
would be a row, for Dora was always jealous of you. How she found out
that I loved you I don’t know, but she did.” Sir Joseph drew a deep
breath. “I was glad when in Walpole Lane I saw that everything was
quiet. Mrs. Mellop saw me, however, when she and Audrey called at the
shop at half-past eight, and because she did hinted that I was
concerned in the murder.”

“I said just now,” continued Miss Pearl, slowly, “that Mrs. Shawe was
your daughter. She is not.”

Sir Joseph violently pushed away the woman and sprang to his feet.
“What is that you say?” he demanded, in an angry voice.

“You heard me, didn’t you?” said Miss Pearl, doggedly. “Mrs. Shawe is
not your daughter,” and then she related what she had overheard about
the kidnapping of Colonel Ilse’s daughter, and the fraud that had been
perpetrated on the millionaire by his wife.

“You knew this when you asked me to allow Audrey–”

“Yes, I did,” said Miss Pearl, with mulish obstinacy, “and you must
let the codicil remain, also the allowance.”

“I’m hanged if I will!” said Branwin, savagely. “Why should I give my
hard-earned money to another man’s brat?”

“What is two thousand a year to you?” demanded Rosy Pearl, scornfully.
“Look what a reputation you will buy with it when the truth becomes
known. It is worth the money. Besides, whatever your wife and Madame
Coralie may have done–and I don’t deny that they have acted very
badly–Mrs. Shawe is at least innocent. She should not be punished.”

“She shan’t have the two thousand a year.”

“Yes she shall. If you change your codicil, I change my mind.”

Sir Joseph scowled at her. “You mean that you won’t marry me?”

“Yes, I do. After all, I can make a better match if I so choose. Why,
Lord Anvers asked me to marry him.”

“What–when he was making love to my daughter–I mean to Audrey?’

“Yes. I thought that I could reform him, but he is a man of such a
notoriously bad character that I decided to refuse him. But I have
many offers, and I accept yours for certain reasons which I have no
need to explain; but if you don’t allow Mrs. Shawe this money I shall
marry someone else. I assure you, Sir Joseph,” said Miss Pearl,
standing up in the full splendour of her beauty, “that I can marry
anyone I like.”



“I quite believe it,” said Branwin, grudgingly, for her beauty was
undeniable and he wanted to possess it badly. “I shall take a few days
to decide what is best to be done, as your revelation has taken me by
surprise. I never cared much for Audrey, but I really believed that
she was my own child. The scheming women!”–and he clenched his huge
fist fiercely. “Tell me, Rosy, have you any idea who murdered my
wife?”

Miss Pearl shook her head. “The voices stopped suddenly, and when I
went down the stairs later with the idea of seeing Lady Branwin and
telling her what I knew, I found her dead. I believe,” added Miss
Pearl, cautiously, “that Madame Coralie murdered your wife.”

“I quite believe it. Just what that infernal Flora would do,” said Sir
Joseph, grimly. “If she did–but there, as Dora is dead I shall let
the matter rest, although I should dearly like to bring Flora to the
gallows. The re-opening of the case would do me no good.”

“Nor me,” said Rosy Pearl, decisively, “for I should have to confess
to the police what I have confessed to you, and then I would be blamed
for having kept it quiet so long. I only hope that Miss Perry Toat
will leave the matter alone.”

“Who is she?”

“A detective who is looking into the case on behalf of your–of Mrs.
Shawe, and who called on me after she had heard that Mr. Shawe had
seen me. I was forced to tell her all I knew, so she may–”

“She will,” interrupted Sir Joseph, in an angry tone. “I daresay
Audrey and her husband have gone to town about the business, and–”

“Hush!” Miss Pearl stopped him with a gesture. “Someone is coming. Do
not speak of these very private matters so loudly.”

Sir Joseph turned, and down the pier came a short, dark figure very
rapidly, panting for breath. The figure was that of a woman, and
advanced straight up to the millionaire. Branwin pushed the newcomer
back, and was about to speak, when she flung aside her veil. The
millionaire staggered against Miss Pearl, and turned quite green with
terror.

“What is it? Oh! what is it?” cried the dancer, infected with his
terror.

“Who is it, you mean,” said the woman, with a taunting laugh. “It is
Lady Branwin, Miss Rosy Pearl. You won’t be able to marry my husband
after all.”

Miss Pearl, for once, was shaken out of her calmness, and but for her
fashionable hat her hair would have risen on end. “Lady Branwin is
dead!” she gasped, shrinking from the shapeless figure.

“Lady Branwin is very much alive,” jeered the other woman, pointing at
Sir Joseph. “Look at that beast–that beast!” She glared.

Sir Joseph, astonished at this speech from his hitherto meek wife,
recovered himself with a violent effort. “You aren’t Dora. She would
never had dared to speak to me like that. You are Flora, who–”

“I am Dora, who has been hammered into hardness by your cruelty. Flora
is dead, and I masqueraded as her with the yashmak, and–”

“Then–then,” stammered Miss Pearl, with genuine horror, “you killed
her?”

“Yes,” said Lady Branwin, simply, and looked triumphantly at her
husband. “I killed her because she threatened to tell Joseph that
Audrey was not his daughter.”

“You–you fiend!” stuttered Branwin, with a look of positive terror in
his eyes. He could not understand how his formerly meek wife had
changed into this hard, desperate woman, any more than he could
exactly grasp how she had arisen from the dead in this startling
fashion.

“I am what you have made me,” said Lady Branwin, fiercely. “I was a
good woman until you turned me into a fiend. But I have seen Audrey,
and I have told her all the truth. Then I came down here to do
justice.”

“How–how did you know that I was here?” demanded Sir Joseph, who did
not like the sinister looks of his wife.

“Audrey told me that you and that woman were coming down to see her. I
ran away into the fog when Perry Toat would have arrested me, and
caught the six o’clock train. On arriving here I went to the hotel,
and they told me that you were on the pier. And now”–she turned
violently on Miss Pearl–“don’t you dare to marry my husband.”

Miss Pearl drew herself up. “I certainly shall not do so. My
reputation–”

“Is of the worst, you slut!” sneered Lady Branwin, beside herself with
rage.

“It is wholly false,” gasped the dancer, on her dignity at once. “I
have an unspotted reputation, and my mother–”

“You are here alone with my husband. That is enough for me. How
dare–”

“Don’t cry out so, Dora; you will draw a crowd,” said Sir Joseph,
noticing that several people were turning their heads towards the
pier.

“Yes, I will draw a crowd.” She came towards Branwin, looking so
fierce that he backed away from her. “You have ruined my life. I have
lost Audrey through you. There is nothing left for me to live for, and
if I do live I shall be arrested for Flora’s death. You brute–you
beast–you–you–” She backed him right to the end of the pier, and
then, springing forward, threw her arms round him. “We will die
together,” she screamed wildly.

The next moment the two fell over into the deep water, and Miss Pearl
ran wildly up the pier shrieking for help. It came too late. Both man
and wife were dead.

One month after the death of Sir Joseph and his wife at
Weed-on-the-Sands, Ralph was talking to his fairy godmother in her
boudoir. He was dressed for a journey, and Lady Sanby was saying a few
last words to him. Audrey was yet in her bedroom, making final
preparations for departure. Since the occurrence of the tragedy she
had been staying with Lady Sanby along with her husband, and the young
couple had only waited for all things to be settled to start on a
voyage to Australia. Lady Sanby was expressing now, as she had
expressed before, her approval of the trip.

“I think you are very wise, my dear boy,” she said, leaning back in
her comfortable chair. “A journey round the world will do Audrey
endless good.”

“Audrey?” said Shawe, with a smile. “Colonel Ilse will call her
Elsie.”

“Well, that is natural, since it was her mother’s name. The Colonel
seems to be devoted to the memory of his wife. Had she lived, he would
not have worshipped her so much.”

“Grannie, that is cynical. Some men can remain lovers always. I am
sure that I shall always worship Audrey.”

“Well,” said Lady Sanby, with a charming smile, “in your case there is
much excuse. You and Audrey–Elsie–oh, dear me, how puzzling it is
for her to have two names!–but you have come through so much trouble
in company that you understand one another better than most married
people, and anxiety has drawn you together. Natural–very, very
natural.”

“Poor Audrey! She has had a very unhappy time lately,” said the young
man, gravely; “and, indeed, all her life she has had trouble, more or
less. Sir Joseph never cared for her, you know.”

“Oh, that man never cared for anyone save himself,” said Lady
Sanby, tartly. “He was a bear–a clever bear, I admit, but still a
bear. I suppose that one should not speak evil of the dead. All the
same–well, I shall say no more.”

“Let us speak of Sir Joseph as kindly as we can,” observed Shawe,
quietly, “for, after all, he has left Audrey two thousand a year.”

“Out of an estate worth a million or two. It isn’t much.”

“It is enough for us both until I make an actual success as a
barrister.”

“Ah!” Lady Sanby wagged her old head, “that is the only thing I have
to say against this very sensible journey. Is it wise, Ralph, to
interrupt your career?”

“Yes, on the assumption that absence makes the heart grow fonder. But
even if it were not wise, grannie, I should still undertake the
journey for the sake of Audrey. So much of the case has been published
in the papers that if Audrey and I remained in London we should
constantly be bothered by silly people asking questions. If we travel
for a year–as we intend to do–the affair will be forgotten.”

“Lady Branwin went down with the deliberate intention of killing her
husband, did she not, Ralph?”

“I really can’t say. She certainly said in the office that she would
never see Audrey again, and was going away to do justice. Perry Toat
would have had her arrested, but she slipped away in the fog. Having
learnt from Audrey that Sir Joseph and Miss Pearl were at the Three
Fishers Hotel at Weed-on-the-Sands, she caught the six o’clock train
and arrived at eight. Then she asked at the hotel where her husband
was to be found. In this way she came on to the pier, and, having made
a scene which attracted the attention of those on the promenade, she
suddenly jumped at Branwin and flung both herself and him into the
deep water. When the bodies were discovered they could scarcely be
parted, so tight was Lady Branwin’s embrace.”

“Well, I expect the miserable woman had some idea of punishing the
brute to whom she had been bound for so many unhappy years,” said Lady
Sanby, after a pause; “but I also think that she took sudden advantage
of his being on the pier to drown both him and herself. Miss Pearl
made a fine lot of trouble over the matter.”

Shawe could not help smiling. “Miss Pearl was very much concerned
about her reputation, and caused it to be generally known that she,
like Sir Joseph, had really and truly believed Lady Branwin to be
dead. Miss Pearl also made public the fact that she had induced Sir
Joseph to make the codicil to his will giving Audrey, as my wife, the
two thousand a year. Finally, she wrote a letter to the papers, and
stated at the inquest that she had accompanied Sir Joseph to
Weed-on-the-Sands with the sole idea of reconciling him to his
daughter. In fact, she made herself out to be a conventional martyr,
and everyone believed her.”

“Oh, I don’t think the woman was really ill-natured,” said the old
lady, with a shrug. “She certainly behaved very well over Audrey’s
money; but I expect she did so in order not to appear the unjust
stepmother.”

“Grannie, grannie, will you never credit anyone with good intentions?”

“Oh, I credit Miss Rosy Pearl with all the virtues. She says she has
them, so we must believe her. All the same, she has thought it
necessary to accept an American engagement for three years.”

“I expect she will return as the wife of an American millionaire.”

“Not at all,” said Lady Sanby, coolly. “She is going to marry Lord
Anvers, with the intention of reforming him. He has followed her to
the States for that purpose.”

“Poor Miss Pearl!” said Ralph, in a sympathetic tone.

Lady Sanby laughed. “Poor Anvers, I think,” she said seriously. “But
what about the Pink Shop?”

“It has been shut up, and the assistants have dispersed to the four
winds, resuming, I believe, their real names. Zobeide has gone with
her mother to Devonshire to live, Parizade has married her artist, and
Peri Banou is Audrey’s maid, as you know.”

“Fancy having a dumb maid, and yet it has its advantages. Peri
Banou–I do hope your wife will give her a less heathen name–will
keep Audrey’s secrets thoroughly.”

“Audrey has no secrets,” said Ralph, somewhat stiffly, “and Peri Banou
is devoted to her.”

“She has every reason to be. Few women would take a maid from that
Pink Shop. It was too notorious.”

“Oh! my dear grannie, it was conducted in a most respectable way, both
by Madame Coralie and by Lady Branwin when she masqueraded as her
sister.”

“Humph! I certainly heard nothing against it,” said Lady Sanby. “But
how did Lady Branwin manage to conduct a business about which she knew
nothing?”

“Well, Eddy Vail learnt the truth, as he found his wife dead. Also, in
order to carry on the business and keep up her disguise, Lady Branwin
had to tell Badoura who she really was.”

“Then Vail and Badoura were accomplices after the fact?”

“Yes, they were. How learned you are, grannie,” said Ralph, with a
smile. “For that reason they bolted before the police could get hold
of them. Inspector Lanton was very anxious to bring them forward as
witnesses.”

“It is just as well that he did not, else many more details would have
been in the papers. As it is, the romance of those two sisters and the
substituted child, and Dora strangling Flora, or Flora, Dora–I’m sure
I don’t know which–has startled everyone.”

“That is why I am taking Audrey away, so that people may forget the
affair, grannie. And it was Dora Lady Branwin who strangled Flora
Madame Coralie. She did it, I believe, on the impulse of the moment
when Flora threatened to tell the truth to Sir Joseph.”

“Do you think that the man would have turned Audrey out of doors had
he found she was not his daughter?”

“He turned her out of doors when he thought that she was,” said Shawe,
grimly. “And but for your help, dear Lady Sanby, Audrey would have
been in a terrible position.”

“I think you should rather thank Lady Branwin, who took the poor child
in when Sir Joseph behaved so brutally.”

“Yes. She loved Audrey, and it was for Audrey’s sake that she
strangled her wicked sister, even if she drowned Sir Joseph for her
own sake. It is very strange,” added Ralph, musingly, “that Audrey
never suspected the false Madame Coralie was her mother.”

“Oh, the very resemblance and the knowledge that Flora and Dora were
twins put Audrey off the scent,” explained Lady Sanby, easily. “I see
no difficulty about the matter. Then the birthmark was misleading, and
Lady Branwin changed her voice by some drink, from being soft into a
harsh note. Finally, she nearly always wore that yashmak.”

“Lady Branwin did more than change her voice, grannie. She changed the
whole of her nature; and from being a meek, timid little woman she
became as hard and cruel as Madame Coralie had been.”

“The twin natures got mixed up, I suppose,” said grannie, flippantly.
“Well, both the sisters are dead, and so is the man who played with
them as a child, so let us say no more about them. What has become of
Sir Joseph’s money?”

“Beyond the two thousand a year to Audrey, which was left to her as my
wife, and various legacies, the rest goes to his next-of-kin.”

“Miss Pearl must have been angry that she did not get any money?”

“She was. Sir Joseph intended to make a new will after he married her,
as it was useless to make one before. But Lady Branwin, rising from
the grave, upset everything. Poor woman!” sighed the barrister. “She
is dead, so all we can say is ‘Rest her soul.'”

Lady Sanby nodded solemnly. “By the way, where have Vail and Badoura
gone to, and who is going to carry on the Pink Shop business?”

“I don’t know where they have gone. Bolted to America, I understand.
At all events, Lanton can’t find them, and I don’t expect they will
turn up in England again seeing what a record they have left behind.
As to the Pink Shop, it is closed for ever. I told you so.”

“One last question,” said Lady Sanby. “Who dropped the label near the
door of the court to make the police think robbery was the cause of
the crime?”

“Lady Branwin, masquerading as Madame Coralie, and Eddy Vail managed
the whole wicked business. He also got the diamonds, or the most part
of them, and it is with that money that he has bolted to America with
Badoura. Do you wish to hear any more? For I am anxious to stop
talking about this business.”

“Tell me,” said Lady Sanby, quite forgetting that she had asked what
she had called a last question, “What of Perry Toat?”

“Oh, she has got the reward, as, really and truly, it was through her
that the truth came to light. Sir Joseph’s lawyers paid her the money
last week, and she told me that she intends to retire from business
and marry her purser. Any more questions?”

Lady Sanby thought, and was about to ask another, when the door of the
boudoir opened and Colonel Ilse, looking years younger, appeared on
the threshold.

“Pardon me for entering unannounced, Lady Sanby,” he said, in his most
polite manner, “but I have brought my motor to the street door.”

“You couldn’t have very well brought it to this door, Colonel,” said
the old dame, drily. “So you are going with the young couple?”

“Not immediately,” said the newcomer. “I must allow Ralph and Elsie to
resume their interrupted honeymoon. I shall join them when they reach
New York, after their trip through Australia and New Zealand. Perhaps
it is selfish of me, but I have been without my daughter for so long
that I want to have her to myself.”

“What do you say to that, Ralph?” asked Lady Sanby, with twinkling
eyes.

“Oh, it is natural, and the Colonel and I get on splendidly together,”
said the young man, laughing. “When we return the Colonel is going to
live with us–or, rather, Audrey and I are going to live with the
Colonel.”

“What is mine is yours,” said Colonel Ilse, readily. “I have a country
house and plenty of money, to which Elsie is heiress, so when I go you
will have no troubles in a pecuniary sense. I really wish,” added the
Colonel, somewhat anxiously, “that Miss Pearl had not induced Sir
Joseph to leave Audrey any money.

“Oh, that is only fair, considering how he behaved to her and to her
mother–I mean to Lady Branwin–when he was alive. And the more money
Ralph and Audrey have the sooner will he reach the Woolsack and get a
title.”

“That is a long way off yet, grannie.”

“Well, I don’t know. Audrey is ambitious and will make you work, my
dear boy, after you have had this long holiday. But there is one point
to be settled straight away.”

“What is that?” asked the Colonel and Ralph simultaneously, for the
old dame looked wonderfully serious.

“Is the girl to be called Audrey or Elsie?”

“I shall call her Elsie,” said Ilse, promptly, “after her mother, my
dear wife, and I am sure Ralph will not object.”

“No,” said Ralph, after a pause, “I don’t think I shall. In fact, when
I get used to the change of name I shall prefer it, as I should like
all memory of Audrey’s connection with the Branwins to be forgotten.”

“Well, call her Elsie,” said Lady Sanby, “and the sole memory of a
very disagreeable time will be the two thousand a year.”

“Which ought to be given to charity,” said Ilse, abruptly.

“Give it to Miss Pearl,” suggested Lady Sanby.

“No, no,” said Ralph, with great common sense, “we shall keep it. Sir
Joseph owes Audrey something for the way in which he treated her.”

Lady Sanby arose. “You said that before,” she remarked. “My dear boy,
you are beginning to repeat yourself, so it is time you went.”

Colonel Ilse looked at his watch. “If Elsie is ready we must go, if we
want to catch the Fenchurch Street train for Tilbury Docks.”

As if in answer to his question Mrs. Shawe entered ready for the
journey, smiling and happy, although she looked rather thin. This was
not to be wondered at, after all she had gone through. Her father
embraced her tenderly, as he always did when she came into his
presence. It seemed as though he never could love her enough. Then
came fond farewells on the part of Lady Sanby, who insisted on
descending to see the party off.

“And I hope you will be happy, Elsie,” she said, kissing her at the
street door.

“Do you call me Elsie, as father does?” asked Mrs. Shawe, smiling.

“Yes, and I shall call you Elsie also,” said her husband, assisting
her into the motor-car. “From this moment we leave Audrey Branwin and
her miserable past behind. Now begins the happy existence of Elsie
Shawe.”

“Thank Heaven,” said the girl, piously, and her father and husband
echoed the wish as the motor-car hummed away towards the new life of
peace and pleasure which waited for them all.

“Thank Heaven also,” said Lady Sanby, waving her hand. “That is the
last of the Pink Shop and all its misery.”