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 Kt. ?-?-<??????-?  w??zizau"O?'Z -i? ""gam "14mas &&assess  M ?" [ALL RIGHTS REERVEDJ. = |I p THE SECRET OF THE SANDS 1 .t.:i THE SECRET OU"F THE SANDSX.I+W*l ?.: x4FX |g By FRED M. WHITE, |g ?4"-S Author of Ie Tregartben's Wife"  $25$Author of Tr?artbeo's Wife," "The Weight of?be Crown," The ? ? Edge of the Sword, The CMdio&l Moth, A Fat? Dose, &c. ^gp 7 ??S??????X X??'?<???)!!????!!??6?.S??????????'? WK*X fxtsvmx *»> gFgflTgyrelfRrgf5? **v mags PRINCIPAL CHARACTERS: -'S:R HORACE AMORY, of Oversands, a highly- esteemed county magnate. 'VERA, hi:; daughter, DICK AMORY, Sir Horace's scapegoat son, who is on the Stock Exchange. LADY MARIA AMORY. a widow, devoted to Dick. JOSEPH BASTABLE, a speculator in land, formerly Sir Horace's steward. RONALD BASTABLE, his son, a barrister in London. CHAPTER XIX. Despite the fact that he was usually a light- hearted scoundrel with a humorous philo- sophy of his own, De Lava was profoundly disappointed at the failure of his attempt upon Lady Amory's jewels. In his sanguine way he had looked upon this as a certainty. Your criminal i.s always an optimist, and this quality is responsible for a great proportion of crimes again-st property. For the successful consummation of the campaign, money was absolutely necessary. As a rule, De Lava did not lack the posses- sion of means, but his present programme threatened to last longer than he had anti- cipated. Shoremouth itself did not afford it-ti-iny facilities for the making of money., Moreover, the hotel bill had been presented with an intimation that a week was the limit of credit. Thereupon De Lava had drawn a, cheque, half of which he had asked for in cash. with the full knowledge that there were no funds to meet it. He was almost inclined to be despondent as lie lounged with Sexton in the private sitting- room after breakfast. His face was moody &nd thoughtful. I have given a cheque for our account." Mil" d I hav ?They did not demand it at the bayonet point, but it came to much the same thiag. Like the Speaker in your House or Commons, they were polite but firm. I per- suaded them to let me have ten pounds as well. If that cheque is net met the day after to-morrow, a distinguished foreigner, a friend of mine, will stand the chance of being ar- rested for fraud." "You always were so rash," Sexton said. "Audacious," De Lftva corrected; "but it pays. Before post-time it is* my intention to forward the sum of five hundred pounds to my bankers. This done, we shall be provided for the campaign. I did not want to tap this pr, ticul&r source, because I thought I saw nty way to getting a great deal more later. It i rather like killing the good goose that is !joil!(¡ I to lay the golden eggs, but it c,m't be helped." Whom do you mean to blackmail? Sexton asked. "A man who lives here." De Lava ex- plained. As he happens to be on the spot, it will be very convenient. I mean .Joseph Bastable. Sexton stared at the speaker, and his hard, haggard face expanded in a smile. He gave w<;Y to a fit of silent laughter. I Au&aciqus is the right enough word," he said, Is there ny^" limit to your impudence? Citable is the List man in the world to par; IVdth:12V. A* :;îi're as fate, he will kick you 1 be Lava amiled r.s he lighted a cigarett- l think not," he said, coolly. Xow, 1 "want vou to cor.eh me a little. Tell me the facts about that man Batter again. I propose to use his name as a lever. I will make an appeal on behalf of his wife and family." Sexton grinned. He was by no means averse to seeing his friend's pride humiliated. He spoke for some time. whilst De Lava listened patiently. He professed himself satisfied at length. That is sufficient for my purpose. ii £ said. "And now to call upon _Mi\ Ba.y.abk and tap the well-springs of his charity. 1 am going to enjoy myself." He went off with the jaunty air of a :r.n on the best of terms with himself if not tho world. The hot-el manager was p-.dite and most gushing as lig remembered the cheque in the safe. De Lava called at Bay la bio's ofHee and sent in his card. The great man would see him in a few moments. Bastable stood by his desk with the card in his hand. His man- ner was not particularly gracious. f"r he had the Y.ontad in.sular contempt for a foreigner. What can I do for you, Count de Lava?" he asked. De Lava, bestowed upon im a smile pecu- liarly sweet and winning. in the 4; place, my dear sir, you can offer me a chair," he isaid. "I prefer to sit down, as this interview may take some time. I am a n'an of a scien- tific turn of mind. The practical ^itie of science appeals to me. Bcfors long I hope to put on the market a.n aeroplane that v. i 1 be both cheap and durable. I am looking for a quiet place where I can carry out iii N- ments without beiftg subjected to the annoy- ance of curious fools t.2 lied House \yiP suit my purpose." The Red House does not belong to me." So I have been told. It is the property of Sir Horace Amory. I understand thnt he Ins no objection to letting it, subject, of course, to satisfactory references. Mow, i am a stranger here, and to get this matter settled will take more time than I cart for. I want to get to work at once. I thought that per- haps you would be willing to become respon- sible for me." Bastable smiled sourly. The suggestion amused him. You scientific men have a poor idea of business," he said. Why should I do this for you? You may be a swindler, for all I know." "C{uit.e so." De Lava said, genially. I might. Eut I don't look it. You don't !ok it either, but, nevertheless, you may be a cold-blooded rascal ready for any tiling. One always has to take these risks in the world." "Do you mean to insult me?" Bastable de- manded. "My dear sir, De Lava protested, I only hint what you flight be, iust as you hinted what 1 might be. I should not have used the illustration had I not know n some- thing of you through my old acquaintance Batter. I fancy his Christian r.utne was Roger, but I am not sure." Bastable's mouth grew a trifle more hard. The note of danger was sounded in his oars, and he was ready for the battle. The name of Batter had not been mentioned in his hearing for years, but he had not forgotten it. 0 "Roger Batter is dead." he said. Un- less you are familiar with this part of the world, you could not have known him. It is a romantic story." I know the story," De Lava said, "bllt I am a stranger here. Batter was the man who was supposed to have lost his life crossing the quicksands with a large sum of money to avert a bank crisis. The journey was under- taken by night, and the stepping-stones were used as the shortest way." What do you mean by supposed to have met his death?" Bastable demanded. My dear sir," De Lava said, sweetlv. if he had met with his death I should uevet have known him, and consequently should have been deprived of the exquisite pleasure of making your charming acquaintance. But I can assure you that Batter died penitent. He sincerely repented having robbed his em ployer of all that money. Most of the plunder went elsewhere, but that does not detract from the sincerity of Batter's eonfessioti. For his trouble he had a banknote for five hundred pounds. With this he vanished into space, and the story went that lie died nobly doing his duty. He lest his nerve to such an extent that he never cashed the note, and jt found its way into my possession. Perhaps you would like to see it." De Lava produced a "Bank of Engraving note, but it served the pur;: ;~r. Bastable waved it aside. It never occurred to him that anybody would dare to try on a game like that with him. "This ig the note," he said. The others were paid to Mr. Arthur Bowen to meet the cost of some property here purchased by—but really, Mr. Bastable, is there any necessity to t"!Ii you by whom that property was pur- chased? Bastable pressed the tips of his finders to- gether and glared at the speaker. He was holding himself in with an effort. He was gradually coming to recognise the fact that he had a foeman worthy of his steel. You'(Lbetter come to the point," lie said. My dear sir, you English are so practi- cal." De Lava murmured. Nothing will content you but the obvious. It was a, rare stroke of fortune when you bought the old marshes at the far end of the new town. It was strong evidence of your foresight, too." So you mean to suggest that I stole it?" Bastable cried. He was on his feet now, prudence flung to the winds. He was swayed by a wild desire to fall upon this man and bruise hi-s smiling face. De Lava was ready. The struggle was brief and signally one-sided. A moment later Bastable lay on his back on the floor, De Lava holding him by the throat. There was a livid mark over his left eye, and li;- lips were cut and bleeding. De Lava, was as -sh as a daisy. I know you -stole the money." lie purred, gently. You found out that Batter had been robbing the bank and compelled him to join your conspiracy. It was an ingenious coup, and you deserved all you earned. I can prove every word of what I say, if you desire it. You can get up now, and if you try any more brutal violence upon me, I'll break your right arm for you." Bastable struggled to his feet. 1M the whole course of his life, he had never had such an experience before. He had fought his way to the front, and found most people terribly afraid of him. But here was a man who could heat him at his own game. He cringed be- fore De Lava. • "What do you want?" he asked, sullenly. For myself nothing," De Lava. said, loftil v. By the bye. you had better think of .some neat way of accounting for the change in your personal appearance. I have called on behalf of the family of the late Roger Batter. I am raising a subscription for them, and I am sanguine enough to believe you will put your name down for five hundred pounds. Now. please don't protest. Your modest- and generous nature shrinks from the publicity that such a handsome donation might entail. But be not anxious, my good Bastable—I will we that you remain anony- mous. Bastable writhed from side to side. Behind De Lava's smile lie noted little lights in his eve-s as hard as steel. With an almost painful effort he dragged his cheque-book from a drawer and scribbled the desired amount on it. 1 •• There, he mumbled, take it, you confounded rascal TIih is a great pleasure to me," De Lava went on. as if he had heard nothing. "I hope to see you frequently at the Red House. By the bye. I forgot to that J will give Sir Horace Amory your name as my reference. Having quite <aiisfied you as to my bona fides, you cannot refuse. "Get our of toy ufllC. you foreign selini Bastable roared. ,0 De Lava went out with a smile. His pride was soothed and flattered. "Most excellent," he observed; but when I saw how easy a conquest I was likely to make, I wondered :;t my own moderation. But we sh-ill meet again. Bastable." CHAPTER XX. "Really, most kind and ihoughtful. Do Yillier remarked again. He looked round the room with a pleased smile. Much had been done to improve the plaee in so short a time. There were several pieces of fine old furniture in the Red House, and these had been given a prominent posi- tion. There .was a flavour of romance about the whole thing, an Arabian Nights' sugges- tite. Ni-liole tliing. an Arabiiii -\i-l its' These are verv comfortable quarters. Mr. Amory," he said. This is the kind of atmosphere that would reconcile most of us to exile." I have no more to do with it than ycfur- seIr." Dick said, sulkily. An hour ago there wasn't a sign of all this. S A pleasant surprise on the part of your .friends?" De Yillier -suggested. But the joke was lost upon Dick. He was looking anxiously at the table before him. He noted the costly wines and the brand on the cigars. What was tlie meaning of it. and who was responsible for it? Certainly, nobody had done il out of affection for him. 1 can't understand it." he went on. Till to-d iv ibis w the safes! place to hide in yon could imagine. Nobody ever came near the place. Not a dozen people in Shoremouth dared pass it after dark. Now it looks like becoming a tourist centre. People come here and make a midnight picnic. Of course, you can do as vou like. As for me. 1 must not be t, as serious as De Yillier asked. J am a fugitive from justice," Amory .said.snHeiTv. "There is no warrant out. for mv arrest, but one may be applied for at any moment. I have taken that which does not belong to me, and 1 did ;t with my eyes open. That I believed in my ability to re- place the tnoney when it was needed has nothing to do with the question. I'll"re are manv criminal:, who do not intend 10 be dis- honest at the start." Amorv spoke with the bitterness of despair. He wa? realising that 11'at?z? agai;i.,?t him, Wh' y did those people come and worry iti?t'n thisway? \Yhat was the strange fascin'?hn that suddenly drew so many peop!e to the Red House? You force me to speak like thi" Amory concluded. V a' He gtanc?d at Lady Amory as he spoke. She )md understood every word, and was ra- garding him with tears in her eyes. 1fy poor boy," she said; I,h. my poor You might have known I would have heijied vou if you had only come to me. But now ) am powerless. If 1 only had all that I have lostIf only the sands would give up their secret, 1-" She broke off and turned aside. Dick gazeo at her in puzzled astonishment. She seemed to grasp the situation, to understand his darvvr ;md the prosing need for assistant' But, from Dick's poin. of iew, the last froy words betrayed the mind diseased. To his understanding, the secret of the sands meant nothing. He could onlv listen vacuously. "f hardly know what to say," De Villier interposed. If I could be of any assistance? You will pardon my selfishness, but I am wet, and if I could procure a change— Amory could at any rate offer that. I here was one change of dress in his bedroom. D3 Villier came down presently dry and comfort- 1- k pl(?:i,3Q(l NN- i t l i Ilis ( I- able. and disposed to be pleased with his ad- venture. He did not appear to notice Aniory's anxiety. For him the whole affair w:ts a novel experience to be made the most of. Xow sit down to this tempting supper." he said. True, it is not. intended for us, but what matter? If the worst comes to the "orst. we can pay for it. I must confess that I should like to meet De Villier paused in his gav cl atter. The smile faded from hioS face, and his, lips grew hard and his eve stern. Only P. plaiii silver matchbox on the shelf had attracted his at- tention. He stood looking at it with a grim glare that was positively murderous. Then he turned angrily to Lady Amory. She shook her head sadly,. "On second thoughts, we had I-ktter go," De Villier said, jri a changed voice.. I will remain till my car comes. I can explain what has happened to the gentlemen who are sup- ping here. and tlw,v-" I shouldn't," Ronald said, significantly. lb De Yillier threw o quick, questioning glance I V, w,-) i. It] n't I <1111 ooiigeo 10 you tor your warning, mit 1 oe to assure you that I am absolutely safe. C". anyone give me a box of ordinar)' m:l;clw,c, Amory produced the matches. Ilore yo are," he said. "If you will excuse I will take myself off. It is all very well for you people, but the place is not safe for m. If I were in the Duke's place, I, too, should re gard the affair as a ioke-" v De Viliier's teeth come together with a click. "There is no joke," he said; "unless, per- haps, it is a grim one. But I am glad I came. If you will leave me here-" Victor, you would not be so ras,i Lady Amory cried. "My dear, there is no danger for wf. I bold the key of the situafion in my bands." Your rashness sinful." Lady Amory went on. "It was always :e sarn • w :th you. I implore, I insist that one of these gentle- men There was a, sudden commotion outside, and the door was flung open. Vera Amory stood there, her face white and agitated, and ier orousi. heaved painfully as if she had run 'ar and fast. There was a hint of alarm in ier eyes. of fear that has been struggled with iut not altogether conquered. A long sigh of 'elief rose tremblingly to her lips. Ronald noved towards her tenderly, and anxiously ;he put her hand in his. "Oh, if you only knew the relief of finding /ou Ob 1. she gasped. I ha1 to come. It .vas absolutely necessary tl. t somebody should come. and there was none I could trust." "Something terrible has happened?" Ronald asked. I am afraid so," Vera said.. She was re- covering from her exhaustion, and the colour A-a,s creeping back into her cheeks. I ran ill the way. I knew that my brother was icre, and I guessed that Lady Amory had ,c;me. too. Dick, it is your father." "Has anything happened to him?" Dick isked. He has had a seizure. He was talking to ne quite naturally when the stroke came luddenlv. Oh. it was horrible He asked for you, and seemed dreadfully anxious to see you about something without delay. Even liter the doctor came, and he was only par- iallv conscious, he moaned for you. It mounded like some business of the last im- Dortanee. They telephoned for a nurse from ihoreniotitli- But you must come." Dick listened with a miserable and wan !a.ce. He was not bad at heart. In his selfish way he was fond of his father. Still, :his looked like the destruction of his elabo- rate plans for his own safety. He would have to appear openly at Oversands. and might ven be needed at the bank to-morrow. The mere thought of it drove the blood from his face and set him trembling. Ronald watched this hesitation with im- patience and contempt. There is no occa- sion to say more," he said. We will all ?ome. They departed presently, leaving De Villier alone. He appeared to be very busy mani- pulating the bo.* of matches. Lady Amory lingered a moment to say something urgent, but he smiled and shook his head. With a sad expression she turned away, and Dick fell back by her side. "Why are you hiding, Dick?" she asked. She spoke normally and sensibly, and appeared to be sane and in full possess ion of > her soiiv h. A sudden hope flared up in Dick's heart. Didn't I explain to you?" he whispered. Let the others go further ahead so that they will not overhear us. Aunt Maria, I am in great trouble. I have done a toollsrl--a wicked and criminal thing if you like. If I don t get twenty thousand pounds in the next few days, I shall have to go to gaol. 1 shall not only disgrace the family, but I shall have to suffer imprisonment as well. Do you understand that?" "Your words are perfectly plain," Lady Amorv said. "It is dreadful." Mv dear aunt, you don't know how dreadful. Everybody will talk about it. The shame and humiliation will drive my father and sister from Shoremouth. My father will help me if he can. hut that is impossible. He told me certain things a little while a.go that opened my eyes to his position. I am .sure this seizure is connected with myney or the need of it. Can't you help us, aunt?" Lady Amory laid a long slender hand on her jewelled breast. She understood what Dick was hinting at. and turned to him a face that was wet with tears. My dear boy, I would gladly do it, if pos- sihle," she said. For your sake, I would cheerfully sacrifice my last farthing. I want to make this clear so long as my mind is capable of comprehending tilings. You think I am rich—in reality I am as poor as yourself. I have only a small annuity and the furniture in my cottage But the diamonds Dick whispered im- patiently. "Those wonderful gems of Yol!rs You are wearing enough now to put us on our feet again." "Shams." Lady Amory sttid. mournfully; shams every one of them. I had them made at a time when the real stones were in my pos- session; they w eoe made as a protection against thieves. But the real stones lie at the bottom of the quicksands." Impossible "Dick said. incredulously. You do not understand My dear boy, I understand only too well." Lady Amory observed. I want you to be- lieve that what I say is true. Take this She tore one of the glittering ornaments from her breast, and handed it to Dick. "Take that!" she said. "Look at it. See how it gleams and sparkles even in this light. In the ordinary way it would be worth thou- sands. Try to sell it: ask any dealer what he would give you for it. Perhaps a hundred pounds, as the paste is good. Oh, I know you jhink me mad, but I am sensible enough to- night. But I want YOtto try. You shall have the pick of my jewel-case, if you like. It is the only way to convince you. She must be mad, Dick thought. Knowing what he knew, he could not credit such a story as this. He held in his hand what re- presented the price of his freedom. He would go to London with ibis and convert it into money. The jewel would fetch thousands of pounds, enough to enable him to face the nfusic when Eowcu's affair came to be investi- gated. "How did it happen?" lie asked. Lady Amory told the same story that De Yillier had listened to. He began to under- stand why the Duke was interested in the Red House. So his aunt had imposed this ridicu- lous legend upon De Yillier! It was neces- sary to keep up the deception. "I am very sorry," he said sorry for your sake as well as mine. What strange hap- I penings in so quiet a place as Óis Well, I suppose I must face the situation and do the best 1 can for myself." Ladv Amory smiled at the cheerfulness of the tone. "You are a brave hoy," she saia. "All will be well with you yet." (To lie continucd.)

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