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IEA= BiMm BzzBBYzB ] . |THE…


IEA= BiMm BzzBBYzB ] |THE LADY IN t THE BLACK MASK  BY t TOM GALLON, I Author "Tatterley," "Meg the Lady," "The I Great Gay Roa ?," &c. I CHAPTER XL I THE WILL. Among the hurrying thronglof people at Waterloo Station no one took any particu- lar notice of a youthful couple, arm in arm, and looking, if the truth be told, almost radiantly happy, passing out of that station into the street. That youthful couple was Clement Singleton and Ruth Tringham. Ruth had had a dreadful feeling, at the very moment they got out of the train at Waterloo—that train which they had so miraculously contrived to catch by the aid jf the cheery young gentleman with the motor-car—that some lynx-eyed man would pounce upon them, and would arrest her at once. Happily, however, nothing of the sort happened; everyone seemed to be far too busy looking after their own affairs to trouble about two young people who were able to slip away without even stopping, to look after luggage. They had discussed matters during the short journey up to London, and had pretty well decided what they were to do. Clement. had wisely remembered that the man Bellamy, who had called himself Bradley, now knew who Clement was, and would naturally be suspicious, seeing that Clement had gone to Lipstone with him, and had been left at the very gates of Lady Wood- mason's house. Obviously it would never do to take Ruth back to those rooms in Pome- roy Buildings, Holborn; that would be to court immediate disaster. It was late, and both were hungry; Clement piloted the girl into the refresh- ment-room, having first stopped at the book- stall and bought a newspaper, and began to hunt through the advertisements. Ruth kept her veil half down and watched him, until presently he folded the newspaper and passed it across to her, with a finger indicat- ing one particular advertisement. • That's the sort of thing you want," he said, in a low voice. It was merely an advertisment of two fur- nished rooms to be let in a kittle street in Islington—"young lady preferred no other lodgers taken." And the terms were ex- tremely moderate. They finished their meal, and walked out of the station and got into a, taxicab. Clement gave the man the address, and they IlØet off. In due course they arrived in a quiet little street, before a neat little house; and, on the bell being rung, the door was opened by a neat little woman wearing spectacles, who looked them up and down sharply aa though taking their measure. "I've come about the advertisement; you have some rooms to let," said Ruth. Instantly the woman stepped aside, and signed to them to go in. She ilshered them into a little sitting-room, scrupulously neat and clean in the most punctilious fashion she drew forward a couple of chairs, which, for no known reason, she dusted with her apron then seated herself opposite them, as though entering upon a palaver that must be expected to last for an hour or two. She certainly was the most garrulous lady t is possible to imagine. Before they finally escaped she had given them the complete history of herself and her family, and her iate husband and the neighbours, and any- thing else she could think of. l However, at last Ruth prevailed upon her ,to let her see the rooms, and went upstairs with her, leaving Clement in the little sit- ting-room alone. Returning, Ruth declared that nothing could be nicer than the rooms, and that she had decided to take them. Even then they could not get rid of the landlady; deeply interested, she remained till Clement and the girl were about to say their farewells. They got out of that difficulty by Ruth insisting on taking Clement up to her own little sitting-room, informing the landlady that she knew the way now, and need not trouble her. "Clem, dear-there is one thing we have I' forgotten, and one thing I want you to attend to for me. I want to let Lady Wood- mason know that I am safe, and that no- thing dreadful has happened to me. I don't think it is safe to write or even to tele- is graph but could you see her?" "Of course I can," answered Clement. ) ) "Do you want me to go down to Lip- stone ? "I don't think that will be necessary}," said Ruth, shrewdly. "I think it is more than likely that Lady Woodmason will come back to London at once, now that the,real purpose of her visit to Lipstone is ended. You will find her in her own house in London, if you go there to-morrow. I feel sure of it." Accordingly Clement promised that he would see Lady Woodmason, if gpossibie, on the morrow and the lovers parted. Clement, happy in the thought that he had found an- other hiding-place for Ruth (who had, of course, given a name other than her own to the garrulous landlady) returned to Pomeroy I Buildings. Only on this occasion, with a greater degree of caution, he said nothing I concerning his adventures to Benjamin Pad- wick. Ruth's surmise proved to be correct. Lady Woodmason had suddenly ordered the car j on the morning following the flight of Ruth, and without a word to anyone had come straight back to London. She did not even i tell Damia of her intention, and she left that young lady to follow her or not, as she might personally desire. ( Clement had his usual duties to perform during the day; and he found it more diffi- tcult than usual to speak calmly and quietly to the man who had betrayed the where- abouts of Ruth Tringham to the authorities, Yet, after all, Clement was but playing a part, and for Ruth's sake he had to play it as well ar possible. Fortunately for his plans, Mc.-ris Loader left early, and Clement was ablr to get away from the office very soon aft èrwards.. He v ent at once to the house of Lady "WoodnaBon—tti&t sumptuous place overlook- ing t7Ae park. He sent in his card, and was almost immediately shown into a room where the old lady stood to receive him. Stle surveyed him leisurely through the gl Asses at the end of the tortoiseshell stick fi ially nodded, with some show of satisfac- tion, and m.> • 70,raark. "Well-I'm .-j-T.r-d you're as good-looking as you are," she ::5.\ :d." "You aild Ruth ought to make a handsome pair. Oh, don't blush," she went on; "I've heard all about you—I had reams and reams of you, Mr. Singleton. Now sit down and tu,1 i me all that has hap- pened. If you've come to me in the hope that I can tell you where that unfortunate girl is, you've lost your time for nothing." "I've not come to ask you that," said Clement. "I know where she is, and I come to you from her." The old lady did a curious thing; she walked rapidly across the floor and opened -the door of the room, and looked out; then she closed the door and! came back to him. She seated bere-- r, ar waved a hand to- wards a. chair to denote tnat he was to sit down also. "We've got to be careful," she said quietly. just tell me ever) thing that has happened; I won't interrupt you" He told her everything; of his journey with Bellamy, and of his meeting with Ruth in the grounds; and that miraculous pick- ing of them up by the cheerful young man r with the motor-car; of their journey to London., and of Rolhfr present. "She wanted me to see you, sad toilet you know that she is safe," he fmishad. "Thatfs like her, and Fm graceful to her. To-nwnsow III go down quietly, without munoing myself, and TO see her- By the y, what name am I to ask far?"" "Miss Robinson; she is Miss Robinson to ¡ L110 landlady, and to anyone also who may ask for her. "One other question. You said just new fcWt. wm had fcsnxl out where Both was, and had heard, the information given to the Scotland Y-asd people. How did you know that? "I overheard Morris LoadIar-th.e man to whom I am aecreta.ry-telephoning the in- formation," said Clement. The old lady drew in her breath sharply. ?Oh, so you are secretary to Morris Loader, -0h, I had forgotten; of course, Ruth told me that. So he set the police on the track, did he? Does he know that there is any con- nection between you and Ruth ? "Ho," answered Clement. "My going to him was purely accidental—just af coinci- dance. Lady Woodmason rose and held out her hand to him, as an intimation that the in- terview was clowd. "I like you, young man, almost as well as I like Ruth," she said frankly. "I wish you'd get something better to do than to be at the beck and call of a man like Loader. I'll go to-morrow to eee Miss Ruth Robinson. Good-night to you." She paced about the room for a long time after Clement had gone, giving a rapid turn when she came to the end of the room, and Irj^fc-iTvgr her skirts viciously out of her way. At last she rang the bell, and stood in the oeotae of the room waiting until a servant entered. "Get me a taxi, please--a nice taxi," she said. "And tell Gurney to get my cloak." Her maid came in with the cloak a moment or two afterwards, and adjusted it on the old lady's shoulders. When the taxi arrived she went out, and gave the address of Morris LoadSer's chambers at Knights- bridge. She sat upright, staring fixedly straight in front of her, as the vehicle t'hreàâed its way through the traffic. When it arrived at the block of chambers she got out, ajid told the man to wait; she went slowly up the stairs. She disliked lifts, and would not use them. A manservant answered the summons of the bell, and that manservant knew her. He showed her into Loader's sitting-room, and announced her, closed the door, and eame away. Loader, who had been loung- ing in a chair smoking, got up hurriedly, set his cigar aside, and came towards her with a cordial smile on his face. "My dear Lady Woodmason," he said, "this is an unexpected pleasure." "I sincerely trust you'll find it so," she retorted acidly. "Pray go on smoking. I don't mind in the least. I've come up here to see you, because I've got something rather important to say to you. Thanks—I won't 8Ít down; I don 7 t feel like sitting down." "Is anything the matter? he asked, look- ing at her curiously. "There is this the matter Why did you let the Scotland Yard authorities know where Ruth Tringham was? "Who the deuce told you that?" he blurted out on the instant. And then, re- covering himself, added with a little laugh, "I mean, who can have told you anything so ridiculous?" "You have just let me understand your-I' self that it is true," said the old lady. Why particularly you should play the policeman I rather fail to understand, or perhaps I should say that I am beginning to understand it. You've gone out of your way to hunt this girl down; I suppose you've no particular reason far that, eh ?" The man turned away, and picked up the ccgaor in an absent fashion; then he tossed it into the fireplace. "What reason should I ha-ve?" he asked, without looking at her. "That's just what I'm wondering," she said. merely acted in the interests of justice," he said. "And mighty nice of you," she snapped out. "I was going to suggest another reasons" Loader's hand was shaking a little as be moved some things about on a table near Mm. "What other reason could I have?" he asked, as lightly as he could. "Pear." He caught his breath sharply, and looked at her; there was a curious hunted look in his eyes. "Look here, Lady Woodmason," he said after a pause, "I don't in the least know what you're talking about. I don't even know why you have come here at this hour, and what you have to reproach me with. Come, you're generally reputed to be an outspoken woman; perhaps you'll speak out now, and not talk in enigmas." "I will," she said. "I suggest that the reason for your sudden and great respect for the forces of law and order and justice has arisen from a fear in your own mind con- cerning yourself." ce "What have I to be afraid of? he asked, watching her covertly. "That suspicion may point to the fact that you murdered Daniel Verinder," she an- swered. The hand that was shifting about on the table suddenly knocked over a pile of books; Loader stooped to pick them up, and seemed to take quite a long time over the process. When at last he got upright, it took; him a moment or two to turn his head in the direction of the old lady, who stood Quietly rding him re Lady Woodmason," he said at last, "I think most people know that you are given to eccentricity, so I suppose that must excuse what you have just said. Is there any other wild statement you would like to make?" "You haven't answered what I've said," said the old lady imperturbably. "I refuse to answer anything so absurd," he blustered. **I suppose you think that this wretched girl you have been harbour- ing is innocent; you think you know more about it even than the police. Therefore it becomes necessary for you to fix the crime on someone else. Why particularly choose me? "What were you doing in the library of Daniel Verinders house on the night follow- ing the crime, when you were seen there searching among the dead man's papers?" she asked. I was not in the library, I was not even near the house," said the man. "Good heavens. Lady Woodmason, do you realise what you're saying, and what you're sug- festing-? What reason could I possibly have for doing any harm to Verinder. He was my close personal friend, he had pro- mised that I should marry his ward, I had every reason for being devoted to him. It has been proved conclusively that poor Verinder was killed by someone in the bousk- "Or perhaps by someone who got into it. What about that? she broke in sharply. He did not answer for a moment, and once again his hands were busy with the things on the table. When he looked up there was a curious drawn look about his I! face; he had bitten his lower lip, and a tiny trickle of blood had run down his chin. The old lady never took her eyes from him for a moment, and it seemed as though the man twisted about a little, as though to get out I of the range of those 87M He began to jerk <?t n w sentences at last, beginning wih a lard, forced laugh. he  "Re&ny you am too ridiculous." he said. ?Yom?e worked up some theory in regard I to tim' and vou've got it &nniy fuœd in your head, and I suppose notMag will get out gain. "r- ",in answered ovietty, j Tiiu -vrvgged his shoultess, and j tewoe t4- TnowsmenA towards the door. "ShaH I xU j jU iv- sir carriage, Lady Woodr I waaoe2,, he asked. | Tfcoaks, I Tim He II"1 I got a taxi waiting, sad Irin Q.EAO of aeemg myself into titat." She moved towanfe the door. "And mark you this, Morris Loader," she added as she reached it: KI have lighted to-night on what I beiieve to be a clue, and I shall follow it up. You won't shake me off easily, I can assure you." I He opened the door for her, and she went out. He swung the door back into place again; and so stood for a long time, grip- ping the handle, and leaning against the door, like a half-dead, inert thing, with his eyes closed. Once he shivered violently as though he were cold. Early the next morning Lady Woodmason left her house, something to the surprise of her servants, in a taxicab. She had never been known to do such a thing before save on the previous night; she always travelled either in her brougham or in a motor-car. Nor did the servant, who respectfully held wide the door of the taxi for her to get in, glean anything concerning her destination, for after gossip in the servants' hall. "Tell the man to drive to the City," "Was all she said. Lady Woodmason was very quietly dressed, so quietly, indeed, in black.that her friends would scarcely have recognised her. She dismissed the taxi at the end of that little street to which she had been directed by Clement, and she walked quickly along until she came to the house. Having been ad- mitted, she asked if Miss Robinson was at home. The garrulous landlady, filled with curiosity, and only anxious for gossip, would have gone upstairs with the old lady herself, and have actually escorted her into the room; but then she did not know with whom she had to deal. Lady Woodmason, with quiet determination, soon set that matter right. "If you will tell me where the room is, I will find it myself," she said. "I particularly; wish to go alone." There was such an air of finality about the words that the landlady desisted, and drew back abashed, merely directing her visitor which way to go. Lady Woodmason walked up the stairs, openea the door of the little sitting-room, and so stood smiling at Ruth. Then, on an impulse, she took a quick step forward, and caught the girl in her arms, and kissed her. "Well, here I am, you see, and mighty glad to see you, my dear," she said as she sat down. I saw that boy of yours yesterday, and a fine fellow he is; I took to hrm instantly. If I were thirty years younger, I should try and cut you out, my dear, my word I should. However, let's be sen- sible; I said I'd come and see you, and find out if I could do anything for you." ""Well, there is something you could do for me, only I -don't like to mention it, after your kindness," faltered Ruth. "Well—what is it?" asked the old lady. abruptly. "Out with it! "It's just a matter of clothes," said Ruth, with a blush. "This dress, as you know, belongs to Damia; and I've actually nothing beyond what I stand up in. The woman here wouldn't have let me have the room. but that I borrowed some money from Clement, and paid her a long way in ad- vance. You see, it looks so suspicious for anyone to come and take even such a small lodging as this, and have no luggage, doesn't it?7' "Oh, well soon set that right," said Lady Woodmason. "I'll get some things, and send them down to you; you shall have all you want. I shall quite enjoy doing it; I shall love to rush round and buy things; I shall have to guess the sizes, I suppose. Don't you worry, my dear; I'll get every- thing," she added with emphasis. "But how am I to repay you?" asked Ruth blankly. "You see, I haven't any money! I had only been at Mr. Verinder's house for a week when the tragedy took place. I had only a few shillings in my pocket, and that has had to go. "Money!" ejaculated Lady Woodmason, diving into her handbag, and taking out a purse. "Stupid of me to have forgotten that. You can't live even here without atoney. How much shall I give you ? "You won't give me anything, please," said Ruth hastily, drawing back. "I didn't mean that at all." "But I did," said the old lady. And then in a tone of entreaty: "My dear, there's no one in the world except yourself that I care a row of pins about, and Heaven knows I've got more money than I know what to do with, or than I shall ever spend. Put it to yourself that if I'd been a luckier or a happier woman I might have had a daughter of about your age. How will ten pounds do to be going on with? After a great deal of argument Ruth was finally persuaded to take exactly half that sum, and Lady Woodmason departed in high glee to make various purchases. Thereafter, during the rest of the morn- ing, various harassed shopkeepers were faced by a dominant old woman, who knew exactly what she wanted, and insisted on having it, and who also demanded that the various purchases should be sent off post haste to 301 Miss Ro ,=zL, in a certain quiet street in Islington. And Ruth sat amid a gradually arriving medley of delightful garments—all far too expensive, as she told herself, for a girl in her present humble position. And im t. evening Clement, arriving on a visit to her, found her wonderfully arrayed, and looking, be thought, if that were possible, more charming than ever. There had been a reason for the wearing of that black dress by Lady Woodmason that morning; it was the day of Daniel Verinder's funeral. There were a great many mourners, and a great many others who went out of mere, idle, morbid curiosity. The dlead man had been well known in Society, and a great line of carriages and motor-can moved slowly along towards his last reeting- place. In one of the carriages was Morris Loader; indeed, he was the chief mourner. He stood, a sombre figure in black, beside the grave; and people mentioned how white and haggard he looked, and how his hand. as he turned over the leaves of the little burial service, shook as with an ague. He drove back to the Yerindier bouse, and as he went his thoughts were long, dark thoughts, stretching out interminably, as it seemed, and all without definite ending. And perhaps most of all he thought about Damia; and stiffened as he sat, and set has teeth together. He was to see Damia, aa he knew. The will was to be read that day, and the girl would naturallv be present. He wondered, in a vague fashion, what she would look like, and what she would say; had a vague hope that perhaps after all it was some fully concocted scheme concerning herself and Rutherford, that had at its baeie no real truth at all. In the depth of his mind he seemed always to hope that was how the matter might turn out. The servant conducted him to the library. Leader hesitated for a moment, as the maa put his hand on the door, and spoke a little querulously. "Why this room?" he de- manded quickly. "Thoee are the orders, sir," answered the man a little surprised. Loader walked in, and found there the doctor who had attended Verinder, and a. soliciku with some papers spread out before him. Loader knew the solicitor well, and had Joat* business with Seated at one side the room, dtemnrtly «iresold in deep mourning, was Damia; she rained iter eyes to his, as he stopped for a moment and irmrhed her laani wKii hir own. Ladv Woodmason was also tfeere, aitl-bsj griMiy upright, and sending quick glaaces fro* one face to the other. It was the lawyer who spoke first, after Loader was seated "In spate of the gloom of th- r to-day—natural and necessary gisu^-u, i fear —he began, "my taek is really at the present time rather a pleasant one. Death is inevibltOOugh not perhaps, we will hope, in so violent a form as that which y overtook my lat. friend Daniel ider. But after death we torn nstor- to the affairs of life &aiI-- bowed slightly toZ;6 and iba airs of youth. He stopped and demand his throat, and moved his papers a little under his hands- Morris Loader shifted a little uneasily in his chair, and rubbed his dry palms togetiaex, and glanced for a moment at Damia. r "I was in the conficlenceof the late Daaiel Verinder, and he told me a av-At deal of his wishes. He was strongly attached to hia ward, Miss Damia Marsh, and he thought a great deal about her future. That future he had done his best to make straight and clear; Miss Marsh comes into poewsmm (yf a.. very great fortune. n. Damia drew in her breath quickly, and then turned that action into a quick little sigh. "Miss Marsh inherits the whole-of her late guardian's fortune upon one condition. That condition is that she marries the man to whom, I am given to understand "—he glanced towards Loader with a slight smile —"she is already betrothed. Should she fail to do that, the whole of the money goes to various charities, which I need not now specify. I suppose there is no difflowly. Xim Marsh, about your conforming to the terms of the will? There was a moment's silence in the zoom, and then Damia spoke in & low voioe, raising her eyes just for one moment to the lawyer's face. "No difficulty at an-r am quite ready to fulfil my part of the-condition." (To be Continued.)


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