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      Ferry, too, was missing. Mrs. Wall made eyes at the inquirer, Estelle and Ccile began to speak but deferred to each other, and Camille, putting on a deadly exhaustion, whined as she tottered to her smiling guardian, "Kiss your sweet baby good-night, auntie dear, and"--with a hand reached out to Estelle--"make Naughty come, too." She turned to say good-night to Ccile but spoiled her kiss with an unintended laugh. The surgeon, Harry and I bowed from the room and stepped out to the water-bucket and gourd. From there we could see the missing two, lingering at the dooryard gate, in the bright moonlight. As we finished drinking, "Gentlemen," murmured Harry, "I fear our position is too exposed to be tenable."


      "Can't we make them think our men are here?" I suggested. "Couldn't I go back to where this fence crosses the gully and let them see me opening a gap in it?"He hovered on the doorstep, rubbing his hands together and looking timidly up at the stars as though half expecting to see a sign. "It distressed me at first," he resumed, "because he was such an odd-looking person, and the whole experience was really on the humorous side. I wanted to laugh at him,[Pg 130] and it made me feel so disgraceful. But I'm quite sure he was a manifestation of something, perhaps an apotheosis."


      We shall let the boys tell the story, which they did in a letter to their friends at home. It was written while they were on the steamer between Tien-tsin and Shanghai, on their return from Pekin."As it happens, I know the gentleman," she said. "When I was governess to the Countess Lalage's little girl he frequently came to the house. I am a niece of Mr. Gilbert Lawrence, the novelist, who lives close by. There is a room to spare in his house, and this looks like a bad case. If you will follow me----"

      "I don't know why you should," she said.

      "'To the lairds o' Convention 'twas Claverhouse spoke,"A vulgar one," said Lawrence. "Robbery either from the person or indirectly. I don't see how anybody could possibly be jealous of a poor misshapen creature like that. We can put the socialistic element out of the case. Have you found anything?"


      Till the world spreads out at our feet.

      Heavy as were these blows, a few hours' sleep braced Leona Lalage for what she knew to be a trying ordeal. By the time that breakfast was a thing of the past she had sketched out a new plan of campaign. The terrible unseen force from behind had driven her from her strong position. In future she would have to recognize the fact that she was hopelessly beaten, and all that she could expect now was to cover up her tracks and prevent the final solution of the mystery."Why, Mr. Smith, she's actually been sitting up--in the twilight--at the open window--while Aunt Martha and I smoothed up her bed." Harry groaned.

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      CHAPTER XXIX.

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      It followed upon this experiment that the Clockwork man presently emitted a faint, quavering protest. He had certainly dwindled in bulk. His clothes hung upon him, and there was a distressing feebleness of frame. Slowly it dawned upon the Doctor that the face peering up at him was that of a very old and decrepit individual. Painful lines crossed his forehead, and there were rheumy lodgements in the corner of each eye. The change was rapidly progressive."'One piecee blind man healee best, maskee;

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      Our acceptance was unanimous. I even decided not to inform Lieutenant Durand until after the repast, that ladies under my escort did not pick acquaintanceship with soldiers on the public highway. But before the brief meal was over I was wishing him hanged. Hang the heaven-high theories that had so lately put me in love with him! Hang his melodious voice, his modest composure, his gold-barred collar, his easy command of topics! Hang the women! they feasted on his every word and look! Ah, ladies! if I were mean enough to tell it--that man doesn't believe in hell! He has a down-dragging hunger for every base indulgence; he has told me so!


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